An open letter to my hurt, from my love

Dear loved one,

Not everyone is for you, and you are not for everyone.
Not everyone will understand you.
People will judge you unfairly, just as you will probably judge others unfairly as well.

Be kind to yourself, anyway. Stick to your truth anyway. Love others anyway.

Everything that is going to happen, is going to happen anyway. You will survive it, as you have. Life goes on, as it does.

You will make mistakes, but you will also prevail. Do not focus on the losses, but on the improvements. Do not focus on the pain, but on how you’ve prevailed. Do not focus on suffering, when there is so much pleasure to be had.

Love those that love and accept you. Accept those that don’t. Everyone is simply showing you what you are and what you are not. Live your reality as best you see fit.

Trust yourself, because you are the only one that Knows. Accept your errors, you are doing the best you can.

Forgive others, they too are doing their best. What they don’t understand about you, they do not see within themselves. Love them through it.

Maybe from afar. Maybe very distantly. But love them, so that you may love that part within yourself as well.

~M

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Let’s Talk About Sex: Part 2

(This was a 2 part Post. The first one talked about Gender and Sexuality and you can check it out here.)

Would you say you have a healthy relationship with sex? What would you base that on?

I believe I have a healthy relationship with sex and sexuality. I accept the role of sex in our life, spiritually and psychologically.

Growing up in a Latino household in American society with my particular upbringing made for a relationship with sexuality that was open, but did stem from shame. For one, I thought masturbation was humiliating, uncomfortable to even think or talk about, embarrassing, but just in regards to myself, and not in regards to others. For me, sexuality was strictly about two people. Oh how wrong I was.

First of all, masturbation is actually kind of an excellent form of self-care or self therapy.
Here’s a fantastic 5 minute video (or 4:44 minutes to be exact, and I love repeating numbers) by Laci Green again that talks a little about why we feel shame around masturbation, and why it’s so good for us.

She also shared some good resources to get us going (1,2) on our own research on masturbation. My most conflicting issues in regards to growing up and sexuality, was the whole concept around virginity, and slut-shaming.

Growing up, my education around sex was that it was something healthy, and normal, and nothing to be ashamed of provided you did it with a man you loved and that you were of adult age. Which, when I was a little kid, I told my mother would be when I was 18. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I did not, in fact wait until then.

I had been taught by American society and my latino upbringing that being a virgin was something to be cherished (by women, mostly) for as long as possible. However, that form of thinking is super sexist, and a social construct that stems heavily from religion. I strongly recommend you read these two articles to inform you on the social construct on religion and help you deprogram your brain from judging a woman by how “pure” she is.

For me, I didn’t agree with that social construct, but like most things about life, I just figured I was the one that was wrong, and felt ashamed when I lost my virginity, not being able to bring myself to telling my mom for a year after.

Once I had “lost” my virginity, my issue with sexuality was that I was so curious about it. I was fascinated with the idea and energy of sex, and have always been someone that likes contact and being affectionate. To me sex was the ultimate way to do that. It wasn’t so much wanting to just have pleasure and be with guys, it genuinely was about feeling that amazing sexual energy with someone special. However, in the age of pornography and publicity objectifying women, we were still not allowed to freely own up to being sexual. In short, we are still a society that primitively slut-shames.

If you read the previous articles, (seriously, read them!) or have any millenial friends on your social media, you may have already heard of slut shaming. It’s not just some hip third wave feminism vocabulary word, however. It’s a very real thing that seriously hinders the ability for women to have a healthy sexual upbringing.

Thankfully, any shame around sexuality that my mother had taught me, was just the ashes of a very strict religious upbringing she herself had been educated in. I matured into a sexually active woman, was careful, never got pregnant or got an STD (knock on wood) and developed a healthy relationship with sexuality. My mothers’ own views evolved as well, and we can now discuss sexuality comfortably in my household (much to the chagrin of my younger siblings!)

