Are you lacking confidence in relationships?
Read 5 tips that can help you be more confident in this contributed post.
Being self-confident in a relationship is not always easy, especially if you have been hurt in one before. Being self-confident can improve a relationship though as well as being better for your overall well being. Life throws enough stresses at us without you worry about the state of your relationship.
Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy
No one will make you feel more worthless than you. You should value your own worth, as this will make you feel and look better. If it helps, have a new hairstyle or change the color of your hair. Anything that helps you feel more confident is good. It is very easy to be your own worst enemy and that has to stop right now!
Be An Individual
You should not let yourself become an extension of your partner. You are an individual with your own dreams and aspirations. People who have lived on their own for a while are often better at this because they are used to considering just themselves. Although no one would ever suggest you should be selfish, you do sometimes have to put yourself first.
It can be great if you have a shared interest, but it is also good to have an interest of your own. Apart from keeping you mixing with other people, it is something else for the pair of you to discuss.
You should also make sure you stay in touch with friends that you knew before you met your partner. It may well be that they socialize with both of you, but you should still have an occasional evening for just you and your friends.
Tell your partner a secret about yourself that no one else knows. Sharing secrets or things you are ashamed of from your past can help to establish a feeling of intimacy between you. Self-disclosure can help to build your confidence in each other. For instance, if in the past a sex therapist has helped you over a problem, or you once dated someone who turned out to be a drug taker and you almost got involved in them too, your partner will be pleased that your problems were solved and that you have the confidence in them to be honest about your past.
Don’t Settle For Second Best
Do not let your self-esteem drop so low that you put up with someone who is constantly criticizing you and does not show you any respect. Manners cost nothing and there is no excuse for them behaving in this way. You deserve better than this, so don’t settle for second best. Walk away from the relationship, as there is no doubt that someone better will come along one day. Yes, it can be hard, but it will benefit you both in the long-term.
Make sure you have fun together sometimes at least. Laughing together is a great help for any relationship, and yours will be no different. It could be at a film you are watching or maybe playing some sort of game. Having a fun element in any relationship is vitally important if it is to succeed.
How to talk to your teenager about sex, love and romance? Read more in this contributed post.
Parents everywhere know exactly what it means to dread their kids growing into teenagers. Firstly, they remember what it was like for them to be teenagers. They remember the angst, the insecurity and the desperate need to fit in with the crowd. They know that their teenagers have all this to come and today, it’s so different compared to a few years ago. The world has changed so much when it comes to sex and relationships and this is not a bad thing. More complicated, perhaps, but not a bad thing.
Same sex relationships two decades ago were not as openly spoken about compared to today. Romance and sex wasn’t splashed across social media for all to see. The ‘selfie’ in the smartphone era had not yet been invented for people to critique and roast online. Life and love and relationships are entirely different now. Asking a girl or boy to go out to the school disco is easy to discuss for some parents, whilst trying to advise on a chat with gay guys may be a little harder to do. It’s not ignorance; it’s just not the same as it was before. However, we now live in a time where parents are swotting up on how things work for teenagers today and not basing how they talk about sex, love and romance on wooing each other back in the Eighties. Times have changed, but talking about healthy relationships and self-respect hasn’t.
Teenagers now are still full of angst and uncertainty and it’s important that they know that you are going to be open, non-judgemental and there for them when they need you. Broaching the subject? That’s not the easy part, because teenagers don’t want to talk about themselves directly. However, as a parent you can figure out their favourite series or film and discuss the dynamics of those relationships instead and talk about the red flags to watch for in terms of gaslighting and abuse, which are very much talked about today. Teenagers need to hear that they are worthy of themselves as they are, that they don’t need to be pressured into sex when they know that they can pace themselves until they are ready. They also need to hear that their feelings are valid and valued, and that those friends who don’t listen to those feelings aren’t friends to be worrying about.
Sex and love are both a normal part of life, and the more you broach this subject with your teenagers, the easier it will be to get it through to them that they are in charge of their own bodies and feelings. It’s okay to love whoever they want to love, have sex when they feel ready and not pushed - and SAFELY - and you will be there for them no matter what. Teenagers will make their mistakes: we all have, and as long as they know that you are going to be a shoulder to cry on, a non-judgemental ear to talk to and a safe haven, you can be confident that they will do their best to make good choices.
5 dating tips to help you find love in your twenties and thirties are explored in this contributed post.
There will come a time in your life, it could be now, in your late twenties, thirties…. where you finally want to find someone who can settle down with you for life. Finding the love of your life is no mean feat and it will involve a lot of dedication and searching, but when you do, you’ll be treated to a relationship full of love and laughter.
It is always the first thing people will say when you come to looking for dates, but it is true. If you try to be someone else on a first date to impress someone you aren’t letting your real personality out and this can have a massive effect on your ability to find someone right for you. You want someone who loves you for all of your quirks and despite all of your floors. Be yourself and this will allow you to find them.
Don’t force it
If you think a date is going ok but you don’t feel any sort of romantic spark, this doesn’t mean you have to carry on stringing it along for a while to try and find that fizz of attraction. When it comes to love, when you know you just know. Don’t force a feeling of attraction and affection on yourself and someone else because it simply won’t work. If you wait long enough you will eventually find that special someone.
If you struggle to get the confidence to talk to new people in person, you can always try to speak to people on the phone on a service such as Fonochatlatino.com or online on a dating app first. It might seem a little pointless but it will build up your confidence and it will allow you to meet and speak to a whole range of different people. You can share a common interest and learn how best to keep a conversation flowing ready for a real date.
Go to parties
If you never leave the house you will never find the one. If your friends ask you out for a night out or to a party, just say yes. You never know when your missing link will show up to an event and it can take you a long time to find them if you never go out in public. Get out there and allow people to approach you for a chat and see if any sparks happen to fly.
Don’t worry about commitment
Commitment is a big buzzword with relationships and of course everyone eventually wants to be able to commit to the right person. However, when you start to date people just go with the flow, don’t think about the long term until you can see it going somewhere and just enjoy the present moment with your new love. If it is meant to be it will be, and if not, you can learn from the experience for your next relationship. Learning and using your past experiences is a good way to find the one for you.
Are you shy and don't feel comfortable dating?
Read this contributed post which has 4 dating tips for shy guys who want to overcome their dating anxiety.
There’s a common misconception that being shy has to get in the way of and ruin your dating life when that isn’t the case. Being shy doesn’t have to impact your dating success or be seen as a bad thing - we each have our own, very unique personalities and if being shy is part of yours, you need to learn to make it work for you.
Perhaps you don’t know how to talk to people who you’re attracted to? Maybe you’ve tried to make a relationship work in the past while hiding your feelings and it’s all ended in one big mess? What it’s important to remember is that your shyness is not your whole identity, it’s just one part of who you are as a person.
The good news is that if you take note of the tips below, you can make dating that little bit easier (and more enjoyable) for yourself.
Understand that just because you’re attracted to someone that doesn’t mean they’re not a normal person
Regardless of how attractive someone is, they are just normal people. That’s the thing to remember because there’s no need to be shy when talking to just another person, is there? Picture this, you’re in a supermarket, you see someone cute in the aisle but are lost for words about how to introduce yourself, but when you’re at the counter with the cashier you’re happy to chat away. These two people are no different from each other - that’s what you need to understand.
Make friends who are extroverts
You’re an introvert and that’s cool but make friends with people who are extroverts. Studies have shown that it’s easier to relax when you’re around louder people who like to be the centre of attention because that takes the pressure off of you. You’ll find chatting with people that you’re attracted to, far easier in this kind of setting.
To build confidence in yourself, spend some time online dating and using services like https://www.guyspyvoice.com/phone-free-trial/gay-male-chat-coverage to meet people. Dating can be daunting but the more people you chat to, either online or over the phone, the more your confidence should grow. As your confidence grows, you should start to feel less shy when it comes to talking to people who you’re attracted to.
Let go of the bad
If you've had bad dating experiences in the past, you need to stop holding onto them and let them go. If you don’t let go of the bad experiences that you’ve had, they will haunt your dating life forever and make you shyer than you were before. It’s important to realise that everyone has bad dating experiences but that they don’t have to define your future of dating.
When you’re a shy guy, dating is not always an easy task, but if you take note of the tips above and implement them in how you date, you can make landing yourself a partner a slightly easier task.
In my book “Mastering The Emotional Needs of Men: Ally vs. Enemy” I teach that one of the Emotional Needs of men is Masculine Identity.
This is how each individual man defines his own masculinity.
An Emotional Need is what a person emotionally responds to, NOT what they think.
This means that while a man might intellectually understand that he is more than just his hair, his emotional reaction can cause him to withdraw or lose his sense of confidence from hair loss.
For many men, having hair is part of their Masculine Identity Emotional Need.
When Monty had hair he never cared what people thought about him. He was confident, arrogant, willing to make the first move, and loved to pursue women. He was envied by men, and sought after by women. He was sure of his Masculine Identity.
After his hair loss, Monty felt like he didn’t know himself anymore.
He became afraid, as he was convinced that people were looking at him, talking about him, and laughing at him. He could hardly bring himself to leave his home because of his fears. He felt that he had lost his Masculine Identity with the loss of his hair.
Now let’s go back to your story. How does this relate to YOU? You are attracted to Suzie and would like her to go out on a coffee date with you, but fear your genetic predisposition to male pattern baldness or total hair loss will keep you out of the running.
THE TRUTH IS THIS:
It was not Monty's hair loss that caused him to lack confidence, just like it is not about your receding hairline that is stopping you from asking Suzie out.
It does not matter that Monty had a reputation for being a “ladies man” and the experience to back it up.
It does not matter what you have going for you.
If you have a hard time accepting yourself, it will be even harder for you to put yourself out there and risk rejection, when you express your interest in someone who might not want you back.
Women Who Reject Balding Men
Are there women who find balding men less attractive?
There are also women who say that bald men are sexy.
There are studies that show that some women prefer balding men, and other studies that show that women love a man with a full head of hair. Many of these studies are tied into selling products, so buyers beware.
No matter what the issue is: whether it is baldness, height, weight, finances, etc. there will be women who love it, women who are not bothered either way as long as their other criteria are met (sense of humour, honesty etc.), and there are women who will hate it to the point where no matter what else you have going for you, it will never be enough to compensate for what you are “lacking” in their eyes.
In my program, “The Art of Calibration Program: From Creepy To Charisma”
I discuss this concept and assign a percentage to make it easier to understand.
So now to explain further, we will examine the topic of hair loss in men and apply randomly chosen percentages of 15%, 70% and 15%.
For the 15% of women out there who love bald or balding men:
There is nothing for you to worry about. These women are ready to love you for the way you look right now. Be enthusiastic to meet them, and when you do focus on addressing her Emotional Needs.
At the same time, you will be challenging her to address your Emotional Needs as a man.
The women that already were attracted to Monty loved him for being Monty (not because of his hair) and would have continued to want him if Monty had only continued to purse them.
Just like if Suzie already likes you, then all you have to do is make your move and ask her out.
For the 70% of women who are neutral about bald or balding men:
This is the group that you can influence the most.
They will look to you to set the example of how you want to be treated.
If you fully accept yourself and you ACT like your hair condition (whatever it may be) is not an issue for you, they will follow your example, and not make it an issue for them.
If however you do not fully accept yourself, and act like your hair loss is a big issue, they will also react to you as if it were a big issue.
Monty would have lost this group and it would not have been because they cared about his hair. Monty let his hair loss affect him so much, it was to the the point that he was no longer open to female attention, and the women picked up on that message.
That is why he would have lost this group.
Just like YOU who are too preoccupied with your thinning hairline!
Suzie is going to sense that you are not really present with her, and she is going to feel (your lack of being present) enough not to go on a date with you, if you ask her.
For the 15% of women who already dislike bald or balding men:
Your best bet with this group is to cut your losses and move on.
The person Monty was before his hair loss never cared what this group of women thought because he was too focused on having fun with the 85% (15% plus 75%) of women out there (the majority) that either already liked him, or that he could influence into liking him for a date!
He didn’t care about the women that would never accept him, until he reached a crisis moment in his life where HE stopped accepting himself.
If Suzie (or any other woman) really hates bald or balding men balding, then it is best to find out as soon as possible. Move on to someone who either loves it, or is neutral about it.
Never is the real issue hair loss, or going bald, or considering yourself to be the newest member of the follically challenged community.
The issue is NOT your hair loss.
The issue is how you deal with it that matters.
Dealing With Going Bald
The Franktalks.com coaching philosophy is this:
IF THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF
THAT YOU DO NOT LIKE
YOU MUST OWN IT
To OWN it, means to either:
A) Accept it as part of who you are. If it is not going to change, work around it as best you can and do what you want to do with as little compromise as possible
B) Do something directly about it to change it.
A) Accepting Hair Loss
Accepting hair loss comes in different forms:
For some men accepting hair loss means learning to be okay with it, accepting the fact that some women will have a problem with it, and being okay with that.
For some men, accepting hair loss means they shave their heads and feel they are taking an assertive step towards the situation, rather than let the hair loss and possibly eventual balding happen on it's own.
For some men, accepting hair loss means never letting it stop them from doing the things they would have done if they had the hair.
Hair loss is an opportunity to self-actualize (self reflection) of what going bald means to you.
If hair loss or going bald means that you see yourself as no longer young, virile, or adept at attracting women, it will influence the way you feel about yourself, likely in a negative way.
The way you feel about yourself is a key element in the world of attracting a partner.
If hair loss or going bald holds a different meaning for you such as:
*The privilege of growing older (When you appreciate your age as you begin to attend funerals of those close to your age)
*A sign of wisdom that comes with maturity
*You just don’t have to care anymore what other people think about anything you do.
It will influence the way you feel about yourself, most likely in a very positive way.
The way you feel about yourself is a key element in the world of attracting a partner.
Being okay with something by not letting it turn into a problem that hinders you from doing the things you want to do with your life.
By accepting you find a way to get your needs met, even if you cannot have everything you want.
It has nothing to do with giving up.
B) Making Some Changes
If you have accepted that this is your situation, and instead of working around it, you want to try to change your situation, the next step is to look at the options available to you.
This requires research and some experimenting to find what works for you. Just as not every person can follow the same diet plan, not every person will want to follow the same hair loss solution.
There are many causes of hair loss, and one possible cause is stress. If you feel that your hair loss is from stress, it may be time to re-evaluate your lifestyle and seek ways to make it less stressful.
This might mean some sacrifices that you did not anticipate making.
For example: It might mean a change of employment for you to something less stressful, but that also might mean a drastic pay cut. Looking at hair loss causes is just one step in the process. This is one possible solution if you are suffering hair loss from stress.
Next, have a look at other solutions that may work for you. Some men opt to wear a wig, an artificial hair piece (toupee), or other methods.
When it comes right down to it, the opinions of others do not matter (including the opinion of this author). What matters is that YOU are comfortable with the solution you seek, and you are comfortable with the risks of being exposed if you keep some of these methods a secret.
Currently there is no cure for baldness (at least none that I know of, and if someone reading this article has knowledge of such, please leave a comment to share that knowledge with men who may want it.)
Knowledge Is Power
Do NOT be in denial of what is happening to you.
Denial instead of acceptance tends to lead to poor choices. Denial of any issue that is affecting a man's emotional well being will cause him to make questionable decisions in many areas of his life, including what to do about hair loss.
A man works a job in an area of industry that is declining. He is in denial about the longevity of his employment. He decides to increase his expenses and in turn acquires debt. Contrast this with another man who also works a job in an area of industry that is declining, but who has accepted the truth of his situation. He wisely curbs his spending while seeking out knowledge on alternative sources of income.
Your inability to cope with your hair loss will result in your eventual violation of a woman’s Emotional Needs.
The longer you date the same woman, the more she will get to know the real you. At that point, the truth will be harder to deny.
The truth about your hair loss is sure to come up and she will be concerned that you kept the truth from her. This may make her wonder what else you are not telling her.
The issue is trust not hair loss.
How To Make Balding Look Good
If you are in the position where you are in the process of balding, whether you have vertex baldness, a receding hairline, or you are anticipating hair loss and want to take proactive self-care steps,
there is nothing wrong with seeking out some advice on the subject.
Hair loss and confidence are tied together for many men who see it as part of their Masculine Identity emotional need.
True confidence develops as a result of the actions you take.
If your appearance is what you are worried about
(and you consider your hair to be part of your appearance)
then take action!
Put work into your overall appearance.
Look your best and carry yourself in a way
that displays your pride.
There have been studies done on men’s online dating profile photos. The studies found that the photos of men, which received the MOST likes, were the photos in which the men expressed PRIDE in their faces.
The facial expression of feeling proud was interpreted as CONFIDENCE.
For over 15 years I have coached men about dating and relationships. In that time the message that I have received over and over again is that men really do not feel they should ask for help.
It is part of many male cultures to be an independent achiever. What we as men must remember is that even the most accomplished men have a team of coaches, mentors and advisers.
Clients who have taken action and asked for help have achieved great success in their lives.
In 90 days Adult Male Virgins who were never able to admit they even had problems with sex and dating, found themselves with multiple girlfriends!
They found confidence through their actions. They developed pride in their appearance (and yes many of these men did have hair loss concerns).
If YOU are embarrassed about your thinning hair, don’t be.
Take action! Ignoring what is happening to your hair, and being in denial does not help you in the long term.
The worse thing you can do is try to hide your concerns,
and end up trying untested methods
which could harm your remaining hair,
and possibly your health.
Accept your hair loss situation.
Love yourself regardless of it.
Be PROUD of your appearance as it is,
and know that you can do something about it
if you want to change it.
Seek out some those who can help you
to keep your confidence up.
It took a little longer than expected, but with the proper coaching and guidance Monty was willing to go out in public again.
Eventually he remembered everything that he still had going for him before he lost all of his hair. Monty took action and found the pride in himself that he had lost.
He even went back to his playboy lifestyle for a time until he met a woman he really adored. The married and today they have a family together.
Monty now plans to teach his son everything he learned.
Now back to YOU.
Do you want to take action?
Find your PRIDE and CONFIDENCE.
Work on what is holding you back
and find the confidence to ask out your "Suzie"
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Sign up for coaching TODAY and let's get you to the point where even Monty would envy you.
5+ Ways to Make New Friends at Anime Conventions
by Roger Senpai
Being a cosplay event organizer, I’ve seen many people who attend Anime conventions in order to meet new friends. However, when you see groups of cosplayers huddling together and talking to only their friends, making new friends at a con may seem like a daunting task. But I'm here to help – I myself have made many friends at Anime conventions! And I've met them through a variety of ways.
Before I begin, I should emphasize this list is far more useful if you have a genuine interest in geek fandom (e.g. video games, Anime, comic books). Otherwise, if you have absolutely no interest, you may come off as that guy who’s just trying to pick up girls at the Anime convention. Or you’re a girl who decided to buy a Sailor Moon dress to get some attention at the con. I mean, you don’t have to be a weeaboo or a nerd. But you should have the mindset that you’re going to have fun at an Anime convention, regardless of who you meet.
Based on my experience, here are 10 different ways to make new friends at Anime conventions:
1) Wear a popular cosplay - Of all the techniques listed here, wearing a popular cosplay is by far the easiest and most effective way to meet new friends at a con. Having a good and popular costume opens up all doors as people will approach YOU - whether asking to take a photo of your costume, or complimenting how amazing it is! And once that icebreaker is open, you can take the conversation further if you wanted.
For example, let's say you're cosplaying D.Va from Overwatch. Some possible scenarios:
Con Attendee: “OMG I love your D.Va costume!” OR “Excuse me; can I take a photo of you? Your D.Va cosplay is sooo amazing!”
(Pose for photo)
Con Attendee: “Do you play a lot of Overwatch? We should play together sometime.” (Exchange Battle.Net accounts) OR “I’m going to cosplay Tracer at the next con. Do you want to cosplay Overwatch together?”
Alright, I actually don’t know how a typical Overwatch conversation would go. But that's a quick example showing simply how easy it is to make friends when you're cosplaying a popular character.
Also, more than likely there are other people either wearing the same costume or cosplaying a character from the same series. And most of the time, they will want to take a photo with you - another way to break the ice.
The costume itself doesn't have to be that great either. I used to cosplay Sebastian from the Anime Black Butler, and honestly the material was poor quality (I bought it off a cheap cosplay site). But most people don't care - if you're cosplaying someone they like, they will open up and talk to you. I met two good friends from Otakuthon because they were cosplaying Ciel and Grell, also from Black Butler. I’ve also met three other friends at Anime Shogatsu because they loved my Sebastian cosplay and because we had a great conversation after taking my photo.
So I cannot emphasize how many friends I've made by simply wearing a cosplay that was considered popular. There's no easier way to socialize at an Anime convention than to cosplay a popular character. This is especially true if you're shy or introverted - people will come to you!
If you don’t know what’s considered a popular cosplay, look at the photos of a large convention that recently took place. If you see a lot of the same characters, more than likely it’s popular at this moment in time.
And don’t worry about anyone judging you for wearing a “popular” cosplay or cosplaying a character you’ve never watched in an Anime or played in a video game. A lot of people do this, and the community loves to preach, “Cosplay whoever you want.” And who cares – you’re at a convention to have fun and make new friends.
2) Schedule or attend a group cosplay photoshoot - At many Anime conventions, group photos are scheduled for attendees cosplaying from the same series. (E.g. My Hero Academia photoshoot 2 p.m. Area C of the Toronto Congress Centre, Pokémon shoot at 3 p.m. in the hotel area). These photoshoots are great opportunities to chat with cosplayers from the same series. Not only is it fun to take pictures together with creative poses, more than likely you'll have things in common - after all you're cosplaying from the same series!
I cosplay Marth pretty often, so I decided to hold a few Fire Emblem photoshoots at smaller conventions. Not only did I get to meet new cosplayers this way, I made a few new friends who've taught me how to improve my Marth costume. A win-win situation.
3) Take photos of cosplayers - If you decide you don't want to cosplay, you can always take photos of cosplayers. Start off by asking for their photo ("Excuse me, can I take a photo of your costume?"). After you finish taking their picture, you can ask about their cosplay ("How did you make it" or "Did you see the ending of Naruto, blah blah"). Then gauge their response. If they're giving you a one-word answer or looking away, they probably have somewhere to go. But if they're genuinely interested, then perhaps they want to know more about you. You'd be surprised how taking a picture of someone has led to friendship.
Once, I saw a good Star Trek cosplayer and asked for her photo. While I don’t think it’s a good idea to talk about Star Wars to a fan of Star Trek, for some reason I decided to talk about Star Wars to her after I took the photo. I found out we actually had a lot in common! So we kept in touch and now she’s a good acquaintance of mine, and I’m happy to see she’s still making great cosplays to this day.
You never know who you can meet by simply asking for their photo.
Just be aware that there are certain times where it's inappropriate to ask for a photo. For example, don't ask to take a picture if they're sitting down, or eating or busy doing something else. It's considered especially rude to ask for a photo while they’re in the middle of their own photoshoot; interrupting the photographer and the cosplayer is not a good first impression to make!
4) Volunteer - Volunteering is a great way to meet new people during an Anime convention. Not the actual attendees themselves, but the volunteers and staff you're working alongside with. It's like meeting coworkers at your job, but in a more fun, casual environment. It doesn’t have to feel like work either – you can usually decide what type of volunteer work to do, and how many hours you want to help.
A few years ago, I volunteered for Anime Boston (yes, a convention outside of my own country!). They accepted my application and the experience was a lot of fun. My fellow volunteers and staff were great people to volunteer and socialize with, and I still keep in touch with them today. By volunteering for Anime Boston, I made a bunch of new friends and I got a bunch of swag and free stuff during the con as well.
5) Bring a Card Game - Whether it's Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, card games are a great way to break the ice with your fellow attendees at an Anime convention. There's always going to be somebody bored or lonely at a con. Bring one of these card games to a convention and invite them to play with you. Not only will it be fun, you’ll also make a new friend this way.
Back when I first started the Cosplay Hangout Group, most people who showed up for my cosplay events didn't talk to each other. Like many new people in the cosplay community, it was somewhat awkward and people were standing around. So I decided to bring my Cards Against Humanity deck and made the attendees play together. Not only was the game hilarious and eased the nervousness of some, it allowed them to socialize with each other. How beautiful that game is.
6) Hit up the Con Rave - I know the raves at cons get a bad rep for sketchy people and drug addicts, but I've met some great people at raves, including cosplayers, DJs, performers, singers and fashion artists. It's a wonderful and diverse mix of people at a rave. Starting a conversation at a rave can be as easy as giving someone your glow stick or "Kandi."
7) Hotel Parties - If you're going to a large Anime convention, there will always be hotels where attendees are staying for the weekend. And with hotels, come hotel parties! Probably the most difficult part is getting invited. But if you socialize enough during the con, you will find yourself invited to one. Believe me, it’s not that difficult. I've been to several conventions outside of my own city and I've been invited to hotel parties by attendees I've never met prior. Anyways, if you want to make new friends and you get invited, be damn sure to accept the invitation and go.
Yes, sometimes it can be awkward at the party when everyone knows each other and you know nobody at first. But don't worry, there's always someone at the hotel party similar to one described in that Alessia Cara track, Here (God I hate that song).
8) Host a Panel - What better way to gather like-minded people than hosting a panel at a con?! But seriously, it's not a bad idea. You are talking about a topic that you're interested in. And the people who attended your panel are also interested in the subject.
I hosted a Pokémon panel a couple of years back. The attendees were as enthusiastic about Pokémon as I was, and if I wanted a few players to battle with, I could easily have picked a few right there at the panel. In fact, one guy came up to me and wanted to be my friend. He asked for my Facebook account. But he kept interrupting my damn panel, so I didn’t want to be friends with him!
9) Tabletop Gaming - At many Anime conventions, there's a room dedicated to tabletop gaming. Although some people will already be with their friends playing together, there are a few people who are looking for someone to join their game. Maybe one of their friends left for a photoshoot, and they're now missing a player? Much like bringing a card game to a con, tabletop gaming is a good way to have fun and meet new people. I got to hangout with some cool people in the Tabletop gaming room at Youmacon. I sure as hell don't remember what game it was, but it was fun talking about differences between Detroit and Toronto!
10) Video Game rooms - What better way to start a friendship than to kick their ass in Smash Bros.?! Okay, I haven't made many friends in video game rooms - because they're too salty after I beat them.
About The Author
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The Charisma Game
by Frank Kermit
This is a Group Activity I created for you to practice with others.
I created this for use when I was running weekly workshops for single for dating.
I have included it in my coaching workbooks:
I'm a Man, That's My Job
I'm a Woman, It My Time
The premise: Each person in the room will offer one compliment to every other person in the room, WITHOUT expecting a compliment in return.
When someone compliments you, you are instructed to simply say “THANK YOU”, without offering a compliment back.
There are a few different ways to do it.
For a larger group, have them walk around without saying a word, approaching as many people as they can. When they get face to face with someone, they must offer a compliment, without expecting one back, and the person being complimented must say. “THANK YOU” before saying anything else.
For smaller groups, or groups of people with limited mobility, you can have everyone sit in a circle and each person takes a turn in complimenting all the other members in the group, one by one. In this set up, allow everyone some time to write down their compliments to others in the group without having anyone share them. Smaller groups ideally have everyone wearing a name-tag (use first name or nickname)
Finally for very small groups of people who are horrendously shy, you can resort to people writing down the compliment for each person on a number of pieces of paper, then all the papers are collected and the host of the evening will pull out each one and read them out loud.
Do not use this one unless in extreme circumstances. It is a last resort method of doing it. It does not reach all of the goals needed.
The compliments can be superficial.
It can be based on a physical feature like a smile, complimenting the person’s eyes, mode of attire, or style of clothing.
If you start the group meet with the Charisma Game, most all of the compliments are going to be superficial, as most people will likely not know each other.
If you run the Charisma Game 3-4 times over the span of the group meet (which is the way is usually works best), at each start of the Charisma Game you an instruct people to compliment how the person has participated in the group meet thus far.
Finally, set a time limit. The Charisma Game is to happen for a 2-4 minute span at most with medium sized groups. You do not want the same people pairing up during the same segment of the game.
