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WOMEN (12)

From Socrates to Bertrand Russel, the aphorism “know thyself” has come up time and time again. Mainstream media preaches countless practices people should explore to encourage self-reflection and self-knowledge — meditation, exercise, vision boards, etc. — yet they tend to omit one essential human activity that requires experimentation and exploration: sex. We are too often taught that this topic is taboo, but in a 2019 Kinsey Institute study commissioned by Jasmin, they found that people who have a positive view toward their sexual orientation and sexual practices were more likely to report greater life happiness, higher self-esteem, and less loneliness, social anxiety and depression. This is why it’s crucial to discuss sex and the sex-positivity movement so we can continue to normalize the topic and open the doorway for people to comfortably and authentically learn about themselves.

Building off the ideas of Esther Perel’s seminal book, “Mating In Captivity”, sex helps people gain a clearer understanding of themselves and promotes self-awareness and self-love. It’s a tool that breaks through the constraint of thought and language. In the words of Ms. Perel: “We no longer plow the land together; today we talk. We have come to glorify verbal communication. I speak, therefore I am. We naively believe that the essence of who we are is most accurately conveyed through words”

Indeed, our restricted lexicon can only take us so far in identifying and defining who we are. Words alone can even result in false assumptions based on the narrative we tell ourselves and others. Our bodies and emotions can’t lie, which is why sex is a useful tool to learn about what we like, don’t like, situations we feel comfortable in, and ones in which we do not.

It’s important to address that sex-positivity extends beyond the act of sex itself and strives to include the normalization of eroticism, sensuality and fantasies, which help to reveal our innermost desires. Before the sex-positive movement, erotic fantasies were seen as “dirty” and symptoms of a sick and unsatisfied mind.  Health experts disagree. Psychoanalyst Michael Bader explains that “our fantasies allow us to negate and undo the limits imposed by our conscience, our culture, and our self-image.”

Fantasies allow an escape and an opportunity to reverse roles imposed by our routines. Fantasies can help to explore a role in which the individual is totally in charge. If one’s personal life requires them to constantly take care of others, fantasies allow for the taking care of by another. The role-reversing potential is limitless. It’s one of the safest, yet wildest and most liberating ways that a person can be him or herself and explore new areas of their personality.

Sex also provides humans with an opportunity to strip away norms set forth by society and the media. There are countless sexual preferences, body types and genders for which people are attracted. Now more than ever, there are resources that allow individuals to explore these preferences in a safe space free of judgment. Leading voices and groundbreaking new online webcam platforms like Jasmin.com and Live Jasmin, are daily providing opportunities to discuss, learn, experiment and explore ways to enable the public to comfortably approach the topics of sex and relationships.

Our attitude toward sex inevitably trickles into our everyday lives and experiences.  Sex and sex-positivity empower us to love ourselves and be more accepting of others as what happens behind closed doors materializes our feelings and emotions in a rich and tangible way. This is why it is so beneficial to dedicate the time to explore preferences, identify wants, and be vocal about both. Like many things in life, the process is ever-evolving and requires a positive and open dialogue, the opportunity for experimentation, and above all, learning and acceptance of who one truly is.

 Author: Guillaume Tanferri Co-writers: Fernando Garcia and Gary Kovacs

Suzanne Munson, Manager, Global Partnerships and Alliances Heifer International

 

Since 1944, nonprofit Heifer International has equipped and empowered families and communities around the world to build self-reliance that lifts people out of hunger and poverty. In her eight-year tenure, Manager of Global Partnerships & Alliances Suzanne Munson has witnessed these inclusive, sustainable methods transform numerous lives.

“Our holistic approach to ending hunger and poverty is what makes our work effective,” Munson says. Since dire straits have no single culprit, the solution must address all causes. Values-based holistic community development (VBHCD) is the multi-pronged approach Heifer uses. “It means we work directly with small-scale farmers and their families to identify what they need to thrive,” Munson explains. Project participants — many of them women — receive training and assets: gifts of livestock, seeds and trees, access to clean water and improved sanitation and hygiene. In this way, Heifer ensures those with little opportunity get the tools to lift themselves out of poverty.

Fanny

Fanny

Heifer employs in-country teams who speak the language and understand the culture and issues that contribute to hunger, poverty and marginalization. This accelerates the process of inclusion, which is inherent in Heifer’s holistic approach. These teams work throughout the life of a project to train leaders to continue the work after Heifer is gone. “This is the true sustainability of Heifer’s model,” Munson says. “Communities learns to be self-reliant, independent.” This thread is continued with Passing on the Gift®, a promise each recipient makes to pass on gifts of training and livestock to other members in the community. With a typical “pass on” rate of seven to nine generations, the offspring of each original animal benefits seven to nine more families. “We have seen this incredible model build social capital and foster inclusion in an amazing way,” Munson says.

Countless incredible women have emerged from Heifer’s fold. “I’ve met so many strong, brilliant women during my time at Heifer,” Munson says, including Fanny in the mangroves of Ecuador. Fanny is an activist and fierce advocate for families whose livelihoods on the coast have been threatened by the invasion of large shrimping companies. “They buy up all the land,” Munson explains, “and clear cut the precious mangrove forests, ruining the natural ecosystem by setting up artificial shrimp ponds that leak chemicals and toxins into the communities’ water supply.” These people used to have an abundance of crab, shrimp, mussels and clams. Now they have barely enough to feed their families. Fanny’s work to defend the rights of the community and protect the mangroves is dangerous. She’s been shot at, threatened, and witnessed a number of atrocities,” Munson says. “She’s seen defiant community members killed and entire hamlets of houses burned down as warnings to stop interfering.” Nevertheless, Fanny continues to persist to address food insecurity, and for the mangroves, hoping to one day regain all that’s been lost.

Hear more from Suzanne Munson as she represents Heifer International on a panel at this year’s World Woman Summit, October 11-12 in Little Rock.

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With the motto “Let our dream manifest your dream” serving as its fuel, production company Dolce Films has a successful track record of working with leading figures ranging from artists like Coldplay to brands such as Adidas. The 12-year old award-winning company is the brainchild of Bayou Bennett and her husband Daniel Lir, who together have been appropriately dubbed “The Dream Team.

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CHANGE THEIR WORLD. CHANGE YOURS. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.