Arts, Activism, Awakening in Mind, Body, & Spirit

vulva

OpEd: British Art Installation Piece Celebrates ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’


Jamie McCartney's 'Great Wall of Vagina'Jamie McCartney is a British artist who created an art installation piece of plaster casts called “The Great Wall of Vagina”.  On his website are images of the entire installation along with the motto, “Changing female body image through art”.

His website explains the art piece:

The 9 metre long polyptych consists of four hundred plaster casts of vulvas, all of them unique, arranged into ten large panels. McCartney set out to make this project as broad and inclusive as possible. The age range of the women is from 18 to 76. Included are mothers and daughters, identical twins, transgendered men and women as well as a woman pre and post natal and another one pre and post labiaplasty.

One of the many reasons I love this piece is because when I directed/ produced a production of The Vagina Monologues in 2006, one of the comments repeatedly mentioned by women who auditioned was how much they hate what their vagina looks like.  Of course, they were actually referring to the vulva — as does this art piece (hint: the vagina is the inside part).  Only one female at the auditions, a 24 year old girl who had not yet had kids, said she loved how her vulva looked like a beautiful flower.  One woman said her “vagina” was ugly because she’d had 4 kids.  Frankly, I don’t think most women know what our genitals are supposed to look like because our perception is skewed by porn and skin mags.

The month that I turned 40, I took pictures of my vulva and saw my vulva for the very first time ever (not counting when I was in labor and saw my daughter’s head crowning in the mirror up on the wall of the delivery room — I’m nearsighted so I couldn’t really see it).  Turning 40, I wanted to love my body visually the way I adore my body sensually.  But seeing my vulva pics, I burst into tears because she looked so different than what I envisioned. My fair-skinned legs and rosy labia were not what I’m accustomed to seeing because most of the women I’ve seen in erotic photos are tan.  Then there was my clitoral hood and the shape of my inner labia…. I thought, “WHY would a man like this?!  I look so different….”

I deleted the pics immediately.  But I took some more pictures the next day, and this time I didn’t cry.  I guess I was getting accustomed to seeing what I look like.  I sent the pics to 3 guy friends I could trust to tell me the truth, and each one said my vulva was beautiful.  I was really annoyed with myself that I felt I needed that kind of validation, especially from men, but men know vulvas, and they know what men like in a juicy yoni.  And frankly, if I’d sent my pics to other women, would the women have been grossed out because they likewise have little clue what “vaginas” are supposed to look like?

As I continued to look at my vulva pictures (and even took some more), it was amazingly empowering to know and love my genitals and not compare mine to women in porn or magazines.  Aside from the genital grooming that is prolific in erotic photography, many people don’t realize that porn performers often have cosmetic surgery to alter their genitals, including labioplasty to make the labia smaller or conform to some ridiculous notion of what labia are “supposed” to look like.

This brings me to my point and yet another aspect of healing women’s body image.  There is NO one way a vulva is supposed to look.  Every vulva is different.  Comparing vulvas is like comparing snowflakes — each one is unique and beautiful in her own way.

I think McCartney’s work is very important for a few reasons.  One, he cast all sorts of women when making his plaster art, and you see all sorts of labia shapes and sizes (and piercings!) represented.  Also, because the work is in plaster as opposed to photography or paint, race is not an issue, and all the vulvas can be appreciated without an ingrained idea that “white chick” vulvas are more pleasing to the eye.

Check out McCartney’s website to see the many other panels in this art installation.

trish

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OpEd: Sex and Pain


Woman with Real Breasts Looking Off into DistanceIf you judged the average person’s sex habits by what you see online, you’d think everyone is into pain, BDSM, and hog-tying their sex partners into elaborate rope configurations.  A while back, I was “roped” into a brief Twitter war with a guy who was trying to justify putting duct tape over a woman’s mouth during sex.  You can well imagine I went Irish war queen on his ass.

Personally, I don’t understand why anyone would want to associate pleasure with pain, even though I’ve heard some pretty wild concepts.  And I’m not talking about the fur-lined handcuffs, blindfolds, and feathers — although I’d never do the handcuffs or the blindfold.  Even without a fetish being involved, women put up with painful sex for a variety of reasons, and we don’t have to.  Ever.

