Happy 3rd birthday, Feminists with FSD

09/07/2011 at 6:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Today marks the 3rd anniversary of this blog. Three years on the internet, blogging about first-person perspectives of sexual dysfunction and feminism – that’s a long time to blog!

I think this calls for some small celebration and a few more pictures on this mostly-text operation. (We especially need some filler right now because I am still working on part 4 Ina blog post series about doctor’s views of sexual pain.) We already have pictures of cupcakes and unicorns here, but there is one very special type of unicorn I neglected to include during my little April Fool’s prank:

[Description: Unicorn pony Rarity leaning into also-unicorn pony Twilight Sparkle. From the MLP:FIM wiki. You can’t actually see Rarity’s horn in this picture, but it’s there.]

Yes that’s right: It’s a Pony post! Deal with it. This blog needs about 20% more Ponies in order to be cool. (Don’t tell me you didn’t see it coming.) Now let’s get this pony stuff out of our systems pronto.


See more on Know Your Meme

[Description: Animated .gif of Twilight Sparkle jumping mid-air and black glasses landing on her face. She talks and text appears saying, “Deal with it.”]

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.)

2011 has been a quieter year for Feminists with FSD than in previous years, because I didn’t write anything during the summer. We lost some time we could have spent blogging. On the other hand, taking time off gave me a chance to recharge and shed some burnout. I may have to do that again next year.

But even with that break, things are likely to remain quieter around here than they have been in the past – you may have noticed the lack of weekly blog link roundups. My excuse for this is that I still work full-time in a completely unrelated field and receive zero compensation for putting anything up on this blog. I cannot offer compensation to guest posters, because I have nothing to give. And since my commute got a lot worse this year than it has been in the past, I don’t have as much time to blog as I used to. But I keep trying to chug along and plug along as much as I can.

There’s still a lot of stuff left to talk about with regards to the intersection of feminism & female sexual dysfunction. I’ve addressed only a few of the outstanding issues I brought up in last year’s anniversary post. Your undying patience with my snail’s pace at getting new content posted is appreciated.

On the other hand, there are new topics posted now that I hadn’t thought of last year – such as our still-continuing series on how doctors think sexual pain should be addressed – as a pain problem, or as a sex problem? Hmm. So much work left to do… and it needs to be done.

I am 100% confident that there is still a need to present these first-person perspectives on feminism & sexual dysfunction. I’m still finding posts online and in articles written by people who present themselves as experts on sexuality – yet articles about sexual dysfunction still fail to speak for me, or even, to me. So many articles by folks who have never experienced sexual dysfunction firsthand, yet claim to know more about it than I and my friends do. The authors don’t talk to me as an equal deserving of respect and with a mind of my own, capable of making thoughtful decisions on what to do about my health and sex life. Instead, what I’m seeing as someone who actually has sexual dysfunction, is condescension and stereotypes presented as helpful “Advice.”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but most of the advice offered in these contemporary articles about and critical of sexual dysfunction do not address my problems. Instead, the advice presented just adds bullshit onto my growing pile of crap I gotta deal with – and makes it harder for me to slog along way to a satisfactory resolution. I’m thinking to myself right now, Oh look, another so-called “Sexpert” just implied that anyone who even considers using medication to manage a sex problem must be a pill-popping shill incapable of critical thought re: the pharmaceutical industry and potential side effects. What do these journalists think we do? I think they think we all go to a big city with fistfulls of cash and bang on the door of the first corporation we can find, saying, “BIG PHARMA TAKE MY MONEEEEY!!!”

[Description: Stylized unicorn with a gold tiara and rainbow wavy hair Princess Celestia shrugging with this look on her face: >:/]

I think to myself, And look over there, another journalist just explicitly stated that women who don’t have orgasms are holding themselves back because of peer pressure brainwashing by the patriarchy. I can’t believe this is still a thing.

Remember, I am not an Agony Aunt. Most of the time I hate giving out advice, because I can never have a complete story of what’s going on in your life, what you’ve already tried, where you want to be in the future, etc. I don’t want to be the one to give you the wrong advice that winds up causing more problems in the end.
And please, for the love of god, no one ever refer to me as a “Sexpert.”

I will proceed to make one exception to my general guideline about not giving advice though. Here’s something that the sexual dysfunction writers to which I am referring need to know:

Protip: if you yourself do not know what daily life with sexual dysfunction is like, yet you still want to write about female sexual dysfunction, maybe find some women who actually have sexual dysfunction ask for their opinions and experiences first. Having trouble finding women who identify as having sexual dysfunction and who are willing to open up to you about it? Then maybe you should read the archives on this blog for examples of why it’s risky to come out as having a sexual dysfunction in the first place. There is still tremendous stigma attached to it as a diagnosis, whether you’ve got a low libido, pain, or any other seriously distressing sexual problem. Is your blog post or magazine excerpt going to be yet another one of these problematic articles?

