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If you want to make a difference and help others while learning about sexual health and keeping yourself safe, then you need to join SMART Youth! You can come to any of our events around the city or come to one of our movie nights or Open Mic events. Check out our schedule to learn what we are doing or e-mail sync.nyc@gmail.com.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

[Taboo Talk V] Sex-R: Despicable Me – BDSM and Other Fetishes

We held our final Taboo Talk workshop, titled Despicable Me, about the world of BDSM and other fetishes.

We’ve posted about fetishes here on our blog before and explained what fetishes are and if it is healthy to have one or not.
Just to recap, the definition of a fetish “specifically refers to a strong sexual preoccupation with an object, material, or body part.” This object, material, or body part – the specific thing that is fetishized – often needs to be present, incorporated, or at least thought of in order for the person to reach sexual satisfaction. A fetish is a type of paraphilia, which generally “means compulsively responding in a sexual way to an unusual or socially acceptable stimulus."
For this workshop, we focused specifically on BDSM. BDSM stands for a combination of acts and philosophies: Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism.
 
BDSM involves role-playing with the behaviors of dominance/submission and by receiving or inflicting pain, humiliation, restraint, and other un-equal power dynamics. This role-playing can be situational (called a session), or can be long term (sometimes playing a specific role 24/7). There are many roles a person can play, including a dominant/top/master/dominatrix (this person does the controlling) and a submissive/bottom/slave/brat (this person is the one being controlled).
The key to BDSM is that all parties must consent to all activities and rules decided by each person, so much so that the motto of the BDSM community is “Safe, Sane, and Consensual.” This means that activities must not cause unwanted or permanent harm, participants must be aware and sane to consent, and that all participants must consent.
Although many sexual acts (such as penetration) are included in BDSM play, not all play has to include them. Many activities like spanking, whipping, bondage, verbal degrading, etc don’t involve sexual activity.
 
We had some safety tips mentioned in our blog post about fetishes, but we’ll list them here again:
  • Do research on your specific fetish/paraphilia. What are the community’s philosophies? Do they provide support or resources on how to begin and how to be safe.
  • Be mindful of which communities (physical or virtual) you’re connecting with. If you feel like you’re in danger, that you cannot trust the people you’re with, or that they’re involved in illegal activities, you do not have to be a part of that group.
  • Establish rules of consent and safety with your sexual partners.  An example of this is using safewords. Safewords are specific words or phrases that are mutually agreed upon and used to let others know that we want to stop sexual activity. This is most commonly used in BDSM, where words like ‘stop’ or ‘no’ are not taken at face-value and are considered part of role-playing.
  • Be safe if you’re meeting someone from the internet. You can find great tips here.
What’s most important is that it be your choice to participate in BDSM activities if you want to, and that you are practicing them safely.

Resources:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Valentine's Day Event - Something for Everybody!

SMART Youth will be hosting our annual Valentine's Day event this year. It is titled "Something for Everybody," and it is the finale to our Taboo Talks: Sex-R weekly workshops. 

There will be food, fun, and prizes! 
We hope you can join us! 

Please RSVP at sync.nyc@gmail.com by February 9th if possible. 

Event Details:Date: Friday, February 13th
Time: 6-8:30PM
Location: MCCNY Charities (446 West 36th street b/t 9th & 10th avenues)

See you there! Be ready to mingle!


[Taboo Talk IV] Sex-R: Inside Out – Pornography

Last week was our fourth workshop of our Taboo Talk series. Pornography was the topic of the week, and our Sex-R movie reference was the soon-to-be-released movie Inside Out.

Pornography is a complex topic that many people have different feelings about. In a previous blog post, we stated some of the good, bad, and ugly sides that porn can represent. During our meeting, we were able to hear these differing opinions about pornography directly from our youth.

We talked about the pros and cons of porn. Some pros included learning about what you like or don’t like sexually, using it as foreplay for masturbation or partner sex; while some cons included getting unrealistic expectations about what sex is or what our genitalia should look like.


The decision to watch pornography is a personal one. What’s important about these pros and cons is that it allows you to form your own opinions and make your own decisions about viewing pornography. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

[Taboo Talk III] Sex-R: Toy Story – Sex Toys

Last week was our third workshop of our Taboo Talk series. The topic of discussion was Sex Toys, so our Sex-R theme was Toy Story, naturally!

We've recently blogged about sex toys in the past, giving the 411 on what they are, their history, and how they can be used. Sex toys can be a great way to explore your own sexuality (re: masturbation), and can also be incorporated in many ways for sex with other people (foreplay, mutual masturbation, intercourse, etc)!


There’s no one way to use a sex toy. As long as the toy is being used safely and hygienically, sex toys can be used anywhere on the body that feels pleasurable. 


Thursday, January 29, 2015

[Taboo Talk II] Sex-R: Finding Nemo – Masturbation

Two weeks ago, we had our second workshop for Taboo Talk series! This workshop was dedicated to the safest sex of them all: Masturbation, which is why our Sex-R theme was Finding Nemo.


Just so we're all on the same page, masturbation is the act of touching your own genitals for pleasure. We've talked and blogged in the past about how masturbation and self-exploration are common and healthy behaviors that help us learn about ourselves as sexual beings; yet we often find it awkward to talk about it…and when we do, it’s either in a joking way or in a shameful way. It’s hardly ever spoken about positively. We at SMART Youth want to change that!

Our guest facilitator, Melisa, led a discussion on how there are differences in the way masturbation is perceived based on many factors. Our participants told examples of how, depending on your gender and age, masturbation can be seen differently. When men are younger, masturbation is seen as something that every man does and cannot control. When women are younger, masturbation is seen as something that women just don’t do. As we get older, the societal perception changes and masturbation is seen as something that is done only when someone doesn’t have a sexual partner. We know that these are stereotypes and are NOT true! Not every man masturbates, and a lot of women do masturbate.

We also know that masturbation does not depend on having a sexual partner. Both people who are single or in relationships masturbate, and they’re equally okay! Plus, masturbation and mutual masturbation (when partners pleasure themselves in front of their partner or touch/rub their partners’ genitals for pleasure) can be part of foreplay and sex. If there is no transfer of fluids (or you’re following other precautions like using a barrier or washing hands), there is a suuuuper low risk for pregnancy or STI’s…making it the safest sex of them all!

You don’t only have to use your hands either. One can masturbate or do mutual masturbation with the aid of sex toys as well! We have an entire blog post and presentation dedicated to what sex toys are and how to use them.

One way we can reduce shame and start becoming more comfortable with talking about masturbation is to use better words to describe the act. Many of the phrases we use to describe masturbation include jerking off, diddle the skittle, or choke the monkey, which are either funny or sometimes violent. If instead we used more neutral and even more positive phrases like pleasuring yourself, fingering, or as one youth offered, happy time, it may make talking about masturbation a more positive and open topic!


Thank you to Melisa for taking the time out to facilitate such a fun and important meeting!

Friday, January 16, 2015

[Taboo Talk I] Sex-R: The Incredibles – Polyamory and Asexuality

Last week officially started our new series of workshops called Taboo Talk, where we discuss sexual topics that you normally wouldn't discuss in your traditional sex ed class. The theme of the series is Disney’s Pixar, therefore each workshop is named after a Pixar movie.


We often think of relationships as sexual partnerships that involve only two people…but what happens when a relationship doesn't look like that? Our movie theme for last Friday was The Incredibles and the topic was polyamory and asexuality; two things that many people have heard of, but often do not understand because of the misconceptions and myths about them.

Polyamory literally means “many loves” in Greek. In modern practice, polyamory is the idea of having multiple intimate relationships with different people at the same time. It’s also known as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.” In a polyamorous relationship, the knowledge and consent of everyone involved is mandatory, meaning all people in these types of relationships know that they’re in one and are okay with it.

Polyamory can take many forms, ranging from a person having multiple separate relationships to a group of people having relationships with each other. Polyamory not the same as polygamy; polygamy usually involves one man with multiple wives, but not the other way around. Having another relationship with someone else without your partner knowing is also not polyamory. Like mentioned before, all people involved must know and be in agreement with one another.


On the flip side, asexuality is a sexual identity where someone does not feel sexual attraction to or desire for anyone. Often, people who are asexual prefer romantic non-sexual relationships, but some also may not.


Just because a person identifies as asexual does not necessarily mean that asexual people do not have sex; people who identify as asexual may have sex for other reasons such as pleasing their partner or to have children. Asexual people can also identify with having romantic or emotional attractions to people similar to how a sexual person may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc; they just won’t feel a sexual attraction towards them.

There are a lot of misconceptions associated with both polyamory and asexuality for many reasons, ranging from media misrepresentation (or lack of representation) to just having never met someone who expressed that they are polyamorous or asexual. The best thing you can do is to do your research and talk to folk who identify as polyamorous or asexual!

Resources:
  • To learn more about Polyamory, visit More Than Two at: https://www.morethantwo.com/polyamory.html
  • To learn more about Asexuality, visit Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) at: http://www.asexuality.org/home/


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

SMART Youth January & February Calendar

Happy New Year!!
 
To celebrate, SMART Youth has some fantastic workshops and events coming up for January and February. Join us for our Taboo Talk series, where you'll learn about the stuff you don't learn in school sex ed like fetishes, sex toys, and more! This all leads up to our annual Valentine's Day event! Right after that, we will also have our annual National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day event. We hope to see you all there!