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Condemned, celebrated, shunned: masturbation has long been an uncomfortable fact of life. Why?

by Barry Reay

A handy history

The anonymous author of the pamphlet Onania (1716) was very worried about masturbation. The ‘shameful vice’, the ‘solitary act of pleasure’, was something too terrible to even be described. The writer agreed with those ‘who are of the opinion, that… it never ought to be spoken of, or hinted at, because the bare mentioning of it may be dangerous to some’. There was, however, little reticence in cataloguing ‘the frightful consequences of self-pollution’. Gonorrhoea, fits, epilepsy, consumption, impotence, headaches, weakness of intellect, backache, pimples, blisters, glandular swelling, trembling, dizziness, heart palpitations, urinary discharge, ‘wandering pains’, and incontinence – were all attributed to the scourge of onanism.

The fear was not confined to men. The full title of the pamphlet was Onania: Or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, and all its Frightful Consequences (in Both Sexes). Its author was aware that the sin of Onan referred to the spilling of male seed (and divine retribution for the act) but reiterated that he treated ‘of this crime in relation to women as well as men’. ‘[W]hilst the offence is Self-Pollution in both, I could not think of any other word which would so well put the reader in mind both of the sin and its punishment’. Women who indulged could expect disease of the womb, hysteria, infertility and deflowering (the loss of ‘that valuable badge of their chastity and innocence’).

Another bestselling pamphlet was published later in the century: L’onanisme (1760) by Samuel Auguste Tissot. He was critical of Onania, ‘a real chaos … all the author’s reflections are nothing but theological and moral puerilities’, but nevertheless listed ‘the ills of which the English patients complain’. Tissot was likewise fixated on ‘the physical disorders produced by masturbation’, and provided his own case study, a watchmaker who had self-pleasured himself into ‘insensibility’ on a daily basis, sometimes three times a day; ‘I found a being that less resembled a living creature than a corpse, lying upon straw, meagre, pale, and filthy, casting forth an infectious stench; almost incapable of motion.’ The fear these pamphlets promoted soon spread.

The strange thing is that masturbation was never before the object of such horror. In ancient times, masturbation was either not much mentioned or treated as something a little vulgar, not in good taste, a bad joke. In the Middle Ages and for much of the early modern period too, masturbation, while sinful and unnatural, was not invested with such significance. What changed?

Religion and medicine combined powerfully to create a new and hostile discourse. The idea that the soul was present in semen led to thinking that it was very important to retain the vital fluid. Its spilling became, then, both immoral and dangerous (medicine believed in female semen at the time). ‘Sin, vice, and self-destruction’ were the ‘trinity of ideas’ that would dominate from the 18th into the 19th century, as the historians Jean Stengers and Anne Van Neck put it in Masturbation: The Great Terror (2001).

There were exceptions. Sometimes masturbation was opposed for more ‘enlightened’ reasons. In the 1830s and 1840s, for instance, female moral campaign societies in the United States condemned masturbation, not out of hostility to sex, but as a means to self-control. What would now be termed ‘greater sexual agency’ – the historian April Haynes refers to ‘sexual virtue’ and ‘virtuous restraint’ – was central to their message.

Yet it is difficult to escape the intensity of the fear. J H Kellogg’s Plain Facts for Old and Young (1877) contained both exaggerated horror stories and grand claims: ‘neither the plague, nor war, nor smallpox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of Onanism; it is the destroying element of civilised societies’. Kellogg suggested remedies for the scourge, such as exercise, strict bathing and sleeping regimes, compresses, douching, enemas and electrical treatment. Diet was vital: this rabid anti-masturbator was co-inventor of the breakfast cereal that still bears his name. ‘Few of today’s eaters of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes know that he invented them, almost literally, as anti-masturbation food,’ as the psychologist John Money once pointed out.

The traces are still with us in other ways. Male circumcision, for instance, originated in part with the 19th-century obsession with the role of the foreskin in encouraging masturbatory practices. Consciously or not, many US males are faced with this bodily reminder every time they masturbate. And the general disquiet unleashed in the 18th century similarly lingers on today. We seem to have a confusing and conflicting relationship with masturbation. On one hand it is accepted, even celebrated – on the other, there remains an unmistakable element of taboo.

When the sociologist Anthony Giddens in The Transformation of Intimacy (1992) attempted to identify what made modern sex modern, one of the characteristics he identified was the acceptance of masturbation. It was, as he said, masturbation’s ‘coming out’. Now it was ‘widely recommended as a major source of sexual pleasure, and actively encouraged as a mode of improving sexual responsiveness on the part of both sexes’. It had indeed come to signify female sexual freedom with Betty Dodson’s Liberating Masturbation (1974) (renamed and republished as Sex for One in 1996), which has sold more than a million copies, and her Bodysex Workshops in Manhattan with their ‘all-women masturbation circles’. The Boston Women’s Health Collective’s classic feminist text Our Bodies, Ourselves (1973) included a section called ‘Learning to Masturbate’.

Alfred Kinsey and his team are mainly remembered for the sex surveys that publicised the pervasiveness of same-sex desires and experiences in the US, but they also recognised the prevalence of masturbation. It was, for both men and women, one of the nation’s principal sexual outlets. In the US National Survey (2009–10), 94 per cent of men aged 25-29 and 85 per cent of women in the same age group said that they had masturbated alone in the course of their lifetime. (All surveys indicate lower reported rates for women.) In the just-published results of the 2012 US National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 92 per cent of straight men and a full 100 per cent of gay men recorded lifetime masturbation.

