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The evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality

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In the last two decades, dozens of scientific papers have been published on the biological origins of homosexuality – another announcement was made last week. It’s becoming scientific orthodoxy. But how does it fit with Darwin’s theory of evolution?

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s hit song Same Love, which has become an unofficial anthem of the pro-gay marriage campaign in the US, reflects how many gay people feel about their sexuality.

It mocks those who “think it’s a decision, and you can be cured with some treatment and religion – man-made rewiring of a predisposition”. A minority of gay people disagree, maintaining that sexuality is a social construct, and they have made a conscious, proud choice to take same-sex partners.

But scientific opinion is with Macklemore. Since the early 1990s, researchers have shown that homosexuality is more common in brothers and relatives on the same maternal line, and a genetic factor is taken to be the cause. Also relevant – although in no way proof – is research identifying physical differences in the brains of adult straight and gay people, and a dizzying array of homosexual behaviour in animals.

But since gay and lesbian people have fewer children than straight people, a problem arises.001

“This is a paradox from an evolutionary perspective,” says Paul Vasey from the University of Lethbridge in Canada. “How can a trait like male homosexuality, which has a genetic component, persist over evolutionary time if the individuals that carry the genes associated with that trait are not reproducing?”

Scientists don’t know the answer to this Darwinian puzzle, but there are several theories. It’s possible that different mechanisms may be at work in different people. Most of the theories relate to research on male homosexuality. The evolution of lesbianism is relatively understudied – it may work in a similar way or be completely different.


The genes that code for homosexuality do other things too

The allele – or group of genes – that sometimes codes for homosexual orientation may at other times have a strong reproductive benefit. This would compensate for gay people’s lack of reproduction and ensure the continuation of the trait, as non-gay carriers of the gene pass it down.

There are two or more ways this might happen. One possibility is that the allele confers a psychological trait that makes straight men more attractive to women, or straight women more attractive to men. “We know that women tend to like more feminine behavioural features and facial features in their men, and that might be associated with things like good parenting skills or greater empathy,” says Qazi Rahman, co-author of Born Gay; The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation. Therefore, the theory goes, a low “dose” of these alleles enhances the carrier’s chances of reproductive success. Every now and then a family member receives a larger dose that affects his or her sexual orientation, but the allele still has an overall reproductive advantage.

Another way a “gay allele” might be able to compensate for a reproductive deficit is by having the converse effect in the opposite sex. For example, an allele which makes the bearer attracted to men has an obvious reproductive advantage to women. If it appears in a man’s genetic code it will code for same-sex attraction, but so long as this happens rarely the allele still has a net evolutionary benefit.

There is some evidence for this second theory. Andrea Camperio-Ciani, at the University of Padova in Italy, found that maternal female relatives of gay men have more children than maternal female relatives of straight men. The implication is that there is an unknown mechanism in the X chromosome of men’s genetic code which helps women in the family have more babies, but can lead to homosexuality in men. These results haven’t been replicated in some ethnic groups – but that doesn’t mean they are wrong with regards to the Italian population in Camperio-Ciani’s study.


Gay people were ‘helpers in the nest’

The fa'afafine of Samoa dislike being called "gay" or "homosexual"

The fa’afafine of Samoa dislike being called “gay” or “homosexual”

Some researchers believe that to understand the evolution of gay people, we need to look at how they fit into the wider culture.

Paul Vasey’s research in Samoa has focused on a theory called kin selection or the “helper in the nest” hypothesis. The idea is that gay people compensate for their lack of children by promoting the reproductive fitness of brothers or sisters, contributing money or performing other uncle-like activities such as babysitting or tutoring. Some of the gay person’s genetic code is shared with nieces and nephews and so, the theory goes, the genes which code for sexual orientation still get passed down.

Sceptics have pointed out that since on average people share just 25% of their genetic code with these relatives, they would need to compensate for every child they don’t have themselves with two nieces or nephews that wouldn’t otherwise have existed. Vasey hasn’t yet measured just how much having a homosexual orientation boosts siblings’ reproduction rate, but he has established that in Samoa “gay” men spend more time on uncle-like activities than “straight” men.

“No-one was more surprised than me,” says Vasey about his findings. His lab had previously shown that gay men in Japan were no more attentive or generous towards their nieces and nephews than straight, childless men and women. The same result has been found in the UK, US and Canada.

Vasey believes that his Samoan result was different because the men he studied there were different. He studied the fa’afafine, who identify as a third gender, dressing as women and having sex with men who regard themselves as “straight”. They are a transgender group who do not like to be called “gay” or “homosexual”.

Vasey speculates that part of the reason the fa’afafine are more attentive to their nephews and nieces is their acceptance in Samoan culture compared to gay men in the West and Japan (“You can’t help your kin if they’ve rejected you”). But he also believes that there is something about the fa’afafine way of life that means they are more likely to be nurturing towards nieces and nephews, and speculates that he would find similar results in other “third gender” groups around the world.

If this is true, then the helper in the nest theory may partly explain how a genetic trait for same-sex attraction hasn’t been selected away. That hypothesis has led Vasey to speculate that the gay men who identify as men and have masculine traits – that is to say, most gay men in the West – are descended from men who had a cross-gendered sexuality.


Gay people do have children

gay-parents_opt

In the US, around 37% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people have a child, about 60% of which are biological. According to the Williams Institute, gay couples that have children have an average of two.

These figures may not be high enough to sustain genetic traits specific to this group, but the evolutionary 002biologist Jeremy Yoder points out in a blog post that for much of modern history gay people haven’t been living openly gay lives. Compelled by society to enter marriages and have children, their reproduction rates may have been higher than they are now.

How many gay people have children also depends on how you define being “gay”. Many of the “straight” men who have sex with fa’afafine in Samoa go on to get married and have children.

“The category of same-sex sexuality becomes very diffuse when you take a multicultural perspective,” says Joan Roughgarden, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Hawaii. “If you go to India, you’ll find that if someone says they are ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ then that immediately identifies them as Western. But that doesn’t mean there’s no homosexuality there.”

Similarly in the West, there is evidence that many people go through a phase of homosexual activity. In the 1940s, US sex researcher Alfred Kinsey found that while just 4% of white men were exclusively gay after adolescence, 10% had a three-year period of gay activity and 37% had gay sex at some point in their lives.

A national survey of sexual attitudes in the UK last year came up with lower figures. Some 16% of women said they had had a sexual experience with another woman (8% had genital contact), and 7% of men said they had had a sexual experience with a man (with 5% having genital contact).

But most scientists researching gay evolution are interested in an ongoing, internal pattern of desire rather than whether people identify as gay or straight or how often people have gay sex. “Sexual identity and sexual behaviours are not good measures of sexual orientation,” says Paul Vasey. “Sexual feelings are.”


It’s not all in the DNA

Qazi Rahman says that alleles coding for same sex attraction only explain some of the variety in human sexuality. Other, naturally varying biological factors come into play, with about one in seven gay men, he says, owing their sexuality to the “big brother effect”.

This has nothing to do with George Orwell, but describes the observation that boys with older brothers are significantly more likely to become gay – with every older brother the chance of homosexuality increases by about a third. No-one knows why this is, but one theory is that with each male pregnancy, a woman’s body forms an immune reaction to proteins that have a role in the development of the male brain. Since this only comes into play after several siblings have been born – most of whom are heterosexual and go on to have children – this pre-natal quirk hasn’t been selected away by evolution.

Exposure to unusual levels of hormone before birth can also affect sexuality. For example, female foetuses exposed to higher levels of testosterone before birth show higher rates of lesbianism later on. Studies show that “butch” lesbian women and men have a smaller difference in length between their index and ring fingers – a marker of pre-natal exposure to testosterone. In “femme” lesbians the difference has been found to be less marked.

Brothers of a different kind – identical twins – also pose a tricky question. Research has found that if an identical twin is gay, there is about a 20% chance that the sibling will have the same sexual orientation. While that’s a greater likelihood than random, it’s lower than you might expect for two people with the same genetic code.

William Rice, from the University of California Santa Barbara, says that it may be possible to explain this 003by looking not at our genetic code but at the way it is processed. Rice and his colleagues refer to the emerging field of epigenetics, which studies the “epimarks” that decide which parts of our DNA get switched on or off. Epimarks get passed on to children, but only sometimes. Rice believes that female foetuses employ an epimark that makes them less sensitive to testosterone. Usually it’s not inherited, but occasionally it is, leading to same-sex preference in boys.

Dr William Byne, editor-in-chief of the journal LGBT Health, believes sexuality may well be inborn, but thinks it could be more complicated than some scientists believe. He notes that the heritability of homosexuality is similar to that for divorce, but “social science researchers have not… searched for ‘divorce genes’. Instead they have focused on heritable personality and temperamental traits that might influence the likelihood of divorce.”

For Qazi Rahman, it’s the media that oversimplifies genetic theories of sexuality, with their reports of the discovery of “the gay gene”. He believes that sexuality involves tens or perhaps hundreds of alleles that will probably take decades to uncover. And even if heterosexual sex is more advantageous in evolutionary terms than gay sex, it’s not only gay people whose sexuality is determined by their genes, he says, but straight people too.

Complete Article HERE!

The Seduction of Shame – Why Humiliation Turns Some People On

By Laura Halliday

seduction-meme

Personal fetishes and turn-ons can run the gamut from rose pedals on the floor to whips and chains. For some people, the best way to get turned on is to be told off. There are plenty of people who love being humiliated both privately and publicly. So what turns a nightmare for most into the start of an amazing evening or all round more exciting sex life for others?

Why It’s Hot to Be Humiliated

Humiliation is a strong emotion – one which has been shown to stimulate the same regions of the brain associated with pain. As a result, many people think the desire for emotional pain as a part of sex is similar to the drive people have for spanking, whipping and other forms of physical masochism.

Like many fetishes, experts think the roots of sexual humiliation lies in our past. It’s believed that sexual humiliation is often tied up in our own perceptions and feelings about sex. Someone who is scolded as a child for playing with themselves, for example, could easily grow up with a fetish for being told they’re a “bad boy (or girl)” while masturbating.

Humiliation is often associated with verbal abuse or public sex acts but it can include a wide variety of acts. Erotic or sexual humiliation includes:

  • Engaging in public sex acts where being caught could result in trouble (i.e. sex in stores)
  • Embarrassing assignments which are recorded and posted online
  • Public whipping or other physical punishment
  • Financial slavery (Submissives pay money directly to their Dominant or they give that person access to their bank account)
  • Having a submissive undress or perform sex acts in front of others

The difference with humiliation is that it can be indulged in – and enjoyed – even when partners are separated. This is illustrated by the increased popularity of online humiliation. In some cases, Dominants and Mistresses will offer online humiliation services to their clientele while others indulge in the activity with their online partners even if they don’t engage in other forms of BDSM.

The Future of Humiliation

Online humiliation can include simply verbally abusing a partner but it can also be about exposing the person, with their consent of course, to the entire world. This includes online public postings of cuckolded men, giving humiliating assignments which are meant to be recorded and posted online and even having people publicly bid on or purchase items that reveal their fetish.

Other forms of online humiliation include:

  • Allowing a Dominant access to a submissive’s social media accounts
  • Having a submissive maintain a public blog or vlog detailing their sex life and masturbatory habits
  • Controlling a submissive’s computer through remote hosting software

In fact, fans of humiliation think the Internet may provide the best venue in which to indulge their chosen fetish. After all, the Internet provides the most public of venues, offering people the chance to expose themselves to literally the entire world. The things people post online – videos, photographs, etc – are also online forever. Even if the original poster takes them down, the media can easily be copied and uploaded again by anyone. For fans of erotic humiliation this means their exposure could happen at any time – days, months or even years down the road.

Figuring out why things turn certain people on can be tricky. After all, we’re all the product of our own genetics and environment so specific underlying factors can be hard to pinpoint. Humiliation is almost always seen as something to be avoided at all costs but, for some, it’s the biggest turn-on of all.

Laura Halliday runs School Of Squirt where she helps couples integrate squirting as part of a healthy sex life.”

 

 

 

 

But to be young was very heaven!

This is the first time I’ve asked a question and my boyfriend said this is a great place to go, soo here goes…
I recently went off of the anti-depressant medication Lexapro, and what’s fantastic about it is that my sex drive has gone way up. The downfall is since I started that, it’s hard for me to get hard and to come. Now that I am off of the medication, I can come easier and everything feels better and my boyfriend is happy, but it’s still really hard to get hard and stay hard. My boyfriend says he doesn’t mind when I know he does, and it is a really big hit on my confidence and self-esteem. Here’s the kicker, I am a 17-year-old teenage boy.
Is this permanent? Will it, in the future, be easier to get and stay hard the longer I am off the medication? I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I remember before having absolutely no problems. Help? Thank you so much!!
-Very Shy

Well, Very Shy, what I can say for certain is that anti-depressants, as well as a host of other commonly prescribed medications, and even some over the counter meds, can and do have a major impact on a person’s sexual response cycle. Let me begin by asking you; how familiar are you with the concept of a sexual response cycle?

Considering your youth, you may have not heard of it at all. So ok, here’s the 411 on that. We all have a sexual response cycle, each person’s is unique, but everyone’s follows a similar pattern of phases.

sexual response cycle

Phase 1: Excitement — this phase, which can last from a few minutes to several hours, includes the following:

  • Muscle tension increases.
  • Heart rate quickens and breathing accelerates.
  • Skin may become flushed.
  • Nipples become harden or erect.
  • Blood flow to the genitals increases, which swells a woman’s clitoris and labia minora (inner lips), and a guy’s cock bones up.
  • Vaginal lubrication begins.
  • A woman’s breasts become fuller and her vaginal walls begin to swell.
  • The man’s balls swell, his scrotum tightens, and he begins secreting precum.

Phase 2: Plateau — this phase, which extends to the brink of orgasm, includes the following:

  • The changes begun in phase 1 intensify.
  • A woman’s vagina continues to swell from increased blood flow, and her vaginal walls turn a dark purple.
  • Her clitoris becomes highly sensitive and retracts under her clitoral hood.
  • A guy’s nuts further withdraw up into his scrotum.
  • Breathing, heart rate and blood pressure continue to rise.
  • Muscle tension increases.
  • Muscle spasms may begin in one’s feet, face and hands.

Phase 3: Orgasm — this is the climax of the sexual response cycle and it generally lasts only a few seconds. It includes the following:

  • Involuntary muscle contractions begin.
  • Blood pressure, heart rate and breathing are at their highest rates, with a rapid intake of oxygen.
  • Muscles in the feet spasm.
  • There is a sudden, forceful release of sexual tension.
  • A women’s vagina contracts. She may experience rhythmic contractions in her uterus.
  • The muscles at the base of a guy’s dick will rhythmically contract resulting in an ejaculation of his jizz.
  • A sex flush may appear over one’s body.

Phase 4: Resolution

  • The body slowly returns to its normal level of functioning, and swelled and erect body parts return to their previous size and color.
  • There’s a general sense of well-being, enhanced intimacy and, often, fatigue. Women are capable of rapidly returning to the orgasm phase with further sexual stimulation and can experience multiple orgasms.
  • Us men folk need recovery time after our orgasm. This is called a refractory period, during which we cannot reach orgasm again. The duration of the refractory period varies among men and changes with age.

With that behind us, I can turn my attention to your specific questions. At any point in this cycle there can be an interruption or break down. Like I said at the outset, some pharmaceuticals, as well as lots of over the counter remedies, can and do impede our sexual response.

You don’t mention how long you’ve been off the Lexapro, but I’ll wager it’s not long enough for it to have completely cleared your system. In that case, a little patience with yourself and perhaps a sense of humor about the whole thing will be the best therapy for you. I suspect that you will regain your sexual footing in time. However, a cockring may help you gain and retain an erection till that happens.

Good luck

Bend Over, Bro: The Men Who Love Pegging

by Gareth May

With one sex toy company proclaiming 2016 as the year that pegging takes off, it’s time to re-evaluate the benefits of telling your boyfriend to bend over.

Men Who Love Pegging

This is the most vulnerable I have been in a long time. Flat on my back, pillow under my ass, legs akimbo; my ankles are so close to my eyes I can inspect the architecture of my bones. And then she’s on me, all hot breath and readiness, a portrait of cockiness and control.

“Do you want my dick?” she asks, leaning over me, prodding at my most intimate space with something slippery and cold.

“Yes,” I whimper. “I do…” and I close my eyes and think of Charlie Glickman.

The year is 2011. Japan has suffered its biggest earthquake in over a century, the Arab Spring is tearing up the Middle East and the English riots are lighting up cities like Guy Fawkes. It’s pretty safe to say the world is going to hell – and at this juncture, to suggest that the answer to stopping this big ball of dirt we call home death-sliding right down the pan can be found at the tip of a dildo is, well, borderline delusional. Unless you’re sex & relationship coach Charlie Glickman PhD, that is.

Of course, when Glickman penned the blog post ‘How Pegging Can Save The World’ his thoughts were far from the above. Sadly, he wasn’t saying the best way to patch up world peace was to have soldiers and cops pull on a pair of Triple Penetrator Dildo Pants. In fact, Glickman was advocating role reversal in the bedroom, as a way of offering straight men an insight—”when sex is about catching rather than pitching”—into their female partner’s pleasure, potential discomfort and vulnerability. It’s something that I can certainly attest to.

“[Pegging] won’t make communication miraculously easy and it won’t fix everything about sexism or gender-based inequities [but] what it can do (besides being lots of fun) is help people develop empathy, compassion, and understanding for their partners,” he wrote. “And the more of that we have in the world, the better.”

Five years on and Glickman’s prophecy is inching (six, if you care to know) ever closer, especially if we take into account mainstream references in hit comedy Broad City as well as new year blockbuster Deadpool. Of course, pegging is nothing new. The 1976 Golden Age of Porn classic The Opening of Misty Beethoven featured a pegging scene; and the act emerged again, in bisexual and queer circles at least, in Carol Queen’s 1998 sex ed video Bend Over Boyfriend, culminating with Dan Savage coining the term “peg” for the first time in 2001 after a vote on his blog, Savage Love (“bob,” named after Queen’s vid, was also in the running).

Abbi considers pegging her date

Abbi considers pegging her date.

Mainstream depictions on Peep Show (2005), Weeds (2006) and Dirt (2007) followed, but whereas these portrayals involved an element of shame or “putting something up a man’s ass WTF” weirdness, Broad City and Deadpool celebrate pegging in a completely non-judgemental way. In the former, Abbi rises to the challenge (with a bit of wall twerking enthusiasm from Ilana) to peg her super-keen date and in the latter, pegging is thrown into the middle of sex montage like it’s no big deal; it just happens.

Erotic content is also seeing a pegging boom that defies demographics. Extreme hardcore producers Evil Angel, which boasts a 99 percent male viewership, tell me that their Strap Some Boyz series (link NSFW) has grown in popularity in recent years. Couple-friendly luxury sex toy brand LELO tagged 2016 as the year pegging really takes off, after the sales of male “anal pleasure objects” increased by 200 percent in 2015. As LELO point out in their yearly trends press release, “the deepening knowledge of gender expressions and sexual identities” as well as “the language of non-binary genders” are freeing people, particularly men, from the conventional confines of sexual identity, gender, and pleasure.

Dr Chauntelle Tibbals, sociologist and author of Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment concurs, telling me that such increasing acceptance of ‘taboo’ sexual play that destabilizes gender norms may point to wider social ideals about sex. “In the past 10 years we have seen such an explosion in public gender awareness, understanding, and a willingness to explore boundaries and the social norms that contributed to the construction of said boundaries,” she says. “It’s only logical that pegging is now something we see in a comic book Hollywood film (Deadpool).”

r/pegging is a subreddit for pegging enthusiasts. Any of the 34,000 plus redditors post on everything from harness advice to “we did it!” confirmation images (link NSFW). I spoke to two of its members to find out why they got into pegging and the impact it’s had on their sex lives. Drew Harris* is an American construction worker. We exchanged messages a few days after he’d first been pegged. “My wife thought the macho man/tough guy attitude was something she wanted in her life [but the expectation] was not making me happy as that isn’t how I normally am and she wasn’t very happy either,” he told me.

A sample post from r/pegging.

A sample post from r/pegging.

“When we switched roles [with his wife as the dominant sexual partner and he as the submissive] everything pretty much felt right for both of us.” I also messaged ‘getsome187’ who has introduced pegging into his last four relationships. “Some of the girls would wonder if I was bisexual or felt inadequate by wearing a fake cock but they got over it,” he said. “It’s like I’m sharing something intimate with them and it brings us closer because there is a kind of vulnerability to it.”

‘M’, who I messaged on the kink social network Fetlife, and who has pegged two of her male partners, agrees. “Sometimes it can be a really intimate moment, at other times it can be dominating and filthy,” she says. “I definitely think it can bring you closer though. It’s nice when someone trusts you with their vulnerability.”

It seems that this shared knowledge of vulnerability stems from experiencing two sides of the same coin: that of penetration. “For a man who has never received anal penetration, sex happens outside the body,” Glickman told me in an email. “So while men might intellectually understand the need for warm-up before penetration, it’s not the same thing as experiencing it. There’s a different perspective that comes from knowing on a somatic level and I’ve talked with lots of women who say that exploring pegging has given their male partners a more attuned, patient approach to intercourse.”

Can pegging save the world? It certainly turned mine on its head. In the wake of pegging, instead of feeling emasculated, I felt empowered. All the social norms of being a straight man in the bedroom (I must be the penetrator, I must be in charge) had literally been fucked into insignificance.

“I think that any time someone is penetrating their partner, whether with a cock or a strap on, it’s about pleasure,” adult star and director of Guide to Wicked Sex: Anal Play for Men Jessica Drake told me in an email. “Everyone should try it once.”

Complete Article HERE!

Are We Doomed?

Name: Tench
Gender:
Age: 27
Location: San Francisco
Dear Dr. Dick: I read your response to someone having trouble making gay friends. You said casual sex tends to be the norm for making friends in the gay community. I actually agree, but I wish that weren’t the only answer. My boyfriend and I have been happily together for over a year and a half. We lost a lot of “friends” because we are in a monogamous relationship. It seems they were friends to the extent they had a chance of sleeping with (or dating) either one of us. So now we have significantly less friends, which tends to happen I suppose when a couple takes the time to grow together and bond. But now we want to re-emerge to the social scene, go out more often and have fun. We don’t want to make friends vis a vis threesomes or on open relationship. Are you saying we’re doomed to never have gay friends again unless we put out? Honestly, that’s how it often seems in SF, and frankly, it’s not acceptable. I’d rather just be with my boyfriend. Thanks!

What an interesting predicament you present. Would you mind if we examined things a bit closer? You’re tellin’ me you guys used to have friends before you got together in the sexually exclusive relationship you’re currently enjoying, right? Then these former friends…and I think it’s pretty safe to assume these were mostly single friends…began to drop away when they realized they no longer could compete for either of your affections, right?

ERECT PENIS

Well, do ya blame ‘em, darlin’? I sure don’t. I mean why would any self-respecting single gay man stick around? Just to enjoy your little nesting experience from afar? Gee, no thanks!

If these former friends were also suitors to either you or your current husband, why would you want them to hang in there? You are making such a big deal out of the exclusivity of your nest, wouldn’t these others just be unwelcomed 3rd wheels, as it were? I believe these other, not so exclusively encumbered as you, gay men would be much better served by taking their leave of you and your current husband and trying to find their own nesting situation. On top of the sexual tension that would continue if they did stick around, they’d also not be positioning themselves very well to find their own mate. Would you not agree?

So, ok I hope we cleared up that part. Now you say that you and your current husband are through with the first stage of nesting, the really exclusive part. And you now want to increase your circle of friends. Ok, that’s not a particularly tall order to fill! You’d probably do well to look to other couples for these new friendships, right? I mean, what would you old married guys have in common with single queer men…other than your youthfulness?

Good luck