7 Amazing Women Who Made It Easier For You To Have Sex

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By Kasandra Brabaw

Sunday, August 26, marked the 98th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which officially granted women the right to vote. And as we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, which August 26th is known as now, we think about those incredible women who fought for our right to vote and won. Often, we also think of women who fought (and are continuing to fight) for women’s equality in the workplace. But, there’s another kind of equality that we can thank brave women for: sexual equality.

Without the tireless work of some badass women in history, single women would still be expected to be celibate. We wouldn’t have access to the birth control that makes it safe for us to have sex without fear of pregnancy. And we’d probably still think women can only orgasm when someone sticks a penis inside of them (although, some people really do still think that). So, let’s raise a glass to the women who made it okay for us to have as much (or as little) sex as we want.

Ahead, we celebrate 7 of the women who pioneered conversations about sexuality and sexual health.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940)

Emma Goldman

In 1917 a U.S. Attorney General wrote, “Emma Goldman is a woman of great ability and of personal magnetism, and her persuasive powers make her an exceedingly dangerous woman.” Goldman gained a reputation for being “exceedingly dangerous” partly for spreading the idea that women should have access to birth control. She was also a hardcore anarchist who spoke with such firey passion that the man who assassinated President William McKinley in 1901 credited one of Goldman’s lectures as the inspiration. So, you know, that could also be part of it.

Perhaps because her lectures were so “inspirational,” Goldman was frequently harassed and arrested while speaking about radical reform. So, she worked with the first Free Speech League to insist that all Americans have a right to speech, no matter how radical or controversial.

Although she was active during the time of first-wave feminism, Goldman shunned the suffrage movement and instead called herself an anarchist. She held lectures on politically unpopular ideas like free love, atheism, capitalism, and homosexuality. After Margaret Sanger, who coined the term “birth control,” printed information about contraceptives in a pamphlet called Family Limitation, Goldman took it upon herself to make sure people had access to the information. She distributed the pamphlet and in 1915 went on a nationwide speaking tour to raise awareness about birth control options. In 1916, she was arrested outside of one of her lectures under the Comstock Law, which prohibited the dissemination of “obscene, lewd, or lascivious articles.” She spent two weeks in prison.

Goldman was deported back to her native Russia in 1919.

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)

Margaret Sanger

In addition to creating the birth control pamphlet that got Emma Goldman arrested, Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood, along with her sister Ethel Byrne and fellow-activist Fania Mindell.

Sanger’s mother died at 50-years-old, partly due to complications from delivering 11 babies and having 7 miscarriages. Inspired by her mother’s pregnancy struggles, Sanger went to Europe to study contraceptive methods, even though educating people about birth control was illegal in the U.S. at the time.

When she came back to the U.S., Sanger was frequently arrested under the Comstock Law for distributing “obscene, lewd, or lascivious articles.” In 1912, she wrote What Every Girl Should Know, in which she argues that both mothers and teachers should clearly explain sexual anatomy in order to rid children of shame about sex. She wrote: “Every girl should first understand herself: she should know her anatomy, including sex anatomy.” (Preach.)

Two years later, Sanger wrote Family Limitations, an instructional pamphlet in which she coined the term “birth control.” And two years after that, Sanger, Byrne, and Mindell opened the country’s first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, which the police shut down only nine days later. Sanger spent 30 days in jail after the Brownsville clinic was raided (where she instructed the inmates about birth control).

In 1923, Sanger opened the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau to distribute birth control to women and to study the long-term effectiveness and side effects of contraceptives. She also incorporated the American Birth Control League, an organization that studied global impacts of population growth, disarmament, and famine. Eventually, the two groups merged to become what we now know as Planned Parenthood. Sanger continued to fight for contraceptive rights and sexual freedom along with other birth control activists, and in 1936 their efforts led to a court ruling that using and talking about birth control would no longer be considered obscene. Legally, birth control information could be distributed in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. It took another 30 years for those rights to be extended to the rest of the country (but birth control was still only legal for married couples until the 1970s).

Helen Gurley Brown (1922-2012)

Helen Gurley Brown

In 1962, when birth control was still illegal in most states for anyone who wasn’t married, Helen Gurley Brown wrote Sex And The Single Girl, a book that argued for single women’s right to have as much sex as they wanted. (The book later inspired a 1964 movie.) At the time, many publishers rejected the book for being too provocative, because it did such scandalous things as encouraging women to pursue men, and suggesting that women actually enjoyed sex (gasp!). When the book eventually was picked up, the publishers omitted a chapter dedicated to birth control. So unmarried women at the time could have sex, they just couldn’t know how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies.

Three years after her book published, Gurley Brown became Editor-In-Chief of Cosmopolitan. But the magazine many now associate with brazen sex advice wasn’t so risque back then. And although the staff at the time was not thrilled with her message, it was Gurley Brown’s influence that turned Cosmo into the go-to mag for learning how to please your man.

Virginia E. Johnson (1925-2013)

If you’ve watched Masters Of Sex, then you’re already familiar with Virginia Johnson’s story. Johnson was first the research assistant for and later wife to William H. Masters, a gynecologist and sex researcher. Together, the two studied sexual responses in hundreds of men and women and published groundbreaking studies that transformed how people understood sexuality.

Many of their participants credited Johnson’s warm and encouraging nature as the reason they felt comfortable enough to participate in Master’s studies (which often required them to masturbate or have sex while hooked up to machines that registered heart rate and other bodily functions). Although Johnson never finished her degree, she’s considered a sexologist for her help in Master’s work. Often, it was her who collected patients’ sexual histories and recorded data as they became sexually aroused.

Masters and Johnson made several important discoveries in their work, many of which broke negative assumptions about how women experience sex. In their 1966 book Human Sexual Response, they established that the clitoris is essential for women to have orgasms and that women can have multiple orgasms during a single sexual experience. After their book was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, it became a bestseller, making it common for people to say words like “clitoris,” “orgasm,” and “masturbation,” for the first time.

In 1964, Masters and Johnson founded the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation (later the Masters and Johnson Institute), where they treated sexual dysfunction until the institute closed in 1994.

Joani Blank (1937-2016)

Anytime you pass a sex toy shop with large glass windows that proudly displays dildos, vibrators, and butt plugs instead of hiding them under seedy lighting, you can thank Joani Blank. In 1977, she founded the first Good Vibrations store, a feminist-leaning sex toy shop and one of the first to be run by a woman.

Blank had noticed that all of the sex toy shops she’d encountered reeked of men. The windows were covered, as if you should be ashamed of the products inside, and often, there would be men watching porn at quarter-operated booths once you got inside. It was a hostile space for women. “Over and over, women would say they were afraid to go into one of those places,” Carol Queen, the staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, said in Blank’s obituary.

Prior to opening Good Vibrations, Blank was working at UCSF’s medical school with women who struggled to have orgasms. She encouraged them to try vibrators. And her experiences with these women also informed her plans for the sex toy shop. In addition to having a place that felt safe for women, she wanted to train her staff to be able to answer questions about sex and sexual health. She wanted her customers and her staff to be able to have frank conversations about sex. It was all in an effort to take some of the shame and stigma out of having sex, especially for women.

Loretta Ross (1953-present)

Anytime you’ve ever used the term “reproductive justice,” that was because of Loretta Ross. Ross coined the phrase in 1994 following the International Conference on Population and Development.

Ross is co-founder of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, which organizes women of color in the reproductive rights movement. Her work focuses on the intersectionality of social justice and on building a human rights movement that includes everyone. She was co-director of the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, the largest protest march at the time, which saw 1.15 million people gather to advocate for abortion rights, birth control access, and reproductive healthcare.

Ross also started the Women of Color Program for the National Organization for Women (NOW) in the 1980s, where she brought delegations of women of color to international conferences on women’s issues and human rights. In the 1970s, she became one of the first African American women to direct a rape crises center.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Have ‘The Talk’ With Your Queer Kid

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By Kate Ryan

I never had The Talk with my parents. We shared the assumption I was having safe, straight sex because I never suggested to them I was doing anything otherwise. So, you can imagine their surprise when I came out as queer at the age of 26. After spending the day in downtown Los Angeles for the Day Without a Woman strike, I’d come home overheated and exhausted. I didn’t expect to open up to my mom when she called and I picked up the phone. When she pressed me for a reason why I was breaking up with my boyfriend of five years, I hadn’t intended to blurt out, “I’m gay.” But that’s exactly what I did.

All she said at first was, “Oh.” A moment passed. Then another. I lay on my bed staring at cracks in the ceiling’s ancient plaster. At last, she said, “That makes sense.”

Even though my mom has been talking about wanting grandchildren since I was old enough to understand reproduction as a concept, as a family, we never talked about the intersection of sex, identity, and relationships—or intimacy at all for that matter. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood how isolating this lack of open communication had been, how my parents’ assumptions—though rarely vocalized and largely invisible—weighed me down with expectations that made me feel strange and alone when I couldn’t conform.

The messages we don’t receive as kids end up being just as important as those we do. I get that talking to kids about sex can sometimes feel like threading needles with your eyes closed, but for me, having any kind of discussion about the sexual spectrum would’ve been enormously helpful. After talking to friends and experts, I’ve gathered some ways that straight parents can connect with their kids in a way that allows for safe sexual exploration and expression, despite their fears and discomfort.

Pay Attention to How You Talk About Gender

When talking to a queer kid—or any kid for that matter—avoid gendering your language. For instance, instead of speaking in terms of future husbands and wives, refer to future partners and gender-neutral spouses. Ask your kids if they’re crushing on any people at school as opposed to boys or girls. Kids are better at picking up on subtext than we give them credit for, making these small shifts in language incredibly important. While it wasn’t her intention, all my mom’s talk about grandchildren made me feel guilty for entertaining any dreams beyond marrying a man and raising children.

React Without Judgment

“Children will open up about their feelings only if they feel safe doing so,” says Dr. Ron Holt, a psychiatrist and author of PRIDE: You Can’t Heal If You’re Hiding from Yourself. “Using open-ended questions and following their lead is the best way to lead to a healthy and honest discussion about their sexuality.” If your kid mentions that they like someone of the same sex, react nonjudgmentally and and accept that your kid’s feelings or attractions are real and valid. It’s all too common for queer kids to try to ignore their sexual preferences because a parent told them their same-sex attractions were just a phase or a normal part of being straight.

