Happy birthday, Feminists with FSD

09/06/2010 at 11:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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Pretty cupcakes

[Description: 6 cupcakes in yellow cups with thick icing and pastel rainbow crunchy bits on top. On top of a white platform with a blue ribbon tied around it. Taken from the Wikimedia Commons, by Janet Hudson. Used under a Creative Commons License.]

Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction turns 2 years old today! Holy crap! Has it really been that long?

I knew I had enough material to last for one year’s worth of blogging about feminism + sexual dysfunction, but two years?! Spilling over into a third year?! I’m getting up there in internet time. I’m going to be an old timer.

A two year blog birthday sounds like as good a time as any to indulge in some Navel Gazing!

General observations:

***Feminism and sexual dysfunction are not mutually exclusive.*** You can be a feminist and still have sexual dysfunction. QED. This is real, this is valid. I still have sexual dysfunction last time I checked. I had it yesterday, I have it today, I’ll have it tomorrow. And the next day, and the day after that… All the education in the world is not dispelling the dysfunction. This ain’t no myth!
So what’s wrong with being dysfunctional? Is there something inherently wrong with having a sexual dysfunction? Am I not supposed to do this? What, is what I’m going through somehow making life harder for women without FSD? How? What. What.
Sexual dysfunction is a stigmatized condition.
A lot of what is considered valid forms of “Sex” where I live in the US is dependent on being cis, straight and able-bodied. If you don’t meet those conditions, then mainstream media and a lot of folks who consume it won’t have much interest in you except to scandalize.
Unfortunately needing medical help with sexual problems is likewise stigmatized. It’s a rock-and-hard place position. The only way you can get medical help for sexual dysfunction is to get a diagnosis of some kind of sexual dysfunction. But sexual dysfunction is a stigmatized condition, so who wants to live with that label?
The more stuff I read online by sex therapists, the less interested I become in pursuing sex therapy as a possible treatment. There’s some good stuff out out there! And some bad stuff. Sometimes a mixture of both.

Alas to this day, I must once again disclose that I still have no respectable credentials. I have a degree, but in a completely unrelated field. While I have taken women’s studies and psychology classes, to this day I do not have a Ph.D. or certification in sex education. I make good faith efforts to do my homework diligently and present my sources, but everything I say, you must take with a grain of salt. However, I come here not to offer advice but perspective. Still, sooner or later I think I should pursue some kind of higher education. Get certified. Something…

On the other hand, I am not necessarily obligated to educate you. While I acknowledge that I reap the benefits of several kinds of privilege, there are other privileges I do not have. If you were to insist of me, “Educate me NOW, disabled person! Why should I care about women with sexual dysfunction?!” I may reply “Kiss my ass, read the archives, use Google and for gods sakes if you want to hear what I’m talking about on this blog then shut your pie hole for five minutes and make a safer place for women with FSD to speak out on their own!” (I now know for sure from interacting with commenters here that I am not the only one who feels this way.)
Yeah let’s face facts already and just own up to it, I got fuckin’ vulvodynia over here; it’s both chronic pain AND sexual dysfunction at the same damn time, and even if it weren’t there I’d still have to deal with the vaginismus & pelvic floor dysfunction which is likewise a sexual dysfunction with spillover into my non-sexual activities.

How’s my driving?

Have I done enough to make this blog feel like a ~relatively safe space for women with sexual dysfunction? “Relative” being the operative word; I can not guarantee true “Safe space.” So is safe space even too strong of a term. But I’m hoping to do a better job than other feminist blogs where the conversation tends to become dominated by people who do not have sexual dysfunctions themselves and are unfamiliar with it.

With regards to comment moderation, it’s a little tricky. I work full time. Sometimes I’ll get comments with problematic elements that I still think are overall worth letting through. I get drive-by commenters with sexual dysfunction who don’t necessarily identify as feminist but still need a place to vent – I’m inclined to let those through too.

I offer no apologies for making direct contact with me deliberately difficult (you have to leave a comment here with a valid e-mail address so I can reach out to you.) There is a reason my blog e-mail is private and it’s staying that way.

How’s my Guest Posting policy? Is it too vague, too strict, just right? I don’t feel comfortable actively recruiting new guest posters, because I think doing so could be invasive and presumptuous. Even if I saw someone talking about something that could be considered a sexual dysfunction, if I reach out and say, “Hey you wanna write a guest post about your experience on a blog about sexual dysfunction?” Well what if that person does not identify as having sexual dysfunction. It would be like an accusation. I can’t go around applying that label to anybody else except for me – nor can I go around taking it away from anyone who’s come to embrace it. But on the other hand, I have reached out to bloggers like SnowDrop Explodes and Ms. Sexabilility to help me out with BDSM and FSD related posts… Hmmm…

Basically I’m hoping that by writing this blog, those who need to will gravitate towards here and come around of their own free will. Trying to make it OKAY to talk about sexual dysfunction.

Room for improvement:

But am I letting enough people know that this blog exists and what its purpose is? Is it enough to read and link to and comment around on blogs by women of color, trans women, disabled women, and more marginalized groups, to let them know that I’m reading and I’m out there? How else are you supposed to find out this place exists and who else is going to tell you? Am I doing enough to reach out?

With trans folk and sexual dysfunction, I think I need help with something… When I named the blog, I named it feminists with female sexual dysfunction. So far to the best of my knowledge I haven’t had any trans women or trans men guest posters. (I haven’t had any intersex guest posters either.) I see no reason that being transgender and developing sexual dysfunction would be mutually exclusive for everybody. But now since I put “Female” in the blog title, does that mean that I’ve isolated trans women because the “Female” part usually refers to cisgendered, cissexual women… on the other hand have I isolated trans men from posting because if the blog title says “Female” in there and you are a trans man with sexual dysfunction, have I un-gendered anybody? There was a post at bird of paradox that’s sort of related, about trans women and prostate health but it sounds like it did not go over as well as hoped…

Um. I didn’t think that far ahead… 😮 I deliberately chose to keep the “F” in “FSD” because FSD is more controversial a topic than sexual dysfunction in general. And because it’s an accurate identifier for myself. That’s what I have. So I want to keep it in there…

Some stuff I still want to talk about (not necessarily in order of priority):

Book reviews – lots of them. I get so caught up with the blogosphere sometimes that I neglect to do my book reading. But book reviews can take a long time to put together. I may have to skip a week or so of new content in order to make time for book reading.
Reach out to the asexual community
Cancer, treatments and sexual dysfunction
Chronic health conditions and sexual dysfunction
Language (“Frigid,” “Broken,” etc.) (“Sexual problem” vs. “sexual dysfunction” and other euphemisms. Here’s what I’m thinking: I hate hate hate a hierarchy of sexual dysfunction, like how pain is generally recognized as a valid sexual dysfunction but low libido is not. And I am certain there is a difference between a “Problem” vs. a “Dysfunction.”)
Birth control (esp. The Pill)
Adult toy reviews (Because why not. But they should probably go behind wordpress cuts)
What might sexual medicine for women advertisements look like in the future – would they be sexualized, romanticized (I’m thinking of the Viagra family of tv ads here,) or would the ads place an emphasis on other side benefits in a very abstract way like how ads for The Pill talk about acne & PMDD more than they do about sex.
Women of color and sexual dysfunction
Trans folk and sexual dysfunction
Re-visit sexual dysfunction as disability some time in the future – What works? Does anything not work?
Partner’s perspective (careful on this one though; it’s not all about you.)
Consent and enthusiastic consent
Is sexual dysfunction contagious? (Of course not but I have read two things online now that said if one partner has a sexual dysfunction it may be caused by the other partner’s dysfunction. Sexual pain is explicitly named by one source as a cause of men’s low desire. Oh hey yeah that, that totally doesn’t disproportionately blame women for men’s sexual dysfunction. Except for when it does.)
FSD treatments, the placebo effect & homeopathy – I recently read an FSD article in Vogue that contained a quote which sent me into rage-rage-rage mode. The quote was about the power of the placebo effect and I thought to myself, waaaaait a minute… Is positing the placebo effect as an explanation for improvements to FSD good, scientific based medicine? Isn’t there criticism about prescribing worthless treatments somewhere… OH YES I remember now, there is a certain type of medicine that is just like prescribing placebos! And what so you know – it’s subject to feminist critique!

I don’t know if or when I’ll get around to talking about these things. I need time, patience, research, resources… not to mention motivation. I haven’t burned out quite yet but burnout is a real risk of any feminist blogger. And with a lot of these things, I do not have personal experience with and would much, much prefer that someone who does have the experience would be interested in writing at least one guest post about it.

But you see, there’s a lot to talk about with FSD besides Big Pharma!

And then I’m sure I’ll think of other stuff to talk about as we’re going forward…

Is there anything you’d like to write about here, or anything you’d like to suggest as a topic going forward?

Some stuff I want to talk about but still don’t feel comfortable talking about:
Vulvovaginal surgery (mine, cosmetic, medical and in general)
My New Pink Button dye and vulvar dermatological conditions like lichens sclerosus. There are some dermatological conditions which can change the appearance of your vulva, dramatically if left untreated.
Sexual dysfunction and pop culture
Why I don’t want sex therapy

I am reluctant to write about these topics openly because I am getting the impression that these are topics for which there is a definite right vs wrong answer. And I am on the wrong side of the tracks.

I’m sure there’s more…

Some search engine terms that bring people here:

feminists with fsdI sense a disturbance in the Force. Lately, a lot of people are finding this blog because they’re deliberately looking for it. Who are you and have you found what you are looking for? This is a dual-edged sword… That people are finding the blog by looking for it is good, but somewhat risky too. My greatest dread to this day is that some of the famous sex therapists & experts whose work I have criticized will find me and then hunt me down, doing everything in their power to out & ruin me so that I can’t find a job in even my completely unrelated fields.
But on the other hand, if I want to see broad changes in the way FSD is handled within feminist outlets, then sooner or later the big experts are going to have to find some of the ideas on this blog. And (without stealing!) acknowledge that changes are needed & be the change, incorporate it into their own work. I am pessimistic about the prospects of this taking place any time soon.
Permutations – feminists with sexual dysfunction

vulvodynia natural treatment – Oldie but goodie, this is still a very popular post! People translate it into all kinds of languages! Wow, I guess alternative treatment for vulvodynia is a popular treatment after all. Permutations include: vulvodynia homeopathy, natural remedies for vulvodynia, natural cure for vulvodynia, vulvodynia natural remedies, etc.
Let this be a clear message to all of you: Anybody who suggests alternative medicine for vulvodynia… yeah… whoever you’re suggesting it to probably already thought of that.

lovers stores – I guess this must be one of just a few sites that’s done an in-depth report on Lovers.

20/20 vulvodynia – You are looking for this post with a video link. Still very popular.

dr. oz vulvodynia Also very popular.

natural sexuality – you may be looking for this post or this series of posts.

sexual dysfunction statistics – you’re looking for this twopart series.

I get a lot of searches for porn too but surprisingly very few searches for Viagra or flibanserin. Sorry buddy, can’t help you out there.

So as Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction enters its third year, I wonder, Can we keep it up for another year? Where are we going with this project? What am I even doing here? Where is the nearest bathroom? What’s for lunch today?

There’s really only one way to find out the answers to these burning questions. But I can’t do it alone. I need you to join me on this long strange trip.

Stay tuned…


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  1. Have you read any David Schnarch? I’ve been reading some of his stuff for use in a couple’s therapy context, and found it really interesting. Although maybe less applicable to sexual dysfunction that is more serious and/or medically based (vs. things like anorgasmia that occurs only within the context of a certain relationship). He talks a bit about sexual dysfunctions as being the outcome of a process. It’s more circular than the example you give though – her anorgasmia contributes to his low desire, which leads to more anorgasmia/less effort to resolve the anorgasmia. A vicious positive feedback cycle. He also gives examples which focus more on the male as the contributer, for example a boyfriend as an exacerbater of problems that may have originated in his girlfriend’s history, but which may have never become a dysfunction had the girlfriend had different boyfriend.

    Anyway, I’d be curious to hear what you think about his work, and whether or not you feel like it applies to (what I guess you could call) less relationally based sexual dysfunction. (I feel like I don’t have good words here…forgive me.)

    • Why yes! Well, a little bit. Yes I have a paperback copy of “Resurrecting Sex” right in front of me in fact! So far I just looked at it a little bit when I was researching one of the statistics posts, actually, he talked about that infamous 43% statistic in the book.

      See this is why I say I need to do more book reviews so I can actually set aside time to, you know, read books.

  2. Ugh, I meant to sign up for the comment notification. And now I don’t know how without posting again. Oops.

  3. Happy Birthday! 🙂

  4. Happy Birthday!

  5. Congratulations! Two years in blog time is like 80 years in dog-years.

    I really appreciate David Schnarch’s work. And yet, my sex life only reignited once my husband had his testosterone levels checked and then decided to try supplementation (he was really, really low). Yet another case of biology intersecting with culture and relationships, and actually trumping them in the end. (Long story – I won’t blog about it directly, because it’s *his* story. I will blog about it obliquely someday.)

  6. Congratulations!

    Consent and enthusiastic consent

    Yes please. I’ve been lurking here for ages, and finally worked up the nerve to post. I have vestibulitis. I’ve come a long way over the last couple of years — sex is no longer unbearably painful — but it’s still usually uncomfortable. I am also married to a wonderful man and am currently pregnant. As much as I would like to live my sex life according to the concept of enthusiastic consent, that’s just not my reality. We’d been wanting to conceive for a while now, and so there have been a number of occasions where I’ve had to trade the pain of sex for the possibility of getting pregnant.

    It’s hard for me to talk about all this; I constantly have lots of overlapping thoughts swirling around in my head. So let me just say that I really appreciate what you’ve been doing with this blog. It’s nice to know that there are other folks out there thinking about the same stuff that I think about.

  7. Happy birthday to youuuuu
    Happy birthday to youuuuu!

  8. Thanks for all the well wishes, everyone!

  9. […] perhaps you would be interested in writing a guest post? Maybe there’s something on the list of stuff we still need to talk about on this here blog that you’d like to pick up and run with. Or maybe you have a different idea […]

  10. […] As is tradition, let’s take a break from usual serious posting to do some retrospective navel-gazing. (See the first-year anniversary here and last year’s post here.) […]

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