Browsing Tag

feminism

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

You’re Enough. Don’t Be An Asshole & Go Forgetting That.

August 16, 2015

By Jen Pastiloff

As you know if you follow me on social media or come to my workshops etc, I am very passionate about my latest project: Girl Power: You Are Enough. And yes, the book is on the way. Stay tuned for more on that front.

By the way, hi. It’s been a while. I’ve been busy. I’ve been in a funk. I haven’t been writing. I’ve been this, that, the other thing, what does it matter- when I am not writing or creating I am dead inside, and I am tired of feeling dead inside so here I am. Hi.

I am ready to be back. I just finished my friend Rene Denfeld’s book The Enchanted and it is one of the best books I HAVE EVER READ IN MY ENTIRE LIFE SO I MUST SCREAM. Read it now.

 

I was inspired after reading The Enchanted so I: a) fell as asleep with a highlighter on my bed and ruined my sheets even as I said, “Jen, don’t fall asleep with a highlighter open because you will ruin your sheets. b) Dreamt of creating and enchantment. c) woke up and ate some weird salad because I am on a cleanse, not like you care but hey, my blog, my rules and this is my 8th day with no coffee or booze. Yay, me! This is big for me as someone who exists in extremes and knows no moderation. d) Decided to write to you. Are you there? Hi.

So, my latest project is basically my workshop I do but specifically designed for young women. To remind them that they are enough and that they do have a voice. (Same goes for all of us. Duh.) It is an empowerment workshop. It is a workshop about embracing fear and letting go of what “they” think, and basically, remembering that you are a motherf*cking superstar. (We all are. Unless you are an asshole. Don’t be an asshole* see footnote.) It launches next month in Princeton on September 19 (must be at least 13) followed by NYC the next day on September 20th (must be 16 for that one due to studio policy.) There will be some yoga (no experience required, just as in my regular workshops.) I use the yoga as a vehicle to get the participants more open and vulnerable. To release their armor, as it were. You have to bring a journal and an open heart and a sense of humor (as always.) And your badass self. So, if you have any daughters or your friends do, or neighbors, or you yourself, please sign up. If you cannot afford it, I have a few tickets to give away from beautiful women who have sponsored you to go. Lara Heimann will co-lead the workshop with me and my first ambassador, Justine Clifton will give a little chat. This is my passion right now and I am here on my bed, on a hot summer day, begging you, wait, let me get on my knees, I AM ON MY KNEES, begging you to help me with this on all fronts. This work is important.

highlighted sheets.

highlighted sheets.

Justine Clifton

Justine Clifton

 

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! A workshop for girls and teens. Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! A workshop for girls and teens. Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

Continue Reading…

Don't Be An Asshole Series, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

I Can Grab My Belly Fat & Make It Talk. I Am Enough. PS- This Shit Is Hard.

June 25, 2015

By Jen Pastiloff

Hi! Gotta make this quick because I am packing to leave for Italy. I am leading a retreat there starting Saturday. I am not packed and I leave in two hours. I rule.

So, the demons have been back lately. I have been struggling. Who knows why? Free floating anxiety, not-so free floating, the kind that latches on and pulls me down real low to the earth, the kind that sits on my chest and won’t get off like a little bitch. Even when I call it a little bitch, it won’t get off. I have been watching Orange is The New Black and I’m all prisony. And yea, I too have a crush on the new girl on it. Ruby Rose. But I also have a crush on Pennsatucky and Black Cindy and Poussey and Taystee. And the whole show. I want to marry it! I am five years old. I love it so much that I want to marry it.

Anyway, the little bitch that is anxiety won’t get off my chest so my breathing is shallow and  I feel ungrounded, like I am floating, except that sounds kind of nice, and anxiety is not nice, so less like floating and more like a walking dead person. A walking panicky dead person. I hide it well. Probably not, actually. Ask any of my friends who get crazy texts from me.

In case you are new to my blog or my work, I had a severe eating disorder. It still haunts me at times. Anorexia and over-exercising. Like 5 hours a day exercising. Meh. (I probably could do that again if I could watch Orange is The New Black the whole time but nah. Gross.)

I posted this video on my instagram and challenged women (and men if they want to play too) to post a picture or video of their body using the hashtag #iLovemybody and #girlpoweryouareenough. My friend Maggie tweeted me this:
@JenPastiloff I think she’s just saying that you are awesome to accept yourself exactly as you are, when she can’t do the same.

Continue Reading…

Binders, feminism, Guest Posts, Truth

A Pocket Field Guide to Being Patriotic in a Newly Military Family

April 23, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Kathryn Roberts

When a sibling joins the military, adopt the flag. Accept it all blindly, a patriot at heart unwilling not to support the mission. Ignore your doubts.

Slap him on his back, the child you sang bedtime songs to, now a soldier fighting for your country. Do this even when you despise the politics that drove your country into war under false pretenses. Do this even when he demonstrates no understanding of the current conflict or the region whose language he intends to learn.

Wear the ribbon. Believe the rhetoric.

