Not That Kind of Girl

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In her influential 1959 Atlantic article, “Sex and the College Girl,” Nora Johnson predicted that young, educated women pursuing expansive new opportunities would likely end up disappointed. She spent the rest of her life finding out what could happen instead.

High-school students graduate in 1960. Nora Johnson’s articles, novels, and memoirs followed women as they matured from infatuated teenagers to aging lovers.

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Every few years, new concerns bloom about the changing ways young people are approaching relationships, from the stigmatized early years of online dating in the 1990s and 2000s to the panic over campus hookup culture in the early 2010s to the dawning concern that rather than having too much sex, Millennials aren’t having enough. Many young people are now experiencing a sex recession, my colleague Kate Julian wrote for the cover of this magazine in December.

But long before Tinder or Match.com were founded, and even before most universities went coed, the seeds of these ideas were planted in another Atlantic article: Nora Johnson’s influential “Sex and the College Girl.” Written in 1959, the article captured a snapshot of college romance on the lip of the sexual revolution and the second-wave feminist movement: Young women were pulling back from romantic commitment and domestic life to explore their options; young men were left bewildered and resentful as their relationships shifted in turn.

Johnson framed the moment not as one of ecstatic liberation, but rather as an uncertain and sometimes overwhelming introduction of possibility for female students. She observed educated women navigating a convoluted path of desire, respect, security, and shame in pursuit of the dream of a full life: “a husband, a career, community work, children, and the rest.” Only an exceptional few could achieve that life without sacrificing personal or professional goals along the way, she predicted. For many of the rest of them, this pursuit would end in “an ulcer, a divorce, a psychiatrist, or deep disappointment”; and for some of them, those who were put off by the apparent futility of trying to balance all the expansive possibilities, “the most confining kind of domestic life.” Without the “moral generalizations” of her grandmother’s era, Johnson’s college girl was left to forge ahead toward those difficult choices with more subjective, and personal, judgment—carrying “her belief in herself,” or what she calls the “modern version” of herself, forward into the unknown.
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Johnson wrote “Sex and the College Girl” when she was 26, just five years after graduating from Smith. Though young, she was already beginning to establish herself as an author. She’d grown up as the daughter of a Hollywood filmmaker, surrounded by “an encampment of storytellers,” as she later recalled, and had published her first and ultimately most successful novel, The World of Henry Orient, a year earlier. Like “Sex and the College Girl,” the book drew on her own experiences as a student, fictionalizing the crush she and a friend had nursed for an actor-musician while they were in high school.

As Johnson grew older, the subjects of her writing generally did too, maturing as the decades wore on from students navigating the college dating scene to married couples to divorcées to aging lovers. But though the characters changed, the sense of uncertain possibility she described in “Sex and the College Girl” remained—sometimes joyful, sometimes dutiful, sometimes onerous, but never entirely gone. Johnson’s love stories, told in an era of expanding female choices, were weighted with the consciousness of them.

In “Sex and the College Girl,” the choices were myriad, novel, and full of potentially far-reaching consequences. Female students faced decisions about who to date, what to offer physically and emotionally, and how much to hold in reserve for how long. Beyond that immediate horizon stretched a broader array of opportunities and potential pitfalls: children, careers, and all of the self-betterment and intellectual rigor their educations were preparing them for. Commitment and marriage, in a sense, presented an out—a sense of certainty, a solid support system. “Joe has a future,” Johnson wrote. “He knows exactly what he is going to do after graduation … The decision about [the college girl’s] life keeps her awake at night, but when she is with Joe things make more sense.”

Two years later, in “The Captivity of Marriage,” Johnson described the constrained choices of the women who stuck with their Joes. Now juggling the responsibilities of raising children, keeping a house, and engaging in “community or P.T.A. work of some kind,” married women “feel … like a pie with not enough pieces to go around,” Johnson wrote. But the new responsibilities and family and community ties did not put the “undefined dreams” of their younger years to rest; instead, the wife and mother “vaguely feels that she is frittering away her days and that a half-defined but important part of her ability is lying about unused.” That feeling of dissatisfaction, Johnson observed, was coupled with the lingering “quality of excitement that comes from strangeness and the idealization of still-unknown experience” that made the concept of sex with an unfamiliar partner attractive. But those choices, which would take women away from their husbands and children, were now taboo. In their place were new choices, more limited but still unfamiliar and consequential. “Choosing a house and everything that goes into it, and a school, and a competent doctor are decisions that the young mother makes without adequate knowledge,” Johnson wrote, “and she can ill afford mistakes.”

She described the fallout from one error in judgment a year later in “A Marriage on the Rocks,” an article published in the July 1962 issue of The Atlantic. “The moment when it first becomes apparent that one’s marriage was a mistake,” she opened the piece, “is the beginning of probably the longest, darkest period in the human lifetime.” She chronicled the slow fracturing of a union that, to the college girl, had carried a promise of lifelong certainty in an otherwise unknown future. Unhappiness settled in and grew unbearable as the relationship devolved into “the endless opening of wounds … capitulating one’s beliefs … [and] adjusting oneself to the dismal and baneful workable compromise.” But choosing to break free of  that unhappiness meant exchanging it for a new, unknown one, defined by a sudden and “terrible feeling of having no one around on whom to blame everything.”

Johnson expressed the frustration of seeing a marriage fail while knowing that, with the newly available options for women to marry for love and to define more aspects of their life and work, “all of us … have the potential to become the greatest lovers on earth.” She wondered: “All this freedom and opportunity are breathtaking. Do we deserve them, and can we possibly live up to their obligations?”

Divorce loomed large in Johnson’s life. Her parents’ marriage ended when she was 6 years old, and they moved to separate coasts, leaving Johnson to shuttle back and forth between her mother’s New York home and her father’s star-studded Hollywood life for much of her childhood and adolescence. “My heart begins to tear, a long ragged rent which I have spent my life trying to mend,” she reflected in her 1982 memoir You Can Go Home Again, looking back on the dissolution of her family. She recalled how her mother’s attempts to become “an elegant divorced lady in a lovely house in the most exciting city in the world” transitioned into a second marriage to a possessive man who resented Nora when she returned home for a time as an adult after her own first marriage failed.

By the time she turned 32 in 1965, Johnson had already been married, divorced, and married a second time herself. In The Atlantic’s June 1961 issue, in which “The Captivity of Marriage” was published, she was introduced to readers as “happily married and the mother of two daughters.” When “A Marriage on the Rocks” was printed in the July 1962 issue,those details were omitted from her introduction. By the time she published You Can Go Home Again at the age of 59, her second marriage had also ended in divorce. In that sense, she fulfilled the melancholy predictions of “Sex and the College Girl” twice over.

But she had also built a successful career as a writer of novels, memoirs, articles, and, once, in collaboration her father, a movie based on The World of Henry Orient. Decades later, in an essay for The New York Times, she wrote about something she hadn’t predicted: finding love again. Johnson “was a long-divorced 71”; George was 83 and “recently widowed.” He became her third husband. “What astonished us,” she wrote, “was that the electricity we generated was as strong and compelling as love had been 50 years before, that it scrambled the brain every bit as much. Yet more surprising was that we had a rousing and delightful sex life.”

They still faced daunting choices and disappointments. At first they lived together in Florida, but they grew bored and moved to New York, only to grow bored there too, and be cold, and miss Florida. They dealt with natural disasters and health problems. They had difficult conversations. And then, seven years after they met, George died.

All Johnson’s stories resist the neat closure of the happily ever after. The security that Joe seems to present in “Sex and the College Girl” proves illusory; love degrades, fractures apart, or abruptly ends. “Marriage, entered upon maturely, is the only life for most women,” Johnson wrote in 1961. “But it is a way of life, not a magic bag of goodies at the end of the road.” Even old age, retirement, and George, who she said “brought joy and magic to my life,” don’t put the uncertain possibility of other paths to rest or stave off the sting of disappointment.

But her stories also resist the closure of a final failure. The college girl grows up, gets married, gets divorced, gets married again. She makes the wrong choices and then gets to make new ones. “This, then, is what the result is for a girl who has been brought up in a world where the only real value is self-betterment,” Johnson concluded in 1959. “She has had to create her own right and wrong, by trial and error and endless discussion.”

This is the story that Johnson wrote again and again, for several decades, until she died in 2017: There’s no happily ever after, or any ever after at all, but there’s happiness. Heartbreak. Regret. Magic. Surprise. Her extraordinary work was also a life lived, and recorded in pieces, over decades of love stories.

Complete Article HERE!

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There’s no room for double standards in the bedroom

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Lessening a woman’s value based on her sexuality is degrading — especially in the bedroom

By Payton Saso

Donald Trump is America’s most hated or loved man, depending on what side of the spectrum you’re on, and his deeply rooted misogyny is apparent in all levels of American culture.

While awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump praised him for having lots of sex, but not without making a comment to Scalia’s widowed wife — “you were very busy.”

At first glance, this just seems like another one of Trump’s poorly-timed, unnecessary remarks. In reality, this is an example of how the double standard of men and women, especially in the bedroom, is so skewed even as adults.

It’s time for the double standard surrounding sex to end — including the sexual hierarchy that favors males.

Ian Moulton, an ASU professor of English and cultural history, said that this double standard is due to hundreds of years of society seeing a women’s place as in the home. 

“What has happened over time, is that the work that men do is valued more than the work that women do,” Moulton said. “Men go out and do work that is seen as important or responsible or powerful and traditionally that’s been rewarded with some sort of payment. Whereas women’s work has been seen as unpaid work: you take care of the kids.”

A woman’s place is not confined to a household anymore — and society has begun to accept that. 

