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Galen Fous’ #MySexPositivity

You may never imagine how unconscious symbols, fantasies and archetypal personas inhabit and drive your sexual desires until you open your mind to this unique sex positive approach to understanding the many depths of erotic expression. Pychotherapist and fetish sex researcher, Galen Fous, believes we are in a new era of human sexuality in which more people than ever before are discovering their sexual uniqueness in spite of cultural shame. He is weary of a trend in some sex positive circles that values only clinical, so-called objective science of sex, thus dismissing the emotional depths of erotica and fetish. The beautiful metaphors he invokes are worth a read.

1) Identify one or two trends, or influential people in the Sex Positive community that you identify with (or are inspired by) and those trends which you relate to not-so-much.

Galen profile picAfter centuries of repression, fear, persecution, misinformation and denial, Eros is showing up all around the world in a way that is unprecedented in the history of civilization. The “normal” range of human sexual expression and desire has shifted profoundly. Millions of people across the globe have already crossed the threshold of previous cultural, moral and spiritual norms for acceptable sexual behavior. Millions more stand at the threshold, eagerly peering in.

New tribes are finding each other to participate in, express and explore every range of kinky perversity imaginable, while others seek to connect with a spiritual path of ecstatic consciousness, centered in a sense of divine regard, achieved by channeling their sexual “energy” through the nervous system.

These early-adapters, and there are tens of millions of you currently, are exploring the wilderness of Eros that has been taboo, forbidden, inappropriate and off-limits to the general population of every age since the rise of “civilization“ and organized religion.

Human sexuality is like a gold mine, buried deep within us, that culture, religion, morality, superstition, law and fear has kept secret. Thanks to the Internet, the secret treasure is gushing out of the depths in a volcanic torrent, stoked by the millions of humans digging for and finding the gold within their Eros.

Eros is finally being embraced and recognized as an integral aspect of the human psyche. It is a vast territory, largely unmapped, but rich and alluring in the promise of great sex. While the allure is an irresistible, lusty come-on, it is just the gateway to the depths that are now known to be available. These new pathways have brought about conscious practices that allow you to be in integrity with your values and agreements while being true and authentic in who you are erotically…no matter how dark or perverse, or as light and spiritual you might seek to be.

This new era of Eros offers us the opportunity to: communicate honestly and openly with our partners about our most taboo desires; safely, authentically express, embody and engage our darkest erotic edges; heal the inevitable psychological wounds of sexual repression and shame our cultures embed in us; learn techniques to be more fully present, aware, embodied, enlivened, connected, intimate, and cultivate Eros as a personally sacred experience; develop tolerance and give support and encouragement to those on other sexual paths; and learn to integrate being liberated sexual creatures into our everyday cultural, family and spiritual life.

In other words, the opportunity to live our lives as if our sexuality is normal!!

There are many other researchers, educators and therapists I would like to mention that promote tolerance and sex-positive views that support each person to find their own shame-free truth, sexual and otherwise. But I will limit it to two here:

Stanley Siegel has devoted over 40 years to sex-positive views as a therapist and author. He has recently started Psychology Tomorrow magazine that offers insights and analysis of many current emerging aspect of sexuality.

Another is personal coach and writer Pamela Madsen, author of Shameless:How I Ditched the Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure…Pamela works primarily with women to resolve deep shame around their bodies and sexuality, and embrace their authentic desire from an empowered place.

A trend I find disturbing is people seeking to find safe ground for the mystery and complexity of their erotic desire within the standard socially acceptable frameworks such as scientific, clinical and evidence based theories. On the whole at this point, these tend to remove or dismiss much too much of our human, emotional, embodied erotic experience. I am concerned people will miss out on the mythic ecstatic depths offered by experiencing their own epic erotic psyches and personas, by only focusing on or acknowledging what can be stated within the parameters of the “science or brain chemistry behind this or that”, or the “evolutionary survival rationale” as the reason for all manner of sexual variation, or a “recent clinical study” shows that…”!

