Category Archives: Personal Stories

Ack! I’m Sick!

Hey everyone, I apologize for not updating at all in the past few days.  I caught some sort of stomach bug from Fiance’s little sister, and have been feverish and nauseated for several days now.

I am so glad that Fiance made me get out of bed early on Saturday morning so that I could attend the SF Slutwalk.  You see, I’ve been feeling some pretty serious internet burnout for a few weeks now, and it seemed like every time I found something to write about, it was an issue that made me angry.  It is exhausting to be angry for hours every day.  I had reached a point where I dreaded sitting down with my laptop, because I knew that by the end of my posts, I would be emotionally exhausted.

SF Slutwalk rejuvenated me.  It made me realize that I needed to get back to doing more sex-positive stuff in general, not just finding something to be angry about.  Hopefully in the next few days, I will have the energy to go through the 350 pictures I took at Slutwalk (thank you, to those of you who let me take your picture!), and post a write up.  For now, I would like to say thank you to the organizers and attendees for giving me some much-needed encouragement.

I’d also like to say thank you to Fiance, for helping me create a schedule and to find topics that still fall under sex-positivity, but won’t leave me feeling disgusted with the world.

I’d also like to thank you, dear readers.  I’ll still be posting on feminist issues here, but I’m going to re-focus on sex-positive information, including reviews on toys, books, and yes, even some pornography.  Thanks for sticking with me.  I hope you’ll enjoy the new content.

Street Harassment: Ladies Just Can’t Win

If you’re a fan of Nice Girls on Facebook (and if you’re not, then you should definitely go click “like” right now!), then you’ve probably already seen this post I shared yesterday.  Trigger warning: there’s an account of a pretty verbally violent situation.

A friend of mine had shared it, and I got pretty angry at the conversation in the comments on her page.  I had never been witness to such oblivious “mansplaining” in my life.   I’d like my readers’ thoughts on this conversation (names have been intentionally omitted): Read the rest of this entry

My First Planned Parenthood Experience: Part 4

Today’s post is super short, and for that I apologize.  I am actually pretty sick (complete with fever and headache), so this is really all I have energy to write today.

 

I received a final phone call from my doctor at Planned Parenthood.  The results of my culposcopy have come back, and it looks like there is absolutely nothing for me to worry about.  I don’t have any growths, and they actually couldn’t find any abnormal cells.  While I do have to go back for another pap smear next year, it certainly seems like my body has shed most of the HPV that I was exposed to.  I’m pretty happy about that.

This Is Why

I would like to start this post by saying that I am floored by the amount of attention my post on Monday received.  I would like to thank my followers on Twitter, the communities on Reddit (though I have mixed feelings about being so popular on the Men’s Rights subreddit), Nixie’s Revision 3 and YouTube followers, Y-Combinator, Rikki Endsley, Leslie Hawthorn, Laura Czajkowski, GeekFeminism.org, Linux Magazine and especially Felicia Day (I fangirled a little, seeing that) for sharing my post and contributing their thoughts. [Edit: Rikki Endsley has posted a fabulous follow-up blog.  You can find it here.] Read the rest of this entry

The Dark Side of Geek Feminism

I would like to start this post by apologizing to my regular readers for the spotty posts over the past month or so.  I received a couple of comments that really took the wind out of my sails with their vicious and incredibly personal attacks.  That, combined with some health issues, left me feeling slightly depressed and lacking the necessary motivation to write.  I promise that this won’t happen again, dear readers. There were a few bright and shining moments during this period, not the least of which was Boyfriend’s proposal.  He’ll be referred to as Fiance from now until our wedding, which we are planning for next summer. Read the rest of this entry

My First Planned Parenthood Experience: Part 2

You can find Part 1 of my Planned Parenthood Experience here.  I was nervous when I woke up on the morning of my appointment.  Bleary-eyed, I put on clothes, kissed the still sleeping Boyfriend goodbye, and headed to the car.

I entered the office and checked myself in with the front desk.  After filling out some information regarding my current sexual activity, my income, and my sexual health history, I handed the clipboard in and watched Say Anything as I waited.

There was a group of three young women behind me, and they were discussing birth control options as they too were waiting to be seen.  My ears perked up when one of them mentioned that she was considering getting an IUD.  As readers of this blog are fully aware, I am a HUGE fan of IUDs, and I took the opportunity to share my experiences with it, and some of the awesome statistics.

After a short period of time, I was called into the back room, and had a chat with one of the attending nurses.  She explained that, due to my symptoms and the length of time since my last pap smear, I was going to have a full pelvic exam and a full STI screening.  She also explained that the state of California has an awesome program to help people with limited income to receive sexual health care for free, and even with my new job, I qualified.

The STI screening started right there in that tiny office with a prick of my middle finger.  This particular test was to screen if I had been exposed to HIV, and amazingly, I would have the results of that test by the end of my appointment.  I was blown away by this fantastic advance in HIV screening.

