Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Catch up with me over here...

Hi you guys!

A friend reminded me that I had this blog sitting out here. If you're still interested in what I write I've been writing quite a bit over on my own website. It's located at www.themamasutra.net  There I have all of my posts from the last 4+ years. Check it out! And while you're there. post a comment to say "hi". I love to hear from you, or even that people read what I write over there.  ;)  You know what I mean.

All the best,
The MamaSutra

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Sex Educator's Kid

Ok, this is a proud mama moment. Please indulge me and allow me to brag about one of my kids.
The other night I was tucking Marcia into bed. She was in a pretty good mood and so was I since it wasn’t too late at night for her to be going to bed. You know these nights – there was no arguing on her part or nagging on mine. (Parents? amiright??)
So there we were, sitting on her bed chatting and I say, “You know Marcia. I never asked you how much you already knew about sex before you asked me that question.” She said, “Well, I didn’t really know anything so that’s why asked you.” I laughed at that, such honesty. “Good point.”   (Smile).  So I asked, “You do know where babies come from, right?” and she said seriously, “Yeah. I know that the man puts his penis inside the woman’s vagina when they have sex.” I got the biggest smile on my face because of how she said it: very matter-of-factly, there was no giggling afterwards; there was no look of any embarrassment on her face when she said it to me whatsoever. I gave her the biggest hug and an I’m-so-proud-of-you-squinty-smile and said to her, “That is absolutely correct. You used the anatomical terms and you said it so very confidently. You’re absolutely right.”
We had a couple moments of quiet, happy snuggling and then I said, sort of half giggling, “You sound like the daughter of a…” and she interrupted me, pulled away to look up at me and said “sex therapist?” I get the biggest kick out of this kid.
Thank you for letting me share that. Middle school will come along soon enough and I want to prepare them for that virtual “life raft” one of my favorite authors Rosalind Wiseman describes in her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” on page 38:
Imagine you and your daughter are on a cruise ship. The cruise director’s job is to make sure your daughter is reasonably happy and entertained. There are scheduled activities, and if by chance she hurts herself, someone will be there to get her back on her feet. She knows most of the people on the ship and everything is familiar. But all of a sudden, girls start telling each other a ship is stupid and boring and it’s time to get off. As you watch helplessly, she leaves behind everything that is safe and secure, gets into a life raft with people who have little in common with her except her age, and drifts away.
Once in the life raft she may ask herself how she got there or why she even left in the first place, but when she looks around, she sees that the ship is impossibly far away, the waves are too big, and there are a limited number of supplies; she quickly realizes that her survival depends on bonding with the other girls in that life raft. But your daughter isn’t stupid. This realization is quickly followed by another one: she’s trapped.
I bring this example up at this point because this is also the time when kids stop listening to their parents. I think some girls in particular prefer to get their information from their peers. Hearing some of the things third graders talk about… well I can’t imagine fifth or sixth-graders to be much better.
I hope these conversations, as often as we have them, give my girls a level of comfort about this very natural topic. I hope in being open with them it encourages them to come to me when they have questions about sex or sexuality. I hope to have a home like the one sexualfuturist.com poses:
But imagine if your home was a place where hundreds of such conversations took place and your young ones had a LOT of time and conversation to really think it through. They might decide to modify their sexual behaviors to include a well-managed sexuality other than unprotected intercourse such as flirting, sexual conversations, emotional intimacy, humor and masturbation.
So I’d like to ask: Do you have moments or anecdotes you’d like to share? Any moments of proud parenting where it comes to this topic? I’m ready to listen to you too.  Thanks for reading!
Previously posted on: magazine.goodvibes.com (http://s.tt/11PQq)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let’s get naked


As previously posted on Good Vibrations Sexy Mamas Blog


I went out to dinner last weekend for a girlfriend’s birthday. The party was made up of about 10 women; a few women that I already knew and a few that I hadn’t yet met. At the end of the table where I was sitting, we spoke a lot about my field of study… shocker!  Basically, we talked about sex for most of the dinner.

(On a side note, it’s important for me to mention here that it does not matter who I tell what I’m doing with my life; everyone has a story that is important about sexuality and about what they’ve experienced in their life up to this point. For example, I’ve had conversations with my accountant talking about grandkids’ sexuality, with the online tech support person in India about societal differences in dealing with sexuality, and with my business banker talking about how early to start the conversations with children. One woman, who was a bit older than me, was told by her own mother that pregnancy was caused by kissing. She said she was so afraid to kiss her own father and brothers after that! As you can see, misinformation does not protect a child. But it can give them anxiety about something else.)

As the night went on and the group got smaller, we moved our chairs in closer and started visiting with people at the other end of the table. These were women I hadn’t met before and they were parents of kids at the birthday girl’s daughter’s elementary school. Our mutual girlfriend made the introductions and introduced me as The MamaSutra.   One mom had a 12 year old daughter and we got started talking about the book “Queen Bees & Wannabes” by Rosalind Wiseman.  We talked about “Girl World” and about girl’s self-confidence at that age.  She said she was starting to be concerned with her daughter’s body image.  I told her it might be an interesting exercise to go together to the Kabuki Spa (The Kabuki Spa is a spot in San Francisco, in Japantown to be specific, that has a communal bath. A few times a week they offer women-only days where use of the spa is clothing optional).

Above all else, going to this Spa is an exercise in self-acceptance. I can’t say that any more clearly. I think there are a lot of really messed up, misogynistic aspects to American society today; The Photoshopped images that we all see every day in magazines and on TV are having a tremendous negative effect on us as mothers, and on young women, and on our own daughters.  Our inability collectively to look in the mirror and see what’s beautiful, but instead only see the flaws, reminds me of a scene in the movie “Mean Girls” (for which Wiseman’s book was the basis).  In the movie, the main character Cady transfers in to a typical suburban high school after growing up overseas.  She is totally unfamiliar with ‘Girl World’.  Three of the popular high school girls are standing in front of a mirror and, in turn, criticize their images.  Then they turn to Cady with an expectant look on their faces… like it is her turn to criticize herself.  The only thing she can think of is “I have really bad breath in the morning.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZDQYVU8o9M  This is the kind of attitude and behavior I think needs to change, but it must start with us women so we can pass it on to our daughters.

I think a little more background is helpful here. In my studies at the Institute, I have learned, shared, and/or discussed every aspect of human sexuality. From the simple, yet powerful impact of pure, non-sexual human touch and its importance, to more deep discussions of homosexuality and heterosexuality and everything in between. Spending a day in the communal baths at a spa such as this approaches a fraction of the value one can get without enrolling in the school. 

I heard about this spa initially from some former classmates.  The first time I went, I went by myself. It was completely foreign to me. I didn’t realize there was a process to follow.  And it was a bit unsettling to be surrounded by people who were not wearing any clothes. I found myself purposefully trying to avoid eye contact with anyone and also avoid looking at anyone in general. But then after about five or 10 minutes, I got comfortable. I started to look around a bit and noticed what may seem obvious: everyone was different. Different body types, different breast sizes, different hips, different proportions, …everything. And after a while -- and this may sound trite -- I noticed each woman was beautiful! And none of them looked like a Photoshop anything.  And eventually, I started to appreciate my own body in a way I hadn’t before.

I really do think this is a tremendous experience and I encourage women everywhere to find this opportunity. I have found a couple spas like it and I’m sure more of these gems can be found around the country.  To be clear, no sex allowed at the Kabuki Spa; It is an upscale joie de vivre spa and such a wonderful place to relax in a comfortable and safe space amongst women. It is a place of peace and tranquility, talking is really frowned upon because it disturbs the silence of this very serene place.

Since finding this place, I go often.  I have also found it to be a wonderful bonding experience when going with my girlfriends.  I have taken all of my in-from-out-of-town visiting girlfriends.  Some go with a swimsuit--as I mentioned, it’s clothing optional.  Still, each one has gotten something different out of the experience. I think there is incredible value and empowerment in going to this spa even if you go alone for the first time. Yes, it can be difficult to get naked in front of other people, maybe even more so with your friends. I totally get that… I was raised in a Catholic household complete with all the requisite Catholic guilt.

I look forward to the opportunity to take my daughters to a Spa like this. My daughters have heard me speak about it so highly so often that they are looking forward to their opportunity to go, but for this particular place they have to wait until they are 10 years old.  I encourage my girlfriends to take their daughters there as well.  I want my daughters to appreciate their bodies. I want them to love themselves. I want them to learn to honor and respect their bodies. I want to teach them to take care of themselves. And I want them to understand the real-life differences between the people we see every day and the stuff they see in the media. Soon enough they’ll be in junior high and they will be living in that ’Girl World’. I think experiences like this will give them a good foundation in self-appreciation before they enter ‘Girl World’.  But, since children emotionally track the adults in their lives and understand a whole lot more than we adults are sometimes willing to share with them, they must see this self-appreciation in us adults first.

 © The MamaSutra

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kids sing the darndest things





I was driving my daughters and one of Cindy’s friends home from school the other day and I had the radio on. I’m usually listening to NPR or my iPod but my daughter’s friend requested a specific station. When I tuned in to that station after the ads it played Rhianna’s song “S & M”. Immediately they started singing. I bit my tongue while I drove, fully aware that the three girls knew all of the lyrics to this song and were singing at the top of their lungs. But I didn’t say a word.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdS6HFQ_LUc

Then, the other day I was again riding in the car with Marcia and Cindy. Rhianna’s song came on the radio again and the girls started singing it loud and proud.

I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it

Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it

Sticks and stones may break my bones

But chains and whips excite me

Na na na

Come on, come on, come on

I like it-like it



When the song ended, I asked my daughters if they knew what the song was about. Cindy answered right away,

Cindy: “It’s about sex.”
Me: “Well, the song is called S & M. The S stands for sadism and the M stands for masochism.”

