Is My Penis Size Normal?

Photo credit: JD Hancock

Photo credit: JD Hancock

Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke once said, “Size does matter, but not in the way you might think.”

She was referring to the importance of wearing the right size condom. In order to experience more pleasurable with reliable safe sex, you need to know what condoms fit your penis size. Beyond that, size really isn’t as big a deal as many make it out to be.

Who does size really matter to most? Almost always it is men. One of the most common questions males ask Heather Corinna, founder of the sex education site, Scarleteen, is about penis size: Is my penis too small? Is the curve on my penis normal? Is my girlfriend going to find me weird?

According to this recent study that reviewed more than 60 years of research about penis size, 85% of women are satisfied with their partner’s penis. However, it also revealed that only half of men find their own size satisfactory.

So to help guys feel more comfortable, Heather Corinna breaks down actual penis size averages and goes into detail about erection size, shape and foreskin.

Here are some interesting and less known facts about penis size.

  • Average adult penis girth (erect) that fits a medium size condom is between 4 to 5 inches.
  • Average adult penis length (erect) is around 5.5 to 6.2 inches long.
  • The size of a flaccid penis does not indicate the size when aroused. For some, a flaccid penis can be the same size when erect. For others, an erection can grow double in size.
  • Erection size can vary day to day for men. It depends on the level of arousal.
  • A small degree of curvature is actually more common than a straight penis.

This article was originally published here.

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen

Throw a rock at any sex education site or service, ask what the most common question we get is from people who identify as men and we’ll all tell you — with an air of exhaustion, mostly because we get asked it so often and it’s so clear to us how these worries hold men back from feeling good about themselves and their sexuality, as well as how they often negatively impact sexual relationships — that it’s about penis size.

While many statistics show that around half of all men are dissatisfied with their penis size (despite the fact that their partners don’t feel the same way), with younger men it often seems even more common.

One typical reason is that younger men will often have unrealistic ideas about penises. When you’re young, if you’re making comparison, they’re probably either to only a few different people — like your Dad, maybe your best friend, maybe a few guys you’ve seen in passing in the restroom — when the range of penis size varies enough that to get realistic ideas about it, we’ve got to be looking at more than just a few penises. With pornography becoming more and more accessible over the years, more guys are also looking at penises in porn, a really unrealistic place to look since the actors cast in porn don’t tend to be the norm at all when it comes to size or how long or often they can become or remain erect for.

Is my penis size normal?

Let’s start by looking at some basic averages, based on broad, credible studies of a variety of men. When you flip through most studies, what you’ll usually find is that:

– The average adult penis flaccid (not erect or soft) is around 3 to 4 inches long.
– The average adult penis erect (hard) is around 5.5 to 6.2 inches long.
– The average adult penis erect is around 4-5 inches around (in circumference).
This image based on a study done by Lifestyles condoms can give you a good look at what the size range between men is like.

What size a penis is when it’s flaccid (not erect) doesn’t necessarily indicate what size it will be erect. As I explain here, some penises flaccid are very nearly the same size as they are when they are erect, while others are smaller than they are erect. Neither “growers” nor “showers” are better than the other: they’re just different.

When looking at studies and statistics on penis size, pay attention to who measured the penises involved. In studies where people measure themselves and self-report, we usually see larger averages than we do when doctors or nurses are doing the measuring and reporting. As stated in this study by Ansell, where people were not self-measuring, when medical staff are the ones holding the tape measures, average sizes are always below six inches in length. They also note that looking at self-reporting studies, on average people seem to overstate their own penis sizes from a quarter to a half an inch.

(If you want to dig around for yourself, the kinds of studies our averages come from here can be found neatly organized in the notes for the Wiki on penis size here.)

Read the full article at Scarleteen.com

heatherHEATHER CORINNA is an activist, artist, author and the director of Scarleteen, the inclusive online resource for teen and young adult sex education and information. She is also the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College and was a contributor to the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She’s received the The Champions of Sexual Literacy Award for Grassroots Activism (2007), The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Western Region’s, Public Service Award (2009), the Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Women’s Health Heroes Award (2009), The Joan Helmich Educator of the Year Award (2012), and The Woodhull Foundation’s Vicki Award(2013).

Seductive At Any Size

seductressEvery woman, whether she knows it or not, is a seductress.

What is a “Sacred Seductress”? According to sex coach and writer, Kitty Cavalier, every woman- no matter her size, height, race, abilities, etc.- possesses the power of seduction.

To be “sexy” comes from confidence in one’s self. Sexiness is knowing that you are “perfectly imperfect”; that nothing about your body needs to change. A Scared Seductress invests in “true beauty” rather than “learned beauty”. Learned beauty involves trying to adhere to the narrow standards that society sets and defines as “beautiful”. True beauty, however, does not require validation from outside forces. As Ms. Cavalier writes, true beauty comes from a deeper place within; an unapologetic appreciation of one’s self and body.

For examples of what true beauty looks like, Kitty Cavalier shares an inspiring narrative. It’s a powerful piece that all woman should be able to say to themselves.

This post was originally published on Elle Chase’s SmutforSmarties.com 

BY KITTY CAVALIER | kittycavalier.com

One of the most undeniable virtues of a true Sacred Seductress is the way she loves her flesh. A Seductress loves every inch of her self: smooth skin, dimpled skin, parts that stick out, parts that just don’t. It is all as beautiful as a sunrise to her. Because of the conviction in her self-love, the judgments one usually makes about a female body seem to slip away when they are in her presence. She is that powerful.

When I say “Sacred Seductress”, you might be wondering what I mean.  Who I am talking about is you.  As a woman who teaches seduction, people always assume that I teach things like one-liners and mind games.  Hardly.  These things are not seductive.  They may have an instant effect of fascination or intrigue, but real seduction, true seduction, sacred seduction, comes from a much deeper place: a place of total, unapologetic authenticity. Seductive power and prowess is something we all possess. In my retreats it is never a matter of teaching a woman something new.  It is a matter of giving her permission to remember.

One of the greatest myths we are fed about seduction is that in order to be successful you must achieve a “perfect” aesthetic and body. What a crock of shit. A Seductress does not wait around for the “perfect body” to arrive in order to feel and know her full sensual and erotic power.  She understands that sexy is something that lives inside of her, rather than outside.  She sources her beauty from her ability to feel and just be, not how someone told her she should look.  The things she is told she should be ashamed of she flaunts rather than hides.  She treats them like the diamonds that they are: rare, beautiful, and perfectly imperfect.

Body hatred is an epidemic amongst women. We live in a culture that teaches us to believe that she must meet an impossible list of qualifications in order to feel “beautiful.” The tricky thing about this list of benchmarks however, is that there is not a woman alive who could even come close to meeting them all. For every woman who wishes her hips were smaller, there is a woman who wishes her hips were more round. For every woman who wishes her breasts were fuller, there is a woman wishing she could wear t-shirts without feeling self-conscious. It reminds me of the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” We are all striving so desperately to be perfect, sexy, beautiful, young; and yet it is this exact desperation to change what is already perfect that makes us all feel so downright ugly.

A Seductress transcends all of this by making the important distinction between true beauty, and learned beauty. Learned beauty is what we do when our sole purpose is to gain the approval of others based on what we have been told is beautiful. When we aim to achieve the beauty we have learned, we are dependent on external validation to convince us of our power and radiance. But a true Seductress knows with every fiber of her being that true beauty is eternal. It never leaves us. It does not change with our outfit or our hairstyle or our age. True beauty means that we need never pause in the mirror and ask ourselves “do I look beautiful right now?” True beauty needs never be questioned. It is a simple feminine truth.

This is a lesson that was not easily learned for me.  As a woman who spent half her life unable to wear short sleeves for fear of exposing even her arms, I have come a long way baby. Everyday I recommit to choosing to see past the bullshit that tells me that unless I walk around in a photo shop pod, I have reason to doubt myself.  I choose to honor, appreciate and revere the temple of my flesh.  I adore my body, and I wish the same for you.

Adoration

By Kitty Cavalier

 I adore My Body.

 It is so scrumptious and delicious, I just want to gobble myself up.

 I love my legs. They are like the most elegant champagne flutes. I imagine that if they were a food, they would taste like ladyfingers drizzled with chocolate and whipped cream.

I love my arms. I love the way they taper delicately at the wrist. I love their shape as I hold onto the subway rail. I love the way my muscles flex as I sway from side to side.

I love my breasts; they are like the ripest plum, hanging on a vine in Tuscany, warm from the sun.

I adore my hips. Their curves, the way I can grab the flesh on the bone. They give me a sense of home, like a crisp, brown Christmas turkey cooked with butter under the skin. Yum.

I love my Belly. I love the roundness of it. I love how authentically feminine it is. I love having it massaged in a warm bath with oil underwater.

I LOVE my shoulders, my clavicle, and my décolleté. My clavicle is like an Olympic ice skater. Graceful, elegant. A perfect ten. My décolleté; smooth like the frosting on top of a birthday cake. My shoulders, like marble pillars in the Sistine Chapel, holding everything together with strength, grace and beauty.

