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Shame Hurts

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I’m generally pretty adept at not letting society’s women-shaming, body-shaming, sex-shaming attitudes bring me down. I surround myself with sex positive people, and since I work from home, I don’t encounter as many closed minded people as I used to. I hardly ever see my conservative family, so that’s not usually an issue. Shame still comes from at me in a general sense, but when it’s from ignorant people I don’t care about, it’s just an annoyance.

But when the shame comes from my Mom, it hurts.

I told my Mom about my blog early in its creation. It was probably a mistake, as I was merely stroking my ego (the blog helped me get a job, and that’s initially why I told her about it.) At first she was proud, and while the topic of sex toys isn’t her thing, she didn’t condemn it. We’d discuss it from a business standpoint from time to time, and she never seemed to have a problem with it.

That is, until I started posting nude photos. It started when she emailed me this photo of myself from my blog, along with a frantic “warning” that my images could be copied & posted on billboards and in ads. I saw this as a passive aggressive way of her bringing up my nude photography, said as much about it and that it hurt my feelings, and this was her reply:

Your posting of nude photos of yourself shows a lack of self respect, low self esteem and is really a selfish act , which could embarrass you and your family should these photos be copied and posted in the newspaper, books etc……. And you think I should be concerned about hurting your feelings? This selfish act of YOURS has truly hurt my feelings tremendously….do you really feel like this is what you have to do to get an online following? Isn’t your writing talent enough? Isn’t your photography creative enough without posting nudity?Can’t you sell something besides very initimate pictures of your body? I think you have many other talents, which should be used to get work, not your body.

First of all, I am aware that my posting nude images on the Internet results in a lack of control over the images (though they are copyrighted, and I post them at low resolution, so they can’t be easily posted to billboards, etc. Plus it’s illegal to post nudes without model releases & proof of legal age.)

The real issue here though, is that my Mom sees nudity as shameful. She was fine with me talking about using sex toys on the Internet, but as soon as I posted photos of the body I was born with, I have a “lack of self-respect” and “low self-esteem.”

On the contrary, I post nude photos of myself because I am PROUD of my body and my sexuality, and I no longer feel the need to hide it.  Why do people assume that if a woman does nude modeling, exotic dancing, or sex work, that she lacks self-respect?  Why is showing a woman’s body considered so horrible? In my case, I post nude photography for artistic self-expression, and I don’t currently do it to gain followers or to make money, but what if I did? Why would that be so wrong?  What if I didn’t enjoy nude modeling, and just did it for a paycheck? How is that different from someone working a grilling 9 to 5 they don’t enjoy just to pay the bills?

It’s not. Work related to sex is still just work, it’s just stigmatized because it’s related to sex. There is nothing wrong with choosing to work at a strip club instead of choosing to work a desk job. It’ naive to assume that someone doesn’t like their job just because you don’t like it or wouldn’t like it, and it’s also naive to assume that everyone needs to love their job. Sure, it’s great to do things that fulfill you in life, but if you wouldn’t judge someone for cleaning toilets even if they don’t like it because they need to feed their kids, then why would you judge that same person for being a nude model or a sex worker?

I don’t think sharing any degree of nudity or pornographic imagery is shameful, but the particular photo my Mom was so offended by isn’t even super explicit or pornographic. It shows my breasts. It shows my NIPPLES, heaven forbid. I am deeply offended by the fact that women are expected to hide their breasts, while no one thinks twice when they see a topless man. Contrary to sexist belief, breasts do not exist to sexually temp and titillate men. Yes, the photo I posted was meant to be sexy, but that doesn’t matter. Any photos of women’s nipples are regarded as explicit, even women breastfeeding, regardless of intent, and that is not only unfair, it’s infuriating.

I’ve already written about how I don’t see being open about my body and being a talented, intelligent writer as mutually exclusive. I understand that it would be “safer” for me to not post my nude photography and only focus on my writing, but I enjoy nude photography. And honestly, things will never change if we all play it safe. I respect and admire women like Molly who share intelligent writing as well as erotic imagery because it’s a bold act, women daring to be both smart and openly sexual. I am proud to be one of those women. It comes with consequences, but so would hiding the work I’m proud of. So would going to sleep knowing that I let people with narrow minded views of the world control my life.