Cindy: “What do those words mean?”

Me: “Those are words that roughly mean inflicting pain on someone or having someone inflict pain on you.”

Marcia: “But what does S & M have to do with sex?”

Me: “It’s funny because most people think S & M is about sex. S & M isn’t always just about sex. Sometimes it’s about taking control or giving up power. Or sometimes it’s about pleasure and pain.

Marcia: “How can sex have anything to do with pain?”

Me: “Well, have you ever been spanked and instead of hurting it actually felt kinda good?”

Marcia chuckled and smiled: “Yeah.”

And that was it. I start the conversation by asking a question, seeking to find out how much they know. But I allow the girls to drive the conversation as far as How Much they want to know. Then I try to answer as best I can with one sentence.

This very frank conversation with them is intended to be simply information sharing. I’m doing this with my 7 & 8 year olds but I think they get it because we’ve been talking about this stuff for a while now. If your kids are older it’s not too late. You will probably be amazed by what they do already know. I guess this dialog above is also an example of how to start such a conversation with your kids. I’m not saying it is always easy; just that it gets easier with practice. And please note, these conversations are not about sexual positions, or STI’s, or reproductive biology. It’s about the stuff we encounter on a daily basis while living our lives.

If we can just be honest with our kids they can begin to understand the intricacies of sex and sexuality. So many adults I talk to wish their parents would have been comfortable talking to them when they were kids…well here is your chance; if we talk about these topics openly and honestly our kids won’t have that same complaint. Bigger, more complex conversations will come, I’m sure. But having these little chats, early and often make those that will come later easier in my honest opinion.

As for Marcia’s comprehension of the spanking aspect, some of you may have a similar recollection. Personally, I recall birthdays growing up where each kid had to go through “The Spanking Machine”: The birthday kid had to crawl on their hands and knees through the legs of the other kids and get one spanking along the way from each kid. Or another variation was to get the same number of spanks for your age. (Core Erotic Theme anyone??)

As for me I enjoy the power and control aspect. At our elementary school, every parent is requested to fill a slot in traffic duty to make traffic run smoother for kid drop off and pick up. This has to be one of my favorite parent volunteer opportunities because I get to boss other people around. There are always parents who don’t follow the rules when arriving at school and I’m pretty good at whipping them into line. For a while I’ve joked about dressing up as a dominatrix to do traffic duty at our school. I would if I didn’t think it would cause too much trouble. Haha! Just kidding.  Like I said, sometimes S & M is not about sex.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I found a condom in the playroom!

As previously posted on Good Vibrations Sexy Mamas Blog



I was over at my friend Mike’s house.  I went into his office to look for something when I noticed a condom on the floor in Greg and Bobby’s playroom. It was not used but it was out of the wrapper. I went to ask Mike about it and he said, with a very perplexed look on his face, he found the wrapper the other day and wondered where the contents were. There had been lots of activity in the playroom because the boys were setting up for a Welcome Back party to celebrate when Marcia and Cindy returned from their vacation to grandma’s house complete with streamers, balloons, presents and party favors.


So then I went into the room where Greg was playing and told him, in sort of a leading, non-accusatory way, that I saw the balloon-y thing he found in the playroom…at least I presumed he found it.  He corrected me and said, “Oh, Bobby found that. What was it anyway?” I told him it was called a condom. He asked, “What’s that?” I said it was something a man puts on his penis when he has sex to protect him from sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). He said “Ew.” and that was the end of it.


Later, when we were all together in the car, I asked Bobby where he found  that balloon-like thing that was in the play room. He said he found it in a box in the back of dad’s desk.  Mike shot me a one eyebrow raised, sideways look like he had no idea what his son was talking about.  Before I could say anything else, Greg told Bobby “Yeah, do you know what it’s for? Men wear it on their penis when they have sex so they won’t get sexual sicknesses”. Bobby led out a series of groans and eww’s.  He said he thought it was a balloon and he tried to blow it up for their party but that it was slippery and gross.  Mike and I chuckled, thinking about the mental image that put into our heads.


This story had a funny ending but it further shows the importance of having an open dialog about things of a sexual nature. The kids found the condom; that sort of thing is going to happen. Kids do all sorts of things as they get older without the direct oversight of their parents (finding presents ahead of time, stumbling upon other things they don't need to find, etc.). I let them ask the questions and I tried to answer in as simple a way as possible giving the correct answer (even if I didn’t go into ALL of the reasons people use condoms). Their dad didn’t get angry or embarrassed, which may make it easier for them to come forth next time and ask.


So, maybe next time they find something strange they’ll ask?  And maybe their dad needs a better hiding place for his personal items?


Got Wood?

As previously posted on Good Vibrations Sexy Mamas Blog

I saw an interesting T-shirt on a fourth grader at our elementary school’s campus: It said “got wood?”




got wood?




