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Concept Introduction: Bisexuality and Beyond

31 Oct

In this blog post, I hope to introduce some terminology to describe sexualities beyond heterosexual and homosexual. If I miss a term you have heard or identify with, or define something slightly differently than how you may view it, please comment with your opinions, and add your voice to the conversation!

Bisexuality: Kinsey was one of the first few researchers to suggest that sexualities beyond homosexual and heterosexual may exist, with his development of the Kinsey Scale. According to this scale, people may be anywhere from entirely attracted to one gender or another, to attracted by certain degrees to different genders. Some people suggest that bisexuality is only true bisexuality if somebody is equally attracted to both genders. Others contest the use of the term bisexual, because the prefix bi- indicates a gender binary, and is only inclusive of male-identified and female-identified persons and attractions.

Pansexual/Omnisexual/Polysexual: These three terms are frequently used interchangeably to mean similar ideas. Pansexuals often reject the gender binary, opening their romantic and sexual attraction to individuals of all gender identities and expressions. A pansexual individual may root their attractions in qualities other than gender and genitals. For example, as a pansexual, I may say, “I am attracted to kindhearted, long haired, nontraditional individuals that enjoy cooking, are curious and adventurous, and are avid communicators.” These qualities exist outside of gender.

PoMosexual: This label is short for Post Modernist Sexuality. It springs from a kind of rebellion against community labels that come with a set of expectations of dress, behavior, or attraction. It is essentially a label that rejects labels, embracing a sexual orientation and identity that is dynamic, fluid, and evolving. This suggests that the qualities and gender identities somebody is attracted to may shift and change throughout life stages, and labels are not inclusive of the diversity of romantic and sexual attraction people may feel throughout their lives.

Heteroflexible/Homoflexible: This term may be used to refer to people who are primarily attracted to one gender, but find a partner or partners of the other gender that they are attracted to romantically, and/or for specific sex acts. This may be a general relationship kind of attraction, or only exist in certain contexts.

Despite over 50 years of social discourse about the possibility of individuals identifying as something other than heterosexual or homosexual, it still remains a contested identity in many circles. Bisexual individuals may be viewed as closet homosexuals reluctant to give up hetero privilege, heterosexuals experimenting for fun or to attract a lover of the opposite sex, confused, greedy, or over-sexed. Media representations of bisexual individuals often feed these stereotypes.

I would like to challenge tendency to develop labels and stereotypes that trap and constrain. I think, especially within the queer community, it is important that we are able to celebrate all experiences of sexual and romantic attraction and affection, and not discount any group for failing to stringently adhere to one definition or another. Individuals should not need to put their identity on trial every time they experience attraction outside of the label society has come to accept for them, nor should ones past attractions dictate the future of their romantic endeavors.

Women in Voluntary Sex Work: Review, Perspectives, and Implications for Practice

17 Oct

This is a rather long, intensive, academically written paper from early in my graduate studies on different perspectives in sex work, from several feminist perspectives, as well as implications for social work practice. I am putting it up here (even though it’s more dry and paper-ey than blog-ey) because I think it offers a good introduction to the  topic, and some of you may find it interesting. I, myself, am a giant geek, and love reading and writing these kinds of things- I will trust that some other giant geeks are following the blog! 🙂  Here is an outline of sections, so you can know what you’re in for before diving in:

  • A Brief History of Modern Prostitution 1900 – Present
  • Structures of Modern Sex Work
  • Outdoor Sex Work
  • Indoor Sex Work
  • Perspectives on Sex Work (this is where all the juicy stuff on sexism, racism, and arguments about sex work within the world of feminism is hiding)
  • Implications for Social Work

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Polyamory: an introduction, kind of

7 Oct

Trying to encapsulate the entire world of non-monogamous relationship options in a single blog post is akin to trying to read all of six parts of Tolstoy’s War and Peace overnight. It’s impossible. For now, I’d like to introduce some terms and concepts that may pop up throughout this blog. This is by no means a comprehensive guidebook, but should give you at least a quick idea of what’s going on when we talk poly! Once more, mileage will vary: you may find different uses of these terms out in the world.

For a more thorough how-to on polyamory, I highly recommend The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. A great online resource for many things poly is Franklin’s Polyamory FAQ.

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BDSM: An introduction to some kinky ideas and terminology

4 Oct

Credentials and a disclaimer: A wonderful professor at the University of Michigan pulls me in once a semester to talk about this stuff. My information is coming from the collected resources of many years of study and community involvement, conversations and events, and personal observation. That being said, milage will vary. Every kinkster experiences and adapts the rules of kink to their own tastes and needs. Do not take this as kinky law, just as my interpretation of the culture!

The following is a review of some basic terms and concepts used within the BDSM community. For a list of more comprehensive resources, I highly recommend Clarisse Thorn’s BDSM Resource List

Kink is usually used as an umbrella term that encompasses the worlds of BDSM and fetish. We will spend more time in future posts going into greater depth about what all of these terms mean, but for now, a brief definition of each follows.

  • BDSM stands for Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/submission, and Sado-/Masochism,
  • Bondage/Discipline encompasses the physical elements of kink, including restraints and sensation play.
  • Dominance/submission encompasses the emotional and psychological elements of kink, including role play and consensual power exchange.
  •  Sado/masochism refers to the roles of one who takes pleasure in giving a physical sensation (or sadist), and one who takes pleasure in receiving physical sensation (or masochist).
  • Fetish refers to the sexualization of a not-usually-sexualized object, such as an article of clothing or object. In the world of psychology, having a fetish as a condition is when a patient cannot become sexually aroused without the presence of the fetish object; however, in the world of kink, the term fetish is used to describe any object people may find sexy.

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