I've done some kink instructionals with some people that I wasn't attracted to, but not full private scenes. Oh, and some light public play
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Kink play isn't about sexual attraction. But there should be some sort of attraction, at least to the scene. There should be communication between the players though about the scene.
Today I went to the Nemo, which is Amsterdam's biggest science museum. http://www.e-nemo.nl/
It's pretty epic, about five floors of different exhibits that cover facts about space, chemistry, physics, electricity, genetics, aaaaannnnnd.....SEX!
Oh yes, they teach sex in an all ages science museum. In fact, there is an entire floor called the "Teen Center" which teaches about sexuality, sex, and gender. Not just teens attend the exhibit, but families with their children as well. Through videos, hands on education centers, and computer quizzes about personality and sexual identity.
Sign that advertises the exhibit
There is also an area called "Let's Talk About Sex", where people ages 10 and up can come in and learn more about sex in-depth.
It also resembles the red light district, with booths on the inside that you can insert coins into and learn facts and test your sex knowledge.
In one of the booths there is a sex knowledge quiz that I took, to se that exactly they would cover. Wow, was I amazed. Not only did they ask questions about the frequency of female masturbation, but they also asked about if there is a connection between porn-watchers and child molesters (answer is no) and other pretty interesting sex questions about hymans and virginity.
I scored 100%. Yeaaaaahhhhh.
On the wall is a bunch of facts about sex myths
In another booth they give you information about erogenous zones
They also have a display of different sex positions using wooden figures
Overall I was pretty impressed with the amount of information that is covered in this exhibit, and how open and free everything is.
Oh, and here is a picture from a test that used my pulse to rate my reaction to different images. They showed bugs, and babies, and kittens, and people eating spiders, and violence. Here is the picture that got my pulse rating the most:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
My latest course in Amsterdam is on Young Sexualities. Part of our research involves reading studies surround the concept of love and violence in South Africa. In some parts ofSouth Africa, violence against women, especially in youth, is tolerated and promoted as an act of masculinity. Currently I am reading an article about how injuries are beyond love, that they show an aspect of ownership and are also a way for the male to vent off his frustrations. Many women reported that they encouraged getting a "take-five" (face slap) because it showed love, that they cared. A lack of care is indicated if she was severely hurt and he wouldn't take her to the clinic, or wouldn't apologize afterwards.
I sit here reading this while talking to my partner about all the terrible things he has planned for me when I return from my trip. He plans to hit me, hurt me, punish me for talking back at him. And I blush and smile, glad that he is able to show how much he cares for me.
(On a more coincidental note, I am also listening to "Sister" by She Wants Revenge. "You can hurt me, do whatever you like" is part of the chorus. It's one of my favorite songs.)
It's very important to understand the difference between kinky relationship violence, and actual abuse. Some will assume that I am perverse for doing these readings whilst negotiating a violent scene for when I am back home.
There is a clear distinction for me between being slapped across the face for purposefully incorrectly following protocol (aka being bratty), and "taking-five" for having a cheeky demeanor. Though one can debate that these women who live under the delusion that being hit equals being cared for live under the same perverse delusion tent that I live under, believing that when my partner throws me to the ground and gives me a black eye, it is because we have an intimate connection. For me the real difference is that when I red out, it is listened to. I choose to be in this lovely fucked up relationship and can choose to stop it if I want to. These women can't. They are trapped by social pressure and living conditions, with no opportunity to red out of life.
Violence for me is sexy. To be more specific, pre-consented-"non-consensual"-violence-that-I-have-the-right-to-stop-even-though-personally-I-probably-won't-unless-somethings-going-really-wrong for me is sexy. There is a difference between actual violence, and my own kink definition, whether or not it may be clear.
Non-consensual violence, whether in the South African community or the kink community, should never be tolerated.
