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But I Thought Feminism Gave Me Self-Esteem…

Apparently I don’t have very much self-esteem. At least not the way my therapist defines it.

I suppose she’s right. I’ve done a lot in my 31 years yet I rarely give myself credit for anything. I second guess almost every decision. I am constantly arguing with the voices in my head that aren’t really mine. Yet simultaneously getting confused sifting through the words echoing in my brain – are these my values or someone else’s?

Upon reflection, it would be accurate to say I am insecure in that I do not feel secure in myself. Because a lot of my time and energy is spent sorting out what IS myself and what is not. Even very basic things can sometimes consume me to the point where it stops me from doing what I want to do. I question what I want and whether I should want it, constantly looking for a reason not to take the very next step – the step that, a few steps back, I was aching to take. I am often pining for some time in the future, yet when that time comes I am terrified, frozen, unable to move. Then I pine for another time down the road. Until the tension gets so uncomfortable I take the damn step as I’m half-averting my eyes away. Sometimes I laugh that it was so easy. Other times I question whether I should have taken the step at all and worry endlessly about whether I should even be here. And I pine again for another time that will somehow be different, a few steps ahead of the one I’m struggling with. Up there, it’ll be easy.

It does get easier. Yet this is hard to acknowledge. There are starts and stops to personal growth. ’Ignorance is bliss’ isn’t accurate, though at times I reminisce as if it was. In ignorance I assumed it was all me. Now, even if I am insecure, I know deep down that I must be okay because I’m no different from anyone else. If I see value in other people, that logically means there is value in me. I love the ‘new age’ (though its more like super old) concept that we’re all connected, as if we’re each different manifestations of the same life. The same need to live that implores me to get out of bed every morning does to you, though it may look different (I have to pee, I’m hungry, my kids are screaming, my dog needs a walk, I’m late to work). Before I had this idea, the logical conclusion is that there was something wrong with me and other people were therefore better. Now from this perspective, if you’re a cool person then I must also be a cool person deep down (though you and I both may not act cool sometimes). This makes intuitive sense to me. It feels like one of those truths about the world. At least for now. And it operates to temper too much finger pointing at myself. Oh I’ll go at it with myself for awhile, but there IS an end point. There are increasingly happy breaks before it creeps in again.

It is hard to admit because I thought I was past these insecurities. I thought my time studying feminism somehow melted it all away when I decided whatever I read about that supposedly subordinated women, I’d just do the opposite. I decided I wouldn’t preoccupy myself with silly ‘women’s issues’ like beauty and babies because I’d be enacting patriarchy in my own life and no way in hell was I going to do THAT. And somehow by NOT doing things I read were cultural expressions of sexism and misogyny I would be free. Looking back it was actually more silly to think all my problems could have been erased by diverting my attention away.

Where feminism failed me was in developing my own sense of self worth. Feminism was paraded as empowering yet became another external metric to measure myself against. If only I could erase the impact of the patriarchy on my life, all would be okay. Almost all of the attention in feminist writing was on the ways we have been put down by a male dominated system. Which I do not disagree with, at least not in entirety (I now believe the problem is more an oligarchy than patriarchy, though those oligarchs have usually been men; nonetheless, men suffer under existing social conditions too, we all experience gender-based social pains). Yet I did not learn the many ways in which it was okay to be feminine, and okay to be a woman. I did not learn to be embodied, that is, to be present in my physical pleasures and pains. I was not taught how to establish healthy boundaries. I did not delve deeply into myself and my experiences to discover my unique gifts and the value I bring to the world. I mostly learned how the world suppressed them. And in reaction I tried to suppress anything that might have contributed. But in the process, I suppressed parts of myself that needed healing in exchange for false bravado. Just because someone yells something doesn’t make it true.

Those parts, and others pushed down far far earlier in my life, are now being stirred up. I’m feeling things I haven’t felt since I was a teenager. What was underlying my 10 years on anti-depressants (ages 14-24). Processing old, old emotions that feel fresh and new. My insecurity is at a high, though that isn’t necessarily new, I’m just finally looking at it. The form is much more overt.

