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More Men Than You Think Identify As ‘Mostly Straight’

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In 2013, Hunger Games actor Josh Hutcherson told an interviewer for Out magazine that he was, in his own words, “mostly straight.” “Maybe I could say right now I’m 100 percent straight. But who knows? In a fucking year, I could meet a guy and be like, ‘Whoa, I’m attracted to this person’ … I’ve met guys all the time that I’m like, ‘Damn, that’s a good-looking guy,’ you know? I’ve never been, like, ‘Oh, I want to kiss that guy.’ I really love women. But I think defining yourself as 100% anything is kind of near-sighted and close-minded.”

At the time, the actor’s comments attracted considerable attention from the media, and the interview caught my eye, too. Hutcherson typifies the young men (he’s 25 years old) I’ve interviewed over the years in my work as a research psychologist: those who embrace sexual ambiguity over neat and simple identity boxes. I even borrowed his words as the title for my new book, Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity Among Men. In it, I draw from the experiences of young men to make the case that an increasing number say they’re straight, but feel a slight but enduring sexual or romantic desire for men.

When I tell people about my work, they often assume these men are joking, or that they are really closeted gays. They’re not. Perhaps if a young woman were to make the same claims as these men, we wouldn’t be surprised: Women, not men, are supposedly fluid in their sexual and romantic lives. The 40 young men I interviewed for my book would disagree. Here’s a small sampling of what they’ve told me.

“I’m not completely heterosexual. I like to think of myself as fluid. I have man crushes when a male is so cool … I like the idea of male fluidity.” — Leo, age 21

“If I were to meet a man who I was attracted to, I would not be afraid to be attracted to them.” — Demetri, age 19

“He opened my eyes that it is not wrong for a straight guy to have attractions or crushes on other guys.” — Brady, age 18

“I wrestled with this guy, my drill partner, and we got very close. We never kissed, but emotionally we kissed.” — Kevin, age 19

“I’ve had bromances, I guess you could say. And man crushes … I would say I’m 99 percent straight with my 1 percent being those moments where noticing or thinking what would it be like to have sex with a guy.” — Ben, age 22

These men challenge existing assumptions that a man is necessarily straight, gay, or, perhaps, bisexual, and that his sexual arousals and romantic desires are stable, categorical, and, therefore, predictable. But what if he doesn’t fit into existing sexual categories or acknowledges that sometimes he desires sex or romance with his “nonpreferred” sex (men)? Is he simply fooling himself — or might he be illustrating a hidden and poorly understood dimension of male sexuality?

The short answer is that we simply don’t know, because research on male sexuality frequently combines him with straight or bisexual men, or deletes him altogether because researchers aren’t sure what to make of him. But so far, the difference seems to be this: Mostly straight men are more attracted to women and less attracted to men than are bisexual men, suggesting that they are neither exclusively straight, nor are they bisexual.

We like male sexuality to be simplistic and straightforward, but this can only be achieved by ignoring complexity. In so doing, however, we discount insights uncovered 70 years ago, when Kinsey demonstrated that sexuality is a continuum for both sexes. And, perhaps more critically, we negate young men who proclaim that their sexual and romantic desires and attachments are on a spectrum, not forever fixed in time or permanently housed in gay or straight identity boxes. We fail to recognize that they are “something else” — not exclusively straight, not bisexual, but mostly straight.

During the past decade, researchers in my sex and gender lab have reviewed the scientific literature about these young men — including youth who in a previous generation had described themselves as “straight but not narrow,” “heteroflexible,” or “bicurious.” We also surveyed and interviewed hundreds of young men about their sexual and romantic histories and measured their pupil and genital responses while they watched videos of naked men and women. In brief, here’s what we’ve found.

More men than you think identify as mostly straight. When given the option to identify as mostly straight, approximately 5 to 10 percent of men do so. This is especially true among millennials, who tend to possess greater sexual knowledge, freedom, curiosity, and exploration than earlier generations. This percentage is, by the way, higher than the percentage of men who self-identify as gay or bisexual combined. And yet these numbers are likely conservative, underrepresenting the true proportion of men who are mostly straight.

Perhaps this is because these men believe they don’t have the similar leeway to choose alternative sexualities. Or, perhaps, they fail to recognize that their bromances, “bud sex” activities, and man crushes imply something important about their sexual or romantic orientation. Also suppressing the number of men willing to identify as mostly straight is the widespread belief in previous generations that any amount of same-sex attractions or crushes makes one at least bisexual and, likely, gay.

“Mostly straight” doesn’t mean “secretly gay.” Our research has found that a mostly straight identity remains moderately stable over time. If a mostly straight individual drifts, the movement is usually between a straight and a mostly straight identity — almost never toward a bisexual or gay identity. This finding challenges the widespread belief that a mostly straight man is in reality someone who is gay but is afraid to emerge from his closet. (Indeed, mostly straight men tend to be exceptionally pro-gay.)

Guy sex and man crushes should be considered an addition, not a subtraction. A mostly straight man exhibits patterns of sexual and romantic attraction, fantasy, and infatuation that are distinctly unique from other men, though, to be clear, he leans closer to the straight. He has about as many female sex partners and romances as a straight man but, as you might expect, he is also more likely to have sex with another guy. His sexual behavior tends to involve genital touching, mutual masturbation, or receptive oral sex, but not anal sex. Although he might develop an intense man crush and cuddle with a best friend, he is considerably less likely to fall passionately in love or want to date this friend. However, he might also agree with interviewee Dillon, age 20: “If the guy is attractive enough … You just never know.” Guy sex and man crushes can be thought of as an addition, not a subtraction, to his heterosexuality.

There is even (some) physiological evidence to support this theory. My lab has found that physiological measures of sexual orientation which are relatively free of conscious control confirm the existence of mostly straight men. These individuals had arousal patterns — penis enlargement and pupil dilation — to pornographic videos of women masturbating that were identical to those of straight men. In contrast to straight men (who had almost zero arousal), they were also slightly aroused by men masturbating, though less so than were bisexual men. Thus, we observed that whereas a mostly straight man didn’t differ from a straight man in his physiological responses to women, he did in his heightened arousal to men. This suggests that he wasn’t lying about his self-reported mostly straightness.

Historically, the social ramifications for owning any degree of homoeroticism prompted many men to minimize or disown their same-sex desires. However, increased tolerance for diverse sexual and gender expression among millennials has given permission to this formerly unrecognized group to embrace the breadth of their sexual and emotional lives. Some we’ve interviewed have maintained this identity and orientation for many years, perhaps even a lifetime, even as they live traditional heterosexual lives.They’re not closeted gays who over time gravitate toward same-sex encounters. They’re mostly straight.

Complete Article HERE!

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It’s totally OK to like pegging if you’re a straight man – 7 guys tells us why

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If 2017 was the year of eating ass, 2018 will be the year of pegging.

Chances are you’ve already heard of it – but if you haven’t, pegging is, in most cases, a sexual act where a straight man is penetrated by a woman wearing a strap-on dildo. And no, it doesn’t involve a peg leg.

The word ‘pegging’ elicits responses of shock and judgement in many, and it might not be for everyone, but as with all sex, it is simply about pleasure.

Pegging has been around since the dawn of time (anything we do, rest assured, the Romans did it first) but it wasn’t until the 1998 release of sexologist Carol Queen’s sex education video series Bend Over Boyfriend that the act was given more attention.

But despite its recent surge in pop culture, in part thanks to shows like Broad City and movies like Deadpool, the act still remains largely taboo.

Many people still mistakenly think that if a straight man enjoys being penetrated, it makes him gay (it doesn’t) or unmanly (utter bollocks).

Anal pleasure for straight men has always been a taboo, partly due to this misguided, patriarchal idea of emasculation, and partly due to an ‘ew’ factor.

But letting internalised homophobia and gender roles get in the way of mind-blowing orgasms seems a little bit silly, doesn’t it?

After all, the prostate – the walnut-size gland found under a man’s bladder and easily accessible via the anus – is essentially the male g-spot. A magic pleasure button, if you will.

Aside from the intense physical pleasure, one of the best aspects of pegging in a cis, hetero relationship is that it inverts the traditional framework of gender and sexual roles.

According to a 2012 study published in the journal Sex Roles, clinging to traditional gender roles could make us feel less comfortable between the sheets, and research by sexuality educator Dr. Charlie Glickman also shows that straight men who had tried pegging were more in tune with what their female partner needed from them during penetration.

So pegging could not only give men a more intense orgasm, but it could possibly teach them a thing or two on how to pleasure women; basically, a win win.

When you think about it, pegging is still standard heterosexual PIV sex because the bottom line (pun intended) is putting something inside a hole. It simply works the other way around.

Indulging in something that is taboo helps chip away the stigma, which helps people get over their insecurities about what turns them on.

Talking about all kinds of sex, urges and curiosities is the first step towards a fulfilling sex life, and no one should feel ashamed to discuss their sexual preferences.

And because sex should always be a judgement free zone, here, seven straight men share their experience with pegging (anonymously, because society is still a little prudish). To quote Ilana from Broad City: ‘Anal’s on the menu’.

R, 33

My interest for anal play and pegging didn’t develop until my 30s.

During my 20s, I was more interested in having different sexual partners and more ‘traditional’ sex.

However, as my relationships started to become more stable, I found that pegging added an extra dimension to my sex life.

I was also very curious about prostate stimulation that is mentioned constantly in many sex articles, so this became something I wanted to try.

C, 21

It’s no different to admitting you having a fetish.

Some people are into feet and others like to be spanked or choked and pegging isn’t any different.

It might be a bit awkward to talk about at first but if you can’t openly talk to your partner then they’re not meant for you.

A, 27

It was my ex girlfriend’s idea, she read about it and brought it up with me.

I was skeptical at first, but even now that we’re not together anymore, it’s something I do with my new partner.

We don’t do it very often but even when we just have regular sex, she’s a lot more assertive, which I think is really hot.

K, 33

I suffer from erectile dysfunction so the allure of pegging was that it took the focus off the penis.

The prostate is basically the male g-spot so it means men who struggle with staying hard can reach orgasm without any penis stimulation at all.

M, 26

Once I realised how good it felt to have your anus stimulated through rimjobs, it kind of snowballed.

My girlfriend and I both started using butt plugs on each other, then we tried vibrators, then dildos.

One day we bought a strap on and never looked back.

M, 24

What I love about it besides the physical sensation, which is awesome, is the power switch.

There’s a lot of trust involved in being pegged, you need to have faith that the woman won’t hurt or judge you and there’s a lot of intimacy in that, which can be very powerful.

There’s also something to be said about someone wanting to please you like that, it makes you feel desired.

T, 26

It just feels really good, there’s not much more to it. If your gal is willing to try I recommend going for it, easy as that.

Complete Article HERE!

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A Crescendo of High-Tech

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Hey sex fans!

It’s Product Review Friday once again. And, like last week, we welcome a new manufacturer to our review effort. This week it’s another amazing British company, Mystery Vibe.  (Holy Cow, what’s going on in the UK that is making it the new center for innovative adult products? Whatever it is, everyone here at Dr Dick Sex Advice and Dr Dick Sex Toy Reviews is stoked about it.)

I’m also delighted to welcome back two of our veteran reviewers for this special assignment, Kevin & Gina.

Crescendo —— $179.00

Kevin & Gina
Gina: “Well, this feels pretty familiar, but a little odd too. I can’t believe we are back on the Dr Dick Review Crew. How did that happen? I thought we swore off these reviews years ago.”
Kevin: “To quote Michael Corleone: ‘Just when I thought I was out; they keep pulling me back in.’ But you have to admit, we did miss this mess a little bit, didn’t we?”
Gina: “I guess so. No, that’s not true. I really missed it. I didn’t miss reviewing the same old stuff over and over again. That was boring as shit! But I think we both missed reviewing products that, one could immediately see, have been designed and manufactured by creative people thinking outside the box. In fact, we both said that we would rather review those products, even if those products didn’t quite hit the mark, than review something less creative and innovative.”
Kevin: “So true! I have so much more respect for people who try something different and unique, even if it fails; than I do for people cranking out more of the same old same old.”
Gina: “So when Dr Dick asked us if we would ever consider coming back to the Review Crew he was smart enough to wave something irresistible in front of us.
Kevin: “To paraphrase Michael Corleone: ‘He made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.’”
Gina: “So here we are back in the bosom of the Review Crew after a nearly three year absence so we can bring you something really remarkable. Check out Crescendo from Mystery Vibe. They say it’s the world’s first body-adapting vibrator. I guess we’ll just have to see about that.

Kevin: “To quote Michael Corleone again: ‘I respect those that tell me the truth, no matter how hard that is.’”
Gina: “Is that all you’re gonna do today? I mean I love your Al Pacino, but this is just too nutty.”
Kevin: “To quote Michael Corleone: ‘Never let anyone know what you are thinking.’ OK, OK, I think I got that out of my system for now. Before Gina tells you about the vibe itself I want to comment on the packaging. Crescendo come in a sleek, sophisticated, and elegant gift box. Gold embossed black slipcover covers a beautiful textured box, also in black and gold. Inside the box you will find a black quilted storage bag secured with a tasteful black embossed ribbon, a USB cord, the charging stand or dock, and the striking Crescendo itself. All the packaging is recyclable. If first impressions are important, this packaging certainly got our attention.”

Gina: “As stylish as the packaging is, that’s only the beginning. Here are some of the highlights of the Crescendo itself. First, it’s 9 inches in length and has a maximum diameter of 1.75 inches. Second, it’s bendable; there are three joints that enable you to shape it so that you can use it in different ways. Both women and men will be able to enjoy this vibe alone or with a partner. There are an astonishing number of vibration patterns programmed into the toy when you first take it out of the package, 12 to be precise. There are also 16 power levels for each pattern. You can increase/decrease one step at a time or use the jump function to leap to the highest or lowest settings instantly. Crescendo saves the last pattern you were using so that when you resume your pleasuring it’s right where you left it. And get this, it has six different motors; can you believe that? Four motors in the middle of the toy and two higher intensity motors at either end of the toy.”
Kevin: “I want to say a bit more about Crescendo’s bendability because this is what makes it so damned innovative. It can be easily shaped and positioned into several shapes making it ideal for a whole range of pleasuring. When Gina is using it as an insertable, she curves the tip towards the front wall of her vagina to get amazing g-spot sensations. She can also fold it into a U-shape so that she can get both internal and external pleasure. It’s even wearable. We use it in an S-shape for mind-blowing oral sex. When it’s my turn, I bend it around my dick. I can use it as a stroker or as a cradle. Don’t forget your balls and taint (perineum). You can sit on it with the tip curled up to pleasure your butthole, which is totally awesome. The only thing you can’t do is use the Crescendo as an anal dildo. It doesn’t have a secure flared base that would prevent the toy from slipping up your ass. Oh, and don’t try to bend it side-to-side either.”

Gina: “Charging the Crescendo is so easy. You simply place it onto the USB charging stand or dock. However, you need to place it just right (luckily, directions are included in the package). Once you’ve found the sweet spot the light on the vibe will start to blink indicating it’s charging. A full charge takes about an about 1 hour. When Crescendo is ready to go the blinking stops and the light remains solid. We got about two hours of non-stop play at full intensity on a single charge. All the buttons are lighted too for your convenience.”
Kevin: “The Crescendo is covered is covered in a velvety, latex-free, nonporous, phthalate-free, and hypoallergenic silicone. And because it is waterproof and made of silicone it’s a breeze to clean. Submerge it into the skink with mild soap and warm water and scrub it down a bit. Then let it air dry. Or you can just wipe it down with a lint-free towel moistened with peroxide, rubbing alcohol or a 10% bleach solution to sanitize it for sharing. And because Crescendo is also 100% waterproof, it’s the ideal toy for bath or shower.”

Gina: “Make sure you use only a water-based lubricant with Crescendo. I suppose some of the newer silicone-hybrid lubes might work too, but I would be careful and do a test patch first. You wouldn’t want to mar the beautiful silicone skin. Oh, and get this: there is a one year warranty from the date of purchase, as long as you have register your toy on Mystery Vibe website.”
Kevin: “Besides all of this good stuff there’s even an app for Crescendo. This will surely make all of our techie friends squeal with delight. I mean this is the height of high-tech sex toys. Go to your app store, download the Crescendo app, and follow the prompts. We discovered that the app wanted to update Crescendo’s firmware first. Once that was done we had access to dozens of pre-programed vibration patterns and we can customize our own patterns too.”
Gina: “I want to make another comment about Crescendo’s shape-shifting capacity. Bend it to suit your need or position and it stays in shape during play, even with vigorous activity.”

Kevin: “I found the buttons a little difficult to manage, my fingers are just too big. The buttons can also get pretty slippery when Crescendo is all lubed up, so there’s that.”
Gina: “Here’s something interesting. I was showing the Crescendo to an older friend of mine because I know how much she likes her vibrators. She is nearly sixty-nine, but very spry. I only mention her age because I think Crescendo might be a little too technically advanced for seniors. So, as I was going on and on about how great Crescendo is; showing her how it bends, even showing her the app, she got a dismayed look on her face and said, ‘It’s very beautiful and I can see why you like it so much, but it’s just way too complicated for me.”
Kevin: “I hope our toys don’t get so technically advanced that we leave older folks behind. That would be a real shame.”
Gina: “I also want to comment on the vibrations. Despite the zillions of patterns and speeds, the vibrations are more of the buzzy type rather than the deep rumble type that some women crave. I know each person has her own preferences along this line and no one vibe will be perfect for every one, so I thought I would mention that for those who might have a preference. ”

Kevin: “Gina and I liked just about everything about Crescendo. I was sold on the innovative design, it being rechargeable, and waterproof.”

Full Review HERE!

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Casual Sex: Everyone Is Doing It

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Part research project, part society devoted to titillation, the Casual Sex Project reminds us that hookups aren’t just for college students.

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Zhana Vrangalova had hit a problem. On a blustery day in early spring, sitting in a small coffee shop near the campus of New York University, where she is an adjunct professor of psychology, she was unable to load onto her laptop the Web site that we had met to discuss. This was not a technical malfunction on her end; rather, the site had been blocked. Vrangalova, who is thirty-four, with a dynamic face framed by thick-rimmed glasses, has spent the past decade researching human sexuality, and, in particular, the kinds of sexual encounters that occur outside the norms of committed relationships. The Web site she started in 2014, casualsexproject.com, began as a small endeavor fuelled by personal referrals, but has since grown to approximately five thousand visitors a day, most of whom arrive at the site through organic Internet searches or referrals through articles and social media. To date, there have been some twenty-two hundred submissions, about evenly split between genders, each detailing the kinds of habits that, when spelled out, can occasionally alert Internet security filters. The Web site was designed to open up the discussion of one-night stands and other less-than-traditional sexual behaviors. What makes us engage in casual sex? Do we enjoy it? Does it benefit us in any way—or, perhaps, might it harm us? And who, exactly, is “us,” anyway?

Up to eighty per cent of college students report engaging in sexual acts outside committed relationships—a figure that is usually cast as the result of increasingly lax social mores, a proliferation of alcohol-fuelled parties, and a potentially violent frat culture. Critics see the high rates of casual sex as an “epidemic” of sorts that is taking over society as a whole. Hookup culture, we hear, is demeaning women and wreaking havoc on our ability to establish stable, fulfilling relationships.

These alarms have sounded before. Writing in 1957, the author Nora Johnson raised an eyebrow at promiscuity on college campuses, noting that “sleeping around is a risky business, emotionally, physically, and morally.” Since then, the critiques of casual sexual behavior have only proliferated, even as society has ostensibly become more socially liberal. Last year, the anthropologist Peter Wood went so far as to call the rise of casual sex “an assault on human nature,” arguing in an article in the conservative Weekly Standard that even the most meaningless-seeming sex comes with a problematic power imbalance.

Others have embraced the commonness of casual sex as a sign of social progress. In a widely read Atlantic article from 2012, “Boys on the Side,” Hanna Rosin urged women to avoid serious suitors so that they could focus on their own needs and careers. And yet, despite her apparent belief in the value of casual sex as a tool of exploration and feminist thinking, Rosin, too, seemed to conclude that casual sex cannot be a meaningful end goal. “Ultimately, the desire for a deeper human connection always wins out, for both men and women,” she wrote.

The Casual Sex Project was born of Vrangalova’s frustration with this and other prevalent narratives about casual sex. “One thing that was bothering me is the lack of diversity in discussions of casual sex,” Vrangalova told me in the café. “It’s always portrayed as something college students do. And it’s almost always seen in a negative light, as something that harms women.”

It was not the first time Vrangalova had wanted to broaden a limited conversation. As an undergraduate, in Macedonia, where she studied the psychology of sexuality, she was drawn to challenge cultural taboos, writing a senior thesis on the development of lesbian and gay sexual attitudes. In the late aughts, Vrangalova started her research on casual sex in Cornell’s developmental-psychology program. One study followed a group of six hundred and sixty-six freshmen over the course of a year, to see how engaging in various casual sexual activities affected markers of mental health: namely, depression, anxiety, life satisfaction, and self-esteem. Another looked at more than eight hundred undergraduates to see whether individuals who engaged in casual sex felt more victimized by others, or were more socially isolated. (The results: yes to the first, no to the second.) The studies were intriguing enough that Vrangalova was offered an appointment at N.Y.U., where she remains, to further explore some of the issues surrounding the effects of nontraditional sexual behaviors on the individuals who engage in them.

Over time, Vrangalova came to realize that there was a gap in her knowledge, and, indeed, in the field as a whole. Casual sex has been much explored in psychological literature, but most of the data captured by her research team—and most of the other experimental research she had encountered—had been taken from college students. (This is a common problem in psychological research: students are a convenient population for researchers.) There has been the occasional nationally representative survey, but rigorous data on other subsets of the population is sparse. Even the largest national study of sexual attitudes in the United States, which surveyed a nationally representative sample of close to six thousand men and women between the ages of fourteen and ninety-four, neglected to ask respondents how many of the encounters they engaged in could be deemed “casual.”

From its beginnings, sex research has been limited by a social stigma. The field’s pioneer, Alfred Kinsey, spent decades interviewing people about their sexual behaviors. His books sold, but he was widely criticized for not having an objective perspective: like Freud before him, he believed that repressed sexuality was at the root of much of social behavior, and he often came to judgments that supported that view—even when his conclusions were based on less-than-representative surveys. He, too, used convenient sample groups, such as prisoners, as well as volunteers, who were necessarily comfortable talking about their sexual practices.

In the fifties, William Masters and Virginia Johnson went further, inquiring openly into sexual habits and even observing people in the midst of sexual acts. Their data, too, was questioned: Could the sort of person who volunteers to have sex in a lab tell us anything about the average American? More troubling still, Masters and Johnson sought to “cure” homosexuality, revealing a bias that could easily have colored their findings.

Indeed, one of the things you quickly notice when looking for data on casual sex is that, for numbers on anyone who is not a college student, you must, for the most part, look at studies conducted outside academia. When OkCupid surveyed its user base, it found that between 10.3 and 15.5 per cent of users were looking for casual sex rather than a committed relationship. In the 2014 British Sex Survey, conducted by the Guardian, approximately half of all respondents reported that they had engaged in a one-night stand (fifty-five per cent of men, and forty-three per cent of women), with homosexuals (sixty-six per cent) more likely to do so than heterosexuals (forty-eight per cent). A fifth of people said they’d slept with someone whose name they didn’t know.

With the Casual Sex Project, Vrangalova is trying to build a user base of stories that she hopes will, one day, provide the raw data for academic study. For now, she is listening: letting people come to the site, answer questions, leave replies. Ritch Savin-Williams, who taught Vrangalova at Cornell, told me that he was especially impressed by Vrangalova’s willingness “to challenge traditional concepts and research designs with objective approaches that allow individuals to give honest, thoughtful responses.”

The result is what is perhaps the largest-ever repository of information about casual-sex habits in the world—not that it has many competitors. The people who share stories range from teens to retirees (Vrangalova’s oldest participants are in their seventies), and include city dwellers and suburbanites, graduate-level-educated professionals (about a quarter of the sample) and people who never finished high school (another quarter). The majority of participants aren’t particularly religious, although a little under a third do identify as at least “somewhat” religious. Most are white, though there are also blacks, Latinos, and other racial and ethnic groups. Initially, contributions were about sixty-per-cent female, but now they’re seventy-per-cent male. (This is in line with norms; men are “supposed” to brag more about sexual exploits than women.) Anyone can submit a story, along with personal details that reflect his or her demographics, emotions, personality traits, social attitudes, and behavioral patterns, such as alcohol intake. The setup for data collection is standardized, with drop-down menus and rating scales.

Still, the site is far from clinical. The home page is a colorful mosaic of squares, color-coded according to the category of sexual experience (blue: “one-night stand”; purple: “group sex”; gray: the mysterious-sounding “first of many”; and so on). Pull quotes are highlighted for each category (“Ladies if you haven’t had a hot, young Latino stud you should go get one!”). Many responses seem to boast, provoke, or exaggerate for rhetorical purposes. Reading it, I felt less a part of a research project than a member of a society devoted to titillation.

Vrangalova is the first to admit that the Casual Sex Project is not what you would call an objective, scientific approach to data collection. There is no random assignment, no controls, no experimental conditions; the data is not representative of the general population. The participants are self-selecting, which inevitably colors the results: if you’re taking the time to write, you are more likely to write about positive experiences. You are also more likely to have the sort of personality that comes with wanting to share details of your flings with the public. There is another problem with the Casual Sex Project that is endemic in much social-science research: absent external behavioral validation, how do we know that respondents are reporting the truth, rather than what they want us to hear or think we want them to say?

And yet, for all these flaws, the Casual Sex Project provides a fascinating window into the sexual habits of a particular swath of the population. It may not be enough to draw new conclusions, but it can lend nuance to assumptions, expanding, for instance, ideas about who engages in casual sex or how it makes them feel. As I browsed through the entries after my meeting with Vrangalova, I came upon the words of a man who learned something new about his own sexuality during a casual encounter in his seventies: “before this I always said no one can get me of on a bj alone, I was taught better,” he writes. As a reflection of the age and demographic groups represented, the Casual Sex Project undermines the popular narrative that casual sex is the product of changing mores among the young alone. If that were the case, we would expect there to be a reluctance to engage in casual sex among the older generations, which grew up in the pre-“hookup culture” era. Such reluctance is not evident.

The reminder that people of all ages engage in casual sex might lead us to imagine three possible narratives. First, that perhaps what we see as the rise of a culture of hooking up isn’t actually new. When norms related to dating and free love shifted, in the sixties, they never fully shifted back. Seventy-year-olds are engaging in casual encounters because that attitude is part of their culture, too.

There’s another, nearly opposite explanation: casual sex isn’t the norm now, and wasn’t before. There are simply always individuals, in any generation, who seek sexual satisfaction in nontraditional confines.

And then there’s the third option, the one that is most consistent with the narrative that our culture of casual sex begins with college hookups: that people are casually hooking up for different reasons. Some young people have casual sex because they feel they can’t afford not to, or because they are surrounded by a culture that says they should want to. (Vrangalova’s preliminary analysis of the data on her site suggests that alcohol is much more likely to be involved in the casual-sex experiences of the young than the old.)  And the old—well, the old no longer care what society thinks. For some, this sense of ease might come in their thirties; for others, their forties or fifties; for others, never, or not entirely.

This last theory relates to another of Vrangalova’s findings—one that, she confesses, came as a surprise when she first encountered it. Not all of the casual-sex experiences recorded on the site were positive, even among what is surely a heavily biased sample. Women and younger participants are especially likely to report feelings of shame. (“I was on top of him at one point and he can’t have forced me to so I must have consented . . . I’m not sure,” an eighteen-year-old writes, reporting that the hookup was unsatisfying, and describing feeling “stressed, anxious, guilt and disgust” the day after.) There is an entire thread tagged “no orgasm,” which includes other occasionally disturbing and emotional tales. “My view has gotten a lot more balanced over time,” Vrangalova said. “I come from a very sex-positive perspective, surrounded by people who really benefitted from sexual exploration and experiences, for the most part. By studying it, I’ve learned to see both sides of the coin.

Part of the negativity, to be sure, does originate in legitimate causes: casual sex increases the risk of pregnancy, disease, and, more often than in a committed relationship, physical coercion. But many negative casual-sex experiences come instead from a sense of social convention. “We’ve seen that both genders felt they were discriminated against because of sex,” Vrangalova told me. Men often feel judged by other men if they don’t have casual sex, and social expectations can detract from the experiences they do have, while women feel judged for engaging in casual experiences, rendering those they pursue less pleasurable.

Perhaps this should come as no surprise: the very fact that Vrangalova and others are seeking explanations for casual-sex behaviors suggests that our society views it as worthy of note—something aberrant, rather than ordinary. No one writes about why people feel the need to drink water or go to the bathroom, why eating dinner with friends is “a thing” or study groups are “on the rise.”

It is that sense of shame, ultimately, that Vrangalova hopes her project may help to address. As one respondent to a survey Vrangalova sent to users put it, “This has helped me feel okay about myself for wanting casual sex, and not feel ashamed or that what I do is wrong.” The psychologist James Pennebaker has found over several decades of work that writing about emotional experiences can act as an effective form of therapy, in a way that talking about those experiences may not. (I’m less convinced that there are benefits for those who use the site as a way to boast about their own experiences.) “Often there’s no outlet for that unless you’re starting your own blog,” Vrangalova points out. “I wanted to offer a space for people to share.”

That may well end up the Casual Sex Project’s real contribution: not to tell us something we didn’t already know, or at least suspect, but to make such nonjudgmental, intimate conversations possible. The dirty little secret of casual sex today is not that we’re having it but that we’re not sharing our experiences of it in the best way.

Complete Article HERE!

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British Columbian study reveals unique sexual healthcare needs of transgender men

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by Craig Takeuchi

While HIV studies have extensively examined issues related to gay, bisexual, and queer men, one group missing from such research has been transgender men.

Consequently, Vancouver and Victoria researchers undertook one of the first such Western Canadian studies, with the findings published on April 3 in Culture, Health, and Sexuality. This study allowed researchers to take a look at HIV risk for this population, and within the Canadian context of publicly funded universal access to healthcare and gender-related public policies that differ from the U.S.

The study states that trans men have often been absent from HIV studies due to small sample sizes, eligibility criteria, limited research design, or the misconceptions that trans men are mostly heterosexual or are not at risk for HIV. What research that has been conducted in this area has been primarily U.S.–based.

The Ontario-based Trans PULSE Study found that up to two-thirds of trans men also identify as gay, bisexual, or queer.

The researchers conducted interviews with 11 gay, bisexual, and queer transgender men in Vancouver who were enrolled in B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS’ Momentum Health Study.

What they found were several aspects unique to gay, bisexual, and queer transgender men that differ from gay, bisexual, and queer cisgender men and illustrate the need for trans-specific healthcare.

None of the participants in the study were HIV–positive and only two of them knew of trans men who are HIV–positive.

Participants reported a variety of sexual behaviours, including inconsistent condom use, receptive and insertive anal and genital sex, trans and cisgender male partners, and regular, casual, and anonymous sex partners.

The gender identity of the participants’ partners did influence their decisions about sexual risk-reduction strategies, such as less barrier usage during genital or oral sex with trans partners.

While trans men shared concerns about HIV and sexually transmitted infections with gay cisgender men, bacterial vaginosis and unplanned pregnancy were additional concerns.

Almost all of the participants used online means to meet male partners. They explained that by doing so, they were able to control the disclosure of their trans status as well as experiences of rejection or misperception. Online interactions also gave them greater control over negotiating safer sex and physical safety (such as arranging to meet a person in public first or in a sex-positive space where others are around).

When it came to healthcare, participants reported that regular testosterone therapy monitoring and transition-related care provided opportunities to include regular HIV– and STI–testing.

Some participants, however, experienced challenges in finding LGBT–competent healthcare services, with issues arising such as clinic staff using birth names or incorrect pronouns, insistence on unwanted pap testing, and a lack of understanding of the sexual practices of trans men.

The researchers note that these findings indicate the need for trans-inclusive services and trans-specific education, particularly within services for gay men.

Complete Article HERE!

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