I believe in instead of focusing on the age of consent we should look at the age in which we teach sexuality education and if so, how comprehensive the material is. Creating a society where the age of consent is 18 and there is barely any comprehensive sex ed programs for youth does not produce a safe space. We should focus on knowledge and harm reduction for youth verses creating laws intended for protection.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Orgasm is different for everyone. There's so much pressure on sexually active people to have an orgasm, that many don't because of it. Its even possible that someone has had an orgasm and not realized it due to expecting something different. I suggest reading The Multi-Orgasmic series by Rachel Abrams and co. It will give you information about orgasms and different techniques to achieving one. Don't be discouraged! Everyones body is different, as well as what arouses them.
When coming to Amsterdam, one of the main tourist attractions and appealing factors is it's red light district, a location where sex is the prominant theme and patrons can visit a number of places to buy it, view it, even purchase souvaneers having something to do with it. There are actually three red light districts in Amsterdam, with one main strip, and two smaller ones, which are frequented by locals. The main red light district is mostly frequented by tourists, all hoping to get a glimpse at the legal sex workers in windows, something that is unique to this city. At night the street is full of intoxicated men of all ages, musting up the courage to step into the doors of one of the ladies while their friends chant and hoot.
Let me try to paint a picture of what the red light district looks like. There is a canal, with two busy streets and many adjoining bridges with people crossing back and forth from each side to get a better look of what the area has to offer. There are a few cafes and bars, mostly filled with tourists sitting and staring at their surroundings. Signs advertising sex shows pop up every few buildings, with well dressed men standing outside coaxing people in.
A "sex show" can mean a number of things, mostly depending on the price paid by the customer and what are the offered features, which can consist of some sort of public sex show with solo women, women together, and some man/woman lovin. There are also private sex shows, which is like a peep show, but with different features, and possibly some touching rules.
In the district are also sex shops, similar to my former job, that vary from the gimmicky, to the high end quality toys. I have frequented most of them, and have found that the brands that are most commonly carried are Fun Factory, Lelo, and We-Vibe. Some of the stores have really fun display windows, with fucking machines jabbing at the air, and maniquins dressed in sexy costumes.
Here's a picture of a display window where the Statue of Liberty is holding a Lelo vibrator. Sorry for the unfocused image, my camera was being good that day.
Inside the stores are just aisles and aisles of sex toys, costumes, dvds, and other devices. Sometimes there are floggers hanging from the ceiling, in others there are display models of the toys for you to test out. And in quite a few there are masturbation and viewing booths in the back, near the porn dvds. I've had an interesting time exploring the porn sections, finding various boot legged videos of people that I know in the adult industry. Kink.com, for example, is extremely boot-legged here, with cheap looking dvds that are being sold for 20 euros a pop.
This is a boot-legged copy of a Hogtied.com shoot featuring Minx Grrl http://www.minxgrrl.com/
Probably the most popular feature of the red light district, besides the sex shows, are the windows. All around the district are windows (actually doors with large glass windows with red curtains) and legal prostitutes standing behind them. A typical window will consist of a woman posing in a particularly seductive/skin showing outfit, waving or winking at people walking past them. Some of the workers have chairs that they sit on, others stand for hours. Some of them talk or text on their phones while in the windows, and once I saw a woman sitting and eating a bag of potato chips (I gave her a thumbs up and she smiled and laughed). An important thing about the windows to understand is that these are legit places of work. Therefore, they are to be treated with respect. There are many signs warning that you are not allowed to take pictures of the windows, and security cameras watching the areas to make sure no one is messing with the ladies. There are also police on patrol, and in every sex workers window is an emergency button that will call them over if needed. If the prostitutes are working with "pimps", they usually stand on the corners watching the windows to make sure that no one is messing with their employees. NOTE: Any pictures I post of the actual windows I took from the internet. I did not take any pictures of the workers without their permission.
The red light windows are split into demographics. This is due to the price to rent out the window space. Each window is rented for a certain amount of hours, and the ones on the main street are much more expensive. So sex workers that are more popular and attract attention are able to afford the main windows. These workers are usually young and typically thin, though I've seen some big ladies rent a section of windows together and create a BBW (Big Beautiful Women) area.
There are lots of alleyways and streets off the main strip where more specific workers reside. Behind the old church you can find a large section of ethnic sex workers, and in another alley are older women. There is also a section called the "blue light district" where the prostitutes are males presenting as females (transexuals, transvestites, drag queens, etc). This is a very popular section, and can be found just off the main strip. There is also one window advertising fetish sexual practices.
From my few experiences walking past the different windows, depending on the day you get varied interactions with the workers. Some wave and wink, as I said, but others will glare at you if you appear to be staring too long, or look but don't intend to buy. A few ladies will hide themselves behind the red curtains if you appear to be a tourist, especially in the blue light district. Some of the workers, if they see a potential customer, will come out of their windows and shout various things. Others will come out to shout at people taking pictures. This happened to me, since I took my camera out to take a picture of the building. I tried to explain, but the woman was furious with me for even having it out. Many people do take pictures anyways, even go so far as to hide them sneakily under their jackets.
Here is the picture I took, of a very thin alleyway in the district, where you can see the doorways, but not the workers.
Sex work and sex in general is seen as something normative in society. There is a red light district information center where former window workers answer questions and give tours. There is also a statue in the church square commemorating sex workers, called "Belle".
Okay, that's it for today!
Ps Incase you were wondering, there are male prostitutes, but they work through escort services, not windows.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
While visiting an Amsterdam leather sex shop (you know, for research), I came across this very lovely sign.
While I was staring at the poster, the shop manager asked me nonchalantly, "Would you like to get tested?" I said sure. There's not many times that one is offered free full STI screening, especially in the middle of a sex shop in Amsterdam. It would be silly of me as a sex educator and enthusiast to say no. That and I was super curious what would happen.
First a highly pierced man came down the stairs leading above the shop to ask if I wanted some soda. Sure, why not? Then he led me up two flights of steep stairs, which is where I started to get a little nervous. Testing at a sex shop? How legit is this going to be? At the University I attended as an undergraduate we offered HIV test mouth swabs, which is what I assumed would be happening at this free testing. I was lead to the upper floor, which was a very spacious flat with a large desk and two very friendly nurses. The male nurse introduced himself and then his female associate, welcoming me to their testing facility. They work through the Amsterdam STD Clinic https://www.mijntestuitslag.nl/where they do STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) counseling and testing. Their particular work is setting up testing areas through out the city where they can give free screenings to those who want it. Specifically, the gay male community here, which is rather large. Amsterdam is a very sexually liberal city, where the male gay community throws naked parties and other wildly themed raves, but they are not always safer sex friendly. Bath houses are also commonly used for male interactions, and in turn, the STI/STD rates in the area are extremely high.
The GGD Amsterdam (the clinic) is testing out this new idea, where the nurses set up shop in places were sexually active people go, offering full screenings to anyone. The shop where I was at was one of their locations, where they do testing on Fridays. They also go to bath houses/saunas and are currently trying to get access to clubs. All testing is free, anonymous, and they give you the results in a week. They test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, HIV, HPV, syphilis, and herpes. This is the most all inclusive free testing I have ever encountered. While the nurses were setting up the test, I was informed that they were going to take blood (sterile environment, I checked all the equipment) and needed a self administered vaginal and anal swab (for men they do self taken anal swabs and a urine test). I like that they have you do your own swabs, so there is no physical contact between you and the nurses. Though the nurses are professionals, this self swabbing is important for comfort, especially since this testing site is located in an unusual spot and I personally would be reluctant to let a stranger above a sex shop poke around my bits.
After answering some questions about my medical history, they started with a check list of my sexual history. They asked if I had experience with M2M (men who have sex with men) and if I used protection and how many partners I had within the last six months. Through the questions I deduced that they usually get male clients, which they chuckled and confirmed. I was their first female client since they started testing. After finishing my questions, they put on a tourniquet and tried to find a vain. Apparently I have hard vains to find, because both of them had to look over my arm for one. The woman informed me she was going to hit my arm to get a vain to pop up, and informs me with a smile that she promises she won't hit me like they do downstairs. I like health workers with a sense of humor. I smiled and told her I consented, and after a few pats, my veins decided to cooperate. After they finished draining me they handed me two long swabs and viles marked "A" and "V" (guess which holes they were marked for).
I am so in love with this idea of heath practitioners going out into the community and offering helpful services. I was so happy to find competent and all informative sex educators who were really passionate about helping others, even if it involved sitting around above a sex shop for hours waiting for someone to show up. They were shocked to learn that this type of screening was not common nor free in America, and that STD education was not offered to everyone. They asked me why I would want to work in sex education in a country that does not support me. I told them that that is exactly why I do my kind of work, because I want to fight for the health services that I believe people should already have, like they do in the Netherlands.
So much more to learn, only three weeks left here.
Here is some art I found in a local coffee shop
Monday, July 4, 2011
Heres a short overview of some my classmates (it's actually quite interesting)
-Two women from China, Lucy and Lili both have cognative psychological study backgrounds, and came to the program because China's schools lack the social and cultural study aspect of sex and gender. It is more medical and clinical than about the human experience. Both speak very little English, and this is Lucy's first time out of China.
-Casey is from Texas. He is here for a full year, focusing his studies on masculinity and pansexuality
-Mai is from Indonesia. I have a very hard time understanding her accent, but from what I understand, she works with AIDS/HIV education and prevention in her home country.
-Farooq is from Pakistan. He is the oldest of the group, born in the 60s. He works as a doctor and is here to be able to learn more about sex and gender without his countries restrictions.
-Farah and Mohammad are from Egypt. They both want to encourage sex education in their country, which pretty much does not exist.
-Ana is from Guadaloupe, but has been living here for two years. She works with a Queer rights group that does demonstrations around the city.
-Yagar is from Croatia. Like many of the other students, he is here to learn more about sex and gender in order to pass it along to his home country, which lacks this information.
-Michelle is from Kansas, and has her own sex advice talk show and well as a sex blog www.michellemacbain.com. She wants to focus on family sex talk, ie, how to talk to your kids about sex and is hoping to learn from the local sex workers here about language and techniques about talking about sex.
I love that my fellow classmates come from such different backgrounds and intend to do such different things with the information that they gain from this program. Myself? I am hoping to learn more about the seedy underground of the city and about the non-normative sex clubs and workers. I have already found the only sex worker in Amsterdam who explicitly only does electrical stimulation, nothing more.
Amsterdam has been really good for me. It's refreshing to be in a city where my interests are not considered extreme. I also really like that in comparison to my fellow students, I am something of a sexpert when it comes unconventional sexual practices and non-normative lifestyles. I even explained to my professor today what electrical stimulation was, and showed her clips from www.wiredpussy.com for a visual example. I am also more familiar with sex work, since I myself identify as a sex worker. Many of the students look down on the local prostitutes mainly due to the fact that they don't understand the logistics of sex work, and how sex doesn't have to be something romantic and intimate. Some of them believe sex workers can't enjoy sex because they do it for a living.
The best explanation about prostitution I give is comparing them to morticians. Morticians are around death all the time, but if there is a death in their family, they get sad. There is a distance between work, and their own personal lives. Morticians see dead people at work as their job and feel no emotion towards them. Yet if their grandparent dies, then they will grieve and get sad, show emotion. The body is no longer work, it is personal. As morbid as that comparison may be, it actually worked for a lot of my co-students. Some still think of prostitution as gross, but that's their opinion.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Being from San Francisco and a frequent visitor of adult stores, there is little that can shock me when it comes to public sexuality. The block is separated by a canal, where swans quietly float by. There are sex shops, live girl shows, and various places to buy "a date". There are windows lining the street where women and sometimes trannies pose and wave at potential customers. Some people walk by awkwardly or stared, I waved friendly at them. Remember, in Amsterdam this is a legit profession, and these women have no problem waving back and are not shy about what they so for a living.
My favorite was a woman in a window standing half naked eating a bag of potato chips casually. I waved and she proudly toasted a chip towards me.
I was only there briefly, checked out a few sex shops. More info later.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
This is the most common response I get when I tell people my intention to study sexuality and non normative sexual behaviors/lifestlyes. On the flight from San Francisco to Minnasota (which is where I swtiched planes to go to Amsterdam) the guy sitting next to me asked me why I was going to Amsterdam. I told him that I was going to study the sexual culture of the community and study under well known sex professors surrounding topics like gender, sex in art, teen sex culture, and prostitution. He paused and looked at me (Well, he turned his head. Airplanes don't give much room to look at the person next to you) and with a furrowed brow, asked "Why?"
