Gender and Sexuality: a Limitless Spectrum

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You CANNOT know a baby’s sex simply by looking at genitalia and you CANNOT know a baby’s gender until they are born!

I’ve been studying gender for about three years now, and to be honest, it still confuses me. People have been learning so much about gender and sexuality in the last few years, it’s pretty hard to keep track of all the developments in understanding. So here are a few brief definitions to help you get your head around gender. Keep in mind that gender and sexuality are much, much more complex and nuanced than these cursory definitions might imply.

While this stuff is really confusing, it is so, so important that we do our very best to understand and to be accepting. Life is hard enough without having people judge and discriminate based on basic aspects of who we are. EVERYONE is affected by society’s unkind “rules” and gender and sexuality, so let’s do our best to breakdown the shitty rules and create a new, accepting understanding.

Biological sex: A person’s sex is simply the genetic and anatomical make-up. This includes chromosomes, organs, and hormones. Biological sex is not a binary of male/female, rather it is a spectrum wherein no two people are alike.

 

Gender Identity: This is your concept of self and how you identify on a scale of masculinity and femininity. This could mean identifying as male, female, both or neither. Like biological sex, gender identity is not a binary, but a spectrum.

 

Gender Expression: This is how you outwardly express your gender identity. This includes, what you wear, how you talk, your behavior and haircut. This is also how people infer your gender.

 

Gender Roles: These are essentially a set of rules, created by society, that dictate how men and women should act. Our society has just two gender roles (male and female), but this is not true of every society.

 

Transgender: This refers to a person whose gender identity does not match the gender that they were assigned at birth.

 

Sexual Orientation: This refers to where your sexual interest lies. For some, attraction is focused on those of the opposite gender (heterosexual), for some it’s focused on those of the same gender (homosexual). Sometimes attraction is based solely on personality (pansexual) and sometimes attraction doesn’t exist at all (asexual). There are many, many more types of sexual orientation.

 

 

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This is me (and my best friend)  I am a female (as far as a know, no one has ever examined my biology to determine to what degree). I identify as fairly feminine but I also like to espouse some traditionally masculine characteristics. I definitely express myself in a fairly typical feminine way (boring, I know). As a female farmer, I sort of subvert traditional female roles. Finally, I am heterosexual. That’s a snapshot of me!

Tension Release

Originally posted here.

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Cafe au lait dahlia doing its thang.

*Disclaimer: The majority of my posts will be accompanied with original art, but for this post I couldn’t figure out a way to illustrate orgasms…it just seemed impossible. So, for this particular post I’ve added some pictures of flowers. When I am not writing and illustrating I am a flower farmer and my love for flowers runs deep. Somehow I feel like their unique beauty is a perfect illustration for the indescribable experience that is the orgasm. I promise my next post will be accompanied by my own illustrations.

What is an orgasm?

“The sudden, involuntary release of sexual tension.”

“The explosive discharge of neuromuscular tension and the peak of sexual response.”

These definitions are vague because the experience is rather indescribable and it varies between everyone. No two men orgasm the same way just as no two women experience orgasms in the same way. Previous experiences with people and unrealistic performances in porn often give the impression that an orgasm looks a certain way, but in reality everyone orgasms differently. The experience can be defined scientifically and explored in a lab, but only you can know your orgasm.  An orgasm can often be achieved in a myriad of ways and through all kinds of physical and emotional contact. However, and I can’t stress this enough, the majority of women CANNOT reach climax through penetration alone, so be creative folks and never underestimate the power of clitoral stimulation!

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For men, orgasms serve an important function. Orgasms are required for conception as they are the vehicle that flings the sperm forth on its journey toward the egg. However, when it comes to women, orgasms seem to have no evolutionary relevance. They are certainly not required for baby making (although it was once believed that mutual orgasm was essential for child creation). The female orgasm appears to function purely for pleasure and this is pretty gosh-darn fascinating and pretty freaking awesome (at least to me). There are two major evolutionary theories on the female orgasm: it functions as a mate selection “tool” (aka a lady’s orgasm serves to further attract a male) or it’s some sort of by-product of the male orgasm (the female orgasm= the male nipple, evolutionarily and functionally irrelevant, but still there). It is pretty amazing to me that something that is so powerful and rather awe-inspiring, is so filled with mystery. The mysteriousness of the orgasm just makes it that much cooler.

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Explicit Content

Originally posted here.

Getting in the Mood:

 

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Male and female (and everything in between, it’s a spectrum) anatomy is formed from the same parts!

Sex is often represented as something that is fast and dirty with lots of eager, panting motions, but it isn’t always that way… Getting turned on is a MAJOR part of sex, a part that is very often overlooked. Different things turn different people on and the process is very complicated and personal. While every person is turned on by different things, the biological process of being turned on is basic:

Before actually doing the nasty, a series of events must take place in order for the experience to be the best it can be. Some research suggests that 30 minutes of foreplay leads to the BEST of the BEST sex (aka an encounter that is chock full of climaxes). However, while aiming for the best is great, sub-best sex is still great. If you think about it, if you only ever had the BEST sex, it wouldn’t actually be the best anymore…

It is important to remember that every person is different in terms of what turns them on and how long it takes them to get in the mood. There are some universal differences between men and women, but there is still a vast ocean of variability between all individuals.  Generally speaking, women are looking more for the “ideal personality” while men are looking for the “ideal look.” This makes sense in evolutionary terms: women are, deep, deep down, looking for a quality collaborator while men are, deep, deep down looking for quality ways to spread their seed. Still, there must always be an emphasis on VARIABILITY, everyone is different even though we are basically all the same…

Suggestion: Ask your partner (or partners) what turns them on…just the act of asking might end up being a turn on…

Arousal is, in essence, a process of turning on the on’s (activating the sexual accelerator) and off the off’s (deactivating the sexual breaks). Accomplishing this depends on every individual whose accelerator and breaks are uniquely molded by their explicit and implicit sexual education. Context matters. Context really, really matters. Just imagine you and your partner are trying to get down to business but there is a baby crying in the next room, no amount of romantic music and candlelight is going to make that context sexy. However, yet again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand that everyone is different. The right context versus the wrong one varies between individuals. Sometimes individuals under stress have increased sex drives and others might have a dwindled sex drive while stressed…what’s the lesson? COMMUNICATE. Maybe it’s awkward, but trust me, it is so worth it.

Once You’re in the Mood

The stages…

Excitement: Increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased sensitivity, nipple erection, increased odor, lubrication and erection.

Plateau: Continued increase in heart rate and blood pressure, increased breathing rate, and involuntary muscle contractions.

Orgasm: Heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate reach maximum levels, and involuntary muscle spasms.

Resolution Phase: Return to non-excited state.

Physiological responses to sexual stimuli DO NOT necessarily indicate desire or consent!

The Finale

These days we have a bunch of options for birth control so sex isn’t always about making babies. And even if babies are not your thing, it is pretty cool to see how they get made…

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Check out this great article on the Egg and Sperm Story