notes from #le_youth

Hi there, Olivia here, Quim intern and the unofficial voice of the youth in the office. As we enter the season of dorms reopening, emotional sendoffs, and the stress of all night paper writing and showing up to class, I’m reflecting on another invasive, universal part of college: the pressure of hookup culture.

“Hookup culture”, as cliche as it has become, consists of casual sex, one night stands, and above all, avoiding commitment. Strings of casual encounters likely without any regard for a deeper meaning or bonding between partners. As someone who’s lived in this culture and participated in it, this take is based on what I know and the experiences of my friends — I’m not claiming to know any more about hookup culture than the next person, in fact sometimes it feels like I know literally nothing.

While packing up boxes and spending extra quality time with my dog (and family), I’m looking forward to my last year of college with all the drunken house parties, 4 am diner trips, and Sunday Scaries to come. It feels like I’m constantly going back and forth, back and forth, from my parent’s house to a dorm, from class to class, weekend to weekend and semester to semester. Our lives are in constant flux and the ever-changing scenarios of my life have become routine. It’s a privilege to experience, and I haven’t come across a single adult without nostalgia for ~the college years.~ Ah, youth is wasted on the young, isn’t it?
It’s a formative period, for sure. I’ve spent the past three or so years growing exponentially as a person, creating new friendships, and exploring new slivers of autonomy, including sexual autonomy. In this transition of the sun setting on my youth and rising on my adulthood, I grew to understand the fundamental differences between the constant observation of high school and the freedom of college. After ditching the old high school boyfriend, I was a new gal staying out too late and ending up in other people’s beds.

And so hookup culture was normalized for me, as a form of sexual expression, celebrating sex-positivity. Hookup culture can be sexually empowering, and many people feel that way, as I did and honestly sometimes still do. There’s something to be said about throwing off some old taboos and sticking it to the man with your sexual freedoms. Yet, sometimes it feels like a knock-off version of sex positivity because hookup culture can be wildly unfulfilling, especially for people with vaginas trying to get their rocks off. Under-communication is already an issue in the bedroom, nevermind with someone you just met, and so the pleasure scale is uncalibrated further in a culture of porn.

More so, people tend to exaggerate their ability to cut off their emotions and disconnect with their partners. This phenomenon of care complexes brings us further away from connecting with sex itself, and sets up a teetering balance between how we’re supposed to feel versus how we feel. Normalizing not caring about people is a slippery slope, IMO. We’re human! It’s ok to feel things! And feeling those things can bring you closer to yourself.

Earlier I said I sometimes feel like I know literally nothing, and that’s still true. I don’t have a grand answer to the issue of hookup culture and its highs and lows – and I didn’t promise you one! Everyone’s experiences are different, and only #youknow. Within every group of people, be that friend circle, university, or beyond, there will always be a range of experiences, and that applies within hookup culture as well. But from more dialogue we can build a stronger community and begin to practice using our voices. I’ve found it so important to talk about sex on a college campus because we’re all thrown together from various backgrounds and various degrees of sex ed into an unsupervised and free environment that fosters this hookup culture. We should be talking it out and using that level of credibility that comes from our peers and the support system that talking creates. Lean on each other.

We don’t have to walk this road alone, we have each other and we’ll continue to try try again. Learn to speak up for our sexual pleasure, be compassionate to others and more importantly ourselves. Dance, fuck, cry, vent, it’s all okay. Sometimes we want to lay down and not get up for a while, and sometimes we just want to DFMO. It’s all okay.

Cannabis Industry Leaders Reflect on Pride Month

As the rainbow flags come off the corporate logos, buildings, and ad campaigns, pride month has come and gone. We interviewed people involved in the cannabis industry about the importance of lasting pride, allyship, and how cannabis intersects with the LGBTQIA community.

Cyo Ray, CEO and Cofounder of Quim: Please tell us your name, pronouns, and role in the cannabis industry:

Christine De La Rosa; She/Her, CEO The People’s Dispensary

Isa Pérez; she/her, Head of Business Development and Operations at Meadow, Board Member of Supernova Women

Maxwell Greenberg; He/him/his; consumer!

Quim: What does “pride” mean to you personally and professionally (within the cannabis industry)?

Christine: Pride was a riot. It was about not letting our government dehumanize and abuse us. Unfortunately we see the same thing happening 50 years later. We are in a moment in time where we have to stand up for ourselves and others in the face of great adversity. Pride to me, both professionally and personally is about standing up when everything points to us to sit down. This is the same in the cannabis industry. As we see grave injustices happening we must stand up against corporate greed and bad behavior and fight for the very people who started this industry. We must make sure that small farmers, small businesses, and patients are centered in this industry.

Isa: Pride is celebrating the differences between us, and working together regardless of them. It’s remembering all the queer activists before me that made it possible to be out and to gladly tell people I’m a gay, Puerto Rican woman working in cannabis. Pride is actively contributing back to my community not because I feel obligated, but because I feel empowered and fortunate to have had so many others do the same for me.

Quim: How has the LGBTQIA community impacted the cannabis industry?

Christine: We were a catalyst to making medicinal cannabis legal in California. When the government did not care that we were dying by the thousands during the AIDS epidemic, our elders fought to get us access to cannabis to treat ourselves when there was no other treatment available. It was absolutely compassionate care that helped create this industry and we should never lose sight of that.

Isa: *you can google this one*

Max: Honestly, the intersections between the LGBTQAI community and the cannabis industry aren’t something I’ve thought a lot about! Though, I think for marginalized, or de-centered groups, like the LGBTQAI+ POC community, having access to wellness products like cannabis — without the threat of criminalization — is really important. There will always be extra layers of psychological and physical stressors that folx in our communities will have to navigate daily, which makes decriminalized access to these types of wellness resources quite relevant!

Quim: Do you think the cannabis industry is doing enough to honor/celebrate the contributions of queer activists?

CR: Absolutely not.

Isa: Absolutely not. Most new companies and investors are concerned with how they are going to make money, not about those that paved the way for this industry in the eighties and nineties. It’s shameful that LGBT activists aren’t celebrated or acknowledged at every single cannabis event. And I mean every single cannabis event. Black and brown communities were decimated by the War on Drugs and LGBT HIV/AIDS patients and activists pushed for medical cannabis regulation for decades to get us where we are today. Companies need to create funds and scholarships in the name of past and current activists and carry on their legacy by supporting LGBT activists, youth organizations, founders, and people in the cannabis community.

Max:Is any industry ever doing enough to celebrate/honor the contributions of queer activists? Never! But it’s cool to see that it’s starting.

Quim: How do you feel about corporations, large or small, participating in pride?

Christine: I think corporations should give the money as tithings but not expect to be given sponsorship status or participate.

Isa: Pride should not be pay to play, or pay to gay. Companies who simply slap a rainbow flag on things to sell and create more consumption and waste are not serving the queer community, they’re taking from it. If your workforce isn’t representative of the same community you are paying to be a part of, you need to put in the work there first. The Pride Parade is one day a year, but hiring and supporting queer employees and staff requires effort 365 days a year. I’d like to see those same companies make year-long commitments to increase LGBT employment and promotion and make donations to LGBT organizations as well as outline ways they are contributing long-term. Do they have leadership summits for their LGBT staff, do they provide trans healthcare, how many queer executives do they have, do they plan activism from within their company? It takes more than a few thousand dollars and a float to actually be participating in Pride in a meaningful way, so if they want to do that, prove your worth before and after as well.

Max: I think the largest myth that corporations fall back on during pride month is that representation is compensation to the queer community, specifically compensation that is ethically and morally equivalent to economic compensation. My challenge to that lazy and frankly insulting approach to “allyship” is: who is this representation for?

Corporate representation of queerness often serves to educate and expose “us” to people outside of the LGBTQAI community (hello, Queer Eye). This “exposure” approach is doubly harmful, as it assumes that queer liberation is dependent upon corporate investment in our bodies, and in turn, our bodies being tolerated, normalized, and understood by non-LGBTQ folks. Following this logic, corporations have done their part in fighting for our “liberation,” as they’ve participated in making us legible and visible. In stark opposition to cultivating an “anti-capitalist framework of self-worth,” this form of corporate investment also signals to me that my worth as a human is measured by my worth as a consumer and/or marketing object.

*big sigh*

However, I think there is a lot of untapped potential for corporate participation in Pride. We are not going to dismantle capitalism anytime soon, so I think it’s a matter of strategically reorienting capital to underserved / under-resourced spheres of our LGBTQAI community. How can corporations actively generate economic opportunity and more equitable forms of access to LGBTQ folx, all year round? Pride month could be the time to showcase the work that companies have been doing consistently, rather than a time to swoop in and tell queers that they value them as consumers. Bitch, we know you like money and we like fancy wellness products!

Quim: What does authenticity look like as it relates to celebrating Pride? (Either from corporations or individuals)

CR: Imagine if a corporation like Google gave $100,000 in the name of St. James Infirmary and the infirmary got all the perks that a sponsor at that level would get. That is authentic. That is a true ally.

Isa: Allyship is being honest with yourself about what you are capable of doing for a community versus and what you have actually done, and then filling in the gaps.

Max: I want to suggest that we throw out the term authenticity as a measurement of….anything really. For me, the term feels binary adjacent and assumes a few dangerous things: (1) there are only two ways to be; (2) there is a right/wrong way to be; (3) any of us can assume a gatekeeper role to determine these right / wrong ways of being and assign them value in a hierarchical manner. Rather, I’ll share how I’m thinking about and navigating how pride can be tender and generative just as it can feel disappointing and dangerous.

As we celebrate the 50 year milestone of the Stonewall rebellion, we’re reminded that our modern day LGBTQ rights movement exists because of the unpaid, often criminalized labor and sacrifices made by trans women/femmes of color. Ethically, Pride should be a time to honor the queer elders and ancestors on whose shoulders we’re standing. Rather, we’re forced to confront the reality that Brooklyn Lindsay’s murder in Kansas City MO on Thursday June 27 2019, marked the 11th black transgender woman to be killed in the US this year. The loss of one of our sisters reminds us that in the year 2019, trans women of color continue to have a life expectancy of 35 years. Ostensibly, this could be a moment to think actively about what support and allyship looks like for the spheres of the LGBTQAI community who are most harmed by systemic racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, patriarchy, the global migrant-refugee crisis, abilism, etc. However, who is consistently centered by our country’s explosively profitably Pride industry?

Increasingly, Pride events and parades are marked by the presence of police, military, banks, politicians…Taylor Swift (don’t @ me). These symbolic and active agents reflect the very things Stonewall and its connected movements were resisting half a century ago. We cannot think about the meaning of Stonewall, nor to the meaning of Pride more broadly, without considering this context and these cruel contradictions.

So what’s the generative Pride energy I call in to keep me gay and thriving? Lena Waithe’s iconic line from her Emmy 2017 speech: “the things that make us different, those are our superpowers.”

Quim: What does allyship mean to you? Both from corporations and individuals.

CR: See my previous answer.

Isa: Allyship is being honest with yourself about what you are capable of doing for a community versus and what you have actually done, and then filling in the gaps.

Max: Another myth that corporations and individuals fall back on during pride month is that allyship exists on a timeline. Allyship can and should be a year round, daily practice that is integrated into the structure, hiring practices, and culture of a corporation and the interpersonal, behavioral toolkits for individuals. We are inundated with harmful, toothless and exploitation examples of corporate allyship throughout the month of June, so I’d like to highlight an example of what LGBTQAI allyship looks when successfully and effectively be integrated into a corporate business model.

Quim: What are you hoping to see change in the industry (as it relates to pride or not) in the next coming years? How can LGBTQIA and allies within the industry support this shift?

Isa: We need more LGBT people actively working and building the industry. Companies need to be transparent about their hiring numbers as it relates not only to LGBT employees, but also people of color, handicapable people, veterans, and women. I want to see investors giving money to more LGBT, POC, and women founders and businesses making it part of their core mission to support the communities who suffered the most from prohibition. It needs to be a very clear, visible change in how the industry is currently being shaped. Accountability and transparency is the only way the cannabis industry is going to avoid excluding people like tech and every other growing industry. Hiring and investing in LGBT, people of color, women, and other underrepresented people is the only way to make a lasting shift in cannabis so that we are not just consumers, but changemakers.

Quim: How did YOU be celebrate Pride this year?

Christine: I celebrated Pride by spending time with my most beloveds.

Isa: I marched alongside all the beautiful humans at Trans March and Dyke March and danced to my favorite Latinx jams in between.

Max: PRIDE has meant holding space and being tolerant of the messiness within my own chosen, magic community of sweeties.. Also spending some quality time gay panicing, processing and pu$$y worshiping at Dyke Day LA, Pony Sweat–my favorite feircely non-competative aerobics class–and with my spooky queen Kim Petras, on her BROKEN tour.

Quim: What’s your Pride/Summer Anthem of 2019?

Christine: Tempo by Lizzo

Isa: Amara La Negra “What A Bam Bam”

Max: (when I’m feeling gay, as in sad and DTF) “Personal Hell” by Kim Petras, (when i’m feeling gay, as in embolded and DTF) “Want You in my Room” by Carly Rae Jepson, (when i’m feeling gay, as in transcendent and DTF myself) “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks

~

The fact that Pride grows increasingly mainstream reminds us that in some ways, our society has come a long way. But it also smoothes over the complexities and discrepancies in how Pride operates for different people. Now that Pride month has ended, we’re working to remain conscious and active in creating allyship and remembering those that came before us, those who walked so we could run. Thanks for your help in keeping us accountable.

forever yours,

Cyo

4/20 is canceled until all non-violent cannabis offenders are released and records are expunged

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much of a bubble we live in here in California. Well, until you turn on the news that is, and are instantly reminded that this sunny little pot-friendly utopia is not really a reality anywhere else. Being born and raised in the Bay Area I forget that not a lot of people grew up celebrating holidays like 4/20 at their local park or aspiring to write for a company that sells weed lube to women but hey, we are who we are.

There are a lot of inconsistencies between the way California does things in comparison to other states, but things get especially intense when you start to address an issue as complex as cannabis and industry inclusion.

Here’s the latest— last year, only 2 years after the legalization of marijuana in California, the cannabis industry brought in an estimated $345 million dollars in tax revenue from cannabis sales alone. Meanwhile according to the American Civil Liberties Union, as of 2018 cannabis still accounts for 50% of ALL drug arrests in the United States to this day.

How does that make sense, you ask? Simple, it doesn’t.

How is it that at any given time, I can download an app on my phone and within 30 minutes have up to an ounce of weed legally delivered to my doorstep – while at the same time, just two states over, some kid, likely black, is being arrested and sentenced to time in federal prison for being caught with half of a joint in their pocket that they weren’t even actively smoking.

Upon realizing the dichotomy between the legalization of cannabis in some states, and the continued criminalization of it in other parts of the country, a lot of us want to point the finger at Richard Nixon; who in 1971 did his -not so-due diligence at addressing the drug problem in America by declaring drug abuse “Public Enemy Number One”

Ironically, I think the consensus is now clear on the fact that the real public enemy at that time was Nixon himself – but put a pin in that one we’ll come back around to that point later.

“The War on Drugs” was thus enacted in order to achieve one simple goal; To create and encourage “A world without drugs”. Right. Some good that did. In fact, that’s the only thing it DIDN’T do. Many problems we associate with drug use are actually caused by the war against them. Prohibition doesn’t decrease the demand; it only ensures that the supply will find smarter more cunning ways to distribute to the market. Duh. Clearly, Nixon didn’t hang around many economists. Or drug dealers for that matter.

The War on Drugs single-handedly led to a mass incarceration epidemic, political destabilization and corruption, and unprecedented violence to black and brown communities.

Millions of lives have been, and continue to be, negatively affected by the current drug policies and classifications in place that started with the war on drugs. And allow me to reiterate the fact that we’ve literally never been further from achieving its original goal.

So how is it that we’re still having this conversation? The cat is out of the bag; this plan does not work as a viable way to combat drug abuse – not to mention the fact that this is a plant we’re talking about here. One that has been medically proven to heal, and transform lives in ways that traditional western medicine has failed us.

How is it that in a country of *arguably* some of the most educated human beings of our time, we still feel it necessary to put this PLANT in the same category as heroin and methamphetamine? Are we as a country so incredibly inept to not be able to see this for the gross injustice that it is in and of itself? Even if you choose not to smoke cannabis yourself, are we still seriously entertaining the idea that you can reasonably compare it to meth?

Granted, I’d like to take this moment to highlight the fact that in this county of “educated” human beings we still are having trouble making sense of the fact that paying a woman the same amount of money that a man makes for the same amount of work, is a reasonable request. So I suppose the resounding answer is “yes.” Logic is not nearly as readily available in this place as one might hope.

With cannabis legalization slowly spreading across the U.S. and the success of drug decriminalization in other parts of the world like Portugal and Uruguay, it is clear that the war on drugs has failed.

So what do we do now? Where are the reparations for the millions of lives that have been negatively affected by the gross injustice that is, the American government?

While there are a handful of initiatives currently being pushed in California to ensure those that have been unjustly incarcerated for marijuana charges – are guaranteed a seat at the table once the money starts being served – There is still a long way to go on the national and global scale as far as reparations are concerned.

It goes without saying, that the reason behind something as ass backwardly vicious as The War on Drugs was enacted not because drug use was the number one threat, but because Black and Brown people were. Let there be no confusion or question as to what the driving force behind these laws and policy’s has always been, punishment, separation, and the disempowerment of Black and Brown communities.

If a solution to the “Drug problem” was really what they were hoping to solve, you’d think, they’d ease up after a decade or two of failure. Maybe we’d start to think of some new ways to go about the issue?

If you want to eradicate drug abuse you treat the addiction with rehabilitation – not punishment. Just look at Switzerland who’s been doing it successfully for years. Now, if your goal is to disempower a whole generation of people, well, you over police their communities and imprison all of their men and boys- never actually providing them with the help or rehabilitation they need – so that ultimately the family unit is fractured beyond repair and the cycle of struggle and lack continues to rear its ugly head.

The systemic disempowerment mentality that has been practiced throughout POC communities is similar to the way the media tries to separate cannabis in the eyes of the public imagination. CBD vs. THC, aka “The Good Guy and the Bad Guy” or the way we have for millennia tried to separate and categorize the female narrative. The Madonna and whore complex. As if we cannot be intrinsically both at the same damn time. We are ALL encompassing; everything at once, and more beautiful BECAUSE of it. You cannot put us in a box. The same goes for the cannabis plant. We’re just beginning to understand how this plant works at play in our own bodies and I can guarantee you that the “beneficial” aspects will go far beyond THC and CBD.

