Category Archives: Sex

Not Another Virginity Article

It is that time of year again; time for the RedEye to print its annual obligatory “virginity” story. 364 days out of the year the RedEye is happy to fill its pages with lingerie football, Playboy bunny updates and fucksaws; but once a year the RedEye swings its horny pendulum in the other directions to talk about the “trend” of abstinence.  This year’s holier-than-thou treat goes by the name of “Power Virgins” and features Tebow on the cover.

The story is the basically the same as last year’s “No Sex in the City” article, some people choose to wait until marriage to have sex mainly for religious reasons. Cool. That is a choice they are free to make and a choice many have been making for centuries. This is not news folks. This is not a trend. Just because Tebow wants to wave his V card around and pastors are writing “freaky” sex books , doesn’t make abstinence news worthy.

The more interesting topic is why the fuck do we care who has fucked or who has not? It is a question the article posed in the beginning of the story but then never really got into, choosing instead to skirt along the surface of a topic that is oh-so-sensitive still in the “hard news” community. To dive into this question would be to ask why do we care so very much if someone has put their penis in someone else or had a penis in them and then to dive further would to question whether or not the location of said penis is important (oral, anal, squished between two breasts) and then to dive further would be to question the pleasure derived from said penis not to mention wondering where all the scissoring lesbians fit into this whole mess.

Look I’m all for keeping whatever virginity you want as long as you want. I know I kept my V card longer than the good lord probably intended. But posing virginity as the only alternative to the Playboy lifestyle is just messed up. It makes the conversation of sex too simple to be useful. In the end it just continues the cycle of fuck, shame, confusion, fuck, shame, confusion that permeates through the majority of young adults. Instead of swinging their shame-laden pendulum back and forth, wouldn’t it be nice if the RedEye actually facilitated an actual conversation about sex beyond the bustier and chasity belt?

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What The Wire Taught Me About SexEd

If you knew me in High School, you know I had no need for SexEd while I was a teenager. I was hyperbolically academic, awkwardly clothed in thrift store cardigans and my role model was Rory Gilmore. And despite the fact that I’m pretty sure I masturbated embryonically and definitely had a strong curiosity in the subject of sex, even if just pixilated hypothetical sex, there was no way I was getting laid while I still roamed the hallowed halls of Preble High.

Yet somehow when my best friend decided to start having sex our senior year, I knew to google Planned Parenthood and look up the local number. I also knew the advantages of condoms versus the pill. And I knew you could get gonorrhea in the throat from a blowjob.

To this day I’m slightly baffled how I knew all this since I had a) never had sex and b) had never had SedEd. Although I’m foggy on many of the details of where my virgin self picked up all these details I’m pretty sure the knowledge came from three distinct sources: 1) Whatever information I could glean from the internet after my parents went to bed that would satisfy some of my growing curiosity for the birds and the bees and s and m 2) peers who usually were informed by older siblings or open hippy parents, god bless them or 3) in a few particular cases, specifically the gonorrhea in the throat example, Lifetime movies.

As I watched the fourth season of The Wire this weekend from my sick bed, I realized not all kids are as lucky as I was. For starters not all are blessed with braces and post-pubescent baby fat; some teenagers are attractive and can indeed attract sexual partners. And with this attraction comes all the complications of sex but with none of the formal or informal education.

I realize The Wire is not real life but after watching a recent local TV report about the lack of SexEd in Chicago, I’m beginning to believe it is not so far off. In addition to the “horrifying” fact that Chicago’s young people have the highest rate of gonorrhea in the U.S. (which also means Chicago has the highest rate of reporting and treating of that STI), the report also examines the schools’ role in this “epidemic.” A CPS grad, who is interviewed in cognito because of the extreme stigmas associated with underage sex, says she didn’t learn anything about sex, pregnancy or STIs in school. She learned about these things instead via first hand experience, aka two pregnancies and a Chlamydia infection.

It seems that whether we are in a fictitious Baltimore, or home sweet home in Chicago, we ignore teen sex. We pretend our 14 year olds aren’t having sex because it is easier to think of them as children than as complex human beings with a range of desires and emotions. Other than being naïve, this is dangerous.

Luckily there is a statewide movement to educate Chicago youth with age-appropriate SexEd. A bill called the Comprehensive Health Education Act or HB 3027 is currently looking to gain support in the IL legislature for a vote. A fact sheet is available on the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health website.

To be totally honest, I wish 14 year olds weren’t having sex. Looking back at my 8th grade picture, I’m sporting a Tommy Hilfiger shirt I wore about every 3 days, braces with bright yellow rubber bands and an uncomfortable smile of someone not quite used to their own skin. Looking back, I’m delighted I had time to grown into my skin before rubbing it against someone else’s.

But not everyone is fortunate enough to have my bad fashion sense and awkwardness; not everyone’s journey is my own; some teenagers are going to have probably awkward terrible 5-minute sex. We can’t stop this and realistically we don’t always need to stop this as it is part of growing up. But we can educate these little humping bunnies along the way so they stop passing around gonorrhea like some smuckers lip balm. We can give them more than some passed down information from siblings or inferred knowledge from American Pie. And for the ones not curious enough to WebMD “safe sex” we can give them the information in a handy worksheet, hopefully with smiling sex organs cartoons.

Something struck me at the end of the Chicago TV report. When asked what she wished she had learned, the CPS grad listed the basics, information on STIs and pregnancy but then she also added one more thing. She said she wish she had learned “self esteem, everything a woman needs to grown.”

It is this last bit that you can’t absorb from the glow of the internet nor from snippets of lifetime movies. It is this last bit that took me years to personally learn after years of confusing messages from the media about sex.

In the past decade we have put major educational resources towards abstinence only education and classes that are proven not only ineffective but also teach girls that if they have sex they are like sucked candy and that they need to be like quiet maidens.

The Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill isn’t just to teach kids to put a condom on a banana or how you can get knocked up even if he pulls out, it is to teach kids that sex has dangers and consequences but also ways to manage risk; that sex is a physical act between consenting people who respect each other; that sex is sex is a part of life, not your whole life; that sex does not make you used candy.

Really this bill is undoing the damage of a decade of bad lifetime movies and worse abstinence – only education programs. It is the kind of education I wish I had had so I was so shocked and disgusted the first time I saw a penis (at age 35 for my future children) and it wasn’t yellow and curved to the right.

For a glimpse into SexEd done right, check out this NYTimes article.

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Loving My Body One Orgasm At A Time

* October 19th the National Organization of Women celebrates Love Your Body Day. This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival.

When I was a freshman in college we had a “love your body day” presentation by a campus group. They posed the question “What do you love about your body?” Answers ranged from “my eyes” to “my biceps” to “the whole package” but almost all were in reference to what the individual found physically appealing about his or her body.

The coordinators then rephrased the questions and asked, “What do you love about what your body can do?” This took markedly more time. Answers ranged from “running 5 miles” to “laying down those sweet dance moves.” I think I said something about being able to walk up the 850 ft monstrous hill on campus everyday and thus avoiding the #80 bus.

But this was a cop out answer. Yes I am thankful I have legs that can carry me up a hill. Yes I love that my body is physically able. But what I love, what I really really just LOVE, is my body’s ability to orgasm.

Shockingly (or I guess not so shockingly given college freshman’s inability to talk about sex despite having vast indiscriminate amounts of it) no one in my group mentioned the big O or even thanked their hands for the effort on everyone’s 5-digit favorite pass time.

Our media is saturated with images of airbrushed cleavage, thigh and ass of just barley legal girls (not to mention the occasional side boob or crotch shot of a celebrity from overpaid, under scrupled paparazzi). They all reek of objectivity and over sexualization of women. Justifiably the counter culture screams of the injustice and points to all the other wonderful abilities of a woman’s body, to run, to be mobile, to be powerful, to be untraditionally beautiful.

Although a woman’s body is all of these things, it is also a cleavage, thigh and ass. And when it is appreciated fully for its ability to run, jump, skip and be beautiful, and perhaps touched in right combination either manually or with a partner’s generous help, a woman’s body is also sexy.

