Can I allow my body nurture and reward while being submissive?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of the things that I ask of my body. Life, like I’m sure it is for many of you, is hectic at the moment; it’s the middle of winter, we’re on a deployment cycle, parenting a teenager, I’m in my last 2 months of collage & I’m working on establishing my own private practice. It’s like I’m jumping from busy to busy; with little in the middle to nurture and reward my body for all the things I’m asking it to do right now.

And I’ve started to notice a similar pattern in what I’m asking of my body sexually too. I ask it to settle into the intentional and very directed distress that is kink and beyond a shower and sleep I don’t do very much to nurture and reward it for the immense pleasure it affords me (and my husband).

Is it even acceptable to see your body as being deserving of nurture and reward? It’s seems so like the over used idea of ‘me time” (something I’ll admit I do indulge in) and yet so unlike the common theme of “after care” in kink spaces, it’s indulgent – like me time, but not something that I’ve ever thought about negotiating within my dynamic. On the one hand, I feel like this is something that I need to start doing – after all I’m choosing to engage with the intense sexual behaviours that we use, those which I know distress, through bruises and marks as well as exhaustion and mental “fog” while, almost immediately asking my body to perform normally and without hesitation those things I need to be adulting (as my teenager would say). But on the other I feel that this would add another layer to the erroneous idea that submission cannot coexist seamlessly alongside everything else that makes up the whole of my life. That I’d be somehow buying into the narrative that one must clearly divide their “kink” self from their “normal self.

But I think my apprehension towards this comes from one of the most prolific problems that I have with the way we depict surrender and submission. The idea that we are, inherently and by virtue of some personality architype, altruistic. Selflessly giving of our bodies and our sexual labour; without need of return or recompense. I have many “shame stories” that frame the way I experience myself and my body and I think that this “not enough because I need reward for my surrender” would be in my top three! I feel, somewhat, less than, simply because I cannot and will not abdicate my need to feel as if the surrender I offer him and the ways that I allow my body to be used in our erotic space are worth more than a pat on the head and a “good girl” and more than the just knowing that he is satisfied.

I wonder what it would be like to raise this at the submissive munch I often attend. I’m picturing the faces of those regulars; the ones who are seen as the knowledge base of submission, and I’m wondering how they would react to the idea of nurturing and rewarding their bodies for what they ask of it. And I’m not seeing anything I like! And that doesn’t surprise me.

I exist within a community that, seem to me, to have little time for anything that doesn’t foster strength in submission. It feels like anything or anyone who meanders into thoughts that force them to question the choices and needs will soon be brought back into line. That the status quo and the kumbaya singing must be preserved; at the expense of the individual; be it something self-centred as this or something with wider ramifications like speaking of the sexual violence you have experienced. The slightest hint of weakness and you are cast aside, with your ability to “play with the big kids” debated and judgment soon rendered. See, to be, confidently and consciously within the submissive space may be seen and sold as an empowered step by some, but the truth seems to be it is something quite different.

Are our bodies deserving of reward and nurture; considering what it is that we are asking of it?

Can we still claim entitlement to play with the big kids if we recognise that our bodies might need more than the satisfaction of knowing that he got what he wanted?

And are we allowed to admit that we might not all be the submissive superhero’ capable of all sorts of kink indulgences without corrupting the submission is strength message?

Advertisements

Pleasure and not practice.

There seems to be a growing trend, or maybe I’ve just not noticed it before, which revolves around the idea of sex being something that needs to be practiced. It’s like there is this objective goal – squirting, multiple orgasm, larger toys, longer penetration, in which the sole focus of our sexual experiences revolve around perfecting their objectives.

While I’m all for goal setting and navigating our relationships in particular directions. I’m finding it really hard to get my head around this idea of practicing. We practice the piano. We practice baking macarons. We practice parallel parking. We just don’t need to practice sex. Gaining a better understanding of our bodies and those of our partners and figuring out what comes next for us in the bedroom, is one thing. But using our erotic spaces; masturbation or sex, as a space within which we practice until we obtain an imagined sexual perfection – I can’t wrap my head around the idea. Or where the motivation for this come from.

Sex is not an experience measured in results. Now, I’m sorry if this dints some male ego (okay not really sorry). Sex is, well should be, about us creating physical intimacy that allows us to form connection and explore sensations and pleasure. PLEASURE NOT BLOODY PRACTICE!

What exactly are we supposed to be practicing? And where are women getting their ideas of what to practice? I’m asking because I had an interestingly frustrating conversation with a couple of women who, while telling me that practice is necessary, became, seemingly mortified when I suggested that they grab a printout of what a vagina looks like, a mirror, and for them to start exploring their own bodies. How is it uncomfortable for a woman to explore her own body but it’s assumed normal to use your body to practice until sexually perfect?

And what happens when this perfect doesn’t eventuate? What happens to her self-esteem and her confidence in herself as a capable sexual being? What happens when a woman practices and practices – let’s say masturbating so that she can squirt, and this never happens? Where does she take her body next, if she has failed? If her body just can’t do it.

