Monday, May 21, 2012

Pole Dancing for Jesus - Now I've Seen Everything

So on one my regular cruises around the web for weird stuff, I found a youtube video about a woman in Texas who offers 'pole-dancing for Jesus' classes. How can you resist checking that out? I mean, what could pole-dancing for Jesus possibly entail? So I checked out the video and now I'm confused. It's really a non-story - this is just a woman from Texas who used to be a stripper and now teaches pole-dancing classes. That was a story in 1996 but now there's a million of them out there. The only difference is that this woman offers classes on Sunday afternoons to people who bring in their church programs. Oh, and they dance to contemporary christian music. Yes, really. So I'm completely befuddled. Part of me thinks, big deal, good on her for still doing what she likes to do and not letting the rest of the world tell her that it's not okay because of her religion. And what does it matter anyway? No one holds the rights to what pole-dancing is and is not and what it should look like, so she is free to turn it into whatever she wants. She says she wants to remove the stigma from pole-dancing. Fine - it's a great form of exercise and if that's all she wants it to be, more power to her. But as I watched, I started to get a little twitchy about that. To my mind, if you want to de-stigmatize something, you boldly and openly love it for what it is, you don't try to turn it into something else entirely. This is what has happened amongst many of the pole dancers and it makes me batty. They've taken a form of dance that started in the strip clubs, ripped it off for the benefits they can get out of it, and then worked hard to entirely divorce themselves from the roots of it. I have been to many a pole-dancing class and party in my life and I can tell you that there wasn't one where I didn't get the speech from the instructor about how she is either a) NOT a stripper, just a normal person like me or b) was a stripper but DOESN'T DO THAT ANYMORE. Sigh. They take this really cool form of art, dance and exercise and use it to their own ends but then completely shun the people who invented it in the first place? Doesn't seem right to me. It seems like we have some serious problems with strippers and we don't want to be associated with them. Often, they don't even want it to be associated with sex in any way. I went to a pole-dancing party a long time ago and when I told the instructor that I do sex toy parties, thinking we had lots in common, she clammed right up and said that she couldn't be associated with 'that sort of thing'. For one thing, who really cares pole-dancing in a strip club? The very fact that you are not doing it in a strip club means, at least at that point in time, that you are not stripping, so why do you need to make that so very clear? It just feels to me like it's a discomfort that's coming from within, not a judgement that's coming from the outside. To try to take all of the sex out of it doesn't take the stigma off, it entrenches it further. Yes, we are pole-dancers - but we are not THAT kind of pole-dancer. Maybe it sets you apart as something different, but it makes it clear that you think there's something wrong with all the others. It seems to me that the Texas woman is really conflicted about the whole thing. There are obviously aspects of this that she loves - the fitness, the expression, teaching other women and even, she says, helping them to feel beautiful. But in the very act of doing that, she is using elements that relate to sex, sexuality, sexual expression. Most of the moves of pole dancing are so cool for the very fact that they accentuate a woman's butt, chest and hips and make her body look beautiful as she moves. To do it right, you need to be comfortable about showing off your body and how it can move. That isn't solely sexual but to deny that there's a sexual aspect to that is ludicrous. But that's what so many pole-dance advocates seem to want to do. They encourage women to be cute and sexy - but there is definitely a line. You can be sexy, but not too sexy. We are not sluts here - we are not strippers. The best pole-dancers and instructors I've ever seen don't give a damn about any of this. They embody their bodies and they don't censor what they do. If a move is perceived as overtly sexual, they really don't care - they do what feels right to them and they don't apologize for it. The woman in the video had been a stripper in the past. She was so painfully uncomfortable with that fact that it was hard for her to even talk about it. That makes me sad. I know that sometimes there are things that go along with that job that are exploitative and abusive and if that happened to her, I am truly sorry for that. But to me she seemed uncomfortable with it because of the concern of being judged for that. That stinks. I would love to see her and every other woman who dances or has danced hold their heads up and stop apologizing. It's not their fault that our society is so screwed up about sex that they make stupid assumptions about women who dance. It would be lovely if we could all just stop doing that. And I think one thing that would help is if all the pole-dancers out there stopped telling people that they are not strippers. It doesn't matter whether you are or aren't, you are a woman who likes to pole-dance and that's just fine. In my searching for more info. about this, I also discovered this video that pokes fun at the idea of pole-dancing for Jesus. It's not nice to poke fun, I know, but it is hilarious and it points out the absurdity of the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Way to Go Edmonton!

Finally, I have proof that Edmonton is not a enclave of repressed rednecks. Pink Cherry released it's stats on which Canadian Cities buy the most sex toys. Guess who was number two on the list? That's right, it's us! We are second only to Toronto. Montreal and Vancouver are supposed to be the big sex meccas in Canada, but we actually love sex toys even more than they do. Congrats Edmonton! I always knew we were kinky and cool. What I didn't know is that the rest of Alberta in not far behind us. Calgary is number three on the list. In fact, little old Alberta placed four cities in the top 20 and 7 in the top 50! Given that we really only have 7 cities of any size in the province, that's pretty awesome. Check this link in the Huffington post to see the complete list of the top 50.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Misdiscovery of a spot

Last week in VUE, I wrote about the study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine by a doctor who claims that he has found the g-spot. Here's the column as it appeared. National masturbation month has started out with great news from the Journal of Sexual Medicine: a doctor in Florida has found the g-spot! Finally, after years of debate and frantic searching, there is conclusive physical evidence that the g-spot exists. Well, maybe. As is the case with most of those sensational sex headlines, the whole story is a little more complicated. The study is a report by Dr. Adam Ostrzenski, a cosmetic gynecologist, on a dissection he performed on a the body of an 83-year-old woman. He describes a sac-like structure he discovered deep in the tissues of the front wall of vagina and has proclaimed this to be the g-spot. As you may have already guessed, there are some problems. His premise makes sense. Dr. Ostrzenski hypothesized that the reason the g-spot has never been found during previous dissections is that is is located deeper than those dissections examined. He performed this one to investigate that hypothesis and he did indeed find something. However, just because he found something in the area that some believe the g-spot to be doesn't mean that what he found is a g-spot. If I found the ruins of a city no one has ever seen before, I could call it Altantis, but that doesn't make it so. There is also the fact that, this structure has been found so far in only one woman whose medical history is not given in the report. There is no way of knowing if this is even normal tissue. Another problem is that Dr. Ostrazenski does not describe any connection between this structure and the rest of the woman's body. There's no indication of how it does or does not interact with the rest of her sexual anatomy. He doesn't describe the presence of any nerves within it and where those nerves connect. Without all of that information, how do we know that this 'sac' has anything to do with sexual pleasure? The major problem with the study is the very thing that is not mentioned at all. Dr. Ostrzenski is a cosmitc gynecologist. He performs producedures such as the 'g-shot' in which collagen is injected directly into the g-spot area to make it swell and expand. It's certainly not a coincidence that the doctor who claims to have found the g-spot is also a doctor who makes his living purportedly enhancing women's sexual experience through amplifying said g-spot. The Toronto Star offers this unsettling quote from the doctor, "Men call me (as a result of this study) and say 'Practically, who do I have to do today with my wife?" The doctor doesn't say whether and how he answers that type of question but just the fact that it is asked of him is a problem. This dissection shows only that he found something, and we are not even certain yet what it is, it is not a basis on which to provide sex advice. The cynical part of me fears that his answer to that question may be 'get your wife a g-shot". Many high-profile sex educators and researchers have expressed concerns about the study. I understand hwere the concerns are coming from but I'm not as disturbed as they are for two reasons. First of all, IK think any work of the type contributes, even if in a small way, to our knowledge and our ability to treat health issues. Second, the media response to the release of the study has been uncharacteristically critical. Very few of the stories are hailing it as conclusive proof of the existence of the g-spot. Most have actually reported more on the flaws of the study and the criticism of it than on the study itself. Is it a major breakthrough in our knowledge of female sexual anatomy? No, not at all. But the study and the discussion it has sparked could be a small step towards increasing our understanding.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Birds and the Porcupines

Here's some fun information for Masturbation Month, I found out yesterday that female porcupines use sex toys. How awesome is that? Porcupines have been noted picking out sticks and grinding against them. You go girls! This made me wonder, what other animals are known to masturbate? Turns out, almost all of them. - monkeys of all kinds are pretty infamous self-pleasurers - horses and elephants get their freak on by grinding up against objects like tree stumps and rocks - horses continue to masturbate even after they've been castrated - birds are also known to get off by grinding against objects and female birds of some species have been observed using their tails to push sticks inside of themselves - female kangaroos have also been observed using sticks as dildos It's apparent that masturbation is common in the animal kingdom. What does that mean? Honestly, not much at all. We are constantly trying to compare ourselves to animals in order to learn or, more commonly, to justify our viewpoints about what is natural and what is not in human behavior. This is a losing proposition, and we've seen it with the arguments against homosexuality. The argument was often made that homosexuality is unnatural because you don't see it in the animal kingdom. Then we found out that no, actually, it's pretty darned common among a lot of animals. (my sister and I each had a rabbit and they were both females - those two were constantly getting up on each other). Suddenly the argument changed and people started saying that clearly homosexuality is something that is part of our baser, more animal nature, that human beings should be above. You can't win this argument. So does the fact that porcupines use dildos mean that masturbation is natural? No, it's just cool. And I just really wanted to write about animals that use dildos.