Ultimately, the intention behind the current drug policies was — and still is — disempowerment. Today, as women, as cannabis consumers, and as people of color we have to decide if we’re going to continue to wait on the same people to get their shit together and make some room for us at the table? Seems a little naive to me… We cannot continue to wait to be empowered by other people who have no interest in seeing us thrive. Wake up sleeping beauty – you are your own damn prince charming.

“There is still a lot to do to make the cannabis industry really inclusive.” said Javier Hasse, Journalist and Author of Start Your Own Cannabis Business. “As we build a new industry that reflects that reflects the ethos of our time, it’s important to emphasize equality and inclusion in all its forms.”

So what do we, the people, do about the vast inconsistencies between the booming cannabis industry and the criminalization of cannabis everywhere else in the world? As women and as people of color let us continue to educate ourselves on the complexities of this industry so that we can put ourselves in positions to create more opportunities for the empowerment of our people.

I will leave you with this—

I am not here claiming to have all of the answers or solutions but I am here to provide you with an opportunity to wake up and empower yourself and your communities. We need to look in the mirror and seriously ask ourselves, are we going to remain victims of circumstance or are we going to be active agents of change?

Sincerely yours,
Imán B. Lewis

What My Vagina Taught Me About Being A Man

Buck Angel, activist, entrepreneur, wellness influencer and resident “Tranpa,” likes to remind supporters and haters alike that some men have vaginas. This has become a mantra for me and is of *peak* utility when occupying binary gendered spaces like public restrooms, locker rooms and the occasional visit to the OBGYN.


The first year into my medical transition, when I began navigating spaces designated for “Men,” the cis-normativity of it all left me feeling energetically and emotionally castrated. In most public spaces, especially non-LGBTQ designated ones, I passed as a cis-male. The combination of hormone replacement therapy (through weekly intramuscular Testosterone injections) and a double mastectomy, commonly known as “top surgery,” had transformed my gender presentation to a notably masculinized one. But the heaviness left over from decades of feeling insufficient in a “female” expression, and incongruent to a “male” one, can stubbornly and internally cling to us.

In bathroom stalls, I often found myself in a stressful squatted position–and not just because I was perfecting my Utkatasana while pooping…though I’m down for that productive sounding combination (I’m a slut for wellness tbh)! Rather, I was overcome with a tense mixture of relief and anxiety, enjoying the pleasures and affirmation of emptying my bladder in the Men’s Restroom, and terrified that the direction of my feet on the floor, and specificities of how my stream of urine “sounded” when hitting the bowl, would all amplify my willful and intentional deception towards my fellow men.


Buck + Allanah, Marc Guinn, 2009

The question of deception proved to be a powerful framework that, with Buck’s sage advice, coupled with years of therapy and the support of my loving families, I’ve been able to positively reorient as a circular mind-body-spiritual dialogue: I live in a society that has deceived itself into thinking that moving through the world as a man means, and is dependent on, being phallic-ly endowed and too often, guided by toxic, big dick energy. But reminding myself that #notallmen have cis-dicks, and some men have vaginas with big clit energy, meant leaning away from self-deception and instead, leaning into a form of consciousness that invited me to exist in my body in a more truthful, less fragmented, way.

In her endlessly quotable book, A Fields Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit describes the two disparate meanings of the term lost. “Losing things is about the familiar falling away, [while] getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing.” The simultaneous and at times, schizophrenic, experience of transitioning genders can be exquisitely described as both losing and getting lost. I chose to lose a part of myself that was familiar, yet harmful, and in turn, have stepped into the experience of getting lost–a sometimes terrifying, often affirming, but always curious journey.

I feel acutely, though not painfully, lost in my exploration of how my body consensually, affirmatively and intimately can exist in relation to both cis-women and men. The familiar solidarity I had long enjoyed with women, rarely linked through our gender expressions, or sexualities, but rather, a shared experience of moving through the world with vaginas, had shifted into a lonely, unfamiliar and insecure territory. Likewise, my fraught and inherently politicized relationship to the cis-male body, long marked by repressed envy, disguised as, and reduced to, sexual desire, is now marked by and forced to contend with dominant expectations of masculinity and a performative, #nohomo attitude that I flippantly and naively mock. Currently, I am holding more questions than answers on this topic, and as my therapist likes to remind me, I can enjoy just being in the excited state of exploring “a wide spectrum of possibilities for intimacy,” right now.

At the risk of sounding like sponsored-content, I want to raise up Quim’s Happy Clam Everyday Oil for becoming an unexpected page in my personal field guide to getting lost. My body’s shifting relationship to that of cis-women’s feels a little less isolated and a lot more connected when I can share a pump or three with a friend or intimate partner. Our vaginas may differ in shape and hormonal charges, but a CBD-enhanced, moisturizer is a luxurious middle ground, warm and spacious enough for a diversity of big clit energies.

xoxo,
Max— ambivalent academic, powered by nootropics, adaptogens and air4air energy

know yourself, one kegel at a time

I think about kegels maybe once a week. I think that’s about where kegels are in the culture, no? Somewhere between, Am I supposed to be doing these in my office chair? And, Kegel weights?? Cosmo wants me to stick pastel green weights in there like I’m Rhonda A-rousey?? (sorry).