Exploring romantic relationships can be stressful at any age, and for queer kids, there can be the added pressure of having to clearly define their sexuality. Parents can lessen this burden by reassuring their kids the door is always open when it comes to matters of sex, sexuality, and identity. In households where this is the case, “children are much more likely to come to their parents when they are ready to discuss,” Dr. Holt says.

Go Beyond Mere Acceptance

It’s also worth going out of your way to let your kids know queerness is not just normal but something to be celebrated. In a discussion with Jason Black, a producer and LGBTQ activist, he stressed this point, telling me it’s about time we take the discussion beyond “If you’re gay, it’s OK” to something more along the lines of, “If you like a guy, or a girl, or both, here’s how to be safe and respectful of both yourself and that other person.” This is another way parents can pivot away from the misconception cisgendered heterosexuality is the default setting rather than one point on a vast spectrum, while also setting up a larger conversation about respect and consent.

Make It an Ongoing Conversation

While puberty is a classic time to open up the discussion about sex, you can softly start to approach the subject earlier depending on your kid and how curious they are about sex and identity. In Dr. Holt’s mind, there isn’t a wrong time to go about it, as long as you’re rising to the occasion when your child needs you for support and honest advice.

As a culture, we tend to think of it as one big discussion in which all questions are brought to the table and answered factory-line style. In reality, ongoing, casual conversations would be more helpful and less intimidating for both kids and parents—no matter where they fall on the sexual spectrum. There are plenty of online resources to help you out along the way. The CDC has tons of information for LGBTQ youth, as does PFLAG, an organization founded specifically for parents, friends, and allies of the LGBTQ community.

Don’t Worry About Getting Everything ‘Right’

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that straight parents can feel reassured knowing their love and willingness to learn mean more than their ability to master queer terminology. That day I came out to my mom, she told me I was like Julia Roberts in the seminal, egg-sampling scene from Runaway Bride. For those who can’t immediately conjure this scene, Roberts makes and eats eggs using every technique you can imagine after realizing she failed to form opinions of her own in a relentless quest to appease the men in her life. “You need to try all the eggs to know which kind you like,” my mom said, and despite the somewhat grotesque imagery, I knew she was listening and I was loved. Ultimately, that’s what counts.

Complete Article HERE!

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The secret gay history of Islam

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In Muslim cultures, homosexuality was once considered the most normal thing in the world – so what changed?

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Islam once considered homosexuality to be one of the most normal things in the world.

The Ottoman Empire, the seat of power in the Muslim world, didn’t view lesbian or gay sex as taboo for centuries. They formally ruled gay sex wasn’t a crime in 1858.

But as Christians came over from the west to colonize, they infected Islam with homophobia.

The truth is many Muslims alive today believe the prophet Muhammad supported and protected sexual and gender minorities.

But go back to the beginning, and you’ll see there is far more homosexuality in Islam than you might have ever thought before.

1 Ancient Muslim borrowed culture from the boy-loving Ancient Greeks

The Islamic empires, (Ottoman, Safavid/Qajar, Mughals), shared a common culture. And it shared a lot of similarities with the Ancient Greeks.

Persianate cultures, all of them Muslim, dominated modern day India and Arab world. And it was very common for older men to have sex with younger, beardless men. These younger men were called ‘amrad’.

Once these men had grown his beard (or ‘khatt’), he then became the pursuer of his own younger male desires.

And in this time, once you had fulfilled your reproductive responsibilities as a man you could do what you like with younger men, prostitutes and other women.

Society completely accepted this, at least in elite circles. Iranian historian Afsaneh Najmabadi writes how official Safavid chroniclers would describe the sexual lives of various Shahs, the ruling class, without judgment.

There was some judgment over ‘mukhannas’. These were men (some researchers consider them to be transgender or third gender people) who would shave their beards as adults to show they wished to continue being the object of desire for men. But even they had their place in society. They would often be used as servants for prophets.

‘It wasn’t exactly how we would define homosexuality as we would today, it was about patriarchy,’ Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, a gay imam who lives in Marseilles, France, told GSN.

‘It was saying, “I’m a man, I’m a patriarch, I earn money so I can rape anyone including boys, other slaves and women.” We shouldn’t idealize antique culture.’

2 Paradise included male virgins, not just female ones

There is nowhere in the Qu’ran that states the ‘virgins’ in paradise are only female.

The ‘hur’, or ‘houris’, are female. They have a male counterpart, the ‘ghilman’, who are immortal young men who wait and serve people in paradise.

‘Immortal [male] youths shall surround them, waiting upon them,’ it is written in the Qu’ran. ‘When you see them, you would think they are scattered pearls.’

Zahed says you should look at Ancient Muslim culture with the same eyes as Ancient Greek culture.

‘These amrads are not having sex in a perfectly consenting way because of power relationships and pressures and so on.

‘However, it’s not as heteronormative as it might seem at first. There’s far more sexual diversity.’

3 Sodom and Gomorrah is not an excuse for homophobia in Islam

Like the Bible, the Qu’ran tells the story of how Allah punished the ancient inhabitants of the city of Sodom.

Two angels arrive at Sodom, and they meet Lot who insists they stay the night in his house. Then other men learn about the strangers, and insist on raping them.

While many may use this as an excuse to hate gay people, it’s not. It’s about Allah punishing rape, violence and refusing hospitality.

Historians often rely on literary representations for evidence of history. And many of the poems from ancient Muslim culture celebrate reciprocal love between two men. There are also factual reports saying it was illegal to force your way onto a young man.

The punishment for a rape of a young man was caning the feet of the perpetrator, or cutting off an ear, Najmabadi writes. Authorities are documented as carrying these punishments out in Qajar Iran.

4 Lesbian sex used as a ‘cure’

Fitting a patriarchal society, we know very little about the sex lives of women in ancient Muslim culture.

But ‘Sihaq’, translated literally as ‘rubbing’, is referenced as lesbian sex.

Sex between two women was decriminalized in the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, probably because it was deemed to have very little importance.

Physicians believed lesbianism developed from a hot itch on a woman’s vulva that could only be soothed by another woman’s sexual fluid. This derived from Greek medicine.

Much later, the 16th century Italian scientist Prosper Alpini claimed the hot climate caused ‘excessive sexual desire and overeating’ in women. This caused a humor imbalance that caused illnesses, like ‘lesbianism’. He recommended bathing to ‘remedy’ this. However, because men feared women were having sex with other women at private baths, many husbands tried to restrict women from going.

5 Lesbian ‘marriage’ and legendary couples

In Arabic folklore, al-Zarqa al-Yamama (‘the blue-eyed woman of Yamama’) fell in love with Christian princess Hind of the Lakhmids. When al-Zarqa, who had the ability to see events in the future, was crucified, it was said the princess cut her hair and mourned until she died.

Many books, especially in the 10th century, celebrated lesbian couples. Sapphic love features in the Book of Salma and Suvad; the Book of Sawab and Surur (of Justice and Happiness); the Book of al-Dahma’ and Nisma (of the Dark One and the Gift from God).

‘In palaces, there is evidence hundreds of women established some kind of contract. Two women would sign a contract swearing to protect and care for one another. Almost like a civil partnership or a marriage,’ Zahed said.

‘Outside of these palaces, this was also very common. There was a lot of Sapphic poetry showing same-sex love.’

As Europeans colonized these countries, depictions of lesbian love changed.

Samar Habib, who studied Arabo-Islamic texts, says the Arab epic One Thousand and One Nights proves this. He claims some stories in this classic show non-Muslim women preferred other women as sexual partners. But the ‘hero’ of the tale converts these women to Islam, and to heterosexuality.

6 Muhammad protected trans people

‘Muhammad housed and protected transgender or third gender people,’ Zahed said. ‘The leader of the Arab-Muslim world welcomed trans and queer people into his home.

‘If you look at the traditions some use to justify gay killings, you find much more evidence – clear evidence – that Muhammad was very inclusive.

‘He was protecting these people from those who wanted to beat them and kill them.’

7 How patriarchy transformed Islam

Europeans forced their way into the Muslim world, either through full on colonialism, like in India or Egypt, or economically and socially, like in the Ottoman Empire.

They pushed their cultural practices and attitudes on to Muslims: modern Islamic fundamentalism flourished.

While the Ottoman Empire resisted European culture at first, hence gay sex being allowed in 1858, nationalization soon won out. Two years later, in 1870, India’s Penal Code declared gay sex a crime. LGBTI Indians are still fighting this law and living with its consequences today.

But what is it like to be colonized? And why did homophobia get so much more extreme?

‘With the west coming in and colonizing, they think we are lazy and passive and weak,’ Zahed said.

‘As Arab men, we have to be more powerful and virile and manly. Modern German history is like that, showing how German nationalization rose after [defeat in] the First World War.

‘It’s tribalism, it’s the same problem. It’s about killing everyone against my tribe. I’m going to kill the weak. I’m going to kill anyone who doesn’t fulfill this aggressive nationalistic stereotype.’

Considering the male-dominant society already existed, it was easy for the ‘modern’ patriarchy to end up suppressing women and criminalizing LGBTI lives.

‘In the early 20th century, Arabs were ashamed of their ancient history,’ Zahed added. ‘They tried to purify it, censor it, to make it more masculine. There had to be nothing about femininity, homosexuality or anything. That’s how we got to how are today.’

8 What would Muhammad think about LGBTI rights?

Muhammad protected sexual and gender minorities, supporting those at the fringes of society.

And if Muslims are to follow in the steps of early Islamic culture and the prophet’s life, there is no reason Islam should oppose LGBTI people.

For Zahed, an imam, this is what he considers a true Muslim.

‘What should we do if we call ourselves Muslims now? Defend human rights, diversity and respect identity. If we trust the tradition, he was proactively defending sexual and gender minorities, and human rights.’

Complete Article HERE!

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Brands Are Dipping Into Life Coaching and Sex Advice

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Lola tampons, Coach, and more are offering life advice with your purchase.

An ad for Lola’s hotline.

