BodyFaming.com

How many times have you heard the conversation? Listening to people talk about how much they hate their thighs, arms, chest, butt, etc. There’s a lot of negative self-talk going around in the mind and in the circle of friends that fuel such negative body image. What would change about our outlook if we were to focus on what we love about ourselves? Body shaming is a hot topic these days. I’m of the opinion that no one can shame you without your agreement to allow them that power. When people accuse an entire restaurant of body shaming because of a sign out front, I have to remind them that No One Can Make You Feel. Written words in chalk, most certainly can’t make us feel. It’s up to us to decide what we feel. (Stop giving away your power, just because someone made an attempt to take it.)

summers-coming

With that being said, it’s time that we changed the conversations about our bodies. It’s time that we talk about what we love about our bodies and the gratitude we have for our abilities (which come from our bodies). Let’s change the conversation from Body Shaming to Body Faming. I’ve started a community art project called BodyFaming.com The way it will work is that people will submit anonymous (faceless) selfies with words of love, gratitude, and beauty about their own bodies. Take pride in your body, no matter the size. Since all bodies are beautiful, there will be no “real” talk. I hate the phrases, “real men” and “real women”. There is no hieararchy based on body type. Love your body and share that love with the world. Express that self-love without speaking ill of those that are different. Submit your anonymous (unedited) pictures to BodyFaming@gmail.com The website is active yet still improving with every passing week. (currently there is only one submission posted). Look for many changes to be made and I welcome your feedback. Let’s start a self-love revolution!

How I Define Strength

In a recent bit of self-talk about tapping into different types of strength, I began asking the question, “what is strength?” How do I define it? This is what came from that self-coaching session.

Six Components of Strength

1.) Honesty. Being honest with myself must happen before I can ever hope to be honest with others. There are times when honesty hurts. It hurts to hear the truth sometimes and it also hurts to tell it (since I know that it may hurt someone’s feelings). But, it takes strength to be honest and I can’t be strong without a clear conscience. Strength and honesty are partners that work together to keep my integrity in plane view.

Photographer: Audrey Penven

2.) Courage. It’s been said that bravery is being afraid, acknowledging that fear, and doing the thing any way. That is certainly a component of strength. The world is split into to two types of people, the protectors and the protected. I’ll need to tap into my courage in order to protect others when they need it. (But, of course, I’ll need to be honest with myself as to whether or not it’s my place to be the protector. I’m not some superhero with a whip or something.)

Photographer: Noctopia

3.) Humility. Humility becomes the source of strength when arrogance proves a futile fuel. That’s what’s written on my board after I took a fall during a run. The feeling of invincibility during a run was quickly dashed after I tripped, fell, and rolled down a hill. I got up and kept running without missing too many beats. But, I was certainly humbled. Further, I must be humble enough to protect myself or to be protected by others. No man is an island and while it may not seem available at all times, I have a support system of friends and loved ones. I must be humble enough to ask for help. I am not invincible and knowing that is a component of strength.

Photographer: Noctopia

4.) Perseverance. Self-doubt is a part of human nature when I test the waters outside of my comfort zone. When others doubt my ability to accomplish something, that doubt stems from their own insecurities. My responsibility is to myself. I must keep my eyes on the prize while staying present enough to triumph and learn along the way to my intended goal. Choosing not to carry victimhood as a merit badge is my way of persevering.

Photographer: Noctopia

5.) Peace. The ability to focus the mind in times of (superficial or real) chaos is a component of strength. I used to have a short fuse with an explosive temper. It’s a by-product of being bullied as a kid. I don’t believe in living life as a perpetual victim (see above). So, I made the decision to manage my anger and get my ego in check. Recently, some kids were making some comments that aren’t worth typing here. But, I smiled at how their words didn’t bother me. A decade ago and I’d be writing a very different retelling of that encounter. The ability to talk people out of a bar fight when I’m drunk is proof that embracing peace is a component of strength.

Photographer: Noctopia
6.) Intelligence. A form of mental strength to exercise and train my brain is essential to overall strength.  Intelligence to recognize when a plan isn’t working or needs course correction is key to stop digging when I need to get out of a hole.

Photographer: Audrey Penven

Disclaimer: It’s no accident that I chose the title, “How I Define Strength”. This wasn’t meant to be an internet lecture wherein I mansplained to you what is strong and subsequently question your character if you were to disagree. Nope. This post was about how I define strength. If you agree with what I’ve written, cool. If you disagree, that’s cool to.

The photos above were taken by Audrey Penven (color) and P. McCracken aka Noctopia (black & white). This was a part of my Black Magic performance at the Hubba Hubba Revue’s 8th Anniversary show on Friday, September 12th, 2014.