Because, if you cannot support your brother–who in the anonymity of the Army is now your country–who can you support?

****

When you go to his swearing-in ceremony, keep your mouth shut when the recruitment officer who signed away six years of your brother’s life informs him he must attend church every Sunday during boot camp to avoid punishment. Hold it tightly closed when he tells him that foregoing the service would mean his commanding officer would not receive the two hours off and would find chores punishing enough that he will be so eager to worship a god that he never misses a service again.

Stifle the part of you that asks if there is more than one service. If there are choices for the soldiers who’ve signed up — many of them video game addicts who associate war with pixels that regenerate in a different spot after each kill so they get another chance to come out on top.

Do not ask if they can choose between an evangelical Christian sermon (like the ones your parents drilled into you) or a Jewish Sabbath the night before or an Islamic service. Or even a non-punishment producing Atheist option.

Silence yourself in the name of duty because suggesting that coerced religion in the armed services is tantamount to forced religion in the country will call into question your brother’s honor. Your country may disown you. Your parents will disdain you, even as the sibling who traveled across country for the ceremony. Continue Reading…

Dear Life., Guest Posts, Sex, Sexuality

Dear Life: I’ve Never Been Laid. Seeking Advice!

April 8, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column.

Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer (and please keep sending because I have like 567 writers that want to answer your burning questions. Click here to  Email dearlife@jenniferpastiloff.com to submit a letter. Please make it as detailed as possible) Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s letter is answered by author Emily Kramer, whom I had the pleasure of meeting when she attended the Writing & The Body Retreat I led with Lidia Yuknavitch. This is the second take on this letter by a different author than last time. The first one went viral (Read it here.) Hot topic, I guess!

Send us your questions because there loads of crazy authors waiting to answer ‘em. Just kidding, they aren’t crazy. 

Well okay, maybe a little. Aren’t we all? xo, Jen Pastiloff, Crazy Beauty Hunter

See you at a workshop/retreat soon!! xo 

 

Dear Life,

I am a 34 year old virgin.

I have no conservative religious beliefs and I’m not steadfastly “saving myself” for marriage. I just haven’t had sex….ever.

I have spent my life lying to the world, and myself, pretending to be something I’m not….or, more accurately, pretending to have done something I haven’t. People just assume that I’ve had sex and so I haven’t bothered to correct them. I feel like a fraud and a liar and so disconnected from one of life’s most basic human experiences. Stronger still are the feelings of shame and embarrassment and feeling like I’ve not only missed the boat, but am nowhere even near the water to have any hope of getting on board.

“BUT I’M NOT NAÏVE OR A PRUDE!!” I want to scream out in my defense, both to those who assume wrongly and to those who might suspect. But my scream has long been silenced by the fear of judgment, of criticism, of rejection. Why do I need to scream anyway?

I have “fooled around” with a couple of guys in my life. The first one, at age 19, was my university lecturer. He was probably triple my age but I let him touch me because I was in such desperate need of attention and care amongst the chaos of my life at the time. I hated his hands on my body and his lips on mine. Initially I said nothing and went along with whatever he wanted. When he tried to fuck me, I had to tell him that I’d never been this close before. He was going to figure it out pretty soon anyway, right? But, he just rolled over, his back to me and never touched me again. That was the end of that.

For the next 12 years I said nothing to no-one. No guy was even on my radar, let alone close enough for intimacy. I was confused, depressed and held myself hostage to my own walls, the ones I’d carefully built up to buffer myself against further rejection. I thought maybe I was a lesbian, cos I hated that man’s touch, yet I was not sexually attracted to women. So, I decided I must be asexual and concluded that love (and sex) just wasn’t for me. I didn’t need it. Instead, I threw myself into my nursing career and my travels and buried any questioning feelings with food.

Then, while travelling aimlessly around Africa searching for my soul, I unexpectedly fell head over heels for a bad-ass Kenyan guy with a good heart. He was not my type at all. But, how did I even know if I had a “type”? Regardless, our hearts connected and things went further. I loved how he touched me and how his lips felt on mine. Then, almost at the point of no return I dropped the V-bomb on him also. He had a similar reaction to the lecturer, though perhaps not so harsh. But, while it still hurt like hell, I became even more attracted to him, mostly because he had rejected me less. Then I had to return home to Australia, to reality.

In the three years since Kenyan-Guy and only a handful of awkward, ill-fitting dates, I haven’t had to think much about sex. But, now I think I’ve met a guy. I am attracted to his energetic spirit, his humour, his eyes. I don’t know if anything will even happen. But regardless, my virginity fears are oozing to the surface. I want a real, honest and loving relationship involving growth and connection on all levels, including intimacy and sex. But, in order for this to happen, I need to have a rather challenging conversation with the guy, whether it’s with this guy or someone else. Where do I even start? How do I explain myself? Will any guy even want me once they find out? I am so scared of being rejected again that I’m teetering on the edge of resigning myself to voluntary singledom forever. That scares me as well, because I can’t shake that deep desire for just a chance at real love. But, how do I begin to move forward and tolerate being a virgin in a non-virgin world?

