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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Vulva Is an Ethical Slut?

I have been reading this book called The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities by co-authors Dossie Easton & Catherine A. Liszt. It is a guide for those who have ever dreamed, imagined or thought of having all the sex, love and relationships that they want.

Speaking from personal experience I have always felt dysfunctional in what I will call a 'conventional two person relationship' For a long time I floated from relationship to relationship with a lot of resentment and anger toward my partners, both sexual and emotional, because I was consistently placing myself in a position that I did not want to be, that is with one person exclusively. Far too often I would displace my wants, needs and desires because I assumed that they would not be well received or understood by my partners, but more importantly because I did not have the language or knowledge to express why I felt the way I felt. I have always believed in experiencing people organically, and allowing my relationships with people to develop to their natural points. This is not a new concept. It is evident when we look at all the people we surround ourselves with, we have non-sexual friends, best friends, funk buddies, people we have strong chemistry with, people we connect with on a spiritual level and the list goes on. Different people provide us with different experiences, life lessons and fulfill us in a magnitude of ways that I believe one sole person alone can not do. All those relationships function on an organic level between one or more persons, and I do not believe that just because I enter a 'conventional two person relationship' that I should have to limit, stop or sacrifice my organic experiences with others.

Having multiple relationships is often imagined and experienced as a bad and selfish thing and I can understand why. People can lie, cheat & hurt resulting in a damaging, abusive and dysfunctional relationship; but that is not how to have a fulfilling and nurturing relationship in any given circumstance! In the book The Ethical Slut, the authors talk about how to create an environment where you can work through feelings of anger, jealousy & insecurities to build happy and healthy relationships with as many or as few people as you want! Despite what some people may think it extends far beyond just having sex, my wants are to be able to connect with people on multiple levels whatever they may be, and to be able to share my mind, body, spirit and vulva in a way that I feel safe, comfortable, secure and self assured doing so. It takes a lot of energy to work towards building these kinds of relationships, but I am ultimately investing in my own happiness. I have learned that what you put into bettering yourself translates into your experiences with others! And who wouldn't want to be happy with those they care about?

I am not saying there is one kind relationship that works because we all want and value different things. But I know what is wrong is being in any kind of relationship where your own happiness, wants, comfort, safety and feelings are not respected. So invest in yourself and be selfish...in a positive way! Think about what kind of relationships, sex & experiences make you happy and work towards establishing them. Think broadly about what these words mean in respect to your life and how their meanings can shift. Better yet write them down so you never forget! Do all the research you can! I have to acknowledge that we all face different barriers in having the ability to do this whether they be internal or external so always keep safety in mind! I am taking the steps to redefine  monogaME means, looks like and how it is exercized by me. I am exploring how to respectfully establish relationships grounded in consent, communication and honesty where all people involved are given the space to voice themselves. I want my genitalia to be a happy and ethical slut!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Vulva Is a Feminist

I recently had the privilege of connecting with a wonderful young woman working for a feminist blog called Sexul vs Braza in Romania! The blog is used as an online platform to disseminate information and have conversations around bodies, sex, sexuality, relationships and sexual/reproductive rights for women by making accessible and relevant videos. I was absolutely thrilled to see how artistic mediums can be used to open up dialogues, and to see how other people outside of my immediate surroundings can relate to the vulva pins. So of course I had to jump at the opportunity to ask how she and her organization engage women in conversations about themselves and she so kindly allowed me to share her answers with y'all. So peep the brief Q&A session I had with her!

Q: Why did you think it was important to start/be a part of a feminist sex ed website?
A: There is almost no sex ed in Romania, and thus my home country has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Europe. There is no gender equality and no tolerance for the LGBT community. I grew up with no sex ed myself and spend years putting pieces together with regard to how my body works and how bodies work together. I also had interest in a video project after doing some theater in Germany, where I worked for a year as a teaching assistant. It's actually at my school in Germany where I first learned about sex ed as a school subject. I was also inspired by people like Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian. A few months after getting back to Romania, in October last year, we started working on the project. I am a feminist and wanted a comprehensive modern approach to sex ed. Being an independent project means we are in the privileged position of not having to compromise. 

Q: What is the web series about?
A: Our videos and articles cover questions about our bodies, sexuality, relationships, LGBT, teenagers' (sexual) rights, STDs, contraception.  

Q: How do you engage self identified women in discussions around sex?
A: Well, I hope I get your question right. We address ourselves to teenage girls, so our target are not women. However, we want to encourage women to share their experiences with us, because that would help the girls. We are therefore interested in doing a bunch of google hangouts with mostly young adult women, to talk about different topics. First on the list is menstruation and the whole dynamic around menstruation that was experienced as a young person in the family or in the peer group.

Q: What does a vulva mean to you, and how does it fit within the context of the web series?
A: I guess it is quite central, as we do have a feminist approach. We have a video about the anatomy of the vulva coming up, which is why we asked you if we could use your picture of crocheted vulvas to illustrate how they can be diverse (you can't exactly use photos of real vulvas in Youtube videos). Thank you very much for saying yes! Next we're gonna release a video about the clitoris. It's about a sort of conference where the clitoris is being awarded the Coolest Organ Special Prize :). So, you see, vulvas are important for us! 

I have to be honest, I haven't kept up with my Romanian...ever, but check out the web series V de la Vulva with a brief Tuly Maimouna feature! The video is used to make a point in showing the diversity of female external organs. Understanding and talking about bodies cuts across cultural and linguistic borders and we have a lot to learn from one another in terms of experiences and knowledge. We should aim to realize the value in our stories and see the benefit in sharing them with one another!