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virginity

Abuse, Guest Posts, healing

An Open Letter To The Rapist Who Claimed My Virginity

June 21, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88Sensitive material: contains mention of rape and sexual assault.

By Kalee Prue

Dear Brian,

I typed your name into the Facebook search box tonight on a whim. I had done it before one other time, years ago. I vaguely remember seeing your blurred smiling face in a baseball cap, and the feeling of disgust that suddenly welled up in the pit of my stomach, I had to click away. This time was different though, perhaps I have grown softer over the years since then and now… and I have surely grown softer in the years since you stole my innocence in the house that “Merch” built. This time instead of just your smiling face that made me want to punch the SCREEN until it shattered into a million pieces, there was two small, beautiful, golden haired, smiles in pink dresses on each side of your dimples… And your smile… was so happy… so radiant with joy sitting there between those two tiny angels, that instead of disgust… instead of rage… the only thing that welled up in me was an overwhelming feeling of joy in my throat for you… and in that instant… just like that, forgiveness happened.

Fifteen years ago you wanted to pretend that next morning that nothing had happened, and I went right along with you out of shame. I made believe while working and selling right along side of you for weeks afterward that nothing had happened. To the few I told, I made believe that we had made love. That I had finally been “made love” to. You pretended nothing had happened to everyone, after all, you were my team-leader and dating each other was inappropriate, as you had been telling me after every time we had kissed up until that point. Of course the same was true after we… well, after YOU had sex with me… but then you moved on very quickly from encouraging my puppy-love crush in the moments we stole off alone together, to dating another girl who was part of your sales “team”. I’m sure I could write pages on what that did to my self esteem, but I won’t… I want to focus on the rape itself. Because YES, Brian, what you did was rape, though it took me years to call it by name. Continue Reading…

Binders, Gender & Sexuality, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts

Brad, Interrupted. The One On Gendered Hypocrisy.

June 4, 2015

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Jen Pastiloff here. This is my blog. Welcome, if you’re new to the site. Originally, it was just my own writing, but when I realized I had a huge readership I decided to open it up as a platform for other writers. But excuse me while I say my two cents before said other writer steps in.

So, the other day I was in South Dakota (was leading a workshop there as I do a couple times a year) when someone sent me a Snap. As in SnapChat. (Yes, I am 12 years old now.) A mom had sent her teen (yay!) to my Seattle workshop and was all fired up because her daughter, Corrine, came home from school visibly upset after a talk they had been given at school. Her mom (Echo is her name and don’t you love her just for that?) sent me a clip of his video and his website. So there I was, in Sodak, about to lead a workshop and I got pissed. Real pissed. I was reminded why I am writing Girl Power: You Are Enough (which is with publishers right now- OMG) and I decided that I had to say something about this fella. Brad Henning is his name. So I made a cup of coffee and sat down my phone on my little tripod there on the kitchen table in Sioux Falls and I said this:

I then posted it on the interwebs and asked any of my writer friends if they would like to write an essay about it for my site. The beautiful Laurence Dumortier said she wanted to tackle it. Her last essay on the site blew my mind ( it is a must read) so I didn’t hesitate to say yes yes yes. Someone called me a YesSparker the other day. I like that. Yes.

After you read her essay I would a) Love it if you shared it.

b) I mean, I would really love it if you shared.

c) Create a dialogue around this.

I know not everyone agrees with Laurence and I. Some people have even given me shit for bringing this up. I refuse to stay quiet though. I am not suggesting that Brad is a bad man, I just believe his methods are antiquated and his message is outdated and involves shaming. Shaming is never okay.

Also, I am a feminist and his message just rubs me wrong. It feels misogynistic and tired and frankly, the opposite of what I am teaching out in the world. Girl Power: You Are Enough. No matter what Brad, or any other person, says. I hope to see some of you at the launch of the Girl Power workshops September 19th and 20th in Princeton and NYC. Oh yea, and Lena Dunham followed me this morning on Twitter. Girls + Girl Power: You Are Enough. Kapow!!

ps- This is who I am writing my book for. Teens like Nicole. So brave. Eff yea! Last year she was suicidal but today she is saying, “I am enough.” So, can I get another EFF YEA! Fuck yea!

Here is the video Echo sent me. (Brad goes to schools and gives this lecture.) I have actually heard he is a lovely man. I am not taking away from his loveliness. But please, when it comes to this, he doesn’t seem to be the right person for this job.

Brad, Interrupted by Laurence Dumortier

Brad Henning is a self-styled relationship expert who visits schools to talk to students about dating. To the question “Why do girls wear makeup?” (Brad likes to style things as a Q&A) his answer is: “Would a guy want to take a girl out on a first date, if he could see what she looks like when she first wakes up in the morning the same way her parents do? Probably not.” Despite professing this kind of sexist nonsense, Brad Henning is paid by school districts to speak to teenagers about sex and relationships. Let that sink in for a moment.

When I mentioned to a friend that I’d been reading, with a mixture of fascination and horror, about Brad Henning’s work, she wondered if it was the same Brad she’d had to listen to a dozen years before during a high-school assembly. A little research confirmed it was. After a moment she reflected, “I will never forget how much I was shamed for being overly sensitive/humorless/man-hating/slutty/bad both during and after that fucking assembly senior year of high school.” This essay is for her and for all the girls who had to listen to Brad’s lectures, and haven’t forgotten what it felt like to be chided and shamed.

Henning is a fan of the pseudo-evolutionary-biology—bogus in both in its premises and its explanations—that asserts as fact things like: guys are insatiably horny, you see, so that the species won’t die out! And also, girls have low sex-drive, on the other hand, so that the planet doesn’t get over-populated! Worse still, though, Henning promotes the tired falsehoods that form the backbone of rape culture. “The girls who give sex to their boyfriends outside of marriage,” Henning writes, “are undermining the maturing process guys need so badly.” Guys, Brad decrees, cannot control their sexual appetites. They need girls to do that for them. Girls who don’t do that make boys powerless to resist their own urges. (Is it any wonder, when girls are raped, that they run into so much victim-blaming?)

In one of his vignettes, Henning conjures a fairy-tale prince. He’s sowed his wild oats but now he’s looking to settle down:

Handsome, rugged, self sufficient…He’s the hero and he’s looking for his fair maiden. When he sees her for the first time, he is mesmerized by her beauty and charm. He longs for her… But then…of all the dastardly things…he finds out she has been with just about every guy in the realm. He realizes his fair maiden isn’t as fair as he’d hoped. Does he want to fight for her hand? No. This isn’t what he’s dreamed about all his life. He’s been dreaming about “A FAIR MAIDEN” not the town slut.

Never mind that the prince himself is not a virgin, it’s the girl who is disdained as a “town slut.” (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that rape victims, if they go public, are forced to account for their whole past sexual history, as though it had anything to do with the assault in question.)

Of a girl who has already had sex but would still like to have a loving relationship, Henning takes the chilling position: “But now it’s too late for her… She can’t just change her mind about being wild like the guys.” This double-standard is not just bizarre and unfair, but actually dangerous. It reinforces the cultural script that girls who have had sex are, in fact, damaged goods, worthless and irreparably marred. The implied question is: why should boys bother to reign in their raging sexual appetites with a girl who “gives it away”? I can’t decide whether it is more heartbreaking or rage-inducing that girls are made to listen to this toxic garbage.

Even worse, Henning—not content with pushing the gendered hypocrisy of his ideas about sex, or even the shamey, rapey tone of his relationship advice—has let his opinions about girls wander even farther afield, sermonizing about their appearance, their tastes, their habits and mannerisms, the very expression of their feelings. That an older man would feel entitled to dictate a girl’s feelings to herself is, unfortunately, not all that surprising. But the endorsement of this bizarre intrusion by school districts that invite and pay Henning to come to their schools, and then force girls to sit through this awfulness, is perhaps the saddest and most angering thing of all.

Against that sadness and anger, here is a small but heartfelt gesture of imagination and hope:

In the part of his lecture where Brad intones, unimpeded, about all the many things girls do that “turn guys off,” I imagine, instead, a voice flooding the auditorium, warm and loving and at times a little sarcastic, interrupting the dude onstage in order to offer girls an alternate point of view. One that sees no need to control girls’ behavior, but instead believes in their intelligence and good-sense and inherent value.

In italics, then, excerpts from Brad Henning’s talk—interrupted by the voice of feminine wisdom and trust.

Since you asked the question about what turns guys off, here’s a list of them!

I don’t think we did, actually, but it should be good for a chuckle.

Turn-offs:

Girls who giggle (guys think you’re laughing at them)

How timely! Girls, gather round, permission is hereby granted to giggle, to guffaw, even to cackle. It’s not your job to worry what others think of it. (By the way, most of the time girls aren’t laughing at a guy. But this time, in fact, we are!)

 

Girls who never smile

I love you, April Ludgates of the world. Don’t ever change just because some Brad wants you to.

 

Girls who have lost their mystery

I don’t know what the fuck this means. What is this? Is it code for “girls who’ve lost their virginity”? Gross. The fetishizing of virginity is one of the creepiest and most loathsome things about patriarchal culture. Please ignore.

 

Girls who need every hair in place

You do you. Be as polished or as scruffy as you want.

 

Girls who never stop talking

Talk away. I like the things you say.

 

Girls who are boy-crazy

Brads feel threatened that girls are capable of desire. It makes them uneasy that girls may, at times, be boy-crazy or girl-crazy or both. But Brads don’t get a say over how you feel. You can be giddy, or horny, or dizzy with infatuation. I’ll hold this space for all your emotions.

 

Girls who brag about their grades

Go for it, love. You earned it.

 

Girls who cry all the time

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay for boys to cry too.

 

Girls who always need attention

Everyone needs attention. You matter, too.

 

Girls without a mind of their own

Gracious, the irony! Girls can think for themselves, no thanks to Brad, though.

 

Girls who “screech” when they see their friends

It is a magical thing to be in the presence of those who really get you, and love you for who you are. Lord knows, Brads won’t do that for you. So screech your joy if you want. Caw, whistle, yodel, sing. It’s all good.

 

Girls who can’t take a joke

Especially rape jokes, right?!

 

Girls who make everything seem like it’s the guy’s fault

What can I say? It’s true. Obnoxious guys like Brad don’t like to be held accountable.

 

 

Girls who “tell all”

Speak your truth. Secrets empower abusers.

 

Girls who take things too seriously and are overly sensitive

If I could gather all the serious and sensitive girls in the world and give them a hug, I would. If I could gather all the flirty and funny girls, I’d give them a hug too. Often these are the same girls, for we are complex and multi-faceted. Brads would rather we be small, narrow, predictable and easy to control. But we are large and contain multitudes and won’t easily be subdued.

 

About Laurence Dumortier: I’m finishing up a PhD in English with an emphasis on gender and sexuality. My short stories have been published in One Story as well as smaller magazines. I’m at work on my first novel, set in the early 1960s. My twitter handle is @ElleDeeTweets.

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC.

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for June 20th cleanse. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for June 20th cleanse. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body? To get into your words and stories?  Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.  "So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff's Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing." ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body?
To get into your words and stories? Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.
“So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff’s Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing.” ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

 

Binders, Dear Life., Guest Posts, Sex

Dear Life: I’m The 34 Year Old Virgin.

April 2, 2015

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Welcome 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.  (Email dearlife@jenniferpastiloff.com.) 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 the amazing Amanda Miska.

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 soon!

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

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 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!

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