There has certainly been little silence about the activity. Several generations of German university students were questioned by a Hamburg research team about their masturbatory habits to chart changing attitudes and practices from 1966 to 1996; their results were published in 2003. Did they reach orgasm? Were they sexually satisfied? Was it fun? In another study, US women were contacted on Craigslist and asked about their masturbatory experiences, including clitoral stimulation and vaginal penetration. An older, somewhat self-referential study from 1977 of sexual arousal to films of masturbation asked psychology students at the University of Connecticut to report their ‘genital sensations’ while watching those films. Erection? Ejaculation? Breast sensations? Vaginal lubrication? Orgasm? And doctors have written up studies of the failed experiments of unfortunate patients: ‘Masturbation Injury Resulting from Intraurethral Introduction of Spaghetti’ (1986); ‘Penile Incarceration Secondary to Masturbation with A Steel Pipe’ (2013), with illustrations.

‘We are a profoundly self-pleasuring society at both a metaphorical and material level’

Self-stimulation has been employed in sexual research, though not always to great import. Kinsey and his team wanted to measure how far, if at all, semen was projected during ejaculation: Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, Kinsey’s biographer, refers to queues of men in Greenwich Village waiting to be filmed at $3 an ejaculation. William Masters and Virginia Johnson recorded and measured the physiological response during sexual arousal, using new technology, including a miniature camera inside a plastic phallus. Their book Human Sexual Response (1966) was based on data from more than 10,000 orgasms from nearly 700 volunteers: laboratory research involving sexual intercourse, stimulation, and masturbation by hand and with that transparent phallus. Learned journals have produced findings such as ‘Orgasm in Women in the Laboratory – Quantitative Studies on Duration, Intensity, Latency, and Vaginal Blood Flow’ (1985).

In therapy, too, masturbation has found its place ‘as a means of achieving sexual health’, as an article by Eli Coleman, the director of the programme in human sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School, once put it. A published study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1977 outlined therapist-supervised female masturbation (with dildo, vibrator and ‘organic vegetables’) as a way of encouraging vaginal orgasm. Then there is The Big Book of Masturbation (2003) and the hundreds of (pun intended) self-help books, Masturbation for Weight Loss, a Womans Guide only among the latest (and more opportunistic).

Self-pleasure has featured in literature, most famously in Philip Roth’s novel Portnoys Complaint (1969). But it is there in more recent writing too, including Chuck Palahniuk’s disturbing short story ‘Guts’ (2004). Autoeroticism (and its traces) have been showcased in artistic expression: in Jordan MacKenzie’s sperm and charcoal canvases (2007), for example, or in Marina Abramović’s reprise of Vito Acconci’s Seedbed at the Guggenheim in 2005, or her video art Balkan Erotic Epic of the same year.

On film and television, masturbation is similarly pervasive: Lauren Rosewarne’s Masturbation in Pop Culture (2014) was able to draw on more than 600 such scenes. My favourites are in the film Spanking the Monkey (1994), in which the main character is trying to masturbate in the bathroom, while the family dog, seemingly alert to such behaviour, pants and whines at the door; and in the Seinfeld episode ‘The Contest’ (1992), in which the ‘m’ word is never uttered, and where George’s mother tells her adult son that he is ‘treating his body like it was an amusement park’.

There is much evidence, then, for what the film scholar Greg Tuck in 2009 called the ‘mainstreaming of masturbation’: ‘We are a profoundly self-pleasuring society at both a metaphorical and material level.’ There are politically-conscious masturbation websites. There is the online ‘Masturbation Hall of Fame’ (sponsored by the sex-toys franchise Good Vibrations). There are masturbationathons, and jack-off-clubs, and masturbation parties.

It would be a mistake, however, to present a rigid contrast between past condemnation and present acceptance. There are continuities. Autoeroticism might be mainstreamed but that does not mean it is totally accepted. In Sexual Investigations (1996), the philosopher Alan Soble observed that people brag about casual sex and infidelities but remain silent about solitary sex. Anne-Francis Watson and Alan McKee’s 2013 study of 14- to 16-year-old Australians found that not only the participants but also their families and teachers were more comfortable talking about almost any other sexual matter than about self-pleasuring. It ‘remains an activity that is viewed as shameful and problematic’, warns the entry on masturbation in the Encyclopedia of Adolescence (2011). In a study of the sexuality of students in a western US university, where they were asked about sexual orientation, anal and vaginal sex, condom use, and masturbation, it was the last topic that occasioned reservation: 28 per cent of the participants ‘declined to answer the masturbation questions’. Masturbation remains, to some extent, taboo.

When the subject is mentioned, it is often as an object of laughter or ridicule. Rosewarne, the dogged viewer of the 600 masturbation scenes in film and TV, concluded that male masturbation was almost invariably portrayed negatively (female masturbation was mostly erotic). Watson and McKee’s study revealed that their young Australians knew that masturbation was normal yet still made ‘negative or ambivalent statements’ about it.

Belief in the evils of masturbation has resurfaced in the figure of the sex addict and in the obsession with the impact of internet pornography. Throughout their relatively short histories, sexual addiction and hypersexual disorder have included masturbation as one of the primary symptoms of their purported maladies. What, in a sex-positive environment, would be considered normal sexual behaviour has been pathologised in another. Of the 152 patients in treatment for hypersexual disorder in clinics in California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah, a 2012 study showed that most characterised their sexual disorder in terms of pornography consumption (81 per cent) and masturbation (78 per cent). The New Catholic Encyclopedia’s supplement on masturbation (2012-13), too, slips into a lengthy disquisition on sex addiction and the evils of internet pornography: ‘The availability of internet pornography has markedly increased the practice of masturbation to the degree that it can be appropriately referred to as an epidemic.’

