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How Homophobia Has Robbed Men Of Touch

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The pathological fear of even platonic contact has created a generation of men plagued by loneliness and anxiety.

I wrote an article in which I asked people to consider the following: American men, in an attempt to avoid any possible hint of committing unwanted sexual touch, are foregoing gentle platonic touch in their lives.

I call it touch isolation.

Homophobic social stigmas, the long-standing challenges of rampant sexual harassment and abuse, and a society steeped in a generations-old puritanical mistrust of physical pleasure have created an isolating trap in which American men can go for days (or weeks) without touching another human being.

The implications of touch isolation for men’s health and happiness are huge.

Gentle platonic touch is central to the early development of infants. It continues to play an important role throughout men and women’s lives in terms of our development, health and emotional well being, right into old age. When I talk about gentle platonic touch, I’m not talking about a pat on the back, or a handshake, but instead contact that is sustained and meant to provide connection and comfort: Leaning on someone for a few minutes, holding hands, rubbing their back or sitting close together not out of necessity but out of choice.

Yet, culturally, gentle platonic touch is the one thing we suppress culturally in men and it starts when they are very young boys.

While babies and toddlers are held, cuddled, and encouraged to practice gentle touch during their first years of their lives, that contact often drops off for boys when they cease to be toddlers. Boys are encouraged to “shake it off” and “be tough” when they are hurt.

Along with the introduction of this “get tough” narrative, boys find that their options for gentle platonic touch simply fade away. Mothers and fathers often back off from holding or cuddling their young boys. Boys who seek physical holding as comfort when hurt are stigmatized as “cry babies.”

By the time they are approaching puberty, many boys have learned to touch only in aggressive ways through rough housing or team sports. And if they do seek gentle touch in their lives, it is expected to take place in the exclusive and highly sexualized context of dating. This puts massive amounts of pressure on young girls; young girls who are unlikely to be able to shoulder such a burden. Because of the lack of alternative outlets for touch, the touch depravation faced by young boys who are unable to find a girlfriend is overwhelming. And what about boys who are gay? In a nutshell, we leave children in their early teens to undo a lifetime of touch aversion and physical isolation. The emotional impact of coming of age in our touch-averse, homophobic culture is terribly damaging. It’s no wonder our young people face a epidemic of sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy, rape, drug and alcohol abuse.

In America, in particular, if a young man attempts gentle platonic contact with another young man, he faces a very real risk of homophobic backlash either by that person or by those who witness the contact. This is, in part, because we frame all contact by men as being intentionally sexual until proven otherwise. Couple this with the homophobia that runs rampant in our culture, and you get a recipe for increased touch isolation that damages the lives of the vast majority of men.

And if you think men have always been hands-off with each other, have a look at an amazing collection of historic photos compiled by Brett and Kate McKay in their article Bosom Buddies: A Photo History of Male Affection. It’s a remarkable look at male camaraderie as expressed though physical touch in photos dating back to the earliest days of photography.

As the McKays note:

“At the turn of the 20th century… Thinking of men as either “homosexual” or “heterosexual” became common. And this new category of identity was at the same time pathologized—decried by psychiatrists as a mental illness, by ministers as a perversion, and by politicians as something to be legislated against.

“As this new conception of homosexuality as a stigmatized and onerous identifier took root in American culture, men began to be much more careful to not send messages to other men, and to women, that they were gay. And this is the reason why, it is theorized, men have become less comfortable with showing affection towards each other over the last century.”

Spend some time looking at these remarkable images. You’ll get a visceral sense of what has been lost to men.

These days, put 10 people in the room when two men touch a moment too long, and someone will make a mean joke, express distaste, or even pick a fight. And its just as likely to be a woman as to be a man who enforces the homophobic/touch averse stigma. The enforcement of touch prohibition between men can be as subtle as a raised eyebrow or as punitive as a fist fight and you never know where it will come from or how quickly it will escalate.

And yet, we know that touch between men or women is proven to be a source of comfort, connection and self-esteem. But while women are allowed much more public contact, men are not. Because how we allow men to perform masculinity is actually very restrictive. (Charlie Glickman writes quite eloquently about this in an article for The Good Men Project. Read it. It’s a real eye opener.)

Male touch isolation is one of many powerful reasons why I support marriage equality. The sooner being gay is completely normalized, the sooner homophobic prohibitions against touch will be taken off straight men. As much as gay men have faced the brunt of homophobic violence, straight men have been banished to a desert of physical isolation by these same homophobic fanatics who police lesbians and gays in our society. The result has been a generation of American men who do not hug each other, do not hold hands and can not sit close together without the homophobic litmus test kicking in.’

The lack of touch in men’s lives results in a higher likelihood of depression, alcoholism, mental and physical illness. Put simply, touch isolation is making men’s lives less healthy and more lonely.

When visiting my 87-year-old father for a few days, I made a point to touch him more. To make contact. To express my affection, not just by flying a thousand miles for a visit, but to touch the man once I got there. It may seem simple, but choosing to do so is not always a simple thing. It can raise a lifetime of internal voices, many of which speak of loss and missed opportunities. But I hugged him. I put my arm around him as we shared a cigar and cocktails. I touched him whenever I walked past his chair.

Each evening, we would watch a movie. As part of that nightly ritual, I would sit in the floor, take off his shoes and socks and rub his bare feet for while. It is something I will remember when he is gone. Something I did right. Something that said to him, I love you. Spoken on the same deep touch levels by which he connected with me when I was a toddler sitting next to him, his strong arm around me as I watched the late show 50 years ago.

This touch thing is so crucial: I kiss and hug my son constantly. He sits with me—and on me. I make a point of connecting with him physically whenever I greet him. The physical connection I have with him has been transformative in my life teaching me about my value as a human being and a father.

We need to empower men to touch. We need to fix our sexually repressed (and sexually obsessed) American culture and put an end to distorted and hateful parts of our culture that allow homophobic people to police all men everywhere down to the very tips of our fingertips.

It’s too late in my life for the impact of these stigmas to be fully undone, but I have great hope for my son. When we collectively normalize gay life and relationships, my son, whatever his sexual orientation turns out to be, will be free to express platonic affection for others, be they men or women, in any way he sees fit. The rabid homophobes who have preached hate in America for far too long will finally be silenced, and men will be free to reach out and touch each other without fear of being labeled as somehow less of a man.

It’s a dream for a better America I can already see coming true.

Complete Article HERE!

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8 sexual questions to ask your boyfriend or girlfriend before you get it on

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It is important to ask a few questions before getting jiggy with someone new.

Couple laying back to back in bed

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No, you don’t need to treat it like a job interview unless of course that’s your thing.

But there are a few things you should find out about the person you are about to get intimate with.

Perhaps it is checking they are happy to partake in certain kinks or all important questions about sexual health and protecting yourself against unwanted pregnancy.

Lianne Young, qualified nutritionist and sex and relationship therapist, is on hand to help you work out what needs to be asked before you get it on.

1. What kind of relationship is this?

Lianne explains why this should be your first question: ‘Firstly, the most important questions to ask will help you work out if your chosen partner is looking for an emotional or physical relationship.

Make sure you are both on the same page because if one of you is looking for more or less from the relationship then it may be wiser not to jump into bed together and make things more complicated.

Sex therapist Lianne also suggests asking what they see as a relationship, for example, is it exclusive dating or can you date others?

And, if this is an emotional relationship, she suggests making sure your life goals match up before you get too involved.

Do they want children? What do they want out of life? What are their life plans?

While you wouldn’t ask the ‘kids question’ to someone you were just engaged with physically, going too far down the path with someone who wants something entirely different to you can end up hurting.

‘After all,’ says Lianne, ‘would you invest in something if you knew it was only temporary? Probably not.’

2. What protection shall we use?

‘Got a condom?’ might not be the sexiest of questions but it is the most important question to ask.

Whether it is just purely a sexual relationship or long-term commitment, once you have established where you stand it is important to both decide what protection you are going to use.

Strawberry condom in handbag

At all times use precautions and, particularly if this is a casual relationship, never believe them if they say they have regular health checks so have no STIs.

‘Remember condoms can break, so you will also need a back up plan.

‘Also, maybe one of you is allergic to latex or silicon-based condoms so you need to make sure you have the necessary protection ahead of time.’

3. Do you want to try…?

Sex is best when everyone is on the same page.

While you may want to do x, y or z in the bedroom, it is important to check that your partner is comfortable too.

Consent is incredibly important, so make sure you both agree on what you expect will happen and what you’re both happy to do or have done.

‘Remember, when it comes to sex, no one has a road map to get you to your final destination – the orgasm,’ says Lianne.

‘Talk openly about what you like so your partner can satisfy you and vice versa.

Do you like doggy style?’

‘The most important one is to remember sex is about fun not just about reproduction and it’s ok to enjoy yourself.’

If you’re a bit too shy to say these things face to face, sexting might be an easier what to start the conversation.

But always remember that what they might say to you over a text message, may not be something they would be happy to do in reality.

Start a conversation about it: ‘You said in messages you would like to [xxx], shall we try it?’

4. Does that feel good?

There’s no good you getting cramp in your tongue, thighs or whatever body part you’re straining to pleasure your partner if they are lying there wishing it would be over.

Check what you’re doing feels good for them and get them to instruct you if it could be better.

Same goes for you, if you’re not feeling a certain move let your partner know.

Be kind though ‘That feels awful’ will probably kill the mood where as ‘move your [xxx] left/right/wherever’ will help you and them out.

5. Is there anything you don’t like?

Lianne says it is important to ask because: ‘You need to know each others’ boundaries and have respect for one another.’

6. Do you play safe?

Photo Taken In Sofia, Bulgaria

If you are in a long term relationship, Lianne does not advise asking about someone’s sexual history – including their ‘magic number’.

‘It’s history plain and simple. It’s the future you should be concerned about.

‘However, if it is just a physical one then these questions are important to ask.

‘How many other partners do they sleep with, and do they play safe each time?’

Complete Article HERE!

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Everything you could ever want to know about foot fetishes

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Some are in it for the toes, some love the funk.

A foot fetish is a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around because I personally find feet revolting. Always have, always will. Whether I imagine someone’s foot in my mouth or mine in someone else’s, my body recoils in a full body cringe from which I will not un-crimp myself until all other parties and their feet have exited the room.

That’s just me, though. A lot of people love feet. So many, in fact, that foot fetishes are among the most common anatomy-related fetishes around. According to Men’s Health, feet and toes ranked as the non-genital body parts most likely to rev libidos in a relatively recent survey. When the U.K.’s Channel 4 aired its Great British Sex Survey in early 2016, guess which fetish came out on top? That’s right: podophilia.

If you’re still left wondering exactly how foot fetishes work, or if you’re looking to incorporate some foot-loving into your intimate life, here’s everything you need to know about the hottest of the extremities.

What is a foot fetish?

Foot love is widespread, but how precisely does the fetish—by which I mean, a thing that inspires erotic fantasy so intense, its presence is necessary for sexual satisfaction—develop, readers may ask. According to Psychology Today, the prevailing theory about fetish origins holds that sexual proclivities form around a particular body part or object during childhood: Children, for example, might interact with their parents’ feet during playtime, and grow to associate feet and pleasure.

With respect to feet specifically, Psychology Today reports, their purported resemblance to human genitalia (I don’t see it) might trigger the same arousal without the pressure to perform that, for some people a vagina or penis cues. Another possibility is that the parts of the brain that control sensory feeling in the feet and genitals sit next to one another, and sometimes their wires get crossed.

Are there different kinds of foot fetishes?

Subsets of foot fetishism, or foot worship, include footwear fetishes. According to Psychology Today, there’s retifism, so-named for the French writer Nicolas Edme Rétif who reportedly wrote about his attraction to footwear and his attraction to footwear only, and aretifism, or attraction to foot adornments like toe rings, for example.

And the list goes on—some people might be really into toes and toe sucking while others get off on foot smell. Some people might get off on naked feet rather than feet replete with nail polish and anklets. Some people might love heel shape. To each their own.

How can I incorporate foot worship into my daily life?

As with any specific sexual interest, be open with partners: People who are actually worth your time and emotional investment won’t be assholes about what gets you off. Plus, most people seem to enjoy receiving foot massages, so that may be a promising place to start.

Foot kissing, toe sucking, and even the footjob—cradling the penis between both feet and stroking up and down—might appeal, or penetration with toes. Please make sure the feet involved have been cleaned first, which could even entail an erotic foot bath. Go wild!

Where to find foot fetish porn online

Thanks to the popularity of foot worship, a number of erotic sites have devoted themselves to foot fetishists. Here are a few of the big names in foot fetish porn.

1) Footsie Babes

The subscription platform Footsie Babes features feet prominently in all its fairly mainstream, mostly heterosexual porn videos.

2) 21 Foot Art

Like Footsie Babes, 21 FootArt bills itself as the “best foot erotica you will find, guaranteed.” Access to a two-day trial is just $1, while an annual membership is $10.

3) Hot Legs And Feet

Along with the typical foot stuff, Hot Legs and Feet incorporates leg lust, for those who are so inclined.

4) Foot Fetish Daily

Foot Fetish Daily bills itself as the “#1 Foot Fetish Site in the World,” and affords access to live cam work, where members may very well find someone performing the highly sought-after footjob.

5) Sexy Lena

SexyLena features one woman (Lena) who stokes foot fetishes in a number of ways. She’s often seen incorporating stockings, shoes, and more into her podiatric sex shows. Membership costs vary between $17 and $25.

(Please, regardless of your particular interests, pay for your porn. It’s the ethical thing to do.)

Complete Article HERE!

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What a leather convention can teach everyone about sex and consent

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I don’t think I’d ever realized just how “vanilla” I was, and how little I understood about all of the ways you can engage in fun, healthy, consensual, adventurous sex.

“Hotel is closed for private event” read the signs affixed to the front of the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill last weekend. A steady stream of people, mostly men, many in leather harnesses, some in collars and on leashes, and some simply in jeans and sweaters, walked in and out in an almost continuous stream.

Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL), now in its 48th year, is a three-day long celebration of the leather community, a subculture that celebrates various sexual kinks, many centered around leather and toys. Bears, daddies, pups and others identifying with various subsets roam the Hyatt Regency, participating in conference-like demonstrations about suspension (BDSM where you’re bound and hung) and electro (BDSM involving electric shocks), buying handcrafted leather goods and sex toys, and, of course, partying. (Actual sex was not part of the convention but no doubt took place in private.) It’s a predominantly LGBTQ centric space, although look closely enough and you’re sure to find people on every part of the gender and sexuality spectrum.

My first MAL was in the winter of 2016. I’d just gone through a breakup and my friend had suggested that perhaps it would be good for me to explore life beyond my comfort zone. “Just get ready,” he’d said, “it may be more than your little vanilla heart can handle.” And he wasn’t entirely wrong. It wasn’t that I couldn’t handle it, but I don’t think I’d ever realized just how “vanilla” I was, and how little I understood about all of the ways you can engage in fun, healthy, consensual, adventurous sex.

That first year I met Adam, a dentist in town from Texas just for MAL. “You look like you could use a drink,” he said back in a hotel room he was sharing with a friend of mine.

“Do I look that out of place?” I asked. I’d put on a leather jacket to try to blend in.

“Not out of place,” he said, “just kind of shocked.”

And shocked I was. Not necessarily at anything that was going on at the hotel that night, but more so at the fact that for the better part of my life I’d allowed myself to believe that this kind of sexual openness was only available to a certain kind of person.

“Where I grew up, there wasn’t really anything like this,” said Anthony, a 30-year-old living in Arlington, Va., who grew up in Portsmouth. (The sources for this story preferred that only first names be used, for privacy reasons). “There was no kink culture, and I really wanted to explore it. Everyone here was super welcoming, and that’s why I keep coming back.”

This was a common sentiment. “It’s a different part of the gay family,” said Garret, 28, who lives in Washington. “We all have different interests … and if nobody else respects that, come to MAL because they do here.”

Respect, as it turns out, is a dominating theme throughout the course of the weekend. You might expect that when many attendees are walking around in only a jockstrap and a harness, but it is pleasantly surprising to see how strictly they adhere to that principle. In the era of #MeToo, when more and more queer folks are being vocal about the role consent plays in queer spaces, perhaps the leather and kink communities have something to teach the general public about active and enthusiastic consent.

Ask for permission before petting. Hold out your hand and let the pup come to you first. If the pup doesn’t, or turns or growls, let them be as they may not want to or have permission. This is rule No. 5 as listed on the board outside the 10th anniversary mosh at the MAL Puppy Park, a yearly tradition in which individuals who participate in pup play — a BDSM role-play wherein one participant acts as the “pup” and one as the handler — have an opportunity to interact with other pups. Other rules include: Nudity is not permitted in public spaces, genitals cannot be exposed and DO NOT pull on a pup’s tail or collar. It can cause injury and is disrespectful. Change some of the verbiage and perhaps these would be appropriate guidelines to post at the Academy Awards.

“It’s where I met my current roommate,” said Allyn, a 31-year-old originally from Wisconsin who now lives in Washington, of his first MAL experience. “It was exhilarating. I’d never seen anything like it. It make me feel brave and nervous at the same time.” He didn’t speak to his would-be roommate the first night they met, however. “I mean, I had a ball gag in at the time,” he recounted.

Zack, 23, from Baltimore, also used the world “exhilarating” when describing his first MAL experience. “I got chills coming down the escalator into the lobby of the hotel,” he said. “It’s the closest thing to Folsom I’ve ever been too,” a reference to the San Francisco street fair that’s the world’s largest leather celebration.

Everyone I spoke to talked about descending that escalator on the evening of the opening party. It is truly a complete sensory experience. The sight, sound and smell of wall-to-wall leather and latex on every kind of body, not just seen but celebrated and appreciated.

While I was talking to Garret about the weekend, someone he appeared to know approached him, whispered something in his ear and, after he nodded yes, lifted Garret’s arm and began to sniff his armpit. Garret continued to answer my questions without pause. “There may be something over here that’s not your thing, but then you’ll look over there and see something going on that you’re totally into,” he explained “Don’t be shy, don’t judge other people for something you don’t understand. And above all, come and have a good time. No one is here to be spectacled. It can be a learning and cultural experience.” The sniffer had moved on to his other armpit by the time he finished talking.

Although I have yet to be brave enough to buy and wear a harness to MAL myself, each year I attend I move closer toward that goal. At the very least, the event has highlighted for me the fact that there is an exciting world beyond the “vanilla” one I’d relegated myself to — and has given me a better understanding of the queer community as a whole. At one point, in the leather market, a man who had recently undergone top surgery was trying on a new harness next to a group of folks signing to one another, while feet away a $1,400 bejeweled pup hood was on sale. Only at MAL.

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Simple Sex Positions You Actually Haven’t Tried Yet

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By Anthea Levi

Trying something new in bed can be intimidating. But attempting the unknown between the sheets comes with thrilling benefits. Besides giving you the chance to discover new erogenous zones and orgasm triggers, “it’s a great way to practice asking or telling your partner what you want,” says Nicole Tammelleo, a psychotherapist specializing in sexuality and women’s health at Maze Women’s Sexual Health in New York City.

Here, Tammelleo shares five sex moves that aren’t crazy hard to pull off. Here’s why: “Most of these are variations on things you’ve probably already been doing,” she says. Read on for the hottest positions you didn’t know you needed to try, then give them a very thorough test drive.

CAT (coital alignment technique)

Get into the standard missionary position, with you on your back and your partner on top of you. “What’s different is that the man moves upward, so his whole body sits a little bit farther up against your body, with his head slightly past yours,” explains Tammelleo. The goal is to align your pelvises so the base of his penis and pubic bone stimulate your clitoris as he thrusts up and down—rather than in and out.

Besides giving you the direct clitoral action most women need to reach orgasm during intercourse, your partner’s penis is able to enter your vagina at a higher angle so it’s more likely to reach your G-spot too, she says. Win-win!

Swinging bishop

Don’t let the name scare you off. The swinging bishop position is a sexy spin on good-old cozy spoon style. As you and your partner are spooning on your right side, lift your top (left) leg and move it behind you slightly so that it drapes over your SO’s legs. “This allows the man to penetrate even deeper, and also allows for better access to her clitoris, either with a vibrator or fingers,” says Tammelleo.

One-legged stork

If you like the way it feels to have your legs high in the air but hate the cramping that can result, this one’s for you. Lie down on the bed on your back, and have your partner face you while resting on his knees, explains Tammelleo. “Instead of you putting both legs up in the air, keep one stretched out straight on the bed and lift the other.”

The benefit? Many women find it painful on the lower back to keep both legs extended toward the ceiling; going halfsies can be more comfy. The more comfortable the position, the longer you can get it on, so you’ll have plenty of time for a slow build to a hot orgasm.

The accordion

Let’s just say the accordion makes all those #legday squats worth it. Have your partner rest on his back with his knees bent in the air. From there, you basically squat on top of him, straddling his legs so your thighs are hugging his, your feet flat on the bed.

“This is a variation of girl on top that similarly allows the woman to be in control,” says Tammelleo. Don’t feel bad if your thighs start to burn stat. “What often happens is that you start in accordion and then move onto something else.” Try this squat-centric position and work yourselves up, then transition into a more comfy pose when it’s time to reach the finish line, like cowgirl.

Good vibrations

Doing it doggie style lets you relax and enjoy every sensation as your SO does most of the work. But most women can’t reach orgasm from intercourse alone, confirms Tammelleo, so unless you stimulate yourself during the action (or your partner reaches around and does it for you while he’s thrusting), you might miss out on climaxing.

The solution is to tuck a small clitoral vibrator between your pelvis and the bed. Let it rest against your clitoris or labia, and let the vibrator help you hit that high note while you focus on how awesome sex feels. Of course, you can use a vibrator to enhance any position. But when it’s underneath your body during doggie style, it’ll feel less intrusive and more like a sexy secret.

Complete Article HERE!

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