“I knew I was different…” – When Being a “Man” Means Being LESS of a “Man”

“I knew I was different. I thought that I might be gay or something because I couldn’t identify with any of the guys at all. None of them liked art or music. They just wanted to fight and get laid. It was many years ago but it gave me this real hatred for the average American macho male.”

(Kurt Cobain)

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I write a lot about women’s sexuality on this page, not because I think that men’s issues are lesser, rather I don’t understand men’s issues as well as I do women’s…I am, after all, a woman. However, there are times when second-hand experience leads me to conclusions that I think are worth discussing and the above quote highlights one:

Maleness

(as defined by our society)

is necessarily an exaggerated caricature.

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And the effects of this personality-overlay can be all encompassing. Men’s very person(ality) has become a construction of expectations that are as far out of reach as those placed on women in our society; some of which include, but are not limited, to the following:

Have a big dick.

Make money.

Buy a “nice” (read: expensive) car.

Fuck lots of women.

Never look like/be a “fag”.

Act macho.

And, last but not least…Beat-up other men up who threaten any of the above.

But what if all of that is a facade, simple rhetoric, and masculinity is as much female as it is male? Here is the catch…When men realize the truth of this, conflict arrises…

If I am not that, and I am this:

Creative.

Artistic.

Loving.

Compassionate.

Artistic.

Then who am I?

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Today, men’s ability to integrate both (what are stereotypically) masculine and feminine aspects of their identity (sexual and otherwise) is consistently challenged, and even hampered, by society’s expectations…and yet that integration is completely necessary to maintain healthy relationships with their romantic partners and ultimately to attain happiness.

Yet…In order for this occur, a radical shift in thought and self-concept needs to happen, one where gender stereotypes no longer exist, so that we may begin to understand each other as well as ourselves as integrated, complex, and dimensional individuals who reflect ALL aspects of humanity and not simply those determined by out genitalia.

And here is the ultimate question, men…Are you ready for THAT?!?!

xxx Dr.C.

(photo credit to shutterbugboudoir.com)

Remembering my Father Through the Lens of the Sandy Hook Masacre: Death and Mental Illness

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“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”

– Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths you Can’t Avoid

Today, I remember as the day my father died.

At the time I was told that he died of a heart attack; my mother made that decision.

Later, during a confrontation about…guns, I was told that he committed suicide.

After losing his entire family in the Jone’s Town mass-suicide/murder, his life was full of suffering. We knew that he fought demons he would never slay, and wrestled with understanding of a senseless act that was incomprehensible.

He earned psychological diagnoses that ranged from bi-polar depression to schizophrenia. And near the end of his life he believed that he was God.

I did not have an easy childhood, before or after his death. And as a young adult I struggled to understand “why”…even searching his medical records to see if something else could have been done, something that may have saved him. Indeed my choice to become a mental health worker was entirely due to this loss as was the desire to work to remove the stigma of mental illness that our society has worked so hard to sustain over centuries.

This year as I reflect on my father, his death, and my own life…I also think of the recent tragedy in Sandy Hook Connecticut and of the man who committed this atrocity. He too was mentally ill. He too was armed with a gun. And while mental illness is pertinent to his story, I think it’s important to know it is not the entire story…the majority of mentally ill people are not violent towards others. It is my hope that as a knee jerk reaction we do not allow our mentality about mental illness to revert back to the middle ages, labeling and discarding those who are suffering, out of fear; rather, I hope that we will search for understanding and therefore strengthen the responsibility that we have as a society to all people.

No one act stands alone…it’s consequences are far reaching and meaningful…it’s up to us to make that meaning.

For me, my father’s suicide served to allow me to create a more meaningful life…which I imagine would make him very proud. Rest…I know you are now at peace, Dad.

xxx c.

Thrilling Thursday: MEN “Respect YourSELF” for December 1st World AIDS Day!

I too often neglect my MEN-folk on this blog…particularly when I blog about sex toys, so today in pre-appreciation of World AIDS Day on December 1st (Saturday) I bring you TENGA a new adult concept in male sex toys from Japan (of course). Even at first glance, you understand WHY these toys are considered a rather high-end notion for pleasuring oneself:

The RESPECT YOURSELF PROJECT is back for its third year. This year sees the return of USA based Chari & Co NYC alongside the new forces of Opening Ceremony, Married to the Mob and HUF, joining forces with TENGA alongside 5 Japanese clothing labels, artist Makoto Aida and cartoonist Santa Inoue, with BLACKSENSE reigning from China completing RYP’s most global line-up to date.
RYP is a project based on a core concept of “Respect Yourself ~ Taking care of yourself will protect you from HIV” started by TENGA in 2010 with a wish to help, in what way we can, to help spread knowledge and awareness of – and to prevent the spread of – AIDS and HIV.

※ Products on sale from Dec.1st 2012 ( World AIDS Day )
※ All products are limited edition with only limited quantities available. Please contact each brand directly for any inquiries.
※ All proceeds will be donated to AIDS charities in participating countries. (Japan, U.S.A. and China)
※ You must be over the age of consent in your location to use this product.

Supported by : Masayuki Hamajima turquoise Co., Ltd. / techne LLC / Nippon Film Industrial Co., Ltd. / Entaniya Co., Ltd. / Tessai Kawakita
…and special thanks to everyone who helped make this project a success

[Countries / Brands]
Japan: roar / Roen / SWAGGER / VANQUISH / XLARGE® / Santa Inoue (Santastic!) / Makoto Aida
USA: Chari&Co NYC / HUF / Married to the Mob / Opening Ceremony
China: BLACKSENSE

[Release Date]
On Sale December 1st World AIDS Day
(*Makoto Aida Model available at Makoto Aida gallery event 17th Nov. Ebisu, Tokyo, JAPAN)

[Price]
Open Price – Contact Brand for further info.

I have to admit, I love the concept and the campaign. Tenga is Koichi Matsumoto’s brainchild, and with a background of engineering, design, and mechanics that includes tuning super cars like Lamborghini, I would say his credentials make him well-qualified to tune your penis…so to speak!
Essentially he has created different sleeves to masturbate in, which span the gamut of shape, size, texture, material…and “attitude”.
They look almost too good to dirty with your jizz if you ask me, but no one did. I have to admit I have developed such an immediate a affinity for the Keith Haring design that it makes me wish I had a cock to put it in!
And ladies and gentlemen, I think a Tenga would make such a lovely, attractive, and (possibly) hilarious gift for that man (or men) in your life; one that you won’t be grossed-out by when you find it in the bottom of his closet. Instead, you will admire the artwork, possibly smile and laugh, as you think about what nastiness must have occurred inisde of that gorgeous packaging…it’s surprisingly sexy, the power of wrappings that insinuate the possibility of naughty pleasures just beneath the surface…truly…a win win situation!
Happy masturbating lovies on the Thrilling Thursday!!!
xxx
conchita.

Phenomenal Images From the 2004 Phillip Toledano Shoot ‘Hope & Fear’

Please take a moment to explore and expand your mind through exploring these phenomenal images!

Phillip Toledano was born in London to a French Moroccan mother, and an American father. He believes that photographs should be like unfinished sentences. There should always be space for questions.

In this 2004 shoot entitled Hope & Fear, Toledano expresses the external manifestation of internal desires and paranoia that are adrift in contemporary American society. What are we afraid of? What do we love? How does our society function, and what does it worship?

All costumes are real (and surreal).

via Paranoia, hope and fear!. (And please also take the time to support the other thought-inducing pasts form this blog: http://chicquero.wordpress.com/)

xxx, c.

I AM THANKFUL…

The past year has offered many twists and turns…and I find that still, I am not settled…I continue to ride the wave of life, at times pleasantly pleased, disappointed…at others. But, I remain thankful. My life is my own…some would consider it faulted…others might covet it…and like everyone’s life, mine deserves neither. It is simply mine.

Today, I want to reflect on all of those in my life who have made it so beautiful…a life worth living…for whom without, I would experience neither joy nor suffering…and a life without BOTH is…no life at all.

Thank you.

I am thankful for you.

And I thank you….for giving me, my life. xxx c

Josephine Baker: The Icon

It was the Roaring 20’s when Josephine Baker enjoyed initial success as a performer. The zeitgeist of the time created the perfect backdrop for a woman who represented racial-difference, sensuality, strength, creativity, and talent to rise to fame. And rise she did, like a meteor, in Paris particularly Ms. Baker became one of the most highly paid and appreciated artists of her time. Of course, all of this attention was not without it’s flip-side as she also endured racism and segregation in the U.S. However, she never backed down and was as famous as champion of causes as she was as a performer. Take a moment if you will to read the short biography and to enjoy some of her most iconic performances, below…

Josephine Baker sashayed onto a Paris stage during the 1920s with a comic, yet sensual appeal that took Europe by storm. Famous for barely-there dresses and no-holds-barred dance routines, her exotic beauty generated nicknames “Black Venus,” “Black Pearl” and “Creole Goddess.” Admirers bestowed a plethora of gifts, including diamonds and cars, and she received approximately 1,500 marriage proposals. She maintained energetic performances and a celebrity status for 50 years until her death in 1975. Unfortunately, racism prevented her talents from being wholly accepted in the United States until 1973.

Humble beginnings

She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 3, 1906 to washerwoman Carrie McDonald and vaudeville drummer Eddie Carson. Eddie abandoned them shortly afterward, and Carrie married a kind but perpetually unemployed man named Arthur Martin…

Josephine grew up cleaning houses and babysitting for wealthy white families who reminded her “be sure not to kiss the baby.” She got a job waitressing at The Old Chauffeur’s Club when she was 13 years old. While waiting tables she met and had a brief marriage to Willie Wells. While it was unusual for a woman during her era, Josephine never depended on a man for financial support. Therefore, she never hesitated to leave when a relationship soured. She was married and divorced three more times, to American Willie Baker in 1921 (whose last name she chose to keep), Frenchman Jean Lion in 1937 (from whom she attained French citizenship) and French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon in 1947 (who helped to raise her 12 adopted children).

Josephine toured the United States with The Jones Family Band and The Dixie Steppers in 1919, performing various comical skits. When the troupes split, she tried to advance as a chorus girl for The Dixie Steppers in Sissle and Blake’s production Shuffle Along. She was rejected because she was “too skinny and too dark.” Undeterred, she learned the chorus line’s routines while working as a dresser. Thus, Josephine was the obvious replacement when a dancer left. Onstage she rolled her eyes and purposely acted clumsy. The audience loved her comedic touch, and Josephine was a box office draw for the rest of the show’s run.

Parisian sensation

She enjoyed moderate success at The Plantation Club in New York afterShuffle Along. However, when Josephine traveled to Paris for a new venture, La Revue Nègre, it proved to be a turning point in her career. Amongst a compilation of acts, Josephine and dance partner Joe Alex captivated the audience with the Danse Sauvage. Everything about the routine was new and exotic, and Josephine, boldly dressed in nothing but a feather skirt, worked the audience into frenzy with her uninhibited movements. She was an overnight sensation.

Josephine’s immense popularity afforded her a comfortable salary, which she spent mostly on clothes, jewelry and pets. She loved animals, and at one time she owned a leopard (Chiquita), a chimpanzee (Ethel), a pig (Albert), a snake (Kiki), a goat, a parrot, parakeets, fish, three cats and seven dogs.

Her career thrived in the integrated Paris society; when La Revue Nègre closed, Josephine starred in La Folie du Jour at the Follies-Bergère Theater. Her jaw-dropping performance, including a costume of 16 bananas strung into a skirt, cemented her celebrity status. Josephine rivaled Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford as the most photographed woman in the world, and by 1927 she earned more than any entertainer in Europe. She starred in two movies in the early 1930s, Zou-Zou andPrincess Tam-Tam, and moved her family from St. Louis to Les Milandes, her estate in Castelnaud-Fayrac, France.

A 1936 return to the United States to star in the Ziegfield Follies proved disastrous, despite the fact that she was a major celebrity in Europe. American audiences rejected the idea of a black woman with so much sophistication and power, newspaper reviews were equally cruel (The New York Times called her a “Negro wench”), and Josephine returned to Europe heartbroken.

Righting wrongs

Josephine served France during World War II in several ways. She performed for the troops, and was an honorable correspondent for the French Resistance (undercover work included smuggling secret messages written on her music sheets) and a sub-lieutenant in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. She was later awarded the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette and named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government for hard work and dedication.

Josephine visited the United States during the 50s and 60s with renewed vigor to fight racism. When New York’s popular Stork Club refused her service, she engaged a head-on media battle with pro-segregation columnist Walter Winchell. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) named May 20 Josephine Baker Day in honor of her efforts.

It was also during this time that she began adopting children, forming a family she often referred to as “The Rainbow Tribe.” Josephine wanted her to prove that “children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers.” She often took the children with her cross-country, and when they were at Les Milandes tours were arranged so visitors could walk the grounds and see how natural and happy the children in “The Rainbow Tribe” were…

Sad farewells

Josephine agreed to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall that same year. Due to previous experience, she was nervous about how the audience and critics would receive her. This time, however, cultural and racial growth was evident. Josephine received a standing ovation before the concert even began. The enthusiastic welcome was so touching that she wept onstage.

On April 8, 1975 Josephine premiered at the Bobino Theater in Paris. Celebrities such as Princess Grace of Monaco and Sophia Loren were in attendance to see 68-year-old Josephine perform a medley of routines from her 50 year career. The reviews were among her best ever. Days later, however, Josephine slipped into a coma. She died from a cerebral hemorrhage at 5 a.m. on April 12.

More than 20,000 people crowded the streets of Paris to watch the funeral procession on its way to the Church of the Madeleine. The French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making Josephine Baker the first American woman buried in France with military honors. Her gravesite is in the Cimetiére de Monaco, Monaco.

Josephine Baker has continued to intrigue and inspire people throughout the world. In 1991, HBO released The Josephine Baker Story. The movie won two Emmys, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries (Lynn Whitfield) and Outstanding Art Direction. The movie also picked up one of three Golden Globe nominations. –http://www.cmgww.com/stars/baker/about/biography.html

Josephine Baker, she left us a legacy that speaks to equality in creative expression…talented, powerful and enduring she is a true iconic inspiration.

xxx c.