Archive for June, 2011

June 29th, 2011

Recommended Reading #53: Growth and Healing



      “My First Burlesque Show” at Imagine Today (Self-Awareness, Psychology, Body Image, Sex and Art) 4/5/11

I am truly moved by the self-awareness that I feel permeates this piece. The author’s awareness and willingness to examine herself struck me profoundly, and I appreciate similarly her sharing it in writing as she has. To me this kind of awareness, of what is going on in us without judgement and reactivity and of the realization that we are so much more than we have often thought we were, is the kind that changes the world.

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      “Why You Should Own a Pleasure Box” by Lana Fox (Self-Awareness, Sexual Fantasy, Sex and Culture) 6/20/11

I adore this account of the importance of the things what Lana calls her “pleasure box” symbolize for her. Her account and explanation of this literal representation of the understanding of one’s sexuality as one’s own, autonomous from others (and even whatever action is going on), strike me as beautifully simple and important.

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      “Beyond Donations: How Are We Using Yoga To Heal?” by Monica Shores (Non-sex-related, Self-Awareness, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy) 4/11/11

I find this piece strikingly thoughtful and actually stunning in its incisiveness and compassion. It seems to me that money is a colossally influential entity in our society, and it makes sense to me as such that it would be referenced as a fundamental gesture or symbol of helpfulness. I do like the author’s offering of examining this phenomenon in an example that intersects with her experience. Since she already said it so beautifully, I will simply quote one of the lines that to me seems to communicate the powerful exposition and inquiry this piece encompasses: “Is our attention on creating a communal space to experience and transform grief, or are we distracting ourselves with a routine response?”

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

June 22nd, 2011

Recommended Reading #52: “Scandal”



Note: While all three of these pieces happen to be about the same (now outdated) “scandal” that enveloped the U.S. recently, it is what they say in general about such things that I deeply appreciate, and I feel they could apply to similar uproars relating to politicians’ sexual actions and the very phenomenon of, as Elizabeth alludes to, these disclosures seeming to be “scandals” at all.

      “All I Have to Say About Anthony Weiner” by Dr. Charlie Glickman (Sex and Society, Politics, Media) 6/80/11

I really like that Charlie points out here that most of us have or would lie as a first reaction to getting “caught” doing something that feels to us like we don’t want others (particularly the public) to know. This may not be a very popular offering, and it doesn’t seem to me any claim as to whether it seems acceptable or advisable or not, but simply is an acknowledgement that many of us may, in a similar situation, do it—and that seems to me a relevant consideration to mention. Overall, I really like the tone/angle I interpret Charlie in taking here that asks us questions (that we may find uncomfortable) about inclinations we have had or may have in regard to the aspects that seem so seeped in collective judgement surrounding Mr. Weiner’s actions. Case in point: “It’s easy to judge others and it’s easy to forget that almost everyone who has a sex life has done at least a few things that might be considered less than ideal. We really need to get over shaming people for doing stuff that we’ve done ourselves.”

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      “It’s all about sex, and that’s the shame” by Dr. Elizabeth Wood (Politics, Sex and Society) 6/13/11

I deeply appreciate this reminder from Elizabeth that it is our perceptions around sexuality, including rampant shame on a societal level, that seem to me are problematic in such “scandals” around politicians as the recent one that surrounded Anthony Weiner. (Incidentally, I also appreciate her reminder that it is the voters in this of- for- and by-the-people government that choose politicians’ positions more so than their colleagues and respective judgments.)

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      “Anthony Weiner’s ‘Bad Judgment:’ That is SO Not the Point” by Dr. Marty Klein (Sex and Society, Psychology, Religion, Politics) 6/10/11

I find this simply brilliant. Both the pointing out of how absurd the seeming self-righteous shitstorm over politicians’ sexual actions when they are inadvertently exposed and also the pointing out of how harmful sexual repression may be seem so direly needed to me in this society. Dr. Klein makes point after point that makes so much sense to me and seems so desperately missing in the mainstream societal perception it practically left me breathless.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

June 15th, 2011

Recommended Reading #51: Humanity and Inspiration, Pt. II



      “Dear Tracy Morgan” by Alana Noel Voth (Sexual Orientation, Parenting, Sex and Society) 6/12/11

I read this twice in a row about fifteen minutes after Alana posted that it was live. Each time, I started crying when I got to the picture of the fence. After the first time, I was speechless. I didn’t much know what to say after the second time either, though I left her a comment that I found it “indescribably extraordinary.” That still holds—which means I don’t know what else to say about it. I just recommend that it be read. (Note: Here is a later post on the apology Tracy Morgan has since issued.)