There is a lot about the common narratives weaved about the female body and sex that needs to be changed. Positioning the male body as the sexual normal and seeing the female body as deviating from that norm, has to be number one. But maybe number two has to be destroying this idea that perfection, be it some sexual behaviour or body experience, as being the reason we have sex or masturbate.

Why can women not fuck for pleasure! Why must our cultural obsession with perfection and achieving the next best thing infest our sex lives? Is this what sexual liberation for us really is? Practicing sex until our bodies perform on command, recite the perfected recital to the applause of our sexual partners?

 

I’ve got a kinky teenager … & you sir can stay the fuck away from her!!

My kid is fucking amazing! She is the most creative, passionate, empathetic, emotionally intelligent, beautiful teenager you will ever come across (yeah, yeah mother bias). And she is kinky!

Well her assumptions about sex certainly fit into the realm of kink – trust me I’ve seen the porn she watches and seen the Fanfic she reads! She has asked every question you can imagine – “what are safe words?”, “why do people get tied up?”, “how do you know that something is okay when it looks like it’s hurting?” “how would I know I’m doing something okay?”, how would I be able to say no?” “why does some pain feel good?” You name it we’ve talked about it!

(Keep in mind I’m writing this as a parent of a teenage girl, navigating the world of sexual literacy from a very feminist orientated position)

My approach to sex with her has been simple: I know she’s going to have sex, lots of it, good and bad. And as her mother it is my “job” to give her everything I can in order to, when the time comes, empower her to make the best decisions for her!

See, I’ve taught sex education to 15 to 18 year olds. It was my second job out of college. I was thrown into the deep in, Independent religious and private Christian schools, with know-it-all monsters who thought the world ended at their school yard fence! I had to explain, within the boundaries of “abstinence” focused education how the hell the human species fucked! It’s no wonder I lasted less than a year before I was moved into another position!

So when I read another Fet users post questioning how we “fit” exploring teenagers into BDSM I managed to get a third of the way through the replies before I was seeing red!

If you think “teaching” kink to teenagers is something that the “community” should get involved in – step away from the children! You’ve missed the point completely about how to engage teenagers with sex in a healthy, constructive way that enables them to make the best decisions for them!

A teenagers brain is A full of all these new feel good, make me horny chemicals and B so far underdeveloped that they cannot possibly ascertain the realities and consequences of their choices!

You & I have a very adult perception of the world build from real life experiences. We can see, feel, taste, hear and smell the world as it is for us because we’ve had enough experiences to understand the context of what it is we are encountering. Teenagers, even the most mature ones, do not have this lived experience. And it is because of this that adults, no matter how well-meaning your intention may be, have to stay away from teenagers! We cannot and do not experience the world in the way that they do. We cannot possibly create empathetic, authentic and safe spaces for these teenagers to experience the world as they need to. And the reality is they need to construct their own version of kink – however that eventuates, in order to construct the relevant knowledge base about themselves in order to make informed decisions about who they are, where they are going to position themselves in the wider social sexual landscape and how they are going to formulate the structure of their affectional and sexual relationships today, tomorrow and into their sexual experiences through their life span.

Our teenagers are information saturated, and yet they are, for the most part, digitally illiterate. We just do not teach our kids (especially our girls) how to navigate internet resources; heck I didn’t even learn how to do it until I began university! The internet, for all intents and purposes, is one big advertisement; a one stop shop of domains to sell us the way that we are meant to be. Once it was the creative genius of Coke-a-cola Amital who persuaded us that our identity was connected to the product we drank. Now it’s Facebook, Youtube and Google that are convincing us of who we are. We are not taught how to navigate the myriad of crap that constitutes information and advice. If we, as adults, find it difficult to navigate the web without being drawn into charlatans. Snake oil salesmen and down and out crackpots how do you expect kids to do it! They may have the information (can we please stop referring to Wikipedia as a value source) but do they know what to do with it? Nope!

“Adults need to provide information”. No! Just because you’ve reached a point in your life where the law considers you “an adult” does not mean you have automatically earned to right to do anything! And you certainly do not have the right to go anywhere near my daughter to tell her a damn thing about sex or kink! SSC, RACK, consent, safe words – for crying out loud! We can’t even come to a consensus about what these actually mean (meaning is not definition) but you think you can provide this as “information” to the next generation?

What we can do is VALIDATE and NORMALISE these teenager’s desires. We can acknowledge that, for some, intense sensation and structured relationships are normal. We can validate that there are genuine feelings of arousal when we encounter certain images or thoughts. But that is it!

We do not, ever, apply adult concepts into teenager’s stories. The stories they are telling us, the way that they are expressing their curiosity and arousal must be created by them. We cannot put our language into their stories because our language, often, has very different context for us than it does for them!