In December, my family and I went to Amsterdam, and I wanted to visit the Red Light District. I had planned that specific night trip for my brother, my dad Jaimito, and I. During the day, my mother, sister, and I had spent a fantastic day at a Science Museum (for kids) called NEMO. However, in planning to go to the Red Light District, it made our family engage in interesting conversation and my mother raised points that got me thinking.

On one side, I fully support sex work. I think that if a woman feels empowered, strong, skilled, and pleasure in wanting to work as a stripper or prostitute, that it is my responsibility, as someone who wishes everyone to be empowered, free, and happy, to respect and support her choice. And it is the society’s authority’s (our garbage government) responsibility to provide her with laws that require clean and safe places to do this, and with the legal support she needs to safely practice it.

Sex work like prostitution and stripping should not be considered criminal acts because they are not. To think that being a stripper is “easy” is incredibly ignorant and hurtful to the young women working their bodies on the stage. To think someone has to be “stupid” to be a stripper is disregarding all the math that goes into hustling a lap dance. I read up a lot on the personal lives of strippers and have so much respect and admiration for what it takes.

On the other side, I don’t believe the porn industry is a healthy way to meet our sexual needs, and feel like women do not have a lot of context in which to respect themselves in it. It does make me sad when I see a woman being objectified, despite the fact that I know that she chose to be there and is getting a hefty amount of doing it. But I am not going to blame her, and say that she is the one disrespecting herself, before blaming society, and the context that led her to place herself in that situation.

To tell a woman to “respect herself” by not exposing herself or sleeping with men, is to disrespect her autonomy in being able to make choices about herself, we are objectifying her by no longer seeing her as a whole person, who has perspectives and a context of her own. By telling a woman to respect herself, we are telling her we are disrespecting her, and we need her to fit into our box of purity that we’ve placed for her so as to respect her.

Every woman is deserving of respect because they are human. A woman does not have to be “modest” in order for you to respect her. Men surely don’t have to be “modest” to get respect out of people. Inherent respect is a privilege that men have…It’s all about control. Literally. It’s about denying women the right to their own bodies. It’s denying women of choice.[source:x]

The older generations have a way to come with this, but many people from my generation still shame sex workers and other sluts. I, for one, am a self proclaimed slut, and completely embrace it. I do not need or care how others define me because I understand that it is their own fear, limit, and small mindedness that does not allow them to see me wholly. Don’t be that person, and take the time to educate yourself on slut-shaming.

Spiritually, I feel like there’s something to be said about the Divine Feminine and that connecting to that is important. However, I do Not think that it should be limited to women. While women are perhaps more connected to that Divine Feminine energy of mother nature, women have that connection within themselves as well. Again, gender is not as strictly binary as we make it out to be. Just like there is also the sacred Divine Masculine that generally men, but also women, can tap into within themselves. To tell women that we are somehow more important than men is still sexist and divisive. Sexuality is literally about two energies becoming one, I would love to be part of a community that embraces that and strives for the healthy balance of sexual energy and exploration, instead of one that shames, fears, and simultaneously exploits it.

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I love painting the female form. Check out the rest of my art on my website.


#SeLoFest17 Challenge
click here for all prompts so far

The Prompt: Where are YOUR views on sexuality? How did you learn about masturbation? Sex? Sexuality? What is your relationship with sex like? Exploring your own sexuality and working for a healthy relationship with it is also essential to a balanced relationship with yourself. Self-love cannot blossom if you do not love your body and are sexually comfortable with it. You do not need to be masturbating all the time, or ever, if you do not want, but consider a way to heal with yourself. If you are judging others’ sexualities, if you feel sad for strippers or prostitues, porn stars or slutty girls, most likely, you are judging yourself. (Projections are fun!)

Activity: Check out these links and use them for reference to practice some physical anatomy. If you have a partner, for a fun romantic art therapy challenge, ask them to pose nude for you. Or pose in front of a mirror in the nude choose a position in which you can pose comfortably.

In your journal: Do some nude sketches! Draw fat bodies, skinny bodies, male bodies, female bodies, intersex bodies, bodies that don’t look anything like yours, but also celebrate your own beautiful body.

Let’s talk about Sex: Part 1

click here for all prompts so far

Hello, class, welcome to Gender Studies 101

A huge part of being able to identify with yourself and others better, is acknowledging how you define yourself. If you are clear minded on how you view yourself, better understanding others and opening your mind to other ways of identity is a cultural richness that we are privileged to have the mediums of information from which to acquire it through. I never was able to  formally study gender, but it is a topic that is so fascinating to me that I have continuously tried to learn more about it. However it is a loaded and complicated topic, and it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin when we’ve grown up with the education and system that teaches “traditional” gender binary and conservative sexuality.

When I tried to investigate where gender binary comes from (the idea that there is a concise division between male and female) the information I found suggests that it’s simply defined by society (and thus religion) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Check out this neat map to take a look at how gender is seen in other parts of the world.

However understanding the different genders and sexualities can be really tricky, so I’ve tried to find simple videos that explain it for you from people who know what they are talking about much better than I could.

Here’s a 3 minute video where Laci Green (an internet sex-ed teacher phenomenon) gives you a nutshell explanation of why there are not just two genders.

If you prefer reading over watching, here’s Planned Parenthood giving a brief description of the difference between gender and sexuality.

And if you prefer imagery, here’s a phenomenal graphic found on ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com

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The concept of non-binary gender is not only supported by people living their truth, but also historically, culturallypsychologically, scientifically, in every which way. Understanding it, is simply a matter of knowledge which can be acquired either by exposure or education.

Being cis-gendered, means you identify with the gender you were assigned with at birth. I am a cis-gender woman. Speaking in these terms aids in removing the stigma between being trans-gendered.

Sexuality is more about who you are attracted to in regards to the other gender, but it can be very scary to embrace these things when suddenly we realize everything we knew about labels has just exploded into an unknown universe and it can be scary to want to take a look at ourselves and accept others when it is too far out of our reach of understanding. That is why it is so important to be informed, to keep ourselves from remaining ignorant and stagnant in our acceptance of ourselves and others.

Accepting our sexuality helps us in loving ourselves in more fulfilling ways, to see ourselves fully. Accepting sexuality in others, allows us to be able to witness more acts of love and generosity, more freedom of expression and speech. It makes for a generally better existence for everyone.

Here are two fun quizzes you can take a look at to take a loot at how you identify yourself.

  • Gender Role Test

    This website says: “Drawing on the work of Dr. Sandra Lipsitz Bem, this test classifies your personality as masculine or feminine. Though gender stereotyping is controversial, it is important to note that Bem’s work has been tested in several countries and has repeatedly been shown to have high levels of validity and test-retest reliability. The test exclusively tests for immanent conceptions of gender (meaning that it doesn’t theorize about whether gender roles are biological, cultural, or both). Consequently, the test has been used both by feminists as an instrument of cultural criticism and by gender traditionalists who seek to confirm that gender roles are natural and heritable.” Take it here.

  • How gay are you

    In the 1940’s, professor Kinsley would revolutionize how western society viewed sex. (There’s a movie about it.) Kinsley theorized that everyone was just a little bit gay. He simplified this theory through a scale. You can take the very short quiz to see where you stand here.

    However the Kinsley scale is outdated, as the spectrum of sexuality is as fluid and as we are unique. A more updated version of Kinsley’s scale might be the Purple-Red Scale. A bit more complicated, but worth a look.

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SeLoFest17 Challenge Day 22
click here for all prompts so far

The Prompt: What have you learned about your own sexuality and that of others today? If you haven’t learned anything new, think about the context others may have grown up in that did not allow them to ever witness what you grew up and knew. How might that change how a person views themselves? Do you have any issues with your gender or sexuality? Do you believe that it is still-water within you?

The activity: Watch all the videos and take the quizzes above

In your journal: Post your results and talk or draw your feelings around anything that may come up for you. And time to GENDERBEND yourself…Draw yourself of the OPPOSITE gender, or if you are genderqueer, choose a gender and draw yourself with the traits assigned to that gender, JUST FOR FUN. 😉