Those of you who follow my Twitter feed (@thesexademic) may have seen that I spent last weekend shooting some sex advice shorts. I’m working on more post-production right now and will be releasing one new video every week for the next month and a half.
Here’s a little video about why you should measure your johnson and sheath it accordingly…
For behind the scenes pics check out my Facebook fan page here!
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.
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.
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!
A recent study about men faking orgasms came out last week and sparked the usual reactions about “faking it”: personal admission, condemnation, and advocating for more communication to battle this scourge.
A wise friend once said, in reference to dating, “It sucks to put your trust in an untrustworthy person.”
Truer words could not apply to the Alexa Di Carlo scandal. I think this paragraph from Expose A Bro, the blog that is outing Alexa as Thomas “Pat” Bohannan, sums up the accumulated violations pretty well:
Bohannan wasn’t just harmlessly getting his kicks maintaining an anonymous blog where he could live out fantasies of being a desirable woman. He knowingly spread lies about sex work, advocated unsafe sexual practices, had sexually-inappropriate online interactions with underage youth, all the while passing himself off as an academic and trusted adult who is trained in human sexuality. (Refuted here.) He used bold-faced lies about his qualifications to try and discredit real sexuality activists, and laughed at their setbacks. He stole images from real models and passed them off as him– implicating these innocent bystanders as suspects in his activities. He bullied one activist by harassing her via email, and gleefully celebrated the demise of a valued sex workers rights publication, $pread Magazine. He threatened to expose another sex blogger. He purposefully mislead and misinformed his large online audience about important sexuality issues. He tricked escorts into talking to him and having sex with him by using “Alexa” to vouch for him as being a safe and respectful client. (More escorts are talking privately about feeling violated by having had sex with this con artist.) He ran a “sex education” message board where minors trusted him enough to share nude photographs of themselves.
So when someone makes a fake identity and starts doling out sex information using false credentials, this job gets much, much harder.
And when young people come forward about this person soliciting nudie pics from minors? Sheer litigious rage bubbles forth.
(I’m not even going to get into a discussion about the deplorable way Bohannan allegedly used the false sex worker identity to gain the trust of actual sex workers so he could employ their services. Wrong. Really, really wrong.)
There are some people that insist this person was never using fake credentials, simply mentioning living in San Francisco and going to some graduate program here.
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.
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.
As my friends and I prepared the dinner table last night, the sweet sounds of 1930s blues filled the room. The scratchy, canned recordings of that bygone era masked the lewd lyrics, so it wasn’t until the second verse of Lucille Bogan‘s “Till the Cows Come Home” that we knew for sure she was singing about fucking with a capital “F”.
We stared at each other in total disbelief as she sang of giving her lovers the clap, her floor sweeping pubic hair with “funk from those hairs that will shut the door” and how her two lovers had dicks like baseball bats. There is an extra layer of shock when you discover our predecessors could be just as smarmy as any modern day porno.
We have a preoccupation with sanitizing the past in order to present its occupants in a more noble light, similar to the way we eulogize the dead and forgive them their earthly indiscretions. Hindsight is not only 20/2o; it is also easily manipulated for our own comfort.
Champions of family values often shriek about impending moral doom, holding up copies of Penthouse and rattling off porn sites as evidence for cultural entropy. But the moment you dig below the bleached façade of official history, you’ll find the same old dirty jokes, songs and images. Drawing cocks on the walls is nothing new for humans.
Of course, social sanctions against sexual innuendo and expression are nothing new either. Though the urge to create “dirty” entertainment and art is culturally ubiquitous, the urge to eradicate those creations waxes and wanes. Even the bounds of what constitutes prurience are in constant flux.
Personally, I find it humbling that Ancient Romans scrawled offensive lines on public walls or that medieval writers drew dirty cartoons in religious texts. Perversion is a uniquely human trait and I am happy to embrace bawdiness.
I have a confession: most porn bores the hell out of me.
When I was a teenager, porn was exciting and titillating because it was forbidden. The shaky camera and dubious acting did nothing to damper my adolescent enthusiasm for flesh-on-flesh visuals. Now I get more of a rise out of a Jeffry McDaniel poem or an Oglaf comic strip (NSFW) than a Vivid production.
What happened? Nothing, which is exactly why it bores me.
Most porn I see is the same linear progression appendage-in-orifice mêlée as in my high school years. The only apparent novelty is how many people can shove how many dicks/toys/vegetables into how many holes. Some people get creative with cinematography and context, but that’s still the same anal sex scene behind the glitz.
I realize I may be desensitized. Years ago, I organized a group called “Girls Watch Porn” where ladies got together to watch and review smut. We found some great films by Shine Louise Houston and Eon McKai along with the 1970s classics. But mostly, we found tired and uninspired videos of sex along with some disturbing and unhygienic scenes. (The raw chicken porn is forever burned into my retinas.)
But overexposure isn’t the best explanation. Porn itself is partially to blame.
“doesn’t encompass the range of human experiences and desires anymore than a handicam and a handful of people having sex encompasses the range of human sexual experiences and desires.”
Porn (to me) should be about fantasy and possibility. How much fantasy and possibility can you express through low-budget formulaic porno flicks that spend less time in post-production than in filming? Not a whole lot.
Some people find porn horribly offensive. As with any offensive media in the world, the best bet is simple avoidance.
But I’m not offended. I’m unsatisfied.
I know I’m not alone in this either. This Best of Craiglist from Boston summarizes my feelings perfectly:
You suck, dude.
And I’m not trying to make some sort of cute pun here – you really do suck. You’re awful, horrible, poorly made, and I can think of a whole list of huge problems that you have. (more…)
I wish pro-good porn crusaders had half the psychotic dedication and passion of anti-porn crusaders. What a world that would be.