Feb 192015
 

Ok. So hopefully, we’re all over the hype of 50 Shades of WTF. Yes, it is a fictional book written at a 9th grade reading level based on fan fiction of Twilight that does not represent an accurate, well consented kink relationship. It is not a book I personally would ever suggest to someone to “try out” their feelings on kink.

However, what is has done is engaged hundred of thousands, millions even, of folks who never knew they were kinky. Stay at home soccer parents, aging adults reading this book instead of knitting on trains, younger folks wanting *something* more from sex, but not sure what, have now found something that makes their bits tingle in a whole new way. It made it OK to have conversations around being turned on by bondage, power exchange, etc. Heck, even Target carried the 50 Shades of Grey line of kink-ish merch in their stores. It was acceptable, more than ever before, to be interested in kink, and to talk about it. Moreover, we’ve had more conversations about consent (in kinky AND vanilla aka non-kinky relationships alike) than I have ever engaged in through my life. This is good. And now what?

Here is a list of places (books, educators, videos, etc.) where you might want to direct your newly kinky or at least exploring friends, clients, selves, etc. I hope it helps people engage in this world of kink, BDSM, fetishes, etc., in a way that is fun, communicative and consensual. And perhaps well written.

-Shanna

Shanna Katz, Kink Educator

 

Erotica (other naughty books to enjoy):

Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace series (start with Book 1 – The Marketplace)

Becoming Sage and Saving Sunni by Kasi and Reggie Alexander

The Sleeping Beauty Series by Anne Rice

Best Bondage Erotica 2015 edited by Rachel Krammer Bussel

Bound for Trouble: BDSM Erotica for Women edited by Alison Tyler

Best Lesbian Bondage Erotica edited by Tristan Taormino

(side note: any erotica anthology edited by the above folks is bound to be delightful. BOUND. See what I did there?)

 

How to Books to Check Out:

SM 101 by Jay Wiseman

The Ultimate Guide to Kink by Tristan Taormino

As Kinky as You Wanna Be by Shanna Germain (disclaimer: I have a short essay on communication in this book)

Playing Well with Others by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams

Wild Side Sex: the Book of Kink by Midori

Your Pleasure Map by Shanna Katz (not all about kink but has a section on it…and also a section on health communication and consent – disclaimer: this is by me)

Shibari You Can Use by Lee Harrington

 

Websites with How-To-Videos:

KinkAcademy.com (disclaimer: I have videos on this site)

NewToKink.com (disclaimer: I have videos on this site)

 

Educators to Check Out (other than me, obviously!):

(not exhaustive…also, a lot of kink educators only do in person workshops and do not have websites, so check out FetLife.com, which is a social media site for kinky folks to find kink educational events near you)

Carol Queen

Charlie Glickman

Cleo DuBois

Ducky Doolittle

Eve Minax

Graydancer

Julian Wolf

Laura Antoninou

Lee Harrington

Lolita Wolf

Megan Andelloux

Midori

Mollena William

Nina Hartley

Pucker Up – Tristan Taormino

Reid About Sex

Sarah Sloane

Sinclair Sexsmith

Need New Kinky/Sexy Toys: Body Friendly Toy and Lube Companies

Places to Buy Kinky/Sexy Toys: Feminist/Sex Positive Toy Stores

Jan 012015
 

Hey all. Some of you know that I was on Poly Weekly fairly recently, with the lovely Cunning Minx interviewing me about sex, disabilities and how people with disabilities/impairments can practice poly (and how to support poly partners). When trying to make this podcast more accessible, it was (understandably) requested that we provide a transcription for those Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing. With the volunteer work of Xochilt Campos Alamillo (who does transcriptions in English AND in Spanish. Contact her at xoch418 at hotmail dot com if you might need her professional services), I am happy to provide you with the transcript of this podcast below. Thank Minx for having me and Xochilt for the transcription!

-Shanna

Poly Weekly 409: Poly and Disabilities

Duration: 43:29

Announcer: This is Polyamory Weekly. Tales from the front of responsible non-monogamy. From a pansexual, kink friendly point of view. A warning for our under eighteen listeners, this is an adult oriented podcast about really lascivious things, like communication, and honesty in relationships. If you are under eighteen and looking for upfront advice and answers to questions about sex, please visit scarleteen.com.

 

(music)

 

Cunning Minx: This is Polyamory Weekly, episode 409, for November 20th, 2014. Coming up on today’s show: Polyamory with Disabilities. That’s coming up on today’s show.

 

(music)

 

CM: Hey guys, we have an incredibly special guest for you today to talk about being polyamorous while some, or more, members of your family might have some level of disability. But just a few quick announcements before we dive into this fabulous chat with Shanna Katz. First of all…(drumroll)…Poly Weekly was listed by datingadvice.com as one of the best poly blogs of 2014! And can I just say how amazing it is that there is a list of best poly blogs in any sort. That they’re…I…I’m just so pleased that there are enough poly blogs around, that there is the possibility of doing a “best of” list. So, obviously, incredibly honored to be on this list. We actually haven’t’ gone after a lot of awards. In the early days of podcasting I would submit for the podcast awards and whatnot, but haven’t really done that too much lately. Very happy just, kind of, hanging out with you guys and, you know, not doing all the PR to get all the glamour and the awards and whatnot. But this was kind of awesome. (laughs). So there’s a link to datingadvice.com and…and the list of the best poly blogs of 2014. Which, by the way, if you’re looking for poly resources, it’s a great place to look. Love doing the podcast, but I know not everybody is a podcast listener. It’s a linear medium, and sometimes it’s just more helpful to have a blog archive that you can search through, instead for searching for keywords on a podcast. So I highly recommend you take a look at these. It includes some of the best poly bloggers out there. I absolutely agree with the list. So, take a look.

