Blogging As Business: An Update

I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m writing posts and editing them before I post them. It feels foreign. My usual way of things is to type posts in the editor box (which is what I’m doing now, old stomping ground) and hit publish without reading it first. I’m trying to be better.

Here are the general updates and whats whats:

  1. I’m moving my website from wordpress.com to wordpress.org which is turning out to be a giant pain in my ass. What I thought would be a simple move is now fairly convoluted. Trying to work full time, play with my cat, read my book club books, hang out with my friends, my boyfriend, and feed and shower myself on a regular basis has made this transitional process difficult. Especially considering I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s happening, and my estimated launch is sometime before the end of March. If I’m being realistic.
  2. In conjunction with this, I’ll be launching a Patreon account. That comes first. I’ll have special, patron-only content. Thrilling. Following that will be a short podcast launch (10 min, microcasts) and an online store. You’ll be able to buy fun things with feminist, sex-positive imagery on them. I’ll be looking for new partners in terms of affiliation, advertisements, book reviews, and more, so if you have some tips, send them my way.
  3. The plans I had intended for my blog (re: themed posts, more frequent posting, more educational posting) is all still in the mix, but has been delayed until the new website goes live. I’d rather focus on getting that going and making the content readable than dumping blogs on here haphazardly. You can catch up with me on twitter @suggestive in the mean time.

So, we’re in the upside down. It’s not quite a hiatus, but it is a bit of a holding pattern.

st

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Guest Post: Vulvodynia & Loving Your PC Muscle

As a woman in my early thirties, I have had quite a few humbling learning experiences with regards to my pelvic floor (men obviously also have a pelvis but what they know or don’t know about their anatomy is for another time). These experiences have turned me into a pelvic floor physical therapy pushing maniac and here is why.

With what I know now and with the benefit of hindsight, I realize I’ve always had a degree of PC muscle pain or discomfort (PC = pubococcygeus muscle: men and women have one. It’s like a hammock from your pubic bone to your coccyx that supports all your pelvic organ bits). I mean 10-year-old me would have no way to communicate the sensation, but I wasn’t really interacting with my pelvic floor enough to try. As a 20-something, I went through the ringer trying to figure it out because that’s when it became noticeable and eventually awful. I’d have sex and it would hurt. Even becoming aroused would hurt. After sex, my vulva would itch or sting and all of that fragile tissue would be puffy and sore. It sucked.
I went to the doctor and mentioned it. “Use more lube.” I’d have sex a time or two and the pain would be there, the soreness would be there, and I’d go back to that doctor or even try a new one. “Relax more. Use more lube.” Eventually, sex would mean lots of pain, misery and breathing through it. I’m a sexual person! I like sexy things! I had sex dreams about Ryan Seacrest for a week once. Around 28, I had a particularly painful sexual experience (not the sex itself, but the aftermath of the act) that seemed to set off this itchy/sore/inflamed torture that wouldn’t let up. I couldn’t sleep because of the itch, I couldn’t wear jeans because of the pressure, I couldn’t sit for long in the car or at work.
I won’t knock western medicine entirely because sign me up for modern science and the tools we have to fight so many terrible things, but damn is it a wasteland if you have an issue that takes serious thought. I was treated for yeast infections the doctor “couldn’t really see under the microscope”, I had an excruciating labial crease biopsy which led to a false diagnosis of a skin condition that required me to use a too-severe steroid until my skin was thinning, I had doctors tell me to wash my vulva with soap in case it was a bacterial issue (NEVER DO THAT. I knew enough that it’s a delicate, balanced flora system and refused). Finally someone told me to try and get in with an expert at OHSU. After 3 months, I was finally approved to see her. She said “yeah, you have none of those things, you have vulvodynia. Lots of women have it. So many that we don’t even know the numbers.” Your pelvic floor muscle is strong. If you start associating sex with pain, your muscles brace against it, smashing your nerves between the muscles and tissue. Eventually, they stay clenched and your nerves send pain or itch signals (they are actually almost the same signal). I had the choice of trying a drug – usually an anti-depressant because they have worked for chronic pain issues – or physical therapy. Botox is also an option, but I am granola enough to not want to take too many meds, so to PT I went.
Holy guacamole, yaguys. I went once a week for a month and the improvement was amazing. To have someone explain your pelvic floor to you and totally understand why it’s hurting is a religious experience. I spent my first three appointments sobbing. It’s not yeast, it’s your nerves being smashed together sending itch signals. It’s none of the STDs or skin conditions you’ve been told to look into. Your skin looks red and inflamed because your nerves are triggering a flush response. It’s just out of whack. Your PC muscles engage when you stand, reach and breathe. You have to ask yourself “where is my pelvic floor?” If it’s too high, relax and unclench it. UNCLENCH. I had to learn to breathe deeper and let my belly relax. I had to learn to do little pelvic muscle training exercises at home with lube and a finger. I had to lay on a table and have a lady massage muscles in my pelvic bowl and point out areas of tension. She’d start with one finger and we’d celebrate when she could use two. She’d ask me to imagine my pelvic floor as open, elastic, blooming, whatever you can think of to mind-over-matter this clenched, stressed space I was imagining. She would hand me a model of a pelvic bowl and show me the crevices that often pinch nerves or show me a poster of my clitoral tissue, explaining why your vagina might stay puffy after sex for a while. It was mind-blowing to see and hear all of this new information when I’ve had a vagina all of my life. Women push babies through these nerves and muscles and still aren’t fully educated on how this machine operates. 
I went to about ten PT appointments and haven’t been back in months. I still notice itching or soreness if I haven’t had sexual contact in a while, but it’s so much better. I’ve talked with gals who are going through the same struggle whether they are silently dealing with painful sex or trying yet another round of anti-fungal cream/pills. Learn from me and take control of your health. If the diagnosis or treatment doesn’t seem right or it’s not working, don’t give up. 
Have a question? Get an answer. Submit at www.suggestivetongue.com/ask or by email to ask@suggestivetongue.com
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Perhaps This Is A Confessional

