Posts from — June 2010

Boobed

There have been a few occasions when at a bar I have been talking to a woman and after the conversation she brushes by me with her breasts as she is walking away. As in full breast contact with me while there is plenty of room to maneuver. Since my cup size does not allow me this type of contact with another woman easily I am left wondering: is this common or intentional, like a ‘wink’? Am I missing an opportunity? Or is my imagination making a ‘boob’ of me?

It can be hard to know if a woman likes you.  My imagination can get me into serious trouble, so I’m a big fan of using your words to find out if she’s interested.  However, there are times when just aksing, “are you into me?” might kill the mood a bit.  In those instances, I’d use context clues.  Things to consider:

1.  Where are you when the alleged boobing occurs?  If you’re at a straight cowboy bar, it’s possible she’s just drunk and sloppy.  If you’re at a lesbian-only matchmaking dance party, she just might be coming on to you.

2.  Did you feel that “spark?”  Chances are, if you felt something, so did she.  This isn’t fool-proof, so be careful you don’t become the cocky, creep stalker at the bar, but if you’ve got a spark combined with unnecessary boobing, there’s a good chance she’s interested in you.

3.  As an athletically-built lady, I understand that you might not be able to reciprocate the maneuver without pressing your entire body against hers.  But is there some other body part you could use?  Long, flowing hair?  A little ba-dunky-dunk?  You might be able to determine her interest level with an equally unnecessary physical display.  Just be careful not to whip her in the eyes, or hip-check her.  You might want to practice at home or with friends.

Or, you could just use your words.  I mean, either way, really.

http://www.365awesome.com/2010/06/the-dogs-of-pompeii/

June 30, 2010   No Comments

Switch-hitting

Once upon a time, I was dating a girl and she asked me, “do you switch?” And I replied, “no, I’m a righty.”  Thinking I don’t switch hit, or throw with my left hand. I don’t think that was the answer she was looking for. What exactly did she mean by “switch”?

Kunfoosed

Dear Kunfoosed,

What you are likely suffering from iss an over-used sports metaphor.  Lesbians are big fans of softball.  Many will use softball terminology when talking about sex.  For instance, tops can be referred to as “pitchers” while bottoms can be referred to as “catchers.”  Women who do both are considered “versatile.”  This is equally true for gay men.

What your girlfriend was probably asking was whether you consider yourself a bisexual.  Depending on the context, “switch-hitting” or “playing for the other team” are terms often used by lesbians for women who sleep with men, either in addition to sleeping with women (switch) or exclusively (other team).  Women playing for “our team” are lesbians.

Be careful, though.  If you are hitting on your softball coach, or any softball coach, and you tell her you’re a pitcher, you just might find yourself out on the mound – probably not the mound you were hoping for – getting line drives pounded at your head.

June 20, 2010   1 Comment

Pride Candy

Kristin discusses the how-tos of throwing candy at a Pride parade.

June 16, 2010   No Comments

Pride

It’s about Gay Pride parades.  I find them (okay, the three I’ve seen) rather…distasteful.  Now, I know a lot of gay people, and I like most of them, and I think they’re normal people and whatnot.  But I have to admit, when I see what’s on display in the Gay Pride parade, my visceral reaction is “what freaks.  If I had children, I wouldn’t want those people near them.”

I am a rational person so I grasp that the sorts of people who choose to put everything out there (I don’t mean the fact that they are gay, I mean really inappropriate costumes and vulgar pantomimes) in the middle of 4th Avenue in broad daylight don’t represent all homosexuals any more than, say, Joe Francis and his ilk represent heteros, but still.  It seems to me that if the goal of the gay community is to be accepted as mainstream, those parades are a really bad strategy.

What are your thoughts about this?

June is Pride month.  Happy Pride, everybody!

Right on cue, I received two frequently asked questions about Pride.

Here’s the short answer:

Every day is straight pride day.  Once a year we want to celebrate our entire community and its splendid history.  Well, some of us do.  Others of us want to hide away the people in assless chaps.

And here’s the long answer:

It seems to me that there are at least two things going on here.  First, the overtly sexual nature of the celebration, and second, the perceived agenda of the community.  Let’s take them one at a time.

Agenda

I know we seem pretty powerful, but there’s really no master plan here.  The community is incredibly diverse.  We have some national organizations, and some pretty great state ones, too.  None of them speaks for the entire community.   Not even for the majority, I’d say.  We have vastly differing views on what the desired end result is, and how we should get there.

Some people and organizations think we should “mainstream.”  That we should make sure that everyone knows we’re just like everyone else.  That our sexuality doesn’t define us, and that we’re more than who we love.

Others believe that sexuality is such a definitional piece of who we are as people that it makes us fundamentally different, and that the differences in our lives should be celebrated and made visible in every possible way.

Pretty much everybody else believes it’s a combination of these things.

Some people think we should use legislation, some think law suits.  Others think protests and picketing and direct action.  Still others think we should do nothing other than live our lives.

So when it comes to the strategy behind Pride celebrations, I’m not sure there is one.  They’re now commercial enterprises, run by for-profit companies.  But there is a history to them.  I’ll get to that in a minute.

Sexuality

When you have the reaction that you wouldn’t want your kids near the people in the parade, what is it that you’re reacting to?  I hear you saying that it’s not, necessarily the gayness.  So, how would you react if it was a parade of straight people wearing really inappropriate costumes and performing vulgar pantomimes in the middle of 4th Ave?  In broad daylight or not.  Would you have the same reaction?  I have a sense that you would.

I think that’s important to note.  It’s not the gayness that’s troubling to you, it’s the behavior that you wouldn’t want your kids around.  It’s the overt sexual behavior (maybe its “deviant” nature?) that is uncomfortable.  Once we’re there, we can talk about that, and not about the fact that it’s gay.

Because for the people who object to the fact that it’s gay people in the streets, there’s not a lot I can say.  Here’s the thing.  I’ve said it before.  It’s not the leather daddies that make people most uncomfortable with the gay community.  It’s the gayness.  It’s the gender-bending, the girls wearing ties and the man-on-man kissing.  I don’t think that’s what you’re objecting to here, though.

I’ll tell you, I’ve been to some pride celebrations where I was shocked at the overt sexuality.  The assless chaps and banana-hammocks.  Usually it’s the SM or leather communities that have made me most uneasy.  The GLBT community is already considered abnormal, so why flaunt our most “fringe” elements?  I’ll get to that in a moment, too.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Italy over the last year, and it’s been funny to have my friends there tell me how uptight and puritanical I am.  Sexuality is something that is bubbling right at the surface here.  It can be unnerving just walking down the street to have people look at me in an overtly sexual way.  I come from a culture where that’s not something you do on 4th Avenue in the middle of the day.  Maybe in a club at night, but not all the time.

So I can understand being uncomfortable with the over-the-top sexuality on display at Pride.  Out of context it’s a little alarming.  But there’s a history here.

History of Pride

For those who aren’t up on their gay history, here’s the story of where Pride celebrations came from.  I really think the background on this is helpful.

So, in the 50s and 60s, the gay community had it rough.  There were groups dedicated to proving that homosexuals could be assimilated into the rest of society, as “normal” people.  This was a challenge, as gay men, afraid of being outed, were being entrapped by police officers in city parks (one of the few places they could go to meet each other), and lesbians and drag queens were being strip searched at bars (one of the few places THEY could go to meet each other).

In many places, it was illegal for a woman to be found wearing fewer than three feminine articles of clothing.  But, the only way to prove whether someone was wearing men’s underwear , even to prove if she was a woman, was to have her undress.  Publically – or not.  Just going to a bar, or expressing gender in a way that was comfortable was dangerous for a queer person.  There was no real, safe way to meet other queers, and no, real, safe way to express homosexuality.

The early “homophile” groups engaged in pickets.  Quiet ones.  In suits and dresses, and white gloves.  Finding it important to “fit in,” they adhered to strict rules, removing anything that could be seen as offensive or abnormal.  Not everyone in the community agreed with this strategy (we never do), but the pickets went on for a while.  There’s a great documentary, “Gay Pioneers” about the movement at that time.  I really recommend it if you can find it.

Something changed radically the night of June 28, 1969, in the middle of a raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.  The bar was known as a gay bar, the only one in town where men could dance together, and was frequented by the most marginalized parts of the community:  queens, hustlers, homeless youth.  The parts that nobody wanted visible.  Raids had been happening more frequently.  Tension was building.  When men were asked for their identification, and women were escorted inside for gender checks.  Somebody said, “no.” Then someone else did the same.  For the first time.  A police officer pushed a drag queen.  She hit him with her purse.

The bitch hit him with her bag.

And that was it.  It erupted into a riot.  Things thrown, police attacked, fires lit.  The riot continued the next day, growing from 100 people to 1000.  It continued a week later.   Wikipedia has a great post on this, detailing the whole thing.  It even has a map of the bar.

Stonewall was immediately something important to the community.  A rallying cry that told us we could stand up for what was important to us.  That the most marginalized would fight for all of us.

An early homophile organization, the Mattachine Society, published this in its newsletter about the Stonewall, and  those who fought there.

It catered largely to a group of people who are not welcome in, or cannot afford, other places of homosexual social gathering…. The Stonewall became home to these kids. When it was raided, they fought for it. That, and the fact that they had nothing to lose other than the most tolerant and broadminded gay place in town, explains why.

I’m not a fan of violent protest.  I am a fan of standing up for what is right.  And I love that queen for swinging her bag (though I wish she’d kissed the cop instead).  When I read this on Wikipedia, I teared- up:

Beat poet and longtime Greenwich Village resident Allen Ginsberg lived on Christopher Street, and happened upon the jubilant chaos. After he learned of the riot that had occurred the previous evening, he stated, “Gay power! Isn’t that great!… It’s about time we did something to assert ourselves”, and visited the open Stonewall Inn for the first time. While walking home, he declared to Lucian Truscott, “You know, the guys there were so beautiful—they’ve lost that wounded look that fags all had 10 years ago”

So Pride is important.  Beyond the commercialism and the binge-drinking, it’s a declaration of individuality.  It’s a nod to the street kids and the hustlers that said, “no.”  It’s a thank you to the queen with the purse.

Does everyone in the parade know that?  Hell no.  Are they looking for a good time?  Yes.  A chance to be their most outlandish self?  Maybe.  The first time I marched I was scared.  Would my family see me on tv?  Would this ruin my political career?  I made sure I wasn’t in a position to be photographed with a partially-naked, or body-painted person, just in case.

I was also exhilarated.  I’ll tell you I get a thrill every time I march, every time I watch, every time I hear the rumble of the dykes on bikes.  And I tear up every time I see PFLAG marching with their kids; church congregations marching in rainbow colors.  Our communities are all diverse.  We all have marginalized segments that are told to be quiet.  Once a year, the gay community embraces itself.  Fully.  And publically.

I often get the question, “Why does the gay community have to march?  The straight community doesn’t have a ‘Straight Pride parade.’”

No, the straight community doesn’t have a parade once a year to declare its sexual independence.  The straight community has the mainstream media to do that every day of the year.

Here’s a challenge for everyone:  take one day and notice every sexual thing that you see.  Look at the ads in magazines, the billboards, the tv commercials.  Look at the books and the movies, and the sitcoms you watch.  Consider what’s on the news, and how many people you hear talking about the date they went on last night.  And consider how many of those things are presented in a heterosexual way, whether overtly or not.

It’s enough to make just about anyone want to put on assless chaps and dance in the street.

Thanks for the questions, my dears.

June 11, 2010   2 Comments

Butch dikes…please explain. I’ve known and worked with a few, and I view them as another man. But, when it comes to the lesbians that love them….what’s the difference between a very masculine woman and a slightly effeminate man? Other than the obvious plumbing?

Thanks for the question, Carl.  Before I start, this is a good time for me to remind everyone that I’m not an expert, per se.  I am a lesbian, but I don’t have a degree in gender studies, and I’m not a doctor of psychology.  What I have to say comes from my own experience, or the experience of friends, when noted.

Let’s take a minute and flip the script.  Is there a difference, for you, between being married to a woman or a flamingly effeminate man?  Even someone who dresses in women’s clothes?  Someone with long hair and a soft body?

The plumbing is pretty important to me, and I’d wager it’s pretty important to you.  What we’re talking about here, though, more than sexuality, is gender norms.

I’ve said for a long time that it’s not the sleeping with people of the same sex that gets the gays into trouble, it’s the messing with gender norms.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “which one of you is the boy?”

For me, the answer has always been, “neither,” but the fact that I keep getting the question shows that there’s an expectation that a relationship will have a male-acting partner, and a female-acting partner.  Even if both partners are the same sex.

Let’s break down your question:

I’ve known and worked with a few [butch dykes], and I view them as another man.

Do you really?  Or do you view them as capable workers, equal to doing the same job a man would.  Do you work in a field that is traditionally dominated by male workers?  Women in those types of jobs, whether gay or straight often act in a manner similar to their male equivalents, either out of physical necessity, or out of social necessity.  Women doing construction work will develop the same muscles as men, and it wouldn’t make sense for a female construction worker to show up to a job site in a skirt.  Even long hair can be a safety concern.  Equally, it’s a heck of a lot easier for her to relate as “one of the guys” than to be seen as the wife or girlfriend or secretary, or anything secondary to her male counterparts.

Even in law school, women were generally and directly instructed to emulate men when interviewing for jobs, inasmuch as we should lower the pitch of our voices – but not too much – to appear stronger, more masculine.  (The lesbians, however, were instructed to become a bit more feminine.)

But, when it comes to the lesbians that love them….what’s the difference between a very masculine woman and a slightly effeminate man? Other than the obvious plumbing?

I think that you actually hit the nail on the head.  The obvious plumbing is the difference.  It makes all the difference.

You see, I want to be with a woman, physically.  Even if that’s with a strap-on and a pair of motorcycle boots.  When it gets down to brass tacks, it’s the plumbing that matters in the sexual part of the homosexual relationship.  In the emotional part of the relationship, it matters, too.  But even if the gentle, tender emotional side of a woman is something I might be able to find in a man, it wouldn’t be enough for me.  I would still want to be with a woman.  And a woman who sees herself as a woman.

Gender expression can get a little sticky, because there are so many variations that can occur.  What does it mean, exactly to be a woman?  What does it mean to act like a woman?   Does it mean having long hair?  Wearing dresses?  Cooking and cleaning?  Having children?  Does it mean tending a garden, and liking to knit.  Does it mean having large breasts and a big collection of shoes?

Some women like wearing suits, and some like wearing skirts.  Some like ties and some like scarves.  We are as different as any group of people o this planet.  Some women identify as “butch” because they feel most comfortable in their skin when they’re wearing work boots.  That makes them no less a woman than those who prefer the term “femme” and a case of lipstick.  It doesn’t change their gender – just their gender expression.

For example, I have short hair.  Sometimes extremely so.  I also play softball, wear fairly androgynous clothing, love a good pair of motorcycle boots, and enjoy knitting as well as gardening and cooking.  Most of my friends would say that my expression tends to the butch side, though I think I’m darn close to the middle.  My head is turned far more often by girls with short hair and jeans hanging on athletic builds, than women in skirts and heels.   But that’s not the case for everyone.  We all have different tastes – for ourselves and for the women we’re attracted to.

I think there’s something generational going on, as well.  The butch/femme dynamic seems much more common in older generations – that is to say older than me.  For a long time, there have been no real visible role models for gay people.  Books and movies and popular culture have been devoid of our presence, except in specific, formulaic ways.  So we had to figure out what it meant to be in homosexual relationships outside of any real community.  It makes sense that we would emulate our parents, our grandparents, and everyone we saw portrayed around us.  It makes sense that it would be more accepted for two women to be together in a familiar-looking situation.   If most relationships consist of one male partner and one female partner, it’s not a far leap to say that there are two definitions of a lesbian:  one male-acting, one female-acting.

It’s clear, however, that things have changed from a binary definition of what it is to be a lesbian to a nearly completely open definition.

I had it easy, really.  Yes, I grew up in Idaho, which was not the hotbed of lesbian community that you might expect, but I still had people like Martina Navratilova, and Ellen, and a few other women to look to.  And gay-straight alliances started popping up when I was in college.  In a safe environment, I was able to explore what a lesbian relationship might look like for me.  And I quickly discovered that it wasn’t a butch/femme dynamic that interested me most.  My definition was softer, more fluid, as were the definitions of many of the women around me.

And now, the youngest generation of queer kids not only explores what it is to be gay or lesbian, they also explore what it is to identify as a man or woman, or as both or neither.  Each day.

Again, this is my experience.  The butch/femme dynamic is so cliché, and such a part of the psyche of the lesbian community that some people have careers based on it.  It’s a handy shorthand, and a punchline, but in the end, a woman gets to define herself in whatever way she likes.  And no matter what she wears or how she acts, the expression of her gender makes her no less a woman.  At least, in my eyes.

June 9, 2010   2 Comments

If lesbians use and like toys such as dildos and vibrators, why don’t they like a real live penis? I’ve experienced both and a real penis is better. Usually.

Curious George,

This is a frequently asked question, for sure.  And the answer may require some people to go look at kittens instead.

My general rule in answering these questions is to ask the person asking the question to flip the script.  That is to say, reverse the question and ask it of yourself.  So, let’s try that here.  I’m assuming that you’re a straight woman, or that you prefer sex with a man.  That said:

If straight women like penetration with a penis, why don’t they like penetration by a dildo – from a woman?

As you’ve identified, there is a difference between the two.  Your preference is for a penis.  My preference is for a dildo.  And for a woman.  That’s all.  It’s not that I don’t like penetration.  It’s that I like sex with a  woman, and everything that comes with it.

June 9, 2010   3 Comments

I know that you are a voracious reader. But….doesn’t it get old to be constantly reading about heterosexual love in 99% of all the fiction out there? I know I read the occasional gay love scene with detached fascination, and realized that it must be the same for you, only in EVERY book.

Well spotted, Heather.

The short answer:  Yes, it gets old.  More than that, the lack of authentic GLBT stories in literature, movies, television and pop culture generally make it really difficult for GLBT people to identify with the images of our community.  The vacuum of positive images and role models can make us cling to the caricatures and clichés presented as our lives.

And that can be very defeating when, as a teenager, you are told that you will either be a spinster, a bull-dyke, or die a hideous death.

The long answer:

Earlier this week, a friend of mine posted about a piece of lesbian fiction that will be coming out this month.  In it, she referred back to a book called, “Sweat,” one of the author’s earlier works.  It was like reading about an old friend.  I flashed back to high school when my girlfriend and I would pull the book out from under my bed and read it hungrily, finding in it a sense of belonging.  A sense of understanding that we weren’t alone.  That we weren’t freaks.  That there were others like us:   softball players who liked girls.

There were also the tattered copies of Rita May Brown novels, and Martina Navratilova biographies.  Books that were legitimate enough to buy at second-hand book stores without completely freaking out the people I was shopping with.

I live in Portland now, where I can get my hands on any kind of lesbian-centered literature, history, or humor I want.  But it’s still not mainstream.  I have to look for it.  Like a book on Malaysian cooking.  It’s there, but it’s not something I run across.  It’s rare that I pick up a book from the bestseller rack and find that there’s a lesbian sub-plot.  (Who am I kidding, it’s rare that I pick up a book from the bestseller rack at all.)

And it’s not just in books that this is the case.  In movies, and in television; in any part of pop culture, the existence of a homo plot is out-of-the ordinary.  It’s something to comment on.  Take a look at the reaction to “Brokeback Mountain”.  From protests, to discussions of whether the roles would ruin the careers of the actors who took them, the movie was totally controversial, even though it had more nominations than any other movie at the academy awards that year.  Had it been a movie about a heterosexual relationship, it would have been no big deal.  But it was out-of -the-ordinary, because it was two men.

In the rare instances where gay sub-plots appear, I find myself, and a lot of other queer folks, clinging to them like lifelines.  Take ER.  I didn’t watch ER.  Until Kerry and Lopez got together.  It was tender, and passionate and beautiful.  In the time that they were together on the show, every conversation I had with another lesbian included a discussion of the program.

And how about Ellen?  And Rosie.  Even when they weren’t out, we were watching.  We were supporting.  We were waiting.  Waiting for the funny inside jokes that they might make.  Supporting them so that they might find the courage to give us the out-front role models and popular images that would make our existence more normal.  I still won’t shop at JCPenny, because they pulled their marketing dollars from the Ellen show when she kissed another woman on-air.  I remember the parental warning that flashed on the screen before the show and during every commercial break – a great black screen with stark white lettering, letting the country know that it was okay to protect their kids from the deviancy, the depravity of two women expressing physical love for each other.  From me.

Ellen’s show (the sit-com) didn’t last very long after she came out.  Neither did Rosie’s.  Yes, Rosie has gone off the deep end, and Ellen had that whole unfortunate Anne Heche thing.  But still.  ER went on just fine.  “Brokeback Mountain” was a run-away success.  “Boys Don’t Cry” won the Best Actress Oscar.

Anytime someone tells me about a “great” gay film, I ask them two things:  “Does anyone get brutally murdered?” and “is it a ‘dick saves the day’ movie?”  Because it’s usually one of the two.  I know it’s not terribly politically correct, but it’s the sad pattern that I’ve come to expect.  Either a tomboy is “saved” by a man who is able to see through her rough exterior, or a beautiful relationship between two gays is cut short by some horribly tragic event:  the “God hates fags” scenario.  These plot formulas allow for the mainstream  telling of realistic gay stories, followed by such brutality that it makes clear what happens to those who choose such a lifestyle.

For example:  ER:  After a lovingly treated depiction of a lesbian relationship, Lopez, who is a firefighter, dies on the job.  Boys Don’t Cry:  after I watched the main character raped and beaten to death, I made my mother promise me that she would never watch the movie.  Brokeback Mountain:  a beautiful movie that ends with the not-so-subtle insinuation that, after years of pining away for his one, true love, one of the characters is clubbed to death by his father with a tire iron.  Fried Green Tomatoes:  Marriage interrupts the love of two women, but it’s a violent one, so there’s an excuse for the women to love each other.  Until one of them dies a long, painful death.  Boys on the Side:  Bad relationship results in death of a husband, a beautiful, tortured love between two women, and the AIDS-related death of one of them.  Thelma and Louise (I know this isn’t overtly lesbian, but it’s emotionally lesbian, and follows the pattern):  Bad marriage, rape, revenge, dick saves the day (but it’s Brad Pitt, so it’s almost excusable), betrayal, and a flying leap off of a cliff.

There’s a great movie I’d recommend putting on your NetFlix queue:  The Celluloid Closet.  It’s seriously good and looks at the images of queer people in the movies, since the days of the silent film.

And then there’s Will & Grace.  For a long time I wouldn’t watch this show.  Because, although it showed gay people, front and center, it showed us a caricatures of ourselves.  It was okay to make super-gay jokes, so long as they came from a flaming, queeny man or his chemically-dependent fag hag.  Or in the form of a totally unhealthy co-dependent relationship.  For too long, the only way gay men have been able to be accepted on tv or in the movies is as super-effeminate portrayals of themselves.  They exist as the joke itself, non-threatening and clown-like.  I got over it and watch the show now.  But I still have a really hard time with the movie “The Bird Cage”.

So, yes, it’s frustrating that GLBT life isn’t often portrayed in books and movies and television, and even when it is, it’s not usually my life.  Or anything close to it.  It’s frustrating that, in college, I spent hours and hours looking through the foreign film sections of Blockbuster and Hollywood video trying to figure out if there were lesbian themes in the subtitled movies.  It’s frustrating that, growing up, what I thought it meant to be a lesbian was to be a leather-clad, buzz-cut butch, or a clandestine married woman who would get clubbed to death while suffering from cancer.

It’s hard enough to develop an image of yourself as a powerful, healthy individual.  When surrounded by images that reinforce only the negative, it can be incredibly defeating.

I remember being 16 and  telling my family I wanted to record the 1993 March on Washington because of its cultural and historical significance.  I crouched in front of the tv and marveled, chin in my hands.  They were probably able to write it off as part of my unnatural my love of C-SPAN.  I watched and re-watched that 6 hours of VHS footage, looking for images of myself in the performers and activists that filed across the stage.  Real people who looked nothing like the clichés I’d been clinging to.

Fortunately, we’re moving forward.  Ellen has a new show.  And she’s out all the time.  She makes gay jokes on American Idol.  Good ones.  Funny ones that are smart and challenging.  Adam Lambert got more votes than anyone else on the show.  Country music stars are coming out.  Our stories are being told more fully.  And that’s more than a luxury.  It’s more than nice to have a book to read at the beach.  It’s important if we are going to reverse things like teenage suicide in the gay community – something that’s 5 times more likely than for straight teens.

It’s important that the lifelines we’re clinging to are real.  And that they lead us to a place of empowerment.

June 9, 2010   2 Comments

What about breast play? Are breasts considered erogenous enough to have sex with?

This came from a comment on the what is sex? post.  I think it merits its own topic.

Again, if you can’t handle it, please look away now.

The short answer: I’m a lawyer, so I like tests.  I use this “two part test” to determine whether something is sex:

First:  Based on what you’re doing, is it possible for one of the parties to come?

Second:  Is it the intention of the parties involved for someone to come?

If the answer is “yes” to both, then it’s sex.  Other than that, I’m not sure.

So, is breast play sex?  It depends.

The long answer:

I was considering this question as I headed out on a bike ride this afternoon.  I immediately thought of the time a couple of years ago when I was body surfing in Hawaii.  I saw a hornet drowning out in the water.  So, I scooped it up and brought it back to shore.  On my return to the ocean, one of his brothers, clearly unaware of my recent heroism, swam into my bikini and stung my nipple.  Uncool.

Now I’ve been known to manifest some freaky shit.  And I wondered if it was folly to be thinking about the bees.  But I quickly dismissed any concern and got on with my ride and deeper consideration of the breast play issue.

But Oregon bugs have pride.  Not to be outdone, 1/4 mile from my destination, a flying ant flew into my bra and bit me.  Repeatedly.  He bit my nipple.  He bit my areola.  He bit my breast.

(Now, I know what some of you are thinking.  “Wait!  Maybe it will swell!”  Very funny.  It hurts like hell.)

So, let me say this:  are breasts sensitive enough to have sex with them?  Y-E-S.  The icepack on mine is proof.

Like the “what is sex?” question, though, I’m not sure it’s so straight forward.

Is breast play (fondling, both digitally – that’s hands, people – and orally), by itself, sex?  I think it can be.  Does it matter if it’s clothed or naked?  As Tribe of One so eloquently stated, “If someone comes, it’s sex.  I don’t care how many clothes there are.”  I agree.  And, in my experience, breast play can lead to orgasm.  As can tribbing.

But what if nobody comes?  What if it’s not the intention at all?  It’s certainly sexual.  Foreplay is sexual.  Kissing can be sexual.

I agree with Amanda that orgasm isn’t the magic bullet that will answer the question.  Any of my girlfriends can tell you (and there aren’t that many, so be cool), I’m an endurance sport.  So if I sit on a woman’s face for an hour and don’t get there, it doesn’t mean it’s not sex.

More and more, I’m thinking the answer to these questions really does depend on intention and personal view.  For me, digital sex is sex.  For some of my straight friends, it’s not.  For other of my straight friends, it is.

The takeaway for me is that it’s really important to talk about these things.  Maybe not on a blog that your mom reads, but certainly with a potential partner, a current partner, and with yourself.  Thanks for the questions!  Keep them coming!  (Yeah, I totally said that.)

June 9, 2010   3 Comments

Let’s talk about sex

WARNING:  This post contains explicit language.  If you don’t want to think about me in compromising situations, please go look at pictures of kittens.

Questions about sex are the ones asked most often.  They’re also the questions that don’t get asked.  They linger under the surface in the too-long silence after I tell people I’m willing to answer any questions they have about the gayness.  It’s kind of like in elementary school when we all wanted to ask, “how does an astronaut pee if there’s no gravity?”  Nobody wanted to be the one to put their hand up, but we were all thinking it.

Just last night I was asked, “when does it become sex?”  My answer then was, “don’t worry, honey, we’re not there yet.”   Still, it’s a good question.

Like in the heterosexual world, the answer to this question depends on the person.  Just ask Bill “is” Clinton.  Here’s the answer for me:  Penetration=sex.  Also, oral sex=sex.  Also, direct clitoral stimulation=sex.  Let’s break that down.

Penetration

Penetration with tongue, fingers or toy (dildo, etc) is pretty clearly sex in my book.  (Don’t worry, I know there are all sorts of questions out there about this topic.  I’ll explore this more on its own.)

Oral sex

If your mouth is on my clit, or your tongue is in me, it’s sex.

Direct clitoral stimulation

If your hand, mouth, or anything else is on my clit without something other than a safety material in between, it’s sex.

That’s what it is for me.  Believe me, honey it leaves lots of room for spirited disagreement.  For instance, does orgasm=sex?  Damn good question.  What do you all think?

Also, I want to be sure to say that I don’t want anyone using this post to argue with their significant other that what they did wasn’t cheating.  Cheating and sex are two totally different, if related, things.  One of my friends, when defining sex asked the question, “if your husband was doing that, would you consider it sex?”  Careful there.  If my husband was kissing another person, I’d consider it cheating.  I wouldn’t consider it sex.  Also, if my husband was kissing me, I’d wonder what the hell kind of messed up dream I was having.

June 9, 2010   14 Comments

Hearts and Minds Remix

A few years ago a local paper asked me to write a piece discussing the status of Domestic Partnership legislation in Oregon.  I was super excited by the opportunity.

I’d been working in the field of GLBT politics for a few years through some really tough times.  And I felt like I had a voice – something interesting to say.  I’d been writing on the topic for a political blog, discussing the ins and outs of what was going on with the legislature, the electorate, and the community.  And I’d been asking questions.

Ah, the questions.

It seems that people don’t always like it when you ask questions.  But I’m rather inquisitive.  And sometimes sarcastic.  In truth, I think the paper wanted me to write a piece, because I’d stirred up some stuff with my questions about the importance of language.

What they got instead was a discussion about the importance of humanity.

GLBT people have great love and compassion in our lives, regardless of how you label it. We would have to in order to keep our relationships intact through things like constitutional amendments and second-class citizenship. When we share that love we truly touch the hearts of others, because we share with them something fundamental—our humanity.

So here’s my question:  How do we move forward, in a context where the lives of GLBTQ people are considered political and language around those lives is measured, weighed and analyzed to such a great extent?  Is it more important that we consider our words carefully, or that we share our lives fully?  Or can we do both and remain authentic?

June 9, 2010   3 Comments