Americans Were Quizzed on Sexual Health:

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What The Results Say About the State of Sex Ed

by LeAnne Graves

There’s no question that offering consistent and accurate sexual health information in schools is important.

Providing students with these resources not only helps to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but it can also help to ensure the overall well-being of an individual.

Yet the state of sexual education and awareness in some areas of the United States ranges from medically inaccurate to virtually nonexistent.

At present, only 20 states require that sex and HIV education be “medically, factually, or technically accurate,” (while New Jersey is technically the 21st state, it’s been left out since medical accuracy isn’t specifically outlined in state statute. Rather it’s required by the NJDE’s Comprehensive Health and Physical Education).

Meanwhile, the definition for what’s “medically accurate” can vary by state.

While some states may require approval of the curriculum by the Department of Health, other states allow materials to be distributed that are based on information from published sources that are revered by the medical industry. This lack of a streamlined process can lead to the distribution of incorrect information.

Healthline and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), an organization dedicated to promoting sexual education, conducted a survey that looked at the state of sexual health in the United States.

Below are the results.

Access To Education

In our survey, which polled more than 1,000 Americans, only 12 percent of respondents 60 years and older received some form of sexual education in school.

Meanwhile, only 33 percent of people between 18 and 29 years old reported having any.

While some previous studies have found that abstinence-only education programs don’t protect against teen pregnancies and STIs, there are many areas in the United States where this is the only type of sexual education provided.

States like Mississippi require schools to present sexual education as abstinence-only as the way to combat unwanted pregnancies. Yet Mississippi has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancies, ranking third in 2016.

This is in contrast to New Hampshire, which has the lowest rate of teen pregnancies in the United States. The state teaches health and sex education as well as a curriculum dedicated to STIs starting in middle schools.

To date, 35 states and the District of Columbia also allow for parents to opt-out of having their children participate in sex ed.

Yet in a 2017 survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 40 percent of high school students had already engaged in sexual activity.

“When it comes to promoting sex education, the biggest obstacle is definitely our country’s cultural inclination to avoid conversations about sexuality entirely, or to only speak about sex and sexuality in ways that are negative or shaming,” explains Jennifer Driver, SIECUS’ State Policy Director.

“It’s hard to ensure someone’s sexual health and well-being when, far too often, we lack appropriate, affirmative, and non-shaming language to talk about sex in the first place,” she says.

STI prevention

In 2016, nearly a quarter of all new HIV cases in the United States were made up of young people ages 13 to 24, according to the CDC. People ages 15 to 24 also make up half of the 20 million new STIs reported in the United States each year.

Which is why it’s concerning that in our survey — where the age bracket 18 to 29 made up nearly 30 percent of our participants — when asked whether HIV could be spread through saliva, nearly 1 out of 2 people answered incorrectly.

Recently, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a study that states comprehensive sex education (CSE) programs not only increased the overall health and well-being of children and young people, but helped to prevent HIV and STIs as well.

Driver cites the Netherlands as a prime example of the payoffs from CSE programs. The country offers one of the world’s best sex education systems with corresponding health outcomes, particularly when it comes to STI and HIV prevention.

The country requires a comprehensive sexual education course starting in primary school. And the results of these programs speak for themselves.

The Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of HIV at 0.2 percent of adults ages 15 to 49.

Statistics also show that 85 percent of adolescents in the country reported using contraception during their first sexual encounter, while the rate of adolescent pregnancies was low, at 4.5 per 1,000 adolescents.

Though Driver acknowledges that the United States cannot simply “adopt every sex education-related action happening in the Netherlands,” she does acknowledge that it’s possible to look to countries who are taking a similar approach for ideas.

Contraception misconceptions

When it comes to contraception, and more specifically emergency contraception, our survey found that there are a number of misconceptions about how these preventive measures work.

A whopping 93 percent of our respondents were unable to correctly answer how many days after intercourse emergency contraception is valid. Most people said it was only effective up to two days after having sex.

In fact, “morning-after pills” such as Plan B may help stop unwanted pregnancies if taken up to 5 days after sex with a potential 89 percent reduction in risk.

Other misunderstandings about emergency contraceptives include 34 percent of those polled believing that taking the morning-after pill can cause infertility, and a quarter of respondents believing that it can cause an abortion.

In fact, 70 percent of those surveyed didn’t know that the pill temporarily stops ovulation, which prevents the releasing of an egg to be fertilized.

Whether this misconception about how oral contraception works is a gender issue isn’t clear-cut. What’s understood, however, is that there’s still work to be done.

Though Driver cites the Affordable Care Act as one example of the push for free and accessible birth control and contraception, she’s not convinced this is enough.

“The cultural backlash, as exemplified by several legal fights and an increase in public debates — which have, unfortunately conflated birth control with abortion — illustrates that our society remains uncomfortable with fully embracing female sexuality,” she explains.

93 percent of our respondents were unable to correctly answer how many days after intercourse emergency contraception is valid.

Knowledge by gender

When breaking it down by gender, who’s the most knowledgeable when it comes to sex?

Our survey showed that 65 percent of females answered all questions correctly, while the figure for male participants was 57 percent.

Though these stats aren’t inherently bad, the fact that 35 percent of men who participated in the survey believed that women couldn’t get pregnant while on their periods is an indication that there’s still a ways to go — particularly when it comes to understanding female sexuality.

“We need to do a lot of work to change pervasive myths, specifically surrounding female sexuality,” explains Driver.

“There is still a cultural allowance for men to be sexual beings, while women experience double standards regarding their sexuality. And this long-standing misconception has undoubtedly contributed to confusion surrounding women’s bodies and female sexual health,” she says.

Defining consent

From the #MeToo movement to the Christine Blasey Ford case, it’s clear that creating dialogue around and providing information about sexual consent has never been more imperative.

The findings from our survey indicate that this is also the case. Of the respondents ages 18 to 29, 14 percent still believed that a significant other has a right to sex.

This specific age bracket represented the largest group with the least understanding as to what constituted as consent.

What’s more, a quarter of all respondents answered the same question incorrectly, with some believing that consent is applicable if the person says yes despite drinking, or if the other person doesn’t say no at all.

These findings, as concerning as they might be, shouldn’t be surprising. To date, only six states require instruction to include information on consent, says Driver.

Yet the UNESCO study mentioned earlier cites CSE programs as an effective way “of equipping young people with knowledge and skills to make responsible choices for their lives.”

This includes improving their “analytical, communication, and other life skills for health and well-being in relation to… gender-based violence, consent, sexual abuse, and harmful practices.”

Of the respondents ages 18 to 29, 14 percent believed that a significant other has a right to sex.

What’s next?

Though the results of our survey indicate that more needs to be done in terms of providing CSE programs in school, there’s evidence that the United States is moving in the right direction.

A Planned Parenthood Federation of America poll conducted this year revealed that 98 percent of likely voters support sex education in high school, while 89 percent support it in middle school.

“We’re at a 30-year low for unintended pregnancy in this country and a historic low for pregnancy among teenagers,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood.

“Sex education and access to family planning services have been critical to helping teens stay safe and healthy — now is not the time to walk back that progress.”

Moreover, SIECUS is advocating for policies that would create the first-ever federal funding stream for comprehensive sexuality education in schools.

They’re also working to raise awareness about the need to increase and improve the access of marginalized young people to sexual and reproductive healthcare services.

“Comprehensive school-based sex education should provide fact and medically-based information that complements and augments the sex education children receive from their families, religious and community groups, and healthcare professionals,” explains Driver.