Critics think that therapeutic masturbation might reinforce sexual selfishness rather than sexual empathy and sharing

The masturbator is often seen as the pornography-consumer and sex addict enslaved by masturbation. The sociologist Steve Garlick has suggested that negative attitudes to masturbation have been reconstituted to ‘surreptitiously infect ideas about pornography’. Pornography has become masturbation’s metonym. Significantly, when the New Zealand politician Shane Jones was exposed for using his taxpayer-funded credit card to view pornographic movies, the unnamed shame was that his self-pleasuring activities were proclaimed on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers – thus the jokes about ‘the matter in hand’ and not shaking hands with him at early morning meetings. It would have been less humiliating, one assumes, if he had used the public purse to finance the services of sex workers.

Nor is there consensus on the benefits of masturbation. Despite its continued use in therapy, some therapists question its usefulness and propriety. ‘It is a mystery to me how conversational psychotherapy has made the sudden transition to massage parlour technology involving vibrators, mirrors, surrogates, and now even carrots and cucumbers!’ one psychologist protested in the late 1970s. He was concerned about issues of client-patient power and a blinkered pursuit of the sexual climax ‘ignoring … the more profound psychological implications of the procedure’. In terms of effectiveness, critics think that therapeutic masturbation might reinforce individual pleasure and sexual selfishness rather than creating sexual empathy and sharing. As one observed in the pages of the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 1995: ‘Ironically, the argument against masturbation in American society was originally religiously founded, but may re-emerge as a humanist argument.’ Oversimplified, but in essence right: people remain disturbed by the solitariness of solitary sex.

Why has what the Japanese charmingly call ‘self-play’ become such a forcing ground for sexual attitudes? Perhaps there is something about masturbation’s uncontrollability that continues to make people anxious. It is perversely non-procreative, incestuous, adulterous, homosexual, ‘often pederastic’ and, in imagination at least, sex with ‘every man, woman, or beast to whom I take a fancy’, to quote Soble. For the ever-astute historian Thomas Laqueur, author of Solitary Sex (2003), masturbation is ‘that part of human sexual life where potentially unlimited pleasure meets social restraint’.

Why did masturbation become such a problem? For Laqueur, it began with developments in 18th-century Europe, with the cultural rise of the imagination in the arts, the seemingly unbounded future of commerce, the role of print culture, the rise of private, silent reading, especially novels, and the democratic ingredients of this transformation. Masturbation’s condemned tendencies – solitariness, excessive desire, limitless imagination, and equal-opportunity pleasure – were an outer limit or testing of these valued attributes, ‘a kind of Satan to the glories of bourgeois civilisation’.

In more pleasure-conscious modern times, the balance has tipped towards personal gratification. The acceptance of personal autonomy, sexual liberation and sexual consumerism, together with a widespread focus on addiction, and the ubiquity of the internet, now seem to demand their own demon. Fears of unrestrained fantasy and endless indulging of the self remain. Onania’s 18th-century complaints about the lack of restraint of solitary sex are not, in the end, all that far away from today’s fear of boundless, ungovernable, unquenchable pleasure in the self.

Complete Article HERE!

Against the cult of the pussy eaters

By Charlotte Shane

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As a thoroughly modern straight woman, I understand the political allure of demanding that a man go down on me. To insist on sexual pleasure—empowering! To tell a man to put his face in my ostensibly shameful genitals—transgressive! The vision of a woman, at long last, being the one to authoritatively order a man to get on his knees? Yeah, I see how that might look like sweet, sweet sexual parity. But after many years and a wide variety of partners, I feel more and more a part of the sorority of women who are ambivalent on receiving oral sex.*

And from all the evidence I’ve found, I’m far from alone. “Too slimy and soft/mushy,” one of my friends declared. “I hate it,” another texted me, not deigning to elaborate. “Too slobbery, too intense, too much gratitude expected,” said one commenter under an anti-pussy-eating confessional. One anti-oral crusader emailed me to complain: “Instead of learning useful hand techniques, most men smush their faces into my pussy and think I’ll be impressed with the effort.” Amen, sister. I’ve lamented the epidemic of fingering-phobia with more friends than I can count, as we wondered what should be done about the many men who’d love to use their mouths for 30 minutes but not their hands for five. And these are the same complaints echoed again and again when women write about why they’re not as enthusiastic about being eaten out as pop culture tells them they should be. One pro-head propagandist asserts it’s only done well about a third of the time. (A pretty generous estimate, in my, and others’, opinions.)

And bad oral is really, really bad. Like, not even worth the considerable risk of complete libido shut down if all does not go well. Where do I begin? There’s the exaggerated head movements. The humming. The saliva application so excessive I start worrying I’m experiencing anal leakage. Not only is it often performative and clueless—all show, no technique—but, for me anyway, stimulation that doesn’t actually feel good ruins me for stimulation that does. Under normal circumstances I might be really hot for that D, but if it’s delivered after ten minutes of bad head? Forget it.

There’s a reason for this recent proliferation of anti-oral screeds, mine included: Modern men are relentless in insisting they do it to us.

It didn’t always used to be this way. In the (very recent) bad old days, not only was women’s sexual pleasure emphatically not a priority, but the only acceptable way for her to derive any was supposed to be penis-in-vagina intercourse. But gradually, thanks to the sexual revolution and pro-clit feminism, men began to adopt a different attitude. Today, books like She Comes First are seminal sex manuals and sites like Bro Bible and Men’s Health share tips about how to better go down on a woman without making it out to be a big deal. American Pie, the movie that (ugh) defined a generation featured one man passing down the crucial skill to another, and getting him properly laid—i.e. “real” sex—as a direct result of his skill. And the rough, crying girl, Max Hardcore-lite gonzo porn of the early aughts has given way to the Kink.com trend of performers trembling through numerous orgasmic seizures, sometimes forced out of them by the infamous Hitachi magic wand.

There’s no doubt that some straight guys still deride women’s genitals as gross or dirty, and refuse to reciprocate the oral sex they inevitably receive, but we’re at the point where even hugely popular rappers brag about doing it. Straight masculinity has been reframed as establishing dominance through “giving” a woman orgasms, even if those orgasms are not—contrary to previous priorities—strictly penis-induced.

So in 2016, pussy eaters are far from rarities. There’s a good chance that by now, men who like doing it vastly outnumber those who refuse. Take the word of women who hate receiving; we pretty much have to physically fight guys off to stop them from latching onto us with their mouths. If you don’t respond positively to the basic experience of being eaten out, even competent oral is pretty icky.

But certain men aren’t willing to hear this. They often won’t listen to our clear statements that we’re not into it, because they’re going to be the special slobbery snowflakes who finally convince us how wrong we are about our own bodies. For men who appear to be in it only for their own ego—like Cosmo Frank—eating a woman out is far from proof positive of respecting her as an equal human being. It’s all about establishing how sexually accomplished and maybe even how feminist (!) they are.

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Certainly, this is an improvement from a time when the entire Western world seemed to have agreed to pretend the clitoris didn’t exist. But patriarchy and the cis-het norms inherent to it have a nasty way of reasserting themselves inside new, ostensibly progressive forms. Dan Savage’s widely embraced “GGG” (good, giving, game) mantra is today’s shorthand for being sexy, which means a wide variety of physical intimacy “within reason” should be on the table no matter what an individual’s own tastes. (Savage bestows a Get Out of Jail Free Card to partners with “fetish-too-far” requests like puke, excrement, and “extreme” bondage.)

Our current social standard for savvy young men and women is the sort of judgment-free fluidity—often called “open-mindedness”—that precludes people of all genders from expressing distaste for any sexual activity, lest they seem prudish and inexperienced. We’ve made oral sex de rigueur for progressive, or simply “standard,” sex—Dan Savage’s decree that you should dump someone who won’t do it to you, for instance, presumes universality of enjoyment.

We’ve gone so far that we’re back in a place where many women are pressured into pretending they enjoy something that doesn’t feel that good to them or else be shamed when they turn it down. It looks a lot like the same situation we were in before when vaginal, PIV-induced orgasms reigned supreme, right down to the outspokenly progressive, allegedly enlightened dudes accusing any woman resistant to a certain type of sex (oral, casual, or simply with them) as standing in the way of revolution.

If you believe the smear campaign against women who don’t like receiving oral, the reason for any distaste is elementary: The chick is just too insecure to enjoy it. Pop psychology says that if a woman doesn’t like a guy tonguing her, it’s because she’s neurotic and hates her own body. “A lot of women don’t like getting eaten out because they’re insecure about how their pussies look,” one site confidently states. “A lot of women have hangups about oral sex,” says another, which goes on enumerate these as “genital shame” and “trust issues.” One doctor’s advice column characterized a typical internal monologue as “good girls don’t have sex just for their own pleasure…”

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In other words, uptight, fretful broads can’t relax enough to enjoy this premium sex thing—which obviously always feels amazing just by virtue of it involving her junk—and so the lack of enjoyment is almost entirely on her and not her partner. This rhetoric is not progress.

Many straight women are sexually experienced, sexually voracious, self-assured people who know what they like in bed. Some of them know that they don’t like laying back and taking a licking. Yet there’s a micro-industry that equates self-confidence with enjoying oral, while tacitly admitting that enjoying it may not be the norm. Articles purporting to help women learn to love being eaten out often suggest recipients are self-conscious of how long it takes them to come, worried that the man administering the oh-so-progressive mouth love is getting bored.

Folks, we aren’t worried about the guy. We know he’s loving it. We’re the ones who are bored. Because in spite of all the hype, some sex educators have found that only about 14% of women report that receiving oral sex is the easiest way for them to get off. And if we do take a long time to come (whatever that means, by whoever’s arbitrary standards) it’s likely because the stimulation isn’t that successful. Women’s orgasms don’t take any longer than men’s—if they’re masturbating. Look it up.

Ultimately, the reason why some women don’t like oral sex is irrelevant. So what if someone is too self-conscious to enjoy it? She should endure an unspecified number of uncomfortable and unsexy sessions in the hope of forcefully changing her own mind? Since when does it show more confidence to allow a man to do whatever he want to your body than it does to speak up about what you actually enjoy? Or to suffer through something sexually unsatisfying to prove some larger point?

And for the record, the number one impediment to men being any good at crooning to the conch is their conviction that showing up is the only effort required. Going down on a woman is like any skill; it takes intelligence, attention, and practice. Putting your face in the general vicinity of someone else’s genitals is simply not sufficient. Combine baseless, wrongful self-congratulation with the already inflated yet desperate male ego, and it’s a recipe for very bad sex indeed. If you’re a guy reading this, and you’re feeling exasperated, please don’t. There’s a very simple rule: Be as effusive about going down on a girl as you want to be, but don’t let your own excitement for it manifest as ignoring her disinterest.

The big secret about eating pussy is that it’s really fun to do. As someone who has tongue-tickled the pearly boat—people call it that, right?—on more than one occasion, I can report that it’s extremely sexy. No man, and dare I say no human, deserves a gold star just because they’re willing to put lips to labia. Such a notion is just another part of the patriarchal conspiracy to keep women’s sexual standards low.

So go forth with your hatred of being dined upon, my fellow harlots. A sexual revolution that requires we endure head when we don’t want it is a revolution that comes at too high a price.

*This article primarily addresses het sex because the vast amount of pro-head propaganda out there presumes the women it addresses are straight, and I’ve not come across forums of queer women speculating that their female partners aren’t wild about being eaten out because they hate their bodies. But if you’re a queer woman pressuring your partner to submit to oral sex when you know they don’t like it, you should feel bad, too!

Complete Article HERE!

The Yin and Yang of Desire

Today I’d like to talk about: The Yin and Yang of Desire — Dopamine, Prolactin and Testosterone.

Let’s talk about love, lust and desire. But instead of looking at these things as social phenomena, let’s look at the chemical reactions going on inside our bodies that make us feel and behave the way we do.

sex-on-the-brainThere are clear links between certain chemicals and our most basic drives, which explains, for example, why we feel horny one moment and utterly disinterested the next. Or why our sex drive peaks after exercise. At the core of our sexual and affectional interests and behaviors lie the two chemicals — dopamine and prolactin. In many ways they are complimentary to one another; dopamine turns on desire and prolactin turns it off.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. This is basically your body’s pleasure and reward system. Our brains releases dopamine, to one degree or another, when we see, read or think about something sexy, taste something sweet, puff a cigarette, or come into skin-to-skin contact with another person. When dopamine levels are high, our libido goes into overdrive. Sometimes levels can be so dramatic that a person will neglect other essential bodily functions like eating and sleeping. Some “street” drugs —meth and coke among them — can mimic the body into thinking it’s dealing with dopamine.

Dopamine is critical to the way the brain controls our movements. If there’s not enough dopamine, we can’t move, or control our movements. If there’s too much dopamine, we are plagued with repetitive moments like jerking, tapping and twitching.

Get this; novel situations can increase dopamine releases. For example, hooking up with someone for the first time triggers especially high levels of dopamine. Curiously enough, these same high levels will not occur again during subsequent hookups with that same person. This is called the one-night-stand phenomenon; it’s why you can be attracted to someone at first encounter but not afterward.hormones and the brain

However, falling in love with someone can sustain high dopamine levels for a longer period of time. This explains why physical infatuation is at its peak in the beginning months of a relationship. Also dopamine floods the brain when we get drunk or take certain drugs, which is why drinking alcohol can make a potential partner look more attractive.

Prolactin is dopamine’s foil. It causes dopamine levels to plummet. Prolactin is a hormone, as opposed to a neurotransmitter, like dopamine. It floods the body during orgasm, virtually shutting down the sex drive, which is nature’s way of allowing us to attend to other essential bodily functions like eating and sleeping. Prolactin release in men will temporarily disable our ability to have an erection. This is called the refractory or recovery phase of our sexual response cycle. And prolactin is at least partially responsible for that happy, relaxed state after we cum. This is precisely the release women get while breastfeeding; in fact, the word “pro-lactin” directly indicates its role in milk production.

growing larger and largerProlactin primes the mind for long-term attachment — a role that helps the mother bond with her suckling child as well as lovers to each other. This means that if you stick around cuddling with your partner right after sex, you may actually start to like him/her more and more. This is called the pair-bonding effect. But prolactin’s dopamine-reducing action has a darker side. It cancels the tolerance you may have for your partner’s flaws.

While dopamine and prolactin are good indicators of the immediate workings of sexual pursuit, it is testosterone that best explains long-term changes in courtship. Testosterone is responsible for the masculinization of the adolescent male body during puberty. And it increases the dopamine levels that regulate our sex drive. But testosterone leaves its fingerprint on the body as much as the brain. It’s the catalyst for changes in skin tone, fat distribution, musculature and demeanor, which are signals to others that this individual male is sexually mature and in good health.

However, if you get a fever or become depressed, your testosterone levels can drop significantly. Malnutrition or high levels of anxiety or stress will also interfere with testosterone levels. The most immediate effect of this is a decrease in libido, and a noticeable drop-off in energy levels as well as confidence. There’s no doubt about it; testosterone levels will signal to potential mates that you are in the throws of depression, stress, anxiety or malnutrition. You will appear a little less attractive to people subconsciously. That’s why a confident, dominant male with high-testosterone levels generally enjoy more mating success.tits

Testosterone levels are highest in the morning, then wanes throughout the day. It’s also much higher in men in autumn and lowest in the spring.

However, sexual desire is still more complicated than is known to science, and there may be multiple archetypes of partners we’re drawn to — there is evidence that aggressive high-testosterone men appear sexier to women and gay men for a one-night stand. But softer, more sensitive balanced men are more likely to tug at our heartstrings in a relationship. Scientists reason that the bulkier mate is more likely to be physically powerful and carry good genes to create strong children. While the slimmer guy is a more loving, reliable partner likely to help raise the kids so they survive to adulthood. The effect of this strange contradiction seems to be a biological predisposition against monogamy and sexual exclusivity.

But none of this is carved in stone. A man’s hormone’s levels increase when he is in a competitive environment or carries out acts of aggression, which can explain how guys seem to bulk up quickly when they go to prison or join sports teams. These levels decrease when he feels intimidated or humiliated, which might explain why those who get picked on at school stay skinny and mild-mannered compared to their peers. This in turn made them easier targets and only increased the likelihood of them being bullied.

butt shakeThis is not uncommon behavior among primate colonies that have huge alpha males looming over a population of smaller, submissive males and females. While this is not a perfect parallel to human social groups, it does go a long way in explaining how a social environment can be a precursor to physical body changes. And just so you know, our testosterone levels also drop during long-term relationships, giving the male brain a sense of stability and mellowness, easing off the drive to forage for new sexual partners.

Science alone lacks a moral element, and fails to explain, in a modern context, why we should desire to be masculine, aggressive, potent or dominant in the first place. In nature, the alpha-male is the most likely to enjoy reproductive success, but that isn’t what gives our lives value today. We might have more success being an average male that falls in love and becomes a good provider. And in the modern world it’s probably the more stable and sensitive man who is most likely to sire children.

Still, science gives important clues to what’s going on in our minds and bodies and that of our potential partners. A lot of our basic inclinations are out of our control, but when we know what causes them or what to expect, we can work with them for the best outcome.

Hey, Where’s My Big “O”?

Name: BJ
Gender: Female
Age: 23
Location: PA
I’ve been sexually active for several years now and have yet to reach an orgasm. Oral sex, intercourse nor masturbation have been effective. Is there something wrong with me, what might help?

I’d be very much surprised if there was actually something physically wrong with you. But you clearly have some difficulty letting go. And simply put, an orgasm is letting go of built up sexual tension.the big O

Lot of preorgasmic women don’t feel entitled to an orgasm, for one reason or another. Other women are simply unversed on how to make the big “O” happen in their own fine self. Sometimes it’s a combination of both resistance and a lack of know how.

I once had a client, a woman in her late 30’s, the mother of three and a devote Catholic. She was preorgasmic too. Her big stumbling block was fear. You got it; fear of having an orgasm. She had heard from other women over the years how powerful orgasms were and how much fun they were. My client somehow got it in her head that if she were to ever let go and give up that long-awaited screamin’ meme, her entire world would collapse. She’d become a sex addict, neglect her children, divorce her husband and turn her back on God…the whole enchilada.

With that kind of mindset, this little lady wasn’t gonna let herself cum no how.

the big O 2I had to reassure her that, as delightful as orgasms are, they are not like crack cocaine. I told her there was no chance that she’d fly to pieces as a mother, wife and friend of Jesus if she were to diddle herself once in a while. I had to keep repeating this over and over till it finally sank in. You talk about hardheaded! In the end, she had her precious orgasm, joined the ranks for the sexually satisfied and lived happily ever after. …Well, I can’t honestly say about the happily ever after part, but she sure did smile a whole lot more afterwards.

Back to you BJ, I don’t suppose there’s any way you could have one of your gal-pals show you how it’s done, is there? The reason I ask is most guys learn how to choke the chicken by watching, or being instructed by another guy. Us men folk are really good about doin that for one another. Women, on the other hand, don’t seem to do this for one another as much. Which is a freakin’ pity, if ya ask me.

If you can’t (or won’t) get a pal to show you around proper pussy pleasuring, I have another suggestion for you. Mozie on over to DR DICK’S HOW TO VIDEO LIBRARY  and check out a swell instructional video. (There’s a link to this marvelous resource in the header.) Do a quick search for “female masturbation” and let the experts show you a thing or two. You’ll be so glad you did.

Another great resource: The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women: How to Become Orgasmic for a Lifetime by the brilliant Mikaya Heart. By the way, you can find a dynamite two-part interview with Mikaya HERE and HERE!ultimate-guide-to-orgasm-for-women-lg

Here are a few tips:

Get in the mood

Relax as much as you can. Whatever that means for you. Take a warm bath or have a glass of wine. Ensure your privacy: turn off the phone, lock the door for privacy from roommates, kids, whoever. Find a comfy position. Most women start out lying on their backs, legs bent and spread apart, with feet on the ground. Remove most or all of your clothing (or as much as your comfortable with).

Explore your body

Run your hands along your body, lingering along areas that are more responsive to touch than others. If you’re able to do it, and you’ve never done it before, you might want to try to look at your genitals in a mirror. Because so many women are raised with negative messages about their bodies, and particularly their genitals, being able to see while you touch can be powerful and surprising. Find and touch your inner and outer labia, your clitoris, your vagina and your perineum.

Touch yourself

Using one or two fingers, rhythmically stroke the different parts of your vulva, paying particular attention to your clitoris and labia. Experiment with different types of pressure, speed and motion. Try placing a finger on either side of the clitoris and stroking up and down, or placing two fingers on the clitoral hood and rubbing in a circular motion.

Experiment

Try different types of touch: stroke, tickle, knead, pinch, or lightly pull your genitals. Try using one or several fingers, the palm of your hand, even your knuckles.

Build up excitement

Learn to hold onto sexual excitement by building up and then reducing or temporarily stopping the stimulation. (Men do this all the time when they jack-off.  It’s called edging.) Pay attention to how your body is responding. It will tell you the particular stroke that feels best and when to pick up or slow down the tempo.

Don’t forget to breathe

Many women hold their breath as they get excited. Be mindful of your breath and learn to play with breathing during arousal. Try to breathe deeply rather than hold your breath. This can help release the sexual energy, rather than fight it.

Moving a little

In addition to often holding our breath, many women tense up and don’t move much at all when wtheye masturbate. This might work for you just fine, but if you haven’t explored movement, it’s worth a try. Moving while you are getting turned on, and moving during orgasm can change the way you experience pleasure in your body. For some women this means rocking their pelvis. For others it means moving their legs or torso side to side. Find what movement works for you and then intentionally start doing it while you masturbate.

Letting go

If your hand gets tired, give yourself a rest, switch hands, or try a vibrator. If you’re on the brink of orgasm, but can’t quite get over the hump, try to become more conscious of your breathing, give yourself extra stimulation: caress your nipples, or try thrusting your other fingers or a dildo in and out of your vagina.

Ride the Wave

As you begin to orgasm, continue the stimulation through the orgasm. Lighten up on the stimulation during the first extremely sensitive moments but keep it going to enjoy those little pleasurable aftershocks. Your first orgasm may feel like a blip or a blast, but the more you practice, the more variety you will experience.

Fantasizing

Sexual fantasy can be a double edged sword when it comes to masturbation. If you have trouble getting yourself in the mood or getting over the top, a hot fantasy may be just the ticket. I often suggest reading erotica to get in the mood. However, when we fantasize some of our attention is taken away from what’s happening in our bodies in the moment. Sometimes what is getting in the way of us enjoying masturbation is that distance from our bodies. It’s good to try everything, but be mindful of whether or not your fantasies are acting as an enhancer or a distraction.

hitachi-magic-wand-2Some final thoughts…
Vibrators take some of the manual labor out of masturbation by providing direct, intense physical stimulation to the clitoris.  check out all the marvelous vibrators we’ve reviewed for you at Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Reviews.

Many women learn to jill-off in the bath or shower. A direct the stream of water on your vulva and clitoris can be a game changer. Vary the pressure, the pulsation, and the temperature. Alternate methods: slide your butt over the drain so your legs are up in the air and your genitals are up under the tub faucet (rather awkward but do-able for some), or use Jacuzzi jets.

Rub against something–a pillow, the corner of some furniture, a washing machine in operation.

Dildos can be a pleasurable accompaniment to clitoral masturbation, as they offer the fullness of penetration and can also stimulate the g-spot.

Write back again, BJ, and let me know how things go. If you’re not successful, I still have a few other tricks up my sleeve.

Good luck

Porn for women? Ya betcha! – Part 2

We continue what we started earlier in the week, I was all involved in responding to a young woman’s query about porn for women when I ran out of time. Let’s pick up where we left off in Part 1, shall we?

Last week we considered the proliferation of porn for straight women. This week we take a look at some of the other categories of porn for women. Remember this is by no means an exhaustive list. And just so you know, you can find most all of these titles in Dr Dick How To Video Library. Look for a Video Library tab in the header of DDSA for this great sex resource.

Porn for straight couples.

Comstock Films Matt and Khym
New York-based filmmaker Tony Comstock forged his own path in the adult business, creating films previously unseen in the world of porn. Blending a documentary style with hardcore sex, Comstock created a new genre, “pornumentary” or “docuporn”. His films feature real-life couples talking about their relationship and sex lives before having sex on camera. The result is a fresh and revealing look into the lives of real people, and depicts the kind of sex real people have. This is porn without the fakery and cliché so often seen in mainstream porn. It’s erotica with emotion and context.

Anna Span - Hug a Hoodie_mAnna Span
Anna Span is Britain’s first female porn director and she brings a unique perspective to her hardcore films. Her college dissertation was titled “Towards a New Pornography.” She created her first hardcore adult film in 1997, and worked for adult TV channels in the UK. She is the author of the book Erotic Home Video. Her production company, Easy on the Eye, also releases films by other female directors.

Anna’s films are made for both women and men, but she makes a special effort to include more female perspectives in her films, with a focus on female pleasure. Her movies feature excellent acting and engaging plots. Anna Span created a series called Women Love Porn, which features a selection of newer female directors hand-chosen by Anna.

Tristan Taormino chemistry
Tristan Taormino is an author, editor and filmmaker who made a career out of sex education, particularly in the area of anal sex. We’ve featured lots of stuff my Tristan here on Dr Dick’s Sex Advice. Her column and website Pucker Up deals extensively with anal sex and her book; The Ultimate Guide To Anal Sex For Women won a Firecracker award. It was also made into a film in 1999. In 2006 Tristan created her own production company, Smart Ass Productions, so she could create her own brand of porn films. She was honored at the Inaugural Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto in 2006 and her film, Chemistry, won an AVN award in 2007, the first of several such awards and nominations.

Tristan has her own line of educational films with the porn giant, Vivid, called, VividEd. Again, you can find all these titles in Dr Dick’s How To Video Library.

Tristan describes herself as “queer”, saying she dislikes the label “bisexual”. Her films are designed to appeal to women and men of all orientations.

how to fuck in high heelsJoyBear Pictures
Joybear is a another UK-based erotic film company that makes films for both women and men. It was established in 2003 by Justin Ribero des Santos after he won a Playboy filmmaking competition, Joybear creates high-quality, high class explicit films and makes an effort to cater to the real desires of their audience. The company regularly runs surveys and focus groups to determine what it is that people want to see. Which is pretty cool if ya ask me.

 

 

 

 

Porn Movies For Lesbians And Queer People

While girl-on-girl action has long been a mainstay of the porn market, authentic lesbian erotica is still relatively rare. But nowadays, there are a number of people working to create their own brand of lesbian and queer porn, reflecting their own experiences and tastes.

Maria Beatty and Bleu Productions little hot riding hood
Paris-based filmmaker Maria Beatty is world renowned for her innovative and beautiful lesbian erotic films that focus on BDSM. Having previously worked on documentaries about artists, Maria began to make her own special brand of porn in 1994, producing The Elegant Spanking, which received international acclaim. This film documents the intimate sadomasochistic encounters of Maria and a dominant female partner.

Since then Maria has produced an impressive number of adult movies, all exploring “the playful relationship between pleasure and pain” as she says. Her films have been produced independently in order to keep her vision of erotica unblemished by the demands of studios. She also does all the writing, editing, camerawork and production design herself. Maria recently completed a second feature length film called The Boy in the Bathtub, is currently working on is working on other erotic films.

lesbian threesomeMadison Young
San Francisco-based Madison Young describes herself as a “bondage/ fetish model, adult performer, artist, gallerist, activist, published writer, rope slut, queer and feminist.” She runs a non-profit art gallery called Femina Potens and performs in porn to help fund it. She’s an exhibitionist who enjoys exploring the kinkier side of her sexuality on film. And she has been a guest on my SEX WISDOM show. Use the search function in the header, type in Madison Young and Voilà, the two parts of her podcast will appear.

Madison says, “I wanted to be part of a movement of sex positive feminists taking control of their sexuality on film. Somehow documenting my sexual explorations always gave me some unbenounced permission to explore parts of my sexuality that I didn’t feel comfortable exploring in the bedroom. I love the camera. I always used to beg my partners to tape us having sex even before I got into the industry. I believe that it is educational to document honest sexual exploration and experiences and I try to feed into that and put all of my sexual energy into a scene.”

Aside from performing in numerous mainstream porn films, Madison used to run her own website. Madison Bound, but now it’s closed. Her subject matter encompasses many different tastes but usually includes BDSM and a lot of lesbianism.

S.I.R. Productionsprivate thoughts
S.I.R. stands for Sex, Indulgence and Rock n Roll. This company was one of the pioneers of real lesbian erotica and their titles are considered classics. Their movies are legendary for capturing raw emotion, intense chemistry, real orgasms that convey revolutionary queer desire. No wonder their films have played to sold out audiences to almost every LGBT film fest around the world.

 

 

 

 

Porn Movies Like Fifty Shades Of Grey

You’ve probably read Fifty Shades of Grey or know someone who has. Right? And let’s say you’re now keen to see a good smut that offers erotic BDSM. Preferably with a female submissive and a hot guy. Well here’s a short list titles to get you started, but don’t forget to look for all the swell instructional videos available at Dr Dick’s How To Video Library.

the_submission_of_emma_marx_fThe Submission Of Emma Marx
Here’s the story line: Emma Marx is a beautiful, confident, well-adjusted woman. Unfortunately, when it comes to love and romance, all of her previous relationships have turned out to be a bit routine and mundane. Suddenly, that is all changes with a chance encounter with a handsome and mysterious man. He introduces her to a world she had only dared to fantasize about, a world of erotic sex, role-play and BDSM. She is surprised by how a man can so easily strip away her inhibitions and replace them with lust and desire. How is it that he has such control over her? Why does she like it so much? This is her journey of self-discovery and sexual awakening, but it comes with a price. What happens when the greatest love you’ve ever known forces you to face your greatest obstacle – yourself?

 

Shades of Kinkshades of kink
Enter the dark territory of unbridled sexual perversion and fantasy in Sweet Sinner’s taboo-smashing feature film, Shades of Kink. Riley is a sweet, innocent and motivated college grad looking for her first job at Norton Ashe’s marketing firm. The mysterious Ashe is looking to help his new recruit open up her imagination and body to new experiences. With intense drama and explosive performances by Maddy O’Reilly, Andy San Dimas, and Lily LaBeau, Shades of Kink guarantees to re-invent erotica.

 

 

 

Fifty Shades Of Dylan RyanFifty Shades Of Dylan Ryan
Back to award Winning Feminist Pornographer, Madison Young, who I mention just moments ago, brings you Fifty Shades Of Dylan Ryan. Wealthy entrepreneur and book publishing mogul, Ms. Grey, has met her match in young college student and curious submissive, Dylan Ryan. After a sexy and defiant Dylan challenges Ms. Grey to a bet, Dylan forgoes her freedom and submerges herself into a life of total submission, testing her boundaries, proving her servitude through sexual gratification, masked orgies, soaked in female ejaculate, vibrated and fucked to orgasmic heights coupled with fellow sexual servants Bianca Stone and Berretta James. Dylan is whipped to climactic moments of pain and pleasure and collared while cradled in an intimate embrace of tenderness after an aggressive and beautiful journey into the depths of her darkest desires. How fun! Sounds like holiday viewing material, huh?

Ok, that’s it for my porn for women presentation. Hope ya liked it.