The Stoned Chrysalis

For the Woke and Waking

Aimee H for The Female Gaze

Aimee Vincent

Sexual development

I have suffered from chronic abdominal illness and depression since my early teens which for me came at a cost of a very limited sex drive. I think for me, because I was so critically sick growing up I didn't have the same experience as other people, I was wild in other ways - but never sexually. Its been as i've gotten older and through self discovery that i've kind of unlocked different things and thats probably the most empowering bit, that i've learnt it all myself while dealing with other health issues. My mum was so supportive, she was always super honest and open in a way, maybe I pushed that away or I shied away from it because I didn't fully understand or feel it - so in terms of sex it's definitely been a process of unlocking as the years go on, particularly with chronic illness I have always looked towards a partners affection and companionship moreso because the struggle with pain relating to intimacy was and still to this day can be unbearable, it's almost become a subconscious action to shy away from it.

However, when the right energy is there, through meditation and slowly working through emotional and physical pains I have felt strong connections that have taken me to other levels of oneness. It's taken work to break through these layers but it's an ongoing process and self discovery for me is a huge part - being open minded and expressing myself in as many aspects as I can"

Beauty Standards

For me its been different than the norm, I was always just seen as a boy and still am I guess - alot of my friends don't see me as a girl because i've always skated and been seen as a "tom boy" if you want to call it that - so beauty has never been a thing for me, which is maybe why I struggle with feeling sexy and all that kind of stuff... I have had partners in the past put me down about it and make it into a negative thing that I dress "like a boy" or appear masculine to a degree and theyd try to make me feel weird about liking the things that I do, so I guess i've had a different kind of experience with people telling me "youre a boy, youre a boy, youre a boy" as though its a negative thing so i've never naturally felt sexy or feminine"

The Female Gaze: Amie @inspiredtowrite

Aimee Vincent
Amie.jpg

You can find Amie here @inspiredtowrite and amiemcnee.co

 

A part of me doesn’t feel right contributing to this conversation. I mean should I really be sharing my own story when I squirm to even type the word …masturbation? I’m worried someone might walk behind me as read this, I’m worried that anyone I know might ever possibly read this. I still don't think I want anyone knowing that I do … it.

 

I grew up in a christian home. Sex was unspoken, or rather hidden. Any mention of it in movies was fast-forwarded. Or tutted at so loudly I didn’t understand what was going on. Any time any one actually spoke the s-e-x word out-loud was in church, and I probably don’t need to detail what that was like. Even so, I decided to refresh my own memory. I went back on my old diaries. I’ve been journaling since I was maybe eight or nine years old and stopped when I was about nineteen. Let me tell you, shit gets fucking real in those books. But I do not ever mention masturbation by name, not once. Not in a decade of diaries. And I know I was tormented by masturbatory shame throughout my teenage years. There are a few entries that I think may hint at it but they’re always stand alone entries, and they’re never more than a few words:

 

God Forgive me. 

Jesus I’m sorry. 

Why am I like this?

I can’t recall when I first did it. I’m getting shower head vibes but I’m not sure. What I do remember is the disgust. I became revolting because of what I had done. The hangover from it was so icky it would stick on me for days. And this shame isn’t exclusively religious shame. It’s a female shame.

 

There are also pages which I have physically glued together, I tried un-peeling them, to no avail, 13 year old Amie and her glue-stick clearly didn’t expect me to be writing this article a dozen years down the track. 

 

I had no qualms telling my diary that I wanted to kill myself because Mark from the bus thought I was weird, but I couldn’t admit to the world, I couldn’t provide any evidence that I might just think about touching myself.

 

I can't recall when I first did it. I’m getting shower head vibes but I’m not sure. What I do remember is the disgust. I became revolting because of what I had done. The hangover from it was so icky it would stick on me for days. And this shame isn’t exclusively religious shame. It’s a female shame. I have a memory of sitting with my ‘girl group’, all drunk on a singular shared cruiser declaring that we ‘would never’ and ‘have never’ done that thing and it wasn’t Christ making my friends blush. As I’ve gotten older and I’ve let go my allegiances to the biblical god, the question of: What would god think of me if he could see me doing this? Has changed to: What would a man think if he saw me? There’s a lot to be said about the overlap between the god gaze and male gaze, but it’s for another blog. Today, right now, If I masturbate, I view myself with a male gaze. I literarily imagine what men in my life would think of me, and I shift my hips this way, or bend over that way, to make sure that it appeases their imaginary view. Or sometimes, I just stop touching myself altogether, because maybe that random guy I used to know from school might think it is disgusting. That I am disgusting. What ? I can’t even comprehend this, but that’s what I do.

 

Right now, I don't feel far enough away from my own shame and pain to be able to see its intricacies, to understand exactly what I feel and why. But I have been taking small steps away from the embarrassment and my own disgust through education and reading. I spent my undergraduate studying medieval sexuality. It was with study of the past that I have began to understand that the shame I feel is historical, I carry not just my personal history of sexual repression and shame, but the history of millions of women from the past. Through my studies I have met the women who were made to parade the streets in bed sheets for having a threesome, the girl who had to confess and be punished for doing it in a style that wasn't missionary or the teenager dragged to see the priest for touching herself. I see every single woman who has ever entered a medieval church and had to witness the carvings of Eve with evil eyes and a snake coming out her vagina. I see the agony of sexual shame in my own life and all through-out women’s history and my heart aches for us, and yet at the same time I feel a little less alone. For a lot of my life, I thought I was the only woman in the world who had sexual urges, I did not know that I was sharing experiences with a sisterhood that has existed for millennia. 

 

History has made me feel less alone, and it has also given me hope. Throughout my studies I’ve found glimpses of the true female gaze, like teeny tiny pinpricks of light in a huge mess of male dominated, religiously clouded sexual gaze. If you look hard enough, you meet women with sexual agency, with sexual pride and autonomy. There will always be, no matter how hard the phallocentric patriarchy tries to stop it, a female gaze. Allow me to introduce you to a few of my favourite finds;

 

First up, sixteenth century ‘I modi, the Sonnet Lussuriosi’. A set of sonnets where the women are presented as sexually liberated and dominant, their pleasure is the centre of the poetry, the dick doesn’t exist unless it serves and pleasures the woman,

 

 “Put your finger up my behind, dear old man / thrust cazzo (The D) in a little at a time / Lift my leg, manoeuvre well”. 

 

She is directing the sexual experience to her own liking. The male then asks, 

 

“Where will you put it? Tell me most kindly in the front of behind?” To which the female replies, “Why will I perhaps upset you if I threw it in my behind?” 

 

The woman is in total control of the phallus. He doesn’t have a choice where his own penis goes, because the woman is the master of sex. Scholar’s like to say this sort of poetry inverts gender roles, but the word invert annoys me, really it just confirms that the world still thinks that the Peen is King. For me, this poetry tells the story of females as the owners of their pleasure and desire, and I love it. 

 

Then we have ‘The Secret Life of Nuns’, where women take back the ownership of sexualised language, here we have two nuns talking to another in this 16th century text:  

“Nanna: Speak plainly and say 'fuck,' 'prick,' 'cunt' and 'ass' ... why don't you say it straight out and stop going about on tiptoes?” 

I can almost hear that Nun looking me in the eye and saying, 

“Amie, Speak plainly, and say the word masturbate.” There is also evidence of Nuns who hid their makeshift dildos in their Nunnery’s libraries, and the first actual use of the word dildooccurred in the late 16th century, telling the story of a woman who was not pleased by her lover, so used her glass phallus instead. 

 

I’ve become fascinated by these precious fine threads of underground female sexual culture that have existed throughout time. My sisters who lived 600 years ago who took up sexual space without concerning themselves with the man, without feeling disgusting, without apology, these women inspire me today and slowly, painstakingly, I unpick the pain of shame.

If nuns in the 1500’s can carve a dildo out of wood, polish it and then hide it in their library then I can write this blog, and I can type the word masturbate and maybe even say it out loud from time to time.

 

The Female Gaze: Alphamama

Aimee Vincent

Cosmo sexual, demi/pan/gender fluid/part time polyamorous 

Facebook: Alphamama

Instagram: @alphamama

Photographer: Ryan Hutt

So, the night that we did the manifestation clear, I journalled briefly before I went to bed. It's fucking scary to share this so publicly but I want you to know what I go through to evolve and grow. I want to show you that I HAVE CRAZY THOUGHTS TOO. And that the part of me that has these thoughts, fears, doubts, terrors etc etc need to come out of the shadows. I need to talk about my shit and own the fact that I'm not always a kind, perfect, loving person in my expression.

Here goes.... Unedited

Did a MC on compersion today… nervous. Scared. Vulnerable. Worried. Feel myself desperately wanting to cling to who I am now. Hear myself saying “but I’m great the way I am right now!!” “don’t fuck with it… it’s working!!” But I don’t want to feel triggered and crash and burn whenever I feel jealous or left out. I want to genuinely be a loving person. I want to genuinely be able to celebrate other people’s happiness, wins and pleasure. How does it serve me to feel like I’ve lost when someone else wins?

It’s crazy how much mental association and A = A = A can start rolling in for me around this stuff. Like, in the last 2 weeks since peak I have been absolutely loving where Zu (lover) and I are at. Feeling so much more open and receiving his love and affection and attention. And he’s been so fucking lovely and beautiful and caring and present and saying all the right things.. And now my mind is telling me stories again. About how he is bored with me. He wants more excitement. He wants me to be with other people. He’s not happy with the way things are. I feel worried that I’m gonna have to change who I am. I feel worried that our connection will fade and wane. And I’m thinking things like.. he‘s only being nice to me so that he can get what he wants.. And what he wants is to be with other people. I feel pressured. What if I never become ok with open relationships??? What if I don’t want to do open relationships?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Do I have to?? Are we doomed if I don’t? What if I stay monogamous and he doesn’t? Will that work? I was just loving our time together, not having panic attacks constantly about him connecting with others intimately. I still feel like we haven’t really built the foundation of security and trust and real familiarity yet for me to feel safe to expand and explore outside of us. I’m wary of becoming addicted to Zulu.. maybe it’s already happened.. Where I only want to be with him, and want the sexual pleasure from him and nobody else. And I know that eventually that will push him away and turn him off. I feel like he will need me to be less “wanting” and to be more self-sustainable or to get my needs met by others so that he doesn’t feel pressure. But I just don’t want anyone.. Right now anyway. Ugh relationships. Compersion. Jealousy. Is it really impossible to just have one life long partner who you love, are attracted to, can work through things together with, have amazing sex that gets better and better with time and age and trust and love and kids? I don’t think anything is impossible… But yeah, I don’t know if that’s in the pages of my life book.

  //

I'm in Melbourne with my love now and I've been melting awayyyy... As in, my protective, possessive, rejecting ego has been melting away slowly... Every layer springs up like a bear trap, I feel like I'm hanging upside down by one foot and the rope could snap at any moment. Then I realise that I am the only person who can let me out of this trap. I am the only person imprisoning me, holding my joy at ransom. I feel myself contract at the conversations we're having...

"How would you feel about me asking X (a woman he likes) to stay with us next weekend?" he asks. I make the sound of gurgling water swirling down the drain when someone pulls the plug out. I dive into the feeling and realise: I'm not drowning. I'm not in pain. A slight discomfort maybe, but no pain. "Sure, if you like" I say and feel the space opening up inside.

"Expansion", I hear myself whisper quietly. I give myself 10 points!

Today, he asks me to narrate for him a fantasy experience with someone else. My first thought is that I don't know what would excite him the most. And the only way I could know is if I listened to his favourite stories and experiences.

"Tell me a fun story from your past" I ask him.

I listen as he shares with me a story about a crazy confident eastern european stripper. I can feel him slightly tentative, he doesn't want to trigger me or upset me. I can feel him lovingly holding me the whole time, his body language reassuring me. Making sure that I'm ok. I feel safe. I hear the thoughts in my mind about what it 'means' but I say no. Today we are not going down that spiral. I ask him to share more.... I thank him for sharing. I deposit more compersion points into my heart. I feel the rewards anchor in this new pattern.

We lay in bed together sharing all sorts of intimacy. I feel his pleasure become mine. Future and past pleasures too. His pleasure with others. All mine to feel and integrate because I love his pleasure. He deserves the joy of love, intimacy and sex and I deserve to feel that joy too.

We gaze for a very long time with the intention of Oneness. Afterwards, we make love. I feel this ancient trauma arise within me. "Opening to love = Pain" it says. It is fuelled and enforced by all of my experiences of love and pain. It was never true. Not even the first time. But it's been with me so long it became part of the windows I saw life through. It's no wonder I wince at intense pleasure. I grimace at the intensity of love. I share everything with him and I cry. He holds me, reassures me, offers me complete acceptance and love.

"Oh God" I whisper, referring to him. "Oh God", referring to me. All I can feel is gratitude. Wave after wave of gratitude and appreciation.

He tells me he knew he was in love with me before we met.

That love was always bringing us together.

That love is dissolving 'us' into itself.

 

The Female Gaze: Ayla Yuile

Aimee Vincent

Model and writer: @aylayuile

Photographer: @gophuttfilms

I discovered a very innocent, strange feeling in my body at a young age. A stirring, I suppose. I wasn’t quite sure how it worked or happened, but just sometimes it did. I went along with it, children are intuitive. 

 

I think I have always wondered about my body and what it could do. As a half white, half Japanese girl I was a rarity in the suburbs of Japan. I was often likened to dolls and child movie stars - always about my looks and how I should be kept safe. 

 

My mother had an odd experience of a woman telling her she thought her two year old daughter was sexy. My parents at times were on high alert. So from a very young age, I knew how eyes on me felt. How it caresses you with dark twisted energy.

 

Just around that time I had discovered that strange feeling, a late night porno on the cable channel we subscribed to had taped on after a movie. It wasn’t exactly an attractive sight, I felt a pang of that weird energy I felt from the looks I got from men - but I was intrigued. Why are they using their body like that? I was curious and I needed to know more.

 

In the sex ed class we had in year 5, I distinctively remember that the most shocking part of the whole 45 minute lesson before recess was that women got vaginal discharge and that it made a mess. No mention of sex, pleasure, insertion or stimulation. A watercolour illustration of a man and a woman holding a baby was used to fill the space instead of useful information.

 

I ceased the afternoons my mother was out to investigate. I looked to the only thing I knew about sex: pornography. I searched and searched for something that felt right, or looked like the right example. But at the same time, it magnetised a part of me. It was like an addictive force for an impressionable, imaginative young girl of 10 or 11. 

 

This was my only clue about sex. Soon enough though, I got caught. In a panic I explained it as a series of spam ads, but from my mother’s reaction I learnt that it was a bad, shocking, taboo thing to do.

 

Though eventually, I also did find enjoyment in porn, especially erotica - written words are my thing I think. And sounds too. 

However it took a tremendous journey of uncovering layers upon layers of myself, and the shame and conditioning that lay thick in-between them before I felt free of shame and self-doubt. 

 

At this point I had moved to Sydney from Japan. I was in a much more sexually liberated environment. Where my peers in Japan, or where everyone in my life in Japan had such a fear of the topic, in the western side of the world it was everywhere. 

 

After spending the first decade of my life, twisting and turning, feeling shame and confusion, trying to figure out a safe way to understand sex and self pleasure, it was a relief to be in a more open environment.

 

When I entered my teens I didn’t really know that masturbating was allowed. When boys talked about doing it, that was a cringe worthy but a funny and acceptable topic, we never spoke about girls masturbating, though. 

 

Not even between just girls, why? Because even at that age, no one knew what masturbating meant for girls. Since I realised that what I was doing with my sex was exactly that, I was afraid that I might be perverted or irregular when it came to sex. 

 

I didn’t even know what orgasms really meant. The sensation I felt was a combination of fragmented pleasure and scratching an itch. And still I didn’t know that I could find proper information about sex online. 

I didn’t have a clue what to look up because I wasn’t sure women were supposed to masturbate. That we were allowed to speak of it - so I found clues in Cosmo and people’s stories but it wasn’t the right answer for me because I hadn't experienced it. 

 

When I experienced or got an inkling of pleasure with someone else for the first time (but not the “first time”) that’s when I connected the dots. That my body is maybe actually meant to feel things, that touch was something I enjoyed. Touching and hearing sounds caused that stirring . I had no idea I could feel more than an itch.

 

When I figured out that I was better at self pleasure than anyone else who’d touched me, I felt myself become more powerful.

 

My parents quickly noticed a slight change in me, too. My dad tried to explain awkwardly or tried to ensure I knew the fundamentals of protection etc, and my mum also danced around it, never really saying anything. When they found out I was no longer a virgin - which was no big deal for me, personally - I was no longer a sweet girl.

 

For a few years I went back and forth from shame to curiosity, to shame and again. When it was at its curiosity phase, it was an important part of my mental health. I went through a major change, moving back from Sydney to Japan again. 

 

I felt disconnected from my peers’ model of the world. I once had a conversation where my own friends looked at me with judgement when they found out that I had sex with my boyfriend. Those eyes that used to caress me as a child, again chased me down the streets and found me in every space I occupied. I began feeling completely disconnected from my surrounding, myself and who I was. 

 

But feeling that slither of relief, that push of empowerment and that burst of energy you feel after connecting with yourself like that… that was medicine to me. I felt that I am the space in which I can be empowered. I can live feeling like this, I heard myself say. I felt less ashamed and more in touch with my instincts and my inner voice. 

 

Letting that connection to myself lead me forward, eventually I broke through. I felt it everywhere - I couldn’t possibly forget that night. 

 

One night alone in my first rented place, I had a night that began a bath, some spiked ice cream and a whole lot of self caring and loving. I was truly connected to my heart and my mind. As I prepared for sleep, I felt a stirring and I touched and listened to my own imagination speak. Breaking through and experienced my first orgasm, that all encompassing buzzing that shakes and awakes you. The feeling of completion I assumed I had felt before was no where near. 

And with that awakening, fear began to fade. I was open to myself, to explore and to seek. 

 

I still face trigger points of shame or other societal conditioning. But trusting in myself, that I am constantly seeking pleasure or joy in all that I do, whether that’s writing, eating, dancing - I keep that fire always alive. 

 

To me, self pleasure is all encompassing. Similar to meditating and reading tarot cards - that’s a way to tap into my higher self and into the consciousness beyond and around me. If I dance I can tap into pleasure and pure joy and self love. If I touch myself I can also tap into those things and then some. A burst of physical energy caused by hormones and chemical reactions in my body.

 

What began as a secret, shameful addiction became a meditation, a ritual, a tool of communication, a guide to healing, a product of self love and care. Self pleasure is sacred and it can be and mean whatever you want it to be. It is fluid, it’s flowing, ever changing, transformative. 

That’s the beauty of it. 

That’s the beauty of you.

The Female Gaze: Katie Jay

Aimee Vincent

I suspect orgasm is my state of nature.

Photographer: Ryan Hutt
Model: Katie Jay

I started masturbating at a super early age. I think I was like, maybe eight. I used to secretly tape Sex Life and watch Baywatch religiously until someone called me a sex addict.

As shame-filled as I was at the time, perhaps that early age gave me an advantage because I find it super easy to orgasm now. Internally and externally - and during sex, although in the latter there still needs to be clitoral stimulation.

My favourite type of orgasm occurs internally and it doesn’t quite have an end result - it can linger. It feels like you’re on the brink of an orgasm but you don't want it to progress to a traditional climax because it feels even better than the end result. Fuller, spacious, quiet. Like being in the eye of a cyclone. Do you know what I’m talking about? I don’t know what it’s called.

The times I feel sexiest are usually on my own and the experience generally involves heat and some kind of sensual aesthetic. I need to feel calm and soft. Sexy feels wholesome to me.

It’s a different feeling to being “turned on” or primed for sex. Sexy itself feels like….gaining a prowess. Melting into a slower experience of time. A development into a sultrier mode of being.

I was in California during a hot summer travelling with a bunch of friends and in desperate need of solo time I ran a hot bath. I hooked my legs (tanned and toned from all the walking in LA heat!) over the edge of the bathtub and draped cold white wash cloths over them for temperature control. The aesthetic of the whole thing, the temperature, the texture and the relaxation I felt from it had a real erotic edge.

I also feel sexy on beaches (see, heat). Lying on hot sand. Italy makes me feel sexy. Anything about it. From the cities to the people, the language and the food. Pizza and red wine - the ultimate sexy. Just look at Caroline Vreeland - she’s made a career out of celebrating the sexiness of carbs.

 

 

 

The Stoned Chrysalis & The Female Gaze // Photography and Videography by Ryan Hutt

Aimee Vincent

We wanted to shoot The Stoned Chrysalis product's but it became much more than that.

A group of women with entirely different backgrounds, lived experience and journeys of pleasure were asked to come and model for our brand, the only brief was to come as your most comfortable, authentic self and portray your sexuality as you deemed appropriate. No costumes, no requests for specific outfits or make up, no retouching - just women - together, curated by each other.

I couldn't bare to just do a photo shoot without tapping into the wisdom of the women who would feature in it, believing as I do in the absolute necessity of story telling and the importance of sexual autonomy it seemed the perfect opportunity to create something more than a product shoot - and so The Stoned Chrysalis: Female Gaze has been born.

I was trying to translate my words into Japanese and realised that there is not a word that directly translates to self-pleasure, and all the words for masturbation were just descriptions of the act and I spiralled into those same old feelings of shame - even though I know it’s not a shameful topic I couldn’t help but feel like I was using perverted words and ended up not translating. And that’s made me go back to the female gaze with more passion and more depth...
— Ayla

The reason I began using crystal sex toys was to understand my own body on a deeper level, to know how to orgasm without vibration and to help myself heal from past traumas - these were three points of reference for working with the models in this shoot: Understand each other on a deeper level, learn from each other, heal together through story telling. Each woman is armed with a wealth of knowledge founded on her experience, I believe when we share this with each other we begin to heal ourselves and ultimately the collective consciousness. Through speaking with so many women from around the world the need for healing and empowerment is obvious, while we live in a culture saturated in sex so many of us still struggle to feel pleasure...

It's said that as many as 1 in 3 women have trouble reaching orgasm when having sex and as many as 80 percent of women have difficulty with orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone. There is a strong link between the relationship we have with our bodies and our ability to experience pleasure - How do we feel about our bodies? Do we love their feel, smell and taste? Or do we feel abnormal, ashamed, embarrassed? An American survey found only 7.9 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 29 masturbate two to three times a week whereas 23.4 percent of men do. Whether this is true or a case of women feeling too ashamed to admit to self pleasure we don't know - but both options are disturbing to me. Why are women less likely to seek or admit to pleasure than men?

There is a social expectation that boys and men masturbate - it's a given - but even now in this modern society the same is not so widely accepted for females, times are changing - yes - but I would argue that many girls simply do not know how to masturbate to the point of orgasm, which is totally understandable in a world that teaches us where the clitoris is but not how to use it, a world where most people don't know the difference between the vagina and the vulva.

Sexual education in schools, ridiculous beauty standards and mainstream pornography create a conundrum of misrepresentation - Media hyper sexualises female bodies but discredits women who claim and represent their sexuality in ways that are not perceived as the norm. 

As we become women we often stop being naked in front of our female peers and our bodies become comparable to ideals rather than reality- In Sydney, Australia, Labiaplasty (plastic surgery performed to alter the appearance of the inner vaginal lips) is on a steady incline due to women comparing their vulvas to those of women in films and pornography, while film standards require porn stars to have no exposed labia thus perpetuating unrealistic physical standards. I have had customers tell me they were planning to undergo the procedure until we publicly discussed it on social media as they had only seen other vulvas in pornography and thought their own was abnormal. 

So how do we change this climate? To me, the answer is ultimately simple; we communicate with each other, we look to each other for openness, experience, support. We share our stories.

During the shoot we discussed each woman's background and their unique experiences with beauty standards, self discovery, love, pleasure and sex.

Alpha - cosmosexual, pansexual, gender fluid, part time polyamorous

Aimee Harris - living with chronic physical and mental health issues 

Ayla A- born and raised in Japan with repressive social attitudes toward female pleasure

Fiona L - breaking years of social conditioning regarding beauty standards and sexuality.

Over the coming weeks we will share their stories and the stories of many other women via The Female Gaze. 

If you asked me self pleasure is a big part of self care and self love. We are taught we are not worthy of pleasure, of having the ability to give that to ourselves - that its shameful. To detox our minds of that can be quite a journey. To know that there are women out there, like the many women I love and trust and the women I got to spend the day with for The Female Gaze and The Stoned Chrysalis is simply and purely comforting, its revitalising and bringing back parts of myself to make the whole
— Ayla

 

Photography and Videography: Ryan Hutt @gophuttfilms

Models: @alphamama @axhaz @aylayuile @katiejayyoucheekymonkey @fiona_louise

Concept and curation: The Stoned Chrysalis

Location: The Shadow Lodge via @loveariel777

Artwork: Nicholas Potts

Spoken word: Ariel Levy

Modern White Feminism and Intersectionality

Aimee Vincent

*Trigger warning for trans readers, a bigoted bullshit quote is included as an example of pure fuckery*

 

 Intersectionality is a term coined by American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe cross over factors that impact the lives of women such as race, class, physical ability, education, culture or socioeconomics and the ways in which these affect their experience. In the book "Intersectionality's Definitional Dilemmas”  author Collins says “The term intersectionality references the critical insight that race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, ability, and age operate not as unitary, mutually exclusive entities, but as reciprocally constructing phenomena that in turn shape complex social inequalities.” I would argue that true feminism must be intersectional and truly inclusive, it must take into account these varying factors which impact the female experience and aim to dismantle systems and social norms which marginalise some women. While no single person can represent all women, feminism itself and the people within the movement must make room for all groups and voices, particularly those of marginalised groups who have been largely ignored and oppressed throughout history.

 

It is folly to assume that female experiences are universal because a group share the same anatomic gender, this assumption is in itself most obviously exclusionary to the trans female experience, the history of trans exclusion by many well known white feminists is still felt today, in Janice Raymond's 1979 book The Transsexual Empire: The Making Of The She-Male, Janice said “Rape...is a masculinist violation of bodily integrity. All transsexuals rape women's bodies by reducing the female form to an artefact, appropriating this body for themselves… Rape, although it is usually done by force, can also be accomplished by deception," sentiments such as these cannot be forgotten and the trauma of such still permeate the experience of many trans women who continue to feel excluded from the feminist movement, and why wouldn't they? History matters and inequality, racism and bigotry have been rife in many facets of the feminist movement. While we cannot expect an able bodied, hetero, cis-white-woman to f u l l y understand the needs of women outside her demographic I argue that we must expect them to make an effort to understand historical marginalisation, make room for marginalised voices and acknowledge that a bigoted history has created a society with intersections within femaleness create entirely different lived experiences for different groups and individuals - We must educate ourelves and each other on issues faced by marginalised groups, we need to hold each other accountable within this context and begin to evaluate how history has impacted our current society. Without understanding marginalisation we will continue to uphold oppressive systems and social norms.

Most would agree that feminism must advocate for full inclusion, but how can we do this if we are too afraid to confront our history and thus acknowledge the levels of privilege that impact modern society? We can’t.

 

Feminism has been a movement most publicly facilitated by white, middle class cis gendered, hetero women moving within systems related to them, as Gloria Steinhem says in her book Revolution from within “I was right about tactics within the medias continuing image of feminism: “whitemiddleclass” did become like one key on the typewriter of many journalists (though polls showed that black women were almost twice as likely to support feminist changes as white women were” this issue is still relevant today, while many women of colour advocate for the rights of women they are often not represented in much of the popular discourse. White feminism, which tends to paint us all with the same brush of FEMALE does not include the various aspects of a person which impact their life. As Lia Incognita say in her article “Does feminism speak for all women” “My friend Uma Kali Shakti was once asked if she was speaking as a black woman, and she said “well I’ve tried speaking as a green pear and it didn’t work” For a person to suggest being black is a trait separate to being a woman or something that can be removed denies women of colour their identity and suggests that to be black is somehow a separate experience to being female. Lets take a moment to imagine a white woman being asked prior to speaking at a lecture if she was speaking as a white woman... It wouldn't happen. White women have the privilege of their race not being a "trait" which society deems additional or removable - they generally do not have to think about or prioritise race within the context of their own lives. This compounded with other facets of naivity and priviliege can be described by the term "colour blindness" which, in my opinion, is a polite way of erasing a persons identity and imposing white perspective.

Taking the above into account, we must recognise that it is not the role of marginalised people to educate the privileged, I argue that the baseline level of accountability attached to feminism must be of self education, reflection and humility.

Can feminism, which claims to be for the advocacy of women's rights only acknowledge the rights of some women while ignoring the intersecting factors of oppression that exist and impact others? When we frame the question in this way it becomes impossible to deny the need for intersectionality within the movement. 

My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit!
— Flavia Dzodan

Kimberle' Crenshaw states that “For white women, claiming sex discrimination is simply a statement that but for gender, they would not have been disadvantaged. For them there is no need to specify discrimination as white females because their race does not contribute to the disadvantage for which they seek redress. The view of discrimination that is derived from this grounding takes race privilege as a given.” The very bench mark of experience within our society was set by and for white women, white women are the starting block of understanding - not only on a social level but within our wider systems, this has created social inequity and systemic issues of oppression that continue to marginalise, perhaps just in a more polite disguise. To simplify: Within almost every marginalised group there are women, therefore the issues of the marginalised are [feminist issues] Intersectional feminism does not try to separate levels of oppression but rather recognises that they are impossible to separate. Systems and norms must be challenged and malleable in order for them to effectively serve us and societies intersecting needs.

 

 In her paper Fat People Of Color: Emergent Intersectional Discourse online,  Apryl A Williams says that fatness is a feminist issue as it “directly challenges the unrealistic expectations of women presented by mainstream culture” So while much of the modern feminist discourse is largely focused around beauty standards, body hair and sexual autonomy - women are still packaging these issues in thin, white bodies ignoring the fact that fat women experience the same misogynistic factors of inequality, such as fat men not receiving the same social stigma as they do, sexual fetishising and body shaming, Compounding this fat female bodies are still stigmatised by thin women and the beauty standards they uphold. I would argue that in many ways it is white feminism which upholds the paradigm of patriarchy and the above is just one example of the ways in which many women still exist within that misogynistic paradigm; our own misogyny internalised yet reflected onto women who don't look or appear like us. 

Feminism that does not acknowledge all marginalisation and oppressive systems only further propels the voices of the privileged thus upholding the patriarchal and misogynistic standards we say we want to dismantle. To promote a one size fits all type feminism is to silence the experiences of women living outside the typical and false image of what it is to be a woman - false in the sense that there is no normal, no average and no benchmark of femaleness.

 Progress is not comfortable and systems must be broken down in order to be rebuilt in ways that are progressive and inclusive but for feminism to be true to its name, it must aim to be fully inclusive and represent all women. This should be at the very core of the movement.

Curved Woke Wand

Aimee Vincent

I’ve written about sex toys before but today I want to talk about self pleasure and the curved G spot wand in particular. This is the newest addition to both the store and my personal collection. One of the biggest areas of concern for customers with the woke wands is the fact they don’t vibrate…technically. For more on this check out the sex toy blog post. You can find a lot of information on the issues surrounding vibrating sex toys, its an obvious fact that we can become so accustomed to the vibration that we end up finding it difficult or impossible to orgasm without it, this then translates into our intimate relationships with others, I had one customer tell me she was literally unable to orgasm with her lover without using her vibrator. I mean it's great to have autonomy and know what gets you off but it’s also nice to be able to do it with or without a toy and for your partner to be able to help you achieve this without a machine. Non vibrating toys help us to understand our bodies and the ways they respond to different pressures, touch, movement and speed. In the book Orgasm Unleashed by Eyal Matsliah there are some great practices outlined to help readers connect more with their pussies and experience deeper and more satisfying orgasms, while I didn't adapt all of the practices in the book I have carried some into my every day life such as making time to actually make love to myself, setting the mood f o r  m y s e l f - not only with lovers and creating ritual around my self pleasure. I have a tendency to use orgasm as a stress reliever or distraction, I’ve done it in past relationships and I do it with myself - things get a bit tough and I have sex or get myself off so I can stress relieve and move on - not the greatest coping mechanism as it acts as a mere distraction to the actual underlying issues. For me, incorporating a more healing element to self pleasure has been really beneficial as I am still relieving stress but by taking my time I am allowing the issues enough space to be seen. I am also allowing my sexual energy to build instead of doing quick releases which means I have more satisfying experiences and orgasms all round. Generally in our lifetimes we will touch ourselves more than anyone else will touch us, so why do we not pay the same mind and take the same care when having sex alone as we do when partnered? Last night I decided to dedicate the night to myself and incorporated the Rose Quartz curved wand for the first time so I want to tell you about it.

 

I’ve needed a lot of healing lately which I haven't been making time for and it’s been reflecting in my self confidence and esteem, so last night was all about loving the shit outta myself, I lit candles, created a beautiful mood in my room and sat with the new woke wand for a while post cleansing.

 

When I felt comfortable to do so I started using the curved wand and discovered i f u c k i n g l o v e i t. The shape of the curved wand means you can hold it on your pelvic bone curving down wards so the wand sits on your clitoris and reaches into the vulva, its long enough that you can push it a few inches inside if thats what you want so it combines that clitoral stimulation and penetration we often desire. The entrance to the vagina is full of nerve endings and if you watched Naomi Wolfs Vagina lecture you will know that each part of our labia, vulva and vagina have different emotional receptors in the brain so when we stimulate each of these areas we have different reactions both physical and emotional - using a vibrator often denies us the opportunity to explore these realms. Using glass or crystal dildos may take us longer to orgasm but I argue that this is not a bad thing.

(Side note to consider:

Would you want a lover penetrating you without you being lubricated? No? Then take the time to arouse yourself before engaging in penetrative masturbation or meditation. Lube is great but taking time to actually arouse and lubricate ourselves is even better!

I love a quickie but do I want them all. the. time?  Fuck NO. So then why is it so common to have purely goal orientated self pleasure? By taking our time we are valuing the experience and actually loving ourselves, isn't that what its called? Self love. By taking my time I feel more valued and immersed in the experience

Many women have issues around feelings of autonomy and agency in sex, often times we can find it difficult to ask for the time we need to orgasm with a lover - which can see instances of faking orgasms etc - having sex with ourselves is the perfect opportunity to practice owning the process and taking our time without apology)

Using the curved wand I felt more immersed during the experience as it was accessing all the areas I want accessed in sex, I could control the speed and movement of the wand easily using only one hand and not having to excerpt myself so my mind was free to relax and I could fully indulge in the pleasure rather than the logistics of the actual process.

Long story short, I had multiple orgasms at the hands of the curved woke wand and it was a fucking excellent experience. I felt more satisfied and euphoric than usual as I didn't have to do as much to orgasm, while I had complete control over the movement of the wand it was super easy to manoeuvre and only required one hand.  

 

Some other feedback customers have given me on the woke wands include:

 

Squatting over the wand like you are on top during sex.

Doing the above while using a vibrator on the clitoris or stimulating manually.

Using for partnered meditation.

Heating the wand before use to create different sensations (this can also be done with super cold water if you want to experience the opposite)

Circling the wand around the entrance of the vagina while stimulating the clitoris manually.

Using long gliding motion from the clitoris to the vagina opening.

 

 

Sex in real time

Aimee Vincent

Doing the markets the past few weeks has been a really interesting experience, observing peoples reactions to the products I sell ( which are part of a wider range of non sex related things ) has been super eye opening. 

 

One of the first groups to approach our stall last week were some people in their late teens/early 20’s - one of the boys approached the table gawking at the woke wands and betty plugs, he whispered something in his female friends ear, her head shot over to our table, she said ”oh my god” and the whole group scurried away, the male kept looking back over his shoulder as though he’d seen a rare but dangerous animal he wanted to touch but knew he couldn’t. Young girls tend to be extremely cautious, particularly when they see the vulva pendants, their hands trail over the crystals and when they realise its female anatomy they almost jump backwards, pretend it didn't happen and leave the stall. Women in the late forties seem to be the most receptive, they have the confidence to come up and have a look, start a conversation, we have a yarn and a laugh and I get the feeling age and experience has provided them with the “IDGAF” attitude that I so admire in older women. Men make me laugh, they seem to know what the products are before their partners do, I can hear them whispering “is that what I think it is?” And i say loudly “Yes, yes it is” - they giggle like school children, gawk a little longer and tip toe away. Two groups of people are memorable from last week, they were fascinated by the artworks and imagery and loved the fact that we were bringing shit into real time, it’s a special thing to meet people who are truly open or at the very least unafraid to be intrigued by sexuality and female empowerment. But it has been a rare interaction these past few weeks. 

 

It disturbs me that we are ashamed of our sex, it scares me that females are afraid to look at their own anatomy, that young girls are repulsed by the sight of a vulva. It interests me that men are so obviously fascinated yet too embarrassed to express that to their friends or girlfriends. I wonder what happens to that fascination behind closed doors and it makes me think about the communication between lovers ~ often even when we are partnered with someone in life they still can know so little about us. 

 

 Its become clear to me just how taboo sex still is today and despite us existing in a society that uses bodies and sexuality to sell just about everything, where we can scroll through images of people without knowing a damn thing about them and decide if we want to fuck them or not, in a society where we can access images of sex and nudity at the click of button - we are still afraid to talk about it in real time. It has reiterated to me just how disconnected we are from the images we see on tv and in pornography and that the relationship people have with their bodies and their sexuality is still deeply confusing. I dare say, repressed. Is sex one of our biggest issues? I would argue that the dysfunctional relationship we have with our sexuality has permeated this society for centuries, look at our history, look at the current rape culture, look at the churches, the instances of sexual violence, abuse, abuses of power, sex as a weapon of war. Osho says "A man whose sex is not perverted cannot become a politician. It is impossible. All politicians as such need deep sexual therapy, otherwise their whole energy will be moving to gain more and more power. When sex is natural, you feel power, you are not seeking it. Sex is potentiality, power. You feel it showering on you, you don't seek and search for it. But when you miss it there, then a great urge arises to seek power: politics is born. Then wars, continuous violence, are born; hatred, anger, and a thousand and one types of perversions.” 

When we are able to connect with our sexual power in an understanding and honest way we shine light on the parts of ourselves not many get to see, when we are able to share that part with others in honesty we normalise these things and the opportunity for secrecy and perversion becomes less and less. History shows us how confused we have been about sex, from the fluidity of Roman times to the repression of sex through the rise of Christianity - we witness this confusion and lack of continuity through art and culture. Its fascinating stuff.

 

And here we sit in a world saturated in sex yet our young people are still deeply confused, we are still afraid to teach our kids to say vagina or penis and crystal dildos make the public squirm... The barriers still need to be challenged and rather than frustration I feel excitement to do so.

 

Crystal Sex Toys

Aimee Vincent

Crystals are fucking incredible, whether you believe they are energetically powerful and healing, see them as a connection to mama earth or just think they're pretty as fuck - human beings always have and continue to be drawn to crystals. They’re beauty and power has been admired throughout history from the Ancient Eqyptians using Lapis in their chest plates and jewellery, turquoise being used for protection in Native American culture to the use of Quartz crystal in computers and electronics - we admire and rely on crystals.  

 

Image by Rita Theres @rita_therese__

Image by Rita Theres @rita_therese__

I have had many people ask me what I do for a living, when I tell them about the crystal woke wands and betty plugs i’m often met with similar responses “do they vibrate?” ….I mean if you wanna get technical here, all crystals emit vibrations, but what they’re asking is “will they vibrate on my clitoris and bring me to clitoral orgasm?”, to which the answer is generally one of three: no, not at first or not on their own. And that’s kind of the point. Peruse any adult store or website and you’ll find an array of alien looking toys often made of silicon, rubber, glass or steel. One of my first sex toys was the rabbit which was some hectic over zealous shit that made me feel insanely overwhelmed and unsure if i’d even orgasmed or not because my vagina was so numb from the intense vibration - but that’s another story. When we begin to rely solely on the vibration of a toy to make us orgasm we give up some level of sexual autonomy, which is fine if we are aware of the fact. Applying steady and firm vibration to the clitoris is sure to give us a…clitoral orgasm, and clitoral orgasms are rad, I wont hear a fucking bad word about them! But…they are not the only type of orgasm and they can be part of a deeper more intense experience when we have the ability and desire to sexually explore and really feel our bodies.

 

 Crystal wands have been used for years as massage and meditation tools, when i’m speaking face to face with customers at the markets I tell them the woke wands are full body massage tools because thats exactly what they are - with the bonus point of being safe to also use inside our pussies and butts. Full body baby. They are strong and firm like glass/steel and they warm up or cool down with our touch or water. They each carry their own healing properties but if you aren’t into the metaphysics of it - they're aesthetically fucking beautiful. I've had people tell me they keep theirs on display because they're so pretty.

By Rita Therese @rita_therese__

By Rita Therese @rita_therese__

 

So if you’re using crystal dildos does that mean you’ve won maximum bohemian goddess points, need to chuck out all your vibrating toys and ONLY use crystals? Fuck NO. My woke wand is a part of my collection of toys, some of which are glass, one of which is silicon and one that vibrates. Sex toys are a personal and exciting addition to our lives, they help use to explore our bodies and desires and like any collection can include an array of different things. If we limit ourselves to one type of experience or feeling then we deny ourselves the opportunity for growth, this is applicable to all things in life but when applied to sex I believe we get ourselves into a rut both partnered and solo, we learn how to get ourselves off quickly and then keep repeating that process instead of trying new ways to reach the same or different results. The vibrator formula is a good one, it works, for many its often guaranteed results but there are so many other experiences to be had and opportunities for different types of pleasure. Why not incorporate the vibration of your silicon dildo and the penetration of your crystal or use your crystal during partnered sex for double penetration or during cunnilingus... Use your imagination.

I’m saving Spiritual Hoe for ME time
— Rita Therese

 

 I enjoy using my crystal woke wand when I want to have a really connective self pleasure session, when I really have time to spend with myself and dedicate to masturbating - I use my crystal - for me this is almost a type of meditation. If I want to quickly smash out a clitoral orgasm I know how to do that too and will generally use a vibrator which is totally O K. We don’t need to be just one thing; on Monday we can meditate for half an hour, listen to fucking world music and masturbate with our crystal woke wands. Tuesday we can listen to hip hop, eat donuts and fuck a silicon vibrator - It’s all part of this wonderful tapestry of life that allows for us to have such wide and varying experiences and be

~ a l l  o f  t h e  t h i n g s ~

 

 

The Is This Real Life project for The QUO Australia

Aimee Vincent

We live in a society that is utterly saturated in curated images and ideals of typical beauty and sexiness; the slim, european feature,  cis gendered, hetero normative concept of beauty and sexuality has been the main narrative for generations. This is enforced and our bodiespoliced in a myriad of ways that are both obvious and subtle, from female and non cis bodies being used as a battle ground in politics to white feminism dominating and ignoring the voices of non binary, non white females. We are flooded with images of what it is to be “normal”, “beautiful” by industries that so innately need to redefine their definitions of both. The issues we face are many and varied, from Australian censorship laws preventing female porn stars from having visible labia, so they are digitally removed thus representing pre pubescent vulvas as the “norm”, this has resulted in an incredible rise in labiaplasty in this country. Violent pornography and grossly gendered popular culture encourages a "boys will be boys" mentality which perpetuates the rape culture that is so rife throughout society. Young girls are taught their own pleasure is irrelevant as long as they are desirable to men - our own journeys of wanting to seek (knowing we deserve) genuine pleasure ignored. Non cis people are excluded almost entirely from mainstream conversations surrounding sexuality, body positivity, relationships and feminism. Female bodies are stripped of autonomy, our parts used to sell products and insecurity - insecurity that is the fuel behind buying the products our bodies are being used to sell. It’s a twisted system which once seen cannot be unseen.

 

 

“The most vulnerable I feel is when i’m naked or during a panic attack. When I have panic attacks theres a voice in my head telling me i’m weak, ugly and worthless. This picture is me fighting those voices”

 

 

 

“You say you hate me but you still use me for recreation” 

 

It is human nature to be curious about sexuality, bodies and gender - we are fascinated by these elements of humanity from childhood yet our curiosities are often met with embarrassment from parents, outdated curriculums at school and a general adult unwillingness to speak openly with children about these parts of ourselves and society in general. Compounding this, our first sexual experience is with…. the internet. From an inappropriately young age we are flooded with images and videos that reveal a dark and violent side of sex and nudity, autonomy over our bodies and sexuality become railroaded by industries that profit from our dysfunction. It disturbed me that female bodies have become a conglomeration of parts which are used to sell ideas, products and insecurity, it disturbed us that our bodies were plastered all over billboards yet images we take of ourselves are deemed inappropriate.

 

But while this is still the norm in mainstream society I believe we now have more opportunities to reclaim and represent a wider range of bodies, genders, faces and sexualities - while mainstream media and the narratives it has perpetuated for so long are bigger and more influential than ever, so is social media and this is an incredible tool of diverse connection.

The day I became completely disenchanted by these images of typical femininity and beauty I put some videos out into the instasphere expressing my feelings and asked if anyone would be interested in collaborating on a photographic project, to my surprise hundreds of people responded and this was the birth place of the Is This Real Life Project.

We asked: where can we see real intimacy? Real love making? Real bodies? Real pleasure? Where can we see people in their power facilitating their own pleasure knowing that they deserve it? When I opened the space for people to contact me with their experiences and why they wanted to be involved in the Is This Real Life project I realised just how prevalent yet underrepresented these issues are.

 

“It took me a large portion of my life to accept that, as a male, I am beautiful. I am allowed to feel beautiful. I dont mean handsome or strong, or good looking, its accepted to be those things as a man. But being vulnerable and expressive of that deep feminine beauty that everyone has was something I always felt emasculated me. Now I know otherwise. That expression is deeply needed for true self love and healing”

 

We narrowed down our vision which is now to create a safe space where people of all shapes, genders, sexualities, sizes, abilities and skin colours can share a part of their-real-selves and for other people to witness that realness - to share true moments of beauty, vulnerability, pain, sensuality, intimacy, bodies and life in general. Through collaboration with hundreds of people around the world we are now creating a collection of images that represent these things. The goal is for each contributor to feel powerful and for the viewers concepts of what is beautiful, sexy, intimate to be challenged by each story and image. People have shared stories on self harm, non binary sex, body positivity and discovering themselves as sexual and non sexual beings. It’s been such an exciting and liberating experience for people that we hope to take it to a bigger scale, compiling our images into a zine and facilitating an exhibition that will hopefully take the conversation even further. 

“We live in a society where my self worth is defined by my weight. I would like to believe that is shifting”

The Is This Real Life Project page has received messages from around the world from people expressing how important the page has become to their journey of self love, it’s been an incredibly empowering movement to be a part of and i’m so looking forward to where we end up.

 

“The naked body. Nudity. Showing too much skin. My whole life that has all been seen as bad. I was taught it was bad. That's slutty. I've always strived to cover up and be "modest". Any time I would see a female dressed showing "too much skin" I would automatically think "wow gross she's such a slut."Showing too much skin or seeing someone naked was always so awkward because of the way I was taught. As I got older I started to be around/see a lot of more open minded people. I started following people online that embraced nudity as something beautiful rather than just pornographic. Over time I read the descriptions on their pictures they would post. The things they said were so empowering. Sharing how the body is beautiful. It should be shown off not hidden. It should be loved on not hurt. Their pictures and descriptions inspired me. Their lives inspired me. Ive never in my life posted a picture online that showed "too much skin." Not even me in a bikini. So this is a big step for me. But I'm doing this for me. I'm doing this for anyone else who was raised to think their gorgeous body should be hidden.”

The QUO AUSTRALIA:

http://www.thequo.com.au/

In a marketplace where radical thought is considered divisive, volunteering is becoming a competitive sport. Where purpose-driven organisations are overshadowed by businesses who overlook the complexities of the problems we face now and in the future, being meaningfully heard is not quite as simple as it seems. Feeling silenced by the structures that privilege social and academic capital over personal experience, they sought to uproot the deep-seated apathy affecting many young people and from which they themselves were not immune. The status quo focuses on the problems, but rarely seeks solutions.

 

The QUO was born with the recognition that we need an alternative online platform that values a positive outlook, nurtures bold ideas and propels direct action initiatives. We need an aggregator that shares individuals’ lived experiences and encourages the active development of empathy and community. Creativity, critical dialogue and collaboration should be valued above competing. We wanted to create a digital safe space built upon mutual respect. Here, non-conforming organisations and individuals connect, sidelined stories are heard and any respectful idea is given the opportunity to gestate into an action.

 

 

 

 

 

Alcohol By Lucas George

Aimee Vincent

I first moved to Melbourne in November 2011. I came down here on tour with the Whipped Cream Chargers, found out my friend Tim had died, so I made the decision and never left. Following a series of dreams (after a long period of half-assed meditation practice and occult training) I was convinced to go to a ten-day Vipassana course at the Dhamma Aloka and I came back sober for the first time in six years.

Between January 2012 and February 2013 I stayed sober. I hardly knew anyone down here at the time and I relished in it. I had the time and space to be my self relatively uninterrupted and, after years of really wanting to see where this spiritual path would lead me, after trying in so many tremendous ways to find the answers in others and in the world around me, I began the process of trying to find them within. I barely left my room, spending five hours a day doing meditation and yoga, eating only healthy vegetarian foods, performing deeper studies of the tarot and symbolism, living like a monk.

It was a good time, if not quite boring. Some part of my mind was still yearning for that other life. I was doing all this with the hope that after three, six, nine, twelve months I would have found enlightenment and then been able to go back to what I was doing. I played in the Chargers, a party band, but I didnt party. I didn't really record my own music then, my only outlet was my writing which was bogged down in details, but once I set my mind to a thing it takes alot for me to give up on it. To jump off the wagon again I'd have to find a way to trick myself into thinking that I'd made the wrong choice somehow and that doing something different was the actual way to enlightenment. Or that enlightenment is actually a myth and that I should just have a good time while I'm here, which is the easiest trick by far but hard to do when you are stubborn and you have tasted some of meditations fruits.

