Tag Archives: explanations

Glitchy Lady Parts: A Vulvovaginitis Guide

Vaginas are magical. These self-cleaning, elastic, muscular life and love canals that can give amazing amounts of pleasure to their owners and others are sophisticated in both design and function. But with great complexity comes the great potential for system hiccups.

The common umbrella term for many hiccups is “Vulvovaginitis” and describes any irritation of the vulva or vaginal areas. Often the irritation comes in the form of painful swelling or itching caused by an external factor irritating sensitive mucous membranes. (Ever gotten something in your eye, be it infection or irritant? Same idea. ) Many cases of vulvovaginitis  occur because of an imbalance of naturally occurring bacteria and yeasts and sometimes parasites or viruses.

But don’t fret! These are easy to remedy. Here’s a handy guide to the more common causes:

Yeast Infections Continue reading

How To Spot an Internet Sex Research Hoax

Media coverage of sex research is often misleading and sensational. Whether stating that sex aids prostate health when the real benefit comes from an orgasm (which can be had alone or with a partner) or representing one researcher’s interpretation of data as absolute fact, reporters tend to drop the ball and reinforce long-held stereotypes about sexuality.

But then there are times when they just make shit up.*

A commenter recently posted what I consider an excellent example of fake (as in completely fabricated overstated) sex research news. Let’s use this wonderful hoax as a case study to learn critical thinking about sexuality research.

Case Study #001: Porn Causes Sexual Anorexia in Men?

Continue reading

Humans Aren’t Rodents. Porn Isn’t Ruining Marriages.

Look familiar? I thought not.

Humans are not prairie voles. We are not guinea pigs or mice. We’re humans.

Pop science loves to trot out research on rodents to confirm or challenge behavioral assumptions. But what the writers often miss is that our behaviors are shaped by far more than food, fights, flights and fucking. Humans are highly complex social primates and, because of this, our responses to the world can be difficult to explain with simple biology or neurotransmitters.

And yet, as a recent porn hysteria post at The Good Men Project demonstrates, we still love clinging to these simplistic notions. The writers cite our dopamine reward system as evidence that porn’s excitement is ruining marriages. Continue reading

“Brutish” Male Sexuality: Part 1

The tired trope of aggressive male sexuality is a pervasive one. The story goes like this: because men are full of testosterone and sperm as well as unhindered by the consequence of pregnancy, their sexuality is naturally brutish and promiscuous. Testosterone fuels aggression, billions of sperm want hundreds of outlets and nature failed to offset these desires with physical dangers associated with reproduction.

The compliment to this heterocentric sex story is that women, with their limited eggs, lack of testosterone and pregnancy burden are naturally chaste and self protective. Any sexual adventurousness or licentiousness is only done to please men and keep them around so they will help with the child rearing.

A simple and neatly packaged explanation of human sexuality. But it’s wrong. Let’s do some debunking. Continue reading

Emergency Contraception is Not an Abortion

The FDA recently approved (found via washingtonpost.com) a new Emergency Contraception called “Ella” and for some reason its prescription-only availability is being labeled as “controversial.” The only controversy I see are special interest parties using scare-tactics and misleading statements to compare this drug to RU-486 (mifepristone), an abortificant.

Let’s be clear: Continue reading

Feminism is not Misandry. Seriously.

Aside from crazy Halloween parties and the SF Giants winning the World Series, this weekend also saw the first anti-feminist conference, held in Switzerland. Lately, I’ve seen some men’s groups popping up that equate feminism with an all-encompassing hatred of men. Let’s set the record straight.

Feminism? not so much. (image via http://urbansurvivalguideformen.com/)

What Feminism is Not

  1. A hegemonic ideology. The stories we hear about feminism tend to fit the accepted schema (Socialist Feminism, Separatist Feminism and PostModern Feminism) but, in truth, feminist theories are highly divergent.
  2. A movement to destroy men. Social power is not a zero sum game. The reason this idea persists is because a) media gives the mic to the most radical viewpoints (Teabaggers anyone?) and b) people increasingly tend to focus on news items that confirm, not challenge, pre-existing beliefs.
  3. A conspiracy among women. Put five people in a room and have them order one pizza. Getting that small group to unanimously agree on pizza toppings is enough of a struggle. Getting hundreds of thousands of people to agree on how to ensure women’s rights is a never-ending argument and a far cry from conspiracy.

Putting Feminism Into Context

The one thing I think anyone calling themselves feminist will agree on: women have a right to agency, a right to make decisions about their lives. In short: CHOICE. And the forgotten fact attached to this is that women have historically (in some parts of the world, currently) not had a say in their lives.  Continue reading

Question: How do I have a vaginal orgasm?

Hi Sexademic,

I don’t know if you can help me, but maybe you know somebody who can.

I am 34 years old and unable to have a penetrative, penis-induced orgasm. I have been having clitoral orgasms since I was 18. Just about anybody can make me orgasm with their finger or mouth. I can also come if I touch my own clitoris during penetration. But nobody has been able to make me come from penetration alone.

I have two amazing male partners right now, one of almost three years, and the other of almost one year. Both of them are open to helping me and trying different things, but so far unsuccessfully.

I know that I have trust issues. I know that I don’t fully trust either one of my partners and am not sure I am emotionally able to fully trust any man.

I don’t know what other emotional blocks I may have.

Please let me know if you have any recommendations for me.

Thank you!
Blocked Vagina

Dear Blocked Vagina,
Thanks for writing to me about this; your question is a very common one among women.

http://cdn.thefrisky.com/images/uploads/happy_sad_woman_m.jpg
The woman on the right knows any orgasm is good, no matter how it occurs. (image via The Frisky)

First things first: an orgasm is an orgasm is an orgasm. Popular culture (women’s magazines especially) push the idea that there are different types of orgasms. Not really. Continue reading

Question: Sperm in Precum?

Hi, a few semesters back I was in Dr. [So and So's] courses at SFSU. You were my aide, I’m not sure whether you still do teacher’s aid stuff or not but I remember how knowledgeable you were about the topic of human sexuality and I have a longstanding question and debate I need answered by someone who know what they’re talking about. The question is: does men’s prejaculation contain sperm?  I know it comes from a different part and is not manufacutred in the same place but I’m wondering whether it is in fact produced with a sperm count. If you could help me at all that would be wonderful! Thanks

Yes, it *can*. Here is why.

Semen is made of two parts: seminal fluid and sperm. Most of seminal fluid originates from the seminal vesicles, followed by fluids from the prostate, bulbourethral (aka Cowper’s) glands and a teeny bit from the testes. A small amount of that fluid contains sperm, somewhere under 10%.

For sperm to survive the urethral journey it must travel in an alkaline instead of acidic environment. Enter the alkaline leaning precum.

Although precum is there to clear it out, and give a little lube love, residual sperm can reside on the tubes and exit with the fluid. One easy solution: pee. Urinating beforehand will kill the straggling sperm. Urinating after ejaculation will kill any straggling sperm. The lesson? Sperm in pre-ejactulate is possible but pee will kill it.  Pregancy from precum is not very probable, in my opinion.

For more fun info on semen, checkout this infographic.

Screw Critical Thought. Blame Women, Feminism, or Men.

In Ur Societiez Feminizin Yer Menfolk

My friend Lydia W sent me an email with the subject heading: terrible article you could have a field day with.

I clicked on the link. I read the article “Are Women Feminizing Men?“. My response was simple:

“I almost started crying when I read this.”

Matthew Fitzgerald (author of Sex-ploytation: How Women Use Their Bodies to Extort Money From Men, an evidence-free rook, aka rant book) managed to spit out some of the worst sexist stereotypes in two tiny pages with nary a source to back up his claims.

Blanket statements about human nature applied to one gender? Check.

“typical female hypocrisy”

“women — shrewd and manipulating as they are”

“[Women] use [power] for sexual blackmail…”

Painting men as sex-centered simpletons? Check.

“Let’s face it: A man’s needs are pretty minimal. All he really asks for is regular sex and a cold one.”

“most guys will do just about anything to get laid.”

Power-Crazed Women

He seems to think that women are mad with power and that our uterii are staging a media takeover, saying “far more influential are movies like Mel Gibson’s cotton candy pander-fest What Women Want”.

Really? Let’s take a peek at the top grossing films of the last decade.

TOP TEN FILMS OF THE 2000s

(unadjusted domestic gross totals)

  1. Avatar (2009)
  2. The Dark Knight (2008)
  3. Shrek 2 (2004)
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
  5. Spider-Man (2002)
  6. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
  7. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  8. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  9. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  10. The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Every last one was a male-centric plot line. Nearly every last one is an action movie. All of them were directed by men, produced by men and starring men. Women are a minority behind and in front of the cameras. (For insight as to why, read this Salon’s roundtable with 10 powerful Hollywood women).

Power-Hungry Women?

So what’s the real dirt on women and power in this country? Gender equality isn’t as equal as this guy is shouting about. Yes, women are making gains in education but at a time when educational systems are crumbling. Yes, women make up 52% of the workforce but in low paying positions. In the Forbes top ten richest there are two women from the Walton Family (Wal-Mart) but their wealth was inherited.

Really, the U.S. ain’t doing so hot with gender equality. According to the World Economic Forum, the U.S. ranks #31 out of 115 for equality. Read the WEF report here, relevant snip below:

The Global Gender Gap Report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four critical areas:

  1. Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
  2. Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education
  3. Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures
  4. Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio

The Index’s scores can be interpreted as the percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men.

This was out of 115 countries. When I read about women’s lives in other parts of the world, I really want to cry. Rape, honor killings, systematic abuses, minimal autonomy. Horrifying. We so often forget that in our own country, women have only really been making gains over the last century. Women around the globe need a leg up after centuries of unequal treatment. Please read this article in the New York Times about women’s rights around the world.

So to the haters out there: women’s rights are still an issue. We’re making progress, but not enough. I struggle to understand why people (usually men) direct such vitriol at women trying to succeed in life.

What boggles my mind even further is that Matthew Fitzgerald’s writings center around women as shrewd manipulators using sex as bait. I read his book’s Amazon reviews to get a feel for his audience and what I saw…well, it’s disturbing to think he’s right about any people in the world. But what he says resonates with some. In half of the reviews people exclaim “OMG! Women are totally like that!” but the only women I’ve seen use their bodies for financial gain were sex workers. So, women of the world using sex for manipulation: stop lying. Go ahead and be a sex worker. It’s OK. Just be upfront and tell the guy you’re fucknig him for rent money or a new purse.

And to the guys complaining/writing about those women: stop dating them. There are plenty of women that enjoy their financial freedom. There are also women that enjoy sex for its own sake.

At the heart of his writing, and much of the anti-feminist parading as anti-misandrist writing, is a very true frustration.

Are Equality Policies Rooted in Sexist Thought?

“The modern man walks around on eggshells, afraid of saying the “wrong thing,” scared of showing his natural sexual interest to a woman, scared of being scorned, humiliated, or even fired — scared of his own true self.”

Exaggeration (and heteronormative) but a phenomenon I see with some men of my generation. They’re…. Peter Pans? No. Hesitant is a better word. Prone to inertia. And I think the writer is on to something when he points out the role of politically correct speech and sexual harassment charges.

Before you get all riled up: sexual harassment is serious. Anyone in a position of power manipulating an underling sexually deserves punishment. But the way we lay out the law sometimes hinders equality and political correctness can be an ineffective solution.

I am thankful to have laws that prevent my higher-ups from sexually harassing or coercing me. But I resent a law on the books stopping someone from calling me “babe” or “chick”. I’m a grown woman and I should be able to easily say “Stop it”. If I have to, take the matter to a higher-up and keep pursuing it. There is something creepily paternalistic about some of the sexual harassment guidelines, particularly when schools use suspension as a behavioral intervention for inappropriate touching. I am also frustrated with a world that lumps flirting with sexual harassment, that pegs any sexual move from a guy as predatory and aggressive. Sexism underlies these policies. We assume men to be sexually aggressive and women always dislike sexual attention and need outside intervention. The regulations are necessary but we need to look at ineffective and harmful aspects of these policies, lest our solutions create more problems than answers.

Which leads me to an uncomfortable question, still unresolved in my own mind: when we create policies to spur equality through encouraging preferential treatment for disadvantaged groups, should those policies only be short term? By carving them in stone will we, over time and gains in equality, have laws with unequal treatment? And are we sending the message that women need this protection permanently? We certainly need to give a leg up to historically oppressed and disadvantaged people but at what point can we resume an even playing field? Do permanent laws of preferential treatment hurt in the long-term and uphold racist and sexist ideals?

The Blame Game

Whatever the answers to the above questions, one thing is certain: we cannot sit and point fingers at other groups or nebulous ideologies. Yes, it’s comforting name our monsters but ultimately misleading. Men are not at fault for all the world’s problems. Women are not at fault for the current masculinity crisis and anxieties. Feminism (whatever you think that is) has not ruined gender relations. Agitated, yes, but that needed to happen. The old gender order wasn’t working.

But when we agitate a cultural bedrock like gender roles we need to think critically about how to reconstruct gender relations in society. Some would say eradicate gender, but I disagree. You will find cultures with two, three, four, five or six genders but you will not find gender-less socieites. So while I feel so sad when I see inflammatory, gender-stereotyped, sexist analysis that plays the blame game, I know it’s a mistake to write it off wholesale. Just because someone else won’t engage in critical thought (or provide any evidence to back their claims) doesn’t mean the frustration isn’t valid.

The problem is not feminism or women withholding sex. It’s that we need a new construction of masculinities, alongside femininities, that deal with harmful aspects of male gender while encouraging men to shine and succeed in life. We need to deal with the sexist man-bashers of every gender. We need to deal with restrictive gender roles in general because the times, they’re a-changin’.