Thursday, 26 March 2015

Those Two Little Words

People: What are those lumps in your pockets? What do you have in there?
Me: Baby mice, I'm looking for Cookie (farm cat) to feed them to him.
Me 2: Lemons, courgettes, random other vegetables and groceries.
Me 3: An amber brooch worth about £10K
Them: Of course you do!

My Aunt: It's raining here, be safe cycling over, are you wearing your waterproofs?
Me: I've got my shorts on.
My Aunt: Of course you have!

People: Why aren't you wearing shoes?
Me: I couldn't be bothered to put them on.
Them: Of course you couldn't!

People: What are you knitting?
Me: 50 egg cosies for my neighbour.
Me 2: A bra for a client's runway show.
Me 3: A pair of boxers for a friend to have a laugh with his Mrs.
Me 4: A giant bonsai cherry blossom tree.
Them: Of course you are!

People: What's that funny bump under your jumper?
Me: My hot water bottle.
Them: Of course it is!

People: Why are you wearing a bright orange dress and reindeer antlers?
Me: Because I'm going to my friends funeral.
Them: Of course you are!

People: Why are you lying on the floor under that desk?
Me: Because I was sleepy so I decided to have a nap.
Them: Of course you did!

Person: I don't think I've ever seen you wearing lip-gloss Rachel?
Me: It's not lip-gloss. It's German nappy rash cream.
Person: Of course it is!

People: Rachel, what are you doing?
Me: I got cold!
Person: So you decided to cook yourself? How long did it take for that idea to go from logical to bat-shit insane?


Friday, 20 March 2015

A Question of Sexy

About a year ago I got into a conversation on twitter with a fashion magazine about what sexy  is and how and who defines it. We agreed that I would write an article for them, but in the end it never got published: so now I get to post it on my own blog!

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‘Sexy’ is many things. It’s a look, an action, a thought, but mostly it’s a feeling. ‘Sexy’ is pretty much anything that illicits sexual reactions whether physical or mental. By its very nature it is wholly subjective and, as such, a one-size-fits-all formula for what sexy is cannot be defined. It’s not enough to say “you are” or “you are not” sexy, for no better reason than what rings one persons’ bell may not even jingle anothers’.

Sexy as an image is what drives common understanding and use of the word. Sexy as a concept is much more intangible and harder to comprehend. Take, for example, a man playing in a park with some children, four straight women observe him: one wonders where their mother is and why that man is playing with them, she worries he is a paedophile and keeps a wary eye on him and her own children. Another admires the active role the carer or father is taking in the care of his charges. The third finds him mildly attractive for his obvious fatherly and husbandly qualities. And the fourth simply can’t take her eyes off of him and can’t stop thinking about how great sex with him would be. A fifth woman is completely oblivious to his presence. If you substitute the women for gay men or the man for a woman and the straight women for men/lesbians you will still observe the same basic reactions; some people are interested, some more so than others, and some are oblivious, not interested or actively turned off.

When we meet someone that we are attracted to, two thoughts invariably shoot through our minds, 1) “Wow! That is the most dreamy/sexy/gorgeous/fuckable person I’ve ever seen!” followed quickly by, 2) “How do I look? What am I wearing? Do I have anything on my face/in my teeth?” Sadly, the second thought invariably includes “I’m so ugly/plain/boring, there’s no way that heavenly creature would ever look at me” along with a wish to look more like a favourite actor, musician or idol. This is the legacy of years of saturation that we are not “good enough” the way we are. The fashion industry has turned human bodies into instruments of sex appeal. If you don’t look like what’s in vogue then you are not sexy ('good') enough. “But that’s okay,” whisper the fashion intelligentsia, “You can buy this and that product and these or those clothes and all will be okay. THEN you’ll be sexy enough.” In fashion, sexy has become an ambiguous word coined as a generic term for whatever is in season but even in the urban dictionary, users describe the term to mean: ‘the whole package, including that certain something you can’t put your finger on: it may include the persons attire, voice and attitude.’

The many variables that make up the fashion industry have a vested interest in making (and then keeping) people dissatisfied with themselves and feeling inadequate. Just imagine what would happen if everyone in the developed world realised that they were good enough, just the way they are. If we all woke up one morning and said “I’m pretty damn satisfied with the way I am.” … It would be conglomerate apocalypse! What most people come to realise, at some point in their lives, is that it’s all a big farce: physical appearances are not what matters. Not to mention the massive waste of time, money, energy and resources that go into creating, marketing, buying and applying the latest fashion must haves.

The clarion call for ‘sexy’ has been sounding for a long time, but it has been so perverted in recent years that conscious Gen Y’s and disenchanted Gen X’s are actively fighting back: ethical consumerism and realism are part of the new sexy. The ugly sides of the fashion industry (such as animal testing and the fur trade) are steadily being sidelined; the modern consumer does not want to be sexy at the expense of another creatures’ discomfort or life. Although non-photoshopped images are being demanded, and released, the doctoring continues and the “sex sells” mantra is still widely, if not solely, used in all aspects of the fashion and beauty machinery. ‘Sexy’ should not be a commodity. What is the point of having millions of people thinking that a select group of individuals (and only those individuals) are the epitome of sexy? The vast majority of their fan base is never going to meet them, even less engage with them on any meaningful level. ‘Sexy’ is part of what keeps a species growing; sexy, is all about having sex. What good does it do you if the person you desire not only does not know you exist but is never going to? Being a geek and having a crush on one of the most popular kids at school is one thing; you actually have a chance, you are at least in the same locality. Having a crush, sometimes to the point of obsession, on a famous person (living or dead (eek)!) is entirely fruitless. They will never know you exist, much less reciprocate your feelings - especially the dead ones. You’re setting yourself up for loneliness, and potential partners up for failure.

The number of social media sights dedicated to hook-ups speaks volumes of the desire to meet and sleep with ‘sexy’ people. Sex will, of course, always be extremely relevant, and as a society we are working on better communication between lovers as well as creating more, and better, user-friendly devices to bring the amazing benefits of a healthy sex-life to more and more people. That being said, the new wave of Gen Y is fast moving away from current attitudes of sex for the sake of sex. They are far more interested in socio-politic affairs than personal sexual gratification; the very existence of A-Sexual Awareness Day is a small hint to changing trends and what to expect in just a few years. Gen Y are looking for connections on a deeper level than the purely physical can provide.

But what of 'sexy'? What is it? True sexy is four fold: visual, chemical, ideological and emotional. On first attraction (which is usually visual and/or chemical) what we find sexy is what we perceive the other to be, and how much pleasure we think they will provide for us or that we think we can provide for them. In other words, it’s all about individual gratification. When and if secondary (ideological and emotional) attraction comes into play the desires become about us. And that’s when the sexy really hots up. It’s no longer about the singular. It’s about what we can do together to create something great. Whether that’s in the bedroom, at a protest or in a boardroom, when you work together to achieve a common goal, and you reach it, the euphoria released by a climax that has been achieved by connected parties is the most sexy thing you will ever experience.

The only known formula for individual sexiness is being true to who you are: you know that feeling when you’re happy and float on top of the world? When you are oozing confidence and aren’t even thinking of whether or not you are ‘sexy’ – that is when you are at your most sexy. And if you need some help turning it on, you can always try “breathing through your genitals” as they say in the theatre...!


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Socially unacceptable conversations

"You shouldn't be talking about those sorts of things in front of Charlie, Rachel!"

I am often told that I shouldn't be talking about "those sorts of things" sometimes it's because really they don't want me talking about it all, and at others, as in this instance, it's because of a gender difference. I was talking to two female colleagues and one male colleague about a new self-love device that tracks the reactions of the individual user and then adapts and makes suggestions based on the data that it collects during arousal. A female colleague came into the room, quickly gauged what the conversation was about and immediately condemned it because there was a man participating in it. My reply to this (as it always is) was: "It is precisely because he has different bits that it is so necessary to have him included in the conversation! If the opposite sexes talked more about sexual pleasure and shared more information with each other there would be a lot less confusion around." 

Why is it that talking about the most natural part of being a human is so frowned on in so-called "polite" conversation? We all think about sex, if not all the time at least a great deal of the time. We all play with ourselves, some more than others, some with societal guilt attached, some with social stigma attached - for a large sector of society masturbation is not just a dirty word, it is also a dirty deed. Why? I mean, okay, so depending on how you like your syllables to roll off your tongue it's possibly not the prettiest of words, but it's definitely a beautiful thing to do. Beautiful not only for how it makes you feel in the moment but also for how it makes you feel the next day and the day after and the day after... The more often you do it the better you feel, the less stressed out you are by day to day life, the more irrelevant that office crush is, the more casual you can be about asking out the cutie at the local coffee shop, and, much more importantly: you will have better sex. If you know your body and know what you like and when and how, in all your different moods and times of the day, the better you will be able to communicate those needs and desires to your sexual partners.

Relationships are all about communication. Your relation with your genitals is a very deep conversation that not enough of us are having in a truly meaningful way. Going to your room or the bathroom to knock out a quick one is only half the conversation. Sometimes a quick she-bop is definitely what the doctor ordered, but too much dynamic masturbating can lead to all sorts of physical as well as mental blocks and injuries. You need to balance out the fast and furious with a bit of the slow and gentle, to really feel into what you are doing with your body and how it is stimulating your mind and where it is telling you to go next to get to that all important orgasm. If you don't feel comfortable doing that 'thing' that your body is screaming out for you to do, then you're not going to feel comfortable asking your partner to do it either and both your body and mind suffer for the lack of fulfilment in that area. All for want of a tiny, but loaded, and often overlooked question: "What do you like?" it's not a hard question to ask, really. What makes it hard in our society is the perceived judgement that we attach to our answers. That is the key. The answers are what freaks us out, not the question. The question is simple. The answers are anything but. One woman might need clitoral, vaginal and anal stimulation to have a really good time, another might need gentle (or firm) choking to reach climax, still others might only need vaginal stimulation but their partner might have to be dressed as a fire-fighter. There are so many, many ways to turn a woman on. Not just because there are so many women and our sexual wiring is always unique and individual to us, but also because each woman is different every day, at any given point during her cycle different stresses and hormones will trigger different sexual needs. If we don't know how to use our own bodies or how to ask our partners for what we want, we are not going to have as fulfilling a sex life as we are capable of. If we can't have these conversations with ourselves or with our friends (regardless of the sex or sexual orientation of those friends) how can we explore these intimate topics fully and comfortably?

I'm so sick of being told that I shouldn't discuss these things with my guy friends, with my married friends, with my teenage friends, with my friends mothers or fathers, with my friends who are mothers and fathers, with my friends who are grandmothers or grandfathers - there is such a wealth of information to be tapped amongst all those groups of people, so much information sharing that can be used and handed out to everyone else. I have girl friends who have been sexually active for decades and have never climaxed, I have guy friends who have just started on their sexual journeys and are trying to figure out how they can keep it in check to last a bit longer with their partners, I have friends of both sexes who are completely disinterested in sex, and also friends of both sexes who find that they've got to a state where they can no longer find any mental relief or let-go when their bodies are ready to orgasm and so the orgasm leaves them feeling empty and unfulfilled rather than on cloud nine like it did when they began their sexual journeys. At some point we've all had that one amazing night or nights (mine was two years ago: seven times in 15 minutes, and before that it was six times in 40 minutes) and we've all had those really shitty nights where it was boring, stale or just plain hurt - and we didn't come. With all our cumulative knowledge and experience we can answer all our friends queries, we can give advice based on proven results, we can help that friend climax for the first time, last a few minutes longer, find interest or satisfaction in sex again, or for the first time. Sex is great! We all know that sex is great. Usually when we find something amazing we try and share it with our friends - our favourite restaurant, perfume, clothes shop, hair stylist - when we find something good we share the knowledge so that more people can benefit from it. Let's bring sex into that category of sharing. It's by far and away the best thing on that list of good things when it's done right.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

That Nasty Little Voice

"Do you have a voice in your head?"
"What sort of voice?"
"I don't know, just a... a voice. That says stuff..."
"What sort of stuff?"
"Just silly stuff, like 'you're not good enough' that sort of stuff."
"No. I don't have one of those."
"Do you have one of those voices?"
"You're lucky not to have one of them."
"I said, do you have one of those voices?"
"I suppose so."
"What do you mean, 'I suppose so' ? What does that mean? Either you do, or you don't. Do you?"
"Well, yes, if you want to put it like that, then I do."
"What does it say to you?"
"That I'm not good enough."
"You said that already. What else does it say?"
"... that nobody likes me..."
"Who does it sounds like? The voice. Is it your voice?"
"I think so."
"You're so tiresome. Either it is or it isn't. Is it your voice?"
"Obviously it's my voice! Whose else would it be? It is in my head, remember."
"Well I don't know do I. It could be your mothers voice."
"Why would my mother say I wasn't good enough?"
"Why would you say you weren't good enough?"
"I don't know. That's why I asked if you had a voice in your head."
"I suppose I do have a voice in my head."
"What do you mean you 'suppose' - either you do or you don't. Do you?"
"Well, yes. I do. But not one like the one in your head."
"What do you mean? What's your voice like?"
"It tells me to eat things that I don't want to."
"You can't blame being greedy on voices in your head. That's not fair."
"I am NOT greedy!"
"You ARE! You ate all the sweets that my mother made, for me, and you ate them."
"But that's exactly what I mean. I didn't want to eat them. I knew I shouldn't. But the voice egged me on..."
"How did it egg you on?"
"It just said how nice they were, and how good they'd feel in my mouth and before I knew it they were all gone. I am sorry."
"That's all right. I'm glad you ate them as it goes. My voice just tells me I'm too fat and it laughs at me when I eat, especially sweets, so I'm glad you ate them."
"Your voice sounds horrid!"
"It is horrid."
"What do you say to it?"
"What do you say to it? You must say something to it? Mustn't you? You don't just let it say all those horrible things do you?"
"You DO! You just LET it say that you're fat and that no body likes you!? Why?"
"What can I say? I mean, it's in my head, it's me isn't it? I can't tell myself off!"
"Of course you can!"
"Try it! Next time that horrid voice says anything nasty to you, tell it to, tell it to... tell it to Fuck Off!"