Saturday, August 12, 2006

Creating a Sexual Self-Inventory

What follows is not my own personal sexual inventory, but the most broadly-ranging and inclusive list of "Sexual Activities" I've seen in print. It comes from the book A Survivor's Guide to Sex by Staci Haines (1999).

  • admiring asses
  • anal sex
  • being penetrated deeply
  • being tied up
  • biting my lover's breasts
  • caressing a lover to orgasm
  • cross-dressing
  • cyber-sex
  • double penetration
  • dressing slutty
  • dripping hot wax on skin
  • erotic dancing
  • exhibitionism
  • eye contact
  • fantasizing about making love
  • fisting
  • flirting
  • foot worship
  • french kissing
  • fucking
  • gender play
  • getting a piercing or tattoo
  • getting head
  • giving head
  • golden showers
  • group sex
  • hair pulling
  • having my breasts stroked
  • having my ears and neck licked
  • having sex while blindfolded
  • holding hands
  • hugging
  • intercourse
  • kissing
  • kissing my partner's nipples
  • kneeling
  • looking at my lover's body
  • massage
  • masturbating with a vibrator
  • modeling for erotic photos
  • orgasm
  • outdoor sex
  • phone sex
  • playing with butt plugs
  • playing with feathers
  • playing with ice cubes
  • playing with nipple clamps
  • playing with riding crops
  • playing with saran wrap
  • putting on a condom
  • reading erotic fiction
  • reading sex manuals
  • rimming
  • role-playing
  • shaving
  • spanking
  • talking about sex with friends
  • talking about sex with a potential partner
  • tickling
  • tying up my lover
  • uing dildos and harnesses
  • using essential oils
  • voyeurism
  • watching erotic movies
  • wearing a man's suit and tie
  • wearing corsets and sexy lingerie
  • wearing leather
  • wearing rubber/latex clothing
  • whipping
  • wrestling
  • writing in a journal about sex

It seems obvious that the list would be inclusive on the "vanilla" end, since it's aimed at survivors; an experience that might not seem sexual at all to someone without that experience (hugging, for example) might be a loaded act to a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. On the other hand, we would all do well to realize that we define -- in our heads, every moment -- what is and is not sexual activity. There's a big difference between a platonic hug and one that turns your motor, and that second one an definitely be a sexual activity.

I like that the list is so inclusive on the other end of the spectrum. There's an assumption in our society that survivors are too delicate for even the most gentle sex. That someone who has experienced abuse or assault might explore and embrace her kinky side is rarely discussed. Haines takes it almost as far as it can go, even including a full chapter on SM in the book. She assumes that survivors can safely and carefully push their boundaries, just like anyone else.

I like the idea of a sexual self-inventory. What have I done? What did I enjoy? What do I not want to do again? What would I like to try? It did two things for me: allowed me to take stock of the status of my current sex-life as it compares to my ideal, and to appreciate the breadth of the spectrum of my own sexuality.

What's missing? Some classics, actually: oral sex and manual stimulation. Also, bloodsports (cutting) and scat (excrement) play, although golden showers made the list. Anything else? Suggestions?


Dan said...
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Dan said...

You know, I've been meaning to encourage you to start writing more entries here, especially considering your place of employment this summer.

Am I wrong or does this list assume the survivor is a female? Items like "having my breasts stroked" that don't have also include "stroking my partner's breasts" seem to imply the list is from the perspective of a heterosexual female. I don't see why the whole list couldn't have been done in a neutral fashion, since many items already are written that way.

I'd add "playing with food products" to the list. Oh, and oral sex actually is included, albeit as "getting head" and "giving head."

Amanda said...

Food products is good, nice catch.

The author of the list is actually a lesbian. She does come right out in the beginning of the book and acknowledge that she wrote it for female survivors, although male survivors might find a lot of the material useful. I think the idea behind the list is to get different kinds of sexual activity onto the page, possibly using as many different first-letters as possible. You're right, she could easily have said "breast-stroking".