Next up, there was….a poly dating family app. Yes, that’s right. I was pleased when I found a link to an article about a polyamorous dating and relationship planning app. And part of it was like, oh no, I’m going to have to tell Lusty Guy that somebody, you know, beat us to the app. But that’s okay because we weren’t working on it. But then I looked at it and I admit, I had to cringe. This is just the most awful version of poly I can imagine. I mean, I get the idea. The idea…it’s called The Poly Life, and it’s for IOS, and it’s supposed to help poly families organize their lives and relationships. The first issue I have is the screen shot. And they have there, on the screen shot, a place for you to list your primary partners, and your secondary partners, and then there’s family, and other partners. So, there’s your obnoxious relationship hierarchy right there in the app. Just so everyone knows their place and no one is treated equally or fairly. So there’s that. You guys know how much I dislike a hierarchy. And it seems like most of the functionality is shared calendars, adding events, which can easily be done with Google Calendar, and shared to do lists, which can easily be done with Google Task List. And there’s also some other apps like, Remember the Milk, blah, blah, blah. That sort of thing. So…while I applaud the idea of a family app. I think this particular one just fails in every possible way. It says, from the article, while the calendar function in The Poly Life isn’t’ too different from any other shared calendar, the app has specific areas for partners to post the rules of their relationship. It seems like a simple function, but the developer has learned from poly families that managing three, four, five or more relationships at once can get tricky. The developer said, we created an agreement section in the app that’s unlike anything in the market. It allows users to select individuals to send agreements that can be edited instantaneously, with the other partners agreeing or disagreeing to the changes. There’s even a relationship manager in the app that differentiates a user’s partners based on the type of relationship. Sexual, emotional, and other ways that people are bonded. So you can just categorize your relationships. You know, just treat every partner like a life accessory. Oh, this one goes in the emotional box. Oh, this one goes in the sexual box. This one’s both. Hmmm. Well, I’ll put them in the secondary box, then, cause it’s not the person that I live with. But maybe the person I live with, we have a sexual relationship, but not much that’s emotional. What box should they go in? And, you know, we could always just share our relationship rules on the app, instead of actually, you know, being self confident individuals and having self-esteem, and communicating with our partners. As you can see, I don’t think very much of this app. I don’t think very much of the idea of written rules in relationships. In any case, because, as you know, I believe that…that most rules don’t serve the purpose that you think they will. I think most rules are made out of fear or insecurity and, therefore, don’t do what you think they’re going to do. They serve to break more people up by their infraction, because I’ve never yet known a relationship rule that wasn’t broken at some point, and then it’s a whole big drama deal. And I think it makes a lot more sense just to be self-confident and secure individuals and confess when you have fears and ask for what you want and use that to deal with the vagaries of relationships, rather than typing them with your thumbs into an app and sending them to someone to, you know, redline for you. Sorry, I just…I hate absolutely everything about this relationship app. And to be fair, it’s one of the challenges. When Lusty Guy and I were sitting down and saying, hey, what type of relationship app would we want to do? The thing is, all the things that apps do well are not the kind of things that are really helpful in a relationship app. Calendaring, sure. Birthdays, sure. You know, reminders, to do a present, sure. But again, Google Calendar does that just fine. You don’t need a separate app for that. Shared task lists. There are already many ways to do this. If it’s something that can be easily enumerated and shared, and people can check things off, that’s a great thing for an app. But those functions are already very well covered by other apps. What we think should be in a relationship app, and now I have charged Lusty Guy with spending more time on actually doing this. What we think….when we sat down to think about what makes for a healthy relationship in general, and for a poly relationship in particular, the things that have been notable in my healthiest relationships were basically constant verbal sources of appreciation. One of the things I love about what Lusty Guy and L do is, they’ll walk into a room and say, oh, did you do the dishes, love? Thank you so much. I appreciate that you did that. Or, oh, I’m sorry I forgot to do this. Would you mind doing this? And then, afterwards, thank you, I really appreciate that. Or, oh, you bough me ice cream when I was having a bad day, even though I didn’t ask you to. Thank you! I really appreciate that you did that. Oh, I didn’t notice, but yesterday you took out the recycling without being asked. Thank you, I really appreciate that. Oh, we had a really tough time last week, and our communication was down and everybody felt shitty. You know, I really appreciate how honest the communication was, even though it was really hard and we were saying things that were really hard to admit. Those are the kind of things that we don’t often appreciate in this society. Everything from, you know, chores to a thousand tiny kindnesses, to simply the fact that someone in the relationship owned their shit when it was hard. These are the things that we should be appreciating in whatever type of relationship you are. So we want to come up with a type of poly relationship app that actually helps your relationship. Where you do things like give each other points for doing awesome relationshipy things. Whether it is taking out the recycling, or volunteering to take care of the kid when they have a date. Or whether it was, you know, simply understanding, even though you were already really mad about something and having the patience to just, you know, be kind and say, I understand your intentions are good, even though I’m mad, I get it. Or, it could just be for great communication during a troubling time. When things are really tense, somebody being honest and saying what they think and owning their own shit. That is incredibly valuable and I think it would be great to have a way to give each other points and to win badges from doing all these thousand different kindnesses. I mean, it’s why…I know I’m probably one of the only ones, but I still use Foursquare, which has now changed to Swarm, because I like checking in. I like getting badges. I like getting the barista badge, and the world traveler badge when I check into a certain number of airports. Or the barista badge when I check into a certain number of coffee shops. Or the gym rat badge when I check into the gym a certain number of times. I like that external validation. And I think we can do that for each other and, whether an app would be useful for that, I don’t know, but it would certainly be more useful than this sad, little thing that is The Poly Life.

 

(music)

 

CM: On a much more positive note, we have a super special guest that I cannot believe we have not had on the podcast before she has been a tireless worker in terms of sex positivity and terms of sex worker’s rights, and in particular in terms of being poly with disabilities. So guys, I feel like I’m asking for a round of applause, even though you can’t actually applaud. Maybe if you’re listening at the gym or maybe while you’re washing dishes, or walking the dog, just applause. Let’s give a round of applause for the awesome Shanna Katz. (applause) I am absolutely thrilled to welcome to the Poly Weekly studios, also known as Skype, the most wonderful educator in the field of many things, including disabilities, Shanna Katz. Welcome to the podcast.

 

Shanna Katz: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

 

CM: And you know, I’ve really been remiss. I don’t think we’ve ever actually had you on the show before, have we?

 

SK: No! This is my first time on your show. I’ve been on most of the big ones, but never you. And you have a special place in my heart, so I’m excited to be here.

 

CM: So we’re not popping your podcasting cherry, but we’re popping your Poly Weekly podcasting cherry. Whoop!

 

SK: Yes. Absolutely.

 

CM: So, for our fabulous listeners, who may not be familiar with your work, tell us a little bit about what you do.

 

SK: Well, I tell folks I’m a professional pervert. This is what I do with my life all the time, is talk about things like sex and disability. I have a Masters in Human Sexuality Education. So I do have a Masters of Sex. That is a thing. As well as I’m actually working on my PhD right now in social work. Specifically looking at sexuality and disability. You can actually do that, and they pay you to do it, which is pretty exciting. I have a couple of books out. There’s one on cunninglus called, Oral Sex That’ll Blow Her Mind. There is a lesbian sex positions book that’s actually called, Lesbian Sex Positions. And then, most recently, I published a women’s sexuality guide. And that is for women of all ages. Eighteen plus, of course, orientations, gender, presentations, experiences, types of relationships. And it really is…it’s kind of a choose your own adventure meets cosmo style guide with really accurate, fun, information and that’s called, Your Pleasure Map. So, I do a lot of things. I travel around the country. I do research on sex and disability. I…I’m kinky. My partner and I practice non-monogamy. Consensually. In a variety of different ways. And, as you may have seen before, I’m a lover of kitties, and I’ve got one in my lap right now.

 

(chuckle)

 

CM: And I was just telling Shanna that having lost my kitty recently, and she popped on the video with two giant kitties in her lap. I’m like, oh no, I’m sad! But happy. So, we’re doing little kitty porn. Kitty, not kiddie, porn. And I’m like, scratch him for me. Scratch him!

 

SK: (laugh). Well, Jasper, Kinsey, and Kali all are loving being on the show vicariously. So…

 

CM: So Shanna, you know, we had a listener write in and ask about poly with disabilities and you were the first one to come to mind. And we’ve talked about disabilities on the show before and…but I don’t think we’ve actually dedicated an entire show to it. So, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about, you know, maybe, what’s the first main thing they need to know about a person with disabilities?

 

SK: Well, first of all is, people with disabilities make up a pretty large percentage of the population. The 2010 census had it at, I think, about 21.3 percent of people polled had disabilities. So that’s more than one fifth of people out there. And so I think a lot of times when we talk about disability, especially disability in relationships, disability and sex, people are like, oh well, the likelihood that I would ever have a partner with a disability is so low…it’s not! There’s more people with disabilities in the U.S. right now than identify as queer or as transgender. I mean, it’s a pretty large population. So the first thing is, we are amongst you.

 

CM: Mmm-hmm.

 

SK: You have a pretty high likelihood of interacting with us, of flirting with us, of dating us, of fucking us….can I say fucking on your show? I didn’t ask about that. Is that okay? To swear?

 

CM: Yeah. You can swear away. Fuck yeah!

 

SK: Okay. I always forget. Depends on the show I’m on. Right, so we’re there. We’re…we have the diversity of sexualities of anyone else. And, you know, something that I think is really important is to put out there, is that you don’t necessarily know somebody has a disability when you’re hitting on them, when you’re flirting, either in person or online. Even when you’re on a date or having sex with them. Because some disabilities are very visible or obvious to us. Right? If we sees someone in a wheelchair, we make the assumption that they must have a disability, or why else would they be in a wheelchair? Similarly, if somebody has a support animal of any sort. Right? Whether it’s a guide dog, or a therapy animal, we make assumptions about that. But a significant portion of people with disabilities have what we call invisible, or less obvious disabilities, and that could be anything from chronic pain. So issues of things like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, different types of arthritis, as well as stuff like, MS, traumatic brain injury. All of these things are a part of the disability world. Even things like severe anxiety can impact how we flirt with people, how we respond when people flirt with us and all of these things. So it’s really important to remember that just because somebody doesn’t have an obvious disability, you can’t, you know, checkmark in your book and be like, okay, that’s out of the way. I don’t even have to think about it. Because they might spend your entire date, or the entire night they spend at your house thinking, how can I come out to this person about my disability and my needs? And you’re already like, well, this isn’t important so we don’t need to have a conversation.

 

CM: Yeah. And I like that you pointed out all the different range of disabilities, cause I think when we say disability people think wheelchair or, you know, crutches. And there is quite a range. Now would you also include things like mental health issues? Somebody, for example, like with bipolar disorder? Which can be incredibly difficult to manage.