I went into the exam room after giving a urine sample, undressed my lower half, and waited again.  When the doctor came in, she was very communicative and explained everything before she started examining me.  She took three samples from my cervix, examined the positioning of my IUD (still in place!), and checked that my uterus and ovaries were not swollen.  Before she moved her hands, placed the speculum, or swabbed, she was sure to tell me exactly what she was about to do.  This definitely put my mind at ease, and kept me from jumping or starting when anything changed.

When she was done, she took one of the samples to their in-house lab, and checked it all out.  Apparently, I had a bacterial infection that may have been the cause of the bleeding, and she handed me a prescription antibiotic.  Then she told me that Planned Parenthood would call me if any of the other STI tests came back positive, but only if they were positive.

Unfortunately, I did receive one of those calls.  My pap smear came back with some abnormalities.  At some point in the past 10 years, I was exposed to HPV.  The tiny sample that was taken was not enough to determine if I have one of the more benign forms, or if it is one of the types that can lead to cervical cancer.  So, I have yet another appointment set to get some biopsies done.

I’ll have a post up on Wednesday, discussing HPV.  I’ve gotten to know my STI a lot better since the diagnosis.

My First Planned Parenthood Experience: Part 1

I have been a supporter of Planned Parenthood for a long time now. I give donations whenever I can, and I firmly believe in their mission of providing affordable reproductive health care to men and women. I often send emails to my representatives through the Planned Parenthood website when a particular piece of legislation is brought to my attention.

I went to an actual Planned Parenthood office for the first time last week.

I have been experiencing some unusual bleeding that is outside of my normal menstruation cycle. I’ve never experienced something like this before. I haven’t changed my birth control, and both Boyfriend and I have been sexually monogamous for a year and a half. That ruled out several options that could have been the reason behind the bleeding. I turned to WebMD’s symptom checker, and well, this was pretty much my experience:

Although I have a new job, I don’t have health insurance through the job yet. I had been pretty alarmed about this for a couple of days, and I knew that I needed to see a doctor. I had two options:

In San Francisco and most of the Bay Area, we have a free program for people who are uninsured. It’s called Healthy SF, and you can sign up for it at any time. It’s a sliding scale insurance that is available to anyone who lives or works in San Francisco. I ruled out Healthy SF because so many people use it that the clinics are often overrun. I figured that I would be triaged to the lowest priority, and I would probably not be seen at all for weeks.

Then there’s Planned Parenthood. I almost walked right by the office, even though I was looking for it. I walked inside, and was asked to fill out a small form explaining why I was there and disclosing my income. I had a conversation with the nurse, and I now have an appointment for Thursday this week.

I witnessed a man come in, and he was asking a lot of questions of the nurse at the window next to mine. She was giving answers as quickly as he was firing them at her. He was clearly concerned about his partner’s health, and he was trying to understand options for birth control.

This is just part of why I support Planned Parenthood. Informed and compassionate care available for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or ability to pay.

As soon as I have a little extra income, you can bet that I’ll start donating to Planned Parenthood on a regular basis again. If you would like to help provide reproductive health care, you can donate at this link.

Don’t Cover it Up

Take a moment and watch the video embedded above.  Go ahead.  I’ll be right here when you’re done. Read the rest of this entry

I am Coming Out

As I discussed in Friday’s post, I attended the OpenSF Conference here in San Francisco this last weekend.  It was a fantastic conference, and the organizer, Pepper Mint, did an astounding job.  I attended sessions and workshops, all dealing with different types of non-monogamy and the struggles that non-monogamists experience.  I learned so much that my head is still spinning.

Tristan Taormino did the keynote speech on Sunday morning.  She disclosed some very personal stories, and brought the audience to tears multiple times.  One story, about three men who live in a “triad”, and are in relationships with one another was particularly poignant, and as she spoke about one man’s mother finally reaching acceptance with their non-monogamy, I witnessed several people sobbing.  They want their families to accept their relationships too.

I have been a fan of Tristan’s for quite some time, and I have enormous amounts of respect and admiration for the work she does.  Near the end of her keynote speech, Tristan issued a call to action.  She spoke about privilege, and how important it is for someone who appears “normal” to everyday mainstream society to give back to the marginalized communities they identify with by coming out publicly as a member of that community.

Our lives, the way we live them, open possibilities for people around us. We are role models, whether we like it or not. Our silence will keep us where we are. Telling the truth about our values, our chosen families, will shift the dialogue, will create change.   – Tristan Taormino

I am certainly a privileged person.  I am white.  I am a cisgendered woman.  I have attended college.  I live in a city that is defined by its acceptance of everyone.  I am not in danger of losing a job, my boyfriend, or my friends by speaking about my experiences and who I am, though I do remain both nervous and terrified of my family’s reaction.

I have been the direct beneficiary of the bravery of so many other people in the marginalized communities I identify with, and yet I have refused to speak publicly about my membership in these communities.  So, as I take a deep breath, I am going to come out to you all.  Right now.

COME OUT!

Closets Are Not For Living In

I am kinky.  I enjoy BDSM style sex, with spanking, restraints, blindfolds, collars, whips, paddles, corsets, and addressing my partner as “Sir” when we are engaging in this sort of play, either in public or in private.  I find it all very exciting, and it is part of who I am.  With the encouragement and love of the BDSM community, especially the staff and owners of Wicked Grounds, I have been able to express these desires in clear terms and fulfill them with partners.  I am a happier and healthier person for it.  I am kinky.

I have experienced an open relationship.  During my year of singlehood, I dated a married man, with his wife’s explicit permission.  It was, in many ways, the healthiest and most supportive relationship I had in that time.  I never experienced jealousy of the relationship between Thomas* and Diana*, on the contrary, I knew precisely where I stood with both of them.  The liberation from wondering about the future of the relationship allowed me to enjoy our dates fully, and engage in a friendship with both Thomas and Diana that remains to this day.  I am still in awe of the love, respect, communication, and nurturing that are the cornerstone of their relationship.

Thomas and Diana have been married and involved in BDSM for years, but they both prefer the dominant role, and they chose to open their relationship to accommodate their desires that their spouse couldn’t entirely fulfill.  Thomas was the first person that I explored BDSM with, and I cannot imagine a better person to help me fulfill all the desires I had kept suppressed for years.  He was kind, patient, and encouraging, and I cherish my memories of that time.  I am so completely content with my experience that I have recommended Diana as a potential first BDSM partner to one of my closest friends.  As a personal note to Thomas and Diana: Thank you so much for giving me permission to write about our shared experience, and encouraging me to do so.  I was moved to tears at your acceptance of my request, and your continued excitement and support in my personal journey.  You are amazing allies and friends.

My boyfriend and I are considering non-monogamy.  At the time of writing this post, we are still unsure what that non-monogamy will look like, but the OpenSF conference has given us the tools, the language, and the support of a community as we explore this space.  Our relationship and interpersonal communication has already improved dramatically.  I promise to update my readers as we continue the negotiations, and will discuss the different styles of non-monogamy in another post.

I have answered Tristan’s call to action, and I am now issuing one of my own.  It is so incredibly important that those of us who have the privilege of appearing mainstream to publicly proclaim our membership to the marginalized, demonized, and ostracized communities who have given us so much.  Showing to the world that “normal” people are a part of these communities, that members aren’t some scary nebulous “other”, will pave the way for acceptance.  Stop hiding in a closet and being ashamed of who you are.  Come out.  Our world will be brighter when you do.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

 

Thanks for your support!

Forget “I Hollaback”. I Call the Police.

As I was walking home yesterday afternoon from the Carnivale street fair, I witnessed street harassment. Four men were standing on the sidewalk, and one of these men approached a girl who had been in the parade earlier that day. She was still wearing her feathered, spangled, and slightly revealing costume.

I qualify that as “slightly revealing” because, quite frankly, a bathing suit in the same style would have been appropriate for a family get together at a pool. I also mention this, because “look what she was wearing” is often the defense for harassment and even for sexual assault and rape. Her costume was appropriate to the occasion, but even she had been walking down the street naked, attire is no excuse for harassment.

The man that approached her practically stood in front of her as he was asking her if she had a Facebook account. She ignored him, stepped around him, and kept walking. He grew angry, and started yelling at her that she was racist for not talking to him.

I also grew angry. Why on Earth should she be obligated to talk to him? She didn’t know him, and he was acting aggressively towards her. He clearly felt that by walking down the street, she somehow owed him some attention. Her outfit was not an invitation to talk to her.

While this is not the most aggressive example of street harassment that I’ve seen, and I’ve certainly been the focus of more aggressive street harassment, it still infuriates me. Women do not walk down the street in order to entertain whomever is watching. We do it to go to work, to get groceries, go to the bank, go to the gym, hang out with friends, go out to eat, watch a newly released movie, etc.

Street harassment has been a hot topic of late, and with movements like “I Hollaback”, women are trying to combat this problem with social pressures, and public advertising of the faces and locations of men who have harassed a woman on the street. But this isn’t enough.

So, what can we do? We can start causing even more of a ruckus, and force the local legislature and keepers of the peace to sit up and take notice of the fact that women are made to feel unsafe every day, while going about our normal lives. This won’t be an easy campaign. As discussed in Cynthia Grant Bowman’s article “Street Harassment and the Informal Ghettoization of Women”, published in Volume 106:517 of the Harvard Law Review, there should be a twofold campaign against street harassment, both in civil litigation and in municipal law.

For those of us who live in an urban environment, more often than not, there are cameras that can see us on the street. There are police officers that patrol the streets. If you are harassed on the street, look around for a camera, and call the police if you can find one. The camera footage is an impartial third party observer to the harassment. Then, accuse your harasser of an intentional infliction of emotional distress to the police officer and say that you want to press charges. Make sure the officer knows that the camera could see the harassment take place, and ask that they procure the footage. Show up to the court proceedings and tell the court how the harassment made you feel. Explain the fear of assault and rape that is inflicted when you are approached. Explain how you live with this fear every day of your life, and that it is the duty of the police and the government to protect you from this fear.

I will no longer “Hollaback”. I will start calling the police and pressing charges against unwanted sexual attention. It is time that we take a stand.

%d bloggers like this: