Given how monumental the decision was, it’s embarrassing to admit that as Canadian my first exposure to Loving v. Virginia was through the Oscar nominated film Loving, which stars (the amazing) Ruth Negga and Joel Edgarton as the very aptly named Mildred and Richard Loving, the plaintiffs in the landmark case.
In 1959, Mildred a woman of color, and Richard, a white man, settled in Virginia after getting married in the District of Columbia. One night, their bedroom was invaded by a group of police officers who’d broken into their home in the hope of catching them having sex, a crime under Virginia law (they were sound asleep). The couple was then sentenced to a year in prison for violating the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited interracial marriage — a punishment they traded for a one-way ticket out of Virginia. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision determined that the law was unconstitutional. The date was June 12th, 1967.
As a Canadian, reading about Mildred and Richard Loving, was humbling. Let’s be real: Canada has a less than stellar track record when it comes to race relations, but interracial marriage has never been blatantly illegal.
I feel incredibly privileged to live in a time and places where interracial dating is not only legal, it’s actually pretty common. A few years ago, Vancouver was dubbed “the capital of interracial dating” because it has more couples in mixed unions per capita than any other Canadian city, with Toronto in second place. In other words, I’ve pretty much spent my adult life living in a bubble of sorts, free to date and love whoever I want.
(Another sidebar: If you want to get a feel for interracial dating climate in Canada circa 1957, I suggest you watch the short film, Crossroads. It’s cringe worthy in the way only educational films about dating from the 1950’s can be, but also quite progressive in the context of what was happening in the United States at the time.)
This brings me back to Loving Day, which was established in 2014 as a way to commemorate the Loving v. Virginia decision and celebrate multiculturalism.
While June 12th is already in the rear view mirror for another year (seriously, where has June gone?), Loving Day.org has a bunch of helpful info about the day and how to celebrate, including a list of Loving Day celebrations. Don’t see your city or town represented? Plan your own celebration.
I know this isn’t your usual Skinny Dip post, but at a time when children are literally being ripped from their parent’s arms and police violence against people of color continues, it’s important we educate ourselves and resist — and that resistance includes celebrating loud & proud the freedom to love whoever we want.
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I‘m here today to talk about one of my favorite topics: travel! One of my main goals when I graduated university at 24 was to travel as much as possible. The problem: I had a very restricted budget (I was broke AF) and was kind of nervous about traveling solo. So, while some of my friends backpacked through Morocco solo, I got a job at a travel agency, traveled in very large groups and went on adventures with my then-partner. While I think traveling solo is definitely something everyone should experience at least once, it’s only since I’ve been in my 30’s that I’ve become more adventurous when it comes to striking out on my own.
With that said, female travelers in their twenties are becoming increasingly common. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, here’s a few things that I learned while traveling in my 20’s (and also my 30’s!)
Do As Much Research As Possible Beforehand
While it can be tempting to book a trip with reckless abandon, do your research beforehand so you know what you’re getting yourself into (I’d prefer to stay in places that don’t have murdery vibes, but that’s just me). Just don’t go overboard. You don’t want to get analysis paralysis, but you do need to make sure you’re booking places that are safe, secure and come with positive reviews.
Be Mindful of Your Drinking
By the time I started traveling in my 20’s, I’d heard enough stories that started with “so, I woke up naked on a beach in Thailand after blacking out”, that I vowed never to drink while traveling, period. To be clear, drinking is fine, just make sure that you stay safe. You shouldn’t drink too much if you’re alone, or with people you barely know either. Don’t put your drink down, know your limits and use your common sense. (PS. If you’re going to drink absinthe, don’t do it in the shower.)
Stay Somewhere With Great Reviews
Look for places with great reviews so you know you’re staying somewhere trustworthy. I chose my recent hotel in Jamaica not because it was the fanciest place on the strip, but because it had consistently great reviews. A place like Fairfield Inn & Suites Mexico City Vallejo has features you should be looking for. You want to make sure that you’re going to be well looked after, wherever you’re traveling and whatever you’re planning on doing.
Nothing hammers home the importance of packing light like having to lug a heavy suitcase up the stairs of a five story Italian hotel with no elevator or air conditioning (#truestory). As a recovering over-packer, I always have to remind myself that I usually end up only needing 3/4 of what I put in my suitcase. Pack minimally, pick up anything you need/forget when you get there and leave room to bring home anything you might purchase.
Invest In A Portable Charger
I learned this hard way when I went to Disneyland for the first time as an adult and my phone ran out of power halfway through an epic photo-shoot with Joe the Intern. A portable charger will ensure you always have phone battery – not to just update Instagram, but to call a cab or LYFT if you need to.
