Monday, August 25, 2014

On Stockings

It's funny - because stockings are the source of a very prominent strain of fetishism, and particularly among so-called "transvestites" - but I tend to view them as an instant turn-off.

I am totally and absolutely a "leg man", but - and maybe this is in some way related to my interest in nudism - I find the bare leg (and, in the right circumstances, to a not inconsiderable extent, the bare foot) to be extremely sexy.

Stockings, as I see it, are a way for women to wear things like skirts that would normally show off the legs, but without actually baring the legs. Which, to me, is a travesty. Why would you cover up one of my favorite parts of a woman's body? It seems too much like censorship.

Fishnet stockings can be considered an exception, due to their highly porous nature. Thigh-high stockings may also be considered an exception when paired with a miniskirt, or worn with lingerie, since they draw emphasis to the exposed thigh. Still, they don't trump bare skin.

I know there are practical reasons for wearing stockings - like, for example, maybe it lets women wear skirts in cooler weather, or if they don't consider their legs to be of a sufficient quality to bear showing off (or if they just haven't bothered to shave their legs in the last couple days).

And that's fine. I'm not saying that stockings should be outlawed. But generally, I view them as a turn-off. Much like skorts (obviously dreamed up by a prude), which tease with the promise of a potential panty flash, without any of the risk of that actually occurring (and isn't that largely the fun of wearing short skirts?).

There are a lot of articles of clothing that I do find sexy - probably even to the point of fetishism - but they are almost without exception skimpy garments where the emphasis is on what they expose rather than what they cover up (e.g., short shorts, miniskirts, bikinis, flip flops).

Whatever exceptions there may be to this rule probably include uniforms of a certain sort (like cheerleader uniforms). Of course, I have an appreciation for things that are feminine and girly, like curves and flowy garments and sparkles, but I'm not sure I would class those as styles that I find particularly sexually appealing, so much as attractive on a different scale.

Here are some more fishnet body stocking pictures, for your enjoyment:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Prom Dress Dreams

I'm slowly learning the ins and outs of the low-budget fashion world, and one thing I'm discovering is that every year after the spring, around about the time that school lets out, you begin to see once-used prom dresses turn up at drastically reduced prices in the thrift shops and overstock depots.

I love prom dresses. They're probably my favorite form of feminine formal wear. (Lol, say that five times fast!). There's so much variety to pick and choose from; they come in all sorts of colors and styles. Yet most of them seem to evoke a feeling of the young girl's dream of attending a fantasy ball, when she can dress up in an extravagant dress and feel like a princess, if just for one night. Plus, there's an element of flirty romance involved that is more suited to the whims of late adolescence than the ultra-serious kind of approach you get with wedding gowns and formal adult parties. It's more playful and ... imaginative!

Anyway, I harbor my own fantasy of going back in time, embracing my feminine side at a younger age, and attending my own high school prom in a beautiful prom dress, instead of the boring and restrictive tuxedo I wore (apologies to anyone who thought I was handsome in that tuxedo, including my girlfriend at the time). I can't turn back the clock, but I can still dream of owning a prom dress that makes me feel fabulous and magical.

And since I'm not going to shell out a queen's ransom in gold to own a dress for which I'll never have a proper occasion to wear, I'm pretty much limited to the commercial hand-me-downs. And there are some problems with that. First, I have to find a dress in a color and a style that I like. I actually did get one prom dress already, via a personal hand-me-down, that fits me, and looks nice enough, but wouldn't necessarily be my dream pick.

Which brings me to point two - it has to fit. For me, that can be tough. Luckily, I'm pretty skinny (in relative terms), but I'm still not totally built like a girl. In particular, I've got a very wide chest and shoulders, which, actually, does not balance out the fact that I don't have breasts the way you might think it would - instead of evening things out, I have trouble getting things to fit around my upper torso even as I don't have the volume to fill out the front.

The last thing, which is particularly relevant in the second-hand market, is that the prom dress has to be functional. It stands to reason (and my experience bears this out), that the most discounted dresses (and therefore most attractive from a purely financial perspective) usually harbor some serious damage - be it a busted zipper, a torn skirt, or major staining. On a humorous note, browsing through these used prom dresses gives me the impression sometimes that their final fate was met at the hands of a horny teen impatiently trying to strip out of her dress once she finally scored some privacy with her date at the end of the night.

Anyhow, I found a prom dress today at the Goodwill that I absolutely adored. It was in a color I liked - a pretty shade of green (my favorite color before I got turned on to pink) - and a style that screamed out to me - short on both the bottom and the top (plus, the skew of the skirt is very flirty). I've read fashion advice in (prestigious!) magazines that stress the importance of balancing skin exposure - crop tops with long pants, miniskirts with long sleeves, things like that - and frankly, I think it's a bunch of sex negative, prudish hogwash. Fact is, some people are afraid to be "too" sexy - and a lot of that has to do with the insidious culture of slut-shaming, whereby those women who have the courage to show off their bodies are shamed by their peers and the culture at large for not adhering to the arbitrary (and disgusting) mandates of the purity police (the above mentioned fashion mags are also guilty of this, though I'm not sure they realize it).

So anyway, if it's typically called "skanky" or "slutty" by the general population, I'm usually all for it. And a dress that cuts off just above the bust, and just below the thighs, is like perfect for me, even more so considering that the one thing I'm probably least confident about showing off is my midsection, which is not as tight and toned as I would like. But, alas, when I tried the prom dress on, though I managed to squeeze it around my hips, I could not get it to zip up all the way around my chest. In these pictures, I'm basically holding the edges of the dress up to see what it would look like if I could only get it on. It's too bad that it didn't fit, because I think it looked fantastic on me...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Power of Suggestion

This image actually came out rather a bit more perverted than I had intended. I just wanted something sexually suggestive, but because it's tricky to get two clones too close to each other, I had to play around with my options... Still, if you ignore the implication of the clones together, separately I think they're both very erotic, and the image comes together pretty nicely as a whole, so... Hell, I like to broach the taboo in my art.

The Power of Suggestion

I watched Enter The Dragon once a long time ago, and I was inspired by Bruce Lee's philosophy on the "art of fighting without fighting". Certainly, it seems in the spirit of the first rule of martial arts: the best way to win a fight, is to avoid it in the first place. What does any of this have to do with my art, you ask? Well, it has inspired my view that erotic art is the art of sex without sex. While it is certainly not always the case (especially as I contend that sexually explicit images - the type most people label as "pornography" - can be just as artistic as anything else), much of erotic art tends to rely on the power of suggestion, rather than full disclosure. This is a form of indirect communication than can be considered coy, but also extremely clever in the right hands.

I like suggestion particularly because it has the power to conjure ideas that don't directly exist in the source medium. It's almost like a kind of magic. I can show you a picture of a person's body not engaged in sexual intercourse, and it could make you think of sexual intercourse (obviously, there's a wide margin of error, but that's part of what makes suggestion so mystical). It depends a lot on psychological conditioning, which is itself dependent on culture. You can make statements with and about suggestion that have much to say about the connections we draw - as individuals, and as a culture - between more and less disparate subjects. Like the connection between nudity and sex, or the connection between sex and sin.

Suggestion is also a very important weapon in the battle between free speech and censorship. And it can be used by both sides. The censor can demonstrate a connection between an allowed form of speech and a disallowed form of speech, and use it to make an argument to increase the forms of speech that are disallowed. I, on the other hand, like to use suggestion to demonstrate the disconnect between thoughts and speech. If certain speech is restricted - sexually explicit materials, for example - this demonstrates a cultural discomfort with the subject of sex. But, at least so far, we cannot restrict people's thoughts. So I can induce people to think about sex (within a margin of error) without using restricted materials, through the power of suggestion, by showing them something they associate with sex. And if the censor tries to move against me, that just reveals his real goal: to regulate the thoughts of his fellow citizens - regulating speech is just a means towards that end.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Outfit of the Day (#ootd)

One of the things I like most about the summer is that it's hot enough that you can just throw something on and go outside - you don't have to wear a jacket or dress in layers, which I don't like for two reasons - a) I'm a nudist and clothes are kind of uncomfortable, and b) I'm an exhibitionist and I like to wear things that are skimpy and show off lots of skin.

And women definitely have the advantage when it comes to clothing that you can just throw on and be street legal. A man could pull on a pair of shorts and be good to go outside, but without a shirt (and shoes, but women have to wear shoes, too) he won't be allowed in a store or a restaurant or what have you. And once you add the shirt, now you've got two pieces, and it's starting to get more complicated. Men don't really have the equivalent of a "dress" that you can just slip on.

Although, as I have proven, it's possible for a man to co-opt the clothing of the female. I really like this one slogan I learned from a friend on deviantART (who found it on tumblr): "they're not women's clothes, they're MY clothes." Which is true, because when I started "cross-dressing", I felt really uncomfortable shopping in the women's section. But gradually, I just got used to it and I realized, I'm not a spy sneaking into enemy territory, this has become my part of the store to shop in (much more so than the men's section)!

But one thing women can do with relative ease that I'm still jealous of is wear a skirt (or dress) without panties. I think that sounds like an awful lot of fun, but due to the external nature of the male genitalia (and in particular its tendency to grow and stand erect), that's really not practical for a man. And also, even with something keeping the "gear" under wraps, there's often still the issue of an unsightly (depending on your opinion, I guess) bulge, which is why it helps to look for dresses with a certain cut or certain details - like ruffles - to help hide that area. Enter today's outfit:

I found this dress at Gabe's (actually my BFF picked it out - she always finds the best pieces for me), and it just looked so fantastic on me that I had to buy it, despite it costing more than a few bucks (if I told you how much it actually cost, you'd think I was a total cheapie :p). I like short dresses that don't cover too much up top or below (indeed, a dress that looks short enough on the rack that you're not sure if it's supposed to be a dress or just a shirt tickles me pink). It's a very pretty shade of jade that reminds me of Girl Scout green, and the cups are rounded and very lightly padded so that it makes me look like I have more boobs than I really have - which helps when trying to "pass".

The flip flops I got at Walmart (they're easy to find) have a low heel to them, which enhances their elegance and femininity. I like them a lot - they're actually the second pair I got after I had worn my first pair out. Together with the cute vinyl purse (which is another thing my BFF found for me), the outfit is composed of my two favorite colors - green (which was my favorite color before I became a girl) and pink (which I love because of its association with girls).

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ode to Miley Cyrus

My first awareness of the great pop icon that is Miley Cyrus came back when her claim to fame was Hannah Montana. At the time, I didn't think much of her at all - she was just another too-pure Disney girl. But even then she was hard to ignore, seeing her fake stage name and face plastered everywhere. For a time, it seemed that you couldn't walk down an aisle in Wal-Mart without seeing some product branded with the Hannah Montana logo. If I felt anything beyond indifference to her then, it was mild annoyance at her commercial popularity.

But slowly, that began to change. Why is that? Simply put, Miley came of age. Early on there was that Vanity Fair controversy, over a "seductive" and minimally dressed photograph of a 15 year old Miley taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. The public and the media cried out, that a teenage girl should be "sexualized" before the eyes of the masses. But I appreciated both the artistry of the photo, as well as its underlying statement about the irrepressible (for no lack of trying) sexuality of young women transitioning through adolescence.

Other controversies followed, including one about the use of a stripper pole during one of Miley's performances (remember when this was shocking, before it became her M.O.?), but what really turned me into a Miley fan was the release of her album Can't Be Tamed, which arrived within a year of her upcoming 18th birthday. The cover features Miley decked out in black leather, and the unapologetically sexy music video for the title track has her sporting the dark wings of a raven or a crow (or a fallen angel), breaking free from her cage. On the underrated album, Miley sings about liberty (Liberty Walk) and independence (Robot), in addition to the usual songs about love and partying (Who Owns My Heart). It seems calculated to present Miley Cyrus as an independent, sexual agent, breaking free from the oppressive purity of her previous Disney-fried image.

A lot of people were upset about Miley's new image, disappointed that the sweet Hannah Montana their daughters all looked up to had become this sultry vixen. But was Miley not allowed to grow up? Just because she had been a child star, was she beholden to some unwritten contract to maintain a squeaky clean image? Weren't the girls who followed her as Hannah Montana growing up, too? Was this reaction due to the paternalistic (dare I say, patriarchal) instinct to keep women the innocent, asexual angels we unrealistically expect them to be as little girls? It was never for a moment unclear to me that all the furor over Miley's R-rated antics was (and still is) a symptom of the conservative impulse to suppress women's sexual agency. Who better to look to, then, for a true feminist icon?

If Can't Be Tamed was, for me, Miley's "coming out" album, then Bangerz is the album where she truly comes into her own as a pop star. Her style as a musician is more mature, and her image - still sexy, and more fashionable than ever - continues to evolve. The release of the album last year (2013, which I dub the Year of Miley) was just one in a string of noteworthy press involving the antics that were fast becoming typical of Miley, such as her twerktastic performance with the foam finger at the MTV Video Music Awards, and the release of her music video for Wrecking Ball (the seminal breakup anthem of the new millenium, although the righteous anger that infuses FU is infectiously fierce), featuring an all nude Miley licking a sledgehammer and riding a - yep, you guessed it - wrecking ball.

It was her participation in the skin cancer charity Protect The Skin You're In, for which she modeled nude, that solidified my resolve to pick up Miley's new album, Bangerz, and cemented my dedication to her as a pop icon. By this point, Miley Cyrus has become such an outrageous figure, that she's ripe for both parody and ridicule, but I see much of her antics as part of the nature of being a perfomance artist, and behind it, it seems to me, is this extremely confident young woman who is not afraid of her own body; and that threatens a lot of people. The fact that she gets so much slack for the sexual nature of her videos and performances is proof positive that here in the twenty-first century, as a culture, we are still disgustingly intimidated by a sexually confident woman.

A lot of the material on Bangerz could be superficially written off as a paean to partying. And this is part of Miley's aesthetic. Why should we begrudge young people their parties? Life is to be enjoyed. But it's not her singing "love, money, party" that makes me so fiercely loyal to her. Partying is just the foil for a self-confident and celebratory worldview. When Miley sings "we can't stop, and we won't stop", she's not just talking about the party. She's referring to her passionate resolve to "do her thang", or in other words, be just the person she is and was meant to be. It's about turning away from the haters and the judgers and the people who would dictate how you should live your life, that cause you to doubt yourself and feel ashamed of who you are. These are the people that spread so much hate and intolerance in the world - and Miley is offering the solution: believe in yourself, whoever you may be.

And the amazing thing is, that through all the hate and intolerance, some people are getting it - mostly young women like Miley herself. I went to see Miley Cyrus in concert last night, and the sheer volume of sexually confident (if just for a night) young women in attendance was truly inspiring. An uninitiated bystander might describe it as Teen SlutWalk: The Concert, but the truth was that this was an accepting space where women seemed to feel safe to express themselves sexually through fashion without fear of harassment (or worse), and where persons of alternative sexualities could feel welcome. How awesome - and what's more, how feminist - is that? It was a pleasantly transcendent experience for me, and it has amplified my respect and dedication to this woman, whom some may understandably revere as the Goddess incarnate. I'd go see her in concert again tonight if I had the opportunity, and I eagerly look forward to hearing about what she does next.

Friday, August 1, 2014

On Bias

I have been accused of being "biased" in some of the causes I advocate (even by my most supportive of fans, if in a loving sort of way). And my opinion has always been that a) everyone has biases, b) people are generally drawn to the issues that their life experience biases them towards, and c) there is nothing wrong with that.

Now, it's obvious that a person's biases can blind them to reality - and I think this is the fear at play when people accuse others of being biased (unless they're just trying to discredit someone because their views oppose their own biases, which is not uncommon).

And, as a result, I think it's important to - not so much examine the person's biases, but to examine the argument they're actually making and its legitimacy. Focusing instead on the bias, rather than the logical effect that bias may have on the argument, is a form of the ad hominem logical fallacy - attacking the person instead of their argument.

If the argument is invalid (perhaps inspired by the person's own biases), then that should be clear in the argument itself. If, on the other hand, the argument is a good one, then it shouldn't matter what the person's biases are. And, indeed, bias can be just as much a tool for righteous social change as it can for the propagation of bigotry.