The point of The Charisma Game is:
-To teach people that going up to meet a stranger
to make that person feel good is OK to do
-To teach people strangers coming up to meet you and
attempt to make you feel good is OK to do
-To teach people how
to simply accept a
(Which some people have a hard time doing)
-To teach people that saying
and not to feel obligated to compliment
back just because
someone complimented them first
-To teach people not to expect anything back
and not be attached to an outcome when they try to
meet someone new
-To build up people’s
confidence in being able to compliment others, and
for people to have their confidence reinforced by
the compliments of others
-To give people a
chance to meet each other in the group settings
are going to be regular ongoing meetings
-To teach people that the more times you approach
the same person over the course of the workshop,
the easier it gets each time, and carry that comfort
outside the workshop space
The Definition of Charisma as I teach it, is to make a person feel good about him or her self, while at the same time present a positive impression of yourself to them.
If you can do that, then you have Charisma.
THE ART OF CALIBRATION PROGRAM: FROM CREEPY TO CHARISMA EBOOK
The use of compliments is how you make a person feel good. HOW you compliment a person without the pressure of expecting anything said in return is how you start to train yourself to make a favorable impression of yourself in the process.
Some of the things that would happen is that people from the workshop would get used to talking to people they liked as well as talking to people they did not like, which is a good social skill to develop.
Some of the people would approach me afterwards and tell me how difficult the first few were, but once they got used to it, they felt more comfortable as they did it more often.
Some people would take me aside and complain that everyone complimented him or her on exactly the same thing (for example, everyone complimented one person on her hairpin, and never on anything else). If this happens, it is a sign for the person to “step up” and give people something else to compliment. It is a great way for someone to learn they may not come across in the ways they thought.
Get a group of people together and try it. Good luck!
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Believing in Yourself
Confidence is sometimes seen as a measure of how much you believe in yourself. Being able to go outside while wearing a suit and not feeling out of place? That’s confidence. The ability to stand up on a stage to speak to an audience? Confidence. Suggesting workplace changes to your boss for the sake of improving their business? Once again, confidence. If you believe in yourself and wash away the doubt, you’ll find that it’s much easier to live your life and make the right calls.
Your appearance is a huge part of your confidence. Whether it’s the clothes you wear or the smile you put on in public, your confidence can be determined by your outward appearance. You should keep yourself well-groomed, browse for custom suits that make you look comfortable and also practice better body language. Just remember that your appearance will be the first thing people see, and that’s how they will typically judge you the first time around.
Negative thoughts are pointless, useless and don’t serve any purpose other than to scare you and make you doubt. If self-belief is one of the keys to a confident lifestyle, then lowering your worth and spreading negative thoughts is a quick way to destroying any belief you have in yourself.
On the contrary, promoting positivity is a sure way to bolster your own self-worth. Learning to spread positive messages and thinking in a positive manner will help you maintain our confidence. Being able to smile and think logically in the face of adversity, be it a problem at work or an issue at home, will help you deal with problems quickly and efficiently. Your positivity will eventually grow on people and become infectious, and people will see you as a driving force of positive energy that will motivate them.
Knowing yourself is half the battle when aspiring for confidence. As mentioned before, confidence is how much you believe in yourself, but if you’re unsure about your own principles then this is almost impossible to achieve. Learn more about yourself by exploring things that you hide away from the public. Live the life you want to and embrace the thoughts and feelings you have. You’ll find it much easier to believe in yourself and grow confidence if you have a good understanding of your own personality.
There are many other ways to promote confidence in yourself, but these should give you a fantastic foundation to build upon. Just remember that finding confidence is an endless journey of self-discovery.
To Belly Dance Or Not To Belly Dance
Written by: Pillow Talk Gal
Updated February 28, 2018
When I was asked if I wanted to take part in a belly dancing class and write an article about it, I was really excited. Then, the more I thought about it the more I began to worry a little. I have never really attended any kind of dance class (if you don’t count when I was little) so belly dancing seemed like a bit of a leap. I have to admit though; I was curious and nervous at the same time.
The day of my first class had finally arrived and my excitement/curiosity had made me almost an hour early. At least parking was a breeze (I found a spot literally in front of the building). I had some extra time to kill, so I decided to sit in the park right across from the dance studio. Despite the honking of cars and bustle of the city, it was very relaxing and helped to calm my nerves a little bit.
Then, before I knew it, it was time to meet the group and start my belling dancing experience.
I was met by Brooke Megan (teacher and belly dance guru) with the warmest of smiles and the most welcoming of greetings.
The studio had a very warm and inviting vibe and I was instantly put at ease.
An introduction to the rest of my fellow dancers was given and everyone was gracious and friendly towards me (the new comer). Students had the option to bring their own hip scarves or to choose one from Brooke’s wide, not to mention beautiful, collection. Not having any of my own, I chose one of Brookes’ (I would later find out that she’s owned this particular hip scarf for 8 years- no pressure).
Once everyone was ready to begin, we all took our seats on our mats and Brooke began her introduction to what holistic belly dancing is all about.
The class was a safe space where women could share their thoughts and emotions without judgement. After Brookes’ explanations, we all sat in our circle and experienced the openness of touch with one another.
We all paired up and gave our partners hand massages using essentials oils (this exercise is practiced openly to learn to relax and give of ourselves but also to receive from others.
We were given a small demonstration as to how to massage the hand then we were off (of course it is clearly mentioned by Brooke that any and all activities done in the classroom are not forced upon students and anytime anyone is not comfortable with something, they are free to sit out with no judgement or issues). This said, I sat back and allowed my partner to give me my hand massage.
At first, I was clearly not relaxed as my partner was so keenly able to detect (by simply feeling how tense my forearm was). Then as she calmly told me to relax and enjoy, I found myself surrendering to the calming music playing in the background and found that my massage was actually very pleasant.
I found myself letting go of my tension and just giving into the moment.
Once we had given and received our hand massages, we gathered in our circle once more and captured what we had taken away from the experience, in our journals.
The group then proceeded to share their thoughts on the massage exercise and what they had taken away from the experience. I myself shared how impressed I was with my partner’s ability to almost immediately detect where I was holding all my tension in my forearm (carpal tunnel syndrome- a common job hazard among writers) and therefore she was able to relieve some of the pain.
Now that our spirits were open and our emotional palettes were cleansed, it was time to warm up our bodies and belly dance. We started by stretching out and getting our muscles ready. Then came the moment I had been so anxious about: experiencing what belly dancing was all about.
Poses and stances were front and center and I awoke muscles my body seemed to have forgotten I had.
We observed ourselves in the studio mirrors so as to mimic what Brooke was showing us (to the best of our abilities).
Brooke gave us a phenomenal example of what we could eventually accomplish with these wonderful moves and she performed for the entire class.
It inspired us all and definitely made me want to give it a whirl.
The amazing part is by this time I wasn’t feeling self conscience at all. I was totally comfortable in the environment that Brooke had created for the class.
We all moved to the music, holding our belly dance poses and receiving encouragement from each other and Brooke.
The aspect that surprised me the most is that as a woman, I have spent the better part of my life trying to make my body giggle as little as possible.
Now, I was being encouraged to shake all my little bits as much as I could and it was fabulous! No shame, just pure liberation and enjoyment of the female form in all its glory.
As we danced and learned how to move our bodies, time seemed to just fly by. Before I knew it, the class had come to an end and it was time to cool down. Brooke gave each and every one individual high-fives and congratulations on a job well done. It was such a rewarding experience.
So that marked the end of my first belly dancing experience (the first of many to come). As I said my goodbyes to my fellow belly dancers, I mentioned how I was looking forward to the next class.
I made my way home and discovered that I had a level of renewed energy and optimism that I have not felt in a very long time. I felt a boost both mentally and physically (even though my muscles were telling me otherwise).
I am so looking forward to next week’s class.
-Pillow Talk Gal
About Pillow Talk Gal
Born and raised in British Columbia, she is a professional woman managing a career, marriage, and a teenager. Life can be challenging at times but she's a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason, and more often than not, she tries to understand those reasons.
"Join me in my journey throughout life’s issues and I guarantee you’ll be left pondering an issue or two." - Pillow Talk Gal
*Disclaimer: All photos of Brooke Megan are copyright Brooke Megan and all persons in the photos retain all their rights, interest and titles in the photos. All photos appear here with written permission on file with Brooke Megan.
About Brooke Megan and House of Lavender
- Holistic Belly Dance Group
Located at: 5582A Sherbrooke Street O, Montreal, QC H4A 1W3
Telephone number: 514-814-7557
Face book page: House of Lavender: Beauty and Wellness
Brooke Megan has been teaching belly dancing for 8 years and has extensive experience in dance through her teaching at Carlton University in Ottawa.
She herself was introduced to belly dancing through group lessons and was compelled to share this wonderful art form with others. She has performed at the Shenkman Art Centre in Ottawa, various art galleries and cafes. Her goal in offering belly dance lessons is to educate people with regards to the beauty and strength of exotic dance. She wants to have people experience this art form at a grass roots level.
Her six week program is open to all who wish to explore their creative side all the while relieving stress and getting fit.
For more information call 514-814-7557 or check out her Face book page: House of Lavender: Beauty and Wellness
Bad Sex? Speak Up!
by Kristin Casey
In response and review of a New Your Magazine Article
As an intimacy coach, my time is spent immersed in topics of dating, relationships, and sexuality. Aside from working directly with clients, I keep up on relevant research, articles, books, opinion pieces, and the occasional, well-thought-out blog.
A variety of evolving attitudes and perspectives informs my work and feeds my passion. Half of what I read is inspiring and encouraging.
The other half…not so much.
A recent piece in NYMag.com (a copy of said article is at the bottom of this post, for the purposes of fair use fair copying as a review of the article, and to provide a balanced perspective) relayed the experiences of female college students, a diverse population of smart, savvy, autonomous adults, who feel something between chagrined and victimized, by a widespread epidemic of bad sex.
The premise of the article seems to be that this situation needs further interrogation.
That this “vast expanse of bad sex — joyless, exploitative encounters that reflect a persistently sexist culture” needs to be acknowledged.
The question is, by whom?
If, like me, you’re thinking by the dissatisfied women’s partners, of course,
you’ll want to read on.
Here are a few key points from the article:
- The title, “The Game Is Rigged—why sex that’s consensual can still be bad and why we’re not talking about it” seems to presume two things. First, that by default, men have all the control and are taking unfair advantage of it, and second, that the only thing a woman must do to ensure she isn’t to blame for bad sex is consent.
- They Make Assumptions. When these women don’t like the way a man touches them in bed, they can’t or won’t bring themselves to say anything about it because they “assume it won’t matter to him.”
- The question was posed, “how can they [women] get guys to get them off?” (Seriously, that was an actual question, as if the phrase ‘let me show you how to get me off’ never occurred to them.)
- A woman gets drunk at a campus party thrown by men she doesn’t know. She makes out with more than a couple of them, then the next day feels weird, confused, and dissatisfied by “what went down.” She eventually decides “campus feminism” is at fault for acting like Yes and No are simple concepts. (I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Literally, there is nothing simpler in the entire universe than Yes or No.)
I hear this stuff from women all the time, daily, in person and online. I’ve been hearing it since my teens. (I’m currently 49.) I could write a book on this topic, and maybe someday I will.
For now, my question is,
Where is the accountability?
Where is any attempt to take personal responsibility for one’s choices, behavior, and sex life?
Where is any indication these women understand they have as much control as the man in bed—as much as they choose to wield, in fact—and with that control comes not just the power but the duty to be as “good” as they expect him to be?
My next question is, what is this nebulous force “campus feminism” and why is it tasked with addressing these women’s problem?
Why aren’t the sexually dissatisfied women—presumably feminists themselves—addressing it with their individual sex partners?
(I hate to point out the obvious, but honestly, I feel like I just solved their entire problem.)
This quote from the article is most illuminating.
A 29-year-old editorial director of a well-known feminist website, has just described her longstanding unsatisfying sex life.
She winds up feeling bad for not having done the work of telling her partners how to make her feel good.
“What I want is not for me to have that burden. I want one of my male partners, who are wonderful men who care about me, to have just once been like, ‘No, this is unacceptable to me. I’m not going to continue to have sex with you when you’re not getting off!’ And I can’t imagine that happening.”
To be clear, this thing she pines for yet can’t imagine happening, is a fairytale scenario, akin to waving a hanky for a prince to ride up to save her.
Is this what we’re calling empowerment now?
Is this how “campus feminism”—or any feminism—works?
(No, it’s absolutely not.)
The “burden” of learning what brings a woman sexual pleasure belongs to her alone.
The burden of conveying that information to her partner(s) is also hers alone.
It’s not only unreasonable to place the burden on men, it’s illogical.
Even more absurd, is an outspoken, influential feminist stating on record, without a hint of irony, that she can’t be expected to experience sexual pleasure until it’s presented to her, by a man, on a silver platter.
This isn’t how feminism works.
More importantly, it’s not how good sex works.
Yet this willful obtuseness is pervasive.
A few examples off the top of my head:
- She Still Had Sex?: A woman I know (in her late-20s, professionally accomplished with an advanced degree) met a man on Tinder and invited him to her home, only to discover she wasn’t attracted to him in person. Though she said he seemed perfectly nice and unthreatening, instead of calling off the tryst, she made the decision to have sex with him “because it felt like the path of least resistance.” After he left, she sent him a rage-filled text for “allowing” her to go through with it. She stated that he should’ve sensed her disinterest and bowed out of his own accord. (Because he didn’t read her mind and act as her moral compass for her, she was livid.)
- Great Fatigue?: I once heard a woman say that the process of insisting on condom use caused her “great fatigue.” (Is she having sex on a treadmill? How much energy does it take to say “deal-breaker, dude”?)
- How Dare He Ask Her What She Likes?: At a group lunch recently, a friend of a friend complained about new lovers who ask her “what do you like?” in bed. The other women at the table laughed mockingly at these nameless men with their awkward ignorance. (She refused to answer the offending question posed by her hapless lovers, by the way, and instead would wait till later to gleefully chastise them to friends.)
- Saying Nothing At All? At the same luncheon, minutes later, another woman expressed dismay about men who mimic porn moves in bed. She called them cartoonish and ignorant. When I asked what she said or did to redirect their behavior in ways she found more pleasurable, she and the entire table stared at me blankly. (Because I’m the one who doesn’t get it!?)
The above anecdotes were shared amongst women only,
done so after the fact.
More recently, I witnessed an online verbal attack directed at a man. On a popular feminist blog, in the comment section, a thoughtful and sensitive young man expressed insecurity about his general datability and sexual performance. He then made a casual observation suggesting women have it easier in bed (since women, more than men, are given the option to be passive during sex). It didn’t go over well.
