Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Art of Domination



In a society that emphasizes the value of ‘dominance,’ I’ve noticed a significant dearth of men who are actually skilled in this art.

I don’t intend to blame or emasculate nor do I mean to imply that it is always a man who dominates and a woman who submits. There are a significant number of cases where a woman tops a man, a man tops another man, a woman tops another woman or any variation of gender fluidity in between. Domination has more to do with the quality of one’s energy than the genitals between one’s legs.

However, since domination is a role that requires a more masculine set of skills,  we often see men take the ‘dominant’ role in carnal play.

As a woman who has spent most of her sexual life on the bottom, I consider a skillful dom to be nothing short than a gift from God. I will bow before the throne of this man. I will kiss his feet, offer my unending devotion and surrender all that I am at the altar of him.

So why does it seem that, in the (almost) lament of Flannery O’Connor, a good ‘dom’ is hard to find?

In a word: humility. Or lack thereof.

What is typically described as ‘dominance’ actually stems from reptilian-minded, scarcity-driven thinking, i.e. kill or be killed. Men’s compulsive acquisition of status and competitive one-upmanship are masks hiding deep wounds surrounding their disconnect from the feminine and confusion about their own authentic masculinity.

We’ve seen the stereotype: men craving bigger, better, faster cars and younger, blonder, sexier women in order to feel ‘on top’ in the world. Cream the competition. Leave no prisoners. Never take ‘No’ for an answer. Feelings are for pussies.

So if dominance is the ‘prize,’ than anything that is not, i.e. ‘submission,’ is viewed as ‘the loser,’ ‘less than’ or ‘beneath.’

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Feeling is essential in domination, vanity is poison and submission is considered the ‘power position.’

Think less like a lizard and more like a sculptor: there is the clay, the artist and the sculpture within. Contrary to what may appear to be happening, the sculptor is not ‘controlling’ the scene, nor is he ‘better than’ the clay or the sculpture within. The sculpture determines the next stroke and the clay relays this message to the sculptor’s hands.

The same applies in power play. Desire, or that which yearns for expression, channels orgasm through the submissive to the dominant.

Therefore, though dominance is a role requiring strength and solidity, it also includes humility, respect and ‘beginner’s mind.’

Anyone can Google ‘Shibari,’ ‘Spanking’ or ‘How to Get Her Off’ to learn a variety of techniques for sensual play. But tools are not enough. One must learn the language of the feminine, and totally surrender himself to her desire, in order to dominate like a master.

The following is a guide for unleashing your inner dom (note: for this guide, I use the term ‘Her’ in reference to ‘Submissive’, with an implication that the Dominant is a man. As I mentioned before, there are a variety genders playing both roles, but for the purposes of easeful distinction, I am using the heteronormative language):

1.    Know Thyself. Are you truly looking to dominate? Or are you donning the dom mantle in order to enroll someone to dominate you? This can often be seen in ‘tit-for-tat’ scenarios, i.e. ‘if I do you a little, will you do me in return?’ As I have stated before, our society often views submission as ‘weak,’ so it is no wonder men would feel embarrassed by submissive desires. Be braver than that; admit what turns you on and go for it.
2.    Be of service. A dom is overflowing with generosity. Just as a massage therapist is in service of his client or a restaurant server is in service of her patrons, so must you be in service of your submissive’s desire (even if she can not yet articulate it). Have their favorite foods on the fridge, sensual music playing and warm lighting in the space. Put care and attention into creating your scene.
3.    Choose your partners wisely. If your turn-on is rope work and hers is daddy role-play, you may not be a good match for each other (no matter how hot she is). You don’t see Michael Jordon riffing on a guitar or Carlos Santana shooting free throws. This doesn’t mean you can’t expand your repertoire or have a variety of kinks. But by being honest about your desires, you will more easily attract play partners suited to your tastes.
4.    Communicate, communicate, communicate. Speaking of desires, it is imperative that you lay your cards on the table and invite her to do the same. Ask what her what turns her on. What edges would she like to push. Does she have any requests. Any injuries. Any boundaries or ‘Hard No’s.’ Any STDs. Choose safe words. If you have a question, ask and get her consent on anything that feels ‘iffy.’ This is vital to the safety and sanctity of play.
5.    Let go of the goal.  Again: let go of the goal. One more time: Let. Go. Of. The. Goal. I know it can get exciting when things get wet and juicy and you want that big BANG to reassure you that you are doing a good job. But nothing kills a scene faster than pushing for a result. She will either get angry that you aren’t feeling her or obliged to perform a certain way so as not to hurt your feelings. Remember, the art is in connection, not perfection.
6.    Connect your heart to your cock. Yes, a sub wants to feel your animal, but she also wants to feel loved. Oftentimes men will sacrifice one for the other and we end up with a room full of ‘nice guys’ and ‘assholes.’ You certainly don’t have to be ‘in love’ or life partners, but you must empathize with her and stay connected to both your power and compassion.
7.    Harder and faster doesn’t always mean better. In most cases, it’s a disguise for losing connection with your partner. You must be willing to go painstakingly slow—so slow that even she can’t stand it—in order to build the kind of energy for deep, erotic play. In the same vein, whacking her hard won’t necessarily open her either. Think of the more intense strokes as peaks of the experience, rather than blasting the scene with the same loud note. As I like to say, the feather sometimes is mightier than the flogger.
8.    Be a rock. She has to know in her body that you have her no matter what. If you are only 99% present, she will feel it and won’t feel safe enough to open. Be a 100% solid rock for the tempest of her desire.
9.    Be vulnerable. That being said, you must also be receptive to her. You must feel her experience and ride her wave. You must know your own pain in order to consciously inflict it and know your own pleasure to revel in hers. Your vulnerability also invites hers out, which is essential for orgasm to arise.
10.  Hold, not control. Again, this hearkens back to the letting go of the goal part. You are simply holding space for her opening. The impulse to ‘control’ will cut you off from feeling the next right stroke.
11.  Be willing to sit in the unknown. If you’ve stopped feeling her, chances are she’s stopped feeling you. Stop. Breathe. Reconnect. Sit in the unknown. And allow desire to take the reigns.
12.  Keep it simple. Don’t try to use every toy or get into every position. To dispel the myth about BDSM, it isn’t all whips and chains and leather and pain. You don’t even have to get naked. A scene can be as simple as a blindfold and a bowl of strawberries. Art isn’t just knowing what to express; it’s also knowing what to edit.
13.  Keep it safe, but don’t protect her. You want to keep the space safe for expression, but don’t make the mistake of protecting her from her orgasm. It’s raw, real and wild. Remember: solid as a rock. Get big enough to hold all of her, but don’t buffer her experience because of your own discomfort.
14.  Do not take responsibility for her orgasm. Yes, be responsible for yourself. Yes, be responsible for the care of someone who is entrusting her mind/body/spirit to you. But don’t take on her work and yours too. Otherwise you will feel angry, resentful and obligated to ‘make something happen.’ Your job is to feel the orgasm through the conduit of her body. It’s up to her how much she wants to open to what’s inside her.
15.  Claim her. Not too get all Harlequin romance novel on you, but this is an important point. In a recent bondage workshop I attended, the instructor demonstrated a hair pulling technique that beautifully illustrates ‘claiming.’ When she pulled the hair up and out, it felt yanked out of my skin and like she was taking something from me. When she pulled the hair down and in, it dropped me deeper into my body and closer to her, as if she was saying with her actions “You are mine.” Through this unwavering declaration, I was more willing to submit.
16.  Breathe. Oftentimes, when the energy gets high, we hold our breaths. Remember to breathe, let the energy flow, which will in turn relax her even more into her orgasm.
17.  Touch her in a way that feels good to you. Imagine you are petting a cat. You aren’t petting the cat for a result or to try to get something from her. You pet the cat because it feels good to your hand. A sub is the same way. If it feels good to you (and you are fully present with her), then she’s probably purring with equal delight.
18.  Have a sense of humor. Poop happens. Pussy farts happen. Banging heads happen. Don’t take it all so seriously. Be willing to laugh and roll with the punches. And then move on.
19.  Ride the edge. A skilled dom can feel their sub’s threshold and go just one step beyond. This is the sweet spot of dynamic tension. One step too far and the scene climaxes too quickly. One step too short and it never builds enough steam to take off.
20.  Aftercare. Most people think of ‘climax’ as the most important part of play. For me, it’s aftercare, which is the process of ‘coming down from the high’ and reintegrating back into the world. Aftercare is a process often overlooked, but vital to the health of your relationship. A good comedown has your partner feeling relaxed in absolute trust and allows her to stretch further in future scenes. A bad one has her feeling abandoned with her guts hanging out and not likely to play with you anymore. Hold her. Caress her. Wrap warm towels around her. Bring her fresh water and hot tea. Share peak moments from your experience with each other. In these gentle moments, you lay fresh ground for new connection and deeper intimacy.
21.  Bring it. All of it. Your fear, your courage, your prejudice, your brutality, your softness, your warrior, your wounded little boy and your dirty old man. Sex will quickly highlight all the facets of your soul that have remained in the shadows and the more you hide them, the less your sub will trust you. Be confident. You are who you are. Own it. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Devi Ward’s ‘Shake Your Soul-Song!’ Focuses on Sensual Pleasure and Personal Responsibility {Book Review}



I’ve been a fan of Devi Ward for some time now. She’s a sexuality coach and Authentic Tantra™ teacher who brings an open mind and grounded presence to her work. Her latest offering, Shake Your Soul-Song!: A Woman's Guide to Self-Empowerment Through the Art of Self-Pleasureis a sexual empowerment book focused on teaching women to cultivate their pleasure and take responsibility for their desire.

Being able to speak to a wide variety of people is essential—especially in the tender realm of sexuality. Ward can go from Tibetan Buddhist to Sex in the City in a just a few sentences. On one page, you will read tantric teachings from her Shangpa Kagyu Lineage; on the next, you’ll find her personal Babeland list of ‘What’s Hot and What’s Not’.

And it’s done with grace, generosity and vulnerability.

Towards the beginning of the book, Ward tells the story of her own shame within her sex and her journey towards healing. She shares insight on the cultural struggle for sexual freedom, especially for women, and how through the ‘Four Principles of Self-Pleasure,’ she found liberation and reclaimed her womanhood.

The first half of the book focuses on the importance of pleasure in our lives. Many women, through trauma, fear or conditioning, have lost their connection to pleasure. She also describes the difference between empty habits that momentarily fill the pleasure void and deeply satisfying ways of embodying our sensuality.

She also touches upon ‘Walt Disney Syndrome,’ which is essentially waiting around for Prince Charming to come along and awaken up our dormant sex. Ward believes (as do I) that a woman’s orgasm is her birthright—and her responsibility.

The second half of the book gives a more detailed explanation of how a woman can venture into her sexuality and reclaim her power. She fleshes out in greater detail the ‘Four Principles of Self-Pleasure,’ and lays out a program for tapping into our sensual selves. The program includes exercises like journaling, dancing and self-stimulation, as well as resources on where to purchase toys and DVDs.

What I especially love about her program is that she creates the space for the reader to discover her own desire. Rather than demanding we stick hard to her agenda, she offers guidelines for optimal results, but says that if what moves us that day is to write rather than dance, so be it.

She’s humble, admitting that she too is on the never-ending journey of sexual self-discovery. At times, I felt like I was having tea with my best girlfriend, rather than sitting with a tantric guru (who just happens to know, in detail, about 11 different types of orgasm!).

I found Shake Your Soul-Song! to be wise, straightforward and informative. Plus, I can see women having a lot of fun with the exercises, which is key for sticking to any program.

I liked it so much, I even ordered a Honey Dipper Wand for myself!

Curious about what I’m going to do with it?

You'll have to read the book to find out.


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On Writing, Faith & ‘Figuring It Out’



“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” ~ Neil Gaiman

I hadn’t really thought of myself as a writer.

I’d only begun creating poetry and essays to help me through my divorce and eating disorder recovery in 2009. A year later, I began the journey into my own sexuality. 2011 saw the birth of my blog, ‘The Orgasmic Life’ (previously called ‘Returning Saturn,’ in order to honor the lessons from the painful events in my 28th year). And then in February 2012, inspired by an off-hand suggestion from my then boyfriend (now fiancĂ©), I sent ‘Anorexia and the Mother Shadow’ to elephantjournal.com.

At first, I was thrilled any major online magazine would even look at my writing, let alone publish it.

That one article led to another, then another, then another—until something new, vibrant and very, very tender arose: that part of my soul that yearned to be a ‘writer.’

So when Karl Saliter asked if he could interview me for his piece on How the Top-Earning elephantjournal.com Writers Strike it Rich, I was more than surprised—I was humbled (see full interview at the bottom of this article).

It also made me wonder, “Am I now officially a writer? And if so, how does that impact where the rest of my life is headed?”

I write and people read. That’s a fact. I coach and people work with me. That’s also true. Despite my putting no attention on my acting career since moving to the Bay Area, I still managed to do a play reading, an audition class and a short film last year.

And I’m getting married. Again.

I live in San Francisco, someplace I thought I would hang for three months tops—a layover on the way to Los Angeles. Fifteen months later, I’m still here. Before that, I had a thirteen-year love affair with New York City, living the life of a theatre actress/yoga teacher. But I’m a southerner at heart—born and raised in Atlanta, with a two-year childhood pit stop in Germany nestled in between ages 5 to 7.

I think this is what we call an ‘identity crisis.’

If I keep writing, does that mean I’ll never perform again? Will I lose my love of coaching, like I did for teaching yoga? Why am I still living in a city that still sometimes seems like a ‘friend with benefits’ vs. ‘the one’?

I want to feel at home. I want to have it all figured out, god damn it! I’m 32 years old; aren’t I supposed to be a responsible adult by now, with a 401k and a mortgage and health insurance and a baby on the way (or at least an attention-demanding pet)?

Nope. I’m just here. Shifting. Morphing. Experimenting.

And you know what? To my surprise, that’s OK.

If I waited to have things ‘figured out’ before taking action, I’d still be living at my mother’s house, drooling and in diapers.

All of life is one high school science lab. The experiences we face become the lessons we learn. The mistakes we make become the glimpses through the cracks of our souls’ armor. Love in face of hatred. Compassion in the face of anger. Vulnerability in the face of grief.

And faith in the face of doubt. I’m not talking about faith in God or religion (unless that’s your thing). I am talking about faith in yourself, or as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says, “Taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Faith in your power. Faith in your dreams. Faith in your strength. Faith in your innate genius, intuition and intelligence.

Faith and courage to open your heart to that which is most precious to you—even if you stand to lose it all.

That is the level of faith we are talking about—and if we are bold enough to admit the sheer magnificence of our dreams, then the price for walking that path demands no less than everything.

It’s not easy. Living this way is often frightening, humiliating, strange and painful.

Yet it’s also glorious, exciting, adventurous and deeply gratifying.

And, ultimately, that uncertainty is what aliveness means to me. Anything else feels like waiting at the bus stop for death.

So here I sit. In the middle of living—figuring it all out or not figuring it all out or whatever the hell it is we are doing here on earth.

So thank you life, for challenging me to grow beyond my edges.

Thank you faith, for reminding me that I don’t have to have it all ‘figured out’ in order to enjoy the ride.

And thank you readers, for supporting these words and for playing a vital role on my journey.

In faith,

Candice Holdorf


Karl Saliter: What part about being an elephant writer has been a surprise benefit?

Candice Holdorf: The surprise benefit of writing for elephantjournal has been threefold: One—the massive level of readership EJ has cultivated. I've never imagined my work being read on such a wide scale. Two—the quality of the audience. The kind of people EJ attracts has an open mind, an ability to discourse intelligently and respond to my work with respect and honesty. What I write can be a little far out and sometimes hard to hear. EJ readers are in a class like none other. Three—a shift in personal perception. In the past, I thought of myself more as an actress/yogi with an interest in sexuality and writing. Writing for EJ has totally changed that. Whereas I previously felt limited in my goals and creative outlets, I now see that I have a LOT more to offer the world than I thought. And I see, too, that I am big enough to hold all these desires—in fact I feel stifled if I'm not nurturing all these parts of my creative self.

KS: What questions do you ask yourself before you hit "submit for review?"

CH: The main question I ask myself before submitting anything is "How does this sound to my ears?" I have no doubt that what I write is my own personal truth, but if it the melody is off, no one will hear the music. Sometimes it's a mellifluous flute; sometimes it's a discordant clang. But either way, the sound must reflect the feeling I want to share—otherwise it's just words on a page.

KS: What do readers who want to write need to know?

CH: Readers who want to write should just start writing. Even if the next day you look at the page and think, "Dear God what was that drivel that came out of me," it doesn't matter. You have to turn on the creative faucet and allow what wants to flow to flow. I made a personal vow in 2007 to start writing three, hand-written pages a day of whatever just wanted to come out of me and I've stuck to this religiously. Mind you, most of these musings are probably not fit for print, but a lot of amazing ideas and insights came from this practice. After time, you will then discover your voice, your distinctive tone and what issues matter to you.

KS: What's next on your creative plate?

CH: Well, right now I have three books in mind. One is an e-book filled with poetry and real life stories from my personal erotic diary. I'd also love to get some photos of me in there posing as various female archetypes. Another book is more of a self-help book that links cultivating a connection with hunger and orgasm to healing oneself from anorexia, which I struggled with for over seven years. The third book is more of a memoir of my life—but I still have quite a bit more living to do before this one gets to a publisher. In fact, one of the chapters is called 'India,' which will be based on my upcoming travels this February to the Kumbh Mela.

In the long run, I'd love to co-write and act in films that explore taboo subjects and find the healing that comes with total acceptance of that which we deem shameful. Of course sex is a huge part of this, but I also want to include eating disorders and addictions of all kinds. I am writing an article now about how porn can actually be used for good. This is in stark contrast to the seedy scenes of men entering peep shows and porn stars depicted as sad and vacant shells of girls searching for daddy. This kind of paradoxical thinking turns me on and I believe it is essential to our spiritual growth as compassionate beings.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Can Pornography be a Catalyst for Spiritual Growth?

View this article on elephantjournal.com


“Sex isn’t something men do to you. It isn’t something men get out of you. Sex is something you dive into with gusto and like it every bit as much as he does.” ~ Nina Hartley

“[makelovenotporn.com] is not anti-porn. I’m a fan of hard-core porn. I watch it myself…but because the porn industry is driven by men, funded by men, managed by men, directed by men and targeted at men, porn tends to present one world view: Porn says ‘This is the way it is.’ And what I want to say is, ‘Not necessarily.’” ~ Cindy Gallop

Imagine a society where sexuality is an acceptable part of everyday culture. Where children are taught to appreciate their bodies, rather than fear them. Where it’s not just ‘normal’, but encouraged to explore the depths of one’s sexual desire, kinks and all. Where sex ed isn’t squeezed into a semester of gym class and taught by some ex-football player who keeps stumbling over the word ‘vagina.’

Now return here, to the center of 21st century America. Sexuality, especially female sexuality, is a battlefield for possession and control, as evidenced by the current controversy surrounding abortion, planned parenthood and the definition of ‘rape.’  Our most touted (and emotionally safest) form of sexual education is fear, a.k.a. ‘don’t do it, unless you want to get a disease or unwanted pregnancy. ‘ Archaic sodomy laws linger on the books in many states and the legal recognition of same-sex marriages remains several election years away from nationwide acceptance.

We are a society that’s afraid of sex and we’re too proud and frightened to admit it.

Of course, many may argue that we are inundated with sex: everywhere you turn there is a picture of a half-naked woman selling beer or another article on how have mind-blowing orgasms.

In fact many sexual naysayers are within this very community: people who profess that they are tired of seeing elephantjournal stooping to fashion magazine-level material and discussions on porn.

However, as evidenced by the fact that the #1 elephantjournal article for the past five weeks has been a nudeyoga class led by a Playboy model, I think we can safely say that all of us (even the sanctimonious yogis) aren’t done with sex yet.

Of course, we aren’t watching her to perfect our Adho Mukha Svanasana. We watch her because she’s naked and hot. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, just as there is nothing wrong with feeling aroused when we see two people having sex.

Regardless of our opinions of what we see, we are affected on a primal, physical level by watching porn—whether it’s engorgement of our genitals, watering of our mouths or flushing of our cheeks. It’s all an example of orgasm bubbling to the surface. Whether or not we are in agreement with our experience determines whether this orgasm expresses itself as turn-on (yes, I’m present and totally accept what is arising for me) or tumescence (what the fuck is this BS!?).

Moral indignation is our usual ‘go to’ response when we experience this tumescence. It’s just too easy (or rather lazy) to disown our own responsibility while watching porn and sit in righteousness: How dare Playboy commercialize something as sacred as yoga? We get to feel ‘right’—and there is nothing more satisfying than ‘being right.’ We get to have a place to project our anger (fucking misogynists) and shame (I’m not as pretty as she is), instead of doing the dirty work of admitting just how hungry and—dare I say it—perverted we just might be.

But I wonder: what makes sitting in YabYum any more ‘conscious’ or ‘spiritual’ than a dude just looking to get his jerk on (or off)? In fact, tantric philosophy espouses that everything is fuel for spiritual transformation. Who are we to judge what is the next right step in the evolution of one’s sexual maturation? Besides, if we spent all our time persecuting everyone who‘s ever watched porn, there wouldn’t be a single male (or a goodly number of females) left.

Now, if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not a huge fan of Playboy’s yoga video, just as I’m not a huge fan of conventional, i.e. male-marketed & produced, porn. It’s simply not to my taste. I feel like much of what mainstream media bombards us with lacks authentic desire and is meant to capitalize on insecurity and ignorance.  It tamps down our ability to feel rather than invites us to sit in the uncomfortable magnitude of our orgasmic power. It’s something I call ‘SEX-sationalism.’ It is meant to titillate and entice, but rarely satisfies—sort of like Chinese food for your cock.

From a business standpoint this makes sense: if you satiate the customer, then they will not need to buy from you again. But if give him a hit off the sexual crack pipe while keeping the fantasy just out of reach, he will continue to throw money at you in the hope that one day, his needs will be satisfied and thus beginning the addiction (in fact, I found a website with the slogan ‘Porn is the answer to all your problems’).

Therefore, it’s the addiction, rather than the porn per se, that can contribute to marital breakups and intimacy problems. This doesn’t absolve the porn industry from responsibility (frequently depicting woman as decorative jizz receptacles doesn’t help), but it can’t be our scapegoat either.

Unfortunately, we’ve become a nation of Marlboro men masquerading to disguise the fact that we have no idea what to do with a woman’s pussy and hide our fantasies that may (gasp!) involve another man.

On the other side, we’ve become a nation of Cosmo women, who act like we’ve got it together in bed, but have absolutely no sense of our own pleasure. Or we hang on to our virginity for dear life (as if anyone could actually possess such a thing) lest we be thought of as unworthy for marriage.

With all this culturally ingrained pretending, it’s no wonder we fear speaking about sex to our children, who then have to resort to the next best thing for a sexual education: surreptitiously discovered pornography, which, thanks to the digital age, more readily accessible than ever.

And this is where things can really go off track.

If the only reference for sex that kids have is porn, then to them, sex is this secret, dark thing that they shouldn’t be thinking about or exploring, despite the fact that their innocent curiosity is taking them towards what feels natural, i.e. pleasure.

Also, if porn is the primary children’s sex educator, then many get a limiting download of how sex should be: the woman has to be skinny with big boobs, the man has to have a giant cock, she has to scream like a banshee, has to pound her hard and fast and the sex ends when they concomitantly cum and he spectacularly ejaculates somewhere near her orifice. Even the supposedly ‘artistic’ porn, X-Art, adheres to this formula, complete with hot, 20-something postcoitally ogling the camera as if the viewer was the one who just fucked her good.

Therefore, if we wish to be the primary educators for our children and foster their sexual health, we must take a look at healing our own sexuality, And if we wish to liberate ourselves as sexual beings, we cannot continue to scrutinize pornography from the lens of shame and judgment; we must be open-minded and curious enough to investigate the need that pornography serves rather than relegating it to the recesses of our shadows.

Which led me to ask the question, “How has pornography affected you positively?” I know, asking the porn industry to guide in sexual education and healing may seem a little like asking McDonald’s for nutritional advice. But I wanted to plunge below the ‘icky’ surface of addiction and shame and focus on what’s good about porn. By changing our relationship to it from within we can learn its secrets and change our actions on the outside.

For many, the answer was simple: it’s fun. It makes them feel good. Seeing images of beautiful women is a pleasurable experience, and, if kept as an occasional treat and in total transparency with partner(s), can contribute to a well-rounded sexual diet.

An answer that came up repeatedly for women was that it was the first time they had ever seen a female in a state of orgasm, i.e. a woman who was actually enjoying herself during sex. No guilt about taking her own pleasure or touching her own body (my friend, Vixen on the Loose, even wrote a little haiku about it).

Also, for some, porn was the first time they saw someone doing something ‘taboo’ and discovered that they themselves liked it. Perhaps it was around homosexuality, threesomes, anal sex or some BDSM kink that they never thought would have turned them on, but upon watching porn, made that discovery in their own sexuality.

Some couples incorporate porn as a way to ‘spice up’ their sex life. Perhaps by watching and masturbating together or by imitating some of the sexy positions on the screen. In my own life, I’ve sucked a guy’s cock or fucked a man while he watches porn—not because he’s asked me to, but from my own desire. For me, there’s something fun about being an active participant in his fantasy and feeling him squirm in agony as all that sensation builds to a peak.

For other couples, it can be a starting point for better communication, not just around sexual desires, but also around sexual fears and shadows. Being vulnerable enough to say to your partner, “I notice this feeling of betrayal when you watch porn and I have a fear that I can never live up to your fantasies” or “I feel ashamed when I watch porn and feel like I have to hide it from you” immediately unmasks both people and deepens the intimacy in the relationship.

Finally, it can be quite liberating or the only place one feels free to literally ‘let it all hang out’. For some people who have gone years in stifling relationships or have had no sexual partners, porn has been their only outlet and anchor to their sexuality.

With this understanding of the value that porn provides some people, i.e. fun, education, personal discovery, variety, communication and liberation, I then asked myself the question: can we then use porn as a tool for our sexual & spiritual awakening, rather than as an escape from our own fear?

Many people are already working to make that shift: from porn as male-driven outlet of escape to cultural exploration of authentic sexuality.

Forthegirls.com, where some of my material has appeared, is a porn site dedicated to erotica and porn from a feminist perspective.  This means that female pleasure, still a longstanding taboo, and taste is valued. The site also includes toy reviews, advice and erotic writings to stimulate the mind. From my perspective, this can be a jumping off point for women to reclaim their sexuality and take that out into their relationships.

Someone who has been an insider activist within the industry is porn star Nina Hartley. She’s worked tirelessly to promote sexual education as well as defend the porn industry’s right to exist as place where classy, well-spoken and mentally-sane sex workers can create porn with a point-of-view about sex (as opposed to widget-making porn whose only interest is in generating money). She has also worked to eliminate illegal drug use from porn culture and encourage ‘safe sex’ practices, including eliminating alcohol from sexual encounters so people can make more conscious decisions.

Two more sex-positive advocates are Jamye Waxman, a writer and sex educator, and Candida Royalle, a sensuality pioneer. Jamye runs the website gasm.com, which features a variety of sex educators sharing their knowledge on a wide variety of topics. Candida was one of the first female entrepreneurs in the adult entertainment industry, spearheading female-oriented porn and porn with the goal of helping couples in therapy.

