And now for some scripture-based levity.
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!
Myths about LGBTQ sexual health need debunking – and healthcare professionals are part of the problem
“Use a condom, the pill, or get an IUD – avoid pregnancy” was the drill from sexual health practitioners who came to speak at my comprehensive school in Kent. There wasn’t much detail or thought beyond, “Some of these boys are going to get some of these girls pregnant before they hit 16 – let’s try to get that down to a lower number than we had last year.”
Thankfully, when it comes to the subject of sexual identity, there’s now more guidance than ever trickling down into the societal subconscious in the west – hopefully in schools, but certainly during publicity rounds for films starring Kelly Rowland and Cat Deeley. While talking about Love By the 10th Date to the New York Post last week, Rowland espoused the importance of knowledge when embarking on a sexual relationship with another: “I can’t tell someone how to feel about dating someone who is bisexual or had a past gay experience, but it’s proper to ask [if they have] in today’s times.”
It is “proper” to ask? Maybe it’s unfortunate phrasing, or maybe not being able to hear the tone of voice in which the opinion was offered gives it negative impact, but the sentence rings faintly of suspicion and mild disapproval: “Please submit your history of sex with people of the same gender, and it will then be decided whether or not you are too risky to be intimate with.” That’s how it comes across to this particular someone who is “bisexual or [has] had a past gay experience”, anyway.
Bisexuality just continues to have a bad rep, even though it’s on the rise (according to CNN) … or then again, maybe it’s not on the rise (according to the Verge). Statistics on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and which groups of people are spreading them, are easily found (and quickly wielded by those mistrustful of anything beyond heteronormativity), but they can obscure a simple and universal truth that applies to all groups, whether those groups are on the rise or not. And that is: whatever genitalia you and your partner(s) have, you should protect yourselves (condom/dental dam/wash your hands and accoutrement between uses, thank you). Ignoring that fact in favour of “it’s the bisexuals, mostly” is the source of so much harm.
You don’t have to openly identify as bisexual to get the bad side of bisexuality, because it goes beyond the myths of promiscuity, greed and dishonesty still held by some – biphobia also has an impact on physical health. Here in the UK, if you’re a man who’s had sex with another man in the last 12 months, you can’t donate blood (though that stance is currently being reviewed). Women who have sex with women are less likely to get a smear test, because many of us don’t realise we need to – we’re forgotten by the healthcare system, or our needs are misunderstood.
“Gay and bisexual women are at lower risk for HPV,” we confidently tell each other, “we don’t need a smear test.” A lot of us have heard that from our doctors, as well. It was only after seeing a leaflet about the issue from lgbthealth.org.uk during this month’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week that I realised this was just ignorance.
In 2008, Stonewall released findings that one in 50 lesbian and bisexual women had been refused a smear test, even when they requested one. The 2015 survey on training gaps in healthcare, Unhealthy Attitudes, found that three in four patient-facing staff had not received any training on the health needs of LGBTQ people. Many women get variations of the “use a condom, the pill, or get an IUD – avoid pregnancy” mantra from our doctors to this day, if we don’t declare our gayness or bisexuality as we walk through the surgery door. Sometimes even a declaration is ignored by an uncomfortable practitioner. Straightness is still automatically assumed, unless you’re lucky enough to have a doctor who doesn’t see heterosexuality as the default for everyone they treat.
According to that 2015 Stonewall study, a third of healthcare professionals felt that the NHS and social care services should be doing more to meet the needs of LGBTQ patients, which is encouraging. Knowledge is wanted – needed – to undo the harmful myths that block help and prevent education. And that is what is “proper” (to quote the star of Freddy vs Jason and Love By the 10th Date) – fighting ignorance and biphobia, rather than continuing to be suspicious of sexual histories that might have featured people of the same gender. Whatever and whoever is in our sexual pasts, we must protect each other, and stay informed. That’s healthy.
Complete Article HERE!
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual retirees seek companionship and acceptance in old age, but some find it harder than others.