I wrote this article (“just because its not your fault doesn’t mean its theirs“) about a month ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. I have been thinking very critically lately about how I impact other people, positively, and negatively. I’ve been thinking about how we all experiences the same situation differently. Based on our position. Based on our bias. Based on our emotional attachments.

I’ve come to the determination that we are all problematic. Soap box, me, standing, megaphone, I am problematic. 

It is a confessional because maybe it is long overdue.

I have had the tendency to be reactive. When someone tells me that I hurt them, it is too easy to say I did not mean to. 

When I say this, I silence the people that I have hurt.

I don’t suppose I’m talking about anything extraordinary or even anything specific. In middle school I broke up with my boyfriend over MSN because I was too much of a coward to do it in person. In high school someone asked me why I wasn’t returning their calls and I didn’t know how to respond so I just didn’t respond at all. I’m not known for being particularly quick-witted in person. Perhaps that’s why it’s taken this long to even notice my piece on the playing board.

I can see crystal clear the ways other people have hurt me. I could describe it to you in such emotional detail you would think that my mind had filled in details to make it more vibrant that it really was. Let’s not understate this, either. I have been hurt in equal and proportionate measure to the amount I have hurt.

But, perhaps, they are unable to see how they were problematic, too.

I don’t think I’m at all unique. We cannot literally crawl out of our skin and into the skin of someone else and feel the hurt that they feel in the exact same way they feel it. We can’t go back and act better. But can attempt to replace the vitriol or confusion we feel with some kind of understanding, or kindness.

Questions: www.suggestivetongue.com/ask : ask@suggestivetongue.com

 

 

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The Report 1.20.17

nothing guarantees an orgasm

When a list on the internet that ‘guarantees’ orgasm claims things like ‘sending a sexy text’, ‘trying doggy style’ or ‘alternating your tongue’s movements on a clitoris’ are all going to BLOW HER MIND…. it hurts the people that this won’t work for.

st says: Important and critical advice. If something doesn’t work for you, it does not mean you are broken. It just means that’s not your thing.

1 in 4 men have HPV infections

Overall, the study authors conclude that “male HPV vaccination may have a greater effect on HPV infection transmission and cancer prevention in men and women than previously estimated.”

st says: We talk a lot about the HPV vaccine for young girls but BOYS SHOULD GET IT TOO. Boys spread HPV to women and some HPV can cause cancer.

burton snowboard CEO pays women to attend march

Burton CEO Donna Carpenter, who will be attending Saturday’s event in Washington, is offering to cover two nights lodging and up to $250 airfare for anyone on her team who wishes to join her.

st says: more of this.

nipples without gender

Looking to desexualize the female nipple, many celebrities including Miley Cyrus and Rihanna, got on board with #FreeTheNipple, posting topless photos of themselves. The idea is that a breast is a secondary sex characteristic, not a sexual organ. There’s nothing inherently sexual about breasts, and it’s a double standard that it’s socially acceptable for men to go topless but not women.

st says: spend one day on a nude beach and you’ll be irritated you can’t go topless all the time, any time. #freethenipple

anais nin on reading

Some never awaken. They are like the people who go to sleep in the snow and never awaken. But I am not in danger because my home, my garden, my beautiful life do not lull me. I am aware of being in a beautiful prison, from which I can only escape by writing.

st: i love her. maybe you will too.

Have a question about sex, love, life? The unraveling of our political structure? The breakdown of our healthcare system and the uncertain times ahead? Submit at www.suggestivetongue.com/ask or email ask@suggestivetongue.com

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45: Coped and Coping

This morning I set my alarm for 9:15a to miss the bulk of the morning blubber. It feels violating. This person, in this position. I gave myself this one moment because I know for the next four years, we’re going to be wrapped in this madness. And as someone who dedicates this emotional energy to writing, I feel like these politics will  be part of what I take on. Knowing and understanding what is happening and being able to contextualize it within the rights of all people.

It’s now my goal to take every interaction I have and just have it better. Be more kind. Be more gracious. Be more compassionate. Be more understanding. Be more patient. Today I will be conscious and hold my head up high when I walk and make eye contact with people on the street. I will smile at them. I will engage with the people around me.

First I will write this, and second I will sit down with my journal and write in depth about what I feel around me. The not so subtle shift. How the sky is dark and wet and there is a buzzing in the air. This is the majority of Americans who said no. The protests looming. The advice to keep safe. The sound of sirens out the window. How so many people right now are afraid, and feel so sure, that basic rights like healthcare, gay rights, ability to control their own body, may be threatened or entirely removed in the coming hours, or days, or weeks, or months.

It would be a mistake to sit back and see what happens, hope for the best. I’m not placated by this idea that if he succeeds, America succeeds. We do not want whatever his Brand of success is.  America has already lost by putting him in power and any good that he does is not a symbol of who he is as a person or a human being. Bad people can do good things. This does not make them good people. It does not mean we should give them our best wishes. We can (both) hope America succeeds (and) be resistant of his place within the system that this happens.

If you’re marching today or tomorrow, be safe, and remember why you’re doing it. Then keep marching the day after, and the day after that.

xx st

 

update 11:50a

Everything pertaining to ACA and LGBTQ rights has been removed from the website.

The requested page “/the-record/health-care” could not be found.

The requested page “/lgbt” could not be found.

Want advice? Need resources? www.suggestivetongue.com/ask or ask@suggestivetongue.com.

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Drawing Your Relationships

The other day in therapy, my therapist pulled out a white board, and drew a little circular image. Then she told me to write names on it. It instantly transported me back to being in a waiting room as a child and seeing the pile of toys on the floor in the corner. This space is for me. I could have sat there with that white board all day. I suppose I am an interactive learner.

The image she drew started like this. Just a little dot to represent me, myself, I. Then each circle outwards represented how close I am to different people. I’ve create an example to share.

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Hello, this is me, a little dot! Wave to the little dot! Great.

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Here I am with my partner, the person closest to me.

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Level three, my close friends. On my actual chart I wrote out names. There likely aren’t more than 5 or so people in this circle.

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Now it gets a little harder. You can come up with your own categories. I started to notice people I was kind of close with, people I wanted to be closer to, and people I was not very close to (but maybe still saw pretty often.) Where I put the names surprised me. Some people I thought I was closer to ended up further out in the circle, and vice versa.

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Okay, zoom out. People who I enjoy seeing but I’m not close to at all. People I’ve met a few times. People I dated in high school, or old high school friends. One night stands. People I ghosted or people who ghosted on me. Ex-boyfriends (technically on the map, but completely disconnected from it.)

The issue I face is a fear of  escalation.

I fear that giving clear “I want to bring you in to a closer circle” signal would be misread as “I would like to be the very best friends with you.” This is in part due to previous issues with boundaries and communication skills, but also in part due to experiences with people who have high social energy. When I indicate “let’s spend more time together” it’s often read as “we have reached a new level of closeness.” Mix that with my interest in being liked and pleasing others, and it can be a dangerous combination. Navigating these social boundaries isn’t something that I had ever learned before, and as an introvert, it’s something I’ve always struggled with.

It was helpful to learn that you can bring people in to a closer circle without opening the door of escalation.

For a lot of people this is common sense.

You simply indicate what does or doesn’t make you feel comfortable. But if you’ve been around a lot of people who don’t like to have conversations about boundaries, you may have been burned once or twice before.

My goal is to learn to be kinder to myself and others by being honest.

I would like to see you, I would like to bring you closer, but this is all I have the space for.

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You might find it an introspective practice, too.

Have a question? Submit anonymously at www.suggestivetongue.com/ask or email ask@suggestivetongue.com.

 

 

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QOTD: All Men

“Until we can collectively acknowledge the damage patriarchy causes and the suffering it creates, we cannot address male pain. We cannot demand for men the right to be whole, to be givers and sustainers of life. Obviously some patriarchal men are reliable and even benevolent caretakers and providers, but still they are imprisoned by a system that undermines their mental health.”

bell hooks

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Relationship Tip: Pretend You’re Single

If you break up and she cuts her hair, man, it’s over. She’s moved on.

I was thinking about this idea the other day and how I personally have acted and re-acted after breakups. A breakup can be a rebirth. You realize all of the ways in which you had begun to stagnant. So you blow yourself up, and you regenerate into a slightly different, if not better version of yourself.

Traditional breakup advice includes: getting a new haircut, treating yourself to a self-care day, booking a spa appointment, getting your nails done, spending more time with your friends, learning new skills, taking classes, going back to school, devoting more time to your career, and thinking about what you want and need as a human being.

You know, things that you can only do when you’re single, in preparation for finding another, more well-suited life mate.

One thing that might stifle long term relationships is the idea that we can’t do these things any time we want. We become predictable and we become comfortable. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with either of these things. Being comfortable and feeling settled can be foundational parts of a long term relationship. Unless it prevents you from growing as a human being.

Growing separately and together with your partner can help strengthen a long term relationship. Isn’t that one of the most critical components of any long term relationship? Continuously falling in love with new and slightly different versions of your partner?

Adding a little spontaneity to the usual way of things can make you feel more empowered  (which in itself, is pretty sexy) but it can also remind you that a relationship isn’t a death sentence to your individuality. The same could be said for mothers – and fathers. Does having children mean that you have to stop growing and thriving as a person, or does it mean that you just might need to be a little more creative about how and when you make those changes?

Have a question? Submit at www.suggestivetongue.com/ask or email directly to ask@suggestivetongue.com. 

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Old Posts & Advice Columning

Hi Lo! Is there a way to search an old blog post in which you gave advice from years back? The post had given advice on facing/tackling school loan debt in response to an anonymous question. If so thanks so much in advance!

Thanks for asking! I removed the search feature a while back because I wanted to discourage reading old posts as much as possible. That’s because I’ve had my blog for over ten years, and in that span of time, my knowledge base and my opinions have both changed exponentially. So has the way that I write. Some of my older posts include language or advice that I would no longer recommend using. I’m happy to answer the same question over and over again because it allows me to include new tidbits that I’ve learned since I last answered the question.

I think this is the post you’re looking for.

This is a good opportunity to mention that I’ve re-opened email responses on my blog.

I would highly encourage people to continue submitting their questions and prompts to my web form. This allows me to share the response to your question publicly, so more people can benefit from the information. But, I know, sometimes a question might be especially personal. It might require a little back and forth. In these circumstances, please email me at ask@suggestivetongue.com. I’m also very happy to just have discussion with readers about subjects that they find difficult to understand.

xx st

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What does intersectionality mean?

You’ve probably heard the word intersectionality thrown around a lot lately. That’s because the concept of intersectionality is at the core of current feminist movements. Intersectionality is a way to pay reference to the fact that we all have many identities and those identities often intersect.

Imagine yourself having a conversation about women’s rights. You might be discussing how race plays a role. This would be the intersection of race and gender.

Examples of intersections are: race, class, gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, age, disability, and illness. Other forms of identity can also intersect.

I am a white woman. This is my intersection of race and gender. My experiences are unique to me because I am a white woman. They are not the same experiences that a black woman would have.

In addition, intersectionality forces us to think about privilege. The ways my identity intersects makes me very privileged. I do not have a physical disability. I am a women and people identify me as such which allows me to interact fairly easily in the world (albeit there is still sexism, assault, inequality, etc.)

It is important to understand intersectionality because it reminds us to be conscious of how different people have different experiences.  We cannot assume that when we fight for “feminism” or “women’s rights” that we are fighting for what all women want or need. We have to have inclusive conversations and make sure everyone has a voice. In my case, this means listening more than I speak, educating myself on issues that other intersections go through (what does it mean to be homeless? what does it mean to be blind? what does it mean to be gay? what does it mean to be black in America?) so I can think more openly about where I fit in this world.

Another way to think about intersectionality is by imagining yourself looking through a camera. Point your camera at something in the distance. You are seeing this thing through your lens. Your lens is, in this moment, fixed. You see everything in this world with the bias of your identity. I see the world through the lens of a white woman. Now add a filter to your lens of “gay” or “black” or “non-english speaking” and see how different the world looks to you now. How do these new filters challenge how you interact with the world? How does it change your privilege? What is available or unavailable to you in these different intersections?

We can’t truly ever understand how other people think or feel because we cannot crawl into their shoes and walk around as them. We can, however, better understand how we are privileged and how others are not. This can make us more compassionate, allow us to better see how systematic injustices play out, and allow us to expand feminist issues to be more inclusive.

Have a question? Submit anonymously at www.suggestivetongue.com/ask and I’ll post it on my blog. Prefer a private response? Email your questions to ask@suggestivetongue.com. 

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