Sincerely,

Never Been Laid

Join Jen Pastiloff  and Emily Rapp at a writing and the body retreat in Stowe, Vermont Oct 2015. This will be their 3rd one together in Stowe. Click the photo to book.

Join Jen Pastiloff and Emily Rapp at a writing and the body retreat in Stowe, Vermont Oct 2015. This will be their 3rd one together in Stowe. Click the photo to book.

Dear Never Been Laid,

Let’s start with something from the old horse’s mouth shall we? “I want a real, honest and loving relationship involving growth and connection on all levels, including intimacy and sex.” Congratulations! I’m proud of you for writing this down and announcing it to me, to the readers and most importantly yourself. Now go download as many woo-woo, hippie-dippie, self-love meditations as you can (my favorite is Loving Kindness with Sharon Salzberg) and promise to go on a listening binge of at least one a day until you develop said relationship with, you guessed it, yourself.

As for this conversation you feel compelled to have with this “new guy or someone else,” let me be the first to say SOMEONE ELSE!, and by that I mean, yes you guess it again, yourself. Here’s a writing assignment. At the top of a page scratch out the following question: What exactly am I waiting for? And then be really really honest with yourself about answer. Because as one who has spread her legs for the cause, I can tell you that virginity never got me anywhere, least of all a quality relationship.

So now that we know that one’s status, as far as past proximity to a penis goes, has no bearing on whether or not one gets to fall in love, let’s explore the former, shall we? I hereby release you from the obligation to tell anyone else whether or not you’ve been intimately involved with a one or not, or by how much or when and with which one and so forth. These details belong in your private domain and do not necessarily need to be released to anyone at any specific time, least of all to a man who you might want to get it on with later. Which is not to say it can’t be shared, but rather to say it’s not a requirement.

Now this might be controversial, because doesn’t a loving relationship include baring witness to each other’s every thought, fear and potential future hurt? To this I answer with a resounding, NO. Instead, may I suggest that it is your business to decide when you want to make advances to the penis and how close and in what order. It is the owner of that penis’ business to treat your body and his with decency and care. As for this virginity thing, it is simply besides the point, not to put too fine a tip on it.

I hate to be such a feminist about this, but if we want to be historically accurate, the very idea of virginity requires us to look at a woman from the outside, to judge her as having or not having a certain objective value, as if that exists, and in that sense, has little to do with being the owner of the body of the woman herself. Now, you might say, that body cares about virginity if the first time is going to be painful. But if you ask me, losing your virginity is about as monumental as eating at a restaurant that you are not dying to return to but didn’t mind having eaten at to begin with. No more, or less. Sorry to disappoint.

No, NBL, what I’m more concerned with is your deprivation attitude about touch, whether it be from a man, a woman or a hard boiled egg. This black and whiteness about your external status has robbed you of all the glorious in betweens, of sweaty palms and panting kisses and hot rubbing between the legs. These little under-the-covers activities, my curious friend, are where you want to start.

In the meantime, remove the V word from your vocabulary all together. It’s doing you no good, and it’s separating you from the rest of your kind. Meaning, US! All the sexually active in some way shape or form woman who are no more close to an unattainable perfect virgin or an unforgivably fallen whore, than you, dear NBL. In fact, let’s just call you Newly Blossomed Love instead, for the relationship you’ve formed with yourself as a result of writing this deeply telling and emotionally cleansing letter. Again, we’re proud of you for knowing what you need. Now go out and get some!

 

Lots of Love,

Life (aka Emily)

Emily Scarlet Kramer is the co-author of The Hot Woman’s Handbook: The CAKE Guide to Female Sexual Pleasure.

Please note: Advice given in Dear Life is not meant to take the place of therapy or any other professional advice. The opinions or views offered by columnists are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed physician or mental health professional. Columnists acting on behalf of Dear Life are not responsible for the outcome or results of following their advice in any given situation.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her 2nd annual Manifestation Retreat Sep 26-Oct 3 (ONE SPOT LEFT.) Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! It is LIFE CHANGING!

Featured image courtesy of Robert Bejil Photography

Abuse, feminism, Guest Posts, Women

Why the Street Assault Video May Need Narration for Men.

December 28, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Amy McElroy.

A recent video made by the non-profit, Hollaback, http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/28/living/hollaback-10-hours-walking-in-nyc/index.html, made its rounds on the internet showing a woman walking for ten hours down NY streets. With each of the one hundred street assaults she received, another of my hairs stood on end. Even though she was a black belt in martial arts. Even though she had a hidden camera person with her the entire time. Because when I walk the streets “alone,” I am truly a woman alone. But what I started wondering next, during all those catcalls and taunts, was what other men watching the same video were thinking.

The men in the video acted offensively, no doubt, and their words assaulted the actress on an emotional and psychological level. But to me, they were more than that, they were threatening.

Did men see that?

Continue Reading…

feminism, Guest Posts, motherhood

Hello Son, It’s Me, Your Mother.

December 5, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black
By Naomi Elana Zener.