Somehow in this time I made some amazing friends. Talented crazy people who continue to blow my mind. At the time they were all wild party animals. I regretted that I'd performed my transformation before I'd met them. The path I had taken was a very lonely one. We hung out, but they got to do crazy stuff that it is so fucking hard for an anxiety-ridden sober person to do. Break things, and run around naked and laugh at nothing together like it was the best joke they ever heard. Most of the time when I talked to them it wasnt light-hearted - when we spoke it was about clarity and health, self development, growth. My dark side never got a swim, and I loved my dark side. Mostly I just felt like a stick in the mud, like I had nothing interesting to say that wasnt some deep (stick in the mud) shit. People seemed to come to me for good things, and I loved that, but I wanted to get all fucked up with them. They never encouraged it, but after a few months the part of me that relishes in chaos and wishes to belong overcame me and I started getting wasted again.

Almost four years passed. Some good years, but years of uncertainty, years of being hung over, mental issues and anxiety, proper deep dark chaos. But don't get me wrong, it was amazing too. I got messy with these people and with so many more. So many fun days and nights. Had countless beautiful fucked up adventures that I half remember too because my tolerance got so high that I'd have to drink a whole bottle of whiskey just to be a proper mess. My tolerance got high enough that in the last year or so I've got drunk at least three times a week and before I'd start a night I'd drink a whole bottle of wine by myself on the half-hour tram to anywhere from Preston and that'd just get me tipsy. I'd come home and spend at least two days unable to do anything of worth, depressed and just waiting to go out and get fucked again and even though I could see a pretty silly pattern emerging of spending all my money, not getting all that much out of it chemically, and not getting much done as a result nothing was stopping me. I wouldnt say I was an alcoholic in the proper sense - I never had a physical addiction, but once you get into a cycle it is super weird to break it, and why would you anyway? Its the fun bit, right?

Thats ten years out of the last eleven.

So recently I got a vitamin deficiency. A vitamin that booze specifically kills. I hadn't been looking after myself and it had got so far that my nerves started acting up. I found out that a great deal of my anxiety and depression had been coming from this as well. I had been having dreams for a while where I'd be in a cage with the devil and outside there was all this cool shit but to get out I'd have to destroy a bottle of booze, or I'd be being followed by someone I couldn't get away from who was telling me I didn't have the strength to get rid of the drink or I'd be telling people I was fine and thinking about going and getting a beer only to have all these demons pull me down (dark stuff is personified like this in my mind due to judeo-christian programming). It was all pretty obvious, but it was only when my body started to flip out like this that I decided to stop drinking again.

My first realisation was that drinking is boring. At least for me. I've done it so much that it doesnt really hold a kick anymore. It definitely does something, but that thing just isn't that fun. Maybe it will be again one day, but I've taken it too far for now. It doesnt serve me. I knew this for ages, but it is hard to give something up which everyone around you is doing and which is the way that you experience community. Like so many people, I used booze to get over my social anxieties. Currently I'm buzzing off the challenge of being good company even when I'm straight. I'm getting to realise that I don't always have to be smooth, I can be what I am and if people dont like it then thats ok. I'm beaming because I've realised once again that though I really want community I actually enjoy solitude so much. Being around wasted people doesnt bother me, but if people don't want to be around me because I'm not drunk then I'm actually going to be fine. Regardless I am hoping that I can still maintain a community even though right now it is going to be challenging because rather than being the self which has knocked down its boundaries with booze I have to be the self who develops the ability to fly over them naturally. I have to find and be my own self, awkward as that is sometimes, instead of being that dude who just doesnt give a fuck. I actually just have to not give a fuck without having booze to give me permission to not to give a fuck.

Second realisation: The drugs that make booze fun are already in my head. Booze gives me a kick (when its working properly). When I work really hard on something and I reach a milestone or get it done I also get a kick. It's a reward system that is set up inside of me to facilitate the achievement of goals. After I've done something of value I get to feel good, relax, and then it goes away and I have to do something of value again. This isn't just as simple as a drive to breed or whatever. After years of emptying my mind I have found that all that is left is compassion, writing, music, and what I might call spirituality for lack of a better word. So whereas before I was confused and unfocused this time I do have things to fill my time with which I am fulfilled by. There is the odd neurosis, but I have become adept at deconstructing them and realising that it is best to keep working towards what is good rather than dwelling on what is bad. And I'm happy with that. Every day I chip away at one or more of these four things and each one of them gets me high and makes me feel blissful. The rewards are tangible at times, but I get so much out of just doing these things for the sake of it that often I am elevated to tears. I realised that when I am drinking I am short-circuiting that reward system which makes it less urgent for me to achieve my goals. It is tricking me into thinking that the same high I can get from an internal source actually only comes from an external source. And because my goals are just to chip away at these things what abusing alcohol does is actually just hinder me from doing what I love, holding me back from highs that I actually earned by being and expressing myself fully. And then I wake up after four years like I just did and realise that while I have done some rad things I am not even close to the goals that I have set for myself. Can I achieve those goals? Of course. Im getting older but who gives a fuck? It just takes working on them, and if I am doing what I love then work itself is rewarding. And I'm sure that after a while my addiction to the highs of actualising myself is gonna turn me into a fucking mad person who is craving a hit so hard that they are forced to turn on their own brand of genius just to get it. And its exciting.

I've abused alcohol for a long time. I'm not against it, I'm not down on drinkers or drinking, I am not trying to make anyone feel bad or unhappy or anything. Basically every good friend I have I made while fucked up, a great deal of my best ever times have been had while fucked up, and I assume that when I'm feeling a bit stronger I'll get fucked up at some point once again. I'm not saying any of this out of regret. I just went too far and came to some realisations for myself and I want to share them. My drinking is gone for the moment, and if I do ever do it again it'll need to be with more awareness of what it has the capacity to give and what it has the capacity to take - the fact is I got tricked into thinking I was getting more out of the bargain than I was and it stopped me from putting my full energy into the deal that actually pays real dividends. When it got to the level of cyclical abuse it was like I was buying my pleasures and my abilities to be an active part of a community on credit rather than actually earning them.

 

Expectations of Femininity

Aimee Vincent

Google “Femininity” and you will find this as the first suggestion:

femininity
ˌfɛmɪˈnɪnɪti/Submit
noun
The quality of being female; womanliness.
"she celebrates her femininity by wearing make-up and high heels"

The provided example, that femininity is associated with appearance and typical beauty, is a common thought within western society and one that is pushed through mainstream media, popular culture and pornography. Expectations of the female gender to be typically feminine and sexual in a palatable way have been constant throughout history and a key element in the oppression and policing of women.

Prior to the womens liberation and feminist movements of the 1960s and 70’s (which was mainly curated by and for cis women) gender roles were rigid, regimented under the misogynistic gaze of the time and rarely openly deviated from. Women were expected to be well put together, maternal, attractive nurturers who appeared to be thoroughly satisfied with their role as wife and caregiver. As illustrated throughout the 1970’s article The Women Identified Woman by Radicalesbian male curated ideas of what it is to be a woman were rife throughout this era, the author suggests that to be a tom boy or a lesbian was the ultimate challenge and political protest against the misogynistic demands and expectations placed on women (1970, radicalesbians) The author argues that the mere mention of the word lesbian challenged typical femininity and what it was to be “real woman” or “real man” (1970, radicalesbians) “The grudging admiration felt for the tomboy, and the queasiness felt around a sissy boy point to the same thing: the contempt in which women-or those who play a female role-are held. And the investment in keeping women in that contemptuous role is very great.”

During the mainstream uprising of second wave feminism that was mostly facilitated by white middle class cis women, norms surrounding mainstream femininity started being challenged and women began seeking to redefine their gender role and their right to self representation. While female sexual autonomy was being discussed and fought for on a grass roots level, the Church continued to enforce patriarchal ideas of what it was to be a woman and the related expectations and these ideologies bled over into politics and mainstream society. The Church began to slightly change their message in order to align more with womens wants and create a palatable image for the climate of the time. They did so by encouraging women to work so long as work came secondary to their domestic duties, women were encouraged to enjoy sex so long as it was heterosexual and done so in marriage. The image of the maternal, domestic nurturer was still pushed as the pillar of typical and desired femininity only now women needed to do even more to live up to societal expectations.

It is also interesting to note the correlation between body hair in pornography and the womens liberation movements, Larry Flynts Barely Legal began representing young and virginal appearing women with shaved vaginas to combat the rise of the feminist movement - as cis women within these movements reclaimed their sexual autonomy and right to self representation in a myriad of ways, including growing their body hair, the porn industry began pushing the image of virginal girlishness to reinvigorate the desired image of the feminine.

As mentioned in the Introduction of Coredelia Fines Delusions of Gender there have been interesting studies and suggestions regarding male and female biology and their inherent differences, but how much of these differences are due to the lens with which studies were conducted and other external factors, Fine (2010) “...claims of ‘essential differences’ between the two sexes simply reflect - and give scientific au- thority to - what i suspect is really majority opinion. If history tells us anything it is to take a second, closer look at our society and our science” Fine goes onto say “the psyche is ‘not a discrete entity packed into the brain. Rather, it is a structure of psy- chological processes that are shaped by and closely attuned to the culture that surrounds them”

Not only is the image of the virginal, girlish woman synonymous with male desired femininity throughout various religions and cultures but it is also seen as a pillar of youth in Western culture, this is evident through the rise of hymenoplasty in ageing women - a procedure in which the vagina is surgically tightened to make women feel and appear younger.

Biologically women are only able to carry one mans child at a time and women while men are physically able to impregnate many women, thus comes the notion that women are naturally monogamous while men are naturally promiscuous. This understanding has trickled down from biological research into mainstream culture and has been responsible for many of the assumptions and expectations surrounding female roles and femininity in our modern society. It is with this in mind that images of de- sired femininity and femaleness remain narrow and women who challenge these images have been perceived as masculine, or promiscuous, labelled lesbians and so on, while images of the ultimate feminine woman across cultures have been and are perceived as pure, nurturing and virginal.

Womens virginity has been an ultimate symbol of femininity across the world with some cultures and religions expecting all women to have an intact hymen and bleed on their wedding night to prove purity to their husband and his family. There have been cases of women who didn't bleed having their marriages annulled and in some instances even been put to death, this is discussed in “Reliving Virginity Sexual Double Standards and Hymenoplasty” by Meredith Nash. Not only is the image of the virginal, girlish woman synonymous with male desired femininity throughout various religions and cultures but it is also seen as a pillar of youth in Western culture, this is evident through the rise of hymenoplasty in ageing women - a procedure in which the vagina is surgically tightened to make women feel and appear younger.

There is something very troubling about adult women undergoing surgery which will take their bodies back to a child like state in order to feel girlish and feminine. It is a disturbing fact that the image of the youthful, virginal girl is highly desired through- out society as represented in popular pornography and culture, Nash (2015) “Hymenoplasty, then, is also a response to the stigma surrounding ageing for women. The restoration of the hymen is often coupled with vaginal tightening so women can look and feel “younger”. 'Sadly, not only are women expected to be eternally “girlish” — they are also expected to be eternally “virginal”. Clearly, we should be deeply concerned with the cultural obsession with virginity. Women are risking their lives and their health in order to be “virginal” (primarily for men). This leads to a sexual double standard in which women are solely responsible for maintaining some kind of “purity.” Nash also touches on the irony of young girls being sexualised and expected to appear older than they are while ageing women are expected to stay youthful and girlish. It could be argued that this creates a constant dissatisfaction with each stage of a cis womans life and enforces a self policing system that becomes innate.

Mainstream culture and media still perpetuate the image of the feminine woman as an unachievable goal. You can view this image in most advertising campaigns, popular television shows and magazines. The modern feminine woman has more options, she has changed her clothing and make up style but she is well put together, sexy without being “slutty," powerful without emasculating men, independent but still vulnerable, doesn’t wear too much make up but must be naturally beautiful, these expectations are ubiquitous within society and prevalent in the policing of women. This policing is both obvious like the fact that abortion is used as a political weapon and more subtle such as advertising subtexts, popular culture, pornography and the misogynistic lens with which they are curated and delivered.

While the blatant standards and expectations of the 1950’s are no more, cis women are now setting these standards themselves due to everyday societal subtexts and a desire to fit their gender role and keep up with the current image of femininity. 

In an article “In Defence of Female Scruffiness” author Neha Kale discusses the societal expectations placed on womens appearances in a modern context, Kale (2015) says “In a May 2015 blog post, academic Sarah Bernstein suggests that we mock those who wear maxi dresses in public because women have been historically expect- ed to look comfortable without ever being comfortable. "Getting rid of the corset didn't mean we stopped policing women's bodies .... What we really did was not so much 'free' ourselves from the corset as internalise it.”

 

In Defence of Female Scruffiness

 Reliving Virginity: Sexual double standards and hymenoplasty

The Woman Identified Woman by RADICALESBIANS. (1970)

expectations of femininity

The Clitoris and Female Orgasms

Aimee Vincent

Alright so up until 1970 the belief was that women mainly orgasmed vaginally. Put your fingers inside your vagina and have a poke around, not too much feeling on them walls alone huh? Most women will find the very entrance to their vagina is very sensitive. Slightly above sits the clitoris, home to 8,000 nerves, it is up to 9cm's long - extends into our bodies and is more internal than external. It becomes erect when we are aroused and once aroused can be stimulated internally as well as externally. While every woman is different you will find most women struggle to orgasm without clitoral stimulation, whether that be internal or external - most orgasms come (scuse the pun) back to the clitoris. Compounding that, without foreplay and psychological stimulation to naturally lubricate the vagina many women cannot orgasm. This issue dates back to years of misinformation surrounding the vagina and the clitoris.

The male sex organ however was thoroughly researched, poked and prodded so no stone was left unturned and in the 1970’s we knew essentially all we needed to know about the penis and how it functions. However the vagina, specifically the anatomy of the clitoris was not fully realised until the late 1990’s. Then through 3D sonograms in two thousand and damn they discovered that when we orgasm, even in vaginal only orgasms with no direct clitoral stimulation it was because of…. the clitoris. Through pleasure our internal clitoris (which extends up to 9cm - seriously think about that) within our body becomes engorged and internal stimulation can see us cum - I feel like i'm going to repeat myself alot in this post because it's all so amazing to me. Two French dudes conducted the research that proved this in 2009 and you can find it here The synopsis of their study goes like this: even in vaginal only stimulation without direct pressure on the clitoris the clitoris is still working its magic and getting us off. They reckon even orgasms from the elusive G spot and anal sex can be explained by an engorged clitoris (I really like saying engorged clitoris)

In the 1970’s an underground feminist magazine called Ms. published this article The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm which to me explains so much about this issue, even in science and medicine which we are told are non bias were often (particularly in those days) viewed through a male lens. At the time this resulted in an utter lack of research responsible for many women of that era being labelled as “frigid” (which originally meant unable to orgasm from vaginal only intercourse). 

Whether it have been a lack of technology, funding or simply because the clitoris served no other purpose than to elicit female pleasure - it was not fully researched for another almost four decades. FOUR. The afformentioned research conducted which concluded that our clitoris' is responsible for most if not all of our orgasms was unfunded, with French researchers Dr. Odile Buisson and Dr. Pierre Foldès taking the mission on themselves. Unfunded...That is some bullshit. Through their research which included a 3d sonogram they discovered so much about our pleasure and that upon internal and external stimulation the clit becomes engorged and can be stimulated trough the vaginal walls and even the anus. They also discovered that with the correct surgery some victims of female genital mutilation could have feeling restored to their clitoris. Do you know how important that is?

 When I returned to France to treat genital mutilation, I was amazed that they were never tried. The medical literature tells us the truth about our contempt for women. For three centuries, there are thousands of references to penile surgery, nothing on the clitoris, except for some cancers or dermatology—and nothing to restore its sensitivity. The very existence of an organ of pleasure is denied, medically. Today, if you look at the anatomy books that all surgeons have, you will find two pages above. There is a real intellectual excision.

 

The lack of knowledge around the clitoris is fairly insane considering how much we know about the rest of the body. We can explain the misinformation in a myriad of ways one of which (and that i resonate with) is the historic patriarchal lens with which research was conducted. As claimed in Annes article The Myth of The Vaginal Orgasm men feel pleasure by thrusting in and out of the vagina, physically clitoral stimulation is not really of consequence to them: 

All this leads to some interesting questions about conventional sex and our role in it. Men have orgasms essentially by friction with the vagina, not the clitoral area, which is external and not able to cause friction the way penetration does. Women have thus been defined sexually in terms of what pleases men; our own biology has not been properly analyzed. Instead, we are fed the myth of the liberated woman and her vaginal orgasm - an orgasm which in fact does not exist.

To reiterate this in a modern context we can probably all relate to lets get some men and womens locker room talk going. You will be hard pressed to find a hetero woman who has not experienced the “Jack hammer" routine most men have toyed with at one point or another, female conversations often come back to this topic as we cringe and groan (not the good kind) at the memory of being slammed like a jack hammer in concrete followed by the dude cumming and thinking he gave us the ride of a lifetime. I even had one guy tell me it was his “go-to” and apparently we women love it (fyi…we don't) To the routines credit it serves a purpose at times and can be fun ON OCCASION but essentially it feels like…. nothing. Pressure, slammming...i’m trying to think of the right word here, one of which PLEASURE is not. Without concise and rhythmic thrusting and clitoral stimulation (most) women cannot orgasm. It’s as simple as that. This kind of leads us to a conversation about faking orgasms and how detrimental that is to both male and female sexual journeys but I feel like thats another story for another time.

The idea that the clitoris is “just like the penis’ or that our vaginas are lacking (research Freuds theories about the vagina and female penis envy), or there is something wrong with a woman if she cannot orgasm from penetration only is some patriarchal bullshit. The clitoris and its stimulation are paramount in our sexual pleasure. It is the only organ thats sole function is to experience pleasure, it is capable of so much more than ever thought and it is only through that recent research and education that this has been discovered.

We can use the need for medical research as an example of how important exploration is with ourselves and our partners - it is utterly paramount to understand our anatomy if we want to experience our fullest sexual potential. Being aware of the facts is also crucial to us not feeling disheartened in our sex lives if orgasm is more difficult. Be aware that if your clitoris is further away from your vagina or your clitoris is small or you are not well lubricated (which often means there hasn't been enough foreplay - both physical and mental)  you may find it more difficult to orgasm. If your partner is addicted to the jack hammer and makes you feel insecure about not being able to orgasm from penetration YOU ARE NOT ALONE and it is infact them who need to advance their understanding of female sexual anatomy. 

 

There is so much information floating around now and the articles i've listed here are just a few but if you spend some time researching the misinformation we have been fed I believe you are on your way to sexual empowerment.

 

Ms. Magazine

Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm

Cliteracy

Clitoral facts

 

IS THIS REAL LIFE?

Aimee Vincent
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We live in a society that is utterly saturated in curated images and ideals of typical beauty and sexiness; the slim, european feature,  cis gendered, hetero normative concept of beauty and sexuality has been the main narrative for generations - But times are changing and we have more opportunities now to represent a wider range of bodies, genders, faces and sexualities. While mainstream media is bigger and more influential than ever so is social media and this is an incredible tool of diverse connection.

It is human nature to be curious about sex and sexuality, bodies and gender so we seek it out from a young age. Long gone are the days of rifling through a parents 70's porno mag collection and innocently fumbling around in the back of a cinema with another person, awkwardly discovering each others bodies, these days we have the world wide web. From an inappropriately young age we are flooded with images that reveal a dark and violent side of sex that can negatively impact our minds until conscious awareness and change can be realised. Men are fed false ideas of what women want - I believe much of societies rape culture and the "boys will be boys" mentality is due to the violence and misogyny represented on screen. Young girls are taught their own pleasure is irrelevant as long as they are desirable to men - our own journeys of wanting to seek and knowing we deserve genuine pleasure ignored.

We see women with "perfect" bodies, bleached and tucked vaginas that lack labias, fake breasts, fake orgasms and not to mention the under and over tones of violence that saturate the industry - young men and women are set up for a confusing and often dark understanding of their sexuality and body image. Peruse the porn sites and you will find a plethora of videos claiming to show us female orgasm or amateur sex but the fact is most mainstream porn is filmed with a male lense and curated for male viewing. So where can we see real intimacy? Real love making? Real bodies? Real pleasure? Where can we see a woman really orgasming knowing that she deserves her pleasure.

The goal is for each contributor to feel powerful and for the viewers concepts of what is beautiful, sexy, intimate to be challenged by each story and image.

For those passionate about body positivity, empowerment and sex -  We want see these things: real representations of bodies, sex and sexuality; the "imperfections", the awkwardness, the intimacy, the rawness. Fuck mainstream media and pornography! We want to see real bodies really enjoying themselves, through true representation we can begin to challenge the modern narratives regarding sex and erotica.

So begins the Is This Real Life? project.

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The purpose of the project is for people of all shapes, genders, sexualities, sizes, abilities and skin colours to share a part of our-real-selves and for other people to witness that realness - to share true moments of beauty, sensuality, intimacy and life in general. Through collaboration with hundreds of people around the world we will be creating a collection of images that represent these things.  Images of sex, self pleasure, raw mornings drinking coffee in our pajamas, nudity, menstruation, intimacy - moments of true beauty, empowerment, vulnerability. The goal is for each contributor to feel powerful and for the viewers concepts of what is beautiful, sexy, intimate to be challenged by each story and image.

 

The response thus far has been overwhelming which has reiterated the desire we all have to feel seen and heard and the journey is only just beginning....

 

@isthisreallifeproject

These images will be compiled into a paperback zine and a collaborative exhibition, more details on that as it progresses. 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Noni Cragg of The Rough Period

Aimee Vincent
Noni-Cragg.jpg
Noni Cragg: Noni is an incredible woman, artist, model, indigenous activist and now a not for profit grass roots organiser... Her newest venture ‘The Rough Period’ has a mission that is as simple as it is necessary: To provide Sydney’s homeless women with safe sanitary products

I know you are very aware of the systematic racism within this country - particularly towards First Nations People. I’d love to know what your experience been like within the art world and the general white washed world as an indigenous woman in this country? 

(Feel free to drop some much needed knowledge for those who are unaware of Australias deeply racist roots)

 

It isn't difficult to see that Australia is a deeply racist and sexist country and the the Art World within does not escape this fact. There are a lot of issues with gallery representation, press coverage, auction price differentials and inclusions in permanent-collection displays and solo-exhibition programs. 

"The more closely one examines art-world statistics, the more glaringly obvious it becomes that, despite decades of postcolonial, feminist, anti-racist, and queer activism and theorizing, the majority continues to be defined as white, Euro-American, heterosexual, privileged, and, above all, male. Sexism is still so insidiously woven into the institutional fabric, language, and logic of the mainstream art world that it often goes undetected." - Maura Reilly 

ArtReview’s 2016 Power 100 list of the “most influential people in the contemporary art world” was 32% women, 70% white, and 51% European. Currently over 75% of Students in the Arts in Australia are Female, but we are still not seeing equal representation or investment when we consider that in 2011 of the top 100 Auction Sales that year, all artists were male. Society still reveres predominately white, heterosexual, priviledged males in the arts and they get paid a lot. ANGSW even makes these attitudes clear when we consider The Indigenous Collection is pretty much in the basement and women artists only make up 34% of the collection in Australian State Museums.

Galleries like Boomali, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency Aboriginal Corporation and collectives such as The Guerrilla Girls and The Ladies Network exist out of a necessity to provide a platform for artists who are otherwise severely under represented if at all. Also looking at Australian Media and News Outlets we see the damaging and disrespectful portrayals of Aboriginal People and people of ethnic backgrounds in Australia. If it is not straight up racism and sexism, it is people being passive and pretty much giving consent through their silence because they probably benefit in some way from the established system.

 

 

It is so important to show up for First Nations people whether it be protesting, sharing knowledge and making sure to always call bullshit when faced with racism and bigotry. What kind of role has this activism played in your life?

 

Activism is about being present in your community and taking action to bring about political and social change. Silence and inaction is consent to injustice. Protesting and sharing knowledge is so important for facilitating change. Activism has shown me that plenty of people want change and that we are capable of it but you've got to be willing to fight for it and be loud about it.

 

How have you weaved your culture into your artwork and has art helped you to explore culture or vice versa? 

 

Art has undoubtedly helped me explore not only my own culture but the culture of others, in particular that of first nations people. It is important to learn about not only your own customs, traditions, land, lore, religion/spirituality, history, celebrations and ceremonies but those of other cultures as well. I take most of my inspiration from these elements of culture of each person who sits for me.

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Modelling. Lets talk about it. You’re probably one of the realest bitches I know, whats your opinion on diversity within the modelling industry?

 

The Australian fashion Industry for the most part is not choosing models of colour for their runways, there are very few women of colour on the runway at Fashion Week each year. In 2014 the first Indigenous Fashion Week was held and the following year when interviewed whether the industry supported Indigenous women this is what Supermodel Samantha Harris had to say "Indigenous Fashion Week happened last year. I saw so many beautiful Aboriginal girls. I don't understand why there aren't more young [Aboriginal] girls on the catwalk,"  The fact the event was seperate from MBFWA is disappointing in itself. The Fashion Industry is more talented at appropriating culture often choosing tokenism over legitimate representation. Diversity and representation matter and many of the models and designers that are challenging industry standards are often neglected and rarely acknowledged by mainstream News and Media Outlets.

 

Now brings us to your newest venture; The Rough Period. Can you please tell us about this incredibly simple but so damn important concept:

 

The Rough Period consists of Jasmine Coronado, Amber Sisson and myself. We have a very simple objective and that is to provide women sleeping rough in Sydney with safe and clean sanitary items. No woman should have to choose between food and essential menstruation items due their period. We want our work to challenge the way Australian’s talk about periods and homelessness as well as hopefully remove some of the stigma and taboo status around issues of Womens Health and Homelessness.

 

What inspired this initiative and could you drop some knowledge about female homelessness within this country?

Jasmine Coronado and myself discussed an image I reposted on Facebook of a handbag with a caption suggesting that rather than throw away old handbags you could fill them with essential items for ladies and give them to women sleeping rough in your city. We got chatting to some our mates and had them donate pads, tampons and toiletries. Later that month the week before Christmas Jasmine and I went out to distribute these care packages and found that the issue was even larger than we initially imagined. Part of the problem I think is due to the fact our government doesn't prioritise or value its female citizens the same way it does men. There are not only more services and beds available to the male homeless population but also facts such as the Government being happy to provide free condoms but not tampons or pads, and that these are taxed as a luxury item suggests these issues of gender imbalance are low priority. Also I feel there is a misconception that homelessness primarily effects men but this is total bullshit when you consider that statistics from an RMIT University study revealed that about 1.4 million of us have slept rough while homeless, revealing that around 11 percent of women had experienced sleeping rough at some point in their lifetime. “We found about 900,000 men and 500,000 women – or 7.8 per cent of the population – have slept rough in parks or improvised dwellings, in their lifetime,” - RMIT’s Emeritus Professor Chris Chamberlain.

 

How has the Rough Period been received by sisters around Sydney?

The Rough Period has seen almost only positive comments from the ladies we provide care packages too, we occasionally hear comments from a disgruntled bloke or two, but once we explain what we are doing they are generally quite supportive. and will often then point out where there are more ladies for us to reach. The Aunties and Uncles that are respected within these communities are often the ones most vocal about pointing the importance and value of a project such as this.

Have you had much support from the community?

The support from the community has been outstanding and just increases constantly. We’ve seen businesses show their support to our project in so many different ways. Daisy’s Milkbar in Petersham currently has a donation bin. We’ve had the Courthouse Hotel in Camperdown support us through their fundraising efforts with Young Henrys as well as The Cricketers Arms Hotel who will be hosting us this International Womens Day for a Fundraiser. Supporters of these events include Grifter, Camp Cove Swim, Service on Oxford St and Sydney Label Serpent and The Swan.

How can we help?

There is a donation bin at Daisy’s Milk Bar 340 Stanmore Road Petersham. You can donate Tampons, Regular pads, Overnight pads, Wet wipes, Tissues, Paw Paw, Roll on deodorant, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Soap/body wash, Hair ties, Moisturiser andShampoo/Conditioner. We encourage the purchase of ethical brands and travel sizes for toiletries to keep care packages light for the ladies.  You can drop products for care packages at this location during business hours. Supporters can also direct message the Instagram page for a postal address to send donations.

We also have a fundraiser at The Cricketers Arms this International Womens Day 8th March. Supporters can bring products to donate as well as cash donations. We will also have a raffle where you could win a voucher for Camp Cove Swim or Service. You can also buy merchandise or a drink as all proceeds from these will be going towards care packages and helping The Rough Period on its way to becoming a legal Not For Profit organisation.

 

Where can people contact you?

Supporters can contact us through our Instagram page and direct message us for further information. We hope to have a website available in the coming months. @theroughperiod

Thank you so much for your time and for sharing a little part of yourself and the amazing things you do x

 

You can find more via Noni's website here 

 

 

HEAVY METAL SEX, BABY

Aimee Vincent
For some women ovulation is the horniest time of their cycle, for others menstruation can see them gagging for sex but struggling with the taboo nature and stigma of making love during this time. Period sex can be a bonding and erotic experience for both men and women, so as we aim to break down the social stigmas surrounding one of the most natural things in a woman's life - I recently interviewed a man about his growth from being anti blood to a lover of what I like to call Heavy Metal Sex...

As a male how did you feel about having sex with women during menstruation? 

Initially I felt grossed out, unsure and confronted. I guess you think its gross because you associate blood with pain or being unhygienic. 

 

Had you ever discussed it with friends?

Yeah and the general feeling between mates was that it was a no go zone, and even with ex partners a trace of blood would be enough to halt anything sexual happening. 

In your experience how have women felt about it?

I guess they got embarrassed and it was just something that we never really spoke about too openly which just added to the taboo nature of it. Nothing really ever got resolved by shrouding it in secrecy, so it just became even more taboo and even more of a “no go” zone.

Can you remember your first experience with heavy metal sex?

Yeah I was with an old girlfriend one of the first times I can remember it happening, we were having sex and I pulled out and saw there was blood on my dick so I brought it to her attention, she got really embarrassed so we immediately stopped having sex. My ex girlfriend would completely abstain from any sexual interaction until there was no sign of blood so we'd go like a week at a time without having sex.

How did you feel about that?

I was cool about it, it was her choice and I respected that. In hindsight I feel her feelings about it definitely added to my feelings that it wasn't ok to have sex during that time. 

Can you remember your first positive experience?

Yep. My most recent girlfriend had started taking the contraceptive pill and was bleeding pretty heavily and wasn't embarrassed or ashamed about it at all, she basically said “Who knows how long i’ll be bleeding, i’m not going without sex” and was completely comfortable with it which made me more confident to explore it with her. I was able to ask questions and know more so it didn't feel like such a taboo thing. She was also really horny during this time so there was no way I was getting out of having sex even if I wanted to *laughs*

There was definitely a different smell about which was kind of arousing. I remember one of the times when she was ontop and I could feel the blood drip down my balls which was actually really sexual. I guess with any taboo it kind of turns you on more because it feels more naughty or whatever so then being with a partner who was totally fine with something others had been embarrassed about just helped me to embrace the sexiness of it.

Can you explain in detail the experience or if anything was different?

There was definitely a different smell about which was kind of arousing. I remember one of the times when she was ontop I could feel blood dripping down my balls which was actually really sexual. Every time we'd do it we'd end up with blood on us and afterwards would go have a shower together and wash eachother which was a pretty bonding experience.

I guess with any taboo it kind of turns you on more because it feels more naughty or whatever so then being with a partner who is totally fine with something others had been embarrassed about just helped me to embrace the sexiness of it.

Thoughts on heavy metal cunnilingus?

Well, its definitely not like i'd ever expected it to be with, like, coming up to find blood all over my face *laughs* I mean you don't have to be getting right up in there with your mouth while she's bleeding heavily if you don't want to, you can stimulate externally, focus on the clitoris rather than intense penetration if you want to avoid the blood. But at the end of the day it's just blood, like any other bodily fluid you're sharing while fucking and if you trust each other and know you're both healthy and what not then what's the problem? It's actually an educational experience, you get to learn more about clitoral stimulation techniques and how to work with her body. If anything it just adds to your skill set *laughs*

 

How do you feel about it now?

It's heaps raw and primal and my experience with my partner definitely flipped a switch inside me and made me realise hey this isn't weird or gross, it's human and actually pretty erotic. I remember one time watching her finger herself and seeing blood on her fingers and realising what a sexy and raw thing it was I was seeing. 

Also learning more about the role periods play in women's lives and that it’s a pretty powerful thing added to the eroticism of it. It's also just basically an added lubricant which feels fucking good *laughs*

 

How does your partner feel about it?

She fucking loves it! She's all for it and encourages it, gets off on the kinkiness of it. 

 

What would you say to your old self who wouldn't have engaged in heavy metal sex and to other men who still wont?

Don't be so suburban bro *laughs*.  If you've never done it you don't truly know what the experience is like, don't make women feel ashamed for being their natural selves and you should feel lucky a woman even wants to fuck you ! *laughs*

Witch: Sexual Deviance and Feminine Autonomy By A. Keighran

Aimee Vincent
During this time, witchcraft accusations often focused on lurid details of ‘sexual depravity’ of the accused with accounts often detailing adultery, fornication, and sex with Satan or other women. The focus on the carnality or inherent eroticism of women in this passage highlights the strong link between witchcraft and the expression of autonomous sexuality in women; for a witch’s sexuality was essential to her enigmatic power, abhorrent corruption and her menacing allure.

We are all familiar with the Western cultural icon that is the Witch. The mythological female that possesses magical powers and hidden knowledge most popularly depicted in black or nude, flying on a broomstick through the nocturnal sky or in the midst of a preternatural, and sometimes orgiastic, gathering with her coven.

 

We may, or may not, all know that the concept of witchcraft and its practitioners has existed throughout recorded history in diverse forms amongst various cultures and religions worldwide, yet this western idea of witchcraft, that is ubiquitous today, was born by the church during the rise of Christianity in the Middle Ages.

 

In an attempt to either convert or condemn the Pagans that practiced a different polytheistic religion during this time, the Catholic Church – and later the Protestant church – launched an ideological attack on Paganism that transformed the multiple gods and goddesses that were worshipped into devils and demons. Essentially ensuring the Pagan belief system became one of devil worship that was treated with suspicion and hostility, turning their practitioners into witches (or warlocks) who consorted with the devil (as an aside: prior to this point in time, there was no mention of devil worship among Pagans until the church decided it so). Unsurprisingly, witch persecution became rampant during this religiously stringent time and lasted until the era of Enlightenment in the 18th century.

 

In a time where magical, scientific and religious thought were not separate philosophies but intrinsically linked, the witch was born. Whilst both men and women were subject to accusation and conviction of practicing witchcraft, historically it was a condemnation that was deadly to more women than men. This was due to the strong belief that a woman was more likely to be a witch; as she who was made from the bent rib of Adam, was herself twisted, weak, and an abomination by her very nature.  This idea was perpetuated by the now infamous text Malleus Maleficarum, an historic witch hunter’s handbook published in 1486 by two Dominican inquisitors, Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, during the early stages of the witch hysteria. The book itself had a profound impact on witch trials in Europe for about 200 years – it was second only to the Bible in sales until 1678 and is now considered the most important treatise on persecuting witches during this time. Tellingly the Latin genitive Maleficarum translates literally to ‘of female evil-doers’. One of the most famous passages reads:

 

"As for the first question, why a greater number of witches is found in the fragile feminine sex than among men . . . the first reason is, that they are more credulous, and since the chief aim of the devil is to corrupt faith, therefore he rather attacks them . . . the second reason is, that women are naturally more impressionable. . . . But the natural reason is that [a woman] is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations . . . All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable." (Kramer and Sprenger, (1486[1972])

From the viewpoint of 2017, such drug use and sexual autonomy like self-pleasure, sexual experimentation, and sexual preferences are not shocking acts, in fact they are both celebrated and liberating today. Yet, at that time, a woman choosing to do what she wished with her own body or mind was so inconceivable that it was considered evil doing or synonymous with the devil himself. Many women were tortured and killed because they dared to explore what we now know as personal liberties.
Hans Baldung Gruen "Witches Sabbath"

Hans Baldung Gruen "Witches Sabbath"

During this time, witchcraft accusations often focused on lurid details of ‘sexual depravity’ of the accused with accounts often detailing adultery, fornication, and sex with Satan or other women. The focus on the carnality or inherent eroticism of women in this passage highlights the strong link between witchcraft and the expression of autonomous sexuality in women; for a witch’s sexuality was essential to her enigmatic power, abhorrent corruption and her menacing allure.

 

In the Later Middle Ages, witches began to be depicted with broomsticks, particularly in art and literature.  While the idea of witches and broomsticks was often thought to relate to earlier pagan fertility rituals, there are some explanations that are imbued with sexual meaning and symbolise sexually autonomous females subverting their societal stereotypes. The broom is a symbol of domesticity, representative of the home and hearth that women were relegated to. Yet, given its phallic nature, riding the broom became a symbol of female sexuality and protest against the confinement of the domestic space. This presented a challenge to the strong patriarchy of the time: the idea of a woman using a socially oppressive object such as the broom to explore her own sexuality was a form of untamed domesticity!

 

Around the same time as the first reports of witches flying on broomsticks emerge references to ‘flying ointments’. According to a 1563 book, Praestigiis Daemonum, the hallucinogenic plants of henbane, deadly nightshade, mandrake, and rye mould containing ergot fungi were readily accessible during that time and were principal ingredient’s in any witch’s flying ointment. We now know the effects of these plants are similar to those of LSD and can simulate a sensation of flying, among other things. Yet, swallowing these ingredients can cause sickness or sometimes death, so better forms of absorption were experimented with. Particularly effective techniques were achieved by ingestion through the mucous membranes, such as under the armpits, through the anus, or for women, through their vaginas.  What better way to apply an ointment intravaginally than with a phallic shaped staff such as a broomstick?!

 

The 15th century records of Jordanes de Bergamo states ‘the witches confess, that on certain days or nights they anoint a staff and ride on it to the appointed place or anoint themselves under the arms and in other hairy places’.

