And now for some scripture-based levity.
Fifteen years ago, as a junior scholar, I was advised not to publish my first book on the persecution of gay men in Germany. And now, one of the major journals in the field has devoted an entire special issue to the theme of queering German history. We have come a long way in recognising the merits of the history of sexuality–and same-sex sexuality by extension–as integral to the study of family, community, citizenship, and human rights. LGBT History Month provides a moment of reflection about struggles past and present affecting the LGBT communities. But it also allows us a moment to think collectively, as a discipline, about the methods and practices of history-making that have opened space to new lines of inquiry, rendering new historical actors visible in the process. In asking the question “why queer history? ” not only do we think about how we got here and the merits of doing this kind of work, but we question, too, whether such recuperative approaches always lead to more expansive, inclusive history. In other words, to queer history is not just to add more people to the historical record, it is a methodological engagement with how knowledge over the past is generated in the first place.
The great social movements of the 20th century created conditions for new kinds of historical claims making as working and indigenous people, women, and people of colour demanded that their stories be told. Social history, and later the cultural turn, provided the tools for the job. Guided by a politics of inclusivity, this first wave of analyses by scholars like the extraordinary John Boswell searched out evidence of a historical gay and lesbian identity–even marriage–in the early modern and medieval period. Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality vol. 3 would fundamentally alter the playing field, as he questioned the veracity of such quests, arguing that it said far more about our contemporary need for redress than about history itself. Modern homosexual identity–he instructed historians –first emerged in the 19th century through the rise of modern medical and legal mechanisms of regulation and control. The discipline was turned on its head. Instead of detail-rich studies of friendship, “marriage”, and kinship a whole new subfield emerged focused around the penal code, policing, and deviance. In the process of unmasking the mechanisms of power that circumscribed the life of the homosexual, lost from view was the history of pleasure, of love, and even of lust. Although providing a much-needed critique of homophobic institutions, the result was a disproportionate concentration on the coercive modernity of the contemporary age.
And yet, despite these pitfalls, the Foucauldian turn introduced much-needed interdisciplinarity into historical analyses of same-sex practices. Of those who took up the challenge of a critical history of sexuality that sidestepped the pitfalls of finding a fully formed pre-modern identity were medievalists and early modernists keen on questions of periodization and temporality, basically how people in past societies held distinct ways of knowing and being what it meant to live outside the norm. If Foucault had fundamentally destabilised how we understood normalcy and deviance, these scholars wanted to take the discussion further still, to interrogate how the experience of time itself reflected the presumptions and experiences of the heteronormative life course.
By queering history, we move beyond what Laura Doan has called out as the field’s genealogical mooring towards a methodology that might even be used to study non-sexuality topics because of the emphasis on self-reflexivity and critique of overly simplistic, often binary, analyses. A queered history questions claims to a singular, linear march of time and universal experience and points out the unconscious ways in which progressive narrative arcs often seep into our analyses. To queer the past is to view it skeptically, to pull apart its constitutive pieces and analyse them from a variety of perspectives, taking nothing for granted.
This special issue on “Queering German History” picks up here. Keenly attuned to how power manifests as a subject of study in its own right as well as something we reproduce despite our best intentions to right past wrongs, a queer methodology emphasises overlap, contingency, competing forces, and complexity. It asks us to linger over our own assumptions and interrogate the role they play in the past we seek out and recreate in our own writing. To queer history, then, is to think about how even our best efforts of historical restitution might inadvertently circumscribe what is, in fact, discernible in the past despite attempts to make visible alternative ways of being in the world in the present.
Such concerns have profound implications for how we write our histories going forward. Whereas it was once difficult to countenance that LGBT lives might take their rightful place in the canon, the question we still have to account for is whose lives remain obscure while others acquire much-needed attention? While we celebrate how far we’ve come–and it is a huge victory, to be sure–let us not forget there still remains much work to be done.
Complete Article HERE!
Do people with disabilities have sex? Should they marry and have children?
As part of a research project, Emily Hops, a graduate of CSU Channel Islands, and I interviewed eight college students with disabilities about their general experiences with intimacy and sexual health last spring.
Each student expressed his or her own internal struggle with whether or not they should bear children themselves.
One said, “Is it selfish to have a kid? Even if your kid doesn’t have a disability, are you putting that burden on that kid to one day take care of you because you have a disability?”
Some students shared stories about professionals, even teachers, who dissuaded them from developing intimate relationships with others.
Even though California passed the Healthy Youth Act of 2015, which mandates adapted sex education for students with disabilities, I wonder if we have fully embraced the sexual rights of people with disabilities — especially considering California’s dark past with something called the “eugenics movement.”