“We can increase sexual health knowledge for people of all ages by simply treating it like any other aspect of health. We should positively affirm that sexuality is a fundamental and normal part of being human,” she adds.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexual rehab could have benefits for men with heart disease

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By Carolyn Crist

A sexual rehabilitation program could help with erectile dysfunction in men who have heart disease, a study from Denmark suggests.

Men assigned to the rehabilitation program had improved erectile function and better exercise capacity after 16 weeks compared to those who just got usual medical care, the study team reports in the journal Heart.

“Sexual problems have a profound negative impact on several aspects such as quality of life, general wellbeing, relationship problems and psychological outcomes such as depression and anxiety,” said lead study author Pernille Palm of Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet.

For some cardiovascular issues such as ischemic heart disease, erectile dysfunction is a problem in up to 80 percent of men, she said.

“Patients hesitate to seek help because it’s still a taboo,” Palm told Reuters Health by email. “They want health professionals to address the topic, but health professionals in general don’t feel they have the competence or correct intervention to offer.”

In the CopenHeart trial, Palm and colleagues randomly assigned 154 men either to just continue with their normal outpatient follow-up visits or to also take part in a 12-week sexual rehabilitation program that included physical exercise and psychoeducation around sexual health and dysfunction.

The men had either ischemic heart disease – meaning blocked or narrowed arteries – or a heart rhythm disorder that required an implanted defibrillator. Half were older than 62. Those assigned to the rehab program followed a cardio and strength-training regimen, as well as stretching and pelvic floor exercises, plus a tailored counseling program that covered each man’s specific issues and concerns.

The men answered questionnaires about their sexual functioning and their level of wellbeing at the start of the study, and the research team measured exercise capacity at the outset and again after four months and six months. Measurements of erectile function included questions about erection quality, orgasmic function, sexual desire and intercourse satisfaction. Another set of questions gauged quality of life related to having a disease.

The research team found that sexual rehabilitation, as compared with usual care, improved physical sexual function at four months and six months. The rehabilitation program also improved exercise capacity and pelvic floor strength. However, there was no difference between the groups in the psychosocial component of the assessments or in their self-reported health or mental health.

“What stuck out the most was the fact that so many men had this problem for so long and hadn’t sought professional help,” Palm said. “But also, the ones seeking help weren’t able to get sufficient advice.”

As part of the trial, the study authors elicited feedback from the men’s partners regarding erection function, yet only 10 percent of partners responded. Future studies should find other ways to engage partners and build the social aspect of the program, Palm said.

In fact, during the trial, some of the patients “teamed up with peers and met up after training sessions for a beer, thereby creating a special place for discussing their life with heart disease, including sexual issues,” she said.

Palm and colleagues are planninga larger study with different types of patients who may require different treatments, she explained. Other studies are specifically focused on sexual outcomes for women, too.

“Although the clinical guidelines recommend counseling of women and men about sex after a heart attack, women are far less likely to receive this counseling,” said Dr. Stacy Lindau of the University of Chicago, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Lindau directs WomanLab, a website that provides information about female sexuality and health conditions, especially with regard to menopause, cancer and heart disease. This week, WomanLab launched a new resource (bit.ly/2FNxEHj) with questions to ask doctors about sex after a heart attack.

“Both men and women should ask their heart doctor when it’s safe to start having sex again and, if possible, include their partner in the conversation,” Lindau told Reuters Health by email. “A life-threatening illness can be a wake-up call where couples reset their thinking about their life priorities and renew their commitment to caring for and loving each other each day.”

Complete Article HERE!

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There’s A Big Problem With Female Orgasms

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By Rosie McCall

When it comes to the female orgasm, there may be more than women’s sexual pleasure at stake. For some partners, anyway. According to a study in The Journal of Sex Research, a man’s sense of masculinity is enhanced when he is able to make his partner orgasm. This was found to be particularly true amongst men who are less secure in their manhood. 

The study, published last year, investigated the responses of 810 heterosexual men aged 18 or older to an Imagined Orgasm Exercise. They were asked to imagine having sex with a woman they found attractive and then tell researchers how various different scenarios made them feel. 

“Men state that women’s orgasm is one of the most sexually satisfying experiences that men can have,” study authors, Sara B. Chadwick and Sari van Anders, both of the University of Michigan, told PsyPost.

“We were interested in exploring this further using experimental means, and assessing how men’s feelings about women’s orgasm contribute to their own sense of sexual satisfaction.”

In news that will shock no one, the men reported feeling more masculine when they had helped their female partner achieve orgasm – a case for why the fake orgasm is so prevalent. But, perhaps more surprisingly, a woman’s orgasm history (that is, whether she orgasmed or not with previous partners) had no significant effect on their replies. Neither did a man’s attitude towards gender equality inside the relationship. Instead, what did have an effect, was how comfortable or stressed the man felt about gender roles. That could be, for example, whether or not he might feel threatened by a successful female co-worker. 

The study authors argue that these results might imply, at least from the male point of view, that the female orgasm is less about the woman’s pleasure and more about boosting the male ego.

“This suggests that current narratives about women’s orgasm may actually reflect a repackaging of women’s sexuality in service in men, similar to how women’s sexuality has been historically situated,” they add

It might be worth noting, that the average age of the men surveyed was 25. Men of this age are more likely to be single and may be more anxious to show off their sexual prowess than older men in steady relationships, which might skew the results somewhat.

What’s more, the study only looked at men’s responses to sex with women, not vice versa or people of either gender having same-sex encounters. With no control or comparison, it is hard to say with absolute certainty that this issue applies to heterosexual relationships – or to relationships generally. It also does not confirm the role-reversal of whether or not a woman’s feminity is undermined if she does not make a male partner orgasm. 

However, it the results are supported by a 2014 study that found that an inability to make a female partner orgasm can make men depressed. It also highlights the “orgasm gap” – not only can women expect to earn less, but they can expect less satisfaction in the bedroom. Sixty-five percent of heterosexual women say they regularly orgasm during sex compared to 95 percent of heterosexual men.

So, what do the researchers think we should take away from this research?

“Does that mean we shouldn’t care about women’s orgasms? Of course not!” they said. “But they shouldn’t be seen as another notch on the bedpost, so to speak. Women’s orgasms should be experienced – when they are wanted – as a wonderful part of sexuality, not as something men give to women as an example of their prowess.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Disabled people must be able to express our sexual needs. Our health depends on it

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‘Can you even have sex, Sam? Can you have children?’

By Samantha Renke

Sex. We all know what it is — and when most of us think of it we think of pleasure, love, passion and mostly a darn good time.

However for some, sex can have a huge impact on their entire lives, affecting their wellbeing, confidence, self worth and sense of belonging.

Early last week I joined a panel of experts and influencers for BBC 5 Live’s #SexTakeover, the UK’s largest sex discussion.

I came away with the strangely reassuring knowledge that all of us — no matter who we are — have had a complex relationship with sex at one time or another. We all have hangups and awkward sexual encounters but for me, as a disabled woman, the takeover highlighted how society is grossly failing disabled people in all areas of sex and sexual wellbeing.

So what happens when no one will discuss sex with you, when medical professionals are letting you down when it comes to your sexual health, or when those around you see you more as a child than a sexual being?

I have a rare genetic disorder known as osteogenesis impefecta (brittle bone disease), I am just shy of four feet tall and a full-time wheelchair user. I knew very early on that I was ‘different’, and that my life experiences differed somewhat from my peers.

I spent most of my adolescence not knowing if I could even physically have sex or if my body would grow like everyone else’s. At one point I convinced myself that I’d never experience puberty, get my period or have sexual relationships because of my condition.

Intrusive questions asked by those around me, as well as the weird fascination that society seems to have around sex and disabled people, added fuel to my already confusing relationship with sex.

I even became the joke in a dare where a group of guys egged each other on to come up to me in a night club.

‘Can you even have sex, Sam? Can you have children? Can you kiss a boy or would you break your jaw? Can you have a boyfriend?’

It seems to be common practice to perceive people with disabilities as objects rather than complete people.

This leads to the view that they are less human and do not desire, need nor want the same things as everyone else. Even now, I get comments on online forums asking if I can have sex, or people commenting that they find me ‘brave’ for being on dating sites.

These experiences aren’t isolated, as many of my close friends have shared similar stories, like comedian Lila Hart. Like Lila, I too experienced people’s embarrassment about having relations with me, and even became the joke in a dare where a group of guys egged each other on to come up to me in a night club.

The disability charity Scope published dating statistics that show only 5% of people who aren’t disabled have ever asked out, or been on a date with, a disabled person, which just highlights that we aren’t seen as sexually desirable.

The stereotypes and misinformation surrounding sex and disabled people goes beyond whether or not we get asked out on a date. It can also impact on whether or not we have proper access to sexual health as Athena Stevens — a playwright and human rights activist who lives with cerebral palsy — found out when she went for a routine pap test.

Athena’s involuntary movements during a standard smear test meant that the doctor eventually gave up. But rather than discuss what they could offer her going forward, they told her in the most cold and insensitive way that ‘lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice’ and that they ‘did not think sex will ever be possible’ for her.

One mother confided in me that she is terrified about discussing sex with her daughter, who has spina bifida. Upon asking her endocrinologist how to discuss periods with her daughter, the doctor replied that she didn’t really know, and that her medical advice was to talk to other parents and see how they managed. The only advice offered by her specialist was for her daughter to wear nappies.

There is a substantial breakdown of communication between medical professionals, parents, care givers and educators when we look at sex and disabilities.

No one actually seems to be taking the time to ask what the person with a disability wants or needs. We can feel awkward and jump around the subject all we want, but the fact remains that no matter what your disability looks like, we are all still sexual beings.

The real danger comes when awkwardness and ignorance causes people with disabilities to not only miss out on meaningful intimate relationships, but in many cases our wellbeing is also put at tremendous risk when we aren’t able to access sexual health treatments or contraception.

I’d like to see better education across the board when it comes to disability and sex. Not talking about it can lead to somebody feeling like a lesser person, feeling less desirable and ultimately dehumanised.

Parents need to have access to a better understanding of sex and disability, so that they don’t feel like they are failing their children and their children, in turn, can then feel comfortable to express their sexual needs.

We also need to see the media better embrace disabled people as sexual beings — where are our disabled lingerie models or steamy sex scenes with disabled actors?

Sex may be an awkward subject to broach for many of us, but not talking about it can be so damaging. Especially for disabled people.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex guide for care home residents and nurses issued

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– including advice on sex toys and porn

– including advice on sex toys and porn

By Marie Claire Dorking

A sex guide advising nurses how to help senior and elder patients watch porn and use sex toys has been given out to care homes.

The leaflet circulated by the Royal College of Nursing also covers the topics of masturbation and extra-marital affairs.

The new guidance was  produced to help nurses and care staff advise on the “taboo subject” of the sex lives of the older generation.

The brochure, called Older People in Care Homes: Sex, Sexuality and Intimate Relationships, has been developed to help nursing staff “work effectively with issues of sexuality, intimate relationships, sexual expression and sex” with people living in homes in “a professional, sensitive, legal and practical way”.

“Fundamentally, people who move to live in a care home should be able to have the same rights, choices and responsibilities they enjoyed at home provided that these do not impinge upon the rights of others in the home,” the 44-page guide states.

“Care home staff should strive to achieve a balance between an individual’s right to privacy and control with the need for care and observation, for example, residents remaining in bedrooms undisturbed or with locked doors and staff waiting to be invited before entering,” it continues.

The guide states that: “sexuality remains a fundamental aspect of being human throughout life. It encompasses gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, intimacy, sexual expression and sexual acts.

It goes on to say that sexuality also influences “identity, self-image, self-concept and self-worth. It also affects mental health, physical health, social relationships and quality of life.”

The leaflet sites case study examples of real patients and the problems they have encountered when it comes to sexual activity within their care home including an OAP who was refused help with masturbation because staff “felt ill-equipped to deal skilfully” with the request.

Another case study explained how a resident had ask to watch porn in his bedroom. The guide noted that patient “should be supported” in accessing “the entertainment” he desired.

Commenting on the guide, RCN spokeswoman Dawne Garrett told the Daily Express: “Just because people live in a care home doesn’t mean they lose the same rights, choices and responsibilities they once enjoyed in their home.”

The fact is that people’s sex lives don’t suddenly come to an end when they reach the age of 70, or even 80. <

And actually research suggests many of the older generation are likely enjoying more sex than their younger counterparts.

A 2009 study, National Social Life, Health and Ageing Project (NSHAP), conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Chicago, found that almost three quarters (74%) of women aged 75 to 85 believed satisfactory sex was essential to maintaining a relationship, while 72% of men felt the same.

The same study found that over a third of men (38%) and almost a fifth (17%) of women within this age bracket were sexually active. And why the hell not?

Turns out getting jiggy can have health benefits for the older generation too in terms of giving their brain a boost.

Researchers from Coventry and Oxford University in the UK have found a link between frequent sexual activity and improved brain function in older adults.

The study, published in in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences, involved quizzing 73 people aged 50-83 on how often, on average, they’d had sex over the past 12 months. Participants also answered questions about their general health and lifestyle.

The 28 men and 45 women also took part in a standardised test, which is typically used to measure different patterns of brain function in older adults, focussing on attention, memory, fluency, language and visuospatial ability.

Complete Article HERE!

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Child Sexual Abuse Among Boys

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Many boys, too, are sexually abused. Most don’t feel comfortable speaking up about it.

Boys who are sexually abused often don’t know where to turn, making it all the more critical for parents and other adults to ensure signs of abuse aren’t overlooked.

By Raychelle Cassada Lohmann

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016 more than 57,000 children reported being sexually abused, and that’s on the low end since only about a third of cases are reported. What’s more, males are even less likely to report sexual abuse than females. Research indicates that about 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18, and most of them aren’t saying a thing.

Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire reports that 90 percent of these boys will likely know the person who is sexually abusing them. According to RAINN, or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, about a third of the sexual perpetrators are family members, and about 60 percent are acquaintances.

Another potential reason males may not report being victims of sexual abuse is stereotypes that exist in our culture pertaining to how they are supposed to be strong and independent. As a society, we have done a huge disservice to our boys by instilling stereotypes, like that big boys don’t cry, and sending the message they should just suck it up and be strong, or even worse, that they need to “man up.” According to these false beliefs, men are supposed to be tough and brave, and they’re supposed to have a strong sex drive. Media, literature, schools, community establishments like places of worship and even family members can reinforce stereotypical messages and paint a fictitious picture of how boys are supposed to behave. Research indicates that male sex abuse survivors not only have few resources available to them, but they also face greater stigma than female survivors.

In a study published last year in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers show that gender stereotypes have been associated with high levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It’s not just an American problem, either. According to research done as part of the Global Early Adolescent Study, a collaborative effort of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the World Health Organization and other research partners, children studied from 15 different countries began to accept gender stereotypes well before the age of 10. So it appears that many of these misconceptions are universal. When boys are taught that they aren’t supposed to show emotion because that is a sign of weakness, they learn to suppress and not express their feelings.

In a society full of erroneous stereotypes, is it any wonder that boys are less likely to report having been sexually abused than girls? With most of the research on sex abuse focusing on male perpetrators and female survivors, it’s past time that we shed some light on the devastating effects of male sexual abuse. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • One in 25 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to a review of child sex abuse prevalence studies.
  • 10 percent of rape survivors are male, according to RAINN.
  • 27 percent of male rape survivors were sexually abused before they were 10 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • 7 percent of boys in the juvenile justice system have been sexually abused.
  • 50 percent of the children who are sex trafficked in the U.S. are male; and according to the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, the average age at which boys first become victims of prostitution is 11 to 13.

Unquestionably, when boys or men are sexually abused, it has a profound impact on their psychological and emotional well-being. According to the American Psychological Association’s Division of Trauma Psychology, this horrific crime has been associated with:

  • Alcoholism and drug use
  • Anger and aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Intimate relationship problems
  • Poor school and work performance
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts

Despite all of the information that we have on sex abuse, we still have a long way to go. It’s hard to turn on the TV and see that another person, such as a coach, teacher, priest or physician has taken indecent liberties with a minor. As we continue to urge survivors to come forward, more survivors may begin to tell their stories.

Complete Article HERE!

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Why Tumblr’s ban on adult content is bad for LGBTQ youth

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Tumblr’s new rules will likely shut much of the LGBTQ youth activity. Here a chaptered LGBTQ youth themed comic on Tumblr.

By

As of Dec. 17, Tumblr will no longer allow “adult content,” defined as that which shows “real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content — including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations — that depicts sex acts.”

Before this, the platform’s lenient policies contrasted significantly with those of Facebook and Instagram, which have stricter content moderation guidelines.

This update follows the removal of Tumblr’s app from Apple’s app store after child pornography was found on the platform. However, it also reflects broader changes following Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo, Tumblr’s parent company.

Katrin Tiidenberg, a researcher who has studied self-expression on Tumblr, conjectures that this change may have more to do with advertising sales than protecting users. Regardless of Tumblr’s motives, this update will seriously affect LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) youth who rely on Tumblr and its communities for self-discovery and support.

‘Safer’ online spaces

Since LGBTQ identities have often been stigmatized, the internet has been pivotal in helping those with diverse gender and sexual identities learn about themselves and find each other. Tumblr has provided a safe space for this through many of its key features (e.g. pseudonymous accounts, reblogging) and the communities it attracts.

Given this, it’s not surprising that a large Australian survey found LGBTQ youth use Tumblr much more frequently than the rest of the population. Many respondents indicated content on Tumblr broadened their understanding of sexuality and gender and facilitated self-acceptance.

The Tumblr logo is displayed at Nasdaq in New York in July 2013.

Tumblr has served as an essential outlet for LGBTQ youth in relation to other popular platforms. Alexander Cho, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Irvine, has written about Tumblr’s “queer ecosystem” where “users circulate porn, flirt, provide support to deal with homophobia as well as advice on coming out…” Cho has found that queer youth of colour experience Facebook as a space of “default publicness” and prefer Tumblr for sharing intimate and personal content.

LGBTQ people have also found Tumblr to be powerful for self-representation. Through sophisticated hashtagging practices, transgender people share art, stories and engage in dialogue that challenges cisgender norms.

Researcher Tim Highfield and I have explored how sharing queer GIFs – short, looping media — not only allows LGBTQ youth to engage in Tumblr’s fan communities but also playfully displays queer culture en masse. This broad representation of LGBTQ identities may dissuade homophobic harassment, as some of the queer women I’ve interviewed perceive less discrimination on Tumblr.

What’s porn got to do with it?

Porn is a portion of the multiple forms of media resonating among LGBTQ users. This media allows them to knit together non-mainstream identities and survive in a world where heterosexuality is ubiquitously portrayed across social media and broadcast outlets.

Not all LGBTQ content contains genitals, “female-presenting nipples” or sex acts, but not all content with these elements constitutes what we would generally think of as pornography. Much of the sexualized content circulated among LGBTQ Tumblr users make available depictions of sexuality that are frequently rendered invisible or marginalized.

These can take the form of fan art, remixed film clips of sensual embraces and selfies. This media allows LGBTQ people to see themselves as sexual beings — something that is particularly important for young people developing a sense of sexual and gender identity.

Even if you disagree with teenagers accessing this type of content, Tumblr’s new policy bans it for everyone regardless of age. Formerly, users could voluntarily mark their blogs as “NSFW” (Not Safe for Work) if they posted occasional nudity and “adult” if posting substantial nudity. This provided a sort of checkpoint to hinder younger users in accessing this content.

Now even adults won’t be able to access “adult content.” This means that young people over 18, who may be facing formative life changes, like starting post-secondary education or moving away from home, won’t have access to media that may help them learn about their identity and feel supported while doing so.

Commercial platforms shape culture

Strict content moderation policies tend to have negative outcomes for already marginalized users. In my research with Jean Burgess and Nicolas Suzor, we found that some queer women experienced Instagram’s content moderation as overly stringent.

Instagram asks users to report content and responds through automated mechanisms. Therefore, queer women’s content was subject to removal based on other users’ whims and the banning of certain hashtags like #lesbian. Tumblr’s new updates promise a similar mixture of user reporting and automated content detection tools.

Several scholars have begun to critically examine how platforms’ decisions shape our social and cultural norms.

In Canada, Chris Tenove, Heidi Tworek and Fenwick McKelvey have pointed out that content moderation is not standardized and lacks federal oversight. Platforms often apply content moderation categories, such as “adult content,” without transparency or accountability.

Tumblr’s CEO, Jeff D’Onofrio, said: “There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community.”

It seems that with this new change, youth who want to encounter sexual content will need to relocate. While some young people may turn to pornography sites, many of these sites are not designed with diverse sexual and gender identities in mind.

Youth entering these sites may be more likely to encounter stigmatized, stereotypical and demeaning representations of women and transgender people. Even LGBTQ-friendly pornography sites don’t have the elaborate community networks unique to Tumblr.

Such communities help youth to make sense of sexual content in relation to who they are becoming as they grow up. Tumblr’s decision means LGBTQ youth will have one less outlet where they can learn about sexual identity and gain support from peers who are like them and sharing content for them.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Long Do Most Men Need to Reset Between Orgasms?

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By Aly Walansky

Porn might have you convinced that men are like Energizer bunnies that keep going and going and going, but the reality is a lot more human, and a lot more realistic: Even at their youngest or most virile, everyone needs some recovery time between sessions.

The male refractory period, a.k.a. the time between orgasms, can last minutes to days, says board-certified urologic surgeon Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D. After sex, your penis becomes flaccid from neural signals telling your body to relax, especially the organ that’s been doing most of the work (yep, the penis), Brahmbhatt says.

Just like our computers or phones sometimes need a reboot, our bodies need that time as well. The excited fight-or-flight nervous system recedes, and the rest-and-restore system comes forward,” explains board-certified urologist and men’s sexual health expert Paul Turek, M.D.

After orgasming, a man’s dopamine and testosterone levels drop, while serotonin and prolactin increase. “If prolactin levels are lower, his refractory period will be shorter,” says sex expert Antonia Hall. “Other variables include stress and energy levels, arousal levels, and drug and alcohol use—including antidepressants and other prescription drugs that can hinder sexual desire.”