Eat The Food And Don’t Sweat It
Although you may want to stay healthy on your travels, give yourself permission to let go a little bit. While I don’t regret eating my body weight in tacos last time I was in LA, I do regret that one time I went to Loteria Grill and ordered a salad when I was really craving a plate of juicy lamb Birria. Don’t be afraid to try the specialty dish, and enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. It’s not going to kill you!
It’s Okay to Get A Bit Lost
If you get lost, don’t sweat it. You might find something amazing that you wouldn’t have found otherwise — like an amazing hole in the wall restaurant or a cool photo op. Allow yourself some freedom in your schedule to really explore and find new things. For everything else, there’s Google Maps.
Enjoy The Moment – Not Through A Screen
For the majority of my twenties, smart phones simply didn’t exist (shout out to my Nokia flip phone, RIP!) so this wasn’t an issue. Now I try to make a concerted effort to limit screen time as much as possible when I’m traveling. Make sure you’re properly enjoying the moment as you travel, and not just through a screen. Be mindful of what you’re seeing. By all means, snap some pictures, but make sure you actually take in the moment yourself.
A Quick Note On Safety
Don’t listen to anyone who says “it’s not safe for females to travel alone.” While there’s definitely some locations that are safer than others (and some that you probably want to avoid altogether), if you carefully plan where you’re going and take safety precautions, you should be fine. You can’t let fear of the unknown stop you from exploring!
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There was a period in my life between ages 18 and 22 where I really struggled with spending alone. I went from living with my family, where I was always surrounded by people and spending time alone was a choice, to living by myself in Toronto where being alone was the default. I now covet my alone time, but back then I was terrified of my own company — especially on the weekends, when I assumed everyone but me was out doing “cool stuff.” I’d sign up for extra shifts at work and say yes to plans with friends (no matter how ridiculous) just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the inevitable panic attack that would set in whenever I thought of staying home alone in my apartment.
Something changed around 22 or 23 and I finally re-learned how to date myself. Here’s a few things that have helped me build a better relationship with myself.
1. Find out what you love and do more of that thing.
A few years ago, I realized I feel most like myself when I’m dancing or moving my body (barre, yoga, climbing a pole), so I’ve made a concerted effort to do those things. If you’re not sure what you love, give yourself permission to experiment and try as many new things as possible. You might end up falling in love with a part of yourself that you never knew existed (or you might just end up taking a lot of photos of a half-naked G.I. Joe).
2. Take yourself on dates.
Solo dates are the best because you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT! I used to feel really awkward sitting alone in a restaurant or a movie theater, but now I kind of love it. I still love doing these things with other people best, but sometimes it’s nice to know you can go have an awesome day/night all on your own.
3. Listen to your buddy voice.
Our intuition often gives us the best advice… if we’re willing to listen. That rising sense of anxiety you get whenever you get a text from a certain person? The sinking feeling you get before doing x, y or z? The nagging sense that something just feels off? These aren’t just random thoughts. Your intuition wants the best for you, so it’s important to listen to “your buddy voice” (as my friend likes to call it). Respect your personal boundaries. If something feels wrong, it probably is.
Seriously. I’m of the firm belief that the world would be a better place if we all took more time for self-pleasure. To quote RuPaul, “if you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?” The same applies to sex: you can’t expect someone to please you, if you don’t know how to please yourself. So don’t be afraid to explore and experiment in this regard too. You can check out omgkinky.com for some suggestions. The Skinny Dip archives are also chock-full of ideas for solo-play!
5. Stop emotionally drop-kicking yourself.
I can be my own worst enemy, but I’m trying to get better at quieting the negative self talk. Treat yourself how you’d want to be treated. Would your best friend repeatedly tell you that you suck? No, of course not. So, stop saying these things to yourself. Instead, remind yourself that you’re pretty great & are doing your best.
6. Be unapologetic about your interests.
My interests are eclectic to say the least. I like taking photos of Joe the Intern, collecting pins, reading like a beast, looking at art and occasionally taking a few spins around the pole. I’m also obsessed with soul music, hip hop and true crime podcasts. I used to think that I had to hide certain interests so that my story as a person would make sense for other people (I mean, it’s already weird enough that I’m a sex writer without having to add, “oh and by the way, I’m also super into doll photography!”) but I’ve since learned that I’m not doing the world any favors by pressing the dimmer switch on my identity. The more I embrace my interests, the more confident I feel and the easier it becomes to spend time solo.
7. Take a trip by yourself.
My recent foray into solo travel has definitely evolved the relationship I have with myself. While I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some lonely moments when I went to Los Angeles, Mexico or Jamaica solo, for the most part traveling solo was an exhilarating experience. You can visit unique destinations and once you’re there, explore them however you like. Traveling solo is something everyone should try at least once.
My good pal Kate recently wrote about some of the weird and wonderful jobs she’s had and it’s inspired me to share some of mine. I worked part time throughout the later part of high-school and university (and beyond!) and while the jobs themselves were for the most part pretty normal, I still have a lot of “interesting” stories.
1. Body Shop sales clerk.
I worked at three different Body Shop locations throughout university, but the one that made for the best stories was the Toronto Eaton Center location. Our store was located on the bottom floor of the Eaton Center — a busy, sprawling downtown mall, dubbed by many “Toronto’s armpit.” Smack dab in the middle of downtown and next to multiple subway stops, when it came to people watching at my former job, there was rarely a dull moment. A few of the highlights:
The store had a large makeup section with lots of mirrors. On a Friday or Saturday evening, it wasn’t uncommon to see people come in and do their entire face. After seeing what people do to makeup testers I will never, ever use them — not even on my hand, if I can help it. Shudder.
The store also had a large sink intended for sampling shower gels and soaps. One day a man came in, filled the sink, dunked his head in the water and proceeded to wash his very long, filthy hair. Then, instead of toweling dry, he stood up and shook his head like a dog, spraying water everywhere before casually sauntering out of the store.
Maybe it was the ubiquitous smell of fruity soap or the fumes wafting in from the food court, but something about being inside The Body Shop compelled customers to tell you all about their bodies. From bikini waxing mishaps, venereal disease symptoms to a man who needed something for what he called his “XXX parts” (very itchy recently shaved balls), I saw and heard things that can never been unseen/heard.
2. The sketchy designer jeans store.
My first job when I moved to Toronto was working at a store that sold Diesel Jeans (and other brands du jour) on Yonge Street. The store was called Soul and when I saw the help wanted sign, the wide-eyed eighteen year old me thought it was destiny (I mean, I love Soul music. So, what could go wrong?) In retrospect, I’m pretty sure the whole operation was a drug front. We rarely had any customers and every two weeks they’d pay me with cash out of the till. I didn’t mind because they gave me a sweet discount on a pair of Parasuco sparkly denim flares (the jeans had a shimmery silver sheen that made them sparkle in the sun. Like glitter. Oh dear.) In my defense, they made my ass look amazing.
3. Ghostwriting erotic fiction.
When I first started freelancing, I scored a gig creating content for an SEO company that specialized in the adult industry. For several months I wrote a series of “real life” blog posts as “Ginger,” a law student turned cam-girl with a penchant for sex in public places. It was fun & hilarious & weird (and I would totally do it again). FYI, SEO strategy is infinitely more interesting when your keywords are things like “ass cheeks,” “rim job” and “money shot.”
4. The Hungarian deli.
For a very brief period in 2003, I decided to embrace my Eastern European roots and apply for a job at the Hungarian deli near my house in Toronto. The manager looked like a Slavic stereotype straight out of central casting. Olga wore a white butcher’s coat, a hair-net and a grim expression that made her seem utterly terrifying. Even more terrifying: learning to operate the meat slicer. I was too tentative, which lead to a lot of thickly sliced Tziganskaya (which even I know is a total abomination). I never got called for a second shift.
5. Candy Girl.
My first real job in high school was working at a movie theater downtown. I was initially hired to work at the concession stand. However, I never quite mastered scooping popcorn (notice a pattern here?) so, I was promptly moved over to the bulk candy station. The owner — an older, red-faced man that had a voice that sounded like he’d swallowed a bucket of gravel and washed it down with a whisky chaser – had a mental block when it came to remembering my name so he just called me “Candy Girl.” He told me, “I hired you because you put on your resume that you know how to use a computer.” So, when things weren’t busy, Old Gravel Mouth would bring me up to his office where he’d dictate emails. They were always addressed to a woman named Tammy, who wasn’t his wife.
6. Flight Attendant.
So, yeah. That happened. After graduating university, I thought it would be really cool to get paid to travel. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t (at least for me). I spent two months in an aggressive training program learning all about airplane safety, watching videos of airplane crashes, and doing simulated crash drills that always took place at 4am in empty airplane hangers. Needless to say, it didn’t exactly help with my then un-diagnosed anxiety disorder. I did one flight before turning in my resignation. However, if you need help dragging a body from a burning wreckage (we practiced!) or zip-tying an unruly passenger to their seat, I’m your gal.
7. Coat check.
In third year university, I spent a winter working at the coat check for a high-end night club/cigar lounge. Oddly enough, this is one of the best jobs I ever had. I made an hourly wage, plus tips (usually about $100-$200 a night). The clientele was a lot of pro sports players, C-list celebs and other high-roller types. The money was good and the people watching didn’t disappoint. Annnnd, at the end of the night they’d give us free sandwiches. I’d always leave work with cash in my wallet and a handful of sandwiches stuffed in my purse, that I’d eat for lunch & dinner the next day. Because, #studentlife.
8. Peddler of fancy old lady clothes.
Home for the summer after second year university and desperate for a job, I spent a few months working at a boutique that sold high-end designer clothes. From ten seasons ago. The clothes were brand new, they had just been in the store forever. The rest of the stock looked like it was pulled from the wardrobe department of The Golden Girls. My manager reminded me of Kris Jenner, only more evil and with a raging cocaine habit. She would frequently yell at me because she didn’t think I was selling enough. (IT’S NOT MY FAULT THAT I CAN’T MOVE THIS PAIR OF SUN-FADED SHOP WORN YELLOW VERSACE JEANS, SUSAN.)
9. Managing a Co-Op residence.
This is by far the worst job I ever had. You can read about it here. And yes, I still have nightmares about the van and the never-ending demand for toilet paper.
10. This job.
Being a freelance writer that mostly writes about sex and relationships is weird & wonderful & I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I get to interview porn stars, travel to nude resorts and share my feelings with the internet, all in the name of work. I like to think that all of these other jobs in some way prepared me for what I do now, which often involves writing and speaking about things that make other people feel uncomfortable. “Itchy balls” guys of the world, I solute you.
What’s the strangest or most memorable job you’ve had?
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I found a sex related topic I haven’t written about yet: mattresses! I never considered the impact mattress comfort had on my sex life until I moved in with my ex-partner. I went from sleeping on a reasonably comfortable spring mattress to spending my nights atop of an Ikea foam mattress that I’m pretty sure was designed by Satan himself. Every morning I’d wake up with a sore back and achy muscles. I have a back injury and when my back doesn’t feel good, my libido suffers. When we finally made the switch and invested in a super comfy mattress, it had a positive impact on our sex life. (It’s amazing how much sexier you feel when you’re no longer living in a real-life version of the sofa bed episode of Seinfeld.)
So, without further adieu, here are a few pointers on how to choose the right mattress so your sex life never has to suffer.
When choosing a mattress for sex, comfort is one of the things you don’t want to mess around with. Anyone who’s ever had the unfortunate experience of having sex on a futon only to wake up the next day feeling like their body was put through a trash compactor, knows exactly what I’m talking about. The last thing you want is to strain your body while making love (this is especially true if you already have an injury like I do.) Some mattresses will strain your knees, buttocks, or hands, and other areas of your body that offer support during sex. When these are strained, you will get tired out more quickly and may even wake up to body pain. Look for a mattress that’s comfortable and supportive so that sex can be as pleasurable as possible — something that’s more difficult to achieve when you’re worried about your mattress giving you shin splints.
While most people have differing preferences when it comes to noise during sex, I think most of us can agree that there’s nothing sexy about a creaky, squeaky mattress. This is especially true if you live with other people and want to keep things, um, discreet. Instead, aim to create an environment that allows you to focus on your partner with minimal distractions. By providing comfort and discretion, a quiet mattress will help increase performance and pleasure for both of you.
To maintain rhythm and endurance you’ll want to make sure your mattress offers sufficient bounce. A rigid base may not offer this. When you don’t have enough bounce, your partner will feel like they’re being pressed into the mattress — and not in a good way. So, make sure you find a mattress with sufficient bounce for maximum pleasure.
When choosing a mattress to bolster your sex life, you also need to think about edge support — the encasement around the frame that spring mattresses require to support the springs. A good mattress will offer sufficient edge support to ensure safety and comfort, and will be designed to accommodate weight and pressure, without collapsing (I’m not sure what that would look like, but it doesn’t sound fun). Instead of worrying about stuff, a good mattress allows you to focus on what’s important: great sleep and satisfaction from sex.
So, there you have it. If you’re shopping for a mattress with sex in mind, these tips should help. Think about it: the average person sleeps for one third of their life (if you sleep approx 8 hours a night and live for 75 years, that’s 25 years or 9,125 days that you spend asleep). You owe it to yourself to create the perfect refuge and playground for you and your partner(s) with a good mattress.