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When the Cause of a Sexless Relationship Is — Surprise! — the Man



There are varying definitions of a sexless marriage or sexless relationship: no sex in the past year, no sex in the past six months or sex 10 or fewer times a year. According to one study, approximately 15 percent of married couples are sexless: Spouses haven’t had sex with each other in the past six months to one year.

I was once in a sexless relationship.

I have debated admitting this publicly, but my story feels different than the narrative advanced by our patriarchal society. Why? Because I was the one begging for sex from an uninterested male partner. Sex 10 times a year would have been 10 times more than what I was having.

This topic comes up a lot in my work. As a gynecologist, I’m frequently asked about the “right number” of times to have sex a month. The answer is that there isn’t one. If both people are truly happy, then it’s a healthy sex life.

I understand the confusion about frequency. Messaging around sex is everywhere: It’s used to sell almost everything, and news articles remind us that various hormones and neurotransmitters may spike in response to having sex.

Yet a single hormone surge does not a rewarding relationship make, and virtually no one has studied the hormonal impact, on a relationship, of grocery shopping, making dinner or doing the dishes. If a couple doesn’t have sex but they both feel satisfied, then there is no problem. The issue is when there’s a mismatch in desire.

Of course, libido ebbs and flows, and there will be times when one partner is temporarily uninterested. Back in 2003, I was home with two premature infants, both on oxygen and attached to monitors that constantly chirped with alarms. Had even Ryan Reynolds — circa “The Proposal,” not “Deadpool” — shown up, he would have needed to display expertise in changing diapers and managing the regulator on an oxygen tank to interest me.

Looking back on my relationship, the frequency of sex dropped off quickly. I told myself it would get better because there were other positives. I falsely assumed that men have higher libidos, so clearly this was temporary.

Pro tip: Nothing in a relationship ever gets better on its own. You might as well ask the ingredients in your pantry to bake themselves into a cake.

I was embarrassed when my attempts at rekindling the magic — things like sleeping naked or trying to schedule date night sex — fell flat.

I started to circuitously ask friends if they ever felt similarly rejected. The answer was “Not really.” One who was going through an especially acrimonious divorce told me that she and her future ex still occasionally had wild sex. People have needs, after all.

The fact that people who hated each other were having more sex than me did not make me feel better. Not at all.

Eventually I decided that sympathy sex once or twice a year was far worse than no sex. I worried that no intervention would be sustainable, and the time not addressing the issue had simply taken its toll. We were terribly mismatched sexually, and it wasn’t something that he was interested in addressing.

My experience led me to listen differently to women speaking about their sex lives with men, whether in my office or in my personal life. There are spaces between words that tell entire stories. When I ask someone about her sex life and there is a pause or a generic “O.K.,” I say, “You know, the libido issue is often with the man.”

I say this to friends, acquaintances and even people I barely know on airplanes (after they learn what my job is). The responses from women are so similar that I could script it. A pause, then relief that it’s not just them, followed quickly by the desire to hear more. Many tell me intimate details, so glad to have someone in whom they can confide.

Libido can be affected by a number of things, including depression, medication, stress, health, affairs, previous sexual trauma, pornography, pain with sex and relationship dissatisfaction (having sex while going through an ugly divorce is probably an outlier).

Erectile dysfunction is a factor for some men, especially over the age of 40. Other men may have low testosterone (although there is a lot of dispute in this area). There is also the possibility that one partner in a heterosexual relationship is gay.

New love is intoxicating, and I’m not being metaphorical. A functional MRI study suggests that new love activates the reward centers of the brain and, like opioids, increases pain tolerance. I wonder how much the drug that is new love affects libido? If some men and women are simply on a lower libido spectrum in everyday life, might they revert to that once this “love drug” subsides, leaving those with a higher libido frustrated?

I want women to know that if they are on the wanting end for sex, they are not alone. If you love the person you’re with, then the sooner you speak up, the better. You can try what I did — sleeping naked and scheduling sex — because the more you have sex, the more you may want to have it, if you’re doing it right and it feels good. However, if things are not changing in the way you want, you may need help from a couples counselor, a sex therapist, a clinical psychologist or a medical doctor, depending on the situation.

Waiting until months or even years have passed can weaponize the bedroom. It will add so much more complexity because resentment compounds like a high-interest credit card.

