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Maybe Monogamy Isn’t the Only Way to Love

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In the prologue to her new book, What Love Is and What It Could Be, philosopher Carrie Jenkins is walking through Vancouver, from her boyfriend’s apartment to the home she has with her husband. She wonders at how the romantic love she experiences firsthand is so different than the model presented by popular culture and academic theory alike. “If indeed romantic love must be monogamous, then I am making some kind of mistake when I say, ‘I’m in love with you’ — meaning romantically — to both my partners,” she writes. “I am not lying, because I am genuinely trying to be as honest as I can. But if romantic love requires monogamy, then despite my best intentions, what I’m saying at those moments is not, strictly speaking, true.”

Her book examines the long, sometimes awkward legacy of philosophers’ thinking on romantic love, and compares that with a new subfield in close-relationships research — consensual nonmonogamy, or CNM. While singers and thinkers alike have been riffing on a “one and only” for decades, she argues that space is being made in the cultural conversation to “question the universal norm of monogamous love, just as we previously created space to question the universal norm of hetero love.” These norms are more fluid than they appear: In Jenkins’s lifetime alone same-sex and cross-ethnicity relationships have become common.

When I asked Jenkins to describe how it feels to have both a husband and a boyfriend — she rejects the “primary relationship” moniker altogether — she said that it’s like having more loving relationships in your life, like a close family member or friend. She and her boyfriend, whom she’s been with for about five years, used to work in the same building; he was teaching creative writing on the floor above her philosophy department, though they didn’t meet until they matched on OkCupid. While both men have met each other, they’re not close; Jenkins describes the relationship as having a “V shape,” rather than a triangle. Both helped in the development of the book: husband refining philosophical arguments; boyfriend editing the writing, and helping her to sound like a normal person, rather than an academic.

Still, CNM faces lots of stigma; even the study of it is stigmatized. Yet in the limited yet rich vein of research out there, the evidence suggests that it’s a style that, in some populations, leads to greater relationship satisfaction than monogamy. In any case, the researchers tell me, the insights into what makes more-than-two relationships work can be applied to any given dyad, given the communicative finesse required when three or more hearts are involved.

In a forthcoming Perspectives in Psychological Science paper, Terri Conley, a University of Michigan psychologist who’s driven the field, defines CNM as “a relational arrangement in which partners agree that it is acceptable to have more than one sexual and/or romantic relationship at the same time.” That’s distinguished from the “polygamy” practiced by some religious groups, where it’s not always clear whether wives can opt out of the relationship.

I was surprised to discover how common it is: A 2016 study of two nationally representative samples of single Americans — of 3,905 and 4,813 respondents, respectively — found in each case that about one in five people had practiced it during their lifetime. A 2016 YouGov poll found that 31 percent of women and 38 percent of men thought their ideal relationship would be CNM in some way. Other research indicates that around 4 to 5 percent of Americans in relationships are in some sort of CNM, be it swinging, where partners have sex with people outside their relationship at parties and the like; an open relationship, where it’s cool to have sex with other people but not grow emotionally attached to them; or polyamory, where both partners approve of having close emotional, romantic, and sexual relationships outside of the couple itself. People are curious, too: From 2006 to 2015, Google searches for polyamory and open relationships went up. Other data points to how sticking to the boundaries of monogamy doesn’t come easily to lots of people: A 2007 survey of 70,000 Americans found that one in five had cheated on their current partner.

Jenkins says that as a tenured philosophy professor at the University of British Columbia, she’s in a unique, privileged position to openly talk about being in a nonmonogamous marriage. She’d been interested in being in more than one relationship ever since she can remember, but it used to seem like some sort of impossible dream situation — she didn’t realize it could be an option in her real life until she was about 30. (She’s now 37.)

Jenkins met her husband, Jonathan, who’s also a philosopher, back in 2009, at a philosophy workshop that he organized at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland; they later got married in the same hall the conference took place. They took one another’s last names as middle names.

Now married for almost eight years, they talked about polyamory early on, though defining the relationship that way came later. As philosophers are wont to do, they soon wrote a bit of a manifesto about their arrangement. They observed that even if their wedding guests were woke in any number of ways — not batting an eyelid if a colleague was gay or bi, eschewing heteronormative assumptions, and the like — there’s still the shared assumption that a nonmonogamous relationship is less sexually safe and less committed than a regular ol’ monogamous one. “Even our very liberal pocket of our relatively liberal society is massively — and, to us, surprisingly— mononormative,” they write. “Acquaintances, friends, and colleagues are constantly assuming that our relationship, and indeed every relationship that they think of as ‘serious’, is a sexually monogamous one.”

