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Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch

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Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.

Touch Isolation

By Mark Green

“Boys imitate what they see. If what they see is emotional distance, guardedness, and coldness between men they will grow up to imitate that behavior…What do boys learn when they do not see men with close friendships, where there are no visible models of intimacy in a man’s life beyond his spouse?” -Kindlon and Thompson, Raising Cain
(With thanks to BRETT & KATE MCKAY)

Recently I wrote an article titled The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer 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’ll call it touch isolation. Homophobic social stigmas, the  long-standing challenges of rampant sexual 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 at a time 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 lasting and meant to provide connection and comfort. Think, 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.

Touch Isolation2While 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 for an article they titled: 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.

The McKays note in their article the following observation:

But 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 ten 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 his article, Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box. Read it. It’s a real eye opener.

“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.”

Male touch isolation is one of many powerful reasons why I support gay marriage initiatives. 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.

Recently, 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 fifty 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/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!

The Secret To Good Sex In A Long-Term Relationship

Pro-tip: Act like your relationship is a Skinemax movie

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The Secret To Good Sex In A Long-Term Relationship

It turns out candles, lingerie, and jazzy tunes are more than romantic cliches—they might actually kinda work. At least, that’s according to a new study of long-term heterosexual relationships finding that sexually satisfied couples regularly engage in these and other forms of foreplay and mood-setting.

Sexually successful couples’ lives don’t look exactly like gauzy, soft-focus films, though: They were also more likely to have experimented with sexual variety—from anal stimulation to acting out sexual fantasies to using a sex toy together. And they had sex and orgasms more frequently.

“It was encouraging to learn that more than one-third of couples kept passion alive, even after a decade or two together,” said Janet Lever, a study co-author. “That won’t happen on auto pilot; these couples made a conscious effort to ward off routinization of sex.”

The study, published in The Journal of Sex Research, surveyed more than 38,747 heterosexual men and women in the United States who had been with their partner for at least three years. Researchers had participants rate their sexual satisfaction currently and in the first six months of the relationship. The majority, 83 percent, said they were sexually satisfied at the start. Ah, but passion does often wane: Just over half, 55 percent, said they were presently satisfied with their sex lives, while the rest either felt neutral or dissatisfied.

Satisfied couples were far more likely to have experimented with sexual variety. For example, among dissatisfied men and women, 33 and 45 percent respectively said they or their partner had worn sexy lingerie or underwear in the past month. But among their satisfied counterparts those numbers rose dramatically to 67 and 71 percent. Consider the percentage that reported recently trying a new sexual position: 22 and 25 percent of unhappy men and women, compared to 59 and 63 percent of their sexually stoked counterparts.

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The aforementioned cheesy, mood-setting measures also saw higher, although much less dramatic, numbers among the sexually satisfied: 23 and 20 percent of contented folks reported lighting a candle or dimming the lights during their last sexual encounter, compared to 11 and 9 percent among the dissatisfied. (You heard it here first: Candles can’t compete with anal play.)

Fulfilled couples also, as David Frederick, lead author of the study, put it, “practiced effective sexual communication.” It’s true: satisfied folks were far more likely to report praising their partners in bed or their partner asking for something they wanted in bed. But it’s also somewhat startling just how little sex talk there was, even among the happy couples. Satisfied or not, more people tried out sexy lingerie and undies in the last year than asked their partners in the past month for feedback on how something felt during sex. In fact, more men across the board reported experimenting with anal stimulation than having a partner who “asked for something they wanted in bed.”

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It’s important to note that the study didn’t establish causation, so we can’t say that lingerie or candles directly lead to sexual satisfaction—maybe the sexually satisfied are simply more open to exploration! Or maybe those who are open to exploration are more sexually satisfied. Frederick points out that the two groups respond very differently when it comes to tips found in articles just like this one. ”Almost half of satisfied and dissatisfied couples read sexual self-help books and magazine articles,” said Frederick, “but what set sexually satisfied couples apart was that they actually tried some of the ideas.” No pressure.

Complete Article HERE!