This “Science of Sex” approach, in my judgment, may keep us in a heady, rational experience and removes the mythic potency from the soul of our experience. These approaches mask or discount the depths of emotional intimacy, trust and connection that are occurring, the personally meaningful primal mythic journeys that are taken, and overlooks the profound somatic/ecstatic depths of the human erotic experience.

2) How do you define “sex positivity” for yourself and your work? In other words, what is your primary passion and how do you distinguish your writings and interests from other branches of thought within the sex positive movement?

GALEN-Eros-is-finally-being-embraced-Quote

Eros, the god of love

I feel “sex-positive” means to be supportive and tolerant of sexual diversity and to be committed to discover, embrace, and cultivate one’s own personal sexual identity.

My focus within the sex-positive realm as a psychotherapist and sex-researcher is on what I call Fetishsexuality.

A Fetishsexual is a person driven to orgasm or other deep erotic states through their innate, inherent, life-long desire for a particular range of kink, fetish, Dominance, submission, sadism, masochism or other alternative erotic expressions. Just as gays and lesbians are a distinct sexual identity considered to make up 8-10% of the gene pool (Kinsey, 1948), I believe Fetishsexuals are a distinct sexual identity making up a similar or higher percentage  of the gene pool. This is an unverified rough guess extrapolating from my anecdotal review of internet search term data found on sites like porhub.com and similar sources. The PEM survey is a preliminary work that I hope may initiate future scientific studies about Fetishsexuality.

I believe Fetishsexuality operates through both conscious and unconscious aspects of the personal and collective psyche. In this regard, it is my experience that someone with Fetishsexual identity also has what I define as a Personal Erotic Myth (PEM) that is engaged, from within the unconscious, when they become sexually aroused.

A PEM contains the fantasy imagery, storylines, mythic personas, props, attire, dialogue and actions that drive a person who has a PEM to orgasm or other deep erotic states. This mythos is often expressed in Fetish, Kink, and D/s-BDSM oriented sex, where symbol, myth and archetypal personifications abound.

Some people are quite aware of their PEM. For others it is still buried in the unconscious but shows up in private masturbatory reveries or brief moments in the rush right before orgasm, within sexual engagement with a partner. Many may have caught glimpses of their PEM, or more, engaged it secretly, even well before puberty. In a recent survey, I conducted with over 600 anonymous respondents drawn from a sex-positive and alternative population; nearly 60% stated that they had begun having distinct sexual fantasies before 10 years of age. Furthermore, 40% stated they were already masturbating to their fantasies by 10 years of age. Over 70% self-identified as believing that their sexuality was driven by their PEM.

Some may also have multiple PEMs that ebb and flow in their sex life. For many others, it is still an unconscious but compelling force, just below acknowledged awareness, that drives their sexual desire. This is the aspect of their Eros that they may not have looked at nor engaged in consciously; however, during sex, in the moments right before orgasm, their authentic erotic persona, or “sex creature” as I sometimes think of it, can flood into the body in wild, fierce gestures, accompanied by profane, blasphemous invectives—sound-bytes from their PEM.

My ongoing statistical research project on the nature of Fetishsexuality, the “Discover Your Personal Erotic Myth Survey” has broken new ground in developing a theoretical and therapeutic psychological model in this emerging aspect of Eros. This initial glimpse into the nature and depth of peoples’ Fetish, Kink and D/s-BDSM desires, their origins, and what resists their desires has been illuminating. My mission is to expand and deepen this initial research. You can learn more about participating in the completely anonymous online survey here.

From my work with clients and groups over the last 13 years, I have developed The 5 Keys for Fetishsexuals to consciously engage their darkest edge and find fulfillment in sex, life and relationships. These are: Sexual AuthenticitySexual Honesty, Sexual Empowerment, Sexual Shadow and Paradox. An in-depth definition of these and other aspect of integrating your fetishsexual desires into your everyday life can be found on my site.

