Sunday, 24 April 2011

What happened to our Balls?

I've been watching one of my fave programmes on TV at the moment on catch up today, The Crimson Petal and The White, a drama series set in Victorian London based on the 2002 book by Michael Faber. The programme caught my eye as its main character 'Sugar' is a prostitute working out of a well known East End brothel and is quite frankly, totally hypnotic to watch.

For those who don't know or have access to this programme, the series outline is as follows (quote verbatim from BBC website):

"Sugar is a sexually adept prostitute whose reputation for sensuality precedes her; alluring and highly sought after she ‘never disappoints’. Her intelligence and wit sets her apart - self-educated and ambitious, she’s able to engage in heated discussion whilst satisfying her clients.

Having spent years at the mercy of men, Sugar yearns for a better life and craves the freedom to make a living using her brain rather than her body. When not at work Sugar pens a dark, gothic novel in which a prostitute enacts revenge on all the men who have wronged her - a theme that has threatened to seep into reality.
Mourning the recent death of her friend Elizabeth, beaten by two punters, Sugar is determined to flee the hell that is St. Giles. With the arrival of William Rackham, this escape becomes a tangible prospect - and one that Sugar is keen to exploit."

The programme also features actors of the calibre of Richard E Grant, Gillian Anderson and many more and is incredibly well cast in my view. Mrs Emmeline Fox, played by Shirley Henderson has a mission in life to 'rescue fallen women' - and my word don't sexworkers know that there are many still keen to do this even today. In doing so, and in ignoring the reasons perhaps more evident in Victorian times (poverty and lack of opportunity for the working classes etc), they then choose to ignore the personal advocacy of sexworkers, when most of us it's fair to say are more than able to speak for ourselves.

Now what intrigues me about this programme is its timeless topical focus on what makes a woman lose her mind, her virtues, or most sadly for me, her very essence, intelligence and strength. The woman playing Rackham's (the man who takes Sugar from the brothel by paying for exclusive 'rights' to her) wife is portrayed as slowly losing her mind in a way that is utterly comprehensible I'm certain to most women watching. Exploited and patronised by both her husband and her (extremely repellent) doctor who is systematically abusing her in private, separated from her child as being an 'unsuitable' influence, denied her feelings and her 'uncooperative' points of view (i.e one step up from a placid doormat) she begins an extremely well acted  descent into a living hell.  Sugar, originally cast as a spirited, alluring and intelligent prostitute is seen slowly losing her 'fire' as she becomes further and further enmeshed into the 'normal' lifestyle of her patron. It's almost agonising to watch; a bird of prey tethered and controlled until the role of the wife and the prostitute begin to become indistinguishable.

As stated above though, it's not only men who separate us into the Freudian categories of virgin/whore, oh women we have become most adept ourselves. We make women responsible over and over again for the destructive consequences of the male gaze, in fact, so good have we become at labelling ourselves I fear, that the cost is undoubtedly very high in the loss of our fire, our chutzpah, our very balls

Virginie Despentes writes a whole book on the subject in her title King Kong Theory, lamenting the loss of female 'masculinity' and the corresponding loss of the male expression of femininity, both so apparently threatening even in today's society that people are beaten so severely they are left traumatised for daring to express those parts of themselves in public: see Maryland attack of this week in Macdonalds store where staff and public not only ignored this vicious beating but saw fit to film it instead!! (WARNING: This video is very ugly and could trigger - please be aware and accept no less than a public outcry - already the 'victim' is being reported a 'prostitute with previous criminal damage convictions' and what a disgusting and thinly disguised attempt at justification that is....).

I can almost not bear to watch the inevitable decline of Sugar in the Crimson Petal, it leaves me feeling so sad to bear witness to this all too familiar 'taming of the shrew', ironically the woman playing Ms Fox in this series, the 'saviour' of the 'fallen women' is also playing the role of Kate in the current theatrical version of the Taming of The Shrew!

My call - Ladies of Ill Repute, guard against the loss of your 'ill reputations' for fear that you become some hideous version of the Stepford Wife, our ambitions are surely far loftier than that!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Sex: What makes it great?

Having spent the last few evenings firmly entrenched in Anna Span DVDs, I've come to thinking about what makes sex great for women. I felt strangely empowered (or was it aroused?!) after watching Anna's productions, and given that I'm generally not at all shy about exploring sex and sexuality, empowerment on top of existing confidence can only be a good thing (though men may wish to run very fast in the opposite direction as my pussy demands more action!)

Having been fortunate enough to have had relationships that have allowed me to fully explore the 'darker' sides of my sexual expression,  has given me the opportunity to be much clearer about what I like and dislike in bed and find the voice to say so. It was most certainly the communication without shame that made these explorations possible from a starting point of fun, openness and courage; the courage to talk out our deepest, darkest fantasies free from shame. Initially of course there's always the fear of embarrassment or discomfort - what if I reveal too much? what if that confession is one step too far? what if judgment enters the playground and leaves me feeling the bittersweet aftertaste of the confessional? So many people are told that what they desire and feel isn't 'normal' but who gets to decide upon this? I know that when I first discovered a partner who could talk dirty and match my own levels of filth, my sigh of relief was probably audible in the next street!

Communication is key for sure but is that enough? As with any aspect of a relationship, getting to know one another's intimate secrets and thoughts takes trust and time, though obviously if the sex you are looking for is a one-off hit, then lust and instinctive attraction take over. Starting from the premise of a general question, e.g., 'what makes sex great for women', I wondered what the answers would be, so I asked about 30 of my girlfriends and their responses were as varied as the number of body types there are in the world. Here are the abridged versions of some of their/our replies, many of which were duplicated:

"women love oral - simple"
"being able to get really pervy and feel utterly loved no matter what"
"raw sex appeal and the feeling of control/lack of control depending on the person"
"ribbed condoms and a man who will stay down for as long as it takes...oh and a nice cock"
"the right drugs and a good imagination"
"double penetration!....and to be able to feel totally at ease so that I can go wild and lose all inhibitions with an unselfish lover"
"love, security and lots of squirting (female ejaculation)"
"talking about what they are going to do whilst doing it"
"start with a massage, free the mind and the body follows"

I have two teenage girls - what do we teach our young girls about sex, sexuality and their bodies? How do we counter mainstream values if those values are limiting at best or repressive at worst? My daughter has already experienced labeling as a slut just because she enjoys sex and is not afraid to get the sex she wants. To me, that sucks BIG time and makes me both sad and angry. Has nothing changed? False images of what it is to be a woman surround us daily, most often in the media and those magazines supposedly aimed at women and young girls, and this can so easily perpetuate a sense of lack, so how do we change their thinking and bring confident, sexually comfortable young women into the world? We keep talking.

Some of my most inspiring mentors have been sexually open, confident women; writers, porn stars, sex workers, dancers, strippers, campaigners and the like. Women I met at the International Conference on Prostitution in LA many years back now, women who first provided a platform for me to express the full range of my sexual experiences. Women like Annie Sprinkle, Carol Queen, Nina Hartley, Scarlot Harlot, Tracy Quan, Cheryl Overs; all inspirational fabulous women who have shaped who I am in some way or another, and here's to the many more I've yet to meet!

For me, what makes sex great changes depending on where I am and what I need in my life at any given time, however it remains true that many of us are afraid to talk about sex in the same way we may talk about any other aspect of our lives and relationships. Why is that?

On that note; what makes sex great for you? please come in and get some good juicy chat going ~ you know it makes sense!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Fetish or Fantasy?

This is an old post, however having recently revived my blog page after a long haitus during which I destroyed most of my internet presence and writing/photos (folly I know but broken hearts do strange things to rationale), I'm so glad to have found a few bits and bobs that I'd like you to indulge me in re-writing and posting some of those lost pieces.

When does a fantasy become a fetish? Do men fetishise sex more than women? Are the sexes really programmed that differently or is this just another common myth? We have most certainly struggled to express our masculinity which in turn has a massive impact on men's true ability to comfortably express their femininity.

We hear told that women want hearts, flowers and romance and are often happier with a cuddle than a really good fuck, whilst at the same time we’re told that men are simple creatures, easily pleased and able to separate sex from love, but is this the truth? Are the genders really so different in the expression of our deepest desires and urges? I know that there is a huge part of me able to separate the two but it is rarely given free rein; subconscious fear of judgement?

When in bed with a lover a while back, I began to complain that I didn’t want to talk dirty but wanted to just “make love” for a know…just you and me, simple, without all of the fantasy. I was pouting and complaining in a lighthearted kind of a way, but underlying this comment was a bit of a weekend ‘whinge’;

“Our sex life has become too pornified! Can we just make love please, never mind all of this fantasy?!”
His reply: “so are you suggesting you don’t enjoy our ‘play’ as much as I do?”

