Juicy Justine, Sex, Communication, and Mountains of Free Condoms | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
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Juicy Justine, Sex, Communication, and Mountains of Free Condoms

 

So yesterday I attended “Sexy Self-Respect and Partner Prioritizing with Juicy Justine!” (The exclamation point was part of the event on Facebook, I swear. )

                Ever since I’ve gotten to Pitt, I’ve been bombarded with SAFE SEX OR NO SEX messages, from the HealthyU fair dildo table (yes, this existed), the mountains of free condoms that are in the Towers' lobby roughly once a week, and frequent Sexual Assault awareness events. The frequency of these in my life has definitely increased since I’ve started to get more involved in our Campus Women’s Organization and have become a Peer Educator on sexual assault.

                                                                        condom pile

                                                              Picture this, but about 100000000000000000000000 times bigger. 

                So, I was not really expecting this. The program was headed by Juicy Justine, someone with a PhD in a sex related field, which was definitely really cool. There was your typical mountain of condoms and lube at the front, and a good one hundred people showed up. Not many males, though—I’m guessing the heterosexual significant others were too cool or squeamish to go. No comment on my own boyfriend’s decision to stay home and play Guild Wars.

The first half of it was more of a body image lesson than anything else.  Y’know, the “if you don’t love yourself, no one will love you” type of thing. I was expecting a long talk about loving my flab. But it was actually pretty neat, because we were given the chance to come up to the mic and talk about a choice we’d recently made that made us happy, even if it didn’t seem like a huge deal on the surface. I actually got up and shared my change to a history major, and someone else shared that they were about to leave their (and I quote) deadbeat boyfriend.

I am somebody

At first, I was slightly confused. What exactly did this have to do with my sexuality? As a female, I’ve been subjected to thousands of health class lectures on the necessity of fighting bad body image simply so I don’t pick up an eating disorder. Gaining pleasure and confidence from setting goals, like my recent choice to eventually pursue a PhD, didn’t really seem like it’d help out.

But think about this. (Or at least I thought about this, you don’t have to.) Take” X-Large X-Small” by Alissa Quart, which we read for class a couple weeks ago. Kids (and adults, too), influenced by the media version of “hot,” are destroying themselves physically in order to perceive themselves as worthy and desirable. Those with bigorexia are willing to put themselves through painful exercise routines, terribly restrictive diets, and constant self-criticism just to get a lick of confidence. Those with anorexia or bulimia subject themselves to awful relationships with food because of the “thinspirations” provided by magazines like Cosmo or teen TV shows.

Lea Michele on Cosmo 

To enjoy sex, do I have to look like this? 

(PS, check out the men-dependent cover articles!)

 

Of course, there is another side—the article “Gender and Hegemony in Fashion Magazines” by Crane actually showed how women laughed and were puzzled over “sexy” and “high fashion” images. But still, physical appearance ruled over self-value and worth in both of these articles, whether it was accepting the media version of “perfect” or rejecting it. By focusing on something else—like academics, the ability to succeed in a sport, or even the confidence to leave a bad relationship—Juicy Justine helped show that a person can grow to love themselves (and find it easier to embrace their sexuality) in a way that has nothing to do with appearance. Leaving appearance out of everything, the pressure to fight the flab, accept it, or get even bigger is out of the equation. It’s just you and what you personally can do, and how you can use your actual person to find happiness in areas normally associated with the physical body. I definitely agree that good body image is needed for a healthy sexuality, but it was nice to see a change from purely bodily stuff. Hey, it makes me feel better about my slowly increasing glasses usage. 

After this, we moved on to the good stuff—sexuality in relationships. Only she didn’t start with the Cosmo type stuff everyone was expecting. Sure, she broke out the labia puppet here and there, but that’s beside the point. We started with the basics of a healthy relationship—y’know, communication, security, everything like that. According to Justine, a couple who wanted really good sex needed all of this stuff.

bed 

Important? Sure. But not as important as...

NOT TALKING TO YOU

...fixing this problem. 

That was interesting—I’ve had multiple friends who claimed their friends-with-benefits situation worked out perfectly and gave them what they wanted. But is that really true? What actually makes a healthy sexual relationship? Of course, I started to think about The Big Lie section of Ruth Rosen’s book. (I promise I actually did and am not trying to cram sources in…I used that passage for my final paper!) Rosen’s description of the typical 1950s white middle class woman’s unfulfilled sexuality seemed to fit this mold. These women were married. These women were, in the eyes of God or society or whoever you choose, were as close to their partners as some say you can get. But still, sex was a nightmare for a lot of them—they were told to value only certain types of orgasms, they were expected to act like pure angels during the day and whip out the sexiness at night, they were expected to make missionary raunchy without losing their femininity. And they had no one to talk to, least of all their husbands (who they were supposed to be constantly impressing, remember?).

twin bed

 

The communication that Justine suggested—whether how to suggest what to do on Friday nights, or bring up types of sex to try—help not only to create a closer bond between couples both gay and straight, but to create a healthier, more fulfilling form of sexual intimacy for both. If you can’t discuss what you want with your partner, who can you discuss it with? These women that Rosen described were stuck in a society were sex talk was taboo—if they had the impression that open, honest communication was okay (and even necessary) for happiness, their marriages and lives would have been that much more fulfilling. So the same goes for all of us. Good relationships (the sexual aspects of it only one section) need open communication, understanding, and patience for both partners to be happy and fulfilled.

happy 1950s couple

See what happens when we talk about things, dearest?

So thus, this definitely has to do with women’s studies—and not just the idea that some third wavers have about empowerment through sexuality. It has to do with being okay to be yourself, whether in your everyday life or with your romantic partner. How is any change going to happen, whether in gender roles, your personal self-image, or your personal relationships if you can’t talk about stuff, or find stuff to like about yourself besides your physical appearance? How can we be emotionally healthy if we’re stuck thinking we have to be a certain way—because let’s face it, even LOVE YOUR BODY can only take us so far before we have to look a little deeper. All people, no matter what gender, have to feel free to explore their own likes and dislikes if they want changes in their own thinking or the whole world.

diverse group         love yourself     

                                   

At the end of it all, she opened the floor to anonymous questions, which we all sent via text message. People asked about everything from threesomes to the best sex toys for lesbians. It was pretty interesting to see what people came up with, and how easily she took each question.

Hmm, what didn’t I agree with about the event? I can’t say I really had anything that stood out, except that they didn’t have enough free vibrators for everyone. Just kidding. Though I do have to say, some of her responses to the questions seemed a little condescending—for instance, when someone asked if you could become a virgin again, she openly snorted and said, “uh, no.” Isn’t respect something she had just talked about? Walk the walk and talk the talk. (Okay, done with clichés.)

So, some questions—how can we use this self-respect so that it affects more than just our personal, intimate relationships? How can this information be applied to the single life? How might being part of the LBGTQ community affect this information or make it more complicated—if at all? How could we use this information to gain respect for other people? How does being okay with our own body and sexuality aid the idea of women’s/gender equality? How might huge sex events like this help/hurt the overall movements to acceptance and equality for all types of people?

 

Juicy Justine can be found everywhere—look on Twitter (@JuicyJustine), Facebook (search for Juicy Justine), or visit her website:  http://juicyjustine.com/

 

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