I understand the “got milk?” ad campaign and how funny that was. This one I just couldn’t get. I had a hard time picturing what that actually was an ad for… Baseball Bats? Carpentry? A new line of T-shirts for beavers and wood chucks? I’m just not sure. So I went to my computer and I googled it looking for this T-shirt in the shopping section. The first one that shows up is for a woodworking shop.
Then the second one was very obviously not woodworking (or maybe it was depending on your definition of "working your wood").

This second website’s shirt gets to the heart of what I think the one on campus was getting at, and of course, that got me thinking: What kind of messages are we sending with having sexual innuendos on T-shirts for kids? Could this boy understand the T-shirt he was wearing? Did anyone sit down with him and explain why that was funny? Is that too much information? Are there parents who are offended? Or thought it was inappropriate? Did anyone else notice??

In my humble opinion, most everything is about sex whether people recognize it or not. And it is surely at the forefront of my mind because it is what I’m studying. I do not wake up thinking about it (most days) but it pervades my day and how I see other people’s behavior. And I think when most people say “sex” they’re thinking of the act. I think of it as more encompassing in “sexuality”: the capacity for sexual feelings. This T-shirt is a good example of that. Most people look at that shirt “got wood?” and chuckle. They get it instinctively, don’t even have to think twice… “Wood” being a euphemism for the erection of the penis.

So my question is this: when you see T-shirts like this do you explain them to your children, and if so, at what age? Had my eight-year-old Marcia seen this T-shirt with me I may have started the discussion. I could see asking her what she thought it meant and then listening to her description. I could see asking her if she wanted to know what came to my mind. She knows a little about the male anatomy. I think this would be a good place to start a conversation about why a man’s penis gets erect, and why a T-shirt about that would be funny. I could also see this being the start of a discussion about sex and advertising. I know there’s a lot of material about that subject.

Perhaps it is just me, and maybe I do think about sexuality nearly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year but this to me is yet another example of an opportunity to have an open and frank discussion about sexuality with kids. What better way to help kids be sexually informed and make it through the world by being a parent (or an aunt or uncle) who is seen as a safe person to have these conversations with and guide them yourself... while they still listen to what you have to say.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Self-Love

[as previously posted on Good Vibrations Sexy Mama Blog]


My daughter asked me about sex again. Surprise, surprise.

Marcia came back to me one day while I was folding laundry on the bed with another whopper of a question… and I was glad she did. She asked me if there were more ways to have sex and not get pregnant. If you recall from a previous post, I was bummed after I gave my answer to her last question because my answer was very heterocentric, meaning defining sex as only penile-vaginal (P/V) intercourse.

I’m building up to my answer: Some of you might already know where I’m going with this. But, before you read on, you probably realize that not many people like to talk about “This”. “This” is highly controversial stuff. The “This” I’m referring to is Masturbation. Some call it self-love or self-pleasuring along with other more silly names depending upon your gender.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders was forced to resign her post as U.S. Surgeon General in December 1994 after suggesting masturbation be taught in sex ed!! She was asked at a World AIDS Day conference if she would consider promoting masturbation as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity. Elder, as quoted in US News & World Report responded, "With regard to masturbation, I think that it is something that is a part of human sexuality and a part of something that should perhaps be taught."

http://www.galeschools.com/womens_history/bio/elders_j.htm

Dr. Elders is a very wise woman. Genital self-stimulation is very natural; some babies in their first year of life explore their bodies and this behavior has been observed in utero as well. But it is also important to remember that we as adults tend to sexualize things that a child does NOT see as sexual and a child’s self-stimulating behavior is not “masturbating” like an adult. I think this fact is an important piece to remember: When a child overhears that two people are sleeping together, they picture two people snuggling in the same bed (something they probably like to do with Mom or Dad), whereas an adult pictures the “Sleeping Together” we all know and love. This is sexualization, making something sexual or attributing sex or a sex role.

Back to my answer to Marcia’s question.

Me: “I’m so happy you asked. I realized last time you asked me I forgot THE very best way. You are not going to get pregnant and you are not going to get any sexually transmitted infections! It’s called masturbation.”

Her: “What’s that?”

Me: “It’s when you touch your private parts.”

Her: “Do you do that?”

**Spoiler Alert**: those of you who know me can skip down to the Punch Line if you prefer …

Me: (ugh. I did NOT expect the line of questioning to go this way. Did I REALLY say I was going to try to be up front and honest with this stuff??) *blushing* “weeelll, yeeeaaahh.”

Her: “You DO??!”

Me: “Yeah, but I didn’t until I was older mainly because Grandma told me only girls who are dirty, nasty, or naughty do that. As I got older I realized that was a bunch of nonsense.”

Her: (grinning) “Really?”

Me: “There are all kinds of things people say about masturbation that simply aren’t true. But it’s your body. It belongs to you. I’m ok with you touching your parts. But please keep it private, say when you are alone in your room or in the bathroom. It’s not something to do in public.” (That last sentence said with emphasis to lighten the mood.)

Marcia, giggling, fell down into the folded clothes on the bed. We snuggled, laughing together, big smiles on our faces.

**Spoiler End**

Masturbation or self-pleasuring has many benefits. It improves immune function, relieves menstrual cramps, and is the safest kind of sex … meaning it is risk-free: no chance for pregnancy or STI’s. Masturbation also helps a person know his or her own body better and s/he learns what feels good. Some parents would rather their teens release the sexual tension alone than feel pressure to have P/V sex. All of this reminds me of my favorite line in the YouTube video of a “Weeds” episode talking about masturbation. Uncle Andy says, “Practice makes perfect so work on your control now while you’re a solo artist and you’ll be playing some long happy duets in the future”.

As for what Grandma said, some would say Masturbation IS dirty and nasty…but in the GOOD way. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some of my favorite books


Now you can purchase copies of books I like too. These books are great reads and have a wide variety of topics. Some are erotica, some are self-help of sorts, others are just fascinating reads in the area of human sexuality.

Enjoy!
The MamaSutra

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Reader Submitted Question. :)


I was a late bloomer with women, so I've always concentrated on pleasing them so they don't know I have no idea what I'm doing half the time. White chicks, god you guys are so easy to please... or so I think. The Asian and more conservative cultures, as liberal as the girls I've met may seem, they are still programmed to have some sort of shame or reservation. You can't always trust your girlfriend to tell you the truth, especially when you're still dating! ...yes, I'm the best, yes, I'm oh so amazing... blah blah, but I really DO want to be that good and want to be better. With relationships, after being with someone for some time, you tend to pick up their procedures so sex can turn into a program... just lick here, click here, push there... done. Even with the passion and love and fairy dust, you have to admit that you can get yourself in a rut and all the creativity and mind/body/spirit stuff all leads to lick, click, push, done.

Here I am talking about stuff that I'm not sure you're willing to respond.... how can I learn what's necessary to be 'better' everyday?

-oh, guess you should know.... I'm not a player, game was never good enough, and don't wish it to be, but I do want to have that amazing ever-lasting relationship. :)

~Horny Asian

-------------------------

Dear Horny Asian,

Thank you for your question. You know, most people could do well to learn more about how to be "better" sexually everyday. The biggest hurdle is asking, so kudos for that!

Give yourself a little credit. I think you are already on the right path if you are a "pleaser" when it comes to women. There are lots of women, that I hear from, who complain that their partner doesn't take the time to please them or to find out what they like.

What I have found most sexy - and I think many women would agree with me - is confidence and communication (which includes listening/hearing). Making sure to talk to your partner and pay attention to what they do or say is key. You are right that some women do have a hard time telling the truth when they are dating. That comes from lots of things but none of that is your fault. Just make sure you are being honest and open with her - inside and outside of the bedroom - and you will fare well.

Another tip you could try if you have been together for a while and feel like you have hit that "rut" and if you are both up for it is to masturbate together. It can be a great learning event for both of you. One thing to note though... most women don't realize how much men would love to see them masturbate and may be very uncomfortable doing this very private thing in front of another person, let alone a boyfriend. You should make sure to do everything you can to make sure she is comfortable, say doing it in a place she normally does. Talk about it before hand a bit. Ask her permission ahead of time if it would be okay should you feel so moved to join her and help her out manually or orally. There are lots of erogenous zones on a woman that love to be stimulated in this moment. But don't be offended if she is not; She may not be up for it the first time but may warm up to the idea later.


Another thing to note: Some men think of orgasms as “one=done” since that is what happens for most men (Not true for all women) or other men are not aware that there are many different kinds of orgasms that a woman can have. Many women are capable of more than one orgasm. There are vaginal, clitoral, and g-spot orgasms for example. As a pleaser, you may already know this. If you were unsure before, I’m here to tell you, you can continue on to help her achieve one and then another…and another…etc. A few women who have told me about encounters where this happens often cite an “unbelievable physical connection” with a lover who takes the time and effort to do this. Be aware too that there are women who have not yet experienced an orgasm. Being patient and supportive are two things you can do to help in that instance (let me know if this is an issue in your situation).

Your "lick, click, push, done" comment reminds me of a clever axiom. Men are like a microwave; Just push a button and they are on. Women, on the other hand, are like an oven; they need time to warm up. Yes, people do tend to get into a sexual pattern. The fact that you are interested in mixing it up in the bedroom would be interpreted by some women as exciting, other women may take it personally and think they are not "doing it" for you if you are bringing it up. I think the latter is easily avoided if you have indeed been affectionate and attentive and communicative with her as she will likely be secure in the relationship. So talk it over with your girlfriend. Some suggested starting points? Open ended, non-judgmental phrasing such as "is there anything we haven't yet done that you'd like to try...", "i've been thinking i'd like to try...", "what do you think about...", and "have you ever tried..." can be good conversation starters.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Like I said earlier, the fact that you want to be better lover means there's one lucky girl out there. Go get her! Be sure to let me know how it goes!
xo
The MamaSutra

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Dot Day!