One reason I did not go the official “sex educator” route was because I would not have been allowed to speak my mind on the sex habits I personally find to be dangerous or just plain stupid.  (Yes, I know…. two consenting adults, blah, blah, blah….)  Since the rise of 50 Shades of Grey, it has become politically incorrect to say anything critical about BDSM or bondage or a woman not being a doormat for an abusive man.  And plain ol’ sex is considered “vanilla” sex, not exciting or amazing, just vanilla.  However, I feel the need to speak out for those of us who like our sex to be solely pleasurable between partners who are on an equal basis, not one person in control nor one person made to be a slave or subservient caricature.

From my own holistic, Tantric perspective, I would never enter a sexual experience with any attitude other than love, equality, and respect.

And yet, pain is apparently all over modern sex.  Personally, I believe the association of sex and pain is due to this patriarchal society that is based on hierarchy and competition at any cost.  The need for control or recognizing we are being controlled is incorporated into every aspect of our lives, our work, our economic status, our cultural/class status; and then hierarchy and the need for control or to relinquish all control crosses over into sex.

Pain is pain, not pleasure.  Women should not put up with painful sex, but often times, we do so as not to hurt the man’s feelings.  We endure all sorts of emotional pain throughout our lives, but sex should be 110% pleasure.  Women, you do not have to tolerate painful, unfulfilling sex.  Ever.

Sex should never hurt.  Except for some slight pain when the hymen is broken, sex should never be painful.  Even for an experienced woman, penetration can be painful if she is not lubricated enough.  Whether it’s your first time with a man or the hundredth, sex may need to be slow to take him in.  Just because you’ve been with him before doesn’t mean your body is automatically ready to be penetrated.  Being penetrated too quickly or without enough lube can be very, VERY painful.

Remember that the vulva needs to be massaged and stretched as part of the preparation for sex.  Another reason for spending time arousing the woman is that the vagina is only 3 to 3.5 inches long, but she expands up to 50% during arousal.  So if the man wants to get 5+ inches of his penis inside instead of just 3 inches, fully arousing a woman is time well spent.

The difference in penis size to vagina size can make for thrilling orgasms or a painful experience.  If the man has a large penis, extra time may need to be taken to avoid hurting the woman.  How much time?  This depends on the woman.  In this way, yes, the woman is always in control of the sex.  That’s just the way it goes, guys.

Once aroused, the woman’s erectile tissue will be fully infused with blood (just as the man’s erectile tissue fills with blood), and for the woman, when the man slowly slides inside the vagina, it is exquisite pressure and a sense of being absolutely full, as if he’s touched her soul.  Again, any man not willing to patiently await a woman’s full arousal doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near a vagina.

Encouraging pain to feel pleasure is just stupid — or even dangerous if your partner wants to try something like erotic axphxiation (choking to make orgasm “stronger”).  If you actually know the “how” of orgasm, you’d know that oxygen feeds orgasm intensity and duration, so cutting off your oxygen supply is actually not a good idea.  And about 1,000 people die per year from erotic axphyxiation.

Pain in the vagina, anus, or even in the pelvic floor or legs could be a sign of something very wrong.  If you experience pain or numbness in the legs during or after sex, this may be not only a neurological issue but also a respiratory issue.  Getting enough oxygen into your lungs, and ergo your body, is crucial for proper function of the body and especially for orgasm.  During sex, focus breathing down into your pelvic floor.  As you inhale, bring the air all the way down toward your genitals.  This will ensure that you are belly breathing and not breathing only in the upper chest.  Upper chest breathing doesn’t allow the body to get rid of as much carbon dioxide, so the body is not being fully oxygenated.  This can contribute to the tingling or numbness in the legs.  Also, being sedentary in your daily life or job can affect the nerves and bloodflow in the legs.

Moving around to the backside, anal sex should NEVER hurt.  Ever.  Whether fingers, a toy, or a penis, anal sex should only ever be pleasurable.  Men, please know, that male prostate stimulation is very healthy for you, and any anal stimulation should always be pleasurable.

With the possible exception of breaking the hymen, no part of sex should ever hurt.  Ever.  Never.

Yes, I know that fetishes like spanking and rope-tying have hit the mainstream, but it is still a power-play of control and inflicting pain on someone you supposedly care about.  Just because you interpret both pain and pleasure in the same area of the brain doesn’t mean you need to inflict pain to experience pleasure.  In fact, if you are, then you only experience sex on a physical level, and orgasm is a response of the subtle body, not just a “release” of the physical anatomy.

The rise of pain as a means of pleasure is more patriarchal bullshit that women are supposed to adopt as “normal” sex play.  Women are throttled by the neck, their breasts are slapped, their vulvas punched with a partner’s fist, and it makes me ill.  What’s worse is that young people see the images, gifs, videos, etc., online and think that abusive sex is normal, and it is not.

Once you understand the mechanism and response of orgasm, you will know that pain should never be anywhere near sex.  Any desire for pain during sex is a sign of other psychological and/or emotional issues that need to be resolved outside the bedroom.  I know this is not a popular sentiment, and that’s okay.  I want to be a voice for all those women (and men) who instinctively do not want pain-fetishized sex but feel pressured into accepting it because of this society that regularly features victimized women and abusive men as part of the mainstream culture.

Having lived in a patriarchal world and been affected by its brutality more times than I care to acknowledge, I will never allow an abusive person into my sex life.  Ever.

trish

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AskTrish: Woman Asks If Uncomfortable Feeling When Boyfriend Touches Clit is Normal


Woman's Hand on YoniHi, trish,

I was wondering, what is it supposed to feel like when somebody touches your clit?  I have heard it’s supposed to bring a good feeling but not in my case.  When my boyfriend touches my clit, I get a really intense kinda uncomfortable feeling.   It doesn’t feel bad or hurt but it definitely doesn’t feel good either.  And it’s not something I look forward to.   My bf always wants to touch it but even if I let him, I stop him after a couple secs cuz it feels intense and uncomfortable.  Is this normal?

Anon

Hey, Anon!

So much to address here!

Let me assure you that pain or discomfort is never “normal” for any kind of sex ever.  No kind of sex (vaginal or anal) or touch or penetration should EVER be painful.  EVER.  (Okay, that wasn’t exactly your question, but I just want to reiterate that for the readers.)  What is “normal” touch sensation for you will be different for someone else, so my “normal” will be different from yours.  My “normal” now that I’m extremely in touch with my body will be very different from the “normal” that is “normal” for a female just starting to explore her body.  So without knowing your age (18+), your sexual experience, any previous trauma, how you touch yourself, and how he specifically touches you, there’s no way I can guess what would be “normal” for you.  But I can say that not-quite-pain, not-quite-pleasure feeling is common at first.  So let’s look at this bit by bit.

Vulva - Erect Clit ExposedThe external clitoris is literally the tip of the iceberg!  Most of the clitoris is inside the body, with several inches of innervated erectile tissue that expands and zings with sensation during arousal.  Those inches of erectile tissue that men have hanging outside their body, a.k.a. the penis, is synonymous with the inches of erectile tissue women have; ours is just inside us.

The tip of the clit, that little nub we can see, is technically called the glans, just like the tip of the penis is called the glans.  The tip of the clit is usually protected by the clitoral hood, which is synonymous with the penile foreskin.  With around 8,000 nerve endings, the clitoral glans is VERY sensitive to touch.  In fact, if you can see the tip, the clit is actually in the non-erect state; but that doesn’t mean she’s not enjoying herself — she probably is!  Nearing climax, the clit will seem to “disappear” into the fleshy folds of the vulva; but she’s not retreating from touch, she’s actually getting a full erection on!  This is usually when “vigorous” touch can be exquisite.

DailyOJ 01-20-12: The Clit Discussed Further

Female Anatomy: Clitoris Frontal ViewThe clitoral body can be stimulated externally by (gently) pressing on the mons pubis area or internally via various fingering and stroking techniques inside the vagina.  (Reminder:  the female prostate is on the anterior wall of the vagina and is a different anatomical structure.)  When a woman is nearing climax, there is often a “vice grip” clench at the opening of the vagina; these are the clitoris’ vestibular bulbs near the entrance.  The clit is actually quite extensive and complex, comprised of 18 distinct parts.  Your clit is MUCH MORE than just the nub on the outside!

But let’s remember, those are 8,000 plugged-in nerve endings.  Touching them before they are ready to receive pleasure input can feel awkward or even painful.  Since you sound like a young adult, I’m going to assume your boyfriend is the overly eager type who just wants to start pawing at your body (perhaps because that’s what he’s seen in porn, or he may be new to all this as well).  This is NEVER okay.  The man NEVER touches you anywhere unless YOU are ready to be touched.  You’ll know when your clit is begging to be touched, and if he doesn’t touch you properly or is clumsy, you have the right to tell him how to touch you.  It sounds like you are willing to stand up for yourself, and that is great!  You have complete autonomy over your body.

Here’s were I have to interject yet another consequence of circumcision.  If your man is circumcised, he may be accustomed to needing “rough” stimulation due to keratinization (callousing of skin) on his penis glans.  If your man is not circumcised, explain to him that touching your clit with little or no prior arousal is like someone yanking his foreskin back and going straight for the underside of his penis glans.  This can be very uncomfortable for the intact man!  No one likes too much sensation too soon, which is what it sounds like you’re experiencing from your boyfriend.

Nude Couple Embracing Passionately in PeachKeep in mind, there is a reason the female needs to be fully aroused before going for the clit or the vagina.  From a Tantra perspective, the woman and the man have positive and negative poles, like on a magnet.  For the woman, the positive pole is the heart chakra, home to her heart and her breasts, with the negative pole being the genitals.  For the man, the positive pole is his root/sex chakra, home to his penis and testicles, with the negative pole being his heart chakra.  Biologically, the woman needs 15 to 30 minutes of dedicated arousal, or as I like to call it — puja (worship :-) ) to prepare the vagina for sex.  The same way a singer has to warm up before performing, think of this time as necessary preparation — fun, delicious preparation for continued, evolving, expanding, rapturous ecstasy.   Therefore, this time allows the woman’s body, especially the genitals, to become ready to receive touch and penetration and pleasure.  It’s no coincidence that focus on the woman’s heart chakra would be key.  Not only does it stimulate the woman emotionally, but a woman’s nipples are wired directly to her clit.  Breast puja = a turned on, horny clit.  Any man who doesn’t want to commit 15 minutes of breast/sensual touch puja isn’t worth your time.

This 15 minute warm-up doesn’t have to be solely focused on the breasts.  Any sensual touch and massage will awaken the subtle body.  This includes kissing, nibbling, caressing, talking, laughing.  Once the woman is ready for more direct touch, the woman can allow the man to begin with touch and kisses on the insides of her thighs, the outer labia, the mons pubis — basically, loving all the way around the clit until you are ready for more.  As you become more experienced and more familiar with your body’s responses, you may not need this much time.  In fact, when you are able to stay in an aroused state — recognize that orgasm is an energy field you can slip into any time you want, you may not need much prep touching at all.  Just thinking of your man will send your spine arching back into orgasm and your clit throbbing for touch!  (In time, you’ll learn how to control this response when you’re in public, like shopping at the grocery story or the library. :-D )

Keep in mind, physical climax is different from energy orgasms.  Men often confuse ejaculation (climax) with orgasm.  These are two separate functions: ejaculation is a physical reflex of the sympathetic nervous system, while orgasm is a response via the parasympathetic nervous system.  Since men need less time to get aroused and ready for penetration, they tend to focus on the end, rather than enjoying the journey.  (Another horrible legacy of standard porn, too.)  Just like for the woman, this arousal time is also a time of breathing and relaxing for the man.  When your mind and/or body is stressed, pleasure can be elusive.  Take your time to get warmed up and totally invested in your body’s journey to pleasure.  There is plenty of time to get hot and heavy — once you’re BOTH aroused to the point of a crazed fuck-for-all.

Note:  This initial phase of arousal is usually called “foreplay”, a term I despise since it places the importance of the sexual experience on “sex” which is usually defined by the penetration, i.e., when the penis enters the vagina.  This devalues the woman and the woman’s biological needs of arousal in order to accept a penis (or toy) without pain.  So I do not use the term foreplay.  Puja is my personal preference.  Puja, the idea of honoring the person and their body, also puts respect back into the sensual, sexual experience, in my opinion.

You should know, Anon, that it takes time to get to know your clit and the rest of your sexual anatomy.  And you should spend a lot of time with her — just you and her.  This way you get to know how she likes to be touched, without the pressure of a panting, horny Lothario rushing you and making you feel uncomfortable or not “normal”.  Masturbation is a beautiful way to honor yourself (self-puja) and learn about yourself and your body.  Through masturbation, she won’t feel so foreign to you, and you will begin to integrate her into your body and your overall sexual being-ness.

After you are more familiar with your body, show your boyfriend how you like to be touched.  Masturbate in front of him, but he can’t help you — he needs to watch and learn.  (He can help later on.)  More often than not, a lighter, gentler touch is needed at first.  In fact, once your body is awakened, you might even have labia-gasms and sheet-gasms.  Hard touch is usually ONLY desired at the absolute height of passion and usually NEVER at the beginning of a love-making session.  When your clit is really ready, you’ll know because you’ll start looking for things to hump.  If you start eyeing the arm of the sofa with lust, that’s usually a good sign your clit needs some determined lovin’.

Recap of what we covered:

1 – Learn your clit’s likes and dislikes via masturbation; then when you’re ready, it’s show-and-tell time to teach your man.

2 – Female and male sexual anatomy are synonymous, for the most part.  Some things are similar to both the woman and the man, so teaching the man about the woman’s anatomy will help him understand how your body responds.

3 – Prior arousal is required for pleasure.  As you become more experienced, you may not need as much prep-time, but for now, insist on at least 15 minutes of sensual touch on other parts of your body to get your clit primed for touch.

4 – To learn various touch techniques for the clit, look through some of the videos and info here where the clit rules and men are glad to offer puja to a woman’s body (or willingly lie back and let the woman drive the orgasm train).

Feel free to leave a comment, especially if you want to offer more info so we can be more specific.

Thanks so much for trusting me with your clit. :-)

trish


DailyOJ 02-12-13: Sheet Orgasms


nude-woman-redhead-arched-back-in-orgasm-300I’ve found a new way to enjoy my stealth orgasms — the orgasms that are brought on by little or no physical touch.  I wasn’t looking for a new approach to my quieter, yet, oh so fulfilling full-body waves of bliss, and yet I have stumbled upon “sheet orgasms.”

While doing the barest of nipple stim and reveling in delicious nipplegasms, my legs open wide of their own volition.  My hips move in their own dance, and my head is back in breathless euphoria.  With it being colder now, I sleep with my duvet cover on, and I happen to be snuggled under the covers this morning.  I move my hand to my labia, first outer, then inner labia, loving the change in her texture and posture.

My inner labia begin close to my vagina, but as arousal progresses, my inner labia extend upward, outward, as if standing at attention — the frilly edges more taut as they fill with blood in their own erections.  Barely brushing my fingertips across my erect labia, the full-body waves begin, and I feel expansion in my heart chakra.  I’m still amazed that slow, barely-there touch is so fulfilling, and infinitely more tender than hard frigging off.

I’m back on to nipplegasms, having gotten into a pattern of nipplegasms then barely-there gentle-touch clit O’s, and back again.  On the weekends, I do this for hours, not getting out of bed until around 2 p.m. — except on the Saturdays I make a concerted effort to get up by noon to catch the vendors at the farmers’ market.  But this is Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, and everything is closed.  I can stay in bed all day.

Back arched and head back, the nipplegasms are on auto-loop at this point.  As my knees part wide, falling open 180-degrees on the bed, the weight of the duvet presses the sheet toward me.  The sheet brushes my erect inner labia, and a jolt of energy surges up my body.  I thought it was a fluke, a wonderful accident, but I try it again, lifting my hips slightly.  Sure enough — ZAP!  There it is again.  I lift my hips the same way, and the full-body waves begin.  My hips circle several times, make figure 8’s in both directions as I learned in belly dancing, circle some more, then lift and lower in a plain ol’ back and forth motion.  I am breathless as the stealth orgasms fill me and energy zings up my legs and arms, with that familiar energy spiral in the ball of my left foot, sending energy outward.  The sheet has just become my new boyfriend.

Trying a few things, I learned that once the sheet is in the correct position under the weight of the duvet but not actually resting on my vulva, manipulating the sheet is not required, and any other touch of my genitals is not recommended.  The barely-there brushing of the sheet across my inner labia is all I need to induce these wonderful, deep feelings that can only be described as orgasmic waves that crash against the shore of my body, sending billions of tiny pinpoints of pleasure up through me and expanding outward.

Sheet orgasms… who knew…

Aroused and pricing 1500 thread-count Egyptian cotton,

trish

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DailyOJ 01-23-13, Part 2: Differences Using Glass Toy & Crying Emotional Uterine Orgasms


Copyright 2013 by Trish Causey. All Rights Reserved.
woman-clit-glass-dildo-sex-toy* Read Part 1 *

My only problem with the knees up position is that it tires out my hip flexors, and frankly, it’s rather a tight fit with my arms squished in between my breasts and my thighs — but I manage. I’ll use pillows to support my knees/legs next time. I almost laugh at seeing (and really feeling!) my feet shaking as arousal of my prostate kicks in.

As I get near the climax, the sensations are very different than with my penis-shaped toy, a.k.a, “Sparkles,” and the series of orgasms/climax itself is different as well. I had a similar feeling to the first time I orgasmed with the glass toy — I wasn’t sure if I “liked” the orgasms it induced (with clit stim), then I realized this time around that I was judging the orgasms, as if I were expecting the orgasms to be the same as they are with Sparkles.

After using the glass toy with my knees up, I’m really beginning to appreciate how the experience is completely different — I think I was waiting for the arousal sensations and the orgasmic progress to be the same as hands-on blended O’s or penetration orgasms. Now that I’m familiar with the sensations brought on by the firm, directional “touch” of the glass female prostate toy, I am loving learning the various feelings that are evoked — and especially the longer “finish” since my hands and wrists aren’t as tired.

The sounds I make are also much different than using the penis-y toy or using my hands. I seem to have different moans for each style of stimulation as well as for each level of arousal. The sounds I make with the glass toy are mid-way between the soft “Oooooo’s” and “Ahhhh’s” of the hands-on blended O’s and the much more guttural, louder (loud!) exclamations of the penetrative stimulation.

My one concern was that the emotional after-cry would be absent since the crying, uterine orgasms tend to be triggered by the deep, fast, filling thrust of the penis toy. The first time I used the glass toy like this a couple weeks ago, there was emotion but no crying, and yes, I felt “disappointed.” But every time since then the emotions/orgasms have produced crying immediately, intense crying that emanates from my heart/torso not my genitals. I curl up into a ball, rocking side to side from the intensity of the crying — which I now consider to be part of my orgasmic process since it is such a strong release of… something…

Today was no different. Using the glass toy, I was able to stim more orgasms than usual until I just couldn’t keep my hands from going up over my head any longer. The deeply felt crying was immediate and surprising, yet so very welcome. When I first started having these crying uterine orgasms, they only happened with the penis toy, then I was able to experience them with hands-on stimulation. Having these overwhelmingly emotional orgasms with the glass toy means these insanely intense orgasms are available to me regardless of the method of delivery — penis, glass, hands, etc. Which is quite a relief, actually. I think everyone is a little nervous about using a new toy or being with a new partner because you’re not quite sure what the experience or the results will be.

Another cool factoid about today’s orgasm episode is that my prostate creamed all over the glass toy. When I pulled it out to look at it, I had frothy prostate juice on my arm, my hands, and the toy was covered. Awesome!

Yes, my orgasms are coming along very nicely. Onward to the next adventure!

Aroused and exploring!

trish

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