Some folks in the United States believe that we have a problem with how mainstream masculinity is taught, implemented, and enforced. And some other folks are pissed about this belief….Read More
Blog - Essays, Articles, Videos, and Tips
When you think of a feminist, let alone a vocal feminist, you probably don't visualize a former professional football player. The hyper-masculinity of professional football encourages the opposite of feminist ideals. But athlete-turned-actor, Terry Crews, recently wrote a book called Manhood: How to Be a Better Man -- Or Just Live with One and is taking a stand to embrace feminism, and redefine masculinity.
No, this doesn't mean making men like women. It means cultivating vulnerability in men, to be able to say that they're scared, that they don't have an answer or solution, or that they feel weak. I believe that this is the definition of true courage, true strength. But mainstream maculinity, taught to many boys growing up, is that their emotional fears are shameful. If we want men to view each other and women as fully human, and deserving of respect, we need to allow and encourage men to develop a full range of human emotions and the ability (and safety) to express these emotions.
This is the kind of vulnerability that leads to true intimacy. Like Crews states in the video interview below, true intimacy is "to be known." I know that for most men and women, "to be known" is what they most desperately want, but most desperately fear.
We live in a world where an 23-year-old woman was attacked (and later died) in a fast food parking lot because earlier that day, she had the courage to defend two teen girls from male harassment. Crews' words are poignant and he takes on the challenge of being a role model. He states, "We're not battling individuals, we are battling a mindset." Yes. And mindsets come from cultural gender teachings. So what are you teaching to the next generation of boys? Respect for themselves (in all their strengths and weaknesses) with compassion for others...or something else?
(Photo of Terry Crews pulled from this webpage.)
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego -- Sociologist, Sexologist, Sex Speaker
Spread Your Legs & Open Your Heart…
Free Sex Advice on a Park Bench…
The Pleasure Revolution…
The Three P’s of Porn…
Are these video titles of porn?
Actually, these are workshop titles from a sexuality conference I attended this past weekend in Washington, DC, named, Momentum: Making Waves in Sexuality, Feminism, & Relationships. In its second year, Momentum is a space for sex-positive professionals around the country to learn, teach, and build community.
The opening keynote discussion comprised five powerful sex educators speaking on the state of the union for sex. Their focus areas ranged from adolescent education to elderly sexuality to sex workers’ rights. It was an inspiring plenary, and I was surprised by how energized I felt being a part of this group. All were welcome in this sex-positive space, whether professor, sex educator, sex toy store owner, online sexual performer, or prostitute.
What is sex positive? Sex positivity is viewing sex as a natural process. It is embracing pleasure. It is open, frank, conversations about sex, sexuality, and sexual health. And it is accepting sexual expression in a vast variety of forms. It is not perceiving sex as dirty, shameful, unnatural, or just wrong. Unfortunately, sex negativity is more the status quo in America, hence the need for sexuality professors to unite in a community of like-minded folks.
Allena Gabosch, the Executive Director of the Center for Sex Positive Culture in Seattle, defines sex positivity as “an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation.” I encourage you to consider what sex positivity means to you and how embracing it, even a little bit, could enhance your pleasure, exploration, and health. As I’m completing this blog with a cup of tea in hand, my Good Earth tea bag tag offers this quote of advice: The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next. What is your common sense telling you about creating your own pleasure revolution?
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sex Therapist, Marriage Counselor, Sexual Health Educator, Sexologist
Have you been seduced by twilight? Analyzing the Twilight Saga offers many insights into gender and sex in our society. Dr. Natalie Wilson, a women's studies professor and author of "Seduced by Twilight," enlightens the Den audience about Twilight. Promises to open your eyes, but hopefully not buzzkill the saga for you!
Sexual Fun Fact
Who is more likely to masturbate, engage in oral sex, and engage in anal sex? Someone with MORE education or someone with LESS education?
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus -- Sex Therapy, Marriage Counseling, College Sexual Health Speaker -- San Diego, CA
Would you eat sushi off of a naked woman? How about cake and fruit? Depending on your perspective, this experience might be: sexual or just sensual; demeaning or liberating; uncomfortable or light-hearted fun. There are times when my feminist philosophy is in direct opposition with my sex-positive beliefs. These are confusing and uncomfortable moments, but moments when I see clearly that no belief system covers the full range and complexity of female sexuality.
Nyotaimori, which means body sushi in Japanese, is not new, but I recently experienced it for the first time at a small birthday party. A very clean, naked woman, who was face-up and blindfolded, lay on blankets on the living room floor. Six of us gathered on cushion around her, placing sushi roles around her body. Using the woman’s body as a table, and even referring to her as “table” was initially shocking. When I’d heard about nyotaimori before, it seemed demeaning to the woman, and objectifying. However, I was in a household where alternative sexualities were embraced, and BDSM and fetishes freely explored among consenting adults. The blindfolded naked woman on the floor had clearly consented to be our table for the party. Was it right for me to judge that her blindfold and silence seemed so submissive? I wondered within what paradigm of female sexuality she consented? A submissive woman, from a feminism perspective, is oppressed and disempowered. A submissive woman within the BDSM/fetish/kink world is potentially pleasuring herself and experiencing liberation or healing. Can both be correct? I’m not saying I am a slave (pun intended) to either of these belief systems, but that I like to think critically about both, as they inform my world view.
So the six of us decorated the blindfolded nude woman with sushi. Gratefully my vegetarian philosophies were not ALSO challenged here, as there was veggie sushi! Then we ate the sushi from her, with hands, chopsticks, or our mouths. I felt very conscious of wanting to be respectful of her body and feeling of touch, yet I wasn’t sure what motivated her to be our table. The dinner conversation was of the normal variety, albeit with more themes of body image, nakedness, and sexual beliefs in America. At the conclusion of dinner, the hosts cleaned the woman with warm washcloths. On to dessert!
For dessert we gingerly placed a full sheet cake (I kid you not) on her torso, and covered the rest of her with vanilla frosting, sprinkles, fruit…and little plastic animals and toy soldiers (once again, I kid you not). I would not have imagined that plastic figures would be appropriate, but I actually loved that part. We created a path of evolution (from foot to breast) of dinosaurs, to barnyard animals, to the mingling of both on the cake top. The “table” giggled at times, such as when a blackberry was placed between her toes, or when we made amusing comments while decorating. Once our masterpiece was complete, we ate from her body with our hands. The cake was quite tasty, with a creamy pudding filling. Later two of us smeared the rest of the cake and frosting over her body, in a thick mélange of color and sweetness. Our “table” eventually showered to clean up and warm up.
Did I enjoy myself? I actually did, quite a bit. One, for the simple reason that I like sushi and cake. Second, I appreciate opportunities to practice what I preach and step outside my comfort zone regarding sex and bodies. Third, I loved the creative aspect, feeling like a child with food and toys and a new terrain. We laughed a lot, within a sensual, appreciative, and respectful context.
And now that I’ve experienced that, it feels like not such a big deal.
P.S. I’ve received some questions regarding sushi and soy sauce. No, we did not use her belly button for dipping :)
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus -- Sex Therapy, Marriage Counseling, & University Sexuality Speaker, in San Diego, CA
This Thursday I will be performing one of the monologues in San Diego's production of Eve Ensler's play "The Vagina Monologues".
I am far from a new-comer to this performance piece. I first acted in a production of this back in 2002 at the State University of New York at Albany. Since then I have acted several more times, twice taught a semester course about the play at CSU San Marcos, and directed it four times. I have many of the monologues memorized. I know the places where the audience will laugh, and what works and what doesn't.
Why do I keep coming back?
Being involved with this play has many layers, all very powerful. The first is the experience of bonding with other women in the cast and crew. We are saying words that women are not supposed to say publicly. We meet for long rehearsals, everyone going through their own process of healing or discovery around their sexuality. Being in the cast of The Vagina Monologues has repeatedly been one of the most supportive women environments I've experienced.
The next layer is the unique experience we provide for the audience. Women feel validated and understood for the first time. Men glean greater insights into the complexity of women's sexuality. The audience is allowed to laugh publicly at taboo topics. They join our team of breaking the deafening silence around women's shame, embarrassment, and sexual assault.
The third layer is the fund-raising. The majority of the proceeds benefit local nonprofits for raising awareness around sexual violence and halting domestic violence. And a small portion of the funds are directed back to the VDay foundation's spotlight group of women, a group somewhere in the world who needs assistance and financial support. Not only are we taking a stand in our local community for women's safety and education, but we are also part of the global movement for the well-being of women.
It's a lot of time and energy each time I'm involved with The Vagina Monologues. But I keep coming back for more. It's a way that I get to practice what I preach, push my boundaries, support other women, and act my heart out. In vaginas we trust :)
Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego