A little kink, a lot of confidence

kink-sex-cerebral-palsy“Sex with a disability is a tough sell,” writes a queer woman named Carrie, “but not (just) for the reasons people assume. In my experience, the hardest part isn’t convincing someone else you’re desirable — it’s convincing yourself that your body is worth pleasing.”

For her, one small act of kink gave her more permission for pleasure than she’d ever given herself.

Carrie has cerebral palsy, which manifests itself in a walk that resembles the cover of Cat Power’s Jukebox, foot braces adorned with rainbow straps, and various bodily aches and pains.

More broadly, her CP makes others treat her like an object of pity, like a child unable to make her own decisions and take her own risks. On top of this, she rarely sees bodies like hers — especially bodies like hers depicted as beautiful.

After college, Carrie met a woman named Alex online, and they began having sex. After a month or two, Alex proposed delving into some bondage. Carrie was intrigued; it was unusual for someone to ask her to take a physical risk. But, there was a problem. Alex admitted, “I’m afraid I’m going to hurt you.”

Carrie was upset.

What that said to me was, “this woman still thinks I’m a little girl.”

Up to that point, I thought I’d done everything “right”: cultivated a functional relationship, finally let someone see me with my clothes off, said yes to sex, talked about my body, listened about hers, been willing to try new things, behaved like an adult. But it turns out it hadn’t worked . . . she still saw me as vulnerable. Not in the way that brings people closer, mind you, but in the way that makes them afraid to touch you. Makes them think you’re breakable.

Instead of screaming in her face, which is what I really wanted, I turned her question back on her and asked: “Who’s better at pain than I am?”

It was a choice that paid off.

The next time they had sex, Alex blindfolded Carrie, then handcuffed her hands above her head. She pinched Carrie’s skin until her chest was covered in clothespins. Sitting back, Alex admired her partner and mused, “I’ve never been able to do that before. Nobody has been able to take that many.”

That was Carrie’s breakthrough.

It’s not often (i.e., almost never) that I get told I’m good at a physical activity. But now my body, which had spent so many years letting me down and making decisions without my consent, had gone and done something absolutely right — and done it better. It had done something other people’s bodies, “healthy” bodies, hadn’t been able to . . . that night, I realized that my pain tolerance and the things my body did well were assets rather than things to be run from or ashamed of. To know that what had been perceived (especially by me) as defective about my body was actually what made me desirable, powerful and sexy for the first time ever — that moment was beautiful.

Carrie’s experience of kink with her partner had a strong impact on how she viewed herself and her body. For once, her cerebral palsy was not overlooked. It was, instead, acknowledged and honored as an integral and unique part of her. Pleasure mixed with pain — and best of all, it was a pain that could be controlled. A pain that was purposeful. And a pain that felt good.

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Full-Bodied Fellatio

Thursday, June 26th — 7:30 p.m. — $20

What do you do when your partner lacks blowjob skills? Where do you go for training when you wish to improve your own? Here!

M. Makael Newby is a relationship coach and dance instructor with a particular skill for breaking physical action into components and teaching them with enthusiasm… and blowjobs are one of her favorite things. This class will educate both the givers and receivers. Come learn about creating anticipation, communication, preparing for success, hand skills, tongue tricks, prostate massage, deep throating, sloppy BJs, choking and forced gagging for both bio and strap-on penises. Live demo (on dildo) included.

Many of these techniques are included in My Erotic Adventure, her choose-your-own styled erotic novel. Get empowered to give and receive extraordinary head!

This class is full — but there’s another in August!


Exploring Burlesque: Striptease Salon

Wednesday, June 18th — 7:30 p.m. — $20

Have you ever wanted to rock your boa? Peel your stocking? Shimmy your hips? Get your glamour puss on because this class is for you! Join Orchestre L’Pow producer Madison Moone for Striptease Salon, a flirty evening of classic bump and grind perfect for beginners or just the curious.

Students will be guided through a sexy burlesque movement study including bumps, grinds and struts, followed by a tantalizing round of peeling techniques and prop dancing. We will also explore classic burlesque characters before constructing a series of short teases as a group. Together, we will discover a deeper sense of our personal erotic being while developing a greater appreciation for our feminine power!

Students should dress in comfortable clothes such a yoga or dance wear. Music and demo props will be provided by Miss Moone. All levels of fitness welcome, no dance experience or nudity required. Please avoid alcohol consumption before attending and arrive by 7:20 p.m. — class will begin promptly at 7:30 p.m., no late entrance after 7:45 p.m. No photographs are permitted. There will be time for shopping after the class!

Grab your best girlfriends and join Miss Moone for an evening of fun, laughs and celebration of the female spirit. See you in class!

Limited space available — sign up online!

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Good in Bed/Good in Birth: Science and Celebration of Oxytocin

Samantha ZipporahSunday, June 1st — 7:30 p.m. — $15

Did you know the act of giving birth naturally is the height of the human body’s ability to release ecstasy inducing levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin? Orgasm is a step below birth on the spectrum of human experiences that release this amazing hormone. The step below orgasm is nipple stimulation.

The environmental, emotional, and physical factors that create the circumstances in which a person can surrender their ego and intellectual identity to enjoy an ecstatic orgasm also facilitate ecstatic empowered natural birth. The release of intellectual and ego identity, feelings of safety, intimacy, and surrender are crucial to healthy and complete release of oxytocin. Relaxation, rhythm, and ritual all help stimulate it as well.

In this workshop, full spectrum doula and sensualist Samantha Zipporah will offer a lecture and experiential exercises exploring the human mind, body, and spirit during the release of oxytocin. Her intention is to empower not just birthing folks, but any person who is seeking to understand the physiology of intimacy, connection, and ecstatic embodiment. Participants will leave with practical tips to support oxytocin release throughout the human experience, including but not limited to birth and sexuality.

Samantha Zipporah supports people through a full spectrum of experiences with sexual health and fertility as a full spectrum doula, revel rouser, and ovulation awareness aficionado. She has been attending birth since 2006, and studied midwifery with luminary Elizabeth Davis who literally wrote the book on Orgasmic Birth. She spent years as a peer mediator, sex-educator, and patient advocate at Planned Parenthood, and in 2011 created The Happy Hysteria Health Collective. In her work she hopes to inspire reverence and respect for the sacred cycles of nature within the human body, and believes the practical is radical: we can empower ourselves through education, discovery, and manifesting our own unique experience as sexual creatures.

Limited space available — sign up online!


The untold story of the donut/penis sex tip

donutChances are that at some point over the years, you’ve come across Cosmo’s infamous sex tip to put a donut on a penis and eat it off. It’s pretty ubiquitous. What you probably don’t know is how that tip came to be, how it has been recycled over the years, and how it plays out in practice.

Thanks to some rigorous journalism, we have the full story. Amanda Hess traced the donut/penis tip all the way back to 1995, where it appeared in a sexual recipe book called The Foreplay Gourmet, and then again in 2000, in a “sexual exercise” book where it was jokingly suggested as a tool to strengthen penile muscles.

But the tip graced the pages of Cosmopolitan for the first time in June of 2003. The cover of the magazine hinted: “99 Ways to Touch Him: These Fresh, Frisky Tips Will Thrill Every Inch of Your Guy (Our Favorite Requires a Glazed Doughnut).” An anonymous source elaborated: “My girlfriend gets a glazed donut and sticks my penis through the hole. She nibbles around it, stopping to suck me every once in a while. The sugar beads from her mouth tingle on my tip.”

The tip was repeated in future issues of the magazine and even in Cosmo-related books. Kate White, editor of Cosmopolitan from 1998 through 2012, admitted that sex tips could be recycled because “readers would age out of the magazine.” Plus, it was a different time, and even the silliest of tips represented an attitude shift:

. . . in 1998, young women had few outlets for reading about sex outside of the Starr Report. Crowding around a Cosmopolitan beat sneaking to the family desktop that moved at dial-up speed . . . only when White took over did the magazine actually get “very candid” about just what a fun, fearless female does when she hops into bed. [White says,] “We gave them permission to enjoy having sex.” For all its ludicrousness, Cosmopolitan presented a vision of limitless sexual experimentation, no shame.

The internet is faster now, and women are arguably more open about their sex lives. But still, the donut/penis tip lives on, joining the ranks of other strange household objects that Cosmo has posited as sex accouterments. Thankfully, there are brave souls in the world willing to test drive Cosmo’s ideas. Anna Pulley recently tried these five:

  • “Slip a donut around his penis, and slowly eat it off.”
  • “Sprinkle a little pepper under his nose right before he climaxes. Sneezing can feel similar to an orgasm and amplify the feel-good effects.”
  • “Feed each other ice cream [in the dark]. Not being able to see means more spilling, which means more licking up the mess.”
  • “Press a fork (firmly, but don’t break the skin or anything) into different parts of his body — his butt cheeks, his pecs, his thighs.”
  • “As you’re riding him, clamp down on his earlobes with your fingers, and pull on them to rock yourself forward and backward.”

So how was the donut tip in action? Well, it certainly resulted in some hilarious conundrums:

Since I love donuts, I thought this would be the most enjoyable experience to try, out of all the tips. But it turns out that being picky about the donuts you want to put in your face works against you when you want to put donuts on a penis. I first searched for a chocolate old-fashioned — not only because it’s delicious, but also because the hole is often bigger than the ones in yeast donuts. After going to three different donut shops and failing, I settled on a common chocolate glazed donut, whose hole measured three-quarters of an inch (yes, I measured it).

. . . What the advice doesn’t mention is this: It’s virtually impossible to consume food and blow someone at the same time. This extra work made the dough job last a lot longer than it would have otherwise because I kept having to stop to chew and swallow before I could take anything else in my mouth.

Meanwhile, the pepper and fork tips made for lackluster sexual experiences, while the ice cream tip was deemed the best: “Ice cream, it turns out, is something not even Cosmo can ruin.” And although Pulley found that earlobes don’t provide nearly enough surface area to grasp, she was just happy “to try a tip that didn’t hinge on Cosmo’s insistence that I have sex with as many household items as possible.”

Since Joanna Coles took over Cosmopolitan in 2012, the magazine has been making a concerted effort to phase out sex tips that are only about pleasing a man, while giving an extra wink to the tips that may seem a bit off-the-wall. Anna Pulley tried all the tips on her female partner, and although most of them were failures, none of them failed because of her partner’s gender.

Nonetheless, the infamous donut-on-a-penis idea was revived again last month. Writer Krista McHarden admitted it was Cosmo’s “wackiest, craziest, most batshit battiest sex tip,” but actually, she clarified, it’s “suuuuper fun.”

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10% Tuesdays in April for Portland Women’s Crisis Line

Each Tuesday this April, 10% of our sales at She Bop will go to the Portland Women’s Crisis Line (PWCL). PWCL is a hugely important organization that offers 24/7 support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. They offer services such as safety planning, peer support, crisis intervention, needs assessments, and referrals to community resources. They have specialized programs for sexual assault and sex workers. PWCL is an invaluable asset to our community, and we are honored to be able to give back to them for the tireless work that they do.

April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to RAINN, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes. This unfortunate statistic is a reality for 1 out of every 6 American women. Here are a few resources for thinking about and combating sexual assault.

We also carry the book Healing Sex and its DVD counterpart, which are aim to help survivors of sexual trauma reclaim their sex lives.


Altered consciousness for sadomasochists?


It may come as little surprise for those who regularly engage in BDSM, but researchers are proving why sadomasochism is so alluring: it may actually lead to a different level of consciousness.

James Ambler, a graduate student in psychology at Northern Illinois University, set out to understand why some people engage in sexual behaviors that others consider painful. He enlisted 14 “switches” (people who enjoy both giving and receiving pain), who were each randomly assigned a role for an ensuing sexual experience.

Afterward, participants took a cognitive test called the Stroop task and also reported on their “flow,” a state of focus and enjoyment that people enter when engrossed in an activity.

Both givers and receivers described similar levels of “flow” during the sexual experience, but pain-receivers produced lower Stroop task scores. Low Stroop scores are associated with short-term dips in function in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that manages memory and control.

What does this mean? It means that during sadomasochistic activities, the brain is forcing blood flow away from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — facilitating an altered state of consciousness.

This conclusion is bolstered by another couple of researchers at the same university. They studied “energy pulls,” during which folks get temporary skin piercings through which hooks and ropes are looped, then pulled taut. Saliva samples from the 22 participants showed a spike in cortisol, a stress hormone, during the ritual — but participants reported feeling both less stressed and more connected to others.

Researchers believe this disparity is due to an altered state of consciousness, as well as a reduction in function in that same dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Among other things, that part of the brain is responsible for distinguishing the self from others, so less blood flow to the area can cause a sensation of oneness.

These results may be fairly general, but they lay the groundwork for future studies. Down the line, researchers hope to enact real-time monitoring of participants to examine the physiological and psychological components of BDSM and how they mingle during a sexual experience. Now that would be really interesting.

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Female Ejaculation and the G-spot with Deborah Sundahl

Thursday, May 29th — 7:30 p.m. — $25

This class will be held at the Q Center, three blocks north from us at 4115 N Mississippi.

All female-bodied people have a G-spot and posses the ability to ejaculate. Learn how to get this wonderful feminine fountain flowing! Sex educator and author Deborah Sundahl will teach you all you need to know about female ejaculation and the G-spot, such as where the G-spot is located, how to stimulate it, and how to have a G-spot orgasm. Find out about female ejaculate’s taste, smell, chemical make-up and quantity, as well as its ancient, cross-cultural herstory. Discover the best sexual positions for stimulating the G-spot, plus tips for your partner on helping you ejaculate. Finally, learn what a flowing feminine fountain really looks like with a 10-minute movie!

Deborah Sundahl is an international sex educator who specializes in teaching women and couples about the G-spot and female ejaculation. With 28 years of experience, she is the leading expert and pioneer in this field, and has coached hundreds of women on finding their G-spots. She wrote the first, groundbreaking book on female ejaculation in 2003, Female Ejaculation and the G-spot, and was a nominee for the 2007 Obelisk Award for Lifetime Achievement in Erotic Writing and Publishing. She has appeared on local, national and international radio and TV, and has been interviewed in magazines such as Esquire, Playboy, Penthouse, and Spin. She has also directed several instructional DVDs, such as Female Ejaculation: The Workshop and Female Ejaculation for Couples.

This workshop is open to all genders and sexual appetites!

Limited space available — sign up online!


Back That Ass Up!: Anal Sex 101

Thursday, May 15th — 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!


Pleasure, Power, and Pain: An Introduction to BDSM

Wednesday, May 7th — 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!

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Welcome to She Bop’s blog!

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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