Sexuality and relationships are complex, and there are no easy answers. It’s not good or bad to have a high, a medium or a low libido. You like what you like, but if you don’t speak up about what you want, you can’t expect the other person to know.

Our society seems almost built on the erroneous idea that all men want sex all the time, so I imagine it would be hard for men to admit to a lower libido, even anonymously. I have lied about my weight on many forms. That doesn’t make me a broken person; it just proves that a cloak of invisibility doesn’t hide you from yourself. The most damaging lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

Complete Article HERE!


Why hasn’t the gay community had a #MeToo moment?


The conversation around consent for gay men has been stifled. We must recognise the culture of sexual assault that exists

‘Sex is something to be celebrated – whatever your gender, sexuality or preference.’


Most gay men can remember the first time they set foot in a gay bar: the awkwardness as they walked up to the bouncer, ID (fake or otherwise) in hand, clasped tightly. Discovering others with a specific experience similar to your own, finding community, is a powerful feeling. But as the #MeToo movement rolls on, and the conversation turns to consent and dating dynamics between men and women, there’s an uncomfortable reality on the gay scene that also needs to be confronted.

According a survey by gay men’s health charity GMFA, some 62% of British gay men have been touched or groped in a bar without consent. In the US 40% of gay and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared with 21% of heterosexual men.

There’s a culture of silence, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Recognising the sexual violence you have experienced isn’t always easy, especially when these are some of your earliest sexual encounters, or when memories are clouded by alcohol and drugs.

The conversation around consent for gay men has been stifled: most of us were never taught the language with which to explain or understand the experiences of our youth. Inclusive same-sex education in schools isn’t mandatory, being LGBTQ+ doesn’t often run in the family, and there are fewer role models to learn from. Instead, we navigate sex blindly. For many young gay men, the boundaries and the logistics of sexual contact are an unknown.

It wasn’t long ago that our relationships were looked down on by both society and the state, with our sex lives taboo and criminalised. To criticise now how some of our sexual practices have developed bears a risk: the bigots will say they were right all along, and our sexual relationships will be further stigmatised.

But fear is no excuse for avoiding difficult questions. When the types of intimacy we engage in deviate from “lights off, in bed, with a long-term monogamous partner every other Friday” – which, of course, can have its own problems – it’s not an act of betrayal to point out that there are more opportunities for things to go wrong.

Take, for instance the “dark room” – a space few people will speak of outside the confines of the gay scene’s sweaty, hedonistic heart. To the uninitiated, the concept is simple: it’s a room in a club, it’s dark and you have sex. When it comes to consent, though, the situation is more complex.

Much of gay dating revolves around hookups and clubs fuelled by alcohol and drugs. Gay and bisexual men are seven times more likely to use illegal drugs, according to a 2012 study, and twice as likely to binge drink than heterosexual men.

Is taking a step into such a dark room consent to all sexual contact? Can two (or more) people consent to sex when they’re both off their face? Is whispering “do what you want with me” a green light for whatever happens next? When others join in – do they need explicit permission – what if you don’t even notice? There aren’t necessarily right or wrong answers to all of these questions, but in the context of #MeToo these are conversations that need to be had.

It’s would be easy to write this off as universal; of course, heterosexuals also get wasted and look for sexual partners under the cover of night. Unlike our straight counterparts, however, it’s often only in bars and clubs that many gay men learn the rituals of love, sex and seduction – having to come out, rather than your sexual identity be seen as normal, means many of us do not innocently experiment and reflect during adolescence. We find our norms on the scene. For most of us, there were few other places to turn.

It’s not just gay men who have woken up next to someone they barely remember taking home, but when there are multiple sexual partners involved – in drug-filled rooms and dark, public spaces – the risks are multiplied. Having no recollection of who you had sex with, or where, means you may not have had the capacity to consent in the first place.

For younger gay men, the landscape is changing: the internet has revolutionised how we look for sex. Apps have provided a way to find partners away from nightlife, but these hookups aren’t always safe and forgiving environments either. Some men feel a sense of entitlement when you turn up at their door with a single, prearranged purpose. The number of crimes reported as a result of online hookups is rising. Casual sex is all well and good, but these interactions don’t teach teenagers about intimacy and relationships.

Reckless behaviour in adulthood can be linked to self-hatred, abuse and violence – it’s a coping mechanism in a world that continues to see us as victimised, isolated and abused.

