What does Compassion have to do w/ Sex?

Consider these utterances:

All men are assholes.

I know how to get women into bed.

I didn't even know the bitchs' name the next morning.

I’d rather fake an orgasm than have to tell my partner what I like.

My message that "We are all in this together" (see previous blog about my billboard) indicated that we as humans all want to be seen, acknowledged, understood, respected, and loved. However, as reflected in the above statements (that I've actually heard before), compassion and sex don't necessarilly go hand in hand. Love, respect, and understanding are important in such an intimate act. Even if you've just met the other person, they are still another human being who is worthy of respect and kindness. But our patterns, projections, fears, and walls of protection get in the way of this basic fact.

American social norms encourage much judgment and shame around sexual expression. We plaster sexual images everywhere, but are also quite prudish. There is so much discomfort around sex, and frank sexual conversations are often avoided. Sexual expression can be stigmatized and anything outside of a narrow range of "normal" seen as wrong. However, if we remember that as humans we all are on this wild ride of life together on this planet, and that connecting intimately with others is one of the most beautiful things we can do as humans, we may be able to be a little kinder to our partners and even random people.

We share, as humans, the vulnerability of wanting love and connection. We could dislike this feeling of vulnerability and run from it by projecting negativity on others in an attempt to protect ourselves. OR, we could realize that we all share these same basic fears and deep desires. This common humanity unites us. And I hope it motivates us to inspire love and compassion, instead of fear and disconnect.

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker

What do you think unites us all? Positive media!

When I was an undergraduate at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, I did a thesis project in Sociology. My study topic was the portrayal of women's bodies in the media and the impact this has on young women as consumers. That was 21 years ago, and I'm still critiquing media and advertising messages.

For the month of April, though, I was given the opportunity to be a part of *positive* media--advertising that makes us feel better about ourselves, not worse. Positive media brings us closer together, instead of creating wedges through insecurity or fear.

I would like to know how you think we're all united? What helps you remember to be compassionate to others? Please tweet, post a photo, make a video, and tag @drjennsden, so I can see what you're creating in #PositiveMedia!

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexual Health Speaker, Sexologist, Intimacy Sociologist


Why "Positive" Media Matters AND I'm on a Billboard, How Friggin' Cool is That?!

Have you heard of “positive” media? Probably not. But I’m sure you’ve experienced negative media, which we’re bombarded with every day, and makes us passive, distrustful, and anxious. Most media and advertising defines our reality with narrow versions of beauty, success, and happiness. And things like violence and sex appeal are used to grab our attentions, while stereotypes help maintain the status quo.

Positive media is media that promotes well-being and empowerment, and builds respect.1 It is media or advertising that encourages you to feel good about yourself or to feel compassion for others. The term positive media makes sense when you consider that the purpose of a lot of media and advertising is to evoke your fears or insecurities so you’ll consume the product being sold.

I recently attended the 5th annual Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. This conference drew progressive individuals from around the world to explore mindfulness and awareness in the digital age, and consider how we can all cultivate greater compassion. Inspiration Campaign, a non-profit that inspires people to create people-powered advertising, was promoting their work and taking photos of attendees posing with signs touting their own personal positive media messages.

I love things like that! Immediately I knew the message I would pose with: We are ALL in this TOGETHER. That was the vibe I felt and loved about the conference, as well as the mantra that keeps me on track daily with my values. I also happened to be wearing my “Inspire Love” tshirt I had made several years ago, and I appreciated the coincidental double messaging around love, awareness, and compassion!

“We are all in this together” refers to my belief that as humans, we all want the same basic things: to be seen, heard, respected, and loved. Wanting to be acknowledged in such ways, though, makes us vulnerable. And feeling vulnerable can be a scary feeling, so we put up all sorts of facades to pretend we’re not vulnerable and defensive reactions to not feel the pain. This makes us hide from what we really want. It can also make us less compassionate to the needs of others, who just want to be seen, heard, respected, and loved too. I prominently see this is the news regarding race relations, gay rights, or reproductive rights. However, there are many more places this is relevant that might not make it to our radars, such as discussions around people with disabilities, homeless people, or trans-identified individuals.

When I remember that we are all in this together, it helps me get my head out of my own ass. It helps me shift from fear, defensiveness, anger, or disconnect, to a place of open-mindedness and compassion. And that helps me inspire love.

What does the “THIS” mean to you, in “We are all in this together”? How do you think we're all linked, or what helps you be more compassionate to others? What are your ideas about how we could do things differently? Please tweet, take a photo, or make a video, and let me know! (And tag me @drjennsden and/or use the hashtags #THISMeans #AllTogether #PositiveMedia.)

1 Definition from Meghan B. Keener’s work: http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1030&context=mapp_capstone

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sexual Health Speaker, Sociologist

One day left to vote!

Please help spread my message of love and compassion, by voting for my message and image to be on an Inspiration Campaign billboard! Voting ends on Friday, March 20, and I would love your support! Last month I attended the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco, where I learned about Inspiration Campaign and posed for a photo with my message at their booth. This week they announced that 5 of those photos will be voted on to decide which one will be on an April billboard in San Francisco.

They asked why i chose this message and what it means to me. Here's what I had to say:

Sometimes I forget that everyone just wants to be seen, heard, respected, and know they are lovable. We put up so many facades because it's vulnerable to want those things and we fear not getting them. I've realized for myself that when I shift to remembering all of this, that we're all striving for the same basic things as humans, that I move to empathy and compassion (instead of, to put it bluntly, having my head up my own ass!). To me, 'We are all in this together' means a shift from fear or disconnect to kindness and compassion.

And to add to that, as relevant to my work, there is SO much fear and disconnet when it comes to sexuality and intimacy. In the United States we have a lot of judgment around sex and stigmatize anything that seems "different." Shifting to love, compassion, and kindness, and remembering that we all just want to loved, is an important reminder around sex.

I'd love your support by voting HERE!

In gratitude,

Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sexual Health Speaker, Sociologist