Good Call

The first time was an accident.  Maria had picked up the phone in her room when it rang; when she heard her roommate Edith say hello to her long-distance girlfriend, she almost clicked the button to hang up – until she heard Edith’s girlfriend ask, “So – what are you wearing?”  This should be good, she thought, waiting for Edith’s inevitably quippy reply.

Instead, she heard Edith say, “You know that bra you bought me for Christmas?  The red, lacy number that I never wear because it’s so impractical?”  “Mmhmm,” came a knowing murmur from the other end.  “That, and one end of your favorite dildo.”

Maria almost dropped the phone.  In a panic, she pressed the earpiece to her ear and moved the mouthpiece down toward her neck, afraid to breathe or make a peep.  She listened to Edith’s girlfriend give orders which Edith presumably followed:

“Are you wet?  Good girl.  Slide the dildo in and out until it’s covered in your juices.  Get on your knees; push it deep into your A-spot and pulse it there.  Press your legs together to hold it in place while you put your fingers in your mouth.  Make circles around your clit… painfully slow circles.”

All she heard on Edith’s end were moans and whimpers of assent and pleasure – then a strained pleading to be allowed to come, followed by a tortured groan when she was denied.  When she finally did come minutes later, it was epic – Maria had never heard anything like it before.  Like a house on fire breaking apart, sending embers flying into a black sky, lighting it up with red smoke.  Maria had never felt like that before.

When they finally said goodnight, it was Maria who felt exhausted.  She hung up the phone and turned out her bedroom light; lying on her back in the dark, she slid her hands under the bottom of her nightgown and flung it aside.  She squirmed as she felt slickness warm her inner thighs; when she moved her hand into her panties, she was shocked by how wet she was.  She slid two fingers inside her cunt with one hand while gently rubbing her entire labia with the other, up and down, thinking about the orders that Edith obediently followed.  Her hips bucked and her breath caught as her orgasm had her.  She turned her head to bite her pillow, curling into a ball, afraid to make noise; she fell asleep in her underwear, which stuck to her.

Phone, Communication, Connection

It was the first thing on her mind when she woke up the next day; she knew she had to come clean.  Edith had been her best friend for years; there just weren’t any secrets between them.  Dreading the conversation, she rolled out of bed and slouched into the kitchen for coffee.

When she sat down at the table, she noticed how perky Edith seemed – how light on her feet.  Good.  “Ed – I have something to tell you.”  “What’s up?” Edith asked, a spring in her step as she fluttered around the kitchen, grabbing dishes and cups and toast and creamer.  “I heard you last night.”  “Oh, god,” Edith said, her movements suddenly halted.  “I was so loud you could hear me through the walls?  I’m sooooo sorry!”  “No…” Maria continued.  “I heard you on the phone.  I picked up and couldn’t stop listening.  I know it was a huge violation of your privacy – I’m so, so sorry, Ed.”  Her face flamed.  She expected Edith to yell, to slam things on the table, to be furious.  Instead, Edith just looked… curious.

“Huh,” she said.  “Huh?” replied Maria.  Again: “Huh.”  Maria looked at her, completely baffled, not really knowing what to say.  It turned out she didn’t have to say anything.  “Did you… like what you heard?” asked Edith.  Still beet red, Maria looked into her coffee cup.  “Yeah,” she practically whispered.  “It was… it was really hot, Ed.”  The words rushed out of her mouth like air from a tire.  “Huh.”  “Why do you keep saying that?” asked Maria.  “Well – Lora might be into that.”  “What?” Maria asked, her mouth ajar.  “Yeah – she might be into the idea of someone else listening in.  Let me check with her.”

Maria felt her nipples stiffen under her nightgown – from arousal or anxiety she wasn’t sure, but she was sure of one thing: every cell in her body was saying “Yes.”

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Image taken from Pixabay; credit: markito.

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Stop the presses! Rich white girls in trouble!

I was directed last week via Timaree’s Friday sex links to an article from the Sydney Morning Herald’s comment section about how online porn is turning young men into violent, sex-crazed hornballs who are now demanding anal sex from their teenage girlfriends; the subheading reads, “We need to educate and embolden our daughters to fight back against pornography, which is warping the behavior of boys.”  This immediately set off a red flag in my head.  No, two red flags.  First of all — the phrase “fight back against pornography” seems kind of funny to me.  I’m imagining a porn movie with its fists up in little red boxing gloves.  It’s important to create and support alternative pornography and to have critical discussions about pornography with young people… but the way this is phrased suggests that porn as a whole should be eradicated.

Second — how about we educate our boys about the differences between the sex they see in pornography vs. real sex?  How about we have critical discussions with them about gender roles, consent, the meaning of masculinity, and healthy relationships?  A program in Canada is doing just that, and it would be the greatest thing ever if that program were available everywhere.

Despite these red flags, I continued to read the article — a scare piece — and was shocked when I came to this paragraph:
    There was stunned silence around that table, although I think some of us may have let out involuntary cries of dismay and disbelief. Sue’s surgery isn’t in the brutalised inner-city but in a leafy suburb. The girls presenting with incontinence were often under the age of consent and from loving, stable homes. Just the sort of kids who, two generations ago, would have been enjoying riding and ballet lessons, and still looking forward to their first kiss, not being coerced into violent sex by some kid who picked up his ideas about physical intimacy from a dogging video on his mobile.

I wasn’t shocked by the fact that teenagers are having sex.  It wasn’t the mention of teen girls having to have surgery for incontinence that made my jaw drop, though that is certainly shocking and disturbing.  What caught my attention is the implied racism / classism in Pearson’s writing.  That her outrage stems from the fact that it’s privileged suburban white girls who are being coerced into sexual acts that they’re not entirely comfortable with and not lower class girls from the “brutalized inner city” teems with racist and classist implications. As though it wouldn’t be newsworthy if a teenage girl from an inner city neighborhood needed surgery because her boyfriend had aggressive sex with her.  In addition, the fact that she paints being from the inner city in opposition to being from a “loving, stable home” really got on my fucking nerves.  In doing so, she is tacitly stating a mutual exclusivity between making less money and providing stability or love for one’s family.

Pearson longs for a time when teenagers were “looking forward to their first kiss” at the age of sixteen (the age of consent in Sydney).  This is 2015.  We need to be talking realistically to young people about their lived experiences and having conversations with them about desire, communication, and consent, and we need to give them safe spaces to speak freely and advocate for their own agency.  That includes recognizing that young people have sexual desire and that that desire is part of their humanity.  (I also think it should be said here that anal sex is not by definition violent sex.)

Coercion and social expectation are real for young people and have tangible consequences on their lives.  So it’s imperative that we talk to young women and young men about media images of sexuality and how they influence behaviors and expectations.  Because while it is shocking that there are young women having fistula surgery from anal sex (which, again, is not inherently aggressive, and when done right should not result in injury), it is equally shocking to hear young men say that they feel like they are socially expected to pressure their girlfriends into doing it.          

On Becoming Friends with my Gynecologist

I have heard and read a lot of horror stories about visiting the gynecologist in Korea during my five years here.  Because of this, I’ve saved my visits for back home, even though it’s more expensive since I don’t have insurance in the US.  Most of my female friends and acquaintances in Korea have told me that there is a curtain placed between the doctor and patient so they can’t see each other and that the doctor will often do things without first getting the consent of the patient, like an ultrasound or a biopsy.  This would be totally unheard of in the US, where malpractice insurance costs an arm and a leg and there are entire classes taught in medical school regarding consent and liability.  In the US being able to see your doctor and ask her (or him) questions is comforting; perhaps in Korea, because sexuality isn’t really talked about, it might be embarrassing to be able to see your doctor’s face while she’s looking at your vulva.

I’ve also read stories about women being asked to recount their entire sexual histories aloud in a waiting room full of other patients, or doctors calling a woman’s boss to report her pap results.  Because individuality permeates US culture so thoroughly, complete privacy is expected in a medical setting, but the concept of privacy is much less important in communal cultures.  Visiting the doctor here often involves getting on a scale, having blood pressure checked, or even getting blood drawn in a public area.      

I found an English-speaking gynecologist through an expat website and was elated that her office was only a short bus ride away from my apartment!  What I experienced there was astonishingly different from what I’d read and heard.  There’s one doctor in the clinic; she’s retired, but still practicing privately.  I was called into her office and had a conversation with her beforehand, specifically telling her that I didn’t want an ultrasound or a sonogram – just a regular old pap smear and STI panel.  The receptionist took me into a changing room to put on a skirt with an elastic waist (no giant, awkward paper cover!  This might freak out people who are germaphobes, but it’s definitely more environmentally-friendly…) and then called me into another room where I sat on a chair that was much like a dentist chair but with a super short seat.  The back of the chair could be electronically raised or lowered.  Instead of heel stirrups, there were thigh stirrups and a flat place to put your feet underneath them. 

The doctor, who did not put a curtain between us, did a normal speculum / swab routine, but then she surprised me by telling me she was going to take a picture of my cervix.  “Oh!” I said… “Okay.”  Suddenly, a full-color picture of my cervix popped up on a monitor across the room, which was pretty rad.  However, I then felt a sudden, slight, sharp pain.  “What did you just do?” I asked.  She told me that she had applied an acidic solution to my cervix to check for HPV, which I thought was kind of neat at the time, until I researched it and found out that not only does it not really test for HPV, but the CDC recommends against having it done.     

Afterward, the doctor took out the speculum and she and the receptionist (who had been next to her the whole time taking notes!) lowered my feet onto the floor so I could go change.  I went back into the doctor’s office, and this is where it got good.  We talked for at least thirty minutes about which STIs she tests for on her STI panels, the prevalence of HPV in South Korea and how it’s changing, the HPV vaccine and how guidelines for who should receive it and when are changing, and the various types of abnormalities that can be seen during cervix photography.  Her medical English was incredible, but that’s not what impressed me.  What impressed me was that she treated sex and sexuality as a normal part of the human experience — basically, she was sex positive.  She treated me as an educated person who was fully capable of discussing my sexual health.  She even gave me her mobile number and invited me to drive around the coast with her so I could see parts of Korea that I normally don’t have access to while she practices her English!

It was a visit to the gynecologist that left me feeling confident and comfortable, which is a rare and beautiful thing.  She called me yesterday to report my test results (all good – yea!) and reminded me to come hang out with her.  And I actually want to.       

Heavy Sigh

So I’m at a party last Saturday night, and this reoccurring thing happens.  I’m mingling and talking about dating girls, and the person I’m talking to is like, “Oh, you’re queer?!  What’s your type?  (I start to stammer, and said person doesn’t actually let me think about this long enough to answer the question.)  He asks if I have an age preference; yes, I tell him.  I don’t want to date anyone under 27 or 28.  He completely ignores this and says, “What if it’s not dating?  She’s 25, but she really just wants to have a lot of sex.”  He whips out his phone and starts showing me pictures of his best friend, who admittedly is cute, but I know nothing about this girl, and this guy knows nothing about me.  He leaps gaily (see what I did there?) forward and says, “I’m going to give you her number.”  “No,” I say, confidently.  “I’d be pissed if someone gave out my number without my permission.”  “Okay!” he says, and calls her to ask her permission.  After a minute of talking to her, he hands the phone to me so I have to have an awkward conversation with a stranger on the phone in the middle of a party.  No pressure or anything. 

What makes me so frustrated about this scenario isn’t the fact that he didn’t give me time to answer him or that he basically set us up without really waiting for my consent OR her consent; it’s that he just assumed that I would be a good match for this girl just because we both happen to be into women.  What the fuck is that?  Can you imagine if you were at a party and someone said to you, “Oh, hey — you’re straight!  I know this other straight person!  You guys would be PERFECT together!”

What the actual fuck?

WTF, HBO?

I realize I’m super late on this, but here goes.  I just finished reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series (well, at least the books that have thus far been published), so I was SO FUCKING EXCITED to see this television show that everyone’s been raving about for the past four years. 

There are a lot of memorable scenes from the books; the first one that indelibly burned into my brain was Daenerys and Khal Drogo having sex on their wedding night.  GRRM describes how Daenerys is crying at first, but Drogo takes hours to comfort her, undress her, and then basically get her into a full stage of arousal by caressing her everywhere until she’s wet before asking her consent to have sex.  She replies with an enthusiastic yes, and it’s super hot.  Sexual agency!  It’s the best.  Reading that scene, I was like “Fuck YES.  GRRM knows how to write sex scenes for women!” 

So then WHY IN GODS’ NAMES (see what I did there, GoT fans?) does HBO turn this scene into a rape?!?  Drogo looks angry as he fucks her from behind, Daenerys is sobbing, and there is definitely no verbal or implied consent (via body language) given.  You’d think that after Sex and the City, HBO would be comfortable with women’s desire, but apparently rape is more palatable to viewers in the minds of HBO executives and / or the show’s writers than a teenage female expressing sexual desire.  Just.  Ugh. 

I guess this was a big deal when the show first aired…

No Filter

My apologies if this is a bit rambly; I’m writing in a post-Nyquil haze.

I was out to birthday dinner with a good friend recently, and we were joking about how our friends call me “Sharing Jo” or “No Filter Constance” due to my eager enthusiasm to share the most intimate details of my sex life with my buddies (and / or strangers). 

Suddenly my friend’s laughter came down a notch to a wry smile as she said, “You know that sometimes we’re not kidding, right?  Like, you actually have no filter.”  “What?” I asked, alarmed.  “Yeah,” she continued.  “Like, sometimes, you actually make people really uncomfortable.  And when you’re talking about sex and we’re laughing, sometimes it’s uncomfortable laughter.”  This was news to me.  “Why didn’t anyone say anything before?!”  I asked.  “They didn’t really know what to say,” she said. 

My face grew very solemn, and I sincerely apologized — so much so that she started backtracking and telling me that it wasn’t a big deal… but it is a big deal.  Talking about sex, especially in an explicit way, to people who aren’t comfortable hearing about it can be a form of sexual harassment, and I don’t want to be that person.  There have been a lot of conversations as of late on blogs and podcasts about consent, and perhaps I should ask for consent before dropping my sex stories on people. 

Then she said something else that made me see all of this in a different light.  A couple of months ago, I was sitting at a bonfire with this friend and a mutual acquaintance of ours who lives a d/s lifestyle. The acquaintance and I were having a friendly discussion about service dommes, which to us was an everyday, banal conversation.  We were sitting away from most of the other people at the bonfire and it was a private conversation.  Fast forward to said birthday dinner; my friend says to me, “When you and [our mutual friend] were talking about kink at the bonfire, it was obviously making people uncomfortable because they’re not used to hearing about it.”  That’s when I realized that maybe we weren’t making those other people uncomfortable; perhaps my friend was uncomfortable with us talking about it in front of her friends whom she doesn’t talk about the kinky aspects of her life with. 

That’s fair.  She felt vulnerable and outed via association.  I don’t have the desire to out someone as kinky who’s not comfortable being outed.  I do, however, have the desire to demystify and normalize kink by talking about it as a regular part of my life.  Part of social change is discomfort; I think most of the people I talk about kink with are more curious than they are uncomfortable, but maybe that’s just my perception / bias as a kink-positive person.  That being said, this conversation made me reflect on whether or not I am saying too much at times. 

And the thing is — I actually do have a filter.  When I’m teaching or at work, I don’t speak about my personal life to my students or the school administration.  I swear like a sailor in my personal life, but I worked with children for years without once dropping a curse word in their presence.  I never talk to my extended family about my sex life, and when I’m in a professional environment I act like a professional.  I have a filter. 

I choose to talk about sex as a way of helping to change our social landscape around issues of sexuality, relationships, and gender.  I want to give people a safe space to talk about their sex lives and relationships.  I want to contribute to normalizing sexual practices, feelings, and behaviors that people are curious about but afraid of talking about.  My sexual politics are radical in some ways, and I want to make my voice heard.  But maaaaybe I don’t need to talk about prostate milking over dinner.