Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sex Toys Abound!

Today I am going to do a little update about me so that you can all follow along as my career as a sex educator progresses. I will do this from time to time as things change and I get new opportunities.

First of all, I am in my last semester of undergrad. To finish off my bachelors right I have taken on an independent study about the history of sexuality in America with an expert in the field. I am learning all kinds of interesting things about how sexual norms have changed over the last few hundred years. At some point I may share some of my new knowledge with you.

Secondly, I got an offer from Babeland, a feminist sex toy shop based out of New York, to review toys for this blog. They have expressed an interest in having me do monthly reviews, which would give my blog much needed content as well as giving me a lot of fun. Oh how I love sex toys. However, I already own so many sex toys that I am going to need to get a special container for all of them. I'm thinking of something that resembles a tackle box. Anyone seen anything like this or know how to make one?

Finally, and most exciting, I got a job as a sex educator at a Chicago-based feminist sex toy shop, Early to Bed. I am very much looking forward to my first day.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Difference Between Men and Women

Ok Garnet, so let's talk frankly about bisexuality. I want to know what the differences are between dating men and dating women. Would YOU happen to know anything about this? Are men really the pigs that everyone says they are? Tell me the advantages and disadvantages of each.

You start your inquiry about bisexuality, but you're not really asking about bisexuality. You're asking about the differences between dating men and women. While bisexuals may have first hand experience with this, the question itself is not about bisexuality.

It is difficult to talk about the differences between dating men and dating women without making broad sweeping generalizations. I don't like making generalizations about people and I really don't like implying that anyone is inherently one way or another because of some physical trait that they were born with. More often than not, if there are broad generalizations to be made they are socially constructed traits. What I mean by this is that the reason males may be more aggressive than females is because they are taught to be aggressive and females are taught to be passive. But then here I have to make all kinds of qualifying comments like how it depends on the male/female, it depends on how they were raised, it depends on their ethnicity, it depends it depends it depends ...

So there may be a lot of male pigs out there, but there are also plenty of men who are not pigs, who are in fact progressive feminist activists. And there are women out there who are pigs.

But this is not what you want to hear from me. You want me to dish out the dirt about the differences between men and women, but all I can really do is give you insight into my own dating experiences. I cannot speak for anyone else, nor would I want to. So with that said, I'm going to be really lame and not give you a real answer. You could probably get an answer from a more mainstream heterosexual sex adviser, but I try to stay away from putting people in boxes that they may or may not fit into.

However, I suggest openly talking to people and asking about their dating experiences whether they be gay, lesbian, bi, straight, or any other color in the sexual rainbow. You may or may not come to your own conclusions from these discussions about the differences between dating men and women. Just remember to not assume anything about someone just because of the gender they are presenting.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Staying a Virgin

Please, give some detail...what are the advantages and disadvantages of being a virgin after age 18, or just being a virgin at all?

What we saw in my last blog can be seen as a disadvantage to remaining a virgin. Basically the level of inexperience can make sex difficult, frustrating, awkward, and even painful. Also having the status of virgin can be embarrassing as some peers may make fun of you. Potential dates may even reject you for your virginity. So there can be some definite disadvantages there. However, the advantages can highly outweigh the disadvantages if they are the types of advantages you are seeking.

It is really best for one to wait to have sex until they are physically, emotionally, and mentally ready. A lot of people that I have talked to actually say that they wish they had waited longer. Sex can be a wonderful thing, but it should really only be done by mature adults who understand and can handle the consequences that sex brings with it. I'm not about to start a crusade to get kids to stop having sex though because I personally think it is impossible. It is best to equip them with as much knowledge as we can so that they are prepared.

Some huge advantages to holding onto your virginity are not having to deal with the consequences that sex brings. If one is a virgin (and I'm not talking technical virgin meaning one who has done everything but had penile/vaginal intercourse, we're talking real virgin who has maybe participated in some petting at most) there is no fear of STIs, no fear of pregnancy, and less complicated emotional issues. Sex is super fun and can bring people closer together, but it can also be horrible and violating and tear people apart.

So my suggestion is to hold onto your virginity as long as you want to. Hold onto it until you know you are ready for those types of consequences. Enjoy getting to know people and having heavy make out sessions that leave you both hot and bothered. Oh how I miss those days. But also keep yourself informed. Read books about technique, safer sex, and even emotional intimacy. Even if you don't have practical knowledge going into the bedroom you will have some knowledge you can work from and that can make a huge difference. Keep an open mind and an open ear and you will learn very quickly exactly what your partner enjoys.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

We Waited Until Marriage

My husband and I waited until we were married (this past June) to have sex (we didn't do anything more than kiss). We've had a really difficult time figuring out how to make things work, partly because we're both new to this, and partly because it still really hurts at the beginning for me. Also, we can only figure out where to put his penis to get it inside me about half the time, which can be frustrating. I've been to my doctor and she said that there weren't any physical problems, but because of the pain, I find it really hard to be interested, which my husband understands but also finds frustrating. Any suggestions?

My biggest suggestion is to stop having intercourse for awhile. I'm thinking you should completely take it off the table for a month or two. You two need to learn what feels good without the pressure of intercourse. This will take a lot of trust and communication between the two of you and can help with not only building a happy healthy sex life, but also a happy healthy marriage. I want you to strictly stick to kissing, petting, and oral sex. Since all you did before marriage was kiss I'm going to assume that neither of you has any real experience with playing either. Try touching, caressing, kissing, licking, and nibbling all over each other's bodies and give each other feedback on what feels great, just ok, or bad. Experiment with each other and have fun. Don't make it a serious event. Make sure that you can both laugh and enjoy each other. Remember that the goal of this is not orgasm, but to learn how to touch each other and learn what feels good.

Once you feel ready, I suggest having your husband penetrate your vagina with one or two fingers so that you can both learn what feels good for you. What type of pressure you like, what type of speed, what type of angle works for you. Fingers have more dexterity, which will make it a lot easier to experiment than penetration with his penis. Before starting this process though you should both be as relaxed and turned on as possible.

I have a feeling that one of the reasons you may be experiencing pain during intercourse is that you are afraid it will hurt and therefore tense your vaginal muscles which makes it hurt more. Another possibility is that you have not been producing the lubrication needed in order to make things go more smoothly. This could be caused by a number or issues, but the more aroused you are, the more likely you are to become well lubricated. You can also try using a water based or silicone based lubricant if you find that you are drying out from friction or just not becoming wet enough for pleasurable sexual activity. A lot of sex toy shops carry lube samplers which will give you little 1 oz samples of several different types of lube. Try several out and find your favorite.

Another suggestion: masturbation. If you don’t already, both of you should start masturbating in order to figure out how you like to be touched. Once you get the hang of it and if you feel comfortable, try masturbating in front of each other to show each other how you like being touched. It will be educational and really sexy.

Since you both are pretty new to the sex thing in general I'm going to recommend a very general and all encompassing book: The Guide to Getting in On by Paul Joannides. It will help you learn about your own and each other's bodies as well as give you ideas to experiment with. In my opinion, and in the opinions of many others, it is the best sex education book ever written.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ouch! His Penis Hurts Me!

The guy I'm dating is fairly well hung. Strange thing is that while it's not the biggest penis I've had, it HURTS me a lot afterwards, not during. He's energetic but not really very rough. Most my previous partners try to drill holes through me, this one is tame by anyone's standards.

If I stay awake after sex, then I'm hurting until I fall asleep. If I fall asleep after, then the pain starts to hit me a few hours after waking and walking around. I'm not talking about sore, my uterus feels like it's getting sucked up by my stomach. I can't walk and changing positions makes me feel like my insides are going to explode.

Everyone at work laughs at me (there's no way i can hide this sort of pain) and while my boy sympathizes with me, mostly, he just laughs because it's this insane ego trip for him.

I don't want to not have sex. It's not only very good sex, but it's kind of impossible to avoid. He's very young and very horny.

What do I do?

Any man who is proud of hurting a woman with his penis is a misogynistic jerk. I don't care how young and horny he may be, if he wants to have sex with you he should be more understanding and try to find ways to make sure you don't hurt afterwards. Sex should be a pleasurable experience for both of you and if you're hurting after sex then you're going to be less likely to want to do it as time goes on. It is in his best interest to help you out in any way he can.

The first thing I want you to do is go to a doctor or a reproductive health clinic like Planned Parenthood. Get a pelvic exam and get tested for STIs. Pain can be caused by STIs or other infections that may not show any other symptoms.

If you find out you are healthy or after you get treated and you find you're still having pains you will probably need to experiment with positions. Your current partner may not be bigger than some of the guys you've had, but his penis may be shaped differently. Take note of the way his penis curves. Any curvature at all may hurt certain women while others may prefer a curved penis. Try having his penis enter you from different angles and see if this makes a difference.

There are also positions you can try to make penetration shallower. Try laying on your stomach with your legs slightly separated and him on top of you, entering from behind. Try having sex in a spooning position. You can also try riding him, which will give you control over depth. Missionary will even work as long as you keep your legs down on the bed instead of up in the air or over his shoulders.

The goal really is to experiment a lot and see what works for the both of you. Experimenting is fun and hot!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


This is something a friend of mine and her current boyfriend got into recently. I wanted to find out more about Ginger Root Figging, it's pro's and con's, natural affects, and possible side-affects. So what does Garnet have to say about it?

This is probably the most exciting question I have received since starting my blog. I'd never heard of figging before I received the email containing this question and I love learning new things. I've spent a lot of free time doing research on this question in order to give a thorough answer.

For those of you who don't know, and I'm going to assume that is most of you, figging involves penetrating the anus with a piece of ginger. Basically you get a big piece of ginger, often called a hand, from the store (it may be difficult to find a good size at a supermarket so it may be necessary to go to a produce market, asian market, or health food store); you cut off a "finger" of the ginger, making sure to cut into the base of the hand to get more length; peel off the skin, making sure to smooth all of the bumps down; shape the finger into a butt plug with a concave ring for retention; and rinse the ginger with water. It is now ready for insertion into the anus. Lube is not necessary, in fact it will mute the properties of the ginger that one is seeking. The water from rinsing the ginger should make it slippery enough. The receiver will not feel the effects of the ginger right away, but after a minute or two it should start to tingle and then burn/sting. It can get pretty painful and will hurt even more if one clenches their buttocks. This is why it is really only practiced in the BDSM community.

So what do I think about this? Personally, I don't like much pain so this would be horrible for me. However, this isn't about me. I'm all for people doing whatever they want as long as they're not hurting anyone without their consent.

That said, I also don't advocate inserting objects into holes where they're not meant to go. This goes doubly for the anus. Think of your rectum as a vacuum that can suck up anything that does not have a flared base. It is true that you can carve a flared base into the ginger, but it is pretty easy to break. To do research on this I actually picked up a piece of ginger and carved it into a butt plug just to see how easy it was to break. It snapped right away with hardly any force. And lets face it you don't want to end up in the ER. I talked to a med student about the risks involved with sticking foreign objects in one's bum and this is what she had to say, "In my opinion, it's generally a bad idea to put things up one's rectum that weren't made for that purpose--but this is only because I've seen the box of things that the surgeons have pulled out of butts. (Some of these have had bad outcomes--colostomies, resection of bowel, etc. So I personally would not recommend it.) I suppose that, as with insertion of any foreign object, there is always the danger of infection or abscess formation, if there are cuts or abrasions in the rectal wall; or of colon perforation." That sure doesn't sound pleasant.

Another possible problem is how one may react to the ginger. There could be an allergic reaction to it specific to the anus or it could just be unbearably painful. The anus is an extremely sensitive and delicate area of the body. If you are going to play with ginger I would highly recommend trying it on your genitals first. This will allow you to see just how much the ginger burns and if you think you'll be able to take it in your anus. For research sake, and because my girlfriend is such a trooper, I cut a slice of the ginger root and placed it on her clit, held in by her labia majora. As was expected, she didn't feel anything at first, but after a couple minutes it started to tingle. She enjoyed the tingling, but then it became unbearably burny and she had to remove it and wash off the remnants. My girlfriend has a high tolerance for pain and enjoys a little now and again, but the ginger was too much for her. This would be great for those in the BDSM community who enjoy these sensations, but I highly recommend against it for those who are not really into pain. She obviously does not want ginger anywhere near her ass.

If you enjoy the ginger on your penis or clit, I recommend placing the ginger against your anus without actually penetrating it. Place it there for a few minutes and see if you enjoy that as well. If you do enjoy it and don't mind the risk of putting foreign objects in your ass then give it a try, but be extremely careful.

I would actually recommend handling the ginger with your hands and then inserting a finger into yours or your partner's anus. This way you can get at least some of the sting without so much of the risk. Another possibility is to soak the ginger root in lube and to use the lube on a butt plug. I'm not sure if either of these would be as effective as the actual ginger root, but they would be safer.

As with any type of play that involves pain, bondage, and/or domination and submission make sure that you can trust your partner. Do NOT play with someone you don't trust completely. Also make up safewords and discuss what to do in hypothetical situations that may become uncomfortable, dangerous, or scary BEFORE you ever engage in such play. Communication is always important, but even more so when getting into this kind of play.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Vulva Just Rolls Off the Tongue

I thought we'd start the new year right with a little feminist rant from me. This rant is specifically about the female genitals being referred to as the vagina.

This is something that has bothered me for awhile now, but was most humorously brought to my attention by the writings on a bathroom stall. Some obviously sex positive, queer women (ah how I love liberal city colleges) wrote about how much they loved to eat pussy and how it was such a beautiful thing. A response by one woman (I'm assuming these were women since it was the women's bathroom) was something along the lines of "Ladies lets have respect for ourselves! It is a vagina, not a pussy!"

First of all, let me say that I have no problem with the word pussy. If that is how you want to refer to your genitals, by all means go ahead. I also enjoy cunt quite a bit.

The problem I actually had with this, besides the fact that referring to one's genitals as pussy is not disrespectful as long as you enjoy the word, was that she was telling women to respect themselves by referring to their genitals by an incorrect, and I think rather disrespectful, name.

Let me make myself clear here. The vagina is a wonderful thing, but it does not refer to the entire genital area of a woman. You cannot in fact "go down on" or "eat out" a woman's vagina, which is what the other women were talking about on that stall wall. If you spend all of your time trying to go specifically for the vagina you will end up with an incredibly sore tongue because the vagina only refers to the internal canal. And while some women do enjoy a bit of tongue fucking in their vagina, it is hardly the main goal in oral sex.

There are a couple reasons why I do not like it when a woman's genitals as a whole are referred to as her vagina. The first, which I stated above, is that it is incorrect. Both men and women need to know more about women's bodies and incorrectly referring to the whole shebang as a vagina promotes ignorance. Did you know that many women still think that they urinate out of their vagina? Maybe you are one of them. Maybe if we did not refer to the whole thing as a vagina then we would all know that women urinate out of their urethra just like men do. You can see where this could become confusing.

Second, I think that referring to the whole area as a vagina is sexist. In Western Society there is a huge focus on penetration. Many don't believe that you can even have sex without penetration. This is why so many people are confused by lesbians because without a penis to penetrate each other with they can't possibly have sex. Notice how a man is always necessary in sex, but a woman is not? Although considered deviant, two men can have sex because there is a penetrator and a penetratee.

My point here is that sex = penetration in our society and the socially acceptable thing to penetrate is a vagina. There is no need for the rest of the female genitals nor the rest of the woman really in this definition of sex. This type of sex focuses on the pleasure of men, not women.

So lets make a pact to only call the female genitals by their correct names. I mean after all who refers to a man's testicles as his penis? The whole outside of a woman's genitals is called the vulva. Many people seem to have an aversion to the word. I didn't like it at first either. I learned to love it by thinking about how much I love vulvas and really dragging out the word. Put a long u in there and bring some sensuality to those v's. You'll learn to love it too.

The names for all of the wonderful parts of the vulva can be found in the diagram here.

As to the bathroom stall writings, I actually responded with a comment of my own. This was the one and only time I have ever written on a bathroom wall, but I felt my input was necessary. I wrote "Actually it is vulva, but I always liked cunt!"