Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross on porn

01/30/2009 at 8:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There was an interesting, quick video posted on the Betty Dodson & Carlin Ross website today. In this video, Ross & Dodson make a few points on their views of pornography.

“They seem nice,” is the first thing that came to mind when I watched the video… Which is probably the understatement of the year. I feel comfortable saying that Dodson is an expert in human female sexuality. I’m surprised that her wiki page isn’t very long but I’m familiar with some of her other work anyway – her name pops up all the time in books & discussions about sexuality. Plus her name is on that pelvic exercise bar I’ve been eyeing for a few months…

Carlin Ross is someone new to me that I’ll have to keep an eye on.

Dodson isn’t entirely free of critique herself. She places a very strong emphasis on clitoral orgasm as the end-all beat-all orgasm experience. I like Anne Sprinkle’s counter argument that you can have orgasmic experiences in other ways besides that, as described in her book (p 245, 246). I like it partly because it’s more freeing if you can not experience a clitoral orgasm.
I’ve seen what that can be like :/

Some of the points that Dodson & Ross make in their video include:

For the most part, using porn is probably harmless. Worst case scenario is, you have an orgasm and then go about your daily business.
They did not address arguments about how pornography is produced & whether it furthers stereotypes of women. They did not address how porn can be abused & used as an abuse.  They didn’t talk about addiction to porn. I think part of the reason they do not address these larger issues is,
They want to make sexuality more enjoyable for people, women in particular, and that’s hard to do when you make people feel guilty for using porn. Or whatever other kinky activity it is you’re into. These are pretty advanced arguments – perhaps Dodson & Carlin will address them another time, if they haven’t already.

Porn isn’t a good yardstick to use to measure yourself against. It’s not healthy to compare yourself to a porn star.
I know I will certainly never Measure Up. My body doesn’t look like that – and that’s okay. There’s a lot of things sexually they can do that are far out of my reach. “How are you doing that??? Why can’t I do that?”
I am trying to be okay with that. Ideally I won’t have to be…
Fashion magazines, which are more socially acceptable than porn, aren’t good to compare yourself against either. In both of these areas, the women have often been modified in one way or another. Breast & other body augmentation, sometimes body modification in the way of piercings and such, diets, lots of makeup, and when all else fails, Photoshop (or possibly video editing software, in the case of porn.)

Porn – and here I’m getting the impression that they’re referring to mainstream porn – isn’t a good substitute for sexual education.
If you’re looking for technique & details – they’re right. You’re probably not going to learn a lot from watching a porn video. It’s been edited to make the events happen faster & look more interesting. The bodies shown are probably unrealistic to strive for. The camera angles may not be positioned well to show what’s actually going on.
This is especially the case with hentai. Lol… hentai is almost never accurate. “What? How does that even work? That’s not how it works!” That’s a bad place to look for sex advice! Or any kind of advice, for that matter.

But I feel like Dodson & Ross. made a contradiction when they talk about the “New Porn” being sex education in and of itself. Didn’t you just say porn isn’t educational? Which is why I feel they’re referring to mainstream porn. Thier porn of choice is probably best described as Alternative.
I get what they’re trying to say though. A glance through the video selection at GoodVibes & BabeLand reveal many instructional DVDs promising to explain in great detail how to perform one or more sexual activities.

It’s a good question… is it still Pornography if its intent is sexual education? Or is it just… sex education? (Why didn’t they teach us that way in high school?) What if it’s an instructional video that’s all censored & demonstrates on, say a piece of fruit rather than another person? What if it’s a sex education video that’s totally hot?
I think it’s a hybrid, in that case. Being both things at once. Is it possible to do both?
We should be able to find out for sure shortly – Dodson & Ross leave off assuring the viewers that they’ll have some of their “New Porn” available soon.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. Of course Dodson & Ross are making a point to bring New Porn to the forefront, since that is what they are looking to sell. But on the other hand, if it delivers what it promises, then that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Still, I’m a little concerned that their New Porn will become just another product to tune out. Now if they are referring to “New Porn” as a whole entire genre encompassing porn produced by other folks – I would feel more comfortable like that.

Welp. At least it may offer one more way to explore your sexuality. For those who feel inhibited about watching porn, this type might feel more comfortable since it’s marketed differently.

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Winterizing my pelvic pain wardrobe

01/16/2009 at 10:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, vulvodynia | Leave a comment
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What do you wear when your pelvis, bladder, and/or vulva hurts?

It’s winter in the northern hemisphere, and that means it’s dark and cold. We distract ourselves from the dark with major holidays and lights, at least until the shortest day of the year. We fight the cold with heaters & warm clothes. You might ask yourself in the morning, “What am I going to wear?” Every winter, there are some women who are faced with this question, only with a painful twist.

“What am I going to wear to keep warm when I can’t wear pants?”

I’m a lucky woman. I have the option & ability to wear a lot of different kinds of clothing (at least, for now.) I appreciate this.

I can wear basic, breathable underwear.
I can wear comfortable shorts, pants & jeans.
Sometimes I can even wear thongs for a few hours.
I can wear pretty, fancy lingerie when I want to feel sexy – just for a little while.

But I’m not that lucky. There’s still some clothes I avoid.

I can’t wear tight pants. A tight pair of jeans can be a stiff, constricting sweatbox for the pelvic pain patient. The crotch of jeans can rub up against your crotch and cause irritation. Or the seam can rub against a delicate clitoris – and not in a pleasant way! This was the case for me when I was experiencing peak pelvic pain days. It was quite the opposite of pleasure. I have had to sell, donate, and throw out many pairs of jeans that were, maybe never totally comfortable, but, tolerable once in the days gone by.

I can’t wear long underwear. The last time I tried to wear long underwear underneath a pair of regular work pants, I just so happened to experience a major months-long pelvic pain flare. I can’t be certain that there was a direct cause-effect relationship there… maybe it was just bad luck & bad timing. But I’m not going to risk it. Bad luck charm, right there. Bad juju.

Stockings and tights are likewise out of the picture for me, for the reasons listed above. Indeed, avoiding tight clothes is usually one of the first & “Easiest” tips given to women with pelvic pain.

Not being able to wear long underwear or stockings means I needed to find a “Go-around” to keep my legs warm during these cold winter months. Something to go underneath my pants that will still allow me some freedom of movement – and breathability for my vulva.

So I wear thigh-high stockings and/or thigh-high socks.

In my experience, thigh high socks are harder to find than thigh-high stockings in retail stores. However, the selection of thigh-high stockings is usually pretty limited. At three of the department stores I frequent, thigh high stockings made up a relatively small percent of available hosery compared to regular tights & support hose. I’m not always able to find the color/size combination want. Sometimes the color does matter, since I usually wear stockings with skirts for work.

Thigh high stockings are also seen more than regular pantyhose in lingere catalogs & websites. There’s something sexual about them… maybe it is the way they accentuate the legs, maybe it’s culture, maybe it is a combination of the two.

But thigh high socks are harder for me to find – at least, when I search for them in person.

In my quest for thigh-high socks, I walked into a socks outlet store a few weeks ago. There were no thigh highs available. I could either go with Knee-Highs or I could buy Men’s Socks, knowing that men’s sizes are larger than women’s, and if I bought a large man-sock it probably would come up to about my thigh. I decided to hold off & see what else I could scrounge up.

So I started looking for thigh high socks online.

I never realized thigh-high socks & stockings were considered such a fetish item until I started looking for them.
As of today, the first result on Google for “Thigh high socks” takes me to American Apparel’s selection. Their description says “We’ve taken our sporty socks thigh high for a sexier look.” …So, what, are regular socks… not sexy, then?
Well, I suppose feeling sexy is a nice side effect of wearing thigh high socks, but that wasn’t my main motivation for buying them. I need something practical & warm. Something that will allow me freedom of movement without being too constricting around the vulva.

Still. It’s a bit disconcerting to me to see Disembodied legs over and over again on sock-selling sites. But I suppose by definition, “Thigh high” socks requires that an entire – and often feminine – leg be shown. Maybe the photographer just ran out of room, or showing the rest of the outfit would take away from the main product of interest. And how can you know what the thigh highs look like if they are covered by pants?
(But then if we need to know what they look like, why not just show the socks spread out but not on a model, like a t-shirt that isn’t being worn?)