I didn’t expect my Mom to jump for joy at my posting nude photography. I don’t think most people want to think about their parents or children’s sex lives. But my posting nude photography does not mean I have a lack of self-respect or low self-esteem. And I think it’s (almost) funny that she considers my naked body as more offensive than me describing my sex life in detail. My body certainly isn’t shameful, and neither is my sex life.

Shaming people for their bodies and sexuality is hurtful. Shaming people because they make different life choices than you is also hurtful. Thankfully my Mom and I have been able to agree to disagree on the subject for the most part (we don’t talk about it anymore), and we still have a semi-decent relationship, but she will always consider what I do less valuable than other work (if not downright shameful and embarrassing.) And that’s part of why I care so much about being open about sex and nudity. With all of the negativity and shame that surrounds sex and nudity in our culture, we are in desperate need of strong, positive voices that declare:

Naked bodies are not shameful.

Sex is not shameful.

Sex is natural.

Bodies are beautiful.

wickedwed

*I wrote this piece in response to the Wicked Wednesday prompt “Shaming…or being shamed.”

Why I Post Nude Photos (and why I blog about sex)

My photography is one facet of my creative expression through my blog, and the reason I do it is related to why I blog about sex in general. It’s all a part of reclaiming my love for my body and my sexuality.

I’ve always known that I’m a sexual being. Though they’re fuzzy, I have many memories of sexual exploration with girlfriends, as well as reading and thinking about sex as a child. I’ve also always liked attention and having my photo taken; I’ve had a strong sensual energy from an early age.

By the time I was a teenager though, I began to feel ashamed of my urges to explore my sexuality. The Catholic Church taught me that women should be “pure” and “modest” and hide their bodies, and that any sexual encounters before marriage are mortal sins.

I remember videotaping myself one night at age 13, doing a dance I’d made up, wearing a swimsuit top that I pulled up high so you could see the bottoms of my small breasts peeking out. As I danced, I felt in touch with my body, I felt sexy, and when I watched myself afterwards on the little video screen up in my room, I became more and more turned on and excited, but feelings of guilt quickly creeped into my head, and I hastily deleted the video because I thought that if anyone ever saw it they would think I was a slut.

This tension between what I was constantly told to do and think and how I actually felt, acted, and thought, damaged my body image, my view of my own sexuality, and my overall self-esteem.

In High School I started having sex, rejecting the idea that I would be dammed to hell for it, but I had no access to sex education, so I was pretty clueless. My Mom let me get on the pill after I complained about cramps, but I still constantly worried about getting pregnant or getting an STI. Looking back, I’m really lucky that neither of those things happened, since I didn’t even know how to properly use a condom (abstinence only education at its finest.)

The church’s scare tactics didn’t keep me from having sex, but the shame associated with sexuality seeped into my subconscious, and even though I wanted to love myself and my body, I struggled with the embarrassment I had been taught to feel, by both my religion and society in general.

Even though I was having sex, I could hardly look at myself up close, let alone name the important parts like my clit and g-spot. I looked at my vulva once with a compact mirror, and I was terrified by what I saw. I thought it was ugly. I didn’t like my natural smell and constantly feared that I had an STI, so I douched, which is actually horrible for your body.  I didn’t know about the importance of communication in relationships, and I hadn’t even heard of the word “consent.” I thought rape was black and white and only encompassed physical force; I didn’t realize that feeling pressured to do things when you don’t want to isn’t healthy, safe, or consensual.

My true sexual revolution didn’t happen until I started working at a sex shop during my senior year at UT. During the three years I worked there, I read and learned more about sex and met sex positive women who I could talk to. I finally got to the point where I was truly proud of my body and my sexuality again.

While working at the shop I started modeling (sometimes nude), but at that point I only showed the photos to Jake and certain friends who I knew would appreciate them. Eventually I started my blog because I loved talking about sex with people at work, and I wanted a bigger outlet for sexual discussion and exploration.

Since I already had sexy and nude photos, I wondered if I should post some on my blog when I started it. I’d always wanted to share my images with a wider audience, but at the same time I was also afraid to. My main fears had to do with family members seeing them or with the possibility of my real identity getting out and the repercussions or lost career opportunities that could come with that. The exhibitionist in me won though, and I began posting photos, although at first only ones that didn’t reveal my face and didn’t show any actual nudity.