Research with the Florida Atlantic University found that, “Men are usually allowed more sexual leniency and are evaluated with more acceptance and tolerance relative to sexual behaviors and number of sexual partners when compared to women who engage in the same behaviors.”

Heterosexual sex is often seen strictly as something a man does to a woman. While it may be a consensual, two person act, the woman’s role is diminished because the focus falls on the pleasure of men and less on that of women. 

When sex is seen as something men are in control of, it can have harmful repercussions and even change the way men and women view sexual health. Research in connection with Pennsylvania State University found that women who view men with a traditional gendered role in society were less likely to use condoms. 

“Findings suggest the importance of examining gender’s role in sexual behaviors and beliefs by assessing multiple gendered attitudes, rather than simply considering biological sex,” the research stated.

When men and women act how they are “supposed” to act, then gender roles begin to seep into the bedroom. Just because women need to be viewed as equals when discussing sexuality, it doesn’t mean a woman is always ready or comfortable to have sex — or that they will voice this discomfort.

The stigma around women’s sexual activity and identity should not be diminished. 

Men tend to assume that their needs align to the needs of their sexual partners, and whether it’s a late night ‘booty call’ or at a party, it’s still an assumption. Whether a woman has two, ten or twenty sexual partners, her character or quality of life should not be viewed as less than a man’s.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s How To Decide On A Safe Word

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No matter who you’re sleeping with, how long you’ve been sleeping with them, and what type of sex you’re having — if you’re not feeling it anymore, you’re allowed to tap out at any point, for any reason. While it’s important to discuss consent and knowing what you and your partner(s) are comfortable with before turning up the heat, knowing something like how to decide on a safe word can be a great way to keep everyone safe and comfortable during sex.

“A safe word is a word selected by sexual partners together that when used indicates one partner would like to pause sexual activity for any reason,” McKenna Maness, sex educator and former education and prevention coordinator at The Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP), tells Elite Daily. “Perhaps sex got too intense, or the partner is physically uncomfortable or in more pain than they would like to be, or roleplaying crossed into something less desirable for that person, they’re overstimulated— in any of these cases, the partner who would like to stop can say their safe word and the other partner would know that it is time to stop immediately and check in!”

Although having a safe word can be a tool for communicating with your partner(s), it it no way means that partner(s) are allowed to skip the boundary convo or try something new without first getting consent. “It should not be your goal to make someone use their safe word. A safe word exists for reasons of safety. Boundaries are made for a reason and not everyone likes theirs’ pushed. At the same time, it does not make you weak to safe word out,” Lola Jean, sex educator and mental health professional says.

“Safe words” have roots within the BDSM community and are often associated with more kinky types sex. Additionally, expressing when you’re not feeling something or need a time out, can be useful in all types of sexual activity — from bondage and role play, to gentle spooning and basic missionary. Whether you’re going at it and your legs are in a weird position so it kind of hurts, or you want to check to make sure your contraceptive is in place, a “safe word” is nothing more than a signal that you need to stop and check in.

“You always have the right to stop whatever you and your partner(s) are doing to each other for any reason — communication is key and safe words facilitate that!” Maness says. If you just got your IUD replaced or you’ve had the worst day ever and can’t stop thinking about your terrible coworker Shannon, you may not realize that you’re not trying to have sex tonight until you’ve started to have sex. Safe words, then, are like an immediate “eject button” from sex, without feeling pressure to explain what you’re feeling in the moment, before winding down the physical touching or expressing everything on your mind to your partner(s).

When choosing a safe word, it may be helpful to pick a universal phrase — like traffic light colors. “It’s easier to remember the difference between yellow and red even when in the depths of sub space,” Jeans says. “You can add words like ‘Red Stop’ to end completely as opposed to just “Red” to stop what you are currently doing.” If your first grade teacher ever used a paper traffic light as a public-shame discipline system (I’m triggered) or if you’ve ever been in a moving vehicle, it’s easy to remember that “Red means stop.” Words like traffic light colors, that hold deep cultural significance can be great choices for a safe word, as you’re unlikely to forget them.

If you’re not a big talker during sex or a verbal safe word doesn’t feel comfortable, Maness suggests incorporating a physical “safe word” or a physical signal that you need a time out. Yet, like a safe word, a physical tap-out should be a motion you wouldn’t otherwise do during sex. “Maybe tapping your partner’s shoulder or winking, a peace sign or crossed fingers — as long as they will see it and understand it,” Maness says.

If you’re someone who likes to laugh or joke during sex, it may be a good fit for you and your partner(s) to choose a funny safe word. “My safe word is ‘Mike Pence’ because that would make someone stop dead in their tracks during a scene to question what was going on —plus I do like a safe word that makes me giggle,” Jean says. Although humor may play an important role, Jean also speaks to the importance of finding a word that’s memorable and literally easy to say. “When choosing a safe word, it’s important that it is something you can easily remember and say. It should be a word that would likely not come up within play or a word you don’t say very often. (I rarely would use Mike Pence’s name in my sexy times.) Mike Pence is also an easy two syllable punch.”

Maness too agrees that choosing a safe word ideally means picking something unforgettable. “It has to be something you will absolutely be sure to remember during sex. If you are single or non-monogamous, you can choose one just for yourself and communicate it before sex, and if you have a partner you consistently hook up with, whatever that looks like for you, you can decide together what to use,” Maness says. “It could be parachute. It could be persimmon. It could be shovel. Just make sure it’s memorable and you both/all know what it means.”

Maness also suggests thinking about a word you wouldn’t otherwise say when having sex. Something completely random like an inanimate object, an inside joke, or something otherwise unfamiliar to the communication you and your partner(s) typically have during sex. Though it may feel right to have your safe word be something silly or totally random, using it is a serious move. “Using a safe word — even with a long term partner — has a certain weight to it that other words do not. A safe word means business. It means slow the f*ck down and check in with your person,” Jean says.

Of course just like finding the right safe word for you, understanding exactly what your safe word will mean is another important conversation. “It’s important to set forth what the safe word or signal means too— usually it means ‘stop now’ but you could also ask your partner to give you physical space when you use it, or tell them you want comfort and aftercare at the point where you use it,” Maness says. “Using a safe word is revoking consent in that moment. Your partner shouldn’t take offense, or be upset or hurt. You aren’t necessarily ending the sex permanently, although if you are that’s fine too.”

If using a safe word means your boundaries were crossed, you may want to further discuss with your partner how you’re feeling and what you need to feel comfortable and safe when having sex. Your safe word could mean anything from, “Your knee is knocking into my hip and it kinda hurts can we switch positions” to “I don’t like where this is going, we need to stop”. Having an open dialogue with your partner about what your safe word means and how it will be used is just as important as choosing the right word for you. “It’s a great tool that just requires honest/open conversation,” Maness says.

If you are thinking about the right safe word for you, take time to ponder your personal boundaries, preferences, and the types of sex you do and (maybe more importantly) do not want to be having. During any sexual encounter — a LTR, one night stand, or super hot orgy with ninety people — the most important thing factor is active consent. When it comes to deciding on a safe word, you get to choose how it’s used, when it’s used, and what it means.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Reignite Your Sex Life After Going Through Cancer

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Your body will feel different. These tips can help.

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After cancer, bodies and relationships change. In fact, many men find their sex lives look and feel different from their pre-cancer days. Although you may feel embarrassed or nervous to open up to your partner about sexual changes, talking about post-cancer intimacy can help you re-envision your body and your relationship. These tips can help pave the way for establishing a new sex life after a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Start talking early

Although it seems like physical contact is one of the most important parts of intimacy, the truth is that communication is essential for establishing and igniting closeness. Remember, there’s no one way affection should look, and previous relationship expectations can be difficult to maintain during cancer recovery.

For men in particular, sexual function changes can manifest as shifts in desire, the impacted ability to get or maintain an erection, or even delayed or dry ejaculation. Instead of withdrawing and avoiding intimacy or affection, I advise my patients at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) to talk with their partner right when they’re diagnosed to start the dialogue about possible changes in your sex life. Before you go into surgery or start therapy, have a conversation about your sexual self-esteem and identity as a sexual person. You and your partner can check in with each other a few months later to see how you’re both feeling about your sexual self-identity and work on identifying a new vision of intimacy in your relationship.

And it’s not just your partner you should be talking to—communication is equally important between you and your doctor. Going through cancer can change your sex life, but that doesn’t mean your doctor has covered all the sexual function differences you may notice. If you notice sexual functioning changes, talking with your doctor can open up the possibilities of personalized treatment options. By speaking up and asking questions, you can better establish a healthy approach to reclaiming your sexual identity.

“Date” your partner again

Partnership is a key part of any relationship, and should be just as important after diagnosis. During cancer, relationships can transition from partner/partner to patient/caregiver, and returning to old “norms” can be challenging. A good way to approach this is to continue to date your partner throughout treatment. By dreaming together or going out to eat, you can help refocus your relationship around things that aren’t related to cancer. You can also try scheduling time for intimacy and affection, which can help rekindle intimacy found in partnership. Try to take your time and get to know each other again.

Redefine intimacy

After treatment, sexual desire can wane. A lot of things can impact desire including hormonal changes, pre-occupation/focus changes, decreased self-esteem/confidence, and mental health issues (e.g., anxiety or depression). Remember, intimacy might not happen spontaneously and might not involve sex at all. Try playing to other strengths and learning to perfect new types of intimacy—not every sexual interaction requires an erection or an orgasm. If your goal is satisfaction, it’s important to note that men can still reach orgasm without an erection and the penis itself can still experience sensation. There are many ways to feel pleasure, these just might not look the exact same as they did before diagnosis. Remember you’re in charge of defining what you want intimacy to be—it can even be as simple as connection.

The sexual side effects that you may experience from cancer can happen to anyone—cancer treatment just speeds up the process. Normalizing and understanding issues of intimacy after cancer is just one step you can take to acknowledge habits or preconceptions that may be harmful. Sex doesn’t have to be a certain way to be fun and exciting. With these guidelines, you can work on re-establishing intimacy and gaining newfound confidence post-cancer.

Complete Article HERE!

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Do long-term, no-strings sex arrangements ever work?

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Can you have sex with someone for years without dropping the L-bomb or calling what you have a relationship? For some people, the answer is yes, yes, yes

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It is 30 years since the release of When Harry Met Sally. Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner’s genre-defining romcom had so many hilarious, timeless lines, from: “How long do I have to lie here and hold her before I can get up and go home?” to: “When I get a new book, I read the last page first. That way, if I die before I finish I know how it comes out. That, my friend, is a dark side.” But one line that does seem to have aged is arguably the most famous, and the premise of the whole film: “Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” It is not just the heteronormativity that feels outdated; three decades on, speaking to some of the Harrys and Sallys of the millennial generation, the question now is less can they just be friends, and more, can they just have sex?

For Rachel, a bisexual woman in her early 30s, the answer is an enthusiastic yes, yes, yes! For about five years, she has gone through periods of regularly having sex with a friend she met at university, “with the agreement that we wouldn’t develop a deeper relationship,” she says. “We didn’t contact each other frequently in between dates or ask for the sort of emotional support you’d get from a partner. I cared about him, but I wasn’t dependent on his affection and I didn’t feel responsible for him beyond how you’d feel about a friend. And we’d have really good sex.”

Rachel always felt she knew exactly where they stood, because they talked about the nature of their relationship, discussing the limits of what they expected from each other. “When you are in an arrangement like this, you have to talk about things rather than make assumptions, and I really enjoyed how honest we were both able to be. I found it incredibly freeing that he didn’t ask anything from me.”

As someone who has never had this sort of relationship, I found it difficult at first to get my head around it – not because I felt judgmental, but because I felt admiring. I think you have to be quite emotionally mature to be able to accept something for what it is, without trying to turn it into something more, or denigrate it for not being something it is not.

“Relationships like this,” says Rachel, “where you are enjoying sex for what it is without making it represent something deeper, ask you to think about how sex usually functions in society.” She describes how, if you have sex with someone and get into a relationship with them, you are turning something that started off as a fun encounter into something that completely changes your life. You might end up spending most of your time with this person, making decisions about your life based on their input, using them as your main source of emotional support. “People assume that’s the natural trajectory, and sometimes that’s great – but sometimes it’s nice to just have sex with someone you like without those assumptions and expectations,” she says.

I ask her if there are any downsides: “Probably not.”

It may sound too good to be true, but for psychosexual therapist Kate Moyle, it does not have to be. “If both parties are really busy in their jobs, their social lives and family lives, and don’t have the available emotional space for a relationship, why isn’t this the perfect solution?” she asks. “You get to have sex with the same person, which can typically be quite satisfactory because you get to know each other and each other’s bodies, and there isn’t the emotional dependency and stress of dealing with someone’s feelings. You don’t lose your independence.”

She believes this kind of less demanding relationship is on the rise because of the lifestyles of young people. “We are a generation who seem to work such long hours, with the complete dissolving of nine-to-five because of technology.”

That is part of the appeal of sex-only relationships for Laura, in her late 20s, who began seeing her then-colleague Mark four years ago. “I have a busy life, a demanding job, and this situation works for me,” she says. “I don’t even know how I would go about getting into a relationship with someone right now, the time and energy you have to devote to that. It’s convenient to be able to say to someone at 11pm, ‘Are you around?’ You can’t really do that in a normal dating situation.”

Mark says: “It’s a bit like a relationship-lite. We usually see each other once a fortnight maximum, and the vibe is always quite intimate – even though it is understood that it will never be any more than what it is.” He adds: “At times, when I’ve felt unsure or anxious or worried or sad or lonely, it’s been incredibly comforting. And then at other times it’s just been really good fun – we do get on really well, and we have amazing sex.”

For Laura, “It’s always a bit more exciting, because you don’t fall into the same repetitive boring patterns of being in a relationship. You never get past that honeymoon period.” It also means she can avoid dating apps. “I don’t like modern dating – I don’t like sacrificing an evening to meet someone I’ll probably know instantly isn’t someone that I have any connection with, and then have a drink and be polite or whatever, for an allotted amount of time, before I can leave.”

But for Laura – unlike for Rachel – there is a downside. “There is something weirdly arrested about the whole situation. If you can never get past a certain point of closeness because you’ve imposed rules – verbally or non-verbally – on how close you can get, then there are going to be times where you feel that barrier.” You start wondering, she says, why don’t I know about all of your life? Why don’t you know my friends? It is not that this kind of relationship is better or worse than more traditional monogamous relationships, “but the nature of the thing is that it has its own limitations,” she says. “It’s also not something you can explain to friends and family. I’m seeing someone and it’s been going on a really long time but we’re not together – you can’t explain that to your mum, can you?” She laughs.

Things go wrong, in Moyle’s experience, when people change, or when they do not stick to the boundaries they have established at the start. “Difficulties tend to come up when one partner meets somebody new, or if they decide to end it. There is a sense of a relationship even if they want it not to be a relationship, because we have a form of a relationship with anyone we are regularly connecting with.”

This is what Mary found. She is a mother of three in her early 40s who divorced five years ago, and she has been having regular sex with a male friend. But it is now proving more complex than she had hoped. She has developed feelings of attachment for him, and he for her. This might sound like a Harry Met Sally happy ending, but, as she explains, it is not. “We weren’t supposed to. It’s complicated because he wants to spend more time with me, and I don’t want the same – I don’t want a relationship, as I am concentrating on my girls. It has been draining, as it’s getting in the way of our friendship. I think you have to lay down rules at the beginning and stick to them – or someone will get hurt.”

There is a name for two people having regular sex with each other on the understanding that it will not grow into a loving, committed relationship – in fact there are several names. “Friends with benefits” is one, “non-relationships” another. But, for the people I spoke to, none of these terms accurately encapsulates what is going on. For Emily Witt, the author of Future Sex, a book about contemporary sexuality, the name is important. “If you don’t have a name for what you’re doing, if you don’t have the words to describe your own reality, it increases your sense of alienation,” she says.

The best term she has found is “erotic friendship”, and, she says, erotic friendships have value. “In popular culture maybe they’re seen as cheap or disposable or a waste of time, but I think they’re places where you can learn a lot. You get to learn somebody’s sexual quirks and the diversity of what turns people on and what they want, you practise communicating your own desires and don’t just assume the person can intuit them. That experience really is worthwhile.”

Yet, Moyle says, these kinds of relationships have traditionally been stigmatised: people such as Rachel, Mary, Mark and Laura are depicted as people who don’t want to or can’t commit, people who want it all. “I guess it doesn’t fit with the historically expected monogamous model, therefore it’s considered ‘other’,” she says. “But we don’t have to conform to the traditional heteronormative model of man meets woman, they get engaged, married, have kids.”

This rings true for Rachel. “We still hold on to this idea of romantic love as a kind of happy ending for women,” she says. “If I’m sleeping with my friend whom I care about and who is kind to me, and I’m not in love with him, or making plans around our bond, I don’t think anybody’s being shortchanged – it just feels like a way to have fun together and enjoy closeness and human connection.” That idea of romantic love is what provides the happy ending of When Harry Met Sally, but, as Witt says, “that Hollywood thing, where any close friendship between people who might be sexually attracted to each other ends up in true love – that’s just not how it is”.

Perhaps if there were less stigma, and we knew more stories like Rachel’s, more single people would find themselves saying the film’s other most famous line: “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Complete Article HERE!

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What To Do If You Want Sex To Last Longer

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By Erika W. Smith

There have been a lot of studies about how long sex lasts on average — but most of those studies focus on the length of P-in-V sex between a cis man and a cis woman, whereas we know that sex can encompass a lot more. When it comes to studies looking at how long sex — including foreplay, outercourse, oral sex, and any other kind of non-P-in-V sex — lasts on average, for people of any gender and sexuality, we have less data to go by. But even if we did have exact data, those numbers don’t really matter. Because the only real answer to “How long should sex last?” is “A length that you and your partner are happy with.”

In fact, studies and averages are “a comparison trap,” says Megan Fleming, PhD, a sex and relationships counselor who practices in New York. “It’s really more about what works in your relationship.”

Sex therapists generally consider someone with a penis to be experiencing premature ejaculation if they are ejaculating after less than two minutes of penetrative sex, Dr. Fleming says. The Mayo Clinic’s definition of premature ejaculation adds an important caveat: “Premature ejaculation occurs when a man ejaculates sooner during sexual intercourse than he or his partner would like.” If both partners are happy with how long sex is lasting, then it’s not something to be concerned about — there’s a lot more to sex than penetration, after all. “How much does [the partner] enjoy penetration?” Dr. Fleming asks. “Maybe they already had an orgasm first because of foreplay, oral, or manual stimulation.”

But if both partners — no matter their gender or genitalia — want sex to last longer, they can try some different tactics to make that happen. Dr. Fleming divides these strategies into two groups: the physical and the psychological. On the physical side, there are masturbation exercises. In particular, people with penises can “learn to stay in the safe zone before the point of inevitability, which is ejaculation,” says Dr. Fleming. If sex isn’t lasting long because one person is experiencing pain or discomfort, see a professional who can see if there’s an underlying health condition. If you’d like sex to end more quickly, masturbation exercises also apply. And whether you’d like sex to last longer or end more quickly, you should be using lube it helps reduce friction, makes sex feel more comfortable, and feels great. Try experimenting with different amounts lube, or trying different kinds of lube, to see how that feels.

There’s also the psychological side of sex. Along with trying out positions and types of sex, “that might mean including fantasy, or talking dirty,” Dr. Fleming says. It can also mean reframing what you think of as sex to include sexual activities outside of penetration — and if there’s a cis man in the couple, it can mean rethinking the idea that sex ends when he has an orgasm.

Dr. Fleming also suggests trying new sexual activities more than once — even if the first time you try a new position doesn’t have an effect on how soon your orgasm happens, that might be different the third time you try it. “When you try something new, you want to try, try again,” she says. She refers to the safe word system of red, yellow, and green, where red means “stop,” green means “go,” and yellow means “slow down” or “give me a moment.” “If it’s awful, ‘red light,’ then obviously don’t” try it again, she says. “But if it’s more like a yellow, then hang out and see if it turns green. Sometimes we have to do things enough to really be present and relax, and relaxation is the foundation of arousal

Complete Article HERE!

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6 Questions to Ask Before Sex

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By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Despite how we see it portrayed in the media, sex is a very personal act – with both emotional and physical consequences. So, it’s extremely important that you approach it with the serious thought that it deserves. This includes asking yourself and your partner some key questions.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Does having sex fit with my core values? At a very basic level, it helps to be clear about the extent of emotional intimacy and commitment you believe there should be in a relationship before having sex.

There is also the question of whether being physically intimate with a particular person fits with your morals or values. If either you or your potential sexual partner is in a committed relationship with someone else, pause before acting on your desires. There are also other situations worth thinking twice about, such as sleeping with your boss. So whatever your circumstance, consider the problems you might be creating by acting on your passions.

Is this person a wise choice for me? Even if you are incredibly attracted to someone or they look great on paper, you may know in your heart that they are not right for you. Or, you may have some nagging doubts. Maybe they treat you poorly, are insensitive to others (even while they idolize you), struggle with an anger or alcohol problem, or raise concerns in some other way. In all of these situations, you may want to, at least temporarily, override your libido. When you have sex with someone, you are bringing that person more into your life and heart – a choice you may live to regret. 

Is the timing right? Sex can increase emotional closeness, so if you’re not ready to get closer, you may want to hold off. For instance, if you have just gotten out of a long-term relationship, having sex too soon could interfere with developing what could have been a good match. Similarly, acting on sexual attraction before getting to know someone might feel good in the moment, but also create problems in developing a deeper connection.

3 Questions to Ask Your Partner

What are we to each other? You want to know whether you are on the same page so that you don’t set yourself up for heartache. To clarify your situation, you might directly ask about whether they are single or romantically involved with someone else; and whether they are looking for a fling or a committed relationship.

When were you last tested for STDs and HIV? This may be an uncomfortable question to ask, but you need to be sure that you’re safe from these potentially serious health risks before you move forward.

What will we use for birth control? Whatever you decide to use, make an informed choice to prevent a possible unwanted pregnancy or disease.

These questions are just a start. From there you might want to get to know each other better, deepening your emotional and sexual intimacy. But these basic questions are an essential starting point for any new sexual relationship.

Complete Article HERE!

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What is autosexuality?

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A growing number of people are pledging undying love to themself

A newspaper interview by a woman who is planning to marry herself has triggered fresh debate about this growing phenomenon of self-love.

Talking to the Metro, self-described autosexual Ghia Vitale, a writer from New York, said: “I’ve been attracted to myself for as long as I’ve been cognisant of attraction.”

The newspaper notes that this sexual identification has been “seldom talked about” – so what does it mean?

What is the definition of autosexuality?

In 2013, Psychology Today blogger Leon Seltzer described autosexuality, or autoeroticism, as “one of the ‘fuzziest’ concepts in the entire field of human sexuality”, with “little consensus on what it actually means”.

The Medical Dictionary defines autosexual as “characterised by sexual physical self-contact (e.g., masturbation, erotic fantasies or rituals)”.

According to Seltzer, autosexuals “are attracted primarily – sometimes exclusively – to their own bodies”, and autoeroticism “involves a whole range of sexual behaviours and attitudes”.

“Many individuals fitting this designation might self-stimulate only when other alternatives aren’t feasible,” he adds. “Some might find themselves turned on both by themselves and others. Others might be aroused (or arousable) solely by themselves – whether through sight or touch.”

It may involve “being autoromantic – experiencing the relationship with yourself as romantic”, says Metro.

“It can mean being turned on by your own look and nudity, getting butterflies when you think about yourself, being excited to spend time alone, and masturbating to the idea of yourself. It’s all the feelings we get for a potential new suitor but for ourselves,” the newspaper continues.

Is it a new concept?

No. In his book Freud and Autosexuality, sychoanalysis researcher and professor Michel Herve Bertaux-Navoiseau writes that although “the Greeks didn’t have a word to designate autosexuality”, philosophers of the time “did not make any difference between making love with one’s clitoris or foreskin or with two sexes”.

Psychology Today’s Seltzer also cites the Greeks. “As the original Narcissus of Greek mythology became enamoured of his own image (as reflected in a pool of water), so can pronounced autoerotics be physically attracted to – or titillated by – themselves,” he says.

What else do psychologists say?

Seltzer argues that autosexuality “isn’t a one-dimensional phenomenon”, adding: “Moreover, it cannot be overemphasised that very few individuals do not – to whatever degree – exhibit certain autoerotic elements in their sexuality.”

Dr Michael Aaron, author of Modern Sexuality, tells lifestyle site Refinery29: “It is very common for people to be aroused by themselves [to varying degrees]. Some experience it more like an orientation, in that they feel more aroused by themselves than by others.

“In fact, if you bring a mirror into your sex life, you can transition those feelings of arousal into an experience that you can enjoy with partners. And if you’re really into having sex in front of mirrors, there’s actually a name for that fetish – katoptronophilia.”

Self-outed autosexual Vitale claims that sex researcher Bernard Apfelbaum was the first to coin the term. In an article on blogging platform Medium, Vitale argues that the true number of autosexuals is underestimated and understudied.

She asks: “Is it because it’s still so stigmatised nobody ‘believes’ it’s real and thus, never sincerely studies it? Or is it because autosexuality is actually quite rare and there aren’t enough folks who manifest behaviour in the same way to properly qualify it?”

Complete Article HERE!

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Let’s Stop Ignoring the Truths of Puberty.

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We’re Making It Even More Awkward.

Sex education in U.S. schools is lacking, but new efforts to broaden its scope are bubbling up.

By Maya Salam

“I’d rather they just don’t teach anything if they can’t be honest.”

— Susan Lontine, a Colorado state representative who introduced a bill that would mandate teachings about safe sex, consent and sexual orientation in the state’s public schools

By the time I was 15, most of my knowledge about puberty was gleaned from one-dimensional tales on TV and in movies. I learned what it meant when a pubescent boy carried a book in front of his body (cue laugh track) and that when girls develop breasts, boys (and men) “can’t help but” ogle them. That’s about it.

In the last year or so, TV and film have made strides in representing pubescent girls as complex and awkward beings who also happen to be sex-obsessed (a trait normally reserved for adolescent boys), my colleague Amanda Hess pointed out in a recent piece about the shows “PEN15” and “Big Mouth” and the movie “Eighth Grade.”

“The lustful adolescent girl is having her moment,” wrote Hess, a Times culture critic. “It is not, to be clear, an altogether glorious time,” she said, adding that “girls’ feelings matter, too. And these girls feel so much.”

Such nuances and acknowledgments of female sexuality are largely missing from sex education in U.S. schools, where curriculum is lacking over all.

The majority of states don’t mandate sex ed at all, and just 13 require that the material be medically accurate. Abstinence education remains a pillar of most programs. And that is saying nothing of more complex issues like consent, sexual orientation and gender identity. (In seven states, laws prohibit educators from portraying same-sex relationships positively.)

Simultaneously, the influence of pornography is growing. “Easy-to-access online porn fills the vacuum, making porn the de facto sex educator for American youth,” Maggie Jones wrote in The New York Times Magazine last year. Her article pointed to a study in which high schoolers reported that pornography was their primary source for information about sex — more than friends, siblings, schools or parents.

“There’s nowhere else to learn about sex, and porn stars know what they are doing,” one boy told Jones.

But to keep up with the times, new efforts to broaden the scope of sex ed are bubbling up.

A pornography-literacy course, titled The Truth About Pornography, was a recent addition to Start Strong, a peer-leadership program for teenagers headquartered in Boston and funded by the city’s public-health agency.

In Colorado, a new comprehensive, student-supported sex education bill is working its way through the state’s Legislature. It would require the teaching of safe sex, consent and sexual orientation, as well as bar abstinence-only sex education. If passed, Colorado would be the ninth state to require that consent be taught.

And today, the first guide to gender-inclusive puberty education was published by Gender Spectrum, a nonprofit organization that works to create gender-sensitive and inclusive environments for children.

Among other principles, the guide — intended to give educators tools they can incorporate into existing course materials — stresses the complexity of gender as the interrelationship between one’s body, identity and expression. The point, according to Gender Spectrum, is to “ensure that no student’s passage through puberty is stigmatized or made invisible.”

Perhaps leading the way is the British government, which last week announced a major change to the nation’s sex education curriculum, the first revision in decades. Starting in 2020, it will cover topics including same-sex relationships, transgender people, menstruation, sexual assault, forced marriage, pornography and sexting.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexually Submissive Men Have Something to Say

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Learn About the Complex and Varied Experiences of Sexually Submissive Men

by Aysha White

It’s pretty much unquestionable that BDSM is having its 15 minutes of fame culturally.

The massive popularity of the book 50 Shades of Grey and it’s inevitable, on-screen adaptation prove that the public is eager to learn more about the world of BDSM, which commonly stands for bondage, domination, sadism and masochism, though there are variations under that moniker.

It’s not surprising that BDSM is enjoying more mainstream success; a study revealed that 51 per cent of men and approximately 39 percent of women were sexually aroused by the idea of having a dominant or submissive sexual partner. These results also reveal that more men than women are attracted to the idea of having someone be sexually submissive to them.

What is lacking about the mainstream depictions of BDSM is variety. 50 Shades of Grey centres around the love/sex story of two characters, the naive/innocent student journalist Ana and the mysterious and damaged businessman Christian Grey (the namesake of the movie).

A lot of cultural dialogue around the subject, including mainstream media sources, have imposed a heterosexual idea that reinforces existing gender binaries, where the man is the dominant partner and the woman the submissive.

It ignores the experiences of sexually submissive men and dominant women, arguably because they flout social customs. We live in a sexist patriarchal culture that promotes and profits off the physical and emotional submission of women.

Men who are sexually submissive are essentially giving the finger to social norms, and that isn’t comfortable to people who promote a mainstream, church-on-Sundays, mashed-potatoes-every-Wednesday kind of existence.

Pseudonyms have been used for the people interviewed, to protect their privacy, as well as their current and future employment opportunities.

Calvin Hobbes

Hobbes is a submissive latex-loving man,] who loves to serve his Mistress. “I feel complete when I’m submissive—whether that’s in a sexual context or in terms of being obedient to my partner in day-to-day life,” said Hobbes.

He views his sexuality as kinky or submissive, though he can often enjoy vanilla sex. Vanilla, in the context of the kinky community, is meant to describe sex that doesn’t have any BDSM elements to it, but it can also be used to describe people who don’t practice BDSM.

Hobbes described himself as essentially straight, but does experience occasional attraction towards other men.

“I think a lot of submissive people, of whatever gender, find that being submissive is a release from responsibility in other aspects of their life—whether it’s work, family, or just being responsible for your own behaviour and emotional state,” he said.

Hobbes began to realize he was interested in being dominated by a woman around the age of 16 or 17. “I think that from a fairly early point in my adolescence, I felt that women were more in touch with their sexuality than men. That awareness came across to me as a type of power that I found very appealing,” he said.

As a teenager, he felt confused about all of the new things he was feeling, and by the conflicting societal messages he received about how to behave. “The idea of a woman who knew what she wanted and unambiguously asserted that was delightful.”

“For over a year now I’ve been in love with a beautiful dominant woman who loves having me as her slave. The connection there, and how happy and proud she makes me feel to be her slave, makes me want to be completely open about the nature of our relationship,” he said.

Catiya Kass, his Mistress, described being a female dominant as an empowering kinda of experience. She said the intimacy it created between her and Hobbes led her to fall in love with him quicker.

“We’re socialized to defer to a man’s needs, and this relationship style flips that on its head. Through prioritizing my pleasure together we’ve discovered my body is capable of more than I ever thought possible—hands-free orgasms, orgasms from inflicting pain, multiple orgasms (current record is 54 in one day!). This has made me appreciate and love the body that I live in, and given my slave even more reason to worship it,” said Kass.

Believing in destiny is a personal choice, but if you do believe in it, you might see these two as an example.

Kass reached out to two online profiles in one week, one kinky and one vanilla. Long story short, they both belonged to Hobbes, which he subsequently revealed to her. The two have built a successful sexual and romantic relationship, built on open communication about their interests, needs, wants, and boundaries. The full-time domination that they engage in together has been a new experience for both of them.

“I like challenging and pushing my sub to explore boundaries, such as wearing his collar or latex in public.”

Hobbes likes employing latex in his sexual practices, describing it as the most sensual material he knows. “I find that the way it stretches as you move makes it feel almost like wearing a lover that caresses you all over at once. It’s sublime,” said Hobbes.

Hobbes noted that the process of getting dressed in it, including the application of polish to make it shine, can be a be a sensual form of foreplay as people run their hands over each other’s bodies. “I find that wearing latex makes my sense of stimulation less penis-focused and more of an all-over bodily experience,” he explained.

Hobbes pointed out that while for women being objectified is a form of misogyny, for men, not used to being seen for their appearance, the experience can create the opposite feeling. He feels like in the context of sexual submission, being treated like an object, “to be used and admired,” and the feeling of being completely and totally wanted provide him with an ego boost.

“I feel that being submissive is really part of how I was born. But I do think there’s something to the idea of submission being a release from being smart all the time, and from overthinking things.”

“There’s definitely a threshold one crosses into ‘subspace,’ where you stop thinking about what’s happening to you and how it could go next, and reach this mindful or meditative state of complete acceptance, let go of responsibility, and just enjoy existing for your partner’s pleasure,” said Hobbes, pointing out that the feeling can be especially strong if his Mistress is flogging or pegging him, or else having him placed in full body, restrictive bondage.

Flogging means being whipped. Pegging is a gender flipping sexual act, of a woman penetrating a man anally, usually with a strap-on.

Afterwards, he explained that the dominant will release the submissive, a practice known as aftercare. It’s meant to ensure they are physically recovering from the scene, as well as emotionally supporting their process of re-attaching to responsibility and being in charge of themselves again.

“Mistress and I don’t have a relationship where we ‘play’ occasionally. I’m always submissive to her, she’s always dominant over me, sometimes it just becomes more intense. I find that the more intense the dynamic between us becomes at any given time, the more I crave for it to become even more intense, and I slip deeper into submission,” explained Hobbes.

“Women who are self-assured, smart, know that they’re capable of taking care of themselves, and know what they want have always made me melt,” he continued.

Hobbes said that he derives a lot of fulfillment from serving women and knowing he’s making someone he loves happy. He feels that being submissive removes some of the guesswork out of relationships, as he’s comfortable following orders, trusting that his Mistress wouldn’t abuse her power over him.

“Dominance isn’t about abuse, or manipulation. It’s about care, and earning authority. And submission isn’t about weakness, it’s about confidence, dependability, and trust,” said Hobbes.

He pointed out that many people who are not a part of kinky society may not understand the amount of time, effort, and negotiation of boundaries that gets put into establishing a healthy kinky relationship.

Hobbes doesn’t believe in the idea of divine powers influencing life on Earth. “There is no cosmic judge who wants us to avoid certain foods, wear certain clothes, or gets angry if we fuck or fall in love in certain ways.”

He said that having an open-minded yet rational attitude has made him more open to alternative life choices, like BDSM and polyamory. “We’re on our own, but we’re free to live our lives how we see fit, and find meaning and value in our relationships, our work, and our communities,” Hobbes explained.

“Letting someone else be in charge is really nice. It’s a strange irony I suppose, that politically I identify as an anarchist—the pacifist type, not the Molotov cocktail type—and believe very strongly in egalitarianism and individual freedom. But I feel so happy being owned, commanded, restrained, and objectified by the woman I love, where that power imbalance is consensual,” he said.

Logan Roland

“I’ve never been a leader or anything. I like following a lot more” said Logan Roland, a cross-dressing submissive man who works at a John Deere factory where the overt masculinity contrasts with his private and overly feminine desires.

Roland describes himself as a straight man. “I like it in the back for sure [but] I don’t think I’d let a guy do me,” he said “I’m straight but also really feminine. I don’t mind plugs and toys with [male genitalia], but wouldn’t want to be with a man.”

He likes using toys such as butt plugs to give him that feeling and likes to leave them inside his rectum, experimenting with different lengths of time, or vibration. He also really loves being restrained.

Roland explained that he had always been curious about the act of cross-dressing since childhood, when he first started to try on women’s clothes.

He began understanding how he was aroused by BDSM practices. He enjoyed seeing girls tied up in cartoons and movies. He began to experiment with touching himself and tying up his ankles with belts or long socks, until “I got better things like actual ropes and cuffs.”

He began to understand more about BDSM and the way his own sexuality fit into that by watching related porn on the internet.

Roland is a practitioner of self-BDSM, meaning he experiments with putting himself in bondage positions. He describes the feeling of being tied up as being very comfortable and natural for him, even relaxing enough to fall asleep in.

So far, actually having a Mistress and being her slave remains a fantasy to Roland, but one he is eager to make a reality.

“I would definitely consider being a full-time slave as long as I got to see my family and friends,” said Rolland. “I’ve definitely been getting more into it and wanting a dominant partner.”
“[Following] excites me a lot more. I’d like to not be in control and have someone else controlling everything.”

He is open to the idea of trying to find one on a site like Fetlife—consider it Facebook of the BDSM community—but he lives in small town in Tennessee, meaning he doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of options in close proximity.

“I try to be careful about who I tell about it honestly. I’ve slowly been opening up to more people about BDSM and [my] girly side.”

He thinks that if more people were aware of his interest in submission and cross-dressing, they wouldn’t accept it, and pointed out that dominant men are seen as more acceptable in the mainstream than submissive ones.

Roland has a fondness for women’s skirts and capri pants. He recently tried shaving his legs, which was a positive experience as he continues to experiment with his sexuality in relation to cross-dressing.

He said his ideal outfit to cross-dress in would be “capri pants, a cute top with flip flop sandals, or flats.”

“I honestly love how girl clothes feel. They are so much more comfortable than guy clothes, and it’s also exciting, kind of like a forbidden fruit in a way because of it not being accepted really in the norm of our society now, but I do really love how they feel honestly and I love how cute they are and how [many] more [styles of clothing] girls have over guys.”

Some of Roland’s friends know he likes to cross-dress and are supportive of it. No one in his family, apart from a cousin and his brother, know about his feminine side. When his parents leave town for the weekend, he’s able to dress up in women’s clothes while hanging around the house.

“It definitely sucks hiding my girly side but I’m happy with the time I get to be myself, like at my friends houses or my cousin’s. They both let me dress girly and I’ve done self-BDSM around both. So it’s definitely a nice escape from hiding it a lot and it feels amazing when I get to let it out,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

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A Dating App for Three, Plus

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Nonmonogamous coupling — and “thruppling” — has been lubricated by the internet.

By Haley Mlotek

Feeld is a dating app with options that put the Kinsey scale to shame.

If you’re single, you can set up an account stating your preferences and curiosities, as you might with any other service. The app lists 20 possibilities for sexuality alone, including heteroflexible (straight-ish) and homoflexible (gay, for the most part).

But couples and partners can sign up, too, in service of finding a third — or a fourth.

The app was released in 2014 by Dimo Trifonov and Ana Kirova, two graphic designers living in London, as 3nder (pronounced “Thrinder”). They hoped to appeal to individuals and partners looking to join or have threesomes. But after Tinder filed a lawsuit and the company rebranded as Feeld (as in “playing the”), the founders said they welcomed the opportunity to expand the mission of the app.

“Feeld is a platform for alternative dating, for people who are beyond labels,” Ms. Kirova said in an interview. “They can meet each other without the necessity of coming from a very defined place with a very defined requirement.”

According to the company, the majority of Feeld users are between the ages of 26 and 32, and they cluster in major cities: New York, London, São Paulo, Los Angeles and Paris. About 35 percent are on the app with a partner, and 45 percent identify as something other than heterosexual. (Gender options include nonbinary, intersex and two-spirit, as well as gender-nonconforming, genderqueer and gender-questioning.)

Feeld facilitates types of sexual attachment that are not exactly novel, but are often described in novel terms. (See “thrupple,” a term sometimes used to describe a romantic partnership for three people.) And it’s certainly popular, or at least, of growing interest to many. The company did not provide the most up-to-date download information (in 2016, it reported 1.5 million downloads), but says there are currently 12,000 connections made on Feeld and an average of 100,000 messages sent on a daily basis.

It’s not just the vocabulary of sex and sexuality that has evolved.

The rhetoric of relationships has become increasingly about labor (a lasting romance takes work), and the rhetoric of labor has become about relationships (each company is a family). Consequently, start-up origin stories are often expressed as love stories — the result of passion and ambition, open communication and ready collaboration. For Mr. Trifonov and Ms. Kirova, who began dating six years ago, those semantics are true in every sense. They made Feeld as much for their users as for themselves.

Mr. Trifonov said that they had been together for two years when Ms. Kirova revealed she also had feelings for a woman. “She felt really bad about it, like she was doing something wrong,” he said.

The two met in London, though they were both raised in Bulgaria, an environment Ms. Kirova described as rigid. “If you’re not straight, you’re not normal,” she said. Ms. Kirova considered herself and Mr. Trifonov to be open-minded — “artistic” is how she put it — but it took her a long time to question her own straightness. “That moment when things started shaking and changing, I was like, I’m losing my identity,” she said.

Mr. Trifonov and Ms. Kirova wanted to stay together while also giving Ms. Kirova space to try other relationships, but they didn’t like the options available to them. (They decided to search as a couple.) They felt unfairly judged by the label “swingers,” and recall users on other dating apps reaching out to say they shouldn’t be in spaces intended for single people.

Thus, Feeld was born.

The company struggled to find funding at first: Mr. Trifonov said many prospective investors considered the app “adult entertainment,” which venture capitalists tend to avoid for reasons as legal as they are moral. (On that, Mr. Trifonov said: “How come you can’t differentiate pornography from sexuality? These are two different things.”) Apps like Tinder and Bumble don’t advertise their utility when it comes to polyamorous exploration, but they can be used to the same end. (OkCupid recently added a feature that allows couples to link their accounts in their pursuit of a third.)

Eventually an angel investor swooped in to save Feeld, but the fact that the business is sex-related has presented other challenges.

An attempt to build a Feeld integration for Slack, which would allow co-workers to anonymously confess their office crushes, was, unsurprisingly, shut down — a human resources complaint waiting to happen (the company told Mr. Trifonov it was a violation of their developer policy). The money transfer app TransferWise temporarily blocked Feeld’s ability to collect money for paid memberships (which offer more privacy) because Feeld was considered “adult content.” Mr. Trifonov also claims he was refused an office rental because the landlord didn’t approve of the nature of their business.

Now, the company is up and running more or less smoothly, with some 20 people employed. In the tradition of small businesses everywhere, all workers do multiple tasks, and titles are given more for the benefit of people outside than those within it. (The company also runs an event series on nonmonogamy and put out a magazine.) Ms. Kirova describes herself as being responsible for general product leadership, long-term conceptual ideas, as well as much of the hiring and personnel decisions. Mr. Trifonov, the founder and head of the operation, believes she’s just being modest: “She’s like the unicorn of the company,” he said.

If they had stayed simply a threesome app, Mr. Trifonov believes it would have died as a threesome app. “When I started Feeld I thought — like every other founder, I guess — this company isn’t going to be like other companies,” he said.

I asked if he thought that there was some overlap between the two expectations: that social mores, from business to the bedroom, are better overthrown than followed. “I guess they overlap somehow, don’t they?” he replied. “When you have the mind-set of questioning things, it applies everywhere. We questioned our relationship. We questioned the way the business will work.”

Complete Article HERE!

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When Sex Workers Do the Labor of Therapists

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BY Carrie Weisman

Sky is a professional escort. She’s been working at Sheri’s Ranch, a legal brothel located in Pahrump, Nevada, for a little under a year. A few months back, a man came in asking for a group session with Sky, who prefers to be identified by her professional name, and one of her colleagues. He had come around a few times before. He made it a point to keep in touch through Twitter. This time, however, the session took a dark turn. He came in to tell them he was planning on killing himself.

“We see a lot of clients who have mental health issues,” she tells In These Times. Though, this experience was markedly more dramatic than her usual run in with clients who going through a depressive episode. She and her colleague were eventually able to talk the guy down. They sent him home with a list full of resources that specialize in matters of depression. They asked that he continue to check in with them through social media. 

Research suggests that upwards of 6 million men are affected by depression every year. Suicide remains the seventh leading cause of death among men in America. While it’s impossible to gauge exactly what percentage of that demographic frequents sex workers, the experiences of those in the field can offer some insight. During Sky’s last tour at the Ranch, she scheduled about seven appointments. Out of those bookings, only one involved sex. “We do a lot of companionship and intimacy parties,” she says. “The clients who sign up for those bookings are the ones struggling with loneliness.” 

And people with depression aren’t the only neurodivergent individuals sex workers encounter on the job. Those suffering from anxiety, a common accompaniment to depression, show up frequently. They also see a lot of people who fall on the autistic spectrum. In fact, Sky says she sees men who fall into the latter demographic relatively often. 

Sky first got her start in the industry working as a professional dominatrix. While she has since pivoted her position in the industry, she’s found ways to incorporate that expertise into life at the brothel. Sure, she offers standard escort services, but she also books sessions dedicated to BDSM, an acronym that can be broken down into three sub categories: Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission and Sadism/Masochism. Each dynamic refers to a specific form impact play that participants can find deeply pleasurable. That kind of tactile experience, she suspects, might offer a certain special appeal to men with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). And she might be right.

Among the many symptoms of those diagnosed with ASD is a resistance to physical contact. According to the CDC, early signs of the disorder may present in the form of an aversion to touch. At the same time, touch is an important sensation to experience. A lack thereof can lead to loneliness, depression and even a more secondary immune system. Researchers have determined that therapies designed to nurture regular sensory integration can help in this regard. 

Goddess Aviva, who also prefers to be referred to by her professional name, is a lifestyle and professional dominatrix based in New York City. Like Sky, she sees a good amount of clients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and also men dealing with depression and anxiety. She takes certain measures to screen clients. After all, violence against sex workers is an ongoing issue in the United States, and the wavering legality of the trade doesn’t exactly help combat the issue. In the wake of new federal legislation that has largely kicked sex workers offline, and with them, the ability to vet clients from afar, sex workers must be more vigilant than ever about whom they decide to take on. The clients who are neurodivergent or live with mental health conditions don’t seem to be the ones sex workers are worried about.

“You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to be a shitty person, and some of my clients who do deal with mental illness are wonderful, kind people with good intentions,” says Aviva. “I’ve never felt unsafe with a client that makes it all the way to a session. What matters most to me is that someone is respecting my boundaries, time and protocol.”

Sky, too, has encountered a number of undesirable clients throughout her career in the industry. But, similar to Aviva, these experiences don’t seem to be driven by those suffering from mental health or neurodivergent conditions. “My most uncomfortable moments in the industry have always come from men who would be told by a professional that they were completely sane,” she explains.

Fortunately, for Sky, it’s much easier to weed out problematic clients in places where prostitution is legal. According to her, the brothel has a security team monitoring the property. She also says there’s a sophisticated screening mechanism in place. Before booking a session, all clients have to provide ID and agree to an intimate screening to rule out immediate potential health risks. These aren’t typically privileges those operating independently have access to.

Throughout her career, Sky has encountered clients who have been pointed to the brothel by concerned friends, or family. She even knows of a few who have come by at the suggestion of a therapist. Though, not all mental health professionals would advise that kind of thing.

“Certainly, there are individuals that struggle with social anxiety, which prevents them from finding a real-life partner, and in those cases engaging with a sex worker can be both therapeutic and pleasurable,” says Dr. Michael Aaron, a sex therapist, writer and speaker based in New York City. “But the best option for a therapist that is looking to provide a patient with real-life experience is to seek out surrogates, who are trained and certified by the International Professional Surrogates Association.” The organization he’s referring too, also known as IPSA, operates around a triangular model of therapy involving a patient, a surrogate and a trained therapist. Together, the three work to improve the patient’s capacity for emotional physical intimacy through a series of structured, sexual experiences. The legal status of the practice is largely undefined in most of the United States. 

And maybe it’s not just in the interest of clients to see someone trained to provide the level emotional support they may be after. “It can be heavy,” says Sky. “I’ve had days where I have to take a minute for myself and get myself back together.”

Still, it seems as though few in the field shy away from providing the emotional labor that clients demand. “There’s this huge misconception that at the brothel we just have sex all day,” Sky explains. “But there are a lot of people who come in to work out some serious emotional issues. It’s really a good chunk of what we do.”

“I love my job,” she adds. “But there are certain parties that make us feel like we’re actually making a difference in the world – that we’re actually doing good things and not just providing a good time. And that can be super fulfilling.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Lube, Butt Plugs, and Bondage, Oh My!

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Just another day at your friendly neighborhood sex shop

By: Emma Chekroun

Having a part time job in college isn’t uncommon. Some students wait tables, others have jobs through their university, and some, like Haydin Wellens, a junior at the University of Minnesota, work as a cashier at a sex shop. Similar to other students, Wellens goes through his week’s worth of classes before working eight to nine hours on the weekend. Wellens fights exhaustion and tries to keep up with homework while working his late night shifts. The highlight? Much better party stories.

Wellens revels in the opportunity to talk about his job. “People will be talking about their jobs, and I usually start out with I work at a sex shop and…” pause for reaction. What usually comes next is smiles and stares of anticipation.

That anticipation lingers. There is something exhilarating in talking about and going to sex shops. Staring wide eyed at all the toys and tools that decorate the walls is enough to make anyone feel eager and anxious. 

While customers may only dedicate a few hours to browsing a sex shop, for those maintaining these glimmering palaces of self-love, it’s a lifestyle. 

Not Just a Job

Vincent Valcroft, assistant manager at Bondesque near Uptown, said he loves building people up through his work at the BDSM and fetish wear specialty shop. “I get to contribute to something that helps people,” he adds, “to bring greater wellness, meaning, and pleasure into their lives and relationships.”

Wellens, cashier at Lickety Split, and Cat Charles, website manager at Smitten Kitten, both said the best part of their jobs was answering questions and giving customers a safe space to ask them.

Charles said it’s “delightful and fun” to have sex as the subject manner of work. They enjoy making sex a normal and comfortable topic for shoppers.

Education also takes an important role in working at a sex shop. At Smitten Kitten, every employee is trained in the store’s sex ed curriculum. The shop also holds periodic free sex workshops, such as “Anal 101.”

Bondesque also holds workshops centered around BDSM, which Valcroft hopes contributes to a “holistic kink experience” in the store. Meanwhile, Wellens takes on an informal education outside of work, utilizing the internet to be better informed.

“I love figuring out how the different toys and interests work,” Wellens said. “Doing research into products on my own time doesn’t really feel like work.”

Education is a major way these sex shops pay it forward to the community. A shop’s attitude also has a big impact on its workers and the community. Wellens described how his manager created a position for him when he applied to Lickety Split back in June of 2018 and how that contributed to the family-like workplace he enjoys so much.

Valcroft went as far to say at Bondesque it’s “not a sale, it’s a celebration” and described the fun and explorative setting he strives to achieve at the store. When the community you and your store are a part of branches off into a spectrum of gender identities, orientation, and age groups, it’s important to “celebrate people,” Valcroft said.

Funny Moments

Even a community saturated with pleasure and support has its occasional negatives. From drunken shoppers to more dangerous exchanges, it’s not always easy being the purveyors of pleasure.

Wellens has had his fair share of run-ins that range from hilarious to horrifying. One particularly frightening story involves a knife and customer named Jelly; “we learned he was called Jelly after the fact,” Wellens clarifies.

Jelly became irate, yelling slurs at Wellens’ co-worker. Wellens went on to say, “He got super frustrated and pulled out a knife.” He adds, “It was more funny after the fact,” although that seems hard to believe.

Wellens’ stories only get wackier from there. At one point, a man came in waving around a sizeable chunk of marijuana for no apparent reason. Drunk frat guys have played leapfrog, Wellens added. “One time a guy bought a cock ring,” Wellens continues, “and tried to put it on in the store.” This patron wasn’t drunk or high—just “very excited,” Wellens clarified.

For Valcroft, there hasn’t really been one defining hard part of his job, except maybe when “the gimp gets loose,” he explained, only half kidding while a devilish smile spread across his face.

But all laughs aside, the world of sex shops, is just that: a world.

There’s a Whole World Out There

Even sex shop workers encounter kinks they’re not familiar with. A resounding response from all three sex workers, no matter the kink, is that sex shops are a judgment-free zone. Don’t be afraid to have questions, just leave the nitty gritty personal experience out, according to Wellens.

Your kink isn’t that weird, Charles assures. They also encouraged beginners to be open to new experiences and not be discouraged if something doesn’t work out for you.

Valcroft described BDSM and fetish as a “journey,” which the other sex workers agreed with—it’s a journey to find what you like.

Lots of communities are included, so there is a good chance you can find what you are looking for. Smitten Kitten specifically identifies as “queer-centered.” Every shop mentioned here has some form of gender expression or cross dressing inventory, gender expression involving toys, and other items for persons in the transgender community to express their identity. This can include strap-ons or realistic artificial penises.

A tour of Bondesque illuminates several kinks that fall under the radar of popular culture, such as sex toys for electrosex, which involves electrostimulation, and is surprisingly safe. There are also tools/toys for medical fetishes and latex fetishes.

And yes, for those interested in feet, Lickety Split sells silicone feet, according to Wellens.

Aside from kinks, a few new things discovered this week through interviews, an anal workshop, and a sex shop tour: silicone lube is not good for silicone sex toys, fetish parties are like raves mixed with fashion mixed with latex, and there is something out there for practically everyone. Most importantly, sex shop workers make a rewarding career not only out of selling toys but also out of making comfortable environments for sexual deviants and newbies alike.

Complete Article HERE!

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3 Reasons You Feel Sad After Sex & What To Do About It

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By Kelly Gonsalves

After having sex, most people usually experience a host of positive physical, mental, and emotional feelings—a sense of euphoric high, satisfaction, relaxation, and perhaps a warm intimacy with their partner.

But sometimes, a person may instead feel the opposite. Immediately following sex, they’re hit with a wave of negative emotions: They feel suddenly sad, irritable, or isolated, and they may even start inexplicably crying. The phenomenon is known as postcoital dysphoria, and it’s actually way more common than you’d think.

What is postcoital dysphoria?

“Postcoital dysphoria (PCD) is the experience of negative affect following otherwise satisfactory sexual intercourse,” a team of researchers explained in a 2011 study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health. “Under normal circumstances the resolution phase of sexual activity elicits sensations of well-being along with psychological and physical relaxation. However, individuals who experience PCD may express their immediate feelings after sexual intercourse in terms of melancholy, tearfulness, anxiety, irritability, or psychomotor agitation.”

Importantly, PCD refers to when there is no discernible reason for the person to feel negatively about the sexual experience that just happened—it was consensual, pleasurable, and perhaps even induced some orgasms, and yet the person still feels upset afterward without a clear understanding as to why they’re feeling that way. It can happen to someone even when the person they slept with is someone they’re in a serious, committed, and loving relationship with, just as easily as it could happen when it’s with a first-time or casual partner.

There has yet to be much substantive research done on PCD, and so it’s still not a well-understood phenomenon even among sexual health professionals.

“We unfortunately don’t really understand postcoital dysphoria very well,” Vanessa Marin, a psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy, tells mbg. “We really only know that it exists. It doesn’t seem to have any relationship with the type or quality of sex that you have, or your relationship with your partner.”

The few studies that have been done show that PCD is a fairly common experience: A 2015 study found 46 percent of straight women had experienced it at least once in their life, and 5 percent had experienced it a few times in the last four weeks. Another study released last month found 41 percent of men (most of whom were straight) experienced PCD at least once, and 20 percent had experienced it in the last four weeks. (Side by side, these two studies suggests PCD happens at fairly similar rates between men and women, but the latter study actually found women were about twice as likely to have experienced PCD in the last four weeks compared to men and nearly three times as likely to have experienced PCD in their lifetime.)

What causes these negative emotions after sex?

A lot more research is needed to fully understand what causes postcoital dysphoria, but scientists have posited three main theories for what could be behind the otherwise inexplicable emotional response:

1. Your brain chemistry.

According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, it’s possible that “bonding with a partner during sex is so intense that breaking the bond triggers sadness.” Sex therapist Ian Kerner tells Health that having sex can trigger the release of oxytocin, the so-called love hormone that makes people feel attached and connected to another person. But after the sex is over, the sudden recognition that you’re not actually as connected as the hormones made you feel (either because it’s a casual sexual encounter or because there may be underlying issues in your relationship) can make you feel sad or frustrated. You go from feeling incredibly close, both emotionally and physically, to feeling alone, rejected, or yearning for what’s not really there.

2. A history of unexplored trauma.

The few studies that’ve been conducted around PCD have found a history of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse is correlated with a higher incidence of PCD, both among men and women. Essentially, it’s possible that having sex—even terrific, pleasurable, consensual sex—is simply a triggering experience for you because of your past traumas. It’s well-known that having experienced sexual assault and/or abuse, especially as a child, can have lasting psychological consequences as a person grows older and tries to engage in a normal sex life.

3. Feeling vulnerable.

The truth is, sex is a pretty vulnerable thing in general. You’re totally naked with another human being, sharing the most private parts of yourself that you generally don’t show to most people. That act alone can afterward trigger emotions, too, that you normally keep to yourself.

“A vulnerability hangover is most often triggered by going too fast or doing too much for what the psyche or body can handle,” sex coach Irene Fehr tells Bustle. “It is often exacerbated by a cocktail of consciousness-altering substances such as alcohol or drugs that relax and allow the drop of inhibitions, enable going faster than might be comfortable, and make crossing boundaries that would otherwise hold in a conscious state possible.”

How to handle the post-sex blues.

1. Develop an aftercare ritual.

Among people who practice BDSM, a concept known as “aftercare” is commonplace following a sexual encounter. Aftercare refers to caretaking activities in which the dominant partner offers affection, gentleness, and support to the submissive partner (and sometimes vice versa) to make sure both people avoid any negative psychological effects from the intense power play they engaged in together during sex. In an interview with mbg, clinical sexologist and psychotherapist Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., recommends a similarly soothing post-sex practice for people who suffer from PCD, even if it’s something you do alone.

“Participate in some type of self-care ritual,” she suggests. “Whether it’s a bath, reading a book, taking a nap, or meeting your friends, do something to nurture yourself.”

2. Track your experiences.

“You can always try tracking your own experience and see if you notice any patterns,” Marin suggests. “It may be that you tend to feel PCD in certain types of avoidable situations. Or you may be able to find patterns in what helps you move past your reactions faster. For example, maybe taking a shower afterward or snuggling with your partner makes you feel better.”

3. Talk to your partner about it.

Research shows a person’s connection with their partner has nothing to do with whether they experience PCD. In other words, you’re most likely not feeling sad because there’s something wrong with your relationship. That said, having one person have a negative emotional reaction after sex can be stressful and confusing for both people, so it’s a good idea to keep your partner in the loop about what’s going on, especially if you know PCD is a common occurrence for you.

“If you’re with a partner and feeling embarrassed, you can simply say something like, ‘This is something that happens to me after I have sex. It’s not tied to the sex that I’ve just had. It’s just a thing that happens. I’ll be over it soon,'” Marin says.

4. If needed, don’t be afraid to seek help.

If you can’t talk to your partner about what’s going on for whatever reason, make sure you’re talking to someone, whether a trusted friend or a therapist. Dr. Overstreet says it’s important to make sure there’s not another underlying issue (such as trauma, sexual dysfunction, or something else) that might be causing your emotional response, which a therapist or health professional might be able to help you treat.

5. Allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel.

“The best thing you can do is give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel after sex,” Marin says. “If you can be gentle with yourself and allow those feelings to exist, they’ll go away on their own faster. It’s when we try to fight against our feelings that they get much stronger.”

If you need a real outlet, Dr. Overstreet suggests writing down what you’re feeling to help you acknowledge and process those emotions in a healthy way.

Whatever you do, just know that you’re not alone in your feelings, and you’re not abnormal for having them. Many people struggle with postcoital dysphoria from time to time; what’s important is developing an appropriate and healthy way to respond to your emotions and take care of yourself (and your partner) as you go through it.

Complete Article HERE!

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When Brooklyn was queer: telling the story of the borough’s LGBT past

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In a new book, Hugh Ryan explores the untold history of queer life in Brooklyn from the 1850s forward, revealing some unlikely truths

The cover of When Brooklyn Was Queer.

By  

For five years Hugh Ryan has been hunting queer ghosts through the streets of Brooklyn, amid the racks of New York’s public libraries, among its court records and yellow newspaper clippings to build a picture of their lost world.

The result is When Brooklyn Was Queer, a funny, tender and disturbing history of LGBT life that starts in an era, the 1850s, when those letters meant nothing and ends before the Stonewall riots started the modern era of gay politics.

The book grew out of Ryan’s other project, The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, a sort-of travelling museum that creates installations celebrating the histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Ryan and his friends had done shows about local queer history in other cities but never in Brooklyn, where many of them lived. When they decided that they should do a Brooklyn event, they put out a call for information and got little reply. “People just didn’t know Brooklyn’s queer history,” says Ryan. “I thought I’d just go to the library, get the book about queer Brooklyn history. It’s probably from the 1970s and all of 10 people have read it. There wasn’t one.”

Ryan started collecting information and then got a grant from the Martin Duberman Fellowship in LGBT studies at the New York Public Library. “They said to me when you are done with this grant you should have your book proposal written.”

One recurring theme in his research that fascinated Ryan was how Brooklyn’s rise from rural backwater to New York’s second city mirrored the rise in interest in sex and gender studies and – sadly – the rise in homophobia, bigotry and abuse.

Construction on the Brooklyn Bridge started in 1869, the same year that human rights campaigner and journalist Karl-Maria Kertbeny first used the terms homosexual and heterosexual.

Shortly before that, the Erie Canal finally connected the city to the Great Lakes, bringing jobs and the urbanization that allowed queer life to flourish – especially along Brooklyn’s waterfront.

“Brooklyn’s growth runs along the same timeline as the evolution of our modern ideas about sexuality,” says Ryan. “You could chart the two against each other. I used Brooklyn as an example of how things were developing in the world and America generally.”

The poet Hart Crane.

The book is studded with the stories of Brooklyn-based A-list gays of yesteryear: Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Truman Capote. Then there is The February House – a Brooklyn townhouse that was once home to WH Auden, Benjamin Britten, Carson McCullers and Gypsy Rose Lee and which also hosted Salvador Dalí, his fearsome wife and muse Gala, and the writers Paul and Jane Bowles (a cast that would make the most cerebral Celebrity Big Brother house ever).

But the book also excels in uncovering what life was like for “ordinary” queer folk such as Loop-the-Loop, a trans woman and sex worker from Brooklyn at a time when “trans” was not part of the vocabulary (Loop preferred “fairy”) and Coney Island’s working-class gay bath houses.

Much of the information Ryan gathered was from sources who hated the LGBT community – and increasingly so as it was studied and categorized.

One of those groups was the Committee of 14, a group of morally righteous New Yorkers who drove for prohibition, then against (straight) prostitution and, on discovering the queer community, went after them, too.

“They were crazy,” said Ryan. “On the one hand I am glad they existed because otherwise the records they kept wouldn’t have existed but at the same time it’s shocking. They were a very strange group of people.”

One of the fascinating aspects of the book is how accepted the queer community was in Brooklyn at certain periods (and by certain people). During prohibition, gay and straight bars merged while during the war, queer life flourished as sailors poured into town, categories were looser than today and – again with caveats – there was acceptance.

Hugh Ryan.

“Before World War II, especially in 1920s, there were a lot more spaces where queer and non-queer people mixed,” says Ryan. “There was even this period ‘the pansy craze’ where it was fashionable to have limp-wristed men in movies who may have been gay or trans or entirely outside that in movies.”

But as queer profiles rose, so did the backlash. The repeal of prohibition drove gays and straight apart and the queers went underground where the police – and the mafia – came after them.

America’s love affair with eugenics, the “science” of improving the population by controlled breeding, caught up with the queer community as it had with people of color. Queers were dangerous to the health of the nation, easily blackmailed, not to be trusted. They were driven out of public life, academia, the movies; society turned against them.

By the 1940s, thousands of men would be arrested each year for “degeneracy”. In 1942, Senator David Ignatius Walsh’s career was destroyed in a sensational sex scandal that involved rumours that he had frequented a gay Brooklyn brothel that was being used by Nazi spies. The New York Post, which had fought for the US to join the war against Germany when Walsh was set against it, broke the story which became known as “Swastika swishery”.

Ryan thinks Walsh was probably gay but that the claims he attended the brothel were dubious.

The brothel’s owner, Gustave Beekman, and several others were arrested. Beekman cooperated with the authorities but still received a 20-year sentence in Sing Sing for sodomy and wasn’t released until 1963.

“The legacy of all of this is when we get this turn towards homophobia – 45 to Stonewall or the early 80s – there is this really negative idea that gay life is sad, small, limited, dirty, painful, persecuted. And I think that we have internalized that. Anytime before Stonewall that was what gay life was, when really it was just what gay life was like when gay life was becoming speakable in most of America and was getting its history written,” says Ryan.

“We have this ahistoric idea that what life was like in 1957 was ‘What Life Was Like’ for gay people.

An image from Brooklyn Pride 2015

“Well, it’s not like that now. Today Brooklyn is arguably the epicenter for queer New York culture, vibrant, diverse, out and proud. It’s awesome,” says Ryan. “It’s exciting, it’s more diverse than it’s ever been. More powerful. I think people are paying attention. what happens in Brooklyn sets the tone – and not just in queer culture.”

But is it sustainable? Can we keep the gains we have while we strive for more?

“It’s very hard to tell. There is an amount of retrenchment that happens anytime there is progressive gains. We are always on a pendulum. I worry about that but I do think that some things have changed forever.”

There’s probably no better time for us to relearn Brooklyn’s queer history.

Complete Article HERE!

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