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In a calm voice, Dr. Corina Dunlap gave me a short overview of the meaning of low libido. “One thing I really want women to know is that many factors can impact libido,” she said. “These interests and desires can be impacted by a number of internal as well as external factors, ranging from anxiety, relationship conflict and stress to vaginal infections, hormone imbalances, and common medications.”

I had called a sexual advice hotline created by reproductive health company Lola and, after weighing my options, selected a recording of Dunlap — a naturopathic doctor based in Portland, Oregon — who gave a short spiel and then requested that listeners leave a message after the beep for “a chance I’ll be calling you back.” It was a little thin on helpful information, but it did advise me to consult a professional with any questions.

On July 11, Lola (which started off selling tampons but expanded into a broader reproductive health products line in May) launched its month-long “Let’s Talk About It” campaign, including the new temporary call service (supported by dedicated phone booths set up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) aimed at encouraging open conversations about sexual health. The service, which ended the weekend of August 11, was described as a “one-of-a-kind national hotline that features Lena Dunham, Bethany C. Meyers, Shan Boodram and other thought-provoking women” on a variety of topics, from the right to orgasm and sex after surgery to opening up about your sexuality and period sex as great sex.

Women typically look to tampon companies to fulfill utilitarian purposes like comfort and absorbency, but Lola has also been thinking about what value it might add when it comes to overall sexual health and fulfillment. And Lola isn’t alone in its effort to provide consumers with life advice related to its core product line. A number of brands are starting to offer a new twist on the idea of retail therapy.

Stole My Heart, a lingerie shop in Toronto, recently hosted a “Ladies’ Night” on the topic of “dating in 2018,” where a panel of female experts (including relationship columnist Jen Kirsch and Bumble representative Katryna Klepacki) tackled sex and love in the contemporary age. Marks & Spencer, the UK-based department store, recently launched mental health drop-in sessions at several of its store cafes, noting that the brand aimed to provide a space “where people can talk openly with others who understand how they are feeling.” In June, Coach launched Life Coach, a new interactive NYC pop-up designed to encourage self-discovery through tarot card readings and sessions with the AstroTwins, identical twin sister astrologists. And the online sex toy vendor Unbound started a temporary promotion in April that offered free sessions with a sex coach.

Hotels are also adding a range of personal betterment options: The William Vale in Williamsburg has a course on “applied empathy” and the art of building better relationships, and the Hoxton in Amsterdam has launched the “Motherhood Project,” which covers everything from eating for improved energy to attaining balance in a hectic world.

Encouragingly, a lot — though not all — of these brands have partnered with experts with some degree of legitimacy, which means much of the advice being dispensed is through referral to a knowledgeable organization rather than a customer service rep expected to dispense answers about low libido in addition to facilitating returns. Collectively, they underscore a key point: the idea that their customers are ravenous for certain conversations, whether it’s about sexual or mental health, work-life balance, or building confidence.

Earlier this year, the womenswear brand Tuxe — perhaps best known for making polished bodysuits, including one famously worn by Meghan Markle — launched a Coaching + Clothing program, which offered a free life coaching session with every purchase. Tuxe is presently revamping its coaching offerings, but it’s working on a series of pre-recorded sessions with an all-female cast of performance coaches on topics including dealing with setbacks and building confidence, and setting achievable goals.

Tamar Daniel, the founder and CEO of Tuxe, refers to this program as “part of addressing the whole woman.” She says her business model has been heavily influenced by a 2011 Northwestern University study that suggested that how you dress affects not only how others perceive you but your actual behavior. “As a team, we got really excited about this whole idea and felt that it speaks to the core of what we had been trying to express,” she says. “I never liked the idea of just selling product. I want to put our money where our mouth is and delivering on more than just what you wear.”

Daniel says she launched the Tuxe coaching program in response to customer feedback. “We were getting a lot of emails from people telling us that they bought Tuxe to boost their confidence before an interview or a big presentation, or from mothers who bought them for their daughters on their first day of college or other big milestone events,” she says. The emotional connection between their clothing and the hopeful ambitions of their consumers created an opportunity to tighten the weave.

Daniel sent me a sample video being prepared for their late summer relaunch in which career coach Katie Fogarty talks about building a strong personal brand (Martha Stewart is cited as a role model) and offers practical tips for getting there. There’s nothing revolutionary about this advice, of course. But it’s the kind of thing you might watch to get fired up just before you head into an important pitch meeting while wearing your new Tuxe bodysuit. “It’s very TED talk-y but these positive messages can make a difference,” says Daniel. “It can get your blood pumping.”

Getting your blood pumping — especially when it creates a positive brand association — is a big part of the goal. Peter Noel Murray, a consumer psychologist based in New York City, says these programs tie into a very current self-care trend that says to the customer, “We care about you and we care about your mental health.”

“It’s a way for retailers to say, ‘We’re good people and we’re not just after your money,’” says Murray. “A brand is just a mental image of something; from a psychological perspective, this is just a way to enrich that mental association the customer has with whatever brand. We are naturally attracted to things that are positive and make us feel good.”

This feel good, self-empowerment-oriented Goop-ification of a spectrum of businesses speaks to a some very contemporary issues: rising concerns about mental health and accessible care, the pervasiveness of the self-care movement, our obsession with self-improvement, and the increasing lengths retail and hospitality brands will go to cultivate a “lifestyle” persona in order to create perceived intimacy and drive customer loyalty.

“Programming like this allows us to offer a space for our customers to talk about these intimate things that they care about,” says Amy Pearson, co-owner of Stole My Heart in Toronto. “You take out the impersonal business aspect and connect on a more personal level.”

Connecting on a more personal level can be tricky, depending on the angle. Mary Pryor, a digital marketer based in New York City, visited Life Coach in June and thought the pop-up served as an interesting introduction to the metaphysical or paranormal world. “Coach is in the business of leather handbags, not crystals, so I’m glad they brought in programming by people who know what they’re talking about,” she says. “It was the kind of thing that might leave some bread crumbs in your brain.” She also noted that there wasn’t a heavy push on product but rather overall brand awareness. “It would be hard to push self-reflection with a leather bowler bag. That would be a stretch.”

But the promise of authentic engagement and subsequent customer loyalty is a powerful incentive for brands to keep building platforms for engagement in the self-care space. Pryor’s sense as a consumer is that many of these associations are being driven by a particular sense of vulnerability — especially among women. “I think people are really looking for tools and answers to find their way,” she says.

Brands are seemingly happy to light a path. Polly Rodriguez, the co-founder and CEO of Unbound, says her company’s partnership with Maven (an online sexual health clinic) was based on a conversation vacuum. “The government and public education system should be addressing sexual health and wellness, but over and over, we’ve seen these institutions walk away from that role,” she says. “So there’s a place for us to provide that value for our customers. We want women, femme-identifying, and nonbinary people to be able to find these resources and tools that they need. And when you offer your customers genuine solutions and help, it builds customer loyalty in a way that’s authentic.”

Unbound is also planning to expand on this idea — though it’s looking to build online tools to connect women who need support. Rodriguez says she hopes the program will launch in the early fall. “We’re seeing a really organic community emerging on Instagram and at events,” she says. “There’s palpable demand for women to feel less alone.”

Jordana Kier, a co-founder of Lola, says that their recent initiative is also part of a broader effort to build community. “In this day and age, so much of our lives and interactions are online,” she says. “But people like that IRL interaction and they want to feel connected.” Lola was inspired, she says, by concerns related to continuing stigma surrounding sex. “We wanted to find a way to use advertising to drive a touchy conversation. We’re providing women an opportunity to ask questions and feel supported.”

There’s an interesting duality to these new offerings: On one hand, they’re clearly feeding a need from a group of consumers hungry for information about how to be a woman in today’s world; on the other, there’s an undeniably cynical rationale behind this kind of programming, drawing a customer or potential customer closer while engaging in a form of emotional manipulation — even when intentions extend beyond a company’s bottom line.

San Francisco psychotherapist Daphne de Marneffe says there’s a risk that in attempting to create positive associations, some brands might inadvertently present the idea of a quick fix to sometimes serious mental or sexual health problems. “Sitting with strangers in a closed cafe is not going to resolve your psychotic break or addiction issues,” she says.

Still, de Marneffe acknowledges that creating spaces to have these conversations is valuable. “Some of these programs acknowledge that people are feeling emotionally stressed out and that they can’t always talk about things with their spouses or friends. There’s a question of whether there’s a false promise in here, but it could serve as a gateway for people to get help.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Men And Women (But Especially Men) Are Confused About How Much Sex Everyone Is Having

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By Aliyah Kovner

Psychologists and social theorists are well aware of the fact that popular culture has been perpetuating myths about human sexuality since, well, forever. But given that we are living in an era of increasing sexual liberation, at least in Western nations, and social media oversharing, this has gotten better in recent years – right? Maybe not.

According to a survey by polling firm Ipsos, both men and women in the UK and US are wildly out of touch with reality in regards to the intimate activities of the opposite sex. But (some) men are particularly clueless.

The research data – collected from online queries given to between 1,000 and 1,500 people, aged 16-64 or 18-64, in each country – reveals that the average guess among men for how often a typical young woman (18 to 29 years old) has sex is 23 times per month in the US and 22 times a month in the UK. However, the women of this age group who were polled reported having sex an average of five times per month – a more than four-fold difference in expectation vs reality.

“It’s interesting that this misperception is so profound. It really illustrates the extent to which men really don’t understand female sexuality,” Chris Jackson, a spokesperson for Ipsos, told BuzzFeed News. “Men just don’t seem to have a good understanding of the reality for women. I guess that’s not actually news.”

Guesses about young men’s sexual frequency were also far off the mark, but not as dramatically. The overall average estimate (from both men and women) was that 18 to 29-year-old males are doing it about 14 times per month, whereas the average self-reported number was four.

And demonstrating that women are not free from misunderstanding, the Ipsos survey showed that the average guess among females of all ages for the frequency of young women’s sexual encounters was 12 times a month.

Of course, because the survey assessed a broad group of people, likely with large differences in lifestyle, and didn’t account for differences in sexual activity between those in relationships or single, the “real” figures listed must be taken with a massive grain of salt. In addition, relying on people’s self-reported numbers leads to dubious accuracy, and it is important to note that this survey is not peer-reviewed research and focused only on heterosexual encounters.

Keeping these limitations in mind, it is still amusing to look at the outcomes of the next section of the study, which asked participants to guess how many sexual partners the average man and woman in their country have had by age 45 to 54. Men and women in the US, UK, and Australia (where another ~1,500 people were polled) were pretty good at guessing the average man’s number (between 17 and 19), as you can see in the chart below. But American men did an appalling job at guessing for women – estimating an average of 27 compared to the reported 12 – and both men and women in the UK and Australia were also far off.

When guessing why men’s numbers are so much higher than women’s considering that heterosexual sex involves one of each, the Ipsos pollsters report that such findings are common in sex polls.

“There are a number of suggested explanations for this – everything from men’s use of prostitutes to how the different genders interpret the question (for example, if women discount some sexual practices that men count),” they wrote.

But it seems most likely to be a mix of men’s rougher and readier adding up, combined with men’s conscious or unconscious bumping up of their figure, and women’s tendency to deflate theirs. It seems that the most reasonable conclusion is that men up their number a bit, women downplay theirs a bit more, and we actually reveal something close to the truth when guessing for ‘other people’”

Complete Article HERE!

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Disabled LGBT+ young people face a battle just to be taken seriously

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Following their own path.

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As young people navigate adolescence, they ask questions about their sexual attractions and how they understand gender. If they are fortunate, they have access to sex and relationship educators or mentors and support networks. But my research with young people who identify as LGBT+ and disabled shows that they are often treated as though their gender or sexuality is just a phase.

In my research looking at the experiences of young people aged between 16 and 25, we’ve seen how harmful this approach can be. Not recognising that young disabled people can be LGBT+ can reduce their ability to have fulfilling sexual lives. It also reduces the chance that they will receive appropriate help and support in relation to their sexuality or gender throughout their lives.

Seeing sexuality or gender as a phase is not new. But for the young people we work with, it comes as a result of misconceptions about their disability, sexuality and their age. As one young person put it, with regards to their disability:

I do sometimes think that my mum thinks my whole mental health issues and my autism…I think she hopes it’ll go away, she goes on about me getting a job which makes me feel even worse. It makes me feel panicky. It makes me feel like she wants a better child than I am, like I am not good enough because I don’t want work.

These ideas about disability often work alongside misconceptions about sexuality. One young person explained how being gay was “blamed” on their disability. They felt that people think you are LGBT+ “because you are ill or have autism”.

In addition to confusion about disability and sexuality, young people reported challenges due to their age. One interviewee was told to hold off on identifying in one way until they’re older and more mature; “so that you know for sure, so it gives you time”.

These reactions suggest that there is resistance to young disabled people identifying as LGBT+. There seems to be a perception that young disabled people cannot understand LGBT+ sexuality. But the stories the young people told me show a long process of working to understand sexuality and gender. Such decisions were not trivial or a result of trends.

It’s not a phase

Labelling sexuality as a phase suggests that it is something through which one will pass, emerging on other side as heterosexual. This frames anything other than heterosexuality as being flawed and suggests that there is something undesirable about being LGBT+. One young person said that they thought being “LGBT in the heterosexual world is a bad thing”. As a society, we appear to be more accepting of LGBT+ identities. Yet not for young disabled LGBT+ people who are seen as non-sexual and unable to understand what LGBT+ means.

Young people have thought this through.

We need to think about sexuality and gender as part of life and not a passing moment. This is important because young disabled LGBT+ people need appropriate support. Labelling their sexuality as a phase denies them access to information and support as their sexuality is not seen as being valid. They may suffer physical and mental violence and discrimination because of who they are, and are left to fight on their own because no one recognises them for who they are.

In order to work against societal attitudes and misconceptions, we need to listen to the experiences of young disabled LGBT+ people and understand that they are experts in their own lives. Dismissing sexuality as a phase says a lot about societal attitudes towards what it means to be young, disabled and LGBT+. Yet most importantly, such reactions have a direct impact upon the intimate lives of young disabled people as they work against such challenges to make sense of who they are.

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Silence has protected predators in too many institutions

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by Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA

The news that more than 300 Pennsylvania priests may have sexually abused more than 1,000 identifiable children during the last 70 years is shocking for the enormity of the accusation, but by now there have been enough of these tragic accusations against so many of our institutions that parents should be neither unaware of the risks to their children nor unwilling to confront those risks before their own child might be abused.

The grand jury indictments accuse the Catholic Church of covering up the abuse with criminal conspiracies of silence. Healthy institutions – and the family is the most basic institution of our society – need to break the silence about sexual health and safety, and there is never a better time than the present to do that.

Let’s start with a few basic ideas:

  • Children should have medically accurate, age-appropriate facts about sexual anatomy and physiology. Little kids should know all the external parts; as kids age they need to know the internal parts and all kids need to know that sexual arousal is an autonomic reflex. Too many predators entrap kids by convincing a child they were not a victim because they became aroused. Parents can neutralize the pedophile’s devastating, all too-common tool with medically accurate information.
  • Parents can open a conversation by reminding children that many people will put their own interests above that of someone else. Children may have already experienced that by being bullied or lied to or experiencing someone taking something of theirs. Abusing someone sexually is but one of the many ways people put their own feelings above those of another, and it’s one that can leave most damaging scars. Especially if faith plays a role in your family, you will want to address the difference between a person who espouses or teaches the words of your faith, and the meaning of those words. Widespread allegations of abuse can challenge the faith of both child and family, and this is a good chance to draw a defining line between the meaning of your religion and the actions of the accused priests and the people who protected them.
  • Focus on trust. Damage can cut the deepest when abuse is in the context of a trusted relationship. Pedophile priests are in our news now, but other trusted adults including physicians, educators, parental figures and coaches have been there, too. Parents can support their children to trust their own instincts when something doesn’t seem right, and to trust that their parents will listen to them and support them when they share those concerns. I’ve heard stories from peers growing up in the 1960s whose parents smacked them for speaking ill of a priest when the child tried to tell about sexual abuse. I hope those days are long gone—children deserve better, and parents can do better.

Too many parents still feel uncomfortable talking to their children about sexuality, yet research shows that parents consistently underestimate the importance children place on their thoughts. Parents may feel as if they don’t know to what say, but other professionals and I can provide resources to help you. Information from the American Academy of Pediatrics and my book The Sex-Wise Parent are but two of the places where you can find help. If you’re really uncomfortable, practice role playing with a friend, or ask your school or faith-based organization to schedule a parent workshop.

Our children deserve the very best from all the institutions designed to help bring them to healthy, productive adulthood. Parents can focus on their own children now, when headlines can be causing fear and confusion, but in the long term parents can focus on the policies, procedures and sexual climate of the institutions that serve their children.

Support for your children’s sexual health and safety must start at home and spread out into the community. Use this current spate of tragic stories to ensure there is no conspiracy of silence around sex in your home.

Complete Article HERE!

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Course disputes idea that heterosexual sex is ‘natural’

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  • Eugene Lang College is offering a “Queer Ecologies” course this fall devoted to countering “heterosexist” explanations of animals and nature.
  • According to the instructor, common scientific practices like using the terms “male” and “female” when describing reproduction among plants and animals contributes to the perception that “queerness” is “unnatural.”

By Toni Airaksinen

Eugene Lang College, part of The New School in Lower Manhattan, will offer a course next semester for students who wish to fight “heterosexist” explanations of animals and nature.

Taught by Heather Davis, “Queer Ecologies” is a four-credit course offered by the school’s Culture and Media department for students who wish to “disrupt prevailing heterosexist discursive and institutional articulations of sexuality and nature.” 

According to the professor, these “heterosexist” explanations of sexuality and nature often involve referring to male/female animals.

According to the course description, students will be taught to “reimagine evolutionary processes, ecological interactions, and environmental politics in light of queer theory” by drawing from research in fields such as feminist science studies and environmental justice. 

Students will also “draw important connections between the material and cultural dimensions of environmental issues, and examine the ways in which sex and nature are understood in light of multiple trajectories of power and matter,” the description adds. 

During an interview with Campus Reform, Davis explained that queer ecologies is an “interdisciplinary field that examines the relationship between sexuality and nature, thinking beyond the boundaries of assuming that heterosexuality is the norm or standard.”

The field “inquires into the sexual lives of animals, plants, and bacteria—lives that are often much more strange, adaptable, and queer than anything humans do,” she elaborated. “It also seeks to critique how heterosexuality is presumed as natural.”

While it is not immediately apparent why the school’s Culture and Media department is offering the class, Davis explained that the course takes aim at how institutions like media outlets and schools often perpetuate myths about sex, gender, and the environment.

Such institutions, Davis said, often promote the idea that “mammals only use sex for reproduction, and that this is always heterosexual sex,” for example.

“We can see this in how queerness is often said to be ‘unnatural’…rather than thinking about how queer sex might actually be helpful to the survival of species,” Davis noted.

One example of this, Davis asserted, is how scientists often characterize plants using gender-specific language.

“We still tend to characterize plants that reproduce sexually in heterosexual terms where a male and female plant need to transfer gametes. Although this understanding of plant reproduction is not un-true, it misses the point that in order for these plants to fertilize they also rely on other species, such as bees and wasps,” she argued.

“In other words, reproduction here is about cross-species interaction, even pleasure, and reducing this description to purely an exchange of genes misses the opportunity to inquire into these relationships,” Davis elaborated. “Queer theory helps to broaden the picture, understanding the behaviours and companionships that exist in these ecologies.”

Complete Article HERE!

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What’s The Difference Between Kink And Fetish?

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By Cara Sutra

What’s The Difference Between Kink And Fetish?

With increasing awareness of and interest in BDSM, much of the related jargon and terms have made their way into common parlance. Two such words are ‘kink’ and ‘fetish’. They’re often used interchangeably, but as they are two different words it’s natural to wonder what the actual meanings are. What’s the difference between kink and fetish?

What Does Kink Mean?

Wikipedia describes kink in the following way.

In human sexuality, kinkiness is any unconventional sexual practices, concepts or fantasies. The term derives from the idea of a “bend” (cf. a “kink”) in one’s sexual behaviour, to contrast such behaviour with “straight” or “vanilla” sexual mores and proclivities. The term kink has been claimed by some who practice sexual fetishism as a term or synonym for their practices, indicating a range of sexual and sexualistic practices from playful to sexual objectification and certain paraphilias. 

Kink sexual practices go beyond what are considered conventional sexual practices as a means of heightening the intimacy between sexual partners. Some draw a distinction between kink and fetishism, defining the former as enhancing partner intimacy, and the latter as replacing it. Because of its relation to “normal” sexual boundaries, which themselves vary by time and place, the definition of what is and is not kink varies widely as well. 

…And Fetish?

Meanwhile, the Wikipedia page for fetish states:

Sexual fetishism or erotic fetishism is a sexual fixation on a nonliving object or nongenital body part. The object of interest is called the fetish; the person who has a fetish for that object is a fetishist. A sexual fetish may be regarded as a non-pathological aid to sexual excitement, or as a mental disorder if it causes significant psychosocial distress for the person or has detrimental effects on important areas of their life. Sexual arousal from a particular body part can be further classified as partialism. 

While medical definitions restrict the term sexual fetishism to objects or body parts, fetish can also refer to sexual interest in specific activities in common discourse. 

So, Is There A Difference Between Kink And Fetish?

Reading the above descriptions from Wiki, and drawing on my own experience of both, I’d say there’s a distinction between kink and fetish. However, there’s also a definite overlap. You have a fetish for something, and you’re a kinky person because of that fetish. Or, you’re a kinky person with kinks who enjoys kinky activities.

Or, you’re vanilla with no kinks, no desire to act kinkily and without any fetishes.

At least, that’s my understanding.

How I Understand It

Here’s my thoughts on both. You can be kinky – as in, being aroused by unusual things and practices and acting on that arousal – and you can have kinks. You could have a kink for being blindfolded, or for being spanked.

Having a fetish for something, fetishising an object or a practice seems to be more of an obsessive behaviour. Less of a choice and more of a hardwired compulsion, to the exclusion of sensibility if allowed to run riot. Fetish is often used interchangeably with kink, though, both to demonstrate one’s affection for their personal kink(s) and also because the speaker classes kink and fetish as fairly similar.

Fetish has always been used to show a deeper / more hardcore affinity for a practice than kink, in the circles I’ve spoken and played with. Also, it’s been my understanding that you can have a fetish for objects – fetishising bondage hoods or high heels, for instance – whereas the act of fetishising those things is described as the person ‘being kinky’.

Do I Have Fetishes Or Kinks?

By the strict definition of the word, I don’t think I have any fetishes. I am not sexually obsessed with or enormously turned on by any inanimate object, that is fetishised. I really like older guys in smart suits, but I’m not sure that it’s a fetish. However I am very kinky, with ‘kinks’ which deviate from vanilla sex including but not limited to:

  • Bondage, including use of rope, cuffs, collars, spreader bars, mouth gags
  • Spanking, by hand or implement
  • FemDom
  • Breathplay
  • Ageplay (DD/lg)
  • Male Chastity
  • Boot & Heel Worship (receiving)
  • Foot Worship (receiving)
  • Fisting
  • Strap On Sex
  • Puppy Play/Furry
  • Voyeurism/Exhibitionism

How About You?

What about you? Firstly, do you make a distinction between the two terms? And do you think there’s a difference between kink and fetish or is it all semantics?

Complete Article HERE!

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Modern sexuality: 8 terms you need to know in 2018

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By Maya Khamala

Back in the 70s, French philosopher Michel Foucault made the case that sexuality is a social construct used as a way of controlling people. In his History of Sexuality, he explores how Western society’s views on sex have undergone a major shift over the last few centuries. It’s definitely not that transgressive relationships or desires didn’t exist before. What’s relatively new, though, is the idea that our desires reveal some fundamental truth about who we are, along with the idea that we should (or must) seek out and express whatever such truth we may find. By this logic, sex is not just something you do, but the kind of sex you have (or want to be having) becomes a characteristic of your sexuality.

Freedom, or more boxes? 

But even though Foucault (who identified as gay) acknowledged constructed limitations, to him, getting to the highest truth of our sexualities can easily become an obsession, or a trap, and I’m inclined to agree. I mean, how do we actually know when to stop searching and defining? Some believe that grouping sexual identities into increasingly narrow categories can restrict a person’s freedom to express a truly fluid sexuality, and that each newly accepted sexual orientation demands both acceptance and adoption of increasingly specific criteria. There’s the danger, too, that self-definition pressures others to define themselves using the same parameters, whether they would otherwise choose to do so or not. 

Dissatisfaction with “traditional” labels is more than valid, but doesn’t necessarily have to lead to creating new ones. I’m all for the pro-choice approach, personally. Live and let lust: define away, or opt for the anti-identity and refuse to define yourself. Either way, no need to judge others for the path they choose. And reductive or frustrating though constructs may be for some, I personally don’t believe that makes them any less real or useful to others.

Gender: no longer the top determinant? 

One thing is for sure: in the last few decades, society has most definitely been hard at work constructing sexualities. Alongside the “traditional” heterosexual and homosexual orientations, a seemingly endless variety of other options and avenues now exist. Many of these newly created identities (originated in the past decade) reduce the role of gender in establishing sexual attraction, instead focusing on non-gendered attributes (like emotions, intelligence, or style, for example). As modern times and the dating sites that accompany them would have us believe, rather than emphasizing gender as the primary factor at play in determining who a person might be attracted to, many people are able to identify other features that attract them, which may actually overshadow or even supersede gender as the overarching thing.

Consider the following 8 ways of defining sexuality that I have seen floating around in recent times. They barely even scratch the surface in terms of what’s out there, but everything starts with a taste.

1. Asexual 

Being the absolute horn doggess that I am, I’ve tried and failed to wrap my mind around the asexuality thing. But I respect and believe in its existence. This orientation denotes a lack of any sexual attraction, regardless of gender. No matter what their reasons or lack of reasons are, asexuals are neither interested in nor desire any sexual activity. Nonetheless, they may or may not be in an asexual romantic relationship. Asexual is different from celibate- since the latter is about choosing to refrain from sex, despite desire still existing.

2. Demisexual 

This is one of those “entirely unrelated to gender” sexualities I was mentioning. Characterized by the need to develop a strong emotional connection before engaging in sex, demisexuals require a strong emotional bond before they feel capable of getting sexually involved with anyone. An initial attraction will never spring them into action. “Demi,” means half, and so demisexual kinda sorta means “halfway” between sexual and asexual—which is one way of looking at needing an emotional connection to get aroused, I suppose…

3. Sapiosexual 

I see this one a hell of a lot. I dare say it’s trending. If I was more into amassing identities, I’d claim this one too. Of course, intelligence is relative and varied. Sapiosexuals are those who find intelligence (whatever that may be to them) to be the most sexually attractive feature in a person. They become attracted to or aroused by intelligence and its use over other qualities. This may or may not override the preference for a specific gender, depending on the person.

4. Gynosexual 

Gyno what? Have you had your pap smear this year? Just kidding, different use of gyno. Gynosexuals are sexually and/or romantically attracted to anything associated with females, female parts, female identity, women, femininity. Obviously, this can be interpreted in any number of ways, and differs from person to person. Some people who identify this way may care more about gender, or specifically cisgender identity than others.

5. Androsexual 

This one is the sexual or romantic attraction to males, men, masculinity, male parts, male identity, and just like gynosexuality, can differ wildly in its expression from person to person. By some people’s standards, I very likely fit into this category (among others, of course). But other people’s standards hardly matter when expressing your own sexual identity, just remember that. So you might as well cherry-pick as/if you see fit!

6. Bisexual 

Bisexuality is a sexual attraction to both men and women. Basic, and accepted long ago, right? Except bi people happen to deal with a (not) surprising amount of stigma, even (or especially?) in the LGBTQ universe. Apparently being part of the acronym doesn’t equal acceptance. Most of the stigma comes from an unwillingness to “pick sides,” which is exactly the problem (sometimes) with too many definitions. People get judgy and end up replicating the same oppressive bullshit they were trying to define themselves out of.

7. Pansexual 

Some people conflate pansexuality with bisexuality, but they’re different. The former is a sexual attraction to people of any gender—not just men and women. Considered one of the most fluid orientations, pansexuality means feeling sexually attracted to people of any gender, including people who identify as transgendered, transsexual, androgynous, or gender fluid—to name a few. Pansexuality has been more in the spotlight recently, at least in part due to celebrities choosing to identify this way (including Miley Cyrus and Janelle Monae).

8. Skoliosexual 

To be skoliosexual is to be attracted to anyone who isn’t cisgendered. Skoliosexuality refers to sexual attraction to people who identify as non-binary, and apparently does not generally describe an attraction to specific genitalia or birth assignments. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a word for people who are only attracted to binary/cisgendered people, and while I didn’t come up with anything conclusive, controversial opinion would simply call that “transphobic”. 

Now, while I am inclined to believe that I’m attracted to what I’m attracted to, and that there’s not much I can do about it, labels be damned, maybe one real benefit of being able to cherry pick sexualities is that they get us thinking. They even challenging ourselves, sometimes in ways that help us grow and shed unhealthy habits (like being attracted exclusively to assholes, for example—what’s the word for that one?).

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex Ed, for Grown-Ups

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Still confused about the birds and the bees? These people want to invite you to a party.

Attendees of Touchpoint, a monthly gathering in New York about sex and relationships that is part of a larger trend.

By Jennifer Miller

Dominick Quartuccio was concerned about his libido, which he’d noticed was slowing down as he reached 40. “The prevailing social narrative is that you’re getting old, so go get a pill,” Mr. Quartuccio said. An executive coach, he helps clients speak candidly about their anxieties — romantic and sexual, sometimes, as well as professional — and preferred to do the same.

Last March, Mr. Quartuccio posted on the Kaleidoscope, an invitation-only Facebook group where nearly 3,000 participants post questions and answers about sex and sexuality.

Within hours, he had more than 15 suggestions: “embracing, supporting, offering ideas — ‘hey go check out this person for reiki or tantra,’” Mr. Quartuccio said. “But most useful was the acknowledgment of my courage to talk about it. To take these shadowy conversations out into the open and demystify them.”

According to a recent fact sheet from the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit devoted to reproductive health, in 2014 fewer than half of American high schools and only 20 percent of middle schools taught students all 16 topics that the CDC considers “essential” to sexual health education. Between 2011 and 2013, the vast majority of teenagers 15-19 reported discussing at least one sex education topic with a parent. But those conversations vary notoriously in quality.

The Kaleidoscope is one of several social communities and companies that have emerged to help adults talk openly about sex and sexuality, with the explicit goal of teaching them everything they didn’t learn in health class or from their parents.

“There’s been a general awakening with the election,” said Ashley Spivak, a founder of a sex and reproductive health education company for millennials called Cycles & Sex. “People are realizing that institutions cannot provide always everything we need.”

Last summer, Bryony Cole, who produces a podcast and event series called the Future of Sex, held a “sextech” hackathon, the first of a quarterly series. The winning idea was an app that uses an interactive “spin the bottle” feature to make the sex talk less embarrassing for families.

Let’s talk about sex…and record that conversation as a podcast!

For Goodness Sake, a video production company, is developing a series for teenagers. The content will be non-explicit but will feature teenagers sharing their personal experiences about sex and, yes, sexual pleasure.

“People relate to hearing others be honest and vulnerable,” said Rob Perkins, 40, a founder of the company, which has previously produced crowdsourced educational videos on female sexual pleasure. “It’s more credible than hearing an expert.”

Those videos, which appear in the 12-part series OMGYES, include graphic demonstrations of common masturbation techniques, a tech version of Betty Dodson, the sex educator popular in the 1970s. “Sometimes this can take people decades to figure out,” said Lydia Daniller, 40, another founder. “We’re hoping that we can speed up the journey for people.”

Cycles & Sex focuses on Instagram. Ms. Spivak, 30, and another founder, Lauren Bille, 35, frequently post questions to their nearly 32,000 followers, such as “What do you visualize to help you orgasm?” and “What are your tips for getting an IUD inserted or removed?”

Ms. Bille said she was raised by a nurse in a progressive environment. Even so, she felt that conversations about sex were implicitly taboo. And this persisted into adulthood. “Anytime I thought of going into a sex shop or to a sex class, it was a fringe experience,” she said.

In 2017, 900 attended the company’s New York City conference, where panels and workshops covered topics including the basics of childbirth, oral sex techniques and bondage 101. At a conference in Los Angeles last November, four cervical exam sessions (participants were given mirrors) were packed.

Touchpoint’s founder, Jared Matthew Weiss, in his preferred seating position.

Touchpoint, a monthly gathering founded by Jared Matthew Weiss, where strangers share deeply personal stories about relationships and sex, is intended for a similarly mainstream audience.

The event started out as a small group discussion in a friend’s New York apartment. At the time Mr. Weiss was getting over a breakup, and thought that hearing other people’s experiences in sex and love might help him.

Today, over 3,000 people have attended Touchpoint, which is now held at the Assemblage Nomad in Manhattan. Mr. Weiss calls the meetings “town halls”: a place for the community to ask questions, air grievances and solve problems. The difference, he said, is that instead of “discussing potholes in the street, it’s ‘should I take ghosting personally?’,” as well as more intimate questions.

The Touchpoint vibe is part Quaker meeting, part new-age retreat. At one meeting not long ago, 112 people lounged on floor cushions, around a table of flickering candles, sipping coconut water.

About 15 attendees spoke during the nearly three-hour session. The evening’s topic was ostensibly about “defining relationships,” and their stories included a middle-aged woman’s sexual awakening, dating with an S.T.I., and revealing your polyamorous lifestyle to family and friends.

Ingram Drye is an enthusiastic participant in Touchpoint.

Ingram Drye, 30, an art director at Ralph Lauren, said he was struck by the diversity and relatability of the stories. “L.G.B.T.Q. people go through the same relationship struggles as straight communities,” he said. “We’re all in this together, learning from each other.”

Another frequent Touchpoint attendee, Hana Ayoub, 37, was raised in a conservative Christian Arab-American home. Only through the organization, she said, has she begun to step out of her comfort zone.

“I’ve learned it’s O.K. to ask questions,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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I’m a young gay man. Here’s how sex-ed class failed to represent students like me

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Sex ed taught me little about LGBT relationships, so I went searching on my own

Nathan Sing today.

“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.”

Before today, this exclamation by the pedophiliac health teacher Coach Carr in the iconic film Mean Girls formed the bulk of my understanding of sex-ed class.

But on this afternoon in my high school library, as my classmates and I giggled, two sexual health educators taught us how to put on a condom on a banana — or as per the demonstration — a wooden dildo painted as the universally-loved Nintendo character Yoshi.

As the educator slid the condom down the shaft of the dildo (or in this case Yoshi’s pink tongue), my best friend and I held back laughter as we did the same to our bananas, unaware how normal this practice would become in our lives years later.

The educator followed the demonstration by briefly discussing a wide variety of topics, without going in-depth into the many aspects of sex education that concern LGBT people and the distinctive qualities that concern the queer community.

Instead, a majority of the conversation focused on contraceptives, bullying, pregnancy and heterosexual-centric information involving relationships between men and women.

Even then, these classes were short. I can say with absolute certainty that I spent more time in high school memorizing the periodic table of elements than the sum of classes that were focused on sexual health.

My school’s sexual education primarily equipped me with misapplied information on how to be a respectful cisgender heterosexual man — although topics concerning queer people were brought up in sex-ed class, the majority of the focus was allocated towards heteronormative material, which bolstered the feeling that my concerns came second to that of my heterosexual peers.

Even though information on LGBT relationships and sexual health was somewhat of an afterthought compared to my heterosexual counterparts, the brief acknowledgement that I could one day get married — and that my feelings were valid — was enough for me to seek out more information on my own.

I had grown up in an environment where I was assumed to be heterosexual, and I often internally questioned my sexuality. At an early age, I was rarely given information that reassured me I belonged or what I was feeling was valid.

Nathan Sing at a younger age.

Having no LGBT figures in my life, I formed an idea of what it meant to be gay through stereotyped characters in television and film. These stereotypes permeated my perception of what it was to be a gay man so deeply that in my early years as a teenager I equated an interest in fashion and speaking with an “unmasculine” way to being a gay man.

I could not go to my heterosexual parents although they raised me with progressive and inclusive views, because they had no knowledge of same-sex relationships or answers to my questions about being a gay minority man. Instead, I sought out this information from online forums, various blogs and informative videos on YouTube.

Being that I had no queer friends or family members and was not openly gay myself, consuming this information solitarily felt isolating at times. Still, watching these videos offered a sense of inclusivity and community through my screen, as I discovered resources that my school’s sex-ed class lacked.

Through these digital resources, I watched hundreds of videos where individuals shared their coming out stories, learned of the mistreatment of gay men during the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as other cases of mistreatment of LGBT people throughout history, and became educated on the precautionary measures to take while on dating apps.

Even though I found answers to my questions independently, not all youth will go to these lengths for the information they need.

Young LGBT people, especially those in marginalized communities where talking about queer identity with family may be difficult, will undoubtedly benefit from being taught comprehensive and representative material in school instead of being taught a curriculum that largely benefits youth in heterosexual relationships. I am a young gay minority and part of a community that is often underrepresented, heavily stereotyped and misportrayed in the mainstream — it’s incontrovertible that I would have benefitted from that kind of sexual education.

For a time, it seemed that this ideal world could become a reality in Ontario high schools: in 2015, three years after I saw a condom being slid over Yoshi’s tongue, the Liberal BC and Ontario governments updated the sexual-education curriculum to cover areas including mental illness and stereotypes in media.

In Ontario, the changes were even more considerable being that this was the first update to the curriculum since 1998; the new 2015 curriculum added new topics including same-sex relationships and gender identity, the concept of consent, homophobia, sexting and cyberbullying, to name a few.

Yet on July 11, 2018, less than three years after the Ontario Liberals introduced the new sex-ed curriculum, Ontario’s education minister announced that in September, students would be going back in time: the revised curriculum will be replaced with the one from 1998. Students will be taught a sexual-education program that is as old as I am.

This is a curriculum that was designed well before the creation of Tinder and Grindr, let alone the devices they are powered by. In an age where youth are exposed to sex by virtue of social media, technology and dating apps, this curriculum will not equip young students with the information required to properly learn about and deal with revenge porn, cyberstalking and consent, issues that were not as prevalent or discussed two decades ago.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ decision to return to a 20-year-old way of teaching a subject as ever-changing and complex as sexuality is not only absurd but irresponsible. What a young person learns in sex ed during their formative years sets the groundwork to cultivate their identity, build their confidence and have agency over their own sexual health.

Nathan Sing as a teenager.

The information that is taught in sex ed goes beyond courses such as chemistry and calculus; while those classes may get some in the door to college, topics related to sexual health are fundamental to everyone. We are sacrificing medical- and fact-based information for the next generation over intransigent moral opposition from parents and politicians.

Even if the 2015 curriculum is not taught in schools, young people will still seek out information about sex, but from potentially dangerous sources. In today’s world where knowledge is in the hands of every young person with a cell phone or laptop, offering students comprehensive information about sexual health in a place meant for learning can help keep youth from believing and acting on false and potentially damaging information they might discover on their own. This is especially true for LGBT students, who often don’t see themselves reflected in sex-ed programs.

The world has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, as has our knowledge of sexual health. The way Ontario’s educators — and all educators for that matter — teach sexual health and education must reflect that.

Come September, young people in Canada’s most populated province will be learning about sexual health from a curriculum that predates the impact of the internet, the cultural shift towards the mainstream acceptance of LGBT people, and the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada. If I am proof that this more recent curriculum still has a ways to go in meeting young people’s needs, the announcement that students will now be taught a more dated program should be hard to swallow for everyone.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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Sex workers offer intimacy and connection for disabled clients in the age of the dating app

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Oliver Morton-Evans visits sex workers as he says potential partners cannot see past his wheelchair.

By Sarah Matthews

Oliver Morton-Evans has sought the services of sex workers over the years, because dating can be especially tough for anyone with a disability.

Despite having tried “every dating app out there”, Oliver, 39, has never been in a long-term relationship.

The Sydneysider, now a successful tech entrepreneur, said despite looking for a partner ever since finishing high school, he has had no luck.

In the modern dating world, in which apps such as Tinder rely on appearance and snap judgements, Mr Morton-Evans said most people could not see past his wheelchair.

“It’s been really hard because I’m kind of always in a quandary of, ‘do I disclose my disability straight up or do I not?’,” he said.

“I kind of don’t want to, because although it’s a part of me it’s not all of who I am.

“The moment they see a wheelchair, people tend to create a story in their head of what that might mean.”

But he said visiting sex workers was not just about the physical pleasure.

“I have no shame or anything like that, but that’s just not what I most deeply desire,” he said.

“There’s so much more to sex than just the physical activity.”

Mr Morton-Evans said everybody needed the feel of human touch to feel connected.

Mr Morton-Evans said seeing sex workers provided him with the intimacy he craved in his everyday life, and motivated him to keep looking for a partner.

“I think for an able-bodied person they forget about how much, particularly touch for example … humans need touch to feel connected with others,” he said.

“So when I would see a sex worker, it tends to make me feel a lot more able to then go out and find the kind of relationship I want.”

People with disabilities seek intimacy from sex workers

Although often viewed as taboo, many people with disabilities seek the services of sex workers as an outlet for their sexual and intimate desires.

Brisbane escort Lisa said she regularly saw clients with disabilities and was proud to provide a service for people struggling to find intimacy in their everyday lives.

“I see this job as just an extension of the caring person that I am,” she said.

Brisbane escort Lisa says clients with disabilities may want affection or a chat, not always sex.

“Not everyone wants to have sex. They just want a bit of affection, or to chat to someone, all that sort of thing.

“It’s just me giving to the person what they need, and I feel that I’m doing a worthwhile job by helping other people.”

She said access to sexual services, especially for marginalised people, was vital for their health and wellbeing.

“It’s a genuine health issue,” she said.

“Like a baby needs affection, needs cuddles, needs touch, needs food, needs all these things [so too] an adult does.

“It doesn’t matter what age you are … it’s so basic of a human need.”

Noriel works as an escort and is the Cairns representative for Respect Inc, the Queensland sex worker support group.

She said she believed access to sex workers for people with disabilities should be covered under the NDIS.

Cairns escort Noriel believes access to sex workers for people with disabilities should be covered under the NDIS.

“Whether you are a wage-earner or you’re on any type of benefit from the government, you have a right to spend your money however you want,” she said.

“And if you would like to spend your money hiring the services of a sex worker, I think you should be able to do that.”

Social attitudes have harmful impacts

Counsellor and registered NDIS provider Casey Payne said it was a common misconception that people with disabilities were non-sexual.

“Just because you live with something that’s different to everybody else doesn’t mean that your life can’t still be the same in every aspect, especially in sexual health.

“Everybody deserves the right to have a pleasurable, sexual, healthy life.”

Deakin University Associate Professor in disability and inclusion Dr Patsie Frawley said research had found people with disabilities were disproportionately affected by breast and cervical cancer — but also by sexually transmitted infection (STI).

“If you’re not seen as sexual and as a sexual person, the range of sexual health screenings, sexual health prevention and response services won’t be offered to you,” she said.

“It’s been identified in research that men with an intellectual disability have eight times greater rates of STIs than their non-disabled peers.”

Sex worker with a disability challenges perceptions

Raivynn DarqueAngel has met the stereotypes of both sex workers and people with disabilities head on.

Raivynn has cerebral palsy and has worked in Melbourne’s sex industry for more than 20 years.

Raivyn, who has cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair, has worked in Melbourne’s sex industry for more than 20 years, mostly as a dominant escort.

“I chose to be a dominant to … change perceptions,” she said.”

The submissive people that I see make me feel strong and in charge and I like that. I’ve taken it back home and I’m much more confident saying what I need with my support workers.

“It’s given me the confidence to trust that I’m worth my needs.”

Despite his disappointing dating experiences, Mr Morton-Evans insisted he had not given up on finding love.

He had one thing to say to potential partners: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Stop Being Jealous

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Occasional jealousy is natural and can even be motivating. But if you find yourself getting upset when seeing Instagram photos of clothes, jobs, or cars that you envy, you might need to work through this issue. Or maybe your jealousy is making you paranoid and causing problems with you and your significant other. Curbing these emotions can be difficult, but it’s often necessary to move forward and feel secure and confident. Work through your jealousy by addressing it, finding a new focus, and improving yourself. You got this!

Method 1 Handling Jealousy in the Short Term

1 Take a few deep breaths when you start feeling jealous. Perhaps you see your boyfriend talking to another girl or find out your friend got the exact truck you want. Instead of freaking out, calm yourself instead. Take a deep breath in through your nose for five seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this until you feel calm.[1]

  • If you want to address the issue, do so only when you’ve calmed down. For instance, if you see your boyfriend talking to a girl, calm down first, then approach him and say ‘hello’ to both of them. She may just be a friend or classmate.

2 Stay off social media. Social media floods you with images of people sharing fragments of their lives that might spark your jealousy. But, what you may not know is the girl who constantly posts pics of the flowers her boyfriend gets her may be unhappy in her relationship. People tend to only post things that show them in a positive light, so stay off social media while you’re overcoming your jealousy.[2]

  • If you can’t stay off of social media, unfollow or unfriend the people you’re jealous of.

3 Avoid criticizing or using sarcasm. When you’re feeling jealous, you might resort to name-calling or trying to diminish the accomplishments of others. However, this only shows your insecurity and makes others feel bad. Instead of being negative, keep your comments to yourself or compliment them.[3]

  • For instance, if your girlfriend comes home telling you about her new coworker, don’t say something like, “Oh, so since he’s so smart, you wanna go out with him now?” Allow your significant other to tell you things without fear of rudeness.

4 Confess your feelings if the person is close to you. If you’re very jealous of a sibling, best friend, or significant other, and have been for years, tell them. Getting it off your chest can help you move on from this negative feeling and clear the air.[4]

  • For instance, you might say, “Sis, I know that I’ve been a bit rude to you for a while. But when you got into Stanford and I didn’t, it hurt me. I’ve been so jealous of you because I feel like you’re living my dream. I know it’s not your fault, and I wish I didn’t feel this way.”

5 Focus on what you have in common with the person you’re jealous of. Unravel your jealousy by looking at the similarities you and the person you envy share. The more you two are alike, the less you have to feel jealous over![5]

  • For example, maybe you’re jealous of your neighbor because they have a nice car. But remember that the two of you live in the same neighborhood and probably have similar houses. Maybe you went to the same school, too, and have friends in common.

Method 2  Refocusing Your Attention

1 Identify the source of your jealousy. Understanding why you are jealous can help you overcome it. Is it because of low self-esteem and insecurity? Do you have a past history with infidelity? Or are you placing unreasonable standards on your relationship? Once you have identified the source, reflect on ways that you can improve upon or fix the issue.

  • Writing in a journal every day can help you discover where your jealousy might be coming from.
  • Professional therapy can help with this process. A therapist may be able to help you find the source of your jealousy while working through the issue.

2 Praise those who are doing well. Hating on someone’s accomplishments won’t put you closer to your own goals. When you see others doing the things you want to do, give them kudos. This shows respect and humility.[6]

  • For instance, if your friend has an awesome career, say, “Molly, your job seems so cool. It seems like you’re always getting awards and promotions, too. You’re really killing it! Got any tips?”
  • Perhaps your boyfriend has been doing a great job lately of being more affectionate; tell him you appreciate his effort.

3 Reflect on your own strengths. Instead of harping on what others are doing, focus on yourself! Take a moment to either list or think about at least three things that you are good at. These can range from organizing or cooking to being a good listener or hard worker.[7]

  • Do one thing related to your strengths list today to build your confidence, like cook an awesome meal.

4 Compile a list of what you’re grateful for. Every day that you wake up is truly a blessing. Remember that and think about one thing that you’re thankful for each day. This will help reduce your feelings of jealousy because you’ll become more appreciative of what you do have.[8]

  • Maybe you have an awesome mom who supports and loves you. Or perhaps you got into a really good school and you’re starting soon. Be thankful for these blessings!

5 Meditate daily. Meditation can clear your mind and help you focus on what’s important. Your thoughts of jealousy might cloud your headspace daily, but get some relief by sitting quietly in an uninterrupted space in the mornings for at least ten minutes. During this time, focus only on your breathing and how your body feels.

  • If you’re unfamiliar with meditation, you can also download an app like Simple Habit or Calm.

6 Call the shots. You might have a rich friend who’s always asking you to go to expensive restaurants or on extravagant trips. This might make you feel jealous of their money. Instead of letting that control you, take the reins! Pick the restaurants you go to and choose not to go on vacations if you can’t afford it. Plan something locally, instead.[9]

  • You can say, “Hey Josh, I enjoy eating at five-star restaurants with you, but to be honest, it’s a little out of my price range. If you still wanna get dinner once a week, that’s cool, but you’ll have to let me pick the place most of the time. I hope you understand.”

7 Have fun daily to distract you from your jealousy. You won’t be able to think about your jealousy as much if you’re out having fun! Schedule something to look forward to every day, like watching your favorite show, getting ice cream, or going shopping. Life is short, so make the most of it every day!

Method 3 Improving Your Own Life

1 Set short- and long-term goals. Use your jealousy to motivate you to become the best version of yourself. Based on the things you want in life, create action steps to help you achieve it. Set goals that you can achieve within the next five days and things to focus on for the next five years.[10]

  • For instance, maybe you want to get a high paying job. As a short-term goal, try to get A’s in all your classes for the semester. A long-term goal could be finding a mentor or getting an internship in your field.

2 Plan a fun getaway. Maybe you’re jealous because it seems like everyone else is having all the fun. Create some fun for you! Plan a fun weekend away for you and your bae, go to a theme park, or go hang out on the beach. Do whatever makes you happy![11]

3 Take care of your health. You’ll be a lot less worried about others if you’re focused on your own health. Build your confidence up by exercising at least three times a week. Eat a healthy meal by having veggies, fruits and lean meat. Be sure to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.[12]

  • Drink a lot of water, too!

4 Surround yourself with positive people. Maybe your jealousy comes from hanging around friends who try to make you jealous on purpose. That’s definitely not cool. Instead of being around that negativity, spend more time with your kind-hearted, honest, and down-to-earth friends!

  • A positive person will be supportive, honest, kind and helpful. A negative person will insult, criticize, and drain you.

5 Consider seeing a counselor to work through your jealousy. If your jealousy is making it hard for you to enjoy life anymore, it might be time to seek outside help. There are many therapists who are trained to help their clients work through feelings of envy or inadequacy. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with getting help! It’s much worse to suffer in silence.[13]

  • Search online for therapists or counselors in your area. You can also get a referral from your doctor’s office or insurance provider.

Complete Article HERE!

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10 things you need to know about vaginas

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From the science of the orgasm to cannabis tampons, there’s a lot to learn. Warning: explicit content

By and

Mae and I thought we were well informed when it comes to vaginas (between us, we have 58 years’ experience of them), but the more we researched the subject for our new video series, Vagina Dispatches, the more we discovered that, like most people, we don’t know our asses from our elbows – let alone our vulvas from our vaginas.

Does it matter that we don’t know what a perineum is, never mind where to find one? It turns out it does. Even though there are lots of parts of our bodies we don’t know well (neither of us can explain the full process from sandwich to stool), there is something particularly damaging about vagina ignorance.

Despite the fact that we spend more time peeing or menstruating out of them than anything else, sex remains the primary association when people think of female genitalia. And that emphasis distracts from the stuff that really matters: health. Women (or, to be more specific, anyone with a vagina) can struggle to understand how much menstrual blood is too much, what healthy labia look like, or what to expect during childbirth. Those blind spots make it hard to understand when or whether we need treatment. So, in a spirit of generosity, we wanted to share some of the things we learned.

1 That thing you’re calling a vagina? It probably isn’t a vagina

You’re likely thinking of a woman’s external genitalia. But that’s actually the vulva; the vagina is on the inside.

A survey released earlier this month by the Eve Appeal, a gynaecological cancer charity, found that two-thirds of women were unable to identify the vulva. More shocking is that women know men’s bodies better than they do their own: 60% of women could correctly label a diagram of male anatomy, but only 35% could do the same for female anatomy.

According to a recent survey by Eve Appeal, half of women aged 26- 35 were able to label the vagina in a diagram like this one.

These days, there are endless articles claiming every woman should have body confidence. Body knowledge, on the other hand, seems like a nice bonus. That emphasis is misplaced: if women don’t know what their vulva is, how can they check it for changes in colour – a potential symptom of gynaecological cancer?
2 No one really knows what a female orgasm is

The male orgasm isn’t exactly ambiguous. But there’s no standard way to measure a female orgasm, which means that research has begun to question whether some women are experiencing them at all.

Dr Nicole Prause is a neuroscientist who founded Liberos, a research firm that studies sexual desire and function. In men, as well as ejaculation, there are regular, measurable muscle contractions. In a 1980 study in the journal Archives Of Sexual Behaviour, 11 male participants all behaved in a similar way during orgasm: the muscles in their anus contracted in spasms that were 0.6 seconds apart and continued for 10-15 contractions. But in the women Prause has studied, while some had these same contractions, others reported an orgasm without any being measured. (How do they measure these? Using a butt plug that monitors sound waves.) We said we were interested in measuring our own orgasms, so Prause is sending us some. Stay tuned.

3 Orgasms can make you need a wee

From a biological perspective, there has long been curiosity about what function the female orgasm serves (from our own personal perspectives, the case is closed). According to Prause, one reason might be that women who orgasm are more likely to urinate after sex. And urinating after sex is a great idea because it helps prevent bacteria from getting into the urethra, reducing the chances of a urinary tract infection. Win, win.

4 You can build a vagina from a penis and scrotum

At first glance, vulvas and penises look pretty different, but they are actually quite similar. That’s because we all started out as foetuses with the same genitalia; our sex organs don’t start to differentiate until the end of the first trimester (around about nine to 12 weeks). That skin fold line between the testicles? It’s because the male scrotum is the homologue of the female labia majora. Learning that was a real “aha” moment.

We met Callie, an American trans woman who was waiting for bottom surgery, a procedure where a vulva and vagina are created from the penis and scrotum. Aside from price (the surgery costs around $20,000 and isn’t always covered by health insurance), we were interested in knowing what concerned Callie when she booked her procedure. We’d mostly been discussing aesthetics, so Callie’s response caught us off guard: functionality. She is considering whether she wants a vagina that would self-lubricate (this can be possible using tissue from the anus) and whether it would be painful to pee (the surgery is complex and recovery can take weeks). In other words, really important health issues that most women take for granted. Prettiness? Not so much.

5 You can buy weed tampons

Menstrual cramps affect up to 91% of women, and can have a huge impact on quality of life. Given that so many women experience this pain, and that painkillers don’t always work, some women have tried alternative treatments including cannabis.

There’s very little scientific research into the effectiveness of cannabis in treating menstrual cramps, partly because that research would be illegal in many countries. But some entrepreneurial companies that are part of a growing US cannabis market are investigating. Once you’ve confirmed that you’re over 21 and a resident of either Colorado or California, the website foriapleasure.com offers a four-pack of “weed tampons”, priced at $44 (£33). It’s not actually a tampon; it’s a pessary containing cannabis oil.

Actor Whoopi Goldberg has teamed up with businesswoman Maya Elisabeth (who used to sell award-winning edible cannabis) to market products they claim are designed to provide relief from period pain. Their company, Whoopi & Maya, produces a bath soak, an edible spread (which “may be enjoyed plain with a spoon, on fruit or toast”), a rub and a tincture.

6 The clitoris looks like a spaceship

If you’ve been looking at medical diagrams lately (just us?), the clitoris is often depicted as a little button. A more realistic image would be something similar to the Starship Enterprise. Underneath the labia, there are two long structures that fall on either side of the clitoris (the protruding bit). If you’re interested in female sexual arousal, you should know about those – they’re called the clitoral crura. They can become engorged with blood when a woman is aroused, which causes the vulva to expand outwards, creating a tighter vaginal opening (bonus fact: women have nearly as much erectile tissue as men).

On the subject of sex tips: stop searching for the G-spot. Not only because it’s weird to use terms for women’s bodies that are named after men (the Gräfenberg spot, after the German gynaecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, who also developed the IUD). It probably doesn’t exist, at least not in the push-button way it’s often imagined.

An article published in Nature Reviews Urology in 2014, titled Beyond The G-spot, found that women can experience sensitivity in lots of different places, including but not always the area where the G-spot was thought to be (the upper side of the vaginal wall). In other words, it’s complicated.

7 Your vagina might benefit from a personal trainer

Sex doesn’t always feel good – especially if you have vaginismus (a painful condition that results in involuntary vaginal muscle spasm) or vulvodynia (chronic pain around the opening of the vagina).

One possible treatment is pelvic physical therapy, which can involve external and internal massages of the pelvic floor area, and the use of dilators (they look like oversized plastic crayons) and lubricants. The treatment is frequently misunderstood, says Jessica Powley, a pelvic physical therapist. For one thing, it’s not just women, or postpartum women, who get this therapy; men can get it, too, to treat pelvic floor pain. You can also buy vaginal weights and create your own home gym to tighten your pelvic floor muscles.

8 Things change with age, but it’s not all bad

Ageing, and menopause in particular, causes a woman’s oestrogen levels to decline. According to the North American Menopause Society, the vagina can become shorter and narrower in menopausal women who aren’t sexually stimulated. Then, when those women do have sex, it can be painful. Their advice? Menopausal women should have vaginal sex on a regular basis. So if you’re an older woman who enjoys sex, you should continue to have it regularly (hooray), and if you don’t enjoy sex, don’t bother (hooray, too).

What’s more, in 1998, the US National Council on the Aging found that 70% of sexually active women over the age of 60 said they were as satisfied, or even more satisfied, with their sex lives as they were in their 40s (74% of men in the same age group said the same). So, if you’re under 60, the best sex of your life may well be to come.

9 Breastfeeding can make you horny

We spoke to Christen, a performance artist and writer, who wrote about maternal sexuality in a one-woman show called BabyLove. She told us that she got aroused when breastfeeding; one time, she tried to use a vibrator while feeding, but got interrupted by a delivery man. She claimed lots of other women felt the same way. Of course we wanted to investigate.

Many forums for mothers confirm Christen is not alone. In a 1999 study in The Journal Of Perinatal Education, the author, Dr Viola Polomeno, explained that sexual arousal during breastfeeding “is a normal phenomenon”, although women often feel guilty when it happens to them. Arousal can happen because there are some parallels between breastfeeding and having an orgasm: both situations involve contractions of the uterus, nipple erection and skin-to-skin contact, and both can involve strong, uninhibited emotions. Neither of us has ever breastfed, but if and when the time comes, boy is this information handy.

10 You can make art with menstrual blood

From Judy Chicago’s 1972 installation Menstruation Bathroom to Ingrid Berthon-Moine’s 2009 work Red Is The Colour (photographs of 12 women wearing their menstrual blood as lipstick), lots of artists have explored the use of menstrual blood.

We met Jennifer Lewis, who was one day removing her menstrual cup and wondered why the blood on her fingertips disgusted her. With the help of her partner Rob, she began taking photographs of her menstrual blood in water. We watched Jennifer and Rob using refrigerated bottles of the stuff to make Beauty In Blood. The images look beautiful, but if we’re honest, the smell wasn’t so pretty. We went there to challenge our attitudes because, like so many, we think of periods as a gross inconvenience. We both use a hormonal IUD that stops us menstruating, which has always just seemed like a bonus.

Jennifer challenged these attitudes, not just because her art is beautiful, but also because she made us reconsider the health consequences of stopping our periods. Like us, Jennifer also used a contraceptive that stopped her period – until she found out it had caused her early-onset osteoporosis.

When Jennifer told us this, we looked at each other wide-eyed. Even though we had been researching this subject for months, there was still so much we didn’t know. The point is, we, like so many others, had put convenience ahead of being informed about our health. And that’s our final tip: get smart, get a mirror out and find out what’s up down there.

Complete Article HERE!

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