I’ve spent the last five years throwing all sorts of clothing optional events. And you probably haven’t. I’ve sort of become an accidental expert on the subject, so if you’re in the St. Louis area and are in the market for a clothing optional event planner, I’m your man. If you’re outside the St. Louis area, this article may have to do.
It took a few years, but we’ve arrived at a place at Sex Positive St. Louis where our clothing optional events tend to be gender balanced without a lot of orchestration on our part. In the beginning, we noticed that when a clothing optional event was announced, a ton single men would RSVP on the first day (within the first few hours, actually). RSVPs from single women would trickle in during the last few days before the event. We had to put the single men on a waiting list while we waited for the women to RSVP, otherwise, we might be looking at a party that was ¾ naked straight guys.
We had an idea to reach out to more women and make them more comfortable with the whole concept of the clothing optional party: women only clothing optional events. The logic being, women could attend a clothing optional event in a safer space, get a feel for what our clothing optional events are like, and meet some of the women who have attended these events in the past who they’d likely to run into at co-ed events in the future.
This led to the Topless Tea Party (women get topless, drink tea, make their own pasties), Topless Tarot (women get topless and a receive tarot card readings), and The Pussy Party (women get naked and discuss their vaginas). These events were a rousing success.
Straight men being accustomed to being at the center of everything, it wasn’t long before we started getting complaints from men who felt left out of the women’s only events, and who asked why there were no men’s only events. So, almost out of spite (at least on my part), we threw an event called Dicktacular! Dicktacular!, an all-male event for guys to talk about their penises. We decided to NOT make it clothing optional.
So… a bunch of (mostly) straight, fully clothed guys sat around a room and talked about their dicks for a couple hours. It wasn’t a bad event. It’s just didn’t feel terribly significant. Having never attended the Pussy Party, I had nothing to compare it to, but based on the feedback I’d heard from the women who had attended, I was pretty sure Dicktacular! was not the healing, cathartic experience the likes of which the women had.
So, I went back to the lab and tried to create a new event, and The Penis Party was born.
Ordinarily, in a scientific experiment, you change one variable at a time and measure the difference in the outcome. But, ain’t nobody got time for that, so I changed a bunch of stuff in creating the format for the Penis Party.
- It would be Co-Ed. Men and women could attend.
- It would not be clothing optional, but Clothed Female Naked Male (CFNM), meaning (unlike any other event we’d ever hosted before) the men would be required to be completely nude and the women would have to stay fully clothed.
- It would be a fishbowl styled discussion. The men would sit naked, on the floor, in a circle and discuss their penises (based on questions submitted by women in advance) and the women would be able to listen, but not speak.
- After a break, the women would be able to discuss penises among themselves and the men would have to just sit, listen, and not interject.
- At the end, there would be time for discussion between the genders.
Tips for a Successful Penis Party:
Be realistic about the limits of time and space. We like to keep our Penis Parties small, usually around 20 people (10 men and 10 women). This allows us to hold the event in smaller spaces (saving the large venues for our clothing optional social events that typically draw 50 people or more.). More importantly, this allows time for everyone who wants to talk to do so.
Get the questions in advance. At the first Penis Party, we handed out index cards and pens at the beginning and let women write down their questions on the spot. Not only did this take up valuable discussion time, but it was a nightmare trying to facilitate the discussion and organize the questions at the same time since many of the questions were duplicates and some women wrote several different questions on the same card. Solicit the questions online in advance and collate them ahead of time. Trust me.
Designate a facilitator for each part of the discussion. After facilitating the discussion among the men in the first half, I handed over the discussion to the women without asking anyone to moderate. The results were not disastrous, just occasionally rudderless, and with none of the women empowered to take the reins, they looked to me, but as a stickler for my own rules, I would not speak during the women’s portion of the discussion.
Transgender inclusion will be a challenge. I’m a firm believer that you should be the change you want to see in the world while, at the same time, not being naive about the fact that you still live in the default world. As we move toward a more gender fluid society, there are still conversations we need to have that by their very nature may reinforce the gender binary. An adult conversation about our experience with our genitals is something that’s not really happening, even in sex-positive communities. These conversations, worthwhile as they are, can be very gendered and in fact, focused on the genitals. This can feel unsafe or exclusionary to, for example, a man with a vulva or a woman with a penis.
Of the two Penis Parties we’ve held, we’ve only had one out trans person (a trans man) attend. Even though he was bottomless and sitting on the floor with the other men (his packer proudly swinging in the breeze), he was still being misgendered during the co-ed portion of the conversation by women who had only known him to identify as female.
A simple solution to this would have been to have everyone introduce themselves with their gender identity and preferred pronouns at the top of the discussion, but this issue is really just the tip of the transgender inclusion iceberg that I’m still actively dealing with.
A sample of Penis Party questions:
- How often do you masturbate?
- Are you circumcised? If so are you feeling about it?
- Have you ever tried sounding?
- How do you “tone down” a hard-on when you’re erect at a clothing optional event?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate blow jobs in general?
- Do different vaginas feel different to your penis?
- Why are condoms so distasteful to so many of you?
- How do you feel when you can’t get erect?
- Should penises be as visible as breasts and vaginas in movies and television?
- How much does the social correlation between size and masculinity affect you?
On a personal note: Easily the oddest part of the entire experience was the act of walking into a changing room full of men, taking all my clothes off and then walking with them in a single file line in front of a group of seated, fully clothed women. We must have looked like a bunch of beauty pageant contestants parading before the judges. It was that moment, more than anything else, that felt like a subversive upending of our standard expectations of power, gender, and gaze.
In my humble and completely biased opinion, I think our first two Penis Parties were very successful, eye-opening experiences for both men and women. To get a female perspective on the event, check out Kendra’s recap of the last Penis Party at The Beautiful Kind blog.