Eugenics is essentially selective breeding in order to increase the occurrence of desirable inherited characteristics. California was a leader in the eugenics movement, which resulted in the sexual sterilization of 20,000 people in the state between 1909 and 1979. Seventy percent of those sterilized without their consent had various disabilities, spanning from schizophrenia to a casual diagnosis of being “feeble-minded.”
With a total of 60,000 sterilizations across the U.S., California was responsible for a third of all the procedures. Castrations and tubal ligations were common procedures performed. Some even argue that the U.S. led the way for Nazi Germany’s mass use of sexual sterilizations during the Holocaust.
Along with sexual sterilization laws in the eugenics movement came laws prohibiting marriage between people with disabilities, with the assumption being that reproduction was the reason for marriage.
California passed an annulment law, which specifically stated physical or mental capacity and consent as reasons for deeming a marriage null and void.
While there were other reasons that a marriage could be annulled, physical and mental capacity as well as lack of consent were the only reasons that involved third parties, such as parents or physicians.
These third parties could argue that either the bride or groom was “physically incapable of entering into the marriage state” or “was of unsound mind” at the time of marriage, and the marriage could be annulled.
If third parties were aware of a couple with disabilities planning a marriage, those third parties could make an argument about the incapacity of the bride and/or groom before the marriage date and shut it down altogether. In the early 1900s, 28 percent of marriages were annulled on these grounds.
The law is still on the books. Although rarely enforced today, these reasons for annulment remain in the wording of California Family Code Section 2210.
Not only is marriage annulment due to disability still lawful, but our history of perceiving people with disabilities as “asexual” beings still lives on today.
My hope is that we can learn to appreciate all people with disabilities as sexual beings with full sexual citizenship in hopes that they themselves do not question their own rights as human beings.
Complete Article HERE!
“Inequality within a relationship doesn’t cost men as much,” researcher says
Power imbalances in heterosexual relationships are common, but having less power takes a greater toll on young women than young men, according to a recently published University at Buffalo study.
The results, appearing in The Journal of Sex Research, suggest “a healthy skepticism when it comes to what looks like gender equality,” says Laina Bay-Cheng, an associate professor in the UB School of Social Work and an expert in young women’s sexuality. “This research refutes the claim that gender equality has been reached and we don’t have to worry about misogyny anymore.”
Bay-Cheng says the dynamics underneath relationships require scrutiny and the often-heard claim that girls and women have reached and in some ways surpassed equality with men unravels quickly when examined in detail.
“We have to look closely at relationships and experiences and stop taking surface indicators as proof of gender equality,” says Bay-Cheng. “When men are subordinate in a relationship, it doesn’t bother them very much. They don’t see those relationships as less intimate or stable than relationships in which they are dominant. But for young women, having less power in a relationship is associated with diminished intimacy and stability and comes with greater risk of abuse.
“Inequality within a relationship doesn’t cost men as much because they are still cushioned by a broader system of male privilege.”
Relationships that develop during emerging adulthood are foundational events. It’s from these early experiences that people learn how to be in a relationship and depending on the nature and quality of the experiences, the effects – both positive and negative – can echo throughout life.
“It’s so important that we understand that it’s not that sex and relationships are at the root of risk or vulnerability. Instead, some young women, because of intersecting forms of oppression – especially misogyny, racism and economic injustice – enter relationships and are already at a disadvantage,” says Bay-Cheng. “For young women, relationships are where all different forms of vulnerability and injustice converge.”
Bay-Cheng developed a novel research method for this study that considered both the objectives of researchers and participants’ experience, which, she says, is as important as the findings.
For this study, Bay-Cheng used a digital, online calendar that participants fill out using all of their sexual experiences from their adolescence and early adulthood. The open-ended digital calendar can be filled out over a month and participants can enter anything they want, not just text, but audio files, images or even emoji.
The result is a more meaningful measure for researchers and participants.
“On the research side we get varied and diverse data,” says Bay-Cheng. “For participants, rather than circling a number on a scale on some survey, they get to express themselves how they want, at their own pace, and then look at their calendars and get different perspective on their sexual histories and how these relate to other parts of their lives. Participants have told us how meaningful that chance to reflect can be. It’s important for researchers to care as much about the quality of participants’ experiences in our studies as the quality of our data.”
Complete Article HERE!
If the release of Fifty Shades Darker has you feeling inspired, here’s everything you need to know about adding a little spice (and spank) to your sex life.
