Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Being a Sex Object isn't Sexy

Watch this compelling TEDxYouth video where Caroline Heldman explains how women and girls being treated and seeing themselves as sexual objects is damaging in many ways, including diminished sexual pleasure. Sexual objectification - which she defines as "A key process whereby girls (and women) learn to think and treat their bodies as objects of others' desires" can lead to depression, eating disorders, body shame, lower GPA, and competitiveness with other females. 

Girls and women are especially susceptible to the influence of objectification today because images in the media are rampant, and we all consume a lot more media and advertising than we used to. Objectifying ads aren't subtle - take this ad for example, which seems to say the reward for being a stylishly dressed woman means you get gang raped by handsome men, instead of plain old ugly ones. This is just sickening.

I think it's important that women take care of their health and appearance - but to please and take pride in themselves, not to become objects for male pleasure. Anyway, watch the TEDx video, above. It will make you take a new look at advertising and television. It made me realize why I've been disturbed by the opening sequence of HBO's True Detective - it's filled with objectifying images of naked women.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beyonce urges women to own their sexuality. I agree.

Beyonce - Montreal 2013 (3) crop.jpg
Image via Wikipedia
In a recent interview, megastar Beyonce Knowles discusses the power of women owning their sexuality.
“There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality,” she wrote. “There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists. Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims.”
She said women can be everything they aspire to be “and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.”  Read the full story at ABC News.
I totally agree with Beyonce. For ages, we women have been taught to feel ashamed of our bodies, deny our sexual urges, and discount our desires. Living in conflict with our feminine nature makes us feel wrong and guilty and keeps us small. Luckily, we live in a country and an era where these attitudes are changing. I think the most empowered women honor and celebrate their sexuality. Women who accept themselves, love their bodies, and pursue pleasure are fired up! They have so much to offer to the rest of the world because they are comfortable with themselves and feel worthy and engaged.
That's why I write my Sex & the Suburbs column. Not only to help women enjoy sex; but to encourage women enjoy their whole lives! Knowing you deserve love and pleasure and taking the responsibility to give it to yourself is a high form of self respect and empowerment. 
So rock on Queen Bee. With a net worth of over $350 million, owning your sexuality is certainly working for you.

Friday, February 28, 2014

4 F-ing things I won't miss about February

My friends know this about me: I hate winter, and this one has been BRUTAL.  But things have got to get better in March, right? So I'm celebrating the last day of this despicable month by saying good riddance to four F-ing things I won't miss about February. (They all begin with F, get it?)

1. Frigid Temps
After record breaking cold and snow in December and January, the continuation of the Polar Vortex in February has been particularly hard to endure. The unrelenting wind chill and painfully cold temps have been ridiculous. I'm normally wimpy about the cold, but this month I'm justified. It has been the third coldest February on record

2. Frozen Sidewalks
Walking my dog Kelly has been either treacherous or impossible. The sidewalks have been covered in snow, slick with ice, or too painfully cold for her little feet to bear. After carrying her home a few times, I've reverted to throwing her toys around in the basement for exercise. The lack of fresh air is driving us both nuts.

3. Frumpy Footwear
I am so sick of wearing snow boots all the time. First of all, I love cute shoes. Secondly, I'm short! I need to wear a bit of a heel to feel like a grown-up. Clumping around in furry mukluks makes me feel like I'm one of the seven dwarfs (Grumpy, of course.)  In March, I'm breaking out the leopard pumps, no matter what.

4. February Face
This is how I've looked all month. Pained and miserable. I know, not a pretty sight. 

But tomorrow is March 1st and even though the forecast doesn't show it, I know there's a thaw in sight. So farewell February Face! Ciao cold! See ya later frozen sidewalks and frumpy Ugg boots. I'm not gonna miss you one f-ing bit.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

3 Romantic Ways to Make Your Man Happy

I almost delivered this "Sex & the Suburbs" story on a local TV station, but rats, the segment fell through. Since I'm all prepped, I'm publishing it on a media outlet that never lets me down - Ripe Peach. So read on 'cause here are three things your man would love from you on Valentine's day or any day. If you read my column, some of these may sound familiar!

1. Appreciate Him
Men are programmed to act all strong and self sufficient but they really long for approval,  so acknowledge your guy when he does something sweet or helpful.  A simple thank you is a great start, but to really make him feel appreciated, stock up on all those romantic cards (on sale now!) and use them throughout the year. Tuck an affectionate note into his coat pocket or briefcase for him to find later or shoot him a romantic text or personalized e-cards. Be specific - "I adore when you are so patient helping Timmy with math," or "thanks for filling my windshield wiper fluid this morning, stud" or "You look so yummy in those jeans!" Guys love to feel effective and know when they're getting things right, and you'll have fun reinforcing his good behavior.

A box full of I love you's or sweet notes.

2. Look Hot for Him
Men are visual creatures, so give your guy something hot to look at:  you! A really beautiful gift is to have a sexy portrait taken - like these photos from my friends Sylvi and Gina at Enamour Photography - and surprise your guy with a special photo album. 

But also, make the effort to dress up in person. Even if you're staying in, ditch the yoga pants, do your hair and make-up, wear the dress he loves, or put on something pretty at bedtime. When you look good, you feel good, and that will put both of you in the mood.
A chemise is both comfy and pretty.
3. Make a Move on Him
Most men would really dig it if you took the initiative. Here are three ideas for romantic encounters that are "Sex & the Suburbs" man-approved.

Hotel Sleep-Under
For privacy-starved couples, a few hours in a hotel can do wonders. Book a last-minute hotel on or Priceline (as of today, 4-star hotels in Chicago cost as little as $99) and you can spend an evening in a clean, private room doing whatever the hell you want. Pack your purse with with wine, almonds and dark chocolate (they're aphrodisiacs) and bring something slinky to wear and a sexy toy or two. My recommendation - a massage candle that when lit, turns into a puddle of massage oil. After a couple luxurious hours, drop your key off at the hotel's front desk and you can still be home in time to pay the sitter.

Pack your purse for a decadent sleep-under

Host a Quickie
This is an adult version of the pre-teen game "Seven Minutes in Heaven." Invite your man to a small room in your home (the basement bathroom perhaps?) for a few minutes of romance. Pop a split of champagne, light a candle, play a sexy song or two and see what happens. The kids won't even know you're gone.

 Party in the Potty 8:07-8:14p.m.!

The Man Date
Sometimes a man just needs to be a man, so plan an evening that honors his masculinity. Challenge your dude to an evening of competition at pool, darts, poker - even video games. Serve craft beer in cool IPA glasses and make playful bets. No matter what the score, everybody wins!

I'll match your back rub and raise you breakfast in bed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dealing with S.A.D. - Seasonal Affective Disorder - Guest Post by Dana Hoffman, Acupuncturist

Marjie: What a brutal winter. I don't know how you're coping, but I've been in a mid-winter funk. My energy is low, I'm grumpy, and I complain all the time. My family and friends aren't exactly charmed by this behavior and I'm sick of it too. I want my sunny ripe peach self back! Luckily, Dana Hoffman - a wise and wonderful Chicago acupuncturist and  healer - is here to give us the lowdown on how to deal with S.A.D. She is one of my first guest bloggers and it's already cheering me up to have her here. Now I'm turning things over to Dana while I go pop some vitamin D.

Dana Hoffman
Long before I was an acupuncturist, in Woody Allen's 1990 film, 'Alice,' Mia Farrow's character goes to the Chinese acupuncturist with a nagging backache. Dr. Yang points at Alice's aching back and says, "Problem not here, problem is (now pointing at her head) HERE." and then proceeds to give her Chinese herbs that when consumed make Alice invisible so she can get in some "me" time. 