To Jenkins, the biggest struggle with polyamory isn’t from managing multiple relationships — though Google Calendar is a crucial tool — but rather the strong, sometimes violently negative reactions that she gets, especially online. When I spoke with her by phone, she was struck by a comment to a YouTube interview of hers, where a pseudonymous user invited “everyone” to read her column in the Chronicle of Higher Education about having multiple loves.

“THIS WOMAN IS A DISGUSTING ANIMAL,” the troll wrote. “Every bit as twisted and queer as the Mormons with their multiple lives [sic]. This femme-pig is the spectral opposite of Trump; a far far left-wing freak that desires to completely overthrow Western Christian Civilization.” Jenkins walked me through a deep reading of the bile: Bundling in politics — the “left-wing freak” bit — with the monogamy norms signals to her that there’s a judgment of what it means to be a good person in here, since politics is about living correctly, collectively. Plus “if you’re an animal, you’re out of the range of humanity,” she says. She’s also gets a lot of “get herpes and die, slut” suggestions, she says, which speaks to the hypersexualization of CNM. Nonmonogamy leads to lots of sex, the presumption goes, and with that STIs, and it proceeds from there. The way news articles covering CNM tend to be illustrated with images of three or four people in a bath or bed doesn’t help, either.

“The way we normally think about romantic love, we don’t imagine that it’s entirely about sex,” she says. “For a lot of people sex is a part of it; if we’re just having a hookup or a friend with benefits, we don’t call that romantic love. When it comes to polyamorous relationships, if you’re in love with more than one person, the same applies — to fall in love with someone is not the same as to sleep with them. We’re clear with that distinction in monogamous relationships, but in CNM that distinction between love and sex gets collapsed.”

Researchers who have studied stigma around CNM have found lots. In a 2012 paper, Conley and her colleagues found that monogamous relationships were better rated on every metric by different sets of the population, including nonmonogamous people. When 132 participants recruited online read relationship vignettes that were identical except for one being monogamous and the other not, the CNM was seen as riskier sexually, more lonely, less acceptable, and having a lower relationship quality. People in CNM were also seen as worse with non-relational things, like making sure to walk their dog or paying their taxes on time. Amy Moors, a co-author on the paper, says it had some of the biggest effect sizes she’s seen in her research. Elisabeth Sheff, a leading polyamory researcher who left academia for lack of grant funding, now frequently serves as an expert witness in custody battles; she says that often a grandmother or a former spouse will find out that a co-parent has multiple relationships, be scandalized, and demand to take the kids — even though her longitudinal research, reported in The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, indicates that kids who grow up in polyamorous families aren’t any more screwed up than average American children.

That same paper finds that there were no differences in relationship functioning between monogamous and nonmonogamous couples. People in CNM had lower jealousy and higher trust — yet also lower sexual satisfaction with their partner. Polyamorists were more satisfied than people in open relationships, perhaps because it’s hard to block of feelings for people you sleep with frequently. Polyamorous people were a special case, with higher satisfaction, commitment, trust, and passionate love than monogamous individuals, though they had lower sexual satisfaction. CNM people also had higher sexual satisfaction with their secondary partners than their primary partners, though that difference fell away when controlling for relationship time, with primary relationships averaging three times the length of secondary relationships.

“Overall, the standard for human responses for relationships is habituation,” Conley says. “That involves a loss of sexual attraction, and we can tell that from stats from therapy. And to the extent that a couple is frustrated sexually, it spills over to other parts of life.”

There are other explanations for high satisfaction scores for polyamorous people, she adds. It could be that they’re just acting out a social desirability bias, given that they’re participating in a study about CNM and want the lifestyle to look good; it could also be that people who enter into polyamory have self-selected themselves into a hypercommunicative population — all the poly self-help books emphasize the importance the need to explicitly talk things out. “People interested in polyamory are more relationship-y than the average person,” she says. “They like thinking about relationships, talking about relationships. That’s great in monogamy, but needed in polyamory.”

All this suggests the kind of people that are the right fit for CNM. Beyond being relationship-y, a Portuguese study out this year found that people with a high sociosexuality, or disposal to casual sex, had less relationship satisfaction when in a monogamous relationship, but those effects disappeared if they were in CNM. Still, they were just as committed to their relationships — signaling that exclusivity and commitment may not be one and the same. Harvard sexologist Justin Lehmiller has found that people who are more erotophilic — i.e., that love sex — will be a better fit for CNM; same with if they’re sensation-seeking.