 

SK: Absolutely. So when we talk about disabilities. Not wa-…I’ll own my statement. When I talk about disabilities I recognize, you know, we have to include physical disabilities, which is generally what people think of. There’s intellectual and development disabilities, which are sometimes referred to as cognitive disabilities. There are learning disabilities. There are emotional disabilities. All of it relates back to this idea that disability is completely socially constructed. Right? There is nothing that is inherently a disability. We call it a disability cause it doesn’t meet societies expectations of ability that we accept. Right?

 

CM: Right.

 

SK: So, the reason being in a wheelchair is a disability is because society expects people to walk with their legs and, therefore, stairs and curbs, and all of those things are part of society. If we lived in a society where wheelchairs were the expectation, it wouldn’t be a disability to be in a wheelchair. So I would argue that anything that goes outside of societal expectation of ability, which could include folks who identify as bipolar, folks who identify as schizophrenic. I mean, people who have borderline personality disorder. Even if you think about a learning disability people would be like, well, how does that relate to sex? Well if you’re in a relationship and I hand them a copy of your book or Opening Up and I say as a counselor, or sex coach, you know, read this before our next session. Not recognizing that somebody may be processing that very different than other people in that same relationship means that I need to take other things into context.

 

CM: You know what it sounds like is there is so much that we have to be aware of, potentially, that healthy people simply don’t think about. It would be hard to know where to start. So, I guess…I guess the next question is, how do you…if you start dating somebody who has some type of disability, how do you approach that? What’s the, you know, polite and considerate way to approach that?

 

SK: So, interestingly enough, I’ve done some work on the similarities between coming out around disability, and coming out around queerness. And I think there’s a lot of parallels. Right? So it’s not polite to go up to everybody you meet and be like, are you a lesbian? No, not a lesbian. Are you bisexual? No, not bisexual. Are you polyamorous? You know, we don’t really ask people about their sexualities. Right?

 

CM: Mm-hmm.

 

SK: Until we built some sort of relationship. And the best way that we can make it a safe space for someone to be willing to share and not feel like they have to be interrogated, is to show behavior that is what I would count as ally behavior. And I know there’s lots of feeling about the term ally, but I would count it as ally behavior. So, if you are trying to show a person that you’re, you know, not just accepting, but supportive and excited about their queerness, you might do anything from quoting Rachael Maddow, to putting a rainbow sticker on your car, or to letting them know that wherever you’re going on your date has gender neutral bathrooms. There’s a variety of things you can do. So conversely, if you are trying to show a potential partner that…or current partner, that you’re open, supportive, and, you know, willing to engage around disability, you might, when you’re setting up a date say, actually, this place is up a flight of stairs, does that work for you? Right? And so, it’s not saying, you can’t go up a flight of stairs, but I’m putting into consideration that this is a thing. I’m renting a movie, do you want the subtitles on or off? Again, you’re not making an assumption that somebody either needs them on or doesn’t need them. But just even by putting, you know, questions out there, you’re showing an awareness of things that most people don’t actually have.

 

CM: You know, it seems like…I’m going to use myself as an example because I think my limit-…I prefer the term limitations. My limitations aren’t as obvious as others. I mean, if you’re dating someone in a wheelchair, it’s pretty obvious. Right? That you need to consider things like ramps and access and how the car works, and also that in terms of timing. But what about something….it seems like the owness is on the person with the disability or limitation, especially if it’s hidden, to sort of bring it up and kind of say, here are some things you need to know. Like, I have rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve had it for thirty years and it didn’t bother me that much when I was younger, but it’s really been kicking my butt the last ten years. And I’ve had to admit that it actually is giving me limitations, where I never thought that it did before. But it’s weird stuff like, I get really tired. It’s-…I don’t know if it’s the medications or the arthritis itself, but, you know, I can’t go out partying till midnight, or ten. Or, you know, past eight thirty. (laugh) And it’s hard to explain. I guess it’s my responsibility to explain that to a new partner. Somebody who wants to date me. That, you know, no, I can’t scene with you if it starts at 1 am, after you’ve scened with your other three partners. I have to go first. That was always very awkward. But it…is the responsibility on the person who has the limitation or disability to disclose everything?

 

SK: So, what I would tell people is that, first of all, there is not…no one should ever feel like they have to disclose a hundred percent of everything, or a hundred percent with every partner. Right? It depends. If you meet somebody in the club and are about to go fuck in the bathroom, or you’re going to do a quick spanking scene, do you need to go through your entire list of medication and how each one makes you feel, and what your doctor said? Probably not. If you’re in a longer term relationship with someone and they might be with you when you need one of those medications, it might be good of you to, you know, describe it and talk about how all those things work. So it always depends on the situation. And what else I would say is that partnerships are partnerships. And, again, it could be for one night, it could be for thirty years. And what happens in a partnership is that it’s a mutual responsibility. So, if you, you know, using your stuff, come out and say, hey, I have RA, sometimes I get really tired, and you leave it at that, then now if the ball is in your partner’s court, just say, okay. If they know nothing about it at all, they might say, what does that mean for when I’m out and about with multiple partners? Or when I’m, you know, planning ten scenes. What do you need from me? If they know things already, or you’ve had these conversation before, that puts the ownness on them to say, hey, I really want to see you tonight, but I don’t get off work until eight. I don’t want to overstress you. Do you still want me to come over? Right? So it’s not making decisions for a partner, but it’s taking these things into account. And when things change and all…everything goes to hell…and I’ll speak, I have severe migraines. Like, without treatment I get about twenty to thirty a month.

 

CM: Wow! That is a lot.

 

SK: Yes. So, I have severe migraines, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, which is a really fun triple punch.

 

CM: It is impressive…can I just… I want to give a shout out to our listeners and say, isn’t she amazing? Considering all that she has to deal with, and I’m sure there are a lot of meds you have to juggle, that you still do everything that you do. So kudos to you. But, continue.

 

SK: You haven’t’ seen me the days that I can’t get out of bed. Right? So we all have our…our moments. And I-

 

CM: I am familiar.

 

SK: Yes. You know, the best thing about my…my primary partner, my spouse, is that when we met, I remember going on a date when I-…we actually went to go see The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, so some random movie. I drove. We did dinner and the movie and about halfway through the movie pain hit. Just like, huge flair of pain, and I tried to be cool. And I, like, took my meds with my little, you know, movie soda, and it was ten minutes later and I was like, this is not happening. And I was like, here are the keys to my car. I’m going to take a taxi back to your pla-…and he did not even blink an eye. He’s like, give me the keys, I’m going to drive you home. Like….

 

CM: Awww…

 

SK: We had been dating maybe two months. Left the movie theater. Was like, do you need me to bring the car around? Do you want, you know, me to walk to the garage? What do you need from me right now? Got me back to his place. Tucked me into bed. Gave me more pain meds, and sat up with me for about four hours until I completely crashed out. And, again, it wasn’t like we didn’t have to have some formal conversation where I was like, what I need from you in the instance that I’m in the middle of pain on a date is this. But what it was is he was willing to be flexible, he didn’t question what I knew about my body. You know, can’t you stay for the next forty minutes? Or, you know, maybe if you just suck it up the pain will go away. He didn’t question if it was real, which happens to a lot of people with invisible disabilities. Of like, it’s not really that bad, is it? Cause I can’t see it.

 

CM: I really love that people are concerned, but one of my pet peeves is, you know, if I do disclose I have arthritis, which I don’t to everybody because it’s none of their business, unless it’s relevant to them. But when I do disclose, I really do dislike when people then come…come back with all these crazy home remedies that, like, have you…the big one is gin soaked raisins. Or turmeric. And I’m like, look, I’m not going to eat curry everyday. Gin soaked raisins? Complete myth. And then there’s all these, like, natural things that people are always pushing on me. And I’m…I understand that they mean well, so I’m polite about it, but I do find it a bit offensive, actually. To be honest. If somebody assumes that, you know, oh, sure, you know, yeah, I’ve been seeing a doctor every month for the last thirty years, but I’m sure you know better than what my doctor and I have worked out consistently through trial and error over the last thirty years. I find it a little offensive, but I had to get that out, because I’m sure you experience that too.