I love my hair. Like warm amber honey. Smooth, lustrous, sensuous.

I love my face. My eyes, like looking down an endless beach. My lips, like perfect velvet pillows you just want to sink into. My skin, like the creamy froth on top of a cappuccino.

I love being a woman.
I love being me.
In the words of Doris Day, “I enjoy being a girl.”

condom ad condoms too loose

 

kittycavalierKitty Cavalier is the author of Sacred Seduction: A Guidebook, Memoir and Tribute to the Art of Seduction. Kitty travels the world offering workshops, retreats and experiences teaching how to use seduction, not as a tool of manipulation, but as a spiritual practice and a pathway to a more pleasurable, sensual, well-lived life. Her work has been featured on Elle, Penthouse Magazine, The Daily Love, The Good Men Project, Psychology Today, Glimpse TV with Kate Northrup, and more. To contact Kitty visit her website and follow her on Twitter @kittycavalier!

Smaller Package, Better Lover?

david statue

While a larger penis doesn’t imbue a man with greater sexual skill, men can feel great pressure to have an “ideal” body, especially one with an “ideal” (i.e., larger)  penis.  What are the effects of this very narrow notion of ideal penis size? Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, looks at the impact of media’s “bigger-is-better” messaging on men, their partners and the condom industry at large.

This article addresses the impact of media on male body image and addresses the condom industry’s failure to serve men of all sizes.

Here are some main points to take away:

  • Only 55% of men report satisfaction with their penis. Meanwhile 85% of women report satisfaction with their partner’s penis.
  • Only 50% of men worldwide have an “average” size penis and require what is known as an “average” or a “regular” condom.
  • 35% of men require a more tailored or smaller condom, which several companies do not offer.
  • Only 15% of men require larger condoms. However, 85% of marketing attention is given to this category.
  • 85% of the condom-buying population is marginalized.
  • Men whose self-worth is tied to penis size can suffer lower self esteem, while men who are comfortable with their penises report feeling more confident and happy.

The original article was published on the Huffington Post

BY MELISSA WHITE | CEO of LuckyBloke.com

It truly is all about the size of the package — but not in the way that you might think.

It’s time to take a stand: regarding penis size, and what it means to be a sexually desirable man. A large penis doesn’t make a man a great kisser, fill him with sensuality and passion, make his partner feel loved or safe – nor guarantee that he is a remotely competent lover.

It’s often ignored that the largest sex organ we have is our brain. The brain, which it happens, is also bombarded with distorted messaging on what makes a man, a man.

And it starts at an increasingly early age. The way men and their bodies are portrayed in mass media deeply affects their lives.

There are over a million men in the U.S. with serious eating disorders. Perhaps more revealing, is a figure from a recent UK study, which found 1 out of 3 men would sacrifice a year of their life in exchange for their ideal body.

I began speaking to men in my circle, as well as to Lucky Bloke customers, about these findings, and then took it to Facebook:

“Gentlemen, how many years would you be willing to sacrifice, in exchange for your ideal body? How many for your ideal penis?”

The responses given indicated that men’s levels of success, attractiveness, or intelligence, seemed disconnected from whether they were comfortable about their bodies.

One in particular was very clear. “My ideal penis? I think you mean women’s idea of an ideal penis!” And it just so happens he was willing to sacrifice more years than any other participant.

And that’s saying a lot. Most who responded stated they’d sacrifice at least 10 years of their life in exchange for their ideal body — especially if it included their ideal penis.

Wow. Am I alone in preferring the men in my life live an extra 10 years, just the way they are?

Seeking further insight regarding body perceptions, I turned to Elle Chase — aka Lady Cheeky, one of my favorite Sex Educators (and moderator for: Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality at CatalystCon in Los Angeles).

Elle summed it up:

“There’s a pervasive meme out there that men’s bodies need to be hairless or they need to be a certain height and, of course, the old wives’ tale about having to have a big penis to properly satisfy a partner. In reality, it’s our diversity that makes us who we are and comparing ourselves to what we see in magazines is futile. The fact is, we all have to stop beating ourselves up because we don’t meet a perceived ideal. Especially, when it comes to penis size… I’ve always said “it’s not the size of the pencil, it’s how you sign your name. “

Are Elle and I the only women who feel this way?

Not according to a comprehensive study which showed that 85 percent of women are satisfied with their partner’s penis. However, it also revealed that only 55 percent of men find their own size satisfactory.

Women appreciating their lovers is great news.

The bad news is men’s sense of self-worth is sabotaged long before they couple up.

So what exactly are the messages society is sending young boys and men? Mass media narratives insinuate that a man is only popular with the ladies if he’s well hung, and has the stamina of a superhero.

These days, many of the condom conversations I have touch on the topic of penis size. That’s how I know that even smart, sexually active people have yet to learn that condoms come in three basic sizes.

This critical information is rarely a component of Sex Ed. Even more elusive are conversations about what a condom should feel like when it’s on. Not to mention pleasure as a barometer for condom fit. I mean, who would want to have to acknowledge pleasure as part of Sex-Ed? Outrageous!

The facts are simple: when a condom is too small for a man he feels discomfort, loses his erection, and at worst, the condom breaks (clearly, he’d benefit from a larger condom).

If, on the other hand, a condom is too large, it slips and slides, leaks easily, and sooner or later falls off.

A condom that is too big or too small leads the man wearing it to focus on his discomfort. Thus both pleasure and safety are severely compromised (typically for both partners).

Fun fact: Most free condoms distributed promulgate the myth that one size fits all.

However, it’s estimated only 50 percent of men worldwide have an “average” size penis and require what is known as an “average” or standard condom.

A whopping 35 percent of men, globally, require a more tailored or smaller condom, while a larger condom is required for 15 percent of men.

Due to the media obsession with endowment, 85 percent of marketing attention is given to that final 15 percent of the population. As a direct result, a staggering 85 percent of men — the vast and silent majority, are marginalized. They’re essentially being told they shouldn’t exist.

Sadly, many condom manufacturers are complicit in this absurdly lopsided marketing.

Trojan has created explosively popular branding with their Magnum franchise. Yet there is obviously a glaring discrepancy between Magnum’s mass appeal and the fact that, for 85 percent of men, it simply isn’t the right fit.

Perhaps even worse is Trojan failing to offer any small-sized condom option. Many brands have followed suit, ignoring 35 percent of the population entirely. What kind of message is this sending to sexually active men?

Obviously, when a man’s self-image is deeply, even subconsciously, tied to the size of his penis societal influences, including marketplace messaging, can cause serious harm to his self-esteem.

And conversely, it comes as no surprise that men who are comfortable with their penises report feeling generally happier and more confident. Which brings me to my favorite response from that informal body-image survey:

“…Regarding the ‘perfect body’ — I wouldn’t trade any years. I love my body. And, I’m super happy with my penis. I feel blessed there too. Now this is not to say I am by any means perfect in either department, but I do feel really lucky. Yes, keeping very healthy and taking care of myself is probably a big factor resulting in a strong body, but good genes also play a def [sic] part. There’s also [my partner’s] loving adoration. I think feeling good about myself and feeling very loved by my partner — knowing that I turn her on, and knowing how much she ignites the same desires in me, is also a big part.”

I know I would want any man I love to feel this way.

And, perhaps, that’s where we begin. Considering the most relevant questions: When you think of a good lover where does your mind go? What really turns you on?

18 Signs of a Sexually Healthy Adult

Photo credit: Mario Klingemann

Photo credit: Mario Klingemann

What does healthy sexuality look like?

As we’ve talked about before, sexuality is a complex mix of things in varying proportions for different people- things that are physical, emotional, interpersonal, cultural and more. Thus it’s difficult to pin down in one all-encompassing definition. That is why The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) developed a list of behaviors that encapsulate what healthy sexuality can look like.

There is one word you will see a lot on this list. Affirmation, which means the declaration that something is true. In other words, to express and experience sexuality in healthy ways is to positively uphold and support yourself for who you are.

This is not an exhausive list (there are many things one could add). If you find that there are some things missing here, it does not mean something is “wrong” with you. It simply demonstrates how sexuality is extremely diverse. This list is one model (of many) to help explain how healthy sexuality is cultivated.

This article was originally published on KarenRayne.com

BY DR. KAREN RAYNE | KarenRayne.com

4th of July Parade

And here is a picture of a young adult – tell me your opinion – is this adult exhibiting Life Behaviors of a Sexually Healthy Adult? Why or why not?

Children and adolescents gather information from watching the adults around them. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (http://www.siecus.org/) has compiled a list of Life Behaviors of a Sexually Healthy Adult. Reading this list, I think an adult (or child, or adolescent) who is exhibiting these behaviors is healthy in more ways than ‘just’ sexually. What do you think?

A sexually healthy adult will:

1) Appreciate one’s own body.

2) Seek further information about reproduction as needed.

3) Affirm that human development includes sexual development, which may or may not include reproductive or sexual experience.

4) Interact with all genders in respectful and appropriate ways.

5) Affirm one’s own sexual orientation and respect the sexual orientations of others.

6) Affirm one’s own gender identities and respect the gender identities of others.

7) Express love and intimacy in appropriate ways.

