The performance of pleasure

I recently finished reading The Sex Myth by Rachael Hills.  While the book was fascinating, there was one particular idea that I’m still pondering ages after the final page has been turned.  This was the concept of the Performance of Pleasure.

 

In the book, the author suggests that people, women in particular, feel pressured to perform pleasure.  By that, she means that during sexual activity women feel obliged to act as though they are enjoying themselves, with a series of facial expressions, moans and bodily cues, even if they aren’t truly as turned on as their performance would suggest they are.  This performance is seen as an integral part of sex, and so many women don’t even realise that they are doing it.

 

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This chapter hit me like a punch in the stomach.  When I read those words, I realised how true they were for me, and that I was one of those women who puts on a sensual performance in bed, completely unaware that that’s what I was doing.  I don’t always do it though, there are times when I’m completely caught up in the excitement that I lose myself and the curtain is dropped.  But there have definitely been times when I’ve pretended to be more aroused or excited than I actually am, particularly when engaging with a new partner.  I’m not talking about faking orgasms here.  What I’m talking about is a subtle tweaking of my body language and verbal cues to suggest that sex is having a stronger effect on me than it truly is.  It’s not even a deliberate act, it’s something that I’ve learned to do over time, to encourage my partner and to avoid causing offence.

 

I think back to one of my first sexual experiences with a partner.  I am with my first serious boyfriend in my bedroom.  Nirvana is playing on my stereo and a half hour of kissing and touching has turned to heavy petting.  My boyfriend and I have partially undressed and he is using his fingers to play with my labia.  It’s the first time anyone other than me has touched this part of my body and it feels strange.  Good, but strange.  I’m getting over the self-consciousness of letting another person be this intimate with my body.  I’m anxious about my parents hearing us, and I’m enjoying the new sensations and being close to someone I care this much about.  After a while, it’s time for us to part so that my boyfriend can head home.

 

On the phone that same night, we talked about our experiments from earlier.  My boyfriend asks “Did you enjoy yourself?” and I assured him that I had.  His response confused me “It’s just….it didn’t seem like you were enjoying yourself”.  I asked why he thought that, and he responded that I hadn’t made much noise, and I hadn’t given much of a physical indication that I was feeling pleasure.  After our conversation, I considered this carefully.

 

There was no doubt in my mind that I’d enjoyed his touches.  Although I hadn’t been close to orgasm, it felt lovely and I definitely wanted more.  And it’s true that I had been quiet, but that was partially because I was very aware that my parents were in the house and also….it hadn’t felt good enough for me to make any involuntary noises.  I was worried because I didn’t want my boyfriend to think that I wasn’t having fun.  And I certainly didn’t want to be one of those girls who just “lay there”.  I wanted to make sure that our sex was good.

 

And so the next time we played together, I kept this in mind.  When he touched me I let out a little whimper of pleasure, and saw him smile.  I ran my hands through his hair and used my nails to claw at his skin, as though I was ravenous with desire.  I arched my back and bit my lip.  Even though I was relatively inexperienced, I knew how to act out this pleasure because I’d seen so many films and television shows that portrayed this performance.  I knew which marks to hit, which noises to make to indicate that I was having fun.

 

The important thing to note here is that I genuinely was enjoying myself.  His hands on my body felt good, great even.  But they weren’t making me as turned on as I appeared to be.  But he seemed more satisfied this time that he’d shown me a good time.

 

Over time, these little nuances became a part of my sexual repertoire.  They weren’t even a conscious act, just a few tweaks that I’d throw in to show that I was enjoying myself.  As I said earlier, they were more about encouraging a partner, indicating that something felt good, than actually pretending.  But now that I’m writing about it, it feels dishonest.  It feels wrong and shameful, like faking an orgasm.  And yet, on occasion when I’d drop the act, I had partners ask me if I was enjoying myself, if they were doing the right thing.

 

I got to thinking also about why these responses to sexual touch were expected.  Why my boyfriends (always boyfriends) seemed to believe that a single touch in a particular spot should make me weak and the knees and gasping for breath.  And I think I have the answer.  It’s a vicious cycle really.  When blokes are inexperienced in the sexual realm, their main sources of reference for sex and porn and films that feature sex scenes.  And on the screen, the women who are being pleasured are usually very vocal, and tend to show their pleasure with overt body language.  This is because it’s what looks good, what is entertaining and exciting on the screen.  And when these boys touch a real women for the first time, they expect her to react like that. And if their partner has learned that performing pleasure is an important part of sex, then his expectations are confirmed.  And if she doesn’t…..then he feels like he’s done the wrong thing or his partner hasn’t enjoyed herself.

 

So we’re all cheating ourselves with this cycle of expectation and anxiety.  Women are cheating themselves out of an honest sexual experience and men are cheating themselves out of the opportunity to genuinely enjoy their partner’s pleasure.  I believe that the time has come to be gentle with ourselves and our partners, and drop the act. Be vocal about what you enjoy and get into the habit of telling your partner what you want in bed.  Learn to communicate honestly and openly in your relationships and be genuine in your sexual expression.  It’s not something that can be done easily or quickly, but I think looking at our own behaviour and admitting to ourselves if we are performing pleasure is the first step to a better sex life and more genuine sexual relationships.

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How to have great sex

There seems to be an overwhelming insecurity around sexual ability.  So many of us worry about whether we’re actually good in bed, whether we’re capable of pleasing our partners.  This might be the reason that magazine articles or guides that promise to improve sexual prowess and technique are so popular.

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As a woman who loves sex, who spends a fair whack of her time thinking about, reading about, writing about and having sex, I like to think that I’m not too bad in the sack.  I’ve gained enough knowledge over the years to offer some sage advice about what makes for great sex.  And I’d love to share that with you in the form of a few bullet points.  So…..how can you be good, or better, at sex?

  • First and foremost, relax.  We treat sex like a big, serious act that must be perfectly choreographed and executed.  But it isn’t.  Funny noises happen, silly faces get pulled and body parts are flung about in ungainly ways.  Don’t stress about it.  Have fun, laugh at the silly bits and enjoy yourself.
  • Ask for what you want.  There’s this weird idea that our ideal sexual partner will be able to magically divine our deepest desires and automatically know how to touch us in a way that makes our knees weak.  This rarely happens.  Rather than hoping that your partner will touch you how you like to be touched, ask them.
  • Conversely, ask what your partner wants.  Encourage feedback and follow it.  Learn from it.  Respect your partners wishes if they say they don’t want something, and don’t shame them if they say they do want something you aren’t comfortable with.  Just politely decline and do something else.
  • Take a “let’s just see” approach during sex.  Explore with your partner, rather than just doing the one or two techniques that you know work.  See what happens when you lick here, touch here, stroke there.  Try lots of different things and note how they feel.  Not everything will produce and explosive response, but it’s only by trying things out that you find exciting new ways to play.
  • Talk about sex with your partner. Not just while sex is happening, but before, and after.  Don’t make it a difficult or embarrassing topic, just relax and speak openly and honestly.  Communication makes sex so much better, and being able to talk with your partner about takes so much of the worry and shame out of the bedroom.
  • Use lube.  There’s this idea that if you’re doing sex properly, lube is not required, but that is total bullshit.  Lube will only make your sex play better.  Whether you’re on your own or with a partner, use lube.  Whether you’re doing p-in-v, anal, hand jobs, oral or any other kind of sex play, a few drops of good quality lube will take it from feeling pretty good to downright fantastic.
  • And finally….just have fun.  Sex is playful and beautiful and expressive.  It can be raw and vulnerable, or light and joyful.  But in my opinion it should always be fun.

What do you think makes sex great?  What’s the best piece of sex advice you’ve ever been given?

The Soldier On Syndrome

I’ve been sick with the flu this week.  It crept up on me last Tuesday night, appearing as a tightness in my chest and a tickly cough.  By Wednesday morning I was aching all over and my cough had become a hacking, wheezing monster.  Even so, I stood in the shower on Wednesday morning, determined to soap away the sickness and head into work.

I had this mental tug-of-war going on.  One half of my mind was telling me “You are actually, properly sick.  You need to rest and get better.  And nobody in the office is going to thank you for coming in and spreading your disgusting germs around”.

But the other half was insistent that I should just toughen up and carry on.  I felt like even though I didn’t feel well, that it wasn’t right to take the day off when there was work to be done.  I felt selfish for even thinking about calling in sick and leaving my co-workers to pick up the slack.  This half of my mind was begging me to get dressed and soldier on with my responsibilities, regardless of how I was feeling.

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In the end, I listened to my body and phoned the office to let them know I wasn’t coming in.  But for the remainder of the day I had this lingering feeling of guilt that popped up in between bouts of coughing, uncontrollable shivering and feverish naps.

 

Now that I’m feeling somewhat better, I have to ask my self why it is that I feel bad for taking time off when I’m genuinely sick.  After a fair bit of consideration I’ve come up with several reasons.

 

Firstly, I’m worried that my co-workers won’t believe me or they’ll think that I’m faking it if I call in sick.  This is largely a silly worry because I’ve never heard anyone in my office suggest that a person is pretending to be ill to get a bonus day off. However, I’ve worked in other places where there has been scepticism when someone has taken a sick day.  And so I’m always anxious that my boss won’t believe me when I call to say that I’m not feeling well and I need a day to rest.

 

Secondly, I am concerned that taking a day off is selfish.  That by staying at home I’m shirking my responsibilities and being lazy.  This worry comes from a lifetime of living in a culture where self-care is seen as self-indulgence.  Where speaking up and saying “I need this” is seen as entitled behaviour and where admitting that you’re not up to the challenges of your normal day is seen as weak.

 

Thirdly, I’m very aware that we live in a world where we are surrounded by messages that tell us that being sick is merely a blip on the radar, a mere inconvenience that needs to be suppressed so that we can “get over it and get on with it”.  There are so many advertisements for medicines that don’t claim help us recover faster or feel better. Rather, these advertisements are all about getting you back on your feet so that you can soldier on with your myriad of daily responsibilities.  Rather than encouraging us to get well, the bottom line is that we should carry on regardless of how we are feeling, because how productive we are is far more important than the way we treat ourselves.

 

This mire of guilt, frustration and fear that I experience around taking a sick day needs to stop.  I recognise that it’s not good for me physically or mentally.  If you’re going through similar feelings, then it’s probably not good for you either.  Let’s take a moment to review some facts and set ourselves on solid ground.

 

If you are ill, you are allowed to take a day off to recover.  Heck, if you need to, take two days. Or an entire week if that’s what you truly need.   Sick leave exists for this very purpose.  If you work with other people, then going into work when you’re ill puts everyone else at risk of catching whatever you have.  And if you work in the customer service industry then you’re exposing your customers to your lurgy as well. Nobody wants their coffee served by someone who is snuffling all over the place.

 

Admittedly, this is a lot harder if you are self-employed.  When there is nobody to cover for you, and no sick pay to cushion the blow, taking a sick day can feel a lot more detrimental.  But honestly, if you aren’t well, you aren’t going to be doing your best work. It makes professional sense to take the time to get well and jump back in when you are well again.

 

Stepping away from work if you are ill isn’t selfish.  Not only will you be preventing your co-workers and customers from getting ill, but you’ll be ensuring that you aren’t at the office doing sub-par work and making mistakes because you feel lousy.  It isn’t self-indulgent to rest when you are unwell.  It is if you take a sick day when you aren’t actually sick and you just don’t want to tear yourself away from your Netflix binge.

 

Be kind to yourself and listen to what your body is telling you.  Often, we get sick because we haven’t taken care of ourselves as well as we could.  Illness can be your body’s way of telling you to slow down.

 

Finally, taking time off to recover isn’t weak.  In light of the constant bombardment of messages about the importance of productivity and how we should solider on in the face of illness, it’s actually takes some degree of inner strength to make the decision to step down and rest.  It can be easier to stay on the treadmill, to give in to the idea that your worth is based on how much you get done in a day, and completely ignore your personal needs.  I think that the more powerful decision is to stick up for what you need, to allow yourself the time to get well and to release yourself from the guilt and frustration that do not serve you and only make you feel worse.  If you’re sick, stay home.  There’s no need to soldier on.

Product review: Jopen Lust L1

I purchased the Jopen L1 during a fit of curiosity.  I’d seen pictures of several Jopen vibrators online and was intrigued by their unique shapes and sleek designs.  When I saw the L1 on sale at Twisted Toys I snapped one up immediately, eager to take it for a spin.

The first thing that caught my eye was the shape of the L1.  I am a huge fan of sex toys with non-traditional shapes.  While phallic dildos and bullet vibes do the job, I love finding a toy with a shape that makes me go “hmmmmm”.  Why is that?  Well, because non-traditional shapes force you to be creative with your play.  When it’s not obvious how a toy is supposed to be used on your body, it encourages curious exploration and experimentation, which leads to excitement and loads of fun.  If your sex sessions are beginning to look a little samey-samey, then I definitely recommend trying a toy like this that breaks the mould and forces you to try new ways to play.

The shape of this toy is also fairly non-intimidating and gender neutral.  It has loads of interesting features that can be used on a range of different body parts.  Those little antennae are perfect for stimulating nipples or for resting on either side of a clitoris.  Use the bottom bulge to stroke breasts, labia or inner thighs.  The curve works amazingly to cradle a set of balls, and you can then angle either the tickling antenna or the rounded end to massage the perineum.  The L1 is such a versatile toy which can be used in so many ways and I adore that about it.  I’m still finding new ways to play, even after months of experimenting with this toy.

Another reason I enjoy this toy so much is that it works just as well for partnered sex as it does with solo play.  The small size makes it ideal for working my clit when I’m having penetrative sex with my partner.  It’s well-established that the majority of women need some kind of clitoral stimulation to orgasm, and very few people with vaginas can come from penetration alone.  A toy like the L1 is a godsend if you struggle to climax from penetrative sex.

When I first took the Jopen L1 out of the box to charge it, I was a little bit bamboozled.  The toy is completely smooth, with no obvious charging port.  It took a careful examination to notice the pin-prick hole which you poke the charger through.  The L1 comes with a USB charging cable, and it takes about two hours to charge fully.  The battery life of this toy is admirable, and I can get about an hour of playtime on the highest setting at about five on the lowest setting.

The utterly smooth design of the L1 is fantastic.  There are no cracks or ridges to trap lube and fluids and it’s completely waterproof.  In addition to this, the toy is made from velvety-soft silicone which feels amazing and is non-porous.  The body of the toy is nice and firm but the antennae are really flexible and won’t poke your privates.

The L1 is controlled by a single button located on the centre of the toy.  It kind of looks like a little nub sticking out of the belly of the  vibrator.  I can’t overstate how thrilled I am with the controls on this toy.  Firstly, I love that it only has a steady vibration and no patterns.  It’s rare that I use the patterns on my vibrating toys, and I much prefer simple, sustained vibration.  This toy gives me exactly what I want in that regard, with no extra settings to get in the way of my sexy fun.

The actual controls on this toy are unique.  To switch the L1 on, you press the button once.  Then, to turn the vibration strength up, you press and hold the button.  If you click the button once, the toy turns off.  This is very different to most single-button vibrators, which require you to click the button multiple times, cycling through every speed and pattern before you can turn it off.  I love that this toy can be turned off in a hurry with just one click.  Admittedly, it took me a while to get used to holding the button down to increase the speed, and there were several moments of frustration when I accidentally switched the motor off instead.  But once I got the hang of it, I came to love this simple no-frills control interface.

In addition to the brilliant control mechanism, the L1 boasts impressive vibration power.  The vibrations from this toy are strong, rumbly and relatively quiet.  Even the lowest setting is beautifully deep and throbbing. An added bonus with this toy is that the entire thing vibrates. This, coupled with the smooth surface means that you can use every inch of the L1 for play.  For me, this only adds to my excitement, because it means that there are so many different shapes and sensations to experiment with.

I’m a sex-blogger in a long-distance relationship, which means that I usually travel with my sex toys. The Jopen L1 might be the best travel vibrator in my collection.  Firstly, it’s small and lightweight, so it doesn’t take up much space in your bag.  It doesn’t look obviously phallic, so if you get your bag checked at the airport, you aren’t going to be red-faced when the security guard spies it.  Finally, it has a travel lock, which is a must for rechargeable toys to ensure that they don’t start buzzing in your bag. Not only is this potentially embarrassing, but it means that you won’t wind up arriving at your destination with a toy that has jiggled it’s batteries flat during your journey.

The Jopen L1 comes in three colours: pink, purple and green.  I chose the lime green because a) it was totally different from anything else in my toybox and b) It kind of reminded me of a little alien.

My final thumbs-up for this vibrator is the price tag.  The Jopen Lust L1 costs around $100, depending on where you buy it from.  This is astonishingly good value for such a high-quality, rechargeable vibrator.

I can’t recommend the Jopen Lust L1 enthusiastically enough.  It’s versatile, body-safe and excellent value. It works for partnered play and solo sessions and is suitable for every body.  It’s inexpensive and encourages creative sexual play.  I think it just might be my favourite vibrator of all time.

Blog update: where are my pictures?

I just wanted to write a really quick update to let you know what’s going on around here.

 

You might have noticed that a bunch of the pictures in my sidebar and the blog itself are missing.  The reason for this is that I use Photobucket for my picture hosting.  This week, Photobucket have disabled all third-party hosting for all customers except those who hold premium accounts.  In order to enable third party photo hosting, you have to pay $40 per month.  This, in addition to the influx of click-baity pop up ads that have made Photobucket nearly un-usable over the past eighteen months have led to me move away from Photobucket for my photo hosting.

 

So I’m in the process of moving all my hosted photos over to a different hosting site.  This is going to take a while, so please be patient.  I’ve got eight years worth of content to move over!  I’ll also be having a clear out of my oldest posts to make everything fresh and new.

 

It might be quiet over here while I work on revamping the site and getting it all spick and span.  But don’t worry, I’ll be back as soon as I can.

 

In the meantime, please feel encouraged to check out some of my archived posts.  There are some hidden gems in my back pages!

 

Best wishes, and I’ll be back real soon.

The Cruelty Free Shop vegan snack haul

Shopping for vegan food can be a challenge in a small town.  Even though my local supermarket is bursting with fresh produce, plant milks, cereals and fruit, the one thing that is lacking is good junk food.  It can be extremely challenging to find snack foods and sweets that are vegan.  While there are a whole bunch of great “accidentally” vegan items on the shelves, it gets kind of tedious when you have to check every label to make sure that what you’re buying doesn’t contain any animal products.

 

A few weeks ago I visited The Cruelty Free Shop in Fitzroy, Melbourne and it was like falling down the rabbit hole.  It is a vegan supermarket that sells everything from snacks to meat and cheese substitutes, desserts, junk food, cosmetics, toiletries, sex supplies and even clothing.  It was so refreshing to be able to fill my cart with whatever took my fancy, and to be spared the tedium of label-checking.  I knew that every single item in that place was vegan and I went a teensy bit nuts buying delicious snacks and treats.

 

 

The Cruelty Free Shop also has a fantastic online store. I’ve shopped with them online as well and I loved the fast service and awesome range of products.

 

Here is a full list of the items mentioned in my video:

I had such a blast shopping at The Cruelty Free Shop and I can’t wait for my next visit.  There are so many rad things I’d love to stock up on the next time I’m in Melbourne.

 

What are your favourite vegan junk foods?  Do you have any questions about vegan shopping or cooking that you’d like me to cover in future posts?

 

Note: This is not a sponsored post.  Everything featured here was purchased with my own money and I was not compensated in any way.  I just love this store and the products they sell and am excited to share them with my readers.

Things I Love Thursday 13/7/2017

This past week has been a real drag.  I spent Thursday and Friday completely bombed out with a migraine.  Which meant cancelling a trip to see my boyfriend on the weekend because I still wasn’t well enough to travel.  I’m trying to look on the bright side and come up with at least a couple of things that are worth smiling for.

This week I love:

  • My cats.  When I don’t feel well, they seem to intuitively know it and they are so loving.  Miss Jelly in particular gets really maternal with me when I’m not well.  She barely leaves my side and snuggles up to me when I’m napping.  It’s really sweet and it makes me feel a tiny bit better when a migraine hits.
  • Deep heat rubbed onto the points where my shoulders join my neck and my neck meets my skull.
  • This adorable 1960’s vintage purse that I got to replace my old wallet. The design reminds me of liquorice allsorts.  It opens from each end into two completely separate pockets.  It’s so slim and streamlined and it fits so well into my handbag.
  • Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.  This movie was surprisingly adorable and really, really funny.  It co-stars Joe Manganiello as himself, and I have the hugest crush on him, which was another reason that I chose it.
  • Super soft cotton nightshirts
  • Black bean and beetroot burgers.
  • This GIF

  • Beauties of the Night.  It’s a Netflix documentary about several former showgirls who are now in their sixties and seventies.  It was really eye-opening.  When I started to watch, I felt quite sad for these women, because I thought that they were trying to cling to their youth.  But as I watched I understood that they aren’t sad in the slightest. They are passionate, majestic, colourful and creative beings.  I loved learning their stories and felt inspired by this movie.
  • Listening to my Offspring CDs from high school.

What do you love this week?