Men And Women (But Especially Men) Are Confused About How Much Sex Everyone Is Having

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By Aliyah Kovner

Psychologists and social theorists are well aware of the fact that popular culture has been perpetuating myths about human sexuality since, well, forever. But given that we are living in an era of increasing sexual liberation, at least in Western nations, and social media oversharing, this has gotten better in recent years – right? Maybe not.

According to a survey by polling firm Ipsos, both men and women in the UK and US are wildly out of touch with reality in regards to the intimate activities of the opposite sex. But (some) men are particularly clueless.

The research data – collected from online queries given to between 1,000 and 1,500 people, aged 16-64 or 18-64, in each country – reveals that the average guess among men for how often a typical young woman (18 to 29 years old) has sex is 23 times per month in the US and 22 times a month in the UK. However, the women of this age group who were polled reported having sex an average of five times per month – a more than four-fold difference in expectation vs reality.

“It’s interesting that this misperception is so profound. It really illustrates the extent to which men really don’t understand female sexuality,” Chris Jackson, a spokesperson for Ipsos, told BuzzFeed News. “Men just don’t seem to have a good understanding of the reality for women. I guess that’s not actually news.”

Guesses about young men’s sexual frequency were also far off the mark, but not as dramatically. The overall average estimate (from both men and women) was that 18 to 29-year-old males are doing it about 14 times per month, whereas the average self-reported number was four.

And demonstrating that women are not free from misunderstanding, the Ipsos survey showed that the average guess among females of all ages for the frequency of young women’s sexual encounters was 12 times a month.

Of course, because the survey assessed a broad group of people, likely with large differences in lifestyle, and didn’t account for differences in sexual activity between those in relationships or single, the “real” figures listed must be taken with a massive grain of salt. In addition, relying on people’s self-reported numbers leads to dubious accuracy, and it is important to note that this survey is not peer-reviewed research and focused only on heterosexual encounters.

Keeping these limitations in mind, it is still amusing to look at the outcomes of the next section of the study, which asked participants to guess how many sexual partners the average man and woman in their country have had by age 45 to 54. Men and women in the US, UK, and Australia (where another ~1,500 people were polled) were pretty good at guessing the average man’s number (between 17 and 19), as you can see in the chart below. But American men did an appalling job at guessing for women – estimating an average of 27 compared to the reported 12 – and both men and women in the UK and Australia were also far off.

When guessing why men’s numbers are so much higher than women’s considering that heterosexual sex involves one of each, the Ipsos pollsters report that such findings are common in sex polls.

“There are a number of suggested explanations for this – everything from men’s use of prostitutes to how the different genders interpret the question (for example, if women discount some sexual practices that men count),” they wrote.

But it seems most likely to be a mix of men’s rougher and readier adding up, combined with men’s conscious or unconscious bumping up of their figure, and women’s tendency to deflate theirs. It seems that the most reasonable conclusion is that men up their number a bit, women downplay theirs a bit more, and we actually reveal something close to the truth when guessing for ‘other people’”

Complete Article HERE!

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What Do You Do If You Have An STI?

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Stay Calm, Here Are 3 Steps To Take

By Laura Moses

Years ago, a friend raged into my apartment with bad news: the guy she had been hooking up with had given her an STI. She knew he was seeing other people, but he had just written her a lovey-dovey email from his business trip, asking about her upcoming schedule, and saying how much he missed her. She was gobsmacked about what to do. I mean… what do you do if you have an STI? Like a good friend, I made her a drink and then we made a plan. She wrote a nice email back to him saying she’d check her schedule, hoped he had a nice trip, and ended with “P.S. We have gonhorrea.” Boom.

Although we still laugh about that to this day, your sexual health is something to take very seriously. If you think you might have an STI, you probably feel anxious, scared and pretty physically uncomfortable. I connected with Dr. Gillian Dean, Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, about this topic. She observes, “The reality is that there are 20 million new STI cases each year. Getting an STI or having a partner with an STI is extremely common — it’s the result of intimate contact with other people and not something to be embarrassed about. It doesn’t make you any less valuable or worthy of love, and your STI status doesn’t make you “clean” or “dirty.” So take a deep breath, you got this, and read on for steps to take to address what might be going down… down there.

Step One: Get Tested

It’s important to note what your specific symptoms are and when they first occured. While a girl’s gotta pay attention to everything going on below her belt, keep in mind that not every itch or sore spot is caused by an STI. Dr. Dean explains, “painful or frequent urination could be a symptom of an STI — or it could be caused by a urinary tract infection or vaginitis. Both yeast infections and pubic lice cause itching. Is that bump a wart or a pimple? It can be hard to tell sometimes.”

While noting and keeping track of your symptoms is important, most common STIs out there — chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV — often don’t have any symptoms, Dr. Dean says. That’s why there’s no accurate way to tell if you have an STI without being tested. STI testing is quick, easy and painless. All STIs are treatable, while many are curable — but you have to know your status before you can get treated. So go.

Step Two: For Real, Get Tested

Let’s say you feel fairly fine, just a little irritation down south, but you would rather wait it out and hope it goes away than trek to your gyno’s office and do the whole pelvic exam thing. Most of the time, STIs have no symptoms or may be so mild that they don’t bother you, but that doesn’t mean they’re not harmful.

Dr. Dean cautions, “Just because you don’t have physical symptoms doesn’t mean you can’t pass it [an STI] to a partner or that it can’t lead to more serious health problems in the future. If you’ve had vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners, you should talk with a nurse or doctor about getting tested.”

Now, if you have physical symptoms such as sores or bumps on and around your genitals, burning or irritation when you pee or flu-like symptoms like fever, body ache, and swollen glands… then please put your phone in your bag and go right to the doctor. (You can finish reading this later!) You can also get rested — often for a reduced rate or even for free — at Planned Parenthood or a sexual health clinic.

Once you’ve been tested and you know exactly what you’re dealing with, the treatment your doctor prescribed to you will get to work. Going forward, be sure you take all precautions to protect your precious health, like using protection and getting tested regularly. Dr. Dean explains, “At a minimum, sexually active people should get tested once a year — but it also depends on your personal risk factors, such as if you use protection or if you have a new sexual partner since you last got tested.” She suggests talking with your doctor about what makes sense for your life.

Also, you should talk to your sexual partner or partners about this. If you’re unsure how to have this super fun talk with a sexual partner about STI testing and protection, or that you have an STI, Planned Parenthood created a set of videos to help you out. If you truly don’t want to have a face-to-face chat, you can always do it in an email postscript, like my dear friend once did. Your sexual health is part of your physical, emotional and mental health, so being able to communicate with your sexual partners is key.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s how marijuana use affects sex drive

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by Philip Perry

Do you and your lover sometimes have a glass of wine or two to help set the mood? Alcohol, while it can soften inhibitions, may also cause trouble when it comes time to perform, especially for men. Some turn to cannabis as an alternative. Unfortunately, research on how marijuana affects sexual performance is conflicting.

Some studies say it inhibits capability while other say it enhances it. A new, large-scale study finds that marijuana use increases the sex drive and probably doesn’t inhibit performance. Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted the study and published their results in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Cannabis has been thought an aphrodisiac in the folk medicine traditions of many cultures throughout history. Today, a small but growing segment in the West are using it to help enhance their sex lives. One California woman is even selling “Sexxpot,” a low-THC variety (the psychoactive component) said to increase female sexual desire and pleasure.

As for men, though online forums and advice columns praise it as a “natural Viagra,” some studies have found that cannabis may actually inhibit performance. Previous work has also suggested that chronic use inhibits sex drive. A 2009 study found that everyday use may make it difficult for some men to achieve orgasm. While a 2011 review concluded that chronic use may lead to a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

This new study however seems to undermine the case for inhibited performance or libido. Stanford researchers analyzed the responses of 50,000 Americans who took part in the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth. They looked at the years between 2002 and 2015. Each participant was between ages 25 and 45. The average age for both men and women was actually 29.5.

Respondents indicated how often they smoke marijuana, either monthly, weekly, or daily, and how many times they had sex in the last 12 months. Assistant professor of urology Michael Eisenberg, MD, was the senior author. “Marijuana use is very common,” he said. “But its large-scale use and association with sexual frequency hasn’t been studied much in a scientific way.”

“What we found,” Eisenberg said “was compared to never-users, those who reported daily use had about 20 percent more sex. So over the course of a year, they’re having sex maybe 20 more times.” Women who didn’t smoke pot had sex an average of 6 times per month. While those who were daily users did it 7.1 times per month. With men, non-potheads had sex 5.6 times per month, while daily users did it 6.9 times per month.

According to Eisenberg, “The overall trend we saw applied to people of both sexes and all races, ages, education levels, income groups and religions, every health status, whether they were married or single and whether or not they had kids.” Researchers called it a “dose-dependent relationship.”

The more people used marijuana, the more sex they had. These findings also alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding performance inhibition. “Frequent marijuana use doesn’t seem to impair sexual motivation or performance,” Eisenberg said. “If anything, it’s associated with increased coital frequency.”

There are of course, some caveats. For couples who are trying to have children, several studies have found that chronic pot use can cause a man’s sperm count to plummet. Toking just once a week can sink the number of swimmers a man has by about a third. There’s also still a lingering fear among some experts that chronic use can lead to ED.

It’s important to note that the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, merely a strong correlation. Smoking marijuana doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be having more sex. There may be another factor or factors that are influencing the two. For instance, those drawn to marijuana may also be less inhibited or thrill-seekers, who are naturally more inclined to seek out sexual encounters.

Eisenberg says he thinks marijuana’s positive correlation with intercourse isn’t just a tendency among the less-inhibited. He points out that the number of sexual encounters rose steadily with increased use. If these findings prove correct, certain synthesized cannabinoids or elements in marijuana, may someday be used as a medical treatment, to foster libidinous feelings in those who find that their desire has waned. Eisenberg cautions, “We don’t want people to smoke to improve sexual function.” But he admits, “it probably doesn’t hurt things.”

To learn how a segment of young women using marijuana to improve their sex lives, click here:

Complete Article HERE!

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What It’s Like to Reclaim Your Sex Life After Sexual Assault

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Survivors share their stories.

By Zahra Barnes

When she was 16, Lindsay Marie Gibson was raped. After her assault, life continued, as it does. Years later, in college, she met the man who would become her husband. She fell in love. They got married. Life was good. Yet her assault from years before still wreaked havoc, here and there. If Lindsay, now 34, didn’t flinch when her husband reached for her hand, it was only because she didn’t realize he was touching her in the first place. Her mind-body disconnect, which had come about as what she calls a “self-protection” of sorts after she was raped, was that powerful.

Many people struggle to feel connected with their bodies after experiencing an assault.

Lindsay is not the only survivor to unintentionally rely on this coping mechanism in the aftermath of sexual assault. “It sounds odd, but sexual abuse actually makes you forget that your body is yours and not property or an object,” Lauren*, 26, a survivor who often thought of herself as a “body-less soul” after her rape, tells SELF. “The minute you realize your body is indeed your own, you are instantly reminded that it was forcefully taken from you

This physical numbness stems from an emotional one, and it’s a natural impulse after undergoing something as horrendous as rape. But it is also an intimidating force blocking many survivors from what they say is one of the most empowering parts of reclaiming their lives after rape: Enjoying sex again, or for the first time ever

The yawning chasm between mind and body can make it impossible to fully connect with another person, says Lindsay, who was only able to fall in love with her husband mentally at first: “In my head, I knew I loved him, but I couldn’t feel it in my body.”

Integrating the mind and body is essential for a happy, healthy sex life after assault.

“There needs to be integration,” Holly Richmond, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist who has counseled survivors at the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, tells SELF. “The trauma happened in the past, and a new, healthy, sexual self is moving into future, but it’s all the same person—one body, one mind.”

The goal, says Richmond, is for the survivor to process the trauma so it does not affect her daily life, without compartmentalizing what happened to her to the point of suppression. Attempting to completely stanch the flow of painful memories can contribute to that mind-body disconnect, as well as anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Unpacking that trauma in a healthy way is what helps survivors enjoy many facets of life—including sex, Indira Henard, M.S.W, executive director of the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, tells SELF. “Each survivor is different, and it’s a lifelong journey,” she says.

Survivors must navigate various obstacles on the journey towards integration.

For starters, they often struggle with feeling comfortable around men. “If I saw a man in an elevator, I would turn and run the other way,” Lindsay says. “I was fighting anxiety through all my dates—I would sit and stare as they talked, but my head was going, Run, run, run. Get away from this guy.”

When a survivor does eventually wrangle that anxious impulse and start dating someone, she’ll likely disclose what happened at some point. At first, sharing details about her rape would often send men “running for the hills,” Anna*, 36, tells SELF. Now she is in a wonderful relationship with a man who responded to her story with kindness.

Even once a survivor is ready to have sex, issues like anxiety and PTSD can still rear their ugly heads. “When you’re having flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about your assault or rape, it’s very, very difficult to want to have sex,” says Lauren, who has PTSD. “Or worse, if you are having sex when these things arise, sex can become scary and intimidating, not to mention triggering.”

Avoiding triggers after sexual assault can feel like a minefield.

For Jess*, 24, a nickname her attacker called her is now off-limits. When dating after her rape, hearing the nickname during sex could prompt her to “100 percent flip out and start crying,” she tells SELF.

And after being raped from behind, Anna has drawn a line at certain kinds of touch with her husband. “Sometimes, as much as he wants to touch that area, it’s just too much,” she says.

That decision brings Anna a measure of relief while also prompting guilt at times, which experts say is normal but unwarranted. No matter what a trigger is, having one doesn’t mean you’re weak or wrong—it means you’re human, says Richmond.

To manage triggers, assault survivors must regain control over their sex lives, which often includes absolving themselves of any wrongdoing.

In order to heal, it’s vital to set sexual boundaries and hammer out a definition of consent and what is or isn’t OK between two people, says Henard: “Survivors have a right to ask for consent and negotiate what that looks like for them.”

This requires survivors to let themselves off the hook, which many have trouble doing due to persistent feelings of shame, says Richmond.

“It’s about recognizing that you did not do anything wrong, that there’s nothing you could have done to prevent this, and that you are not alone,” says Henard. Richmond adds, “I don’t care if you were sitting naked on a street corner. The only reason you were raped is that you were in the presence of a rapist.”

“When you realize it’s not your fault, it’s kind of like a weight is lifted off of you,” Jennifer*, 44, tells SELF. That self-acceptance often gives survivors the feeling that it’s OK to articulate what they need in order to feel in control of their sexual destinies.

Once survivors have established boundaries, they’re one step closer to truly connecting with someone else, which is an integral part of moving forward.

“This is what so much of my therapeutic practice is about: being able to authentically connect with another human being without going into the shame, guilt, and anger brought up during and after sexual assault,” says Richmond. “There might be some bumps in the road, but when the partner can continue to offer security and safety, it’s an amazing thing

Jennifer recalls how comfortable she felt when she first met her now-fiancé. “He was very compassionate, and he was very patient,” she says. Her fiancé—whom she describes as very focused on helping her to associate sex with good feelings instead of bad ones—is the first person she’s been able to get fully naked in front of since her rape. “I’ve always been very self-conscious of my body, but I don’t feel that way with him,” she says. Now, sex feels freer and is without the tense fight-or-flight mode that marked other encounters after her rape.

For Lindsay, something about her husband’s energy quieted the alarms that would clang whenever she was around men. “The first time he looked at me, I didn’t feel like I needed to run,” she says. “For the first time ever, in my head, I was able to have peace.”

And, of course, pleasure plays a crucial role in this equation.

The best-case scenario, says Richmond, is that a survivor isn’t thinking about the assault when she’s having sex. Instead, the hope is that she feels safe, secure, connected, and is feeling pleasure. But that’s easier said than done

“I got to a point where I was able to be intimate, but I didn’t feel passion,” Lindsay says. “I knew in my head he was safe…I just kind of wanted to get through it and wanted him to be satisfied because I love him.”

Jess would similarly go through the motions, humming songs or making grocery lists in her head to get through sex

But eventually, many survivors realize they deserve pleasure, too, and that seeking it out is essential for healing. “I found the only way to truly move on was to be vocal and to speak up for myself,” Lauren says. Sometimes, she needs to halt all sexual activity. “Other times, I just need a second to re-ground myself and allow my body to remember its present circumstance and realize it is not in danger,” she says.

Having good sex is more than a marker of healing—it’s a liberating step in the process.

Some time after her assault, when Lauren felt ready, she dove eagerly into sexual exploration with her then-boyfriend. “Learning what my body loves and wants has been an exciting journey and one that is incredibly empowering,” she says

But after they broke up, the uncertain world of dating pushed her into more exploration than was ultimately right for her. “I decided to—no strings attached—explore sex just for sex,” she says. “The experience I gained was not worth the emotional toll. I realized sex cannot be, at least for me, something [frivolous] without thought and true emotional connection.”

Now, Lauren is in a happy marriage with a great sex life. “My partner encourages me to be vocal, and we spend a lot of time communicating our needs, our wants, and our thoughts and desires about sex,” she says. “Finding out just how sexually compatible we are has been amazing.”

After some time in therapy, Jess gave herself a mission similar to Lauren’s: “My goal was to have as much sex as possible [with my boyfriend] until I felt normal.”

