Body Pride, Open for Registry

BodyPrideGFH

Body Pride is a completely nude body image workshop I have been running for over three years. Each one consists of facilitated group conversation, wine, snacks and an optional dance party photoshoot! These workshops have integrally changed who I am as a person and how I relate to my body. I have learned and gained so much from every person who attends. They are really transformative, fun and beautiful evenings and I couldn’t recommend them more…

If you’d like to register, please contact Good For Her at +1 416-588-0900.

To Be A Slut 2.0

At 5, my mother asked me if I knew how to play the piano. I said “Yes, of course.” I had never touched a piano before in my young, naive life, yet remained boldly confident that my brain and hands would figure it out because where else would this information come from?

I also believed I could fly, speak several languages and that my younger sister was my personal stepping stool.

It’s possible this big-thinkin’ could’ve turned me into the child prodigy I never was if just maybe my parents had a little more faith that, DUH, of course I could play the piano without any training whatsoever.

(Also: flying? I have that shit FIGURED out so hard in my dreams that I can literally [*what meaning does ‘literally’ have within a dream context?] just START FLYING whenever I want. I can physically feel what it muscles need to move and now it’s like riding a bike. Gravity is much more flexible in my subconscious…).

I have no clue where this innate insistence on being all-knowing came from… A combination of having stubborn-as-fuck parents and the privileges I gained from being raised in a middle-class, white family, I’m sure. Anyway, I can’t play the piano and I do not know how to speak any other languages.

I did, however, carry this absurdly brazzen confidence into my teen years and early twenties. With a very small amount of information, I nixed my University education and delved forth into proclaiming myself a “Sex Educator”.

Now, this probably had about 20% more merit to it than telling people I am pianist… I had boldly bared my naked, non-sexualized bod to be eternalized on the internet, I had read maybe two or three books about porn and non-monogamy, I was having a rampant amount of sex (that I now recognized as confused and vaguely problematic) and I had a pile of self-assurance sitting atop my self-constructed pedestal.

Thus the birth of this blog. And ya know, it hasn’t been for naught and sometimes you just gotta start somewhere. But after 5 years of navigating this world I man-spreaded myself into, I can very accurately tell you I was usually not totally right, often mis-spoke and was poorly informed despite my best intentions.

At some point around 2 or 3 years ago, I recognized the immense amount of information I did not know and how irrelevant my voice was and that there were SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE that were doing a better job than I was and whose voices I valued more than my own on the topics at hand… And I kind of just shut up. Not totally… I still had the absurd amount of stubborn confidence to start a porn company and run queer events (neither of which I had had any training in), but my blog has kind of withered into a ghost of what it was: slightly relevant, humorous (at times), wrought with poor grammar and largely misinformed.

During the past few years, I feel it’s safe to say that I’m putting in the research and reading and learning to actually refer to myself as a “Sex Educator” – if I stand on my toes I can just touch it. And I do largely believe I MAY have something to add to the discourses happening and reach at least SOME people who don’t have access to listening to the same voices I do. But where is all of your ~educating~ happening, Caitlin? It’s a nice title and all, but how exactly do you think you’re informing anyone? Just hoping that the thoughts in your head permeate into the minds of those around the world? Yeah, neat. 

Thus, I will have to begin to write again instead of just sharing articles on Facebook and debating with people I know too well. And 19-year-old Caitlin is jumping in her seat because that tattoo of a quill on my back promising to ‘always be a writer’ might not just be a pretty design anymore.

To start, things I have begun to understand that I have not talked about in the past three years (amongst other things):

  • My own queerness and my own fluid gender expression
  • My preferred lovestyle and how to navigate authentically through that
  • Speaking up for myself in moments I have been taught not to – to hold space where I have often been ignored or undervalued
  • Intersectional feminism and how to actively be anti-oppressive to those who don’t hold the same privileges I do
  • My privilege & I are now very well-acquainted
  • What consent is. Slapped in the face with it and figured out how to be an active participant with it.
  • A deeper appreciation for bodies and minds that are different than mine and that I cannot be a spokesperson for anyone except myself.
  • My kinks

So, with this, here is my official “I’m back for To Be A Slut 2.0” and I’m going to be less wrong about more things. Hopefully.

Molluscum Contagiosum

It happened guys. I got my first STI (note: this post is reeeeaaal personal, you’ve been warned). Realistically, given the amount of sexual encounters I’ve had within the last ten years of being sexually active, I’ve been continuously amazed at my general vaginal health. As a sex educator I am painfully aware of the risks involved in banging, let alone condomless banging. Our fragile human bods are capable of catching all sorts of things when we mash ourselves against another person. But duh, this doesn’t stop us.

Now, even as a sex educator, the logic in my brain can go into a spiralling deficit of hormones when in the midst of heavy-petting with someone I’m into. At this point in my life I’m fine to own up to the fact that I’ve definitely overlooked condom usage a handful of times. It’s fine. It happens. Like, you shouldn’t do it. But it happens.

This is where the kicker comes in… I got the STI that is also not an STI. Molluscum Contagiosum is common in children and can be transmitted through water, gyms, changing areas at pools (some websites claim pools themselves, but there is a whole lot of chlorine in most pools) and yes, also from skin-to-skin contact.

So while there is a possibility that someone in the last two weeks to six months (molluscum has a long incubation period) gave me molluscum from unprotected sex, there is also a high possibility that I contracted the skin virus from working at camp, from sharing a towel, from sitting nude on a surface at a sex club, or even from holding hands/hugging with someone who actively (and, hopefully, unknowingly) had the virus on their skin.

Fun stuff, right?

Like. Meh. I could do without it though.

You’re probably wondering why I am sharing the details of my genital health all over the internet. Accessible to… well… everyone (hi Mom…). Because in the moment of diagnosis I felt wholly and completely: gross, isolated, unloveable, alone, unworthy, dirty, sad, angry, depressed, anxious, unfixable. You name it. It was a fun night…

I’m writing this on the tail end of healing up, so I am in a considerably better headspace than I was a week ago. But having people that I could talk to (also, send them heaps of really gross and unflattering pictures just to get a second opinion) 1000% saved me from drowning in a pit of sadness.

I LOVE my genitalia. The whole shebang. My entire life is a testament to how much I enjoying utilizing my erogenous zones. So when I read on the internet (thanks, internet) that molluscum, while not harmful (no itching, no pain, no nothing, just little inconspicuous bumps that are contagious) will leave the bodies system on its own in 6 months to 2 years I almost barfed. TWO FUCKING YEARS. HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAH.

The longest I’ve gone without sex since I was 19 is probably about 3 weeks, tops (this blog isn’t called ‘to be a slut’ for naught). This potential 2 years of no sex was absolutely not a thing I was down to swallow (pun intended). Not even just the no sex part – the potential of having an intimate relationship with someone would just not even be an option. That’s SAD. STI’s are SAD. But they don’t have to be AS sad if we can talk about them openly and reduce the stigma attached to them.

For 3 days, I lived on the internet, scouring every corner to find a solution. There are creams and lotions and potions you can get (that apparently costs lots of money and do not work). You can go and get them frozen off, but there are always a bunch of dormant ones under the skin that haven’t surfaced, so this is an unnecessary amount of pain to go through. Or you can just wait two years and then get on with your life.

And then I found this heavenly little nook on a blog. The post has comments from the past 4 years of people going through the same problem and finding an actual, quick solution: Apple Cider Vinegar baths (or direct application).

The vinegar burns the bumps from molluscum virus so they turn into scabs and DIE. The baths also bring out any dormant bumps that haven’t surfaced yet, so you have the added benefit of making sure you get everything (although quite a horrifying site if you are not prepared for the surplus).

I smelt like salad dressing for a few days. It could’ve been worse.

I also accidentally burnt some of my vulva with too much vinegar (over-sharing ftw, if this happens to you, potential molluscum-virus-holder, coconut oil is super restorative, but use it sparingly as it can spread the molluscum).

I have been overwhelmed at the incredible quality of people I have in my life. While a good handful of the people I sought comfort from are also involved in sexual health (and therefore, typically have good knowledge of STI stigma), a good handful of them don’t know anything about sexual health at all and they were just really wonderful. A massive shout out to the lady who stared into my butthole for me without even questioning it for a moment (I’ll stare into your butthole any day, girl).