I have so many rules in my mind, and my emotions are constantly getting set off when I break one, yet the ‘real me’ (the spiritual me, my soul or higher self) exists on a plane where those rules don’t make sense. Self-esteem, I’m now seeing, is about listening to that part of myself and trusting it. That’s what I’m learning to do.

Edited: September 5th, 2014

How to Have Anal Sex for a Beginner

She wants to know how to have anal sex for “intense pleasure.”

Question via Tumblr:

My ex & I have been hooking up. Last time we were doing doggystyle & he said “I wanna put my finger in your ass. Okay?” I was so into it I said yes. I’ve never had that done & we only previously tried anal sex once a few years ago. He went in & out twice until I told him to stop. This time I was so hot I let him put his finger in it. I had already been contemplating trying anal sex again with him because more & more porn I’ve been watching by myself has a lot of anal.

So he lubed up with spit (I know spit isn’t enough for anal) and was fingering my ass & finally got his dick in. It wasn’t so bad at first but I think because he only used spit it started drying & started hurting. I asked him to stop but he said no. I pleaded & he said no. Finally I moved up to pull it out. I was kinda mad at this point because it hurt & he didn’t listen. He said sorry sorry let me fuck your pussy. I know you’re not supposed to go back to front but in the moment I allowed it.

My questions are what is the best lube for anal? I won’t allow back to front again but is it horrendous that it happened one time? Also are there any tips you can give for (practically) first time anal? Although I’ve had it in my ass twice now this last time was about only a minute. I want to feel that ‘intense’ pleasure from anal I hear about.

Check out my free anal sex guide for tons of anal tips, from start to finish. If you’re new to anal and really motivated to enjoy it, I’d recommend practicing on your own with fingers or toys first. It does take some getting used to, but feels REALLY GOOD when you do it right.

Of all the tips though, the most important thing is to do it with a partner that respects your boundaries. If it hurts, the action needs to stop. No questions asked. Its up to you to be clear – if you’re going to do it again, I’d suggest telling him you’d like to try anal but you need it to go at your pace. My partner and I played with fingers and licking a bunch of times before he ever got his dick inside. The anus stretches with penetration, and if you do too much too soon you can cause permanent damage. With practice, it will take less warm up time because the muscles will be used to opening up. At all times, but especially when its new, your partner needs to respect your boundaries. If they won’t — find a new playmate. (If your ex continues to act that way – ask yourself, “Isn’t he my ex for a reason?”)

I only use spit for anal, but you have to keep reapplying. My guy will keep pulling out to lick my ass and/or put spit on his dick & on my butthole. Once you do this several times in a row you can keep going for a little while before you need more. I’d usually recommend using lube to start though – preferably organic or natural, no glycerine, aspartame, or parabens. I like Good Clean Love myself.

Front to back isn’t a great idea, but I do it on occasion. Afterwards douche with 1-2 cups of water + 1-2 tbsp hydrogen peroxide. Its the same pH as the vagina and will prevent infection.

Edited: July 8th, 2013

Listener Questions on Domination & Submission With Aiden Starr

Dominatrix and porn star Aiden Starr is back to answer listener questions on domination and submission.

If you didn’t hear my interview with this intelligent & beautiful woman, listen here.

Aiden Starr shares her insights from years of personal and professional experience in BDSM. We cover several questions:

(1) What can you do if you’re into BDSM and your partner isn’t? Hear Aiden’s take on submissive men – a group I hear from often – and whether/how they can share their desires with a partner.

(2) Where to draw boundaries? I received an email asking about submissives, “that want no boundaries or safe words, but who are destined for a more ruinous end (and are only turned on by that).” How far is too far? And what should you do when your or your partners’ boundaries are crossed?

(3) How can someone get started in BDSM if they’ve never tried it?

Want more of Aiden? Check out her website to watch videos & book a session, follow her on twitter, and hear her co-host the Mean Bitches Show every Thursday 9-11pm PST on Sirius XM 103.

Subscribe in iTunes!

Edited: February 14th, 2013