To My Darling Son,

I think you should know that I am a feminist. There, I wrote it. I’ve said it. I’ve even screamed it at various points in my life. But, what does it mean for you and for me? I’m NOT some man-hating, refusnik of shaving my legs or armpit hair, Birkenstock- wearing (actually I love my Birks and wear them in the summer, but I love my Prada shoes, too), birthing my babies in the woods, crunchy gal. Those are great women too, simply because being a woman is wonderful. Women who are feminists come from all walks of life. I’m a happily married woman, working mother of two young babes, with two law degrees, who enjoys manicure-pedicures, reading, writing, shopping, travel, fine wine, art, theatre (wasn’t Avenue Q the best?), air conditioning in the summer, a great steak at Mastros, and believes that feminism is about equality for women in every walk of life, having the freedom to choose to do what we want, and having said freedom, equality, and rights protected by law.In that vein, I would like you to know that I plan on raising you NOT to be a male sexist, chauvinist, or misogynist.I fully intend to raise you to be a feminist, just like me, your father, your sister, your grandmother, your grandfather, and your aunt. If you respect me, you HAVE to respect women.

You are the son of a strong woman who pursued her dreams. I encourage you to pursue this just as I have and continue to do.

My dear, sweet son, you are the brother of a strong girl who will one day be a strong woman, and you should fight for and protect her right to have the same opportunities you will have to achieve her goals.
You need to look beyond gender as a qualifier, and that every law abiding, honest, and respectful human being is deserving of the same prospects in life regardless of whether that person is male or female. Neither women nor men are playthings. When I had you, I wrote a satirical poem taking a jab at how men have mistreated women throughout history, which is something I never want you to do.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, travel, Women

Things That Didn’t Happen.

October 21, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

By Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Why not February?

 1)  That day I landed in Paris, alone, no French to pout my lips, anti-gay protests spilled into the streets, shooting rapids of hatred. Queers had to navigate them, no oars. When I walked down Avenue Henri Martin to find an open store, I looked like what I was: an MEC-bedecked North American dyke, shapeless as a continent. Two men radared in. Vitriol tones a language; it hatcheted towards me on streams of spittle. The guy closest shoulder-checked me and I stumbled into a wall, scraping limestone.

Then they were gone, and I still needed oranges.

2)  A week later, Rue de la Pompe, arrondisement 16, outside Casino supermarket. Serrated needles of rain raking sideways. No umbrella, just a thin-wire pull-cart I needed to pile with groceries if I wanted to eat, launder, shampoo.

A Roma girl hunched on the street, no coat, one-shoed, hair divided into oleaginous shanks functioning as eavestroughs. Shoulders heaving. One foot maimed, red, shaped like a soup bone, the socket of a cow’s tibia. A paper begging cup exhausted by rain crumpled under left knee.

Trafficked, I thought, tears and misery the tools of her job. But beyond that: something immediate. Maybe, later, when she was picked up again, the gratitude of Stockholm Syndrome or familial bonds or simple lack of options would keep her in her place, but for now, dropped to the Paris pavement by her pimp or aunt or older brother, she was the picture of all that was wrong and nothing that was right.

My anger in Paris was a simmering thing, small at first, then growing. It was at first the size of the palm of a hand laid against a hot burner, but it flared. It was that worst thing, that touristic thing, impotence with a strangling desire to “help.”

“Madame, ça va?” I said as I pressed soggy pastries, fruit, hidden money into her hands. Nothing that would make it better. Nothing that would buy her options.

What do I want with pastries? her eyes said. Are you kidding me? She was right; I was an asshole in any language.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Women

Kennedy Vagina.

June 19, 2014

Kennedy Vagina By Amy Turner

When I was nine my mom dressed me like a Kennedy and told me my vagina stuck out. It was 1984. I had been prepping for a third grade dance recital for retired Balboa Bay Club Patrons when I turned to her, modeling my hot pink Capezio kitty cat costumes with marabou cuffs. My mother stared and said, “Hmm. You know, your vagina sticks out. Just phmph. Just sticks out.” Then she made me turn to the side.

We looked at my 9-year-old mound stretching the cotton-poly blend, and I thought it appeared perfectly normal. She kept saying, “Just…sticks out there, doesn’t it.” I let her continue to stare and laugh. A soft shake started inside of me. The rattle hum of defective. How does one’s vagina ‘stick out?’ What does one do about it?

“Put on your coat and I’ll take you down,” she said.

The coat was three-quarters, royal blue, with a matching hat. She’d gotten up at 4 a.m. to go to a sale of “European Designers” to buy it. When buttoned up and backcombed, I looked like a tiny Jackie Kennedy. I had her Midwestern aspiration written all over me. She’d moved to Newport when she saw a statue of a dolphin that she thought was pretty. My father followed. Two immigrants. South Dakota and Texas trying on Southern California cool.