How Many Americans Actually Engage In BDSM Play

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How Many Americans Actually Engage In BDSM Play

BDSM is the acronym for “bondage, discipline, submission, masochism,” and it’s a practice that’s ancient. According to research by sex toy retailers, Adam & Eve, there’s evidence of BDSM sex practices in ancient Greek art, and the Kama Sutra, which was written in 300 A.D., publicized erotic spanking as a way to add a little something extra to people’s sex lives. Although, as for how many actually did will remain a mystery, I like to believe it was a lot.

I think we can all agree that BDSM has been pulled out of the darkness and is now out in the open. People aren’t just talking about it with mind far more open minds than they did in the past, but they’re also practicing BDSM in their own sex lives. According to OkCupid’s 2015 Hangover report, 58 percent of users have a desire to participate in bondage. But how many actually do?

While to what extent people are exploring the realms of BDSM varies from couple to couple, even some of the “vanilla” sex people have probably picked up a blindfold and at least considered integrating it into their sex lives. You can never go wrong by experimenting with other corners of your sexuality and uncovering new ways to enjoy yourself.

Because BDSM is finally getting its day in the sun, Adam & Eve researched not just the history behind it, but just how many Americans are practicing it and who these Americans are. Here are 10 facts about BDSM according to that research.

1. The Art Of The Dominatrix Goes Way Back

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According to the research, as far back as the 18th century, there were brothels all over Europe that specialized in providing the service of dominating men through the use of vigorous “punishment.” Submissive men knew exactly what they were getting when they went to these brothels, and it included being restrained, whipped, and whatever other forms of punishment the dominatrix deemed necessary.

2. BDSM Participants Are More Open Than ‘Vanilla’ Participants

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The study found that those who engage in BDSM sex are more extroverted and open to new things. These are basically the people who like to jump out of planes or jet off to New Zealand at the last minute, because why the hell not? They’re also more sexually adventurous, not that that should be a major surprise.

3. Those Who Practice BDSM Are Mentally Healthier

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While this isn’t to suggest that those who prefer “vanilla” sex are somehow not healthy in the head, the research did find that those who practice BDSM are less stressed and more secure in their relationships, which, let’s be honest, are pretty big selling points. They’re also more conscientious and aware of those around them, and less likely to be concerned about the opinions of others.

4. BDSM Requires A Particular Set Of Skills

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If you didn’t read that in Liam Neeson’s voice a la the movie Taken, it’s OK. Seriously though, it does require a set of skills that “vanilla” sex does not. For example, trust and communication are paramount in BDSM. One also needs to be accepting of both themselves and their partner, especially if they’re to really enjoy the experience.

5. The Majority Of People Communicate Their Desires With Their Partner5

According to the result of the study, 71 percent of people tell their partner what they want in bed. Such good news! How are you supposed to get the most out of sex, if you don’t? For the 29 percent who don’t, they’re just doing themselves, more than anyone, an extreme disservice. Communication is key for great sex, people! (I know I’ve written that sentence 500 times probably in the last year alone.)

6. Over 50 Percent Of People Share Their Sexual Fantasies With Their Partner

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Although ideally this should be closer to 100 percent, I guess we should be happy that at least 56 percent of people share their fantasies with their partners. Depending on what those fantasies are, it might feel like a difficult thing to do, but remember EVERYONE has sexual fantasies. It’s normal, it’s healthy, and if you want to give them a whirl, you can’t expect your partner to read your mind.

7. Most People Actually Haven’t Engaged In BDSM

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When Adam & Eve asked the respondents who had played with blindfolds, paddles, or restraints in the bedroom, a whopping 73 percent said no. Although this doesn’t mean these people are experimenting with BDSM in other ways, these accessories always lead to a good time, when consensual of course.

8. Not Enough People Are Using Safe Words

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For those who do practice BDSM, only 17 percent use a safe word. WHAT? Safe words are really important! A safe word lets your partner know that you need them to slow down or stop. Depending on whatever game you’re playing “stop” might not cut it, so consider a safe word. Please!

9. More Women Than Men Love To Be Bitten

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Ah, yes, the animalistic act of erotic biting… fun, isn’t it? According to Adam & Eve, although most people do enjoy being bitten, women, at 55 percent, enjoy it more than men, at 50 percent.

10. Less Than 10 Percent Of Women Like to Dominate

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Complete Article HERE!

How to Do Kegels Without Getting a Bulky, Manly Vagina

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How to Do Kegels Without Getting a Bulky, Manly Vagina

Unless you’re living under an unfuckable rock, you’ve obviously heard of your Kegels. You might even already be doing them a few times a week in the hopes of toning your pelvic floor, keeping your bladder in check, or turning your otter pocket into a delicate vise that firmly grips anything that dares to lovingly enter it. If you aren’t yet doing Kegels, it might be because you have the same fear that many women do before starting an exercise regimen: Will it make me look mannish? While some doctors might dismiss your deeply held concern as “ridiculous” or even “what are you talking about”, experts confirm that improperly-done Kegels can make your muscles become bulky, beefcake-y, and super manly. No thanks! Here are the best ways to use kegels to keep your snatch sexy, slim, and ultra-feminine:

1. Use the right pussy weight.
They look like hella fancy jade tampons and you can find them pretty much anywhere: Amazon, Craigslist, Goodwill. No matter your budget or sanitation standards, you can find something weighted and sphericonical to shove into the ol’ love canal. Just be sure that no matter what you do, you get the pink, purple, or glittery ones. The last thing you need is to end up with a pelvic floor that purposely wipes wing sauce on your shirt during football games all because you popped some navy blue or slate-gray eggs into your lady hole. Yikes!

2. Don’t add liquid calories with sugary lube.
When you insert your weights, be sure to use a low carb, high-protein lube. If you can afford to splurge on the gluten-free variety, even better. Choosing a lubricant that has too much sugar and fat is just gonna pack on the pussy pounds and before you know it your once-demure munchbox will be shopping for Gold’s Gym posing tank tops and challenging strangers to arm-wrestling matches on the street.

3. Low weight + High reps = Tight, feminine poon.
For a lean vagina, high reps with a low weight is key. Aim for five sets of 1,000 reps; 50–75 times a week. You can literally do them from the time you wake up until the time you pass out from exhaustion and loneliness, as long as you’re using something that weighs less than a dwarf hamster. If you go for low reps and a higher weight, say, something in the guinea pig range, you run the serious risk of developing a rippling, meaty eight-pack of a punani; the kind that rips off its TapOut shirt in public while screaming, “YOU WANNA GO THEN?!? LET’S GO!! COME AT ME, BRO!!”

4. Remember to breathe, but not too hard.
You might have heard that slow, even, deep breaths are best while Kegeling. This is a really common misconception; one that will lead you down the road of an aggressively full-bodied and overly aggressive vagina. You want to keep your breaths airy, shallow, and helpless-sounding. Restricting the flow of oxygen to your pelvic walls will help them stay sexy, trim, and delicately taut. Remember: This exercise is for you and also him!

5. Do it right, do it tight.
Nothing is more important than proper form. You NEVER want to perform Kegels in street clothes, old gym shorts, or comfy sweatpants. If you don’t have access to a full line of Lululemon apparel, lacy Victoria Secret underwear will do. Another option is to squeeze out your reps while completely nude and covered in rose petals that have been misted with vanilla oil. Again, that’s optional, but remember: Your pussy shouldn’t look like it’s killed a man with its bare hands before!

Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to get to work—just don’t work too hard or you could get a bodybuilder of a salami-hider! Remember, if you feel the burn, you’re doing wayyy too much! Or you should call your doc; could be the clap. Happy sweating!

Complete Article HERE!

Bullshitness of Rabbit Vibrators

By Emily Nagoski

I promised myself to do a post about the bullshitness of rabbit vibrators, so here it is.

To begin with, what I mean by a rabbit is a dual vibrator – most commonly a vibrator with a large shaft for penetration and a bullet for external, clitoral stimulation. It gets called a rabbit because one particular brand has molded the jelly sheath over the bullet to have little bunny ears. There are also dolphins and thumbs and lots of other things. It’s cute.