Amy Moors, the Purdue psychologist, has found that people with higher avoidant attachment — where you’re just not that into intimacy — have positive feelings about and a willingness to engage in polyamory, but they were less likely to actually partake of it. While a correlational study, Moors explained that from a subjective perspective, it makes sense: “When you have avoidant attachment, you like a lot of emotional distance, physical distance, time by yourself,” Moors says, which is not a fit for the relationship-y remands of a poly lifestyle. Also, there’s reason to believe that folks who have relational anxiety, and are thus sensitive to separation, might be prone to the jealousy that’s known to flare up in CNM, though it’s not like that doesn’t happen in monogamy, too.

What motivated Jenkins to write What Love Is, she says, was a gap — or silence — in the philosophical literature, that polyamory was rarely discussed or even acknowledged as a possibility. “Noticing these philosophical silences and denials, while simultaneously being made aware of how society at large viewed me for being a polyamorous woman, made me realize there was something important here that I needed to do,” she says. “To do it meant bringing my personal life and my philosophical work into a conversation with one another. The familiar slogan says that the personal is political, but the personal is philosophical, too.”

Two key themes emerge from reading the book: that love is dual-layered, with social scripts overlaying evolutionary, physiological impulses. And that the “romantic mystique,” like the feminine one before it, assumes that love is mysterious and elusive and corrupted from examination — a sentiment that protects the status quo. But with investigation, and conversation, the mechanics of love reveal themselves, and norms can change socially, and be tailored locally. Like Jenkins, you can custom-fit your relationships to your life — if you dare to talk about them.

Complete Article HERE!

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Several Steamy Summer Solstice Sexual Situations — SOLVED!

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Don’t you just love alliteration?

Summer is here…at least in the northern hemisphere. All hail Sol Invictus! Instead of being outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather we’re having here in the Emerald City, I’m stuck indoors, at this freakin’ keyboard. HELP! Maybe if I hurry up and get my homework done, my mom will let me go out and play.

Name: john
Gender:
Age: 58
Location: Detroit
married and testing the water, so to speak. Was with a man who is HIV and I swallowed a couple of drops of his cum. Should I be concerned/worried?

gettestedposter-english2.pngAhhhh, yeah! I’d sure enough be concerned, if I were you. I’d be concerned enough to get tested, that’s for sure — not just now, but again in 6 weeks or so. While it’s not overly likely that you’ve sero-converted by this incident alone, stranger things have happened.

I am of the mind that all sexually active people (especially you people who are being sexual outside of your primary relationships) be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections regularly…at least twice a year. All you sexual athletes out there should test every other month. You shouldn’t even think about it, you should just do it. It is painless, discreet, but most importantly, it’s the responsible thing to do. If you make it part of your lifestyle, then there will be no embarrassment associated with the trip to your doctor or the local clinic. Made this happen, people.

Good luck

Name: Frank
Gender:
Age: 18
Location: Brazil
I have never had sex with anyone before and i believe i am straight, as i feel attrakted towrds girls, but every now and again i like watching gay porn. is this a sign that i’m bisexual or gay? or is it just curiosity?

Can’t hardly say what you are, Frank. Maybe it’s too soon to be giving yourself a label.

What I can tell you is, I’m as queer as a $3 dollar bill (as we say here in America), and I sometimes watch straight porn. That sure as hell don’t make me straight…don’t even make me bi, honey. I guess that just leaves…curious, huh?

Good luck

Name: asianIndian
Gender:
Age: 24
Location: San Diego, CA
I have been masturbating almost everyday for the past 10 years now. Last year was the first time I tried to get laid off. It was with a 30 woman and I found that I was not able to retain the stiffness of my dick while pumping her. At the end I had to pull out and masturbate to ejaculate. I tried it couple of more women on different occasion and I faced with the same problem. All the three times I had to pull out and masturbate with my hand. I felt really embarrassed and I am afraid of going out with any other women. I also noticed that when I masturbate I do it vigorously and for a prolonged period of time. But when I was having sex I was not able to pump the women for more than 3-4 minutes, I felt part exhausted and my penis too looses its stiffness. How can I over come this major problem?

Name: tanya
Gender:
Age: 28
Location: ca
my boyfriend has trouble cuming durning sex.he can cum if we are doing anael or I give him a blow job. he takes a long time to cum if we do doggie style. but he cant cum most the time and he cant cum if hes on top. can it be metal or health wise? help please.

You guys are a real pair! I thought I’d respond to you both at the same time.

pic13981.jpgLots of guys find it difficult to cum in penis/vagina fucking. Sometimes there’s simply not enough friction due to flabby, out of shape untoned pussy muscles. Tanya darling, are you doing your Kegel exercises? You should be, if you’re not. If the BF can get off in your ass and with your mouth and hand, then that tells me you have more of a grip in these other orifices then you do in your whoha. It’s not the end of the world. It can be remedied with a little exercise.

Mr. AsianIndian, maybe your masturbation technique gives you more direct cock stimulation than what you get inside a pussy. If that’s the case, you’ll probably have to learn to masturbate with a lighter touch or find a tighter snatch. You could also try masturbating till you get close to shooting, and then stick it in again. Either way, there’s no need to feel embarrassed. Like I said, lots of guys can’t get off by fucking alone. Just like lots of women don’t have vaginal orgasms. They need to stimulate their clit for that.

Good luck

Name: james
Gender:
Age: 18
Location: lewes, de
is there a way i can make my dick bigger without pills. my dick is so small i cant do alot of the positions i like. i even slip out doin misonary. so can you help me.

Name: ali
Gender:
Age: 39
Location: glasgow
what is the best thinks to mack the (cock-peanas) biger)

Well. Boys, here’s the deal. Throughout history, men have obsessed with the size of their cocks. And when there’s that much attention paid to something that trivial, you can be sure there’s gonna be an entire industry poised to bilk the shit out of the willie worrisome, like you guys.

All of this unfortunate big-dick envy creates a never-ending parade of con artists tryin’ to sell a remedy, of one sort or another, to cure guys, just like you, of their “shame”. But, take it from Dr. Dick, the dick doctor; it’s all bullshit. And some of the bullshit is really scary and dangerous bullshit.

monsterpumped.jpgFor every little peanut out there, there is some kooky diet, ridiculous cream, bogus massage technique or worthless breathing exercise that is supposed to transform one’s mini-meat into the giant economy size. And let’s not forget the weights you can hang on your thang, the Vacuum device to pump up your thang. And of course the twenty-first century solution — cosmetic surgery — to put a happy face on your thang. The results are dubious if there are any results at all. And each has negative side effects, some of which are more revolting than others.

Here’s the last word on this — don’t waste your money on any of this crap. Or better yet, send me the money, and I’ll put it to good use. Here’s the very best advice I can offer a guy who is unhappy about the size of his schlong…learn to love what ya got and leave it alone.

Good luck

Name: spungee
Gender:
Age: 36
Location: canada’s capital (you figure it out)
hey. i am a big time anal fan, both giving and receiving. spouse and i have enjoyed anal for some years now, both me giving to her and me gettin pegged. my concern is that while she was really into it at first, she seems to have cooled down a bit recently when it comes to nailing me. any thoughts on how to warm things up again? cheers, spungee

b758.jpgI know what the capitol of Canada is, it’s Ottawa. I went to collage, ya know. I was gonna vist Ottawa, but then I heard it’s filled with Canadians.

Why did things fall off, so to speak? Is the pegging all about you? What’s in it for her? If you get pegged, what does she get? Maybe she’s just bored. Maybe she thinks you’re being selfish. Have you checked in with her lately? Maybe she wants to see you get nailed by the real thing. Ever consider replacing the dildo with 100% prime Canadian Beef?

Good luck

Name: Carlos
Gender:
Age: 24
Location: Colombia
does coffee have a negative effect on one’s erection? Does anyone know if this is true and why this would be?

Never heard of such a thing! Since Seattle is coffee central here in the good old US of A, I’m sure I would have heard of this, or seen some evidence of this here. I have not! Everyone here in Seattle has a huge stiff erection…all the time

Come to think of it, if you poured hot coffee on your unit that would have a negative effect your stiffy. That’s for damn sure!

Good luck

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I Have A Pain in My Inbox!

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From the sublime to the ridiculous, my inbox is a catch all. Kinda like the grease trap in your kitchen drain. Wading through the detritus can often be injurious to my health. But wade I must. So onward we go.

Name: anonras
Gender:
Age: 47
Location: Northridge CA
I’ve heard a lot about checking your balls for possible problems — but none ever say what lumps you have naturally. At the low point of my testacies I feel a lump (I would explain it as an area that would feel more or less like a cracked egg, you have that part that is globulous and is string-tethered to the yoke. Is that exactly what’s happening? Should you feel any pain if you squeeze it — especially trying to figure out if it is a lump or not?

repo.jpgHoney, I’m clever as all-get out about lots of things, but the lump on your balls ain’t one of those things. I’m not a medical doctor; I don’t even play one here on the internets. And I can assure you, no reputable doctor anywhere would hazard a guess about what you present without first seeing you in person. That’s just good medicine.

That being said, I applaud you taking note of your balls in an inquisitive sort of way. Good for you! But you should also have at least a rudimentary understanding of your testicular anatomy. So that when you do your self-exam, you can have some sense about what it is you are examining. To this purpose, I offer the diagram to the right. Is there anything in the diagram that looks even remotely like what you are feeling in your ballsack?

Finally, if you have a concern about what you think may be an abnormality, isn’t it high time for you to high tail it to a doctor for a look-see?

Good luck

Name: Dorian
Gender:
Age: 18
Location: NYC
Is there any difference in Penis size between races?

Seriously? You need to get out more, darlin!
black_big_dick1.jpg
You becha there a difference in cock size between the races. While, within each racial group there is a natural diversity of size, from tiny to gargantuan. There’s no getting around the fact that there are more gargantuan johnsons in some racial groups then other. At the risk of perpetuating a stereotype, compare some fine black dick to some sweet Chinese cock.

asian.jpg

Good luck

Name: Kent I B Pinker
Gender:
Age: 32
Location: New Zealand
I am curious about anal bleaching. In part just for the sheer vanity of it, but also as a surprise and kinky turn on for my partner. I have done some research online but I am scared after reading some of the horror stories. Any advice?

Kent I B Pinker? I love it! You get the award for “Most Clever Pseudonym of the Year! Congratulations!

If you’re curious about anal bleaching — and yes, there is such a thing — you have way too much time on your hands. Anal bleaching is just the latest in a string of truly disturbing cosmetic trends sweeping the “More Money Than Brains” crowd. WTF, folks? If your vanity extends to the hue of your rosebud, you’re just too goddamn vain, in my humble opinion!

anusbanner.jpgThis all started in the adult industry, don’t ‘cha know. I guess some folks figured they weren’t quite ready for their close-up. Being part of that industry myself, I know how unforgiving hot lights and hi-def can be. However, I still can’t condone such a dangerous and reckless practice.

You are right to be scared off by the horror stories of bleachings gone bad, Kent. So I suggest, unless your hole is makin’ you money, you forego even contemplating the procedure.

Good luck

Name: William
Gender:
Age: 67
Location: Connecticut
Is there such a thing as a being a homosexual watcher only? Getting an erection but not wanting to perform?

kinsey_scale.jpgAll sexual orientation is on a continuum. See the Kinsey Scale to the right. The dean of American sex research, Alfred Kinsey, his associate, Wardell Pomeroy, and others developed this scale as a way of classifying a person’s sexuality in terms of both behavior and fantasy. These pioneering sexologists also found that an individual may be reassigned a position on this scale, at different periods in his/her life. It’s conceivable that one could go from 0 to 6 in a lifetime, or just a summer on Fire Island. This seven-point scale comes close to showing the many gradations that actually exist in human sexual expression.

To your specific question, William… Yes, some one could be a Kinsey “6” in terms of his fantasy and desire, but be a Kinsey “0” in terms of behaviors.

We’re amazing creatures, huh?

Good Luck

Name: michelle
Gender:
Age: 22
Location: canada
tips to help when the man your sleeping with has a small penis

Tips? …no pun intended, I hope.

doggiestyle.jpgOk, here goes — Tip #1, grin and bear it. Tip #2, find a guy with more pork. Tip #3, get a dildo. Tip #4, find a sexual position, like doggie style, that will make the most of every little bit of pecker the poor guy’s got. Tip #5, remember it ain’t always da meat, but it is always da motion.

Good luck

Name: Drew
Gender:
Age: 43
Location: Philadelphia
I am looking forward to my first man-on-man sex for the first time with a hookup in the near future. Question: What type of “preparation” do I need for my first anal sex? Also, should I use a condom with giving/getting oral sex? Thanks.

You’re in luck, newbee butt-pirate! Dr Dick has written (postings) and spoken (podcasts) extensively about the joys of ass fucking. Check out the CATEGORIES section on the left side of the site. Look for anything with the word “ass” in it. We don’t mince words around here. Or you can simply search for Liberating The B.O.B. Within. That’ll get ya started.

As to your concern about condom-covered dick for blowjobs; I don’t see a pressing reason for such. That’s not to say there’s no reason, just not a pressing one. I am of the mind that we ought to know something about the dick we’re sucking. Does it look healthy? Do you know where it’s been before it was in your mouth? How’s our oral health and hygiene? Will there be an exchange of bodily fluids? If you have questions about any of these things, maybe you need to postpone the cocksucking.

Good luck

Name: william
Gender:
Age: 19
Location: Wisconsin
In cock size, is 4 1/2 to small. Why is it so small and is there a way to fix it.

Jeez, ya mean 4.5” erect? Yeah, that’s kinda on the “How Adorable” end of the size spectrum. It’s not quite, “OMG, How Pathetic”, nor is it “Yikes, You’ll Put an Eye Out With That” either.

Why is it so small? Sheesh, beats me. Maybe when the angles were handing out meat, you thought they said “feet” and asked for petite.

Is there a way to fix it? Are you suggesting it doesn’t work? Or are you just a size queen? While you’re trying to figure that out, why not take a look at: Much Ado About Very Little.

Good luck

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What do men really think about sex? This is why we need better education

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We asked men how they learned about sex, and found that puerility and pornography have always trumped the facts. Mandatory sex education is most welcome

‘Alan, now aged 79, was evacuated to the countryside at the age of five – and spotted a bull mounting a cow. “It was a significant part of my sex education,” he said.’

It was announced this month that sex and relationship education is to become mandatory in schools for children aged four to 15. About time too. It’s never been easy for children who have wanted to learn credible information about sex.

We’ve recently been interviewing men for a project to find out what they really think, feel and do about sex, and found the early information they received was, in many cases, baffling. “Women don’t like it,” Bill was told as a teenager in the 1960s, “but you can do it all the same … [and] you only do it on Sundays when the children are out.”

Back in the 1940s, communicative adults were hard to come by, and children had to solve the mystery by themselves. Alan, aged 79, was evacuated from London to the countryside, aged five. There he spotted a large bull mounting a cow. “It was very significant,” he said. “I have never forgotten it.”

At primary school Bill, now 75, believed boys stood behind girls to do “it” (he was basing this on his observation of dogs). He was hugely embarrassed when told to stand behind a girl in a school folk-dance performance. “I thought that was very dirty.”

It was a rare grown-up who suggested that sex might be something pleasant, or something to look forward to; rather, a child’s sex education was more likely to elicit feelings of fear, danger and shame – and would often involve a lonely search for the facts. By the late 1950s, parental guidance was still fairly non-existent. At 14, Michael remembered finding a “dirty book” belonging to his father: “The Kama Sutra was an excellent source of information, but often mind-boggling too … the contortions! The big penises! And the pleasure shown on women’s faces. I couldn’t believe it could be like that!”

‘The Kama Sutra was an excellent source of information – but mind-boggling, too!’

While Michael was studying the Kama Sutra, the only sex still being taught in the classroom involved plants and rabbits, and was often expressed in Latin. Several more decades were to pass before human genitalia and procreation were bravely described in English. Not until the early 1990s did the national curriculum specify that sex education must be taught. But just the mechanics. Nothing about relationships. And making the subject even more shambolic was the decision that each school could have its own individual policy, and each teacher was stuck with their own capabilities, experiences, terrors and confusions in conveying this information.

The easy way out was to explain that sex happened “when people loved each other and wanted babies”. Pleasure, variety and consent were rarely mentioned. But some teachers bravely tried to further enlighten the children. In 1994, in his last year of junior school, Dean, who was then aged 10, went to a sex education lesson in which his teacher tried her very best to take an innovative, practical and robust approach.

“Miss Woods asked the class if they knew of any ‘barrier methods’. I didn’t really know what they were, but someone said ‘condoms’. Miss Woods said, ‘Yes, anything else?’ Then a boy called Dave said, ‘You can get them with feathers on the end, Miss.’ Miss Woods looked cross, and said, ‘No you can’t’ – but Dave went on and on, saying, ‘Yes you can, they’re called French ticklers, I read in my Mum’s book. It had pictures in,’ and then Miss butted in, and said ‘Nonsense’, so Dave had to shut up.”

Here was Miss Wood’s chance to grasp the nettle. But even then, in the late 20th century, she could not. Although bolder than many teachers, she was still not able to respond to any surprises that might crop up.

Even if teachers now manage to describe sex as pleasant, it sometimes seems to frighten and shock, rather than enthuse the children. Informed, six years ago, by a comparatively enlightened teacher, that people had sex “because it felt lovely”, eight-year-old George was horrified. “Miss made a terrible mistake,” he told his Grandma, with great authority and concern. “She said it felt nice! She’s got it really wrong!”

Age specificity hadn’t really been thought through. Slightly older, more intrepid boys, sensing that they still weren’t quite getting at the truth, or any satisfactory explanations – either from each other, or from adults – now gained access to a greater selection of more flamboyant, salacious, almost cartoonish information: porn.

“I think as boys we’d seen a few porno films here and there,” said Jason. “The first stuff I saw was on a video. I was 13, and the tape started doing the rounds – we thought that was the way you did it.”

As the years have passed, and porn has become more widely available online, younger and younger children have been seeing such imagery. In 2001, Jack, then aged 10, learned about sex from pornography. “Everyone was looking at it,” he said. “That’s how I found out I was gay. I didn’t want to look at the girls.”

Despite the overwhelming flood of pornography – and the continuing lack of guidance – there do appear to be a few glimmers of hope. The importance of relationships and feelings is now creeping into sex education at last, and it is a relief to find the idea of consent has surfaced. Many of the young men interviewed in the BBC3 documentary Sex on Trial were sympathetic when shown footage of a young woman whose consent had not been clearly given. In fact, they were more sympathetic than the young women. That’s reason to be hopeful, at least where young men are concerned.

Unfortunately, most sex education is still passed between children themselves, taught by the “naughty” peers who seem to have found out more than anyone else. Or are pretending that they have. Boasting has always been, and still seems to be for many boys, the beginning of proving that you are a proper man. Frequency, volume, conquest and size still matter to them. How are young men to understand women if they have never been taught to understand themselves, and the people teaching them have been taught even less?

Hopefully the new national curriculum mandatory sex education plans will bring about change for the better. It might help if lessons could be conducted in small groups, with the sexes separated. It would need to be age-appropriate, of course – with less emphasis on the mechanical details, and more on the importance of relationships, with appropriately trained teachers, prepared for anything the children might say, know or have experienced. They also need to be unshockable.

Complete Article HERE!

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11 Sex Positive Things You Can (And Should) Say To Your Son

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By Sabrina Joy Stevens

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“Uh oh! You see how our kitty is arching her back and moving away from you? That means she doesn’t like how you’re playing with her right now. She’s using her body to tell you to leave her alone. Let’s go play with something else together.” I have conversations like that with my almost 2-year-old son multiple times a week, not only because I want him to be a respectful friend and pet owner, but because that’s one of the many sex positive things you can say to your son that don’t necessarily even have to do with sex, but do lay an important foundation for his sexual behavior in the future.

Sex positivity is simply the idea that sex and sexuality are normal and positive parts of life, as long as they’re expressed in healthy, respectful, and consensual ways. Sex positive people recognize that sex should feel good emotionally and physically which means everyone involved needs to feel knowledgeable and comfortable enough with their own bodies and their partners to give and get what they want out of any sexual interaction. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation and mythology about sex that prevent people from living their sexual lives this way, which is a source of much needless trauma and pain in our lives. However, as parents we can end that cycle, by ensuring that our kids know the truth about their bodies, about their rights and boundaries, and about sex itself.

As sex positive parents and parents of sons in particular we have a special responsibility to make sure our sons don’t grow up with the kind of shame and misunderstandings that not only put them at risk of harm, but may make them a danger to others in their future sexual interactions. Our sex negative culture teaches us all many lies about male sexuality, including that boys and men are inherently bad and sexually aggressive. Yet, the mythology goes, because they have these “base” desires, it’s OK for them to trick, manipulate, or even force women and girls into sex. This is rape culture in a nutshell, and it’s on us to stop it. As parents, we have a huge role to play in interrupting these kinds of messages before they shape our sons’ behavior (whether our sons are gay or straight).

The following kinds of sex positive statements can help us raise boys into men who are safe for others to be around, and capable of having the kinds of fulfilling, satisfying relationships we hope will enrich their lives.

“Yep, That’s Your Penis!”

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I find myself saying this at nearly every diaper change, usually in between saying things like, “Yep, that’s your nose!” or “Yep, that’s your knee!” Even as little babies, our sons notice their bodies during diaper changes, bath time, and any other time, really. It’s important to use those moments to make sure they learn the proper language for all of their body parts from a young age, and to treat their private parts as no more inherently shameful as any other body part.

“It’s OK To Touch Yourself, As Long As You Have Privacy”

Eventually, boys and girls alike discover that touching their private parts can feel good. That’s a perfectly healthy development. Instead of shaming or punishing them for doing so, sex positive parents model setting boundaries and reinforce the normalcy of sexual pleasure by letting them know it’s OK, but that they should only do so in their own private spaces (like alone in their own bedrooms, or when they bathe themselves).

“If Your Friends Say ‘Stop’ While You’re Playing, That Means You Stop Right Away”

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Consent and boundaries are fundamental concepts in all relationships, not just sexual ones. That’s why teaching consent can and should happen in lots of other, totally non-sexual contexts from a very early age, including when they’re learning how to play fairly with friends.