My mom drove me to the Yacht Club we didn’t belong to, where, along with my dance cohorts, we danced for retired Yacht Club people. Two of the girls in the group belonged to the club, two didn’t. But they all stopped at the gated entrance while my mother drove onto the property without a decal on her windshield, waving like Lady Diana at the teenage boy manning the booth as she barely paused in her Toyota. She gestured to him, to open the gate, immune to country club law. He looked confused as he hit the lever, and she just drove on. I scrunched down in the seat, trying to disappear, as she pulled up in the handicapped space, and told me to get out, dance, “and put my shoulders back.”

How could a person put their shoulders back and hide their girl bone at the same time? I danced cautiously. Timid and protective next to the girls with member numbers that allowed them to walk up to counters ordering grilled cheeses like life was a free carnival. Girls with spiral perms and – probably — concave peeholes.

My mother reminded me often that life was not a free carnival. That the families in the housing developments with the Mercedes, the friends doing a remodel, the wives who didn’t work, skinny women, women who went to nail salons, there was a price for all of it she’d caution me.

“A woman must have her own money to have her freedom. You never want to be a kept woman,” she’d say, smuggling knick-knacks she bought at Marshall’s into the house, hiding the contraband from my father.

Another soap dish made in France! France! The rustle of her plastic bags rang out daily. As if one ceramic swan was going to push us into belonging.

She’d hold it up to the light… “it’s European,” class and glass issues sparkling.

My father hid Marlboro lights in his gym bag and covered up their aroma with cough drops and Old Spice so that every time he came home from work I felt like I was having dinner with a hooker with a head cold.

At nine, it was clear, I didn’t want stockpiled French soap dishes. I wouldn’t be a kept woman. Maybe I wouldn’t be a woman at all. The way my mother explained it, being a woman sounded like punishment. I’d be….a worker. Sure. A worker. Still there was third grade life to contend with. Such as, “Hey, Mom! Brandi Benson invited me to Knott’s Berry Farm on Saturday. Can I go?”

“No such thing as a free lunch,” she’d say, and scowl as if I were a kinderwhore.

It’s confusing to be young and feel bad for liking things. Things that have been crafted to appeal to you, like amusement parks, designer clothes, and Chinese restaurants with children’s menus. My friends had dishwashers and housekeepers and Hawaiian vacations. My mom weeded the garden in her undies and washed her own plates. Every time I grumbled about having to dry, she’d say, “doing chores was the only time I ever got to talk to my mother.” Well, everyone I knew had gardeners and Moms who wear separates, and they still manage to talk, I’d think.

I learned a form of cootie catcher feminism. In one triangle, there was work. But flip up another triangle, and there was the body as currency and phrases like ‘damaged goods’. But mostly, what was happening between me and my mother was a schism of culture more than a schism of gender. Esther Perel says that in the past, “intimacy grew out of lifelong shared work, it is now intimacy itself we work at.” The mother daughter romance is no joke. She wanted it farming style. Families needed each other to survive a winter. But we were not on a prairie. We had trouble.

My mom wanted me to get a job, get married and have children that would grow up listening to Top-40 hits, attend a community college, sleep with enough people until they find the one that most resembles the cherished parent, get a job selling copy toner, have weekends in Lake Havasu where they do a little wakeboarding and wife-swapping, make babies, retire to Palm Springs, and die.

But I had dreams, too. I wanted to live unpunished.

I’ve looked at it, this being a woman. I’ve looked at my pubis too. It’s a real standard issue number. So I think it was probably my mom’s fear that I’d actually grow up and use my pubis. But I didn’t know that then. The way you didn’t know a lot of things.

 

 

Photo 63

Amy Turner is an author, essayist and TV writer who just this past year had two pieces published on The Huffington Post. She was a Producer on ABC Family’s “MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, ” a story editor on CBS’s “THE EX LIST” and a staff writer on Aaron Sorkin’s NBC drama, “STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP.” She’s working on a nonfiction collection, “Cool Girls Die Alone.” Some twittering at @turnerleturner.

Amy met Jen when she attended Jen’s Manifestation Workshop in L.A. They believe they are long lost siblings.

laughter

Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. Jen’s leading one of her signature retreats to Ojai, Calif. over New Years. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health, Tuscany. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (2 spots left.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

 

 

funny, Guest Posts, R Rated, Self Image, Sex

When the Man Talks to Me about My Lady Parts. *R Rated.

February 16, 2014

**This humorous essay by author Heather Fowler has strong sexual content and is R Rated. If you have no interest in that…stop reading right now. Seriously. I have every intention of providing a space for women to keep it real. (For everyone, really.) This a light, frank, body-positive post. Proceed with a sense of humor please 🙂 And I bow to Heather for being so bold. We had a great conversation where she brought up the fact that women aren’t allowed to really talk about their own genitalia without causing a stir. So, here ya go… ~ Jen Pastiloff, Founder of The Manifest-Station.

~

When the Man Talks to Me about My Lady Parts by Heather Fowler.

I can’t help it.  I’m excited.  Who knew I had something so great?  It is with extreme enthusiasm that he engages this topic.

As for me, during this engagement, I’m agog by my own former underdeveloped awareness. I can be forgiven. We often undervalue the things right under our navels. I mean, I know I’ve taken pleasure from this anatomy variously in my past, without even recognizing how important this particular part can be. But he specifies criteria like a pussy aficionado.

He doesn’t mind when things get wet and impromptu.  He is a fierce explorer. Fierce!

Now, his opinion should not be discounted because he is actually an expert in this field, belonging to a Harley gang and all.  This means he’s had lots of pussy.  He has enjoyed it as a meal and a la carte.  I like a man who talks the walk.  He squeals he has had more than one at once.

Several of them, many times. We discuss.  “Tell me about your sexual past,” I say, because I am a role-bender that way, intrepid.

When I reflect deeply, I recognize that his interest in pussy is parallel to the interest of a guy who loves sports statistics. Maybe this one keeps statistics.  He certainly knows about his bat.

Why did I do this?  Not sure, but here’s the good part: Usually, I’d pay for analysis from this level of “expert in the field,” wherever research is needed.

But I got lucky, and with this level of lucky, I don’t have to pay.  I pull the sheet up and wait.  I am covering my boring breasts, which he largely ignored. I smile, trying to be innocuous.  I’m about to understand my pussy, really get the lowdown, articulated from a guy’s point of view, probably for the first time.  This is huge.

I tremble. I have to be humble. I look away.

I hope I don’t look too curious because, sometimes, that puts guys off.  Nope.  He still wants to talk about it.

“Some women just had too much,” he says.  “They can’t feel a thing.  Not like you.  Yours is still sensitive.  And you have great padding in the back.”

“Oh,” I say.  “Right. Padded ass. That’s good.” But I nod, intrigued.  “Go on.”

No one has ever spoken this frankly.  I examine his hair, that blond stuff on his head.  It is long in the way that motorbike riders enjoy, since their hedonism extends to the wind at play.  Everything is play. I think about washing the sheets.

“And some women are hard down there,” he says.  “Like a plank.  You can bruise your hipbone on that.  And sometimes you can’t go that deep.  Some women have what’s like a slit, hard to push into, and other women hang loose and open all the time.” He mentions to me that a condom might have skewed his view of this pussy, my pussy, a little bit, but it was still good.  He says I couldn’t possibly have experienced it like he does.

Right, I’m thinking. It must be like that freckle on one’s face that becomes rather insignificant in light of the whole face.  I have a whole face.  A whole body.  But he is a pussy specialist.

“Would you say these things if it was bad?” I ask. “I mean, go on like this?”

“No, of course not,” he says.  “Then I’d just say nothing. I’m not a total cad.”  He kisses me like he thinks I’m cute.

I am not cute like he imagines.  I am pondering how it would feel to experience my own pussy, from the exterior, with nerve endings, by inhabiting two bodies at once.  I wish I could bodysnatch him and enjoy being both of us.  I get lost in this fantasy.

“It was great, great,” he says. “And so I could just sneak in here and help you out,” he says, pulling at a tendril of hair near my face.  “Like I’m the rogue character in one of your novels.  I could be your bad boy.  Does your pussy squirt?”

“I haven’t thought about it,” I reply, neglecting to mention that I don’t write romance novels.  “I’m not down there, you know, watching.  Does squirting imply a sort of specific distance?  Does it involve a quantity of fluid? Maybe you can tell me.”  I do like the idea of having a bad boy, especially one who so appreciates my pussy.  But if I want a bad boy, I want one with mad skills, one who cannot be denied.

He smiles, petting my head, and I say, “If you gave me five or six orgasms a session, that could be worthwhile.  But we’d have to be monogamous for fluid-bonding.  We could build to that.”  I’m thinking that’s a low bar for taking on a bad boy, if he doesn’t plan on nurturing or taking out the trash.

His face falls.  Maybe he thought two or three was really big shakes.

For me, it’s not. Two or three is an introduction. Nonetheless, from this exchange, I realize I have an excellent, frequently underutilized pussy.  This is a subject to ponder.  How can I do better for my pussy? Why, and for how long, must my organ remain underutilized?

He asks what I think about his dick.  “It’s fine,” I say.  “Good.” But I have no new remarks to issue here.  What does one say when one means, “Truly average.  A decent size.  Not too large?” but knows these comments won’t go over well.  I think about saying, “Your dick is important to me insofar as it functions well when we are engaged in romantic exchanges, aided by outings and interpersonal connection, though I would not be upset if it wasn’t functioning, provided I loved you enough.”

I determine he is too bad boy to appreciate this distinction.  “You have a good dick,” I conclude, going for minimalist.  When he leaves that day, I think:  I won’t remember it.

Later I examine my pussy as if it is not attached to me and think about other women.  Do they know how great their pussies are?  How underutilized? Someone should tell them.

This someone might be him.  Then again—he might not know enough.

I’ll be a crusader for the femme O.  Look out world, I got this.