Sex Positive

Sex positive is a funny way to describe someone. However, I have been described as such many times over. (Does that mean that other people are sex negative? That seems like a much less desirable distinction.) When I decided to Wikifuck the phrase, I read this: “The sex-positive movement is a social movement which promotes and embraces sexuality with few limits beyond an emphasis on safe sex and the importance of consent.” Fair enough, I’ll be that. Whenever you love something, you must find a safe way to do the thing for the sake of longevity. Athletes must execute their sport of choice safely lest they find themselves injured. Lovers of sex must practice safely lest they find themselves with (as my Dad so eloquently states) “some shit that Gawd can’t even cure.” Do you know what a dental dam tastes like? Do you know the best place to buy your favorite brand of condoms for a lower price than the major drug stores? (Hint: Amazon Prime sells them and you’ll probably pay half the price.)

640_condom

My sexual self turned 21 about a month ago. That is to say, I’ve been having sex for 21 years. On August 14th, 1993, Michelle* [*-Not her real name.] and I made the beast with two backs. We made sweet love. We did the horizontal splash dance. Well, you get the idea. After 21 years of sex, does that make me an expert? Far from it. I’m still learning with each new partner. Recently, I’ve secured an assistant (more on that later) and I’ve started to learn about the proper ways to tie wrists with rope, stimulate the g-spot to help a woman squirt, and I’ve (finally) started to heed Prince’s advice. “We don’t have to make love to have an orgasm.” -Prince [If I Was Your Girlfriend, c. 1987]

Prince

Back in 1993, I was so excited to try out what I’d seen in porn that I turned on the jackhammer switch in my hips and just went to town focused on my own pleasure. I began to wonder more about how different women would respond to my jackhammer. I began a conquest to bang my way through high school and college. And bang I did. I banged harder than the bridge on “Love Shack”.

Then, came the first time that I hurt a woman’s feelings. I said something too horrible to type here. She cried and I started to learn the importance of finesse within a physical relationship. I’ve always been an empathetic being. I’ve always felt what others have felt (to varying degrees based on how close I was with the person). But, in my jackhammer days my empathy was purely physical. As I matured, I began to care more about her emotional pleasure and I derived pleasure from her excitement.

Fast forward to present day. When I was in the market for an assistant I surveyed my platonic (and romantic) female friends about their favorite sex toys. When a few men got wind of this survey of mine, some were perplexed. “Why would you (a man) need a vibrator?”, they wondered. “Weren’t you born with everything that you need to satisfy a woman?”, they implied. Sure. I have all of my body parts. But, satisfying a lover isn’t always that simple. (Even if it is that simple, there’s a good chance that she’ll welcome the extra stimulation.) There are so many tools that can be used to pleasure each other. I think it would be foolish to ignore something for the sake of insecurity. I find it interesting talking to cisgender men with limited sex life experience. (Cisgender-denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex.) The list of sexual experiences that they fear reads like a list of standard protocol to the people in my life. From what I hear, there are some men in middle america (Ohio) that still deem it taboo to perform oral sex on a woman. I shit you not, some men view it as a sign of weakness to eat pussy. We have failed as a society!

FTR, I purchased the Lelo Smartwand… in the Noir finish, of course!

Lelo

I haven’t had a girlfriend since 2012. Of course, I’m referring to the traditional variety. I practice polyamory (aka ethical non-monogamy) and it’s always interesting attempting to explain that to my very Christian family members. I spent years as a serial monogamist, searching for a wife. I was looking for EVERYTHING that I wanted in a partner in one person. That created a lot of stress and disappointment due to unfair expectations. When my last relationship ended, I decided that I was 100% done with relationship arguments. Since I’ve embraced a polyamorous lifestyle, I haven’t had any of those old standby relationship arguments. Being polyamorous has taught me to be a more open and honest communicator, a more sensitive lover (because I’m connecting with very different personalities which ensures that I’m present in the moment when I’m with someone), and most importantly polyamory has helped me to enjoy the person I’m with as she is instead of how I want/hope her to be. I no longer expect EVERYTHING I want in a partner to come from one woman. It’s quite freeing. I’m not writing all of this to convince any reader to adopt polyamory. It’s not for everyone. However, I do hope that you’ve learned some of the things that I’ve learned over the past 21 years.