It helped her make leaps and bounds in her recovery. “I can do everything that might be illegal in some states and countries, and I’m fine with that!” she says. “I feel like my body is special now—there’s no one who can tell me otherwise.”

Sometimes therapy, yoga, or even a tragedy is what helps survivors move forward.

Although not for everyone, many survivors cite therapy as a crucial part of the equation. It helped Lindsay cut her panic attacks down from five to six per day to maybe five per month, and Jennifer and her fiancé sometimes go to couple’s therapy to figure out the best way to approach her lingering anxiety and trust issues

Lindsay has also found solace in trauma yoga, which helped her reconnect her mind and body. Part of this involved a focus on clearing negative energy from parts of her body, like her ribcage and neck, that had ached since the rape due to injuries she sustained during the assault. “Once I became aware that’s what my body was holding, I haven’t had a problem since,” she says. The yoga also encouraged her to sit with her pain instead of trying to deny it.

But what helped Lindsay truly mend her mind-body disconnect was actually another tragedy—the pain she endured after a stillbirth of a much-wanted son. “Losing him burst me open,” she says. The visceral pain made it impossible to suppress her feelings. “My body was trying to go back into denial, but this time it was different—I couldn’t deny the fact that I loved him,” says Lindsay, who wrote about the transformative experience in Just Be: How My Stillborn Son Taught Me to Surrender. “I was actually healing for the first time.”

Now, thanks to that combination of factors, Lindsay’s sex life has changed dramatically for the better. “I’m able to be present and let go, and I can feel my desire for [my husband], which is a completely new thing.”

If you’re on this journey, remember: It’s a work in progress, but healing is indeed possible.

<It’s normal to grapple with mixed feelings about sex and sexuality after an assault. “I want to feel like a sexy person, and I want to feel like I can be more vocal about what I like and what I enjoy,” says Anna. “But at the same time, is that me being like the men that attacked me, in a sense? I know it may sound silly, but I don’t want to be that aggressive person

Confronting these feelings is part and parcel of working through the aftershocks of sexual assault. It sounds like an unfathomable burden, but survivors consistently rise to meet the occasion.

“Survivors are the strongest people I’ve ever met,” says Richmond. “Almost across the board, these people come out with more strength, more empathy, and more insight into the human condition.”

Although Anna says reclaiming her life is something she’s “still struggling with,” she’s determined to keep at it. “We have three children. I want them to know their mama is strong, resilient. There can be love, and a family, and more to life than [my assault].”

That focus on a better future, many survivors say, is part of what helps them form bonds with potential partners with whom they can have healthy relationships—and repair their relationships with themselves. “There is hope,” says Lindsay. “The physical pain, the emotional pain—all that stuff is passing clouds. Joy is the sky. It’s always there

Names have been changed.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the 24/7 National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). More resources are available online from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. To find a sexual assault service provider near you, visit RAINN.

Complete Article HERE!

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Disabled LGBT+ young people face a battle just to be taken seriously

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Following their own path.

By

As young people navigate adolescence, they ask questions about their sexual attractions and how they understand gender. If they are fortunate, they have access to sex and relationship educators or mentors and support networks. But my research with young people who identify as LGBT+ and disabled shows that they are often treated as though their gender or sexuality is just a phase.

In my research looking at the experiences of young people aged between 16 and 25, we’ve seen how harmful this approach can be. Not recognising that young disabled people can be LGBT+ can reduce their ability to have fulfilling sexual lives. It also reduces the chance that they will receive appropriate help and support in relation to their sexuality or gender throughout their lives.

Seeing sexuality or gender as a phase is not new. But for the young people we work with, it comes as a result of misconceptions about their disability, sexuality and their age. As one young person put it, with regards to their disability:

I do sometimes think that my mum thinks my whole mental health issues and my autism…I think she hopes it’ll go away, she goes on about me getting a job which makes me feel even worse. It makes me feel panicky. It makes me feel like she wants a better child than I am, like I am not good enough because I don’t want work.

These ideas about disability often work alongside misconceptions about sexuality. One young person explained how being gay was “blamed” on their disability. They felt that people think you are LGBT+ “because you are ill or have autism”.

In addition to confusion about disability and sexuality, young people reported challenges due to their age. One interviewee was told to hold off on identifying in one way until they’re older and more mature; “so that you know for sure, so it gives you time”.

These reactions suggest that there is resistance to young disabled people identifying as LGBT+. There seems to be a perception that young disabled people cannot understand LGBT+ sexuality. But the stories the young people told me show a long process of working to understand sexuality and gender. Such decisions were not trivial or a result of trends.

It’s not a phase

Labelling sexuality as a phase suggests that it is something through which one will pass, emerging on other side as heterosexual. This frames anything other than heterosexuality as being flawed and suggests that there is something undesirable about being LGBT+. One young person said that they thought being “LGBT in the heterosexual world is a bad thing”. As a society, we appear to be more accepting of LGBT+ identities. Yet not for young disabled LGBT+ people who are seen as non-sexual and unable to understand what LGBT+ means.

Young people have thought this through.

We need to think about sexuality and gender as part of life and not a passing moment. This is important because young disabled LGBT+ people need appropriate support. Labelling their sexuality as a phase denies them access to information and support as their sexuality is not seen as being valid. They may suffer physical and mental violence and discrimination because of who they are, and are left to fight on their own because no one recognises them for who they are.

In order to work against societal attitudes and misconceptions, we need to listen to the experiences of young disabled LGBT+ people and understand that they are experts in their own lives. Dismissing sexuality as a phase says a lot about societal attitudes towards what it means to be young, disabled and LGBT+. Yet most importantly, such reactions have a direct impact upon the intimate lives of young disabled people as they work against such challenges to make sense of who they are.

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Are You Ready for a Sex Toy Revolution?

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By Hallie Lieberman & Maxine Lynn

For 16 years, purveyors of dildos and vibrators have seen their dreams crushed by lawsuits owing to a 2002 patent that covers the fundamental technology behind computer-controlled sex toys. The transgression? Launching their products after the patent went into effect.

Patents have long encouraged creativity by protecting ideas and research from theft and supporting those who spend years developing genuinely novel technologies and designs. Sex too inspires creativity — from positions and styles to external devices — to enhance the experience or to avoid pregnancy. The so-called teledildonics patent, however, has been leaving brilliant inventors frustrated, and all that is about to end. On Aug. 17, the patent will expire, freeing innovative firms to unleash new toys to the market.

Originally obtained by Warren Sandvick and two others in 2002, the patent has twice changed hands. Tzu Technologies, the patent’s current holder, has repeatedly sued or threatened to sue firms that have created technologies ranging from open-source vibrators to remote hand-held devices. Many companies, unable to negotiate license terms (i.e., permission to use the tech covered by the patent), withdrew their plans under financial pressure. Tzu Technologies’ lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

But with the patent expiring later this month, teledildonics innovators are preparing to bounce back. Soon, London-based MysteryVibe will release an internet-enabled men’s vibrator that doubles as a partner toy. Virtual-reality companies are developing new devices and games as the VR porn space increases in popularity. FookVR is creating a headset that connects vibrating penis sleeves with vibrators and also syncs to the movements of avatars on a screen. And Intimuse, a California-based startup, has developed haptic technologies that re-create the sensation of touch with devices that simulate a penis or a vagina. For years, the company has been designing around the teledildonics patent, says John McCoy, CEO of Intimuse. But not anymore.

These companies also no longer need to worry about the risks two Georgia Tech students faced when, in 2015, they created the Mod, an open-source vibrator that could sync with a partner’s heartbeat, be controlled by a banana or operated with a nipple piercing. Threatened with a lawsuit by Tzu, the students held back their plans. Fresh technologies won’t find themselves mired in courtroom battles that even established companies haven’t been able to avoid. In 2017, for example, Lelo, a Swedish-based company, was sued for its remote-controlled vibrator — as was Hong Kong–based SayberX for its masturbation sleeve.

“Tzu Technologies had a chilling effect on the industry,” says Kyle Machulis, who consulted with Comingle, the company that made the Mod.

The term “teledildonics” was coined 28 years ago by futurist Howard Rheingold to describe sex toys remotely controlled via computer. Today’s teledildonics come in different forms, such as a dildo controlled by an app or a sleeve-style device and a vibrator with the movements of one transmitted to the other — when the vibrator penetrates the vagina, the sleeve automatically squeezes the penis in response.

Patents typically allow creators of a unique and useful invention to protect it for 20 years. It’s a “give-and-take” deal — to encourage people to spend time and resources on the invention of new technologies, the government grants exclusive use to the inventor for a period of time via a patent. But because Tzu and the previous patent owners have had these powers while never manufacturing a sex toy themselves, they’re referred to as “patent trolls” by critics.

One way around the patent was for companies to license it from Tzu, as Dutch firm Kiiroo did, according to news reports. Some have carved out whole new portfolios of patents and patent applications — 67 in all for Intimuse — by working around Tzu’s patent. But that’s arduous and not everyone can afford it.

For small companies, the threat of an “international lawsuit looming over you” is debilitating, the creators of the Mod wrote on their website in February 2016. The costs of defending oneself could be more than a million dollars, they suggested. There was an era when grad students were designing sex toys, and Tzu Technologies put a halt to it, says Machulis, who has created his own open-source sex toy programming software and is a teledildonics blogger.

At least one company successfully fought a lawsuit from Tzu. Kickstarter, the mainstream crowdfunding platform, was sued in 2015 for hosting a crowdfund campaign for a teledildonic device. Kickstarter resisted, and the patent owner quickly capitulated. Many other lawsuits have been settled without the disclosure of terms.

Though most experts view patents as vital to protecting creativity, the expiration of the teledildonics patent may actually spark innovation within the sex toy industry, says David Parisi, an associate professor of emerging media at the College of Charleston. With the patent behind them, “they should be able to devote more resources” to designing innovative devices, he says, “free from the stress and financial drain of defending against overly broad claims of infringement.”

That won’t solve the myriad other challenges the industry continues to face. Just this past May, sex toy–maker and retailer Unbound had to battle New York City’s MTA to be allowed to advertise its products in the subway, even though erectile dysfunction products were already plastered throughout the city’s subway trains. Parisi says the “ongoing stigmatization” of sex tech leaves him suspicious that “we’re on the cusp of some great mainstreaming of teledildonics.” And Machulis worries that other sex-tech patents could replace the challenges the teledildonics patent posed for innovators.

Whether or not Machulis and Parisi are right, the teledildonics patent’s expiration signals a new beginning. Machulis is planning a party to celebrate, and he won’t be alone — the race will once again be on to create the best possible orgasmic experience.

Complete Article HERE!

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Silence has protected predators in too many institutions

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by Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA

The news that more than 300 Pennsylvania priests may have sexually abused more than 1,000 identifiable children during the last 70 years is shocking for the enormity of the accusation, but by now there have been enough of these tragic accusations against so many of our institutions that parents should be neither unaware of the risks to their children nor unwilling to confront those risks before their own child might be abused.

The grand jury indictments accuse the Catholic Church of covering up the abuse with criminal conspiracies of silence. Healthy institutions – and the family is the most basic institution of our society – need to break the silence about sexual health and safety, and there is never a better time than the present to do that.

Let’s start with a few basic ideas:

  • Children should have medically accurate, age-appropriate facts about sexual anatomy and physiology. Little kids should know all the external parts; as kids age they need to know the internal parts and all kids need to know that sexual arousal is an autonomic reflex. Too many predators entrap kids by convincing a child they were not a victim because they became aroused. Parents can neutralize the pedophile’s devastating, all too-common tool with medically accurate information.
  • Parents can open a conversation by reminding children that many people will put their own interests above that of someone else. Children may have already experienced that by being bullied or lied to or experiencing someone taking something of theirs. Abusing someone sexually is but one of the many ways people put their own feelings above those of another, and it’s one that can leave most damaging scars. Especially if faith plays a role in your family, you will want to address the difference between a person who espouses or teaches the words of your faith, and the meaning of those words. Widespread allegations of abuse can challenge the faith of both child and family, and this is a good chance to draw a defining line between the meaning of your religion and the actions of the accused priests and the people who protected them.
  • Focus on trust. Damage can cut the deepest when abuse is in the context of a trusted relationship. Pedophile priests are in our news now, but other trusted adults including physicians, educators, parental figures and coaches have been there, too. Parents can support their children to trust their own instincts when something doesn’t seem right, and to trust that their parents will listen to them and support them when they share those concerns. I’ve heard stories from peers growing up in the 1960s whose parents smacked them for speaking ill of a priest when the child tried to tell about sexual abuse. I hope those days are long gone—children deserve better, and parents can do better.

Too many parents still feel uncomfortable talking to their children about sexuality, yet research shows that parents consistently underestimate the importance children place on their thoughts. Parents may feel as if they don’t know to what say, but other professionals and I can provide resources to help you. Information from the American Academy of Pediatrics and my book The Sex-Wise Parent are but two of the places where you can find help. If you’re really uncomfortable, practice role playing with a friend, or ask your school or faith-based organization to schedule a parent workshop.

Our children deserve the very best from all the institutions designed to help bring them to healthy, productive adulthood. Parents can focus on their own children now, when headlines can be causing fear and confusion, but in the long term parents can focus on the policies, procedures and sexual climate of the institutions that serve their children.

Support for your children’s sexual health and safety must start at home and spread out into the community. Use this current spate of tragic stories to ensure there is no conspiracy of silence around sex in your home.

Complete Article HERE!

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It’s time to reimagine consent in our romantic lives

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Often we talk about consent in terms of power: who has it and how are they wielding it? What if we thought of it in terms of attention?

‘New ways of consent can re-shape our relationships—and our entire culture.’

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Since the short story Cat Person was published in the New Yorker late last year, my friends and I have spent a lot of time talking about bad sex. If consent is a spectrum with an enthusiastic, joyful yes at one end and sexual assault at the other, bad sex lives in the middle. There are lots of reasons why so many women have had so much bad sex: an impulse to please, the shame or discomfort of acknowledging your own needs, a misplaced hope that if you just go along with it, a bad experience might eventually get better. We are women in our twenties and thirties and forties and the question underlying these conversations is the same for each of us: what is the value of my desires?

We’re getting better at talking about consent when it comes to sex. The #metoo movement has encouraged people of all genders to really imagine what an enthusiastic, joyful yes can look like—and to understand how prioritizing mutual pleasure makes sex better for everyone. But we’re missing an opportunity to consider how these more sophisticated ways of practicing consent might re-shape our relationships—and our entire culture.

One way I’ve tried to reimagine consent in my romantic life is by creating a relationship contract with my partner. It’s not a legal contract and there are no penalties when one of us doesn’t do what we’ve agreed to. It’s really an opportunity for the two of us to sit down together and discuss our expectations about everything from chores to date nights to sex. When I first wrote about our contract, I was surprised by the strong responses it elicited. Some people – often young straight women – loved the idea. Others accused my partner and me of being “robots” or “unromantic nerds.” But these readers are missing the point: being heard is the most romantic thing I can imagine.

Of course these critiques sound a lot like the complaints of those who think talking about sex beforehand – and actually asking the person you’re with if they’re into whatever you’re doing—ruins the experience. At the heart of these accusations of “ruining romance” is the notion that you shouldn’t voice your needs or desires: mutual understanding should happen all on its own—in sex and in love.

When I was young, I assumed that once I found the right person, I wouldn’t have to ask for anything—he would just understand me. I probably don’t need to say that this approach didn’t serve me well. For one thing, the assumption that the right person would know what I wanted – intuitively, telepathically – prevented me from ever bothering to figure it out for myself. In this fairy tale model of consent, mutual understanding requires nothing more than the machinations of fate to bring partners together. This promise of being uniquely and perfectly understood is seductive—and it’s baked into our language: the right person “completes you”; they are “the one,” or “your other half,” or your “soulmate.”

There’s some interesting research on “implicit theories of relationships” – which is really an academic way of describing the metaphors we use to think about love. One study found that those who thought of love as “perfect unity between two halves” (an idea as old as Plato) were less satisfied with their relationship after a conflict than those who framed love as “a journey with ups and downs.” Another study (charmingly titled “Great Sexpectations”) found that partners with high “sexual destiny beliefs” experience lower relationship quality. In other words, we are happier with our relationships when we assume that sex is something we get better at together.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that straight women are the ones most eager to reject the fairy tale of effortless mutual understanding. Same-sex couples tend to be better at communicating, which means that women in same-sex relationships are having (significantly) better sex than straight women. And same-sex partners distribute domestic labor and caregiving responsibilities more fairly than those in different-sex relationships. Maybe it goes without saying that women do more of the housework and childrearing in heterosexual relationships—and that this decreases their relationship satisfaction—but I’ll say it anyway.

The Oxford English Dictionary provides two definitions of the word “consent”: to “give permission for something to happen” and to “agree to do something.” The first – giving permission – is essentially what sex educator Jaclyn Friedman calls the gatekeeper model of consent. This model requires the person with the least power—the most vulnerable person in a relationship—to be the one to set boundaries. It also normalizes the idea that the one with more power will maximize that power in an attempt to get what they want. The second definition – agreeing to do something – sounds more mutual, but only slightly. Both definitions are the equivalent to checking the “terms and conditions” box on a new software download and hoping for the best.

But consent hasn’t always been so one-sided. The etymology of the word gets closer to the culture of consent I’m imagining. The Latin consentire literally means “to feel together.”

Often we talk about consent in terms of power: who has it and how are they wielding it? But we might also think of it in terms of attention. One reason romantic idealism is so appealing is because it suggests that love is an adequate stand-in for attention; if you are perfectly matched with someone, you don’t have the obligation of really bothering to know them.

What would it look like if we built a culture around the idea of “feeling together”? If we began with the assumption that we should shape our relationships – sexual, personal, even professional – with another person, bearing both our experiences in mind?

“Feeling together” requires us to acknowledge that privilege is, by definition, an imbalance of attention, an absence of care. And it implies that it’s the responsibility of those with privilege and power to offer more attention, to give more care. What I love about this version of consent is that demands intimacy. It ties us more tightly to one another by suggesting that empathy is not a burden, but an opportunity.

Complete Article HERE!

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What it’s like to struggle to ejaculate during sex

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‘Only one woman has ever made me cum from oral sex. It took 45 mins and it only happened because she handcuffed me to a chair, blindfolded me and said she wasn’t stopping until I came.’

Matt,* who’s 35, suffers from delayed ejaculation, which means it can take him a long time to achieve orgasm – if he’s able to achieve it at all.

Delayed ejaculation is the third most common male sexual disorder – after erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

But while lasting all night might sound about as problematic as, ‘my wallet can’t fit all these fifties,’ for men like Matt, it’s a genuine source of stress.

‘I get in my own head and worry about how long it’s taking, instead of enjoying it,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.

Matt achieves orgasm on around a quarter of the occasions he has sex. While he accepts this on the basis that, ‘you can have good sex without cumming,’ his partners aren’t always so relaxed about it.

He explains: they get frustrated, and question whether I fancy them or if they’re doing something wrong. I can go for over an hour, and sometimes they ask, “are you ever going to bloody cum?” That can reinforce the feeling that I’m failing.’

Currently single, Matt’s longest relationship was at the age of 20. It lasted a year, but they didn’t actually have sex. He explains: ‘I’d lost my virginity at 18, but she was a very nervous virgin, and it didn’t get there.’

Matt hopes that a long term relationship would make it easier for him to achieve orgasm as, ‘you grow to know each other sexually – it’s better sex when you know what each other likes.’

The stumbling block for Matt is getting a relationship off the ground. Having been single for five years, his delayed ejaculation makes him wary of sex with someone new, ‘even more so if they know my friends – I’d be embarrassed if they found out.’

Sometimes, when Matt’s talked about the issue up front, women have taken it as a challenge to make him cum. This is what happened in the case of The 45 Minute Blowjob, and another time it led to sex that saw him reach orgasm in record time.

He says: ‘when I explained I take ages, and that it was fine if she wanted to stop, she said she wouldn’t stop until I came – then she got on top and grinded until I did.’

Matt fast-tracked to orgasm in a swift 15 minutes, but unfortunately, this didn’t boost his confidence in his ability to cum more easily.

‘It’s not like it happened naturally, it was like, “WE ARE GOING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!” which made me feel kind of uncomfortable. She was grinding so hard, the condom broke.’

Having Googled delayed ejaculation, Matt believes condoms, alcohol, his diet and being circumcised all contribute to his issues with achieving orgasm. ‘It’s known that circumcised penises are less sensitive, and from what I’ve read, fatty foods can dull the senses,’ he explains. ‘I think feeling happier naked would relax me more as well.’

While being a stayer is usually seen as a badge of honour, for Matt, it’s nothing but a headache. ‘I sometimes worry it could have an impact on my ability to start to a family and it’s even made me question my sexuality,’ he says. ‘It’s not as much of an issue when I wank – maybe I’m just too used to my hand.’

There are various possible causes of delayed ejaculation, and some research suggests that masturbation may be one of them. Ian, who’s 50, thinks this is definitely the root of his problem.

‘I can end up f***ing for ages without cumming, but when I’m by myself it takes ten minutes,’ Ian tells us. ‘I think masturbating is why I take a while, as I was much more used to that than having sex.’

Ian masturbated two or three times a day from the age of 15. He first had sex at 21, but says, ‘the lack of sex in my 20s and 30s got me more used to masturbating.’

Ian says that when he was younger, sex could often last several hours, but it wasn’t continuous: ‘Sometimes we’d need a breather – I play cricket, so I’m used to a tea break!’

Although Ian’s physical experience is similar to Matt’s, Ian doesn’t see delayed ejaculation as an issue. He says: ‘taking a long time hasn’t had any great negative impact on me. I’d prefer to come a bit quicker, but it’s just the way I am.’

‘This can never be as much of a problem as premature ejaculation – then the show’s over before the orchestra has finished the overture – that’s not fun for anyone.’

Overall, the reaction that Ian’s had from partners has been positive. He never mentions delayed ejaculation beforehand, explaining, ‘I think I’m safe in saying that men don’t say anything to women that might remotely put them off sex’.

When he has taken a while, ‘it’s never been a big issue’.

‘Sometimes they’ve got sore, but in the main, I’d like to think they were ecstatic,’ says Ian. ‘They have commented when I haven’t cum, but only to ask if there was anything else they could do.’

Ian has a list of fallback tricks for just this occasion. ‘I suggest oral, or letting me watch them masturbate,’ he tells us. ‘I’m inclined now to finish with my own hand, on them, if they like that – it brings things to a conclusion.’

Complete Article HERE!

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How mental health issues are preventing couples from having sex

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Unconsummated relationships, where couples don’t have sex due to difficulties, trauma or sexual dysfunction are not often spoken about.

Usually, the couple feel embarrassed to discuss their sexual difficulties – but they are not alone.

According to an AXA PPP survey, a third of Brits are fearful of getting naked, largely due to body image and self esteem issues.

But nerves around body image aren’t the only reason couples aren’t able to consummate their relationships.

Why aren’t couples having sex?

Sarah-Jane Otoo, psychosexual therapist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Birmingham, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Unconsummated relationships including marriages are largely unspoken about and the reasons behind them are often complex.

‘Some of the most common reasons are from a psychological viewpoint and include a general lack of education around sexual intercourse, fear, anxiety, shame and/or past trauma.

‘In addition, sexual dysfunction like erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, performance anxiety in males and vaginismus in females has been reported in several studies as well as vulvodynia, an often unbearable pain when the genitals are touched’.

Relationships expert Ben Edwards expands on this, telling us: ‘Post-traumatic stress and the psychological damage from past sexual abuse, low self-esteem or unhealthy relationships can be very hard to overcome.’

We must not overlook the impact of sexual trauma and mental health issues.

Aubrey Good has bipolar disorder, which dramatically affects her sex drive.

‘I can sometimes see a decreased or lack of libido, due to my bipolar disorder,’ Aubrey tells Metro.co.uk. ‘During periods of depression, my self-esteem tends to plummet.

‘Mixed with decreased energy and an increase in apathy, my body rejects physical intimacy in favour of seeking emotional nourishment.

‘I suffer from frequent bouts of hypersexuality. I am unable to receive any satisfaction from sexual intimacy and am often in pain or discomfort because of this.’

Aubrey takes medication, but like many taking pills for their mental wellbeing, has found that this has an effect on her sex drive, too.

‘A medication increase has caused me to have loss of libido,’ she explains. ‘Gaining weight from medication has contributed to my struggles.’

For Aubrey, the key is being able to communicate with a partner who understands her struggles.

‘Libido changes are a chronic challenge,’ says Aubrey. ‘Maintaining open dialogue with my partner has helped to ease the anxiety.

‘Sex is an emotional act as well as physical; we discuss the struggles and have seen progress. Therapy has also been a relief. Our strong emotional connection has allowed us to make it through.’

For Emma (name has been changed), anorexia has brought on issues with intimacy.

‘My body image is awful,’ she tells us. ‘I am embarrassed and ashamed of the way I look and it takes me an extremely long time to feel comfortable with men.

‘It’s been the cause of many of relationships endings. Ironically, my eating disorder started at age 19 in large part due to a guy telling me I was overweight so it’s something I’ve never shaken off.

‘I had a lot of negative thoughts about my body during sex so wasn’t able to enjoy the moment, don’t enjoy being touched or looked at, and have difficulty relaxing.

‘If I had eaten too much, was having a bad day or  stressed, then the eating disorder symptoms would creep in and I wouldn’t be able to have sex.

‘Counselling has helped me somewhat and taking things very slowly so I build up trust.’

Kate Moyle, a sexual and relationship psychotherapist, explains that anxiety is a common factor for a lack of sex in a relationship.

‘Every couple is unique and will have their own reasons and experiences for not consummating their relationship,’ she tells us. ‘These situations are often linked to some form of anxiety around sex which can in some instances impact sexual functioning. Some people may struggle with intimacy.’

For Sarah, 35, who has borderline personality disorder, that anxiety comes from a lack of self-confidence as well as a lingering shame around sex.

‘My husband and I have been together for 16 years, married for 12,’ Sarah tells us. ‘I always felt very prudish talking about sex due to my family background, before, during or after.

‘I was told not to have sex before marriage, so it always felt dirty and wrong.

‘My mental health issues mean my self confidence is rock bottom. I’m at my heaviest weight and although occasionally I enjoy sex, I mainly do it so he doesn’t leave me.

‘We had marriage counselling which helped for a while, but nothing really helps.

‘My husband manages to stay with me. He says he misses not having more sex but he says it would never be a cause to leave me. I wish I could be more confident.’

So what can you do if you need help with psychosexual issues?

The main remedies are psychosexual therapy, counselling and working on communication, touch and intimacy.

Sarah Jane Otoo says: ‘It is important to remember that not one person in the relationship has the “problem”; you are both impacted. Psychosexual relationship therapy can be beneficial to help support couples that are experiencing problems with sex.

‘People may choose to enter therapy individually; however it is often advised for couples to enter therapy together. By giving them a safe and confidential space, they may be able to come to a place of understanding.’

Ben Edwards recommends understanding each other’s reasons for a lack of sexual desire or drive, and to avoid blame or shame.

‘When working with my clients on their relationships, I encourage them to understand each other’s “why”,’ he states. ‘We all have our reasons for wanting certain things and you must communicate this to your partner.

‘Lack of communication could be detrimental and to your partners own self-esteem. When it comes to abstaining from sex, the last thing you want is for a partner to harbour feelings of rejection because of an emotional barrier.’

It’s crucial to have a safe space where both parties feel comfortable talking about difficult issues.

‘Doing this work with couples is about opening up a safe space and the hopes and fears to do with sex to be discussed,’ explains Kate. ‘It’s important to see what has been tried and not tried and the ways that couples express intimacy.

‘Integrating touch slowly and becoming more comfortable with each other in states of undress is also a gradual process.

‘I aim to help couples understand desire and arousal so that we can try and get them to a place where they can meet sexually.’

Complete Article HERE!

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I’m Pansexual, and Here’s What I Want You to Know

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by Hannah Pegg

The first time I came out to my parents was in 2013. I was 15 at the time, but I still remember it clear as day. I wrote my mom and dad letters, put them each into an envelope, and handed them off. I knew I would be a mess of tears if I tried to come out to them face to face, so I figured I could gather all of my thoughts more concisely into a letter. I don’t think either of them were quite shocked because I was always a little different, but nonetheless, they told me they were proud of me and wouldn’t trade me for the world.

I’d always assumed I was a lesbian because I was attracted to women and had only ever dated a girl before. I was confused and felt the weight of society falling on my shoulders. I was 15 and liked women, but there was still this nagging feeling that maybe I wasn’t just a lesbian.

I never knew that I could be anything more than a lesbian, so I continued to identify that way. It wasn’t until last year that I sparked a conversation with my roommate about sexuality. I was taking a queer studies class, and for the first time since 2013, I stopped and looked my sexuality dead in the face. And I was truly stumped. I knew I liked women, and I knew I’d had feelings for men, but I wasn’t quite sure that I was bisexual. My feelings felt stronger than that.

It wasn’t until I did some necessary Google searching that I came across a list of sexual orientations. I scrolled through terms I knew, and ones I’d never heard of, until I finally landed on pansexual. Something just seemed to fall into place. There was finally a word to explain how I’d been feeling.

So, what exactly is pansexuality?

This is a perfect starting point for something so complicated to explain. The thing is, you can look up a definition with a click of button, but in the end, you’ll find that pansexuality as a whole is very different from person to person. As Merriam-Webster puts it, “Pansexuality is of, relating to, or characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation,” but what I really like to tell people is that pansexuality is fluid and encompasses all people, regardless of their gender identity.

One of the many things I love about being pansexual is that my love for human beings has no bounds. There are no restraints telling my heart that I can’t love a person because of their gender identity. When it comes to attraction, I look for a connection as opposed to a gender, which really opens up a whole new world of relationships.

A common misconception people have about pansexuals is that since we are attracted to everyone, we must be having lots of sex, right? Well, that depends on the type of person you are. The great thing about sexuality is that it’s not just about sexual preference. Again, for me, I look for someone I can connect with as opposed to jumping into any type of physical relationship. What I’ll never quite understand is why attraction becomes a reason to shame someone for their sexual experiences. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re about to ask someone if they “get around,” take a second to ask yourself, would I feel comfortable answering this?

OK, well this seems very similar to bisexuality. How are they different?

I get asked this question a lot, as I’m sure do many others. The difference really lies in how a person wants to identify. Most people know bisexuality as an attraction to both men and women, but as vocabulary changes, it can now be defined as an attraction to more than one gender. The prefix “bi” in bisexuality means two. However, in recent years, people are becoming increasingly aware that there are more than two genders, thus changing the definition to be more inclusionary of those who fall outside of the gender norms.

For years, there have been disagreements within the bisexual and pansexual communities about whether bisexuality enforces the gender binary. Well, what is the gender binary? It’s the social construct, or gender system, of sex and gender into two categories, masculine and feminine. So when a female is born, she is assumed to be feminine and follow the social codes that have been placed on women (i.e. body standards, sexuality, behavior, etc.).

So then what does this have to do with bisexuality? Well, some people in the LGBTQ+ community believe that labeling oneself as bisexual enforces certain societal codes that do not coincide with those who identify as intersex, gender fluid, androgynous, nonbinary, transgender, etc. So, is bisexuality discrediting certain individuals who do not follow the gender norms? I don’t think so. I think that bisexuality, like pansexuality, varies from person to person.

Is pansexuality just another label?

No, I really don’t think so. In fact, I think it’s important to put a name to the feeling. Previous to last year, I didn’t even know what pansexuality was. I struggled with my sexuality and felt out of place calling myself something I was not. It wasn’t until college that I realized maybe I wasn’t so alone. But I wondered, if I felt this way, how many other people have struggled to find their place in the LGBTQ+ community?

The word pansexual has been around for ages, but it wasn’t until recent years that it took its place on the spectrum. It was first used by Sigmund Freud to describe the sexual desires of humans; however, he never really coined the term as a sexual orientation. Pansexuality as an orientation really took off at the end of the 20th century, leading into the 21st century. So why then do so few people know about it? And how can we make pansexuality a term that is readily available to younger generations?

If you or someone you know is questioning their sexuality, I think it is incredibly important to look into all sides of the LGBTQ+ community. There are so many orientations, genders, and identities that are not covered in schools or by acronyms that deserve to be discussed. Personally, I went to a high school that didn’t do much to explain anything other than the heteronormative in health class. I think it will take time to implement more LGBTQ+-friendly curriculum into schools, however, clubs, events, and open discussions are a wonderful way to expand queer vocabulary. If words like demisexual, asexual, queer, intersex, nonbinary, etc. are talked about more frequently, it will allow those who are unsure a chance to interact with others who feel like them.

Final Thoughts

So what has my year as openly pansexual been like? Honestly, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. For me, pansexuality is much more than just my sexual orientation. It has helped me to put into perspective my behavior toward all people. Perhaps my heart is just a little too big, but I believe that every person I come across, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc., is deserving of some type of connection, whether it be emotional, physical, or intellectual. Those connections are what made me who I am and I think what led me to pansexuality.

I don’t think I could have done this without my incredible roommate, who has listened to my struggles for countless hours and encouraged me to explore my sexuality. I’m also incredibly grateful for my family who are always asking questions and have gone above and beyond to research pansexuality and the LGBTQ+ community.

I’m not sure what’s in store for me, however, I know now that I’m not alone or “confused.” In fact, I’m the furthest thing from confused. I didn’t need some big revelation to tell me that I was pansexual. All it really took was some reflection and a Google search.

Complete Article HERE!

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Gay men: Finally, sex without fear

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PrEP is effective as a protection against HIV – though condoms can still be used to prevent STDs. Why can’t we celebrate the idea that men can have sex without fear of death?

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Have you heard of the anti-AIDS drug PrEP? Most straight people are unaware of it. In 2015, the World Health Organization said “the efficacy of oral PrEP has been shown in four randomized control trials and is high when the drug is used as directed.

PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) is a drug that allows you to have as much sex as you want, without a condom, and remain HIV-negative. If you use it, you probably won’t catch HIV. POZ magazine says that it has “100 per cent efficacy for those who stick to the treatment.”

Doctors recommend everyone use condoms, because although PrEP is very effective as a protection against HIV, it does not guard against the transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases.

Recently, Patrick William Kelly — a gay academic from Northwestern University who is writing a “global history of AIDS” — sounded the alarm about PrEP. For many straight people, Kelly’s discussion of PrEP may be the first they have heard of this revolutionary drug.

Kelly’s concern is that the popularity of PrEP will cause gay men to stop using condoms. He worries:

“An entire generation of gay men has no memory or interest in the devastation [AIDS] wrought. AIDS catalyzed a culture of sexual health that has begun to disintegrate before our eyes. What is there to be done to bring it back?…The nonchalant dismissal of the condom today flies in the face of the very culture of sexual health that gay men and lesbians constructed in the 1980s.”

Doctors still recommend that everyone use condoms because although PrEP is effective as protection against HIV, it does not guard against the transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases.

There is one sentiment that is missing from Kelly’s article. Why doesn’t he celebrate the fact that gay men — and everyone else — can now have sex without fear of death? PrEP makes sex safer for everyone. It is just one new tool in the “safe sex arsenal.” Why not be happy about the fact that PrEP will undoubtedly save many lives?

Not a lethal illness anymore

Some might ask — isn’t AIDS still a lethal illness? Not so much.

The gold standard in HIV treatment” (highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART) was first introduced at the 1996 Vancouver International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference. According to Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, “this was a pivotal moment, when HIV infection became a chronic manageable condition.

In 2014, The Globe and Mail reported that worldwide deaths from AIDS were massively decreasing:

“In 2013, 1.5 million people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide, compared with 2.4 million in 2005, a 35 per cent decrease.”

This state of affairs seems particularly significant when one considers hysterical early predictions concerning the effects of the disease. In 1987, Oprah Winfrey stated confidently that “research studies now project that one in five — listen to me, hard to believe — one in five heterosexuals could be dead from AIDS at the end of the next three years.”

This never happened.

It’s absolutely true that AIDS affects different demographics,

In this 1989 photo, protesters lie on the street in front of the New York Stock Exchange in a demonstration against the high cost of the AIDS treatment drug AZT. The protest was organized by ACT UP, a gay rights activist group.

ethnicities and geographies differently, and that gay men are not the only population to be affected by it worldwide. But the improvement in the lives of HIV-positive people everywhere is only in part due to the tireless efforts of doctors, researchers and health-care workers.

It is also due to the tireless efforts of gay men everywhere — many of whom became safe-sex activists during the last 35 years, distributing pamphlets, marching and just generally spreading the news.

So why would a gay professor characterize PrEP as a bad thing? Why is he worried that gay men — en masse — will suddenly start practising unsafe sex?

Kelly is the victim of another kind of infection — the notion that gay men are criminals whose desires must be controlled.

This criminalization of homosexuals goes back as far as the notion of sodomy.

Viewing homosexuality as criminal

In the England of Henry VIII, the punishment for sodomy was death; India today is still struggling to legalize same-sex encounters.

In 1972, gay liberation theorist Guy Hocquenghem flatly stated in his book Homosexual Desire: “Homosexuality is first of all a criminal category.”

Hocquenghem went on to suggest that even though the late 19th century brought a tendency to view homosexuality through the more “tolerant” lens of illness, the human need to view homosexuality as criminal is persistent.

“Certainly as we shall see later, psychiatry tends to replace legal repression with the internalization of guilt. But the passage of sexual repression from the penal to the psychiatric stage has never actually brought about the disappearance of the penal aspect.”

Both the sexuality of gay men and the sexuality of women are a threat to the primacy of patriarchal male heterosexual desire. Heterosexist culture believes this threat must be controlled. The LaBouchere Amendment in England (1885) was used to incarcerate Oscar Wilde for his homosexuality as a crime of “gross indecency.”

But Labouchere was an amendment to legislation designed to control female prostitution — a law that angered many 19th-century trailblazing feminists.

When AIDS appeared in the early 1980s, some heterosexuals saw it as primarily a gay disease (AIDS was first called GRID — gay-related immune deficiency). They worried that gay men might infect straight people, especially children.

In his influential book of essays, Is The Rectum A Grave?, Leo Bersani suggests that when small-town Americans wanted to ban HIV-positive hemophiliac children in schools, what they actually feared was the spectre of “killer gay men” acting too much like women:

Women and gay men spread their legs with an unquenchable appetite for destruction. This is an image with extraordinary power; and if the good citizens of Arcadia, Florida could chase from their midst a very law-abiding family it is, I would suggest, because in looking at three hemophiliac children they may have seen — that is unconsciously represented — the infinitely more seductive and intolerable image of a grown man, legs high in the air, unable to refuse the suicidal ecstasy of being a woman.

AIDS was not the first thing to make straight people think gay men

A doctor holds Truvada pills, shown to help prevent HIV infection.

had to be controlled. It simply fit like a glove on a fear of homosexuality that was already culturally endemic.

Our society seems addicted to the notion that homosexuality is something uncontrollable and potentially lethal. So when AIDS came along, as the long-time AIDS worker Simon Watney wrote, it was “effectively being used as a pretext throughout the West to justify calls for increased legislation and regulation of those who are considered to be socially unacceptable.”

The concern over gay male imagined libidinal insanity is a throwback to an old trope. Gay men don’t need to be controlled; at least not any more than anyone else. And if you think otherwise? Well, it’s based on prejudice. Not fact.

Complete Article HERE!

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Course disputes idea that heterosexual sex is ‘natural’

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  • Eugene Lang College is offering a “Queer Ecologies” course this fall devoted to countering “heterosexist” explanations of animals and nature.
  • According to the instructor, common scientific practices like using the terms “male” and “female” when describing reproduction among plants and animals contributes to the perception that “queerness” is “unnatural.”

By Toni Airaksinen

Eugene Lang College, part of The New School in Lower Manhattan, will offer a course next semester for students who wish to fight “heterosexist” explanations of animals and nature.

Taught by Heather Davis, “Queer Ecologies” is a four-credit course offered by the school’s Culture and Media department for students who wish to “disrupt prevailing heterosexist discursive and institutional articulations of sexuality and nature.” 

According to the professor, these “heterosexist” explanations of sexuality and nature often involve referring to male/female animals.

According to the course description, students will be taught to “reimagine evolutionary processes, ecological interactions, and environmental politics in light of queer theory” by drawing from research in fields such as feminist science studies and environmental justice. 

Students will also “draw important connections between the material and cultural dimensions of environmental issues, and examine the ways in which sex and nature are understood in light of multiple trajectories of power and matter,” the description adds. 

During an interview with Campus Reform, Davis explained that queer ecologies is an “interdisciplinary field that examines the relationship between sexuality and nature, thinking beyond the boundaries of assuming that heterosexuality is the norm or standard.”

The field “inquires into the sexual lives of animals, plants, and bacteria—lives that are often much more strange, adaptable, and queer than anything humans do,” she elaborated. “It also seeks to critique how heterosexuality is presumed as natural.”

While it is not immediately apparent why the school’s Culture and Media department is offering the class, Davis explained that the course takes aim at how institutions like media outlets and schools often perpetuate myths about sex, gender, and the environment.

Such institutions, Davis said, often promote the idea that “mammals only use sex for reproduction, and that this is always heterosexual sex,” for example.

“We can see this in how queerness is often said to be ‘unnatural’…rather than thinking about how queer sex might actually be helpful to the survival of species,” Davis noted.

One example of this, Davis asserted, is how scientists often characterize plants using gender-specific language.

“We still tend to characterize plants that reproduce sexually in heterosexual terms where a male and female plant need to transfer gametes. Although this understanding of plant reproduction is not un-true, it misses the point that in order for these plants to fertilize they also rely on other species, such as bees and wasps,” she argued.

“In other words, reproduction here is about cross-species interaction, even pleasure, and reducing this description to purely an exchange of genes misses the opportunity to inquire into these relationships,” Davis elaborated. “Queer theory helps to broaden the picture, understanding the behaviours and companionships that exist in these ecologies.”

Complete Article HERE!

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6 reasons why sex is important in a relationship

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By Gabrielle Kassel

I want to start by saying that sex doesn’t need to be a part of every relationship. It might be important to you to wait a certain amount of time or until a particular life milestone (like, say, getting married) to have sex. Or, as Liz Powell, PsyD, an LGBTQ-friendly sex educator, coach, and licensed psychologist, points out, “There are people who are asexual who are in relationships where sex is mutually unimportant or undesired, and those relationships are just as valid, loving, and intimate as any others.”

But for people who do decide to have sex be a part of their relationships, it’s super important. Because when it comes to sex—both having it and talking about it—you and your partner need to “navigate, communicate, and compromise,” says Shadeen Francis, a sex, marriage, and family therapist. Are you in-tune with each other’s needs and wants? Do you trust your S.O. enough to be vulnerable with them? And to handle your bod with respect?

Beyond the emotional benefits, there are also a slew of health perks that come with doing the deed. And that helps your relationship, too—because when your stress is down and confidence is up, it’s the perfect environment for your love to *flourish.* (Bonus: The physical benefits aren’t reserved for penetrative sex alone, says licensed clinical psychologist Sarah Schewitz, PsyD. “It’s important to realize that there are a lot of ways of being intimate physically: deep kissing, hand jobs, mutual masturbation, even watching porn together,” adds Powell.)

So while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to just how important sex is in a relationship, the experts agree that it is.

Keeping reading to learn 6 expert- and science-backed reasons why sex is important in a relationship.

1. It gives you an emotional high

The blissful afterglow is one of the main reasons people do mega-intense workouts. And, it turns out, you experience a similar high after sex, thanks the release of feel-good hormones.

Here’s how it works: Sex releases dopamine in the brain, which increases your ambition and sense of happiness; testosterone, which improves your performance at work; and endorphins, which reduce your stress level and minimize pain. “All of these hormones together play a complex role in human pair-bonding and are essential in maintaining the glue of a relationship,” says psychologist and relationship expert Danielle Forshee, PsyD.

Plus, a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has found that having sex promotes overall well-being and fosters positive emotions, particularly within 24 hours of gettin’ down. So, in addition to the immediate gratification, the physical encounter with a partner creates a sort of lasting “hangover” that can strengthen your relationship, mood, and emotional bond.

2. Sex can help relieve stress

By now, you’ve probably tried the de-stressing staples: deep-breathing, massages, hot baths, and even hotter yoga. But why not add sex to the mix? “Sex releases oxytocin into the bloodstream, which promotes relaxation and stress relief,” says Francis. “And oxytocin also combats cortisol, the main stress hormone,” says Schewitz.

In fact, researchers have found that sex is similar to eating pleasurable “comfort food” in its ability to reduce tension by stimulating the brain’s reward system. And orgasm isn’t necessary to reap the benefits: Your body releases oxytocin after only 20 seconds of skin-to-skin contact, so any sort of physical touch is beneficial.

While the reduction in stress is beneficial to both parties individually, it’s beneficial to the relationship as a whole, too. “Even if stress is not relationship-specific, it can interfere with how good you feel in it,” Francis says.

3. It can boost your confidence

Sex may not give you an automatically turn your BDE levels all the way up to Rihanna, but “it can be an incredibly confidence-boosting, body-loving moment for some people,” says Francis. “Most of us have some degree of insecurity, whether it be something about our physical body or not. But being validated by someone that we love and trust can help build confidence.”

That dopamine rush we’ve talked about also helps boost your mojo, says Courtney Cleman, CFA and co-founder of The V. Club, a wellness and education center in New York City. “The more we have dopamine, the more we feel good and we feel good about ourselves,” she says.

That’s key, because your self-image has an impact on your sexual satisfaction. A 2012 review of research on the topic found that “body-image issues can affect all domains of sexual functioning,” from desire to arousal to satisfaction.

4. You’ll both get a better night’s sleep

In addition to increasing oxytocin and decreasing cortisol, sex also improves your sleep because you release a hormone called prolactin when you orgasm. This chemical can lead to deeper sleep and more time in the REM stage—the part of the sleep cycle when your brain and body are re-energized and your dreams occur.

A good night’s sleep is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, in no small part because increases your mental wellbeing. And increased mental wellbeing means less irritability, which means you pick fewer fights with your partner.

For a bonus bae-boost while you snooze, scooch close to your S.O. before you doze off. According to research from the University of Hertforshire, people who go to sleep touching report the highest rates of relationship bliss.

5. The intimacy extends beyond the bedroom

“[Sex creates] an intimacy feedback loop,” says Cleman. “The more intimacy you have in the bedroom, the more intimacy you’ll have outside the bedroom, and vice versa.” Research backs this up. A series published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that sex predicts affection and affection, in turn, predicts sexual activity.

“This loop is particularly beneficial to people who have physical touch as one of their primary love languages,” says Francis, referring to the concept introduced by Gary Chapman in his best-selling book. “If intimate touch is how you express love and receive love from our partners, then sex is a gateway for how you share affection and love,” she says.

6. Post-sex cuddles are the best (but really)

Getting all snuggly-wuggly with your boo is not only one of the greatest parts of the relationship for some people (it’s like a blanket burrito, but better), it can also make your relationship stronger. A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that kissing and cuddling after sex leads to a more satisfying and happier relationship. (Oxytocin FTW, again). But of course, to reap those post-sex benefits, the sex has to come first.

Complete Article HERE!

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What’s The Difference Between Kink And Fetish?

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By Cara Sutra

What’s The Difference Between Kink And Fetish?

With increasing awareness of and interest in BDSM, much of the related jargon and terms have made their way into common parlance. Two such words are ‘kink’ and ‘fetish’. They’re often used interchangeably, but as they are two different words it’s natural to wonder what the actual meanings are. What’s the difference between kink and fetish?

What Does Kink Mean?

Wikipedia describes kink in the following way.

In human sexuality, kinkiness is any unconventional sexual practices, concepts or fantasies. The term derives from the idea of a “bend” (cf. a “kink”) in one’s sexual behaviour, to contrast such behaviour with “straight” or “vanilla” sexual mores and proclivities. The term kink has been claimed by some who practice sexual fetishism as a term or synonym for their practices, indicating a range of sexual and sexualistic practices from playful to sexual objectification and certain paraphilias. 

Kink sexual practices go beyond what are considered conventional sexual practices as a means of heightening the intimacy between sexual partners. Some draw a distinction between kink and fetishism, defining the former as enhancing partner intimacy, and the latter as replacing it. Because of its relation to “normal” sexual boundaries, which themselves vary by time and place, the definition of what is and is not kink varies widely as well. 

…And Fetish?

Meanwhile, the Wikipedia page for fetish states:

Sexual fetishism or erotic fetishism is a sexual fixation on a nonliving object or nongenital body part. The object of interest is called the fetish; the person who has a fetish for that object is a fetishist. A sexual fetish may be regarded as a non-pathological aid to sexual excitement, or as a mental disorder if it causes significant psychosocial distress for the person or has detrimental effects on important areas of their life. Sexual arousal from a particular body part can be further classified as partialism. 

While medical definitions restrict the term sexual fetishism to objects or body parts, fetish can also refer to sexual interest in specific activities in common discourse. 

So, Is There A Difference Between Kink And Fetish?

Reading the above descriptions from Wiki, and drawing on my own experience of both, I’d say there’s a distinction between kink and fetish. However, there’s also a definite overlap. You have a fetish for something, and you’re a kinky person because of that fetish. Or, you’re a kinky person with kinks who enjoys kinky activities.

Or, you’re vanilla with no kinks, no desire to act kinkily and without any fetishes.

At least, that’s my understanding.

How I Understand It

Here’s my thoughts on both. You can be kinky – as in, being aroused by unusual things and practices and acting on that arousal – and you can have kinks. You could have a kink for being blindfolded, or for being spanked.

Having a fetish for something, fetishising an object or a practice seems to be more of an obsessive behaviour. Less of a choice and more of a hardwired compulsion, to the exclusion of sensibility if allowed to run riot. Fetish is often used interchangeably with kink, though, both to demonstrate one’s affection for their personal kink(s) and also because the speaker classes kink and fetish as fairly similar.

Fetish has always been used to show a deeper / more hardcore affinity for a practice than kink, in the circles I’ve spoken and played with. Also, it’s been my understanding that you can have a fetish for objects – fetishising bondage hoods or high heels, for instance – whereas the act of fetishising those things is described as the person ‘being kinky’.

Do I Have Fetishes Or Kinks?

By the strict definition of the word, I don’t think I have any fetishes. I am not sexually obsessed with or enormously turned on by any inanimate object, that is fetishised. I really like older guys in smart suits, but I’m not sure that it’s a fetish. However I am very kinky, with ‘kinks’ which deviate from vanilla sex including but not limited to:

  • Bondage, including use of rope, cuffs, collars, spreader bars, mouth gags
  • Spanking, by hand or implement
  • FemDom
  • Breathplay
  • Ageplay (DD/lg)
  • Male Chastity
  • Boot & Heel Worship (receiving)
  • Foot Worship (receiving)
  • Fisting
  • Strap On Sex
  • Puppy Play/Furry
  • Voyeurism/Exhibitionism

How About You?

What about you? Firstly, do you make a distinction between the two terms? And do you think there’s a difference between kink and fetish or is it all semantics?

Complete Article HERE!

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