8) Develop and maintain meaningful relationships.

9) Make informed choices about family options and relationships.

10) Exhibit skills that enhance personal relationships.

11) Identify and live according to one’s own values.

12) Take responsibility for one’s own behavior.

13) Practice effective decision-making.

14) Develop critical-thinking skills.

15) Communicate effectively with family, peers, and romantic partners.

16) Enjoy and express one’s sexuality throughout life.

17) Express one’s sexuality in ways that are congruent with one’s values.

18) Enjoy sexual feelings without necessarily acting on them.

Source: http://www.siecus.org/pubs/guidelines/guidelines.pdf

condom ad condoms too tight

rayne2sm DR. KAREN RAYNE With a doctoral degree is in Educational Psychology, Karen provides advice and support to parents on how to educate their children and teenagers about sex and sexuality. Karen’s knowledge about adolescent development and education provides her with a solid background for guiding parents through these tricky conversations. And, as a college professor, helping young adults grapple with sexuality, she is known to change student’s lives. On twitter @KarenRayne

20 Things I Didn’t Know About Love, Sex and Dating Until I Hit 40

Photographer Daniel Rocal

Photographer Daniel Rocal

Looking back on your love life, what do you know now that you didn’t understand in the past?

Love, sex and dating are all so multifaceted and complex, it’s a life dynamic that is never fixed or static. Rather, these parts of ourselves flux and change throughout time, and certainly don’t halt in your later life. What you found sexy 10 years ago will not likely match your current appeals. Your opinion about friends-with-benefits will be completely different. Your admiration of feet is now a full-blown fetish.

Sex educator and writer, Elle Chase, draws from her personal experiences to introduce 20 things she now knows about the joys of sex and dating. It’s pumped full of advice.

Try this exercise to tap into the present wisdom of your sexuality.

This piece was originally published at SmutforSmarties.com

BY ELLE CHASE | ElleChase.com

1. When going to a swinger’s retreat, make certain your partner isn’t packing a tiny, leather, Borat-style “unikini” to wear at the poolside fashion show.

2. Being “in love” and being “in lust” are both very disparate and different things that deceptively, can seem like one and the same.

3. Sex is messy. You’ll need a towel.

4. When dating a married man, never cling to the statistic that 1% of men having an affair will leave their wives for their mistress. Because no matter what he says, for every King Edward VIII who abdicated the throne for the woman he loved, there are 25 Joey Buttafuccos and you’re dating number 24.

5. Gentlemanly manners, a good upbringing and general social skills should never be underestimated.

6. Tattoo this Maya Angelou quote on the inside of your eyelids. “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

7. Though it might seem obvious, always query a date about the circumstances in which he lives. If he resides in a storage facility with no indoor plumbing and a Porta-Potty he cleans himself, chances are you’ll be doing all the driving.

8. Guys you meet on a fetish-dating site will never care if you haven’t dusted before they come over or the bed isn’t made. Don’t stress it. You’re mother will NOT be turning over in her grave (at least not because your house isn’t spotless).

9. Cigarettes, role-playing your True Blood fantasy character on Twitter and bucketloads of Xanax are not a new lifestyle regime, they are a red flag.

10. Contrary to what they may have you believe, the man with a 12-inch dick is not going to be the best sex you ever had. Two words: bruised cervix.

11. Approximately, one out of every five men you sleep with will be as good in bed as they think, or say they are.

12. It’s less important to a man what your body looks like than how you feel about it and what you do with it.

13. This may seem obvious, but never divulge the web address of the erotica and porn blogs you run on the first couple of dates. It sets up unrealistic expectations.

14. Only wax your vulva if it makes YOU feel better. If your lover suggests he’d like to see you with smooth genitalia, tell him you’d like him to go first.

15. Going to bed alone at night isn’t nearly as lonely as going to bed next to someone you’ve grown apart from.

16. When online dating, no matter how hard you work at making your profile accurate, smart, witty and pithy you will always get responses from 23 year old, trade students who wear their baseball caps sideways and think common texting abbreviations are what constitute an irresistible opening email.

17. Sexual chemistry and passion are inextricably linked, however it can take many different forms, come in many different packages and isn’t always instantaneous. If he doesn’t light your fire after 3 dates, he never will.

18. Social media is great place to learn how to flirt with abandon.

19. It takes at least a week to properly seduce a woman.

20. Never reschedule time with friends for a date. Your friends are your gold. The date can wait.

elle Sex educator, writer and coach, Elle Chase is best known for her award-winning and highly trafficked sites, LadyCheeky.com (NSFW) and SmutForSmarties.com, which have both garnered multiple awards, including LA Weekly’s Best Sex Blog 2013. Elle’s focus is on positive body image, reigniting sexual expression and better sex after 40. She speaks nationally at universities, conferences, and teaches workshops about all things “sex.” Currently, she is hard at work on a book based on her popular workshop “Big, Beautiful Sex”. Find Elle on facebook.com/TheElleChase and follow her @TheElleChase or @smutforsmarties.

Illusions of the Body: How Your Thoughts Look On Your Body

Photographer Gracie Hagen

Photo credit: Gracie Hagen

Sex educator and body positive activist, Elle Chase, argues that being unconscious of how our thoughts effect our self-image is like leaving the kitchen faucet running. You can easily ignore the direct physical consequences because it seemingly isn’t affecting your immediate everyday life.

Inspired by the photography project, “Illusions of the Body”, Elle challenges us to ask ourselves, “Does the way in which you carry yourself match how you feel about yourself? Are you physically representing your positive or negative thoughts on a daily basis?

Read this motivational piece and then take a look in the mirror.

This post was originally published here.

BY ELLE CHASE | ElleChase.com

Look at this woman’s body.
Look at her in terms of the first picture being one of self-appreciation and confidence.
Then look at the second one being of self-deprecation.
Which one do you relate to?

Chicago photographer Gracie Hagan likes to play with with themes of emotion and perception in her work. In one particular photo series entitled “Illusions of the Body” she makes clear that our bodies can take different forms depending on how we carry ourselves. And in my opinion, shows us how easy it can be for your body to take on how you are feeling.

In this series of paired photos, the subject is a nude model in a complimentary or confident pose while in contrast, the second photo of the set, the same nude model is in an unconfident or awkward pose. The differences are extreme but also telling, in the same way bloggers have recently taken to the netosphere to show how those amazing ‘before and after’ photos from the weight loss ads can be manipulated showing a seeming dramatic change in body shape and firmness with the use of the product they’re shilling when in fact, the photos were most likely taken the same day with the model told to hold her body in such a way that makes her body either look 10 lbs. heavier or 10 lbs. thinner.

Granted Gracie Hagen’s photos are intentionally exaggerated to make a point … but are they really that exaggerated? Next time you catch your reflection in a full-length mirror or a store window, notice your posture, the position your shoulders are in, what your resting face looks and feels like, and see if it matches what you’re feeling. How does noticing how you are unconsciously carrying your body make you feel? What would you assume about you if you were a stranger passing you on the street? Do you seem open? Do you seem closed-off? Are you giving off an impression you don’t want to be approached? Do you seem at peace? Do you seem happy? Could this be how you carry yourself always or has today/this week/this month, etc. or a particular event been influencing you? Could this be representative of how you feel about yourself?

How we feel about ourselves determines (to a great extent) how we carry our body, and therefore project to the world (and back to us) how we feel about ourselves. By being unconscious of how our mindset is affecting our carriage is like leaving the kitchen faucet perpetually running. You don’t see the damage it’s causing because it seemingly isn’t affecting your day to day life … the water just goes down the drain. But oh, when you get the water bill you see the price for ignorance is high. Not only that, but in a drought, that wastefulness is irresponsible and depletes the reserve of water for everything and everyone. This is how your psyche suffers from unexamined negative thought. You know you’re thinking negatively, but don’t do anything about it for whatever reason. Unattended, those negative thoughts can cost you your self-esteem and left unabated will wear you down to the point where you have no stamina or comport to turn it around.

I invite you to take a look at these photos and click on the link to see the whole series. And next time you catch your own reflection or become aware of how your body is holding itself, take in what you notice and consider if it matches how you feel about yourself. Ask yourself if you might be physically representing your negative or positive thoughts about yourself on a daily basis and if that is something you would like to be more aware of. When you begin to pay attention to what you are noticing, you become more aware of cause and effect in your life, mind and body. When you become aware of your actions and thoughts (cause and effect) you can choose whether to change them or not. Choice is the gift here … taking back your freedom of choice in how you think and feel about yourself thereby assuming control of your own power and not letting external factors (media, advertising, judgments of others) make a container for you to exist in. YOU get to choose how YOU feel and that small change can make all the difference in the world.

For more information on Gracie Hagen and her photography check out her…

Website: www.graciehagen.com
Tumblr: http://graciehagen.tumblr.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GracieHagen
Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/graciehagen
Instagram: http://instagram.com/graciehagen

elle Sex educator, writer and coach, Elle Chase is best known for her award-winning and highly trafficked sites, LadyCheeky.com (NSFW) and SmutForSmarties.com, which have both garnered multiple awards, including LA Weekly’s Best Sex Blog 2013. Elle’s focus is on positive body image, reigniting sexual expression and better sex after 40. She speaks nationally at universities, conferences, and teaches workshops about all things “sex.” Currently, she is hard at work on a book based on her popular workshop “Big, Beautiful Sex”. Find Elle on facebook.com/TheElleChase and follow her @TheElleChase or @smutforsmarties.

