Late Blooming

Being a late bloomer is seen as a negative thing. Branded with the big old stamp of “Inexperienced,” I walk the imaginary catwalk into most bars with the fear that I will, yet again, have to tell a man I have not had sex. I usually get one of two reactions; they perk up with wide eyes like a mystical creature has stepped before them or they recoil in instantaneous fear that I will stalk them for the next two years if they fuck me for my first time. Both reactions are ridiculous, and both make my skin crawl right off of my body. My favorite reaction was when someone laughed straight in my face before accusing me of being a liar. “There was no way”, he exclaimed, I was “too pretty to be so inexperienced at twenty-one”. To him, my physical appearance is equal to that of my sexual experience . This man would then continue to try to finger me in public, as if his accusations of calling me a liar had somehow been forgotten or at least excused. There is nothing better than a man making you feel ashamed because you’ve never been fucked and then, in the same breath, try to convince you his dick is going to change your world.

I was not concerned about the state of my virginity in high school, where most kids probably have sex for the first time. I was too anxious for my own good, did not understand basic social graces, and was convinced I was ugly enough to be in a side show at the local fair. I had messy hair, never wore makeup, and the mere sight of seeing an attractive guy filled me with such terror that I lost my ability to speak. Furthermore, after trying to deal with my own attempted sexual assault, I had no desire to be touched. I had no desire for a man to look at me with sexual desire. (The looming cloud of adolescence dating weighed on me more than I would like to admit.) I was more concerned with other things like school, college applications, and my artwork. I never beamed with such pride as when I learned I would have art up in a New York State building. And although I knew about sex, I could hardly fathom the idea of a man crawling on top of me. The thought of being intimate made my stomach turn so badly, I actually questioned my sexuality. Alas, I was only ever attracted to the opposite sex.

One after the other, my girlfriends came to me with their exciting “first time” stories. I wasn’t even dating. Something was different about me. I could not even muster the courage to ask a boy to hang out.

Somewhere between being eighteen and twenty, I felt something change in me that I had never anticipated. Even now, at twenty-two, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the sudden switch that occurred, or why it happened. For the first time I felt sexually curious. I felt something new in my gut towards men. I found myself saying jokes about how I would sleep with them. I really wanted something, though I wasn’t entirely sure of what.

Little by little, I found myself opening up to sexual things. I met different men along the way who somehow broke a little piece of my shell off, which would eventually lead to some sort of bizarre sexual awakening. Little by little, I allowed myself to be more open and realized there is no harm in being kind to strangers. It’s not surprising that first time I saw a penis, I had just turned nineteen. In that summer, I made out with someone for the first time. I was curious, and I wanted to try things. I wanted experience. Still, I was not having sex because I did not want to go all the way. I thought the other stuff was more fun.

And that’s okay.

Nowhere is there a rule book that says, “By age X, you should be [very] sexually active,”. This does not matter, nor does IT define you as a person. For a while, I thought I was a freak – a socially awkward “penguin,” if you will, who went through the motions like she thought she was supposed to; like she was told was acceptable. I’m sure high-school-me could care less that I have yet to be fucked, but I know she would be mad someone said, “I don’t know, man, fucking a virgin means you’ll have someone following you around for a year.”

I’m neither a commodity nor a freak. I’m not a prize to be won and please stop calling me a unicorn. My virginity is not something you wrap in a box, with pretty foiled paper like a Christmas present. Your dick is not my saving grace from a life of sexual repression, nor is it a key to a life filled with wonders I have yet to know, as much as you’ll try to sell it to me with uncomfortable one-liners like, “My pants are totally not stuffed in that picture.” I’m sexually capable, I’m sexually open, but maybe I just don’t want your dick, dude. Maybe I just do not want your dick.

The “Outsider”.

Everybody back home wants to know if living in America is like living in the movies. I try and explain the excitement of going to a Walmart with an escalator especially for your trolley (shopping cart) and the touch screen vending machines, the weirdness of strawberry cream cheese and the horrific popcorn selection, but other than point out that I can eat Mint Oreos here, or just pop to New York for a daytrip, it’s really difficult to distinguish quite what they expect from the actuality of day-to-day living.

Technically, I’m not really a tourist anymore. Yet, you wouldn’t really think that if you sat in on a few of my classes. There is still one girl who claps in excitement every time I open my mouth, but I do count this as an improvement on last semester’s collective jaw-drop of fifty of my fellow classmates, and the professors. The reaction to “The Accent” is something I will never get used to. Perhaps my favourite response is “Oh I’m going to do it now…” and then the most ridiculous, slightly cockney (a regional London accent which I have no idea how you guys know) seems to spring forth. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. Well, I love it until you ask me to say “bottle”, or “bacon” repeatedly, or you think I sound like I come from London – or to the point when you’re disappointed I don’t come from London… That will always slightly offend me. But then again, there are people who’ve asked if I’m from London OR England — and my sarcastic replies are never lost!

When we first arrived, the five British girls (myself included) were on our way to a house party near Pine Hills, Albany when we were overheard by a bunch of wannabe-basketball players. (I know I’m on the short-side, but still, these guys were TALL.) Anyway, we were on the intersection outside the store when we were mobbed. There is no other verb to express what exactly happened to us. There were cries of “We have the British girls!!” from left, right and centre as swarms of blokes descended on us from all directions. At the time, it was rather terrifying; these blokes were huge. Looking back, it was hilarious; I seem to remember one drunken fellow yelling at me for liking crumpets because if I was the personification of that particular English stereotype, then he must be the personification of his chosen American one: stupidity. Unfortunately, the irony of that entire situation was completely lost on him.

This level of “adoration”(?) “celebrity”(?) isn’t restricted simply to the Albany males…I have been asked/forced to have a conversation with my fellow Brits in the breakfast queue whilst American girls formed a circle round us and hung on our every word – which, could be whatever we liked…because we were allowed to choose our topic of conversation, we just had to let them watch us in awe as we did so.

Perhaps the greatest thing ever, is the fact that back home, I have the British equivalent of your Southern accent. And here you call my voice beautiful and ask me to talk more. Back home, they can’t wait to shut me up. So it’s great. Mostly.

I do wish to beg the question though, as to why my accent is so attractive, why it is so sexualised that numerous boys would clamour to a street corner to ask me about crumpets? Just tonight I was introduced as “Jess – she’s from England!” and again, reference was made immediately to my accent before I’d even opened my mouth. Don’t get me wrong – my accent opens doors here, I know that. And I completely appreciate it: when I spent the first week of my trip to Utah alone in Salt Lake City, I relied on my accent to keep me safe, because it made me memorable. I just don’t necessarily understand it. We speak the same language, mostly. Granted I have to translate “loo” to “bathroom”, and I will never order “fries” but I’m not half as different as everyone makes me out to be. I grew up watching the same movies, reading the same books and listening to the same music that all of you did. It’s funny, I was accepted onto the majority of my classes last semester because of my supposed exotic accent. I was singled out in classes to give “The British Opinion”, regardless of the fact that no one person can speak for an entire nation. I was given countless fantastic opportunities because I was “different”. And I have loved and appreciated all of them. But, to survive in America’s great melting pot, one must become American. You must walk like an American, you must talk like an American, you must think like an American. And nobody considers that until they get here: no movie will ever let you in on that little secret, well perhaps until I write the screenplay myself. Somehow, although that was the most frustrating obstacle I had to get my head round last semester; this idea that although I was praised for being “different”, all anybody really wanted was for me to “fit in”, I relish the experience. I think I did grow up, just a little bit, in America this year. Doesn’t that make me slightly American too?

Video: Hand Polish

Coloring outside the lines can be scary and messy, but it can be liberating. Do what you want, and it will be beautiful.

Tell me what you think, feel or what messages you get from this. I put a lot of ideas into it, but I like to find out what other people see in my work too!

Nancy Drew and the Case of the Missing Masturbation Techniques

I’ve never been one to be shy about my masturbation habits, nor my porn watching. However, because of my gender, there  is  something so taboo about being open about it. Lady friends of mine will always say, “they don’t practice self love” or they think “porn is gross.” Yeah, no lies, porn is totally gross. In fact, as a teenager I struggled to understand if I was gay or not because the only porn that had any appeal to me was lesbian porn, and it wasn’t until I came to college, that I was among many straight ladies who felt the same way.

In discussing porn with a male friend of mine, he told me about his masturbation habits. For him, its about timing his release to the same time as the male in the pornography. He then explained the whole concept of the “money shot,” where the end of the porn consists of the female getting semen on various parts of her body, not limited to face, neck, tits, or ass. For my friend, the money shot is the most important in his relation to porn because that’s it, its over. Straight porn is very much set for a male gaze because of this concept of the money shot. When I attempt(ed) to watch straight porn, I am usually turned off by it, because it’s hard for me to get off on seeing the male’s pleasure, versus relating it to the woman, as well, a woman! Lesbian porn is all about the ladies, so to me I find it more relatable. It still has some absolute aspects of the male gaze to it, but there are far and few between as compared to straight porn.

I think this inability to relate to the characters in pornography has turned a lot of women off from it. Another discussion I will have with friends about porn is about the sound. I watch porn muted, with my iTunes on in the background playing my favorite smangin’ albums. The cheesy moans, crappy background music, and over-aspirated male grunts are SUCH a turnoff. The only moans I want to hear are my own.

Now, female masturbation is also such a taboo topic. Think about it; by the time most girls are 12 or 13, a vast majority of the boys their age are masturbating and know how to do so from the multiple jokes and references to male masturbation in all forms of media: TV shows, film, and music. You know how I learned how to masturbate? I had to do online research, and even then, trying it out on my own was an awkward and strange experience until I finally hit something that made me feel oh so good. I remember my first orgasm, laying on the floor at 15 wondering if I had achieved that well sought after feeling. The thing about female masturbation is that there are so many more methods than male masturbation (in my humble opinion). To this day, I cannot bring myself to put my fingers in my vagina. I literally can not do it. My masturbation technique is all clitoral, and it took me a year or so of random masturbating to finally figure that out.

Thats why masturbation for everyone is SO important. By exploring my sexuality and self-loving, I was able to figure out exactly what turns me on and turns me off, and in turn, transcribe it to my partner so I can have a better intimate encounter. Masturbation to me is so important because everyone has to figure out their sexual style. How can you expect anyone to lose their virginity without having navigated their genitals before-hand?

BITCH!

I’ll be honest with you. When I thought of the name “Bitchtopia”, I just thought it sounded cool. I started Googling song lyrics from bands I liked, looking through the song titles, pairing words that might sound provocative and interesting. One of the pairings was Bitchtopia—as in, maybe, a “Utopia For Bitches”?—and we had our winner.

As we move closer to publishing our first issue, though, I think more and more about the name and why it’s so provocative. Specifically, what is it about the word ‘bitch’?!

The modern word ‘bitch’ is rooted in the Old English word bicce, derived from the Old Norse word bikkja, meaning ‘female dog’. The word began to be used as an insult around the 15th Century and was primarily applied to a promiscuous woman—the ‘metaphorical extension of the behavior of a female dog in heat’. According to an article written by Clare Bayley, the use of the word ‘bitch’ rose to serious popularity at exactly the same time that another movement began to grow—suffrage. For the first time on a systematic level, women began to gain an independent identity with the 1st Wave of Feminism, and their critics followed closely behind. Literature saw a rise in the use of “bitch” in reference to a difficult, annoying, interfering, or vulgar woman, as opposed to the primarily veterinary use of the word prior to the 1920’s.

The insult saw a dip in popularity during the WWII era, correlating with a high respect for women who were essential to the war effort and patriotic chivalry, and during the 50’s, correlating with the rise of ‘perfect housewives’ and suburban sprawl. Then suddenly, in the mid-60’s, the use of “bitch” rose to new heights—along with the 2nd Wave of Feminism. Interesting, right?

Today, the insult has grown into something much larger. It is even often applied to men, implying that the man is weak or not ‘masculine’ enough—that is, too “female”, because being female must be bad. Female politicians are often called ‘bitches’ for showing the same aggressiveness that a male politician would be praised for. I’ve been called a ‘bitch’ in a negative way countless times, by ex-lovers, by kids, even by strangers on the street. It still feels offensive and mean, even though I can walk into any grocery store and buy Sassy Bitch wine, make recipes from a diet cookbook called Skinny Bitch, buy my pregnant friend a pink onesie with ‘BITCH’ printed across the front of it, or register for a Stitch ‘n Bitch knitting class. The word has simultaneously lost meaning and continued to be insulting, violent and offensive when used in different contexts. This dichotomy creates a provocativeness that is hard to ignore.

In our 4th Wave of Feminism, I think we can safely say that the feminist movement has reclaimed “bitch” as a powerful, positive word, as women did in the 60’s and in the 90’s. This time, we are reclaiming it for powerful people. People, being cis-women, cis-men, trans people, queer, gay, straight, white, people-of-color, etc. We are continuing the work of feminists while adding our own spin on a growing movement, and with the creation of Bitchtopia.com, we hope to make a little utopia for all of us powerful bitches.

Enjoy!

Coming Out? What Will My Parents Think?!

Despite what my phone calls home sound like, my parents are the greatest, most understanding parents that a person could have. It’s not a matter of being blessed—it’s due, simply, to a lineage of well-tempered, good hearted people which my parents have learned from. Still, even though I adore my parents and appreciate everything they do for me and my brothers, we’ve always managed to keep a good line of privacy. As the youngest child, I followed the norms which my brothers had formed for me, which included a heavy amount of respected silence. My family never talks about our personal romantic relationships or the serious feelings we have when our mental health is wavering. I mean, I dated someone in high school that my parents never even met. I think my mom is under the impression that he took me to one concert in the city… I don’t even know. She knew I was safe and relatively happy with it, so nothing needed to be pried out of me. (See what I mean? Good parents.)

When Bitchtopia was starting to really come together, I couldn’t keep it to myself. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops: “THIS MIGHT WORK OUT. MOM AND DAD BE PROUD!” My day dreams were filled with images of my parents forwarding emails to their friends, including news snips about the website and them calling their friends to tell them how proud they are that I was able to pull this all together. Then it hit me… I never told them I was a feminist.

How do you come out to your parents about your political beliefs, when they include views that most of society would deem “radical”? My parents might understand that I feel differently on some level, but how would they feel if they knew that I identified as queer just because I don’t want to identify with heterosexuality? How would they feel if they knew that I’m pro-choice, even if the only reason for a woman getting an abortion is because they wanted one?  Taking a political stance is one of the most courageous things I’ve ever done and I was never scared of the public’s opinion, but I’m dreading the conversation I’m going to have the next time I call home, after this is published.

I did not form my feminist opinions because I am angry at my childhood or because my parents treated me unjustly. In fact, it is because of my parents that I am intelligent enough to look beyond the surface of society, or to just do what I’m told because it’s told to me. It’s because of their understanding temperament, their endless adoration for their children and my ability to have some freedom and privacy from our family life, that I was able to explore my own political projects.

So, shout outs to you, mom and dad. I hope you’re not too embarrassed by the candid conversations Bitchtopia will start, while understanding that they are discussions that need to be had. Maybe one day, we’ll be comfortable enough to discuss them together. Until then, school is going well, I’m busy, I love you and I’ll call you later.

Author:

Ingrid (a.k.a. lilgrrrlcreep)

Editor In Chief