***

newheadshot2-2013

Heather Fowler is the author of the story collections Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books, Dec. 2010), People with Holes (Pink Narcissus Press, July 2012), This Time, While We’re Awake (Aqueous Books, May 2013) andElegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness (Queen’s Ferry Press, forthcoming May 2014). Fowler’s People with Holes was named a 2012 finalist for Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award in Short Fiction. This Time, While We’re Awake was recently selected by artist Kate Protage for representation in the Ex Libris 100 Artists 100 Books exhibition this February at the 2014 AWP Conference. Fowler’s stories and poems have been published online and in print in the U.S., England, Australia, and India, and appeared in such venues as PANKNight TrainstoryglossiaSurreal SouthJMWWPrick of the SpindleShort Story America,Feminist Studies and others, as well as having been nominated for the storySouth Million Writers Award, Sundress Publications Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine and a Fiction Editor for the international refereed journal, Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures & Societies (USA). Please visit her website: www.heatherfowlerwrites.com

writingrefractedJennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what her retreats are like. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. `
Beating Fear with a Stick, Eating Disorders/Healing

For Women Who Apologize For Everything.

May 11, 2012

By Jen Pastiloff.

**trigger warning. Sensitive material contained in this piece. Mention of sexual assault.

Relentless Over Apologizing.

A few years ago a man I knew walked into the café in NYC where I was having lunch with a friend, and before I realized what was happening his hand was on my breast. “Damn, Look at those things,” he’d said with a fistful of my boob.

We chatted for a few moments about irrelevant things- yoga, weather, eggs, before he walked away and sat down at his own table. My friend was dumbfounded, the most natural response, I suppose. She was shocked that he’d grabbed my breast like that. In public, no less. I was embarrassed and made excuses for him. That’s just how he is. He doesn’t mean anything by it. He’s just a flirt. He’s harmless.

Did I think it was okay on some level? Did I not want to embarrass him? Why was I the one who felt embarrassed when he was the asshole feeling me up? Was I flattered in some creepy shitshow way? Why hadn’t my friend said something right then as he’d had my breast in his hand like it was his? And would I have said something, if the situation was reversed and it was her breast and not mine? Oh, the shame. The hot shame on my face and my arm hairs standing on end, I felt incompatible with my own body as I pushed my eggs around in a soup of Cholula sauce.

My breasts felt like they were no longer part of me. It was if he’d walked away with them. Or at least the one he’d fondled.

Why had I not said anything to stand up for myself? Perhaps on some level I felt the disgust I’d always felt towards my breasts had called out to him, in their own subversive language that some people are trained to hear. Maybe he could smell the disgust on me, how much I hated the weight and size of them and the way they popped out of my bra on the sides (commonly referred to as “side boob.”) Maybe he had sensed the hatred I had towards my own body and how I’d fallen into the anorexia trap when I’d gone to a doctor at seventeen and asked for a breast reduction. “Breast reduction? You don’t need it. Lose five pounds.”

I wonder how many times do we swallow our words? Women. Men. All of us stuffing down what we want (or don’t want) for a variety of, often psychologically confusing, reasons.

***

I let a man give me a “free” massage (that should’ve been enough of a red flag) when I was eighteen years old. It wasn’t until he had his fingers near my vagina, almost slipping them inside of me, that I rolled off the futon he’d haphazardly turned into a massage table. I panicked and asked him to leave, albeit too politely for the fact that he had tried to stick his fingers in me. Soon after the massage, I found out he’d gone to jail under the three-strikes law in California. With the three-strikes-law, habitual criminal offenders, under mandates of the state, are required to serve much longer sentences than they might normally serve. Apparently, he had been preying on women for years and had finally been caught. I’d met him at the place I’d been obsessively exercising in my sports bra and short shorts. My teeny tiny anorexic body of those years. That body that allowed me to feel nothing at something at once, all the are you sick? you look sick questions giving me a high like nothing else. I wanted attention as equally as I abhorred it.

Before I asked him to leave however, I had lay there with my heart beating wondering “Is this normal? Is this what massage is? Should his hands be there?” It was the first massage of my life. And yet, despite the internal dialogue, I stayed on the weird futon massage table. I questioned my own judgment and intuition. Until his hands got too close to my vagina. Then a panic button went off.

But why did it take so long?

After I found out he’d gone to jail, I’d wondered if I had enticed him. Too short shorts? Too skimpy of clothing? Too friendly? What had I done to provoke him? Nothing. But as a nineteen year old I pondered my own complicity, my addiction to guilt needing a fix. I must’ve done this. I still look too sexy. If I was smaller he wouldn’t have wanted to touch me, I’d thought as a teenager. My boobs are still too big, I rationalized. So I lost more weight.

***

That summer I’d been visiting Los Angeles before NYU started in the fall. I’d spend my days eating creamed honey off a spoon (I had no money and it gave me an odd boost of energy with no fat) before I’d climb the stairs in Santa Monica, a set of stairs people use for exercise like angry mice. I’d climb those stairs at least twenty times a day on an empty stomach (or a stomach with black coffee, vitamins and creamed honey.)

I’d gone to the movies with this actor who was twenty years older than me. He picked me up in the car with an open beer can between his legs. That should say enough about what I should’ve expected from him. He asked me to sit on his lap in the movie.  As embarrassed as I was, I sat on him. All ninety pounds of me sat on an older drunk man’s lap in a movie theatre with a mixture of excitement and disgust. I didn’t want to but I thought that maybe it was what adults did, maybe they sit on each other, I thought. And was I just being prude and overly self-conscious to say no? We went to a bar after where I used a fake i.d. and proceeded to drink five vodka cranberries on an empty stomach.

The next thing I remember was me being slumped over the edge of his bed. He was on top of me. My pants down, his off completely. I panicked.

My first instinct, being the worrier I was/am, was to yell for him to get a condom. The combination of shame and drunkenness smothered that night, but I do remember he leaped off me to get a condom from his bathroom.

When he came back I said that I did not want to sleep with him and that I wanted to go home.

He was angry but he drove me home. I rolled down the window of his old Cadillac and vomited red chunks all over the side of the car as it sped down the street. I wiped my mouth off. I apologized. As he dropped me off, he leaned over and kissed me on the mouth. The mouth. Vomit and all. And I apologized again for what I thought of as fucking the night up.

Why apologize when you’ve simply said no? one might wonder. Why apologize when you’ve done nothing wrong except be an eighteen year old (who puked) and who’d made a couple of really dumb choices? Why apologize for having a body, which is, essentially what all the starvation was about. I don’t know. I know talking about this is important though because I see it all the time.

The relentless apologizing for everything.

Recently, I got an email from someone who reads my blog.

 Dear Jennifer,I’m writing on behalf of my dear teenage daughter.  We adopted her as a little girl. We were her 5th home.  Needless to say, she has many issues of abandonment, rejection, anger, etc., which she is courageously working through. But the one thing that “sinks” her most often is the sexual issue.  Because she was abused in those early years, she feels that she is “ruined.”  She is very strong to stand up for herself in all areas but this one.  She lets anyone … ANYONE … touch her, kiss her, etc.  Guys, girls, whoever … she doesn’t even like them…. but they get a free pass to use her for their pleasure. Ever since she’s been little, we’ve guarded her carefully … very few sleepovers, etc. because it puts her in such a difficult situation.  Sometimes over the years, I think she’s been the instigator of sexual situations, but more recently, she seems to be the victim.  She just loses herself.Last weekend, she had a sleepover (first in a long time) with a 16 year old girl.  They seem to just have a fun, normal girlfriend relationship.  And since the girl was a little younger, I felt it was safe.  My daughter has been doing well and making good choices overall.It was bedtime, the lights were out … I was almost asleep and suddenly sat up with a jolt.  I texted my daughter to come to my room and talked to her about the situation. I just felt in my gut that something was going to happen.I found out later that it already had.My point here isn’t whether or not teens should have sex or whether or not same sex is ok.  My point is that my daughter DIDN’T WANT TO … and yet she did.She told me that in those moments, she hears two internal messages:1) You have to do this with me because no one else will ever love you like I do.2) You need to do this to make me happy.

She fears upsetting or losing her friends and so she sacrifices herself and her own self-respect to please them.  In her words,  “I’m already ruined, so what difference does it make?” 

***

I understand that idea of being ruined. I wouldn’t eat for two days. Then I’d eat a can of tuna, and for that transgression, I’d felt like I ruined all I had worked for. I might as well eat another can of tuna and bread and ice cream and all the things I had been denying myself because I had already failed and what the point? was usually my rationale.

I read that letter and understood the yearning to make someone happy- the things I’ve said yes to because I thought it would make me worth something.

I don’t know the answer, and I’m obviously not a psychologist, so don’t worry about pointing out the obvious there. But I do know that apologizing for existing is a tricky business, one that parlays into all sorts of self-destructive behaviors. Now let’s be clear, I am not saying that the man grabbing my breast was a self-destructive act on my part. Not at all. The shame around it is though. The voicelessness is. The apologizing is. The sitting on that guy’s lap and then proceeding to go home with him was not smart, namely because I was drunk and had no grasp on my mental faculties or the choices I was making. But we’ve all been young and dumb unless we haven’t, and in that case, you’ve surely spent your youth locked in your bedroom.

If I had told that guy I didn’t want to sit on his lap, or I had yelled at that man to let go of my chest, then I would have lost them, and in some small way, I wanted to make them happy, like the teenager in that mom’s letter. I squirmed when I read the letter because if I was as brave as this mom was in writing to me, then maybe I could write a piece on the things we let slide and how quiet the world would be without so many I’m sorries.

This is my paltry attempt at understanding the way we keep ourselves underfoot, the way we don’t say what we want to say for fear of losing what we probably never had in the first place. So, to answer that teen’s question in the letter of What difference does it make?

It makes the kind of difference, say, where you stand up when he touches you and you say, “Excuse me but please do not touch my body like that.” Or, “Fuck you, get your fucking hands off me.” That’s the kind of difference it makes.

And then you grow up and maybe when you get to be my age you only say I’m sorry when you’ve hurt someone or reared your car into theirs.

 

Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: SeattleLondon, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Next Manifestation workshop is London July 6. Book here.

%d bloggers like this: