It’s out of vogue for girlfriends and wives to complain about their significant others’ porn use, and a bride who asks her groom to forgo bachelor party strippers is universally seen as insecure and controlling—or at the very least an unrealistic simpleton. Only someone hopelessly outdated and provincial would turn away from Dan Savage’s advice to accept that it’s normal and healthy for people to want a variety of visual stimulus in their sexual repertoire. And yet, there are a few of us throwbacks who believe looking at pornography and paying for sex work are detrimental to relationships. Who ask our partner not just to limit strip club outings or keep porn use under discreet cover but to abstain from them altogether. 

See, I’m already sounding like I wear my hair in a 1950s housewife updo and agree to nothing but once-a-month lights-out missionary position. Which is why it was gratifying to read in Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity (Oct-Dec 2011) that research doesn’t exactly hold with the sophisticate theory that porn is wholly harmless to relationships:

Men’s pornography viewing has been shown to be associated with unhealthy, less stable relationships…. For example, viewing pornography has been associated with (a) a decrease in relational sexual intimacy; (b) an increase in egocentric sexual practices aimed at personal pleasure and with little regard to the pleasure of the engaging partner…. Furthermore, men who frequently view pornography express a greater dissatisfaction with their partner’s physical appearance, sexual performance, and sexual curiosity.

I realize that most modern feminists wouldn’t touch an anti-porn stance with a 10-foot stripper pole. Which makes it even more valuable to put this research out there and see if it jives with anyone’s personal experience.

Keep reading …

pozmagazine:

Despite the presence of sex education courses, U.S. states with high degrees of conservatism and religiosity have above-average adolescent birthrates.

100,000 Lost Girls

How many children in the United States do you think are repeatedly raped for a tidy profit, pimped out by a relative, kept at a truck stop or hotel against their will for sexual servitude, or photographed for online porn? “As many as 100,000 girls are trafficked as sex slaves within the U.S.,” reports Sojourners, a magazine devoted to social justice. And the average age of entry into child prostitution or pornography? Between 12 and 14 years old.

Human sex trafficking might strike us as a distant overseas problem that plagues countries like Thailand and Cambodia, writes Sojourners, but “the United States has also been a leader of the pack.” The U.S. child sex trade is neatly facilitated through seemingly benign classified ad sites like Backpage.com and Craigslist.com, where users can purchase anything from a used Honda to an escort, stripper, or other “adult job”—except by no means are all the people performing the sex work limited to adults, nor are they there by choice.

Keep reading …

The Nature Conservancy is taking a new stripped-down approach to  environmental protection: The green group is teaming up with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and online luxury retailer Gilt to raise money for beach  preservation in an unholy mashup of sex, commerce, marketing,  publishing, and environmentalism.
Why the green tie-in? “Because everyone benefits from pristine  tropical beaches. Especially when they’re occupied by gorgeous women in  bathing suits.” That’s according to promotional prose about the  partnership on the Gilt website, in an announcement that is no longer  posted. (Though you can still buy a $1,000 ticket to a New York launch party where you can hang out with the swimsuit supermodels.)
Environmental writer Derrick Jensen of Orion already saw this  sort of thing coming, having penned a prescient column in the current  issue titled “Not in My Name.” Go ahead and call him a killjoy, but I  think he pretty much nailed it:

Let me say upfront: I like fun, and I like sex. But I’m sick  to death of hearing that we need to make environmentalism fun and sexy. …  The fact that so many people routinely call for environmentalism to be  more fun and more sexy reveals not only the weakness of our movement but  also the utter lack of seriousness with which even many activists  approach the problems we face. …
Unfortunately, the notion that activism … has to be fun and  sexy pervades the entire environmental movement, from the most  self-styled radical to the most mainstream reformist.


Keep reading …

The Nature Conservancy is taking a new stripped-down approach to environmental protection: The green group is teaming up with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and online luxury retailer Gilt to raise money for beach preservation in an unholy mashup of sex, commerce, marketing, publishing, and environmentalism.

Why the green tie-in? “Because everyone benefits from pristine tropical beaches. Especially when they’re occupied by gorgeous women in bathing suits.” That’s according to promotional prose about the partnership on the Gilt website, in an announcement that is no longer posted. (Though you can still buy a $1,000 ticket to a New York launch party where you can hang out with the swimsuit supermodels.)

Environmental writer Derrick Jensen of Orion already saw this sort of thing coming, having penned a prescient column in the current issue titled “Not in My Name.” Go ahead and call him a killjoy, but I think he pretty much nailed it:

Let me say upfront: I like fun, and I like sex. But I’m sick to death of hearing that we need to make environmentalism fun and sexy. … The fact that so many people routinely call for environmentalism to be more fun and more sexy reveals not only the weakness of our movement but also the utter lack of seriousness with which even many activists approach the problems we face. …

Unfortunately, the notion that activism … has to be fun and sexy pervades the entire environmental movement, from the most self-styled radical to the most mainstream reformist.

Keep reading …

Here’s a fun article from the Utne Reader archives: A 12-Step Program on How to Write a Sex Scene. Here’s a teaser (no pun intended):
Step 6: Don’t obsess over the rude parts.Sex is  inherently over the top. Just telling the reader that two (or more)  people are balling will automatically direct us toward the genitals. It  is your job, as an author, to direct us elsewhere, to the more  inimitable secrets of the naked body. Give us the indentations on the  small of a woman’s back, or the minute trembling of a man’s underlip.
Step 7: Don’t forget the foreplay.It  took me a few years (okay, 20) to realize this, but desire is, in the  end, a lot sexier than the actual humping part. So don’t make the  traditional porno mistake. Don’t cut from the flirtatious discussion to  the gag-defying fellatio. Tease the reader a little bit. Let the drama  of the seduction prime us for the action.
Step 8: Fluid is fun.Sex  is sticky. There is no way around this. If you want to represent the  truth of the acts, pay homage to the resultant wetnesses. And I’m not  just talking about semen or vaginal fluid. I’m also talking sweat and  saliva, which I consider to be the perfume of lovers, as well as  whatever one chooses as a lubricant. (Sesame oil is my current fave, but  it changes from week to week.)
Keep reading …

Here’s a fun article from the Utne Reader archives: A 12-Step Program on How to Write a Sex Scene. Here’s a teaser (no pun intended):

Step 6: Don’t obsess over the rude parts.
Sex is inherently over the top. Just telling the reader that two (or more) people are balling will automatically direct us toward the genitals. It is your job, as an author, to direct us elsewhere, to the more inimitable secrets of the naked body. Give us the indentations on the small of a woman’s back, or the minute trembling of a man’s underlip.

Step 7: Don’t forget the foreplay.
It took me a few years (okay, 20) to realize this, but desire is, in the end, a lot sexier than the actual humping part. So don’t make the traditional porno mistake. Don’t cut from the flirtatious discussion to the gag-defying fellatio. Tease the reader a little bit. Let the drama of the seduction prime us for the action.

Step 8: Fluid is fun.
Sex is sticky. There is no way around this. If you want to represent the truth of the acts, pay homage to the resultant wetnesses. And I’m not just talking about semen or vaginal fluid. I’m also talking sweat and saliva, which I consider to be the perfume of lovers, as well as whatever one chooses as a lubricant. (Sesame oil is my current fave, but it changes from week to week.)

Keep reading …

 In the latest issue of   Utne Reader (Nov-Dec 2011) Mattilda Bernstein reviews Michael Bronski’s A Queer History of the United States. Here, Bronski offers some insights into the book and his reasons for writing it. Special to Utne Reader. 
 A decade ago, when I first began teaching lesbian, gay,  bisexual, and transgender studies at Dartmouth College, I was invited to  a fraternity house to moderate a group discussion entitled “Don’t Yell  Fag from the Porch.” The frat was renown for its rowdiness and, indeed,  someone had recently yelled “faggot” at a student passing by.  Undoubtedly not for the first time. After being publically challenged on  this behavior, they decided to host a public forum on homophobia in the  Greek system. The discussion went well and became an annual event.  “Faggot” was yelled with less frequency and, in a few years, the  fraternity even had a few “out” gay members. But that evening, and over  the years, what bothered me was that the entire discussion was  predicated on the idea that Dartmouth College, and its fraternities, was  essentially a straight place that had to be open to “gay people.” But  that makes no sense. We all know that life – and history – is far more  complex and complicated than that. Or do we?
Keep reading …

In the latest issue of Utne Reader (Nov-Dec 2011) Mattilda Bernstein reviews Michael Bronski’s A Queer History of the United States. Here, Bronski offers some insights into the book and his reasons for writing it. Special to Utne Reader. 

A decade ago, when I first began teaching lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies at Dartmouth College, I was invited to a fraternity house to moderate a group discussion entitled “Don’t Yell Fag from the Porch.” The frat was renown for its rowdiness and, indeed, someone had recently yelled “faggot” at a student passing by. Undoubtedly not for the first time. After being publically challenged on this behavior, they decided to host a public forum on homophobia in the Greek system. The discussion went well and became an annual event. “Faggot” was yelled with less frequency and, in a few years, the fraternity even had a few “out” gay members. But that evening, and over the years, what bothered me was that the entire discussion was predicated on the idea that Dartmouth College, and its fraternities, was essentially a straight place that had to be open to “gay people.” But that makes no sense. We all know that life – and history – is far more complex and complicated than that. Or do we?

Keep reading …

Recent years have seen huge improvements in the way we consume food,  fashion, and travel—partly thanks to positive engagement from  sustainability professionals. But, as Solitaire Townsend, chair of the  sustainable communications consultancy Futerra, puts it: “Whenever  people talk about sex, they seem to forget what they know about  sustainability.”
Are you ready for a sustainable, ethical sex industry?

Recent years have seen huge improvements in the way we consume food, fashion, and travel—partly thanks to positive engagement from sustainability professionals. But, as Solitaire Townsend, chair of the sustainable communications consultancy Futerra, puts it: “Whenever people talk about sex, they seem to forget what they know about sustainability.”

Are you ready for a sustainable, ethical sex industry?

Suffice it to say, Dan Savage is not the most obvious heir to Ann Landers’  ultra-mainstream legacy. His columns answer a Chaucerian panorama of  correspondents: gay Mormons, incestuous siblings, weight-gain  fetishists, men yearning to be cuckolded, and otherwise ordinary  Americans grappling with an extraordinary range of problems and  proclivities. By the standards of a family newspaper, his advice is not  only explicit but broad-minded to the point of being radical,  encouraging people to embrace or at least tolerate previously  unmentionable sexual inclinations in their partners, praising open  relationships, and celebrating behaviors that might cause even the most  intrepid reader to balk.
After 20 years of churning out Savage Love, the Seattle writer can lay a  legitimate claim to being America’s most influential advice columnist.  He is syndicated around the world in more than 70 newspapers—mainly  alternative weeklies in the United States—with well over 1 million in  total circulation. Online, he reaches millions more readers. He is a  frequent contributor to the popular radio program This American Life,  and a Savage Love television show is under discussion with MTV. His  podcast has a higher iTunes ranking than those of Rachel Maddow or the NBC Nightly News,  and his books have sold briskly. And when it suits him, the range of  his commentary has become increasingly broad. In the space of one  column—the one where he announced his purchase of Ann Landers’  desk—Savage offered advice to a 30-year-old woman who wanted to sleep  with a 17-year-old coworker, fielded a question from a man with a  childbirth fetish, and then, for good measure, advised the Bush  administration to take a harder stance on Saudi Arabia.
But for all his prowess as an advice writer and viral activist, Savage’s  most lasting influence on American culture may ultimately register in a  deeper and more enduringly significant realm: ethics. Wading deep into  the free-fire zone of modern sexuality, he has codified a remarkably  systematic—and influential—set of ethics in which traditional norms have  fallen away.
Keep reading … (Image by Linda Zacks)

Suffice it to say, Dan Savage is not the most obvious heir to Ann Landers’ ultra-mainstream legacy. His columns answer a Chaucerian panorama of correspondents: gay Mormons, incestuous siblings, weight-gain fetishists, men yearning to be cuckolded, and otherwise ordinary Americans grappling with an extraordinary range of problems and proclivities. By the standards of a family newspaper, his advice is not only explicit but broad-minded to the point of being radical, encouraging people to embrace or at least tolerate previously unmentionable sexual inclinations in their partners, praising open relationships, and celebrating behaviors that might cause even the most intrepid reader to balk.

After 20 years of churning out Savage Love, the Seattle writer can lay a legitimate claim to being America’s most influential advice columnist. He is syndicated around the world in more than 70 newspapers—mainly alternative weeklies in the United States—with well over 1 million in total circulation. Online, he reaches millions more readers. He is a frequent contributor to the popular radio program This American Life, and a Savage Love television show is under discussion with MTV. His podcast has a higher iTunes ranking than those of Rachel Maddow or the NBC Nightly News, and his books have sold briskly. And when it suits him, the range of his commentary has become increasingly broad. In the space of one column—the one where he announced his purchase of Ann Landers’ desk—Savage offered advice to a 30-year-old woman who wanted to sleep with a 17-year-old coworker, fielded a question from a man with a childbirth fetish, and then, for good measure, advised the Bush administration to take a harder stance on Saudi Arabia.

But for all his prowess as an advice writer and viral activist, Savage’s most lasting influence on American culture may ultimately register in a deeper and more enduringly significant realm: ethics. Wading deep into the free-fire zone of modern sexuality, he has codified a remarkably systematic—and influential—set of ethics in which traditional norms have fallen away.

Keep reading … (Image by Linda Zacks)

In light of Facebook’s big change today, we present you with a story from the latest issue of Utne Reader, a little piece we call “Friend Me, Undress Me”:

Looking to take your Facebook stalking to a whole new level? You’re in luck: Now you can see what your friends look like naked.
For 50 bucks, users can download FalseFlesh and alter photos in two smarmy ways: by superimposing  the heads of acquaintances onto naked bodies or by virtually undressing  them.

Keep reading …

In light of Facebook’s big change today, we present you with a story from the latest issue of Utne Reader, a little piece we call “Friend Me, Undress Me”:

Looking to take your Facebook stalking to a whole new level? You’re in luck: Now you can see what your friends look like naked.

For 50 bucks, users can download FalseFlesh and alter photos in two smarmy ways: by superimposing the heads of acquaintances onto naked bodies or by virtually undressing them.

Keep reading …

Today, we can talk about vaginas anywhere, writes Jezebel:  “Marketers have taken a cue from Eve Ensler—that was fifteen years ago,  by the way—and decided that they can shout ‘vagina’ all they want.” Ensler’s play opened up our cultural discourse to more than just a word, but a whole set of public discussions about the female body … including the current Michele Bachmann-fueled debate about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Read more …

Today, we can talk about vaginas anywhere, writes Jezebel: “Marketers have taken a cue from Eve Ensler—that was fifteen years ago, by the way—and decided that they can shout ‘vagina’ all they want.” Ensler’s play opened up our cultural discourse to more than just a word, but a whole set of public discussions about the female body … including the current Michele Bachmann-fueled debate about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Read more …