Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Make Love is to Make Justice

Our Passion for Justice – Carter Heyward

Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling, not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being “drawn toward”. Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one’s friends and enemies. Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggles, resistance, risk. People working today on behalf of women, blacks, lesbians and gay men, the aging, the poor in this country and elsewhere know that making justice is not a warm fuzzy experience. I think also that sexual lovers and good friends know that the most compelling relationships demand hard work, patience, and a willingness to endure tensions and anxiety in creating mutually empowering bonds.

For this reason, loving involves commitment. We are not automatic lovers of self, others, world, or God. Love does not just happen. We are not love machines, puppets on the strings of a deity called “love”. Love is a choice - not simply, or necessarily, a rational choice, but rather a willingness to be present to others without pretense or guile. Love is a conversion to humanity - a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives. Love is a choice to experience life as a member of the human family, a partner in the dance of life, rather than as an alien in the world or a deity above the world, aloof and apart from human flesh.
(Thank you Kelly!)

As The Impropriety Society takes steps toward becoming a non-profit organization, I have been inspired with the thought that the mission and vision of The Society should include love. It is my perception that everything that we do is relationship building. Our service is facilitating safe, fun and beautiful spaces for relationships to unfold between people, whether that relationship is between volunteer staff and community member, voyeur and exhibitionist, new play partners, or long-term friends and lovers. How better to build relationships than on a basis of love?

When the Hostesses started the Society, our intent and desire was to throw fun and sexy parties. Little did we know what we were in for. While we could have focused entirely on throwing events without regard for the community we serve, we have discovered that it is our passion to build community through inclusiveness in all possible ways. We have also discovered that opening Pandora's Box of freedom in sex and relationship has the consequence of unleashing big emotions and fears in tandem with the pleasure and joy. We consciously acknowledge what arises and act from an intention to support each other in our processes of growth and healing when things get rough.

I believe that it is an act of love to embrace another human being who expresses something that challenges our own worldview. The Imps community commits these acts of love regularly. We embrace the person who has a kink we don't understand rather than reject them in judgment or fear. We embrace the person who creates a difficult situation in ignorance and practice forgiveness and education rather than exclusion. We even embrace ourselves when we discover we have desires that we've been conditioned to believe are disgusting or morally wrong. It is an act of love for self to come out of the closet and it is an act of love to support others when they come out of theirs.

The Impropriety Society believes in freedom of expression. But the space we create for freedom doesn't only require physical security, people require a sense of emotional safety in order to be vulnerable. People need permission to be open; they need to be boldly invited and encouraged to express themselves. We facilitate emotionally safe spaces and invite people to express the fullness of who they are, whether that means expressing themselves sexually or in other ways. Our parties aren't as much about the acts of sex as they are about a place where we can be integrated, where our sexuality isn't excluded from our experience like it is in the rest of life beyond our bedroom. Many who attend our events don't have sex, but express themselves openly through talk and dance and play.

What I am learning is that successfully creating emotional safety requires a loving intent. Emotional safety extends beyond having a Vibes Crew at our events, it includes facilitating an emotionally safe space for written expression on our Yahoo list and encouraging posters to communicate with compassion rather than hostility (especially when they disagree). Facilitating emotional safety includes radical honesty in interactions between staff in order to find understanding with each other when we experience conflicts. Facilitating emotional safety means finding compassion for those that hurt us and reaching out when it's hardest to do so. And it means choosing what is best for the collective over our own ego desires or reactions. All of these are acts of love.

The last few weeks I have met people who feel they are bound by cultural, professional, relationship or other limitations and cannot be free to be who they are. I met a 50 year old man who has an incredible new passion for sexual discovery but is married to a woman who has no desire for sexual adventure, so he is seeking covert relationships. I learned of a prominent political activist who can't attend play parties because it would tarnish his reputation. I know several people who are concerned that they will lose clients or suffer negative consequences in their workplace if they attend Imps events. I am heartbroken by these stories. Wonderful people who do good things in the world cannot participate in the bliss--the community friendship and love--that so many of us have experienced at our parties. Or if they can participate, they have to hide it rather than celebrate something that brings them great joy.

As a culture we are so frickin' mixed up. We demand good sex stays in the bedroom but we pull it out into the streets as often as possible in order to oppress or manipulate other people, especially those that oppose our worldview. We humiliate each other with sex. We use sex as a weapon. We broadcast headlines when people hurt each other through sex but we hide away all the loving sexual experiences that are happening all over the world every day.

Sex positive activism is seeking justice for everyone who varies from cultural norms around sexual expression. We are seeking justice for everyone who has been or will be oppressed and have their rights, their job or their children taken away because of their sexual expression. Just as we advocate for the rights of homosexuals to marry, we advocate for the right to be free with our sexuality (as long as we are consensual and don't cause harm to others). We are seeking to create a culture where no one has to worry about losing their job or their child or going to jail because they enjoy sex at a party or whipping someone with a flogger or have multiple relationships.

If we spent as much time and energy condemning those that are causing harm to others through sex crimes and sexual exploitation as we do condemning healthy sexual expression in good people, we could save the minds, lives and bodies of millions of men, women and children. If we spent as much time and energy celebrating our sexuality as we do hiding it, judging it, and hurting each other with it, we would all experience more freedom and happiness in our relationships to one another.

Becoming a non-profit organization and extending our services to expand the circle of emotional safety puts us on the frontline of the sex positive revolution. We are taking a bold step because we believe in justice and freedom. We are committing to a mission to better ourselves and the world because we love: we love community, we love freedom, we love sex, and we love what we have created together the last two and a half years. I am excited to see what unfolds for The Society and Humboldt County as we evolve and grow.


Image Source: Love One Another by Shiloh Sophia

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Sweet Confinement of Your Aloneness

This is the kind of poetry that rips my heart open in the most exquisite way.

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond Love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that doesn’t bring you alive

is too small for you.

~ David Whyte

* * * * *

Tonight I am sitting in my sweet darkness. I have moments of feeling the confinement of my aloneness. I have become so resistant to being alone. I didn’t use to be this way. Before my marriage I became very comfortable as a single mother and did all kinds of things that brought me joy when I was alone. I loved those too rare moments when I had the house to myself and could indulge in anything I desired. Yet now I am uncomfortable on my own, questioning that somehow I am less because I am not in the company of others. Between 7 years of living with someone and 2.5 years of participating in my glorious community I have become addicted to the validation of relationship.

But I do think there is more to it. Here’s an interesting question – am I having difficulty being alone because I’m having difficulty knowing what I desire?

Alone means that I can sing my heart out to any music I want.

Alone means that I can dance without inhibition.

Alone means that I can read and write without external distraction.

Alone means that I can make art (I can't even remember the last time I made art just for my self and the sake of creation).

Alone means that I can focus on my self and my connection to the All through spiritual practice, ritual, divination, and journal writing.

I know that I desire meaningful interactions with other people more than anything else. And I don’t experience much meaningful connection at work, where I spend so much time, so I drink up what I can when I can. But I can not have a balanced life if I do not spend time on my own, putting energy into other activities that nurture my soul and all of who I am.

How different would life be if I was doing what I desired for work – connecting meaningfully with other people? It’s what I always hoped for in non-profit work, but family survival drove me into administration (where the better money is), which rarely leads to meaningful connection. It’s all about information management. I desire to be creating and delivering programs that hold space for or facilitate transformation in people.

The thing is that I can't make the transition to the work-of-meaningful-connections without spending time on my own to develop the foundation of delivering this work to the world, whether through the Imps or through my own business or both. I cannot create the work and the life I desire if I am spending all of my free time socializing with others.

It's time to accept the sweet darkness, to see the freedom in my aloneness and discover what truly brings me alive.


(P.S. I actually wrote this post a couple nights ago, but my internet at home wasn't working.)

Image Source: Alone in the Dark by Vaclav Sirc

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Unexpected Gifts of Online Dating

I am having a much different experience with online dating than I have ever had before. Since I've gone into this new adventure with a desire for sexual exploration specifically (and without any kind of hope/expectation for finding a long term partner), I am finding my understanding of a "successful" connection is much more open.

Gift: In my last post I mentioned a man who is turning me on intellectually. We have shared our sexual interests and fantasies in writing and in conversation. Through our sharings, and more specifically through answering his questions, I have explored many ideas and new fantasies. I am learning new things about myself, sexually and emotionally, with nearly every interaction. Due to scheduling and other issues, we haven't had a sexual encounter yet. And maybe for one reason or another we won't. I don't know. But it doesn't really matter. What matters is that I am continuing to unfold in new and beautiful ways as I learn more about who I am and what I desire.

Gift: I am experiencing openness at a new level. I follow nearly every impulse to express what I'm thinking or feeling, even if it may lead nowhere or even to rejection. I am enjoying the process of being open for itself, rather than picking and choosing who I am open to because I am invested in something specific coming from it.

Gift: I am realizing that I am not really a shy person any longer. I don't have difficulty talking to or being open with new people. I share my sexual vulnerabilities with no restraint. I need to let go of the story and any limitations that come from the story that I am shy.

Gift: My confidence in expressing myself is getting stronger every day. I am becoming more bold and I am becoming more of a flirt. I hope to carry this confidence and flirtaciousness into my every day life.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Rules of Attraction

As mentioned previously, I put out an ad under Craiglist's Casual Encounters, specifically seeking sexual domination. This is the part describing what I thought I am looking for...

Seeking a kind yet sexually dominant man who desires to use me as his fucktoy. Someone who is strong and forceful in his desire to use my body for his pleasure. Someone who can make me weak in the knees and desiring to submit the first time we meet. I have fetishes for cock worship/face fucking, ass play, spanking, and bondage. I love dirty talk. I am open to trying new kinks...Send a pic and tell me what you'd like to do to me.

I had slim hope of finding someone who would actually turn me on in the way I described. When I place personal ads, it's often more of an invitation to the Universe to bring something my way, under any circumstances. But you never know.

Most of the 60+ responses were ridiculous one liners or generic and poorly written or included cock shots rather than a face pic. It was amusing...and disappointing. I am an intelligent woman cruising CL, I know there has to be intelligent men doing the same.

The thing is that I have incredibly high standards. Intelligence really turns me on, as does creativity. A combination of the two, with high emotional intelligence as well, and you could have me squirming.

And someone does. He is intriguing. He seems to be a nice guy, smart as hell, a fellow writer(!), great conversationalist...and he is already enticing my slutty submissive out to play. He was bold enough to send me erotic instructions the other morning, before we'd even met. I wanted to obey. He's told me a bit of what he wants to do to me and I am eager to play. We've mostly been interacting through writing, which I really enjoy. I love connecting through writing, especially erotically. I love having a freedom in saying what I'm feeling that I don't experience in person. And I appreciate opportunities to practice writing about sex. I would love to turn people on with my words.

I am recognizing that part of this adventure into sluthood has to do with exploring the flavors of attraction. What turns me on and why? How much has to do with the person and how much with the act? What kind of ecstasy can I achieve with various combinations of lover and kink? Can I experience open-heartedness by dropping my walls and being sexually vulnerable in emotionally safe but non-romantic/non-bonded interactions?

I am fascinated by the questions and the discoveries that are arising from this new adventure.

Tomorrow...an exploration into why I'm seeking out experiences in submission through objectification and humiliation.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wait...Slut? What?

If you have been a regular follower of my blog, which has been mostly dormant the last month, then you're probably wondering where the heck the last post about exploring my inner slut came from.

As I work to make my peace with Knight's desire for sexual explorations that don't involve me, I've been noticing my responses to his desires. I've been noticing my judgments about sexual exploration without established relationship, whether with strangers or acquaintances. I've been noticing a belief that anything "less" than what we have in love and chemistry isn't worth exploring. I am realizing that I have tangled up sex and love more deeply than ever before in my life.

I know that when I have a judgment, I need to be looking inside for what I may be rejecting in myself.

I used to be an ethical slut. I've had over 60 lovers in my life. It wasn't all healthy, I admit to significant self-esteem issues, but it wasn't all dysfunctional either. I started exploring poly in my mid 20's. Before meeting my ex-husband, I successfully navigated poly relationships as a non-partnered person. I had a lot of sex and a variety of connections, from fuck buddy to long-term love. I had amazing one night stands and repeated weekend dalliances where there was more sexual magic than I've had with most of my long-term lovers. I know through experience that there are many healthy and wonderful ways to sexually connect with other people that might last a couple hours or years and never lead to a partner relationship. I am so grateful to have known those people and shared the incredible experiences.

So where has all this judgment come from? When did I start believing that having a deep love makes all other connections somehow less meaningful or worthwhile?

I have also had incredible desire to open myself to more sensual and sexual expression within the Imps community. I have dear friends with whom I would love to share sexual and power exchange experiences. I have felt attraction for people at parties that I have been too shy to approach. In truth, I have been desiring all of the same things that Knight is desiring -- the freedom to explore sexual attraction, the excitement of experiencing new things with new people, and the intimacy of allowing friendship to include erotic interaction. But I've been telling myself a lot of stories about why I can't have those things.

I think I am holding all potential relationships to the standard of mine and Knight's in self protection. I think that there may be a self-esteem issue at play here, in reverse of what it used to be. In the darkest days of my youth, I used to seek sex with just about anyone who would look my way in a desperate grab for the validation, as well as physical touch and affection. But I am not desperate for those things now. While I still have self-love issues to work through (and really, who doesn't?), I have lots of love, affection and fabulous sex in my life. The desires I have now are just that, authentic desires sourced in my intense sexuality.

I am a highly sexual woman and I always have been. But I've kept it mostly to myself. I've shown it to some people, people I feel safe and comfortable with, and Knight in particular knows that part of me more intimately than anyone. I believe I've been experiencing a new level of sexual awakening with the Imps and Knight as I express and explore my true desires (rather than being satisfied with what my partner offers). But I am really struggling to accept my desires. I am especially struggling to believe that anyone else would want to make them come true.

What Knight has noticed in me is a belief that I am not desired by others. A belief that he's the only one who wants me (hence my clinging to him so tightly!). He's pointed out how I dismiss every possible sign that someone may be interested in me. He talked to me the other day about my having sexual prowess and incredible erotic power and I found myself cringing inside at the idea. I would never consider myself as someone who has sexual prowess. I have never thought of myself as seductive or having erotic power of any kind. In fact, my greatest insecurity as an Imps hostess is that I am not the sex goddess that people would expect an erotic hostess to be.

But I think the truth may be that I am. I love, adore, and cherish sex and sexual expression of all kinds. I love to read erotica. I love erotic art. I love a great sex scene in a movie. I love to throw sex parties! I love to witness other people's sexual expression. And when I allow myself to fully express my sexuality, it touches people deeply. I open myself deeply. I am known for going deep as a submissive and masochist. I am cherished for the fullness of presence that I give and my willingness to truly surrender. Just as I express intensity of feeling in other areas of my life, I bring a rich emotional experience to sex, whether the scene is based in love or primal lust. It is never just physical with me. If you consider the vulnerability with which I write about my personal evolution here, then you might imagine the vulnerability I bring into sexual experiences.

I need to recognize that I am an incredibly sexy woman because I love expressing my sexuality. I've known this about others. Sexy isn't about looks or age or other surface factors. Sexy is about one's open expression of their sexuality. We love people who are bold and vulnerable about being their authentic sexy selves (which is why our performers are so adored!). Doesn't that apply to me (and you), too?

This, and more, is what led to putting myself out into the dating world through an online dating service a couple weeks ago, and now a Craigslist ad. A few weeks ago, in what I determined to be a healthy choice to expand my relationship world, I signed up for a dating site. It was more of an invitation to the Universe to bring new connections into my life than an actual hope that something would come of it. But some good things have unfolded because I am following my impulses. As I've met a few men and really considered what I'm interested in experiencing, I've come to realize that I desire to fulfill some specific fantasies involving sexual domination and humiliation. I've been fantasizing almost exclusively about sexual domination for the past several months. My explorations in D/s with Knight have been few and far between due to our rocky relationship status. I am hungry for more. So I wrote the CL ad.

Every man I've met so far has desired me. I have made my choices of whether to pursue the potential from an empowered place. This is so very new and wonderful.

I am finally accepting the sexual and sexy woman that I am. I am letting my inner slut out to play. I am expressing the sex goddess within me. I'll let you know how it goes. ;)

Exploring My Inner Slut

I came across this wonderful article yesterday...

My Sluthood, Myself

I think it's awesome that a woman is writing so openly and positively about identifying as a slut.

This came at a serendipitous time as I've recently decided to explore my inner slut in ways that I never have before, including a casual encounters posting at Craigslist seeking sexual domination. This is emotionally risky behavior for me. I am intentionally pushing my edges around the entanglement of sex, intimacy and love. I am desiring to explore pleasure for it's own sake and genuine connections with people that are based in shared sexual passion rather than romantic intentions. I am attempting to open my heart, my mind and my body to exploring my deepest fantasies without the emotional safety of already established relationship.

I am finding that even admitting my desire to be slutty is uncomfortable. I have to wonder how much is societal conditioning and how much is about my unwillingness to open my heart to less than "love-of-my- life" sexual intimacy? I wonder how much of the story I've been telling about "needing" emotional connection is actually true and how much is fear masquerading as a sense of self protection? I wonder how much my reliance on emotional connection has been about my inability to be my own best support no matter my relationship status?

I am significantly involved in a community that supports sexual exploration, surrounded by people pushing their own edges, and yet I've been incredibly restrained, wrapped up in conditioning about the necessity of safety through emotional connection. While I've had casual sex before, I can't say that it was from an empowered place or that it was free of the motivation of finding a deeper relationship. It was more likely driven by that motivation in most cases. And I've never been open to power exchange with strangers, or even acquaintances (well, other than birthday spankings at a social). The vulnerability of submission is something I've been unwilling to give to someone I am not bonded to as friend or lover. I am now questioning my self imposed limitations in order to discover what is really true for me rather than continuing to live the old stories I've been telling myself. I love people and I believe good connection with others is possible in all sorts of ways, so why am I living a story that keeps me from exploring those possibilities?

I like this passage...

"Even now...when I am actually ready for and wanting a more emotional connection, sluthood keeps me centered. It keeps me from confusing desire and affection with something deeper. It means I have another choice besides celibacy and settling. It means I won't enter another committed relationship just to satisfy my basic need for sex and affection. It gives me more choices, it makes room for relationships to evolve organically, to take the shape they will before anyone defines them."

And this passage was unexpected.. .

"I'm telling you this because sluthood requires support. Because any woman who indulges these urges carries with her a lifetime of censure and threat. That's a loud chorus to overcome. A slut needs a posse who finds her exploits almost as delicious as she finds them herself, who cares about her safety and her stories and her happiness but not one whit about her virtue. A slut alone is a slut in difficulty, possibly in danger."

This is an aspect of our sex-positive community that I hadn't considered before. But it's so true. I don't know that I would feel safe and sane exploring my sluthood if I didn't have friends who support my sexual adventures with enthusiasm and without judgment.

Maybe emotional safety means something different than a deep intimate relationship with one person. Maybe it means being vulnerable enough to be held by many and strong enough to hold myself when no one else can be there.