 

SK: Absolutely. We call them concern trolls. Right? Like, oh, well, you know, I heard that fib-…cause that’s…especially something like fibro. Like, well, you know, I thought I had fibro for ten years, but then it turned out it was XYZ. Or if I stop eating gluten for whatever. And here’s…I balance the line. Right? So I do a lot around working with people with disabilities. And if I find someone who has a similar issue as me, I might, again, offer and say, you know, I found some stuff lately that’s been really helpful. Would you be interested in hearing about it? Right? Because if I have spoons, and I will explain spoons, cause that’s really helpful for all sorts of stuff.

 

CM: I’m completely familiar with spoons, but will explain to the audience in a minute.

 

SK: Right. So if I have the energy, or I have the interest. Like, maybe I’m like, yeah, what have you tried? They might go down a list and I’m like, yep, done it, done it, nope, that didn’t work. Nope. But, asking someone. Right? That’s the biggest thing with stuff around disabilities. The assumptions that people don’t know how to make decisions for themselves, or haven’t tried anything. And that you know better than them. Right? Cause that’s the thing. It’s if you can say something and their like, would you be interested in hearing about it? And they’re like, yes, anything would make this pain go away would be great. Then that’s fine. But in the same way that if you said something like, I have a cold, and every single person was like, oh, well, clearly my experience with having a cold, which comes from my second aunt twice removed, is more authentic than your experience in having a cold. Or, you know, this must be new and you’ve never tried it. Or, oh, your cold is probably related to your weight. Which is something that a lot of people get around disabilities. There’s a lot of intersection between ableism and sizeism. I mean, all of those things….my question is, what are you really trying to do? If you’re genuinely trying to help someone, asking what they need or what they’re interested in is the best way to help them. And the same way that, you know, you see someone with a wheelchair, or with a crutch, for example, trying to open a door, asking them, can I open this door for you, makes a lot more sense than just opening the door. Because if they have a whole system worked out and they’re leaning their weight on the door to get through it, and you just pull it open, they’re going to fall smack on their face. And, similarly, you know, if you’re on a date and somebody, for example, is visually impaired and you’re like, let me order for you, that makes you look like a douche. Versus if you say, hey, would you like me to help you with anything, or is there anything you need from me? They could say, I’d like you to order for me. Could you ask if there’s a braille menu? Could you see if there’s a menu on the wall and read it to me? There’ s a lot of options. Or they might just say, no, this is my favorite restaurant. I know exactly what I want. And you feel really stupid if you had just ordered for them without even checking in.

 

CM: So, let’s back up. So if someone comes to you and says, presumably because you’re dating, or interested in dating, and they say, I have fibromyalgia, or I have migraines, or I have, you know, rheumatoid arthritis, because they’re disclosing. An appropriate response to that would be…?

 

SK: Thank you for letting me know. What support do you need from me? Or what do I need to know about this moving forward?

 

CM: Excellent! Thank you.

 

SK: Right? Cause it could be something as simple as, I don’t travel without my ice pack or without my heating pad, so make sure that if I’m spending the night at your house I have it with me. To something as complicated as, I have seizures when X, Y, and Z, and if we’re going to fuck, that might trigger it and I need you to know that, and this is what you do. Right?

 

CM: Perfect.

 

SK: So, spoons, really quick. Cause spoons are amazing and this is one of my…my favorite things. Cause I think it works for more than just disability.

 

CM: It does. Explain the spoons.

 

SK: So, Spoon Theory was written by a Christine Miserandino. Miss-er-andino? Miserandino. And you can read all about it on the website, butyoudontlooksick.com. The basic concept is that Christine was with a friend, and Christine had lupus, and her friend genuinely wanted to help her and be supportive. But with stuff like Lupus, and fibro, and arthritis, sometimes it’s hard to even see that there’s something wrong, nonetheless understand it. And so, she asked Christine, can you kind of explain it to me? And their in a diner, so Christine took up all the spoons in the diner and made a little bouquet of spoons, if you will. And said, this is as many spoons as I start with for the day. And it can represent energy, time, oomph, resources, all of that. And she said, you know, I wake up in the morning and I want to take a shower. If I just rinse off, that takes one spoon. If I want to shampoo my hair and blow dry it and style it, that takes three. And she takes three out of the pile and puts it on the table. Now it’s time to go to work. Do I want to be super eco savvy and, you know, take the train, which really is exhausting. You have to stand on the platform and wait and hope there’s a seat on the train. And because nobody thinks you’re hurting, nobody will give you a seat. That takes, like, five spoons. Or do I take my car, you know, and park it right in the garage at work? And that takes three. Okay? And then she goes through her day, you know, it’s lunch time. Do I just eat leftovers at my desk, which is one spoon? Or do I walk down the block in the hot sun to go to lunch with my coworkers, so I can be social, but that takes four? So she goes through all of this all the day. And she’s like, at the end of the day I’m left with two spoons. So I can choose to just heat up a microwave dinner and go straight to bed. That takes one spoon and then I’ll actually have an extra spoon left over for tomorrow. Or do I want to spend time with my partner and engage and cook a meal, and have, you know, a good time together, but that actually takes three spoons. So I’m actually borrowing a spoon from tomorrow. So the idea is that when I say something to one of my partners when I’m out and about and I say something like, you know what, I’d really love to go ice cream, but I’m out of spoons tonight, so I’m going to see you later, it’s not anything to do with my partner. It’s the fact that if I don’t leave and go home now, like, I might not make it home. And if I take spoons from tomorrow, especially when I’m at something like….I teach at kink events. Right? And that’s like, go, go, go, all weekend. So if I have something coming up for the weekend, I need to save spoons from the whole week, cause I’m pulling them from the weekend and the next week.

 

CM: I am completely familiar with the concept.

 

SK: Right? And so I think with…with kinky folk, and with poly folk, all of this makes a lot of sense. Right? Because when we talk about poly, it’s, you know, love is this concept that you have an unlimited amount of love. Right? You can love as many people as you want. But then we bring in all these things to the picture around time constraints, and resources, and self-care. And I think spoons makes a lot of sense. So, you can love wholly and completely as many people as you would like, but you only have so much spoonage to give to all of your partners. And so, if you’re doing something huge with one of your partners. You know, maybe you’re going on a two week vacation. Saying something to your other partners, like, I’d love to see you as soon as I get home, but I know I’m going to be out of spoons. Can we actually plan our date for the next weekend, so my spoons are replenished, and I’m ready to be the best partner I can be? And that makes sense whether you have a disability or not. Alright, cause spoons are this intangible quality of life. A, like, life force that you have to engage with other people.

 

CM: Yeah. I actually made the mistake of dating when I was…I had first moved to Seattle and I…I…the…my work was taking all my spoons. I would get up early, workout, and then I would work really long days. Like ten, twelve hours. And then I would insist on going out after work everyday, cause I didn’t know anybody and I needed to make friends. But I had very few spoons, and yet I was still trying to date. So I was…I was kind of a terrible date, I think. Because I really needed to do some self-care, but it was, you know, if you’re in a new city, if you don’t make effort to make friends, then you don’t have any friends. And I knew that that was really important. To have a support network. So I really want to thank you for sharing the spoon idea, because people who don’t have any type of limitations, physical or mental, don’t always understand that I’m….I have…I can’t see you tonight, because of something that’s happening this weekend. Or something that happened last weekend that I am recovering from and I’m not my best self yet. So I really appreciate your sharing that.

 

SK: Yeah. You know, and again, I think all of this stuff is helpful. You don’t have to be poly to be aware of disabilities in relationships. And you don’t have to be…have a disability, or be dating someone with disability to understand how things like this can apply to poly, to kink. Right? Because the best thing you can do in any relationship is ask. Just like if you are starting a new kink relationship, you don’t make an assumption that somebody’s a top, or a bottom, or a switch. You don’t make the assumption that they’re into a fetish. Right? You would say, hi, you know, I find you really attractive. What are you into? What do you like doing? What roles do you take? When you say fire play, are we talking, like, q-tips on fire, or are we talking fire mohawks? Right? Like….

 

(chuckle)

 

SK: Everything should have these…these nuance things of, okay, after care. I get that you need after care. What does that look like? And in the same way, in a new relationship, if you’re poly, or consensually non-monogamous, you don’t just assume that everybody does poly the same way or has the same needs. You would say, you know, even from, how often do you need me to see you? What does check in look like? Do you want to meet metamours? Do you not want to meet them? You know, all of those questions….all of that just goes back to good, healthy, communication, and relationships, and sex. And, with disabilities, having those same questions and saying, in between, how often do you want to see me, and do you want to meet metamours? You might say, is there anything I need to know about your health to be a better partner to you?