Sexuality: WTF Is It, Anyway?

Photo credit: Cobalt123

“The Circles of Sexuality are an altering flux of different parts working together.” Photo credit: Cobalt123

Sexuality is made up of various working parts, all of which are fundamental to being human. It involves a vast array of experiences including family and peer relationships, dating, physical development, emotional development, sensuality, gender, body image, media, and so much more. That is why it is such a difficult term to define. What one person deems important to their sexuality will be different from another person.

So how can we understand sexuality in a way that is inclusive to people’s diversity?

One way to think about it is what some sex educators call the Circles of Sexuality. Heather Corinna explains in detail how this model works.

Here are key points she covers in the article below:

  • There is no one-fits-all model. Definitions are not fixed and change dramatically over time as we learn more about about people’s sexuality. If this model doesn’t resonate with you, this does not reflect something wrong with you; rather there is a problem with the model.
  • Think about the Circles of Sexuality as an altering flux of parts. Each of the five circles can change from the size and position in which they overlap. For example, one person’s sexuality might be more influenced by their experience with reproduction, while another person will see their sexual orientation as more important. And it’s not just between people that this varies, but also across one’s individual life.
  •  Sexuality is made up of any or all of the following: physical, chemical, emotional, relationships, identity-based, intellectual, and sociocultural. Read below for a comprehensive explanation of each.
  • For more information about sex and sexuality, check out Heather Corinna’s book, All About S.E.X.: The Scarleteen Book.

This article is originally publish at Scarleteen

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen

WTF-sexuality-v2The term “sexuality” can be used a lot like the word “sex.” They’re both terms we say and hear a lot, but which often aren’t clearly defined, or even defined at all. We can take for granted that everyone, including ourselves, knows what terms like this mean, a heck of an assumption to make with something that covers a lot of really important things and can feel as murky as Lake Erie.

So, what is sexuality all about? You might say it’s about our bodies or our hormones, about our feelings and our relationships, or about touching and being touched. You might think it’s about doing or engaging in one kind of sex or any kind of sex, or about wanting, seeking out or experiencing certain kinds of pleasure. You might say it’s about parts of our identity, like our gender identity or sexual orientation. You might say it’s about reproduction: about making babies (or not). You might say it’s about our desires to be close to — or far away from — other people in ways we define or experience as sexual, or about feeling horny, lusty, tingly, mingly, hungry, itchy, twitchy or whatever words you use to express a strong feeling of “I can haz sex NOW, plz.”

If any one of those things were your answers, you’re right. If all or most of those things were your answers, you’re even more right (and may not even need to read this article at all: go get outside for a change, wouldya?). Sexuality is BIG. Mount Everest big: that’s why trying to scale it without a guide or two doesn’t go so well for most people. It’s a lot bigger than it can look and certainly a lot bigger than it’s often presented by most places and in most ways we see it presented. It’s complex as all get-out, both because it’s so big, and also because it’s about everyone, and as a whole people, we’re all incredibly different so something that’s about all of us is always going to be seriously complicated, not simplistic.

As with anything this big, there are a lot of ways we can talk about what sexuality is and can be. There’s no one exactly-right model when it comes to defining sexuality: we’re going to talk about it a couple of ways here, based on where we’re currently at with definitions in comprehensive sex education and sexology, but if neither of them feels right to you, that probably means these models just don’t fit you well, rather than meaning you’re wrong. Models or definitions of sexuality can and often do change over time, especially as we learn more and more about everyone’s sexualities. Even in just the last 50 years, the way we talk about sexuality and the models we create for it have changed a lot: in the next 50 years, it may change, too.

Sexuality, as we know so far, is a mix of many different things in varying proportions: things that are physical, chemical, emotional, interpersonal, identity-based, intellectual, social and cultural, and that mix is different for, and unique to, everyone. Sexuality also isn’t something that is technically “adult,” or something that pops out of the blue when anyone reaches puberty or a certain age: no one isn’t sexual one day, then the next day, suddenly is because they’ve reached a certain age, had sex with a partner or sprouted hair in places they didn’t have it last month. Even though the sexualities of people tend to vary when it comes to age and development — infant sexuality, for instance, is a very different thing than adolescent or young adult sexuality, which can be a very different thing from the sexualities of people in their 60s or 70s — it’s been with all of us in some way from the day we were born, and maybe even before, believe it or not.

Sexuality: Key Ingredients for a Very Adaptable Recipe

What can sexuality be made of? Any or all of the following:

The physical: The development, health and function of what are considered our internal and external sexual organs and reproductive systems and our unique experiences with that development, health and function, our brain and nervous system (the biggest drivers of sexual arousal and function), and the whole of our bodies. The experience of our senses — of hearing, tasting, touching, feeling and seeing — are also part of our sexuality, even though they are part of our whole lives and life experience, not just our sexualities. The experience of our sexual responses and something often called “skin hunger,” the human desire to be touched. Advocates for Youth points out that teens and young adults often experience less touch from family members than they did as children, and so people often don’t recognize how big a part just wanting to be touched can play when it comes to young people and their developing sexuality.

Another part of the physical aspect of sexuality is information about our sexual anatomy, and our experiences with and of reproduction and our reproductive systems, of our reproductive and sexual health are also part of the physical part of sexuality, as well as playing a role in other parts of our sexual whole, including the chemical, social and cultural.

The chemical: AKA, hormones. Hormones take the blame all too often for hasty or poor sexual choices: choices there seem no other way of accounting for, as in “Those dirty hormones made me do it!” Hormones are not anything close to all of what our sexuality is — nor are they things that can make people do sexual things against their will or are a sound scapegoat for poor sexual decision-making — but they can certainly play a part. “Sex” hormones include testosterone, a big chemical libido driver for everyone, and estrogen, but there are also others which take part in sexuality that you experience even without sexual activity, like progesterone, adrenaline, serotonin, vasopressin, oxytocin (which is a real thing, but has been the source of many a myth), dopamine and endorphins. When people talk about sexual chemistry, some of what they mean is how we do or don’t neurochemically respond when it comes to sex and sexual feelings, something — unlike our sexual behavior — we don’t have any control over and often may not even have much awareness of.

The emotional & intellectual: Our feelings, values and ideas about sexual development and sexual changes through life, body image, gender identity and sexual orientation issues, sexual desires and fantasies, sexual activity with oneself and/or with partners, sexual relationships and sexual self-image, the ways those may drive us sexually, and the way we feel about sexuality and sex as a whole, not just our own. How we may or do feel sexually attracted to others and how they may or do feel attracted to us is another piece of the emotional and intellectual, and our sexual fantasies are part of this, too, as are our sexual ideals: what we feel sex and sexuality are supposed to be or should be, either for ourselves or for everyone. Our gender identity and our sexual orientation are also big pieces of the emotional and intellectual aspects of our sexuality, as well as part of the social and interpersonal, cultural and physical parts of sexuality.

Feelings are a part of our sexuality in every and any sexual interaction or desire. Sometimes we’ll hear people say they’ve had or want to have sex “without feelings,” but the only way we could do that, really, is to cut our heads off. While we may not have, be open to or experience the same kinds of feelings in every sexual interaction, when we’re alive and conscious at all, emotional feelings are always some part of the picture. We can’t magically turn them off during any part of life, including with sex and sexuality.

The social and interpersonal: Your sexuality in the context of your relationships — sexual partners or potential partners, but also friends and family — and the influences those relationships have had and have now on your feelings about your sexuality, your sexual wants and needs from others, and your sexual choices with others and your ability to make them. This includes experiences with taking the emotional risks we do whenever we expose or express ourselves sexually with someone else: what has happened to us, for instance, in sharing sexual feelings or interest, or in being out about some part of our sexual selves. How others have expressed themselves sexually to us, including when we weren’t expressing ourselves sexually with them, also plays a part here.

This piece is about what, if any, sexual relationships with others a person wants, seeks out or experiences, but also about all kinds of other relationships that tend to play a part in our sexuality, like the relationships we had and have with family members and friends. How all the people we are in any kind of relationship with treat or react to our sexuality is also a piece of this and the cultural aspects below.

The cultural: None of us can live in the world without being influenced by it. How the rest of the world — including our peers, local and larger communities, your government, the media — views sexuality, and all the parts of our sexuality, like our gender, our bodies, or the kinds of sexual relationships or experiences we have or want, is a part of our sexuality, as are our feelings, attitudes, and conformity or resistance to those views. How the world or some in it view our sexuality when it isn’t even ours at all, but only their idea of it is also part of cultural influence on our sexuality.

In other words, this part is about what messages about sexuality we get overtly and covertly, what we feel or experience our culture allows and disallows, idealizes (says is good or right) or punishes (says is bad or wrong), what our culture tells us to feel comfortable with and tells us to be afraid of, the effect and influence it has on us, consciously and unconsciously, and where and how we and our own sexuality, sexual identity and ethics, body image, gender identity, orientation and relationships fits or doesn’t within cultural attitudes towards, approaches to and presentations of sexuality. To give you one easy example, a lot of the words, the very language, and the approaches you’re reading here are, themselves, cultural: someone from a very different culture or cultures than my own may write or conceptualize all of this very differently.

You might have noticed a lot of overlaps with things in each of those groups above, and for good reason. That’s because we can’t really compartmentalize those things much: we can’t really put them each in tiny little boxes where everything always stays neatly in each box. One model for defining and explaining sexuality that’s really helpful, and illustrates that overlapping well, is the Circles of Sexuality model, designed by Dr. Dennis M. Dailey. There are a lot of versions and explanations of this model, but the one I like best is from the Interagency Gender Working Group , which is what our version of the circles here is adapted from.

What’s Inside the Circles of Sexuality
stcircles2_sm

Sensuality: “Sense” is the key part of this word: we’re talking about your physical senses and your awareness and experience of them. Sensuality also involves our awareness and experience of our bodies as a whole, including our body image, and our experiences, if any, of physically exploring the bodies of others, and not just with certain kinds of sex, like intercourse, recognized as capital-S Sex. Sensuality is about pleasure: seeking, exploring and experiencing pleasure, both as something we may receive or have, and as something we may give others or share with others.

Intimacy: Intimacy is a word sometimes people use as a euphemism for sex, like by saying someone was “intimate” with someone else to mean they had some kind of sex with them. Intimacy is certainly a part of the whole of sexuality and often part of people’s experience of sex and sexuality through life, but when we say intimacy here, we’re talking about the ability and desire for emotional closeness with other people, and as a part of sexuality, not as the whole of it. That can include sharing, caring, emotional risk-taking, and vulnerability. Emotional intimacy may not always occur with every sexual experience, and when it does, it doesn’t always look or feel the same way for everyone, or with every experience — including for two people sharing a sexual experience together at the same time — nor happen to the same degree for every person or with every sexual experience. When and if we seek out sex with other people, we are usually seeking out intimacy, even if it’s not the same kind of intimacy every time, or the same kind of intimacy someone else may be seeking. We’re usually all looking to share something in which we’re close to someone else in some way.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: This is about a person’s feeling, sense or understanding of who they are when it comes to their gender — their feeling of being a man, a woman, neither, both, or a different way of experiencing gender altogether and the ways they express those feelings — and when it comes to what gender of people, if any, they feel sexual desire about: who, based on (or not) gender, they feel sexually attracted to, whether or not they seek out or have the opportunity to be in sexual relationship with or not. Sexual orientation — our sense of being queer or straight, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or asexual, and so forth — and gender identity are obviously involved with each other, because they both have to do with gender, but one doesn’t automatically determine the other, and how linked they are for each person can vary, as can how big a part they play in a person’s sexuality.

Our biases, stereotypes or fears can play roles here, too, just like they can in all the other circles. In other words, ways that we think about other people or ourselves when it comes to gender or orientation — just like ways we may think of others when it comes to ability or disability, race or ethnicity — can also play a part in our sexuality. If that’s tricky to get a grasp on for you, a good example of that is the idea some men have that that only gay men want to engage in receptive anal sex: many men of all orientations may have the desire to explore that or know they have enjoyed that, but those with that bias can find the bias plays a part in their sexuality around that activity, either making it something they desire but don’t do because of homophobia and that makes them feel bad about their sexuality, or something they may find even more exciting, or taboo, because of that fear or bias. Ravishment fantasies can be another example of that, as can people using pornography that turns them on, but where doing what they’re watching is something they’d feel disgusted by in real life. Sometimes things people feel most afraid of, or repulsed by, can be things that turn them on a lot.

Sexual and Reproductive Health: One’s capacity or ability (or lack thereof) to reproduce, feelings about and experiences with reproduction, and the behaviors and attitudes that play a part in sexual health and enjoyment. This includes the information we have about sexual anatomy, sexual activities, reproduction, contraception, STI prevention, and self-care, among others and the messages that information has given us about all of those things. This circle is also about our experiences of sexual wellness or illness, and how they influence our sexuality and sexual desires or experiences. Healthy sexual relationships are also a part of sexual and reproductive health.

Sexual behaviors and practices: This is one of the easier pieces to grok: it’s about what we or others actively do sexually to enact or express our sexuality; about who is doing what when it comes to their own body parts and/or those of a sexual partner or partners, sex toys or other objects. This part of sexuality won’t always be a “do” or “have done” for everyone: some people may want or desire certain behaviours or practices, but not engage in them, or not yet engage in them, for any number of reasons, whether that’s about lack of opportunity or ability, fear or something else. Even if someone doesn’t or hasn’t yet actively done something sexual, the behaviours and practices they are interested in or want often play a big part in their sexuality. This also isn’t just about sex with partners: masturbation is part of this, too. What we do not want to do sexually can also be part of our sexuality and how we experience it, too.

Power and Agency: Power is the ability or capacity to do something, and can also be about strength or force, or the ability or capacity to exercise control over oneself or others. Agency is a sociological or philosophical term that addresses a person’s capacity to act: what a person has the right, ability or power to do. How much power or agency each of us has in general and in specific situations varies a whole lot, in really big ways — like based on what power and agency we may or may not have in the world based on how rich or poor we are, what color we are, what our gender is, how our bodies do or don’t work — and then in smaller, more situational ways, like in one given relationship.

Power and agency play a huge part in all aspects of sexuality, in the healthy stuff and the unhealthy stuff, which is why this version of the circles puts it right in the center. We can experience power and agency, and have them influence our sexuality from a “sense of self-worth and understanding of one’s [sexual] preferences and values, which enables a person to realize sexual well-being and health.” We may or may not have, or may have or feel varying amounts of power or agency to influence, negotiate, decide, consent or decline when it comes to sexual experiences. We or others may also use power or agency to manipulate, control or harm others in our sexual experiences, too.

Not everyone’s sexuality or the way they express it is healthy, and what’s emotionally healthy or isn’t tends to have a whole lot to do with power and agency. If we feel and use whatever power and agency we have when it comes to sex to care for ourselves and others, to seek out mutual pleasure and well-being, and it comes from an emotional place where we give ourselves and others high value and worth, then chances are good we’re using or enacting our power and agency sexually in healthy ways.

On the other hand, people can also sexually use — or more to the point, abuse — power and agency to do others harm. For sure, sometimes people can use power and agency to try and influence others sexually in ways that aren’t about trying to do harm — or being so self-centered that one doesn’t even consider the other person, which makes doing harm very likely — or trying to control them, like flirting, which is usually harmless even though it is about trying to influence someone else around sex. As well, some people bring powerplay into their sexual lives in ways that in another context would usually be about doing harm, but where consent and mutual pleasure are present and prioritized, instead of dismissed or discounted, like for people who engage in consensual, mutually wanted BDSM activities.

But sexual violence like rape, molestation and incest, sexual harassment, forced prostitution, withholding sex as a way to try and manipulate harm or control (rather than declining sex because it isn’t wanted), sexualization: these are all some things that come from an emotional place of devaluing, or not having value for, oneself and others, and about using power in ways with or around sex that are not healthy, neither for the person doing them or the people that person is doing them to. Power and agency is also in the middle of all of those other circles because how much power and agency people have, and what they do with power and agency, as well as how they are impacted by it, is connected to all of those other issues.

Phew! It’s a lot to think about, we know. And there’s more.

It might help to look at a model like that one and figure that the size of those circles might not all be the same for each person. For instance, one person’s sexuality may be very influenced by reproducing or their experience with reproduction, while it may have little to do with someone else’s. Some people’s sexuality may not have yet involved, or may not ever involve, engaging in sexual behaviors with themselves or others; one person’s sexuality may involve a lot of intimacy, while someone else’s may not. And of course, how a model like this — and the size of the circles and the places they connect — looks for even one person may be very different when they’re 15 than it is when they’re 55. Our sexuality does not stay the same throughout our lives, so how it looks and feels, and what parts of it seem bigger, and which smaller, will often shift quite a few times in each of our lives.

Sexuality is a lot like an ecosystem: one change to one part of the system usually impacts other parts of it, and one tiny shift in one place can sometimes change the whole thing quite radically. And just like with ecosystems, the same shift in one system won’t always have the same impact as it would in a different one: the great diversity of people, our lives and experiences — and all of those pieces we’ve been talking about — means that sexuality is also greatly diverse.

Even the language we or others use to describe our sexuality tends to reflect the kind of vast diversity we’re talking about when it comes to sexuality.

When someone uses words to describe their sexuality, they may mostly or only use terms about sexual orientation and gender identity, like heterosexual (straight), homosexual (gay or lesbian or queer), bisexual or pansexual (queer, bi, pan, omni), asexual or questioning; or terms like cis gender, femme, butch, fey, trans, agender or genderqueer, or stick to terms about chromosomes or how people are assigned sex, like male, female or intersex. Or they might use words that talk more about their sexual behaviours or practices; about what they actively do sexually or find arousing in terms of sexual activities, like kinky, vanilla, foot lover, oral sex fangirl, pictophiliac (someone aroused by visual pornography) or arachibutyrophiliac (someone aroused by the sensation of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth: shared primarily to give you the most winning Scrabble word of ever).

