Another one of my very own #YesAllWomen moments

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Today I received a phone call from a guy.

I was weary to answer the call because my last encounter with him ended with him yelling at me that I’m a bitch because I had been avoiding hanging out with him, and him hitting me with a glow stick so hard that I had a welt for two days.

He had been calling me incessantly—15 times in one day. I kept ignoring the call, or having my friends answer because I was so sick of telling him that I didn’t want to hang out. One of my friends ended up pitying him and telling him where I was.

When he found me, I was cuddling with someone else on a couch, which made him very, very angry. I knew he was jealous, and I get it. The kid liked me, but we had no actual relationship other than the fact that a month prior we had hooked up once or twice (be it the intoxicants or the quality of the company, it wasn’t particularly memorable).

He not only tried to get violent with me, but also the person I was cuddling with. It was at that point when I decided to leave for my own safety—even though my friend’s house was where I was planning on staying the night because I was in town visiting.

He then texted me accusing me of getting him involved in drama that he didn’t want to be “dragged into.” All this after I tried desperately to avoid him for 10 hours while he did everything he could to hunt me down.

Fast forward to today when he called me. He said he was calling to apologize. I was glad that he was taking a step in recognizing that he fucked up—but it devolved into him saying that he was pissed that I was with someone who was “not as cool as him.”

It was at this point where I (literally) said “I am not your property and I can have sex with whomever I want.”

His response was “I know, but…” whereupon he continued to man-splain to me that he did have rights to my body over other men because he was cooler than them.

If that’s not male entitlement and rape culture than I don’t know what is.

#YesAllWomen

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Don’t Yuck My Yum is a good start—but we need to turn it up to 11!

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In the spirit of going back to work after a month of winter break, I decided to write a post about something that is very near and dear to my heart: Sex Positivity.

Since beginning at Sex Out Loud a year and a half ago, the meaning of sex positivity has evolved quite a bit for me. It began when I first heard the term “Don’t Yuck My Yum,” (or DYMY for short) which essentially means that we should be respectful of all types of expression because shaming people is generally a shitty thing to do. DYMY is an ideology that promotes safe spaces and conversations—if we don’t feel like we’re going to be attacked or put down for sharing intimate desires, or posing questions about them, then we’re more likely to listen, engage, and learn. And I think that’s fantastic.

For me, DYMY was more of a starting point. It was when I started to think about personal expression (from gender to sexuality and beyond) as personal life choices that should be accepted and treated equally. But now, having worked as a sexual health peer facilitator, simply keeping our mouth shut when we are confronted with a type of expression that we don’t personally enjoy is not enough.

Truly, sex positivity is about celebrating people’s consensual, healthy choices and just generally being life-affirming. It’s not being “politically correct,” it’s providing people with information so they can make risk-aware choices that are right for them, and being supportive of whatever choices they make.

It’s not simply holding back judgement, it’s letting go of the idea that there is a right and a wrong way for people to express their gender or sexuality.

It’s recognizing that everyone deserves pleasure and happiness, and celebrating that people have found things that make them happy! Even if an activity is not for us, we remember the things that make us warm and fuzzy (or hot and bothered) might not be for everyone and to just be happy that they found something that they really enjoy.

It’s shutting down shamers, even in their subtlest form. It’s recognizing when we’re skimming over topics when we’re teaching because we don’t enjoy them. It’s recognizing when we unintentionally wince when discussing a sexual act we’re not in to. It’s about knowing our own boundaries and triggers, and when its best to exit conversations or spaces so that we don’t unintentionally distress ourselves or others. It’s learning how to get super excited over a sex toy we’ve never used, or a barrier method that’s made for bodies that we or our partners don’t have.

Sex Positivity is about celebrating the things that make people happy and empowering them to engage and explore them in risk-aware and consensual situations. It’s kinda summed up in my favorite cheers:

To finding the things we fucking love and vice versa!

If you’re looking for more sex positivity check out Laci Green who is simply amazing, or just stay tuned! I’ll be posting lots more of Sex + stuff.

Self-Respect: What you think it means, and what it really means.

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If they don’t have self-respect, then why should I respect them?

This is one of the many phrases I encounter frequently in my work as a sexual health educator regarding the concept of self-respect, and it’s usually used as a justification for slut-shaming and victim-blaming.  And after having a particularly enlightening conversation with my step mom, I realized why the idea of telling someone to have some self-respect felt so squicky to me—how the hell do I know how someone feels about themselves? Somewhere along the way, we lost the whole “self” part of self-respect.

The things that we might cite as “indicators” of self-respect, such as clothing, weight, body modifications, demeanor, or general life choices aren’t going to give us pure and unbiased insight into how someone feels about themselves. But they will tell us whether we have respect for them. We use our own criteria for how we evaluate ourselves, and then import those ideas directly into the other person’s mouth.

Telling someone to have self-respect is a thinly veiled way of telling them that you do not have respect for the way that they are living their life. 

And as someone who has been the recipient of such remarks, it was confusing. I do respect myself. I think I’m pretty great, actually. I mean, I’m a self-proclaimed (and friend-certified) narcissist. And the things I was doing didn’t negate or depreciate the respect that I have for myself.

Now, I’m not saying that we’re always going to approve of or enjoy everyone’s lifestyle or choices. We aren’t. But the vast majority of the time, our opinion about how someone else is living their life is irrelevant. So the whole have some blah blah blah argument really loses traction.

When we tell people to respect themselves, we are not only being super über passive aggressive, but we are also shaming them for things that they might really enjoy. And shaming people for things they like or can’t change is on my list of top 10 worst things a person can possible do to another.

So next time you feel that phrase rolling around on the tip of your tongue, pull up your big girl panties and remember that A) it’s you who doesn’t have respect for them, and that B) whether you respect them or not really doesn’t matter, because it does not determine if they have respect for themselves.