Friday, June 26, 2015

Body Appeal (And Other Issues)

Is it narcissistic to photograph yourself instead of other models? Is modeling inherently narcissistic? I didn't believe I was beautiful until other people started telling me so, so it's not like I started out with an inflated sense of my own attractiveness. But over time, I've cultivated my beauty through hard work - via fashion, grooming, and fitness - like anyone whose career depends on their physical appearance might. I take self-portraits because I am introverted, and I have social anxiety, not because I think I'm the most beautiful creature to have ever graced the planet. And if a lot of people think I'm attractive, does it make me a bad person to acknowledge that - even take advantage of it - rather than insisting upon feigning a false sense of modesty? Am I not allowed to take even a reasonable amount of pride in my appearance? No, that's part of the truth about beauty, too.

(And while I understand how easy it is for attractive people to be unaware of their beauty, there's nothing more frustrating to me than a beautiful girl who won't even let you compliment her, because she doesn't believe that she's pretty. I appreciate girls who are confident about their looks, and not afraid to flaunt their assets. There's no greater crime than a beautiful figure being hidden under unflattering clothes).

Why do I photograph beauty? Because it moves me. It moves me and it thrills me. I suppose that when you photograph beautiful bodies, you're contending with a primal urge to copulate. I'm not saying that only a thin line separates the photographer and the model from rapacious intercourse - after all, if it were sex, and not beauty, that I was interested in, I guess I'd be a player or somesuch, instead of a photographer. But no, beauty is something that you see, and feel - but not necessarily touch. Some people might say, "what is the point of looking at beauty if you cannot take it?", but that has not been my experience of life. I see beauty all around me, practically every day, and the vast majority of it remains out of my reach. Yet, if I could just show the world what it is I see, how profound its effect on me is, that alone would be enough to satisfy me.

A lot of my photography is based around the concept of "aesthetic eroticism", which is a phrase I've gotten into the habit of using to describe the particular sort of aesthetic beauty that revolves around the human body, that therefore may involve an erotic component (as opposed to people getting turned on by pictures of beautiful sunsets). But what is eroticism? I find that eroticism is hard to define. It deals with sexual desire, but I don't think that it's as simple as that. It may be instinctively driven by the urge to copulate, but exactly what part, may I ask, of the appreciation of erotic art (not pornography) involves sexual intercourse?

Is there an overlap between sex and the beauty of the (especially unclothed) human body? When we admire Greek statues as skilled representations of the human physique, are we merely admiring the body as an amazing machine, or are we also recognizing its instinctual erotic appeal? I think it would be stunningly naive to suggest that the admiration of physically fit bodies has no erotic component, and yet these statues stand proudly in public museums all across the world, as a testament to the legitimacy of the experience of admiring them.

But like I've said, acknowledging the erotic component is leagues away from engaging in sexual intercourse (either with the statue, or just inspired by it). Certainly, some may react to the appreciation of a piece of art by engaging in sexually explicit activities (whether alone or with company), and that's fine as long as they're not doing it right there in the museum (unless it's a really progressive museum :p). But now we're talking about what people choose to do with the inspiration that art gives them, and not what the art itself involves. There will always be that one weirdo who feels the urge to touch himself when viewing the Mona Lisa, but we should not treat the Mona Lisa as if it were pornographic as a result.

So is it a legitimate practice to admire the human body, even in spite of its erotic component? When I say "legitimate", what I basically mean is that it does not require the special 'content filter' (in whatever form it may come in) that is usually placed over pornographic and sexually explicit material. "Legitimate" practices can be engaged in (or discussed) in 'polite' company, without restricting access (usually to children). Many people in modern society are of the opinion that nude bodies are not legitimate (by this definition), although nudism proves that belief to be arbitrary. And, besides, mainstream culture is infused with a certain baseline eroticism (what critics call the "pornification" of society and the media), even without the exposure of nude bodies.

So is the appreciation of the aesthetic eroticism of the human body a "legitimate" activity or not? And what about non-traditional bodies? If we acknowledge that the aesthetic appreciation of the human body may carry an erotic element, then is that necessarily true for any body? And should we restrict the kinds of bodies we can display as a result? If some people think it's distasteful to view older bodies with an erotic interest, does that mean we shouldn't depict those bodies out of deference to that view? Also, is there no legitimate reason to study or admire the bodies of children, therefore, on account of the possibility that somebody may exploit that opportunity for questionable reasons? (I happen to think the process of adolescence is nothing short of fascinating, and one of the ultimate secrets of the universe, but I am often made to feel like a criminal for having that view).

Even what eroticism may permeate our experiences as sexual creatures is not the same thing as sexual intercourse (however pervasive that activity may be). If there is an intrinsically erotic element to the unclothed human body, nudists once again prove that its expression in overtly sexual ways is not necessarily inevitable. Should we, then, treat it the same way? I ask these questions - and I'm concerned with their answers - because I do feel as though I am being "lumped in with the pornographers". And while some of my art is undoubtedly pornographic, most of it is not, and I put in a lot of effort above and beyond what any pornographer is willing to contribute to create beautiful works of art - that just happen to focus on the potentially erotic subject of the unclothed human body - and I feel like I deserve to be recognized for that.

I don't want to be seen just as a pornographer, but as a talented artist with an eye for beauty. And I want people to recognize that erotic beauty is not the same thing as sexual indulgence. It is purer, and prettier, and gentler, and altogether more moving on everything but a pure physical level. I want people to respect it as such, and I want people to trust me to apply my photographer's eye to other human subjects, confident that I will be able to find and bring out that same beauty I've found in myself, in others.

I feel like I'm stuck in a world where (almost) the entire population either cannot recognize beauty, or misinterprets it for sexuality. Never in my life have I denied the erotic element inherent in the beauty of people's bodies, but it just seems like so many people see the eroticism and stop there. I don't feel like I'm being taken seriously as a photographer of beauty - I'm just being taken advantage of by people who think I'm hot. And as long as the vast majority of people who respond to my work do so primarily on account of its erotic - and not aesthetic - appeal, I will be lumped into that category, and the people who may be able to appreciate my aesthetic eye, but don't care much for the erotic element, are going to look me over.

So far, I haven't cared much to appease the more prudish elements of society, but enough time has passed that I am beginning to crave wider recognition, and the sorts of opportunities that are not usually handed out to pornographers. I'm caught in a bit of a bind, because I don't in any way want to become conventional or mainstream - I think a large part of the value of my work comes from my unique and unyielding perspective. And nothing inspires me and inflames my passion more than taking pictures of beautiful bodies. But at the same time, I want to be taken seriously by people who maybe aren't ready to hear everything I have to say about the philosophy of art and human sexuality. And so I'm not really sure what to do...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Hypocrisy of Chastity

I don't understand why people get so upset about the visceral reaction humans are programmed to have to other humans' bodies. It's like, our sole purpose as living organisms is to procreate, and towards that end, nature has given us "physical desires" - and we've even used our intelligence to enable us to extract the pleasure from sex without getting tangled up in the complicated process and extended responsibilities of procreation.

But still, people in "polite" society insist on believing that if you acknowledge or indulge in these physical desires, then you're sub-human. I doubt that the Christian church is solely responsible, but their emphasis on the divinity of celibacy doesn't help. So we all go through life more and less (mostly less) successfully pretending that we're not moved by one of the greatest pleasures of our mortal existence - the pleasure of the flesh - when we all know in our hearts that we're just miserable hypocrites.

I feel like I just want to scream at people, "get real!" Life is short, and I don't have time to deal with society's institution of face-saving lies.

"Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."
 - Bob Dylan (from All Along The Watchtower)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Straight Dope on Prostitution

(Apologies for the paragraph-long sentence, but I've always been a sucker for a well-constructed run-on). :p

Can we just acknowledge that:

1) prostitution may not be the most glamorous job in the world, and it's probably not anybody's first choice for a career, but that doesn't change the fact that people can consciously (and sanely) choose to engage in it, and still maintain a personal sense of dignity, and even take pride in their vocation; and

2) if we want to help prostitutes, it's better to improve the conditions of prostitution (starting with not automatically making anyone who engages in it a criminal, thereby giving them no recourse to the law) than it is to forcibly take away their livelihood (either by "rescuing" prostitutes from their jobs, or by stigmatizing and even imprisoning their clients, who are only expressing a basic human need); and

3) if we want less people involved in prostitution, then we need to confront the issues that lead people to resort to prostitution to make a living in the first place (chief among them most likely being poverty, drug addiction, and poor education), instead of obsessing over the sensationalized narrative of "human trafficking" (a.k.a. so-called sex slavery), and focusing on abolition, which targets the symptom - out of a misguided sense of moral obligation (sacrificing civil liberty in the process) - rather than the disease.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Outfit of the Day (#ootd)

Did I mention that this pink mini-dress (actually a pool coverup, I think) is one of my favorite summer outfits? It doesn't do the best job of hiding my masculine features (it tends to emphasize my broad shoulders and flat chest, although it's pretty good at obscuring my bulge), but sometimes you wear things just because you like them, not because they help you conform to society's expectations of how you should look. And this little slip-on is not only cute, but skimpy (the short skirt emphasizes my legs, which are one of my best features), and easy to put on (or pull off) - yet the strings that tie around the neck help to keep it in place.

This picture also demonstrates that, in light of my recent discussion of being bigendered, even when I'm shopping at a sporting goods store - which, not to gender stereotype, as women are just as interested in physical fitness as men, albeit sometimes in different forms, but being surrounded by sporting equipment and hunting and fishing and camping gear feels very male-centric (especially compared to the environment in, say, a department store) - I still like to look cute and girly and feminine. I've also noticed that this is the only kind of store I've come across that sells men's Speedos, though unfortunately in very limited varieties.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Fitness - it does a body good!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Contemplating a Nudist-Friendly World

I suppose that a true nudist utopia would be a world (or at least a society) in which everyone is a nudist. Perhaps this would work in microcosm - like within the context of an enclosed nudist resort, but maybe extended to the level of a whole, functioning city (why do we not already have one of these?). And that would be nice. But it's a little much to expect the whole world to get on board with the nudist philosophy, especially if, like me, you believe in the virtue of diversity (as a direct consequence of liberty; i.e., the freedom of choice). As such, I would be perfectly content to settle for a world that simply tolerates the practices of those who do choose to go nude (responsibly, in reasonable contexts).

Which is to say that this society would not consist of everybody being nude all of the time. Not even nudists at nudist resorts are nude all of the time. If you don't want to be nude in public, then by all means, wear clothes. And those who are nude would still have to follow the basic rules of etiquette that are already hard-coded into the nudist experience. Particularly, this would mean no sexual shenanigans, and carrying a towel when necessary, to use when sitting down - especially on public chairs and benches, and the like.

Also, nudity wouldn't necessarily be allowed just anywhere. Already in this society, we have a population that is capable of differentiating those contexts in which shirts and shoes are required, and those in which they are not. You have to be fully dressed when you go into a store or a restaurant, but nobody bats an eyelash at all the exposed skin at the local pool or beach. While it would be nice to have stores and restaurants that cater to a nudist demographic (and why not?), they don't all have to be, and I would be satisfied simply with a reasonable compromise - for example, clothing optional pools, but clothing-required grocery stores. (By the way, there's no reason there couldn't be sanitation requirements that dictate that all workers, even in nudist-friendly stores or, especially, restaurants, be clothed while on duty - this is not uncommonly the case at snack bars even at nudist resorts).

So, you see, it doesn't have to be a nudist free-for-all, just an elimination of the grand nudity taboo. It's no big deal if somebody takes the garbage out in their boxer shorts, so why do we make such a big fuss if somebody walks out to grab their morning paper in the buff? Doesn't it make perfect sense for somebody to gather up their dirty clothes, take them to the laundromat, and get them washed without wearing anything (except maybe a pair of flip flops, and a purse for their change)? A person shouldn't be required to wear a legally-mandated minimum of clothing for doing yard work on his own property, regardless of who might be able to see him from the street. And if somebody wants to go jogging at a local park on a hot, summer day, and doesn't like wearing sweaty clothes, they should be allowed to!


Textiles have a lot of anxieties about what goes on within the boundaries of nudist resorts. But the existence of those resorts proves that nudists have it figured out. (And also that nudists aren't stupid - they'll wear clothes when it makes sense to, like when it's cold). Getting past all the logistical non-issues that we've brushed on above, a more legitimate concern about transitioning to a nudist-friendly society would be how the rest of the population (the non-nudists, that is) deal with the nudity.

As I've already mentioned, we would have to first get past the nudity taboo for this to ever work. Nudists prove that this is a fully surmountable obstacle - surround yourself with naked bodies, and you become desensitized to them. But that doesn't mean that this is an obstacle everybody wants to overcome. The majority of the population is probably perfectly comfortable not being desensitized to seeing ugly, naked bodies (not because naked bodies are inherently ugly, but because some of them are inevitably going to be). Is it fair to force them to acclimatize themselves? The answer to this question hinges on which you think is more important - the freedom of a person to choose how to dress, or the "right" of a person not to be exposed to certain sights, even in public.

Uncomfortable though it may be for some, I think any honest reading of the consequences of liberty would favor the former over the latter. As much as some people may be disgusted by public exposure to, for example, things like homosexuality, country music, or urban fashion, that's just a consequence of letting individuals choose how to live their own lives. The public space is a shared space for everyone to use, not a space where the dominant majority gets to dictate how everyone else will behave, forcing minorities to keep their "abnormalities" hidden behind tall fences, shuttered windows, and closed doors.

If enough of the population wants to be free from the sight of public nudity, they're welcome to try to band together and create isolated textile-only communities (and if you think that's backwards, do you think homophobia should be the default just because gay people are a minority, or do you believe that citizens of a free country have a responsibility to tolerate the proportion of their population that is gay?), but laws and restrictions against a person's freedom to choose how to dress (or not dress) in public spaces should not be tolerated in this free country.


That having been decided, the remaining problem is the behavior of non-nudists confronted with the public exposure of people's bodies. One of the advantages of isolated nudist resorts is that they can control who gets to be there, which means they can weed out the people who can't behave or don't fit in, and all that's left are the friendly nudists. Like spreading Shaolin Kung Fu to the masses, the blanket freedom to be nude in public would be like opening the gates and letting just anyone stroll through.

Certainly, isolated communities could continue to exist even in the wake of decriminalized public nudity - so that those nudists who prefer not to be "gawked at", and don't want to have their pictures taken while nude, can limit their nude recreation to these semi-private places, like they do already. Meanwhile, the rest of us can enjoy some additional freedom to live our lives the way we want to. Plus, the erosion of the nudity taboo would drastically minimize (if not completely eliminate) the problem of naked pictures of you getting out, and would hopefully temper people's reactions to seeing naked bodies (if they're all over the place), similarly to the way it already happens to nudists in nudist resorts right now.

What's left? The people who aren't willing to play nice, and aren't satisfied with just snapping a picture from afar. We have enough problems in society today with people criticizing rape victims for wearing too little - what happens when creeps start harrassing nudists? I don't take that to be an argument against public nudity (just as I don't take it to be an argument against wearing miniskirts), but it is something to consider. We can hope, in an idealistic sort of way, that exposing the population to nudity would temper their behavior like it does with nudists, but the reality is probably that there will still be wild cards out there. And if anything, that's the one thing that might legitimately keep public nudity off the books.

A related issue would be people taking advantage of the freedom to be nude in order to more readily engage in sexual activities. As I've said, nudist resorts can exercise some control over what goes on inside their fences, but we obviously can't force the entire population to constantly be on their best behaviors. It would still be on the police to enforce rules against things like public indecency (re-written to include "simple nudity" as an explicitly allowed exception), but we all know that the existence of rules (and the threat of punishment) doesn't preclude people from breaking them.

Obviously (judging from my stance on this issue), I don't think it would necessarily be a bad thing if people were more open about sex in public, but that's a different hypothetical than the one we're talking about here. Still, even if public sex acts remain illegal - which would go a long way in discouraging them, if not quite eliminating them - I honestly don't think that seeing a rogue stiffy here or there is going to traumatize anyone, especially in a society where nudity itself is no longer taboo.

Liberty & Justice

To pursue a relevant tangent, I once read about a case where it was reported that masturbation was prohibited in prison, and I felt that that was kind of inhumane. But the rationale for that rule was as follows: if any prisoner used masturbation to intimidate or offend one of the [female] guards, it would be a simple, cut-and-dry matter to punish the prisoner, by only needing to prove that they were masturbating, rather than the subtler claim that the masturbation was being used to intimidate or offend. It shifts the burden of proof in order to favor the victim; but I'm wary of this practice, especially when it involves potential civil rights violations like restricting a person's freedom to masturbate (the restriction of which, barring in specific temporary contexts - like during a polite dinner party - should never be tolerated in a humane society, even among prisoners).

In reality, the rule is (allegedly) not widely enforced in contexts other than the one it was written for, but the fact remains that the law is written in an overly broad fashion, which opens the door wide open to abuses of authority. Just because the restriction against mere masturbation is not usually enforced, doesn't change the fact that masturbation is technically not allowed, and that whenever anyone does it, they are in breach of the rules, and subject to the whim of a guard who may (possibly unfairly) interpret it in such a way as to choose to enforce the infraction. I don't believe that's the way rules should be used.

When everybody is a criminal for engaging in normal, everyday behaviors, then those who are in authority are free to use their personal judgment in determining who among the entire population gets to be punished - and that judgment can be influenced by prejudices, or prejudiced superiors, or simple selfishness or cruelty. I feel sorry for victims of intimidation and such, but their plight does not justify a violation of the very principle of civil liberty and the right to a fair trial. (The issue of whether convicted prisoners deserve to have human rights is a separate one; I believe they do, but as this situation can be extrapolated to non-prisoner-related cases, I feel it is a moot point).

Anyway, I see the same kind of thing being tied in with the nudity taboo. Yeah, a lot of people are uncomfortable with nudity alone, but I feel like a lot of it is simply to shift the burden of proof. If somebody is committing public acts of lewdness, it is a lot easier to prove that they had exposed themselves than that they were doing anything specific while exposed, or for any specific (subjectively interpreted) motivation. Opening the door for the allowance of public nudity means that a person can whip their cock out at any given time (provided they're in a clothing optional zone), and for any given reason, and it would be tough to prove that they were doing anything wrong.

Still, as above, I don't think this is a justification for writing overly broad rules that restrict people's basic liberties (in this case, the liberty to be nude in public). And, as I've said, nudist resorts do a pretty good job of weeding out the creeps, so why can't law enforcement simply learn from them to tell the difference between somebody who is exercising their freedom to be nude versus somebody who is making a nuisance of themselves in a sexual manner? I think the world would be a better - not worse - place if that were to happen, and if we all, meanwhile, became more tolerant of seeing people's unclothed bodies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Male? Female? (It's Complicated)

Not that this is anything new or surprising, but this gender identity business is confusing. It's amazing to think that for most of the population it is so cut-and-dry. But it just doesn't feel right to call myself male, and there are complications in calling myself female also. Every time I think I'm starting to figure myself out, I realize something I've overlooked, and it just gets confusing again.

I generally consider myself to exist somewhere under the broad umbrella of "transgender", but I've never really felt like I identify with the transgender experience, which seems to revolve around this process of transition. It seems tied to the gender binary - you're born one way, and eventually become the other - and places too much emphasis on the need for one's body (i.e., physical sex) to match one's mind (i.e., gender). My belief is, why can't a female inhabit a man's body?

So sometimes I feel like I can relate more to so-called "cross-dressers" - who don't take hormones or seek surgery, but just simply like dressing and behaving like the opposite sex. Except I don't think that does justice to the depth and sincerity of my identification with the female gender. My interest in being female is certainly more than a sexual fetish, and it's not just a costume I put on during the weekends.

Lately I've started warming up to the term "bigender", since it seems to encapsulate the simultaneous (or adjacent) masculine and feminine qualities I have, without feeling the need to force every part of me to conform to either one or the other. But then I realized that maybe I just like calling myself bigender because it makes me feel more comfortable about taking advantage of the male privilege to walk around in public without a shirt on.

In truth, I'm still not dressed as a guy when I do this - the shorts I wear were bought in the women's department, after all. And it's not like when I dress like that, I feel like I'm male. My underwear drawer is split between men's and women's underwear, but not because there are some days I feel like being male and other days I feel like being female. Everyday I want to be female. The only reason I have (and wear) men's underwear is because my body is male, and women's underwear isn't always up to the task of supporting my anatomy.

The topless thing involves a similar situation. I could jog those trails in a sports bra, like I've been thinking of doing, but the truth is, I don't have the breasts women have that warrant them wearing sports bras. I also don't have the breasts that make exposing them a scandalous affair like I would be if I were physically female. I like to wear as little as possible, but that's not strictly why I go topless - if I were that dedicated to dressing female, I'd wear skimpy bikinis to the pool; but again, my body won't allow it.

So it really all boils down to that dichotomy between my physical sex and my mental gender. Maybe I'm not really bigender at all. I'm just female-gendered in a male body. But what sets me apart from your [stereo-]typical transgender person is that instead of wanting to make my physical sex match my gender, I'm more or less comfortable the way I am. The goal of the typical transgender individual is to stop being transgender - i.e., to become cis-gender (but the opposite one they were assigned at birth). But I'm more or less proud of my transgender status, and I have no strong desire to change it. Which, I think, is probably even harder for the mainstream to understand than someone who was one sex/gender and decided to become the other.

So if homosexuals make up a minority of the population, and transgender individuals are an even smaller minority, then I'm an even smaller minority of that transgender minority. Unless there are a lot of other people out there like me (to various degrees - and I suspect that there are), who simply haven't figured out that this is where they stand. But I guess that means that I'll go on being a confusing mix of male and female, at least until the rest of society learns that physical sex and mental gender aren't the same thing (and don't necessarily have to be forced to match in all cases).

And in the meantime, I'll do my best to navigate the pitfalls of a cis-gender binary world, which is frequently not easy to do - for example, I'm still not sure which bathroom I should use, since some people insist that your sex (i.e., your plumbing) should be the determining factor, whereas others allow for you to congregate with the gender you identify with. I'm still not completely comfortable in either one, though.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Feminist Fallout

Feminism is great - if you're a woman.

Some people would even go so far as to say that it's great only if you're a white, cis-female.

Without a doubt, feminism is a positive social movement. But, like everything else, it is not perfect. Its effects on society have inevitably been mixed - if much of those effects have been positive, it would be insincere not to admit that it may also have had some negative effects as well. Examining those negative effects isn't a strategy for undermining feminism, but rather an honest approach towards improving it. Ignoring them, on the other hand, and silencing discussion about them as anti-feminist rhetoric, is not helpful.

The fundamental problem with feminism, as I see it, is that even if women make up about 50% of the population, it's still too exclusive. And as great as it is to be all saintly and willing to self-sacrifice for the good of others, this is not basic human nature. Surely, feminism aims to improve society - ideally, for both women and men. But what does a man have to gain from a movement that, according to some members (not all - probably not even most - but enough to be heard), has no room for the male perspective, and is not concerned with men's issues? How can any equality movement succeed without input from both sides of the scale?

It's true that feminism can accomplish much on its own - and it has - but in the end, the goal should be a total integration of viewpoints. Sexism will not have been eliminated when men live subordinate to women, on account of centuries of male domination enacted by someone else in a different time - it will just have been flipped around. And maybe that sounds fair if you're lucky to be the one that the zeitgeist favors during the particular period of history in which you happen to be living, but that's not equality - and how does it make you any better than the men who oppressed women when men oppressing women was in vogue?