 

CM: I think that’s a great idea. Now, I have one other question to ask. I had an email come in this week that, actually, I haven’t answered because I don’t know how to answer it. It was a….and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have it in front of me, but I think it’s actually relevant here. It was from someone whose partner has PTSD, and it was okay at first, but then things started triggering. So, the partner is basically stepping aside, becoming very closed off, saying, I can’t talk. I can’t see you. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. And, you know, the…the partner, the lover, is like, what do I do? So it sounds to me, again, partial email, but it sounds to me like the….the partner who is suffering from…or who is experiencing PTSD is not able to say what he or she wants and needs in this case. So what do you do in that case? When the person who has some type of limitation or disability is unable to tell you what he or she needs, and is not communicative about it?

 

SK: Well, I mean, and I would say that that happens more often than we would expect. Right? Because in the same way that, if you’ve ever had that moment of, like, I’m hungry, and everybody’s like, okay, well, where would you like to go to eat? And you’re like, I don’t know. I’m hungry. I just…

 

(laugh)

 

SK: ….food. Here are three restaurant options. And you’re just like, pick a damn restaurant! A lot of times that happens with other stuff. And if you are so overwhelmed, either by a new diagnosis, or something that is out of your control, I mean, I….in my worst of my migraines, I was having migraines that were five or six days long and couldn’t function. Right? Like, I could function enough to be like, I’m in pain. I can’t engage with you. And, you know, well, what can I do to help you? I don’t know. Make it go away. Right? Which is not a very helpful…

 

CM: Right.

 

SK: …answer. But what I needed was someone to say, okay, I am here for you. Do you want me to be here, or do you want me to go? I want you to be here. Okay. Next step. Let me know if you need something. So it was as…we’d sit together for two hours and then I’d be like, I need an ice pack. Okay. Like, that is something small and tangible. Versus if I, you know, my partner had been like, I need to know, you know, what do you need for the next couple of weeks. Like, do you….I don’t….I didn’t know what I needed myself. Right? And so, I think especially with something that is hard to pin down, either a new diagnosis, a changed diagnosis, something like PTSD, which might be triggered by things somebody doesn’t even expect, the lover’s saying something like, I can’t even imagine how this must feel. Right? Cause unless they also have PTSD, they can’t imagine. And I’m here for you. If you can tell me what you need, I’m happy to try for it, but I can also just be here for when you need something. Right? And reminding someone, like, I’m not going anywhere because of this. And when you need something I need you to let me know, because I’m not going to keep asking you to be that, like, annoying person. I’m just telling you I’m here for when you need it.

 

CM: That’s amazing. And when you say it, it makes complete sense. It’s just not obvious all the time because we’re used to a certain flow to social interactions. So thank you so much for that.

 

SK: Well, and we want to fix things. Right? I want to put that out there, too. Right? Like, most…not most. Many instances of ableism are not because somebody is intentionally trying to be hurtful. Right? Most of them are because I…I want to fix it. But you can’t fix someone’s disability. Right? It’s not going to….you’re not going to, like, magically wave a wand and it’s going to go away. And, honestly, for some people that wouldn’t be the solution anyway. It’s part of who they are, and that’s fine. When someone’s hurting, we want to help them stop hurting. When someone’s struggling, we want to help make things easier for them. That’s…that’s why we care about our partners, our lovers, our friends. So it’s just trying to figure out where that threshold is of, I’m going to put forth as much as I can, but also recognize that sometimes I need to move back a little bit, so you can move forward and figure out what your needs are.

 

CM: Shanna, this is amazing advice and I believe that our time together is pretty much at an end.

 

SK: Yes.

 

CM: Unfortunately. I feel like we could talk for hours about this. Where can our listeners go to find out more on this topic?

 

SK: So, there is my website, which is shannakatz.com. S-H-A-N-N-A-K-A-T-Z. Bethany Stevens is doing some really great stuff on sex and disability, as is Robin Wilson-Beattie. And those folks are both out of Atlanta. If you’re looking for more academicky stuff, Mitchell Tepper is doing some really great stuff on sex and disability. And I have some stuff published on that as well. And I think all of us who I just mentioned speak on…on topics like sex and disability. I also do work on kink and disability, too. So you can always shoot me an email at shannakatz@gmail.com. And if you want to bring me out to chat or just have a conversation, or be a part of one of my upcoming studies, I would love to hear from you.

 

CM: Shanna, a wealth of information on poly and kink with disabilities. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Really appreciate it.

 

SK: Well thank you so much for having me. I’m…I’m always glad to chat with you.

 

CM: And thanks again to Shanna for sharing her wisdom and her time, and all her great insights. Find her on her website and thank you guys. I think this is going to wrap it up for today’s show. We have more great content next week. More happy poly moments and great stuff next week. I do want to thank you guys for listening. This is a free resource. We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people navigate their introduction to polyamory. Any donation you can give, whether it’s a buck, or a buck ninety nine a month, or it’s just a one time donation of twenty bucks, or fifty, or a hundred, or two hundred. Whatever you want. Those keep this podcast free for everyone inside and outside the community. You can email me with questions, comments or feedback to polyweekly@gmail.com. Now that we’re back from vacation, I promise I will actually go through my inbox, which is very, very, full right now. Or you can call 802-505-POLY. Remember, from our last podcast, with Franklin and Eve, that if you call that listener comment line and if you tell a story of how you used communication skills to diffuse a situation, then you’re in the running to win a signed copy of More Than Two. Don’t forget. You can also find us on twitter @polyweekly.@cunningminx, and on Facebook and Google Plus. Thanks for listening, guys. And remember, it’s not all about the sex.

Feb 152014
 
Shanna Katz Point of Contact

Shanna Katz: Point of Contact

Some of you may remember how I was so excited a few years back (I think circa 2010?) to be involved in a new project through Pink & White called Point of Contact. The premise? New up and coming videographers were given a Flip camera, and a microbudget, with the concept of creating a four-part series of hot, new, queer porn videos. Many of the other participants decide to follow themselves having fabulously fantastic sexual times by themselves and with others; I took the challenge a little differently. While I love much of the queer porn out there, very little focuses on masturbation or self love. However, I spend a good amount of my time educating people that they SHOULD masturbate and get to know their own bodies before they try and let someone else know what turns them on. Therefore, I decided for my project, to fill four different masturbatory scenes; a queer cigender femme, two cisgender gay men in a kink relationship, a queer soft butch, and an adorable set of a cisgender queer person and a transgender woman mutually masturbating. In addition, I did a post-scene interview with each scene, because that is something I love and value about many queer porn studios, in letting people actually connect with the stars, and to allow the stars to share their identities and experiences.

Anyways, all the footage went into the vault for a while, but now? All of it is finally available on Pink Label VOD. They have now been released, along with the sets of movies from Minax, Cyd St. Vincent, James Darling and Tina Horn (OMG y’all — can you believe my name is up there with some amazing folks like that?!?!). You can read this little write up of the project here on Xbiz.

Wanna watch these awesome movies? Here is the link to all FOUR of my different scenes; choose what you like and check out all of the other folks’ work (and all of the other amazing queer, feminist, ethical and/or sex-positive films on PinkLable VOD) – note, this is 18 only!

Enjoy your exploration of self lovin’,

Shanna

Aug 212013
 

This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section. – Shanna

When we think of intimate bonds experienced by the self and others, it’s hard not to insinuate a sexual context or a soon-to-be sexual context in which these bonds grow. This notion has prospered excellently in much of the mass media we tend to follow, as intimacy depicted in film is almost always followed by physical attraction. I understand that sexual motivations carries a narrative with great strength (both on and off screen), but it fails to demonstrate that they’re other ways to enjoy intimacy that doesn’t involve a passionate kiss at the end of it.

Here’s the idea: if intimacy happened to be presented to strictly within the context of sex, then it conditions one to seek intimacy exclusively in sex. This could lead to a pattern of thought where sex is seen as the ultimate end goal, with intimacy maybe served as a side. However, it’s important to stress that intimacy proliferates in many different environments, and it’s healthy to acknowledge notions of intimacy that you have that doesn’t necessarily end in a situation where you’re not wearing pants. Furthermore, understanding and appreciating intimacy one can experience outside of a sexual context might also help you within one too. With that said, it’s not my place to detract against the idea of the different kinds of sex people choose to have (both encompassing and void of intimacy), but rather to demonstrate a point that the two could be just as mutually exclusive as they could be intrinsically related.

Speaking of which, what exactly is the difference between enjoying say an incredible meal or an incredible production or an incredible blow job? Physiologically, very little. All three undergo a similar neuronal trajectory in the reward circuit system that promotes a positive self-perception, which in turn releases the same neurotransmitters (more specifically, oxytocin and dopamine). Of course the evolutionary implication behind the motivations driving sexual behavior obviously holds much more weight than artistic behavior, but it’s still kind of cool to think about why these innate mechanisms exist. If it were not an adaptive behavior, the rewarding sensations found in relation to intimacy would’ve been a trait left behind with our ancestors. Intimacy serves a purpose to bring people together as a social unit, so that collectively, we may up our chances of survival and mental well-being. It is single-handedly responsible for the enormous growth in cortical mass, as it is also the reason why we are apt to interpreting and understanding emotion and why our language happens to be so varied and densely knit. We carry these skills not because they simply existed, but because our innate desire to be interconnected willed our species to form it. What I find to be particularly poignant about this theory that when you classify intimacy as the over-arching umbrella term, sex follows suit as a subgenre of intimacy, and not the other way around.

For example, there are plenty of people on this planet who live happily with little to no sexual activity in their lives. Does this make them incapable of understanding and appreciating intimacy? Certainly not. However, popular opinion is still tempted to imply this stereotype. We see it in how one might treat a friend or family member as being ‘perpetually single’. Are they lonely? Maybe, but it certainly would be presumptuous to assume. Are they incapable of sharing a deep bond with other individuals? Certainly not. People choose to be single based on a multitude of reasons, the large majority of which do not revolve around the disinterest or incompetence of being sexually intimate.

The most spectacular thing about intimacy beyond sex, is it’s unmitigated sweetness can be experienced anywhere at any moment between anyone. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that though the company of others most often creates intimacy, it is ultimately the individual that perceives and internalizes it. I appreciate the moment one has when you find yourself sharing a smile with a stranger in a public place, but the space that’s created between myself and this stranger is largely in part due to the space I have allowed myself to experience in my mind. This should not automatically equate to a “what-a-shame-you-let-the-moment-pass” conundrum if I felt the person did not need to be approached. It should be sufficient enough to allow the thrill to ride its course without having to imply anything else. Having a frank conversation about an interesting topic with a stranger at a gathering does not mean that a shade of romanticism is owed, especially if this person is “someone I could see myself being attracted to”. By accepting it’s existence at face value, you could spend less time tripping over ill-fated attempts to justify an emotion that might not be understood in mainstream opinion. Intimacy helps keep you in check with your own personal relationship, it allows you the opportunity to practice humility and curiosity that other spaces in life might not. It is possible to feel connected and involved without submitting to the social prescription of asking yourself how it’s function should be carried.

For more thoughts, I invite you to read this interesting article :

May 102013
 

This is a post by one of my Spring 2013 interns, Rebecca. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

Alright!  Alright…we know we have gone astray, but how do we get back on track?  How do we continue to improve our sex lives?  Following are three simple tricks you may start playing with next time you are getting frisky in the bedroom.  These tricks of the trade can and will (if you decide to use them) have a huge impact on your sex life.  Alright?  Alright.  First, talk about your body…parts.  Second, provide feedback.  Third, consider agreeing upon a word, phrase,  motion, or set of motions that lets your partner know where you stand.

Talk about your body!  That’s right!  It is time to let go of the “down there” lingo and actually say what you are referring to.  There is a high cost (you know…mediocre sex) for being general when you are referring to your body.  You know, because there is a lot down there.  I am a huge proponent of anatomically correct language, because why not draw upon an already existing mutual vocabulary that is smashingly specific?  However, some individuals find anatomical language: strangely anatomic.  Everyone needs to find language that works for them.  Now, that isn’t a get out of jail free card!  You still need to “find” that language if you haven’t already.  If you presently don’t have a label for your “down there,” then challenge yourself to use a label.  If you presently have a label for one part of your body try becoming even more specific (i.e. penis, head, shaft).  If you are all about the labels, try bouncing around label genres to create different moods (i.e. using anatomically correct when being romantic or  slang when being frisky). The labeling process may feel odd at first, but the more you do it, the less awkward it will feel.

Alright, next we want to provide feedback while getting intimate.  Positive feedback!  Every time you are with your partner sexually, find one thing they are doing that you particularly enjoy, and then tell them, “I like the way you are touching me there,” or “oh yes, keep doing that.”  Then the next time you are with them, pick something else they are doing that you are digging and vocalize that.  The reason I am a huge fan of this technique is because vocalizing what you like eventually results in well-deserved confidence for your partner (and yourself, if you both practice this) because your partner turns into a pleasure-giving machine.  Although they may not start out this way, the more you tell them what you like, they will ease up on the stuff they aren’t getting positive feedback on and hone in on the stuff that you tell them you enjoy.  Very quickly your partner will have a menu of all your favorite things.  Wouldn’t you like a list of their top ten favorite things?  Wouldn’t that make you feel just that much more confident in the bedroom?

Sometimes in the heat of a moment, you get sucked into territory you didn’t expect.  What if you unexpectedly feel uncomfortable?  Or the moment brings up a history of emotions?  Or you just don’t like the way the interaction feels anymore?  There is something really nice about have a predetermined words or motion to communicate desires that are may be difficult to say in the moment.  A motion, such as a tap on the shoulder, means “I’m not sure how I feel about this. Can we back off for a second?”

As far as words go, many individuals enjoy the red/yellow/green code.  Red means stop right there and don’t you move a muscle!  Yellow means, I’m not too sure how I feel about this, let’s slow down, maybe talk about it, maybe not and green means Yes! YES!  The red/yellow/green code is particularly nice because of the yellow aspect.  We often think of sexual interactions as black or white, where we want something or we don’t.  In reality, our sexual experiences involve experimentation, which results in grey areas.  The yellow allows for that nuance.  Yellow says, “Maybe if the licking was done just a little different you would love it,” or “this is too much for me today, let’s come back to it tomorrow.”

Motions are the exact same idea.  Tapping their chest could be red, tapping on either shoulder could be yellow, and deep pressure into their upper arms could be green.  Having a motion may be an excellent substitute for a word, because sometimes yelling “Oh my gosh! You fierce animal you! Green!” is challenging to make sexy.  Then again, sometimes it isn’t.

The code system may be particularly useful for survivors of sexual violence.  It is common for survivors to experience emotional triggers during sexual interactions that bring them back to their assault(s).  Triggers can happen unexpectedly even with partners they love.  Having a word or motion to help a survivor communicate their needs can help a survivor say what they need to, during a highly emotional moment when typical phrases might fail them.  Considering the high rates of sexual violence in this country (1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18, 1 in 3 women in their lifetime), there is (unfortunately) a good chance that at some point in your life you may engaged sexually with a survivor, whether you are aware of their history or not. Incorporating predetermined words or motions to communicate one’s desires may provide a safety net for a survivor when traditional phrases such as “stop” or “slow down” may be even more difficult for them to say.  Setting up these boundaries may provide extra support to an individual in need without you ever knowing.

These three fabulous tricks (if I do say so myself), of course, only touch base on a few communication skills. Nevertheless, these may be a nice place to start.  Challenge yourself.  I think you’ll be surprised how just talking to your partner about what you are doing will be both liberating and empowering.

May 062013
 

This is a post by one of my Spring 2013 interns, Rebecca. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

Botanically Infused Oceanics by Sliquid:  I love this lube, love, love,love. 

Why is this lube absolutely and positively fantastic?  Let’s start with the appearance.  Oceanics comes in a sophisticated little bottle that I feel comfortable leaving out on my dresser.  The label itself is classy and could easily be mistaken for some fancy beauty product.  It does have “Sliquid” written on the front which may give the product away, however, I am not convinced it necessarily does.  Either way, the swanky packaging is a lovely perk that made it easy to leave the bottle out and about in an easily accessible location.  The bottle has a push-to-snap-open cap which is pretty easy to use, even when my fingers are slick.  Although I personally prefer a pump (tremendously convenient) for my lube bottles, the top on this bottle does its job.

