Aug
30

Finally, inclusive children’s sex ed books

Illustration from "Sex is a Funny Word" (Fiona Smyth)

Illustration from “Sex is a Funny Word” (Fiona Smyth)

What do sex ed books for kids look like without assumptions about gender, sexuality, race, size, and ability? They look a lot like Cory Silverberg’s What Makes a Baby and Sex is a Funny Word.

Being inclusive means never showing a whole body naked from head to toe. It means conditional words such as “some,” “most,” “usually,” and “often” — not absolutes. It means giving the clitoris and the penis an equal word count. It means not attaching the words “woman” and “man” (or “mommy” and “daddy”) to specific types of bodies. It means leaving space for discussion. It means illustrations that present a world of color, of joy, and of difference.

It means moving beyond a man with sperm, a woman with eggs, and a bed with intercourse.

In an interview with Kveller, Silverberg explains the ending of What Makes a Baby, which reads, “who was waiting for you to be born?”

That idea grew out of a conversation with a woman who adopted her daughter on her own. We were talking about how long she waited for this baby, this baby she didn’t know but she spent literally years imagining. That act of imagination is an act of love. And it is no less powerful or important than the parent who is pregnant and waiting nine months for their child to be born. Most of the time we give all the credit to parents who get pregnant and deliver their children. I wanted to end the book in a way that honors all parents who love their kids regardless of the role they had in the biological baby making part.

Sex educator Cory Silverberg was the perfect person to write these books. His mom was a feminist and a children’s librarian; his dad was a sex therapist. Growing up, there was no word for how he felt — except “outsider.” Now he identifies as queer. In 1997, he co-founded Come As You Are, a cooperatively-run feminist sex shop in Toronto. In 2007, he co-wrote The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability, and since 2005 he has served as the Sexuality Guide for About.com.

What Makes a Baby was inspired by one of Silverberg’s friends, a trans dad who was not biologically related to his children. One day he asked Silverberg, “what is the least bad book you can recommend, or better: have you written yours yet?” The masses also desperately wanted an inclusive children’s sex ed book, as evidenced by the book’s wildly successful crowdfunding campaign. Donations exceeded the project’s initial goal by over $50,000.

Silverberg’s second children’s book, Sex is a Funny Word, was just released. This one is geared toward children ages 8 to 10. In interviews with The Hairpin and Lambda Literary, Silverberg discusses his upbringing, what it’s like to collaborate with illustrator Fiona Smyth, and why he avoids giving definitive advice in his books He also talks about the challenges of writing and illustrating Sex is a Funny Word, particularly in the chapter about masturbation:

We were really struggling with how to illustrate it. I didn’t want a hands-down-the-pants picture. For one thing, masturbation isn’t just about touching your genitals, but I also didn’t want anything explicitly sexual in a book for seven-to-10-year-olds. Fiona came up with the image of each kid having a biodome that represented their bodies and their sensations, with places like Tickle Country and Sore Valley, which brilliantly conveys the point that through exploring your own body you are going to learn all sorts of things about it and how it feels.

A third book is in the works, which will complete the trilogy and offer inclusive sex information to children 10 and up. To follow along, become a fan of the books on Facebook. Plus, check out Cory Silverberg’s recent interview on Tristan Taormino’s Sex Out Loud Radio, in which Taormino calls Sex is a Funny Word “one of the most inclusive books I’ve ever read on any subject for any audience.”

  Musings       
Aug
29

HUMP! submission deadline: September 30th

hump-2015-call-for-submissionsAs summer enters its last weeks, the annual HUMP! submission deadline looms near. If you’ve ever wanted to dip your toes into porn-making or starring in an erotic film, HUMP! is the film festival for you. HUMP! accepts films from all across the spectrum of sexuality, gender identity, kink, and style — from softcore to hardcore, animated to live action. We love HUMP!, so we’re sponsoring again this year!

This year’s extra credit props are hula hoops and Mike Huckabee’s book God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy. Add these items to your film to show the audience your film was created especially for this year’s HUMP!.

Appearing in a film for HUMP! means getting to be a porn star in a movie theater — not on the internet. Winning films will be shown in Seattle and Portland, then in a national tour. This year, all filmmakers will receive a portion of the tour’s ticket sales. Audience ballots will also determine winners of Best Humor, Best Sex, Best Kink, and Best in Show — all of whom will receive cash prizes.

Films must be under 5 minutes in length and can be submitted digitally or physically. The deadline for submission is no later than Wednesday, September 30th at 3 p.m. Further instructions for submission can be found here.

  Community      , ,  
Aug
21

Even More Pleasure, Power, and Pain: Expanding Your BDSM Experiences

AnnamarieSunday, November 1st — 7:30 p.m. — $20

Do you have a basic understanding of BDSM play? Perhaps you’ve read some of the how-to manuals, own some kinky toys, took a class or two, or have explored some sexy role play in the bedroom. Where do you go from here?

In this class, you’ll learn skills to help you build hot, intense scenes no matter what you’re into. We’ll cover how to take some of the BDSM basics a bit farther, plus learn some edgier types of play such as CBT, nipple/breast torment, and orgasm control. There will also be a discussion of public play — how to get invited to a party, what to expect, good etiquette, and more!

Be ready to try things out (optional, but so much fun!), ask questions, and share your experiences!

Annamarie is a passionate sex educator with a knowledge fetish. Sexuality has been a life-long interest, with a focus on embracing our entire sexual selves, growing as erotic beings, and creating community. She has been presenting and teaching workshops on sexuality, polyamory, and BDSM in the Portland area and around the west coast since 2006. You can learn more at her websites, Fierce Grace and PDX Kink Events.

This class has already taken place. Thanks for attending!

  Events      , ,  
Aug
21

Mapping the Vulva: Anatomy, Communication, Touch, & Pleasure

Wednesday, October 28th — 7:30 p.m. — $20

Stella HarrisThere is so much confusion surrounding vulvas that it’s become a pop-culture joke, from Orange is the New Black to Gay Men Draw Vaginas — where even the title is inaccurate. Unfortunately, the joke is on us. With vulvas being a place of mystery (and worse, a source of shame), our ability to receive pleasure from this area of the body can be extremely diminished. This class will dispel misinformation and teach you all about the vulva — from anatomy to styles of touch. In addition to the external genitalia, we’ll also discuss the vagina, the G-spot, and the underlying anatomical structures.

With a focus on intimacy and connection, this class will cover styles of communication that will set both the giver and the receiver of touch at ease and give you tools to communicate your desires. There is a whole world of pleasure available if giver and receiver are willing to learn how to relax, open up, to touch and receive touch.

Stella Harris is an author, educator, and coach who focuses on intimacy and connection. As a certified Intimacy Educator, she uses a variety of tools to guide and empower her clients and she teaches everything from pleasure anatomy, to communication skills, to kink and BDSM. She has presented classes for a variety of organizations including the Portland Leather Alliance, the Portland Academy of Sex Ed, Sex Positive Portland, and more, and has spoken at Portland State University, Reed College, and Pacific University. Stella is widely published in print and online, from erotic fiction to educational and lifestyle pieces on sex and kink.

Stella hopes to build a world where everyone has the tools and confidence to explore their sexuality safely and free of shame.

This class has already taken place. Thanks for attending!

Aug
21

Pleasure, Power, and Pain: An Introduction to BDSM

Sunday, October 18th — 7:30 p.m. — $20

BDSM — whips, chains, and lots of black leather, right? Well… sometimes! But the world of kink and BDSM covers so much more, from a little rough sex to the opportunity to explore your personal boundaries, both emotional and physical.

If you’ve been curious about something you’ve read, or turned on by a scene in a movie that’s a little rougher than the usual fare, this class is for you! You’ll learn how to use those amazing toys and have the chance to see what they feel like. We’ll also be discussing role play, power dynamics, and resources for finding the local BDSM community.

Bring your fantasies, your questions, and your curiosity and get ready for a hot evening!

Annamarie is a passionate sex educator with a knowledge fetish. Sexuality has been a life-long interest, with a focus on embracing our entire sexual selves, growing as erotic beings, and creating community. She has been presenting and teaching workshops on sexuality, polyamory, and BDSM in the Portland area and around the west coast since 2006. You can learn more at her website.

This class has already taken place. Thanks for attending!

  Events      , ,  
Aug
1

New product round-up for July

new-products-july-2015

The most exciting vibrator release of the month is the Fun Factory Tiger G5, an updated version of the company’s popular G4 toy. This textured, perfectly-curved wonder has a revamped button interface and more pliable shaft. What didn’t change? It’s still jam-packed with power!

Our other new toys this month come from Tantus. They just released the Uncut #1 and Uncut #2, some of the world’s first body-safe uncircumcised dildos. Cast in the company’s signature dual-density silicone, these toys feel incredibly life-like! We also grabbed Tantus’ Vibrating Progressive Pleasure Beads (finally, vibrating silicone anal beads!) and Vibrating Super Soft C Ring.

new-books-dvds-july-2015

We have so much new media for you to enjoy! From local Microcosm Publishing, Hot Pants: Do It Yourself Gynecology and Herbal Remedies contains all sorts of useful info on at-home remedies for cramps, PMS, and infections, while Consensuality: Navigating Feminism, Gender, and Boundaries Towards Loving Relationships details feminist lessons in healthy partnerships. We also picked up Best Bondage Erotica 2015, a curated selection of kinky stories, and My Life on the Swingset, a collection of personal essays about non-monogamy, sex toys, and other escapades.

Many porn additions to our shelves this month, as the top feminist porn directors of modern times continue cranking out excellent work! There’s Doing it Again, Vol. 2the follow-up to Tobi Hill-Meyer’s trans-women-focused Doing It Ourselves, plus James Darling’s FTM Fucker, Volume 1 and Courtney Trouble’s Lesbian Curves 3 (you guessed it — the latest in their Lesbian Curves series). Renowned director Erika Lust even added another DVD to her popular series which brings anonymous fantasies to life: X Confessions Vol. 4.

Adding to our collection of locally-made bath products from Sea Grape, we now have their delicious-smelling massage candles. We also picked up Earthly Body’s Miracle Oil Tea Tree Shave Cream, which is infused with natural hemp seed oil.

Jul
30

10% Tuesdays in August for Bitch Media

Bitch: the Blue Issue10% Tuesdays for Bitch are back! Throughout the month of August, 10% of our sales on Tuesdays will go to the non-profit organization Bitch Media. Bitch’s mission is to encourage an engaged, thoughtful feminist response to mainstream media and popular culture.

Check out Bitch’s toy, lube, and book recommendations for some ideas on what to snag!

We are big fans of Bitch. They’re an invaluable voice in the feminist discourse. We constantly find ourselves wanting to signal boost the stuff they publish — like their account of dildo innovation, their history of American sex ed films, their interview with the author of Big Big Love, their sex worker series “The H-Word,” their interview with sex diary purveyor Arianne Cohen, and their BDSM series “Thinking Kink.”

But it’s not just their blog that’s amazing; their print magazine, which has been in circulation since 1996, is still going strong. Bitch also hosts awesome events, fosters a community lending library at their headquarters in NE Portland, and publishes an array of fun podcasts for your listening pleasure. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute tidbits!

Whether you are a long-time devotee or a newbie to this awesome magazine and non-profit organization, you can now be a supporter and get some fabulous sex toys to boot. Drop by She Bop or shop online on any Tuesday in August to support Bitch!

Jul
28

Communication in the Bedroom: Asking For What You Want

Stella HarrisWednesday, September 30th — 7:30 p.m. — $15

Knowing what you want isn’t as easy as it sounds, and asking for it can be even trickier. Honesty puts us in a vulnerable place, opening us up to rejection or shame. People of all genders and sexualities have a lot of cultural baggage to work through, from messages implying that wanting sex or pleasure is slutty (and that that’s a bad thing) to ubiquitous sex tips that make it sound like we’re supposed to read our partners’ minds.

All of this sets us up for failure, and many people never take the chance to open a dialogue with their partner(s). But being able to talk about your wants and needs is the only way to get them met.

In this class we’ll talk about styles of communication, ways to put yourself and your partner at ease, and specific examples of tools and phrases to try. We’ll discuss how to start the conversation and how to incorporate communication into dirty talk. Not sure what to ask for? We’ll talk about some common fantasies you might want to try.

As always, there will be time for Q&A, and all genders and orientations are welcome.

Stella Harris is an author, educator, and coach who focuses on intimacy and connection. As a certified Intimacy Educator, she uses a variety of tools to guide and empower her clients and she teaches everything from pleasure anatomy, to communication skills, to kink and BDSM. She has presented classes for a variety of organizations including the Portland Leather Alliance, the Portland Academy of Sex Ed, Sex Positive Portland, and more, and has spoken at Portland State University, Reed College, and Pacific University. Stella is widely published in print and online, from erotic fiction to educational and lifestyle pieces on sex and kink.

Stella hopes to build a world where everyone has the tools and confidence to explore their sexuality safely and free of shame.

This class has already taken place. Thanks for attending!

Jul
28

Back That Ass Up!: Anal Sex 101

Thursday, September 24th — 7:30 p.m. — $20

AJ (aka Amory Jane)Are you interested in anal pleasure but not sure where to get started? Already tried anal play but wanting to learn some fun tricks and techniques? Whether you’re brand new to the wonderful world of anal or already have some backdoor experience, this class is sure to teach you something new!

In this educational and humorous workshop, AJ will confront taboos, go over anal anatomy, prostate, and the G-spot, discuss anal penetration for beginners, and show great positions for anal sex. She’ll also cover safety and hygiene and give you the inside scoop on all the best lubes and anal toys! This class is open to all genders and sexual appetites.

AJ (aka Amory Jane) is one of She Bop’s in-house sex educators. She graduated with a master’s degree from Lewis & Clark College, where she studied Sex Therapy and Marriage, Couple, & Family Counseling. She has facilitated multiple discussion groups and taught dozens of sex education workshops around Portland and the Midwest. She also moonlights as a sex-positive relationship coach.

This class has already taken place. Thanks for attending!

Jul
26

When dildos came out of the closet

sex-aids-for-women

In the 1970s, dildos were a point of contention in the feminist movement. A 1974 issue of Lesbian Tide warned: “anyone admitting to using a dildo today would probably be verbally castigated for enjoying ‘phallic’ pleasure.” Some activists thought dildos were too reminiscent of the patriarchy. Others felt that since dildos specifically didn’t require men, using them could actually be a subversive act.

The debate was more about what the dildo represented than precisely how it looked, but looks mattered too. Hyper-realistic vein-ridden dildos were the order of the day, and they tended to emit a strong chemical scent. It would still be a long time before the harms of plasticizers such as phthalates would come to light, but it was obvious that rubber was not the highest quality of dildo materials.

In her thought-provoking piece for Bitch on the early history of silicone dildos, Hallie Lieberman explores not just the feminist debate about the dildo, but also how dildo innovation in the ’70s came from an unlikely place: a humble man named Gosnell Duncan. After becoming paralyzed from the waist down in a workplace accident, Duncan began attending disability conferences and pondering how to enrich his (and others’) sex lives. Conference attendees were intrigued when he mentioned dildos as an option, and so began his journey into dildo-making.

Duncan had a hunch that he could improve upon the dildos of the time, because he was in talks with a chemist at General Electric to formulate the perfect formulation of silicone. Silicone was far more body-safe than rubber: it had no smell, no taste, and wouldn’t melt when exposed to heat — so it could be sterilized between partners. After 9 months of discussion, they discovered the ideal silicone and Duncan began making molds and manufacturing dildos in his basement.

Of course, manufacturing is only half the battle. Marketing was another hurdle. Duncan quickly found that placing ads in disability publications wasn’t enough to keep his business afloat. He renamed his company, from Paramount Therapeutic Products to Scorpio Products, and called up Dell Williams, founder of Eve’s Garden in NYC — the first ever feminist sex toy store.

But Eve’s Garden didn’t stock dildos. Only vibrators.

eves-garden

“Why did a dildo have to look like a cock at all, I asked Duncan,” Williams wrote in her memoir. “Did it have to have a well-defined, blushed-pink head, and blue veins in bas-relief?” Williams wasn’t sure that her customers would buy dildos, no matter what they looked like. But she was willing to find out. She sent out a customer survey asking her patrons what they would want in a dildo. Williams’s customers said that it wasn’t about size, it was about substance: They wanted “something not necessarily large, but definitely tapered. Not particularly wide but undulated at its midsection. Something pliable and easy to care for. Something in a pretty color.”

. . . When he poured his first vat of liquid silicone rubber into a penis-shaped mold, Duncan did not think of his dildo-making as a political act. He was seeking to solve a problem that he, and thousands of other disabled men and their lovers, faced. But in the 1970s dildos were imbued with politics, so to enter the dildo business was to make a political statement. Duncan could have refused to design nonrepresentational dildos in fanciful colors like blue and purple. But he chose to hear Williams out.

So Gosnell Duncan invented, for perhaps the first time, a dildo that represented what women actually wanted. It was called the Venus. Cast in chocolate brown or pink silicone, it resembled a finger — and it was made of a material that wasn’t toxic to the body.

Around that same time, in 1977, Good Vibrations opened in San Francisco. Founder Joani Blank only stocked 2-3 dildos and didn’t display them outright; they were hidden in a plain cabinet in the back. Customers were only shown the cabinet if they asked whether the shop carried “anything else.”

The dildos were brought out permanently in the early 1980s, when Susie Bright began working at the store. Bright was outspoken about dildos, writing in the inaugural edition of her lesbian erotica magazine On Our Backs, “ladies, the discreet, complete, and definitive information on dildos is this: penetration is as heterosexual as kissing!”

In small, feminist sex shops, the conversation around dildos was changing. They were coming out of the closet. And when Bright went to stock the store’s shelves, she knew just who to call: Gosnell Duncan.

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She Bop is a women-owned sex toy boutique specializing in body safe products and education. Our mission is to promote healthy and safe sexuality by offering quality products and educational workshops in a fun and comfortable environment. She Bop welcomes people of all genders and sexual orientations.
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