Tag Archives: men

Explaining Porn Watching With Science!

In 2008, the Mayo Clinic published a case study of treating compulsive sexual behaviors with pharmaceuticals:

A male patient first presented to a psychiatrist (J.M.B.) at age 24, with the explanation, “I’m here for sexual addiction. It has consumed my entire life.” He feared losing both marriage and job if he could not contain his burgeoning preoccupation with Internet pornography. He was spending many hours each day chatting online, engaging in extended masturbation sessions, and occasionally meeting cyber-contacts in person for spontaneous, typically unprotected, sex.

The story is a familiar one. A young man seeking sexual activities outside of his marriage or relationship experiences guilt because of his compulsive behaviors. He feels he cannot stop and is at a loss for solutions. He wants to be good, by whatever measure his culture dictates, but feels he can’t.

The term “sex addiction” is the new darling of sensational media. The narrative of an addict is a compelling one, their struggle with external forces in the world leaves much room for pity. After all, this isn’t their fault but the fault of the pesky stimulus hijacking their tender neurological reward circuitry. Right?

Not really. The picture of compulsive sexual behaviors is far more complicated than (male) brain + (non-monogamous) sexual stimulation = addiction. Dopamine may indeed play a role in all compulsive behaviors but the narrative of porn as an external factor that takes over your system is a false (and overwhelmingly Christian) explanation that fails to recognize sexual histories and user conceptions of sexuality.

Enter….DOPAMINE!

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

Good Men Project In Penthouse

The Good Men Project recently decided to run some excerpts in Penthouse Magazine. Some people are upset. Here’s the comment I posted on Tom Matlack’s defense of the decision.

As a female, I see not one thing wrong with pictures or videos made for sexual titillation. I probably have a bigger porn collection than most commenters here.

But I understand why some (ok, lots) of pornography bothers people. Some of our worst social inequalities and anxieties tend to be projected in porn. Racist porn? Check. Misogynistic porn? Check. There is nothing new about this and even a cursory glance at porn from the way back machine will demonstrate this phenomenon. I have a small collection of books with very graphic porn etchings from the 18th century and I started to notice the social theme of the time: religion. Nuns banging monks, young cloistered women greeting winged penises with hoisted skirts, and acts of religious penance (flagellation) being used sexually. I think this was one way for people to channel social anxieties about debates over secularism vs. church power.

What I want people to think about is that naked people sexing it up in front of a camera is not inherently evil or exploitative. However, it’s important to note that the only place where women consistently outrank men in pay is performing in porn or  for sex work, industries usually controlled by men. That is what I find exploitative.

So what kind of porn is Penthouse? Lots of faux lesbian slumber parties, kind of silly premises, tons of naked women solo shoots, and a refreshingly hot cast of male characters. (As a woman who watches porn, the amount of unattractive and unkempt men having sex with hot women gets on my  nerves. Gay porn is the only place I’ve seen reliably sexy men.) Going through their site I found one video with a questionable title (“Choke on it Bitch” ) that was probably about deep throating. Not my bag, but toying with power dynamics and engaging in rough sex in this way is a huge turn on for some people, regardless of gender.

What I don’t see in Penthouse that I see in some other porn: the message that women enjoying sex are some alien breed of female. That the only way we can describe them is as unabashed no-good slatternly creatures because no respectable woman could enjoy deep penetration, anal sex or oral sex. I mean, we’re only in it for the babies, right?

And this is where people decrying porn as inherently negative collide with porn that is negative: assuming women cannot really be into any of this. That the only reason a woman would have sex in front of a camera for money is drug addiction, low-self esteem or some other social malady. This isn’t to say that doesn’t happen, but this is not the whole story.

I agree that the images are pretty homogeneous but offering slight variations on a theme is what successful porn brands seem to do. Also, large and financially successful brands are hesitant to change anything about their established formula. The answer is not to tell these porn companies to bring in a wider array; the answer is to support porn companies that represent something outside of the mainstream. They’re out there, just use your internet to find them.

So, now that some people are past the knee-jerk reaction of Good Men + Porn = Error, think about the huge benefit of a magazine reaching outside of the bounds of its constituency and singing to the streets instead of the choir. Maybe with enough conversation and reflection about rape culture and the ways we sexualize certain populations, public taste in porn will start to change.

And to Tom: I’m sure the outrage and reactions are difficult to deal with concerning your decision, but it’s hard to reach across the aisle and step outside of thought communities. Big ups.

EDIT: The Good Men Project deleted my comment. Was I too late to the commenting party? Techie glitch? Did I say something offensive? This makes less sense than a bunny wearing a pancake hat.

UPDATE: Tom Matlack was a swift responder: “We switched servers and have yet to copy everything over” Mystery solved!

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

To The Good Men I’ve Known

image via http://goodmanproject.com

(This post is a response to Victoria Medgyesi‘s piece The Bad-Man Hype, originally posted in June on one of my favorite new web-mags The Good Man Project.)

Despite pervasive public images depicting men as violent, sex-crazed, idiotic, irresponsible louts, I can never believe men are somehow inherently bad.

I’ve met too many good ones.

Not just friends, family members, lovers and boyfriends. Perfect strangers who could have done any number of unspeakable things to me if they wished. Yet the overwhelming majority of men showed me nothing but charitable kindness.

I started traveling through North America when other kids my age were wrapped up tight in comfy but suffocating blankets of homework and high school drama. With no money and no job I made big tracks in big rig trucks. For two years I spent time in the male-dominated world of long-haul trucking, learning as much about CB radios and swearing as I did about the basic decency of most men.

Out of hundreds of rides, the overwhelming majority talked to me about their lives, their families, what they had seen in the world and swapped some really good dirty jokes and limericks. Often they bought me food or gave me an extra pair of socks when the weather began to turn cold. One guy was hauling a shipment of canned foods and gave me several cans of Dinty Moore Beef Stew from his haul when we parted.

Outside of the truckers, other men I met on my travels showed similar hospitality. Men invited me into their homes with no other motive than to provide me shelter and have some company around. My collection of bawdy jokes and one-liners began to come in handy.

So, for me, the fact that so many perpetrators of sexual and physical violence are men is an uncomfortable truth. But I don’t think sexual and physical violence is so much urged by biology as it is encouraged by gender perceptions. The few men who tried to hurt me were always from geographical areas where the population adhered to traditional mandates of gender, an interpretation I’ve found to be backed by research. (This is only one study, but if you wish to see more studies about masculine gender ideology and behaviors, I will be happy to provide others.)

What I find more amazing is that, in a culture that still echoes misogynistic sentiments, the majority of men I have known are good men. They’ve heard the same messages but through experience (and maybe that simple human desire to be a good person) they make the decision to act decently towards others.

I dedicate this post to all the good men in my life, past, present and future. Please know how much I adore you.

 

Have You Heard of Bayard Rustin?

Today, on the anniversary of the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, many will recall Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring “I Have a Dream” speech or the historic numbers for this peaceful demonstration in our nation’s capitol (Others are more likely discussing that one political provocateur from Fox News who is having a little rally today in D.C.) I want to take a moment and remember one of my heroes, a man usually forgotten by history.

Bayard Rustin: Civil rights leader, gone but not forgotten (image via jrcla.org)

Continue reading

Men: Too Stupid to Take Daily Birth Control?

Statue in Oslo's Vigeland Park. Photo by Mark Wilkinson.

In case you haven’t heard, Israel developed a male birth control pill. The drug, which works by stripping protein from sperm that is necessary for conception, is about to go into clinical trials. Aside from being the first male oral contraceptive, this is also the first non-hormonal oral contraceptive. Awesome.

But the awesomeness is dampened by blatant sexism from men’s female partners. A snip from the Telegraph article:

A big drawback against men being in control of fertility is the fear they would forget to take a pill.

Polls have repeatedly shown wives and partners do not trust their men to remember to pop a pill every day.

But now that problem has been solved. The new pill can be taken either once a month or once every three months.

Professor Breitbart said: “I think most women would trust their man to remember once a month or once a quarter.”

So, women never forget to take their birth control pills since we are paragons of domestic and sexual responsibility? Spare me.

I posted the article on my Facebook page and my friends jumped on the debate wagon. Here are the highlight points and why they’re wrong: Continue reading