By Fan Yiying
Zhang Guowei, a 76-year-old bisexual veteran, is relishing his twilight years. “I couldn’t be happier with my life post-retirement,” says Zhang, who was a doctor in the army until 1994.
As a former military officer, Zhang’s monthly pension is 10,000 yuan ($1,440) — five times the average pension in Changde, the small city in central China’s Hunan province where he lives with his boyfriend. Zhang divorced his wife in 2003 and met the love of his life — Wu, who is 40 years younger — a year later on the internet. “I expect him to accompany me through the remainder of my life,” Zhang tells Sixth Tone after finishing his daily exercise routine.
Zhang says he is bisexual but prefers men. He gained support and understanding from his ex-wife and two daughters when he came out to them in 2003. When he passes on, his assets will be divided equally among his daughters and his boyfriend. “My kids have no problem sharing with Wu because they know he is the one taking care of me in my final years,” he says.
The May-December couple have been living together since 2005 in an apartment provided by the government for retired army cadres and their families. The 10-story building houses a dozen veterans in their 60s through 90s, some living alone and others with their spouses.
When Wu first moved in, Zhang told his neighbors that Wu was his gan erzi, or adopted son, whom he met online. (The Chinese concept of gan erzi allows for a sort of informal adoption of adults, with no legal or religious implications.) “I had this vague idea that they might be gay,” says 74-year-old Lu Shize, who lives downstairs. “But it’s none of my business to ask about his private life,” Lu adds.
Last year, following in other veterans’ footsteps, Zhang wrote a 218-page autobiography — including his experiences of recognizing his sexuality — and shared it with his fellow cadres. His neighbors were very understanding. “Everyone knows about us, and no one gossips or gives us a hard time,” Zhang says.
Lu, who had never before met any out gay or bisexual men, says he admires Zhang’s courage. “Being gay or not, it doesn’t change the way I see him,” Lu says. “We are in our 70s; what’s more important than being happy and healthy?”
China’s population is rapidly aging. The proportion of the population aged 60 or older was more than 16 percent at the end of 2015, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and that number is only set to increase. The nation’s changing demography brings with it challenges for managing welfare and health care, especially as fewer seniors are able to count on their families for support.
Decades of family-planning restrictions mean that even seniors who have children often must become self-reliant, as children born during the one-child policy can’t afford to support two parents and four grandparents. As a result, for many elders, being childless is no longer a major concern or an unusual occurrence.
Wen Xiaojun, 56, is single and childless. Immediately after he retired in November from working as a civil servant, he rented an apartment in Sanya, on the southern island of Hainan, where he is spending six months avoiding the cold of his hometown in the eastern province of Zhejiang. “I still feel young and restless,” Wen tells Sixth Tone. “Being childless makes it easy for me to travel after retirement.”
Like other older people, LGBT seniors want to have rich, fulfilling, and independent lives. They hope that retirement will give them the opportunity to focus on what they truly love.
Wen enjoys his slow-paced life in Sanya. He goes to exhibitions, takes walks along the beach, plays volleyball with locals, and sometimes meets up with men he contacts through Blued — a popular gay social app, on which he hopes to find a long-term boyfriend.
But dating isn’t easy for older gay men. “Younger generations can build a relationship quickly by kissing or having sex soon after they meet offline,” Wen explains. “But we want something more spiritual and stable.”
Similarly, 62-year-old Ah Shan, as he’s called within the gay community, says that finding a partner is his biggest problem these days. His finances are secure, as he owns his apartment in Guangzhou — capital of southern China’s Guangdong province — and receives a monthly pension of about 5,000 yuan, but he has been single for four years and is ready for that to change. In the meantime, he is renting out one of his bedrooms to gay friends so he has some company at home.
Most gays, lesbians, and bisexuals of Ah Shan’s generation knew little about their sexual orientation until internet access became available at the turn of the millennium. Even when Ah Shan was working in the U.S. in the late 1980s, he refused to consider himself gay because the only information he’d heard about gay topics in China was AIDS-related or implied that homosexuality was shameful or immoral. “I think I was brainwashed,” Ah Shan laughs.
Over the last two years, Ah Shan has been working on a gay oral history project, recording the stories of older gay men in Guangzhou. He has talked to more than 60 gay men aged from 60 to 90, who have experienced some of China’s most critical historic moments, from the Cultural Revolution to the nation’s opening-up era. “If we don’t record them now, part of the important history of LGBT in China will be gone,” he says.
Many of the men are married and choose not to come out to their families. “They go to this particular park to chat with other gay men in the daytime to release their emotions, but when the sun goes down, they have to return home to bear their family responsibilities,” Ah Shan says with a sigh.
Ah Shan’s own parents passed away before he was brave enough to tell them the truth. His mother died in 2000, a year before homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness in China.
Compared with gay and bisexual men, older women find it even more difficult to disclose or discuss their sexual orientation. Since 2010, 45-year-old Yu Shi from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, has been working on an oral history project for older same-sex-attracted women across China, but she says the process of locating participants and persuading them to share their stories is tough.
“Chinese women are in a weak position in the family, which doesn’t allow them to speak out for themselves,” Yu says, adding that of the 30 or so lesbians who have taken part in the project over the last six years, only one has come out to her family. Many won’t divorce their husbands even if they have female partners. “Chinese people are very concerned with saving face, and they think it’s a loss of face to get a divorce if you’re already a grandparent,” she says.
Yu and her 40-year-old girlfriend have lived together for over a decade, but despite their enduring, loving relationship, they can’t enjoy the security of a formal union, as same-sex marriage is not yet legal in China. Some issues can be resolved by making a will, but others — like legal or medical power of attorney — remain a problem.
According to Yu, some LGBT seniors who are single and childless have considered building their own retirement estate where they can live together and take care of one another. Although they aren’t opposed to regular nursing homes, Yu says “they prefer to live in a place where they can open their hearts and share their experiences with others in the same circumstances.”
As more and more seniors live separately from their children, retirement facilities in China have struggled to meet growing demand. The government encourages investment in privately owned nursing homes, but so far none have been established exclusively for members of sexual minority groups.
Little public attention is given to the needs of older LGBT people, but to Wang Anke, a 50-year-old bisexual woman from Beijing, these individuals don’t do enough to stand up for themselves, either. “We are almost invisible,” she says.
Wang married her husband in 1990 and plans to spend the rest of her life with him. Though Wang considers herself happy and fortunate, she says that most older lesbian and bisexual women she knows are pessimistic about their senior years. “They’re lonely and lack emotional care,” Wang says, adding that many would rather live alone than move into a nursing home where they fear they can’t be themselves. “Loneliness will go to the grave with them.”
But while some LGBT seniors advocate dedicated nursing homes, Ah Shan opposes the idea of separate services. “In the long run, LGBT people shouldn’t lock ourselves in a so-called safe place,” he says. “What we really need is for the overall environment to allow us to live comfortably in the community.”
Complete Article HERE!
By Jenny Noyes
“My most memorable Tinder date?” Kate Iselin gestures as if to say get ready. “It was a gentleman who invited me to lunch, took me to the food court at Martin Place and showed me a photo of his penis. Soft.”
It’s not the fondest memory Iselin – a writer and former sex worker – has of her experiences on the app. But the negative and the bizarre do have a tendency to stick with you.
Horror stories aside, Iselin, 28, is overwhelmingly positive about the impact apps like Tinder have had on the contemporary dating experience. And she’s not alone.
Despite a steady stream of articles about Tinder “killing romance”, making people depressed, or putting them in danger, the app and others like it are as popular as ever (even if some users are loathe to admit it).
Iselin herself has recently returned to 30 Dates of Tinder, a blogging project she’d abandoned a year ago due to “personal stuff” including a relationship. The concept is fairly self-explanatory: she goes on 30 random dates, and writes about them. Now halfway through, she’s accepted every date request received – “provided the date location was safe and they didn’t seem like a closet serial killer,” she says.
Clearly, there’s an appetite for reading stories about Tinder – and part of that is a fascination with what can happen when virtual strangers attempt to light a flame.
But as dating via Tinder increasingly becomes the norm, it’s less about the novelty of using a phone app to date people off the internet. Four years since Tinder launched, Iselin says she’s returning to her project with “a slightly more serious goal”. It’s now more about answering an age-old question than exploring a curious new technology: “To prove that love exists.”
Of course, the proof is already out there among the growing number of successful, lasting relationships launched via Tinder or its myriad competitors. These apps aren’t just facilitating one-night stands. People are finding lasting love in such significant numbers it is no longer considered “weird” to have a partner found online.
Fairfax Media columnist Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen has met almost all of the people she’s dated, in her 28 years, online. Whereas five to 10 years ago there was a stigma attached to meeting people via the internet, it is now “completely normalised” among Gen-Y.
“Most people I know in relationships that have started in the last few years have met their significant others on Tinder,” she says.
Eliza Berlage, 26, met her boyfriend of 10 months on Tinder. She says it’s really a numbers game. “You could go to so many bars, libraries, music festivals, house parties, and still have as much luck … just swiping it lucky and giving it a chance and seeing how it goes.”
With numbers comes choice. And according to Iselin, it’s the choice these apps offer that makes them truly revolutionary – especially for women, minorities, and people whose preferences lie outside the norm.
Although there are some who feel nostalgic for the pre-Tinder dating scene, Iselin reckons women have never had it better; and she doesn’t see us ever going back.
“I know a lot of people say, ‘I would never use Tinder because I want to meet the love of my life the old-fashioned way’. But when we talk about old-fashioned times, we’re talking about a time when women in particular did not have a lot of choice in meeting partners.”
The same goes for people who may be otherwise constrained from exploring their sexuality ‘the old-fashioned way’, says Senthorun Raj, Grindr enthusiast and academic in law and gender studies.
“For people who are busy, those who have social, mental, or physical mobility issues, or individuals who are worried about ‘outing’ their sexual or gender identity in public spaces, dating apps can be a more comfortable way to chat, socialise, and become intimate than meeting people at clubs or bars,” he says. “For same-sex-attracted and gender-non-conforming people especially, these apps can be lifelines to connect with others dealing with similar experiences.”
What’s more, they have the ability to make connections “with people who we would never encounter in the places or circles we normally frequent,” he adds.
Of course, it’s not all rainbows, love-hearts and wink emojis for women, racial minorities or LGBT people. Prejudice and harassment is a real issue – but Raj says it would be a mistake to suggest apps like Grindr and Tinder have unleashed it.
“While Grindr does not cause these stereotypes, apps do make it easier in some ways to express harmful racial, age, and other ‘preferences’ because of anonymity or because the lack of ‘in-person’ interaction makes you feel like what you say or do online is … subject to less critical scrutiny.”
Nguyen says rape threats and racist, sexist comments are things she’s personally had to deal with just as much offline as on dating apps and social media.
“There’s such a big moral panic when it comes to online dating and safety, and it’s valid but we also need to remember that women face this everywhere. It really comes down to better education in schools about consent and respectful connections, and also the apps ensuring that they take reports of violence seriously.”
Sex and relationships expert Cyndi Darnell agrees that while mobile dating apps have revolutionised the sexual choices available and the ease with which users can access them, ultimately better education is needed to improve the human interaction side of things.
“We’re still operating on a very, very, very limited consent framework in terms of discussions around sex and pleasure … and yet our technology is far more advanced than that,” she says.
“There’s no app for getting over awkwardness. There’s no app for managing sexual anxiety. That’s the thing we need to remember: just because there is more access to sex, it doesn’t mean the quality of the sex has improved. We mustn’t confuse quantity with quality.”
Then again, there’s quality to be found – especially if you’re willing to put in the effort. “I’ve been on excellent dates and I have friends who’ve ended up in the most magical relationships,” says Iselin, who’s confident she’ll achieve her goal in one way or another by the end of her 30 dates.
“We are the generation now going to Tinder weddings. There are Tinder babies. I think that’s really exciting, and that gives me faith.”
Complete Article HERE!