He was verbally abused, rudely shut down, and blatantly denied the space to share his honest experiences, simply because they weren’t in-line with the going narrative, constructed by female commenters—a narrative, I might add, about the male experience. One reply in particular, struck me as exceptionally insensitive. An angry, accusatory young woman refused to believe this man (or any man) could be effected by expectations beyond that of his current partner. She said all he had to do was find an understanding girlfriend and “boom.” He’d cease to feel stress, pressure, or self-doubt about his manliness. She insisted societal expectations weren’t a “thing” for men. They’re only a thing for women. This, on a website known for long thought pieces on rape culture, internalized misogyny, fat shaming, cat calling, trigger warnings, safe spaces, and bullying in all forms. (Well, almost all forms, it would seem.)
It is stressful for a man to enter every sexual scenario believing his “man badge” is on the line. Why is that hard to believe?
(Especially by women who find it overwhelmingly stressful to say anything along the lines of “please touch me differently.”)
A man’s entire life is comprised of win/lose moments. They’re raised to be competitive, to earn their stripes by impressing the rest of The Pack. These rigid masculine roles are so ingrained as to be systemic.
Men are bombarded from all directions, by parents, peers, society at large, and their own internalized image of what “real” men are.
Of course, some women are ambitious too and prioritize career success, but in our society that’s considered their option.
For men, it’s an expectation. It’s placed on them at birth.
That burden is integral to the male experience.
Men labor (literally) under the belief they’re 100% responsible for every success or failure in life, including every sexual encounter.
That’s how sex becomes about scoring points and being a stud, versus sharing intimacy and pleasure with a partner.
Complicit in this skewed vision of what constitutes “good sex” is every woman who wanted something different—more foreplay, a softer touch, less tongue, more tongue, or whatever special (or banal) thing happens to turn her on—and failed to convey those specific desires to her partner.
But if men are to shift their perspective—if we expect them to drop the “stud role,” with its performance-oriented approach to sex—what then?
As is made clear in the NYMag article, women can’t or won’t state their needs, much less take charge in bed.
If they’re so unhappy with the way men are doing it, when will they ever speak up?
When will they become participants in bed, instead of passive, silent, disgruntled audience members writing scathing reviews after the fact?
The dissatisfied women in the article cited power imbalances as the cause of all their problems. In a way, I suppose that’s true. Yet women can reclaim their power at any time by
1) finding their voices and
2) using them.
And not to freelance journalists or to each other,
but to their male partners.
Women who cannot ask for what they want in bed,
shouldn’t even be having sex.
They’re better off in a tower somewhere,
waving a hanky out the window,
awaiting a fairytale prince to save them.
Kristin Casey is an intimacy coach in Austin, Texas. She works exclusively with male clients, specializing in overcoming performance anxiety, dissociation, various forms of dysfunction, and related intimacy issues.
the views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of Franktalks.com.
It is important to present different views/mindsets, and that includes material that may be deemed controversial in nature.
The Articles produced in this post were written by the authors and all rights, titles and interests in these articles belong to the authors (or whoever they assigned those rights too). These articles are published here and are used herein under Fair Use and Fair Copying for the purposes of reviews, and remain the property of the author.
SEX ON CAMPUS
The Game Is Rigged
Why sex that’s consensual can still be bad. And why we’re not talking about it.
By Rebecca Traister
Last winter, Reina Gattuso was a Harvard senior majoring in literature and gender studies and writing a biweekly column for the college newspaper, the Crimson. She covered a variety of subjects, among them her sexuality (she identifies as queer) and Harvard’s byzantine class hierarchies, and she wrote a regular feature called “Four Dollar Wine Critic.” In February, she dedicated her column to the subject of sexist sex.
Gattuso is not against sex by any means. “I don’t say yes. I say oh, yes. I say yes, please,” she wrote. And she did say yes at a booze-soaked party hosted by a group of men she didn’t know. One of the men told her that because she was bisexual, he assumed she was “particularly down to fuck.” He said she could make out with his girlfriend if she would hook up with another of the men.
“I have so much to drink my memory becomes dark water, brief flashes when I flicker up for air,” Gattuso wrote. “I’m being kissed. There’s a boy, then another boy. I keep asking if I’m pretty. I keep saying yes.” But in the morning, she wrote, “I feel weird about what went down” and was unsure how to express her feelings of dissatisfaction and confusion over “such a fucked-up experience.”
Eventually, she realized that what she was grappling with was not just the night in question but also the failure of campus feminism to address those kinds of experiences. We tend to talk about consent “as an individual process,” she wrote, “not asking ‘What kinds of power are operating in this situation?’ but only ‘Did you or did you not say yes?’ ” Feminists, she continued, “sometimes talk about ‘yes’ and ‘no’ like they’re uncomplicated … But ethical sex is hard. And it won’t stop being hard until we … minimize, as much as possible, power imbalances related to sex.”
It may feel as though contemporary feminists are always talking about the power imbalances related to sex, thanks to the recently robust and radical campus campaigns against rape and sexual assault. But contemporary feminism’s shortcomings may lie in not its overradicalization but rather its underradicalization. Because, outside of sexual assault, there is little critique of sex. Young feminists have adopted an exuberant, raunchy, confident, righteously unapologetic, slut-walking ideology that sees sex — as long as it’s consensual — as an expression of feminist liberation. The result is a neatly halved sexual universe, in which there is either assault or there is sex positivity. Which means a vast expanse of bad sex — joyless, exploitative encounters that reflect a persistently sexist culture and can be hard to acknowledge without sounding prudish — has gone largely uninterrogated, leaving some young women wondering why they feel so fucked by fucking.
Feminism has a long, complicated relationship to sex, one that has cycled from embrace to critique and back again. By the time a generation of women woke feminism from its backlash slumber around the millennium, the sex wars of the 1980s were long over. Some second-wave feminists, including Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, had seen sex, pornography, and sexism as all of a piece, finding it impossible to pick the strands of pleasure from the suffocating fabric of oppression. So-called sex-positive feminists — Ellen Willis, Joan Nestle, Susie Bright — set themselves against what they saw as this puritanical slant. The sex-positive crusaders won the war for a million reasons, perhaps especially because their work offered optimism: that sexual agency and equality were available to women, that we were not destined to live our sexual lives as objects or victims, that we could take our pleasures and our power too. They won because sex can be fun and thrilling and because, for the most part, human beings want very badly to partake of it.
So it was only natural that when feminism was resurrected by young women creating a new movement, it was self-consciously sex friendly, insouciant in its approach to the signs and symbols of objectification. No one would ever mistake these feminists for humorless harridans or frigid dick-rejectors. But the underpinning philosophy had shifted slightly. Sex positivity was originally a term used to describe a theory of women, sex, and power; it advocated for any kind of sexual behavior — from kink to celibacy to conscious power play — that women might enjoy on their own terms and not on terms dictated by a misogynistic culture. Now it has become shorthand for a brand of feminism that was a cheerleader for, not a censor of, sex — all sex. Feminism’s sexual focus narrowed in on one issue: coercion and violence. Sex that took place without clear consent wasn’t even sex; it was rape.
In this line of thinking, sex after yes, sex without violence or coercion, is good. Sex is feminist. And empowered women are supposed to enjoy the hell out of it. In fact, Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale law student and founder of anti-rape organization Know Your IX, tells me that she has heard from women who feel that “not having a super-exciting, super-positive sex life is in some ways a political failure.”
