Sex bans are manipulative and destructive to your relationship

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By Rebecca Reid

There’s a Greek myth called Lysistrata.

It’s a story about how the wives of the Greeks, sick of their husbands pissing off to war and coming back with a limb missing or not coming back at all, took matters into their own hands.

To create peace between various Greek factions, they went on a sex strike. No nookie for anyone until the war was over. And basically, it worked.

Lysistrata was first performed in 411BC. 2,430 years ago. And yet women are still doing the exact same thing – going on sex strike to get what they want.

Earlier this year Alyssa Milano suggested that we women go on strike from sex until the Georgia six-week abortion limit is overruled.

If you Google ‘sex strike’ you find hundreds of stories from women who got ‘their own way’ by going on strike. One woman got a new kitchen. Another convinced her husband to have another baby. Other women simply use it as a disciplinary measure to correct their husband’s behaviour.

Doesn’t anyone else find this unutterably depressing?

It’s 2019 and apparently the axis of our power as humans is still whether or not we will open our legs for our partners.

Sex shouldn’t be a reward. It should be an expression of lust, or love, or anything else that you want it to be. It should be fun, gratifying, enjoyable.

Sex shouldn’t be the adult equivalent of giving a child a chocolate button for hanging their coat up after school.

By taking sex away from your partner as a punishment you send the message that it’s an activity that you partake in for them in the first place – it suggests that sex is a favour you’ve been doing them and will no longer be doing until they toe the party line.

In every single example I could find online, the person doing the banning is the woman and the person on the receiving end is a man, which further perpetuates an untrue stereotype that men like sex and women put up with it.

Another problematic aspect of the sex ban is that often it’s women putting one in place because she wants to make a financial choice – like a new car or a holiday – that her partner isn’t comfortable with.

Instead of compromising – the money belongs to both of you – or just paying it for themselves, these women perpetuate the idea that their husbands are Chancellors of the Exchequer in their marriage.

They might as well be applying for more housekeeping money.

If your sex life is so lukewarm that the idea of giving it up to punish your partner is appealing, then you’ve got a wider problem which needs addressing.

If however you enjoy sex and withdraw it at your own deprivation then you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. Even if it works, do you really want to have won an argument with your other half by taking away sex, just like you would get a child to do their homework by offering screen time?

Back in 411BC Greece, women really didn’t have much power. Sex was one of the few things you had the ability to grant. But the world has moved on, and we are equal partners within our relationships and therefore we do not need to withdraw sexual favours to claw back power.

We’re intelligent, mature, sensible women with critical reasoning skills. Why would we resort to such reduced tactics to alleviate conflict?

Of course there is an element of sexual politics in any relationship – when you feel happier and closer to your partner you’ll probably have more sex. When you’re fighting or struggling through issues it might well be less. That’s normal.

No one is suggesting for a second that you should have sex with your partner if you don’t want to or you’re not in the mood. You should only ever have sex when you want to have sex. The issue is when you use ‘I’m not in the mood’ as a bargaining chip, which is patronising and controlling.

If your partner doesn’t take you seriously when you say you’re annoyed about the division of labour within the household, or that you think you need to redecorate your kitchen, then they’re not a good partner.

If you ignore their responses to your marital problems and decide to ‘punish’ your partner rather than compromising, then you’re not a good partner.

Relationships that work don’t involve point scoring. They’re not based around depriving someone else of privileges to train their behaviour. That’s how you treat a naughty child, not a spouse whom you respect.

You might get what you originally wanted – your partner might do more housework or ‘let’ you buy a new car, but what cost is this ‘victory’ to the long term health of your relationship?

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Questions Adults Still Ask About Sex

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By Gigi Engle

As an educator who writes and teaches about sexuality, sometimes I still get questions from readers and clients that surprise me.

The most shocking thing isn’t the slew of downright strange questions (of which there are many) but the fact that most of the questions that find their way into my inbox and practice are very common sex questions that I assume most adults know by now. Will a vibrator damage my clitoris? How do I make my partner stop watching porn? Does penis size matter? Is an uncircumcised penis normal? There is no end.

For an educator, it can be frustrating. I put so much information out there only to have the same questions asked again and again.

While it can be maddening, it highlights how deeply sexual shame is ingrained in our minds and culture. People have the information at their fingertips, right there on the internet, but it still doesn’t land.

The fact that these questions are still being asked isn’t the fault of the people asking them. In fact, I’m sure you’ll read some of the examples below and realize you yourself don’t know the answer to at least one. This lack of knowledge into the most basic of sex questions says much less about the people asking them and much more about the state of sex ed. We’re doing ourselves a great disservice as a country by making comprehensive sex ed impossible to access. It’s not your fault you’re confused; it’s our culture’s fault.

With that being said, here are five of the most surprising questions adults still ask me about sex:

1. How do I know what I like in bed? I don’t think I’ve ever had an orgasm.

The short answer: Masturbate. So many of us have this intense fear of self-pleasure, as if touching ourselves could make us dirty, slutty, or unworthy of love. (Note: There is nothing wrong with being a slut, FYI.)

These deep-seated puritanical views of sexuality are extremely pervasive and among the main reasons people don’t enjoy sex. While it spans across genders, this is true for female-bodied people, especially. The clitoris is so key to experiencing pleasure and orgasm. If you’ve never touched your own body, you’re going to have a lot of problems communicating your desires to a partner.

Explore your body. See what feels good for you. You can do this in bed, in the bathtub with a showerhead, using a hand or a vibrator—whatever works for you. Finding out how to bring yourself pleasure is the key to unlocking your sexuality.

2. Why don’t I get wet enough during sex?

This is a question that I get regularly. In these instances, “sex” refers to intercourse. People with vaginas want to know why they need to use lube (or spit, yikes), why intercourse doesn’t feel good or is painful, and why they aren’t having orgasms during sex.

The answer? Because intercourse just doesn’t produce orgasms for most vulva-owning people.

The vaginal canal has very few touch-sensitive nerve endings. The key to female orgasm is the clitoris. While the internal clitoris expands deep into the body, the clitoral glans (the bud at the top of the vulva) is where most of the nerve endings are clustered.

Most of us require clitoral stimulation with adequate foreplay in order to become aroused enough to have intercourse. When the clitoral network is engaged, the clitoris and vulva swell while the vagina lubricates itself. Without this foreplay, sexual intercourse can be uncomfortable or even painful.

“Foreplay” itself is a misnomer, as it places all of the importance on intercourse, when intercourse isn’t even a prerequisite for sexual satisfaction.

Additionally, it doesn’t matter how wet you get. You should really always be using lube. Lube helps with friction, comfort, and even aids you to have more orgasms. (Here’s mbg’s guide to picking the right lube.)

3. Why can I orgasm with my vibrator but not during sex?

This question often goes hand-in-hand with queries such as: Is it normal to prefer masturbation to intercourse? And: Can I get addicted to my vibrator?

Vibrators were designed to bring clit-owning people to orgasm. They offer intense sensation that can give you pleasure like nothing you may have experienced before. With that being said, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that you can become addicted to vibration. 

We have to stop thinking of orgasms as a finite resource. We need to open ourselves to experiencing and embracing our full potential for pleasure. You may “need” a vibrator to experience an orgasm, and you know what? That’s totally OK. Some clit-owning people need more intense stimulation to have orgasms.

As I’ve mentioned, intercourse very rarely stimulates the clitoris, the key player in female orgasm. It’s not surprising that you’d prefer a vibrator or oral sex. You’re not weird or broken. You’re a normal sexual being. I promise.

4. If I want to try butt play; will it make me gay?

The “will putting something up my butt make me gay” question is extremely popular among cis men. It seems like no matter how many times I write about the joys of prostate play, this question appears in my email a few times a year.

Here is the truth: No, putting something in your butt will not make you gay. If you put something in your butt and then decide that you are into men now, well, it wasn’t because you put anything in your butt.

If you’re gay, you’re born gay. No amount of butt play is going to “make you” anything.

That being said, butt play is accessible for any and all people, regardless of gender. The first few inches of the anus are packed with nerve-rich tissue. Male-bodied people have a prostate, a walnut-size gland located a few inches inside of the butt. When stimulated, it can offer intense and pleasurable sensation.

If you’re interested in butt play, there is no reason you shouldn’t explore it!

5. What do I do about mismatched libidos?

This question, while very common, has no easy answer. The most important thing we can do about mismatched libidos is to communicate with one another. This is a difficult feat for most couples. Talking about sexual issues or concerns is not something we’re taught how to do.

With strict gender roles set in place by society, it is easy for people to become defensive when their partner raises concerns about sex drive. If you’re a man who doesn’t want sex as much as your partner, it’s considered “unmanly.” If you’re a woman who wants more sex than her male partner, you must be some kind of harlot or crazed sex demon.

Yet, these stereotypes are not at all true. Women, men, queer folks, and beyond all have differing libidos that have nothing to do with gender or sex. To get around differences in libido, we need to talk about it with our partners to find workable solutions. The person with the higher libido often caters to the person who has the lower libido, stifling themselves because they’re sick of being “turned down” for sex. This is not good. Both people are responsible for the sex in a partnership. Everyone deserves to feel satisfied and sexually fulfilled.

Sex is part of relationships. You are in a partnership, and both people need to be willing to compromise to keep the relationship healthy. If we knew how to talk about sex, we’d be able to have these conversations much more freely and without fear of judgment.

If you’re dealing with mismatched libidos, working on more effectively communicating about it is step one.

We need to talk more about sex. 

If we want people to stop floundering on the topic of sex, we need to talk about sex. If we had pleasure-based sexual education in schools, young people would go into the world much more equipped to deal with relationships and communication around sex.

If you’re interested in getting more sex ed in your life, check out Planned Parenthood’s website for starters. They have super-informative up-to-date information on sexual health and wellness. They even have super-digestible short sex-ed videos. Inform yourself. We all have to.

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Ridiculously Common Worries Sex Therapists Hear All the Time

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For anyone asking, “Am I normal?”

By Anna Borges

Fun sex things to talk about: enthusiastic consent, pleasure, sex toys, kink, orgasms, positions, intimacy. Less fun sex things to talk about: insecurity, inadequacy, unwelcome pain, dysfunction, internalized stigma, embarrassment. Understandable. No one wants to sit around chatting about their deepest sexual anxieties. But when you rarely see people having these less sexy conversations, it’s easy to assume you’re the only one who might have a complicated relationship with sex. You’re not.

“The sex education standard in North America is fear-based, shame-inducing messages that erase pleasure and consent,” sex therapist Shadeen Francis, L.M.F.T., tells SELF. “Because of this, there is a lot of room for folks to worry. Most of the insecurities I encounter as a sex therapist boil down to one overarching question: ‘Am I normal

To help answer that question, SELF asked a few sex therapists what topics come up again and again in their work. Turns out, no matter what you’re going through, more people than you might think can probably relate.

1. You feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Listen, good sex takes practice. It’s not like sex ed often covers much outside the mechanics: This goes here, that does that, this makes a baby. For the most part, people are left to their own devices to figure out what sex is actually like. A lot of the time, that info comes from less-than-satisfactory places, like unrealistic porn that perpetuates way too many myths to count. So if you’re not super confident in your abilities and sometimes feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, you’re not the only one.

This is especially true for people whose genders and sexualities aren’t represented in typical heteronormative sex ed. “Intersex people, gender non-conforming people, and trans people rarely have been centered in sexual conversations and often are trying to navigate discovering what pleases them and communicating that with partners outside of gender tropes,” says Francis.

People also worry that they’re straight up bad in bed all the time, Lexx Brown-James, L.M.F.T., certified sex educator and the founder of The Institute for Sexuality and Intimacy in St. Louis, tells SELF. “The most common question I get is, ‘How do I know if I’m good at sex?’” This, Brown-James emphasizes, isn’t the right question to be asking. Not only is everyone’s definition of “good sex” different, but it’s not going to come down to something as simple as your personal skill set. It’s about consensually exploring and communicating about what feels good, emotionally and physically, with your partner or partners.

2. You’re embarrassed about masturbation.

Depending on a few different factors, you might have a lot of internalized shame and self-consciousness around masturbation. Maybe you grew up in an environment that told you it was dirty or wrong, maybe no one talked to you about it at all, or maybe you’ve always felt a little nervous about the idea of pleasuring yourself. According to Francis, a lot of people have masturbation-related hangups.

If that sounds familiar, it’s important to remember how common masturbation is and that there’s no “right” way to do it. Not only do people of all ages, abilities, races, genders, religions, sizes, and relationship statuses masturbate, but there are tons of different ways to go about it, too. “People masturbate using their hands, their body weight, their toys, and various household or ‘DIY’ implements,” says Francis. Same goes for how people turn themselves on—people masturbate to fantasies, memories, visual and audio porn, literature, and a lot more. Some masturbate alone, while others also do it in front of or with their sexual partner or partners. Sex therapists have heard it all.

Basically, if your way of masturbating feels good to you and does not create harm for yourself or others, then it is a wonderfully healthy part of your sexuality and you should embrace it, says Francis. (Just make sure you’re being safe. So…don’t use any of these things to get yourself off.)

3. You worry that you’re not progressive enough.

You’ve probably noticed that lifestyles like kink and polyamory are bleeding into the mainstream. It’s not unusual to stumble across phrases like “ethically non-monogamous” and “in an open relationship” while swiping through a dating app.

According to sex therapist Ava Pommerenk, Ph.D., this increased visibility is having an unfortunate side effect: Some people who aren’t into the idea of polyamory or kink have started to feel like they’re…well, boring or even close-minded. Which is not true! But plenty of people equate alternative sexual practices with progressiveness when it’s really about personal preference. If you’ve been thinking your vanilla nature makes you old-school, just keep in mind that it’s totally OK if any kind of sexual act or practice isn’t your thing

While we’re on the topic, it’s worth noting that both non-monogamy and kink can be wonderful but require a lot of trust and communication. Some people who aren’t educated on the ethics involved are taking advantage of these practices as buzzwords to excuse shitty behavior.

“I get a lot of people, particularly women in relationships with men, whose [partners are] making them feel guilty for not opening up their relationship,” Pommerenk tells SELF. At best, that kind of behavior means there’s been some serious misunderstanding and miscommunication, but at worst, it can suggest an unhealthy or even emotionally abusive dynamic, says Pommerenk. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s worth unpacking, possibly with the help of someone like a sex therapist. You can also reach out to resources like the National Dating Abuse Helpline by calling 866-331-9474 or texting “loveis” to 22522 and the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 800-799-SAFE (7233) or through email or live chat on the hotline’s contact page.

4. You feel pressured to have sex a certain way or amount.

“One aspect of this that I see a lot—and this is true for all genders—is pressure to perform,” sex therapist Jillien Kahn, L.M.F.T., tells SELF. “[That] can include things like the pressure to have sex at a certain point in dating, feeling expected to magically know how to please a partner without communication, and/or fear of sexual challenges and dysfunctions.”

Kahn likes to remind her clients that sex isn’t a performance. “The best sex happens when we forget the pressure and are able to connect with our bodies and partners,” she says. “If you’re primarily concerned with your own performance or making your partner orgasm, you’re missing out on so much of the good stuff

Pommerenk also says it’s not uncommon for her clients to worry about the consequences of not being sexually available to their partners. For example, they feel like they’re bad partners if they’re not in the mood sometimes or that their partners will leave them if they don’t have sex often enough. A lot of this is cultural messaging we have to unlearn. It’s not difficult to internalize pressure to be the “perfect” sexual partner. After all, people in movies and porn are often ready and available for sex at all times. But much like worrying that you’re not open-minded enough, if this is how your partner is making you feel or something that they’re actually threatening you about, that’s not just a sexual hangup of yours—it’s a sign of potential emotional abuse.

5. You’re freaked out about a “weird” kink, fetish, or fantasy.

“Many of my clients seem to have a fantasy or enjoy a type of porn they feel ashamed of,” says Kahn. Some of these clients even feel ashamed to mention their fantasies or preferred porn in therapy, she adds. “The thing is, the vast majority of your fantasies have been around far longer than you have. The porn you look at was developed because a lot of people want to watch it. Even in the rare exception of unique fetishes or fantasies, there is nothing to be ashamed of,” says Kahn.

It can help to remember that just because you have a fantasy or like a certain type of porn doesn’t necessarily mean you want to do any of it IRL. According to Kahn, that’s an important distinction to make, because people often feel guilty or panicked about some of the thoughts that turn them on. For example, rape fantasies aren’t unheard of—in fact, like many fantasies, they’re probably more common than you’d expect, says Kahn—and they don’t mean that a person has a real desire to experience rape.

“I try to make sure my clients know that the fantasy doesn’t necessarily mean anything about them, so it is not necessary to try and analyze it,” says Kahn. “Whatever you’re fantasizing about, I can confidently tell you that you’re far from the only person excited by that idea.”

What if you do want to carry out a fantasy you’re worried is weird? Again, as long as you’re not actively harming yourself or anyone else, chances are pretty good that whatever you’re into sexually is completely OK—and that you can find someone else who’s into it, too.

If you’re still feeling embarrassed about any of your sexual practices, desires, or feelings, Kahn has these parting words: “Sexual anxiety and insecurity [are] such a universal experience. There’s constant comparison to this continually changing image of sexual perfection. [People should] discuss sex more openly for many reasons, and if we did, we would see how incredibly common sexual insecurity is.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Make Sex More Dangerous

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Refusing to provide children with medically accurate sex education isn’t ideological — it’s negligent.

By Andrea Barrica

I cried the first time I saw a naked man. As a young woman growing up in a conservative Catholic household, I couldn’t even look at my own genitals, and thought I would go to hell for masturbating. The abstinence-only education I received — at school, at home, in the church — left me with years of shame, isolation and fear.

I’ve watched the recent battles over allowing comprehensive sex ed in Colorado, Utah and Idaho, and I know how much is at stake for children. As a sex educator and entrepreneur, I’ve spoken with thousands of similarly miseducated young people, and I know the mental and physiological damage it can inflict.

Americans laugh at the embarrassment parents face in talking to kids about sex. But it’s not a joke. Fewer students now receive comprehensive sex ed in our country than at any time in the past 20 years. Since the late 1990s, conservative activists — often with the help of conservative presidents — have steadily chipped away at sex education by funding and mandating abstinence-only policies in schools.

Only about half of all school districts in the United States require any sex ed at all. Of those that do, most mandate or stress abstinence-only instruction. No birth control. No sexually transmitted infection prevention. No consent

In fact, 18 states require that educators tell students that sex is acceptable only within the context of marriage. Seven states prohibit teachers — under penalty of law — from acknowledging the existence of L.G.B.T.Q. people other than in the context of H.I.V. or to condemn homosexuality. Only 10 states even reference “sexual assault” or “consent” in their sex education curriculums.

And in districts where comprehensive sex education is provided, parents are largely allowed to opt out of such instruction for their children.

Conservatives often frame sex ed as government overreach, arguing that lessons in sexuality and relationships are best provided by parents. But most parents can’t or don’t provide such guidance. Refusing to provide children with medically accurate information about their own sexual development isn’t ideological; it’s negligent.

It’s not even effective. States that place a heavy emphasis on abstinence-only sex ed have seen much higher rates of teen pregnancy, even when studies control for factors like income and education levels.

During the Obama administration, funding for abstinence-only sex education was shifted toward more comprehensive sex education — and teen pregnancy dropped nationwide by 41 percent. The Trump administration, embracing an abstinence-only approach, has reversed course, cutting more than $200 million in funding for the program.

Despite the dreams of social conservatives, few teens actually practice abstinence. Nearly 60 percent of students have sex before they graduate from high school, according to some surveys. Many do so without any instruction from parents or schools on condoms, infections or consent.

Perhaps that’s why one in four American women will become pregnant by the time they turn 20.

Or why a quarter of all new cases of sexually transmitted infections occur in teenagers — and the number of S.T.I.s has been at all-time highs.

Or why only 41 percent of American women have described their first sexual experience as wanted.

When we refuse to teach students about sex, we don’t stop sex — we just make it more dangerous. And it’s not just because of S.T.I.s.

Kids who lack information and ownership over their bodies are more likely to be taken advantage of. When children are taught that all premarital sex is negative, it’s harder for them to fight, or report, abuse or coercion.

Abstinence education negates the possibility of consent. When I was a teen, I was taught that men would try to get sex from me, and that my job was to say no. That made me feel as if the coercion and violations that happened to me were my fault. All sexual acts are equally wrong, so if a boy went too far on a date with me, it was my fault for letting him touch me at all.

Keeping children in the dark allows predators to set the narrative. They count on the culture of silence and the sense of shame. When virginity is prized as the highest honor, those who are assaulted can feel even more worthless — and may avoid reporting abusive or predatory behavior out of shame and confusion.

For L.G.B.T.Q. children, things can be even more bleak. A lack of inclusive sex education contributes to feelings of isolation and shame, while enabling bullies. L.G.B.T.Q. kids have even fewer resources, and face more drastic consequences — from physical abuse to homelessness — when they attempt to report assaults.
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When we promote abstinence over medically accurate sexual health, it inflicts a lifetime of physical and psychological harm on young people.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In many countries, the right to accurate information about sexual health is deemed essential. Children raised in the Netherlands, for example, begin sex ed in kindergarten. American teens give birth at a rate that is five times higher than that of their Dutch counterparts. Most Dutch teens report their first sexual experience positively.

We joke about sex because it’s difficult for us to talk about. And in part because our parents weren’t able to talk with us about it, we’re unable to talk with our kids. We can break the cycle for the next generation of young people by fighting for accessible and comprehensive sex education.

Their safety is more important than our shame.

Complete Article HERE!

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The clitoris is a gift…

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So why is there an ingrained fear of talking about it?

‘It’s time that we grow up and get over our fear of the C-word.’

If we want to make progress with FGM, we need to first tackle our outdated, misogynistic views on sex

The first UK conviction for female genital mutilation (FGM) this month was a milestone in the fight for the basic human rights of women and girls. But one of the things that stands out from the news reports of that case is how oddly furtive they were about communicating the key facts – in particular their avoidance of the C-word: clitoris.

In reporting such a prominent case, are readers unable to be shown the correct medical terminology? Why do the media carefully avoid mentioning what occurred, using highly generalised anatomical terms before quickly moving on? If this lack of detail was to spare the victim the indignity of having such a personal matter discussed so publicly, I would have sympathy, however I do not think that this is the case here. What I think is at play, is a deep-rooted fear of the clitoris.

Let us consider if a man were to suffer a similar injury: would we shy away from using the word penis? Of course not. A quick internet search is enough to reveal a whole plethora of penis-related news stories (not to mention non-news stories). In fact, there are so many that we seem, as news consumers, to be a little bit penis obsessed. Huff Post and the Independent have gone so far as creating a “penis” news keyword tag, for all your penis news in one place. To some degree, the media has also now acknowledged the existence of the vagina, and its linguistic appearance is reasonably acceptable in polite conversation (perhaps depending on the context). So why are we so reticent about the clitoris? Why is a mention of it seemed to be deemed too sordid for BBC news?

The big difference here seems to be that while the vagina has an obvious functional utility, the clitoris exists entirely for female pleasure. It seems that the issue stems, not from the provocative nature of a word, but our continued societal taboo regarding women daring to enjoy sex. Sure, we can see depictions of women shrieking with pleasure plastered all over any porn site. But that is exactly the point. Female sexual enjoyment remains exclusively in the realm of the forbidden.

This aversion to discussing, or even acknowledging, female pleasure is instilled early. As a teenager, I remember it being commonplace for boys to laugh and joke about masturbation; if anything, it was downright encouraged. For girls meanwhile, it was impossible to admit even to your closest friends that masturbation had ever crossed your mind, except as something disgusting and shameful. We were all doing it, yet no one would dare to ever admit it and risk being branded weird and somehow dirty.

In an age in which we’re revolutionising the debate around sexual experiences and consent, why are we stagnating when it comes to the discussion of mutual enjoyment? Rebecca Kukla, a philosophy professor specialising in practical ethics at Georgetown University, has written about the problems of a linguistic framework built around consent, with its implication that women are passive recipients of an act. Sex is framed as something a man asks for, which a woman may either consent to or decline, rather than an experience of mutual participation, agency and pleasure. This is not to say that consent is not important; on the contrary, it is essential. But to reduce our discussions of sex to this kind of dichotomy is to fundamentally misrepresent what is an active and reciprocal enjoyment.

It’s time that we grow up and get over our fear of the C-word. Even more than this, we need to cease viewing female enjoyment of sex as sordid and instead catapult it into the mainstream. Yes, a woman has a clitoris! Being able, at the very least, to talk about clinical aspects of female anatomy when reporting factual news is vital to accepting female bodies in their entirety. We must be able to mention a clitoris without feeling uncomfortable, without feeling like we’ve crossed some invisible line and left the realms of civilised conversation behind us.

Young girls around the world are suffering horrendous mutilation because of a deep-rooted cultural fear of female pleasure, and the same fear is preventing us from even articulating the problem. If we want to make progress on this issue, there are many positive actions we can take (I would recommend looking into the work of Forward UK among other FGM-focused charities). But we could begin by examining our own views and free our speech from the shackles of outdated and deeply misogynistic views on sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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The Uncomplicated Truth About Women Sexuality

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Is women’s sexuality more complicated than men’s? Well, not really, no, says author Sarah Barmak.

In this frank, eye-opening talk, she shows how a flawed understanding of the female body has shaped this discussion for centuries. She debunks some age-old myths (you’re welcome) and offers a richer definition of pleasure that gets closer to the simple truth about women’s sexuality.

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Where Sex Education Fails, Technology Can Help

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The Juicebox app connects people with sex coaches to get their questions answered—anonymously.

Juicebox, along with similar apps, has made it a mission to take the awkwardness and shame out of the “birds and bees” talk and encourage more sex-positive conversations.

By

One day last year, Evan Conaway realized he had a problem. He’d been through a series of breakups in a short span of time, and the ensuing stress manifested with the onset of erectile dysfunction.

He didn’t know what to think. And he felt embarrassed even talking about it.

After trying to research solutions to his problem online, he discovered Juicebox, a smartphone app that connects anonymous users with certified sex coaches to ask questions about sex or relationships.

Working with a coach motivated him to talk about the issue with his sexual partners. “She made it seem like a normal thing to go through,” Conaway said.

Conaway said he didn’t know how to talk about what he liked or expected out of a sexual encounter. In his home state of Georgia, sex was treated as a shameful subject, especially for gay people like Conaway.

“Before I was talking to the coach, I don’t think I would’ve had the confidence to express myself,” he said. “The way I approach sex is way more open and transparent.”

The slow process of public policy making means that technology has become a resource for filling in the gaps left by sparse sex education curricula that dominate U.S. schools. Juicebox, along with similar apps, has made it a mission to take the awkwardness and shame out of the “birds and bees” talk and encourage more sex-positive conversations.

While an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, Brianna Rader, Juicebox’s founder, saw her peers enduring the consequences of a poor sex ed curriculum. She’d grown up in the state and also had to educate herself, especially as she came to identify as bisexual.

“Being queer in the South made me question the information I was given more critically,” Rader said.

Many students who had come through Tennessee’s mandated abstinence-only curriculum had a general lack of knowledge about sex and sexual health that, combined with newfound freedom at college and the ready availability of alcohol, led to disastrous situations.

Rader saw other schools like Yale and Harvard organize Sex Week, a campus event that held workshops and talks from sex educators, plus free HIV testing. But when Rader decided to organize Sex Week on the Tennessee campus, the ensuing controversy across the state led the university to succumb to political pressure and defund the project. Rader and her co-organizers kept Sex Week running for two years solely from their own fundraising.

Founder and CEO of Juicebox, Brianna Rader.

The experience sparked Rader’s newfound passion for sexual health. It also led her to seek solutions that would address people’s needs immediately, and not have to wait for policy makers to come around in their thinking.

Rader later moved to San Francisco and got a master’s degree in global health. The proximity of Silicon Valley helped her realize technology’s ability to have a faster and more wide-ranging impact.

This lack of education about sex in many parts of the U.S. has led to some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections when compared to other industrialized countries.

Only 24 states require sex education be taught in public schools, and even when sex education is offered, the curriculum varies from state to state.

A 2017 report from the Guttmacher Institute said that 20 states require information on contraception, but 27 states also must stress abstinence. HIV education is required in 34 states, but only 12 states discuss sexual orientation. And out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, only 13 require the information presented to be medically accurate.

Research published by the Public Library of Science found that abstinence-only education does nothing to prevent teen pregnancy. In fact, it actually contributes to higher pregnancy rates in the U.S.

The LGBTQ community has suffered the brunt of poor sex education. The exclusion of sexual minorities from curricula has contributed to higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unwanted pregnancies among the group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even with this data available, comprehensive sex education has yet to be universally adopted in the U.S.

Conaway didn’t receive much of a sex education growing up in Georgia, a commonplace situation throughout the South.

He said that when he began questioning his sexuality in middle school, he had to resort to the internet for information. At first, Conaway thought he was bisexual. Without anyone in school talking about LGBTQ identity positively, he assumed that something must be medically wrong with him.

“The first thing I Googled was ‘the cure for bisexuality’ because I’ve only heard of that as a disease, so it must be something that I can get rid of,” Conaway said.

Karen Rayne, a sex educator from Texas, has seen firsthand the result of a dearth of sex education. Much like Rader’s native Tennessee, Texas’ curriculum stresses abstinence. Texas also is one of the few states that forbids the curriculum from portraying LGBTQ identities positively.

Texas has some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. About 35,000 teens get pregnant each year in the state. Rayne said that teens in other states have access to more progressive and medically accurate information, and the lack of that in Texas is largely to blame for the state’s high rate of teen pregnancy.

Juicebox initially launched as a resource for teens to ask the questions that couldn’t get answered in sex ed class. But then Rader noticed more adults using the app to get answers for much different questions. Users needed help with topics like erectile dysfunction, the female orgasm, or couples’ issues, for example.

An example of how the chat function on the Juicebox app is used.

Influenced by the reality of that additional demographic, Rader relaunched Juicebox last spring with an option that pairs users with a certified sex coach so they can receive personalized attention.

Rader now wants to help users move past sexual shame and learn to communicate openly about sex—both lingering effects of inadequate sex education.

“We’re helping address the trauma that comes from our country’s horrible sex ed system, pornography, and the way media discusses sex,” Rader said.

Juicebox users span across the country—they’re even in big cities like San Francisco and New York City, where sex education is more comprehensive than Texas or Tennessee. Rader said that despite how good the education system can be, there’s still a lot of confusion around sex.

That’s why Rayne stresses that nothing can really replace comprehensive sexuality education earlier in life. Without a template to understand sex, it’s hard to know how to broach the topic with a teen.

Both Rader and Rayne believe open communication will be key in addressing an epidemic of teen pregnancies and STIs and helping people feel comfortable in their sexuality.

“Sex education is fun—or at least it should be,” Rayne said. “Our sexuality should be forces of joy and pleasure, whether we’re actively engaging with sexual partners or not.”

Even though apps like Juicebox can serve as a supportive tool in developing a comprehensive curriculum, Rayne said a face-to-face education must still be the priority. Without it, people often don’t know what questions to ask. She sees tech working more in conjunction with sex education programs rather than substituting for it.

Rader hopes Juicebox can be an accessible resource for people wanting to learn more about sex and adopting a more sex-positive attitude.

“I believe we’re at the very, very beginning of a hopefully larger movement,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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6 things I wish I knew about sex as a teen

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It’s up to you to define what constitutes losing your virginity

By Olivia Cassano

Growing up we receive so many problematic messages about sex that it’s no wonder we still consider it such a taboo.

Although I consider myself a very sex-positive person now, it took years to unlearn most of what mainstream society taught me about doing the deed.

There’s a lot to be learned about the nuanced experience of sex and I full-heartedly believe that we can never stop learning.

But here are the things I think everyone, young women especially, should know in order to foster a healthy, fulfilling relationship with sex.

Virginity is a heteronormative myth

Almost everything we know about virginity is either wrong or misogynistic.

First of all, it completely excludes same-sex experiences and focuses only on hetero PIV (penis in vagina) sex, alienating gay sex and turning it into the ‘other’.

If we were to take virginity for how it’s taught, technically gay people are all virgins.

See? It makes no sense.

All sex is sex and, ultimately, it’s up to you to define what constitutes losing your virginity, because it’s nothing more than a concept.

Losing your virginity is also somehow simultaneously romanticised and made out to be this horrific, traumatising, painful milestone.

It’s an oxymoron, but your entry point to sex will most likely be unremarkable.

It doesn’t have to hurt and you might not bleed (I didn’t), because another fallacy is that losing your V-card is all about the hymen breaking.

We’re taught that the hymen is like a fleshy roadblock that needs to be crashed into to officially lose your virgin status, but none of that is true.

The hymen is a thin, perforated membrane most, not all, women have, and it can be torn from pretty much anything, like tampons, masturbation and even some types of sport. It’s not proof of your virginity or lack thereof because, newsflash, women don’t come with a freshness seal.

The first time can be uncomfortable and the pain often associated with it most likely comes from nerves and a lack of lubrication.

Relax, lube up and enjoy (once you’re ready of course).

Had I known this before my first time, I wouldn’t have looked forward to it with such dreaded anticipation.

All sex is sex

As mentioned above, society has a tendency to think of sex as intercourse.

Again, this alienates same-sex experiences and trivialises other sexual activities like oral, anal and masturbation.

This way of thinking is so embedded in how we understand and talk about sex that it took me a while to dismantle this way of thinking, but it’s crucial to abandon this hierarchy.

And – lazy, straight men – foreplay is sex. Stop acting like it’s a nuisance you have to quickly get rid of before sticking your dick in us.

Which brings me to my next point.

Sex is not a race

Orgasms feel incredible and provide a wide range of mental and physical benefits, but, that being said, they’re not the only reason we have sex. Sex should be a whole experience and should be enjoyed even though it doesn’t end in climax, especially since the sad reality is that most hetero women don’t come from intercourse alone. Slow down, savour the experience and stop trying to hit a home run straight away. Masturbating is awesome

Women do it too.

It doesn’t make you desperate.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

It’s healthy. It’s amazing.

DIY sex is more than just satisfaction, it’s an act of self-love that reinforces your own pleasure and agency in sex.

Knowing how to please yourself means knowing what you want out of a sexual experience with a partner, if you wish to have one.

STIs don’t make you dirty

Although I was lucky enough to attend a school that offered a sex ed class, all it consisted of was our teacher showing us a slide show of disease-ridden genitalia.

The aim wasn’t so much to spread awareness but rather disgust us into not having unprotected sex.

It reinforced the stigma that people with STIs are dirty and stupid for catching them in the first place, most likely from having sex with a lot of different people.

Yes, we should teach kids to use a condom and get regularly tested – this advice applies to adults too – but we should also be taught how to talk about STIs without judgement or shame.

The easier it is to talk about them without wanting to recoil, the easier it is to approach the subject with a partner should you find out you caught something.

I didn’t get my first sexual health test until six years after being sexually active because I was terrified of knowing if I had anything.

Now I get a routine check every six months even though I am in a committed relationship, and it’s something I look forward to because it’s a way to make sure I’m being safe and keeping my partner safe too.

STIs aren’t something to be happy about, but they’re also not the end of your sex life.

Literally anything about consent

It’s 2018 and most people still don’t have a clear grasp on consent.

Growing up, I had never even heard of consent, because no one taught me.

Consent isn’t just the absence of a ‘no’, it’s a voluntary, explicit and enthusiastic verbal and non-verbal ‘yes’. It can be withdrawn at any point and consenting to one activity does not mean consenting to any future activities.

Sex without consent is abuse or rape, so it’s probably the first and most important thing we should be learning when it comes to sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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25 things all girls should know about sex by 25

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By disappointed girls

Practical advice included

By 25 you feel like you should’ve hit some pretty big milestones in life. Like getting a promotion, paying for your phone bill, moving out and understanding what the tax code on your payslip actually means. You should know who your real friends are, how many drinks will cause a hangover and the types of boys you should avoid on Tinder at all costs.

But if there’s one thing which shouldn’t be happening at 25, it’s bad sex. By then, you want to know exactly what makes you come, how a guy’s gonna do it and should own at least one sex toy. Here’s the 25 things all girls should know about sex by 25:

1. YOUR ORGASM IS AS IMPORTANT AS HIS

When you first started having sex it felt like the main event was the man coming, the man getting close and basically him having a good time – but that shouldn’t be the case. Sex is about both of you getting pleasure, so if you’re shagging someone who isn’t putting the time in to make sure you climax also, bin him.

2. SEX ISN’T HOW IT IS IN PORNOS, SO STOP FAKING IT AND MAKING LOUD PORN STAR NOISES IF YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY FEELING IT

“OH YEAH BABY, HARDER, HARDER, FUCK ME HARDER!” – girl, it’s unnecessary for you to feel like you should be doing this just because some 40-year-old woman in the Nevada Desert is doing it. Boys see right through it, they know the noises aren’t genuine, and you know it’s not genuine. Save noises for when you actually feel it, that way he knows what you like and what feels good.

3. SOMETIMES IT’S OKAY TO FAKE AN ORGASM EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE

Never get into the habit of having fake orgasms all the time – it just means when you’re actually having an orgasm the guy doesn’t know what he’s done to get you there. But sometimes you might be a bit tired during sex and having a fake orgasm means it’ll end sooner – which is fine to do.

4. FINGER YOURSELF

Whether you’re bored, stressed or sexually frustrated, you should definitely be fingering yourself. Get to know your body, what feels good and what doesn’t – just have a lil you time. Some girls find using toys, lube or watching porn helps get them in the mood.

5. IT IS NORMAL TO WANT SEX AND TO LIKE HAVING SEX, SO DON’T BE ASHAMED OF IT

For too long we’ve been made to think a girl is slutty for enjoying sex. That if a girl has slept with 20 people she’s gross and “not girlfriend material”, but if a guy has he’s a legend and “one of the boys”. Wrong – we can enjoy having sex whether that’s through fingering ourselves or sleeping with 100s of people.

6. MORNING SEX IS RARELY SEXY SO DON’T LET HIM MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY ABOUT NOT BEING IN THE MOOD

His dick will always be hard in the morning but that doesn’t mean you have to do anything about it.

7. BUY A SEX TOY

Not only is it great for you for when you want some alone time, it’s fun for you and your partner during sex. Once you buy one vibrator you won’t stop.

8. IT’S ACTUALLY REALLY HARD TO COME VIA PENETRATIVE SEX

It can take ages for a woman to come through penetrative sex, with only 20 per cent actually able to do so from no clitoral stimulation, so don’t freak out thinking you’re abnormal if you’re not getting there. The clit however should always be able to get you off – so get acquainted as to what feels good. Always go slow first in small circular or “up and down” motions, then build up the speed and pressure once you’re getting into it.

9. WATCHING PORN IS NOT A SIN

Everyone’s doing it, trust me.

10. IF YOU’RE SLEEPING WITH A SET MENU FUCKBOY, CHUCK HIM

The set menu fuckboy is the guy who does the same things in bed every single time. They have a routine which they swear by, because it always gets them to climax, but probably doesn’t take you into consideration. For example, he might always kiss you for five minutes, finger for two, go down for three (but doesn’t even use his tongue) and then shags in the same two positions before coming way before you were reaching an orgasm. These boys have one agenda, and it’s not making you come, so get rid!

11. HOW MUCH HAIR YOU HAVE ON YOUR VAG IS UP TO YOU

As you get older, you realise that how much hair you have really doesn’t matter. Like seriously think about it, why do you spend £30 a month having hot wax poured on your vagina, or wake up 10 minutes earlier than usual so you can hack at your vag with a shit razor? If the answer is “my boyfriend likes it” and it’s not because YOU like it, then you need to reassess. Good boys don’t care either way.

12. BE VOCAL WITH WHAT FEELS GOOD AND IS TURNING YOU ON

Never be embarrassed to guide a guy on how to finger you, what to do when he’s licking you out and basically how to make you come. They want to know what turns a girl on to make you come – they don’t want to be faced with your vagina licking around completely clueless.

13. NEVER ABANDON THE CLIT DURING SEX

Essential for the best orgasm. If you’re on top, get him to place his hand flat on himself so your clit rubs against it when your riding him. When spooning, either get him to reach around or just do it yourself. Guys won’t ever get annoyed you’re getting yourself off during sex – they love it. Plus, it’s hot.

14. DON’T FEEL YOU HAVE TO CONSTANTLY DEEP-THROAT WHEN GIVING A BLOW JOB

Again, real life isn’t a porno, instead you can have a lot of fun teasing when giving a blowjob. Like give the bottom half of his dick a handjob whilst you suck the top half – the top of the penis has the most nerves, so this means you won’t be gagging the whole time.

15. CLENCHING YOUR FIST WHEN GIVING A BLOW JOB ACTUALLY STOPS GAGGING

Idk what voodoo or science there is behind this, but thanks to whoever made this knowledge known.

16. PERIOD SEX IS TOTALLY NATURAL AND NOT SOME STUPID TABOO

Obviously it’s up to you if you want to do it, but having sex on your period shouldn’t been seen as this gross thing like you probably thought it was in secondary school. Bleeding, like coming, sweating and any other bodily fluid which is present during sex, is totally normal. Plus if you’ve got a medium flow that day it’s not like your sheets or his dick are going to look like a crime scene, there will probably be a small amount of blood maximum.

17. ALWAYS STOP HAVING SEX IF IT’S HURTING RATHER THAN CARRYING ON FOR HIS SAKE

Don’t feel like you should just stick it out if you’re sore and it’s feeling a bit rough. It’s okay to just stop and take a minute or 20 or just stop altogether. The guy’s orgasm is not worth you being in pain or uncomfortable, plus if he’s really that desperate he can go wank in the bathroom and you can go make yourself a nice soothing cuppa or a glass of wine.

18. SOMETIMES NEITHER OF YOU WILL BE ABLE TO COME, AND THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU OR HIM ARE SHIT IN BED

Maybe you’ve drank too much, taken some drugs or either of you are overthinking it. Whichever way, sometimes it’s impossible to come. It’s better to just stop rather than aggressively hump for 40 minutes for something which definitely won’t happen. Reassure him it’s all good, because he will feel like he’s failed otherwise which is definitely not the case.

19. GO BETWEEN FOREPLAY AND SEX

Foreplay doesn’t always need to be during the building up stage – it can happen at any time. Like you could be on top then have a break and sit on his face. It doesn’t have to be only thrusting after the fingering, eating out, handjob, blow job stage.

20. IF THEY’RE NOT GOOD AT KISSING, THEY’RE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO BE GOOD IN BED

It’s true.

21. ALWAYS, ALWAYS HAVE A WEE AFTER SEX

Unless you really want a UTI, go to the loo after you have done the deed to get rid of gross bacteria that can cause some pretty uncomfortable infections – cystitis I’m looking at you.

22. GO EASY WITH HIS PENIS – YOU’RE NOT TRYING TO LAUNCH A ROCKET

In the same way you want him to be gentle, don’t tug or suck too hard – one girl gave a guy friction burn and that is NOT sexy.

23. SOME PEOPLE HAVE KINKS, GET OVER IT

Some people are really into BDSM and being a submissive, or dressing up, and that’s totally fine. It can be fun trying out people’s kinks, unless it’s something like beastiality then maybe not.

24. IF HIS DICK SMELLS FUNKY, ABORT THE MISSION

Seriously though, your nose isn’t there just for piercings babe, if something smells bad, it probably is and bacteria in your vagina equals a UTI.

25. GUYS HAVE A WEIRD OBSESSION WITH DOING ANAL

Maybe it’s part of the male chromosome but guys just have a weird thing for anal and bums and wanting to “try it out”. Only do it if you really want and have loads of lube and maybe a butt plug. If he’s that into it, you could even slip a cheek finger in his bum during sex – it’s a super sensitive area for them.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex, technology and disability – it’s complicated

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Media portrayals of sexuality often focus on a visual and verbal vocabulary that is young, white, cisgender, heterosexual and…not disabled.

By

People living with disability are largely excluded from conversations about sexuality, and face overlapping barriers to sexual expression that are both social and physical.

Media portrayals of sexuality often focus on a visual and verbal vocabulary that is young, white, cisgender, heterosexual and … not disabled.

My research into inclusive design explores how design can – intentionally or unintentionally – exclude marginalised or vulnerable people, as well as how design can ensure that everyone is included. That might mean design of the built environment, everyday products, or even how information is presented.

UTS has been collaborating for over a year with Northcott Innovation, a nonprofit organisation based in NSW that focuses on solutions for people with disability, to understand the barriers people face, and how inclusive design can help break them down.

When it comes to sexuality, new technologies have a role to play – but we need to look at both the opportunities and risks that these developments bring.

Starting the conversation

David* is a young man living with cerebral palsy who expresses a deep frustration about being unable to have his sexual desires met. He revealed his thoughts during discussions around sex and disability.

I can’t get into a lot clubs in my wheelchair – or restaurant or cafés for that matter. So where do I go to meet someone? Or go on a date? Let alone if we wanted to be intimate!

Northcott Innovation’s executive director Sam Frain isn’t surprised by what these conversations are revealing:

People with disability want to date, fall in love, or even fall out of love. They want to be recognised as the adults they are. In acknowledging their capacity for meaningful relationships, we must also acknowledge their sexuality – in whatever form that takes.

David faces complex social barriers too. Because it’s hard to for him to discuss his sexuality at all, coming out to his mother feels particularly fraught:

My mum doesn’t really know that I want to meet a future husband, not wife. I want to go on more dates. I don’t just want to meet other men with disability either. I want to meet lots of guys – but where can I go and how do I do this?

Inclusive sex toys

People living with disability have diverse physical and social support needs when it comes to expressing their sexuality. That means there isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Rather we need a design approach that allows for customisation.

A new research project at RMIT, led by industrial design lecturer Judith Glover, is investigating the design of customised, inclusive sex toys.

Aside from some engineering research undertaken earlier this year at the University of São Paulo into the neurodildo – a sex toy operated remotely by brain waves – inclusive sex toys are an under-explored area of design research.

Glover feels strongly that designing sexual health products or services – whether for therapy or for recreation – should be treated as any other area of design. She acknowledges that the sex toy industry has barely started to address sex toys for an ageing population, let alone solutions for people with various disabilities:

Some of the people I meet, who are physically incapable of holding and moving objects, may have trouble communicating verbally – yet who really yearn to be able to develop their own sexual practice. Plus who doesn’t need to just get off every once in a while?

David agrees:

I really want to explore the option of sex toys more, but I don’t know what to try, or how to use it.

Social media and intellectual disability

Connecting communities together is an important strategy to overcome marginalisation and amplify the voices of people with disability.

Social media is a space where technology brings like-minded people together. But creating safe online spaces for people to express their sexuality can create unforeseen challenges – particularly for people with intellectual disability.

Deakin University and the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) set up a closed Facebook support group earlier this year for people with intellectual disability who identify as LGBTQI. Jonathon Kellaher, an educator with IDRS, says:

Group administrators quickly realised that people who were not “out” and did not understand that group members can be viewed publicly were at risk of accidentally “outing” themselves when requesting to join the group.

To address this issue, the group privacy setting was set to “secret”. But this meant new members had to wait to be added, so it became a barrier to the group’s potential as a social connector. Deakin is now working on a project with GALFA to learn more about how people connect in this space.

Technology must promote inclusion

Then there is the elephant in the room: sex robots.

Manufacturers claim sex robots provide health and social benefits for people with disability, but researchers have been quick to point out that there’s no evidence to support the range of claims that have been made.

While it’s possible to see the introduction of sex robots as a form of assistive technology – a new way to experience pleasure, or to explore preferences and body capabilities – there’s another, more tragic, side.

Viewing sex robots as a solution to the loneliness of people with disability (or anyone for that matter), or as a remedy for a lack of available dates, risks perpetuating and exacerbating the social and sexual exclusion of people with disability.

Technology can’t replace human connection, so it’s critical that new technologies support greater inclusion for people living with disability. It’s a human right to be able to safely express and enjoy sexuality, and have the choice to live a life with pleasure.

For David, that fits in to his ideal world very clearly:

One day I really want a husband to love me, two children, and to own my own restaurant.

Complete Article HERE!

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Why “Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder” Isn’t the Same as “Sex Addiction”

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The WHO’s newest mental health disorder isn’t what you think.

By Sarah Sloat

A decade-long debate seemed settled in June when the World Health Organization officially added “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” to the newest edition of the International Classification of Diseases. Unfortunately, in the aftermath, many publications declared “sex addiction” was officially a mental health disorder. Technically, that’s wrong, but the blunder sheds light on the controversy surrounding the diagnosis. Even now, scientists are still trying to figure out the best way to think about people with very strong sexual urges.

It was a calculated choice by the WHO to replace the existing ICD-10 category of “excessive sexual drive” with “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” — not “sex addiction” or “hypersexuality.” It’s also very purposefully classified as an “impulse control disorder” instead of a disorder related to addiction. Impulse disorders, wrote members of the WHO ICD-11 Working Group in a 2014 paper, are defined by the repeated failure to resist a craving despite knowing the action can cause long-term harm.

The reason for this linguistic and categorical change is to make clear there’s no “right amount of sexuality” and to acknowledge that “it is important that the classification does not pathologize normal behavior.” Ultimately, the goal is to help identify repetitive behavior that can shut down a person’s life, though the language we use about it continues to be controversial. Despite the vagaries, Marc Potenza, Ph.D., M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, says the WHO’s move is a good thing.

“I believe that the inclusion of compulsive sexual behavior disorder within the ICD-11 is a positive step,” Potenza tells Inverse. “My experience as a clinician indicates that there are many people who experience difficulties controlling their sexual urges and then engage in sex compulsively and problematically. Having a defined set of diagnostic criteria should help significantly with respect to advancing prevention, treatment, research, education, and other efforts.”

Why Some Think It’s an “Addiction”

Potenza co-authored a 2016 paper questioning whether compulsive sexual behavior should be considered an addiction, concluding that significant gaps in the understanding of the disorder mean that it can’t technically be called an addiction yet. Today, however, the disorder continues to be described as “sex addiction” by universities, medical centers, and researchers. It’s unclear whether the word addiction here is colloquial or clinical.

For his part, Potenza suspects compulsive sexual behavior disorder may eventually be reclassified as an addictive disorder in future editions of the ICD. It’s not currently in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but he predicts it might likewise be introduced and classified as an addictive order there once more data is gathered.

The central elements of addictions, he explains, include continued engagement in a behavior despite adverse consequences, appetitive urges or cravings that often immediately precede engagement, compulsive or habitual engagement, and difficulties controlling the extent of engagement in the behavior.

“From this perspective,” Potenza says, “compulsive sexual behavior disorder demonstrates the core features of addictions.”

Why Some Think It’s Not an Addiction

But Nicole Prause, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and sexual psychophysiologist who founded the sexual biotechnology company Liberos LLC, argues that sex is not addictive and that “compulsive sexual behavior” shouldn’t have been included in the ICD-11. In 2017, Prause and her colleagues published a paper in The Lancet in response to Potenza’s study, arguing that while “sex has components of liking and wanting that share neural systems with many other motivated behaviors,” experimental studies don’t actually demonstrate that excessive sexual behavior can be classified as addiction.

“Scientists generally were glad to see ‘sex addiction’ was kept out of the ICD-11,” Prause tells Inverse. “Therapists created ‘sex addiction’ training 40 years ago and were pushing to get it in with no good evidence.”

Prause generally doesn’t believe “compulsive sexual behavior” needs a name at all. Creating a means for diagnosis, she says, can increase “shame on sexual behaviors,” and people conditioned to think that sex is bad are more likely to think they have a problem. She argues that the population most likely to be classified as sexually compulsive are gay men, noting that there are even “examples of ‘sex addiction’ therapists offering to help gay men stop being gay,” which is “reparative, anti-gay therapy all over again.”

“The diagnosis has never been tested,” Prause says. “We have no idea if these patients even exist. The committee invented a new diagnosis and added it without ever seeing if anyone would meet the criteria.”

She argues that the grounds for such a diagnosis haven’t been backed up by research on actual sex in a lab. So far, estimates of how many people who identify as having a compulsive sexual behavior disorder vary and are predominantly based on self-reports. Epidemiological estimates have the number at three to six percent of adults, writes the WHO ICD-11 Working Group in a paper released this year, but more recent studies have suggested that range is closer to one to three percent of adults. Researchers at the University of Cambridge, meanwhile, reported in 2014 that compulsive sexual behavior can affect as many as one in 25 adults.

Now that it’s in the ICD-11, researchers are waiting to see how that will affect the official rates of identification.

“Growing evidence suggests that compulsive sexual behavior disorder is an important clinical problem with potentially serious consequences if left untreated,” writes the ICD-11 Working Group. “We believe that including the disorder in the ICD-11 will improve the consistency with which health professionals approach the diagnosis, and treatment of persons with this condition, including consistency regarding when a disorder should be diagnosed.”

Potenza says that it can be hard for a specialist to diagnose a person with compulsive sexual behavior disorder because, like alcoholism or a gambling addiction, it probably doesn’t have visible signs. But Potenza says the disorder can seep into and negatively impact other parts of a person’s life.

Complete Article HERE!

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‘Compulsive sexual behaviour’ is a real mental disorder, says WHO, but might not be an addiction

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Global health body not yet ready to acknowledge ‘sex addiction’, saying more research is needed

The World Health Organisation logo at the headquarters in Geneva.

The World Health Organisation has recognised “compulsive sexual behaviour” as a mental disorder, but said on Saturday it was unclear whether it was an addiction on a par with gambling or drug abuse. 

Dr. Geoffrey M. Reed

The contentious term “sex addiction” has been around for decades but experts disagree about whether the condition exists.

In the latest update of its catalogue of diseases and injuries around the world, the WHO takes a step towards legitimising the concept, by acknowledging “compulsive sexual behaviour disorder”, or CSBD, as a mental illness.

But the UN health body insisted more research is needed before describing the disorder as an addiction.

“Conservatively speaking, we don’t feel that the evidence is there yet … that the process is equivalent to the process with alcohol or heroin,” said WHO expert Geoffrey Reed.

In the update of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), published last month, WHO said CSBD was “characterised by persistent failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges … that cause marked distress or impairment”

But it said the scientific debate was still going on as to “whether or not the compulsive sexual behaviour disorder constitutes the manifestation of a behavioural addiction”.

Maybe eventually we will say, yeah, it is an addiction, but that is just not where we are at this point

Geoffrey Reed, World Health Organisation

Reed said it was important that the ICD register, which is widely used as a benchmark for diagnosis and health insurers, includes a concise definition of compulsive sexual behaviour disorder to ensure those affected can get help.

“There is a population of people who feel out of control with regards to their own sexual behaviour and who suffer because of that,” he said pointing out that their sexual behaviour sometimes had “very severe consequences”.

“This is a genuine clinical population of people who have a legitimate health condition and who can be provided services in a legitimate way,” he said.

It is unclear how many people suffer from the disorder, but Reed said the ICD listing would probably prompt more research into the condition and its prevalence, as well as into determining the most effective treatments.

“Maybe eventually we will say, yeah, it is an addiction, but that is just not where we are at this point,” Reed said.

But even without the addiction label, he said he believed the new categorisation would be “reassuring”, since it lets people know they have “a genuine condition” and can seek treatment.

Claims of “sex addiction” have increasingly been in the headlines in step with the so-called #MeToo movement, which has seen people around the world coming forward and claiming they have been sexually abused.

The uprising has led to the downfall of powerful men across industries, including disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has reportedly spent months in treatment for sex addiction.

[Film producer Harvey Weinstein arriving at Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday, July 9, 2018. Photo: TNS]

Reed said he did not believe there was reason to worry that the new CSBD listing could be used by people like Weinstein to excuse alleged criminal behaviours.

“It doesn’t excuse sexual abuse or raping someone … any more than being an alcoholic excuses you from driving a car when you are drunk. You have still made a decision to act,” he said.

While it did not recognise sex addiction in the first update of its ICD catalogue since the 1990s, the WHO did for the first time recognise video gaming as an addiction, listing it alongside addictions to gambling and drugs like cocaine – but only among a tiny fraction of gamers.

The document, which member states will be asked to approve during the World Health Assembly in Geneva next May, will take effect from January 1, 2022 if it is adopted.

Complete Article HERE!

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Being paralyzed does not mean I can’t have sex…

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and six other myths about sex and disability debunked

Samantha Baines, Matt Tuckey and Shannon Murray debunk some of the biggest misconceptions they come across

By Poorna Bell

Despite pockets of progress, such as online fashion retailer ASOS recently releasing wheelchair-friendly clothing, there is a long way to go when it comes to representation of people with disabilities.

Ignorance abounds because of narrow depictions of living with a disability. Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to sex.

To counter this, people such as disability awareness consultant Andrew Gurza are driving candid conversations about sex and sexuality. Andrew’s Disability After Dark podcast addresses all kinds of stories around disability and sex. Andrew, who has cerebral palsy, told the Huffington Post last year: “Whenever we talk about sex and disability ― if we dare ― it is in this painfully sanitised way that tends to tell you nothing about the person with a disability, their sex or what they actually want ― it doesn’t shed any light on how it really feels.”

Here, four men and women debunk some of the myths and misconceptions they encounter about sex and disability.

1: ‘Sex with a disabled person must be pretty boring’

Actress Shannon Murray, 41, who experienced a spinal cord injury when she was 14, tells misconceptions about sex and disability still come at her from all corners. “Just like any other human being, disabled people have desire. We want to be touched, to touch, to feel pleasure – why is that still such a ridiculous taboo? Why are intelligent people genuinely shocked when they learn that I have sex?

“If anything, I’d say some of my disabled friends are some of the more sexually adventurous and confident people I know. We have to be creative and find different techniques that work for us and spend every waking hour being adaptable to the environment around us.

“Sex is no different, though it’s much more fun.”

2: ‘I’m not a sexual being’

“There has been a real disservice done to disabled people by the mainstream media who have only told very one-dimensional stories,”  Shannon adds. “You see disabled men who use sex workers, or people who are frustrated and angry at their bodies.

“It can feel very marginalising; it’s all very woe is me. I think that suits the idea that non-disabled people have about our lives: that we’re asexual, incapable or it’s too complicated. However if you venture on to websites or publications aimed at a disabled audience you’ll see a much more rounded and interesting experience.”

3: ‘Being paralysed means I can only have sex missionary style’

Shannon says: “Some of the misconceptions I’ve faced is that I can’t have sex; that I am incapable of having sex; that I must be numb from the waist down; that because I’m paraplegic I can only have sex in the missionary position; that I can only have sex in my chair; that I can’t feel pleasure; that I can’t give pleasure; that orgasms are impossible and that I can’t have children. All of which are untrue.

“It’s also interesting how frequently strangers think it’s perfectly acceptable to ask me about my sex life within an hour of meeting me.”

4: ‘I must be shy in bed because I have a disability’

Far from it, says Joanne*, 51, a housewife who is profoundly deaf. “When I first started having sex, because I could not hear anything, the sounds I was making were extremely loud. I only found out because the man I was having sex with put his finger on his lips in a ‘sssh’ motion. I got really self-conscious – I mean, how loud was I?

“So I decided to record myself masturbating, and asked my best friend to listen to it. To my embarrassment she said I was very, very loud! I soon met my now-husband and our first sexual encounters were strained as I always stopped before things got to a point where I thought I would start getting ‘excited’.

“Finally, I decided to tell him and he laughed because he thought it was his fault and was relieved. In a sensitive way, he said he would always let me know if I was getting too loud and I’ve sort of trained myself to be less noisy.”

5: ‘My hearing aid must be a turn-off’

“I love sex and hearing aids don’t stop me from loving it,” says comedian Samantha Baines, 31, who acquired her disability at the age of 30. “I mean, I do need to take my hearing aid out before sex as they aren’t good with fluids – I don’t want to see my audiologist and explain how I got spunk in my hearing aid.

“Taking your hearing aid out isn’t a very sexy procedure when you are in the moment. It’s a bit like taking your socks off or peeing after sex – it just has to be done.”

@samanthabaines 

6: ‘It’s ok for disability to be treated as a sexual fetish’

Joanne says: “Growing up as a child I was made to wear hearing aids which really were of no benefit to me at all. When I used to go out I always was conscious of it and deliberately made sure that I wore my hair to cover them.

“When I got older, I looked just like any other woman, I just couldn’t hear. Except one guy I dated for a few months always wanted me to wear my hearing aids during sex. I think he found my deafness a turn-on which was strange.”

Shannon adds: “When the odd TV drama includes a story about disability and sex it is always negative or traumatic, or conversely our bodies are fetishised for the non-disabled gaze.

“People with disabilties are not curiosities, we are humans with wants, needs and desires. Treat us with the same respect you would any other person that you’re interested in. It’s really not rocket science.”

7: ‘You don’t look disabled so you don’t have to tell sexual partners about it’

“I’ve been guilty as anyone else of not seeing disabled people as sexual beings,” says Matt, “but I’ve realised keeping it hidden is so much harder than being honest about it. Around the time I was correctly diagnosed, I met someone in a club.

“After a couple of conversations over the next few days she started to realise that I had short term memory loss. For the first time I could be open with a woman about my memory difficulties, rather than pretending I’d just forgotten something as a one-off. Two weeks later, I’d lost my virginity to her.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How Does Circumcision Really Affect Your Sex Life? Here Are the Facts

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A growing number of guys are speaking out against what they see as a cruel and barbaric practice. But how much does it actually affect your sex life?

By

When Adam Zeldis was 16, Howard Stern changed his mind about his penis forever. On his show, Stern was talking about how circumcision changes sexual sensations for men, and Zeldis’s curiosity was piqued. He had been circumcised as a baby, and he hadn’t ever thought about whether it had reduced sexual sensation for him before. In fact, up to that point, he had no idea that there were even men who weren’t circumcised.

So Zeldis decided to do some research. And when he learned what a circumcision procedure actually entailed — the surgical removal of the foreskin of the tip of the penis — he was outraged.

“I felt a loss for a sex life that I could never have,” Zeldis told MensHealth.com. “Basically, if you’re circumcised you can never experience sex the way nature intended it.”

Today, Zeldis is a senior strategy advisor for Intact America, an activist organization designed to educate people against circumcision, which it views as a medically unnecessary and cruel practice. Intact America isn’t the only organization that harbors this view: in fact, there is an entire movement — “Intactivism” — devoted to propagating the idea that male circumcision is a cruel and barbaric practice.

But what are the cold, hard facts about circumcision? Are there actually health benefits, or is it a cruel, outdated practice that permanently reduces male sexual sensation? We asked doctors and sexuality experts to weigh in.

Does circumcision have health benefits?

For decades, circumcision has been something of a given in the United States. It was considered a standard procedure for baby boys, regardless of their cultural or religious background, with doctors citing its health and hygiene benefits. For this reason, approximately 75% of men in the United States are circumcised, according to the World Health Organization.

The potential health benefits aside, “parents who choose circumcision often do so based on religious beliefs, common myths about hygiene, or cultural or social reasons, such as the wish to have their child resemble his father,” says sex therapist Kimberly Jackson, LCSW

Doctors also believed circumcision cut down on the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and urinary tract infections (UTIs), which, if left untreated, can lead to kidney infections

“The cited health benefits included [a decreased risk of] STIs, especially HIV and HPV; penile cancer; paraphimosis (when foreskin gets trapped behind the glans, which can cut off blood supply to the tip of the penis), and balanitis, or infection of the glans,” says sexual health counselor Aleece Fosnight, MSPAS, PA-C, CSC, CSE.

Are the benefits of circumcision legit?

To a degree, the consensus in the medical community is still that circumcision does slightly reduce the risks of certain UTIs and STIs. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement saying that notwithstanding the potential rare complications of circumcision, including bleeding, infection, and (shudder) penile necrosis, “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks.”

But over the years, emerging research has thrown some of the stated benefits of circumcision into question. For instance, while some studies of African men indicated that circumcision could reduce the risk of HIV transmission by as much as 60%, “the research design was inherently flawed — [they] only examined the health behaviors of heterosexual men, and the results cannot be generalized across cultures,” says Jackson

That’s why more and more parents are choosing to forego the procedure. Circumcision is on something of a decline, with the number of newborns who are circumcised dropping from 84% in the 1960s to about 77% in 2010. Some doctors are also refusing to perform the procedure.

“I have not performed a circumcision since 1994,” says Steven Dorfman, MD, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. “It is a cruel, unnecessary and…substandard practice which belongs in the history books, not in the hospital or the clinic.”

As to the question of whether circumcision is more hygienic than being uncut, it is true that guys who are uncut do have to contend with smegma, an odorless (and harmless) cheese-like substance underneath the foreskin. But washing underneath the foreskin daily and rinsing the head of the penis can easily remedy that issue.

Does being circumcised reduce sexual sensation?

For many guys, this is the million-dollar question: does circumcision reduce penile sensitivity?

Some health experts claim that circumcision can reduce sexual sensation, as the procedure removes thousands of nerve endings in the penis. In fact, a 2007 study found that the glans of the uncircumcised penis was more sensitive to light touch than the glans of a circumcised penis.

“It is also thought that the extra skin adds more friction and stimulation to the clitoris during penetration (both get extra pleasure!), and causes increased sensation to the glans as well,” says Fosnight.

That said, “studies show that there is no significant change in sensation in adult men who undergo circumcision,” says Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger, director of urology at New York Urology Specialists. A 2016 study confirmed this, finding that men who were circumcised experienced the same level of sexual pleasure as men who were not.

Do people prefer uncircumcised penises?

Although the research on the health and sexual benefits of circumcision is mixed, some parents still would prefer to circumcise their kids for aesthetic reasons — i.e., because they don’t want their sons to feel weird next to the other kids in the locker room. And some guys still do think that their sexual partners prefer circumcised penises to uncircumcised ones.

But when it comes down to it, that’s probably not the case. While there are few surveys indicating what people’s preferences are, a lot of people really don’t care if their sexual partners are circumcised or not — especially as more and more parents choose not to circumcise their kids.

“I don’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter to me. Plus, I’m not everyone’s idea of ‘perfect’ down there, either.” says Maria*, 38. Karina*, 26, agrees: “I don’t care one way or the other so long as it’s clean and disease-free. Cut, uncut, whatever, it’s the guy that matters. Not how his penis looks.”

Complete Article HERE!

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‘If We Want To End Sexual Violence, We Need To Talk About Female Desire’

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“Good sex is about more than lack of violence or fear.”

By

[I]t might seem strange to be talking about pleasure and desire when we are surrounded by stories of rape and harassment. Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves? Shouldn’t we concentrate first on stopping those crimes before we ask for sex that might actually work for us?

I don’t think so. The worst men—and the worst lovers—I have known were the ones who didn’t understand that women, too, want things from sex. That sex is not simply something we give to men—or something men take from us.

These were the men who commented, with a mixture of surprise and revulsion, on how much I actually seemed to enjoy the sex we had, how I acted as though we were sexual equals, as though my own desire mattered—and how unusual that was. I’ve never known what to say to that. I’ve never known whether to pity their ignorance or worry about the other women they have been with, about how those women may have felt forced to deny their desire, to keep their sexual agency secret, even in bed.

Study after study shows that women want sex just as much as men do—but they’re often afraid of the consequences of saying so. The story we tell about how women should behave sexually is one of hesitancy, of submission, of waiting for the man to make the first, second, and last moves. Cajoling a woman into sex is considered normal, hence much of the confusion about women who are now complaining, often for the first time, about men who pressure us into sex we don’t want to have.

Good sex is about more than lack of violence or fear. But there are still too many people out there who believe that it is enough for sex to not be painful or frightening for a woman. One recent study showed that 32 percent of college-age men said they would commit or had committed acts of violence against women that courts would describe as rape, but when asked if they would ever rape a woman, most said no. This is rape culture; nonconsensual sex is normalized and, as long as we don’t call it rape, tolerated.

There are still very few societies that are truly comfortable with women having sexual and reproductive agency—in other words, the right to choose when and if and how we have sex, and when and if and how we have children. All over the world, including in the United States, the basic assumption made about women by their governments and employers and families is that we do not deserve to decide what happens to our bodies—and we cannot be trusted to tell the truth about our experiences. This is sexual repression, and we must fight it.

We must also fight against internalizing it. The consequences of capitulating to what our bodies seem to want—whether it be an orgasm or another slice of cake—are made very clear to girls long before puberty turns up the dial on desire. We must not be too hungry, too horny, too greedy for anything in life, or we will become ugly, unlovable. Women who eat too much, talk too much, shag too much—women who want too much—will face shame, stigma, and ostracism. We must not lose control.

When you’ve learned to be suspicious of your own appetites, it takes time to treat yourself and your body with more kindness. How can we be honest with anyone else about our desires when “slut” is still one of the worst things you can call a woman, when women who openly enjoy or seek out sex are shamed for it, and men who do the same are celebrated?

For women and queer people, for anyone whose sexuality has been treated as abnormal and punished, and particularly for those who’ve survived sexual violence, it can be very hard to be honest about what we might want in bed, even with ourselves. That’s alright. It’s okay not to know what you want, as long as you know that the wanting itself is okay. This isn’t going to change overnight. But I know I’ve had more positive experiences than negative ones when I insisted on making my desires clear. Being able to ask for what you want is the first step toward real sexual liberation. The sort that works for everyone.

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