Tags: blogging, Feminism, humor, picture post, sexual dysfunction, what
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.”]
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.
[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.
Tags: picture post, reviews, sex education
(Not into product reviews? I’m still in warm-up mode after having been out of practice with blogging for awhile. Stick around for the social-political-feminist-disability-sexual stuff down the line.)
I thoroughly enjoy a relaxing, firm massage. Unfortunately, such massages are a luxury I rarely get to indulge in. A professional massage can easily cost over $100, and a full-body massage at home with my partner still requires some up-front costs in the form of supplies – not to mention the amount of time required to give a satisfying massage. And there are a lot of spa and body supplies out there, all tempting me with pretty packaging and promises of pleasure. Which ones should I go for?
Awhile back, on a whim, I bought a Jimmyjane Afterglow massage candle. I had tried a different brand of massage candle once before, and enjoyed the whole experience very much. But to avoid suspicion from people who are not me, I had to throw it out before I finished using it. I don’t need to worry about nosy people getting all up in my stuff anymore, so I picked up the Afterglow as a replacement. My only reason: “Because it was there.” I hadn’t actually done any research on the product first, but I figured since a reputable adult shop was selling it, I could probably rely on the staff to pick out something satisfactory to sell. I don’t generally recommend this strategy of impulse buying. In this case, however, my purchase worked out just fine.
What we’re looking at today is a cucumber-water scented massage candle:
[Description: A white, square candle holder with wax filling it about 3/4 of the way. The wick is unlit. There is a logo that says “JIMMYJANE” on the lower left side.]
Most of the ingredients in the candle are easy-to-pronounce and recognize – the first six components listed are soybean oil, shea butter, palmarosa oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, and vitamin e. After that you get into the “What?” stuff & stabilizers – cis-3-hexaenyl acetate? Galaxolide 50 DEP? I don’t know what that is, but I know it’s not entirely all-natural. Furthermore, the instructions state that the massage oil is intended for external use only, so don’t smear the melted wax onto anyone’s genitals. You may even want to test patch a small area of your own and the recipient’s skin before going all-out with the melted wax, just to make sure no one is going to have an allergic reaction.
What it feels like: The melted wax is surprisingly slippery. It won’t feel like ordinary candle wax – when melted, I think it feels just as fluidy as liquid massage oil. When I use it on my partner, I can apply a lot of pressure to whatever I’m massaging and my hands still glide around without getting stuck. At some points I needed to wipe my hands off on a paper towel because they were getting too slippery and I was losing my grip.
The advantage of a massage oil candle is that when it is poured onto skin, the oil feels significantly warmer than room temperature. I tense up when I know my partner is about to pour oil onto my back. I can’t see when it’s about to land and I’m always afraid that it’s going to be too hot. However in practice, the temperature has been comfortable, and after awhile I realize I have nothing to be afraid of. So if you are interested in wax play, this candle might be a good option for beginners.
[Description: White, square candle holder from the side. From this angle the pouring spout is clearly visible, protruding from one corner. The “JIMMYJANE” logo is clearly visible.]
Whether or not you’re getting enough or too much slip from the oil to give a decent massage may be up to each individual couple or group. Communication between recipient and giver is important when engaged in massage. I thought my partner was being stingy with the oil initially, so I had to tell him to pour more on when I was on the receiving end. Once he did that, I felt much more comfortable and relaxed. On the other hand, I tend to pour it liberally because the slipperyness amuses me to no end.
[Description: White, square candle holder with lit wick. The melting wax inside looks yellow and reflects the candle flame.]
Using the Afterglow candle involves some time constraints, so using it will require some planning and an open schedule. Once you light the candle wick, it will take about 30 minutes for the wax to melt enough so to have something to work with. This is sufficient time for me to set the room up for a massage. Once you and the massage recipent are in place, you’re supposed to blow out the wick, for safety reasons. Then you can start using the melted wax.
[Description: White lady’s hand tilting the square candle holder at an angle. The yellow melted wax is a liquid flowing into one corner of its ceramic container.]
About 30 minutes after extinguishing the flame, the melted fluid starts to thicken. Shortly thereafter, (I would say somewhere between the 40-45 minute point) it will begin to congeal back into solid form. If you’re still working with the wax at this point, it’s still usable as a massage oil but it will begin to feel granulated. I squished it between my fingers to make it fluidy again for awhile longer.
[Description: White lady’s hand holding the candle at a different angle. The wick is out and blackened. Now the yellow wax is looking lumpy.]
After the candle has had sufficient time to cool down and return to a solid state, I store it inside of its original box. The packaging the Afterglow candle comes in noteworthy – a sturdy square box for a (mostly) square candle holder. When you open the box up, the inside top flap greets you with the written words “Melt me.” In addition to the 3 brief steps for use listed on the outside of the box “Light, pour, then massage into skin,” the candle comes with a detailed instruction book printed in several languages.
A couple of caveats to keep in mind when using the Afterglow candle:
The candle is designed to have its melted contents poured onto skin, so it has a low melting point. You are literally playing with warm-to-hot wax.
Friendly reminders: Be careful when playing with fire. Do not leave the candle burning unattended, do not place it on or near any flammable objects, and do not engage in wax play unless you are using a candle specifically designed for such an activity. What I mean by that is, if you try to use an ordinary $0.30 generic emergency candle on your partner’s skin, someone could wind up with 3rd degree burns. More information on safe wax play can be found via Go Ask Alice! for starters.
The scent from the cucumber-water candle is strong – to me the smell was pleasant, but it’s highly noticeable and long-lasting. I could still smell the scent of cucumber water lingering in whatever room the candle burned in, for 48-72 hours after extinguishing it. Since the smell is so potent, this may not be an appropriate product to use if you are sensitive to strong odors; for example, if someone in your household has multiple chemical sensitivity you may want use an unscented massage product instead.
The candle itself is somewhat heavy in the hand – after all, it’s made of densely packed wax and ceramic. It actually weighs in at a little under 5oz when new. The mass isn’t a problem for me, but if you experience tremors or have difficulty gripping objects, you may want an alternative. Some alternatives include: A massage candle with a lightweight brush to paint the melted wax/massage oil onto skin; a bottle of liquid massage oil; or a semi-solid massage bar that melts when exposed to heat.
Finally, one of the downsides of the Afterglow candle is the initial sticker shock. The Afterglow candle costs about $30, whereas my go-to bottle of massage oil ranges from about $7-$10. I have not yet determined how many uses I will actually get out of the Afterglow candle vs. my go-to liquid massage oil.
If price is an issue, then as of today I have Good News, everyone!
[Description: Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth from Futurama. Both his hands are raised and open. I can’t say the line without using the picture. I couldn’t resist.]
Or at least it’s good news for if you want the Afterglow candle but have important bills to pay. Until July 31, 2011, babeland.com is running a promotion on a Jimmyjane Afterglow massage oil candle – so long as the candle you want is the Fig-scented one. Details are listed here, (as of July 10th) so make sure you read the terms before making your purchase.
I took advantage of this deal, after having already tried out the cucumber water Afterglow candle.
The promotion of interest today is the one where you make a $5 donation to SEICUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States,) through babeland.com’s website. In return, you receive a Fig-scented Afterglow massage candle, for “Free*.” Free*, in this case, means you’re still spending money to get something, but you’re technically spending it on a donation rather than the product. This link takes you to the donation-for-candle offer.
FYI, there’s other donation-related promotions and general sales going on. You can donate $5 to SIECUS straight-up, without receiving anything in return. A third option is to spend $75+ on a Jimmyjane product, AND make an additional $5 donation to SIECUS, in exchange for a Jimmyjane vibrator worth $20.
Don’t forget to factor in shipping costs if your order has any. Shipping isn’t included as part of these promotions, and if there’s any on your order, you will still be responsible for it.