Except that young women don’t always enjoy sex — and not because of any innately feminine psychological or physical condition. The hetero (and non-hetero, but, let’s face it, mostly hetero) sex on offer to young women is not of very high quality, for reasons having to do with youthful ineptitude and tenderness of hearts, sure, but also the fact that the game remains rigged.
It’s rigged in ways that go well beyond consent. Students I spoke to talked about “male sexual entitlement,” the expectation that male sexual needs take priority, with men presumed to take sex and women presumed to give it to them. They spoke of how men set the terms, host the parties, provide the alcohol, exert the influence. Male attention and approval remain the validating metric of female worth, and women are still (perhaps increasingly) expected to look and fuck like porn stars — plucked, smooth, their pleasure performed persuasively. Meanwhile, male climax remains the accepted finish of hetero encounters; a woman’s orgasm is still the elusive, optional bonus round. Then there are the double standards that continue to redound negatively to women: A woman in pursuit is loose or hard up; a man in pursuit is healthy and horny. A woman who says no is a prude or a cock tease; a man who says no is rejecting the woman in question. And now these sexual judgments cut in two directions: Young women feel that they are being judged either for having too much sex, or for not having enough, or enough good, sex. Finally, young people often have very drunk sex, which in theory means subpar sex for both parties, but which in practice is often worse (like, physically worse) for women.
As Olive Bromberg, a 22-year-old genderqueer sophomore at Evergreen State, sees it, modern notions of sex positivity only reinforce this gendered power imbalance. “There seems to be an assumption that is ‘Oh, you’re sexual, that means you’ll be sexual with me,’” Bromberg says. “It feeds into this sense of male sexual entitlement via sexual liberation of oneself, and it’s really fucked.”
And again, this is all part of consensual sex, the kind that is supposed to be women’s feminist reward. There’s a whole other level of confusion around the smudgy margins when it comes to experiences like the one I had at college 20 years ago. It was an encounter that today’s activists might call “rape”; which feminist hobgoblin Katie Roiphe, whose anti-rape-activist screed The Morning After was then all the rage, would have called “bad sex”; and which I understood at the time to be not atypical of much of the sex available to my undergraduate peers: drunk, brief, rough, debatably agreed upon, and not one bit pleasurable. It was an encounter to which I consented for complicated reasons, and in which my body participated but I felt wholly absent.
“A lot of sex feels like this,” Gattuso wrote in May, after her popular Crimson columns drew the attention of Feministing, a website at which she has since become a contributor. “Sex where we don’t matter. Where we may as well not be there. Sex where we don’t say no, because we don’t want to say no, sex where we say yes even, when we’re even into it, but where we fear … that if we did say no, or if we don’t like the pressure on our necks or the way they touch us, it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t count, because we don’t count.”
This is not pearl-clutching over the moral or emotional hazards of “hookup culture.” This is not an objection to promiscuity or to the casual nature of some sexual encounters. First of all, studies have shown that today’s young people are actually having less sex than their parents did. Second, old-fashioned relationships, from courtship to marriage, presented their own risks for women. Having humiliating sex with a man who treats you terribly at a frat party is bad but not inherently worse than being publicly shunned for having had sex with him, or being unable to obtain an abortion after getting pregnant by him, or being doomed to have disappointing sex with him for the next 50 years. But it’s still bad in ways that are worth talking about.
Maya Dusenbery, editorial director at Feministing, says that she increasingly hears questions from young women on college campuses that are “not just about violence but all the other bullshit they’re dealing with sexually — how they can get guys to get them off, for instance. I think they need feminists to put forth a positive alternative vision for what sex could be and isn’t. And it’s not just about rape. That’s not the only reason that sexual culture is shitty.”
And it’s not as if that culture disappears upon graduation. Dusenbery, who is now 29, speaks of her “great feminist shame”: After a decade of sexual activity, she very often still doesn’t get off. “In one way that feels so superficial, but then, if I believe sexual pleasure is important, that’s terrible! Come on, Maya! Communicate!” She winds up feeling bad for not having done the work of telling her partners how to make her feel good. “What I want is not for me to have that burden. I want one of my male partners, who are wonderful men who care about me, to have just once been like, ‘No, this is unacceptable to me. I’m not going to continue to have sex with you when you’re not getting off!’ And I can’t imagine that happening.”
Gattuso, who is now on a Fulbright fellowship in India, writes to me in an email: “I sometimes think that in our real, deep, important feminist desire to communicate that sexual violence is absolutely and utterly not okay … we can forget that we are often hurt in ways more subtle and persistent … And we can often totally forget that at the end of the day, sex is also about pleasure.”
Pleasure! Women want pleasure, or at least an equal shot at it. That doesn’t mean some prim quid-pro-quo sexual chore-chart. No one’s saying that sex can’t be complicated and perverse, its pleasures reliant — for some — on riffing on old power imbalances. But its complications can and should be mutually borne, offering comparable degrees of self-determination and satisfaction to women and men.
After all, sex is also, still, political. Contemporary feminism asks us to acknowledge that women “can have as many partners as men, initiate sex as freely as men, without being brutalized and stigmatized, and that’s great,” says Salamishah Tillet, a professor of English and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-founder of A Long Walk Home, an organization that works to end violence against women. The problem arises, she continues, with the feeling that “that alone will mean we’re equal. That alone is not an answer to a system of persistent sexual domination or exploitation. These women are still having these encounters within that larger structure, and men are not being asked to think of the women having sex as their equal partners.”
The black feminist tradition has never completely bought into sex positivity as a means toward a political end. Stereotypes of hypersexualization have always made it harder for black women to be believed as victims of sexual assault and also made it harder for them to engage in a sex-positive culture. Just last year, bell hooks startled an audience during an interview by suggesting that “the face of … liberatory sexuality” for black women might be celibacy.
I am not suggesting that contemporary feminism do away with its sex-positive framework or with its anti-rape activism. But it may need to add a new angle of critique. Describing the strain of popular sex positivity often simply understood as “You get it, girl,” Brodsky says, “I think of it sometimes as Lean In for good sex. In that there are these structural factors that are conspiring against terrific sex, but at work or in the bedroom, if you have the magic word, if you try hard enough, if you are good enough, you can transcend those.” Like Lean In, this kind of sex boosterism can be very valuable. But, continues Brodsky, we need to add to it, just as we do in the workplace. “We need both collective solutions and individual solutions.”
Dusenbery imagines a world in which feminists stop using the language of combat — as in combating rape culture — and instead set out to promote a specific vision of what sexual equality could entail. “It would include so much more: from the orgasm gap to the truly criminal sexual miseducation of our youth to abortion rights to the sexual double standard. Broadening the scope would not only push us to provide the same kind of deep analysis that’s been developed around rape culture in recent years but also help us better see the connections between all the inequities in the sexual culture.”
One thing that’s clear is that feminists need to raise the bar for women’s sex lives way, way higher. “Sure, teaching consent to college freshmen may be necessary in a culture in which kids are graduating from high school thinking it’s okay to have sex with someone who is unconscious,” says Dusenbery. “But I don’t want us to ever lose sight of the fact that consent is not the goal. Seriously, God help us if the best we can say about the sex we have is that it was consensual.”
*This article appears in the October 19, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.
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