3) What directions do you think sex positivity will take within the next 5 – 10 years? Or what topics and with what platforms would you like to see sex positivity develop more thoroughly within the next 5 – 10 years?

I believe the full range of sexuality is heading mainstream. The next few generations will gradually feel the effects of the diminishment of sex-negative attitudes and the expansion of sex-positive attitudes. Hopefully this will make it easier for people to find, embrace and embody their sexual authenticity in a conscious way.

The biggest obstacles will be to shift embedded institutional psychological and moral models of human sexuality. Key areas are in the academic education of undergrad and grad level psychologists and therapists, and in the actual revamping of the psychological and therapeutic models themselves. These are currently well behind the curve of understanding the panorama of sexuality being lived by people in the current era, and will not serve those in the future.

Opinions shared are the author’s own. Want to participate in this interview series? What is your sex positivity?

Kickstart Slut: A Documentary Film

The grassroots-funded documentary film, Slut, all began with middle school diary entries shared on Tumblr.

I had teachers not only laugh when I was called a “slut” or a “whore”, but also had teachers join in. I also had a teacher hit on me because of my “title.” The worst experience was when a kid would grope me every day in class, and my teacher would yell at me for yelling at him or smacking him. The teacher who hit on me has been since fired, but the rest are still teaching there. – Anonymous, The UnSlut Project (cross-posted with permission).

As we’ve discussed elsewhere, intersections of sexual education and storytelling can be powerful. Story opens the imagination. It draws connections between people and deepens understanding of ourselves and each other. The UnSlut Project shows that story can unsilence the ill-effects that certain tropes and attitudes have on us all.

The “slut” experience shared above is one of hundreds by girls and women submitted to the UnSlut Project. This collaborative space of story sharing and support (see their community advice page) all started by co-founder Emily Lindin posting on Tumblr her very personal diary entries of being sexually bullied as the middle school skank. The response has been enormous and now hundreds of girls and women have voiced their own experiences of sexual bullying that, in some cases, have led to isolation, depression, cutting, and suicide attempts. Read the stories for yourself.

 

Image from their Kickstarter Campaign

Image from their Kickstarter Campaign

There are many entries like the one above that testify to the extent to which slut-shaming permeates our school systems and communities. It is not simply lack of sex education in public schools (although this is a very important aspect to consider in debates about what constitutes “comprehensive” sex ed). Teachers, counselors, parents, and peers are all implicated.

It leads to a few important questions: Who in North America hasn’t been exposed to slut shame? How much does the “skanky” stereotype influence the way we censor and manage our own desires and sexuality? How are our schools (and sex education curricula) complacent and, in many cases, actively supporting sexist values and behaviors?

These are questions that Slut: A Documentary Film will explore. Emily Lindin and Jessica Caimi want to convey to a wider public how normalized sexual bullying is in our schools, communities and media, and what we can all do to eradicate it. They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the filmmaking. During the next 11 days (as of writing) people are having an ongoing discussion about the film production and what voices should be featured in Slut.

Consider supporting this cause to raise public awareness. Maybe you have an experience with slut shaming to share, as well.

http://www.unslutproject.com/

http://www.unslutproject.com/

OKAMOTO Beyond Seven Condom Size Chart

Beyond Seven Condoms. Image from UndercoverCondoms.com

Beyond Seven Condoms. Image from UndercoverCondoms.com

Beyond Seven is the fourth largest condom brand in the world and has been around since 1937 starting in Tokyo, Japan.  Standard latex condoms are typically .007 inches thick- but the “Sheerlon” latex of Beyond Seven can measure as thin as .004 thickness, offering one of the thinnest condoms (if not the thinnest!) on the market.  These condoms tend to have a standard width of 2.0 inches (measuring the condom laying flat) and to be on the slightly shorter side of standard regular condoms (see our guide on standardized condom sizes).  These condoms are perfect if you prefer a snug and thin fit.  The best thing to do is experiment with different styles to find the right condom for you. Afflitate links within.

For a comparative search of condom sizes, try our Condom Size Calculator. Quick Tip! To find the condom width that fits, divide penis circumference by 2.25. Here is how we got this formula.

Beyond Seven Ultra Thin

Classical shape, straight walled condom made of Sheerlon latex
Base width: 2.0”/51mm
Length: 7.2”/180mm

Beyond Seven Aloe Enriched

4X more lubricant than standard condoms with natural aloe extract for lasting smoothness
Base width: 2.0”/51mm
Length: 7.2”/180mm

Beyond Seven Crown

Super thin latex makes this a very popular condom
Larger than other Beyond7 products
Classic straight shape
Base width: 2.1”/51mm
Length: 7.5”/190mm

.004 beyond sevenBeyond Seven .004

Zero Zero Four measures the success this condom trumps as being the thinnest condom on the market!  Where standard latext condoms are .007, Beyond7 is .004 thickness.
Base width: 2.0”/51mm
Length: 7.2”/180mm

Beyond Seven Studded

The thinnest condom makers also offer studded condoms for those who love extra stimulation.
Studded along the shaft
Base width: 2.0”/51mm
Length: 7.2”/180mm

Beyond Seven Assorted Pack

Perfect those who want to try all that’s offered from Beyond Seven.  This sampler contains 24 condoms including Ultra Thins, Crown, Crown .004, Aloe Enriched, Studded, and Assorted Colors.

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If you are experiencing specific condom fitting problems, check out our fitting solutions guide.  Or you can leave a comment below and we’ll help you out.

Our size charts constantly updated, so please join our FacebookTwitter or RSS feed to keep informed.

Watch Your Mouth! Protecting yourself during oral sex

oral sex protection tipsWe’ve received requests for more info about condoms that are made specifically for oral sex, as well as other safer oral sex methods.  Indeed, the know-how in this area is not as wide known as it should be.  People are less likely to protect themselves during oral sex…even among those cautious sexers who use condoms consistently.  Perhaps this is because some do not consider oral sex to be “real sex” and thus think it’s less risky.  But the fact is that oral sex is sex (some prefer it to genital sex) and many diseases and infections you can catch or transmit through intercourse you can also get through oral sex, regardless of whether you swallow or not.  As one of our readers pointed out, HPV (the most common STI in the USA today) is often transmitted during oral sex (these are some good sources for more info on HPV: HPV AwakeningScarleteen, SEX,etc.).  So in this post we go through safer oral sex practices and how to find the right method for yourself.

To reduce the risk of STIs, you can use latex or non-latex barriers.  For fellatio (oral sex with penis) use a condom.  For cunnilingus and analingus use dental dams, latex or nitrile gloves, or plastic wrap (but remember, not the microwaveable wrap!).

Fellatio and Condoms Options

A condom for safe oral sex can be perfectly satisfying should the right condom be used according to your tastes and needs.  First of all, do not use condoms or lubricants made with spermicide, such as nonoxynol-9 which can numb your tongue.  And do not use any condoms designed to “extend” male performance, such as Trojan’s Extended Pleasure, as these are made with not-so-tasty benzocaine that will leave an unpleasant sensation in your mouth.  Choose condoms that are water-based (most condoms are) or choose a non-lubricated condom.

For those who do not like the taste of latex or have a latex allergy, there are many non-latex options on the market made of polyisoprene or polyurethane (lambskin does not protect against STIs so do not use them for oral sex!).  These non-latex condoms are virtually odorless and tasteless.  However, most non-latex are difficult to buy in stores or pharmacies; but online stocks are varied and plenty.

Flavored condoms or lubricants are also a good option.  You can buy multipacks to determine your favorite flavor and there are usually small sample packs of lube available at sex-shops.  But be sure to use a lubricant that is compatible with the condom material- oil-based lubes cannot be used with latex or polyisoprene.  There are also flavored gel strips, like Masque, which simply dissolves on your tongue like a candy and the flavor lasts for up to 15 minutes.

Dental Dames and Barriers

If you are giving or receiving oral sex from mouth to vulva (outside of vagina) or mouth to anus there are various barrier methods to protect from STIs: Dental dams or making your own barrier from condoms, gloves, or plastic wrap.

A dental dam is a thin rectangle-shaped sheet used for cunnilingus or analingus to protect against sexually transmitted infections during oral sex.  Like condoms, dental dams are typically made with latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene.  There are flavored dams, colored dams, dams that you hold in place, and non-slip no-hold dams. Unfortunately, dental dams are not as readily accessible in pharmacies and retail stores.  This is part of an all too common and dangerous oversight in safe sex inventory.  Often female safe sex products or non-penetrative sex products are placed secondary to condoms and are not as easily accessible.  This is another advantage to shopping online.  Sexual health clinics, such as Planned Parenthood also supply dental dams.

If you and/or your partner are concerned that oral sex will not feel as amazing with a protective barrier, take some advise from Heather Corinna at Scarleteen.com, and put a few drops (not too many!) of lubricant on the genitals of the receiver before putting on the barrier.  This will keep the material from sticking and will increase sensitivity and sensation immensely.

Check out this pamphlet for more information about STIs and diseases that the dental dam protects against.

If you find dental dams too tricky to get a hold of or not the right material/shape for you, you should try making a barrier just for you or your partner using a condom or glove.

These are some excellent sources for step-by-step instructions on how to make a dental dam from condoms or gloves: YouShouldKnow.caSTD.about.com, PAMF.org.

Hopefully this information will help you receive and perform safer oral sex. If you have any further questions or even some extra tips / experiences to share then please leave a comment below.

Trojan Condoms: Profile Summary

Trojan Condom, Her PleasureTrojan (at least in North America) is to condoms as Kleenex is to tissues.  It’s original manufacturer, Young’s Rubber Company, was the first to develop the latex condom in 1920 and has had a monopoly in drugstores ever since.  According to market research firm, SymphonyIRI Group, in 2010, Trojan took 70% of the US condom market bringing in about $270 million annually.

Trojan’s Magnum line offers some of the largest of the crop, both long by wide.  Their Magnum XL is 8.1in/206mm length and 2.3in/55.88mm width (Durex XXL is 9.5in/241mm).  The rule of thumb: If you measure greater than 5.2in/132mm in girth, than Magnum condoms may be best for you.  If your girth is greater than 5.8in/147mm you might consider Magnum XL.

View Trojan Condom Size Chart

Best Condom:

Among their 27 condoms variations we found Trojan Supra with the highest rating by numerous independent sources, such as Slate Mag (2005), Undercover Condoms, CondomUSA, and Condom Jungle.  This condom is not made of latex, but of microsheer polyurethane, which bills it as “ultra thin” (not to be confused with Trojan’s Ultra Thin latex version).  One major draw back: the Supra is only available with Nonoxynol-9, a spermicidal chemical.

Trojan Extended Pleasure is also popularly rated by the same sources.  It contains a special lubricant (benzocaine, a common anesthetic) that is very effective in preventing early ejaculation.  Personally, I found this condom to be unreliable and messy.  Here is my review from a few years ago. If you do try this condom, be careful not to spill the large glob of lubricant that sits at the tip.  It tastes and smells funny.

Not so hot:

On the flip side of Trojan’s dominance, Condom Depot’s annual condom awards reports Trojan condoms scoring low for four consecutive years.  Their reviews complain about a lack of sensitivity, dryness, and an overt latex smell.

Trojan Condoms Size Chart

This chart is updated continuously, but if you spot any inconsistencies or gaps, please let us know.

Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_(condoms)