Individual recovery time also depends on your overall health and age, Brahmbhatt says. “Generally speaking, men in their 20s often need only a few minutes, while men in their 30s and 40s may need 30 minutes to an hour,” says Xanet Pailet, sex and intimacy educator and author of the new book Living An Orgasmic Life.

Many of the factors that impact MRP are out of men’s control. But being extremely aroused can shorten the length of the refractory period, Pailet says.

Gaining control of your orgasms can be a start to managing your recovery times.

“My best recommendation to men who want to be able to have sex multiple times in a short period is to learn ejaculatory control, which allows them to still experience an orgasm without ejaculating,” Pailet says. Ejaculatory control can be learned through breathwork, according to Pailet. There are tantric breathing techniques that can help you delay orgasm (and some breathing techniques that just make for better sex, tbh).

Of course, being your healthiest never hurts. “The best you can do is to keep that body of yours as healthy as possible by eating right, exercising regularly, and treating it like a temple,” Turek says. “A healthy body will reboot quicker than an unhealthy one.” That also includes avoiding too much alcohol, which is known to act as a depressant.

Maybe the best motivation to order that salad… ever.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Reduce Sexual Side Effects From Antidepressants

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Coping When Your Libido Takes a Hit

By Nancy Schimelpfening

An unfortunate irony of depression treatment is that while depression can rob you of your desire for sex, some drugs commonly used to treat it can be just as bad, if not worse. Sexual side effects of antidepressants include low libido, erectile dysfunction, and difficulties with orgasm. If you’re taking an antidepressant and finding it’s sapping the pleasure from your sex life, it’s worth making an effort to turn that around—if not for your relationship then just for you: Sexuality is an important part of healthy living.

Reducing Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

Not all of these approaches will work for everyone, so it will likely take some trial-and-error to get your romantic life back to normal. Do talk to your doctor, though, because some of these tactics require fiddling with your prescription or adding an additional medication, neither of which you can do on your own.

1. Take a Lower Dose

With your doctor’s guidance, it may be possible to lower the dose of your antidepressant enough to reduce the sexual side effects while still easing your depression symptoms. For example, it’s been shown that some people get just as much relief from 5 or 10 milligrams (mg) of Prozac (fluoxetine) as from 20 mg, but with fewer sexual side effects.

2. Pop Your Pill After Sex

Scheduling the timing of when you take certain drugs, such as Zoloft (sertraline) and Anafranil (clomipramine) for right after the time you typically have sex may be one strategy to help lower side effects. That way you’re engaging in intimacy at a time when the levels of the drug are lowest in your body. In other words, if you and your partner tend to make love in the evenings, get into the habit of taking your antidepressant at night.

3. Augment With a Drug That May Reduce Sexual Dysfunction

The antidepressant Wellbutrin (buproprion) is a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). It works somewhat differently than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil (paroxetine), and tends to not affect sexual dysfunction as much. Some people are able to switch to Wellbutrin alone and still get enough relief from their depression symptoms. Others can take Wellbutrin in addition to their regular medication. Ask your doctor if either approach might be an option for you.

4. Take a Drug That Treats Sexual Dysfunction

Drugs targeted at erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra (sildenafil) or Cialis (tadalafill), may help some patients.

5. Take a “Drug Holiday”

If you take Zoloft (sertraline) or Paxil you may be able to schedule a two-day drug holiday each week in order to restore sexual function without losing the benefits of the antidepressant. This strategy isn’t likely to work with medications that have a long half life, such as Prozac.

6. Experiment With Alternatives

Both exercising before sex and vibratory stimulation are suggested as possible options. In addition, psychotherapy, acupuncture, or even nutritional supplement approaches have been tried. Don’t give up if you don’t find the answers right away.

Complete Article HERE!

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The Orgasm Gap Definitely Still Exists, New Evidence Shows

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By CARLY CASSELLA

Most people have heard of the gender pay gap, but there’s another form of gender inequity that doesn’t get nearly as much attention.

Not only are women getting short-changed in the workforce, studies suggest they are also getting the short end of the stick in the bedroom.

Even today, in an age where many women have more sexual freedom than ever before, evidence shows men are nearly two times more likely to orgasm during sex than women.

This discrepancy in sexual pleasure is known as the orgasm gap, and a new study now suggests the gulf persists beyond one-night stands and lasts into marriage.

The research focussed on 1,683 newlywed heterosexual couples, and each partner was asked how often they had orgasms and how often they thought their significant other had orgasms.

The participants were also asked about how satisfied they were with their sex life and their relationship.

The findings reveal that the orgasm gap is still very much alive in modern society, even in committed and loving relationships. While 87 percent of husbands said they consistently experienced orgasm during sexual activity, only 49 percent of wives could say the same.

Some of this could be due to anatomical differences, which make it easier for men to climax. Regardless of the cause – whether cultural, or physical, or some mix of both – closing the orgasm gap is in the interests of both men and women.

Another part of the study found that a person’s sexual satisfaction, no matter their gender, was linked closely to how often they thought their partner was orgasming.

“It turns out that her report of how often she has orgasm is important for her satisfaction and his report of how often he thinks she has orgasm is important for his satisfaction,” Nathan Leonhardt, who researches human sexuality at the University of Toronto in Canada, explained to Psypost.

“In other words, her orgasm experience seems to be important for both husbands and wives.”

So if most husbands say they want their wives to have a good time in bed, why aren’t they picking up their game?

Well, it might not be entirely their fault. Part of the problem could be that men are largely oblivious that there is a problem. In the recent survey, 43 percent of husbands misperceived how often their wives were experiencing orgasm.

According to the researchers, though, women only misconstrued their partner’s sexual pleasure 14 percent of the time.

The authors suggest these incorrect perceptions are just a symptom of another problem, which is that many couples are uncomfortable with sexuality, causing a lack of communication in the bedroom.

But these are just speculations, and more research needs to be done on why men are misinterpreting the sexual satisfaction of their wives, as multiple different factors have been put forward.

For instance, it could be that women are faking orgasms so their husbands feel more satisfied with the experience. Or, maybe it’s that men don’t know what it looks like for women to orgasm, perhaps because they have seen too many inaccurate portrayals in porn.

Whatever the cause, it never hurts to have a chat. If couples are looking to boost their sex life, the study suggests that staying attentive to a partner’s needs and honestly talking through any problems is a must.

“When counselling couples, clinicians should give particular attention to the wife’s orgasm experiences, to potentially help both husbands and wives have higher sexual satisfaction,” the authors conclude.

Over the next few years, the researchers are going to continue following these newlyweds to see how relationship dynamics change over the course of a marriage.

This study was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Complete Article HERE!

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What is BDSM?

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A beginners kinky guide to getting started with BDSM

By Mistress Scarlett

What is BDSM?

BDSM originally stood for the terms bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism but is now generally accepted to mean any sexual practice or interest that is outside of the mainstream. Interestingly enough, not all BDSM is about sex and there are many aspects that are enjoyed by BDSM lovers that has nothing to do with sex. We will however, in this beginners guide, mainly focus on the more erotic side of BDSM, which is usually what draws people to a more alternative choice in the bedroom and even outside of it.  BDSM play can take on many forms and incorporate a wide variety of kinks. It doesn’t have to be about tying someone up and having your wicked way with them, although this type of fantasy is often what gets people curious about the lifestyle.

So are you curious and wondering what BDSM is all about? While there is no actual BDSM guide, there are a number of important factors to look at before jumping in blindly. We can consider this a beginner’s guide to BDSM but it is far from complete and will only offer some guidelines and insights for people who are new to BDSM or curious about it. To start off with, you need to let your imagination be your guide and don’t get bogged down by the way BDSM is portrayed in porn or in sensationalized movies which have minimal bearing on what BDSM actually is. You do not need a dungeon, you do not need special equipment and you do not need fetish clothing to start with. If you really get involved in kink, you can always add these things in later. You can always start with things you have in your home. Use the back of a brush for spanking or a tie as a blindfold. All it takes is a little imagination. Let’s look a little more in-depth in to BDSM for beginners.

BDSM, what is it actually We will do a quick breakdown of what the term means before we get in to the beginners BDSM basics. Bondage and discipline refers to restraining a partner which can be done in many ways, from fluffy handcuffs to rope, and for the more advanced, you can try Shibari and other forms of decorative bondage, which is artistic as well as effective. The discipline part can be physical, mental, emotional or a combination of these. This often forms part of training to change behaviors to suit the partner that is in control. This can also simply be erotic such as spanking and flogging for enjoyment. While it is not recommended for beginners, this type of discipline can also lead to sadism and masochism as well as humiliation play and more.

While there are many types of BDSM, most BDSM play for beginners will focus on the dominant and submissive part which means that one person is in control (the Dominant) and one person is being controlled (the submissive). In the lifestyle, male dominants are usually referred to as Doms or Masters, while female dominants are referred to as Dommes or Mistresses. Submissive are usually referred to as subs or slaves, depending on the level of control. There are other terms used as well, but these are the most common. When you are just starting out with BDSM your role may not be defined and may actually fluctuate. A switch is a person that enjoys being both dominant and submissive in different circumstances. For BDSM plays, it is good to establish one person as being in control and the other person as being the submissive, even if it is just for the sake of role play at the beginning.

Sadism and masochism is usually not the first port of call for those starting off in BDSM besides perhaps a light spanking. This part of BDSM refers to giving and receiving pain. Masochists enjoy and often experience erotic pleasure from inflicting pain while sadists enjoy receiving pain for a variety of reasons. For some it is the pleasure from the hormones released, for others it is the joy their partner experiences and for others it is purely letting go of themselves for a period of time. BDSM can include a combination of these aspects and can include some or all of the above. There is no strict lines drawn, BDSM is what you make of it.

Okay, now let’s look at how to BDSM up your bedroom and beyond. This is the beginner’s guide to what is BDSM that was promised. The following is a guideline which will help you get started and also assist you with protocol and the basics for BDSM play.

Take it slow

Do not run out and outfit a dungeon or buy up every BDSM toy you can find right at the start. Everything comes with time and experience. Even something as simple as spanking does take practice and needs to be done well for full enjoyment. You don’t have to try out every kink and fetish over the space of a weekend. There are many deep, dark desires and plenty temptations in the BDSM lifestyle, but take your time to explore, learn and enjoy and you will get a lot more out of the lifestyle.

Consent is Key

This should actually be step one, step two and step three in the guide. Before any BDSM play starts there needs to be consent. You and your partner need to be fully aware of all risks involved in the potential play. All parties have to be informed and agree to what will be happening. There needs to be no coercion. Consent needs to be freely given and the persons need to be of an age and in a state of mind that is acceptable for giving consent. It is not acceptable to manipulate someone in to giving consent or to play with someone who has given consent while under the influence. BDSM can involve risks of a physical, mental and sexual nature so no play is ever to take place without consent given willingly before anything starts.

Enjoy it

BDSM is not the same as you see in the movies, there will be some awkwardness, you may feel silly and you may make mistakes but BDSM is about fun. Explore some fetishes, delve in to your darker desires but most of all, and enjoy it. If you are not enjoying something, try something else. That is what makes BDSM so much fun, there are endless kinks to try and you are sure to discover one or two along the way that really make your toes curl. Don’t be afraid to talk to people in the community to help ensure that your play times are safe. They may even give you some naughty ideas to try out with your partner.

Power play decisions

If you get in to the power play part of BDSM, it is important to have a dominant and a submissive during role play, even though you might want to switch roles next time around. Before play starts, both parties have an equal say in what is going to happen and all possible risks need to be discussed and consent given. Once the role-play starts, the one in control needs to take the lead and be in control of the play. You can choose to end your role-play at any point if it is uncomfortable for either of you. At a later point you might want to look at pushing boundaries and limits a little, but this is not recommended when you are just starting out in BDSM.

Have a safe word

It is important to also include safe words when negotiating a BDSM scene or session. Many people use colors such as Red to indicate an immediate stop, orange or amber to indicate that they are close to their limits or to slow down and green to indicate everything is okay and to continue. Others choose more elaborate safe words to prevent accidental use of the words during play. It is important to note that the safe words not be overly complicated so that people cannot remember them should it become necessary to use them. If people are unable to communicate verbally during a scene due to a gag or similar, it is important to establish non-verbal safe words that can be used.

BDSM is often restricted to the bedroom for many people although some do go as far as 24/7 BDSM where there are protocols and behaviors required even when not role-playing. This is generally referred to as lifestyle BDSM. You might only enjoy role-playing in the bedroom or you and your partner might want a full time Master/slave relationship or even an Owner/puppy relationship or a Daddy/baby girl dynamic. There are many variations and some work for some people while others prefers no dynamic at all. You can try a few different roles and see what appeals to you and you may also decide at some point if you want it to be permanent roles within the home or if you only want to practice your kink in the bedroom.

The key to BDSM is being open and honest with your partner. Discuss what turns you on, and what does not. Have a conversation about triggers, health concerns, previous experiences that may be relevant and especially your hard and soft limits. Your partner will need to be as open and able to discuss these aspects with you as well. Talk about your wants and needs and what you would like to try and see where the two of you match up. Soft limits may eventually fall away, but ensure that hard limits are established and update continuously so that you do not overstep these boundaries at any point. Start the chat with simple fantasies and go from there. BDSM is not something you experience in one day and then you’ve done it all. There is so much to learn and explore and how much you learn and explore depends on you.

Complete Article HERE!

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Puberty for the Middle-Aged

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Forty-five-year-old women need a version of “the talk,” because our bodies are changing in ways that are both really weird and really uncomfortable.

By Lisa Selin Davis

If only, on your 45th birthday, a doctor would sit you down, look you squarely in the eyes and say, “Here’s what’s going to happen: Eventually, your pubic hair is going to thin out everywhere but on the bikini line, exactly the opposite of what you’ve always wanted. The fat on your body will redistribute so that each of your thighs is the shape of Grimace, the McDonald’s blob monster. You will develop those wings of loose skin below your arms. You just will, no matter what you do. Also: Everything about your periods will change. They may become shorter, more frequent, more painful. And they’ll just get weirder until they desist.”

If only, in other words, someone told you, “You need to really prepare, emotionally and physically, for middle age.”

But of course, no one does.

We put a lot of time and effort into preparing teenagers for what changes puberty will wreak, but for women, midlife brings another kind of puberty — perimenopause, a road that we in our 40s navigate blind, without enough information from our doctors or often other women, wondering in silent shame at the intensity and seeming endlessness of the changes.

What is perimenopause, you might be asking? For one thing, it’s a term so underused that Microsoft’s word-processing program is telling me it’s not a word, a term that was new to many when Gwyneth Paltrow uttered it last month in a Goop video. “Peri” is Greek for “near,” and menopause is the ceasing of menstruation. So perimenopause is all the crazy stuff that happens on the way to that cessation.

We need to have The Talk, but for 45-year-olds. Doctors should speak to their patients about the changes that could lie ahead and how to prepare for them. And we perimenopausal women need to talk to one another, and the rest of the world, about what’s happening. Because a lot of it, to me, is really weird, really surprising and really hard to sit comfortably through, from the stray chin hair — O.K., hairs — to the decreasing bone density. Some 40 percent of women have interrupted sleep during perimenopause. Between 10 percent and 20 percent have mood swings. Some have uterine bleeding or vaginal dryness and even that hallmark of actual menopause, hot flashes.

My desire to know the full story goes beyond my health: How am I going to make jokes about these symptoms if I don’t know what they are? (I will always fondly recall Joan Rivers joking about the surprising number of things that sag as you age, starting with your genitals

Recently I asked friends on Facebook what no one had told them about middle age. No post of mine has ever garnered so many responses, so equally divided between sad and funny. Or both.

There are the physical issues — the random acne, the skin tags, the cough that causes a little bit of pee, the long recovery time from minor injuries and how easy it is to get those injuries. “Doing something really banal like reaching for the remote can put my back out and leave me wailing like a child for a day,” one friend wrote.

And then there are the emotional issues: How will I feel differently about myself as my hormonal profile shifts, as I lose estrogen in the years just before my young children surge with it?

The Talk doesn’t have to be all bad. Among the things my Facebook friends noted was that they felt better and stronger than they did in their 20s and 30s, and that they had become much less vain. One friend wrote, “I prioritize the things that are important to me and people I care about.”

She has arrived at the still-mythical (to me) moment when people stop caring so much what others think, the beginning of the upswing of the U-shaped happiness curve, which shows that people get happier as they grow old (often the 40s are the curve’s nadir). Older people are the bearers of wisdom earned by their years, or by the sheer fatigue that has overtaken them, forcing them to pick their battles more carefully. Along with those chin hairs, solace may come.

So your doctor might also say, “You will most likely find that you no longer sweat the small stuff (except at night, when you will sweat uncontrollably), that you care less about the approval of others and feel less attached to an iteration of your life that you haven’t achieved. And invisibility is a superpower that can be used to your advantage.”

If your doctor won’t go there, you can take it from me.

Complete Article HERE!

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Why adult video stars rely on camming

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Trans porn star Korra Del Rio camming from her room in Las Vegas.

By

With pirated and amateur pornography widely available online, porn no longer provides a steady income for many working in the adult industry. During my research interviewing transgender porn stars in Las Vegas, the overwhelming majority of those interviewed said that now, more than ever, they rely on a variety of other income streams beyond the traditional porno shoot with a studio.

Being a porn star today typically involves a range of sex work, from selling self-produced clips, to offering phone sex services, being an escort, taking care of “sugar daddies” (i.e. rich, usually older men), or “camming” on the internet. Previously regarded as not worth the time for many porn stars, using a webcam from the comfort of one’s home to broadcast oneself masturbating or having sex has emerged as a popular choice.

Indeed, while just 15 years ago, pre-recorded porn such as DVDs, pay sites, and clips generated twice as much revenue worldwide as camming, today that ratio has been reversed. In 2018, the camming industry is estimated to generate US$2 billion in annual revenue worldwide, according to Stephen Yagielowicz, a spokesperson for XBIZ, the adult industry’s leading business publication.

The daily life of a cam performer

“Camming” can be likened to an online strip show where the cam performer uses the webcam on their computer to put on a show for anyone in their chat room. The performer usually sets tipping goals and the more people tip by pledging tokens, the more happens on screen.

Typically, it involves numerous sex toys and ultimately orgasm, but many of the shows get very creative. They can feature anything from fortune wheels and costumes, to “couple shows” with partners and guest appearances from other cam performers.

During the show, viewers get to chat with the cam performer, often requesting sexual acts and sometimes simply asking them questions about their life. There are no fixed rules on length and format of a cam show, but it usually takes anywhere from one to four hours. Many of my informants in Las Vegas cam anywhere between two to six hours a day, multiple times a week.

Cam performers usually run sessions in intervals, timing them to coincide with office hours in big cities on the east coast such as New York and Chicago: one cam show in the morning just before offices open, one during lunch break, and one just before people head home to their families.

While not all cam models shoot studio porn, many porn performers are increasingly camming. Established trans porn stars can make anywhere around US $100 – $200 an hour through camming: “As porn performers we are able to leverage our already existing fan base”, one of my main informants explained to me. For last year’s Christmas special her chat room peaked at 30,000 viewers – the average size of a Mets baseball game.

The changing structure of porn

Porn performers in the industry are generally contracted and paid on a shoot by shoot basis. Trans women in porn generally make anywhere between US$800-1,200 for a sex scene that involves penetration (which is slightly higher than the average cisgender performer, but lower than the highest paid cisgender stars). The number of shoots however, fluctuate a lot. A performer can get booked up to six times a month (in some instances even more), but other months they might not get booked at all.

“After they’ve shot you a bunch of times, there usually is a month or two where you don’t get any shoots”, one research participant told me. As a consequence, performers may go several months without a single shoot, which makes budgeting extremely difficult.

In addition to this income insecurity, there are numerous expenses not covered by the companies hiring the performers, such as wardrobe, STI testing, transportation, and accommodation costs. “Factoring in all my expenses and the money I lose from not camming, porn does not really make me money”, said one of my informants. “I see porn mainly as a marketing tool for myself.”

Camming is booming and here to stay

Camming has proven itself more resilient to piracy than studio pornography primarily due to the personal nature of cam shows. “For many viewers it is a unique opportunity to interact with their favourite porn star on a regular basis,” one participant remarked. “That’s something they don’t get from regular porn”.

As a consequence the camming industry has boomed and income from it can make up most of even a well-known porn star’s earnings. Work is not only more consistent, but also much safer: “If I focus on making my money with solo shows then I don’t even have to worry anymore about HIV scares in the industry,” one of my participants pointed out after a recent incident.

At the same time however, camming can be very tough work. One informant told me: “some days I end up crying because people either don’t tip you for hours at a time or tip you just to say nasty things”. Further, cam companies, which host web cam performers, take incredibly high commissions of anywhere between 50 – 70% on every dollar earned by the cam performer.

These draw-backs notwithstanding, camming is set to grow with more and more porn stars relying on it to provide a regular income. Given the various risks of much other sex work, this might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Complete Article HERE!

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Drugs and alcohol complicate sexual consent,

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but context can make things clearer

High time to talk about consent.

By and

Sexual consent is an important, complex and often awkward topic to talk about. And when people have been consuming alcohol or other drugs, it makes negotiating sexual consent even more complicated. Indeed, drawing the line between consensual sex and assault when a complainant is heavily intoxicated is a particularly difficult area of law.

What is clear though, is that context matters. The gender of the people having sex, their sexuality, the nature of their relationship and how they became intoxicated – whether willingly or unwillingly – all shape the judgements that we make about intoxicated consent.

The importance of context was brought to the forefront in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the so-called “feminist sex wars” divided Western academics who were interested in gender equality. The debates were dominated by arguments over pornography and sex work, but the issue of sexual consent – and what it means for women living in a patriarchal society – was always present.

Context and consent

Influential legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon drew attention to society being organised in such a way that men hold the power; women’s consent and sexuality is, to some extent, conditioned and controlled by these power structures. MacKinnon’s contemporary, Andrea Dworkin, took this argument further. She claimed that women’s subordination underpins male sexual desire.

So, to give and receive consent meaningfully, there needs to be an awareness of the power dynamics at play, and the impact they have on the relationships among people. This raises questions about just how meaningful women’s sexual consent can be under patriarchy. When women are not on an equal footing with men, are they really “free” to make choices about sex with those men?

Others have highlighted the role that sexuality plays in shaping mainstream views about sexual consent. For example, anthropologist Gayle Rubin has argued that historically, sexual consent has been a privilege afforded only to those who engage in socially accepted (or even socially encouraged) sexual behaviour – that is, heterosexual, monogamous, procreative sex. In the UK, as recently as 1997, the age of consent was higher for same sex sexual activity than it was for heterosexual sex. So, even if individuals were freely choosing such sexual activity, their consent was not legally recognised.

Assumptions around gender and sexuality also affect the way people think about intoxicated sexual consent today. For example, consider the public response to the so-called chemsex phenomenon: chemsex refers to the intentional use of drugs – often methamphetamine, GHB and mephedrone – to enhance and prolong sexual encounters between men who have sex with men.

Chemsex has largely been portrayed as a public health crisis, with an emphasis on the potential for the transmission of HIV. Yet little attention is paid to the sexual violence and exploitation men might well experience in chemsex settings. By contrast, when chemsex is discussed in relation to heterosexual people, the issue of sexual consent moves to the forefront.

A worldwide survey

It’s useful to reflect on how categories such as gender and sexuality – and indeed race, ability and social class – might affect the way intoxication and sexual consent are talked about and understood. But while these categories are important, they are not enough to explain why certain intoxicated sexual experiences are perceived by those involved as consensual, and others not.

Based on an earlier project, for which Aldridge spoke with a diverse group of people who had had sex on drugs, it seems that in order to understand the complexity of intoxicated consent, it’s necessary to probe further into the specific contextual elements of sex on drugs. That might include the settings in which this activity takes place (sex club, house party, music festival), the type of drug being consumed (MDMA, cannabis, alcohol) and the nature of relationship between those having sex (one-night stand, long-term relationship, group sex).

Intoxicated consent can be negotiated successfully, but understanding how these other contextual factors affect sexual relationships is vital to addressing situations where it’s not. At present, only a fraction of sexual assault incidents are reported and even fewer result in convictions.

In 2013, the Global Drug Survey began to explore people’s experiences of intoxicated sexual consent. Out of 22,000 people, 20% reported having had been taken advantage of while intoxicated, while 5% said that this had happened in the last year. What’s more, 14% reported that they had been given drugs or alcohol by someone who intended to take advantage of them.

This year, the Global Drugs Survey is delving deeper. Researchers will be collecting contextual information from people who have been taken advantage of while intoxicated, including where they were, who they were with, their relationship with the person or people who took advantage of them and the type of drug they were using.

Cultural norms and tolerance for such behaviours vary between countries. Because the 2019 survey is translated into 22 languages, researchers will be able to compare outcomes across regions. The aim of this survey is to give a voice to those unable to speak out. The findings will be used to shape interventions that minimise harm and maximise support for people who have experienced sexual assault, while ensuring that perpetrators are correctly identified, and held responsible.

Take part in the 2019 Global Drugs Survey by clicking here.

Complete Article HERE!

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Holiday sex toy shopping dos and don’ts

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By Lucky Tomaszek

Like it or not, we’ve entered the annual period of seasonal gift giving. Hanukkah begins Sunday, December 2. St. Nick’s follows on Thursday, December 6 (leave your shoes out on the night of the 5th). Next up is Winter Solstice on Friday, December 21. And then we wrap up the traditional gifting holidays with Christmas on Tuesday, December 25. Basically, if you’ve got a romantic partner in your life, you’re probably going to be doing a little shopping real soon.

Each year, the staff of the Tool Shed spends about six weeks helping people navigate the fun—but sometimes tricky—adventure of purchasing sex toys for another person. Giving overtly sexy gifts has an etiquette all its own. There are some obvious things (like don’t give an acquaintance a set of vibrating nipple clamps) that are basically common sense. But there are some less obvious things, too. Read on for some important gift giving dos and don’ts from Tool Shed staffers…

Don’t limit yourself to obvious sex toys, i.e. dildos, vibrators, butt plugs, etc. Shy or modest folks may recoil from a gift so blatant. You may also find that a person is just not interested in owning or using a sex toy. And if you’re in a new relationship, getting a sex toy out of the blue can feel like a lot of pressure.

Do remember how many different ways there are to be sexy. TS staffer Stephanie says, “For my sister, I got soap and socks with a gift card. It encouraged her to come back to the store and shop for herself.” Massage oil, books, underwear, and truth or dare games are also fun ideas.

Don’t just buy the most expensive vibrator you can find. You wouldn’t believe how often this happens! A customer will walk in the store, browse briefly, and pick out a vibrator in the $179-$219 price range. Sometimes they’ll ask, “So, is this the best one?” And we’ll try to explain that there’s no best vibrator for everyone. It’s a very individual thing. But because our culture equates cost with quality, they buy the toy anyway.

Do pick a toy that is body safe and reliable, but also that’s likely to make your partner happy. Different things are important to different people. Some people love vibration, while other people find it distracting or annoying. Some people want something small and discreet, but some folks feel that bigger is better. Even color can make or break someone’s relationship with a sex toy.

Don’t buy a sex toy to fulfill your own fantasy, especially if you’ve never discussed it with your partner. For instance, TS staffer Ashe says, “Unless you’ve had a few conversations with your partner about anal play, don’t surprise your partner with an anal toy.” This is also true for BDSM related gifts like paddles, masks, and bondage supplies. New items for activities that you haven’t talked about before can feel less like a special treat and more like an ambush.

Do pick a toy based on what you know about your partner’s pleasure and previous sex toy experience. If the two of you have had your eye on something, but have held back because it seemed too extravagant for a random Tuesday in June, now’s a great time to pick it up. TS staffer Kayla adds, “If you haven’t tried mojoupgrade.com, it might be a great and somewhat subtle way of finding a new gift idea that you would both enjoy. This website allows you and a sexual partner to choose what you both want or desire, then emails you the areas in which you overlap.”

Don’t assume that you’ll get to participate in the using of the sex toy. If it’s a gift, then the recipient gets to decide how they’re going to use it. Before you buy something, ask yourself who will really benefit from the gift. If you want to get your boyfriend a cockring so that his erection will last longer, talk about that ahead of time. If you’re dying to use a vibrator on your girlfriend because you want to see her reaction, be up front about that.

Do give a gift because you want your partner to be happy, and to have some tools to make that easier. While there are definitely toys that are designed for couples to use together, gifts should be things that will bring joy to the receiver.

Don’t use gift giving to make a joke or intentionally cause someone to feel embarrassed. As Kayla wisely says, “Avoid gag gifts or gifts meant as a prank. They may seem funny at the time, but the money you’ve spent could go towards a gift they’ll definitely enjoy, without all the stigma and shame wrapped up around it. Consider getting a hilarious card or funny wrapping paper instead, and have the gift either be meaningful or practical.”

Do pick up supplies and accessories to help the recipient enjoy the gift. That could mean batteries, lube, locking toy box, or instructional book. Consider charging up rechargeable toys so they’re ready right out of the wrapping paper. Make sure you know how to clean and care for the toys, and share that information when you give the gift.

Complete Article HERE!

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