But back to that head. And what's connected to it. This time of year, I see several patients a day coming in and NOTHING is going right for them. They are unable to concentrate, unable to sleep, feel upside-down, angry, and confused. It's because they have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or, as we like to say in my business, their liver qi is backed up like the Kennedy at rush hour. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D., is a condition caused by minimal winter daylight and overcast days. It can manifest as:
  • depression, moodiness, irritability
  • reduced immunity: getting colds or worse, and having them linger
  • no energy: crawling onto the couch and never getting off
  • desiring social isolation and not wanting to engage with others as it's too "difficult"
  • lack of concentration or brain fog
  • fatigue, insomnia, or excessive sleepiness
  • carbohydrate cravings or appetite changes
So what should you do? 
  1. Make getting outside part of your daily routine. On the snowy days, a free ice facial awaits you! You'll have ruddy cheeks and fresh air in your lungs. Walk the dog if you have one. Grab a sled. This is still natural light which will help your melatonin production and later when it gets dark, you'll sleep better when that contrast sends your body into the proper sleep mode. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this is the equivalent to being outside moving unencumbered (good) versus being stuck in a traffic jam (frustrating, bad). Exercising at the gym is good for your body, but this natural air and light is a whole different animal with exponentially beneficial effects. 
  2. For anyone with insomnia at any time of year: ditch the blue screens! That's your iPad, phone, and anything else that will disrupt melatonin production.  Insomnia is a multi-tiered issue in TCM that is broken down into categories: trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or not sleeping soundly even though you're supposedly asleep. There are multiple approaches to take (see #6 and 7).
  3. Eat foods that won't send you into a endless carbohydrate-crash loop. Simple carbohydrates, also known as processed carbohydrates convert into sugar (or are sugar) too quickly in the liver and can impact hormone production, make you moody or jittery, send out too much insulin from the pancreas to deal with what your body perceives as a giant meal on the way, and then plummet your energy even lower than before - and craving even more sugar and processed carbohydrates. Serotonin production begins in the gut and the healthier you are eating, the more you are building good brain chemistry. 
  4. DO schedule social interactions and stay on a modified schedule. 
  5. Have your doctor test your Vitamin D and B12 levels. If you have been in this cycle for a while and feel achy, have osteopenia or osteoporosis, or are developing kidney stones (known as "moans, groans, and bones"), also have your parathyroid checked as this could be a sign of bigger issues that are harder to find than to treat. I never hesitate to refer people back to their doctor for testing. It's good information to have.
  6. Traditional Chinese Medicine: Like rebooting your phone or computer, acupuncture performs a manual reboot of many body systems. It calms the mind, increases mental sharpness, distributes blood more evenly, and regulates cycles (in sleep, menstruation, digestion), and also reduces hot flashes and night sweats . Acupuncture does not hurt, and most people report dozing off while on the table, feeling as if they are floating, and having creative thoughts. Acupuncture releases the body's natural painkillers, endorphins while regulating neurotransmitters. 
  7. If you are a candidate for Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, various formulas can improve mood, sleep, and digestion with fewer side effects than most antidepressants and is a shorter-term proposition. Chinese pharmacology is not viewed as "a pill for life" but as a way to correct an imbalance. Treatment shifts as the patient changes and improves.
Most importantly, it's going to be Groundhog Day soon which means we're only 6 weeks until spring. Until then, enjoy the longer days and bundle up.

Dana Hoffman is a Nationally Board Certified Diplomate in Acupuncture and is a Licensed Acupuncturist in the State of Illinois. In addition to hundreds of hours of clinical training she also studied under several esteemed doctors in Beijing, China. Her practice is in Northfield and in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

15 Fun Things About Turning 50

Now that I've been 50 for a while, I've discovered it isn't all bad. In fact, some things are surprisingly great! Take a look at this two minute video and tell me what you think. I'm always on the lookout for more positive things about this stage of life so I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Letter to the Editor - My Column Creates Controversy

Image via

My recent column titled "So Your Husband Watches Porn? Don't Freak Out" for Make it Better Magazine has caused several upset readers to write letters to my editor. The readers felt that normalizing any kind of porn use is the same as supporting porn addiction, sex trafficking, child slavery and the exploitation of women - heavy stuff. You can read the original column by following this link:

My editor asked me to respond to the criticism, which I did, and I'm sharing those thoughts with you here:

1) Porn is a huge, controversial topic, and due to the constraints of my column, I had to narrowly define the scope of my piece. I asked three local experts the question - If a woman discovers her husband is watching porn, what does it mean for their relationship and what should she do? I chose this question because it's one women have asked me - frequently - to address. In over four years, this is the first time I've written about pornography. Given how prevalent it is in our society, it seemed time to do so.

2)  All three women therapists were consistent in how they answered my question. They recommended that women try to understand why and how their husband uses porn rather than react judgmentally. They also voiced that the process of talking about porn (and perhaps sharing in it) could build intimacy between the couple, especially compared to outrage, shaming and rejection. My column is based on their professional opinions, not my own. I was actually surprised that they were so aligned.

3) Porn CAN be addictive and, like any addiction, can be destructive to the addict and his loved ones. If porn interferes with the deeper sexual connection sex therapist Barbary Whitney spoke of in my piece (see below) it's not a good thing.
Northbrook Clinical Social Worker and Sex Therapist Barbara Whitney says a critical question to ask about porn is “Does it promote and enhance a deeper sexual connection between you and your partner, or does it interfere with one?”
4.) I am absolutely against sexual exploitation of anyone. In fact, one of the main goals of the column is to give women information that empowers them to explore their sexuality and enjoy it on their own terms - especially in long term relationships.

So that's my story and I'm stickin' with it. And hey, not all the reactions to that column have been bad. Just two nights ago, I met a group of lively women at a local restaurant. "She's the sex columnist," one woman said, recognizing me from a Make it Better event. "She's the one who wrote the column about porn." 

Yep, I'm the one. I walked over to their table to greet them.

One of her friends said, "I pulled that column right out and gave it to my girlfriend. She's been having a lot of issues with her husband. It was so helpful."

That was very gratifying to hear.

I do understand that pornography can be a disturbing topic, but it's here, it's in our world, so we might as well deal with it. I appreciate those letter writers for adding to the discussion, because talking about it is how we women figure it out. Together.

I'd love to hear your comments.