[as previously posted on Good Vibrations Sexy Mama Blog]

Over the past summer, my girls, Marcia (8) and Cindy (6), and I started discussing the changes that happen to a kid’s body when s/he goes through puberty. We discussed all the usual stuff but in very general terms.
In boys, a few of the changes that occur are the following: hair starts to grow around the base of the penis, hair grows under the arms and on the chest, some boys get growing pains in their bones, and eventually hair grows above their upper lip and their voice changes.

The changes in girls can happen sometimes two years earlier than with boys. Many times the first change that’s noticed is breast development. At the same time that the breasts are starting to develop, the ovaries are growing inside. A girl also starts to grow hair around the vulva and under her arms. The hormones that are produced in a girl’s ovaries are causing these changes. These are just a few of the many changes that occur, sometimes as early as nine years old. All of this builds up to a girl getting her period for the first time.

I’ve heard lots of stories about kids and moms dealing with menstruation issues; some funny, some sad. Some girlfriends said their moms called it “The Curse” or apologized to them. Others girlfriends say their mothers didn’t talk about first menstruation with them at all and then they feared they were dying because they were bleeding and it wasn’t stopping. Can you imagine the emotional trauma of a young girl who has no knowledge at all about what is happening to her body? On a lighter note, have you heard the one about the little girl who is helping her mom set the table for dinner and she goes into the bathroom and brings out the good “napkins”?

I don’t know about you but I am excited for when my girls make the transition from big girl to little woman. Based on my own experiences with menstruation at puberty I’ve tried to make menstruation a positive thing, you know, something to look forward to as well in this whole “growing up” experience. I told Marcia and Cindy that when they get their Period for the first time we would have a party. Marcia at first didn’t want to tell people what we were celebrating and I said that’s fine. It’s a party for us. We are going to have a present and we will bake a cake… wait for it…
a Red Velvet Cake!
Cindy wants a figurine on the cake of a girl using a mirror to look at her private parts. THAT cracked me up. She’s also the one who came up with the name for the day… Happy Dot Day!

Lemme tell you about this present. I heard one of my favorite Bay Area puberty educators Ivy Chen give a fantastic suggestion at a meeting of parents, the one before students start puberty education. She suggested giving the girls a small toiletry bag filled with a clean pair of underwear, one of those heating pads that you twist to activate, a sanitary pad or two, and, if your school will allow it, a Midol for cramps. I thought this was a fantastic idea and that’s going to be the present my daughter gets on her Happy Dot Day.

Over time, as girls we’ve talked about all of the paraphernalia that goes with “surfing the crimson wave”, pads, tampons, etc. We have also had conversations about, and this might sound fairly earth mother-ish to some of you, the Diva Cup Model 1 Pre-Childbirth. This is not something for the squeamish but it’s very eco-friendly. One of my girlfriends tipped me off to it a couple years ago. I can honestly say though I no longer spend a single dime on feminine products for “Aunt Flo”.

If they walk in on me in the bathroom…and mothers, which one of you has not had this happen to you??… I don’t hide that time of the month from my girls (I haven’t shown them exactly what I’m doing but I have told them where things go and the purpose) because it’s a natural part of being an adult female. Obviously one day they will be one as well. It is ok to talk to your daughters, AND sons for that matter, about menstruation. Nearly every woman does it and a child growing up less scared or fearful around one more bodily function is a good thing.

Open Letter to the Hosts of “The Talk”

[as previously posted on Good Vibrations Sexy Mama Blog]

"Talking to your kids about sex”? That was awful

Dear Hosts,

I thought the segment was terrible. The experts were trying to help and gave great EXPERT advice (expert being the operative word). Drs. Berman and Buckley were right on the money. I think the issue here is more that your host/interviewer was sexualizing a topic that is a natural part of human behavior… it’s how we all came into this world isn’t it?

I wasn’t particularly pleased to see the obvious judgment on Marissa’s face in her on-the-street interviews either. Judgment or sex negativity doesn’t help anyone. In fact, don’t most people just want to know that they are “normal” when it comes to sex and sexuality?

The experts are not giving advice that parents sit down and go through the How-To’s of penile/vaginal sex with a two year old; that IS too much info. They were advocating simply proper names. Yes they may be clinical sounding but they are correct. Also certainly less silly than HooHoo or Cupcake (Really Leah?! Cupcake? Can’t WAIT until she is a teenager with THAT one.) Thank you Holly for seeing the sense in this.

It is important to remember that we as adults tend to sexualize things that a child does NOT see as sexual. I think this fact is an important piece to remember: When a child overhears that two people are sleeping together, they picture two people snuggling in the same bed (something they probably like to do with Mom or Dad), whereas an adult pictures the “Sleeping Together” we all know and love. This is sexualization, making something sexual or attributing sex or a sex role.

I applaud the efforts of Drs. Berman and Buckley. I just wish the best parts of their interviews didn’t end up on the cutting room floor. Shame on you editors! Well, I guess the upside is you highlight all the work we sexologists have ahead of us.

Sincerely,
The MamaSutra

Self-Love

[as previously posted on Good Vibrations Sexy Mama Blog]


My daughter asked me about sex again. Surprise, surprise.

Marcia came back to me one day while I was folding laundry on the bed with another whopper of a question… and I was glad she did. She asked me if there were more ways to have sex and not get pregnant. If you recall from a previous post, I was bummed after I gave my answer to her last question because my answer was very heterocentric, meaning defining sex as only penile-vaginal (P/V) intercourse.

I’m building up to my answer: Some of you might already know where I’m going with this. But, before you read on, you probably realize that not many people like to talk about “This”. “This” is highly controversial stuff. The “This” I’m referring to is Masturbation. Some call it self-love or self-pleasuring along with other more silly names depending upon your gender.

Dr. Jocelyn Elders was forced to resign her post as U.S. Surgeon General in December 1994 after suggesting masturbation be taught in sex ed!! She was asked at a World AIDS Day conference if she would consider promoting masturbation as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity. Elder, as quoted in US News & World Report responded, “With regard to masturbation, I think that it is something that is a part of human sexuality and a part of something that should perhaps be taught.”
http://www.galeschools.com/womens_history/bio/elders_j.htm

Dr. Elders is a very wise woman. Genital self-stimulation is very natural; some babies in their first year of life explore their bodies and this behavior has been observed in utero as well. But it is also important to remember that we as adults tend to sexualize things that a child does NOT see as sexual and a child’s self-stimulating behavior is not “masturbating” like an adult. I think this fact is an important piece to remember: When a child overhears that two people are sleeping together, they picture two people snuggling in the same bed (something they probably like to do with Mom or Dad), whereas an adult pictures the “Sleeping Together” we all know and love. This is sexualization, making something sexual or attributing sex or a sex role.

Back to my answer to Marcia’s question.

Me: “I’m so happy you asked. I realized last time you asked me I forgot THE very best way. You are not going to get pregnant and you are not going to get any sexually transmitted infections! It’s called masturbation.”

Her: “What’s that?”

Me: “It’s when you touch your private parts.”

Her: “Do you do that?”

**Spoiler Alert**: those of you who know me can skip down to the Punch Line if you prefer …

Me: (ugh. I did NOT expect the line of questioning to go this way. Did I REALLY say I was going to try to be up front and honest with this stuff??) *blushing* “weeelll, yeeeaaahh.”

Her: “You DO??!”

Me: “Yeah, but I didn’t until I was older mainly because Grandma told me only girls who are dirty, nasty, or naughty do that. As I got older I realized that was a bunch of nonsense.”

Her: (grinning) “Really?”

Me: “There are all kinds of things people say about masturbation that simply aren’t true. But it’s your body. It belongs to you. I’m ok with you touching your parts. But please keep it private, say when you are alone in your room or in the bathroom. It’s not something to do in public.” (That last sentence said with emphasis to lighten the mood.)

Marcia, giggling, fell down into the folded clothes on the bed. We snuggled, laughing together, big smiles on our faces.

**Spoiler End**

Masturbation or self-pleasuring has many benefits. It improves immune function, relieves menstrual cramps, and is the safest kind of sex … meaning it is risk-free: no chance for pregnancy or STI’s. Masturbation also helps a person know his or her own body better and s/he learns what feels good. Some parents would rather their teens release the sexual tension alone than feel pressure to have P/V sex. All of this reminds me of my favorite line in the YouTube video of a “Weeds” episode talking about masturbation. Uncle Andy says, “Practice makes perfect so work on your control now while you’re a solo artist and you’ll be playing some long happy duets in the future”.

As for what Grandma said, some would say Masturbation IS dirty and nasty…but in the GOOD way.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A "shout out" to Middle America

[as previously posted on Good Vibrations Sexy Mama Blog]

Thank you to those of you that have been reading this blog. I am grateful for the feedback you give. In communicating with some of the people reading my blog, one friend writes “Most of the people between NYC and Malibu are rather prudish by the coast's standards. I'd soften it a bit so Middle America can be more accepting of the message…”. Perhaps it’s more of a difference between metropolitan, suburban, and rural areas but generally I don’t think Middle America is so different really.

I have been talking to lots of people about their conversations with their kids... People local to me here in the Bay Area and across the country. One old friend who lives in the Midwest just shared with me that he has talked to his children openly about sex from a very early age and get this: his nearly twenty-year old daughter wants to become a nun. I think this is a fantastic example of a young person educated in sexuality who knows herself and is empowered to choose her own path.

An OB/Gyn friend of mine and I had a conversation about talking to kids openly about sex. She has older, high school and college aged kids and these two girls sound like self-aware young adults. The high schooler sees and describes to her parents the behaviors she observes at the teen parties (the behavior which is shocking really considering the teens receive the usual abstinence only/reproductive-biology-as-sex-ed in high school, but that’s not my point here). Both of her daughters decided to wait until what is now older than the U.S. average for age at first intercourse.

It’s interesting because both of these conversations remind me of an excerpt from one of the first books I read for a class at the Institute. It’s a fantastic book by Judith Levine Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex

Craig Long, a father I met in Chicago, had carried on a frank and continual conversation with his son, Henry, about sex since earliest childhood. Then, on his eleventh birthday, the boy asked shyly for a Playboy magazine. After discussing the matter with Henry’s mother, Craig gave him the magazine, accompanied by a small lecture. “I told him real women don’t look like the models in Playboy and they’re generally not splayed out for immediate consumption.” After a few weeks, Craig checked in with his son. Had he been looking at the magazine? “Hmm, not so much.” Was he enjoying it? “Hmm, not so much.” Why not? “I don’t know, Dad,” the boy finally said. “I guess I’m too young for this stuff.”

I find these above examples fascinating: Does this mean children, given accurate information and mindful guidance from their parents, can make informed and mature decisions on their own about sex and their sexuality??

Abstinence Only Before Marriage (AOBM) sex education is pushed by the religious right. I think AOBM sex ed gives sex and sexuality a sort of taboo quality to it. Let’s think about what happens when something is made forbidden. Hello... apple tree in the Garden of Eden folks? I also think AOBM sex ed contributes toward the current phenomenon of booty calls, hooking up, friends with benefits, etc. There is a sort of dissociation between the act of having sex and the feelings associated with it. If you were not supposed to be having ”it” in the first place, then why would you admit or connect emotionally with that partner? That’s not a scientific observation by any means. It’s just my opinion and I’d love to see research on it. I’d love to also see data on whether the people engaging in this behavior are the ones who are getting AOBM sex ed and nothing more. I think the squeaky wheel gets the grease, or in this case, the squeaky group gets their fear-based sex propaganda set as a national approach to sex ed. And for some reason some see Middle America as the hot bed (pun intended?) of these views. Ok, sorry for the rant.

Getting back to the Middle America, as I think I have shown above there are pockets of you out there that do speak openly about sex with your kids. I guess it all boils down to comfort level of each individual parent. Get over your OWN embarrassment already. Talk with your kids when you get the chance. Or better yet, take the chance to find out what they already know. You may be surprised. It’s up to each and every one of us to own and be the change we would like to see in comprehensive sex education.

Thank you again for reading. If you would care to share your successes (and disappointments?) on this topic with me, I would love to hear about them.

My kid skipped the "Where did I come from" question!

[as previously posted on the Good Vibrations Sexy Mama Blog]

My girls (We'll call them Marcia & Cindy) know that I'm studying sex at school. Actually, when you Marcia tell it, she says her mom is "studying people's bodies", which I guess is age-appropriate.

Anyway, I have a number of "school supplies" in my home and, because my focus is helping parents talk with their children about sex, I have a number of European kids' books. Most of these cover simply reproductive biology (as Americans don't talk about pleasure or fantasy as it relates to human sexuality for adults, teens, or children at all but i digress...).  So you can imagine my surprise when, one day, my eight-year-old comes to me and asks,

"Mom, how do you have sex and not get pregnant?"

Well, don't that beat all?!  Not only did she skip the dreaded, "Mom, where did I come from?" but went straight for the throat.  Not to mention she asked the question in a way that prevents me from answering, "Don't have it."  (Clever girl, huh?  She takes after her mother you know.)  But seriously, my answer was that there are a couple ways.  Keep in mind "Don't have it" was not going to work as an answer because of what her question was.

My basic approach in answering on this topic is to answer as best I can IN ONE SENTENCE (a challenge believe me).  I told her that women can get a pill from their doctor that prevents pregnancy but it doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections. She asked what those are and I explained that they were sicknesses a person may or may not even know they have that can make people contagious, sick, and/or even die. She asked,  "What about the man? Does he have to take a pill?"  I told her about condoms



and how they protect from pregnancy and STI's.  She asked how and I told her it was like a special sock for a man's penis that protects both the man and the woman during sexual intercourse. She giggled a bit and wandered off.


Again, like the last interaction with her about the bullet vibrator, it was short and sweet and to the point and that was all she wanted to know.  Of course there are lots of possible answers I could have given her but I wanted to give the best answers I could in as short an answer as possible.  This keeps her from being overwhelmed and she can stop me whenever she wants.

I realized two things afterward.

1) That I didn't ask her what she knew to start.  I see that as an opportunity for every parent to gauge how much the child does already know and redirect any misinformation (which is RAMPANT!!!  More to come on THAT topic), and

2) My answer was very hetero-centric. I hoped for another opportunity to fix that.