It is a fact we should not try to overlook on Love Your Body Day because it is an essential part of our bodies. Young girls are being taught via modern media how to look sexy, how to act sexy, how to squirm and moan sexy and how to sex sexy. They are not being taught how to actually experiment, explore or enjoy their sexy.

By only talking about the unsexy parts of the body, we are doing a disservice to young women. We are creating varsity soccer captains, student council presidents and Model UN representatives, who love their bodies and brains but wear ass-cheek revealing booty shorts with the words “sweetie” across the butt because a movie told them this is “sexy;” because no one told them part of loving your body is loving your own way of being sexy which usually does not include shorts with descriptive words scrawled across one’s backside.

I’m on a bit of a pedestal here but I’m going to preach it out while I have your attention. If we are ever going to truly teach girls how to love their bodies we are going to have to stop avoiding the sexy and start redefining it.

Sexy is not airbrushed nipples; it is not a series of carefully orchestrated positions in the best possible lighting followed by simultaneous orgasms; it not one image and it is not easy to define. Sexy is something we need to start talking about especially with our young women and men whose bodies, in addition to being beautiful and lovely, are also at their root horny sexy masses of energy. Let’s not ignore that fact; let’s metaphorically embrace it, and start talking about what sexy really means.

To me on this cold Chicago night, it is probably coming in the form of one of seven delightful speeds…

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Teaching the ABC’s of Sex in IL?

Sexual education has long been a hott topic in American politics and society. Republicans hate it (on the principle that it admits sex exists); Democrats love it (as long as it doesn’t make their moderate middle constituents too uncomfortable); and most Americans seem to have strong opinions about it even if many of those opinions are based on clever political jargon.

But behind the jargon, the majority of Americans think sex ed should be taught in school (93% according to a 2004 survey) and often parents assume sex ed is taught in school even if recent budget cuts have nixed the sex ed. And here is where the problem lies, parents think their children are receiving responsible sexual education but in many cases, students are receiving inadequate information in the form of abstinence only materials or they are receiving no education at all.

The IL PREP bill (formerly HB1619 and now HB 3027) seeks to change that, with a baby step. The bill would require schools which have sex ed provide medically accurate and age-appropriate content; it does not require schools teach sex ed, only that if a school does have a sex ed program, the information taught in class be accurate. This translates to talking about all the abc’s of sex including abstinence and birth control and condoms.

But even this baby step bill has had a rocky road. After months of negotiations in the state legislature, the bill fell short by one vote in April. The bill has been revived this month and thanks to a few minor changes, is likely to pass this time around. 

Read more on the PREP bill here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-met-sex-ed-20110420,0,1098839.story

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Superfluous Sexy: RedEye’s quasi porn cover

The RedEye is like a worn ad lib, insert unnecessary sexy photo here

The article was about the now infamous Northwestern professor whose human sexuality class has been canceled after the “fuck saw scandal.” Apparently the RedEye will use any excuse to put some quasi porn on their cover and barely scrape the surface of an issue.

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Men embracing the “f” word

The Root published a fantastic article recently about a young man’s struggle to understand the term feminist and why he should claim the title for himself.

“Like most guys, I had bought into the stereotype that all feminists were white, lesbian, unattractive male bashers who hated all men. But after reading the work of these black feminists, I realized that this was far from the truth. After digging into their work, I came to really respect the intelligence, courage and honesty of these women.

Feminists did not hate men. In fact, they loved men. But just as my father had silenced my mother during their arguments to avoid hearing her gripes, men silenced feminists by belittling them in order to dodge hearing the truth about who we are.

I learned that feminists offered an important critique about a male-dominated society that routinely, and globally, treated women like second-class citizens. They spoke the truth, and even though I was a man, their truth spoke to me. Through feminism, I developed a language that helped me better articulate things that I had experienced growing up as a male.

Feminist writings about patriarchy, racism, capitalism and structural sexism resonated with me because I had witnessed firsthand the kind of male dominance they challenged. I saw it as a child in my home and perpetuated it as an adult. Their analysis of male culture and male behavior helped me put my father’s patriarchy into a much larger social context, and also helped me understand myself better.

I decided that I loved feminists and embraced feminism. Not only does feminism give woman a voice, but it also clears the way for men to free themselves from the stranglehold of traditional masculinity. When we hurt the women in our lives, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt our community, too.”

Read the full article here.

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Sex Ed from Broadcast Television

Legislators can argue about it all they want but sexual education is happening everyday inAmerica; not in our schools but on broadcast television.

What ours schools lack in formal sexual education, broadcast television fills in with the nitty gritty visual details even if lacking some of the less sexy reality facts (such as theUnited Stateshas the second highest teen pregnancy rate). After watching a particularly racy episode of Gossip Girl, I remember thinking, man I wish I was 16 again so I could have that amazingly effortless, safe and consequent free sex.

After years of disappointingly surface content surrounding teen sex, it was surprising, refreshing and a little humbling to see teen sex tackled with such ease and common sense as Glee’s “Sexy” episode did this week. It didn’t talk down to teens, it didn’t over simplify something as complicated as sex and most importantly it didn’t pretend sex doesn’t exist.

In probably the best teen sex speech I’ve ever heard, Kurt’s dad tried to express the complexities of sex to his son. The speech, in the episode directed toward a gay teenage boy, is universally applicable to all teens (and some adults for that matter).

“For most guys sex is just this thing we always want to do. It’s fun. It feels great. But we aren’t really thinking about how it makes us feel on the inside or how the other person feels about it. Women get that it is about something more than the physical. When you are intimate with someone in that way you are exposing yourself. You are never going to be more vulnerable. That scares the hell out of all of us guys. You got to know it means something. It is doing something to you, to your heart, to your self esteem. Even though it feels like just having fun…When you are ready, I want you to do everything. But when you are ready I want you to use it as a way to connect with another person. Don’t throw yourself around like you don’t matter. Because you matter.”

If only everyday parents could start saying this to their teens maybe we wouldn’t need broadcast TV to do it for us.

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New “factual” argument against promiscuity

Ross Douthat’s had a lovely little tidbit in the New York Times last week about the cost of promiscuity…on women. As Dothart says less sexual partners “increases the odds that [women’s] adult sexual lives will be a source of joy rather than sorrow.” His argument is notably reserved for women.

The facts come from a study showing women with increased sexual partners are decreasingly unhappy. However this fact doesn’t say if the connection is causation or correlation aka do women sleep with more people because they are unhappy or does sleeping with more people make one unhappy. Or ignoring both of these suggestions is there something about behind the sex such as finding a stable partner that increases happiness.

According to a professor intereviewed by Salon’s Tracy Clark Flory “There is no compelling reason to think that larger numbers of sexual partners are truly ‘causing’ less happiness…It’s more likely that the reverse is true. I find Ms. Right; she makes me happy; I then don’t need to look for any other sexual partners.” In other words, actually having sex with more people isn’t making women unhappy but rather the frustrating fact that they haven’t found Mr. Right.

Arguments like Douthat’s which twist stats to prove a personal moral issue, do nothing but reinforce negative societal stereotypes. The truth is finding Mr/Ms. Right is a frustrating and difficult process; the unluckier you are in your pursuit often the unhappier you can appear to be in the time being. However in the end, when Mr/Ms Right is found Mr/Ms Wrong, whether that number is 2 or 200, really doesn’t matter.

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The devaluation of sex: a bad thing for women?

I have reread a recent Slate article a few times, and each time I am left hoping the majority of women don’t believe this crap. It claims the recent devaluation of sex has given women a disadvantage. Sex is now easier to get and therefore women can gain much less from it. For example, since a recent college grad can easily get sex, he is less willing to commit to his girlfriend.

The proof comes from statistics showing couples choose to have sex earlier in the relationship as well as a “survey” showing that men are more likely to have sex with a stranger and not feel bad about it. This is paired with some narratives of young women frustrated because their boyfriends won’t commit.

This article and its proof does seem to show that sex is becoming less of a bargaining chip in relationships, but I can’t seem to see why this is a bad thing. If sex is taken out of the equation as a bargaining chip perhaps men and women can both start enjoying sex for sex and stop thinking about all the potential implications. Maybe if sex the power of sex is taken away, then couples can start focusing on what really matters, a mutually supportive relationship.

Read the Salon interview for more insight into the facts here.

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The 20-something man-child: do today’s young men deserve all the hyphens?

Thanks to the release of Kay Hymowitz’s new book “Manning Up,” everyone from NPR to Salon to your local bloggers seems to have an opinion on the current “pre-adulthood” state of young men. Hymowtiz’s hypothesis, which is based heavily on pop culture references, suggests that unlike previous generations, young men today are unwilling to grow up, give up the playstation and become a flourishing part of society… and all because young women are growing up faster and more successfully.

It is hard to tell if Hymowitz’s argument is trying to blame the victim (damn those over-aggressive young feminists scaring young men away from success, they deserve to deal with the pathetic outcome) or be the voice of a disapproving, guilt-inducing mother (time to straighten up young men and produce some grand babies). Either way it seems less than convicing to most because of its over-generalizations and reliance on hit movies to support her argument instead of facts. (Read NPR’s review and exerts here.)

As Salon writer Tracy Clark-Flory says “there is certainly some truth here — but, unfortunately, she relies on oblique statistics and pop culture observations instead of talking to the men she’s writing about. ” Read her full response plus the response of some real young men here.

And yet when I was reading exerts from Hymowitz’s book, I couldn’t help but feel some twinges of familiarity when reading the descriptions of child-men: “It’s looking pretty clear that ten or fifteen years of party-on single life are a good formula for producing navel-gazing, wisecracking childmen rather than unhyphenated, unironic men.” Despite not having the facts and figures to back it up, I feel myself agreeing with Hymowtiz’s hypotheis, even if it is only based on my own small experience in the world.

No one would deny the past few years have been rough particularly on young people just starting out in the world, trying to make their path in society and finding more dead ends than promising roads. And yet when I talk to my female friends, I find we have found a way to adapt; we have put our pride aside, taken positions for less money with less than appealing titles and worked to make our way even if that way was not on the previously drawn map. We are looking at going back for master’s degrees, taking on bigger projects at work, and moving up in our fields despite the recession. We may not be looking to get married, have babies and enter that “adulthood” but we are looking to better ourselves and create our own place in society.

And yet the guys we are dating are routinely disappointing (of course with delightlful exceptions). It is not that they don’t call, don’t open doors, don’t pay for dates (although they routinely don’t); it is that they are lacking any ambition or plan for their futures but seem filled to the brim with excuses for their stagnant lives: the economy, their stupid boss, their parents, society’s unrealistic expectations. They are not just navelgazers but navel-buriers; they have buried themselves and their futures in their own unrealistic world and expectations.

I have no facts to support these claims other than my occasionally humorous and often painful personal history. Yet despite my personal experience, I do not think today’s young men deserve the hyphens. Although I suspect Hymowitz’s observations are true because they resonate in my own life, I am beginning to believe her man-child conclusion is flawed.

Young men today just like young women are struggling to find their place in a changing society. The majority of young men and women of today do not get married at 21 and have babies, they do not have the obvious, visible entrance into adulthood. Instead they often have a decade of creating their own identities, of finding their place in society and of negotiating their hyphens. It seems that young women seem to accomplish this task in a more socially acceptable way, by getting jobs, supporting themselves and creating an independent life. Young men seem to be taking a different more frustrating route to self-discovery.

This can be baffling for older generations used to a certain formula. And yet there is not much to be done except maybe write more books about “preadulthood” and lament the good ole days. As for the frustrated young women out there, all I can say is some young men find themselves earlier and in less infuriating ways. So stop making excuses for the child-men who are still trying to start a band living off food stamps and their parent’s naive generosity and dump them. This 20-somethings decade is way too short to spend it writing angry blog posts about the disappointing men in life.

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