No, not all at the same time, necessarily. But I had the pleasure of exploring all three of these wonderful topics with Jean Franzblau on Girl Boner® Radio this week and loved what she had to say.
Now a sex-positive and consent-positive speaker and founder of Cuddle Sanctuary, where she facilitates platonic cuddle events and teaches aspiring professional cuddlers, Jean’s own cuddle-embracing path had a rocky start.
“I laugh a lot these days, but it wasn’t always like that,” she told me. “There was a period of time when I was lonely in Los Angeles. I don’t think I’m the only one who’s had this experience, but I think a lot of us can get into that mode working in a cubicle, let’s say, or living alone the way I did.”
Her longing for physical connection came to a head, she said, when during a business trip, she felt so disconnected and isolated that she set her sights on a random person for sex. After their romp, Jean was ready for her end goal, the reward she thought she’d earned: cuddling, spooning, bliss.
When Jean suggested they spoon, her acquaintance declined, describing spooning as something he’d do with a girlfriend. So he left.
“At the time I was incredulous,” Jean recalled. “I was embarrassed. I felt shame. Because I thought that I worked for it. I did all the things you have to do get to this thing called cuddling — to be held, seen, talked to. I learned a tough lesson that night, which is that I don’t have to rely on sexuality to get to the connection that I crave.”
Over time, this experience fueled a whole new outlook on life and physical connection for Jean.
To learn more about her work and journey, stream the episode on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher or below! The episode also features fabulous thoughts from Dr. Megan Fleming on what to do when you crave more affection in your relationship and lots of juicy chat about bralessness, nipples and consent. Read on for highlights!
Here just a few takeaways I adored about going braless, cuddling and practicing consent.
We aren’t “hardwired” to lust after breasts.
In the U.S., we’re been taught that boobs and nipples are sex objects and taboo. Does that mean it’s wrong or bad to find breasts or nipples sexy? No. For one thing, there’s a big difference between sexualizing someone or a body part and eroticism.
When we breast owners want to feel sexualized or objectified, such as by a lover, that’s a groovy thing. When it fuels societal messaging and behaviors that interfere with ours sense of self-worth or wellbeing, on the other hand (which happens a LOT), that’s not so cool. Regardless, we can all stand to explore these feelings and beliefs and understand their roots.
Also awesome? We can choose what we want to desire and feel turned on by. We don’t have to let society decide.
If you want to wear a bra, great! If you don’t, that should be dandy, too.
Jean and I share the belief that in a perfect—or even healthier, more compassionate world—going braless would be no biggie. Neither of us feel the need to wear bras for comfort or support very often but realize that in many circles, nipples showing through a shirt functions like a neon sign: Hey, look at my nips!!!
Since experiencing this type of response, Jean and I have come up with strategies to work around having to wear a bra and to protect folks from our nipples at the same time, in certain situations—which sounds awful, doesn’t it? Who needs protection from a body part most humans have? (Here come the nipples! Watch out! AHHHH!) But the world isn’t necessarily ready for full free-boobing by all. Step by step, I believe we’ll get there.
Side note: Those of you who go braless perpetually or see it as activism, I’m totally cheering you on!
Cuddling can teach us a lot about consent.
I learned this firsthand when I attended one of Jean’s cuddle events in Los Angeles. The gatherings include consent-focused exercises where you practice asking for and accepting or declining hugs.
When I asked Jean what her work in the cuddle space has taught her about consent, she said:
“. . .I can ask for what I want, and the other person can say ‘no.’ It’s realizing that people have the right to say ‘no.’ I can give them the space to say ‘no.’ I don’t pressure people physically . . . so knowing I have these skills and I can practice them gracefully, which takes some practice, means that I can also ask for some wonderful things, things that I never would’ve thought I could ask for.”
Therein lies another groovy takeaway: ‘consent’ is not a dirty word. As a practice, it opens us up to luscious and meaningful opportunities we might never otherwise have.