Some people use terms that are about a sexual role they like to play, like bottom, top or switch. Some people may include their reproductive status or experiences in their terms for their sexual identity, like if they’re a Mom or Dad, or if they’ve chosen to be childfree. Some may use words that focus on the kind of relationship they are in or want. Some people feel that one word describes, or should describe, their sexuality, like “male” or “straight,” while another person feels like a word like that is way too broad to be useful or feel like it says anything at all about their sexuality. Of course, some people may, and do, use more than one of those kinds of terms based on what their sexuality feels like and how they identify with it. Someone might define their sexuality or their sexual selves as a trans-femme-lesbian-vanilla-Mom, for instance, while someone else may define themselves sexually as a hetero-kinky-poly-dude. Some people may not use any terms at all.

Too, one thing that trips a lot of people up is trying to figure out how to separate their sexuality from all the other parts of themselves and their lives; where sexuality ends and everything else begins. When I did our version of the circles, I made the text in them bleed outside the circles for a reason. I did that because often, we’re not going to be able to draw very clear lines between our sexuality and the rest of who we are, what we feel and the lives we live. Sometimes it is clear-cut: sometimes we can identify things, situations or feelings that very clearly don’t incite or involve our sexuality in any way. We can sometimes do the same with some things we know are a part of our sexuality, and seem to only or mostly: like things that we find very sexually arousing, but find totally boring, ridiculous or offensive in any other context.

Just like with models for sexual response, you get to come up with your own if you don’t read or see a model that sounds like it really works for you. Sexuality itself involves some things we can’t control or direct — like our life histories, our feelings and our attractions — but for the most part, a lot of our sexuality, and certainly how we define and direct it, is very much a Choose Your Own Adventure.

One person’s sexuality, experience or understanding of sexuality can be radically different from another person’s, but that doesn’t mean one person is right and the other wrong, or that one person has a sexuality and the other doesn’t.

Like anything made of people and our collective lives and experiences, sexuality is hella diverse, and while some sexualities (or more accurately, the way some sexualities are expressed or acted out) are physically, emotionally or interpersonally healthier than others, there’s no right way of having one; no one sexuality that is the default, or the way sexuality “is,” while others are deviations, derivatives or “perversions.”

While it’s important for any of us who talk about sexuality to define what we mean when we use that word, sexuality is really something we’re often best defining on our own, for ourselves, and understanding as something that, while it has a lot of common threads among all people, is tremendously individual and unique. If it were anything but as diverse, varied, big and complicated as it is, people would have gotten bored with it long before now, and no one would ever come to a website like this one.

heatherHEATHER CORINNA is an activist, artist, author and the director of Scarleteen, the inclusive online resource for teen and young adult sex education and information. She is also the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College and was a contributor to the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She’s received the The Champions of Sexual Literacy Award for Grassroots Activism (2007), The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Western Region’s, Public Service Award (2009), the Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Women’s Health Heroes Award (2009), The Joan Helmich Educator of the Year Award (2012), and The Woodhull Foundation’s Vicki Award(2013).

Dr. Foreskin: How You Can Stop Worrying and Love the ‘Hood’

Photo credit Robin_24

Photo credit Robin_24

Male circumcision is common in the United States. Eight in 10 Americans who have penises have their foreskin removed. According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilities Project, in 2011 circumcision was the most common medical procedure performed in hospitals. So it’s not surprising that a lot of people have questions about the foreskin. Similarly, some might prefer the look of circumcised penises simply because they are not used to it’s counterpart. As sex educator JoEllen Notte points out in this article, our aesthetic preferences are shaped by what we frequently see.

In other words, there is nothing inherently ugly about the uncircumcised penis. JoEllen answers all your foreskin curiosities below.

In this article you will learn the following:

  • There are practical tips to manually and gently retract the foreskin.
  • The foreskin acts as a protective barrier of the glands (head of penis)- like a penis sleeping bag!
  • The foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis, and thus increases sensitivity.
  • Always communicate to be sure what your partner enjoys.

This article was originally published here.

BY JOELLEN NOTTE | theRedheadBedhead.com

Several of my friends have never seen one, a few live in fear of encountering one and one refuses to have any interactions with them at all. I am referring not to an accountant, an El Camino or one of those Real Housewives people (all actual fears of the Redhead Bedhead) but to the uncircumcised penis. For reasons I’ll never understand, some folks act like uncut dicks are rare as unicorns and as unpleasant a discovery as hidden household mold. I guess I travel in a more foreskin-friendly circle because I have encountered nearly as many men with it as I have without it and I really don’t know what the big deal is. It’s a dick, people. You can handle it.

Frankly, I think foreskin is kind of adorable¹. It’s like a little² penis sleeping bag! (truth be told I love anything that comes with its own case-from Vera Wang to, you know, regular wang). And when the foreskin retracts – I’ll stop here, because we are going to have a quick moment of instruction:

If you are getting it on with an uncut gentleman and pants are off and he still looks very noticeably like, well, an uncut gentleman this means the foreskin has not retracted and this is where you come in. Wrap you hand around the shaft of the penis and gently draw the hand toward his body and then- eureka!- you have a cock just like you know and love.

 

Continue reading at The Redhead Bedhead.

condom ad condoms too loose

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site theRedheadBedhead.com. Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

What Hollywood Gets Wrong About Senior Sex

"Harold and Maude". Image from The Atlantic.

“Harold and Maude”. Image from The Atlantic.

Our cultural values and notions around sex and sexual health are partially framed and reinforced by media representations that connote ageist and ableist messages. As stated by Melanie Davis, co-president of the Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University, it is extremely rare to come across a narrative in which senior sex is portrayed as dignified and pleasurable. Instead, it is the norm for elderly bodies to be depicted with disgust, devoid of any legitimate sex drive. Such sexual activity is often the brunt of jokes.

Despite media representations, the truth is sex and sexuality do continue into older age and elders can have fulfilling sex lives.

In this excerpt from Davis’s commentary with The Atlantic, she offer practical narrative strategies that would better represent senior sex in a more realistic and positive fashion.

BY MELANIE DAVIS, PhD | MelanieDavisPhD.com

The re-release of cult-classic film Harold and Maude, 30 years after it was first seen by audiences, had reporter Maura Kelly wondering whether Hollywood has changed in its depiction of older adults and sex. The resultant story can be read here. I was quoted in the article about what movies give us and what I wish we’d see more of. For example:

“Enough with the constant references to Viagra!” says Davis, who’s also sick of all the jokes about adult diapers. She wishes filmmakers would show an older character massaging his partner’s arthritic hands, or a senior couple making love gingerly so as not to aggravate a sore knee or hip. “I would like to see more longing—more interest and desire, even if it goes unfulfilled,” she says. “I’d like to see grieving over loss of a partner—not only for the companionship, but for the sex. I’d like to see conversations about how sex isn’t the only thing that changes, but that intimacy does, and that how we feel about our bodies and what we expect them to do change. Performance may be less important for some people. Closeness may be more important.”

Our expectations of sexuality in our later years is framed not only by the people in our families and communities but also by what we see in the media. Perhaps if we were given more realistic portrayals of senior sex, people wouldn’t assume that good sex is only for younger people.

melanie_davisMELANIE DAVIS, PHD, consults with individuals and couples to help them build sexual knowledge, comfort, and pleasure through the New Jersey Center for Sexual Wellness. Through her firm Honest Exchange LLC, she provides professional development in sexuality. She’s a popular speaker on self-esteem and body image, and the sexual impact of cancer, menopause and aging. She’s an AASECT-Certified Sexuality Educator. On Twitter @DrMelanieDavis

10 Of The Best Things You Can Do For Your Sexual Self (At Any Age)!

screen-capture-12

When you stop to think about birth control, infections, relationships, feelings, logistics and everything else, sex and sexuality can seem overwhelmingly complicated. Scarleteen, the internet’s source for comprehensive, inclusive sexual education to the rescue with 10 things you can do for your sexual self!

This article is meant to help you remember the human element of sexuality, and keep the essentials in the forefront of your mind.

Here are main points for how you can best care for your sexual self: 

  • Get to know your body and what you like on your own – be your own first partner!
  • Learn to talk openly about sex.
  • Be honest with yourself and your partners.
  • Remember, drama isn’t love.
  • Use and trust your own best judgment.
  • Love your own body.
  • Own and respect your feelings— even when it’s not fun.
  • Don’t try to make your sexual identity your WHOLE identity.
  • Become sexually educated— know your stuff!
  • Enjoy yourself and your sexuality.

View the original article on Scarleteen.

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen

10 thingsIf we look at our sexuality one way, it looks a million times simpler than it actually is. If we look at it another way, it appears a million times more complicated. While it’s important that we bear everything in mind we need to in terms of infection and disease, birth control, our relationships, our bodies and the whole works, now and then we need to remember the bare bones and the human element of the thing, and keep the essentials in the forefront of our minds.

