Meet Our Teachers: Shar Rednour

image009 Shar Rednour’s class–coming right up on Thursday, April 17, at our Polk Street  store–is Great Sex, Good Parent: The Missing Chapter in Your Whole-Life Parenting! All details plus ticket link below.

I’ve known Shar for a zillion years and she’s simply priceless. Her class will be fun and inspirational. I’m privy to the Shar parenting tales — they are both extremely practical and hilarious, while also helping to nurture  healthy, strong, kind and savvy future citizens of the world.

Shar’s not only surrounded by diverse SF families, but she has to answer to her cousins in the midwest and south as well. So if that’s not a tough standard to pass then I don’t know what is! It basically means this woman can talk to anyone. Bottom line, she handles the diverse-to-traditional spectrum, and then some. There will be something for everybody in Shar’s class and her forthcoming book!

I asked her, “How is it going, following your own advice now that you are a parent?” She said:

My kids always seem to wait for when I am chopping veggies with a sharp knife to drop some eyebrow-raising tidbit. The other day Ocean* says, “King* talked about pooberty in the dugout.” I looked up but tried to not act shocked or worried. “Oh he did, did he? What did he need to talk about?” King giggled then said, “Everyone asked why I was so tall and I said because I am going through pooberty. I showed them hair on my legs too.” Straight-faced, 9 years old, matter-of-fact, delivers this information. He is neither tall for his age nor going through puberty. Uh, pooberty. Now you might say, “See, this is exactly why I am afraid to talk to my kids about sex and puberty—it will lead to embarrassing conversations in the dugout.” But actually, I’m the embarrassed one. Embarrassed to tell you that our kids heard about puberty from jokes on the Disney channel, before even I, the sex savvy author and educator, got to tell them about it.  Isn’t that something! In many ways, I am just like every other parent—never prepared for how fast our kids are growing. I had been a nanny, an educator, a pre-school teacher, a fabulous Auntie (if I do say so myself) advising everyone else what to do throughout the years and now it’s my turn. Well, my advice has not changed much, but my stories have only gotten funnier and the list of answers for parents to give inquiring minds now hits the floor like a Santa Claus scroll in happy land!
*Her kids’ names are changed here for privacy’s sake

Shar kindly allowed us to reprint a blog post she recently wrote for a Bay Area parenting blog. Here it is:

I was organizing my class on Healthy Sexuality for Parents when I realized I must elaborate on my “making babies” section. My workshop includes talking to kids about the facts of life: what questions to expect at what age as well as tips on answering those questions. It’s usually at 6 to 8 years old that kids start asking, “For real, how are babies made? Where do they come from?”–oftentimes accompanied by an eye glare that conveys a child’s version of  “and by the way, don’t BS me!” This is indeed the time to put on your Dr. MOM or Dr. DAD hat and tell them which body parts will make sperm and eggs when they are older. Since I recommend teaching names of body parts and functions from birth, kids will be ready to hear this. Depending on the child’s age and curiosity, this can go into how the sperm and egg merge, which leads most people talk about sexual intercourse between a man and a woman—of course saying “grown-ups” quite often and “when you are a lot lot lot older!” Usually most people say something about marriage or love as well.

Yet babies and families are made all sorts of ways. No matter how alternative or open-minded your family is, children get the message, from the playground to Disney Channel jokes, that babies come from married male and female couples. Doesn’t matter if their parents are a gay couple or they have a single friend who used insemination, and of course adoption is common. Hmm…how are babies made, sure, but how did they get to the people who love them? That’s the million dollar question.

So being inclusive about the ways people create family right from the start is important. You will probably spend more time talking about the many ways babies and parents come together than biology. Include adoption, foster care, friends donating sperm to couples as well as insemination clinics, kinship care, extended families and anything you can think of. I highly recommend Todd Parr’s The Family Book. [CQ adds: Cory Silverberg's book What Makes a Baby is a colorful picture book geared to kids up to age 8 that also covers diverse families and ways babies get into the world.]

Here’s the deal—they will not remember everything and will circle back with more questions later. Does that mean you shouldn’t tell it all? Not me, I go for broke. I go for telling a multitude of possibilities so that even if they get confused or forget – it’s there in their brain: “Hey, there are so many kinds of families and wonderful ways to make a family I can’t even remember them all!” Which counterbalances the message that there is only 1 kind of family made 1 kind of way. You will be giving a more accurate reflection of our world.

****

Great Sex, Good Parent: The Missing Chapter in Your Whole-Life Parenting!
Thursday, April 17th, 2014
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Good Vibrations Polk St store: 1620 Polk between Clay and Sacramento, San Francisco
$20 in advance, $25 at the door
Tickets

 

Parents of all sexualities celebrated and welcome.
Shar Rednour — the writer of “How Great Sex Made Me a Good Mom” — answers all your questions on:

  • how to talk to your kids about sex
  • are our kids being sexualized in the media
  • how much social media is too much

Don’t worry, there’s some fun for the parents too! She is also giving her invaluable tips for your sexlife:

  • Don’t Divorce—Just get Laid
  • Best Toys at Good Vibrations
  • The best substitution for a Parent Happy Pill
  • Single Parents-Safety and sex validation and advice

Shar Rednour is the author of The Femme’s Guide to the Universe (and happily the narrator of the audio book version) and an editor of many erotic anthologies. Her website How Great Sex Made Me a Good Mom is also the title of her celebrated short story which is becoming a full length book in winter 2014.

Ask the Doc: Ejaculating Too Soon

Good afternoon Dr. Queen,

I have found the courage to email you about the problem I am facing… I would really appreciate any help. Premature ejaculation causes a lot of sexual problems in my relationship. The past years with different partners was not a problem…I was again ejaculating very early but after a few seconds I was back ready again. Now , though after ejaculation, I’m done…In addition, the past years I have been through a lot of problems, therefore probably that affected me as well..

Could you please suggest any possible ways that I can try to save my relationship and my sexual life…?

–Struggling with PE

CQ replies: In general, though a lot of men may think of themselves as “premature ejaculators,” many can last varying lengths of time—it’s one reason why some sex therapists don’t use the term at all any more, preferring to say things like “not lasting as long as you or your partner want.” Men and their partner sometimes have differing ideas about how long sex “should” last, which adds to the confusion. Rapid ejaculation like yours does fit the textbook definition of PE [premature ejaculation], though. It’s not entirely clear what causes it; some have cited anxiety, learning to masturbate very quickly as a youth (in other words, training oneself to come that fast), and as I research, I’m also seeing association to neurological factors. There are also many ways to address this issue, and some strategies will likely work better for some men than others.

Before I get into these, let me say something about the way sex is often, in our society, put into a framework that puts extraordinary focus on penile insertion into a vagina. Of course that is, for many people, a highly pleasurable and desired part of sex—but some guys who ejaculate quicker than they want to may develop especially high levels of anxiety about this because for them, intercourse is the sexual activity, not one of many ways to enjoy sex. So one way to be a good partner and to hopefully minimize this anxiety as much as possible is to understand how many ways there are for partners to please each other erotically; you may already have focused more of your erotic skill-building on pleasing your partner via oral sex, trying sex toys, etc., but it’s also possible you haven’t enjoyed a no-intercourse zone partly because you associate all of it with PR and this raises anxiety.

As I like to say to heterosexual couples for whom vaginal insertion is an issue, “Hey, millions of lesbians can’t be wrong!” I’m not attempting at all to make light of your and your partner’s desire to have intercourse for a longer length of time (nor am I suggesting that all lesbians avoid the vagina, only that lesbian sex can be awesome without penile insertion)—I’m only seeking to remind you that there are many sexual options, and having issues with one of them should certainly not be a reason to ignore all the other ones. If anything, having more frequent sex and feeling comfortable doing so, even if intercourse stays off the menu for a period of time, can give you the opportunity to become more comfortable in an aroused state with a partner; if you, like many men with PE, avoid sex out of worry about the outcome, this very avoidance can increase anxiety and make matters worse, so adding erotically pleasurable time with your partner into your repertoire is actually a very good thing.

Now then, on to some of the ways rapid ejaculation is treated. You have written to me, but I wonder whether you have ever mentioned this to a medical doctor; a sex therapist, of course, is another professional with a lot of experience; one study estimated that sex therapy techniques are helpful in 90% of cases. Just talking with a professional can sometimes be helpful, since so many men keep ejaculation (and erection) issues very much to themselves.

Some men who ejaculate quickly choose to work on the problem solo. Since some sex therapists blame an excess of pelvic tension and weak pelvic floor muscles for at least some cases of rapid ejaculation, Kegel exercises can help, and trying intercourse positions that involve less muscular tension can, too. Missionary position is just about the worst; try side-by-side or partner astride positions instead. Also, so many men avoid ejaculation because they have this hair-trigger response that actually coming more frequently is a trick that sometimes works. As you found in earlier days, having a quick ejaculation sometimes allows you to regain an erection (it’s called the refractory period) and carry on; you can do the same thing via masturbation. Some men masturbate as shortly before a date as they can. If you’re really comfortable with your partner, you can even do it during sex play. You didn’t tell me whether you ejaculate as rapidly during masturbation with a partner, but some guys who deal with PR are not regular masturbators. This might be worth a try.

Look up Squeeze Technique and Stop-start Technique online to get directions for the other techniques a sex therapist would teach you – or visit such a therapist yourself, if you’re able. (Your partner can come along with you and that might be good too.)

Desensitizing topical creams are NOT recommended, because (for one thing) they can rub off on your partner. Plus they don’t do anything about the pelvic tension and Kegel muscle issues.

Some MDs are prescribing SSRIs – anti-depressants – for PE. This may be a good strategy, but as you consider your options, please remember that these are powerful chemicals that affect your brain chemistry and that are often very difficult to stop taking if you don’t like their side effects. Do ask your doctor about side effects if you try this route, and know that they do not always give men a lot of extra time before ejaculation—lending extra credence to the idea that brain chemistry is not all there is to it!

Update, 4/15/14: I had no sooner posted this reply to my most recent question when a couple of news articles came across the wire stating that a European research team has had very good results in men with PE ( < 1 minute to ejaculation) with –ta da!– pelvic floor exercises! So this strategy is certainly worth a try.

–Carol Queen, PhD, Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist

Sexy Sex, Newsy News—Week of March 24-30, 2014

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  New Study: Why Do Women Fake Orgasms? OK, I have been ranting about this lately. Never fake orgasms, I have been saying. It teaches your lover to do the things that do NOT please you! Like Pavlov’s dog slavering for a treat, it trains men to be bad lovers––ladies, what are you thinking? Temple University and Kenyon College have just done some helpful research, published in the Journal of Sexual Archives, and while they uncovered the unsurprising fact that women’s number one reason for faking it is to spare their partner’s feelings and making the guys feel better about themselves, here’s another rather surprising reason of the several cited: For some women, faking orgasm helps them get into the eroticism of sex and actually helps make the whole scene more pleasurable. Well, all righty, then! I stand corrected, a little. (I still think it’d be preferable for everyone to just learn how to have good sex, so that women can take their impressive thespian abilities down to the Little Theatre, or participate in rousing games of Charades. Or how about a nice role-play! You be the traffic cop, and…) Thanks to SFGate for keeping us posted—check them out to read all the other fakin’-it reasons..

Gwyneth Paltrow and Conscious Uncoupling Many publications have reported with a straight face (mostly) about superstar Paltrow’s divorce from husband Chris Martin and their Hollywood-ified language describing it: “‘conscious uncoupling’: it’s all about personal growth and expressing love for the process that got you there,” explains the Guardian, basically teaching their English readers what Americans in Southern California have done with the language we inherited from them. The more conservative the paper or commentator, however, the more snark is involved in the story, suggesting that certain worldviews might embrace the time-honored idea that hating your former spouse is just, well, the natural order of things, or possibly even one of the pleasures of divorce. Careful, Gwyneth, those guys are poised for your first huge public fight; don’t give ‘em the satisfaction. Way more on this story via People, USA Today, the Washington Post, Slate, tv3.ie, CNN, and SFGate.com.

Hobby Lobby’s Hobby Involves Lawyers, Not Hot Glue Guns …and the Supreme Court is weighing in on its claim that it should be exempt from certain elements of Obamacare, namely the requirement to pay for some forms of contraception. “While they say ‘religious liberty,’ the heart of this matter is the conservative belief that ladies who have sex should buy their own sex drugs using their own sex money,” writes Salon; they covered this case extensively this week, laying out all the important implications of this “corporate religion” claim and, to boot, claiming that Hobby Lobby’s “secret agenda” is actually “funding a vast right-wing movement.” So you might want to give some thought to the places you patronize to buy your glue guns.

My favorite Salon-on-Hobby Lobby moment was Dahlia Lithwick’s always-well-honed and very clever reportage: “One thing that was immediately clear Tuesday morning: There is finally a women’s team at the high court. For most of Clement’s 45-minute argument on behalf of the two religious objectors, the only questions come from the court’s three women, Sonia Sotomayor (the patch: tenacious, hardworking, and unshakable), Elena Kagan (the pill: unobtrusive yet sneakily effective), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (IUD: deceptively small, monstrously potent, and lasts forever). Sotomayor and Kagan in particular pound Clement about the implications of using the exacting standard of scrutiny set forth under the RFRA to assess every corporate claim that a religious preference is burdened. ‘Is your claim limited to sensitive materials like contraceptives or does it include items like blood transfusion, vaccines?’ asks Sotomayor. Clement replies that contraception is unlike transfusions and vaccines because it is ‘so religiously sensitive, so fraught with religious controversy.’ Which is, I suspect, code for ‘sex.’” Word, Dahlia.

Catching Up with Previous Stories We mentioned the New York Times story on the decline and fall of the word “homosexual” last week; Slate updates it with commentary disagreeing with the original NYT piece. Slate’s J. Bryan Lowder had at ‘em to count the ways he disagrees with the Grey Lady. The Times “quoted U.C.-Berkeley’s George P. Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics, who observed that gay and lesbian do not ‘use the word sex,’ while homo-sex-ual does. Additionally, the latter contains ‘homo,’ which, while being a prefix that means ‘the same,’ is also sometimes used derogatorily. For Lakoff, the whole word is a dog-whistle for homophobes (can we still say that?) who want to make same-sex sex seem icky.”

Lowder continues, “But isn’t this a matter of perspective? One of my main struggles as a homosexual has been challenging the tendency of many straight people to treat my partner and me as ‘roommates’ or ‘good friends,’ when, in fact, we have sex. Gay sex. Regularly. If homosexual can help remind them of that important, definitional, politically crucial fact with less effort on my part, I say it’s a plus, not a minus.”

Michigan Marriage Equality …is still in the news because it Got Complicated. (Does anyone know the genesis of “It’s Complicated”? Surely Mark Zuckerberg did not think that up all by himself?) Anyhow, USA Today kept us apprised of the changing landscape in Michigan this week: While a federal appeals court stayed same-sex marriages in the Wolverine State, many weddings had already taken place; US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that those marriages would be federally recognized. That means complicated tax time, among other things, but spouses who remain wed at least as far as some Feds are concerned. Expect to see this state’s Marriage Equality complications land at the doorstep of the Supreme Court.

The Duke Porn Star was still in the media this week, but now, if you’ll excuse my putting it this way, she’s getting it from both ends: Salon reports that not everyone in Porn Valley is happy about the newcomer, particularly since she accepted a summer internship with PornHub (what, she’s too good for the Center for Sex & Culture?)—and PornHub is the notorious site that streams tons and tons of porn which some Valley pros accuse them of pirating. Belle didn’t make herself many new friends there. But this is not the only beef they have with the high-profile newcomer—plenty of starlets, in particular, might like to see all that ink spilled while touting their own careers. “If nothing else,” notes Salon, “the Belle Knox backlash reflects not so much on Knox herself, as the complex and often emotionally fraught relationship between the adult industry and the mainstream media.”

Finally… HuffPo alerted us to the fact that the newest academic journal on the block has launched (I already knew this, as I am an Insider): the Journal of Porn Studies, published by Routledge. (Actually, this is a reprint of a LiveScience article from the previous week—HuffPo was a tiny bit late to the train, but made up for it with the cheeky headline, “’Porn Studies’ Academic Journal Has Arrived, Making Homework Much More Interesting.”) “Pornography studies are still in their infancy, the editors wrote in their call for papers,” reported LiveScience, “and the new journal will focus “on developing knowledge of pornographies past and present, in all their variations and around the world.” They add, “Porn may seem a strange and titillating prospect for research, but it’s also a large and influential business.” True, and think how many more young people will want to go to college now that there’ll be something really relevant to study. Footnotes just got way more fun.

Speaking of which, we learn of yet another research study by a porn purveyor: What does your city search for most, besides Lisa Ann, apparently searched by everyone, everywhere? PornHub: They might be pirates, but they’re certainly renewing the people’s respect for statistics! Now we see what Belle Knox thought she could learn over there this summer.

Schadenfreude: It’s a German word I’ve always liked, meaning “pleasure at another’s misfortune.” Usually I’m too nice to really get into it—but there’s this! The textbook definition, brought to us by the New York Daily News: German porn performer Ina Groll, an Aryan hottie who’s been embraced by neo-Nazis recently (and the feeling’s been mutual—she’s become a spokesperson), has found herself dumped by the National Democratic Party because she filmed an interracial sex scene. All the chickens come home to roost, Ina. She can’t just go back to work and forget the whole thing, though: “It appears Groll, whose porn name is ‘Kitty Blair,’ is not only unwelcome at Nazi functions but also faces a boycott by German pornographers… ‘In the porn film industry, we welcome participants with all skin colours, and all nationalities, but we don’t welcome Nazis,” said a Deutscher porn insider about a boycott of the actress. Wort!

–Carol Queen, PhD

Sexy Sex, Newsy News—Week of March 17-23, 2014

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We Awaken to a World Without Fred Phelps

Since the early 1950s, when apparently one young man, vice-obsessed and already possessing firmly held religious beliefs, street-preached in Los Angeles and railed about heavy petting and other terrible influences, the world has had a Fred Phelps. “‘[He] was obsessed with human sexuality for his entire life, going back six decades,’ says Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. He notes that Phelps was profiled in Time magazine in 1952 because he had a street ministry against petting and dirty jokes,” reported the BBC. For a while after law school it looked like he had begun to tread a different path, working in Kansas on behalf of civil rights, but even then he didn’t fit properly in a box; he got disbarred, but that didn’t matter, because he had a bunch of kids to send to law school. Plenty of lawyers in the Phelps family, all right! So that when he became the patriarch we know today—the head of the Westboro Baptist Church and the man who brought us the “God Hates Fags” picket sign—there were enough attorneys in the tiny church to do all the damage the virulently homophobic elder Phelps could ever desire.

But that small group of people (some of them scattered by excommunication, or the simple good sense to leave that nest of hatey haters while they could) is now without their paterfamilias; in fact, some indications are that they have been without him in a pastoral sense for several months, since there may have been a power struggle inside Westboro recently. (If this is true, perhaps Shakespeare is rolling restlessly in his grave, wishing for a quill and some parchment.) In any case, Phelps has died, leaving behind a huge stash of offensive picket signs and a US (and in fact a world) culture aroused to an understanding of how nut-jobby homophobia can truly be. “The message he spread across the country never took root, and in fact helped galvanize the gay-rights movement and put other Christians on the defensive. The image of Christianity he painted was a hateful, judgmental collection of rabble-rousers — an image that, paradoxically, did more to help his targets than advance his message,” noted the good people at the Salt Lake Tribune. ” The Rev. Ann Fontaine, a retired Episcopal priest and an editor and writer at Episcopal Cafe website, recalled that delegates to her church’s General Conventions “would have to walk through a gantlet of his people on the way to our meetings. And yet, he did more to move Episcopalians towards gay rights and rites than many. People were sure they did not want to be Freds.”

From the picket signs at Matthew Shepard’s funeral to the equally tasteless Dead Soldier pickets, here was a guy who pretty much just didn’t seem to know how to make friends. Beware of dads who turn their families into cults, man. And then there’s the schadenfreude of watching other hatey haters trying to distance themselves from that much hate. (I don’t mean you, Episcopalians. You’re cool.)

“There will be no funeral” for Phelps, Westboro announced, to which I responded: I’ll say. Perhaps this is yet another group of people who can dish it out, but can’t take it.

Salon, HuffPo, CNN, USA Today, Boston.com—everybody and their dog wrote up the demise of Phelps and speculated on Westboro’s future.

Chapel of Love in Michigan

It’s not a slam-dunk marriage equality state—the wheels were set in motion almost immediately to stay the legal decision that sent same-sex couples from the great state of Michigan running to the courthouse to get hitched. But the Michigan marriage ruling is one of the most interesting so far, because it explicitly addresses not just love, partnering, and the right to nuptials, but also the way lack of marriage equality impacts family. Federal District Court Judge Bernard Friedman ruled in a case brought by two women parenting a family of three special-needs kids whom they were not legally allowed to adopt, since Michigan law allowed only singles and male/female couples to adopt kids. Equal protection, Michigan? You guys have an excellent law school there, I’m surprised that this basic lil’ concept slid by you.

The Washington Post reported, “’State defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people,’ the judge said. ‘No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples.’ …Experts testifying for Rowse and DeBoer said there were no differences between the children of same-sex couples and those raised by a man and woman. And the University of Texas took the extraordinary step of disavowing the testimony of sociology professor Mark Regnerus, who was a witness for Michigan.”

This is an extraordinary step, maybe parallelling the Episcopalians worried that people would think they were Freds. Slate wrote up Regnerus’ role in the Michigan case in a March 4 analysis that also analyzed his research—funded by a deeply conservative, anti-gay organization—that has made him a marriage inequality rockstar. “As Regnerus took the stand this week, the chair of UT Austin’s Sociology Department released a statement supporting Regnerus’ right to pursue research but strongly denouncing his views. The statement said his conclusions ‘do not reflect the views of the Sociology Department of The University of Texas at Austin’ nor of the American Sociological Association, ‘which takes the position that the conclusions he draws from his study of gay parenting are fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds and that findings from Dr. Regnerus’ work have been cited inappropriately in efforts to diminish the civil rights and legitimacy of LBGTQ partners and their families.’”

CNN, Michigan Live, and many other publications covered this important story.

Bisexuals: Real at Last?

The New York Times devoted quite a bit of ink to an interesting story about bisexuality this week, delving into much research on the topic and introducing us to some of the people who help get that research made. Yes, just as Mark Regnerus has a batch of right-wing homophobes writing big checks ($700,00, Slate reported) to fund his studies, academics who want to better understand sexual orientation, fluidity, and the question of bisexuality can also look to an interested funding source,* in this case the American Institute of Bisexuality. (I know the AIB’s president, John Sylla, and his charming partner Mike Szymanski, and early in the Center for Sex & Culture’s history we received an AIB loan for a project.) It turns out that with some thoughtfully-designed research pointed at it, the fraught identity can come in to clearer focus. Bravo! I always knew I was real, even if some of my community members did not. Thanks for the validation, Newspaper of Record!

*I do not mean to suggest that AIB’s funding stream facilitates problematic and offensive research, only to remind us that knowledge pretty much always comes from somewhere. Sex-positive research is certainly not better funded than sex-negative research, and I value AIB’s interest in academic studies. I sure can’t say the same about Regnerus.

The NYT also tackled an interesting, and not entirely unrelated, question in a separate article: Is the term “homosexual” outmoded and, in fact, offensive? In “The Decline and Fall of the H Word” we read the Times commentator’s thoughts on the matter, but may I just add to the discussion that if “homosexual” is a bad word, “heterosexual” is too—which it isn’t, so don’t be ridiculous. Both terms are artifacts from a different era in the social sciences, but neither is, or was ever intended to be, pejorative. Each word has “sex” in the middle of it, as does “bisexual,” which can make people jumpy. But, jumpy people, that is your problem.

Finally…

The BBC and Opposing Views both reported that Hawai’i intends to continue to allow police officers to have sex with prostitutes, just to, you know, make sure they’re prostitutes. Perhaps I don’t need to tell you that sex work activists don’t like this one bit—even the anti-trafficking folks, who aren’t always happy to share a bed with the pro-sex work people, are upset. Boy, and I thought all the awesome reasons to be a cop in Hawai’i had already been explored on Hawai’i 5-O.

Outsports brings us the results of a fabulous study that was conducted to explore the effect of penis size in British locker rooms. It didn’t start out about penises, apparently, but it went there… oh yes, it went there. And guess what? Athletes seem to respect the big-penises guys the most, although this makes gay athletes a bit uncomfortable. “The research suggested that men look at each other’s cocks, as a gauge to see how big or small they are, comparing themselves to the rest of the team or men in the locker room. The activity of checking out each other occurred irrelevant of sexuality and the type of sport; all participants noted that they looked at each other’s cocks in the locker room… This knowing of who has a large cock and who didn’t within a homosocial environment helped individual sporting males climb up a social hierarchy of importance. Those with the larger penises were revered and idolized by their teammates as a symbol of masculinity. These ‘large-cocked’ individuals became a focus of camaraderie and team building within their sports environments. The cock became a focus on which to banter [and] create nicknames.” The researcher calls the whole phenomenon “cockocracy,” which is somehow a beautiful thing. Another fun fact from Chris Moriss-Roberts’ research: Some of the straight guys apparently think nothing of “’slap[ping] their cock around a bit’ so it didn’t look too small in the communal showers. The semi-erect penis in the shower became another form of banter, with laughing over the fact that ‘one of the other athletes might have turned you on.’ The gay athletes didn’t report this as something they would do; they did suggest that there was an attempt to perform in a heteronormative manner to de-emphasize queer behavior, and having an erection wasn’t a good way to go about it.” Um, yes. But the lads all seem to be cheerful about the whole thing, eh? And they do note downsides to being too hung. I tried to explain that to the young man in the “Unhung Hero” documentary, though I’m not sure he believed me.

And the Guardian brings us a charming analysis of movie sex and why it’s not really realistic even when it touts its realism: “Hair on screen always remains perfectly in place, and never gets trapped under anyone’s arm. And bras remain firmly on. On the rare occasion that they do get removed, it happens in silence. To my knowledge, no movie character has ever shouted ‘Jesus, that’s better, that wire has been cutting into my tit for hours’ as they undress, for example, which seems like a preposterous oversight.” Word.

Another great Guardian story this week analyzes the way porn and social media are tending to morph together, with new apps like Pinsex available to facilitate image-sharing and the discussions the images might provoke. “The socialisation of internet pornography has been noted with interest by academics. ‘Traditionally pornography was “used”, “consumed” or whatever verb you wish to use, by people on their own,’ says Simon Lindgren, a professor of sociology and social media researcher at Umeå University in Sweden. He is clear that today’s online porn audience is no longer made up of ‘isolated masturbating loners’, but of an interactive and creative group of critical audience members.” Interactive! Creative! Critical! That’s musical porn to my academic ears.

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