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      “My son, the pink boy” by Sarah Hoffman (Gender Socialization, Sexual Orientation, Parenting) 2/21/11

I adore this article and virtually everything the author says in it. The perplexing (to me) societal lack of acceptance of “feminine” behavior among male-bodied individuals is something I’ve noticed for a long time. Even in my teenage years, as a young feminist, I remember it occurring to me that while “feminism” had seemed to make it okay for women/girls to act certain ways and do certain things they weren’t societally “allowed” to before, feminism didn’t seem to account at all for any behavior or adjustment or allowance on the account of men. This seemed odd and eventually concerning to me. This article points out exactly why.

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      “A Pill to Change Your Life” by Donna George Storey (Memoir, Non-sex-related, Health and Body, Government and Politics) 2006

I’m going to caution that one not read this when one is in a hurry or not feeling an opportunity to absorb and be affected by a profound and sobering story. The first time I read this, I did feel somewhat in a hurry and figured I would only read part of it right then. It turned out I found it so spellbinding that I literally felt I could hardly pull myself away from it to get to where I was going on time and rather—almost involuntarily—opted to finish it in that sitting. It may not make everyone cry (though I myself can hardly imagine not being brought to tears at some point during the reading of it), but I would guess it would affect most people. I recommend reading it at a time one feels accepting of that. It is, in my perception, an extraordinary story, told with extraordinary love and beauty.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

June 13th, 2011

Unblocking

Of late, I have been experiencing anxiety to a higher degree than in much of the last decade. I trust this is due to something I have mentioned before, namely that anxiety may be an indicator of things being shaken up and reaching the surface of the unconscious. Given the last couple breathwork sessions I have had, I do feel this is likely. Much has been moving, it has seemed, and shifts have occurred, and the ego/superego in me as such may feel alarm and resistance and have shifted into “Oh shit!” mode.

Even as I’ve felt mostly aware of this, it does not mean I have not still experienced the effects of anxiety, most notably (to be discussed here anyway) in practical ways. The world continues functioning even if I feel genuine anxiety for what seem to me noble reasons of personal growth. I have especially felt challenged being in contact with people, emailing them back when they have emailed me, and the more I have not done that (despite how much I may desperately want to), the more I have felt concern and anxiety about it, which has tended to result in a cycle of avoidance. I have felt it prominently the past few weeks.

I’ve not been writing as much as I’d like. But I realize and admit that hasn’t seemed only recent. I have noticed especially lately that there are so many writers I adore and admire who seem so busy, day jobs, kids, (pregnancy!), numerous commitments besides writing who manage to write anyway (sometimes with an output that seems astonishingly prolific to me!), dedicating their time and attention to it around the numerous other things they do.

I have almost none of that. Yes, there are things that I do, but I don’t have kids, I don’t have a 9 to 5 job that demands I attend to it during certain set hours—what I have is ample time and opportunity to write. Especially when I see so many of my colleagues who don’t have that luxury but write anyway, I have been known to feel a scathing resentment directed toward myself for not taking advantage of the precious gift I have of a largely unmediated time and opportunity to write.

During a recent breathwork appointment, I saw very clearly something around this. I became aware that it is not that I need to discipline myself more, effort further, try harder to get my ass in gear and write. (Really, it’s seemed to me the superego in me has had the market close to cornered on those kinds of demands.) It is that I need to relax—what is in me is there, waiting and wanting to come out, and there is something in me blocking that flow (perhaps ironically related to said superego). I don’t need to work harder to write what I want to say. What is called for is to let go of the block and allow the writing forth.

