Monday, March 23, 2009

Becca Does A Book Review – The Red Tent

This is one of those books that has been recommended to me on several occasions over the course of the past 5 years.

And it is, of course one of those books that I dragged my heels on ever reading because I wasn’t entirely sure what the premise was.

All I really knew was that it was about the Menstrual Tent that women back in the day shared when they were bleeding.

With my penchant for anything related to Mensturation … I probably should have read this one earlier, but for some reason I just never did.

And then, my best friend’s mother placed a copy in my hands, and that’s all it took.

The Premise:

The story is based upon Genesis 29 – 34 in the Bible, but from the perspective of Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter (he had a ridiculous amount of sons).

The reason why the novel is called “The Red Tent” is because much of the novel takes place within this distinctly women’s space, where all the women in Jacob’s tribe spend three days of each of their months bleeding, chatting, and bonding.

Why You Should Read This Book:

The storytelling is incredible. Diamant really paints a vivid picture of this biblical world, and while I was reading, Dinah’s world really took it’s own shape and form through the authors descriptions.

The imagery of the Red Tent is incredible. Just like in real life, the women central to this novel fight and do shitty things to each other, but the Red Tent, a place that is a space just for women, is one of healing and life and non-acrimony. It makes me want to bleed on a pile of straw for three days, just so I can kick it with my girls in a space where by our very biology only we’re allowed to go. Holla.

Lots of Midwifery. The ability of women’s bodies to create life is a huge theme in this book. I love midwives, and I love reading about birth via midwife. There’s a great deal of this in the book, and I just think it’s cool.

So Many Emotions. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to punch things. Anita Diamant took a fairly straightforward biblical thome, and made it into one hell of a great story. Women figuring out ways to navigate male power structures, drama, action, everything. If nothing else, it’s great.

Pleasure! Who doesn’t like some good commentary on female pleasure? Well, I’m sure there are folks out there, but yours truly always likes the incorporation of this into a story. Holla.

Why You Might Not Want To Read This Book:

You like the bible the way it is. Patriarchal, where women have little agency or are vilified. Okay, that was harsh … but I actually took the time to read the portions of Genesis that relate to this … and women in the little snippet I read are not incorporated as agents (unless they’re engaging in trickery, of course).

That’s all I can really think of actually. I think that this is a great book with a great flip to an already pretty epic story.

In conclusion:

Read the Red Tent, you won’t be disappointed!

-Becca

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Oldie But Goodie: The Great Vibrator Addiction Debate

So I posted this almost 2 years ago. I’m still masturbating, getting off, and having orgasms with partners thanks to my crazy vibrator.

Best. Addiction. Ever.

-Becca

PS. Because I think 'oldie but goodie' is cumbersome to have in my titling, from here on out, previously posted pieces will simply have the acronym OBG to letcha know. Holla.


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Disclaimer: The research done on this topic was mostly through internet sources and wikipedia. It is not a thesis or dissertation, and I’m not making it out to be. It is a personal essay. I have an existential issue which I am working out through my own, albeit very non-scientific, means.

I figure that the best topic for my first substantive post on this thing would be to write about Vibrators, as they are most of the reason why I started this whole site in the first place. (Because of the whole me selling them thing, remember?) This post is inspired by a discussion in my friend Jen’s blog (which you can read by clicking on the link of her name to the left) about vibrator addiction.

I would like to start by saying that I don’t think there is any right answer in this issue, save the answer that you come up with for yourself.

But, with that being said, here we go.

Just like in everything I do, I decided to start with a bit of factual research by looking up the definition of addiction. There were so many different ones, but this is the one I chose.

Fact #1: The Definition of Addiction (From the 2002 Version of the American Heritage Science Dictionary)
1. A physical or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, such as a drug or alcohol. In physical addiction, the body adapts to the substance being used and gradually requires increased amounts to reproduce the effects originally produced by smaller doses.
2. A habitual or compulsive involvement in an activity, such as gambling.

While I would never in my life compare vibrator use to drug and alcohol use, for some reason definition number 1 really called to me. And it called to me for this reason. When I was getting trained for pleasure parties someone asked the question, “Do Vibrators cause desensitization?”

Fact #2: Vibrators Do Not Cause Desensitization.
In response to the aforementioned question, the person in charge of our training said “The short answer is no. The long answer is that when you have orgasms in a certain way every time, your body adapts to having orgasms that way. Your nerve endings become accustomed and are more likely to orgasm with the types of stimulation you’re used to. So, you’re not getting desensitized, your body is just adapting to a very specific type of stimulation. If you teach your body to have orgasms in other ways, you’ll be able to have orgasms that way too.” (This is obviously not verbatim, but that’s the gist.)

Becca’s Conclusion So Far: Vibes do not desensitize, but maybe you can be addicted to vibration.
Comparing the desensitization discussion to the addiction definition was actually a little startling for me. The conclusion that I fell into is that when you use vibes as a primary way to get off, you’re not desensitizing yourself, because the nerve endings aren’t dying, they’re just adapting. BUT if the definition stated by the American Heritage Science Dictionary rings true then you are, perhaps, becoming addicted to the sensation of vibration.

Now I find myself comparing vibes to drugs and alcohol, and I’m not okay with that. Because they aren’t really all that comparable, and even if you can be addicted to them, they don’t cause the same sort of bodily repercussions that drugs and alcohol produce, which brings me to my next fact.

Fact # 3: Orgasms Are Not Harmful.
Orgasms can actually be good for you! They increase blood flow to the genitals which help to oxygenate the pelvic region (oxygenate = more new oxygen, which = increased pelvic health). There are also hormones related to orgasm which, aside from helping you orgasm, also have other health benefits.

For example, if you have insomnia or trouble sleeping, you release a hormone called prolactin, which makes you sleepy. Have a headache? When you orgasm your body releases endorphins, which are like painkillers. Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is also released (during orgasm and breast feeding, actually), which can make you feel closer to someone. Estrogen, which can make hair shiny and skin clearer is released in women (birth control, which has high levels of estrogen can also have this effect).

Another Conclusion: It seems that vibro-addiction can be very real, but I’m okay with that.
Orgasms are good for you, so I think that whatever you need to do to get yourself off is what you should do. Also, going back to fact number 1 and the part of the definition that says “the body adapts to the substance being used and gradually requires increased amounts to reproduce the effects originally produced by smaller doses.” From personal experience using vibes for orgasms, I would say that when it comes to vibrator use, that’s not necessarily true. I’m sure it can be, but I’ve been having orgasms with the same vibe for over 4 years now, and I haven’t experienced needing anything more than what I have been getting. Before vibrators I wasn’t able to get off no matter how hard and long I tried, so I guess in my case I would rather be vibro-addicted than non-orgasmic.

Plus, no one I know of has ever overdosed on orgasms or gotten psoriasis from getting off too much.

But of course it’s more complicated than that. What happens during partner sex when you’re addicted to vibes?

Common Question: Will the quality of partner sex decrease?
One thing that I hear a lot, both being in the business of selling vibes, and talking to friends … is that the quality of partner sex deteriorates after you start using vibes on your own.

Now, I have a very unique positionality when it comes to partner sex because I was having orgasms with my vibe before I started having sexual experiences with anyone. So when I hear this I say … well, then it’s time to up your communication and start incorporating those things into your play which get you off. And then I usually break into a rant which goes something like:

PARTNER SEX IS ABOUT BOTH PEOPLE! Check your egos at the door, check your preconceived notions about what pleasure is ‘supposed’ to be about, and just get to the pleasuring.

As far as I’m concerned, so long as it’s physically possible and consensual, whatever you need to get you off needs to be accommodated and whatever you are capable of to get your partner off at least needs to be tried. If that means being suspended in a sling, watching three different kinds of porn on three different screens, and having peanut butter licked off your toes, then more power to you. If you get pleasure out of it, then you win. And if you’re doing the licking and you’re partner is getting pleasure from you, you also win, because they’ll be more likely to want to reciprocate. It’s a give and take thing, and sometimes even if you personally don’t get off when your partner is getting pleasured, sometimes sacrifices need to be made. So when all you want is vanilla sex, and your partner accommodates that, you’re getting yours too. (END RANT)

Which brings me back to the common question I get, will partner sex deteriorate after vibe use?

Answer To The Common Question: It can, but it doesn’t have to.
I would make the assertion (based on really nothing at all, actually) that communication is the reason why partner sex deteriorates, in any situation. You start using vibes, you find a new way to get yourself off, but you don’t communicate with your partner. Then, when all the things they were doing aren’t working anymore, everyone gets irritated because you’re not having orgasms and they’re not giving you orgasms.

I know that once you figure out a way to have orgasms with a partner things get really exciting, and when those things don’t work you can experience all kinds of emotions like confusion, fear, maybe even rage. But here’s the thing, if you figured it out once, you can figure it out again. And this time, maybe it’s time to incorporate your vibe into the play. Just because it’s not biological, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

And of course there’s the issue of being goal oriented. Being goal oriented is what masturbation is for, in my opinion. Orgasms in partner sex are wonderful, and should happen, but when you focus on them, it takes your brain out of the play. Since your brain is your best player, being goal oriented is like someone heckling them from the sidelines, sometimes it’s going to make no difference, and sometimes it’s going to fuck everything up.

Becca’s Final Conclusion:
I went into this thinking that I would disprove vibrator addiction, but instead, after really looking into the issue, will conclude that vibrator addiction is very real. However, unlike other addictions, I don’t think it’s dangerous. I also think that while it has the potential to get in the way of partnered play, it doesn’t have to, and a little communication can fix a whole lot of problems. I think there need to be more orgasms in this world, and I think that we need to stop being concerned with the ‘right’ way to have them. I think that if everyone could tell their partners the way they want to get off, and if partners were self-assured enough to accept whatever conditions those are … we’d all be a lot happier. In the end, I truly believe that your mind is the most important factor in deciding what is good and bad in your partner play, and if getting rid of your vibe is the way to solve that problem, then more power to you. I just hope you continue to get-off, whatever decision you make.

Because I know getting off makes me happy (and a little sleepy).