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Sex myths create danger and confusion

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Stigmas around discussing sexual behavior often prevent vital information from being shared accurately, if at all. With all of the rumors and myths floating around about sexual health, trusting these myths can be misleading at best, and dangerous at worst.

Terms like “always” and “normal” can be particularly misleading when discussing sexual health and behavior. Because everyone’s body is different and everyone’s sexual experiences will be personal, no two people’s “normal” is exactly alike. Normal, healthy and common are not all the same thing. There are very few sex facts that are black-and-white. Some rules, however, are pretty universal. Some common sexual misconceptions deserve to be addressed openly and debunked once and for all.

Is using multiple condoms at once more effective?

Not at all. In fact, using more than one condom increases chances of them breaking. Because of the amount of friction during sex, two condoms will rub against each other and wear each other down. Doubling up on the same type of condom is inadvisable, just as using a male condom and female condom at the same time increases the chance of them both failing.

Are all condoms the same?

No, there are multiple options for condoms to fit various needs. In addition to different sizes, condoms are made of different materials. The most common is latex, but various plastics and animal skin options are also available. It is important to note that while all types of condoms prevent pregnancy when used correctly, animal skin condoms do not protect against STDs.

Is lube actually important?

Not only can lube be a vital tool for having comfortable sex, but it can also make sex safer. Because lube eases friction, it can significantly reduce the chances of irritation. It also helps prevent small cuts that increase chances of transmitting STDs between partners. However, the ingredients in some lubricants may not be compatible with the materials in the condoms. Oil-based lube makes latex condoms more likely to tear. Always check the label before using it.

Can you use saliva as lubricant during sex/masturbation?

While the consistency of saliva is similar to many personal lubricants on the market, it isn’t an ideal option. The bacteria that live in the mouth may irritate delicate genital skin. Not to mention residual compounds in the mouth from food or toothpaste may throw off the chemistry or, in some extreme cases, cause infections. Lube is specially formulated to be used on genitals, whereas saliva is not.

Is bleeding supposed to happen during the first instance of penetrative sex?

The vagina is never supposed to bleed. While the hymen, a thin and stretchy membrane that partially covers the vaginal opening, is often expected to tear during intercourse, it certainly isn’t required. Many people never notice their hymens during intercourse.

Some bleeding can also occur from small cuts in the genital skin due to intense, repeated friction. Blood and pain are not guaranteed, nor are they necessary, during a first sexual experience. If aroused, comfortable and protected, someone’s first sexual activity doesn’t have to be less enjoyable than future instances.

Are hymens indicative of virginity?

No! A hymen can tear or stretch in a multitude of ways over someone’s lifetime. Using tampons, athletic activities and penetrative masturbation are common ways of stretching the hymen. While sexual activity can stretch a hymen, it is not the only way it happens. The presence or absence of a hymen is not an accurate representation of someone’s sexual behavior.

Are condoms still necessary for safe anal sex?

Unprotected anal penetration isn’t any safer than unprotected vaginal penetration in terms of STD prevention. Anal sex, particularly unlubricated, comes with increased risks of certain STDs because the likelihood of exchanging bodily fluids is higher. It also doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of conceiving for male-female partners, due to unintended fluid exchange. However, condoms with spermicidal lubricants should not be used during anal sex.

Is oral sex always a safe alternative? 

Not at all. The mouth and throat are highly sensitive areas and are susceptible to many STDs that also infect genital skin.

Is it possible to get pregnant during your period?

Ironic as it may seem, menstruating doesn’t completely prevent pregnancy. It’s less common, and it depends on the details of an individual’s menstrual cycle. Sperm can survive around three to five days in the body, on average. For those with shorter cycles, ovulation may occur soon enough after menstruation for pregnancy to occur after unprotected sex, even during their periods.

Should women all be able to orgasm from vaginal sex?

No, in fact the majority of women do not orgasm exclusively from penetrative sex. Planned Parenthood reports that up to 80 percent of women do not orgasm without the aid of manual or oral stimulation.

Does drinking pineapple juice improve the taste of oral sex?

It’s true that diet has a direct effect on the taste and odor of genitals, both in men and women. However, the effects aren’t immediate or direct enough to be influenced by a glass of pineapple juice. A balanced diet and adequate hydration does more than drinking any amount of juice before oral sex.

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The Sex Toy Shops That Switched On a Feminist Revolution

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The “White Cross Electric Vibrator Girl” as pictured in a 1911 Health and Beauty catalog.

BUZZ
The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy
By Hallie Lieberman
Illustrated. 359 pp. Pegasus Books. $26.95.

VIBRATOR NATION
How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure
By Lynn Comella
278 pp. Duke University Press. $25.95.

Think back, for a moment, to the year 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. The Beatles released the “White Album.” North Vietnam launched the Tet offensive. And American women discovered the clitoris. O.K., that last one may be a bit of an overreach, but 1968 was when “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm,” a short essay by Anne Koedt, went that era’s version of viral. Jumping off of the Masters and Johnson bombshell that women who didn’t climax during intercourse could have multiple orgasms with a vibrator, Koedt called for replacing Freud’s fantasy of “mature” orgasm with women’s lived truth: It was all about the clitoris. That assertion single-handedly, as it were, made female self-love a political act, and claimed orgasm as a serious step to women’s overall emancipation. It also threatened many men, who feared obsolescence, or at the very least, loss of primacy. Norman Mailer, that famed phallocentrist, raged in his book “The Prisoner of Sex” against the emasculating “plenitude of orgasms” created by “that laboratory dildo, that vibrator!” (yet another reason, beyond the whole stabbing incident, to pity the man’s poor wives).

To be fair, Mailer & Co. had cause to quake. The quest for sexual self-knowledge, as two new books on the history and politics of sex toys reveal, would become a driver of feminist social change, striking a blow against men’s overweening insecurity and the attempt (still with us today) to control women’s bodies. As Lynn Comella writes in “Vibrator Nation,” retailers like Good Vibrations in San Francisco created an erotic consumer landscape different from anything that previously existed for women, one that was safe, attractive, welcoming and ultimately subversive, presenting female sexual fulfillment as “unattached to reproduction, motherhood, monogamy — even heterosexuality.”

As you can imagine, both books (which contain a great deal of overlap) are chockablock with colorful characters, starting with Betty Dodson, the Pied Piper of female onanism, who would often personally demonstrate — in the nude — how to use a vibrator to orgasm during her early sexual consciousness-raising workshops in New York. I am woman, hear me roar indeed.

Back in the day, though, attaining a Vibrator of One’s Own was tricky. The leering male gaze of the typical “adult” store was, at best, off-putting to most women. Amazon, where sex toys, like fresh produce, are just a mouse click away, was still a glimmer in Jeff Bezos’ eye. Enter Dell Williams, who after being shamed by a Macy’s salesclerk while checking out a Hitachi Magic Wand, founded in 1974 the mail order company Eve’s Garden. That was quickly followed by Good Vibrations, the first feminist sex toy storefront; it’s great fun to read the back story of Good Vibes’ late founder, Joani Blank, along with radical “sexperts” like Susie Bright and Carol Queen.
Continue reading the main story

The authors of “Vibrator Nation” and “Buzz” each put in time observing how sex toys are sold, so have firsthand insight into the industry. Whose take will hold more appeal depends on the reader’s interests: In “Buzz,” Hallie Lieberman offers a broader view, taking us back some 30,000 years, when our ancestors carved penises out of siltstone; moving on to the ancient Greeks’ creative use of olive oil; the buzzy medical devices of the 19th century (disappointingly, doctors’ notorious in-office use of vibrators as treatment for female “hysteria” is urban legend); and the impact of early-20th-century obscenity laws — incredibly, sex toys remain illegal in Alabama — before digging deeply into more contemporary influences. In addition to feminist retailers, Lieberman braids in stories of men like Ted Marche, whose family business — employing his wife and teenage children — began by making prosthetic strap-ons for impotent men; Gosnell Duncan, who made sex aids for the disabled and was the first to expand dildo production beyond the Caucasian pink once called “flesh colored”; the Malorrus brothers, who were gag gift manufacturers (think penis pencil toppers); and the hard-core porn distribution mogul Reuben Sturman, who repeatedly, and eventually disastrously, ran afoul of the law. Although their X-rated wares would supposedly give women orgasms, unlike the feminist-championed toys they were sold primarily as devices that would benefit men. Much like the era’s sexual revolution, in other words, they maintained and even perpetuated a sexist status quo.

“Vibrator Nation” focuses more narrowly on women-owned vendors, wrestling with how their activist mission bumped up against the demands and constraints of the marketplace. Those early entrepreneurs, Comella writes, believed nothing less than that “women who had orgasms could change the world.” As with other utopian feminist visions, however, this one quickly splintered. Controversy broke out over what constituted “sex positivity,” what constituted “woman-friendly,” what constituted “woman.” Was it politically correct to stock, or even produce, feminist porn? Were BDSM lesbians invited to the party? Would the stores serve transwomen? Did the “respectable” aesthetic of the white, middle-class founders translate across lines of class and race? If the goal was self-exploration through a kind of cliteracy, what about customers (of any gender or sexual orientation) who wanted toys for partnered play or who enjoyed penetrative sex? Could a sex store that sold nine-inch, veined dildos retain its feminist bona fides? Dell Williams solved that particular problem by commissioning nonrepresentational silicone devices with names like “Venus Rising” from Gosnell Duncan, the man who made prosthetics for the disabled. Others followed suit.

Even so, Comella writes, the retailers struggled to stay afloat: Feminist stores refused, as a matter of principle, to trade on customers’ anxiety — there were none of the “tightening creams,” “numbing creams,” penis enlargers or anal bleaches that boosted profits at typical sex stores. Employees were considered “educators,” and sales were secondary to providing information and support. What’s more, Good Vibrations in particular was noncompetitive; Blank freely shared her business model with any woman interested in spreading the love.

Consumer culture and feminism have always been strange bedfellows, with the former tending to overpower the latter. Just as Virginia Slims co-opted the message of ’70s liberation, as the Spice Girls cannibalized ’90s grrrl power, so feminist sex stores exerted their influence on the mainstream, yet were ultimately absorbed and diluted by it. In 2007, Good Vibrations was sold to GVA-TWN, the very type of sleazy mega-sex-store company it was founded to disrupt. Though no physical changes have been made in the store, Good Vibrations is no longer woman-owned. Although the aesthetics haven’t changed, Lieberman writes, the idea of feminist sex toys as a source of women’s liberation has faded, all but disappeared. An infamous episode of “Sex and the City” that made the Rabbit the hottest vibrator in the nation also portrayed female masturbation as addictive and isolating, potentially leading to permanent loneliness. The sex toys in “Fifty Shades of Grey” were wielded solely in service of traditional sex and gender roles: A man is in charge of Anastasia Steele’s sexual awakening, and climax is properly experienced through partnered intercourse. Meanwhile, the orgasm gap between genders has proved more stubborn than the pay gap. Women still experience one orgasm for every three experienced by men in partnered sex. And fewer than half of teenage girls between 14 and 17 have ever masturbated.

At the end of “Buzz,” Lieberman makes a provocative point: Viagra is covered by insurance but vibrators aren’t, presumably because while erections are seen as medically necessary for sexual functioning the same is not true of female orgasm. Like our feminist foremothers, she envisions a new utopia, one in which the F.D.A. regulates sex toys to ensure their safety, in which they are covered by insurance, where children are taught about them in sex education courses and they are seen and even subsidized worldwide as a way to promote women’s sexual health.

In other words: We’ve come a long way, baby, but as “Vibrator Nation” and “Buzz” make clear, we still may not be coming enough.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to enjoy sex even when your mental ill-health is working against you

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Anxiety and low self-esteem can seriously impact your sex life

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Ever had one of those days when your brain seems to be dead set on working against you?

You’re planning a nice bit of sexy time – whether with a partner or simply some solo fun – but your head’s just not in it.

However much you might want to get jiggy with it, your brain is skipping around elsewhere and you just can’t concentrate, let alone roll around in orgasmic delight.

So what causes your head to seemingly separate from your body at just the moment you want to be able to focus on fun times?

All too often it boils down to lack of confidence in yourself and what you’re doing.

If you have problems with self esteem, it can trickle into all areas of your life – and that includes the bedroom.

The saying ‘first you have to love yourself’ is bit of a cliche – but like most cliches, it’s actually true. Many things can sap your confidence, both mental and physical.

For my friend Amy, the problem is a lack of confidence caused by physical issues.

The problem has grown over the years, to the stage where it’s such a big issue that she’s unsure how to even start working through it.

‘I was born with cerebral palsy and I also have ME and fibromyalgia,’ Amy says.

‘I’ve gone from being moderately active and social to spending most of my time at home and sleeping a lot.

‘I was never particularly confident with guys because I have always been overweight.

‘I’ve had four sexual partners so far, three men and a woman. All were basically one night stands that were pretty unsatisfactory for me (and probably them too).

‘I’ve not had sex in years now and have never really dated anyone.

‘I’m pretty fed up of that to be honest but I feel quite isolated socially and wary of anyone who might take an interest because I feel so unattractive.’

You need to learn to love yourself

My personal suggestion in any situation like this always boils down to that same cliche – you have to learn to love yourself first.

Mirrors, masturbation and practice is the key.

Look at yourself so that you’re used to what your own body looks like and learn what really turns you on.

If you practice this alone then you’ll have all the more confidence when it comes to getting down to it with someone else in the room.

Amy’s story is just one of many I hear all the time from people whose sex lives have become unsatisfactory through no fault of their own.

I spoke to relationship and sexuality counsellor Jennifer Deacon and asked for her general advice on separating sex from anxiety.

‘When you’re anxious it’s often hard to feel turned on – or even have any desire at all.

‘That in turn can feed the anxiety more, particularly if you’re in a relationship where you might feel you’re letting your partner down, bringing up a whole heap more anxiety.

‘As with any anxiety the first thing is to try and find that tricky balance between reflecting on what’s going on with your thoughts and over-analysing.

‘What’s stopping you – is it the thought of being naked with someone else? The physical acrobatics that you might feel you ought to be performing?

‘Or is your sexual desire being suppressed because of meds that you’re taking?

‘Try to reflect on what’s going on, and then work through the ‘what ifs’ and ‘shoulds’ that often make up a huge part of anxious thoughts.

‘If you have a partner, try to communicate with them what you need – for example if you’re missing intimacy but are scared of initiating hugs or cuddles because you’re not sure you want full sex, then try to find a way to talk about this with them.

‘If your anxiety has roots in a trauma that you’ve experienced then communication becomes even more important – both communicating with yourself as to what you need and want, and communicating with your partner so that they can support you.

‘Lack of libido can be a common side effect from medication so if you notice that your sexual desire has waned since you started a new medication or changed your dose, consider discussing this with your GP or specialist.’

Many prescription drugs do indeed have side effects that affect the libido – and doctors aren’t always up front about explaining the risks.

Okay, so ‘losing interest in sex’ might be a long way down the list of worrying potential side effects, but given that antidepressants often cause this issue, I’m always amazed that it isn’t discussed more.

Sex is a healthy part of life and if you still want it but struggle to get any joy out of it, that’s going to affect your happiness levels.

After literally decades of living with chronic anxiety, I’ve been through endless different drugs in the hope of finding one that will help without ruining the rest of my life.

The problem is that drugs affect everyone differently – what works brilliantly for one person can potentially have drastically negative effects on another.

The first antidepressant I was given was Prozac.

Back then it was the big name in drug therapy and widely considered to be suitable for everyone.

And yes, it helped my depression – but it also completely removed my ability to orgasm.

I still wanted to – my sex drive itself wasn’t affected in any way – but I simply couldn’t ‘get there’.

I still regale people about ‘that time I gave myself RSI through too much w*nking’ – it’s a funny story now, but at the time it was utterly true and completely miserable.

I went back to the doctor and had my meds changed.

At the last count, I think I’ve tried about thirteen different anxiety meds and I still haven’t found one that I can cope with.

Ironically, if I was happy to lose my libido then several of them would have been perfect – but why should we be expected to go without one of the most enjoyable life experiences?

Personally, that makes me just as miserable as being anxious or depressed, so it invalidates the positives anyway.

Currently I’m med-free – and not very happy about it – but at least I still have my sex life.

For some people, finding the right medication without it affecting their libido will be easy.

But everyone has to find their own balance – some might prefer to take the meds and sacrifice their physical enjoyment.

But it’s okay to want both.

Complete Article HERE!

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Hear him moan

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The 5 steamiest sites for audio porn

Not all porn has to be visual.

Who says you have to watch porn, anyway? Audio porn has been booming for years on the internet, boasting faster download speeds, better cost efficiency, and more discreet options than “watching” video pornography. Audio porn even predates PornHub, with everything from phone sex to erotica audiobooks to dirty recordings passed around from lover to lover.

And now professional stars and amateur creators are out there creating porn for your ears. So if you’re looking for some audio porn sites to dive into late at night, here are some of the best on the internet.

The best audio porn sites on the internet

1) Aural Honey

For listeners that like a touch of British charm in their audio porn, Aural Honey is sure to delight.

Run by a self-described “English tea addict with a delightfully dirty mind,” Aural Honey focuses on immersive porn that makes the listener feel like they’re really in the scene. Half of the site is dedicated to relatively tame “Sweet Audio.” These are typically girlfriend roleplays about snuggling, cuddling, or romantic nights together as the rain pours down outside the window. But the other half of the site, “Erotic Audio,” features nearly two dozen audio porn recordings that range from kinky submission to Daddy worship. Highlights include “The Whores of Dracula,” in which two dominant vampire sisters—inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula—seduce a helpless man. Then there’s “Drenched for Daddy,” perfect for any listener eager for some age play and body worship.

Aural Honey also hosts a Patreon where interested listeners can pledge monthly payments in exchange for rewards. $5 patrons receive exclusive livestreams and early access to the site’s erotica section, whereas $10 patrons can listen to Patreon-only audio porn and request a three-minute custom recording. You can check out the Patreon page for more rewards and additional patron subscription tiers.

‘Drenched for Daddy,’ an audio porn recording focusing on ageplay by performer Aural Honey.

2) r/GoneWildAudio

If there’s one free audio porn site you should keep in your bookmarks, it’s Reddit’s r/GoneWildAudio. The subreddit lets bedroom performers upload audio recordings of themselves in compromising situations, from masturbating to detailing BDSM bondage scenarios. After being verified by the subreddit’s moderators, users can either upload their own recordings from scratch, or take a preexisting script and record it for the subreddit’s listeners. The best thing about r/GoneWildAudio is that it’s entirely community-oriented, so there’s a wide selection to check out that breaks from traditional porn made for straight men.

r/GoneWildAudio is open to submissions from any Reddit user.

There are two ways to search for content on r/GoneWildAudio. For one, the site uses a tagging system noting performers’ genders. For instance, F4M recordings is audio porn developed by women for men. M4A, meanwhile, features porn by men for listeners of any gender. And then there are more complicated tags for specific interests, like MM4F recordings from two men for a woman, and TF4TF tags by a trans woman for another trans woman.

Users can also type in keywords and look for porn through Reddit’s built-in search feature. For instance, many audio recordings dealing with BDSM are tagged “bondage.” Anal sex, rape play scripts, age play, pet play, and other fetishes feature throughout the site too. To get started, check out “My Daughter Is an Idiot for Breaking Up With You… Let Me Help You Feel Better,” where a sweet and affirming mom hooks up with her daughter’s ex in a slowly building scene. And then there’s “Bathroom Sex with a Stranger,” where a girl seduces another woman from behind and tops her in a bar bathroom.

3) YouTube

Surprisingly enough, YouTube is a great stop for softcore audio porn. While the site largely refuses to host video porn in order to maintain a relatively safe-for-work atmosphere, audio recordings aren’t vigorously bullied off the platform. That means there are plenty of adult performers and mature ASMR artists recording the mildest of mild audio porn for listeners to enjoy.

Take a cruise down YouTube’s ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) section and you’ll find dozens of artists creating audio porn and erotica. Some include intense kissing sessions, like BarbieASMR’s lesbian “Angels Kissing.” And then there are artists like Laila Love, who mixes traditional ASMR play with everything from moaning to roleplaying an ex-girlfriend that kidnaps and binds her lover. These videos are particularly great because they combine audio porn with an accompanying video, acting out sounds and facial expressions to heighten the recording’s immersion.

Then there’s audio porn of the classic variety, posted across the site from various YouTube users. A quick search for “audio porn” or “sexy audio” brings up dozens of videos geared around all sorts of sexual fantasies, from lesbian roleplays to steamy encounters with total strangers. For some of the hottest examples, check out TopSecret Audio, which tackles roleplays ranging from mild dirty talk to full-on erotica. For something sounding a bit more authentic, listen to Down n’ Dirty, a podcast series dedicated entirely to authentic erotica inspired by real life.

BarbieASMR/YouTube

4) Tumblr

It’s an open secret that Tumblr is a great place to find porn. And yes, that includes audio porn. The site is filled with performers sharing their dirty moments and sexual fantasies, from masturbating to having sex. In particular, amateur audio porn is pretty popular on the site, and there’s plenty of sexy real-life sex sessions to go around.

On Audible Porn, Tumblr users can submit their own recordings for the blog, featuring anything from solo masturbation sessions to sex with others. Sex and moans are both common themes on the site, along with plenty of boys and (more often than not) girls touching themselves. Some of the top picks include a girl reaching multiple orgasms from masturbation and “Cute boy moans,” where a boy clearly in heat moans and orgasms. There are also several recordings dedicated to car sex, including one where a couple has particularly loud sex with the radio on.

Then there’s Sounds of Pleasure, another submission-based audio porn blog. Users can submit their own solo masturbation sessions, along with dirty talk, sex, and more. The site has a sizable tagging system for browsing, with audio porn excerpts for everything from lesbian porn to dirty accents to jerk off instruction audio posts. To check out the site’s full offerings, take a look through its archive. Sounds of Pleasure updates regularly, too, making it a top pick for any interested audio porn fan on Tumblr.

5) Audible

Amazon’s Audible is, aptly enough, a hidden gem for audio porn recordings of all kinds. While Amazon doesn’t advertise the site’s erotica audiobook library publicly, some of the best finds on the internet are right on Audible—including erotica that puts Fifty Shades of Grey to shame.

The site features stories that range from lesbian erotica to science-fiction-themed pornography. Particular highlights include Orgasmic: Erotica for Women and Fifty Shades of Lewd Erotica, compilation audio porn recordings that feature short stories for that perfect night in. Audible also hosts audiobook erotica series, meaning listeners can literally grab days’ worth of erotica from their Audible subscription. The six-part series The Marketplace, for instance, features 15 hours worth of BDSM smut in just the first book alone.

Signing up with Audible is pretty easy. There’s a 30-day free trial available when you give Audible a debit or credit card number. Once the free trial is over, users can then purchase a recurring Audible membership between multiple plans. There’s one book per month for $14.95 each month, 2 books for $22.95, 12 books for a yearly $149.50 fee, or 24 books all at once for $229.50 per year. Alongside membership plans, Audible users can also buy more credits to pick up additional books per month, which is a great way to keep on listening to audio porn without changing up a subscription.

Complete Article HERE!

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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.

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