Of course, it is possible to tackle these problems: the introduction of same-sex sex education in schools would be a start. Community support, once publicly funded and now decimated by local government cuts, would be another useful step. LGBTQ+ spaces away from drugs and alcohol are also sorely needed, as are effective mental and sexual health services.

At the same time, predatory gay men need to take responsibility for their actions. Drugs, darkness and the thrill of the moment are no excuse for exploiting vulnerable men. We need to recognise and highlight the culture of sexual assault and violence that exists in our community, as it does in others, and hold perpetrators to account. Assault is assault, and rape is rape. That isn’t the “freedom” our community fought for.

But neither do we need moralising from high horses, homophobic or otherwise. People of all genders and sexualities take drugs, and it can be done healthily. Putting your fingers in your ears and pretending it’s not happening serves no purpose to anyone. Ours is a community that has long been persecuted and made to feel ashamed. It’s important to talk about liberation, and to embrace sexuality in all its glorious forms. Sex is something to be celebrated – whatever your gender, sexuality or preference – as long as the all of those involved can and do consent.

Complete Article HERE!


Can There Be Good Porn?



In 2006, when I first considered performing in a hard-core pornographic video, I also thought about what sort of career doors would close once I’d had sex in front of a camera. Being a schoolteacher came to mind, but that was fine, since I didn’t want the responsibility of shaping young minds.

And yet thanks to this country’s nonfunctional sex education system and the ubiquitous access to porn by anyone with an internet connection, I have that responsibility anyway. Sometimes it keeps me awake at night — but I try to do what I can.

Pornography was not intended as a sex education program. It was not intended to dictate sexual practices, or to be a how-to guide. While some pornographers, like Nina Hartley and Jessica Drake, do create explicitly educational content, pornography is largely an entertainment medium for adults.

But we’re in a moment when the industry is once again under scrutiny. Pornography, we’re told, is warping the way young people, especially young men, think about sex, in ways that can be dangerous. (The Florida Legislature even implied last month that I and my kind are more worrisome than AR-15s when it voted to declare pornography a public health hazard, even as it declined to consider a ban on sales of assault weapons.)

I’m invested in the creation and spread of good pornography, even though I can’t say for certain what that looks like yet. We still don’t have a solid definition of what pornography is, much less a consensus on what makes it good or ethical. Nor does putting limits on the ways sexuality and sexual interactions are presented seem like a Pandora’s box we want to open: What right do we have to dictate the way adult performers have sex with one another, or what is good and normal, aside from requiring that it be consensual?

Context reminds people of all the things they don’t see in the final product. It underscores that pornography is a performance, that just as in ballet or professional wrestling, we are putting on a show. For years the B.D.S.M.-focused website Kink provided context for its sex scenes through a project called Behind Kink, with videos that showed the scenes being planned and performers stating their limits. Their films also showed a practice called “aftercare,” in which participants in an intense B.D.S.M. experience discuss what they’ve just done and how they’re feeling about it. (Unfortunately, the Behind Kink project lost momentum and appears to have stalled out in 2016.)

Shine Louise Houston, whose production company is dedicated to queer pornography, has live-streamed behind the scenes from the set, enabling viewers to see what making pornography is really like. I have always tried to provide at least minimum context for my explicit work, through blog posts and in promotional copy.

Many other performers and directors maintain blogs or write articles discussing scenes they particularly enjoyed doing or sets they liked being on, and generally allowing the curious to get a peek behind the metaphorical curtain. Some, like Tyler Knight, Asa Akira, Christy Canyon, Annie Sprinkle and Danny Wylde, have written memoirs.

When viewers have access to context, they can see us discussing our boundaries, talking about getting screened for sexually transmittable infections and chatting about how we choose partners. Occasionally, they can even see us laying bare how we navigate the murky intersection of capitalism, publicity and sexuality.

But this context is usually stripped out when a work is pirated and uploaded to one of the many “free tube” sites that offer material without charge. These sites are where the bulk of pornography is being viewed online, and by definition don’t require a credit card — making it easier for minors to see porn. And so the problems that come with porn are inseparable from the way it’s distributed.

How it’s distributed also shapes the type of porn that is most readily available to teenagers. I frequently hear pornography maligned as catering only to men. That’s not quite fair: Most heterosexual pornography caters to one type of man, yes, but to ignore the rest does a disservice the pornographers who have been creating work with a female gaze, or for the female gaze, for decades.

Candida Royalle founded Femme Productions in 1984 and Femme Distribution in 1986. Ovidie and Erika Lust have been making pornography aimed at women for over 10 years. Of course, their work also isn’t the sort of content that’s easy to find on free sites. But plenty of men enjoy this sort of work, too — just as some women like seeing bleach blondes on their knees.

Sex and sexual fantasies are complicated. So much of emotionally safer sex is dependent on knowing and paying attention to your partner. We in the industry can add context to our work, but I don’t know that it’s possible, at the end of the day, for what is meant to be an entertainment medium to regularly demonstrate concepts as intangible as these. We cannot rely on pornography to teach empathy, the ability to read body language, or how to discuss sexual boundaries — especially when we’re talking about young people who have never had sex. Porn will never be a replacement for sex education.

But porn is also not going anywhere. That means that we have a choice to make. We can hide our heads in the sand, or we can — in addition to pushing for real lessons on sex for young people again — tackle the job of understanding the range of what porn is, evaluating what’s working and what we can qualitatively judge as good, and try to build a better industry and cultural understanding of sex. I choose to try.

Complete Article HERE!


Women ‘turned off’ by traditional porn; demand female-friendly adult films


The demand for female-friendly porn has increased exponentially, according to the top streaming sites.

By Simone Paget

Popular adult site, Pornhub recently revealed they have seen a 359% jump in women users since 2016. The top search term last year: “Porn for Women.” However, when you factor in male users as well, the search grew by 1,400% from 2016 to 2017 – a sign that perhaps men are increasingly curious when it comes to what pleases their partners.

Could this be a sign that a sexual revolution is underfoot?

Erika Lust, is an award winning erotic filmmaker known for creating unique female-led, sexually intelligent, cinematic adult films. She says she’s definitely noticed a cultural shift when it comes to women feeling empowered to come forward and embrace their sexuality.

“Women have always been told what to do with their bodies and with whom. For years women were told that porn was degrading and that we wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, be turned on by it. But women are sexual beings, we can be aroused by representation of sex on screen just as much as men,” says Lust.

As women’s sexual confidence grows, so does the interest in exploring porn, explains Lust. “This still seems to be a taboo to say aloud, but sooner or later we will all be more vocal about it!”

I’ve always found the act of choosing to view porn on my own terms empowering. The problem however, is that in my experience, a lot of the porn you typically stumble across online isn’t necessarily female friendly – or even a turn on for many women (myself included).

As Lust notes, “A lot of women when watching traditional male and female mainstream pornography feel turned off due to the nature of the films. A lot of these films show the female body as inherently subjugated and passive to men and male sexual desire. Male pleasure is the ultimate goal, the scene typically unfolds through the male gaze.”

“The female character is being used to satisfy others, but not themselves. There is no foreplay, no caressing, performing oral sex on a women is practically non-existent. They are only focused on anatomy, genitalia or body parts bashing against each other,” says Lust.

These are all reasons why, when it comes to my own porn viewing habits, I typically gravitate towards adult content that features girl on girl scenes. Apparently, I’m not alone. “Lesbian” was reportedly Pornhub’s top search term in 2017.

Lust attributes this to the fact that lesbian sex scenes are focused on female pleasure. “Most of the films include oral sex and clitoral stimulation, there is more foreplay, use of sex toys…basically everything that women usually want in sex! Women are looking for porn that satisfies their needs and since a lot of the mainstream male/female porn completely neglects their pleasure on screen it makes sense that they’d look elsewhere,” says Lust.

What’s a woman to do if she’s looking for some hot female-friendly pornography? Lust encourages people to explore indie adult cinema. “Don’t be put off by a lot of the mainstream content you may see on the free tube sites. During the last years there has been a growing movement of female directors who are trying to change the industry from within and create films that are artistic and realistic, that positively mirror female sexuality,” she says.

I can vouch for this. The first time I watched one of Erika Lust’s erotic films, it felt like I had found the Holy Grail of adult cinema. Along with high production values (think gorgeous European apartments instead of the ubiquitous leather couch in the San Fernando Valley) and attractive actors of all genders, the scenes were full of sizzling, realistic chemistry.

That’s why I agree with Lust when she says that explicit films can be a fun and healthy educational tool. “Porn can open your mind about sexuality and help you to discover new desires and fantasies. It can help you discover your body, how to give pleasure to it and to others,” she says.