Note that in addition to a different scent, the fig-flavored Afterglow candle comes with changed packaging. The ceramic container for the wax is transparent instead of opaque. The instruction book that comes in the box is printed on textured instead of glossy paper. There is a small book of matches inside of the box, so for safety’s sake don’t let any little kids open the package containing this candle. And the fig-scented Afterglow candle includes a little lightweight brush like what I was talking about earlier in this post – with this brush, you can paint the melted wax onto your partner instead of pouring it on.
Here’s what I got when I made this purchase:
[Description: A square, transparent candle holder with an unlit wick and off-white wax inside. Behind that, a box labeled “AFTERGLOW.” The lid on the box is open and white lettering says “MELT ME” on one flap. Inside of the box there sits a wide, black-bristled brush and a tiny rectangle box. You can’t tell from the picture but FYI there are matches inside of the tiny box. Next to that is a square instruction book.]
For having made the $5 donation, babeland.com also throws in a thank-you envelope containing 3 coupons. 2 of those coupons are good online in August or August + September, the last one good at brick-and-mortar Babelands only. And there’s a floppy magnet in the thank-you envelope.
[Description: Colorful, happy looking rectangle coupons, a bright pink rectangle magnet, an envelope with “THANK YOU!” typed on it.]
And then here’s a picture of the two candle packages together, just for fun.
[Description: the same coupons as above. Two cube boxes that both say “AFTERGLOW” on them. One has a green top and the other has a cyan top. The white, opaque candle holder is sitting on top of these two boxes.]
As with all reviews posted on Feminists with FSD so far, I had to pay for this product(s) out of pocket with my own money. I took advantage of the $5 donation program, but, only after having bought the cucumber-water Afterglow candle reviewed here at full price at an earlier date. But the promo is available to anyone so I didn’t have to agree to write anything to get it, so in the end I receive no compensation for having written this. I still foot the bills around here.
Tags: blogging, humor, myths, picture post, unicorns, what
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:
[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.
[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.)
[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:
[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.
[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!
Tags: academia, books, disability, experts, female sexual dysfunction, humor, news, NVA, picture post, sex, sex education, sex is not a natural act, sexual dysfunction, TMI, vulvar vestibulitis, vulvodynia, what
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Tags: bingo, blogging, communication, female sexual dysfunction, Feminism, FSD, humor, little help from my friends, picture post, sexual dysfunction
[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.
Tags: dilators, picture post, reviews, sex, sex education, sexual health, shopping, TMI
While I was on break earlier this month with my long-term, LDR partner, we shared many adventures together. Two of our adventures took us to local sex toy shops (because one such adventure just wasn’t enough!) The first shop we visited was Lovers Package. Lovers Package (no apostrophe) is a sex toy retailer with an online presence and several locations in Washington State. Lovers sells a wide variety of adult products ranging from novelties to high-end luxury vibrators, and participates in sex-positive activism events. A recent such example was Lover’s hosting a visit made by sex therapist and author Dr. Marty Klein, and participation in PrideFest June 27. This was not our first visit to the store, although it is the first one I’ve made since I started blogging here.
Although I did not take any pictures of the interior of the store for this visit, I do have a photo of our haul, and links to photos of inside of the store in question. Since this post contains some pictures and frank sexual descriptions, it’s going behind a NSFW cut now. Everything should show up in your RSS feeder, and if you’re visiting on the main page, you’ll need to click through to continue at your discretion. Thanks!
Tags: picture post, safe sex, sex, sex education, sexual health, TMI
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then I believe this week’s picture-heavy post should just about cover my weekly quota. However, I must warn you: The following post will contain pictures of antique prophylactics – that means, old condoms & contraception devices. (I am deliberately choosing the word “Prophylactics” instead of “condoms” because the former is an outdated, antique term. Much like what I am about to show you today.) While there are no full frontal nudity pictures in this post, the content & some of the box art is definitely Not Safe For Work. Let me repeat that: NSFW. All links and pictures in the post should likewise be considered NSFW. For this reason, I’m going to try using the ‘more’ tag and (if I’ve done this right) you’ll need to click to continue on. The full content should still appear in your RSS feeder if you’re using one. Thanks!