After blogging for a while, I realized that I was tired of hiding my face from my photos. I admired women who had the courage to post nude images that showed everything, including their faces, boldly and with pride. I gradually became less concerned with hiding my face.

Posting nude photos as well as sex blogging in general has been an extremely liberating experience for me. Finally, I don’t feel like my body is something I need to hide. I’ve come a long way from my scared and ashamed 13 year old self, and I’m extremely proud of that, especially considering I was raised to believe that my body is obscene and sex is sinful.

I’m proud to say I now know where my g-spot is, how to female ejaculate, how to communicate with a partner, how to explore “taboo” aspects of my sexuality, and how to accept other people’s sexuality without judgment. I’m proud to admit I still have a lot to learn.

I’m also glad that I’ve helped other people in their sexual exploration. I get lots of positive feedback from friends and readers of my blog, and I feel good when people tell say they love my photography as well as my writing.

Sure, I like the attention I get from having a sex blog and from posting nude images. I am a bit of an exhibitionist, and I find it thrilling when people tell me they’re attracted to me or that they get turned on reading my stories and looking at my photos. But that’s not the sole reason why I blog or post nude images (though even if it was, I don’t see that as a problem.)

I blog about sex for creative outlet, for exploration, and to facilitate open sexual discussion. I post nudes because I consider photography and the human body art forms, and because I enjoy self-portraiture. When I photograph myself, I explore different aspects of my personality. Sometimes I’m feeling dark, or shy, or weird, or sexy. I find myself in my images.  I choose to share them online because I want people to see the work I’m proud of.

I’m not naïve, and I know the risks of posting nude photos in a society that is still overwhelmingly sex negative, sexist, and body-shaming. I have to deal with consequences, like my mother’s harsh words (yes, she knows and doesn’t approve) and society’s pressure and judgments.

I do worry that I might not be taken seriously as a writer because I post nude images. But I resist the idea that being sexually open about my body and being intelligent are mutually exclusive or that they must inhabit separate spaces. I’m smart, I’m good at writing and photography, and I’m also passionate about expressing my sexuality. I know it would be “safer” for me to not reveal my face, or to have separate blogs for writing and for erotic photography, or to not post nude images at all.  My heart still races every time I post a new image, but that’s part of why I do it.

I post nudes on my blog because they are beautiful and because I finally have the courage to do so. I post nudes because I feel they are mine to post, finally. After years of struggle and inner tension, I have reclaimed my body and my sexuality, finally. No one is pressuring me, I don’t do it to increase blog traffic or to gain followers; I share myself on my blog because I decide to.

My reasons for blogging and sharing nude photos are important to me. My sexual truth is important to me.  I’ve decided to explain it because I’m passionate about it, and so my readers can learn more about my background if they want to. But I didn’t write this piece because I think I need to justify what I do. I don’t need to explain why I share my sexuality or post nude photos, but I do think it’s important to reflect on it.

My sexuality is mine to share with whomever I want to, in any form that I want to. It isn’t something society or religion or my family or any partner can control or define, it’s mine.

My body is mine. My sexuality is mine.

Self Portrait: Free

Just Touch It

I thought you were so cool:

An older, firefighting hero, a senior.

You seemed to wink at me,

An upwards, devilish glance

Across a circle of kneeling, head-bowed bodies.

 

You said you liked smooth skin,

So before your maroon truck pulled up,

I shaved in the little half-bath downstairs,

My parents snoring behind a wall.

 

You rubbed my legs like a cold Buddha statue for luck,

In hopes you’d get what you wanted, not

For the feel of it.

A boy once said to me,

 

A girl will do anything

If you ask her at 3am.

You weren’t that boy,

But somebody must’ve told you.

 

I didn’t ask to see it.

I didn’t want to touch it.

I wanted soft fingers on my face,

I wanted to feel

Your lips on mine. You said baby,

 

You turn me on, come on,

Just put your hands around it.

Just put your hands around it,

Just stroke it a little bit.

Just touch it.

 

The seat divider jabbed into me,

An imaginary elbow saying, “don’t.”

I asked you to kiss me,

You said no,

Kissing is too personal.

 

I don’t remember the smell of your cum,

But I can guess it now: Sour, rotten.

I don’t remember what it looked like,

Except that it bobbed up and down

Like an ugly buoy.

 

It happened more than once,

A ritual, you must have practiced,

You were a lay minister, you knew

The words, the motions.

 

When you weren’t asking for it,

You were telling me about

Her, that perfect girl you couldn’t snare.

I wanted to be that girl,

The one you kissed.

 

Just kiss me,

Just kiss me,

Just kiss me,

My begging was silent, unlike yours:

 

Just put your hands around it,

Just put your hands around it.

Just stroke it a little,

Just touch it.

Kink of the Week: Fellatio

When I saw this week’s Kink of the Week topic was fellatio, I knew I had to participate. While looking through some of the other posts, I was inspired by Rebel and decided to write up a Q&A based on Jade’s questions about fellatio in the prompt:

So to start…Everyone loves a blow job, right?

Obviously, no. I have met and talked to various people who don’t like giving blow jobs, or who don’t like any kind of oral sex.

Do you? Is giving or receiving a blow job a particular kink of yours? Or is it a pleasant activity, but one you can do with or without?

Yes, I love sucking cock. Especially Jake’s cock. (But not only Jake’s cock.) I’m not sure whether or not it’s exactly a kink per say (I’ll get to that later), but it’s not something I want to ever do without.

So, why do I love sucking cock so much?

Firstly, I love it for the physical act in itself. The sensory experience, my tongue teasing his head, feeling him grow in my mouth, spit sliding down the corners of my mouth, looking up at him from below, sliding his cock across my face, teasing…

But I also love a lot of other things about it that go beyond the physical.

I love the abandon in straight up, I’m going to give you a blow job and that’s it, fellatio. Don’t get me wrong, I love penis-in-vagina sex or orgasms for myself. Both are amazing. But one of the things I love about giving straight up fellatio-only-sex is that I don’t have to worry about me. There is no multi-tasking, no balancing of reaching out for my own orgasm while simultaneously trying to make him feel as good as I do. Not that I don’t combine blow jobs with other foreplay like fingering, sex toys, etc., because I do, and that’s fun too.

But sometimes I want to just focus on one thing—giving him pleasure. I enjoy being full of him, his cock in my mouth, my hands on his balls, my face sticky and wet. For that time, I exist in the hot space between his legs. I am his mouth, his hands, his eyes gazing up, his to feel and enjoy. And at the same time, he’s mine. It might be one sided if you’re thinking in terms of orgasms only, but it’s not one sided. It’s me, giving him my full attention, and him, receiving it.

But I also love fellatio during foreplay. While sometimes giving my all to a blow job is delicious all on its own, I also like the struggle of balancing each other’s pleasure, like when I’m trying to concentrate on sucking his cock while his fingers pull on my g-spot in just the right way, or while a vibrator is pressed against my clit, and he says, gently but firmly, “keep sucking,” when he’s slipped from my mouth as I’m consumed with my own sensations.

Are blow jobs kinky?

Yes, I think they certainly can be, for me, though obviously what one person considers kinky may seem vanilla to others and vice versa. I don’t think blow jobs are always kinky, sometimes they’re just “ordinary” oral sex, but when I’m lying on my back, head leaned back over the edge of the bed, and he’s thrusting into me while holding down my arms, and I’m deep throating him, there’s power and trust involved. I find “face fucking,” when he controls the thrusting, and I assume more of a submissive role, incredibly sexy, when I’m in the mood.

I think simultaneous cock sucking and fucking can also be kinky, which is something we enjoy occasionally in real life as well as in fantasy play. I like the idea of being completely full of cock—mouth, cunt, ass, maybe even hands, though I haven’t pushed it quite that far in reality yet, I like to fantasize about it.

Which brings me back to the earlier question, are blow jobs a particular kink of mine? I think the answer is yes. For all of the reasons I’ve stated above, and for the fact that I sometimes suck cock while solo masturbating. As in, using a dildo. Or if I don’t have one around and am thinking about it, I’ll open my mouth as if it were full. I don’t do it super often, but sometimes I want to feel like my mouth is really full of cock, even when Jake isn’t around, or when he’s already filling me elsewhere.

Is giving a blow job a submissive act? Or is the person doing it actually the one with the power?

In the scenarios I just mentioned, like face fucking and rough oral, I think it’s a submissive act. But when I’m giving a blow job, and I’m controlling the pace and flow, I feel like I have the power. It definitely depends on the situation.

Are you a blow job expert? Do you have secret tips and tricks that you use to get your partner off?

I am pretty proud of my cock sucking abilities, but I hesitate in claiming that I’m a blow job expert, since every person has different desires, and what works for one person won’t always work for another. I’m definitely an expert at sucking Jake’s cock. I’ve had 5 years of practice, after all. And he’s said before that he thought I was good at it when we first met, and that I’m amazing at it now.

I think it’s all relative though. I remember giving a guy a blow job for the first time in High School and he was all, “oh my god I can’t believe you’ve never done this before you’re amazing.” Maybe I was, for him, at that time, who knows. But I’m confident that I’m about a billion times better at it now than then.

As far as secret tips and tricks? I don’t think there are really any secret tricks that get everyone (or anyone) off all the time. I think the most important thing is to adapt to the person, situation, and mood, and figure out what’s working in that moment.

And now here’s the REAL question? Do you deep throat.

Yep, I sure do, with Jake at least. ;)

pennysblog_fellatio1

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My First Time…In a Sex Shop Pt. 2: Age 18

The second time I went into a sex shop, when I was of legal age to actually buy something, was the summer after my senior year of High School.  My boyfriend wanted to buy me a “real” vibrator (I already had a “back” massager) since we were going to try a long distance relationship while I was off at college.

The store had big open windows and was bright and not intimidating, which was comforting, considering I was a little nervous this time around. There was one girl working, and when I asked for her opinion on a good toy, she walked me to the rabbit section. She wasn’t very helpful, but I don’t think she really could be, since this was before sex toys were legal in Texas & the products were supposedly for “educational” purposes.

I had my eye on a $100 rabbit, but my boyfriend only wanted to spend $50 or less, and after scanning the boxes I somehow I ended up with a blue Ultimate Beaver Vibrator, AKA the grossest thing I’ve ever put inside of my vagina. My experience trying to use it was unsettling to say the least.

Evil, vagina hating beaver.

It smelled funky, it was sticky, and the rotation confused me and felt incredibly weird and not in a good way. In more of a wtf is this, I am never buying a “real” vibrator again kind of way. On top of all that, it had a fucking cartoon face on the “head” and a fucking beaver attached to the shaft. Even more disturbingly, the beaver, whose tail is supposed to tickle your clit, seemed to be simultaneously giving the weird cartoon person oral.  What the fuck was I thinking? I can’t believe I bought that toy, and I can’t believe you can still buy it online if you decide you want to frighten and possibly poison your vagina. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that it was a jelly/PVC beaver from hell that probably leaked phthalates and who knows what other mystery chemicals into my poor tutu.

Yes, I just referred to my vag as a tutu. Orange is the New Black is the shit, and it’s cute and a hell of a lot better than beaver, muff, cooter, vajayjay or whatever else. Plus, I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention…

Anyways, that toy was nasty, and I’m lucky that using it was only emotionally damaging and not so much physically, since many women experience painful reactions when using jelly vibes, and all I felt was mild disgust and discomfort. Still, the beaver experience turned me off of internal sex toys for a long time. The next one I tried was about 4 years later, when I started working at a sex shop. And even after trying a few, I didn’t find any that I liked much until I’d already been working there for a couple of years.

Looking back though, I think the dildo gods were in my favor, since my somewhat traumatizing experience with the evil, vagina hating beaver saved me from years of potentially using more dangerous sex toys before I learned more about them and knew better.

And if we want to go along with that theory, I guess the dildo gods chose me to work at a sex store for a reason—so I could attempt to help guide other people’s orifices away from jelly and towards fun and safe materials like silicone and glass. Who knows though, I’m not going to pretend I understand the mysterious ways of the dildo gods.

*In case you don’t know which sex toys are potentially dangerous & which aren’t, check out these past posts:

-Buying a Sex Toy: What You Need to Know

-Dildology & Safe Sex Toys

P.S. If you have this vibrator and somehow like it, I’m sorry. Not for offending you, for your vagina.

*I wrote this story to support the Superhero Sex Shop Tour Indigogo campaign*

 

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