Not sure what floats your boat? Lust encourages the curious among us to, “take time to explore porn either by yourself or with a partner. Adult cinema that presents people as subjects and sexual collaborators (not objects), offers diversity and represents all the different parts of society, can serve a purpose in enabling people to see themselves in those films and open their minds.”

Complete Article HERE!


An Erotic Artist on Censorship and Finding Spirituality in Sex


By Claire Valentine

You may have come across the work of Alphachanneling on Instagram before — with over half a million followers, the artist’s contribution to the landscape of erotic art has been accomplished in no small part due to the accessible nature of the platform. His “Utopian Erotic” drawings are a delicate expression of explicitly sexual themes; with soft colors, thin lines and psychedelic florals, Alphachanneling captures some of our rawest, most intimate moments as humans through a lens that is overtly and unexpectedly spiritual. PAPER caught up with the artist to talk censorship, divinity in sensuality and the role erotic art plays in our modern lives:

When did you first start drawing nudes?

The human form has always been a compelling subject for me. The works of Egon Schiele, Henry Moore, and Rodin were some of my first inspirations for figurative art, and I was introduced to the practice of life drawing from figure models as a teenager. The human body in art has a timelessness that transcends whatever historical cultural moment we happen to be in. It reminds us of the fundamental human nakedness, stripped from layers of self-conception. It reminds us that through all of time we’ve been the same creature, experiencing joy and suffering, love, sex and death.

Fellow Being Radiated by Babe’s Orgasm

Do you use models now or draw from imagination?

In figure drawing my attention was always on capturing the body, the form, the light. It was a very focused kind of effort, and while I deeply respect it, I found I was not expressing what was truly within me. It wasn’t until I dedicated myself to drawing my figures direct from imagination that things started to open up. Drawing without reference forces me to answer all kinds of questions on a personal level, like “what does the exquisite tension of lips pressed against a nipple look like,” “what does a sumptuous ass look like when it is seducing and inviting a lover towards it?” Without objective reference, the next questions become, “what do I want it to look like?” and “what about it is activating and exciting to me?” This kind of questioning leads me to a much more personal expression of the figure. I love the idea of bending and shaping bodies into forms that capture the sensation and experience of our realities; the physical, the energetic, the emotional, the spiritual.


What was the initial inspiration behind them?

The inspiration driving my art is the premise that desire is an expression of the divine, and therefore something to exalt and celebrate in all its forms. In the same way that a plant turns toward the sun, I believe my desire turns me on to that which nourishes me and makes me grow. This outlook is in part a reaction to living in a society which represses, condemns and reduces desire to behaviorism. I’d like to add that I’m speaking only of desire as I’ve experienced it in my life; I’m not speaking for anyone other than myself.


Where do you draw your erotic influences from?

The poetry of Rumi has been a big influence on me. It’s shown me that art can simply be praise and an expression of joy and love. This kind of ecstatic art released me from the idea that art had to contribute some kind of innovation on culture in order to be validated. Novelty isn’t the only form of value, one can repeat what’s already been said a thousand times, and the deeper and more sincerely it is expressed, the more its value increases. I draw my influences from a wide range of sources both high and low, from mysticism and the occult to folk art, outsider art and indigenous art, from pornography, kink and BDSM to yoga, tantra, and the healing arts.

Bad Kitty

It seems that for the most part you’ve been able to circumvent Instagram’s notoriously strict censorship rules. Why do you think that is?

I think my work has a kind of double nature that makes it confusing to define. It is as delicate and innocent as it is dirty and confrontational. I believe the intention with which something is said has greater significance than the words themselves. The same applies with visual language. Rather than being modest and subtle, I am overt and explicit with the sexuality in my art, but I like to deliver that provocation in the most gentle, graceful and reverential way, through the colors I use and my craftsmanship. Perhaps this has protected my art from tripping the censorship rules as much as it could given the subject matter. Regardless, my work still exists in a precarious place where it is flagged and taken down from time to time.

Living Temple

What role does erotic art play in our lives?

Erotic art can help normalize the natural sexuality that we experience as humans, but yet struggle to find social and cultural acknowledgment of. Erotic art can allow us to explore sexuality and desire in a way that feels safe and approachable and exposes us to a spectrum that may be new and unknown in our experience of our lives. Erotic art expands the language of love and sexuality and reminds us of the beauty of being alive, the beauty of living as a sexual being.

Love City

Complete Article HERE!