By Kendra Holliday | July 7, 2020
Category Archives: Parenting
Ed Note: This is a guest post by an amazing member of the Sex Positive St. Louis community, Amy Van Slyke.
As a parent of two young children, I have spent hours agonizing over how to talk to them about sex. I mull over questions like, “When should I buy my daughter her first vibrator?” and, “How do I teach my son to be an attentive lover?”
I was not far into Read Me: A Parental Primer for The Talk, by Lanae St. John, DHS, CSC, ACS, “The Mama Sutra”, when I realized I had fallen into the trap that has snared so many parents before me… I was focused on the “how” instead of helping my kids develop a healthy understanding of, and attitude toward, sex.
First, I want to clarify that Read Me is not a step-by-step manual for parents about how or when to have “The Talk” with their kids. It is a guide for those who want to develop a safe, trusting, and open environment for ongoing conversations. Dr. St. John argues that our culture of shame and unwillingness to talk openly about sex condemns children to ignorance, misinformation and makes them vulnerable to abuse, STI, and unwanted pregnancy. She urges parents to take an active interest in helping their children develop a healthy sexuality since they cannot depend on others or institutional sex education to give kids the information they need. Through her use of research-based findings and personal anecdotes, The Mama Sutra, mother of two, provides parents with “The 5 building blocks” that they can use to navigate the awkward conversations about sex, and engage with children in an honest and constructive manner.
Communication, Consent, Respect, Pleasure, and Fantasy
By Matthew | June 21, 2020
Ed Note: This is a guest post by my partner, Matthew. He is the father of two children.
A couple of weeks ago, I started hearing the yearly buzz of “Father’s Day” gifts, salutations and tributes. I started thinking a bit more in depth on the subject of Fatherhood and what it means to me.
Being a Father is synonymous to me with being a man. I hear so many people speak of “men” they know or have connections with and then start divulging details about these people.
I know women who demand flowers from their husbands as a way of apologizing for an act of relationship treason.
I know women who are dating “men” right now, but speak of nothing but their shortcomings.
I know of “men” whose wives have gotten up and walked away from them while they were eating her pussy.
I know of “men” who don’t make an effort to spend time with their children.
I know of “men” who can’t separate business from pleasure and vice versa.
I know of “men” who are so weak themselves, that they show their “strength” by preying on the eager and ignorant.
I know women who have settled for a “man”.
I know of “men” who live in their mother’s basement.
I know of “men” who can’t dress themselves.
I am sure you know plenty of “men” like this as well.
If a man has children, they are his number one priority.
By Kendra Holliday | April 26, 2020
|This Chihuahua is scared of me|
Ed Note: I wrote this back in 2011. Do you think things have improved since then?
I was talking with a friend about my constant struggle to be understood. He mused:
“You are caught between society’s fascination with sex and its horror of it. In a weird way, you’re more dangerous and threatening than a porn star. Porn stars, we believe, are actually motivated by a love of money and fame, which motivates the rest of us, and thus is socially acceptable. But you’re different.
You post pictures of yourselves being fisted because you like being fisted, and you want the rest of us to know about it. And that’s threatening, because – we are all haunted by sexual desire, by appetites that we are all constantly trying to control, and you pride yourself on someone who doesn’t limit her appetite at all… who completely indulges.
Your message is, to quote you, ‘You can have it all…’ you can indulge all your secret desires, completely, to excess, and suffer no consequences. People interpret that, emotionally, like someone saying, You can drink all you want, gallons of vodka a day, and still be fine! Somebody like that would be laughed at. But you’re scary, you’re emotionally dangerous,
Because most people don’t want to drink a bottle of vodka a day. But many people DO desire to have a lot more sex. And you’re indulging that desire, regularly, publicly, and it seems… threatening. Crazy. We’re supposed to have limits! We’re supposed to be responsible!
Let’s face it, you are not superficial, where most people prefer to keep things. You are very real.”
Hmm. And this is very interesting.
By Kendra Holliday | May 26, 2018
When my daughter was 7 years old, a boy kissed her hand on a dare. She confided to me, “It was the most enjoyable moment of my life.”
Now she is 17, and identifies as asexual. She doesn’t feel sexually attracted to other people, but she yearns for romance. She wants to hold hands, cuddle, and be intimate with someone special.
I’m thrilled to tell you she went on her first date the other night! They held hands!
I asked how their date went, and she gushed to me, “It was AMAZING. Not only were the events we attended awesome, but he was super sweet. He put his arm around me during the movie, and we held hands twice and he is so very kind all the time. God, I adore him, he made it so amazing.”
He’s like a young George RR Martin, they’re so cute and nerdy together.
I’m SO happy with this new development. She tends to brim over with teenage angst and melancholy, so it’s wonderful picking her up from school and she’s smiling so hard, her face hurts. The rush of happy hormones and feeling connected to someone special to her is better than any pill she could take!
I asked if he is her boyfriend, and she said she didn’t know, but she would ask him. She has ups and downs, and frets over being too direct with him.
I reminded her that she is probably advanced in the realm of communication, and needs to be patient with others and teach them how to be open and honest. I also let her know that the wonder is part of the fun of the early stages of a relationship – infatuation is a trip, and you should let it last as long as you can! After that, you get into attachment, feeling the person is a safe haven, then anxious when they are not around, then finally, secure (if the relationship is healthy.)
That’s where I’ve been with my partner Matthew for the past six years or so. We can’t go back to the infatuated stage with each other, but since we are polyamorous, we can feel secure while flirting with other people and enjoying novel experiences.
Anyway, my daughter shared her list of curated date ideas with me and gave me permission to share them with you. I think they’re so cute! She made most of them up, and collected some from the internet. I want to do a lot of them, how about you?
By Kendra Holliday | September 2, 2017
The first page of the Hustler article.
I received this thoughtful letter in 2011, when my daughter was 11:
I just read your story that was in the latest Hustler.
We probably are in agreement 100% on most topics.
I personally feel that people are too uptight about sex and nudity in general and that if public nudity was allowed- everybody would worry a lot more about their health and appearance. Nudity would be the ‘norm’ instead of something ‘dirty’.
My personal opinion about sex– ‘So what?’ if you are not hurting anyone with your actions and everyone involved is consenting….have fun!
I don’t know how to ask this without it sounding mean and I don’t want it to come off that way.
My questions are these: I’m wondering what you think about your actions having such a negative affect on your daughter?
How are you handling this with her?
What do you tell her?
I’m just wondering, no offense intended.
Here is what I wrote back:
Thanks so much for thinking about my story and dropping me a line. I’m glad to hear we agree that sex and nudity are natural and nothing to be ashamed of. That is exactly what I am teaching my daughter.
She is learning about sexuality and nudity in a sex-positive, age appropriate manner. Therefore, she has a healthier attitude about sex at age 11 than the average American adult. She knows I am a sex-positive activist and supports my mission. She knows about my website, but she does not read it. She is not yet interested in sex.
It is my goal that by the time she is a legal adult, she can talk about her sexuality openly and honestly, without having to hide behind an alias like I did for many years. I’m proud to say I have taken many lumps, but it was worth it, because I can talk about sex and put my real name and face to it. It’s very liberating being able to be myself with my daughter, parents, family and partner. I want everyone to enjoy that level of freedom!
I think the U.S. is making great progress; I look forward to seeing how the sex-positive movement continues to unfold.
Then he wrote me back with:
“You’re such a smart lady! My wife and I support your efforts!”
which made me really happy.
2017 Update: My daughter is now 17. She is still not interested in sex, but is very sex-positive. We’ve been interviewed on a couple podcasts together – take a listen! I made the right choice to be open and honest with her, and myself. 🙂
By Kendra Holliday | July 3, 2017
|The Purple Heart Medal is given to
soldiers wounded or killed.
What would a medal given to
women giving birth look like?
One time I pushed a 7 lb. baby out of my vagina.
Not only that, but I took the typical American route of childbirth and went to the hospital, got an epidural, laid on my back, had an episiotomy (a surgical incision in the perineum made to enlarge the vagina and assist childbirth), and had my baby vacuumed out of me. (One thing I didn’t experience was a C-section.) If all this sounds whack to you, I highly recommend you read Misconceptions by Naomi Wolf, and then watch The Business of Being Born and Orgasmic Birth.
Keep in mind that during my entire pregnancy, I read up on natural childbirth and walked into the hospital proudly carrying my birthing plan. But as soon as my water broke, I freaked out and cried and the birthing plan, with its birthing ball and breathing exercises, went out the window. Oh, how I wish I had a doula.
This was absolutely one of the hardest things I have done in my life. I have no idea how women do this more than once. It is one of the only times I have literally seen stars and fainted. The doctor stitched me up down there ala Frankenpussy.
After they took the urinary catheter out and my epidural wore off, I went to the bathroom. You know how you can stop and start the flow of urine? To my horror, the pee fell out of me. I had no control over it whatsoever. I wept. They gave me warm compresses to put on my traumatized pussy and told me not to have sex for six weeks.
Breastfeeding pretty much killed my sex drive, but we did have sex a month or two after I gave birth. And guess what? It hurt. The episiotomy scar was raw and intense. I kept waiting for my sex drive to return and for it to stop hurting during sex. Several times I thought I was broken forever, and that I’d never enjoy sex again like I did before. Dark times, people.
The whole point of this is to let all you new moms and dads know that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not sure if childbirth has something to do with it or if it’s just me sexually evolving, but I’m more orgasmic and love fucking more than ever.
Just don’t get me pregnant, OK?
Women should receive an equivalent to the Purple Heart medal that is given to wounded soldiers, except it should be for celebrating creativity instead of honoring destruction.
And remember – the next time you call someone a pussy, you are saying they are tough, amazing, resilient, and STRONG.
By Kendra Holliday | May 14, 2017
|Sex is like a mango|
I wrote this post six years ago, when my daughter was ten. Now she is sixteen, and still working through her teenage hormones!
Being pregnant was an incredibly interesting experience.
Having a baby was cute, fun and exhausting.
Toddlerhood was my least favorite stage – I felt like a classical music lover at a speed metal concert.
The solid kid stage (4-9) was the best, and I thought I’d get to enjoy it for another year or two, as my daughter just turned 10.
After all, I didn’t start freaking out until I was 12, and I got my period when I was 13. My mom didn’t get hers until she was 14.
Girls are developing much eariler these days thanks to improved health and diet. Surprise! My daughter is tweening, and it’s giving me whiplash.
One night this summer, the hormone fairy snuck in and replaced my sweet child with this half-finished mutant version of myself.
She’s starting to develop. She’s insisting on training bras and sanitary napkins for just in case. She’s crying one second and laughing the next. Have you ever heard about how bitchy trans folks get when they have their hormone shots? My daughter is as dramatic as a drag queen downing diva cocktails.
By Kendra Holliday | August 25, 2016
Last night my daughter and I attended a school board meeting that featured sex ed.
The school sent a survey out to parents last year. Over 1000 parents responded (I was SO excited to fill it out!), with the majority of parents in favor of updating the curriculum to include important topics beyond pregnancy and STIs, such as gender and LGBTQ issues, consent, and exploring sexuality.
As a result, the board voted and approved the improved curriculum in March. HOORAY! You can read details here.
I’m Co-Leader of Sex Positive St. Louis and I graduated from the school in ’91. My sex-positive daughter is a sophomore now. Needless to say, we strongly advocate acceptance, inclusiveness, and accurate education when it comes to the wide range of human sexuality. We were in good company, with plenty of rabbis, physicians, professionals, sex and health educators, and representatives from local organizations such as Growing American Youth and TransParent.
But some people are having a fit over the change. They think the curriculum, which draws mainly on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for sexual education, is medically inaccurate. They also think providing information sends a dangerous message and encourages teens to have sex. Let me ask you – did you have sex as a teenager? Most of us did, and we fumbled around and made lots of mistakes. I wish I would have been better informed at that age.
People both for and against the teachings that will promote acceptance and better emotional health attended the meeting.
The people against the change wore white to symbolize purity and innocence.
One of the white people kept repeating the word “pornography” with such passion that it made me want to run right home and watch some! Another white person demanded that the school stick to “education, not indoctrination.”
A mom and her incredibly brave and shaking 16 year old son got up to speak – Andrew Bennett has been getting bullied and slandered by some of the white adults, online and in person.
As they spoke, some of the white people shouted angrily at them and some turned their backs on them.
You can watch footage of them speaking here. The building was surrounded by police and security.
Teen hero Andrew is saving lives by putting himself out there. I can’t wait to see him speak in front of thousands of people someday.
My daughter got to witness adult behavior – some mature and respectful, some not. I’m proud to say the people we sat with exhibited good manners. But I have to confess – as soon as we got to our car, we burst out laughing and repeated the word “pornography” all the way home.
I got compliments on my Planned Parenthood “I LOVE SEX ED” shirt. 🙂
I counsel adults mainly in the 40-70 age range who were grossly misinformed when they came of age. If the next generation gets proper education, then I can be put out of business and bake cupcakes or garden instead. Or, if we choose to remain ignorant, I can make lots of money mucking around in all the guilt and shame baggage.
I prefer the former.
By Kendra Holliday | July 15, 2016
My 12-yr-old daughter is asexual. Sometimes I wonder if she will always be that way. (UPDATE: I first wrote this four years ago. She is now 16 years old and is still asexual.)
Not that it would be a bad thing, but it sure would be really fucking ironic.
Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others or the lack of interest in sex.
I’ve been a horndog since I was about 9. She and I have had very different experiences growing up.
My mom tells me I used to play with myself as a baby. To my knowledge, my daughter has never experimented with that. (As an aside, my mom was 27 when she gave birth to me, and I was 27 when I gave birth to my daughter, so there’s always this eerie parallel running in my head – how DIFFERENT I am from my mom, who’s only had one sex partner her entire life and suffers from a host of mental illnesses.)
When I was 9, I was molested by an older adopted brother, which exposed me to sex early and manifested itself as a hypersexual mindset. I was drawing dirty pictures in 3rd grade, and writing erotica at age 12. I was making out with girls at 11 and boys at 13.
My daughter has never been molested. So far, the only bad things that have happened to her on that front is 1) one man on the internet sent her a cock shot, 2) one man flashed her while she was walking down the street, and 3) one man grabbed her butt in a public swimming pool. Each time, she was horrified and disgusted.
She does a lot of research online for her writing projects and is into anime and deviantART. This means she runs into adult content from time to time. As soon as she encounters it, she backs the hell up – she has absolutely no interest in it.
By Kendra Holliday | May 1, 2016
So one day I posted a video on my YouTube channel showing off the difference between two vibrators and how they sounded. It got yanked for being inappropriate, due to the fact that I held an adult toy in my hand for less than 30 seconds. I duplicated the video here, only this time I used kid toys in place of the adult toys. This time it was considered appropriate, and got to stay.
That got me to thinking about baby toys vs. adult toys. (By they way, when my daughter was seven-years-old and found my sex toy stash, she exclaimed, “I’m so glad grownups get toys, too!” Such a healthy response!) Below is a series of toys. Can you guess which is intended for babies, and which are for adults?
By Kendra Holliday | October 29, 2015
This is me in high school. I was a punk rock teenager – very depressed, wore black all the time, always feeling desperate, dramatic, negative.
This is a page from my journal when I was 15, circa 1988 – I met a 24-year-old guy named Greg at a high school party, and he latched on to me. He constantly badgered me to have sex with him:
He used all kinds of tactics to get me to cave in – it was no big deal, it was a very big deal, it would make for a good witchcraft initiation, and I was being a cock tease and it wasn’t fair to him.
He finally convinced me to have sex with him, and I did, on the floor of his dad’s apartment. It was okay, but immediately afterward, I was convinced I was pregnant (even though we used a condom), and I had a lot of shame and guilt. I hated myself for doing it. I freaked out so bad, I ended up in a mental hospital! I had a horrible relationship with my parents. I ended up taking medicine, and dated this guy for a while, until I wandered off and started dating someone closer to my age. Of course I was branded a slut, blah blah blah, the rest is history.
I remember all the sneaking around as a teen and having to find awful, dirty, nerve wracking places to have sex – the backseat of cars in industrial parks, closets, underneath a muddy deck, in the woods… it’s hard practicing safer sex and feeling pleasure in those conditions.
I had it really rough as a teen, and I’m SO glad my 15-year-old daughter is having a better teenage experience. I raised her sex-positive, and we’ve been having a series of good, age-appropriate conversations since she was about seven. She has a boyfriend now, and he is super sweet and respectful, and they are exploring things very slowly together. I’m so proud she chose him. She’s having her first romance on her own terms, and she has good support in place. She’s being educated properly, she has access to condoms and privacy, and best of all, she doesn’t have guilt and shame to contend with.
I wish everyone could be introduced to sex at the age that is right for them, and be given a sex-positive education – one that goes beyond STI’s and birth control, but also encompasses feelings, pleasure, consent, power exchange, and mutual respect.
My daughter and I will be giving sex-positive parenting talks November 22 and January 3 – check the SEX+STL calendar for details!
BONUS LINKS: Scarleteen is a great national resource for teen sex ed
Growing American Youth – St Louis org for LGBT teens
Transparent – St Louis support group for parents and their gender independent children
TASH – Teen Advocates for Sexual Health – St Louis
More great sex-positive resources can be found in the right column of this website, as well as the SEX+STL Links page!
By Kendra Holliday | March 14, 2015
The other day, I attended a SEX+STL women’s only Topless Tarot event with my daughter, and it was wonderful!
The ages of the attendees ranged from 14 (my daughter) to 65. There was one other mother/teen duo there as well, in addition to about 20 women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.
This was not the first clothing optional women’s only event we’ve had (in the past, we’ve done Pussy Parties and Topless Tea Parties), but it was the first one my daughter attended. So it was kind of a big deal! Naturally, I wanted it to be a positive experience for her.
I think ALL young women should have the chance to experience body-affirming moments. It’s so funny – for a lot of us, the older we get, the more comfortable we are in our skin. We don’t appreciate our bodies when we are younger, thinner, and more vital.
My daughter has a wonderful, strong, beautiful body, but she is wracked with all the insecurities I had at that age. I remember feeling so awkward and inferior. I compared myself to every other female – girls my age, models on television, older women. I remember some of the weird things I tried to improve my appearance – slouching, lots of makeup, starving myself, padded bras, walking around blind without my glasses.
When it finally seemed futile that I would never be beautiful and measure up to society’s standards, I went ahead and shaved my head and wore black all the time. I eventually outgrew that phase, but the body image struggle continued through my stripper phase, my married phase, my pregnant phase, my divorced phase, my nude goddess phase… heck, I STILL struggle, but I’m not going to let that hold me back from celebrating my body, feeling pleasure, and being naked!
It’s painful watching her struggle. The Topless Tarot party seemed like a gentle exercise, and of course, she was happy to give it a try. She and I are used to seeing each other naked around the house, but it would be different with others there.
Here is me at age 27 with my squishy little newborn daughter, almost 15 years ago:
By Kendra Holliday | January 25, 2015
This is a picture of my daughter and me, from half her life ago:
She was 7 in this picture. Now she’s 14!
She is slightly bigger than me. I never imagined that! Taller, bigger boobs, feet, etc. But we’re still pretty close in size, and share clothes.
We also share a super intimate, platonic relationship. She’s my top priority. We’re both proud of each other, and we’re both moody and crazy women. We share an unconditional love; accepting each other for who we are.
So last weekend, when I needed to attend a SEX+STL roleplay talk at Shameless Grounds, I told her I was going to the talk and would be back in a couple hours.
She immediately piped up, “Oh can I go?”
She’s geeky and loves roleplay.
I said, “You don’t understand. This is SEX roleplay talk.”
She snorted. “Of course I understand. Why wouldn’t it be about sex if it was one of your events? I’m curious about these things and I think I can handle it.”
Unconvinced but open to the idea, I negotiated, “If you go, do you agree that will let me know if you are uncomfortable at any time and would like to leave? And do you agree that we can talk openly about it afterward?”
By Kendra Holliday | December 27, 2014
Thanks to the opening of an adult boutique in our area featuring incredibly helpful staff, my wife and I recently started experimenting with S&M and bought some new regular toys as well. As a result, we now have a few whips, a prostate stimulator, a rabbit vibrator and a few other goodies hidden in our closet in a place where, we hope, our teenager will never find them.
When my folks passed away ten years ago, my brother’s wife came across a box of videos and toys when we were cleaning out their house, which caused a bit of embarrassment in the “more than we needed to know” way.
Do you have any suggestions as to how we can avoid this happening to our kid down the road? My main concern about our toys in question has to do with the S&M aspect, something that even mature adults might find a bit disturbing.
I’m thinking a note on the outside of our toybag to the extent that “If you are finding this bag it is because: a- You are snooping; or b- Something has happened to the two of us. If you are snooping- PUT THIS BAG BACK WHERE YOU FOUND IT- we can talk about its contents and answer any question you have if you wish to do so. If something happened to us, please dispose of this bag without opening it. It contains items that we enjoyed during our intimate private times together and, as such, wish them to remain private.”
I’m of the mindset that toys are nothing to be ashamed of – I keep mine out in a display case. When my daughter was 7, we had a talk about sex toys and she was glad to know grownups get to have toys! She has been raised to understand sex is to be explored and enjoyed and can be playful.
How do you feel about your parents having a sex life? Are you glad they did, or would you rather never know the evidence of such? Well guess what? YOU are evidence of their sex life! Was the discovery of the toys a bit embarrassing, or mortifying? In the grand scheme of things, was it a big deal? Not trying to dismiss your feelings on this highly personal matter, just offering an objective perspective.
That said, if you have a different mindset in that your bedroom activities are private and kept separate from other aspects of your life, then your approach is a great one! I love the idea of you stashing the toys with a note that offers a chance to discuss or dispose – it gives the finder options. The wording of your note is sweet and positive, very thoughtful of you!
There is this option for hiding personal items: The Sneaky Sack. It’s a bag that is easily disguised under hanging clothes. That way, you can keep your sex life safely in the closet.
By Kendra Holliday | May 1, 2014
|A mother can be
a sexually creative person
Written by AV Flox
Please read the article in its entirety HERE.
I’ve entertained the discussion of women as Marilyns or Jackies, generalizing to describe problems of misaligned expectations between partners, but it wasn’t until I finished reading America’s Queen, Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ biography by Sarah Bradford, that I realized how wrong these assumptions are, and how damaging they are to women who fall into Marilyn versus Jackie discussions.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, by most accounts, always strove to be a good mother to her children. That much is true. What is not mentioned is that while she was not a sex icon as Marilyn Monroe was perceived, she was not a prude. In the sixties, she is said to have embraced the counterculture and had her share of one-night stands. The accounts and photos of the early years of her marriage to Aristotle Onassis in particular, describe a woman who was comfortable with her body, and who very much enjoyed pleasure. Friends she made later in life describe her as someone who not only enjoyed herself, but freely talked with them about their escapades.
Marilyn Monroe, on the other hand, while idolized as a sex symbol and desired by many men, including Jackie’s husband John F. Kennedy, did not live the fantasy life most envision. In the days before her death in 1962, she made tapes for her psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson, discussing the difficulty she had in achieving orgasm:
What I told you is true when I first became your patient. I had never had an orgasm.
I well remember you said an orgasm happens in the mind. You said there was an obstacle in my mind that prevented me from having an orgasm; that it was something that happened early in my life about which I felt so guilty that I did not deserve to have the greatest pleasure there is; that it had to do with something sexual that was very wrong, but my getting pleasure from it caused my guilt. That it was buried in my unconscious. Through analysis we would bring it to the conscious mind where we could get to the guilt and free me to be orgasmic.
She would eventually achieve orgasm after learning to masturbate and finding a lover who took his time, but the quest for pleasure wasn’t the only thing on her mind, either. Investigations into her involvement with the Kennedys by CBS would decades later paint a picture of Monroe as a woman who was not only informed but passionate about the politics of her time.
My point is that these two women against which so many of us have measured ourselves are not points on a spectrum between virgin and whore, good and naughty, mother and home-wrecker (Marilyn may have slept with JFK, but Jackie became close to Aristotle Onassis during her sister’s affair with him and never stopped competing for his attention with his lover of nine years, the soprano Maria Callas). No, these women aren’t points on a two dimensional plane, they’re complete beings, with their own motives, drives, goals and stories. Just like every one of us….
Read the rest of this article by AV Flox HERE.