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

by Barry Reay

A handy history

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

6 Ways Bad Pornos Can Improve Your Sex Life

By Rhonda Jackson Joseph

Many of us could learn a thing or two from pornography, even the bad stuff.

porn:sex ed

We all hate them, those bad pornos. I mean the ones that have taught a generation of men how to perform sex acts all wrong (and all too roughly), and told the same generation of women that it’s totally OK to wear your most body baring lingerie as street clothes. Surely there’s no value in these cheesy films, with their funky soundtracks and stilted scripting … is there? Believe it or not even the worst, cheesiest pornography can work wonders on your sex life by teaching you a few new tricks. And no, I don’t just mean those kinds of tricks.

Oh Yeah, Baby …

Many of us have gotten into the habit of remaining silent during sex or never did quite become comfortable enough to tell our partners what we’re feeling. This is one thing that porn gets right: You always know when someone’s having a good time. You don’t have to squeal so the whole neighborhood can hear you (although if you want to, by all means), but a few words can go a long way toward enhancing your sexual experiences. If we channel the brazen men and women who tell their partners exactly how to move to drive them wild, we could all bring our next sexy interlude to the next level. And if you pull out a long, deep moan like those video stars, more power to you – your partner will love it! (Get some tips on how to talk dirty in Talk Dirty to Me: The How and Why of Hot Aural Sex.)

Fetish Fun

Nothing’s off limits in pornography. That doesn’t mean you have to be open to everything, but many porn.jpgpornography characters dress up in various outfits and role play while they go through the sexy-time motions. Get inspired by their creativity! Dress up as the MILF next door who bangs her much younger neighbor, or the sexy school kid who seduces the teacher for a better grade. For wilder roles to play, look to the movies that feature sex with shapely aliens, or men in uniforms, or whatever else you can find that looks like fun.

Puttin’ on a Show

Porn stars come in all shapes, sizes and ages but they all have one thing in common: They work it with all the confidence of a perfect 10, every time. If they don’t think they’re sexy, no one else will either. The same is true for you, so carry yourself just like the porn vixen you are, wear your life experiences like a brilliant red robe, and leave the lights on so you and your partner can revel in the visual stimulation of your joined bodies. (If body-image issues are ruining your sex life, read Worried About Weight? How to Have Spectacular Sex Anyway.)

Trading Places

Bad pornos are filmed in just about every place imaginable. There are campsite movies, hospital scenes, classroom vignettes and even nursing home sets. Release your imagination and start your foreplay in a place you haven’t tried yet. The thrill of exploring in a new setting can be very exciting – as can the thrill of being caught! Opening yourself up to the possibilities that exist all around you will also open up your sex play and the satisfaction you can gain from it. (Get more tips in 9 Simple Things You Can Do Right Now For Better Sex.)

porn_cartoon.jpgThere’s Always Another Angle

The “Kama Sutra” has nothing on pornography; porn actors will couple in ways you never even thought possible. That’s their job! You don’t have to try every single thing they do, but a new position is a simple way to spice things up. If you see one you like, give a whirl! (And get some inspiration from our Position Playlist.)

New Tricks for … Anyone

Porn can be a sort of instructional manual for some things. Note the word “some” here, as many of these movies are made for watching, so some of the moves are best left to the professionals. When you watch with your partner, take note of the touches and techniques you both think might be interesting to try, and set out to emulate the actors as they do their thing. Some of these stars are well-known for certain performances, such as oral and anal moves, and they’re true professionals. They can definitely teach you a thing or two!

Movie Night

If you haven’t watched much pornography but think you might like to, bad, cheesy pornos can be a great jumping off point. They’re funny, they’re approachable, and they make it easier to not take yourself too seriously. Many of them will definitely make you giggle – even as they inspire you to try something dirty. Plus, they’re a good conversation starter for you and your partner. If you’re lucky, that isn’t the only thing they’ll start.

Complete Article HERE!

Talk Dirty to Me: The Why and How of Hot Aural Sex

Want to have better sex? Speak up!

By JoEllen Notte

talk dirty

The more I talk to people about sex, the more I see that so many of them struggle with the very same things. High up on this list is sexual communication. Whether it’s navigating consent, ensuring that they get what they need, or being a better partner, an awful lot of couples come up short because their approach falls somewhere between mind reading and charades. I’d like to offer a better way. My suggestion? Dirty talk.

Dirty talk is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but according to a 2011 poll by Adam & Eve, nearly one-third of people never talk dirty, while another 33 percent only do so sometimes. So I’m going to come right out and say it: If you and your partner aren’t talking dirty, you could be missing out. Here are some key reasons why you should let the filth fly – and how you shy types can get the conversation started.

Why Try Aural Sex?

It’s the most fun way to tackle a serious topic
If there’s anything that scores points in the sack it’s enthusiasm, but enthusiastic consent is a stumbling block for many people who feel that it ruins the moment. In reality, dirty talk is a great way to say you’re in while still building arousal.

You know what’s hotter than a partner touching you in a new way? A partner telling you how much they want to touch you in that way, giving you the chance to say oh hell yes. Suddenly, sexual consent stops being a stumbling block on the way to the good stuff and becomes a stepping stone to making the stuff we do good. This is especially true when you’re with a new partner or you’re trying something new with an old partner. (Want some ideas on how to spice things up? Check out 9 Sex Moves to Rock a Woman’s World.)

It can make good sex even bettertalk dirty2
Speaking of making the stuff we do good, the best thing about dirty talk is that it gets people talking about sex, which is always a good thing. According to a 2012 study by researcher Elizabeth Babin at Cleveland Ohio University, chatty lovers tend to have greater sexual satisfaction because they communicate what they want.

Your partner isn’t a mind reader; building communication into lovemaking can heat things up – and improve the chances that you’ll get what you want.

How to Get Dirty

Breaking out of your sexual mime box

For some people, talking dirty can feel like diving into performative, porn-star sex. That can be a huge leap for more, shall we say … demure lovers. The first step to making it all more manageable is to keep it simple and keep it real. Forget about parroting all the dirty-talk stereotypes you may have heard; not all penises are “so big” not all vaginas are “so tight” and sometimes, announcing that your partner has been “very, very bad” just comes off weird.

The answer? Just stick with what’s actually happening with the person you are actually with. Does it feel good when they touch you? Awesome, share that news. Do they have a great ass? They’d probably enjoy hearing about that. Are you excited to have sex with them? Tell them all about it. Perhaps the best piece of dirty talk advice comes from famed porn start Nina Hartley, who said, “Don’t tell them what they want to hear, tell them what they need to know”.

Talking dirty to a ninja

Sometimes what impedes dirty talk is an imbalance between partners. Maybe you’re rarin’ to go and your partner is totally silent. In this, scenario whispering “talk dirty to me” often yields results that are awkward – for both of you. It can be hard to find that softer side of the strong, silent ninja type, so help a ninja out! Keep it real. Go with questions. “What do you want?” is especially successful in this scenario, or something more structured to get them comfortable verbalizing. I love the exercise described by Chris Gore in this Sex Nerd Sandra podcast. Whatever you do, just make sure you give your partner some guidance with it and understand that, as with any sexual activity, dirty talk isn’t for everyone, and that’s something you’ll have to negotiate.

If it works for you, dirty talk can be a sexual game-changer. So don’t be shy: Get out there and get dirty!

To learn more, check out “The Nice Girl’s Guide to Talking Dirty.”

Complete Article HERE!

When Did Porn Become Sex Ed?

Conversations between adults and teenagers about what happens after “yes” remain rare.

By

porn:sex ed

THE other day, I got an email from a 21-year-old college senior about sex — or perhaps more correctly, about how ill equipped she was to talk about sex. The abstinence-only curriculum in her middle and high schools had taught her little more than “don’t,” and she’d told me that although her otherwise liberal parents would have been willing to answer any questions, it was pretty clear the topic made them even more uncomfortable than it made her.

So she had turned to pornography. “There’s a lot of problems with porn,” she wrote. “But it is kind of nice to be able to use it to gain some knowledge of sex.”

I wish I could say her sentiments were unusual, but I heard them repeatedly during the three years I spent interviewing young women in high school and college for a book on girls and sex. In fact, according to a survey of college students in Britain, 60 percent consult pornography, at least in part, as though it were an instruction manual, even as nearly three-quarters say that they know it is as realistic as pro wrestling. (Its depictions of women, meanwhile, are about as accurate as those of the “The Real Housewives” franchise.)

The statistics on sexual assault may have forced a national dialogue on consent, but honest conversations between adults and teenagers about what happens after yes — discussions about ethics, respect, decision making, sensuality, reciprocity, relationship building, the ability to assert desires and set limits — remain rare. And while we are more often telling children that both parties must agree unequivocally to a sexual encounter, we still tend to avoid the biggest taboo of all: women’s capacity for and entitlement to sexual pleasure.

It starts, whether intentionally or not, with parents. When my daughter was a baby, I remember reading somewhere that while labeling infants’ body parts (“here’s your nose,” “here are your toes”), parents often include a boy’s genitals but not a girl’s. Leaving something unnamed, of course, makes it quite literally unspeakable.

Nor does that silence change much as girls get older. President Obama is trying — finally — in his 2017 budget to remove all federal funding for abstinence education (research has shown repeatedly that the nearly $2 billion spent on it over the past quarter-century may as well have been set on fire). Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than half of high schools and only a fifth of middle schools teach all 16 components the agency recommends as essential to sex education. Only 23 states mandate sex ed at all; 13 require it to be medically accurate.

Even the most comprehensive classes generally stick with a woman’s internal parts: uteruses, fallopian tubes, ovaries. Those classic diagrams of a woman’s reproductive system, the ones shaped like the head of a steer, blur into a gray Y between the legs, as if the vulva and the labia, let alone the clitoris, don’t exist. And whereas males’ puberty is often characterized in terms of erections, ejaculation and the emergence of a near-unstoppable sex drive, females’ is defined by periods. And the possibility of unwanted pregnancy. When do we explain the miraculous nuances of their anatomy? When do we address exploration, self-knowledge?

No wonder that according to the largest survey on American sexual behavior conducted in decades, published in 2010 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers at Indiana University found only about a third of girls between 14 and 17 reported masturbating regularly and fewer than half have even tried once. When I asked about the subject, girls would tell me, “I have a boyfriend to do that,” though, in addition to placing their pleasure in someone else’s hands, few had ever climaxed with a partner.

Boys, meanwhile, used masturbating on their own as a reason girls should perform oral sex, which was typically not reciprocated. As one of a group of college sophomores informed me, “Guys will say, ‘A hand job is a man job, a blow job is yo’ job.’ ” The other women nodded their heads in agreement.

Frustrated by such stories, I asked a high school senior how she would feel if guys expected girls to, say, fetch a glass of water from the kitchen whenever they were together yet never (or only grudgingly) offered to do so in return? She burst out laughing. “Well, I guess when you put it that way,” she said.

The rise of oral sex, as well as its demotion to an act less intimate than intercourse, was among the most significant transformations in American sexual behavior during the 20th century. In the 21st, the biggest change appears to be an increase in anal sex. In 1992, 16 percent of women aged 18 to 24 said they had tried anal sex. Today, according to the Indiana University study, 20 percent of women 18 to 19 have, and by ages 20 to 24 it’s up to 40 percent.

A 2014 study of 16- to 18-year-old heterosexuals — and can we just pause a moment to consider just how young that is? — published in a British medical journal found that it was mainly boys who pushed for “fifth base,” approaching it less as a form of intimacy with a partner (who they assumed would both need to be and could be coerced into it) than a competition with other boys. They expected girls to endure the act, which young women in the study consistently reported as painful. Both sexes blamed the girls themselves for the discomfort, calling them “naïve or flawed,” unable to “relax.”

According to Debby Herbenick, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and one of the researchers on its sexual behavior survey, when anal sex is included, 70 percent of women report pain in their sexual encounters. Even when it’s not, about a third of young women experience pain, as opposed to about 5 percent of men. What’s more, according to Sara McClelland, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, college women are more likely than men to use their partner’s physical pleasure as the yardstick for their satisfaction, saying things like “If he’s sexually satisfied, then I’m sexually satisfied.” Men are more likely to measure satisfaction by their own orgasm.

Professor McClelland writes about sexuality as a matter of “intimate justice.” It touches on fundamental issues of gender inequality, economic disparity, violence, bodily integrity, physical and mental health, self-efficacy and power dynamics in our most personal relationships, whether they last two hours or 20 years. She asks us to consider: Who has the right to engage in sexual behavior? Who has the right to enjoy it? Who is the primary beneficiary of the experience? Who feels deserving? How does each partner define “good enough”? Those are thorny questions when looking at female sexuality at any age, but particularly when considering girls’ formative experiences.

We are learning to support girls as they “lean in” educationally and professionally, yet in this most personal of realms, we allow them to topple. It is almost as if parents believe that if they don’t tell their daughters that sex should feel good, they won’t find out. And perhaps that’s correct: They don’t, not easily anyway. But the outcome is hardly what adults could have hoped.

What if we went the other way? What if we spoke to kids about sex more instead of less, what if we could normalize it, integrate it into everyday life and shift our thinking in the ways that we (mostly) have about women’s public roles? Because the truth is, the more frankly and fully teachers, parents and doctors talk to young people about sexuality, the more likely kids are both to delay sexual activity and to behave responsibly and ethically when they do engage in it.

Consider a 2010 study published in The International Journal of Sexual Health comparing the early experiences of nearly 300 randomly chosen American and Dutch women at two similar colleges — mostly white, middle class, with similar religious backgrounds. So, apples to apples. The Americans had become sexually active at a younger age than the Dutch, had had more encounters with more partners and were less likely to use birth control. They were also more likely to say that they’d first had intercourse because of pressure from friends or partners.

In subsequent interviews with some of the participants, the Americans, much like the ones I met, described interactions that were “driven by hormones,” in which the guys determined relationships, both sexes prioritized male pleasure, and reciprocity was rare. As for the Dutch? Their early sexual activity took place in caring, respectful relationships in which they communicated openly with their partners (whom they said they knew “very well”) about what felt good and what didn’t, about how far they wanted to go, and about what kind of protection they would need along the way. They reported more comfort with their bodies and their desires than the Americans and were more in touch with their own pleasure.

What’s their secret? The Dutch said that teachers and doctors had talked candidly to them about sex, pleasure and the importance of a mutual trust, even love. More than that, though, there was a stark difference in how their parents approached those topics.

While the survey did not reveal a significant difference in how comfortable parents were talking about sex, the subsequent interviews showed that the American moms had focused on the potential risks and dangers, while their dads, if they said anything at all, stuck to lame jokes.

Dutch parents, by contrast, had talked to their daughters from an early age about both joy and responsibility. As a result, one Dutch woman said she told her mother immediately after she first had intercourse, and that “my friend’s mother also asked me how it was, if I had an orgasm and if he had one.”

MEANWHILE, according to Amy T. Schalet, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the author of “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex, ” young Dutch men expect to combine sex and love. In interviews, they generally credited their fathers with teaching them that their partners must be equally up for any sexual activity, that the women could (and should) enjoy themselves as much as men, and that, as one respondent said, he would be stupid to have sex “with a drunken head.” Although she found that young Dutch and American men both often yearned for love, only the Americans considered that a personal quirk.

I thought about all of that that recently when, driving home with my daughter, who is now in middle school, we passed a billboard whose giant letters on a neon-orange background read, “Porn kills love.” I asked her if she knew what pornography was. She rolled her eyes and said in that jaded tone that parents of preteenagers know so well, “Yes, Mom, but I’ve never seen it.”

I could’ve let the matter drop, felt relieved that she might yet make it to her first kiss unencumbered by those images.

Goodness knows, that would’ve been easier. Instead I took a deep breath and started the conversation: “I know, Honey, but you will, and there are a few things you need to know.”

Complete Article HERE!

Why Does He Need Porn When He Has ME?

By Amy Jo Goddard

If you are threatened because your partner or lover watches porn, you need to ask yourself why.

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Porn has become the ubiquitous other woman. The porn debate is intense and complex for many people. I hear people talk about the role they think porn is playing in their sexual lives and I’ve noticed a big pattern where many women feel like it gets in the way of their being able to be intimate with their partners. Maybe that’s true, but I think there are other factors going on that I want to address in this article.

We could debate all day long about how pornography depicts unrealistic images of women’s bodies, men’s penises and sex itself, and how that creates all sorts of unrealistic expectations for many people when they actually have a real sexual relationship. Porn is there for entertainment and arousal and it fulfills something in people who watch, otherwise it wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry. But let’s talk about the ideas that many people are attaching to their partner’s love of porn.

If you are threatened because your partner or lover watches porn, you need to ask yourself why. When women profess that their partners shouldn’t watch porn because they should just be enough, or because it makes them feel insecure, or because they are now questioning their partner’s integrity or even their attraction, big red flags go up for me because I know that the issue isn’t the porn.

The issue is insecurity, an unstable relationship, or unrealistic expectations. Let’s break each one down.

Insecurity

You need to be your best self and show up as your best self in your relationship. If you are destabilized because your partner watches porn, you are not at home in yourself, you are projecting your own insecurity and you are not being your best self. So, your partner enjoys porn. Why do you want to put the kibosh on that because you don’t like it?porn.jpg

You need to deal with your insecurity. No amount of porn can replace a loving, sensual, playful, adventurous, real-life sexual partner. Porn doesn’t caress your partner and give him or her human touch. You do. Why are you comparing yourself to porn?

If your insecurity is flaring up, ask yourself if you are insecure about yourself or the relationship. It’s one or the other.

If the insecurity is about yourself then your complaints about your lover’s porn watching are a projection. How does it serve you to do that? Your insecurity is your issue to deal with. Don’t project it onto your partner or you will seriously douse the flame of the relationship. Total relationship killer.

Unstable Relationship

If you are insecure in the relationship, then the two of you had better talk and figure out how you are going to address and get help with that. It will NOT fix itself. You must deal with the insecurity because it means there is not trust and that’s an awful place to be. Why be in a relationship where you can’t trust your partner? If you are not working on mending the insecurity, then the relationship is dying and you need to get real about that.

If your relationship is unstable and you are feeling insecure about it, then that will show up everywhere. Again, the porn is not the problem, the issues in the relationship are. The porn watching could be a symptom of what’s going on if your lover uses the porn to escape and not deal with the real things that are going on for you in the relationship. Or, it might just be something your lover likes to do. In that case, why are you judging it?

Unrealistic Expectations

free_online_pornYou may also have totally unrealistic and unfair expectations of your sexual partner. If you expect that YOU will be the SOLE source of your partner’s erotic excitement you are not only kidding yourself, you are expecting that your lover will just put away his or her sexuality and bring it out only for you. Is that what attracted you to them in the first place? I bet not.

If you need to be the center of your lover’s universe, and that’s how you feel your own self-worth, you have work to do. People are sexual by nature. Our sexuality is. We don’t turn it on or off at will because it makes someone feel uncomfortable. And no one should expect us to. You don’t decide not to wear your sexuality today because you have a business meeting or a doctor’s appointment, or lunch with a friend that might make your partner jealous. You are always sexual and if you or your partner is putting your sexuality away to “protect” the other from feeling bad, insecure, jealous, hurt, threatened or even angry, that’s problematic. You are squashing the most powerful energy you have and that doesn’t serve you or your relationship.

Can I coexist with porn in my relationship?

Your partner can love you, desire you and want to have mind-blowing sex with you AND enjoy watching porn. The porn itself takes nothing away from you. It’s another means of sexual expression that your partner likes. You don’t have to like it the same way, but why do you need to zip their lid and guilt them into feeling bad because sexy images turn them on? That will do more damage than any amount of porn watching ever will. They’ll just learn to hide things from you and they’ll be clandestine about it – they won’t stop watching porn. You are just creating future trust issues.

If this is an issue for you there are some patterns you’ve got to look at. You are enough. You are not competing in a pageant with pornography. (Get another take on pornography in Porn: Love It or Leave It?)

Complete Article HERE!