When I first got the lube, I put a dab the size of half-a-pea on my finger.  To the touch the lube is so smooth it is almost silky.  Additionally it felt cool, clean, and refreshing to the touch and is quite thin.  A little of this stuff goes a long way, for that little dab covered my entire first finger and thumb thoroughly.

I began rubbing my fingers together and discovered this baby was long lasting, especially for a water based lube.  Even better, the lube never got sticky, stringy, or goopy.  Instead, when the lube had finally soaked into my fingers (as water based lubes do) my fingers felt like they had been well moisturized.

To make this lovely lube lovelier still, I discovered that this lube has no taste.  Zero.  Zilch! You heard me!   I actually continued tasting the lube repeatedly to a point where it was just awkward because I was convinced that I was missing the taste.  It took me longer than I would like to admit to finally realize there isn’t one, or at least none that my taste buds can detect.  If anything, there is a tinge of sweetness but that could very well be my imagination building upon the ever so subtle sweet smell the lube has that makes you ask yourself, am I in the botanic gardens?

When actually using the lube I discovered that all of the finger trial observations remained true.  The same cool, clean, and refreshing feeling I experienced when trying it on my fingers was even more present.  Although water based lubes are known for drying out more quickly than other lubes, I found that I didn’t need to reapply.  Then again, on my lube filled adventure I was not engaging in prolonged sexual activity with a partner, but instead flying solo with my vibrator.   So, although it is long lasting, if you intend to use this lube for extensive partnered fun, you’ll probably have to reapply.  Having to stop the fun to put on more is probably the biggest downside to this lube, but to be expected with water based lubes. {Editor’s note: with water based lube, just add some water to reactivate, instead of adding more lube!}

An upside to water based lubes is that they don’t ruin sex toys or condoms.  So I had no concern that my lube was melting my toy while I was using it, ::whew::, like silicone lube will do to silicone toys.  Another upside to water based lube, and thus this lube, is that it is easy to clean up.  In fact, it requires almost no clean up because most of it was absorbed by the time I was finished.  The rest came off easily with soap and water and there was no mess left on my sheets.  Hallelujah!  Even BETTER, Oceanics has no harmful chemicals!  The lube glycerine and paraben free and certificated organic.  Talk about rad(ical), at least in modern America.

Overall, I dig this lube and recommend it to anyone questing for a quality water based lube.  It is smooth as all get up, has essentially no taste but does have a slight smell of flowers.  A little of this lube goes a long way and lasts for a while.  Plus, at no point did it get stringy or goopy.  Oceanics is condom safe, sex toy safe, and safe for your body for a totally reasonable price.  Boom!  This lube rocks – click here to get your own bottle!

 

May 032013
 

This is a post by one of my Spring 2013 interns, Rebecca. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

The first sex (and I use this term loosely to define all forms of sexual interactions) advice we generally receive is the just feel it method.  I am not exactly sure what “it” we are supposed to be feeling, but don’t ask questions because that exposes your *gasp* “lack of knowledge” or your *don’t say it!* “lack of experience.”  Because let’s be honest, using your crystal ball and 6th grade lesson on anatomy makes you an expert at pleasing your partner.  Duh.

Anyway, just feel it.  You want one thing to lead smoothly to another.  It needs to be romantic.  It needs to be smooth.  It needs to be intimate.  Don’t ruin it by talking or fussing.

Mmmmm yes.  That advice is a little like getting thrown into the Olympic pole vaulting competition, in which someone hands you your vaulting pole and says to you “just feel it.” They then pat you on the back and send you sprinting towards a pole that is 18 feet in the air and parallel to the earth.  Now I don’t know about you, bit if that were me I would take any advice you can get.  But you know, I would  this hunch that in about 15 seconds I would be feeling a lot of different things, and none of them would be what Mr. Just Feel It, was referring to.

Ways and reasons you get clued to the downsides of the just feel it method:

1)      Someone gives you wise sexual advice, OR,

2)      You realize your sexual experiences are continuously dull and disappointing, OR,

3)      You, or someone you love, experience(s) a sexual assault

It might occur to you that the just feel it method doesn’t work. At all. Period. The end.

Not only does the just feel it method lead to a lot of miscommunications, but how on earth are you supposed to have decent sex?  Did you know that there are six vital steps one must hone to have a successful pole vault?  Nor did I (thank you Wikipedia). There are six!  The approach, plant and take-off, swing up, extension, turn, and fly-away.  Yup, like pole vaulting, sex isn’t a one-step endeavor. I think it’s time to start looking for some decent advice.

After searching high and low, low and high, and back around again, hopefully you stumble across the just communicate method.  Now, that shockingly simple advice may be the best sexual advice you will ever receive in your lifetime.  So…what’s the problem?

Let us return to pole vaulting for a hot second.  Now you are at the start line, and Mr. Just Feel It transforms into Ms. Just Jump.  Telling an Olympic pole vaulter to just jump is indeed the best advice you can possibly give them.  Truly. It focuses them on the big picture.  However, this advice assumes a certain level of skill (years spent honing the art of vaulting). For them, all they need to do is focus on what they already know how to do.

“Communicate” is the best advice you can give a professional communicator, but unfortunately when it comes to talking about sex we often find ourselves tongue-tied. In a society of “just feel it,” we have learned to keep our mouths shut in the bedroom.  On the whole, we don’t know how to communicate our wants, desires, boundaries, and fantasies. Sex (again, in the loose sense of the word) is an art, a skill, a practice.  And communicating around sex is also an art, a skill, and a practice.

Now, I am no communication guru (but good Lordisa I am trying), but I do have a few little tricks that can turn into a sexual revolution.

Curious?  Check out Communicating in the Bedroom, Part 2!

Apr 292013
 

This is a post by one of my Spring 2013 interns, Rebecca. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

G-Whizz is a lovely, adorable, and petite g-spot vibrator made by Lovehoney.  The vibrator is made to both stimulate the clitoris and the g-spot. I have to say, this vibrator is a straightforward creation that covers all your basics.

One upside of the G-Whizz is that the vibrator takes one, yes you heard me, one AA battery!  Every other vibrator I own takes two AAA batteries that always seem to hide themselves in the nooks of my apartment.  This battery upgrade is an excellent example of little things making big differences.  Another upside is that the vibration options cover all of your bases.  The vibrator has 7 different pulsating patterns and 3 different vibration speeds resulting in 10 total options.  Soft, strong, fast, and slow, with some really nice pulsation patterns.  During my first usage, I was skeptical of some of the settings, but as I continued to use the vibrator, they grew on me – you know, different moods, different desires.  I was particularly impressed with the slower, softer settings.  As for strength, I found the vibrator to deliver.  I personally enjoy a vibrator with a little oomph behind it and although my mind was not blown away by the strength (and I’m not sure I would want to be), I was quite happy with the power this tiny vibrator has.

This vibrator operates with a single button that serves as both the power button and the settings switch.  A downside to this vibrator is that once you turn it on you have to cycle through all the settings to get to the one you would like to use.  Although this is common in the world of vibrators, this is a personal annoyance I have.  Thankfully though, to turn off the vibrator you do not have to flip through all the settings.  Instead you just hold down the button and it switches right off.  Praise the wise women of the world, because when I’m finished, I’m finished.

While using the vibrator I was particularly impressed with the material.  The vibrator is silky smooth to the touch.  As for volume – you know, the important question of whether the other people that also live in your house will hear this lovely, adorable, and petite toy vibrating when you may not want them to – I will say it is about average.  I wouldn’t call the vibrator either noisy or quiet.  When the vibrator is set to one of the softer settings, it is mighty hushed, but as the intensity of the vibration increases so does the noise (how logical).  If noise is particularly important to you, I wouldn’t consider this vibrator the quietest of them all.  Either way, if your doors have a standard thickness, I’ll think you’ll be okay.

The shaft of the vibrator is quite stiff, however, the head of the vibrator has some flexibility.  Overall, the toy is firm enough to keep its shape, but it does bend slightly when you put pressure on it.  This flexibility is nice because it allows the vibrator take shape with your body.  However, this flexibility inhibits the ability to apply firm pressure on your g-spot.  When I tried to apply the pressure I enjoy, I found the head of the vibrator giving way.  I ended up using the vibrator mostly for clitoral stimulation and it rocked my world in that department.  Also important to note, I found that I didn’t need very much lubrication for this toy.  The first time I used it I didn’t use any extra lubrication and found I didn’t need it.  The times following I applied a water based lube (silicone lube on silicone toy equals one strangely warped and melted toy…really) and I found that really enhanced the silkiness of the toy.

Overall, I would consider this to be a nice toy that does what it claims to do.  It covers all of your basics and is reasonably priced (19.99 euros, which is about 26 U.S. dollars).  It’s darn attractive, always a plus.  It is also small, which is fabulous for when you want to tuck that baby away.  However, if you have a particularly high g-spot the length of this vibrator may not work for you.  The G-Whizz has some enjoyable soft settings, but also packs a punch.  I personally found the vibrator to be great for clitoral stimulation, and I assume it is great for g-spot stimulation if you don’t mind the flexibility of the head.

This vibrator is a nice introductory vibrator for someone newly exploring their g-spot.  I believe it would also be a nice vibrator for a more experienced individual who just wants a simple, straightforward toy that does the trick.

Thanks Lovehoney for sending this toy to me for review.  You can bet your great Uncle Ron’s homemade donuts that I’m enjoying it.

Apr 222013
 

This is a post by one of my Spring 2013 interns, Natalie. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

College students–and high school students at that–hold a longstanding trend of hookups. Formerly more generally referred to as one night stands, hookups vary from having a main squeeze to friends with benefits to one night stands. At my school at least, the contradictory element of hookups lies in a belief many students hold: that hookup culture dominates and everyone participates, while the truth indicates it’s fewer students then everyone seems to think. Whatever the numbers, a survey done earlier in the year showed that during hookups, females on my college campus orgasmed during hookups only a fraction of the frequency time their male counterparts did (not implying only straight people here, just that men orgasmed in hookups regardless of the gender of the person they were hooking up with, and women didn’t, also regardless of their partner’s gender).
The myth of the vaginal orgasm has long pervaded us, and people are starting to see that. Few and far between seem to be able to satisfy woman identified folk, and it can be difficult to have a satisfying hookup without satisfying sex–which just leads to awkwardness and tension on both sides of the spectrum. I mean, this is why Shanna wrote her book on cunnilingus, after all! So what can we do to promote the female orgasm and better our hookups in general?

Communicate!
Yeah, this one gets thrown at you over and over. But that’s cause it’s important. Even just “that feels good” or “what are you into?” can open the door to way better sex than you’d have in the first place.

Experiment.
Experiment with various safe, sane, and consensual sexy acts. You might find a position or toy you’ve never tried before, and it might become your new favorite way to play.

Masturbate!
Know your body so you can show others how to make you feel great. This may include looking at your genitals: how can you know what you might like if you don’t even know what you look like “down there?”

Talk to your friends about sex.
In a nice, non-objectifying way. By asking others what they do to talk about having safe sex in the context of a hookup you can learn how to protect yourself and help others at the same time. Plus, these chats generally lead to hilarious stories.

I also recommend reading Pat Califia’s “42 Things You Can Do to Make the Future Safer For Sex” in his book, Public Sex. A comprehensive list of acts that will open your own views on sexuality, from pleasure to politic, each act will make you think–at the very least. I’ll list a couple for you here:

*Study sex.
*Find a new fantasy.
*Make art about how sex feels.
*Teach somebody how to come with a rubber barrier.
*Vote.
*Write a love letter to an unloveable part of your body.
*Hand out clean needles and free condoms. If you can’t do this, give money to the people who are doing it for you.

Apr 182013
 

This is a post by one of my Spring 2013 interns, Rebecca. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

Masturbation and sexual violence in particular are two topics that can be especially challenging to teach but absolutely necessary.

Masturbation is normal for all individuals, regardless of developmental ability. The exploration of genitals and self-pleasure is a common human experience which generally begins in infancy.  Individuals on the spectrum are no different.  In fact, most individuals on the spectrum learn to masturbate on their own at some point in their life, however, many have trouble reaching orgasm during masturbation.  The challenge to reach orgasm may become problematic for two reasons: First, it may result in ritualistic behaviors. Second, it may be the only realistic outlet for sexual release for some people with autism.  If masturbation becomes a problematic behavior perhaps due to a lack of orgasm, check out The Center for Disability Information and Referral; they will be able to refer to informational videos about masturbating to orgasm.

Regardless of whether or not the behavior is ritualistic, a strict structure around masturbation is will help the individual to understand when masturbation is appropriate and when it is not.  Designate areas where it is okay to masturbate.  For example, an individual’s bedroom is generally a good option.  Avoid teaching the bathroom as an appropriate place to masturbate because using the bathroom may become a stimulus to masturbate.  Set up rules that designate an appropriate time to masturbate. Teach the individual that sometimes, masturbation is not an option.  Provide the individual with alone time or private time and give them the tools (verbal, ASL, PEC, etc) to communicate their desire for private time.  If this individual follows a strict schedule, incorporate private time into the schedule.  If/when the individual requests private time, refer to the schedule reminding them when they will have time to themselves.

Part of the teaching process regarding appropriate masturbation is teaching inappropriate masturbation.  When someone is engaging in inappropriate masturbation, interrupt the behavior by asking the individual to cease the behavior without emotional affect.   Remind the individual of when masturbation is appropriate with whatever means you communicate (such as verbal, i.e. “private time in bedroom” or visual, i.e. image of their bedroom).  Then redirect individual to an appropriate activity.  Particularly successful redirections may include ones that require the use of their hands (bead work, puzzles, etc.) a physical activity (bouncing on a ball or trampoline), or one that requires a lot of focus for that individual.  If their bedroom is available, you may redirect them to their bedroom.  Be wary of redirecting them to their bedroom immediately because the individual may learn to request masturbation by engaging in it.  Perhaps create a first/then demand i.e. first puzzle then private time, or have them engage in another activity and once engaged have them practice requesting private time appropriately.

Sexual violence is another challenging topic to approach.  Although there is no absolute way to completely protect a person you love with ASD from victimization, there are steps that can dramatically decrease the likelihood of abuse.  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network suggests the following steps:

1.  Teaching children accurate names of their private body parts.

2.  Avoid focusing exclusively on “stranger danger.”  Keep in mind that most children are abused by someone they know and trust.

3.  Teach about body safety and the difference between “okay” and “not okay” touching.

4.  Let children know that they have the right to make decisions about their bodies.  Empower them to say “no” and determining when they do and do not want to be touched, even in non-sexual ways (e.g. politely refusing hugs), and to say “no” to touching others.

5.  Make sure children know that adults and older children never need with their private body parts (e.g. bathing or going to the bathroom)

6. Teach children to take care of their own private parts (i.e. bathing, wiping after bathroom use) so they don’t have to rely on adults or older children for help.

7. Educate children about the difference between good secrets (like surprise parties – which are okay because they are not kept a secret for long) and bad secrets (those that the child is supposed to keep secret forever, which are not okay)

8. Trust your instincts! If you feel uneasy about leaving a child with someone, don’t do it.  If you’re concerned about possible sexual abuse, ask questions.

Obviously many of these lessons depend on the developmental abilities of the individual and some of these are unrealistic for some individuals.  Adaptations can be made to communicate these messages.  Additionally, supporting a school or program in their efforts to make an individual with ASD as independent as possible (eating, bathing) is critical.  Off Limits: A Parent’s Guide to Keeping Kids Safe from Sexual Abuse, by Feather Berkower is an absolute must read for every parent (present or future) and caretaker.  Although her books targets prevention techniques for parent’s with typically developing children, many of the concepts and ideas are applicable to those with ASD.  Feather will completely blow your mind and change your concepts around what prevention work means.  I cannot recommend this book more highly.

Sexual violence in the neurologically different population is happening at astounding rates.  Additionally, individuals on the spectrum who have been abused may engage in abusive behaviors towards younger siblings or ASD peers without an understanding of their actions.  There are steps to protect the ones we love on the spectrum from suffering in this way.  In fact, individuals on the spectrum should instead be given the support to live happy and sexually liberating lives!  May we move in that direction.

 

*Peter Gerhardt does fabulous work regarding the intersection of autism and sexuality.  Much of the information in this blog came from articles he has written and lectures he has given at conferences.  For more information I recommend a quick google search on his name.  Lots of quality information will pop up.  Also, don’t forget to talk to talk to the therapists, caretakers, and teachers in your life.  They too may have some fabulous suggestions in this arena.  Why not make this this education process a team effort.  Two heads are (almost) always better than one!