Sex, for the most part, is entirely abstract. Most teenagers start to explore their sexuality – their conceptualisation and performative narratives, well before their clothes come off! They may have very legitimate desires to experience rope or pain while they are tucked safely in their beds with their pyjamas on, but in real lived, highly sexual experiences with another person, maybe not so enthusiastic.

That is not to say our girls are fragile little flowers that need protecting! Take your paternalistic bull shit and shove it where the sun don’t shine! I don’t want to discount what I saw as very real concerns with positive intentions. But lets get honest here! Adults, for generations, have been hand ringing about what the youngers’ of the species are up to in the sack. It’s not new, it’s not going to stop and we are just the next lot of old farts creating the next lot of “won’t someone please think about the children”. Again, I accept that the intention was well meaning, but that doesn’t change the fact that adults telling kids how to fuck is so ingrained into us that we aren’t actually doing anything radical!

Our kids know what they are doing – they are just doing it their own way! My daughter and the teenagers like her do not need you to come in and “save” them. To protect them and to guide their sexual discoveries! Think back to when you were a teenager for a second. Would you have want adults your parents and grandparents age (my kids grandparents are only in their 50’s, so yes, we are talking their grandparents generation) doing what you’ve said you want to do? I’m guessing not!

How about this.

We clean up what constitutes kink, get rid of all the messed up adults who use kink as a cover for anti-social behaviour, misogynistic attitudes, fear of genuine intimacy, vile intentions and unhealthy sexual performances. How about we (those of us who are genuinely kinky) take back the idea and recreate it into something that is a legitimate representation of who we are.

That way, when sex, however that eventually manifests for my daughter & those teenage girls like her, becomes something which they begin to experience, when she has to start making decisions regarding how she is going to formulate her relationships, she wont have to navigate the same fucked up shit that we did?

You want to create a kink for teenagers? Try fixing your own adult world first!

 

 

Do not validate my feminism.

By now we’ve all had the pleasure of reading David Hon’s piece explaining (or is that mansplaining) why he won’t date a feminist.

At first I was like most of the commenters, I read his words, laughed and thought ‘thank god men like him will never want to date me’ and reminded myself to remember that I’m supposed to hate men. But then I looked beyond his simplistic rewording, straw-man positions and an intentional rejection of women’s subjective realities and tried to (I really did) understand what his objecting to dating women who are feminists really is all about.

But I couldn’t!

He states that he couldn’t date someone who saw his genitals as giving him advantage that he doesn’t actually have, because believing in privilege takes romance from a partnership to a power struggle. Which I’m assuming creates one of the complex advantages for women that don’t exist for men – because rape culture doesn’t exist. These advantages are “deeply personal” as opposed to political issues. I think he’s trying to play the “personal is political” mantra of feminism but using in it create the illusion that, what he calls “anti-male or anti-female”, are not as we claim the complex result of social inequity and oppression, but rhetoric rooted in a previous bad experience that are also cultural opinions that reflect our own world views.

He concludes by stating that “Maybe one day, men and women will stop trying to eliminate the lines between us and realize it’s the differences between the sexes that make romance, family and love an enjoyable experience”.

And I have no idea what on earth his actual complaint against dating a feminist actually is. If we take his premise that feminism (anti-male rhetoric) is just a consequence of bad experiences, then don’t we have to apply the same to his anti-feminism (anti-female rhetoric) is just a consequence of his own bad experiences?

But the more I sat with this and stopped laughing at what I see as a pathetic argument from a man who can’t date women who are feminists because they create bad experiences for him, I realised what was a much larger issue for me.

I’m not concerned by his choice not to date feminists (although I do have an issue with him being given such a public platform to share this), there wouldn’t be many women who are feminists who would want to date men with his world view.

My problem with the way that this piece comes across is that his rejection of feminism is important.

The assumption that feminists need their feminism validated by outsiders; especially men. I can’t quite put my finger on why this one piece made me connect to this, but something in the way he positions feminism as an obstacle to authentic and functioning romantic relationships between men and women. An obstacle to be overcome or used as a means to reject women. If we are wanting to be seen as desirable/datable/fuckable then we have to accept that our feminism – however that may manifest itself must be put up to interrogation.

Here’s the thing. I don’t need my feminism and the perspectives of the world it gives me validated by any man. Be that my husband. My father. My brother. My boss. A total stranger writing a poorly thought out, click bait opinion piece.

I know that there is a wage gap. Not just because statistics tell me. But because women tell me they experience a wage gap. And I believe them. I know there is a culture in which the complexity and criminality of sexual assault is routinely minimised – on campus and elsewhere. Not just because research and anecdotal evidence tells me. But because women tell me of their own experiences of rape culture. And I believe them. I know that the systematic and structural expectations, assumptions and rules that come together; created by and for a very particular demographic – men, is real. Not because I’ve read generations of sociological theory and quantitative data that demonstrates a difference between the ways in which males and females experience and/or are punished by the world. Not because I’ve listen and responded to the experiences of other women in this system. But because I’ve experienced it myself!