Consider that, unlike in the 1970s, a significant proportion of the population has lived their entire lives during the period in which feminism has been a serious social movement. Many men have been raised by women into a world where they view feminism as the default, and the only civilized approach toward women's issues. I'm not suggesting that feminism's work is done, but its central focus is railing against a patriarchal society that much of today's young adult male population isn't actually responsible for. The sins of the father should not be visited upon his sons.

I don't mean to impugn feminism's reputation (it does a good enough job of that on its own, which is another one of its problems), but I'm concerned about some of the fallout from its less positive effects on society, especially in the hands of a - perhaps small, but still very powerful - anti-male, sex-negative contingent. I'm sensitive to the pressure women feel out on public streets, and the importance of creating comfortable, non-aggressive, harassment-free spaces - after all, as a transgender individual, I've been the target of both catcalling and gay-bashing. But at the same time, I've felt the impact of a social movement that seeks to make me feel ashamed of the way I relate to females, all on account of a sexual desire that I do not perceive to be either damaging or degrading.

Double Standards

With all this talk of objectification, there aren't enough examples of positive ways that a man can express appreciation for a female's sexual characteristics. "Keep it to yourself" is an approach that doesn't properly give weight to the male perspective, and the enormous biological impetus men have to respond to female sexual cues - which, by the way, helps to ensure the continued survival of the human race. That said, though instinctual, I don't believe unrestrained catcalling is any kind of a solution - the solution should be a compromise, arrived at after respectful discussion between the sexes, and not as a result of an unresolved shouting match.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Me And My Banana

This is another series inspired by the rules against pornography on deviantART. As much as I hate to be limited in the ways in which I can express myself through art and photography, I like to try to make the best of a bad situation. Ever since my early days working with a crappy point-and-shoot camera, I've made a habit of turning my limitations into creative challenges.

As early as the moment I switched over from flickr to deviantART, I had it in mind that the silver lining to the cloud of not being able to post "sexually explicit" images (which includes depictions of erections) could be the inspiration to make implied nude and sexually suggestive images that perhaps would be more accessible to wider audiences (and presentable in a wider variety of situations and contexts) than most of my art.

So here you have pictures like I've done in the past (such as this, this, and this), except that instead of being explicit and featuring an engorged penis, it is merely suggestive (and also adds a novel element of humor, that could serve to lighten the mood of what is usually a serious subject). I used Photoshop to selectively color the images, but otherwise they are all real - I really did pose with the banana as you see in these images, and then I made a smoothie of it afterwards. ^_^

With borderline images like these ones, you always run the risk of somebody getting offended and reporting it, and some staff member taking a liberal interpretation of the rules. Of course, any interpretation of the rules is going to be subjective, but my reading is that an image like these ones should - while provocative, and pushing the boundaries - be allowed. That remains to be seen, however.

Some people would say it's in bad taste to push the boundaries like this, but I think it's important for art at times to challenge viewers. I believe art that provokes doesn't get enough respect, but I guess that's not surprising, given that "to provoke" means to rile up, and people generally don't like that. Maybe it's the rebellious spirit of rock and roll that runs through my veins, but I think transgression is a virtue unto itself. What could be better than offending the conservative sensibilities of the bourgeois who seek to control the limits of how you're allowed to express yourself, and determine what can properly be considered art?

If you don't like art that provokes, that means you're part of the Establishment, and I've always been anti-Establishment. Are you so satisfied with the way things are, that you can't stand to have anyone rock the boat? Well not me. I support freedom and diversity, and that means being exposed to things that might challenge you and your expectations and your beliefs about people and the world we live in. You might not like nude art or depictions of human sexuality, but you may as well grow a pair, because it's going to be out there, and you might just encounter it every now and then - even in places you might not be expecting it.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Swimsuit Sexism

A special U.S. Flag Day post!

During the summer, women are permitted (expected, even) to don skimpy bikinis and prance around the local watering hole in front of leering men. Our society doesn't make it hard - in fact, I imagine a lot of women resent the pressure they feel to participate in this little preening ritual. (Personally, I think it sounds hot). Still, there are alternatives if a woman wants to wear something a little more conservative. Men, however, are restricted to the conservative option, and don't have the same freedom of choice.

As far as a man's choices go, stores in this country rarely stock alternatives to the utterly ridiculous "board short" style - which feels a lot like wrapping a picnic blanket around your waist to go swimming (the one I'm wearing in this picture contains more fabric than some full dresses I own and wear, and it was a size small!). And pools and water parks sometimes even ban Speedos, in an act of clear sexual discrimination (since bikinis are unanimously kosher). Ask the average American what they think of this Olympic-approved swimsuit, and you will likely get a reaction of fear, disgust, or humor.

What's scary, disgusting, or funny about men's bodies? If it's true that we place less importance on average men being physically attractive, it's our own fault - and how is that fair, considering all the pressure we place on women to look attractive? Still, if a man takes care of himself - even works out - he should have the choice of showing off his body like women do. Or is it our culturally-ingrained homophobia (which ignores the preferences of women) that makes us uncomfortable looking at men's bodies, because secretly we might think that maybe they're a little bit - kind of - sort of hot?

Or is it the nudity taboo? Too tight a swimsuit on a man could reveal the outline of a penis, and we're all much too immature to endure such a horrible - or hilarious - sight. And yet, again, women are prancing around with very nearly their whole bodies on display, because the [straight] male gaze of the patriarchy demands it. Well I demand equality - in the form of more sexual objectification of men, and equal opportunities for male exhibitionists. If ever there was a feminist issue I could get behind, it's this: the U.S. needs to bring back Speedos.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Outfit of the Day (#ootd)

This is the skimpier alternative to my go-to athletic shorts (seen here, here, and here). I tend to wear them more often when I'm going out into the woods and am expecting more privacy, since a significant percentage of "civilization" apparently isn't mature enough to handle a man (or hell, even a woman) in such skimpy shorts (although I do push the boundaries a lot, especially with my swimsuits). They're pretty light, and cool, and show off a lot (especially in the back), so I typically wear them with a thong (for better and worse).

Honestly - and this isn't simply to pump myself up - I feel like the world isn't ready for the challenge of my unconventional erotic beauty. People get one look at me, and their brains short-circuit, because they simply don't know what to do with the visual information they're receiving. I see it in their eyes every time. It's like I'm an alien from another planet, but that's just the way I am. I don't do it for the attention - the attention actually makes me uncomfortable. But I do it because it feels right. It feels like this is who I'm supposed to be.

"Be yourself; everybody else is taken."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Try This On For Size (Swimsuit Edition)

It's back to the fitting room! I love trying on swimsuits. They look so hot on my body, and seeing me in them makes me feel super sexy. It really kills me that I can't realistically wear them anywhere (because they pretty much broadcast the fact that I have a male body, and most of them don't do an adequate job of covering my package from all angles). If I were a girl, I'd be a total knockout...

But first I tried on this flowery, white dress. I thought it looked pretty on me, but it was one of the more expensive ones, so I didn't buy it.

I also decided to try on some full, one-piece swimsuits. This turquoise number looked fantastic on me! It's a little plain from the back, but the front is so cute, and the color is just perfect on me! I was able to get a reasonable price on it, so I bought it, even though it's a tad too short on me - it tends to slip down at the top, and when I pull it up, there's a lot of pressure on the one point where there's the least fabric and I need the most coverage - my crotch. So, maybe not realistic for me to wear, but totally worth it even if just as a[nother] photo prop to add to my wardrobe.

I was surprised to find some one-piece Speedo swimsuits on the racks for once (not men's Speedos, mind you). I wanted to try some of them on, so I picked out a few in interesting designs and colors. But even the biggest size they had was clearly too small on me (as you can see in the above picture), so I unfortunately had to put them aside... :-(

These pink bottoms looked cute on me. If I were a girl, I'd have no complaints, and I'd definitely wear them if I had a top to go with them. But they come up a little low on me - a frequent problem I have with these otherwise sexy low-cut bottoms is that my package tends to tug them down in the front, sometimes leaving a gap. Great for fetish balls, maybe; not so much for family swimming pools. They're also slightly sheer (I wonder what they'd look like wet!). Again, if I were a girl, I'd totally wear them (I've seen girls get away with wearing things like this before), but for me, they don't quite meet the bare minimum requirements for adequate coverage.

I fell in love with this bikini the instant I spotted it on the racks. It's of a very unique construction. A lot of bikinis are very samey - not so much in designs and colors, of which there is a lot of variation, but they tend to conform to certain standard forms: string bikinis, solid bottoms, bandeau tops, etc. These bottoms consist of a front-back piece (sort of a "hammock") attached to a string that goes around the sides (not unlike an adjustable string bikini top), and can be tied off. As such, they have much less coverage around the sides than typical bikinis - even the string variety. I like the style a lot. It's more akin to one of those "pouch" bikinis that fetish shops make for men (though they unfortunately don't make them in styles as cute and girly as this one), with maximum thigh exposure - it's very sexy.

And, as you can see in these pictures, there's less coverage in the back, too. It's not quite a thong, but it does have a tendency to ride up your butt a little, and there's much more cheek being exposed than usual regardless. I love it! Plus, it's made of a very soft and comfy material. And did I mention how cute the design is? Cute, and sexy - just my style! Practically speaking, the bottoms don't keep me contained very well (which is to be expected), but the top fits me nicely, and the cups are good and rounded, which goes a long way in giving me the appearance of breasts. I think I could definitely wear it with some shorts. Either way, it's so much fun to wear, I definitely bought it.

This bikini just looked adorable on me. The narrow black-and-white stripes are very stylish, but the frilly fringe is cute and girly, and a beautiful shade of coral. This is another one of those suits that I'd wear if I were a girl. But it has the typical problem of the bottoms being stretched too much to cover me up. It was also one of the more expensive ones, so I had to pass it up.

Do you remember that Tinkerbell-colored dress I mentioned in my last edition of Try This On For Size? Well, it was still hanging on the rack, looking all pretty, so I decided I'd try it on just for the hell of it. It's a little longer than I'd like, but it's very elegant, and the skirt comes up in one spot to show off at least a little bit of my leg. You can tell in the second picture that the back is all out of sorts, on account of the zipper being completely busted. My roommate, who is an occasional seamstress, said she could try to find a way to put it back together. The dress is in pretty rough shape - it's definitely a fixer-upper - but it was only $3, so I bought it.

I wouldn't want to wear something as rough as this to an actual formal occasion, but I personally don't mind if it's stained and worn out - it still looks pretty. I just wish I had some excuse to wear something like this. It just seems a waste to wear it for no reason at all, like if all you're doing is driving to the store and back; and it would be impractical to wear on occasions where you're going to be active. If I had more like-minded friends, I think I'd definitely like to get into the habit of periodically throwing dress-up parties, just for fun, with no pressure to look perfect...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Outfit of the Day (2 for 1)

In a recent post, I mentioned my ability to switch genders from one day to the next, but it's entirely possible for me to switch genders even within a single day! I got a kick out of doing just that the other day. I pulled out my padded bra for a photoshoot (you can see the satisfying result in this post), in order to make the female clone more convincing, and my roommate commented on it positively, so I decided to wear it to go grocery shopping with her that day. I was in full girl mode.

But then, later in the day, I went for a walk in the park, because we were having beautiful summer-like weather. And, as I've gotten into the habit of doing lately, I dressed in my jogging shorts, without a shirt. In fairness, I can't say that I was in full guy mode, as I was still wearing women's shorts (with pink highlights), and carrying a sparkly drawstring bag (the kind you might expect a tween girl to carry - yeah, I have really girly tastes). Plus, there was no hiding my long hair. But you'd think the whole shirtless thing would give away pretty quickly the fact that I'm a guy.

You'd think. But then, I've even had people at nudist resorts look twice when stepping into the men's room, or - imagine this sight - catching me at the urinal. Apparently, not even exposing (or using!) my penis is enough to discourage people from reading me as female. I'd been increasingly getting the impression that gender was simply a costume you put on (hair, clothes, and body grooming go a long way), but then there seems to be something naturally feminine about me, because I've had this problem since I was a kid, long before I ever started presenting as a female.

At any rate, while I was walking past a family on the trail in my shirtless splendor, a little girl glanced at me and asked her daddy, "why does that girl have no shirt on?" I could only shake my head and keep walking. I should be flattered (although it's undeniably an uncomfortable situation to be placed in), but it seems I can't win either way. Frequently when I'm at the park watching a friend's kids, and I'm dressed up like a girl, I have other kids asking me why I'm wearing girl clothes (though to be fair, it's usually some combination of my voice, or somebody calling my name, that gives me away). I guess I can't convincingly pull off male or female! I suppose the truth is that I'm something in between...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On The Border Between Nudism and Exhibitionism

I must confess that I get a little nervous every time I label one of my posts with both "nudism" and "exhibitionism". Obviously, these are both topics that are close to my heart, and that I have a lot to say about here on this blog. Nudists hate it when the two are lumped together - but it wouldn't be such an issue if they weren't so tangled up in the first place.

Itching to participate in nude recreation?
Or getting a thrill from being exposed outdoors?
Who can tell?

Nudism and exhibitionism are not the same thing - I try to make that very clear, because it's important that nudism steer clear of exhibitionism, otherwise the latter would erode much that is good about the former. I don't like to dwell on that fact too much, like a lot of nudists do, because I don't want to give the impression that there's anything wrong with exhibitionism.

Having a sexually liberated social environment is perfectly fine, and probably a lot of fun in the right context. It's like nudism, except everybody's having sex! But why should nudism be the same thing? Nudism is great because there is no sexual pressure - it's completely relaxed, and family friendly. Add sex to that, and you're going to ruin it.

That having been said, nudists are capable of participating in exhibitionism, and exhibitionists are capable of participating in nudism. And there are some grey areas where they might overlap to some extent - as long as you can behave yourself, I don't see it as a problem. If there wasn't a mild exhibitionist streak underlying nudism (not the stick-my-penis-in-your-face kind, but the "I'm free and exposed, and it's such a thrill!" kind), it would dull a lot of the fun and excitement of nudism.

Now, there are limited contexts in which I can engage in exhibitionism (without getting myself into trouble, which I'm not interested in doing). The main way is through my photography - where I can expose myself in a safe environment (either at home, or in public situations where I have a limited or brief expectation of privacy), and then reap the benefits of sharing that experience with strangers over the internet.

Similarly, there are limited contexts in which I can engage in nudism - and, given the blanket taboo on nudity in public, they are pretty much the same as that for exhibitionism. The one obvious exception is at nudist resorts, which embrace nudism but shun exhibitionism. When I'm there, I put the exhibitionism on low. But you (unfortunately) don't get to see what goes on there anyway, because cameras are unilaterally banned, in my experience. (There are some who consider the simple act of taking pictures of nudism to be a form of exhibitionism - and an exploitative one at that).

Everywhere else (i.e., outside of nudist resorts) where I might consider the possibility of stripping nude (which are also the places I might consider taking pictures of myself), there is no blanket restriction on taking it further and getting naughty. And because I am not a prude - in fact, I am a sex-positive pervert who thinks human sexuality is a natural and beautiful and healthy and positive aspect of life - I think little or nothing about taking that next step and crossing what nudists might call "the line".

Now, if I'm at home or whatever, whether I take nudist-friendly shots or pornographic shots depends largely on my mood, and what I have planned for the shoot. If I'm elsewhere, taking advantage of a rare opportunity - like in a fitting room (okay, maybe not so rare), or out in the woods or something - I might think to myself, "this is a great opportunity to get some nudist shots!" And then, without skipping a beat, I might think, "this is also a great opportunity to get some pornographic shots!"

Which one I decide on again depends to some extent on my mood, and the details of the situation (e.g., how much time and privacy I have). Often times, it'll be convenient just to strip nude, but I won't have an opportunity to engage in any sort of sexual stimulation. But if I can, I'll definitely try to go for both, because why not? Why would I limit myself by saying, "oh, this is a nudist-only situation," or, "okay, pornographic shots, but no simple nudes" - why?

I don't draw that thick of a line between them in my mind, when I'm alone (or with like company), and not concerned with the public image of a whole social movement. I can alter my behavior depending on the company I'm surrounded by - which is to say that I know how to behave when I'm at a nudist resort. But in my ideal world, people would have the same attitude towards sex that I do, and they would therefore be able to engage in public sex acts without making other people uncomfortable.

This would be possible because everyone would be comfortable with sex, and everyone would be polite and refrain from exerting undue pressure or unwanted attention on others, in spite of the liberated atmosphere. Obviously, in the real world, not everyone is like this - a lot of people find sex to be distasteful, and too many of those who don't, have trouble respecting other people's boundaries.

That's partly why I'm an exhibitionist, but I still support nudism (which from the perspective of my personal philosophy, could be considered to be conservative). But in my own mind, the freedom to be nude outdoors and in front of other people is not that different from the freedom to be sexual outdoors and in front of other people.

The naked truth about our bodies involves their exposure and what they look like, but it also involves what we do with them - and the fact that we are first and foremost, sexual organisms, for whom the sexual repression of society is an unnatural and unhealthy influence. That repression has a practical effect - to reign in the instinctual impulses of those who can't control themselves - but a true utopia is not a sexless world, or even a publicly sexless world; it is, rather, a world where everyone can be open about sex and still be polite and behave themselves, like civilized people.

In the meantime, I will continue to balance my desire for a social revolution with a healthy concern for my own safety and liberty. But in my own mind, and in my own private life, I will continue to be the change I wish to see in the world. And if that means I go out into the woods, and I come back with a nudist-friendly story about the freedom of being naked in nature, along with some hot pictures of me exposed and playing with myself while surrounded by green trees, then so be it. I live in a world where nudism and exhibitionism are still not the same thing, but where they can exist side-by-side in peace, with an open border between them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Legs 'n' Feet

"She's got long legs, and little bitty feet"

Don't be ashamed if you like certain parts of the body that aren't typically associated with sex. Part of the truth about beauty is owning up to the things that turn you on. I've always been a leg man, myself (tip: in addition to the popular summer trend of wearing short shorts and flip flops, gymnastics is pretty awesome, too). Not that I don't appreciate some good old-fashioned T&A (although I'm a proud supporter of the Itty Bitty Titty Comittee), but long legs (and long hair) have always been the first things to draw my eye towards a girl.

Legs are relatively accepted as a point of attraction, however. Feet, on the other hand, still have some stigma attached to them, despite being one of the most popular fetishes. I'll admit that I've spent much of my life thinking that feet were just gross, but there's a big difference between ugly feet on someone you're not attracted to, and well-groomed feet on somebody you think is just gorgeous. Or perhaps it's an acquired taste.

I still think that the porn industry (and, by extension, the audience that consumes it) goes too far. Footjobs are sexy, but I really don't want to bury my face in high resolution closeups of people's feet (much less lick them, unless I'm on a humiliation kick). Correspondingly, I think long hair is beautiful, but I really have no desire to jizz all over it. But then, I'm more into softcore eroticism, and I'm really not a true partialist.

Even when I like parts of a person's body, or things that are associated with the type of people I'm attracted to, it's still the whole gestalt of the person that turns me on, more than the individual parts. That's why I like pictures of girls who are bare-legged and barefooted more than I like closeups of their legs and feet. Similarly, I like the cute and sexy clothes that girls wear, but if they were to take them off, I'd be more interested in the girl than the pile of clothes on the floor. (Okay, maybe that was a loaded scenario :p).

Still, I'm an equal opportunity pervert, and I like to do what I can to make people feel more comfortable with their various fetishes and turn-ons (or whatever you want to call them). Liking "weird" things is actually not all that uncommon. We just all like different weird things, and it's hard for us to understand the weird things that others like, so we all tend to keep it to ourselves, for fear of judgment, and end up thinking we're the only ones who like things that are weird.

But I'm not in the business of shaming people for liking things that are weird or unusual, because that's not sex-positive, and it goes against the very concept of being truthful about beauty. So as long as your fetish doesn't involve hurting people (against their consent) - or even if it does, as long as you stick to fantasy and roleplay - relax, and indulge your fetish. A person's character is defined by how they behave toward themselves and others, not by what turns them on.

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Super Hot"

My gender identity is somewhat at odds with my sexual orientation. If I were attracted to men, then I would have some incentive to transition and become a woman full-time. As it is, I'm attracted to women, and although my penis frequently gets in the way of me presenting as female, I kind of like the idea of using it to bring women pleasure.

It's a matter of statistics. The majority of the female population is attracted to men. A minority is attracted to women, and probably even less than that is attracted to a man who likes the idea of being a woman. I still get attention from women when I'm presenting as one, but I feel like it often involves checking out my clothes, or evaluating me as a rival for the attention of men (of which I get more than enough).

When I do get "clocked" as a man crossdressing as a woman, the female sex unanimously gives me more positive attention than males. Girls like sensitive guys who are interested in understanding the female experience, a lot more than guys like guys who "trick" them into checking them out by dressing like girls. And I really appreciate that. But it's completely different from a girl checking you out because she thinks you're hot, and wants to jump your bones.

Evolutionarily speaking, most women are going to be instinctively attracted to masculine characteristics. It's one thing to say that even when I'm wearing a dress, I'm still "really" a guy, and women are still going to be attracted to that. If men are responding to my sexual cues, though (even the straight ones, I mean), then I doubt I'm sending off the signals women are wired to respond to.

At the risk of stereotyping, women are typically going to be more attracted to things like muscles and facial/body hair, and clothes and activities that are culturally associated with men, and not dresses and long hair and smooth skin and painted nails and things like that. Not that there aren't exceptions, but they more frequently come à la carte, and the woman who likes a man fully presenting as a woman more than one looking all manly is going to be rare.

And that's one of my concerns about embracing my female gender identity, because I really like getting that kind of attention from the opposite sex. I've worried in the past about whether I'd get more attention from girls if I embraced my masculine side more, but I really enjoy (and prefer) being feminine. Nevertheless, my recent experiences building up a little bit of muscle tone, and jogging shirtless at a nearby park, have borne out my hypothesis.

Just the other day, I was coming around the trail, which circles a water park, and I spotted a hot girl in a bikini standing just inside the fence. I may have kinda checked her out, and then continued around the loop. Next time around, I see her hanging out by the fence with some friends, and when she sees me, she stands up in front of the fence, with her back to the pool, and unties her bikini top and flashes me! I hear one of her friends say, "I saw that guy yesterday," and then one of them shouts out, "guy in the black shorts, you're super hot!"

You know you're doing something right when teenage girls are flashing you just to get your attention. It makes all the effort I've put into exercising more and indulging less in junk food totally worth it. And if I were presenting as a female that day, I doubt that would have happened. Still, I'd hate to lose out on all the fun of getting dressed up in girly clothes - men's fashion is so dull. I guess I'll just have to stick to being bigendered, and reaping the advantages of both sides of the gender coin.

If I can play up my masculine cues to draw female attention, and then still indulge in female pleasures, then maybe that'll make women like me all the more! After all, when the one girl said she saw me yesterday, that must have meant she saw me in the hot pink swim shorts I was wearing shamelessly that day, which no manly man I know would be caught dead wearing in public. There are worthwhile advantages to being straight and non-homophobic, I tell you!