Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What is "Cuddle Sanctuary"?

Cuddle Sanctuary is a three-hour event. It begins with a short workshop and finishes with a long stretch of relaxing hang-out time.  The star of the show is safe, consensual touch.

Cuddle Sanctuary is a Rated G event – so it doesn’t include sexual touch. The kinds of touch that are welcome include hugging, holding, spooning, caressing (the face, back or arms), foot rubs, shoulder massages – there’s plenty of options!

Wear comfortable clothes when you arrive or change once you get to the venue. You can even change into pajamas if you want to!

The workshop is a fun, interactive way to go over the guidelines of Cuddle Sanctuary. It’s also a great way to get to know everyone in the room.

My name is Jean Franzblau – I’m the facilitator of Cuddle Sanctuary. For years I kept Googling the words “cuddle” and “Los Angeles” looking for an event like this. I’m honored to be able to offer Cuddle Sanctuary to the community every month.

Cuddle Sanctuary was inspired by Cuddle Party which was co-created by Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski. The concept has caught on across the world.

Cuddle Sanctuary is especially welcoming to newcomers. If you’ve never attended an event like this, come check it out! And if you live far from Los Angeles, see if there are other cuddle events near you. If not, trust me, it’s totally worth the trip to come to Cuddle Sanctuary.

To stay in touch, join our Meetup and “like” us on Facebook.

That’s it for now. Happy cuddling!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sexual Esteem, Part 6 - Healing Sexual Shame with "Amends"

You’re in a room with somebody you trust and you’ve just shared your list of sexual shames. Congratulations, that is really brave. What do you do next? You make a list of amends – or apologies.

At this point, you’re not going to make a commitment to apologize to anyone – so don’t run off and start doing that! This is delicate work that deserves time, focus and careful attention.

The amends process is common in 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. I agree with their method that your list of amends ought to be carefully considered by you – and someone else you trust. The person who listened to your inventory might be the perfect person to help you with this.

One thing to be careful of when making an amends is that the apology itself ought to do no more harm. Let’s say a woman cheated on her boyfriend – someone she’s no longer with. Looking him up and letting him know, “By the way, when I was with you, I was cheating on you,” may hurt him for no good reason.  Choosing whether and how to do an amends requires some challenging judgment calls. That’s why it’s critical to have a trusted partner in this process.

Sometimes an amends is owed to another person, and sometimes you may need to apologize to yourself. You may have made decisions that hurt only you. You may deserve your own “self amends.” Your trusted friend can help you decide what a self amends might be. One popular one is to make a commitment to never do that again.

You may need and want to get creative with this process. If there’s someone you’d like to apologize to but it would do the person harm, you could write an apology and read it to your safe friend only. Or perhaps you owe an apology to someone who has died. Writing and reading a letter out loud could be a way to at least symbolically apologize.

I had a friend who terminated a pregnancy and felt shame and sadeness about that decision. During her amends process she created a ritual by burying a rose. She also gave money to a children’s charity.

Once you have your list of amends, go easy. Respect your comfort zone, your stretch zone and your danger zone in this process. Check in with your safe friend. Be kind to yourself.
I’m thinking of you taking this brave next step.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gorgeous Junk: Interview by Carol Queen

I feel deeply proud to have been interviewed last week by legendary Carol Queen. Here's the conversation courtesy of Good Vibrations:

Meet Our Teachers–Jean Franzblau

TONIGHT we’re so happy to offer a brand-new workshop, all about body image–specifically, genital body image. Jean Franzblau helps us take a new and positive look at our parts in her class Gorgeous Junk: Releasing Negative Thoughts About Our Genitals for Hotter Sex. (“Junk” is a gender-neutral, playful term for the bots Mom used to call “private parts.”) And tomorrow night Good Vibrations sponsors her solo show Coming Out Kinky – A Grown Up Comedy! I caught up with her on the fly as she prepared to travel to San Francisco for these events. Don’t miss her! –Carol Queen, PhD
CQ: Why do you think people, in this supposedly enlightened time, grow up with shame around their genitals?
Jean: I think it begins when a kid discovers their gorgeous junk and a parent or teacher screams, “Don’t touch that!” The energy of alarm and the message “don’t touch that!” sends a clear message: this part of me is somehow bad or off limits.
CQ: How do you distinguish feelings of shame from privacy or modesty?
Jean: Lowered self esteem accompanies shame. A sense of “this part of me is bad” or “I am bad” accompanies shame.
CQ: Do you see different common manifestations of shame depending on a person’s gender? Are there different answers (by gender) to getting a person to feel good about their gorgeous junk?
Jean: Vulva shame especially tends to center around perceived smell and how the vulva looks. Penis shame can focus on size, shape and perceived sexual performance.
Words of appreciation have a healing effect across all kinds of junk, thank goodness! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sexual Esteem, Part 5 - Sharing Your Sexual Shame Inventory

Imagine that you had a list of everything about your sexual history that you’re ashamed of. Would you ever share it with anyone?

My name is Jean Franzblau with “Sexual Esteem with Jean” and we’re deep into a process called “The Sexual Shame Inventory.” The Sexual Shame Inventory can include things that have happened to you, things that you have done and even things that you have thought.

The next step is the find a safe person with whom to share this list. Why would you share this list with anyone? There’s a great saying in 12-step recovery programs: You’re only as sick as your secrets.

Who in your life is a great listener? Who can handle hearing specifics about your sex life? Who can you trust to hold this information sacred and confidential? 

Let’s say  you’ve asked the right person and that person has said yes – what next?

Set aside some time for the experience and give yourselves some privacy and quiet. Coach your listening buddy not to give you advice about what you’re sharing – their one important function is to listen. Ask the person to simply say “thank you” after each item on the list.

I encourage you to be really gentle with yourself. You could share items on your list for just five minutes and check in with how you are feeling. Breathe. Take breaks. Do what you need to do to respect that fact that this can be a life changing process.

Good luck sharing your Sexual Shame Inventory. The next video in this series will explain the final step in the process.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

‪Sexual Esteem, Part 4 – Sexual Shame Inventory

What if everything you’ve ever felt ashamed of in your sexual past could be in some way released? In this series about increasing sexual esteem, it’s important to pay attention to all the areas where you might feel badly about yourself.

Exploring the parts of our sexual histories that are uncomfortable, embarrassing or traumatic can bring up painful emotions and memories. That’s why it’s important to consider if you might need the support of a mental health professional – a therapist – before doing an inventory like this.

Imagine three zones – the comfort zone, the stretch zone and the danger zone. Activities in the comfort zone feel easy to do. Activities in the stretch zone are challenging yet manageable. And activities in the danger zone are overwhelming to even think about. Proceed with the Sexual Shame Inventory as long as you are in either the comfort or stretch zones.

The Sexual Shame Inventory is a thorough list of everything that has occurred in your sexual life for which you feel ashamed. It could be events that have happened to you, things you have done or even things that you have thought or fantasized about that bring up shame.

It doesn’t need to make sense why you feel shame about these things. If you feel negative or “icky” about an experience, just put it on the list.

One way to go about this inventory is to go in 5-year increments from the beginning of your life. This can help organize your thoughts and jog your memory.

After you’ve completed your list, the next phase is to share it with a trusted, safe person. Please watch the video on that – which will be posted soon.

Good luck with your inventory; this is brave work.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What Is Transgender?

I met some amazing people at Sex Geek Summer Camp who increased my knowledge about what transgendered  means.

Like Mac McGregor. He’s an educator, activist and coach and is also female-to-male transgendered. A transgendered person was born with genitals that don’t match the gender that they feel inside. An example would be someone who was born with a vulva – like Mac – who has a masculine identity.

A person whose genitals and gender identity match is called “cis-gendered.” I fit into this category. I was born with a vulva and feel female on the inside.

A person whose genitalia is not matching how they feel on the inside – that is transgendered.

Awkward Questions
Mac became our "gender sensei" at camp. He gave a talk about gender, and I had an awkward question: If I had a trans-gendered lover, what should I call that person’s genitals? Mac explained that I should simply ask them what their preference is. That makes good sense!

Another question I had was, “What pronoun should I use for a transgendered person?” Let’s say I’m at a party and I see someone who clearly was born with male genitals. I see masculine looking broad shoulders and an Adam’s apple yet this individual is dressed like a woman. This would tell me that the gender identity may be different than the genitals – just as we’ve been talking about. Do I call this person a Him? Her? Just as before the answer is, “ask.”

And don’t call from across the room like a dork, “Hey Dude! What do you want to be called?” Instead, be subtle. Make it a quiet side bar conversation. Be respectful, and ask this: what pronoun do you prefer?

Some people prefer "he" or "she"; some people prefer "ze" or "zim." And some prefer "they."

More Subtlety
It’s possible that a transgendered person feels neither male nor female. A person may also feel female on one day and male on another day. Fascinating, huh? This is one reason why the phrase gender queer came about.

There’s so much to know. I believe it’s our responsibility as cis-gendered people to learn more about our transgender brothers and sisters and Zees and Zims.  You don’t always know who in a group feels in alignment with the genitals they were born with  - so don’t assume!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sex Toy Review: Njoy Fun Wand

Thank you for going on this vulnerable journey with me - this is my very first sex toy review. Njoy Pure Fun was one of the sponsors of Sex Geek Summer Camp 2014, and boy were these toys in demand! Mine was packaged in a black box nestled in hot pink fabric.

When I came home from camp and showed the toy to my lover, he looked at it and didn’t say a word. The next day he acknowledged that he was afraid of it. That’s because he could tell from the look of it that it may be intended for prostate play. He was correct! The Fun Wand is intended for the G-spot and the (prostate) P-spot stimulation.

The Fun Wand is stainless steel and really yummy to hold and touch. It’s also heavy. When I asked my lover to experiment with the toy, the first thing I did was hold it up to the width of my finger. (He has experienced my finger in him a few times.) The toy was not much bigger. I think this helped my partner feel less overwhelmed.

The issue of using this toy on my partner – it’s a big deal.  He has a lot of shame around anal play. And there’s profound vulnerability for him in being penetrated – it affects him emotionally. So kudos to him for his courage!

My first inclination was to cover it with a condom for easy clean up. But this toy is so easy to clean, there was no need for that. My partner got to feel the smoothness and the coolness of the toy. I did some research – if I dipped it in warm water it would be warm and yummy and if I put it in the refrigerator, it would be cool to the touch. So there were options.

We used silicone lubricant – it’s a wonderful lube for anal play. I began with my finger – gently on the outside. I kept checking in with him; we had lots of eye contact. When he was ready, I inserted it super slowly. He was ready, and we took our time.

I was touched and delighted to have the opportunity to be the one who gently, lovingly and respectfully penetrates.

What was a joy for me is that my partner began asking me to try different things. So his shame was gone and was replaced by curiosity. We found several spots that were really pleasurable and special for my partner. This was such a turn-on for me.

I’m looking forward to using the Njoy Fun Wand for my solo play and lots more with my partner. I like this toy and would recommend it wholeheartedly.

Where you can find the Njoy Fun Wand?