Last week, I went to a sex shop.

Last week, I went to a sex shop.

This was not my first visit to such a shop, but it was my first truly enjoyable visit.

I’ve bought sex toys before. Usually from the internet. Usually I have a pretty good idea of what I want, and I would much prefer to shop from the privacy of my own home and without creepy sex shop owners knowing what sets me off.

This time, though, I was on the search for…something to wear. I wanted to buy a corset. This would require trying on and measuring and figuring out just which one I wanted. I could’ve done the whole thing online by buying a couple and then returning all but one–but that seemed to difficult. So, the husband and I set out on a sexy adventure.

Something close to the item I ended up buying.

We’d been to this particular shop before, and the last time, I really didn’t like it. The guy who owns the place was way too in your face. Even when we told him that we were “just browsing” and didn’t need any help, he stayed about 5 feet behind us and offered up his opinion on each product that we expressed even the slightest interest in. This time, though, we appreciated his wealth of knowledge about all things sex related.

He gave me something to try on. But then…he walked into the dressing room with my husband and I!! I was shocked by this. He explained this particular item and how to best put it on and what to look for when trying it on, and then he said, “I’m gay. Do you want me to be in here to help you try it on, or would you rather me wait outside?” I knew I wanted him to wait outside–just because I’m buying stuff in a sex shop (with my HUSBAND) doesn’t mean I don’t have a sense of modesty–but sometimes I have trouble expressing my opinions if I think the other person will disagree with me. So, I was really proud of myself for saying, “I think I’d prefer you to wait outside”.

Here would be an appropriate place to talk about gay sexuality in relation to straight people. One of my best female friends is a lesbian. I have slept in the same bed with her, even after she came out to me. She thought that maybe I would be uncomfortable. Similarly, this man thought that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable with him in the dressing room with me, because he was gay. I see where they’re coming from, I really do, but, the thing is, I’m straight. I wonder sometimes if I’m too heteronormative, if I don’t want gay men to see me with my shirt off because I think that really this man might find me attractive, even if he says he’s gay. And conversely, there’s no way that my lesbian friend will view me as a potential sexual partner, because, hey, I’m a straight woman. But I digress.

The thing about corsets is that they have a very intricate way of lacing up in the back, so they usually require someone else to do the lacing. (There are videos and websites on the internet about ways to lace up your corset on your own, but I’m definitely not there yet. I can barely zip up the dresses with the zippers in the back on my own.) I assumed that would be my husbands job. But, alas, he had to learn how to do the lacing. Since I couldn’t show him, the shopkeeper came in to help him out. It was a learning experience for both of us.

Even after the corset was on, the shopkeeper stayed in the dressing room to help asses fit and sizing. He was completely, 100% professional. Still, it was weird that I was wearing something intended only for my husband in front of a complete, male, stranger. The shop owner was really, really helpful. He gave sizing and fit tips that I would never have received on the internet. He told us a lot about the background of the product, and storage tips, and even some usage tips. I keep feeling like, it was weird that he was there. I wonder if this comes from my orthodox perspective, that there were so many things “un-tznius” about that experience that it must have been wrong. And then I wonder if that’s a good thing. I’m glad I got this man’s help. I’m glad I bought the product.

I’m really pleased with my purchase. I love the way that I look in a corset. It shapes my body in a way that I’ve never seen my body look before. Suddenly, I have all these wonderful curved. Suddenly, I feel sexy and beautiful. I’m glad that I bought it, and I’m glad that the shop keeper was able to help us. But there’s this thought in the back of my head that it just wasn’t appropriate. I don’t know what to do with the thought. I mean, in the future, if I want to buy another one, I can purchase it online, now that I know what to look for and what size I am. But I wouldn’t have gotten there without the help of the shopkeeper.

I guess a lot of orthodox women have this issue, and I guess that they find ways around it. Even if they’re not buying corsets, they’re buying underwear and bras and have to be sized. And I guess they only use female shopkeepers. But what if the shopkeeper is a lesbian (not an uncommon situation for women who work in lingerie stores)? Is that a violation of tznius? What if it’s a male shopkeeper, but he’s gay? Does that make a difference? And if not, does that mean that in the eyes of tznius, there’s no such thing as homosexuality? Because thats a thought that I’m not comfortable with.

On Equality and Maturity

I think that one sign of maturity is the ability to say “You’re right” even when you don’t think the other person really is right. So to the ability to remain silent when you know there is no purpose for your words. I’ve sometimes said things I regret saying, later to reflect and realize that there was really no reason for me to say those things, even if I was absolutely correct in my statements. I’m working on that skill, but it’s hard.

So, I write. And you listen. And you can tell me I’m wrong if you want. But there’s no point in me telling others they’re wrong, because they don’t care.

Today on facebook, a friend posted this article:

“Even though it’s legal, I still can’t marry my girlfriend”

The article is about a lesbian in a long term relationship with another woman. The author lives in California, where the prohibition on same-sex marriages has recently been abolished by the U.S. Supreme Court, and therefore, couples of the same sex are now legally entitled to marry.

She writes that she still can’t marry her girlfriend, because he girlfriend lives in Alaska. Her girlfriend lives in Alaska because she can’t get a job in California. She can’t get a job in California because she is a convicted felon. According to the author, the girlfriend committed the felony a long time ago, served her time, and is now a “changed woman”. Still, employers are unwilling to give her the chance, and therefore, she felt compelled to accept the only job offer that came her way, a position in Alaska.

The article then goes on to talk about the inadequacies and hardships convicted felons face, and also, in the same breath, that White Men arguing for Equality just don’t get it, they don’t face the same hardships that Black Women face, and therefore, the White Men who are celebrating the fail of PROP 8 and DOMA should really not be celebrating, because we still haven’t yet achieved equality.

I take issue with bringing up the two issues in the same article. Same-sex marriage rights really have nothing to do with rights, or lack thereof, of convicted felons. I acknowledge that the author is right about the [unfair] hardships convicted felons face. Still, don’t blame the White Gay Men for that. They lobbied for equality in marriage, but they haven’t lobbied for equality for felons because that’s not their job! I don’t deny that maybe some changes should be made in the way rehabilitated convicted felons are treated in this country, but don’t rain on the parade of the gays. Like one commenter on the article succinctly said, “It’s like saying to someone saving the whales: ‘Well, that’s all well and good, but you’re a bastard for ignoring the seals!’ “.

I could have written this as a response to my friend’s post (or a shorter version of this. Maybe just copied that line above.) But I chose not to, because this friend is not very receptive to ideas that she doesn’t agree with. She doesn’t just debate, she gets personally offended. I didn’t want to start an argument with her, and I didn’t want to offend her. So, I remained silent. But the thoughts were still inside, and I had to get them out, so I spilled them here. Hope you enjoyed!

And, if you disagree, I welcome dialoge.

Angry Feminist

A few weeks ago, I became an angry feminist. I despise angry feminists. They just bother me. As do bleeding heart liberals and Tea-Party conservatives.

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with their political viewpoints. I think that everyone is entitle to his or her own beliefs, and even entitled to share them with others. What I don’t like is when someone feels that their viewpoint is the ONLY valid viewpoint. I also don’t like when people approach issues from an emotional perspective rather than an intellectual one. (I am currently reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he posits that the emotional decisions we make are actually our bodies making sub-conscious logical decisions. I’ll get back to you on that.)

However, I did exactly both of those things recently. I was driving, and the car in front of me was sporting an anti gay marriage bumper sticker. Full disclosure–even though I think everyone is entitled to their own viewpoints, I think the anti gay marriage viewpoint is pretty faulty. In general, it tends to come from a religious perspective, and religion has no place in the American government.

As I was sitting behind this car, staring at the sticker, I literally felt my blood start to boil. I became increasingly agitated, to the point that I changed lanes solely so that I wouldn’t have to look at the sticker. I was angry at that driver for putting that bumper sticker on his car. I didn’t value his freedom of expression. I wasn’t evaluating his viewpoint from a rational, intellectual perspective…I just drove away so that I wouldn’t get any more emotionally upset than I already was.

I just hope that I am able to contain my anger next time i have a conversation about this with someone. Because frankly, angry feminists are just annoying.

Does Gay Pride Have to Equal Promiscuity?

This past week was Gay Pride Week in Washington, DC (where I’m living for the summer). Pride was everywhere-the parade last Saturday, the rainbows decorating the outdoor seating area of local restaurants, billboards advocating for gay rights, and even a gay dog show yesterday.

I am a huge supported of equal rights for LGBT people. There is absolutely no good reason why two men or two women should be denied the right to get married, to adopt children, to file joint tax-returns, and get all the same benefits as married couples do.
HOWEVER. I can not understand why gay pride has come to be synonymous with free sex. Why is it OK to walk around shirtless, pantsless, or in the case of one guy, wearing nothing but a string with a coconut around his waist?
Let me stress, it is not the openness of GAY sex that bothers me, it is the openness of SEX. If a naked man and a naked woman were to have sex in the middle of the fountain in the park near my home, that would bother me. If twenty such couples were to participate in what can only be described as an orgy in said fountain, that would infuriate me. Now, that same scenario, different only because the couples are homosexual, has come to be taken as an expected and exciting part of gay pride week.
Another double standard: At the parade last week, I was standing next to a some-what rambunctious, probably intoxicated, overtly gay man. He was cheering wildly as the floats passed by, and whenever there was a marcher close enough, he would give them a little slap or pinch on the butt. I was a little put-off by this, but didn’t dwell on it. I did, however, begin to dwell when he pinched ME on the butt. This is sexual harassment. Yes, I was at a gay pride parade. I was there to show my support for gay rights. I was NOT there to get pinched in the butt.
In New York City, there are signs all over the subway that inform the public that a crowded subway is not an excuse for unwanted touching, and they should report any unwanted touching to the appropriate authorities. Unfortunately, no such signs appear at the Gay Pride Parade, and people seem to be wholly unaware that touching strangers in a sexual manner is completely inappropriate.
The area of DC that I live in is a nice, quiet residential neighborhood with a lot of families and children. The neighborhood also has a large gay population, and many of my neighbors are gay couples raising children. One of my favorite sights is when I see two men walking down the street, holding hands and pushing a baby in a stroller (There are lesbian parents on my block as well, but it’s harder to identify them if you don’t already know them, because it’s much more socially acceptable and commonplace for two straight women to get together while walking their babies than it is for straight men to do the same. Should I assume that the men walking with the child are gay? Probably not. However, they more likely than not are a gay couple, so I make assumptions.).
I must say that two parts of the parade were especially enjoyable for me. The first unit was a group of gay parents and their children, the next was a group of parents of gay people. It was incredibly heartwarming to see these people show so much love and support for their families.
Next time, I plan on skipping the naked people portion of the parade, and only going for the family portion at the end.