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:
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.
What Feminism is Not
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.
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.
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 →
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.
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 →
People love explaining human sexual behavior with evolution. If a behavior exists, it must be because of evolution…right?
In a recent study, among 827 women who self-reported on sexual behavior and fantasies, those women in the 27-45 age range reported the highest frequencies of sex and fantasy. The study authors explain this with evolutionary theory: older women compensate for their aging uterus by being hyper-sexual. Essentially, they’re saying an aging female brain incites more sexual desire in order to compete with younger (and ostensibly more attractive) females.
Here are my critiques of this analysis:
Nulliparity. If the evolutionary explination is correct, you would find that nulliparous women (those that have never borne a child) would have higher rates of sexual fantasy and behavior than women in their age cohort with one or more children. Pregnancy and childbirth are hard on the human body so it makes sense to level off sexual desire with age if a woman has already had children and women with no children would have more of an impetus to be hypersexual. An earlier study by the same researcher found no difference on account of having children or not.
Does not account for fecundity. Women with higher fecundity (fertility) would be less likely to need this adaptation because they get pregnant easily.
Fails to address social factors. The social taboo against female desire for the sake of desire can compel younger women to avoid sex and actively resist fantasies. Factor in roommates, ability to assess or obtain a sexual partner and sexual confidence, and an argument for social conditioning emerges.
Simplifies evolutionary theory to explain one strategy. Multiple mating strategies and behavioral adaptations exist within the same species. I’ve written about oversimplification of evolutionary theory in media before.
No cross-cultural or longitudinal comparisons. If the “cougar” approach to mating is indeed an evolutionary adaptation, you would find this phenomenon in many locales and points in history. I checked into data from the Kinsey Studies and the evidence is a bit muddled concerning frequency. Women reported a gradual rise in solitary sexual practices (ie jillin’off) but the website summary does not state when that behavior begins to level off.
I freely admit my bias when it comes to evolutionary explanations, especially concerning desire. The biggest reason is that the evidence is contrary to my experience as well as many of my female friends. When I was a teen my sexual desires came into conflict with basic social acceptance. I felt horny but I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even realize that masturbation was an option for me. Instead, I supressed everything I felt between my legs and was constantly frustrated. One time, at 16, I was so horny I actually cried.
And no wonder. If the recent public outrage and ridicule of Taylor Momson’s vibrator comment is any indication, young women are still being shamed about their sexual desire.
I’m not in Time’s “old lady” category just yet (27-45, WTF?) but I definitely fantasize more and have more sex. Why? I don’t feel ashamed about it. Simple as that. Cheers to getting older and learning when to not give a fuck about others’ opinions.
Note: I am not saying that biological factors are meaningless in this case. Rather, a completely biological explanation is insufficient to explain human sexual desire.
I won’t lie: I like it and I would rock that outfit. But I’m not a superhero from an Amazonian Paradise.
Female comic book characters fascinated me as a child because they dressed sexy and kicked ass. To be sure, that sexiness devolved into a tired sex-sells marketing scheme with scantily clad female characters playing supporting roles with lame powers. But at the outset, with Wonder Woman especially, there was something awesome about a woman expressing sexuality just to express it.
Sexual modesty does not equal empowerment for women; in fact, quite the opposite. Controlling female sexuality is a hallmark of gender inequality.
Shelby Knox wrote an excellent piece for Women’s Media Center that provides a great historical background as well as a solid argument for the original Wonder Woman character.
I found my own argument in a graduation present from my amazing friend Lydia W.
Breaking the chains of Man’s Superiority, Prejudice and Prudery. In hot pants. My hero.
Last week I went to Santa Cruz to see “The Lost Boys” on the beach boardwalk. That campy horror flick is a classic from my childhood and it looked a little different this time around.
The movie is still brilliant, of course, but a line in the film bugged me to no end. Gramps is talking to his freshly-divorced daughter and remarks “Lucy, you’re the only woman I ever knew that didn’t improve her situation by getting divorced.”
There is a strange social myth that women are pulling a fast one with divorce and leaving men in the poor-house. On the radio this morning I heard women quipping about alimony payments of the obscenely wealthy as if this is the norm for everyone else. It’s not.
Overall, women experience a 27% decline in standard of living while men experience a 10% increase after divorce. The big reason? Women taking on more domestic and primary caretaking work than men. You can’t really put “MOM” on your resumé.
The subject is complicated and I want to read more about it, but my finances are a big barrier right now. I can’t justify spending money on academic journal article access right now.
If you would like to read more about this subject, check out the following articles:
According to anti-rape campaigns, women (but apparently not men) have many modern tools against rape: self-defense classes, walking in groups, avoiding getting drunk and being aware of their surroundings. What we don’t have is an comprehensive anti-rape campaign with one simple message to would-be rapists:
Campaigns raise awareness about rape by debunking myths, providing statistics and offering ways for potential victims to protect themselves. But the campaigns and discussions rarely address the rapist.
When we only spotlight the victims we create a disembodied construction of a rapist as a supporting character in rape prevention discourse. The rape victim is the focus while the rapist is an auxiliary entity. Meanwhile in the real world, rapists are related to us, work with us and go to the bars with us. They are our friends, lovers and family members. Rarely are rapists complete strangers hiding in the bushes.
Realizing that many of us have known or do know someone that committed rape is an uncomfortable truth. Focusing on victims is mentally convenient, especially in a culture places the onus of sexual responsibility on females. Since we’re already taking birth control and keeping male sexual desire in check it makes sense for us to prevent rape, whether through wearing teethed condoms or by starring in anti-rape commercials.
Imagine a different type of conversation about rape, one that focused on (primarily male) perpetrators. Continue reading →