"Why not?" would be the best response I can think of. People ask me this all the time, usually trying to figure out what happened in my life to lead me to study such a taboo topic. As if studying sex meant that I had been sexually abused, or am questioning my own sexuality. Sorry to dissapoint, but I grew up knowing that I was attracted to both sexes and never had any sexual trauma growing up. My parents ask me "Why?" every few months, why do I keep persisting this area of study. I think that they would rather have me go into psychology or school teaching, two areas that I studied in college.
In Amsterdam, no one questions me. True, it is probably because I live in a dorm full of other sex enthusiasts, but it is incredibly refreshing to talk bluntly to a receptionist or information desk about where to find the best spots to observe the sexual culture. My welcome packet to the program included a condom. I think I almost cried with happiness.
The beauty if this place is that no one cares when it comes to sex and gender. What they care about is behavior. For example, the public toilettes have one entrance for both male and females sexes, with the male section on one side, the female on the other. There is no weirdness that the bathrooms are basically used by everyone. There are signs warning that decent behavior is expected, and any misbehavior will cause action. So if someone makes a non-consentual act towards another, they will be handed over to the police and most likey fined. It's a pretty wonderful concept, especially for those who do not identify with male or female gender labels. They don't get hassled, questioned, and if that ever happens, the lavatory worker would step in. There are also public urinals for men, which are plastic columns for urination. It is very common to walk down the street and see these being used. The point of them is not to expose ones genitalia to the public (there are actually little walls to ensure some privacy) but to stop intoxicated men from urinating in the street. There is no shame in using them, and they keep the busy bar areas quite clean.
I have yet to visit the famous Red Light district, but I am very very happy about the behavior instructional in guide books. Again, behavior is the key word in this community. Good behavior is a sign of respect. The guide books remind visitors that the Red Light district is a family neighborhood, with children and community privacy. Visitors are told to respect the neighborhood. Though it may sound strange for tourists to hear the families live in this prostitute thriving area, this is real. Prostitution is legal, and is considered a legit job, just like florists or waiters or plumbers. They are in the service oriented professional community, and they deserve respect. Personally, I can only hope that one day I can live in a society like this. There is 24hr surveillance to ensure the safety of the workers and proper behavior is required. Because sex is so blatant in this community, outsiders and tourists assume that this means that everything is allowed. Therefore they get extremely intoxicated in public, scream, urinate in the streets, use hard drugs, and drink outside. There is a reason locals are not too friendly to tourists, and this is why. A relaxed sexual environment does not meant that you get to act like an ass.
I love love love love that prostitutes are treated with respect in this community. Tourists are not allowed to treat them as weird spectacles but taking pictures of them, shout at them, and use bad language towards them. These are all arrestable offences. You also cannot solicit them on the street, as that is not where they work. If you were a dentist you would really hate it if someone can up to you on the street and asked you to give them a cleaning. They'd have to go to your office for something that that. Same thing with prostitutes.
It's been a little more than 24hrs being here and I am overjoyed by this communities sense of mutual respect and "normalness" of sex.
So "Why?" Because I believe society should normalize sex, and make it a non-taboo subject
Friday, July 1, 2011
The city is beautiful, I need to remember to take pictures.
And the people are beautiful as well. The majority of the people in the Netherlands are tall, over 6ft, all genders. Being a 6ft woman myself, I almost cried with happiness when I realized that I was considered average height.
When I registered in at my summer program, they handed me a welcome packet, which included a condom. Pretty sure that's a sign from the sex god/ess that I am going to LOVE it here.
My roommate is from China and doesn't speak English, but is sweet as hell.
Oh, and my pants ripped while I was grocery shopping. Lovely.
Gonna go do some reading about sex shtuff.
ps. Escalators here go wayyy faster than those in America. You have to basically jump on them to catch a ride.