Archive for February, 2012

February 29th, 2012

Recommended Reading #88: Addressing Misconceptions, Pt. IV



      “Hearing on Religion and Freedom of Conscience Was ‘Misleading, Unbalanced and Inaccurate.’” by Catholics for Choice (Reproductive Freedom, Religion, Politics) 2/16/12

I not only intensely love what I interpret this piece as saying but also hugely appreciate its timeliness and accessibility to the public. Really, I wish everyone in the United States (and, ideally, the world) would read it and take note.

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      “Violet Gordon Woodhouse (and Her Men)” by Kristina Wright (Sex and Culture, Biography, Politics) 2/24/12

I was riveted by this post and its author’s deft back-and-forth between the fascinating historical information and commentary on the present. The knowledge of the existence of such a figure, whom I will admit was previously unknown to me, feels refreshing and inspiring and actually reassuring to me. I’m so appreciative to Kristina for bringing her to my attention.

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      “State of the Tart: A Sluthood Manifesto” at the Swarthmore College Daily Gazette (Gender Socialization, Sex and Culture, Sociology, Memoir) 2/23/12

Sometimes I read something and immediately start planning how to arrange the next Recommended Reading around it so I can proclaim my adoration of it as quickly as practical. This was one of them.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

February 24th, 2012

On Behalf of the Real

I went to a workshop a few weeks ago. It was residential, lasted five days, and I spent much of it reeling or in a state of stunned silence or contemplation. That is not hyperbolic.

The workshop, as many I have attended, was inner Work-focused. The things I saw and learned about myself were life-changing…so much so, paradoxically, that it feels far away somehow to remember them now. I feel and felt the shift in me, on a pre-verbal, non-conceptual level, but residing in everyday consciousness makes it almost impossible to “remember” what it is I learned.

Not that that’s always the point. Remembering is done by a part of the mind that wasn’t where I accessed the seeing I did that weekend. But there is a degree, I think, to which I haven’t fully integrated what I learned. I don’t know if I yet know how.

The reason I’m writing about it here is that much of it had to do with sex. More pointedly, I realized—or remembered—dramatically something that had occurred to me before. There is a way in which I have wondered if it is hypocritical, inappropriate, misplaced, or somehow all of those things in combination or some other adjective that hasn’t occurred to me for me to experience myself as an advocate for authentic, aware sexuality.

Because I am so far from understanding and living my own.

I haven’t always known this. Within the last year I have seen things about my own sexual experience and perspective that stunned me beyond words. Things I thought were, were not. Things I had had no inkling of a clue about were suddenly clear in my consciousness.

I think on some level the past repression I have experienced around sexuality made me think when I overcame it that the game was over. That I was free of that now, and I was thus in control of my own sexuality. To some degree, that was true. There was definitely more of my own conscious choosing around sex for me at that time, and the shift was indeed enormous. I do appreciate it beyond description and do not underestimate it.


Where I was wrong was in thinking that was the be-all end-all. The more I’ve seen about myself, the more I’ve worked on myself, the more it seems I’ve understood that there is no such thing.

So, I have found myself wondering if my own deep revelations of the areas and degree of illusion and unconsciousness in my own experience of sexuality mean I have been and am unfit to advocate on behalf of sexuality, since I am so far from living an authentic sexual life—and having done so when I thought I was—myself.

But when that question has arisen, it has almost always been followed closely by the recognition that to my recollection, I have never claimed such. I have advocated with utmost sincerity for openness, awareness, authenticity, appreciation around sexuality—our own individual sexuality and on behalf of sexuality as the fundamental entity it is. I still do. I have not, in doing so (or at least I have not intended) claimed that I exhibit the utmost health and awareness of my own sexuality. Even if I may have thought I was doing so—which I most assuredly was not—the point, to me, in the advocacy I have done is not because I’ve felt I know it all in myself and am trying to get everyone else to fall in line.

It is, indeed, that the seeking to know is what is important.

The seeing. The asking. The receiving. The staying with. All of those things in regard to ourselves—as the essentialness and relevance of self-awareness, as I have said before, and as I passionately feel, may virtually not be overestimated.

It is not, it seems to me, where we are, but rather how open we are to seeing it and allowing shift to occur. Things are not in me what I thought they were. But my highest aspiration is to see that, to wake up, to allow consciousness to see itself through me. I have not had a clue what was going on in me, but I want to learn. I want to know. It is that openness to learning about ourselves, to self-awareness, that strikes me as of utmost importance.

So there has been tremendous unconsciousness in me around sexuality. What I have seen does not change any fundamental view I have shared about the importance of sexuality, its sacredness, any of the perspectives about our experience and appreciation of it really at all. Those are all larger than my own perspective. In fact, what I have seen reminds me of that—of that which is larger than I; and that in all of the advocacy I have done around this subject, that is always what it has been about—that which is bigger than I, and the sincere desire in me for us all to awaken to it; and that I aspire to that most of all.

That has not changed. In a way, nothing has, even as in me, the perception has expanded profoundly. And a shift has occurred with it, even if I don’t know how to articulate or verbally express it at all. I do not know everything. Or anywhere close to it—even (perhaps especially) about myself.

