Why Women Should Interrupt More Conversations About Our Bodies and Sex

PHOTO CREDIT:  T. CHICK MCCLURE

PHOTO CREDIT: T. CHICK MCCLURE

As the #MeToo impacts continue to pour in on our social media feeds, redrawing the lines of consent—as highlighted in Jill Soloway's illuminating new memoir, She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy—combined with exercising our right to tell our stories, this marks the monumental shift in the history of sexual entitlement, privilege, and having our bodies policed within the world of men.

“I wanted to love my body. I wanted to celebrate my sexuality. I wanted to feel like the succulent woman I knew I was deep down inside. I hungered for sexual liberation”—founder of Sex Love Liberation—Ev'Yan Whitney recalls a time she refers to as ”some of the darkest times of her life” on her quest to sexual healing and awakening. Whitney is also the creator of the #SensualSelfieChallenge—a pillar movement in the plight of women active in becoming deprogrammed of our bodies instructed to use beneath the patriarchy—which calls for women to “take one selfie a day for five days that highlights your body, celebrates your sexuality, and encourages you to take up space.” As a woman battling my own body image and coming out of my shell sexually, I wasn't sure I was emotionally prepared to participate. It wasn't until I began reading the hashtagged stories from other women who also expressed how delicate their participation was that something clicked for me:

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Self love for women means experiencing ourselves beyond physical parameters we've built as women self-conscious about our bodies. Being vulnerable enough to share our truths. Accepting while we still have a lot left to love, we can still feel empowered in our skin. #SensualSelfieChallenge.

Whereas we still live in a world that is structured to write us out of our own narratives by promoting women in a way that relies heavily on objectification and asserting the gender binary, it is in the counter-culture of reclaiming our stories where we are discovering our power, frequently maybe without indeed realizing it.

I'm a Lesbian. I'm Also a Trans Ally. Here's the Word They Don't Want You to Know.

PHOTO CREDIT:  MIGUEL BRUNA

PHOTO CREDIT: MIGUEL BRUNA

“TERF.”

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists.

Disruptively alluded to as a “slur” as a way to silence lesbians who are trans allies by gaslighting the conversation faster than I can tweet “Come cuddle, @Lavernecox.”

Never use the word TERF, unless you're prepared to fend off an army of incontestably hateful people—who just so happen to be lesbians and bullies—ascending against you. That's exactly what happened to me when I decided to speak out against the transphobia that squeezed whatever last little bit of breath out of a bygone second home for a lot of us in the LGBTQ community when we were coming up and out—AfterEllen—before it was overthrown by organized hatred. TERFs. They even went so far as to use “the rape culture lesbians are facing” (Amy Dyess has me blocked, otherwise I'd link you directly) for blatantly disregarding trans people. 

Is this what “lesbians for lesbians” looks like now?
And this?
What about this?

Celebrated LGBTQ-inclusive lesbian, iconic DIVA Magazine publisher Linda Riley, has also been targeted for standing in support of visibility not limited to lesbians, as well as various other entities falling under the umbrella term who took principled stands against some of AfterEllen's ugliest thematic attempts to further marginalize and delegitimize trans women and trans women who are lesbians (recipients of “A visit from AfterEllen and Their Goon Squad” include comedian Rhea Butcher, author and editor/founder of The Dart Elaine Atwell, and managing editor at Autostraddle Heather Hogan). 

AfterEllen cares about neither lesbians nor “preserving a herstory,” as they've proven by launching personal attack campaigns against any lesbian or woman who goes against the TERF-popular grain on this (the unpopular grain in TERFland being LGBTQ solidarity). I'm still recovering from the conversational whiplash I experienced when I attempted to express my concerns to a member of AE staff, as I was immediately slammed with conspiratory alternative facts from opinion pieces. I literally told her I wasn't discounting her personal experiences of terror as she began to provide more context but instead substituted listening for more propaganda villainizing trans people, followed by defending AfterEllen's TERF-in-chief/editor with a divisive confidentiality notice at the end. Another one of their scare tactics used in attempts to silence us, perhaps. This is also the same person who wants us to believe she actually heard a single word Hannah Gadsby has ever said

The same war that gave us misogyny and homophobia gave us trans exclusionary radical feminists, AfterEllen. “Entertaining women since 2002.” Erasing lesbians all by themselves long before I showed up. 

A Realistic Approach to Getting out of Your Own Way

PHOTO CREDIT:  HAILEY KEAN

PHOTO CREDIT: HAILEY KEAN

"Oh yes, that's my specialty," award-winning novelist Margaret Atwood reveals in an interview with Bustle when asked if she procrastinates. In my mind, it would be nice to attribute a successful career under my belt—fifty years from now, God willing—to postponing things until the latest possible time. The likelihood of this actually happening is quite low. While it can be argued that there are some positive benefits to procrastinating, the advantages of a clear and focused path far outweigh the risk factors associated with any habits to the contrary.

Show me someone who gets excited about deadlines and I'll show you someone who is an effective liar. I'm actively scrambling to meet more than one project deadline and I've realized this is the natural (anxious) order of things when you have a tendency to spread yourself too thin, as I often do—the key to meeting deadlines, being fair to yourself: creating more quiet, focused, and inspired spaces, leaving messages unread and calls unanswered, not making myself too emotionally available to those who aren't in the habit of navigating life for themselves and forcing them to take charge in areas they often rely on me to assist with, constantly improving my organizational skills, not indulging in trivial things that interfere with me getting started on projects and tasks sooner, and overcoming the false mindset that "I have plenty of time."

Show me someone who has never felt discouraged at some point and I'll show you someone who can't possibly be human. Rewind to just a few months ago, newly exited and finally free from a relationship I was starving in and traded my authenticity for. Cutting those ties was vital to me repairing my relationship with myself and rebuilding love independent from someone I had allowed to reduce roughly every dimension of my identity. Perspective still shaky, it was something Rosario Dawson said to me after sharing some intimate thoughts about my 6-year relationship coming to an end that helped me to regain my sense of self, “...minus the doubt speak.” It was the weight of those words, specifically, that made me realize the true extent of forfeiture my self-esteem had undergone being in that toxic space. Moving forward, I needed to hold myself accountable in order to believe in myself again. We’ve all been there—at the edge of feeling discouraged and unsure of how to maintain balance in that internal environment so as not to fall and plummet to our emotional deaths—haven’t we?

Show me someone who doesn't have any regrets and I'll show you someone who doesn't make enough time to reflect. Unresolved regrets are the mental equivalent of mud if you’re not careful about getting stuck. Between the things left unsaid and the things left unmended, there is plenty I wish I could go back in time and rewrite. The reality is, I can’t, but sometimes even the firmest grip on reality isn’t enough to ease the scattered longings within me for a do-over. To safeguard my journey through regretful thinking, I’ve been learning to accept things in a deeper way and with less resistance for the things I can’t change—letting go.

It’s not always easy to reformat the self-sabotaging thoughts, patterns, and behaviors you’ve been conditioned to. Life is hard and the reasons are usually two: hearts hurt and minds trick. Reminding yourself where you’re headed and paving a clear path to get there through establishing healthy habits and deliberate action is how you face the daily challenges when life trips you up.