First off, let’s dispel that loose vagina myth one more time for the people in the back. Give it the Cardi B treatment. The AOC treatment. Clapping emojis implied. No amount of sex loosens your vagina. Period. If you refuse to trust a reddit thread, ask a trusted male friend (or someone who has sex with vaginas). Preferably when he isn’t around that Kevin Federline-looking friend of his with the Supreme boxers. Tight pussy isn’t a thing. You can thank the good ol’ patriarchy for centuries of tight pussy (aka virginal, chaste, child bride) mania. A collective anxiety kept alive for the sake of porn search bars, vaginal surgeons, that horrifying opening scene in Kids, and the sale of jade eggs. (Of course, childbirth will likely leave it hanging loose, and many doctors and midwives do suggest various exercises to help you tighten up your pelvic floor muscles to help regain bladder control).

But the last time I thought about them I was admittedly on some Rhonda A-rousey shit. Somehow I had sex during a nasty case of bronchitis this week because men are insatiable sex monsters… No, obviously, it was me, I lost all self-control and seduced my partner with this kind of whisper purr thing I improvised through suppressed coughs. Something sly that said: Me? A death trap?

Then, in a delightful moment of sexual slapstick. At, er, peak pleasure a violent cough exploded out of me, shot my guy out like a cannon, but I caught it in the knick of time. Clung onto it— and his dick— like a prize claw and sucked that thing right back up.

First thought–Bow down bitch, I am so powerful!! Second thought, how did my vagina get so powerful? Have I been doing my kegels? I had not–never had–but now the thought was intriguing.

The main benefit Cosmo and the like tout out is a better orgasm for yourself and your partner. I’m weary of any mindset that treats an orgasm as a work hard, play hard mechanism.

It’s hard enough to get out of your head to solve that Rubik’s cube of a thing in the first place, so I prefer to explore the area without strategy…without a “gains=better sex” mindset, even if next-level orgasms are in reach, as advertised.

So I say, stay with the hippie stuff—fantasies of boa constricting bad boy dicks into oblivion aside, your vagina is more or less your body’s physical center. The sensation of familiarity and control over the tiniest muscles at my center felt like a useful anchor, and a good starting point to explore what else kegels could do for me. A lot of yoga classes and mindful meditation enthusiasts will tell you to start with becoming physically aware of every part of your body, to reacquaint yourself with it.

Use your kegels to reacquaint yourself with your sexual center. Sure, this could mean flexing all those little gals with your partner inside you, and maybe you guys will colonize a whole new orgasmic planet. It can also mean checking in with the space station and taking a breath with the whole team before all hands in, and blast off. Enjoy!

Mindfully Yours,
Neha Talreja, aka Rhonda A-rousey

me n my v

The vagina is a dusky tunnel, and has been, for too long, a literally undiscovered cunt’ry. Beyond what we’ve learned from science, like that clits are sensitive (duh), and popping your cherry isn’t really a thing (oh now you tell us), each person with a vagina navigates an individual and lifelong experience of their pipe organ and its vicissitudes. These are the experiences we want to know about as we develop products for you angels, and devils ;). And though quims come in all shapes colors sizes, many of them have been les misérables in similar ways.

First allow me to thank everyone who responded to Quim Rock’s Me n My V survey. Over the last 3 months, we’ve gathered about 200 responses, and it is an honor, nay a pleasure, to read about your vaginal health, your headaches and ass-aches, your resourcefulness and flexibility. Just over half of you said you’ve never avoided or missed out on sexual pleasure for fear of vaginal pain or discomfort! Get yours.

The following are going on in your vaginas: itching, insertion, fingering, fucking, tongueing, babymaking, the prevention of babymaking, birth, pH balancing, prolapse, blood collection, blood absorption, Kegels, and fascinating, often fragrant effluvia. So, a lot. You are mostly responding to yeast infections and dryness, and you are mostly using Monistat and lube, respectively, to do so.

Our sample size skewed towards people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Penetrative sex featured prominently. Sex, especially when rushed or rough, emerged as the cause of many vaginal retorts, including yeast infections, dryness, and soreness. Condoms caused discomfort for some and solved the problem for others. Vaginal birth changed your pelvic floor, your sex life, and your relationship to your vagina. You asked for support in normalizing and destigmatizing postpartum vaginas. Some lubes helped, others really, really, didn’t. Some of you have left the thong life behind. Some of you need the touch, the feel, of cotton. Some of you have gone organic. Some of you haven’t figured anything out and despair. Some of you broke up with him.

Over time, you learn to speak your other mouth’s language, at least enough to know when and who to call for help. Since it doesn’t talk much – though some queefs are true bits of song – you watch for signs, stings, smells, stains, oozings, and read as best you can. As I read over all of your responses, I felt so tuned in to and moved by, this collective deciphering project. You reported that, after your doctor, you are most likely to turn to your friends for vagina counsel. You found ways to have gentler sex when you needed it, which lube to use and how much (uh, a lot), and that your vagina doesn’t want to smell powder fresh or like a summer’s eve or a mixed berry, and may revolt at the mere suggestion.

If you haven’t taken the Me n My V survey, consider this your formal invitation. This is a V and V conversation, so you can V your way into it! We want to know about your vagina, and only #youknow that puppy, puppy. May we continue to learn our vaginas’ many languages, and translate our findings to friends as best we can.

Listening raptly,
Rebecca

Cultivating Big Vagina Energy in 2019

So multitudinous are the vagina’s luxury features, one could be forgiven for forgetting a few. Sex ed was a lot of info at once! Listen, I was obsessed with my new and extra perky boobs and I couldn’t learn everything! Risk-averse as I am, I memorized all the tragic fates that might befall my as-yet-untouched (except a lot by me) qt pie, and all the cool stuff went in one ear and out the other.

So it was with wide-eyed wonder that I recently re-learned about the vagina’s expansive powers. Literally. In case ye too forgot: when sexually aroused, the vagina becomes longer and wider, to better receive whatever might be incoming. The change is only a matter of an inch or two, but still! This vaginal ability has become my current obsession. I’m calling it Big Vagina Energy, or BVE, and it’s what I’m here for in 2019.

The vagina is an elastic, muscular canal that extends from the vulva to the cervix. The opening is technically called a “vulvular vestibule” like an entryway, like a mudroom, like a foyer. This tunnel of love is collapsed when you’re not turned on, with the front and back walls resting against each other. As you become aroused, your uterus lifts up, your vaginal walls grow longer and wider, and your cervix retracts, which some call the “tenting” effect. I call it the welcoming committee. I call it freshman orientation. I call it generosity of spirit. I call it shelter from the storm. Oh, do come in…

But we don’t really need another interpretation of vaginal-bodied humans as accommodating vessels, so I propose a different reading. BVE is growth energy utterly distinct from dicks. It’s growth that serves to include, to make warm, to contain complexity, to connect across the void, to create (life, joy, change, art), to understand, and to be understood. You don’t grow just to grow, you grow to hold.

BVE is a million things and this is not a comprehensive list. BVE could be nurturing a plant, a pet, a person. BVE could be a juicy self-love session. It could be ping-pong-ballin’ around your bff’s apartment using her beauty products as you wish. It’s Beyonce’s “Grown Woman.” BVE is how Oprah became Oprah. BVE is Stevie Nicks continuing to perform with Lindsey Buckingham long after their break up. BVE is the barista from the other day who genuinely forgave me for being very clueless about how the ordering line worked. It isn’t reserved for people with vaginas. But it also isn’t just the femme version of Big Dick Energy. Not everything has an exact opposite. Having grown up in a patriarchy, I know very well how to recognize power in terms of dicks/society’s definition of masculinity: stoicism, courage, volume, endurance. In 2019, I want to notice power in different terms, moving along other channels, from less obvious sources.

This next year, remember how big you are. Turn up your energetic volume and drown out the messaging from ads and the racistsexistheteronormativepatriarchy, and honestly, some of our moms. Fight whichever forms of internalized oppression haunt you. We don’t all experience misogyny the same way. But misogyny in all of its forms wants the same thing: to make us feel small and scared. You are much too complicated to be summed up like that. Stand tall, shoulders back, eyes wide, emotional AF, big vagina: ready?

For your big vagina energy inspiration, I threw together a lil list of relevant songs.

With largesse,

Rebecca

why i sometimes love to free-bleed

Free bleeding is many things, and cheap is one of them. Throughout history, affording the products that stem the tide (sponges, pads, tampons) has always been harder for some than others. Around the world, and here in the United States, so taboo is it to be seen menstruating in public that some will skip work or school when they’re on their periods if they can’t afford menstrual supplies. For unhoused people, the choice might be between a box of tampons and food for the day. Reducing our reliance on disposable period products is obviously good for the planet. And unless you’re buying the hippy shit, most tampons and pads contain bleach and other toxins that I would guess vaginas want nothing to do with.

In 2016, when we thought America might elect a woman as President, free-bleeding got cool. Some free-bleeders got famous. Activist and musician Kiran Ghandi made headlines when she ran the London marathon while menstruating and free bled through her leggings. Instagram took some heat when they removed a photo series by Rupi Kaur showing a woman with bloodstained sweatpants.

But we didn’t elect a woman. So right now, letting my blood come out of me without inserting anything into my vagina to soak it up or collect it, tastes like delicious defiance. Against misogyny, and shame. And Lindsay Graham and his crush Brett Kavanaugh, because why not?

My first periods were exhilarating, because they were novel, and made me feel grown up. But I also remember treating each one like a minor catastrophe. Five to seven days each month of waiting to be mortified by a “leak” at school. Five to seven days of steering very clear of all things khaki. As years passed, the thrill wore off, and I mainly just tried to avoid having to do a lot of extra laundry.

(Go ahead and add “dainty” to the list of Things I Am Not.)
(Go ahead and add “dainty” to the list of Things I Am Not.)

The pressure to be discreet about menstruating is just another way people with vaginas are made to feel bad and nervous about having a vagina. People who bleed monthly know the signals: how to ask for tampons without moving your lips, the flick o’ the wrist to sneak it up your shirt sleeve, eyebrow raises that mean ACTUAL BLOOD IS CURRENTLY SPILLING OUT OF ME, just fyi. What a heady feeling to return to polite society after the private bloodbath that was pouring out my moon cup, then sending her back inside to keep up the good work! Is this what it’s like to know state secrets?

Free bleeding is radically indiscreet. And sometimes so messy. I let the blood flow as a “fuck u” but also as an “oh fuck it,” confrontational or careless, take your pick. Given the way our rights and our bodies are being threatened, it feels great to relax about how my red hot mess of “foul drippings” might upset other people. Yes, I have a vagina. Yes, blood comes out of it once a month, whether I want it to or not. Sometimes it drips, sometimes it pours. It’s just my body’s reproductive system doing its thing. While it still can.

Bloodily yours,
Rebecca Marcyes, Vagina Philosopher


Feel like free bleeding but not ready to stain your favorite white pants? We recommend trying out some of these options:
Sustain
Thinx
LunaPads
Dear Kate

Want to support a fellow bleeder’s access to period supplies? These rad organizations accept donations and distribute cups, cloths, pads and ‘pons to bleeders who need.

Period.
Helping Women Period
Femme International
Happy Period
Days for Girls

#YOUKNOW

Self-care: my favorite way to justify a mid morning nap, or a late flake on social plans, or my monthly Lyft bill (ok, I agree, that was pushing it). Sometimes it just sounds like a euphemism for masturbating.

Whether or not you use the term or concept, you may have noticed it trending on social, becoming increasingly corporatized, and looking most frequently (and profitably) like a thin white woman in a marble bathtub surrounded by flower petals, crystals and a cabinet full of luxury serums.

At Quim Rock, we’re here to say… fuck that. We believe that self-care is universal, not exclusive. It’s empowering, not threatening. And above all, it must be intersectional. Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” In a time when our political system is threatening our reproductive rights and physical safety, taking care of our physical health (yes, that includes our vaginas) is a form of activism and preservation—(one much mightier than millennial pink or rose gold.)

My personal story of self-care is the story of Quim Rock, which also happens to be my means of political warfare.

After becoming sexually active at seventeen (oh heyyy mom, if you’re reading this!), I got hit with my first UTI, and oof, it was a bad one. From there, I entered a cycle of UTI-Yeast Infection-UTI that continued for eight years. I tried over-the-counter meds and stopped using hormonal birth control and bought every single lube and vaginal health product at CVS. Nothing was working, or at least not working in a long-term sustainable way. I was lost and in pain and ashamed of it, and I had to do something. Even though it was uncomfortable at first, I began talking to friends about my issues. I realized that even though many people in my community were hip to other forms of proactive self-care: regular exercise, conscious eating, you know, sunscreen… they were just sort of putting up with vaginal health issues. Living at the whim of an unhappy quim.

So I researched, and researched more, and I then decided to go to the natural grocery store and create my own proactive vaginal health remedies. Nothing revolutionary, just ingredients that worked for me, made by me. The ultimate act of self-care was finding out what works for my body. I want everyone to get to this place with theirs.

Caring for your body is not inherently indulgent. Yes, it can cost money (if you want), but that’s not a necessity. Self-care can be as simple knowing that you sleep better when you don’t spend an hour scrolling on Instagram before bed, or that you feel your best when you start the day with a good sweat (could be a run, a shvitz, or a sunrise sex romp…) My journey towards self-care began out of physical necessity, but in caring for my body or “treating myself,” if you will, I began to work through the shame I’d been carrying for decades.

I started Quim Rock to share the formulas that have done wonders for my vagina, my health, and my sex life, but also to provide you with support and information on what can be a seriously awkward and embarrassing subject to talk about. It’s my mission to help foster sustainable practices of self-care and promote a shame-free dialogue around vaginal health and wellness.

Thanks for joining us. And know, there is always room for your voice in the conversation.

Dutifully yours
Cyo Ray Nystrom
CEO and cofounder of Quim Rock