But that’s not why I advocate. I don’t advocate because I know—because I have it all figured out. I advocate because I don’t. And I see a potential in that that is beyond words. And it’s in us all, and the truth is, that is what I’m really advocating for: the seeing. The awareness of what is, what really is, beyond the unconscious patterns in us of which we often aren’t aware and which we think sometimes are what’s real. I had quite a taste of the reminder of that a few weeks ago. It is, actually, what I want for us all. That we see things we didn’t know about ourselves, even if it’s uncomfortable, even if it’s stunning, and we stay with that and hold ourselves in love and awaken more as a result of it.

That’s authenticity. It looks unique for everyone. It’s not a certain thing, or a certain way of doing things, or a certain look. I have not advocated for any of that. I have advocated for authenticity.

As I continue to do.

Love,
Emerald

“I wanted to run, you made me stand there and breathe…”
-LIVE “Where Do We Go From Here?”

February 22nd, 2012

Recommended Reading #87: Perspective and Judgment, Pt. II



      “God is not impressed by the orgasm you didn’t have: Lent, self-denial, and self-love” by Hugh Schwyzer (Self-Awareness, Sex and Culture, Psychology, Religion) 2/22/12

I don’t identify as Christian, but I appreciate the sentiment I interpret here. Much, if not all, of it feels to me like I can extrapolate it from the Christian context and the word “God” (a word with which I personally don’t resonate) and see it as true. And for those who do identify as Christian, it seems to me a beautiful message well worth considering.

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      “Parents Who Hid Child’s Gender for Five Years Now Face Backlash” by Megan Gibson (Parenting, Youth, Gender Socialization) 1/24/12

I will admit that when I first saw the title of this article, I hesitated to read it due to suspicion that I might find it filled with gender stereotypes that I would simply find anywhere from irritating to infuriating. (I will further admit it was because the article was in a mainstream publication that I especially felt this way.) I did read the piece, obviously, and I was pleasantly surprised. I much appreciate how the author points out that judgments about things the parents have done as reported in this article are reflective of feelings in those who are judging (which is, it seems to me, often if not always the case with judgment)—and certainly that children who have experienced challenge or consideration around their gender identity or sexuality have often indeed not been “shielded” from correlative stereotypes…making it seem quite questionable (or, perhaps, nonsensical) to me indeed that such “shielding” would be some kind of inherent setup for gender or sexual identity struggles.

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      “The Slippery Slope of Sex Addiction” by Dr. Charlie Glickman (Psychology, Self-Awareness, Relationship, Sex and Culture) 2/20/12

I find this brilliant and am once again amazed by what I perceive as Charlie’s capacity to address and articulate nuance in a kind, considered, incisive way. Especially since he’s tended to write so much about sexuality and, as I interpret it, self-awareness, this is something I appreciate profoundly.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

February 15th, 2012

Recommended Reading #86: Memoir, Pt. III



      “A teachable moment about polyamory, sex and children” by Jezebelle Jay (Non-monogamy, Sex and Culture) 9/6/11

I admit that since non-monogamy seems so understandable and unsurprising to me, I have sometimes forgotten that it seems, at this point, often profoundly misunderstood and judged by American culture as a whole (I’ve experienced the same thing around sex work). I find this very disheartening and disappointing, but I really appreciate this author’s account of how she handled the situation she relates. I too wholeheartedly hope for a time when such a thing is not judged so automatically but understood as just another relationship choice it is up to each individual/relationship configuration to make.

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      “The fight goes on.” by The Bloggess (Non-sex-related, Health and Healing, Mental Illness, Sociology) 1/2/12

As sobering as this post strikes me as being, I appreciate what I perceive as its openness and commentary on depression and mental illness. I wish the author all the best.

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      “Working for Slo-Mo” by Jean Roberta (Sex Work, Sociology) 2/2/12

I found this account of Ms. Roberta’s entrance into the escorting profession compelling, incisive, and even poignant at the end. I appreciate her sharing it.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

February 8th, 2012

Recommended Reading #85: Youth, Pt. III



      “Your Kid Looks At Porn. Now What?” by Dr. Marty Klein (Youth, Parenting, Pornography) 12/23/11

I see this piece as filled with beautiful, salient recommendations for parents, caregivers, and/or just about anyone in caring relationship with children and youth.

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      “‘I Have Sex’ — students speak out against ideological attack on Planned Parenthood” (Recommended Watch, Sexuality Education, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Freedom) 3/9/11

Especially since I find respect for young people’s autonomy and sexuality woefully wanting at this time in American culture, I find the simplicity and straightforwardness of the message in this video both refreshing and profoundly relevant.

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      “Dear Customer Who Stuck Up For His Little Brother” by Kristen Wolfe (Family, Gender Identity, Gender Socialization) 1/7/12

I found this account heartbreaking and heartening at the same time—I was brought to tears by the beauty I saw in it even as I found some of it hard to read and was brought to tears for other reasons. I appreciate the author’s sharing it.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday