Thursday, April 19, 2007

'Chaste by choice'

Check out "Chaste by choice" by Pat Burson of Yours truly was interviewed for the piece.

It never ceases to amaze me how controversial NOT having sex is in our society. Readers' comments following the article are very enlightening.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

From Sinatra to Imus, some things never change

Among the many emails and phone calls I've received about the Imus mess, the following note from my sister, Janice Miller, was definitely among the most provocative.

Years ago I attended a reception with a few other ladies from my church. The local band of middle-aged African American men were playing an old tune that I recall my parents used to listen to.

Although I didn't remember the words, I knew the melody, so I grabbed the hand of a friend who loves to dance as much as I do, and we cut a couple of steps. I noticed the lead vocalist watching us, probably because we were the only two people on the dance floor. As we connected eye to eye, it seemed like he was having fun singing to me:

She gets too hungry for dinner at eight
She likes the theater and never comes late
She never bothers with people she'd hate

... until he came to the refrain, That's why the lady is a tramp.

The singer and I shared an awkward moment. He dropped his eyes and I left the floor. We were having such lighthearted fun that the insult that repeated throughout this beloved classic as the hook unexpectedly stung us both.

Just like Imus' slur against the scholar-athletes of Rutgers University didn't make sense, this song doesn't make sense. In every stanza, Frankie seems to describe a decent woman. She doesn't gamble, she's punctual, she doesn't gossip, and despite the fact that she's broke, she's not a golddigger. Yet he still slaps us with that line, That's why the lady is a tramp.

When I first heard about Imus' slur against Rutgers' basketball team, I focused more on the word 'nappy' and was less than moved. Poor taste, yes. Ain't yo business 'bout our hair, yes. But ho?! YIKES!

With all due respect to people who sell their bodies for sex (prostitutes) and those who freely give away their bodies for sex (whores), women who behave in these ways have, throughout time, found themselves in extreme categories that carry plenty of negative connotations. These words should never be used casually, and never on women who haven't proclaimed themselves as such.

My heart felt it when Frank Sinatra and writers Rodgers and Hart forced the singer to call me a tramp. I still remember how degrading it felt, even though it was 10-15 years ago.

I value dignity highly, and name calling ruins that for everyone involved. Let's protect it in ourselves and each other.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This shoe isn't sex...

...but it should be! Check out my blog,, for more about this absolutely orgasmic sandal, perfect for sensual celibates!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sexual anorexia

When researching Sensual Celibacy, I came across the term 'sexual anorexia'. What a loaded term! I'm still trying to unpack this idea. Although there are tremendous benefits to be had from celibacy, I have to admit there can be some swamps, too.

Anorexia is most commonly understood as an eating disorder characterized by the refusal to eat to the point of starvation. Could this term apply to celibacy as well? Could depriving yourself of sex for too long create a famine-like condition in your body, your soul, your sexual being?

This may be mixing apples and oranges. You can die without food, but you won't die if you don't have sex (contrary to popular belief). Still, we can understand ourselves a little more by exploring this idea.

This is such a complicated issue that I can only try to do it some justice in this post. Admittedly, I've got a long way to grow here.

I believe you can experience a famine in your soul, a starvation-like condition during celibacy. That's why I so strongly advocate a sensual approach. The focus is not sex starvation but filling ourselves up with sensual pleasure (especially touch), love, and womanliness.

Paradoxically, the easiest way to know if you're suffering from sexual anorexia is if you're eating too much. You're using food as a substitute for sex. I gained a lot of weight because of it.

Because I, like so many, have been hurt in the past by a failed marriage, abandonment, etc., I first used my celibacy to become a hermit. I went to work and cared for my children, but my mind and heart were lightyears away. This form of sexual anorexia created a tightness, a dryness within me. All my sassiness just disappeared. I became a serious mother and provider of my household. I tried to be a virtuous role model for my children. My hemlines dropped below my knees.

But I wasn't happy, and I definitely felt starved. My womanliness was skeletal. Over time, however, sensual celibacy, my music and writing passions, and especially my Christian walk have filled me up so much that I don't feel like I'm dying inside anymore.

A lack of trust for the opposite sex and my own ability to choose wisely may have created some anorexia in my celibacy practice. A male friend and I talked about this at length, and I had to admit that because I haven't trusted myself to be a good judge of character when it comes to men, I have used celibacy to make my decisions for me. This has been subtle and largely unconscious. My friend suggested that I learn how to "discern the spirit of the man," meaning my spirituality, not celibacy, should be used to judge character.

He also suggested doing due diligence: check out the man's past, his family, his friends, etc. Don't just rely on his sweet words and winning ways.

He's right, but let me tell you: telling a man that you want to be celibate for now, for awhile, until marriage, whatever, will quickly reveal his true heart and intentions.

Obviously, I'm still working through this one. As I get more insights, I'll post. Would love to hear your thoughts as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Making up for lost time

Alien abductees say they lose time because of their wierd experiences. Ever since I made the decision to give up sex until marriage, I've experienced the opposite: I've gained time -- lots of it.

What do alien abductees and women practicing celibacy have in common? (I know this is a stretch, but hang with me for a minute.)

We both are deemed strange and unbelievable by society.

When you tell a friend that you haven't had sex for a year or more, she'll probably look at you with very large eyes and say, "Really? Unbelievable!" It's the same response an alien abductee receives to her own full disclosure.

Here's where we depart company, however. Alien abductees say they have no control over what happens to them. (Can you tell I watch way too much sci fi?) Thankfully, this isn't the case with those of us practicing celibacy, especially sensual celibacy. We make a decision to begin a term of celibacy, and we make a decision to end it. This helps prevent accidental sex ("I don't know how it happened." "It just happened!" "See, what had happened wuz...").

The issue of dealing with found time is a real one for women practicing celibacy. Interestingly, during the first days and weeks after a breakup, you'll find that you suddenly have a ton of time on your hands. How do we fill this newly found time? We might call our girlfriends day and night, rebound with guys we don't know or really want, or we might become total hermits (that would be me).

Once you get through that traumatic period, then the reality of your life, good or bad, becomes glaringly obvious to you. If you were smart during your relationship, you didn't give up your interests for the man. If you gave up your interests and put your life on hold because the sex was SO GOOD it clouded your cognitive powers, then you've got some soul searching to do.

I've learned that relationships with a high lust quotient can confuse our sense of time. When we are consumed by passion, we no longer have enough time in the day to get things done. Important tasks fall by the wayside. And then boom! he's gone and you suddenly have a load of time to fill.

My advice is to resist the urge to fill found time with other men. Use this precious time to focus on yourself. What did you give up while you were with him? Honestly, did you neglect your kids, close friends, and other responsibilities? You may need to mend some relationships.

Chicago high schools require students to complete a certain number of volunteering hours in order to graduate. I think this is a wonderful idea for newly single women. It will take some of the edge off of your desperation when you see how worse off others are.

I spent those first few months after the breakup that led to my celibacy practice in therapy, and it was the best thing I could have done. I learned tons about myself, including why I had made such poor choices in the past. I also started writing like my life depended on it, and I've never looked back.

Sometimes I think the reason why women rebound during this period is because they feel ashamed that they don't have a man. Society still does a job on women who are going solo.

There's no need to feel shame or humiliation. This is just a season in your life. Use it wisely because if you don't get it right this time, you'll keep going through the same heartaches over and over again. And you don't want that, now, do you?