I wasn’t particularly shocked by this, though I hadn’t received the understanding with such clarity before. However, despite this awareness, after leaving that breathwork session I have still felt frustration with myself for not, then, unblocking the block! It seems funny how something (superego) ranting at me to relax just doesn’t seem to elicit such….

Last night I was feeling this familiar frustration, and I sat with it. Rather than engaging in the loop in my head of hearing the internal accusation and tensing against it and feeling mad at myself, which intensifies both as they cycle around and around with each other, I allowed myself to simply feel the anxiety resulting from the self-accusation. I didn’t tense against it or start engaging it in my head but just let it be and sat with how it felt.

Almost immediately the frustration relaxed. And instead of tenseness and irritation and accusation, I felt something else.

Hurt.

Beyond the tension, after it relaxed, I felt the pain of not writing. While intellectually I guess I am/was not surprised by this, I’m not sure I had ever felt the raw pain beyond the self-accusatory talk of this before. That seems amazing to me, but it’s true. I felt, physically in the heart space, the pain of not writing/expressing. The direct and unmediated hurt of what wants to come out not doing so, of not taking (or getting, depending on how one looks at it) the chance to say what is in me ready/wanting to be said.

It is possible that I felt more like a “writer” that moment than I have at many other times.

Then I thought about people who experience repression, blockage, and/or anxiety around sexuality. I faced these things in myself very pointedly years ago—which is certainly not to say I have that area all figured out. Self-awareness is literally unending. There is always more to know, and we are always new. I don’t feel for a second that I have discerned and attended to all there is to know about sexuality in me and issues in me around it. What’s important to me is that I recognize that though and keep examining, exploring, facing what is there. I know, somehow, there is much to learn.

But the reason this occurred to me, I suspect, is because as I struggle with particular anxiety around blockage in me and writing and wanting to allow out what wants to come out, I’ve remembered people dealing with sexual repression and wondered how such things are/have affected them. How would it feel if they sat with it; if they didn’t engage with the historical tension cycle and faced what was there with kindness and love?

How deeply repression can hurt, and how much more to us there is than the unconscious patterns with which we often automatically engage without realizing that—that there is more. That that’s not all we are. That that’s not all we can be. That it could take just sitting, just seeing it, just allowing whatever we have tended to tense against (perhaps without even knowing it) to get to a deeper level, something new, something that may indeed be uncomfortable—but that may put us more in touch with ourselves…the real Self, that is not made up of unconscious patterns.

It may hurt. But it may also be that unconsciousness is far more painful in the long run.

This blog post, of course, is a release, a coming out of something in me that wants to be said.

Words feel (ironically) inadequate to express the exquisite gratitude within me.

Love,
Emerald

“I thought maybe I was this, I found out that I am That…I can’t promise I won’t fall, and I can’t say I’m never scared…let go, give in, give up, surrender…”
-Ben Lee “Surrender”

June 8th, 2011

Recommended Reading #50: Activism



      “Sex Workers WANT to Stop Trafficking” on YouTube.com (Recommended Watch, Sex Work, Public Policy, Activism) 1/11/11

I would like to say that the message of this video is obvious (and to me of course it seems so), but the very fact that it was made I think speaks to the lamentable circumstance that in mainstream perception, both the distinction between sex work and sex trafficking as well as the idea that sex workers could serve as an important and helpful resource in eradicating sex trafficking have seemed lacking. Big thanks to the creators of and participants in this video for articulating both points!

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      “Audacia Ray Talks Media Making, Diversification, and Self-Identity” on Freelancedom (Interview, Sex Worker Rights, Activism, Promotion) 8/2/10

I have seen Audacia Ray as a go-to source for the pulse of sex worker rights activism approximately since I’ve known of her. In this interview she is asked and talks about the many projects and media on/with which she’s worked as an activist over the years.

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      “Being a slut and getting pissed off” by Sonya JF Barnett (Activism, Sex and Culture, Feminism, Sociology, Memoir) 5/3/11

I really enjoyed reading this part-personal account, part-social commentary from one of the co-founders of SlutWalk about the origination and process of what has become the phenomenon of such.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday