Happy Birthday to Us!

SAAgraphic06302014(6/30/14)  It’s been said that time flies when you’re having fun.  Well, we must be scooting along at warp speed and having a blast because it’s hard to believe that the Sex Across America blog is already celebrating its first anniversary.  It’s been a wild year to say the least.

Foremost, we would like to thank all of you who have so graciously supported us in promoting rational discussions of sexuality and our coverage of the wide range of critical issues associated to it.  We intend this to be a free and safe resource that provokes thought and conversations, so those of you who have spread the word about our features during the past year have been instrumental in helping us achieve our goal.  You’ve no doubt noticed that we do not place any paid advertising on the site, there are no goofy pop-ups,  nor do we charge any memberships for the content we offer.  That’s by design in order to ensure that we’re able to reach viewers as people, not as consumers.  Since we don’t charge anything, we don’t spend anything on conventional promotional campaigns, so we deeply appreciate the organic support of passing along links to content that you enjoy or tossing us a “like” on our companion Facebook page when you come across something you find interesting.  We also want to thank those of you who follow us and our announcements on Twitter and retweet them along throughout your social circles.  You’ve not only been very helpful in expanding our audience during the past year, but we also hope that you’ve found our content interesting enough that you feel sharing it is also helping others who might benefit.  In that regard particularly, we feel we’re in this together–with each of you–and for that, we are very grateful.

Without a doubt, this is a labor of love for us, but we feel it’s an important one, especially in these days of mass information overload, relentless political posturing and continuous social upheaval.  As such a basic, wonderful and natural need in all human beings, it’s often astounding just how polarizing the broad subject of sexuality can be, but we firmly believe that much of that is rooted in a simple factor: People just don’t discuss it openly and frankly enough.  Whether it’s due to stigmas, shame, fear-based attitudes, value conflicts or even just plain old upbringing, the lack of straight talk is unproductive at best and possibly dangerous at worst.  We’re trying to do something useful about that by tackling as wide a range of related topics as we can in ways that are at a minimum thought provoking, but preferably to the extent that they inspire others to confidently join in and expand further the conversations.  If we can accomplish that, then this labor of love has been supremely worthwhile.

In looking back through our archives this past year, we’re proud to note that we’ve amassed an exceptionally diverse array of topics spanning pieces about thought leaders in sexuality, developments in related science and technology, individual and relationship improvement, social and political news, literary and entertainment features and, every now and then, just plain everyday fun.  To improve the scope of our content, we added a current events feature in the form of our weekly “S.A.A. Extras” where we discuss a top sexuality-related headline from that week and recently began our casual and friendly “Wednesday Webcasts” where you get to see us riff a little about various topics.  All in, we believe we’ve gotten this off to a solid start this past year and hope that all of you have found our features to be both informative and entertaining.

As always, we’d love to hear from you, whether through comments/questions/suggestions using the “reply” button below each feature on this site, by direct email or through our social media channels.  (And just to clear up a question we get occasionally:  You do not need to register or subscribe to the site in order to reply to our features.  You can feel free to use a pseudonym if you’re more comfortable with that and although the software requires an email address, it will never be made public nor used for other marketing/spam purposes in any way.)

So, please join us in celebrating this milestone and accept our sincerest appreciation for your continued support.  We look forward to another fast, furious and fun year ahead together!

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S.A.A. Extra: Dept. of Labor Redefines “Spouses” for FMLA Purposes

(6/27/14)  (From the U.S. Department of Labor)  The United States Department of Labor has published a public Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise the definition of “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  The proposed new rule would recognize same-sex spouses and negate the effect of inequalities based on residency in states where same-sex marriages are not recognized.

Read the full story here.

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Keeping Your Kink Safe

(6/16/14)  A few weeks ago, our weekly webcast featured a discussion on incorporating various kinks and fetishes into relationships.  We received a few very nice responses to it by email and one in particular brought up a point that we think should be addressed.  We’re not going to reprint the person’s email out of respect for their privacy, but instead just focus on the key question generically:

“When you’re first trying things out, how do you avoid going over the line, especially if you’re unsure of where the line is?”

It’s a great question and since we made it a point in the webcast to focus on “consent” as a key element for exploring various activities, we think it’s important to address the concern because not having a strategy in place to handle this kind of thing could easily cause a negative outcome that leads to withdrawing consent.  Of course we’d hate to see that happen, so here are a few considerations.  Keep in mind that there’s no universally “right” way for all circumstances.  These are just possible approaches which may have some positive benefits.

1.  Incorporating a “safeword.”  There are many reasonable scenarios, especially if partners are “new” to each other and learning each other’s unique responses, where a kink-scene needs to be slowed or stopped.  Somewhere along the line (mostly from club-based play), someone came up with the concept of using a traffic-light system for controlling the intensity of an activity without making it complicated–and it does work well. The idea is that the person controlling the activity (the “dominant” or “top”) would be assessing how the participant being controlled (the “submissive” or “bottom”) is doing at various points during play.  If all was well, the submissive simply says, “Green.”  If they’re becoming uncomfortable or just needs to slow down, “Yellow.”  If they feel they’re approaching a limit, “Red.”  The person controlling the scene would then be responsible for adjusting or stopping accordingly.  Generally, it works because it’s a very simple thing to keep in mind (i.e., green=go, yellow=caution, red=stop) and use under duress when necessary.  In the throes of passion, it’s quite possible that they wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively, so the simplicity/succinctness of the color system counters that problem.  Additionally, if the dominant is on the ball and continually assessing–and asks the submissive for a safeword,  but doesn’t get one from them, it should be a clear indicator that they need to stop until the submissive is capable of communicating again.

2.  Using a “silent safeword.”  While the above may seem to make good sense and while it might work in most cases, there are several scenarios where a submissive might not be able to communicate verbally during a scene.  A simple example: What if they’re gagged?  Hmm.  So, the alternative is to give the submissive an object to hold in one hand (like a rubber ball, for example) and use it in place of verbal communication.  If the dominant asks for a safeword and all is in fact well, the submissive just holds it up.  If they’re having a problem and needs to slow, they can just wave it around a bit.  If they need to stop, they can just release it and let it drop.

(Additionally, in either of the two above methods, the submissive does not necessarily need to wait until the dominant conducts an “assessment” in order to use whichever safeword they need to.  They can easily just blurt it out or drop the object at any point, especially if they need to stop or just a take break.)

3.  Being a “responsibly connected dominant.”  While the above techniques can work well, there are some who believe that they inherently detract from a deeper possible connection between partners and actually remove some measure of control/responsibility from the dominant, thus requiring the submissive to take that responsibility and be in control. It’s a legitimate concern and it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that safewords are therefore not the “best” strategy.  Indeed, some believe it to be poor leadership.  That may seem somewhat arrogant and harsh given the fact that many use the safeword system just fine, but we’ve seen too many situations where a problem arose during a scene that the dominant did not pick up on, but where the submissive was too out of it or too proud to safeword (or simply clung on to the little ball because they tensed in the passion and just couldn’t let it go).  The resulting statement of, “Well, I kept going because they didn’t safeword…” is a lame, poor excuse when an oops happens and it’s ludicrous to try to shift blame to the person who was supposed to be giving up control and putting their well-being at risk.  Instead, a dominant who invests significant time in getting to know their submissive along with their unique reactions, tendencies, limitations and capabilities–and builds on that connection by conducting scenes that are intentionally designed to be incremental at first and only ramped up as warranted by actual performance, always retains control and responsibility and develops a clear understanding of when a scene needs to be slowed or stopped. Yes, that degree of competence takes time, but for many, it’s a much more responsible approach for avoiding the kinds of situations that are likely to lead to negative results.

Besides, what’s the damned rush, you know?

We’d love to hear your rational thoughts on this topic along with any constructive suggestions you may have for helping others achieve positive outcomes in their exploration.  You can either comment directly (using the “reply” button below) or send them to us via email.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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