By Krissy Brady
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and the latest installment in the Fifty Shades movies series, Fifty Shades Darker, hitting theaters today, chances are you could have some sexy thoughts on the brain—so maybe you’re looking to kink things up a bit. Fantasies and experimentation are what keep sex exciting, so if you want to tear a page out of Anastasia’s steamy sex logs but aren’t sure where to start, we got you. (And if you’re interested in spicing up your solo sex life, we’ve got you covered there too: 12 Steps to Better Masturbation.)
BDSM is often referred to as power play or dominant/submissive play, and can involve bondage and discipline (B&D), and sado-masochism (S/M), in which partners explore sensations, including pain, while testing the power dynamics of their relationship, explains certified sex therapist Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D. “Because it’s considered a ‘power exchange,’ this means that play should be consensual, safe, and sane,” she says.
No type of power play is considered “abnormal” so long as those involved in the action are willing participants and it doesn’t interfere with other aspects of life. You can make the experience whatever you want—some people may dabble in a specific behavior or two, while others prefer to act out entire scenes. (BTW, apparently kinky sex can make you more mindful, so that’s another bonus.)
“A little power playing can be just what the doctor ordered for a stagnating sexual relationship because it can shift the dynamic, create a healthy sense of sexual drama, and improve emotional intimacy,” says Van Kirk.
Ready to get down to business? Here’s everything you need to know about adding a little spice (and spank) to your sex life:
1. Ditch the shame—and do your homework.
“BDSM is about intense sensations, role play, and physical challenges endured for the sake of pleasure,” says sexologist Gloria Brame, Ph.D., author of Different Loving Too. “Whatever BDSM games may look like on the outside to frightened prudes, the inside reality is that it’s insanely exciting, unbelievably intimate, and so fun that you lose all track of time.” However, rushing into BDSM before you’ve accepted and embraced your needs and given yourself permission to ask for what you really want is, in short, a bad idea. “The number-one mistake women make is expecting their partner to give them permission to enjoy their own fantasies,” she says. So, read a lot, surf a lot, and make sure you feel empowered to go after what you want, instead of just dumping fantasies in your partner’s lap and expecting someone to act on them.
2. Make a list of what you want to experience in the boudoir.
“Before you deep dive into your fantasies and go naughty before nice, it’s actually useful to make a list of what you want and check it twice—once by yourself, and once with your partner,” says Los Angeles–based sexologist Christine Milrod, Ph.D. Planning in advance helps you gauge what each other’s boundaries are—breath play might be kosher, but blood play not so much—while building anticipation for the big event. (And if you’re not sure what your fantasies even are, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedoms provides a thorough list of practices that fall under the BDSM category.)
3. Approach your partner with a BDSM-positive attitude.
Approaching this particular sex talk in an upbeat, frisky way will make your partner more curious and willing to explore your fantasies. “We’re all wired to be curious about sexual variety,” says Brame. “We all instinctively want to try things that could make us more turned on too.” Need a super-easy way to broach the subject? Read him your favorite passage from a sexy book—you know, the one you read when it’s just you and your vibrator. “If nothing else, it’s a great place to start the conversation and let him know what turns you on,” says Brame.
4. Try each activity one at a time.
“Many people are vastly unprepared and end up going overboard, with less than optimal results,” says Milrod. If you want to explore spanking, for example, focus on that activity specifically, thinking about the location of your session (think: bed, or kitchen), laying out the props (hair brush, paddle, riding crop) and then engaging with each other in a way that feels comfortable for both of you, she says. Savor each move, and the effect, whether you’re the giver or the receiver.
5. Respect each other’s boundaries.
“Creating and adhering to the safe word is paramount,” says Milrod. “Activities can always be up for negotiation, but not usually while you’re engaged in play. This is why it’s so important to write the prescription beforehand—nasty surprises aren’t always what you bargained for.” Always remember that the second it stops being pleasurable to you, it means your relationship has gone to an unhealthy place. “Use safe words, negotiate boundaries, keep it safe, and expect pleasure,” says Brame.
6. Don’t be afraid to switch things up.
If you’re just starting your journey, don’t limit yourself with labels or assume you’ll always play only one role. You may find that you enjoy switching roles or that your own definition of yourself needs to be stretched in new ways. “Let your turn-ons guide you to explore new fantasies and roles, and don’t feel like you must pick one and stick with it,” says Brame. (Next up: How to Have a One-Night Stand with Your Partner.)
7. Check in with each other afterward.
Processing the experience after-the-fact is just as important as planning for it. “Practicing BDSM requires communication—so don’t walk away with assumptions in mind,” says Milrod. Being honest and asking questions won’t just help you create future mind-blowing experiences, but will boost your intimacy and closeness in a big way. (P.S. Here are the conversations to have with your partner for a better O.) “Remember, this is your (and your partner’s) very own world,” adds Milrod. Treat it with respect.
Complete Article HERE!