And my goodness, there certainly are a lot of sites that pop up within the first page of Google’s results showing women wearing thigh highs – and just their underwear or a schoolgirl lingerie costume. I even see one website aptly named “Thighhighsocks.com” – and it’s porn. Truly rule 34 in action.

I had no idea that thigh high socks were so sexualized until I started looking for them. I was not looking for socks to make me feel sexy. No one sees my thigh high socks underneath my pants. I just need something to keep my legs warm – without smothering my vulva.

That so many of these socks look and, in fact, are flimsy, is a real problem for me. The flimsier, thinner material must stretch better, and so look more appealing sexually… but then I sometimes have to wind up layering one regular sock over the thigh-highs, to keep my feet warm. Wouldn’t it be easier to just make the sock thicker & warmer? I can find knee-high wool socks, but I’m having a harder time finding thigh-high wool ones.

But I remain grateful. I am trying to remember to not take the health I have for granted.
But sometimes, when I’m upset and tired of looking for warm winter clothes that fit, I get frustrated. Truly, the fashion industry overlooks a wide variety of body types. In its rigid refusal to better accommodate more body types, some women feel forced to modify their own bodies to fit in with what’s “Normal.” When that doesn’t work, women may feel inadequate. This can lead to pretty extreme and sometimes self-destructive behavior. But that’s a discussion for another day.

I know women with pelvic pain who can wear nothing but skirts. Or, they need to wear skirts during peak pain time. This may not be so much of a problem in the spring, summer, or fall, when the tempeartures are more reasonable. I like wearing skirts on warm days in summer too. But even on those nice weather days, having to wear or not wear one thing or another, is just another reminder of the body’s limitations.

But right now, it’s winter. It’s January. I live on the Eastern seaboard. It gets cold here. This week we have temperatures ranging from a low of zero to a high of 20 or 30 degrees (Fahrenheit.) It snows.

Wearing a skirt can’t be comfortable when it’s that cold out.
This is something I am not personally familiar with. I have not had to wear skirts in the winter. But I step outside in my thigh-high socks covered by pants covered by boots, and a heavy coat on… and I’m still freezing within moments.

I don’t know about it personally – but I recognize that having to wear skirts due to pelvic pain must be a real struggle, based on the discussion I see about it online. One such vulvodynia & interstitial cystitis patient spoke out about it here. There are many others; some of the Living with Vulvar Pain blogs I have linked to on the sidebar of this page include posts just about clothing & vulvar pain.

Seeing women wearing skirts in the winter is a rare sight for me. I don’t expect to see skirts in the winter, except perhaps at parties or for a night out on the town.
Yet I have seen it.
When I see the long denim or suede skirts on women when the temperature is below freezing, I wonder… “Does she have it? Does she know? Do I know her? Is it just coincidence? Maybe I’m just over thinking things again.”

I got to know one of these women. In college, I went to class with a woman who wore long heavy skirts to class every day. We were in a women’s health class together. She was a busy, working mother. We did a project together. As I got to know her, I learned that she had had a hysterectomy. She learned that I had vulvodynia. She never came out & said that she had pelvic pain too – but I suspect that she may have, based on her interest in my interest in pelvic pain. I once highlighted a passage discussing post-menopausal women who experienced tearing of the vulvar tissues during intercourse and she pointed it out. I said, “You don’t have to be in menopause to experience that… :(” and she agreed, “No, you certainly don’t…”

I wonder… did she know? She never said anything directly but…

One of the other women wearing a skirt in winter was about my age, maybe even younger. I saw her a few weeks ago at a doctor’s office. It was December, and late at night. I didn’t speak to this woman, as I was leaving. But I saw what she was wearing.
It may be worth noting here that this doctor’s specialty is in treating pelvic pain patients…
…which is the reason I was there – mostly to address the residual vaginismus moreso than the vestibulitis. The treatment works on both, for me.

So I wonder… I wonder if she knew, too.

I can only imagine how hard that must be.


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