Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

  1. Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

    November 16, 2012 by Jenni

    Image from sheknows.com.au

    It’s been a while since I last got any action in the bedroom department and I am definitely starting to feel like I’m missing out. I worked out recently that this is the longest period of time I’ve gone without since I lost my virginity aged 16 and a bit (about 5 and a bit years ago) due to two extremely long term relationships which have stretched over the last 6 years or so. I’ve been single for 7 months now and my heart seems to have gotten over that whole being broken thing quite nicely and has let me start functioning again as an actual human.

    My brain, meanwhile, seems to be living out its own little romantic fiction novel, especially whenever I see a particularly attractive gentleman. (I actually had this thought the other day when a guy dropped his keys in front of me: “Ooh, bend down and pick them up so you can have a romantic moment when your hands meet above them.” It was followed swiftly by the thought “Shut up brain, you wally.”). My vagina though seems to be having a little party of its own. I must be the horniest person in the world at the moment, anything and everything seems to set me off – I feel a bit like a teenage boy who’s just discovered the internet. And while me-parties (‘a party just for one’… alright I might have just made the Muppets Movie horrible there. I’m not sorry.) are fun and all, it’s just really not the same.

    It’s not just the release of orgasm that I’m missing though, it’s the whole sharing the physical intimacy with another person-allowing yourself to be that vulnerable in front of someone and feeling completely comfortable with it is a big part of what makes sex an enjoyable thing for me. I love that sensation of being completely contented with each other and with yourself so that you just lie there naked together and no-one feels compelled to put any clothes on at all, sometimes for days.

    And here’s the thing – I think I’m fairly good at relationship sex. The sex where you know exactly what each other wants and no longer need to tell each other where to put what bit and what to do with it when it’s there, but you just do it automatically, hitting all their buttons because you know what they like and they know what you like. That’s all fine and dandy.

    It’s the thought of getting down and dirty with an unknown person that kinda scares the pants off me a little. It’s the getting naked in front of someone for the first time, knowing they’ll see every little part of you and can never go back to not seeing that. It’s the awkward moments of not quite working in synch with each other and potentially ending up generally sweaty and unsatisfied at the end. It’s the reaction to the first fanny fart (Always an awkward moment. I reckon if they laugh about it with you then you’re all good to carry on!). It’s the fear of telling someone your slightly weirder, less vanilla quirks and having them react by scarpering faster than you can blink, or worse, going all 50 Shades of Grey on you. I’ve never had to tell someone how to get me going before because my previous boyfriends just kinda figured it out, but I would have no idea where to start that conversation. It’s a whole minefield of potentially awkward moments and horrible embarrassment just waiting there for me to put my foot into it. Maybe literally.

    And when exactly do you tell someone you’re a bit of a novice and somewhat nervous about the whole thing? On a first date, casually over dinner, “Oh by the way, I’ve only ever slept with two people before but I’m a keen student and a quick learner.” *over-exaggerated wink*

    I think I might just show my next potential lover this blog post and tell him this is all the things I’m worried about, just so he knows, and hope he doesn’t run for the hills. That’s definitely not weird right?

    I guess when the time comes around to it I’ll just have to jump in with both feet at the deep end (I need to stop making weird feet-sex analogies and over using parentheses) like everyone else does. But fuck me, it’s a scary prospect. No, really; it’s been a while.

    Jenni (@circlethinker) is a science geek, a theatre aficionado (both on and off the stage), and a big fan of socks. She’s in her early twenties and recently finished up a Biomedical Science degree at Sheffield. Jenni has a lovely blog over here (where this post first appeared) and you can find her on Twitter right here.

     


  2. Sex Education; is it really working?

    August 21, 2012 by Jenni

    Image from communiststudents.org.uk of all places

    For a while I have wondered why if the sex education system in the UK is relatively good (compared to some) we have so many  teenage pregnancies. I’ve always assumed that these kids just haven’t bothered to use any form of protection, rather than simply not knowing enough about it to help.
    Personally, I’ve never felt inadequately prepared after sex education. Perhaps this is because I was a bit of a geek and liked to actually listen to authority figures when they spoke, perhaps it’s because I started thinking about it from a youngish age or perhaps it’s because I had the helpful insights  of  The Period Book’ to introduce me to puberty and all its joys.

    Memories of my sex-ed experience include when we got to chapter 7 (Reproduction!) in the science textbooks we were allowed to move from our boy-girl seating plan and sit where-ever we liked(!) which I’m sure was more interesting than the anatomy of a penis/vagina. I remember the school nurse telling us about how the ‘clinic in town did some lovely passion-fruit flavoured condoms’ and everyone  thinking “EWEWEWEWEW!” at the thought of our slightly overweight middle-aged nurse STILL HAVING SEX. I have a horribly accurate memory of being in college studying reproduction/fertility and having to watch that video where someone thought it would be a good idea to put a camera on some poor woman’s cervix and film her being ejaculated into by, what was at the time, a giant wide-screen penis. This definitely just felt like far too much information. Especially when it also went on to show the same woman giving birth in graphic detail too. I feel so sorry for that kid-teenagers across the country have watched their conception/birth whilst squirming in their seats and trying not to look.

    However, I digress. The sex-ed I got at school certainly gave me enough information to choose what I would like to happen to my own body when I needed contraception myself. I knew the different choices and that some suited other people better than others and, possibly more importantly, that I would never feel safe having sex with only a condom between me and an unwanted pregnancy. Now, of course, I am a lot more clued up, but I did OK then too.

    Having talked to friends and read a couple of blogs on the subject (over at the Vagenda) it seems that this is not the case with everyone. Friends who went to more religious schools than mine were basically taught not to have sex rather than how to protect themselves. Another friend said “If you hadn’t got pregnant by year 8/9 in my school you were in the minority.” This is clearly a MASSIVE FAILING. (And more worryingly still is-1 in 4 pupils apparently still receive little to no sex ed at all.The way people view it also needs to be changed-it’s not stripping kids of their innocence and it’s not more likely to make them go out and start having sex with everything.  Even if it does, they would do so armed with greater knowledge about contraception and keeping themselves safe, how can this be a bad thing?

    Kids need an open and frank discussion about sex because they’re so curious and there’s not a lot of places they can get answers from that aren’t going to potentially do them harm. Kids need to be taught more than just the ins and outs of sex too. They need to be taught that straight, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are all normal, plus all the other inbetweens. They need to know that there is a whole spectrum of relationships they can have and that not all of them boil down to which part goes in who and where. They need to be encouraged to explore the emotions surrounding sex-they need to be told that sex and love often get tangled up in complicated ways (and that’s fine!) but that sex doesn’t always equal love.

    They need to be shown that it’s not about gaining notches in the bedpost but a shared experience between two consenting people that they should only enter into when their emotions are ready as well as their bodies. They need to be told that wanking won’t make you go blind and yes, girls can get in on the action too. The need to know that they shouldn’t have a baby without being emotionally, financially and physically ready for it, and that if they’re not any of those things they should be given advice on abortion and why it doesn’t make you a murderer or any less of a person if that’s your decision. They should be told that if you choose to sleep with lots of people it doesn’t make you a “slag” or a “stud” and that everyone’s sexual experiences are different and that is definitely OK. And they should be given details on all types of contraception as a mandatory thing. These kids can be in charge of their own futures but only if they’re given all the information to begin with.

    It’s obvious kids need more information to get a proper handle on the big issues of SEX AND RELATIONSHIPS and it’s obvious that not many people who are in charge seem to care about this. Television shows like Channel 4′s The Sex Education Show have been trying to make people more aware about these issues and it’s a start, albeit a slow one. I’ve signed this petition because I think every little bit helps.

    Let’s encourage our kids to grow up to enjoy sex, but enjoy it responsibly with a full grasp of all the things they need to know about it first.

    It’s time to stand up for Sex Education, who’s with me?

    Jenni (@circlethinker) is a science geek, a theatre aficionado (both on and off the stage), and a big fan of socks. She’s in her early twenties and recently finished up a Biomedical Science degree at Sheffield. Jenni has a lovely blog over here (where this post first appeared) and you can find her on Twitter right here


  3. Darn Right, I’m a Feminist!

    June 27, 2012 by tedmcwhirter

    Image from sinninginsuburbia.blogspot.com

     

    Something happened to me recently which got me thinking. A friend of mine came over for a catch up, and as we sat (discussing the breakdown of Johnny Depp’s marriage, if you must know) I took the opportunity to sew a patch into my husband’s work trousers. Each time I looked up from my stitching, I found her looking at me, bemused. At first I thought she was just interested in what I was doing but the longer it went on, the more flustered she became until (as I picked up a sock that needed darning) she blurted out,

    “..and you call yourself a feminist?”

    I was struck dumb, but must have conveyed my confusion through my raised eyebrows because she added,

    “Make him fix his own clothes. You don’t have to do that!”

    Now, there are several things wrong here and I’ll tackle them one by one. Firstly, no – I will not make him fix his own trousers because he can’t sew. In the same way that my husband (a carpenter) would not leave me to build my own extension on our house. I do the sewing because I’m good at it.

    Secondly, (and this is a major one) I like to sew. I find it relaxing. I like the fact that, given a couple of hours, I can make myself a dress or change the length of a skirt. I also love being able to fix things – when my buttons fall off, or hems come down or seams come apart I don’t have to pay anyone to mend them (or, worse, throw the items away). No! I can simply put them back together again. Saving money, recycling and giving my self a nice sense of accomplishment to boot. Brilliant.

    Lastly, (and this is the kicker) no-one is making me do anything. It’s 2012, not 1952 – my marriage is a partnership. I do not have to have dinner on the table when my husband comes home. I do not spend hours slaving over the laundry. My friend had reacted as if I’d whipped out a mangle and sobbed “he won’t let me use the washing machine because I need to learn my place!” (In truth, he wandered into the house with his pants showing through the rip in his trousers and said “bum flap!”). I hadn’t implied that it was a chore or that I was annoyed to be doing it.

    I wondered whether she would have had the same reaction to other household tasks – would sweeping the kitchen floor have resulted in a lecture? Or hanging out the washing? Or fixing my own socks? I think not. What had bothered her was the idea that I was doing housework for my husband. And yet, would she have reacted as negatively had she seen him putting my clothes away? Or shining my shoes? Or darning my socks? No – that would have been seen as kind, caring – as ‘making an effort’. Why does this double-standard still exist?

    The problem seems to be that the term ‘feminism’ is widely misunderstood; many people associating it with a fight for female superiority rather than for a world in which women and men have equal rights and freedoms. The confusion is understandable. Looking at the negative aspects of womanhood is always going to involve comparison with the positive aspects of being a man. The issue becomes a battle of the sexes – which, by its nature, implies that there will be a winner. Any idea of equality falls by the wayside.

    In ‘How to be a Woman’, Caitlin Moran succinctly explains that her idea of feminism is “neither pro-women nor anti-men [but rather] thumbs up for the six billion”. We’re aiming for a system within which we all have a fair deal – not a world in which one sex lords it over the other. What’s not to like? I can darn socks if I want to and so can my husband – equality. If we don’t want to do it we can buy new socks. Brilliant. Of course, I’m simplifying a much bigger issue but the fact remains that for many people my action of sitting mending my husband’s clothes would’ve prompted a similar response.

    So what’s the answer? I don’t know – but here’s what I did. I explained everything I’ve said here to my friend as I finished darning the socks, I gave her my copy of ‘How to be a Woman’ and then I wrote this article. It’s not easy to lecture friends but it is sometimes necessary. Why? because if more of us spread the word then hopefully the need for rants like this will disappear and we can get back to the important task of making things fairer. Simple.

    Alis writes a wonderful blog here – www.alphabetteringmyself.com – based on bettering herself each week via the alphabet. Go check it out and you will understand – it’s very cool. You can also find her work on the HuffPo. She tweets as @tedmcwhirter.


  4. Pride and Prejudice: Thoughts on Marriage Equality

    February 28, 2012 by alicehaswords

    Image from speakequal.com

    Hello.

    I am writing this blog in response to a petition put forward by the ‘Coalition for Marriage’. Sounds benign enough, doesn’t it? I quite like marriage. It has a bit of a shady past, and it doesn’t always work out, but when it does, it can be a wonderful thing. Romantic soul as I am, I find the idea of getting married one day quite appealing – all that security and commitment and support? Lovely.

    Surprisingly for an organisation claiming to be ‘for marriage’, the Coalition for Marriage holds the strange belief that if, for example, I were allowed to get married, (to another woman, as I imagine I might some day want to do), society would somehow collapse around me as a direct result of this well-intended, loving union.

    In a surprise (and I can’t help but suspect cynically calculating) move, David Cameron, the Conservative prime minister, has stated his support for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK. “Society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other”, he says. His claim that this view is the basis on which Conservatism is built is just plain inaccurate (unless I have missed a recent, drastic Tory swing in favour of the ideals of the socialist left) – but regardless, I can’t help but agree with this statement. Which is why I think it can only be a good thing to open up the marriage field beyond its current heterosexual margins.

    The Coalition for Marriage disagrees. This is the text of their online petition:

    “I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.”

    The thing that bothers me most is their reasoning. So I’m going to pick it mercilessly apart.

    The following excerpts are taken directly from the Coalition for Marriage’s website:

    1. “Marriage is unique: Throughout history and in virtually all human societies marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman. Marriage reflects the complementary natures of men and women. Although death and divorce may prevent it, the evidence shows that children do best with a married mother and a father.”

    Well, that’s just not true. Throughout history and in virtually all human societies, marriage has had little or nothing to do with what we consider it to mean in Western societies today. It has been used as bargaining tool, to cement peaceful diplomatic relations between nations and families, to keep wealth within the realms of the already-wealthy; marriage as an entirely voluntary union between one man and one woman based on mutual love and commitment is, in the context of global history, a novel and peculiar notion. Don’t get me wrong, I think marriage is improved vastly by the attitude that women aren’t commodities to be exchanged in pursuit of wealth or power; I think the fact that marriage is no longer a necessity for one’s own physical and financial security is a good thing (much as I enjoy the works of Jane Austen for their wry, wordy humour, I can’t help but wonder if the intelligent and independently-minded Miss Elizabeth Bennett would have been quite so smitten with Mr Darcy had he not been fabulously rich).

    Yes, children are important. Yes, there have always been and will always be single-parent families (I tend to believe divorce actually adds value to the institution of marriage – there’s no such thing as a voluntary commitment when it’s legally irreversible, after all) – but the argument that children do better when brought up by a married couple surely falls in favour of marriage equality. More married couples! More basic, stable societal units! Everybody wins.

    2. “No need to redefine: Civil partnerships already provide all the legal benefits of marriage so there’s no need to redefine marriage. It’s not discriminatory to support traditional marriage. Same-sex couples may choose to have a civil partnership but no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.”

    Civil partnerships are quite nice, I’ll grant. But you can’t pretend they’re not a compromise. For one thing, heterosexual couples aren’t allowed to have them. That seems unfair. Some straight people really don’t like marriage (possibly for some of the associations I’ve already mentioned), or are just cross that their gay friends don’t have to right to call their partnership the thing they feel it to be: a marriage. Why can’t everybody have a choice between the two?

    And there’s that annoying word. “Traditional”. Again, whose tradition? How old exactly is this tradition? And why does changing this tradition to include same-sex marriages differ from changing the traditions that frowned upon marriage between people from different class and ethnic backgrounds in the past – (which, coincidently, were also widely disapproved of at first but gradually accepted as the norm. Funny how that keeps happening with stuff, isn’t it? I personally enjoy the way the centre ground is gradually pushed more and more towards the progressive left. I can vote AND go to hospital for free! Brilliant.)? The same arguments about things not being ‘natural’, as I recall, have been used time and time again to counter positive change. It’s a non-insult. The flushing toilet is not ‘natural’, but goodness knows I’m glad it exists. Whether or not homosexuality is ‘natural’ is irrelevant. There are gay people. Some of them want to get married to eachother. It’s not going to do anybody any harm, so let them.

    3. “Profound consequences: If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People’s careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?”

    I just. What? There is absolutely no basis for these claims.

    And now they’re starting on polygamy too? But in many religions and societies, polygamy is traditional! Sticking with just one person for life? What a weird and unnatural thing to want to do. (That is, going by the Coalition’s own ideals of the all-importance of Tradition and Nature.)

    4.  “Speak up: People should not feel pressurised to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness. They should be free to express their views. The Government will be launching a public consultation on proposals to redefine marriage. This will provide an opportunity for members of the public to make their views known.”

    Well there’s an easy answer to this one. If a gay person approaches you and proposes marriage, you don’t need to feel pressured into going along with it! You can just say no. Like with any other marriage proposal from somebody you don’t want to marry. Maybe you’ve misunderstood the suggested change to the law. If so, good news! Same-sex marriage is not compulsory. You can carry on your happy heterosexual life utterly unaffected.

    As a member of the British public, I am making my views known: marriage inequality IS discrimination. The definition of marriage lies with the specific individuals involved, and nobody has the right to take that away from them. Love is a fantastic starting point around which to build a shared life and a compassionate society, and it’s stronger than prejudice, and it’s stronger than intolerance, and if you think that a petty, narrow-minded, poorly justified petition is going to get in the way of that, you’re likely to find yourself on the wrong side of history.

    Yours patient-yet-defiantly,

    Alice x

    Alice is a student of cultural studies, a blogger, an aspiring maker of stuff (including, but not limited to, music, films & cake) and an all round Very Nice Person. She has a rainbow hat (and quite possibly a rainbow jumper) that I am fond of.

    You can find her on Twitter, or you can shake and shimmy over to her superb blog. I highly recommend it for insightful posts and general brilliance.