350__1_ivibe-rabbit-vibrator-grape.jpgSo wherein lies the bullshit? Well it’s not that they’re not effective – but anything with an off-center motor that you can put between your legs can be effective; I know someone whose engineer boyfriend built a vibrator out of an ibuprophen bottle, and pubescent girls worldwide discovered the glories of a vibrating Harry Potter broomstick.

Instead, the bullshit lies in the rabbit’s position in culture.

First of all, the rabbit became famous as a result of a Sex in the City episode where one of the characters gets “addicted” to it.

The episode was basically a commercial. It was a product placement of the crassest, most cynical kind.

So the first reason the rabbit is bullshit is that its popularity is the result of a television commercial, not as a result of its ability to get women off.

Which brings me to reason number two that the rabbit is bullshit.

LILY 2

LILY 2

Had LELO offered SitC more money than the rabbit did to promote the Lily, this would be a different post because the Lily is a small, beautiful, powerful, rechargeable, nearly silent clitoral vibrator with infinitely adjustable speed and I will forever sing its praises to the heavens. Even its shape, to me, has a grace and elegance that echoes the flexing of a woman’s body at orgasm.

But if you walk into a sex toy store and you see the Lily on a shelf, and then you see the rabbit in its foot-long glory, which will you think is better? The rabbit with its size, its many functions, and its cultural import, is surely the more impressive there on the shelf. And if you haven’t looked too closely at cultural myths about women’s sexuality, you might think that it’s a better design for meeting a women’s orgasmic needs.

But it’s not. It’s designed to meet CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS around a woman’s needs.

It’s a big, colorful, rotating, oscillating SHAFT… with a bullet vibe attached. What does that say? It says that what a woman really needs and wants is a giant dick that does fucking magic tricks, and maybe some clitoral stimulation too.

That’s the second bullshitness about rabbits. It tells women what they need is a cock. It feeds wrongheaded cultural expectations around women’s sexuality, rather than nourishing women’s sexuality as it truly is.

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When most women see even just a traditional slimline vibrator, they assume that they’re using the shaft for penetration. And mainstream porn certainly represents women’s masturbation as a largely penetration-oriented activity. The rabbit is part of this cultural discourse, this myth; the SitC character can only be satisfied by a giant, buzzing, candy-colored cock.

In fact more than 90% of women masturbate with NO VAGINAL PENETRATION. (The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality.)

The third, related, bullshitness: it tells women what they need is a cock, thus failing to tell women that really the vast majority of them would be better served with a clit-centric toy; the cultural phenomenon of the rabbit makes people think otherwise.

we-vibe-flexible-dual-action-vibrator.jpg

We-Vibe II

If you really want a dual vibrator designed genuinely to meet a woman’s orgasmic needs, have a look at the We-Vibe II, whose proportions accurately reflect where and how stimulation is effective for most (not all, of course) women.

I’ll move toward a conclusion here, though there’s lots more to say. This is hardly a comprehensive analysis of the rabbit in particular or sex toys in general. I just want to register a tiny squeak of frustrated rage that popular culture is failing us so very, very badly by repeating the myths that make women feel broken, subordinate, and conflicted.

If men are learning about sex from porn – and my college health ed colleagues recently did a survey that suggests that 1 in 4 college men thinks porn accurately portrays how sex works – then, I think, women learn about sex from the popular culture,  things like SitC. I believe that cultural representations of sexuality have a responsibility to participate in a healthy, factual, and feminist construction of women’s sexuality. Promoting something like the rabbit, with its phallocentric implications, does everyone on the planet a disservice.

If SitC were written by sex educators, the toy would more likely have been, for example, the Cadillac of vibrators, the Hitachi Magic Wand) – it’s big, it’s loud, it plugs into the wall, and it does the job.

But instead it was written by writers who don’t necessarily know anything about sex outside the mainstream nonsense, and so the mainstream nonsense is recapitulated.

Complete Article HERE!

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