So instead of copying the way I see most articles about sexual dysfunction, here’s what I prefer to think when I write stuff for this blog. I start off from these general points of view to serve as guidelines:

People with sexual dysfunction are smart.
People with sexual dysfunctions are capable of making rational decisions about what to do about their health and sex lives.
People with sexual dysfunction have probably already sought advice, are currently seeking advice, or will seek advice in the future. That means that whatever advice you as an individual have for someone with a sex problem, it probably isn’t that new or revolutionary. Whoever you’re writing for has probably seen some iteration of your advice, or will see it again in the future. So that’s why I like to take things in a different direction here – I like to show off stuff that I haven’t seen before, or stuff that I’ve only rarely seen.

It’s a different starting point from how I usually see sexual dysfunction patients handled. Most articles and essays about sexual dysfunction start off from a position where the patients are ignorant, gullible and easily manipulated.

Hmm… No, sir, I don’t like it.

What th— wait a minute! This was supposed to be a pony post! Who let Mr. Horse in here?! Get out of here, Mr. Horse. You’re from a different show.

[Description: Mr. Horse from the Ren & Stimpy show standing on two legs and wearing a gentlemen’s coat and tie. Standing in front of an abstract yellow & gray background with a sour look on his expressive face.]

A problem holding me back is that since I am not an Agony Aunt, Sexpert, Ph.D., M.D., M.S.W., or anything other than an ordinary lady with an extraordinary crotch, I still lack something critically important: Credibility. Who is going to listen to a young lady’s views of sex and feminism when she herself has not actually even had any penis-in-vagina activity in over two years, despite being in a long-term heterosexual relationship? Who is going to take seriously a critique of peer-reviewed journal articles, as written by someone with no relevant academic credentials? What publisher would ever take an essay about sex by someone like me seriously? There’s no two-or-three letter acronym before or after my real name, other than the generic “MS.” So although This blog has a decent number of readers – as many as some college classes – I remain painfully insecure about my own perceived illegitimacy. I feel like it doesn’t matter how much research I do or if I do a good job of pointing out flaws in the way people present sexual dysfunction; without something to make me look like I’m important, no one will ever listen.

And that makes me sad.

[Description: Light purple winged unicorn Princess Luna crouching on the ground. She is looking up at something off-screen.]

I suppose the solution to this dilemma is to go back to school to get a two-or-three letter acronym to put in front of or behind my name. Except I already have a Bachelor’s degree in another field, and school costs money. Money and time, which I am also short on. It is a conundrum… Plus, in principle, you shouldn’t need to have professionally recognized credentials in order to talk about what’s going on in your life.

So for some reason I keep on blogging anyway. It’s one of those things where you do it because you have to do it. Not that I’m being compelled by any outside force; just something inside pushing for more. So more comes out – and hopefully, will continue to pour out for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for reading, we shall return to our regularly scheduled non-pony blogging shortly.

A change of pace

04/01/2011 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Everyone, today, I have a very importnat announcment to make. Starting today, I am turning over a new leaf. With this the first of the month, we are going to take the blog in a different direction.

My friends, I know that over the last two & a half years you’ve all enjoyed (or not) an alternative perspective on female sexual dysfunction. But this morning, I woke up seized by a fey mood; a humours, if you will; and suddenly it all became clear. Truly, female sexual dysfunction is but a well-organized conspiracy perpetuated on women by sinister doctors and fat cats with none but the intent to make us all miserable. As such, I can no longer write about it in good faith.

Which presents the dilemma: But what to do with the blog then? Though it pains me to have to scrap the drafts in the queue, I must nonetheless shift gears. Alas, I will no longer be able to work on a post about human sexuality studies in academia and a critical look at companies & organizations which provide funding to non-profits. Likewise I will no longer be able to write sexuality book reviews. For such topics were going to somehow tie into female sexual dysfunction, which as we all know, no longer exists and it never did.

So instead, on this day, I would like to announce, Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction will become a blog about Unicorns.

That’s right, Unicorns. And their friends like the kirin and narwhale, although that last one is a real thing. Mythical and real one-horned beasties from around the world. Ever hear of the Karkadann? That critter was was all sticking its head out from its mom’s uterus womb (sorry US Government – I forgot we’re not supposed to use the proper terminology for reproductive organs anymore) and eating fruit before popping back in there and chillin’ till it was time to get born. (No, seriously.) Kind of a jerk once it was born, though.

It seems only fitting to become a blog about mythical animals, seeing as how according to experts like these female sexual dysfunction is in fact a myth. And so, unicorns and other symbolic critters that do not actually exist will become the spiritual successor to discussions about actual pervasive personal distress caused by sexual problems which do exist. Or don’t exist, per the most important opinion, which also happens to be the most objective opinion, meaning the opinion of people who do not themselves have FSD.

So from now on, starting today on this the first day of a certain month*, we are no longer going to critique feminist critiques of female sexual dysfunction and sexual dysfunction broadly. The mainstream feminist critiques of female sexual dysfunction are the only valid ones and certainly they are 100% problem-free. Nope. No problems there. Not a one. Everything is fine and nothing needs tweaking anymore. I have seen the light.