Choose yourself as your first partner

We hear a whole lot about who should be our first partner. Most of the time, we’re told it should be someone we love and who loves us back, someone committed to us long-term, perhaps even someone we plan to spend the rest of our lives with. I agree completely, because you, all by yourself, have all of those qualities, more than any other person ever can.

No one is ever going to know your body like you are, and no one else is ever going to be able to GET to know your body well unless you do to begin with. Really claiming and recognizing yourself as your first and foremost sex partner is a powerful thing. It equips you with some tools for healthy sexuality and balanced relationships for the rest of your life: it can help you to best determine when it’s the right time for you to have solo sex (like when you’re just plain horny) and when it’s right to take a partner (like when you’re wanting deeper intimacy, or are able to account for another person’s feelings and desires). Getting to know your own body and sexual identity through self-evaluation, through masturbation, enables you to find out a good deal of what you like and dislike physically, to see and feel what your genitals and the rest of your body are like in a healthy state, to discover how your individual sexual response works, explore your orientation and gender identity, and to gauge your sexual expectations realistically.

All too often, young men and women — more often young women — may rush into sexual partnership simply because they think a partner can give them something on a sheerly physical sexual level that they can’t give themselves because they haven’t become their own first sex partner. And many times, that results in hurt feelings, overly high expectations, and careless treatment of sexual partners, especially when a person just isn’t ready for all that sexual partnership requires. All too often, “hormones” are said to be why a teen feels the drive to partner with someone else, but the truth is, your “hormones” and your physical body do NOT know the difference between your fingers and someone else’s. Your mind and your heart might, but your clitoris or penis do not. Spending dedicated time being your own lover first helps you be able to know the difference.

Let’s talk about sex, baby

When and if you’re sexually active with a partner, communication is typically the biggest hurdle in those relationships. If we feel awkward or uncomfortable — or unable — bringing up issues about birth control, safer sex, sexual boundaries, sexual satisfaction or dissatisfaction, things we need to be emotionally or physically safe, we not only greatly limit the mileage of those relationships, we put ourselves and our partners in positions which can be very detrimental to all of us. At best, being unable to communicate can greatly limit our pleasure, enjoyment or emotional well-being. At worst, they can get us deeply hurt emotionally or physically or hurt others, or be the root of an unwanted pregnancy, disease or infection transmission. Being able to talk openly about sex can’t just protect our hearts, minds and bodies, it can save our lives.

We can all learn to talk about sex, even in a culture where that is a major handicap. Start simple: talk to friends or family about sexual issues or questions. Learn to ask your doctor when you’ve got questions or concerns about sexuality or sexual anatomy, even if it feels embarrassing or a little funny at first. And well before you get sexually involved with a partner, start establishing meaningful dialogue about sex: about both of your expectations and wants, about your readiness levels, about birth control and safer sex practices, about how you’ll plan to deal with friends and family regarding your sexual relationship, about what relationship model you’d like to build, the works.

Live in the real world

Honesty, like most things, starts at home: in other words, with yourself. Sex can be a veritable minefield when it comes to game-playing, delusion, manipulation and control, even when no one intends any of those things. Being willing and able to be honest about your sexuality is your biggest asset when it comes to being happy, healthy and whole in this regard.

Be willing, for instance, to take a deep look at what you want and what you need and to make choices based on the real deal when it comes to those things. For instance, if you know that you’re not entirely sure about a sexual partner in terms of furthering your activity with them, don’t shove that feeling in the closet for fear of losing them if you don’t agree to what they want. If you know you’re questioning your sexual orientation, be clear on that with potential partners.

If you know you can’t be sexually active without lying to friends and family, consider putting a hold on things until you can be honest about that. If you aren’t as into someone else as you know they’re into you, let them know, don’t lead them on or take advantage. Don’t make promises you can’t keep: of eternal love (even if it feels that way), of monogamy, of sexual favors you aren’t sure you want to, or can, deliver.

Insist on honesty from your partners as well as from others involved, even tangentially, in your sexual life: friends, family, your doctor, and learn to accept that honesty, even when it’s not so easy. Being in an environment of honesty sometimes means that the people we’re involved with tell us what they really feel, rather than what they think we’d like to hear, which isn’t always comfortable, but which, both long and short term, is the best thing for everyone.

Break down your drama addictions

It’s easier than any of us would like to think to mistake high drama for love or passion, especially when we’re younger. Most of us are pretty restless in our teens: maybe school is just utterly boring, maybe we’ve had the same social circle for years, maybe our towns or cities don’t offer us much to do, maybe we’re just feeling ready to move on with our lives, but can’t because of our age. So, it’s not at all surprising that when a love affair enters our lives, we’re going to be pretty excited about it.

But it’s very clear that a lot of teens (and older people, too!) confuse drama with love, affection or real connection. The higher the level of drama gets — parents disliking a partner, promises of marriage, a profound age difference, even emotional or physical abuse — the more a feeling of love or passion is interpreted because the emotional stakes are raised and the tension is elevated.

That’s not unreasonable, after all, writers have been using that exact same device to elevate their readers emotions for thousands of years. But. It isn’t real, even when it very much feels real. We’re simply reacting to those escalated circumstances, and all too often, that drama can keep young couples together, not love or real bonding.

So, when the drama kicks in, try to learn to see it and know that then, more than ever, is NOT the time to leap in with both feet, but to step back and really look at what’s going on. To take a break to do that, if need be. To do whatever it is you need to to get a good, solid reality check. One of the best tests of love, really, is if it still feels like love when it’s at its quietest and calmest, not just its loudest and most tumultuous.

Be a smartypants

Let’s be honest: very few of us, whether we’re 15 or 65, can be truly objective when we’re head over heels in love or in lust. So, it’s a bit of a given that when making sexual choices, we can rest assured that our judgment is bound to be a little colored from the get-go. Being in love, having a crush, and sexual partnership is heady stuff. That’s some of why it can feel so nice. Colloquially, some of us call that space NRE, or new relationship energy. It’s great stuff, and it feels fantastic, but it can do quite a number on our analytical or critical thinking.

It’s important to recognize that when we’re in that space, we probably need to use a little more caution than usual when making decisions because those feelings can really do a number on our heads as well as our hearts. Other additional factors may also be at play which can impair sound judgment: body or self-image issues, feeling pressured to be sexually active or have a sexual or romantic partner, performance pressures, rebellion or conformity issues, and even simple curiosity.

And by all means, handicapping your judgment intentionally from the outset with alcohol or drugs which impair your critical thinking is just never a wise idea.

Start a revolution: Stop hating your body!

We live in a culture that is obsessed with appearances, in which lookism and ableism are epidemic. The messages we’re sent via our culture and media about our bodies are almost always about how they look or how perfect they should be, and more specifically, how they look to the opposite sex (despite the fact that some of us aren’t even interested in the opposite sex, all of the time, or ever). Advertisements for gyms or exercise regimens rarely talk about feeling increased energy, getting sick less often, getting better strength or balance, but all too often, instead work to sell us on trimmer thighs, tighter bottoms, or washboard abs because those things fit our current physical ideals of beauty and attractiveness.

That isn’t to say we have to ignore how our bodies or faces look. People are amazing creatures, great to look at, and sexual attraction is part of our physical nature. But it’s only one part of many. Our bodies enable us to do everything we do each day: to go to work or school, to build cities and cultural movements, to create and nurture families and friends, to live out our whole lives. And the state of our bodies effects the state of our minds: when we’re physically healthy, it’s a lot easier to be emotionally healthy.

So, take good care of your body in every way you can. Give it healthy food, the rest and activity it needs, the healthcare — sexual and general — it requires, both preventatively and when you become ill. Don’t sacrifice your health or well-being for appearances with fad diets or starvation, with obsessive focus on physical perfection, with conformity to ideals which not only may not fit you, but which change almost as often as most of us change our underpants. Understand that when it’s right for you, be it by yourself or with a partner, sex can also be part of honoring your body, whatever it looks like, however it works. If any sex you have with someone isn’t about your bodies just as they are, it’s not likely to feel very good or leave you feeling very good about yourself….

…Screw magazines that tell you to focus on what you’d like to improve about your body. Heck, if you’ve got one, burn it. If you’ve got health issues to deal with, or need to make some healthy changes in terms of what you’re eating or not getting enough activity, do that. But your body is not a home-improvement project. Most of it is perfect as-is, right now. So, document that. Sit down and make a list of all of your favorite parts, and write down why they’re your favorite. Maybe you like your eyes because they’re aesthetically beautiful, or your legs because they get you where you need to go. If you need extra help when it comes to appearances, instead of comparing yourself to fashion mags, get some pictures of your relatives, as far back as you can go, if they’re available to you. In them, you’re going to find your arms, your hair, your face — you can discover where a lot of you came from and see yourself a bit differently when you’re looking at you in someone else.

Some studies or philosophies have put forth that young people, especially young women, who are sexually active suffer from low self-esteem in ways those who are not do not. The usual assumption made about that premise is that sex, especially sex when you’re young, must be bad for you, but I’d posit that that isn’t so. Instead, what I’ve seen a lot of over the years is some people who seek out sex or sexual partnership to try and fill a void in terms of self-esteem or positive body image reinforcement that already exists before they seek out the sex, and then most of them discover — alas — that the sex or boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t fill that void and get even more depressed and self-hating, thinking something must be wrong with them.

Honor your feelings

Sometimes it takes a lot of tries before we meet someone whose needs and wants are the same as ours. Because of that, it’s tempting to try and compromise things we really shouldn’t compromise, like limits and boundaries, relationship models we know we don’t want or can’t deal with, or sexual velocity that is just too fast.

Sure, part of any relationship is compromise, but we should not and cannot compromise our essential character or nature, nor what we know we need in a relationship to participate in one healthily and happily. If we find we’re sticking in a relationship where we know our partner wants things we can’t or don’t want to give, for instance, we’re likely not honoring our feelings, perhaps because we don’t want to hurt them, or because we’re afraid of being without a partner, or because we just don’t want to make a huge mistake. But, you know, in relationships that are right for everyone, we can safely voice our feelings and work with them, and we need to be able to do that to be in good relationships. Most of us adults have been in relationships where we’ve voiced deeper feelings than our partner felt, or asked for more than they could give, and that’s resulted in a split we didn’t want. Or, we’ve had to tell a partner they were asking for more than we had available and either pull away from the relationship or take it back a few paces. While at the time, none of that is ever fun, in hindsight, we’ll all know that was best for everyone. As well, most of us have happier tales of honoring our feelings that brought about far better outcomes than we would have had had we not voiced our true feelings. Sometimes, when you love someone deeply and tell them, they tell you — and mean it — that they love you just as much back.

A big part of honoring your feelings is being able to first look at them and recognize them yourself. So, take a good look at them, even if they’re not so realistic. If you have a good idea of what they are, in a given situation or in general, you’re in a better place to honor them, to see how they may or may not be creating obstacles, to get a good idea of what you really want and need so you’ll be able to recognize when those needs can be met and when they can’t.

And while we’re at it, don’t talk yourself into a situation that isn’t really right for you, especially when it comes to casual sex. That isn’t to say that casual sex can’t be okay for some people sometimes, because it can. But much of the time here at the Scarleteen community, we see people clearly talking themselves into believing they’re okay with no-strings-attached or friends-with-benefits scenarios when they truly want more than that, but have convinced themselves to settle for less because they feel it’s better than nothing, or think that sex with someone casually will make that other person develop romantic feelings after all. Bzzzt. What you don’t want isn’t better than waiting for what you do want, and sex can’t change anyone’s real feelings. To boot, saying you’re okay with casual sex to a partner suggesting it when you know you aren’t in your gut makes YOU the bad guy for being manipulative and dishonest, not them for wanting less than you do.

Don’t try and use sexual identity as your whole identity

Part of our development in our teens and twenties is seeking out and discovering our self-identity. It’s why it’s not uncommon for teens to be very enthusiastic about something one month that’s completely forgotten the next. A little embarrassing when we have to backpedal sometimes, but it’s all normal, and we’ve all been through it (some of us way more times than we’d care to admit).

So, it’s also not unusual to do the same with sexual identity.

Sexual identity, is, by its nature, somewhat fluid. While some portions of our sexuality are at least somewhat fixed, like our sexual orientation (whether we’re attracted to men, women or both/all gender), parts of our gender identity as well as some of our preferences, many aspects of our sexual identity will develop and shift all through our lives. So, while your sexual identity is an integral part of who you are, there’s never any hurry to claim or label it, nor is it a good idea to make your current sexual identity your whole identity — because when it shifts and evolves — and it always will — you may find yourself feeling utterly lost in terms of knowing who you are. As well, sex is only part of our lives. If every part of us is completely wrapped up in it, we’re likely to miss out on other equally enriching and fulfilling parts of our lives.

Who are you, besides so-and-so’s girlfriend/boyfriend or Jane or John, queer or straight person? Jot it down, and make note of what accompanying activities you engage in to support all those other aspects of your identity. Are you a musician? If so, how much time are you getting to play and practice? Are you a good friend? Spent much time with yours lately? Are there aspects of your identity that keep getting shoved on the back shelf, even if you would really like to explore them? Look at your time during the week, and carve out some for those parts. Sex is great, and having a partner equally great, but if we aren’t more than our sex lives or sexual identity, not only are those aspects of our lives going to peter out fast, the rest of our lives are going to seriously suffer for that.

Become a sexpert!

Obviously, no one needed a book to figure out how to put Tab A into Slot B when it came to sex. If they had, none of us would be here today, because our eldest ancestors certainly didn’t have The Joy of Sex hidden under a straw pallet in the back of the cave. While there are some things we don’t need books or media for — and some it’s best we learn on our own anyway, like discovering what a partner finds pleasure in — there are others we do. We live in a different world than our hunting and gathering forebears. We have longer lifespans, different and more complex health issues, we choose not to procreate, we have factors in our lives and culture that make our relationships more complex. As well, we simply know things now we didn’t back when that really can benefit us, like understanding how our reproductive cycles really work, how disease or infection may be spread, like that our sexual or gender identity doesn’t have to be what is prescribed for us.

So, dig in and educate yourself! Hit the library or the net and read up on your body, the body of your partner if they’re opposite sex, on safer sex practices and disease and infection news, on birth control options. Fill your mind with material to help you start to evaluate things like orientation and gender identity, the quality of your relationships, and your own wants and needs when it comes to sex and sexual partnership.

Do yourself a favor, though, and be selective with that media. Look for sources that offer you real information, not salacious tips on how to bring someone else to orgasm or how to achieve firmer breasts. On websites and with books, look for mentions or endorsements by credible organizations or resources in sexuality and sexual health. We get enough garbage and misinformation on sex from television, movies and popular magazines as it is — none of us needs any more of that gump.

It truly is best to educate yourself about sex and sexuality BEFORE you leap in headlong, especially with a partner or partners. All too often, people only start educating themselves during or after a crisis (such as a pregnancy scare, an acquired STI, or being physically or emotionally hurt during sex), and while late is always better than never, in advance is always better than after the fact.

Most of all…

… don’t forget that sex and sexuality are supposed to be pleasurable and bring you joy and richness. So many of the messages sent out to young people are about the dangers of sex or dating, are about saying no to sex based on very general and arbitrary ethics that may not be your own, and make sex out to be the Big Bad, when really, it doesn’t have to be. If you aren’t ready for sexual partnership, then no, sexual partnership isn’t going to be right for you right now. But even if you try something out and discover it isn’t, it’s unlikely to cause you lifelong trauma. We all err sometimes; we learn, we move on. We’re an adaptable species like that.

Your sexuality is yours to have, explore and enjoy even all by yourself, and yours to share with partners, when and if you’re ready and willing to do that. When you respect it and you, it’s a wonderful part of who you are, one that has the power to enrich your life and make you feel physically and emotionally great. And it can be great responsibly and healthfully: a lot of the time, we plop sex and adventure into the same pile, and assume that for sex to feel great, it has to be risky or we have to feel “naughty” doing it, and that just isn’t the case. In fact, it’s reasonable to say that if our culture could ditch a lot of the taboo and shameful attitudes it has about sex, the whole lot of us would be a much healthier people, physically and emotionally.

So, if you’re engaged in sex in any way that makes you feel bad, stop and look at that. Sometimes, sex can be disappointing, either alone or with partners, that happens the same way any aspect of life can be disappointing or just plain lame. But if that’s the case continually, it’s time for a change, be that by splitting from a partner, pulling back on something you’re doing or asking for things you want but aren’t getting, taking better care of your sexual health or spending more time getting to know your own body, reevaluating your sexual identity or taking a break from sex altogether for a while. If you can’t feel or experience the joy of sex, then it’s just not worth doing. And when you can? Let yourself enjoy it. That’s what it’s there for.

To sum up?

1. Be your own your first partner, before anyone else.
2. Learn to talk openly about sex.
3. Be honest. For real.
4. Ditch the drama. Save it for the movies.
5. Use and trust your own best judgment.
6. Respect your body and yourself.
7. Honor your feelings, even when it’s a bummer.
8. Be your whole self, not just your sexual self.
9. Further your sexual education.
10. Enjoy yourself and your sexuality.

heatherHEATHER CORINNA is an activist, artist, author and the director of Scarleteen, the inclusive online resource for teen and young adult sex education and information. She is also the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College and was a contributor to the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She’s received the The Champions of Sexual Literacy Award for Grassroots Activism (2007), The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Western Region’s, Public Service Award (2009), the Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Women’s Health Heroes Award (2009), The Joan Helmich Educator of the Year Award (2012), and The Woodhull Foundation’s Vicki Award(2013).

scarleteenSCARLETEEN is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website. Founded in 1998, Scarleteen.com is visited by around three-quarters of a million diverse people each month worldwide, most between the ages of 15 and 25. It is the highest-ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online and has held that rank through the majority of its tenure.
Find Scarleteen on twitter @Scarleteen