Whips, Chains and Penises, OH MY! Fantasy and the Feminist Argument for Bondage

Friday, August 01, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

A teenager's mother finds an S&M bondage magazine in her room. The mother, very upset, shows the magazine to her husband. "What do you think we should do about this?" she asks him. 

He looks at her and says, "Well, I definitely don't think you should spank her!"

(Ba dum dum, ching)

Fantasy may evolve as a way to combat early childhood insecurities or as a way to explore sexuality. From wild woman fantasies, to playing the victim, women are highly sexual creatures equipped with the ability to use fantasy in a variety of ways. We may use it to explore our own femininity, rehearse future possibilities or enhance self esteem. We may also use fantasy as a way to reduce guilt and enhance pleasure or as a coping skill to deal with past trauma. All of these issues are discussed in more detail in the last post: Can Fantasy Be Useful? Fantasy Roots, Functions and Fifty Shades of Awesome. 

But in recent months, our fascination with Fifty Shades of Grey has become an antifeminist scapegoat among mounting concerns that perhaps such depictions of submission are a disservice to women. Through this series, I hope to show that while some elements of our fantasy lives may come from a society bent on patriarchy, the way we use them is not shameful or wrong. Some of them are even evolutionarily relevant....  continue reading

Can Fantasy Be Useful? Fantasy Roots, Functions, and Fifty Shades of Awesome

Monday, July 28, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

Fantasy is a funny thing. Most everyone engages in it, though some won't admit it. When we do discuss it, it is in hushed whispers over wine amidst nervous giggles punctuated by the occasional, "Me too!" or "Ewww!"

But there are some fantasies that are far more taboo than others. The fantasies of rape, submission and sadomasochistic practices are among them.  

I know, I am late to the whole Fifty Shades of Grey party. 

"WAIT...THERE WAS A PARTY!?" Not that kind of party, people. Simmer down.

Since the trailer came out, I have listened to Fifty Shades being reduced to an antifeminist conspiracy, with many encouraging a boycott of the movie. I have heard things like, “It’s a glorification of rape, which increases the notion that women are asking for it.” I have heard others, male and female alike, ponder how we can stand idly by and allow a movie that depicts violence against women to become a box office hit. I assume they are just upset because sex in elevators is wrong on many levels. (Hey-O!)

At any rate, in emails and personal conversations, my opinions have been sought by those who believed that I would, in my decidedly feminist way, be pissed at anything that shows male dominance. 

Right? 

I am late to this party because I am a thinker. And in my pondering, I have decided that I like this whole Fifty Shades of Grey thing. I do not believe that Fifty Shades of Grey is a disservice to women, though I do believe that those who shame women for their arousal might be contributing to more female shame responses than the movie itself. If anything, Fifty Shades gives us a platform to discuss these issues and normalize the process for those who feel ashamed of their responses. In addition, bondage is not rape, though rape fantasies are also common. And whether it's bondage, submission or wild orgy sex, our fantasies change over time due to hormones, aging, attempts to conquer subconscious fears or guilt, or in response to new insecurities. There can be healing and beauty inherent in these fantasies even if the reasons for this are not immediately obvious. And all these fantasy elements can play a positive role in the female psyche....  continue reading

Foods for Mental Health: Saffron, Depression and Sex

Friday, July 25, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

In recent years, research has been pushing the boundary of what we know about plants for the treatment of mood disorders. While it is still an emerging field, there are a number of studies showing that certain herbs are just as effective as pharmacological intervention in the treatment of depression. One of these is saffron, the almost bitter earthy-tasting herb from the purple saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). 

But the whole flower isn’t of use to us for depression. Instead we only need the female part of the flower, the orangey-red stamen from inside the purple bloom. Apparently, the male part of the plant doesn’t do shit until it’s time to procreate. Lazy bum.  ...  continue reading

"I'm A Terrible Mother": One Little-Known Drive That Causes Maternal Guilt

Monday, July 21, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Psychology of Motherhood

Feeling guilty? Your brain might be screwing with you. 

Our brains developed rapidly around the time group living became necessary. Higher order cognition allowed us to read social cues and compete without violence through the use of depression, anxiety, guilt and shame.

But, shame has less adaptive significance when triggered in response to societal views of maternal failure. And make no mistake about it, women are led to believe that they can fail if they are unable to live up to the standards of so-called experts.

Fuck you, Dr. Phil!

Today, society is predisposed to blame mothers. This is due, in part, to the behavioral manifestos of years past which proclaimed that children can be molded into anything if mothers provide the correct experiences. Behaviorism, and all that shit.

You know what, B.F.Skinner? Fuck you too!...  continue reading

Don't Be A Dick: An Alternative To Authoritarian Versus Permissive Parenting Styles

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Mom Stories/Opinion

I am always hearing that parents are doing it wrong. According to random articles, television talking heads and Supernanny, we are all too permissive which is leading to increased stress. I don’t disagree that we could do things a little bit differently, but not in the ways these individuals often encourage: with more discipline and less tolerance for “bad” kids.

But if I had a nickel for every time I treated a “bad” child turned adult,  I’d be a fucking millionaire. Because badness doesn’t disintegrate. It creeps up on you when you make mistakes, even honest ones, later in life. I don't believe in bad children and I don’t think that most parents are bad either. I think we are all kind-of victims in this weird mesh of cultural expectation at odds with evolutionary process and children who are just trying to find their way. 

Disclaimer: I am the antithesis of Supernanny. There I said it. And I will not take it back because we define “discipline” in completely different ways....  continue reading

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Using Storytelling to Decrease Depression and PTSD Symptoms

Monday, July 14, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

Sometimes a pencil is just a pencil. (I think Freud said that.) And sometimes, a pencil is a great deal more. (He probably said that too.)

Writing is a powerful tool for those dealing with mental health issues. It might be especially important in cases of trauma where integrating memory is a critical part of healing. Creative engagement, in the form of writing or other artistic expression, serves to decrease anxiety, stress and other psychological disturbances1

WRITERS UNITE!

As if you needed more excuses to lock yourself up with a notebook, expressive writing also improves complications of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and depressive symptoms in those with a history of sexual abuse2. Writing may also improve sexual dysfunction issues in those who write specifically about sexual topics2. This type of writing may also serve to decrease depressive symptoms in those from abusive relationships3.

That's a pretty powerful pencil....  continue reading