From now on, this is a blog dedicated to further the unicorn agenda. I don’t actually know what that means, but I think it involves posting pictures of unicorns.

So, instead of a blog link roundup, I hereby demand a unicorn picture roundup. Post pictures of unicorns if’n you got’em. This blog needs some more fucking unicorns. I better be up to my ass in unicorn shit by the time this post is done! (THEY CRAP RAINBOWS!)

Picture of the Unicorn in Captivity, which is not actually a painting but art on fabric:

Unicorn in Captivity

[Description: Unicorn in Captivity, borrowed from Wikimedia Commons. A long-horned unicorn with goaty legs and tail in repose, surrounded by a fence. It is underneath a tree and there are a lot of plants on the ground.]

Sometimes unicorns are used as an allegory for chastity and purity, because of that thing where they only like to hang out with virgin women. Perhaps in an alternate dimension, I could have written something about unicorns + virginity but I can no longer do so because it would remind me too much about vaginismus.

DomenichinounicornPalFarnese

[Description: Domenechino’s Fanciulla con liocorno, 1604 – 1605, borrowed from Wikimedia Commons. A smiling white woman in green clothes loosely holding a small horse-type unicorn. Trees and water in the background.]

Here’s a picture of that Karkadann I was telling you about. Sadly I could not GIS a picture of the baby sticking its head out of its mom’s womb and birth canal. I know it’s from a seventeenth-century manuscript, but I don’t know who drew it. The Karkadann was said to live in India, North Africa and Persia (Iran.)

karkadann

[Description: A possibly-baby karkadann laying on pink dirt under a tree, looking up at two birds. The karkadann itself looks like a rhino with both a nose-horn and a forehead-horn, but it has spindly little goat legs.]

Sue Dawe is an artist who draws a lot of modern-looking airbrushed unicorn pictures. When you think of unicorns, you probably think of Sue Dawe or Lisa Frank. I think I may have owned a poster or greeting cards by her at some point. You probably saw Dawe’s stuff on the interweb before. Here’s one that’s copyright Sue Dawe:

Hyperborean

[Description: 5 horse-type unicorns  frolicking under an Aurora Borealis. The highlights and shadows are overwhelmingly done in purple & white.]

And then here’s one from my childhood, the cartoon version of The Last Unicorn, written by Peter S. Beagle but animated by the Rankin-Bass studio.

amalthea face

[Description: Close-up of The Last Unicorn‘s head & neck. She has big rabbit ears, anime eyes and although you can’t tell from this picture, she has a horse-ish body with goat legs & tail.]

Coming soon: More unicorns (Yay!)

*Spoiler alert: In case it still isn’t clear by now, I wish you all a happy April Fool’s Day. We shall return to our regularly scheduled FSD blogging shortly. Till then, don’t believe everything you see online today!

Shorties II

03/21/2011 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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In the same spirit as the original Shorties, I bring you: A series of posts which were each too small to constitute blog entries on their own. Divided we are weak, but together, we are strong!

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The National Vulvodynia Association’s newsletter for 2010 is posted on their website, here. It includes updates on research and funding, and profiles of researchers who have received NVA-related grants. There are also profiles of medical professionals working towards a more comprehensive understanding of vulvodynia. There’s also updates on educational materials and programs provided by the NVA.

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There’s a couple of reasons I like to post book reviews on this blog. I may post product (vibrator, dilator etc.) reviews in the future; I haven’t decided yet. Again, a reminder: Any reviews I posted here so far, I had to pay for the product in question & I haven’t gotten any compensation for my services.

It’s a blog about sexual dysfunction, especially that greatest bone of consternation, female sexual dysfunction. One of the common themes I read in feminist analysis of FSD is that a lot of it is actually sexual insecurity which stems from ignorance and lack of education. The idea goes something like, men & women are socialized differently and grow up with different expectations & pressures when it comes to sexual behavior. (In other words, differences in sexual behavior between men & women aren’t necessarily inborn.) Women are discouraged from learning about sex & pleasure. Combine this with shitty sex education and you have a pretty good chance of not understanding the influence of gender roles and how your own body works. This in turn is misinterpreted by the individual as “There must be something wrong with me” when experiencing a normal, understandable reaction to sexual stimulation. And the cure for this is better sex education instead of medication. Go read a goddamn book or something!

Improved sex education is great, so that’s one reason to post reviews of sexual guides and products. So every one in awhile you’ll find such a review here – it’s my way of saying, “Hey, here’s something that’s good and worth your time,” or, “Hey, here’s an overrated product that isn’t worth the packaging it came in. Save your money.” Or I’ll post something more nuanced –  “This is good, this is bad, and this part I don’t understand at all.”

However there’s another reason I post the reviews here…
Sometimes all the sex education in the world cannot fix a sexual problem.
Because it doesn’t all come from sexual ignorance.
Many of the sexual guides I’ve read, some of which come highly recommended, do not do a good job of addressing my problem in particular – pain. Maybe it’s because they’re not medical advice books so they can’t recommend treatments. Liability issues, maybe.

I’m doing what I’ve been told to do. I’m getting better sex education. I read the blogs. I buy the sex toys from the feminist sex shops. I have explored my sexual fantasies and will continue to do so. I masturbate to orgasm. I am in love with a supportive partner (the feeling, I understand, is mutual.)

The lady with sexual dysfunction is reading a goddamn book or something.

So why do I still experience dyspareunia?
Why do I still have vaginismus?
Why does my vagina still take so long to recover from vaginitis?
Why is medical intervention the treatment that best addressed the sexual and chronic pain?

Hey wait a second, this isn’t working. I still want to have some penis-in-vagina sex over here and that’s still like, really hard to do. Maybe I’m just not reading books and trying to learn hard enough.

The sex education helps – it’s definitely worth something. But it’s not comprehensive enough for me.

Now we could say here that I am the special snowflake exception to the general rule that FSD is a fake invention designed by Big Pharma and evil doctors; Dr. Leonore Tiefer, organizer of the New View Campaign, said as much when she wrote, “Dyspareunia is the only valid sexual dysfunction and certainly the only important one,” in response to the suggestion that dyspareunia might be better considered a pain condition rather than a sexual problem.

So hypothetically I suppose I could say, “Fuck you all; I got mine.”

Hypothetically. I have no desire to actually do that and in fact I feel dirty for having spelled such a phrase out in text. Excuse me while I swish some mouthwash and/or wash my hands. Is that what I’m supposed to say? Is that the way I’m supposed to feel? Is this the signal that, as someone with dyspareunia, I’m supposed to shut my pie hole when I see folks with other dysfunctions belittled for it?
I maintain that elevating one or some forms of sexual dysfunction as more real than others creates and crystalizes an artificial hierarchy. And it throws folks with sexual dysfunctions other than or in addition to pain under the bus.

And if, for me, all the sex education in the world fell short of actual medical help from professionals, then why should I believe that it would be any different for all of my friends who have sexual dysfunctions that are not painful?
Not that sex education has been completely useless; far from it. I have taken advantage of the information I found useful. (I also tripped over the parts that were counter-productive.) But to deny medical options to women with sexual dysfunction is to remove an important potential treatment, which for some folks may very well be necessary to find sexual satisfaction. And I find it highly disturbing when such options are removed through means of threats & intimidation, shaming, or ableist comments.

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Speaking of dyspaerunia being “The only valid sexual dysfunction and certainly the only important one,” I made this Privelege Denying Dudette meme just for you:

[Picture: Background: 6 piece pie style color split with pink and blue alternating. Foreground: White girl wearing a green t-shirt, featuring an African-American Sesame Street muppet with nine different hairstyles, subtitled, “I Love My Hair.” Has a smug, arrogant facial expression and plays with her long, brown hair. Top text: “ [SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION ISN’T REAL, YOU DON’T NEED MEDICAL INTERVENTION IN YOUR SEX LIFE] ” Bottom text: “ [WAIT, YOU HAVE DYSPAREUNIA? YOU BETTER GO SEE A DOCTOR.] ”]

What? Wait, what’s it going to be, do I trust my doctors or not? Do they know enough about sex to help me or is it an exercise in futilty to even bring up a sex problem? Am I allowed to go to one of the heavily-marketed sexual dysfunction clinics Dr. Tiefer mentioned in Sex is Not a Natural Act when my regular gynecologist gets stumped and refers me to such a clinic? If I take a prescription for sexual pain, am I just feeding the Big Bad Phama Beast and looking for an easy, quick fix? If I get treatment for dyspareunia, does that count as medicalizing sexuality?

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I recently came to a revolutinary conclusion. If your definition of sex positive does not include sexual dysfunction, then your definition isn’t positive enough.

I want to go out of my way to explicitly include sexual dysfunction in sex-positive discussions. Because ignoring it, outright denying its existence, or claiming that looking at sexual dysfunction = focusing on the negative, will not make it go away. Insisting that sexual dysfunction is a lie erases people who actually have sexual dysfunction. As a result, people with sexual dysfunction are excluded from sex-positivity – and I hate that. There is push-back against excluding people with a history of STIs from the sex-positive community by means of negative, stigmatizing language – why not push back for people with dysfunction?

You know what? I have sexual dysfunction. I exist. This is a long- term thing for me that I do not foresee changing any time soon. It will not go away just because you are uncomfortable with dysfunction (and, by extension, disability. These two phobias tend to go tovether, possibly because dysfunction may be viewed as a sub-type of disability.)

Yet even with the dysfunction, somehow, in spite of everything, I am sex-positive. I have made peace with it – or, at the very least, I have made a truce with myself until I can figure something better out.

Insisting that sexual dysfunction isn’t real or that medical options are unwarranted is just going to make it harder to get the care that I and my friends need. It’s true that most people will never experience sexual dysfunction, and so will not require medical options to address it. Nonetheless, inevitably, some people are going to develop sexual dysfunction. Isn’t there a way we can focus on getting support to such folk, instead of trying to sweep ’em under the rug?

Sexual dysfunction and sex-positivity do not need to be mutually exclusive.

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Sometimes, I worry a little bit about my reliance on a vibrator for orgasm. I think that, with enough practice, I probably could masturbate to orgasm using only my (or my partner’s) hands. But until then, I orgasm easily enough with a battery-powered vibrator.

I’m not worried about spending money on vibrators and thus supporting a capitalist system. I’m not worried about using my vibrators during sexual activity with my partner. I’m not worried that he’ll feel inadequate compared to my vibrator. I’m not worried about becoming addicted to masturbation. I’m not worried that I’m supporting the tyranny of orgasm.

The real reason I sometimes worry about using my vibrator is…
…I have this paranoid fear that some day space aliens or a freak accident or a Hollywood movie-esque disaster will unleash an electromagnetic pulse over the USA (home) and all elecronics will lose functionality.
Including my vibrators.
And then I’ll have to find a techno wizard to SteamPunk some kind of hand-cranked or steam-powered vibe for me. Possbily incorporating or inspired by one of the old-time antiques like those found in the Museum of Sex. And it’s just going to be really awkward and frustrating and I’ll probably have a lot of other important things to worry about post-EMP.

Obviously I don’t really know how EMPs work and I don’t really care. Everything I learned about them, I learned from movies.

I think about this with about the same frequency that I think about the Zombie Apocalypse as a real thing. Which is to say, not very often except for maybe after watching a movie about a zombie apocalypse or a post-apocalyptic setting.

Female sexual dysfunction discussion Bingo!

09/26/2010 at 3:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments
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[Description: A 25-square bingo board with light blue and lavender accents. The theme of the board is feminist bingo-worthy quotes in relation to female sexual dysfunction. A transcript is below the cut.]

Hey you! You there! At the computer! Everyone! Step right up folks, step right up and come on dooooown! *Fanfare plays, light bulbs flash in the marching ants pattern*

Have YOU ever run into stereotypes and archetypes about what sort of women develop sexual dysfunction? Have you been offered unsolicited advice on what to do about your sex life, which perhaps has quite a few major complications going on? Have you become frustrated with a lack of satisfactory resolution to your problems and feel like you have nowhere to go to talk about them? Are you tired of hearing the same tropes over and over again when talking about female sexual dysfunction?

Well then step right up folks, yes step right up and get ready to play Female Sexual Dysfunction Discussion Bingo!

It’s easy to play along! All you have to do is hang around any discussion of female sexual dysfunction long enough or experience in real life some variation of the experiences described above, and then mark the corresponding box off on your Bingo board. Fill in five in a row up, down or diagonally, and you “Win!”

(Unfortunately I’ve been cleaned out of prizes to give to the winners of this game and in fact if you have FSD then lurking in the comments section of a discussion of female sexual dysfunction is likely to be upsetting at best and triggering at worst…)

Impress your friends!

Annoy your enemies!

Stop in your tracks with the sudden realization of, “Oh my god but I’ve done stuff on this board! I never realized how much it piles up on the folks I’ve been talking about!”
[I am pessimistic that anyone will have this reaction in real life; the most likely scenario that will play out is probably more like: Upon realizing that someone has used variations of the above and upon meeting this bingo board, that same someone will say, “Well this blogger is clearly a bitch and is much too close to her own experiences to be able to look at FSD ~objectively~.”]

Think you can’t play because you don’t got FSD yourself? No problem! Simply support someone who does! You can start by checking your own privileges at the door and listening without judgment to a friend who does have a dysfunction!
Don’t know anybody with FSD? Yeah maybe you should think about that for more than 5 seconds and see if you can think of any reasons why no one has felt comfortable disclosing their sexual health problems to you.

With FSD Bingo, everyone’s a winner!

Yes folks this right here is a brand-new, limited edition addition to the collection of social justice Bingo Boards! Trade with your friends! Complete the set! Gotta catch ’em all! Collect ’em all!

Right-click save (or click and hold) your copy of FSD Bingo today!!!


But seriously folks,

This is another collaborative effort brought to you by me and frequent commenter and sometimes guest poster Flora. (Hence, version 1.2 presented here – I have incorporated elements and feedback from boards we came up with.) You asked, and we delivered.

Everything in the bingo board box is based on real stuff we’ve seen & heard. I’m not making any of this up. Read the archives back far enough, and you’ll probably be able to trace a lot of these boxes back to their original inspiration.

There were even more valid candidates to make it onto the board – I just ran out of room and couldn’t include them all. Unfortuantely there are more than just these 25 pieces of sexist, rampantly disablist rubbish floating around in discussions of female sexual dysfunction. Perhaps some day I’ll release a version 2.0 if this one gets enough feedback to warrant revisions.

Until then, enjoy. Don’t leave home without it!

Transcript follows below the cut in case you can’t see the above image.

Continue Reading Female sexual dysfunction discussion Bingo!…

Shorties

07/06/2010 at 7:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Submitted for your approval: A series of posts which were each too small to constitute blog entries on their own. Divided we are weak, but together, we are strong! Caution: TMI/NSFW content alert, for frank description of 1 sexual act towards the end. The one TMI/NSFW anecdote included will go behind a WordPress cut, so if you are reading from the main page, you’ll need to click through to go on when the time comes. Everything should still appear in your RSS feeder though, so scroll at your own discretion. Thanks!

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The National Vulvodynia Association has released a new e-newsletter! It’s been months since the last one was released in January 2010. Keep in mind, this is not to be confused with their regular newsletter. You need to be a member of the NVA to read their regular newsletter, but the e-newsletter is a .PDF available to the public.

Some highlights I found interesting are below; do check the whole newsletter for more when you have a chance:

The NVA is adding three new self-help booklets to their web resources, available to NVA members. The topics may be of some interest to readers here – First up will be Vulvodynia, Pregnancy and Childbirth, then My Partner has Vulvodynia – What Do I Need to Know? and How to Apply for Disability Benefits. Personally I’m very curious to see what the Partner booklet looks like – the e-newsletter does not use gendered pronouns so here’s to hoping that it doesn’t take an exclusively heterocentric view. But of course I’d like to see the other two booklets as well.

The e-newsletter also goes over some updates in the wide world of vulvar pain. There’s a new clinic open in Miluwakee, Wisconsin. Research and grants remain ongoing. One of the research topics is on vulvodynia and pregnancy, so women with vulvodynia may soon have some rigorous science available to help make decisions, in addition to anecdotes and stories of support presently available. There’s going to be a vulvodynia conference for researchers later this year, in October 2010. Findings from the conference will be published in a medical journal, but the e-newsletter does not say which journal yet, or when. Hm, that’s interesting. I’d like to keep an eye on that. I hope no one stages an anti-vulvodynia researcher conference outside of it.

The last page is dedicated to summarizing the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women. You may remember not too long ago, the Overlapping Conditions Alliance went to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of chronic conditions that disproportionately effect women. There’s links to some videos related to the conference, and the e-newsletter says that representatives met with political representatives, including Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. There’s also a request in the newsletter for readers to send an e-mail urging select US government representative to get on board with the Campaign – I’ll just let you click through to that form via the e-newsletter.

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Thoughts on a Dear Abby column, in which the writer, a elderly man, writes in asking for advice on communicating about his Viagra use to his female sex partner. My thoughts are: What an interesting way to phrase a question about communication and what interesting assumptions everyone involved seems to be making.

So “Vital Man” writes in because when he went away on a week-long trip, his sex partner “Demanded” that he leave his Viagra with her. Apparently he and his girlfriend are comfortable with him using Viagra during sexual activity, but they don’t communicate about it openly. Vital Man assumes his girlfriend assumes he needs to use it each time he has sexual activity, therefore Viagra is like a tether. If he can’t maintain an erection, theoretically he won’t have sexual relations with another partner.

My thoughts are: Well did he outright lie to his partner and tell her “I need it,” or otherwise deliberately mislead her into thinking something along those lines… or did they not talk about it and he assumes that’s her assumption? What makes this guy think that she doesn’t already know that Viagra is optional for him?

My other thought – maybe she wants to try the Viagra out herself, while he’s out of town. That way she can find out if it has any effect on her, and if not, then no pressure to perform! (That’s what I’d do anyway. That was my first thought!)

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In my free time, for fun, I’ve been reading rule books for Dungeons & Dragons. I’m having some difficulty finding a local group to play with, but I’ll keep looking.

Perhaps there’s a deeper meaning to my choice of book types – Dungeon Master rulebooks rather than the player handbooks. Maybe casual players read DM books, too, I don’t know. Or maybe it means I secretly want to control a whole imaginary world and be a level-building world-destroyer.

I once read or heard an axiom that stated something like, any time a new technology comes out, it will always be adapted to sex. I don’t know if that’s an actual expression or who first declared it, (any ideas?) but it sounds about right to me. So of course as I read the D&D rulebooks I started thinking if there was any way to incorporate sex & sexuality into campaigns. Does any group ever do that? Surely I couldn’t be the first one to think of that…

As it turns out, I’m not the first whose thoughts turn to adult situations in roleplay games. I won’t be the last. I’m not going to post a full review of this book, because it’s too embarassing even for me, even on this TMI blog. But I bought, and read everything in the Book of Erotic Fantasy, compliant with D&D rules (3rd edition…) which means the rules are outdated already, but I’m sure they can be adapted to 4th edition rules by a creative DM.

What’s funny besides the bad Photoshops used as illustrations (instead of drawings) is how seriously the book takes itself. Very serious about the rules of sexual roleplay, complete with charts and tables for decision-making and dice-measuring. Very serious and complicated even though in this case the roleplay is done entirely in players’ imaginations, and not performed on each other in the flesh. I think…. in most cases it would not be performed in the physical realm. The exception, I suppose, would be for LARP players. That might be fun to watch.

Since the rules are now outdated and many (if not most) of the rules can’t be applied to real life situations (even one-on-one partner bedroom play – unless you’re really creative,) the Book of Erotic Fantasy is purely For Novelty Purposes Only.

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I e-mailed Durex & Lifestyles about the lubricant used on their non-latex condoms (Durex Avanti/Avanti Bare & Lifestyles Skyns.)

According to the e-mailed responses, both brands are coated in silicone-based lubricant. Just FYI for you.

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And this is where it gets TMI/NSFW-ish, so here’s that WordPress cut you’ll need to click through from the main page to continue forward at the time of your choosing.

Continue Reading Shorties…

Chaser Image – Candy that sort of looks like a vulva

12/09/2009 at 8:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Let’s lighten the mood a bit – I found these pieces of candy that sort of look like vulvas. Or maybe I’m just projecting my own thoughts onto them. I’m not censoring the images because these were sold as-is in little see-through boxes at a candy store, so if it’s good enough for the candy shop it’s good enough for me.

These are maple syrup candies, so they’re basically pure sugar. If you’re on any kind of restrictive diet (low-oxlate, anti-yeast, etc.) these probably won’t fit in. The lighter and less detailed of the two pieces is blended with cane sugar. The darker & more frilly piece is pure maple sugar. They both taste sweet and have a texture like dissolving sand.

And here they are together.

Am I seeing something that isn’t there? I was about to eat these two and went, “Waaait a minute… what am I looking at here?” The other pieces of candy looked like snowflakes and random yet symmetrical designs.

Noted: Using dilators is kinky

06/01/2009 at 6:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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I don’t think of myself as a very kinky person. There’s a few kinks I’m interested in already or developing an interest in which I could probably go into detail about at a later time.

But apparently I’m actually a kinkier person than I thought. For some reason, “Vaginal dilation” is listed on a kink checklist brought to my attention by a dear friend. You’ll have to register to answer the questions, but you can still view them here. (Some terms may be triggering?) Much to my surprise, one of the items on that long list is “Vaginal dilation.”

Lol wut? That’s a kink? Welp that’s news to me.

Is that website even using that phrase the same way I mean it? “You keep on using that word. I do not think you know what it means.”

Does it still count as a kink if you’re doing the slow graduated process of using a dilator kit for treatment of vaginismus? Or do they only mean if you’re taking things to the extreme?

You know what the survey doesn’t clarify whether they mean an extreme definition or not so, okay! I’ll go with that. I’m okay with that. Apparently I’m more kinky & creative & sexy than I thought. I’m not gona argue with that.

Yes I’m so, kinky & exotic when I’m dilating while watching tv or listening to music. Yes that’s so sexy & interesting (except it’s usually not.)

There’s only one way I can think of to celebrate this, achievement, for lack of a better term.

Dancing.

So everybody grab your dilator kits, join hands now and dance all night.

(It’s okay; you can still dance even if you don’t have a dilator kit.)

The 2nd annual Beaver Day celebration

02/02/2009 at 7:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, vulvodynia | Leave a comment
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February is a very special month for me. It is the month of V’s.

Two years ago to the day, I had a vestibulectomy. This is THE surgical approach to treatment of vulvar vestibulitis, a sub-type of vulvodynia. When you hear about surgery for vestibulitis, this is probably what is being referred to. The quick & simple overview is, a surgeon excises a few millimeters of pain-feeling vulvar tissue and replaces it by pulling down healthy vaginal tissue and sewing it in place.
I literally wear part of my vagina on the outside of my body.
For me, the results have been good – a significant, measurable drop in my pain levels. Combined with physical therapy to address the residual, there are times where I feel almost “Normal.” But I’ve seen enough horror stories to know it’s not right for everyone.
Recovery from the surgery was the second hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. (The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was make it through college.. surgery on my vulva is second only to that.)

It was February 2nd – Groundhog Day in the US. I always thought this coincidence was kind of funny. I was having my “Beaver” worked on, on Groundhog Day. In life, groundhogs & beavers are both members of the rodent family, but after that, they branch off into different families & genuses.

Still. They’re both big brown furry rodents… they both like to chuck wood, so to speak. They’re not the exactly same but eh, “Close enough.” So I decided that henceforth, for me personally, Groundhog Day would be known as Beaver Day.
It’s funnier that way.

Especially considering that my elder sister gave me a stuffed Beanie Baby beaver doll when I was in recovery.
With band-aids on its stomach.
buster
I named it “Buster.”
I think I’ve earned a right to laugh. I think I’ve been through enough.

So there’s one set of V’s, for “Vulva. Vestibulitis. Vulvodynia. Vestibulectomy. Vagina.”

February 2nd falls close to February 14 – Valentines Day in many parts of the world. A holiday dedicated to love, romance, seduction, decorated by hues of passion: Reds, pinks, whites… and shared with candy, flowers, movies, food, sexual activity…
…And marred by commercialization.

Valentine’s Day falling shortly after Beaver Day is especially relevant this year, because for the first time, my partner is going to be here with me on Valentine’s Day. We’ve been doing the long-distance relationship thing for several years now, so it’s hard to match up our schedules with work & finances. This is the first time we’ve been able to pull of an actual Valentine’s Day Event. In fact, he’ll be arriving shortly after midnight – which means the day of his arrival will officially be February 14. About 1:00AM in the morning of February 14, but that counts. We’ll have the entire day to spend together.
What a perfect present for me! Talk about a special delivery…

(And now that the day is fast approaching, I’m thinking to myself, “I have no idea what normal couples do on Valentine’s Day… what do I do??? I’ve never done this before!” I am experiencing some performance anxiety.)

So here we have yet another V – “Valentine.

February 14 does double duty as V-Day, as put forth by Eve Eisner, creator of the Vagina Monologues. In practice, the events of V-Day spill over throughout the month of February, and, really the entire rest of the year. It is a time in which people from around the world organize events with the goal of defending women’s rights, and stopping violence & sexual assault, among other things.

Taken directly from the V-Day site, “The ‘V’ in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.

How appropriate.

There are various criticisms & praise of the Vagina Monologues. Some of the criticisms, I understand. It’s not perfect. One play in particular, about the teenage girl finding sexual healing with an adult, has been called into question due to its flippant use of the word “Rape.” This piece has since been altered to age up the girl. It may be more appropriately called “The Vulva Monologues,” since some parts of the play deal with the external flesh rather than the birth canal.

But other times, I don’t understand where the criticisms are coming from. I do not believe that VM is out to “Get” all men. In my experience, men would do well to watch a performance live, or even the DVD. I do not believe that it objectifies or reduces women to this one part of their anatomy; rather it is an acknowledgment that this part exists. I do not believe it foolish to think of the vagina having its own voice and trying to channel whatever it is your vagina has on its mind.
In my personal experience, I have to listen to whatever it is my vagina is trying to tell me.
You try ignoring your vagina’s voice when for days & nights at a time it is singing its song of pain.
So personally, I’m a big fan of the VM.

V-Day also seems like a noble alternative – or supplement – to Valentine’s Day. Even if you do not currently have a partner (or even if you do,) or do not enjoy Valentine’s Day for one reason or another, perhaps you would be interested in these events. To participate in something greater than oneself, with the goal of reducing violence & rape around the world.
I can get on board with that.

But the first (second) day of the month is Beaver Day. This marks the beginning of the Month of V.

I like to recognize February 2 specifically as an important date in my life. Two years out, I feel a lot better following the surgery (and some subsequent treatments.) So I consider Beaver Day to be my vagina’s Birthday. I like to give it a little celebration.

Partly, I do this because this is an area where I feel superstitious… part of me fears if I don’t take the time out to recognize it, it will throw a tantrum and my pain will flare up again.

I may modify this Beaver Day Ritual since it’s still new, but for the last two years, I’ve acknowledged this date by performing a little Ritual. One year was marked by re-applying and then removing the band-aids from Buster’s belly, by candlelight. For this February 2nd, I poured libations.

It may be worth noting here that, I am not spiritual, like at all. I haven’t decided which organized religion, if any, is best for me. I’m on the fence with the whole afterlife thing. When bad things happen to good people and vice versa, most of the time I wind up taking more comfort in the cold logic of Statistics rather than God’s great plan.
Still. I want to believe in something greater than myself. Some kind of benevolent life force running around in each & every living cell.
I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it some more.

It may also be worth noting here that, I don’t drink like, ever, so I don’t actually own any wine to pour a libation with. I had to make do with what I do have readily available – Kahlua liquor.

I stepped outside. It was unseasonably warm this year. For some reason, the Pennsylvania Beaver Groundhog determined we still have 6 more weeks of winter left. The year I had surgery, he heralded an early spring.

Outside, I poured one ounce of alcohol into a shot glass and consumed it.
One for me…
To be grateful for how far I’ve come but always aware that I could revert back.
Wow the Kahlua is good. :9

Then I poured one ounce into a decorative porcelain dish, then tipped it over & let it hit the ground.
And one for my Homies…
To acknowledge other women who experience vulvar pain.

Then I said a little silent prayer to whatever spirit may be listening… I like to imagine my prayer going up to the Snatch Gods.
I don’t know who those are.

CREEPY MOMENT: This year as soon as I was done pouring the libations, a strong wind blew up out of nowhere & pushed me forward about a step. My hair blew forward into my face. It’s an otherwise beautiful, sunny day – especially for early February.
Welp I guess something was listening. That was kinda weird. Why did the wind blow at that particular moment… that was an odd coincidence… that was enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I didn’t think I was that superstitious.

Then I ate a big ol’ cupcake. Buying a whole birthday cake seemed a bit much, since it’s not all of me that’s aged another year. One cupcake is enough, for one part of me.

And now I go forward with my life as best I can, my personal coping mechanism ritual complete…


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