My personal and my political are one in the same. My political position influences almost all of my everyday decisions. And yes, my feminism has and does influence the decisions I make in my intimate and domestic spaces which will disqualify me from a male gaze centred ideal of desirability. I understand that.

But what I do not understand is this need for men to be seen as some kind of  gatekeepers of our feminism. That if they accept and respect what it is that creates our feminist worldview then we are more valid and valued than others – especially when it comes to sex.

Needs and Wants

Needs and wants. Or should that be needs V wants? We are told constantly that wants are disposable, unimportant and even selfish. But what if this thinking is wrong? What if needs and wants coexist? What if we can’t intentionally dissect one from the other? What if our wants are just as important to our decision making as needs?

What if we started thinking a bit like this …

 

NEEDS – human

WANTS – individual.

Let me explain.

When people think of needs they think of Maslow, and while his hierarchy is a well establish idea Maslow’s hierarchy is not about creating identifiable needs in order to distinguish them from wants. Maslow’s theory is all about what motivates us as human beings. Maslow define motivation as people seeking fulfilment and change through growth. His five (now seen as eight) stages of needs are what it is we need in order to fulfil our potential as human beings. That is if we want to achieve a state of feeling contentment or dare I say it, happiness, one must be able to meet certain needs. In order to be the best person one can be then we need the means to meet certain psychological, biological, safety, belonging, love, esteem and self-actualisation needs.

Most assume that this is somewhat of a ladder type endeavour. That we all start down the bottom and move through each stage with a forward only momentum. That is, only when the fist is meet can we move to the second and when the second is meet can we move to the third and so on. There are many arguments against this ridged structure and I’m in agreeance. I believe it’s entirely possible to move through the hierarchy in more of a jump on jump off rather than a forward only momentum.

I’m going to use shelter here, but I’m pretty sure this would apply to other areas of our lives too. Shelter is one of our primary biological needs. So a house satisfies that biological need (the most basic of our needs). But it satisfies more than just that one need. It gives us a sense of physical safety – fences, locks on doors, guard dogs in our yard, all of which make us feel more than just existing within shelter. We turn houses into homes. We make them ours and they make us feel like we belong somewhere. Our shelter is satisfying our need to feel as if we belong.

But this isn’t what I wanted to write today. What I want to talk about it how wants are directly connected to our needs in a way that, I believe, makes it all most impossible to detach one from the other.

Shelter, it’s defined as one of the most important needs we have. As a human being I have a need to live within a shelter. But as a human being I could live within a shelter in many varied environments. I could live in a base camp on Mount Everest. I could live within the research centre in Antarctica. I could live within a refugee camp in Syria. Human being live in these environments in simple hut style shelters, in very clinical, industrial style accommodations and in primitive thrown together tent cities make from what can be found and scavenged.

But I don’t want too!

I want to live in Australia. I want to benefits and the lifestyle that come with being an Australian citizen. I want to live in the area that we live in because it’s central to things that are important to us; jobs, schools, sports, friends, family. I want to live in a home where I can access clean running water when I turn on a tap. Where I can have a hot shower and turn on the TV. I don’t need indoor plumbing – human beings throughout the world live in shelters that don’t have access to running water and manage. I don’t need electricity – again so many people live without it, but I want to be able to turn on a switch and have light and power. I want heating in winter and cooling in summer. How many people have no air conditioning? It’s not a need so much as a want.

My wants make me who I am beyond just being human. My wants are important to the way I live my life as me. What most of us think of wants are really just the means of meeting our needs. You can’t meet your needs without taking what you want.

And wants aren’t dreams, they aren’t the things and realities we lay awake thinking about at night. Wants are what is obtainable. What it is we have at hand in order to satisfy our needs.

Maslow created his hierarchy of needs as a means to understand motivation not to subjugate wants. He wanted to identify the things that motivate us to be the best person we can be, it was never about taking something In order to get something that was assumed more important.

Needs and wants aren’t interchangeable, because they are two different things. It can’t be one against or one over the other if they are not the same thing.

Wants are the means to satisfying your needs. You. As in you the individual. Its how we create our sense of individuality, of self and of creating the comfortable that comes with being me.

So next time someone tries to tell you wanting that ice cream isn’t the way to satisfy your need for food just laugh. Eat the damn thing and remember you’re you. Always. Even when you’re eating ice cream.

Saftey is never an acronym – no matter how convincing they may seem.

Risk aware, personal responsibility or safe and sane? Spend any time in any kink space; online or in real time, and the inevitable safety debate will emerge. Safe, sane and consensual might be tried and true but the SS and the C are too literal and/or limiting – depending who is on the soapbox. Risk aware makes us know (although who tells us what it is we need to know is still not settled) what needs to be known. And personal responsibility is victim blaming – ooops I mean making sure you own your own shit, even when you didn’t create this shit in the first place.

Look, I don’t give a shit – personal responsibility or otherwise, which bunch of letters you claim, it’s actually quite irrelevant to the bigger picture of what it is that kink is. And dare I say it a smoke screen used to stifle any deeper conversations about the practicalities of safety.

The desire to feel safe is not imagined nor is it exaggerated. Those of us who do this thing called kink, just as every other human being, need to feel safe. To feel safe is to be able to walk into something with the understanding that, as far as I can tell any potential undesired outcomes will be minimised and any unknown outcomes will be address in the most effective way possible.

To be safe, not just to be aware of risk of harm, but to have a genuine feeling of safety is only achievable through action. It’s through the choices that we make that we are best able to remove and respond effectively to the outcomes of what we do. In all reality we cannot remove every possibility of encountering harm. We all have seat belts in our cars, we don’t drive while intoxicated, we drive to the speed limits and we stop at red lights. Yet you could be as sober as the day you were born, wear your seat belt and drive to the conditions within the letter of the law and you can still be killed in a car accident, Accidents do really happen.

Safe is not awareness. It’s not researching on line, it’s not buying a book written by a self or community proclaimed expert, it’s not a workshop or a munch. Awareness is more than knowledge. Yes, knowledge is a must. But knowledge is not understanding. Understanding comes into the equation when you take what you know and apply it to the what it. You take all that you know and you put it into practice.

How is this going to actually affect me?

What do I need to do to ensure that, if the consequences of my/our choices are undesired what is the next step?

What do I know about myself – through past experiences or expectations that could create something that we need to address?

I love being flogged – give me a long, slow flogging on my back and I will sleep like a baby, and just between you and me the last time he flogged me I fell asleep. What I didn’t know was that I can’t play first thing in the morning. I need to, at the very least, drink water before he does anything to me. How did I come to know this? I fainted. He woke up in the mood and something went wrong with my blood pressure, I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything for 10 maybe 11 hours. Nothing could have changed what had happened. I fainted. He made sure I was safe, wrapped me in a blanket, got some water and toast. And then when I felt up to it got me to my GP’s office to make sure it wasn’t anything else. At each point of this experience I felt nothing but safe. Even though I was not aware of the risk of harm his choice had, even though I was on the receiving end of something that was unwanted and unpleasant I was safe

We have been together four years, know each other intimately. Have great communication, and there was nothing to show me that the outcome of what has been done to my body dozens and dozens of times would be any different this time. Unfamiliar or undesired outcomes – including harm, can happen no matter how aware we are of ourselves and what it is we are doing.

By acknowledging that sometimes things really do just happen. By accepting that safe comes from more than awareness. When we remove the acronyms and focus on creating genuine safety I think we can begin to offer some more practical strategies into our understanding of safe kink.

I’m starting to learn that changing behaviours and attitudes don’t come from how to, step by step guides and checklists. They are too simplistic and can’t address the intricate difference and needs that come with the nuance of human sexuality.

So the next time you’re thinking about trying something new I want you to do one thing.

Put the entirety of yourself into the interaction and ask yourself this

Is this going to cause me death?

Is this going to cause me disability?

Is this going to cause me disease?

Is this going to cause me distress?

The 5 D’s are something that we use in health care provision to measure the outcomes of the choices that need to be made for our clients.

Death and disability are pretty obvious – and please no arm lobbing strawman arguments!

Disease – not just STI’s. While the common safe sex message is still relevant to kink, we need to take this a little deeper within our physical and mental health. Is something that I want to do going to interfere with any illnesses or medication? What about skin irritation or infection? A UTI? Food poisoning or an allergic reaction? Sunburn? Is this going to affect your mental wellbeing?

Distress – Is the thing that I want going to, in anyway, interfere with the way I need to live my everyday? Stop you from going to work or affect your ability to do your job? Pay your bills? Having healthy relationships with the other people in your life?

These questions allow us to understand our realities within the expectations that we have and to step back and address or change anything that may be relevant to the situation. I believe that if we stopped focusing on acronyms and arguing the measure of safe and sane (which by the way has nothing to do with our mental health and everything to do with our legal competency) and started merging what it is we want with who we are as individuals then we can truly have healthy, safe and satisfying sex lives and relationships.

The tools we use and the intensity with which we use them are irrelevant here. Whether you are using a knife or handcuffs, a latex hood or a blindfold brought from Kmart, if you are able to walk into something with the understanding that, as far as you can tell any potential undesired outcomes will be minimised and any unknown outcomes will be address in the most effective way possible than you are actively; through your actions rather than an acronym, trying to keep your sex life as safe as possible. And as accidents can and will happen this is the best that we can achieve.

 

Well, can she?

Can I and still be …

How many times have you caught yourself wondering if you can still be a feminist and engage with something you enjoy?

I know I have!

Last year I had the pleasure of seeing the fabulous Roxanne Gay while she was here in Sydney. Her Bad Feminist talk inspired so much within me. But the biggest thing that I came away with was the understanding that I am a woman who is a feminist. A feminist yes but a woman first. A woman who is just a person, a person who likes and needs things that others may consider unfeminist – by their standards & their standards don’t have to be mine!

The other thing I’ve learned over the last few months is that this “can I” question is nothing more than an imposed expectation that we justify ourselves and our choices.

I’m still up in the air about the idea of choice feminism. One the one hand, I’ve made choices about my life that directly create the way that I experience the world and I want them, and the millions of different choices that other women make to become a significant part of the overall feminist discourse. I think the way that women come to the decisions we make is important in both a personal and political level. We, as humans, are social creatures and we do look to others to find identity and validate who we are. I see the push to silence “choice” as nothing more than a case of imposing some imagined feminist hierarchy upon us; that tells us when, why, how and what we can claim and discuss as a part of feminism.

At the same time I understand that choice, for many, is a privilege and one that for so many doesn’t exist. I try to be mindful of the benefits that I have for being nothing more than me. I am, in many areas of my life, privileged. From having accessed an education that has allowed me to become literate to gaining tertiary qualifications that have enable to express myself articulately and with confidence. I am straight; so in my country that allowed me the privilege to marry the man I love. I have access to technology, the internet, private health insurance, healthy food and clean water. There is a lot that just exists for me that doesn’t for many; and truth be told some days I am totally blind to all that I really have!

So while I understand the hesitancy of the word choice being used in feminist discourse I believe that we need to start engaging with the, I guess you could call it social commentary, that revolves around the choices that are being made. In particular this incessant pestering women to discuss and justify the choices that they are making – in ways we don’t for men.

For me, having engaged with this both with the choices I have made and through the media (both traditional and social) constantly asking the ‘well can she’ questions, I’m coming to see this as nothing more than a carefully executed distraction technique. A way of controlling and containing the way that women are engaging with outward social spaces to discuss their experiences. It’s another way that the outside is able to define women rather than addressing the issues and expectations (that may not necessarily be being meet) of women.

It’s nothing more that incessant casual sexism.

It has nothing to do with me as an individual making the situations I live with as positive, meaningful and as healthy as possible with the resources at hand and within the applied limitations. It has nothing to do with asking women real questions in order to find real solutions to real problems. It’s got nothing to do with placing the experiences and expectations of women into the forefront of conversations and decisions about the experiences and expectations of women. It’s nothing more than a way to force women to justify themselves.

I’m not sure why this exists. Maybe there isn’t one particular reason for it. But having sat back and thought about the way that I am experiencing this I keep coming back to one of the most poignant elements of misogyny; the need to lump women into this monolithic caricature rather than seeing women as a collective of individuals – who identify with the gendered label of women.

Woman. It’s something that I love being. But what I am getting well sick and tired of having to exist within is this inability – or is it just straight up unwillingness to understand that women find genuine comfort, desire and satisfaction in an infinite number of ways.

Let’s REALLY talk about pee or not for a moment.

Who would have thought seven women could create so much angst? Seven women, a bunch of research authors and one really badly written sensationalistic headline has had the world of sex all hot and bothered the last few weeks culminating in the hashtag #notpee.

The whole conversation surrounding this article has got me thinking about a lot; sexology research methods, how asking questions connects with being sex positive, how do we really talk about orgasm, media literacy and do we always understand what we are talking about. Human sexuality is such an infinite area of discussion and how we study sex; through sexology is such an interdisciplinary field of academia there has to be a legitimate place for all research right? To genuinely understand the entirety and complexity of human sexuality we need to be constantly creating hypotheses and evidence, questioning, observing and building a better understanding of what sex is, one little bit at a time.

As women we need to talk about sex. We need to keep creating safe spaces for women to talk about sex on our terms and be heard. When a woman says the fluid her body expels during sex does not look like, smell like or taste like “pee” than I believe her, I have no reason not too. But does this not mean I can’t go and look further into what is being discussed? By writing what I’ve written here am I really negating these other women? By wanting to understand a bit more and pass on what I’ve found am I dismissing the physical experiences of women, removing their sexual agency, ignoring real pleasure felt by real women?

NO.

When I first read this article I really couldn’t understand the fuss. It’s another study done within urology to try to better understand the physiological workings of the female body. But then I started reading a bit more and, I think I understand the issue, but I could be wrong.

It is true there is very limited research on the inner workings of our bodies ‘down there’ outside of reproductive medicine/science. Misunderstandings and misconceptions about the organs and structures of the female body, attitudes about women and really bad social policy – otherwise known as misogyny, have limited not only the interest in furthering academic knowledge of women’s bodies but the publication and discussion of what is known. There is some, justified, scepticism of science/medicine and women’s sexuality. The pathologising of women’s sexual desires and the absolute shaming and condemnation that has tared women for generations is, and continues to be real and science, or the lack of it is partially to blame.

But here’s the thing, we now have access to this knowledge in ways that we never have had before. The internet has opened up the world of science to those who wish to explore it. This, alongside the spaces women are creating to explore and discuss sex in the abstract and the lived experience open up more social capital for us, in the world of sex! These relationships, networks and avenues of gaining and sharing knowledge have to be empowering and beneficial for us. Knowledge is power not just power for me or power for you but power for all women.

So as my, somewhat limited, contribution to the #notpee conversation I’m going to try and add some facts to the picture. Looking at the biology of what is being discussed does not, in any way shape or form, minimise or discount the lived experiences of women. By adding this stuff to the conversation I am not trying to shut down or prove wrong the women who have shared what gushing is to them. While I can and do quite freely acknowledge that both science and medicine is still male dominated and that the study of women’s bodies as sexual (outside the confines of reproduction) is relatively new, I don’t see how adding biology to this conversation can be harmful.

I don’t have the answers, I wish I did. Sex for me is becoming a larger and larger jigsaw puzzle that, every time I think I’m starting to understand, I find something else I can add to my ‘need to figure out’ list. But what I do know I can share and I can reference. So here goes.

 First things first;

Understanding the biological aspects of sex can seem quite simplistic and in a way it is. By focusing on the what is we can get a better picture of the what could.

Understanding the biological aspects of sex is not meant to be some kind of checklist in which we compare our own experiences. While this knowledge allows us to better know when something isn’t feeling right or that something may be wrong and in need of further checking (please do no consult Dr Google!) it can, in no way, be representative of every experience every woman will ever have. It’s just not possible to do so. Observing rather than experience sex isn’t the way to go. You become some what of a spectator to your sex life, never fully being able to feel what you are engaging with. This is really not healthy and minimises the pleasure and the entirety of experiences for yourself and your partners.

There are often extreme diversity in each of our subjective experiences of sex, that this seemingly simplification that biology provides cannot and does not explain the intensity, beauty and capacity of sex.

Once again these are my own words (referenced) and my own understandings. I am not ‘an expert’; I have no big fancy letter combinations to my name. I am a woman who has an interested in challenging and changing the way we talk about sex.

So what is this wet stuff?

What are we actually talking about here? Well to really simplify we are talking about the physiological response in the central nervous system and the genital region that our bodies undergo during sexual arousal. But let’s pull this apart a little bit more.

 Gushing

Gushing (colloquially referred to as squirting) or a gushing orgasm during sex/masturbation is quite a common physiological reaction to sexual stimulation that more and more women are admitting to experiencing. While there is still much debate (as we’ve seen over the last few weeks) gushing is characterised by significant fluid elimination when either extremely sexually aroused or having and orgasm.

The reason gushing has become the ‘it’ topic is because of THIS study in which seven women who self identified as experiencing this gushing emptied their bladders and were stimulated to orgasm; either self stimulation (2) or with a partner (5). Each woman underwent a pelvic ultrasound of their bladder after urination, just before orgasm was reached and after they had experienced their gushing orgasm to measure the amount of urine within the bladder. Biochemical analysis was done on all three of the samples to assess the concentration of urea, uric acid, creatinine and prostate-specific-antigens (PSA).

The results showed that:

All of the ultrasounds done prior to orgasm for all seven women showed noticeable bladder filling.

The third ultrasound after orgasm showed that the bladder had been emptied.

Biochemically all three samples taken from all seven women showed comparable urea, uric acid and creatinine concentrations.

In the first urine sample from six out of the seven women prostate-specific-antigens were not found but in the second and third samples five out of the seven women had prostrate-specific-antigens.

Biochemically the fluid is urine – with noticeable PSA.

So what does this really mean?

That 100% of women, in this study, were seen to have a full bladder pre orgasm and an empty bladder post orgasm.

What does this tell me?

That the bladder is the only organ/structure within the vagina/vulva region which is capable of producing such quantities of liquid that is reported by women as occurring during stimulation and/or orgasm.

If we actually stopped and thought about it would we really be able to see that this is actually right? Let’s look at the ‘bits and bobs’ of the area I’m talking about.

Bartholin glands

Two ‘pea sized’ glands located in the labia minora of the vulva; these glands produce a clear fluid during the excitement phase of the sexual response cycle and not during orgasm (1) so “play only a small role in vaginal lubrication” (2)

.Basal Vaginal Fluid

In a non-arousal state the vagina is covered with a thin layer of basal fluid; essentially ultrafiltered blood plasma; water, some salts and small proteins. This fluid isn’t produced from one particular source but is a mixture of fluids from the entirety of the reproductive tract. (3)

Vasocongestion

During arousal increased blood flow causes significant swelling of the vaginal tissue causing increased ‘sweating’ “ultrafiltrate percolating” between the vaginal epithelial cells”, creating an excess of “clear, slippery and smooth lubricant”,(4) an increase of the Basal fluid constantly found within the vagina.

Urethra/bladder

The female urethra, as opposed to the one found in men, is, on average 4cm and is the tube which allows the contents of the bladder to be expelled.

Ernest Grafenberg M.D (the ‘father’ of the G Spot) wrote that the urethra “also seems to be surrounded by erectile tissues like the corpora covernosa. In the course of sexual stimulation, the female urethra begins to enlarge and can be felt easily. It swells out greatly at the end of orgasm. The most stimulating part is located at the posterior urethra where it arises from the neck of the bladder”

Greafenberg concluded that the “anterior wall of the vagina along with the urethra is the seat of a distinct erotogenic zone”. (5)

 Skene’s glands or the paraurethral gland

Located on the anterior wall vagina, towards the lower end of the vagina, these glands, sometimes knows as the “female prostate” ‘are considered to be the primary site of PSA secretion”; (6)

In women these glands are wrapped around the urethra (just as the prostate gland is in men). Interestingly, the position of these glands is where the illusive and highly debated “G-Spot” is said to be.

Finding traces of PSA in gushing is considered evidence (more, more, more and again in the conclusions drawn/arguments made in the most recent French study that the liquid is ejaculation and not urine. These paraurethral glands are of the same embryological origin as the prostrate gland in men and produce essentially the same PSA protein as is found in the prostate gland of men. Both this latest study and studies undertaken prior to it show that” biochemically, the fluid emitted during orgasm showed all the parameters found in prostate plasma” (7)

The theory goes that because the PSA produced in the male prostate is essential to producing sperm and allowing men to ejaculate that the same must apply to women.

The problem however, is that PSA is identifiable in both urine and blood samples and PSA can be found in many non prostatic tissue and fluids (8) including amniotic fluid and “breast tissue” (9)

PSA is identified in both prepubescent girls and women alike, studies have shown that between 38 and 78 percent of women (10) will have identifiable amounts of PSA (greater than 0.1 ng/ml (11) The current French study identifies 71% (five out of the seven) as having PSA in their samples; fitting within the assumed average of women having PSA in urine samples.

If PSA can be found in urine samples of girls who have not orgasmed and in fluid that has no connection to orgasm/ejaculation (amniotic fluid) than can this be evidence used to, somehow, prove that gushing is actually an intense orgasm producing a vast quantity of liquid/ejaculation?

One other question springs to mind.

The paraurethral gland in women is significantly smaller than the prostate gland in men; comparing a walnut to a pea here. If the prostate gland produces around 25% of the total fluid content found in male ejaculate; which only comes to a maximum amount of around a teaspoon/five millilitre, than the total amount of actual liquid produced by the prostate gland itself is relatively small about 1.25 millilitres.

This ‘up to a cup full’ (250 milliliters) of liquid that some women experience (and again I have no reason to doubt this at all) cannot, then, be made up of fluid entirely from the Skene’s glands. Going by the 25% total ejaculate content it would be, at most, 62.5 milliliters of fluid from the Skene’s glands and yet how can the smaller gland (in physical size) produce significantly more liquid?

I haven’t been able to find that answer.

Unlike men, “women are much more variable in their capacity for experiencing orgasm”.(12)  We all experience and perceive our orgasms differently but –––here’s the bottom line. Women find both the means to and the end of gushing extremely pleasurable. Women are in awe of their bodies, sexual partners are bewildered that they can help their woman’s bodies do that. This exists, it is real and it is wanted and this makes gushing; regardless of the overall biochemical makeup of the liquid, okay.

References

Grafenberg, Ernest MD. (1950) The role of urethra in female orgasm. International Journal of sexology.

Hornsteir T. Schwerin J. ( 2012). The biology of woman, Cengage Learning

Levin, R. (2003) The ins and outs of vaginal lubrication. Sexual and Relationship Therapy. Vol. 18. No.4.

Graziottin, A., Gambini, D., & Perelman, M. A. (2009). 19 Female sexual dysfunctions: Future of medical therapy.

Grafenberg, Ernest MD. (1950). The role of urethra in female orgasm. International Journal of sexology.

Efthimiou, et.al. (2012) Determination of the association of urine prostate specific antigen levels with anthropometric variables in children aged 5-14 years. International braz journal of urology. Vol. 30. No. 2 March/April 2010.

Wimpissinger, F et.al. (2007) The female prostate revisited: Perineal ultrasound and biochemical studies of female ejaculation. Journal of sexual medicine.

Diamandis, E. P. (1998). Prostate-specific antigen: its usefulness in clinical medicine. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 9(8), 310-316.

 Yu, H. Berkel, H (1999) Prostate specific antigen (PSA) in women. The Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society, 209-13

Efthimiou, et.al. (2012) Determination of the association of urine prostate specific antigen levels with anthropometric variables in children aged 5-14 years. International braz journal of urology. Vol. 30. No. 2 March/April 2010.

Schmidt, S., Franke, M., Lehmann, J., Loch, T., Stöckle, M., & Weichert-Jacobsen, K. (2001). Prostate-specific antigen in female urine: a prospective study involving 217 women. Urology, 57(4), 717-720

Bandcroft, J. (2009) Human sexuality and its problems. Elseuier Health Sciences.