 

And in 1477, Antoine Rose, known as the Witch of Savoy confessed under torture, that the Devil ‘gave her a stick, 18 inches long, and a pot of ointment. She used to smear the ointment on the stick, put it between her legs and say ‘Go, in the name of the Devil, go!’’.

...the depictions of these socially deviant women also refute the contingency
of sexual stimulation being dependent on a man’s participation and promote the idea of
female eroticism and sexual independence from men.

 

This strong association of witches with broomsticks could also potentially express the cultural anxiety about women having sex with one another using ‘instruments’ such as dildos. Witches in art are often depicted holding a long stick perhaps used as a sexual instrument or are depicted in the engagement of a variety of women-to-women genital acts suggesting mutual and solo masturbation. Importantly this highlights the sexual discourses of the period where discussions of sexual behaviours and ethics were rampant and particularly restrictive for women. It is also a time where any sexual activity outside of marriage was considered sinful or criminal, and when masturbation came to be conceptualized as a self-polluting sin and anti-social ‘self-abuse’. Significantly, the depictions of these socially deviant women also refute the contingency of sexual stimulation being dependent on a man’s participation and promote the idea of female eroticism and sexual independence from men.

 

Yet, woman-to-woman sex practices were prominent enough during this time in elite circles that they are actually mentioned in penitentials (a book or set of church rules concerning repentance) by Theodore of Tarsus in the seventh century, Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth, St. Antoninus in the fourteenth, and St. Charles Borromeo in the sixteenth.

 

Depending on whether penetration occurred or not determined the seriousness of the offence. For example, Theodore recommended lesser penalties for women who ‘practice vice’ with one another than for heterosexual or male-to-male couples. However, using an ‘instrument’ was a serious offence, since penetration was considered ‘real sex’. The sixteenth century Italian jurist Prospero Farinacci wrote that the death penalty applied only if a woman used a sex object to penetrate another woman. Evidently the use of brooms or sticks as a sexual instrument would be a grave sin and crime even without the often cited witch or satanic implications accompanying the sex act.

 

From the viewpoint of 2017, such drug use and sexual autonomy like self-pleasure, sexual experimentation, and sexual preferences are not shocking acts, in fact they are both celebrated and liberating today. Yet, at that time, a woman choosing to do what she wished with her own body or mind was so inconceivable that it was considered evil doing or synonymous with the devil himself. Many women were tortured and killed because they dared to explore what we now know as personal liberties.

The idea of the witch was born in a time of much anxiety about women and the place they had in a transforming society; a time where women risked ex-communication, imprisonment, torture or even death to explore their own autonomous sexuality. Some women most likely imagined, feared, dreamed about, or actually engaged in prohibited sex acts such as extramarital sex, masturbation, woman-to-woman sex, or used ‘instruments’ to have intercourse with other women.
Hans Baldung 16th Century "New years wish with three Witches"

Hans Baldung 16th Century "New years wish with three Witches"

 

The idea of the witch was born in a time of much anxiety about women and the place they had in a transforming society; a time where women risked ex-communication, imprisonment, torture or even death to explore their own autonomous sexuality. Some women most likely imagined, feared, dreamed about, or actually engaged in prohibited sex acts such as extramarital sex, masturbation, woman-to-woman sex, or used ‘instruments’ to have intercourse with other women. It is not a stretch to believe that this real and imagined ‘sexual deviation’ of women both concerned and thrilled their contemporaneous male counterparts, who invested substantial amounts of time and thought into understanding why women might contest and contravene their stipulated sexual roles. Indeed, both men and other women likely struggled to comprehend these problematic women and their self-governing sexuality. It also highlights the formation of certain social categories that worked at marginalising women for their ‘otherness’; a wealth of gender scholarship from the 80s and 90s focuses on the misogynistic influences of the witchcraft narrative, arguing that witches were socially, economically, and sexually marginal figures who were punished for straying outside of the appropriate gender or sexual norms that were expected of them.

 

As such, the historical idea of the witch has come to reveal more about how well a woman fit into societal norms and gender roles of that period than it does of her actual use of magic; for to be a witch was to be a woman feared of her self-governing sexuality and power in a world where women were otherwise powerless.

 

Amy Keighran

@amy.keighran



 

References

Erin Mahony, Demonic Carnality: Female Witches and Sexuality in Medieval Magic, Science, and Faith (2013).

 

Justyna Sempruch, ‘Feminist Constructions of the ‘Witch’ as a Fantasmatic Other’, Body and Society Vol 10. No. 4 (2004).

 

Qinna Shen, ‘Feminist Redemption of the Witch: Grimm and Michelet as Nineteenth-Century Models’, Focus on German Studies 15 (2007).


Dylan Thuras, Sex, Drugs and Broomsticks: The Origins of the Iconic Witch, www.atlasobscura.com (2014).

Gender Identity and Bisexuality - Mayah's Experience

Aimee Vincent
At this time, I consider my body an instrument of micro-political resistance. When I go out dressed in clothes said to be masculine I break up the normative discourses. My goal? For people to look at me and not know what I am.

I find it very interesting that people always try to validate the choices other people make. Nowadays, society is doing a better job at "understanding" that men can like men and women can also like women, but invalidate those who are in the middle of the road, liking both at the same time. Let's start with bisexuality. A lot of people have the idea that bisexuals are just confused and say that bisexuality. People have this idea of bisexuals as "indecisive people" because you don’t really **see** bisexuals: if a bisexual girl starts dating a boy, everyone says “she’s straight; she just went through this crazy rebel phase and now she realized she likes boys”. If they see the same girl dating another girl, then the discourse changes to “she finally made up her mind and decided to come out the closet, she’s lesbian”. It gives this non-sense idea that, in order for someone to be accepted as bisexual, they need to date a boy and a girl at the same time. When someone who is bisexual dates another person, the bisexuality automatically becomes invisible as a result of the classifications as either straight or gay, but never what that person really is or identifies as.

In fact, saying that the person was confused, went through a phase and finally decided what they are is very offensive and very often bisexuals disappear within the LGBTQI community.

Another problem that's rising up within the bisexual world is the idea that we are only attracted to binary genders and are often accused of cissexism (when many of us see the 'bi' part of the term as denoting both ends of the spectrum and everything in between). It is very sad to see that there is this constant argument within the LQBTQIA world between bisexuality v. pansexuality, which, once again, causes us to be left behind and lose visibility. 

I've dated man and women. I was married to a bisexual man and I'm currently dating a hetero man who knows about my gender identify and my sexual preferences. However, throughout my entire "dating-life" I heard things like "bisexuals are greedy/promiscuous/just want to fool around/cheat more". 

Being attracted to more than one gender does provide more potential partners, but it doesn't increase one's likelihood of physically or emotionally connecting with potential partners. And just as having an eclectic taste in wine does not make one an alcoholic, being bisexual does not make you greedy or promiscuous. 

My aforementioned partner has been quite understanding of who I am, and we often talk about gender-related topics. About 4 months ago I begun to not feel 100% comfortable with people classifying me as "girl/woman". Yes, I was born a woman, I do have a vagina and I love it, but some days I simply don't want to have the role of woman placed upon me (because, you know, society has gender expectations). Some days I don't **feel** like a woman and some days I want to opt out of any gender labelling at all.

Because of that I asked my partner to refrain from calling me "girl" and, at first, he was very understanding, but half hour later he asked me - according to him "just to be clear" - if that would affect our sex life. At the moment, I didn't think that question was a big deal, so I told him he had nothing to worry about. However, as the day passed, I caught myself mulling it over and over again. If he really understands my queer identity, then why did he feel threatened by it? Is the assurance of a good sex life more important than the assurance of your s/o's emotional well-being? Or maybe he just doesn't quite understand gender identity, despite all his efforts...

But gender, as we all should know, it is not the body itself, it is an interpretation of the body given by culture, designated through arbitrary semiotic relationships of what is male/female. A baby comes into existence long before being born. It exists as the subject of sex and gender from the time the ultrasound is done and the doctor says “it’s a boy” or “It’s a girl”. From that, a world of expectations is built

Our historical narratives, our founding myths of a non-historical time reveal the potential of uncertainty and, in some ways, it is recurrent in our speech. Even in the most normative ways we can think of, like “soul mates”: it is about them the myth that humans were created with a body that was both male and female but separated by a punishment of the Gods.

To think about the non-binary is not, as many suggest, thinking the unthinkable simply because one cannot use as a contesting argument the dimorphism of human bodies - after all, there are intersex people or even those who (very rarely) are born without any sexual organ. These people will identify with a gender (or none) throughout their lives according to the perception that they have of themselves and their experiences in the world.

But gender, as we all should know, it is not the body itself, it is an interpretation of the body given by culture, designated through arbitrary semiotic relationships of what is male/female. A baby comes into existence long before being born. It exists as the subject of sex and gender from the time the ultrasound is done and the doctor says “it’s a boy” or “It’s a girl”. From that, a world of expectations is built, along with impositions, colors, names, possible school life. Gender is rhetoric you are given even before birth, it is assumed and is performative. After born one must learn to be the gender that one was given: cross legs, not move his hands so much, not cry.

There is intense effort put into fitting the subject in one of the gender poles, and beyond the fitting effort there’s the escape from it, what some call “gender dysphoria”: the medical and clinical discourse that turned into pathology what is a question of identity.

Artist unknown (if you know the artist please email us)

Artist unknown (if you know the artist please email us)

When I say I am queer I am not saying that any of these gendered “ways of living” stare upon me. I can look at a man and think “Am I like him?”. And my answer is "yes, in fact, I am"... the same is true when I look at a woman. But this is certainly not the most important issue. The central question is: do we need a gender in order to socialize? Is it really necessary to live from an intellection of another in binarity?

I am not one of those naive people who say “we’re all human”. When we equate everyone we hide the deep chasms that we have built to separate us – social chasms, class, gender, religious, sexual orientation. We are not only human, this is, perhaps, just one of our many identifying marks.

At this time, I consider my body an instrument of micro-political resistance. When I go out dressed in clothes said to be masculine I break up with normative discourses. My goal? For people to look at me and not know what I am.

Modernity has brought us too much confidence. We learned that we have a “paradise” (be it religious or an utopian socialist world), we learned that science could save us, that the science of the mind could protect us from our monsters, that money could end hunger. But it didn’t work. And the reason is clear: there is human immobility, there is multiplicity. And the experience of being male or female is multiple.

Judith Butler begins her book “Gender Trouble” with a question that troubles us even now: “Who is the subject of feminism?” What is this transcendence that classical feminism gave the concept of “woman”? Do we all live all the same experiences? Certainly not. Anyone willing to go into deeper reflection will find in him or herself elements of femininity and masculinity, the question is to be happy with the rules that define us.

 

Maya - @mondociberdelia

TO BE HONEST // Exploring sexuality Q&A

Aimee Vincent

Question: I grew up in a very conservative home where abstinence was shoved down my throat and sex education was of the devil. Now here I am with a child and a husband and I know very little of how to even begin this sexual endeavour. We have great sex but it's all very basic and I feel I am very sexual but just not getting what I want or even knowing how to ask for it. Do you have some advice?

 

A: First i'll start by saying everything I respond with is only my personal opinion and from lived experience - I am by no means an expert!

 

For me personally sex can see us feeling extremely powerful and vulnerable, sometimes simultaneously and there is nothing wrong with that. It can be scary to reveal things about ourselves even to those we love most. We all carry blockages, usually from childhood so given your upbringing I think its completely natural for you to feel unsure of how to explore your sexuality further. Firstly, I would really acknowledge where your blockages come from, once you face the rhetoric you experienced as a kid and understand that your family were existing only from their level of awareness then you can potentially separate yourself from it (if you want to) and move onto your next phase of exploring your own thoughts on sex. Secondly, i'd say get in touch with yourself, take time to meditate if you're into that or just spend time connecting with yourself and asking "What do I want? What do I want?", take time to explore your own body and its different sensations - what feels good for you, try new things on your own, take time to fantasise and don't shy away from your fantasies. As long as its between consenting adults everything is ok, nothing is too dirty or weird or kinky so go for it. You could even include your husband in that part. Once you've sort of thought of some new things you'd like to try then talk to your man, maybe ask him if he has any fantasies - it doesn't have to be some big heavy conversation just make it light hearted and exchange your ideas - even if its just trying a new position or fooling around outdoors. Honestly for me once you open that dialogue everything just flows and i'm sure your partner would love to talk to you about it. That power and vulnerability I mentioned earlier will definitely come into play because I feel when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable we can find our sexual power.

 

So I guess for me the main thing is that self connection and awareness and then opening up the communication with your partner. Of course it can be intimidating at first and you'll probably giggle and be a bit nervous but I think thats all part of the charm!

 

I hope this is helpful!

Alan Watts does some great talks on sex, repression, symbolism and religion !