SEXtalk: Pornography and the couple

 

After the nomadic podcast, here is the sexological podcast.

Ever wondered about pornography, and whether or not it’s good for you?

We have your answers.

Find Lissa at @Lissa Godin

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Dandelions, building a home and the power of speaking French: An Interview with Marion Coppleston

My interview with Marion is a beautiful twin to my interview with Laura, not only because I met both of them while staying in Marion’s home. Like Laura, Marion bought land in the Canadian Maritimes and built an off-grid home on it. And also like Laura, Marion traveled solo as a young woman, including in hitchhiking in Europe. Only Marion was doing it all a few decades earlier. In this interview she also speaks about how studying french and teaching industrial arts lead her to these adventures, as well as her involvement in choirs and PEI’s Earth Day Expo and Dandelion Festival.

 

 

Rebecca

How to step outside of your comfort zone – 3 Key lessons from my real Yes Man experiment

How to step outside of your comfort zone

3 Key lessons from my real Yes Man Experiment

yes! graffiti wall

 

Each year, I choose a new experiment to live my life by. Can you imagine completely giving up control and saying ‘Yes’ to every opportunity that comes your way, regardless of the consequences?

 

Lesson 1 – The Universe constantly provides opportunities

 

…But we are too stuck in our own routines to notice. Take a moment to imagine that you have just given a gift to your friend. To your shock, they act disinterested, or ungrateful or, worse, it causes them to worry even more than usual. Would you want to ever give them another gift again?

 

How about if, when you imagine the same scene, they receive your gift with warmth instead? They marvel at it, and watching them take time to fully enjoy the experience brings a smile to your face. The art of giving becomes a gift in itself. You can’t wait to do it again.

 

Opportunity is allocated in exactly the same way. How do you receive the opportunities that life gifts to you? Do you seize them with joy, or do you begin a debate? Do you exhaustively weigh up the pros and cons, whilst considering each potential outcome and, on occasion, talk yourself out of making a decision at all?

 

Yes Man releases you from this internal conflict because there is only one possible answer. You can be free to fully immerse yourself in the experience. You become aware that opportunity surrounds you. You let go of your need to constantly control the outcome. After all, the consequence is no longer linked to your personal decision or choice. You just enjoy the ride. With this approach, you will be rewarded with more gifts than ever before.

 

Lesson 2 – The Earth is your training ground

 

As you begin to pay attention to the opportunities gifted to you, you will begin to develop a natural curiosity. What does this ‘yes’ mean? Will it have a positive outcome? If not, why did this happen to me? What is it trying to teach me?  

 

The mysterious nature of the universe will become obvious. You will be provided with all of the resources, people and lessons that you might need to guide you along the path of becoming the person you were meant to be.

 

I lay on the sofa, facing upwards, looking at the ceiling. The dog felt my pain and tried to lick my feet, to heal me. I couldn’t risk the infection. Second-degree burns blazed across the soles of my feet following a firewalk. I searched for a meaning as to why I was in this position. Why I had been left my most vulnerable, reliant on another human to lift me naked into the bath and help me use the toilet? I would still try to be independent. In the hour and half, it would take me to walk the 8 minutes to the grocery store, I had time to stop and chat to homeless people. I would choose to feel blessed, and feel abundant, and ensure to provide to make sure that they had a warm bed to sleep in that night. I vowed to myself that when I was able to walk again I would treat my health as a priority, as without that we are incapacitated in many areas of life. I would later trek 2-3 hours per day as I felt so lucky to have my legs back.

 

Your inability to control the outcome, or feel that you can control the outcome, will place a demand on you to trust the process. Everything is unfolding exactly as it’s meant to be, exactly when it’s meant to be. You will frequently find yourself in the right moment, at exactly the right time. I would find myself running into old friends in bizarre locations, such as walking through the back streets of residential Bangkok. On these occasions, I would hang on every word the person said – trying to understand what I was supposed to learn from this chance occurrence.

 

I became alive and switched on. This high level of presence improved my memory and I was able to make people feel more special as I learned to truly listen to them.

 

Lesson 3 – New possibilities can change the direction or focus of your life

 

Letting your fears rule your path is a sure way to miss out on life. If you ask me now what my deepest fear is, I’m most afraid to never have truly lived.

 

My YesMan experiment somehow led to me becoming a location independent digital nomad. I write this, sitting in Florence. It had always been a dream of mine to live in Italy, and this is truly one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. I also became deeply contribution driven which inspired me to start a social network in North Thailand, designed to be a platform to showcase the most talented members.

 

I learned to open my mind, and as I was forced out of my comfort zone, I was led to my soulmates. During this experimental year, I met the two loves of my life. If I had met them in any other moment, there’s no way that I would have let them anywhere near to my heart. One because he was my opposite. He embodies Chaos, while I was Law & Order. It turns out that he is my perfect balance. He is wonderfully creative, an artist, and completely covered in tattoos and piercings. The other was practicing an open relationship, which I’d never heard of at the time. He showed me what it means to be a powerful, feminine force as we became the best versions of ourselves in each other’s company. Thanks to this experiment, this is the most loved I’ve ever felt.

 

About the Author

Serena Rach is a British entrepreneur and Chiang Mai’s #1 Events host, who founded the widely popular Digital Nomad networking group – CNX Social. Experienced in course creation, Serena built the newly designed product for IGotAnOffer: McKinsey PST & Case Interview Preparation, downloaded by 20,000 students from over 180 countries. Serena is the host of the Course Creators Conference 2019.

Orgasms: How we need to stop conflating the gender axis with the gender cause.

What is gender? In this article we will treat of mainstream gendered matrix, as well as heterosexual encounters.

Many authors define it differently. a materialist definition proposes that gender is a set of socially dictated norms that place two binary poles in asymetric opposition to one another. These poles, masculine and feminine, represent classes or groups that an individual can belong to.
Now, there can be other genders, these binary walls can be broken, and subverted. But the maisntream discourse (hegemionic discourse) proposes the model we’ve just exposed.

This model creates a system which values the masculine over the feminine and is iterated through institutions, discursive practices and identity formation.
We can round this up to patriarchy.

The word. We know it. It has a ring to it that is nearly ominous.

It is, in a sense, ominous. Patriarchy is the source of immense suffering, multiplied by billions of people to different degrees. Wherever you are on the spectrum, you are part of that system.
This is a key information to keep in mind.
This also means that the needs it creates are important, and sometimes necessitate shortcuts. One of those shortcuts is identity politics.
We round up people under an umbrella term that doesn’t completely represent them in order to be able to gain momentum to push some aspect of their rights forward that may have been infringed on.

Women fall under that category. The concept of woman is a controversial one in feminist circles for good reason. Even if a materialist approach recognizes that the category has social weight, it does not mean that all people falling under that umbrella experience being a woman the same way, face the same struggles, or even consider the term to have the same meaning.
This is a great example of linguistic shortcut that has a political aim, and understands its intrinsic contradictions. The benefits seem to outweigh the costs depending on the context.
Other linguistic shortcuts are used often to carry a similar momentum.
The ends justify the means, and we accept that the shortcomings of such shortcuts are a necessary ill to fight an uphill battle.

The problem is that knowledge also gets disseminated this way.
People who had the intention of carrying a complex message through a simple memetic package had that complexity in their mind and stayed careful when they were asked to formulate their thoughts in more detail.
But this is not what gets disseminated the most. Television interviews, soundbites, memes, quotes do not allow for such a complexity.
And since most of the accessible knowledge is that simple (simple ideas carry faster, easilier and reproduce more than complex ones), we end up with many proponents of that simple idea who take it at face value as opposed to the careful flawed reduction that it is.

This is where our orgasm comes in.

I read an article recently that proposed that even though a man could focus on a woman’s pleasure, it may still be testimony of his sexism.
https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/focusing-on-her-pleasure/
The idea has political appeal.
Real life appeal too. We’ve all had that encounter with the sleazy creep who proposes to give you orgasms, when really, what he’s saying is that he wants to have sex and wants to bait you into it by thinking that orgasm is an obvious tradeoff, with no actual intention or capacity to follow through on it.
It’s usually more of a way to impose his sexual prowess than a true desire to be selfless.
But at the same time, the simple profession of such a desire isn’t in iteself problematic.

The article basically states that men want to offer orgasms to feel rewarded. And this may very well be entranched in gendered scripts about male sexual prowess. But that’s the thing. That’s a filter.
Everyone feels that way about partner pleasure.
The question of reciprocity may be influenced by gendered scripts, but it is still a concern for men and women in heterosexual encounters.
We all want our partners to feel sexually pleased, and it’s not all out of selfless love.
We want to feel validated because sexuality is a very vulnerable time, and we seek any reassurance that comes our way. We also seek to have the encounter again, possibly. What better way to make sure that you’ll have sex again than doing it well enough that it’s enjoyable to the other partner. This does not mean we should feel pressured into faking orgasms, but we also shoudln’t demonize people for wanting to feel validated.

 

This is where I think it’s important to draw an important distinction that isn’t made often enough.
People cannot be equated to their place in a system, or to how the system affects them.
We are fundamentally more similar than we are different, and the differences that exist do not have to dictate our actions.
Furthermore, participation in the system is relatively mandatory, lest you feel ready to actively fight it.
We can’t blame people born in a system for partaking in it unconsciously.
We can seek to change that system, and we can try to let people see what they are doing so they become more conscious.
But demonizong people over it is a shortcut that doesn’t help us see what can truly be done about a situation.
For instance, considering the urge to feel validated into giving orgasms is fundamentally sexist, and thus makes the person doing it sexist too, is missing the point of the human experience.

It’s a useful template to motivate someone to possibly change their ways, but it certainly doesn’t tell them how to change, since the urge is human to begin with.
We already know that there is an orgasm gap between cis men and women. Women have less orgasms on average than men ( roughly 60% for heterosexual women against roughly 85% for heterosexual men).
Striving to change the gendered scripts may change how men view orgasms and promote better reasons for them to recirpocate. But it won’t change the fact that people care about pleasure reciprocity, and that caring about it isn’t a selfless desire.
Asking people to be anything but human isn’t realistic, and it’s not helping. This means that we need to stop conflating the gender axis, which provides filters of signification, and gender as a cause.

On this note, some women get the orgasm they desire and that’s just wholesome: http://hystericalliterature.com/

sources:
Garcia, J. R., Lloyd, E. A., Wallen, K., & Fisher, H. E. (2014). Variation in orgasm occurrence by sexual orientation in a sample of US singles. The journal of sexual medicine, 11(11), 2645-2652.
Frith, H. (2013). Labouring on orgasms: embodiment, efficiency, entitlement and obligations in heterosex. Culture, health & sexuality, 15(4), 494-510.
https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/focusing-on-her-pleasure/

The Science Genius Myth, or the importance of supportive spaces

My own success would not have been possible without my fantastic mentors, most of whom have been men,” says theoretical physicist Tracy Slayter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She encourages male colleagues to speak up when women are treated or discussed in ways they disagree with. “Your voice has power, in part because of your gender,” she says.

We also need to shake off the idea that physics is a place for the lone genius, says Ágnes Mócsy, at the Pratt Institute in New York.

This quote, taken from an article in the New Scientist could have been a direct quote from my life. I started my career in science with the aim of deconstructing deeply helfd beliefs about myself and my place in the world. During this process, I was faced with challenges upon challenges, most of which were due to a crucial lack of support. This lack of support was both abused and heightened by the specific circumstances of academic surroundings.

Let’s start at the beginning. I am a humanities graduate. You would think that a humanities program would be shielded from the sexism and biases that are rampant in more stemy fields. You’d be wrong. Sexism isn’t only perpetuated by men. Sexism is institutional, and perpetuated by everyone. Everyone, in a sense, stands to gain from partaking in the system in place. It’s game theory 101. If the game has rules, you probably have easier gains by following the winning strategy than by breaking the game so that your group as a whole may benefit.

It follows that women, men, students, teachers will often play the game in a way that benefits them personally rather than the group to which they belong, regardless of where that group happens to fall when the strategies are applied. So you find that, even in female dominated fields, women will possibly be worse off than men because the strategy that they use is one that allows the system to be maintained.

 

How science is widely believed to be the field of geniuses

Now, let’s talk about science for a little bit. We see science in society as a field meant only for a select few. Most of us don’t really understand how it works, and if someone labels themself as scientist, and god forbid gives us numbers behind their assessments, we tend to take them at their words, as though a gospel from the mouth of the science God. It follows that we consider the people who call themselves scientists like we would consider wizards. Mysterious creatures with powers beyond the comprehensible. And since most people don’t really understand science (and who can blame them, since it is a heavily guarded knoweldge source: aka a gate that needs gatekeeping), they wrongly assume that the magic resides as an intrinsic quality of the scientist, or more precisely, their intelligence. This is a known bias called the fundamental attribution error.  This bias makes us believe that we can judge a person’s character based on contextual data. This makes us believe that only intelligence wizards can be scientists.

But the silly truth is that science isn’t some gift a few people have. Intelligence really helps, and there’s no denying it. : The average IQ for scientists is as follows.
Social scientists: 121.8
Agricultural scientists: 121.6
Mathematicians, biochemists, and chemists: 130.0
Biologists: 126.1
Medicine: 127.0
Physicists: 127.7

Source: http://www.religjournal.com/pdf/ijrr10001.pdf

As you can see, The average IQ is still way beyond the average of the population. Ranging from 121 to 132, we are skirting the gifted line. So there is a fire to this smoke.

But you don’t have to be a genius either. According to Charlton (2009), creativity and intelligence are being somewhat weeded out by grueling normative processes and politics.

Source: Charlton, B. G. (2009). Why are modern scientists so dull? How science selects for perseverance and sociability at the expense of intelligence and creativity.

And this is the crux of our article. First of all, Science is a process. A method. It requires industriousness and the capacity to care about details. A good scientist is one that can spend a long time doing the same thing over and over again to make a bsolutely certain that the results shown are representative, as well as the method is applied properly.  This shapes the way you think.
This is why a GREAT scientist is one that is likely to be very high in openness and creativity, but those two are not very compatible with a rigid system. And so very creative and open scientists may be pushed aside, because they are less easy to constrain in a given normative process. The people scoring high in creativity and openness are also usually correlated with a psychotic nature, and a low agreeability. This does not help with politics.

So let’s once and for all put to rest the idea that science is for geniuses. Being a genius can help, but also hinder your path as a scientist. You’ll have a better time being an average industrious person in that type of work.

How women are consistently pushed down

Now, we’ve seen that agreeableness is valued in sciences as well as industriousness, and those traits are associated on average with women. However, we’ve also seen that higher intelligence and creativity is linked with lower agreeableness.  So More intelligent women are also more likely to score low on agreeableness. However , it is expected of women that they be higher in agreeableness. That’s a sort of stereotype. Now, what happens when women break the stereotype associated to them? Women will be judged more harshly when they derrogate to the stereotype associated to them, as shown by  Heilman, and  Parks-Stamm, in 2007. 

Source: Madeline E. Heilman, Elizabeth J. Parks-Stamm, (2007), Gender Stereotypes in the Workplace: Obstacles to Women’s Career Progress, in Shelley J. Correll (ed.) Social Psychology of Gender (Advances in Group Processes, Volume 24) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.47 – 77

Men and women will thus not be judged the same if they are being less agreeable. This defacto puts women at a disadvantage when intelligence is on the same level.

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Now, how about when they are higher on the agreeableness scales?
Other factors come into play.
The system in which academics evolve is still one steeped in the myths of the genius and other sexist myths.
Women need to have higher achievements than men to access similar positionsThey are often subject to sexual harrassment from their superior, or even by people who are not their superiors.They are perceived as being less capable than their male counterparts. 

The general athmosphere of the scientific fields is that for the most part, women are still not welcome.

How we fail to support one another in necessary spaces

We are at the point where it is difficult to be as a woman in the scientific fields. Add to this the fact that sciences are heavily competitive. Departments and chairs fight for funding, because there is little to go around. But this way to think about the field is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we consider that the best way to assign limited resources is to fight for the said resources, we come to a system of competition. Professors find proteges, departments play cut-throat politics, students become wary of one another. This is partly why people who are high in agreeableness tend to do well in depeartments. Playing the politics will allow you to easily have an edge over the competition. This does not, however, entail that you will seek to help your colleagues. And it is often the case that we don’t. Isolation is a real problem in academics. You spend long hours working on your projects, trying to think, reading. Most of what you do is in your head, and it cannot be a constant collaboration. Adding to that the burden of learning, or teaching while you’re in school or a professor.

But we don’t seem to do much about this isolation. Sure, there are some associations, and there are some events. Some help IS there. But it’s certainly not systemic, and it clearly isn’t benefiting most people. This shows that we fail at supporting each other. In certain fields, there are less than 30% of women, who fight their way against all odds.

  • Among STEM graduates aged 25 to 34, women accounted for 59% of those in science and technology programs, but accounted for 23% of those who graduated from engineering and 30% of those who graduated from mathematics and computer science programs.

source: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2013001/article/11874-eng.htm

There are very few of us,  and we could support one another. So what’s happening?

Some people take advantage of the isolation, and this isolation makes many women fall off the scientific wagon, specifically in stem fields.

How science is an intrinsically collaborative process, and by that fact an intrinsically feminine process

We mentioned it earlier, the scientific field pushes academics to be competitive. Having an edge will ensure more funding, and a better career. We are status driven animals. Having your name as first author on an article can do wonders for your resume.
But science is a method that doesn’t just build on nothing. Every piece of data that you wish to add rests on countless bricks laid by previous scientists, and even perhaps your peers.

Creativity is believed to be the domain of geniuses (as explored earlier). But not all authors agree on this topic.
Steven Johnson wrote a wonderful book about creativity. Where Good Ideas Come From. 

He looked at the environmental factors that surround innovation, and he found that ideas actually stem from a large overlap of data and paradigms. When people share information, and process it in collaboration, the best work comes forward. He even found that the best ideas came from scientific lab meetings, as opposed to when working on your own.
Ideas do not materialize from thin air. They come from a long mulling process and an eventual effervescence based on collaborative knowledge building.
He also found that women tended to collaborate at these meetings in ways that allowed for more creativity, tending to see the possibles of a new idea, as opposed to shooting down any novelty to pursue known areas.

Women are socialised to be social. Science is intrinsically a social endeavour. We should be better at supporting and fostering one another to produce better innovation and science.  Making those spaces and giving them importance is key to finding a better space in academia.

On Shaming in the polyamorous community

I’m so done with poly-shaming:
“If you love someone you’re not possessive. True love is not the desire to possess”…

I come accross this sort of comment on facebook group dedicated to help and support new members of the community, as a response to cries for help. It happens too often.

Polyamory is nowhere near mainstream yet. Which means people are raised (for the most part) in a society that only promotes one type of love, one type of relationships, and idealises it until it is all you can see, all you desire.
Success, in your mind, is the capacity to fulfill that ideal, and it will feel good when you do.

But humans are also programmed to respond to other types of stimuli, and being surrounded with all types of love, many relationships can also feel very very good.
For many long-term practicioners of Polyamory, it can feel so wonderful and fulfilling.

The missing gap here is that it takes a crazy amount of work.

you will probably have to break yourself over and over to reform what you considered to be ideals.

You will have to break what you thought was love, and what you thought was self-love.

It takes time, it takes hurting, it takes learning.

The process is sometimes a dirty one, but you can come out on top, and discover emotions you never thought you could feel.
And you can also fall off the wagon, because relationships are also messy, and people are not perfect, and we hurt one another even if we don’t always want to.

Some people become quite good at transitioning, and feeling compersion for one another.
Others were much luckier.

They seemed born this way.
Whatever happened, they never had a problem having compersion, and letting go of other people.

And that’s truly wonderful.

But then they fail to have compersion for other people outside of their polycules. They judge harshly people who struggle to find these burgeonning emotions in themselves, and  get carried away in the difficult path. Fall off the wagon.

For a community who prones compassion and compersion, what a disconnect! What judgement!

I came accross the comment up top, one morning:

“If you love someone you’re not possessive. True love is not the desire to possess”…

That’s not the full comment, i don’t want to put it exactly as it was, because I wish for this person to remain anonymous. They’re not the point, and I don’t wish them harm. I just want to fuel a reflection on the topic.

TRUE Love  … There is no “true” love. There are people, connections, past, traumas, memories, moments.

Neurological reactions

Two people do not live the same thing, even in a relationship. What is more, it is possible to live many emotions at the same time, including Compersion and jealousy.We are not monolithic, and we can have fears desires, which are not rational.

To want to possess someone is to want to respond to insecurities, and it is natural. We may want to work on it, try to refrain from guiding the life of the other  because of our own insecurities, to grow, but that does not make the emotion as such “bad”. And that certainly does not invalidate any love there may be.

There must be no confusion between abusive relationships which are indeed ONLY based on the desire to possess, and which consider that they are entitled to, with  relationships that have as one component among others: the desire to possess.

This kind of judgment is not positive, and it makes it difficult for those who are new to communicate these feelings. It also makes their progress more difficult if they aim to diminish this kind of possessiveness. One does not improve if one has to be made invisible and repress difficult feelings because the host community tends to be recalcitrant towards the less experienced members. It’s pure and simple shaming.

It’s ableism, and it considers that neurotypicals (or a specific ideal of them) are the desirable norm.
I am more and more disappointed with marginal communities I come accross who simply reproduce mainstream oppressive structure, with their name tag on top.

[Edit: someone pointed out that I am not clearly enough laying out how ableism is at play. Here is a bit of the answer.

Ableism is at play here in that it promotes a view of the possibles and expected from everybody, based on a normative and ultimately impossible ideal of mental health.

It shames people for not living up to it without flaws.

It also assumes that the work to put in to repress possessiveness requires the same energy for everybody, and demonises those who struggle to maintain this level of energy.

This does not minimize in any way the emotional labor being put in by people who are neuroatypical. In fact, it is a recognition of that work and of its great cost.]

Be better, accept flaws and novelty.
Accept failures and attemps.
Accept pain and difficulty.
Use the compassion you so often preach.

Mahault