Finally, a true trailblazer in the porn revolution is Cindy Gallop, founder of makelovenotporn.com & makelovenotporn.tv. While she’s not creating the porn herself, she is hosting the forum for viewers to create their own porn, or as she calls it, #realworldsex. She originally hatched the idea for makelovenotporn after multiple sexual experiences with younger men who tried to recreate what they have seen in porn, most notably the infamous cum-on-her-face money shot. She wanted to begin a dialogue comparing what we seen in porn to what we experience in real life and through this dialogue, begin to dispel the myths we have around sex.

This dialogue then spawned the TV site, where people can create and upload their own sex videos. Makelovenotporn.tv is different from conventionally-produced porn in three distinct and vital ways.

1.     Desire. The people you see on the screen are not actors (though not necessarily unprofessional). This means that they are having sex with someone they actually like. They are internally motivated to do what feels good for them in the moment, as opposed to the director telling what to do so it will look good for the camera. And they are certainly not adhering to any sort of A+B=C sexual script. Again, this is #realworldsex, #realworldfeelings, #realworldrelationships, #realworldeverything.
2.     Vulnerability. The people in the videos aren’t surgically enhanced starlets or schlong supermen. They are human, with normal-looking (and beautiful) bodies. Also, the sex they have isn’t ‘perfect.’ A slip, a bump, something unexpected flies at them, they laugh and roll with it—thus adding a level of humanity back into the experience. In the short intros preceding each video, the performers themselves give highlights of their favorite moments and will even reveal an insecurity or two they felt while taping. You as a viewer become less of passive voyeur and can more easily connect with the people onscreen. In fact, videos are categorized by feeling words, i.e. romping, gushing, cozy, yummy, succulent, friendly, instead of the cold descriptors of anal, small tits, fisting, SheMale and handjobs.
3.     Participation. Within the forum you are invited to share your voice regarding what you’d like to see and, if you are so inclined, can even make a sexy video to satisfy your inner exhibitionist. And half of all monies collected for a particular video go directly to the artists themselves. That is a huge shift from the way mainstream porn works, where producers and distributors take the lion’s share of profits.

Of course, Gallop sets firm boundaries to keep the content within the limits of ethics (no children, no animals) and taste (no scat). And it’s this part, knowing her edges, naming them and honoring them, that sets a tight, clear and safe container for play.

In fact, setting boundaries has been the biggest takeaway for me from this inquiry around porn. It’s not that we are necessarily bad at sex or that porn is spiritually impure; our wounds go much deeper than that.  We, as children, never felt safe enough to explore what we wanted and hid our sexuality as it grew and now, as adults, we have no clue how to set and maintain proper boundaries. As a result, in an effort to sidestep delving into our own shame and ignorance, our children are now denied their rights as sexually autonomous beings, as documented in Dana Northcraft’s excellent article “A Nation Scared: Children, Sex and the Denial of Humanity.”

I was lucky enough to have a mother who believed that if I was old enough to ask about sex, I was old enough to know about it. She never shielded me from proper anatomical terms, made up stories about storks or made me feel ‘wrong’ for asking direct questions. Through this level of respect, acceptance and personal freedom, I made educated sexual choices aligned with my personal integrity.

My belief is once we, as adults, cultivate a healing relationship with our sex and become masters of our own boundaries (without building walls), we can then encourage the sexual curiosity and development of our children in an open, safe and loving way. Then porn will no longer be this dirty, cryptic, calorie-deficient candy bar we stuff down to stop feeling our sexual hunger, but a tool for education, responsible play and maybe even a step towards spiritual growth.


Monday, January 7, 2013

The Orgasmic Life featured in Origin Magazine's January Issue



It's an honor to be featured once again by Origin Magazine, this time in their Couples Shifting the Planet article in their January 2013 Issue. What makes it even more special is that I am featured alongside my Beloved, Adam Gordon, who is an amazing relationship and transformational coach.

The text is as follows:


Candice Holdorf: My vision is a world where women are celebrated for their appetites; where love and sex are not treated as currency; where prayer is medicine; where vulnerability is revered; and where play, pleasure, desire and orgasm are noble principles.


Adam Gordon: I believe that we are already our own greatest teacher. I help people let in their deepest experience by moving past learned shame, judgments and fears. From this place of acceptance, their true genius is revealed.


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