The startling realization that never in my life had I had the opportunity (or even desire) to not have sex with someone I was dating was daunting. While I had never even given my high sex-drive a second thought in regards to dating, all of a sudden I was immensely reassured that I held value as a person. Something that I KNEW (I’m a pretty confident person, she says humbly), but I had never actually experienced it so directly.

This is not the reality for most people. For good reasons people generally like to keep their health issues to themselves. I was very dubious about posting this out of fear of becoming the poster girl for molluscum (whatever. It’s fine). I was skeptical about posting this out of fear of my peers deeming me sexually unappealing or continuously contagious. Or causing previous sex partners to worry about their status (I didn’t give you anything, don’t worry, but you may have given it to me, so you may want to get checked). I didn’t want to have to bear the front of any of my friends or family not knowing enough about sexual health and then having to over-educate far too many people in my immediate life. (I was about to write “worried about job opportunities”, but really, Caitlin? There are FAR more reasons that someone wouldn’t hire you other than the over-sharing about your STI… [*ahem, porn*]. But this may be a reality for other people.)

My week long battle with molluscum has come to an end. It has been emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting. Quite frankly: it fucking sucked. But I am here, at the other end, and I’m FINE and it’s completely because I had people to talk to openly and honestly about it all.

So… If you’ve had or have an STI and want to write about it, you can send it to me and I will post it here, anonymously. For an entire week I was bursting with things to say/write, I can’t imagine I am the only one.

#babysfirstSTI

“Sex Blah-sitive”

Having slept with a fair share of people… who am I kidding. More than my fair share. Like… a few heaping spoonfuls more than my fair share. I can concur that this hysterical and well-written article by Alana Massey on The Guardian is sadly relevant…

“It is more emotionally laborious for a lot of women to explain why they don’t want to have mediocre sex than to simply have the mediocre sex. It’s just that the sex does approximately as much for us as making a cupping motion over our elbow over and over again. It doesn’t hurt, but why would we?”

But I do have a useful piece of information for those that fear they are doomed to partake in mediocre boning for the rest of their lives: find your sex-positive community and/or get involved in feminist porn. These little blissed out pockets of people are filled with folx who know how to fuck.

votes4nudes

Hells yes. What a superb plan. This slut is all about voting AND nudes.

Jessica Simps has created a win-win exchange: send a picture of yourself voting to votes4nudes (on Instagram) and in turn receive a picture of a naked so-and-so because bewbz. You can also follow their tumblr (which is less likely to be taken down by the man). I will be enthusiastically participating in this campaign as a slut who believes sexuality is a positive thing and if nudes are the incentive to get our political system into vaguely better shape, I am proud to be a Canadian.

 

slutsagainst

 

 

 

Body Pride Testimonials

The next Body Pride is Friday November 13th (7-11pm, $50). Please visit Good For Her to register. (This particular workshop will not be open to cis-men.)

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“Dear future naked beings, this will be the most amazing and invigorating experience you will ever have! It is an amazing time! Embrace and love your body!”

“This is such a great experience. So much love and positivity. I haven’t felt this comfortable in a social setting in a very long time. I’m so happy to be invited to these workshops. Everyone here is so special and beautiful.” – Jesse

“Hello ladies of the naked evening! Perhaps you’re feeling a little unsure about this night you’re about to undertake, but rest assured, you’re in for a goodie! This is such a wonderful chance to listen and learn about fantastic women (including yourself) and how their experiences have shaped the sexual forefront.”

“I was kind of scared coming into Body Pride but it was so not needed! The womyn that I met and talked to were totally amazing. This is such a positive place and I feel like I belong and can share without judgement. I feel encouraged and welcoming and want to pay it forward. Such a pleasure. I will be back.” – Yaa

“Fantastic workshop! I have had so much fun. I never would have thought I could do something like this, but the environment was perfect and I was so comfortable. It was great, I would love to do it again!” – Adrienne

“I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I know I found it, because I feel it and I’m sure it’s not the wine!” – J.

“I couldn’t have guessed how liberating and empowering this would be. Amazing! Thank you.” – Danielle

“I am normally introverted and have social anxiety but tonight I felt I was among friends. This was just what I needed. Thank you so much. I hope to come back soon! – Kate