In the past 21 years, I’ve learned that sex is much more than just physical. Eye contact and conversation can combine to form a potent aphrodisiac. I’ve learned that human beings are not a monogamous species. If you disagree, recognize the difference between what society tells us to do (get married, have kids, watch the cycle repeat) and what we actually do (cheat, lie, leave relationships). I’ve learned that celebrating the fifth anniversary of my friend’s marriage means more to me than some ostentatious wedding ceremony that will cost more than a down payment on the couple’s house (and will end in four years or less). I’ve learned that words can hurt when a person has opened their heart to you. I’m certain to think before I speak these days. I’ve learned that Batman has Robin for a reason. I enjoy bringing my assistant to the party. Most importantly, I’ve learned that sex is NOT all about my penis.

Some of you may have heard me talk about my mother’s advice : That which you are willing to do for free should be your career. Well, I’ve often considered becoming a sex therapist. Spending time helping individuals or couples with sexual pleasure is something that I would do for free! Perhaps I’ll repurpose my Kinesiology degree and focus on a different type of cardiovascular endurance. We’ll see. In the meanwhile, here’s to another 21 years of doing the sex.

Compassion Is Never Convenient

My brother once said that the world is made up of two kinds of people, the protectors and the protected. He was referring to everyday, ordinary people, not superheroes with alien powers. It is my hope that I always have the courage/ability to protect others when they need it. I also hope to have the humility to protect myself or to be protected by others when the situation calls for it.

I once witnessed a dog get hit by a car on the other side of the road. I turned my car around and blocked traffic to keep him from getting hit a second time. As I was blocking traffic, one passer by told me that I should flee the scene because the cops may think that I did it. A second passer by told me that I should just leave him because it was “just a dog”. (Fucking assholes!) While the call wasn’t worth a 911 effort, I called animal control and stayed with the dog until it’s last breath (it wasn’t long). I chose to be the protector. I covered him with a towel from my car and carried him off to the side of the road to a red zone where his body would be safe from desecration until animal control could retrieve him.

On a recent run, I was approaching a bus stop. I noticed a couple that was looking down at a man as they stepped over him and shook their heads in what seemed to be disapproval. Annoyed at their lack of compassion and concern for the afflicted, I stopped. I chose to be the protector. I leaned over him and asked the standard questions. Are you okay? What is your name? Do you need help? Do you need me to call 911? He responded to the last question with a drooling, glassy-eyed nod. As I was placing the call and explaining the situation, more people passed the scene. A few of them shook their heads and kept walking. Some of them commented, “he’s just drunk”. There was a smell of alcohol and an open container near him and I was sure to explain that to the 911 operator. One woman in particular passed by and kept repeating, “he’s drunk”, louder each time as if she were trying to speak loud enough for the operator to hear her voice over mine. She even stopped long enough to look over her shoulder and annunciate the word “in-ee-bree-eyt-ed” annoyingly loud. I was two seconds from telling her to shut the fuck up, when I reigned in my anger for her “passer by diagnosis”. Based on everything that I saw and smelled, was he drunk? Probably. Did that mean that he wasn’t worthy of compassion? Did that mean that he should only receive judgment from passers by and be left unconscious? Absolutly not. Does the smell and sight of alcohol mean that everything else in his body worked perfectly fine? I don’t like to make assumptions and that’s why I stopped to help. For all I know, he mixed that alcohol with prescription medication. I wonder if any of his judges considered that before shaking their heads and stepping over his barely conscious body. One other gentleman stopped to help. He leaned over and checked the victim’s pulse as he shook his shoulders and tried to get his attention. We had different approaches, but I’m grateful that two humans stopped to help another in need. Drunk or not, I don’t care if he did it to himself. When I asked, he said that he needed help. That was all I needed. Kudos to the Oakland first responders that were at the scene in two minutes! (I checked my watch.) Once I flagged them down and explained the situation, I finished my run.

About 18 months ago, there was a similar story with tragic consequences. A homeless man in San Francisco was passed out on a bustling street corner in a pool of his own blood and people stopped to take pictures and video with their “smart” phones. But, the man died because no one used those phones to call for help. No one stopped to call 911. (Fucking assholes!) I wonder how many people judged or feared him as they passed. I wonder if they diagnosed from afar. Stories like that make me understand why comic book super villains want to end the world.

If you see someone in need, please don’t assume and don’t diagnose. This isn’t a movie, so you don’t have to put your mouth on (read: CPR) the first unconscious person that you see. However, I do strongly suggest that EVERYONE complete CPR and first-aid training. If you use the training once in your life, it will make a big difference in someone else’s. Help your fellow human and check yourself if personal judgment gets in the way of compassion. Compassion is never convenient and you’re never in too much of a rush to be courteous. Don’t be a fucking asshole. 😉