My first response was to state that yes, I thought perhaps he was more into it than I, at which point he called me on it. “But you have all kinds of fetishes in relation to sex, just as many as I do”. “No I don’t!” I responded a little too quickly. Simple. I denied it! And he called me again, this time giving examples of some of his ‘fetishes’ and offering me examples of what he considered to be some of mine. I began to contemplate whether this felt true, were these examples he was offering me really fetishes?

I asked for his thoughts on why men (most of the men I’ve known at least) seemingly enjoy a different kind of sex to women (as in fucking over love making). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not painting everything with a generalised brush here and I know there are cross-overs, however there also seem to be certain patterns I’ve noticed. Are men really so much more straightforward about it and able to separate sex and love? Why do they seem to shy away from what women refer to more as ‘love making’? Why do so many women seem uncomfortable getting the sex they may want and simply demanding a good fuck without being labelled a 'slut' or a 'whore' (both of which are labels I'm happy to embrace unless they're being delivered with physical threat).

His theory was that men are generally very task and object driven in life, and that this makes them feel very grounded. In sex they are no different. There is a ‘task’ at hand, an objective and a goal as outcome; to orgasm and ejaculate. He suggested that the more ‘touchy-feely’ approach often favored by women makes men feel uncomfortable as it’s too intangible, too much weighted in feelings and the subjective as opposed to actions and the objective. I found this fascinating.

We continued to talk - when does a fantasy become a fetish? He mentioned several of what he thought of as my ‘fetishes’. No, I disagreed; I fantasise about that but it’s not a fetish. There’s no obsession there (in the first example or two he offered at least). Then he mentioned two more, one not even sexually motivated, and it was here that he finally found an admission. Yes, I admit to having a fetish…about shoes, and one for the smell of my own panties after a long day at work, which I find totally erotic. There may well be more.

We discovered that for both of us, a fetish usually creates a physical trigger and is inherently related to the body, whereas a fantasy often remains happily placed within the realms of the imagination, or the mind. So for example (using shoes as it’s more convenient to illustrate my point), when I’m shopping and see gorgeous shoes I have to seriously battle not to stop, touch them, sniff them, try them on and admire them, and then fight even harder not to buy them when I cannot afford them or don’t actually need them. I become physically stimulated and this stimulus is directly connected to my sensory awareness and the erotic drive in me. I lust after them and feel driven to fulfill this fetished urge. When I’m wearing certain shoes, I become the fetish object and I feel powerful in good heels. By contrast I have a big doctor fantasy yet I can happily enter a GP’s surgery and not get triggered into physical response (inappropriate to begin touching the doctor!), therefore I consider this a fantasy rather than a fetish. Were I to get a Pavlovian response to the examination table for example, or to the stirrups, then I would call it a fetish.

Men, it would seem, have many more fetishes than women, or at least my man has many more than I do! He offered examples of all of his male friends and the things he/they fetishise about; panties, hosiery, air hostesses, cheerleaders, white knee-high, socks, cunnilingus, spanking, and so much more, yet for me, though I may enjoy playing with some of these things, for the most part they remain ‘fantasy’ and do not invoke a physical response or any kind of mildly obsessive behaviour.

Does this difference (if you agree there is one) between the sexes hold true for others? Is it bound to cause problems? Can it be understood and accepted thus creating a more peaceful way of being in relationship? What would it take for couples for whom there is a vast chasm between their mutual understanding and desires to feel comfortable with each others sexuality? So far I have found about 4 things I’d consider having a fetish for whereas my lover hadn’t stopped formulating his list before it was time to get up!

Do you have a fetish? Are you able to express it/indulge it? Do you have to keep your fetishes secret? What do you consider to be the main difference between fantasy and fetish and do you believe there is a gender distinction in evidence with this?

I've re-considered some of this since separating from the lover in question, and talking recently with a male friend, we discovered we were both equally desiring of balance in our sex life; a bit of 'sensuality. coupled with a bit of lustful hard fucking seems to be the perfect balance, regardless of gender. I'm also more inclined to think that the line between fantasy and fetish is far less clear than that given in my examples above. I could quite happily feel a physical trigger to my doctor fantasy and were social norms different, indulge in it following the response of my clearly wet pussy!

Now that's undeniably perhaps ultimately it's all just a matter of self control?