“It Looks Like That Dog/Cat/Friend Doesn’t Want To Be Touched. Let’s Leave Them Alone.”

I don’t use words like “sex positive” or “consent” when I help my son interact with our or others’ pets (or with new people, for that matter). That’s what I’m thinking about, though; teaching him how to read others’ body language for signs that indicate their openness or unwillingness to be touched. Those are skills he’ll need in a variety of future situations, sexual and otherwise.

“Can I Hug You?”

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Again, consent consent consent. Asking before giving our sons affectionate touches is how we both honor their right to govern their own bodies, and model how they should do that for others.

“Ask Before Giving Hugs Or Other Nice Touches”

Just like we should always ask them before giving touches, we’ll need to remind them to ask, too. These reminders are more effective if we always ask them, so they know what asking looks like in practice.

“Adults Have Sex To Make Babies…”

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When our sons ask where babies come from, we should tell them the truth (in age-appropriate ways). We don’t need to give very young children all the details or lots of concepts they can’t understand. However, by telling them the simple truth that grown ups usually make babies by having sex (putting their private parts together in a way that lets a man’s sperm meet a woman’s egg inside her body) is better than lying to them, or treating the subject like a shameful secret they’re not allowed to know yet.

“…And Also Because Sex Feels Good…”

Older kids and teenagers eventually need to understand that sex doesn’t always result in pregnancy, and that making children isn’t the only reason people have sex. They also need to know sex is supposed to feel good, physically and emotionally, for everyone involved.

It’s incredibly important that our sons understand that their partners deserve and should expect sexual pleasure just as much as they do, once they are mature enough to actually have sex.  When boys and men don’t understand that their desire is normal and healthy and that girls and women experience desire too we run the risk of having things like pressuring or drugging someone in order to meet their sexual needs, seem “normal.” They need to understand that that is rape, and that they don’t need to resort to coercion or rape to experience sexual release. If they are safe, comfortable, respectful, caring people, they can cultivate the kinds of relationships in which they can have truly (and mutually) fulfilling sex.

“…But That’s Only True When You’re Mature And Ready Enough To Have Sex”

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Some critics of the notion of sex positive parenting worry that being honest about sexual pleasure will make kids vulnerable to sexual abuse. However, kids who misunderstand sex, or who feel too ashamed to discuss their bodies with the trusted adults in their lives, are far more easily manipulated into situations where they can be sexually abused. Abusers use kids’ innate curiosity about sex, their desire to be cooperative, and their body shame against them, and exploit their shame and lack of language about sex to maintain the silence they need to get away with abuse.

Again, sex positivity revolves around the notion that sex should feel physically and emotionally good. That means all participants need to be in a position to freely consent to sex, which children fundamentally can’t. Even if any sexual contact they experienced were to incidentally feel good physically, the emotional damage of adults (or even more powerful and/or older kids) manipulating or forcing them into sexual conduct fails that fundamental test.

So it’s important to ensure our kids know that sex isn’t fundamentally bad, and that it is inappropriate for anyone to try to engage them in any kind of sexual conduct from inappropriate touching, to asking them to look at others’ private parts or have theirs looked at, to taking inappropriate photos of them, and so forth while they are young.

“No One Should Ever Touch You In A Way That Doesn’t Feel Good…”

Our sons need to understand that they have a right to decide who touches them, and when and how, and that if that doesn’t feel good to them, that they can ask and/or do whatever else they need to do to make it stop. They need to understand that this is true for any kind of touch, whether it’s a prospective hug from a relative, or a sexual touch from a future sex partner.

It’s also important for our sons to understand that not all sexual touches will feel good to them, that that is normal, and that it’s OK for them to demand that it stops (even if the person touching them is female). Our culture teaches boys and men that “real men” always want and enjoy sexual touch, and that straight men always enjoy touches they receive from women. These myths not only leave them vulnerable to sexual abuse and assault, but leaves them without social support and understanding if these things happen to them.

“…And You Should Never Touch Anyone Else In A Way They Don’t Want And Like”

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And of course, our sons need to know that just like they have a right not to experience touches they don’t want, everyone else they meet has that same right and expectation of them. Recognizing that all the people they meet have the same rights they do, and that other people have their own complex mixes of desires, fears, curiosities and discomforts like they do, will help them avoid becoming a danger to others, and lay the foundation for the kinds of mutually fulfilling relationships we want for them in the future.

Complete Article HERE!

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