Sexy Sex! Newsy News! 9/17/13 The Buzz on Sex in the News with Dr. Carol Queen Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist

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Week of September 11-17, 2013

Is That a Pepper, or a Magic Wand?

Peppers have popped up in sex news before; some years back, tireless sex researcher Beverly Whipple spent some time looking at capsaicin’s role in pain tolerance (hmmm, which is better? Hot sauce, or an orgasm? A question for you sex-positive foodies to endlessly debate). What, do you think I’m kidding? Please look up her fine study “Inverse relationship between intensity of vaginal self-stimulation-produced analgesia and level of chronic intake of a dietary source of capsaicin,” originally published in Physiology and Behavior. There, I rest my case.

But that’s not news, because she studied that stuff back in the 1980s and ’90s. The news is that, as the Belfast Telegraph reports, Mr. Science has just discovered that consuming Szechuan pepper feels “exactly the same as pressing a vibrator to your lips.” I don’t know what I like better about this study — the fact that it involves delicious peppers, that University College London researchers thought it’d be a good idea to have study subjects kiss vibrators, or the insight it might provide into human neurology and the role of the brain in sensation. I don’t think this implies that you ought to be applying Szechuan pepper to your (or someone else’s) nether lips, though goodness knows, I know some kinky souls who have tried this already. Where are the researchers standing ready to debrief them? I bet Beverly Whipple would do it!

We Trust You Celebrated Global Female Condom Day

I have to say, this did not rise as high on the media’s radar as I’d have liked. Much of the discussion about it wasn’t generated by mainstream media, but insider sex ed and safer sex/sexual health organizations, with some sex businesses thrown in. We were among them, of course. [http://goodvibesblog.com/perfect-way-celebrate-global-female-condom-day/] This just goes to show that the mainstream doesn’t know a fabulous holiday when they see one. (Recently-celebrated International Orgasm Day didn’t even make the front page! How can that be?) And it’s a shame, because questions of disease and pregnancy prevention, the HIV epidemic, and women’s access to sexual health resources are not exactly un-newsworthy. Plus the new generation of the female condom, the FC2 (so named because not only females use them), is much improved: made of nitrile, not poly-plastic, which means the old squeaky sound associated with using the insertive condom is no more. In my day, that squeaky sound was made by the bedsprings, but plastic condoms have a certain sound that, if you had a big blow-up doll fantasy, was pretty perfect. It seems, though, that most users did not have that fantasy. Let’s hope that all our fantasies can be safely explored. And check out an FC2 this year– don’t be sexist about your choice of condom, people!

Now the Sexual Revolution Can Commence: Mr. Cee Is on Board

I know many of you have been waiting for this day! And I must say, if all it took to tip the scales of sexual change was a hip-hop king getting caught with a transwoman — or, like, any celebrity being outed as to their sexual interests — our work here would be done, except for keeping you stocked in vibrators. Mr. Cee was reported to have indulged in some fun — more than once — with a transwoman (or in some reports a cross-dressing male, but you canNOT count on the mainstream media to get this right, even with all the “we’re-trying-to-be-sensitive,-sorta” Chelsea Manning stories of a couple of weeks back). To further the confusion, this made some reports call Mr. Cee gay — but of course it’s possible for a fellow to be into transwomen and not be gay-identified, so… there’s a bit of an identity clusterfuck around this story.

Mr. Cee, known for his associations with Big Daddy Kane, The Notorious B.I.G., and his own DJ work, among other things, initially quit his high-profile gig at Hot97.fm due to the reportage, as the NewsOne, HipHopDx, and AllHipHop websites reported. But then he changed his mind and was back on the air a day later, partly because he had quickly teamed up with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to make a PSA about HIV and sexual identity issues in minority communities. Apparently the lure of a bully pulpit — and the support he can get, as well as give — made the difference. He cited homophobia as the source of his fear of coming out: “…in this Hip Hop community of ours, it’s not cool to be gay. It’s not cool to be bisexual.”

While not everyone would agree that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is in fact an unalloyed agent of the sexual revolution — they haven’t made many new friends in the porn industry lately — creating space for a high-profile guy like Mr. Cee to speak up on behalf of sexual freedom is pretty notable. “I am choosing to speak for myself and a new sexual revolution,” Cee said in his post-PSA interview. “You don’t have to be afraid, but you do have to be careful, and protect yourself.”

It’s Been a Big Week for Germs, Hormones, and Sexy Aging

Not all at the same time, necessarily — but let’s briefly recap:

A research team at Oregon Health & Science University developed a way to cure SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus, the monkey version of HIV), report Science Recorder, the BBC, and OregonLive — a potentially enormous step in the fight against AIDS. The research was published in the prestigious journal Nature. 

That’s the bright side. On the other hand, it was heavily reported this week by the Boston Globe, SFGate, CNN, Wired, and others that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) considers antibiotic-resistant bugs an urgent threat, noting that our penchant for anti-bacterial handwashing (and agribusiness’s interest in antibiotic use to support huge feedlots) has created superbugs that are likely to become immune to all known antibiotic drugs. So, two things: You’d better never go to the hospital again, because there are a lot of superbugs there, at least potentially; and while there may be very good news on the HIV front, one of those superbugs is gonorrhea, and if you thought you were about to be able to forget about condoms, THINK AGAIN.

We learned this week that middle-aged men may have lowered levels of estrogen to thank for low libido, middle-aged spread, and other mid-life mini-crises like low energy. This is counterintuitive only to those who really believe that men and women are “opposites,” and the media struggled to explain how a “women’s hormone” could affect men so significantly. “Both sexes require the opposite gender hormone to have adequate libido,” Bloomberg reported, a bit tortuously. Also reporting this story were the New York Times, Toronto Sun, Medical News Today, USA Today, and many others.

Finally, some media outlets (I saw it in the Irish Times) reported what sexologists have long known: that when sexuality wanes with age, it is frequently due to ill health. Older people who remain in good health can retain a vital sex life. Exercise, less stress, and a healthy diet are among the most significant factors to maintain one’s sexuality later in life (you should quit smoking, too, and drink in moderation, not to excess). So have a nice dinner — not too much fat and red meat! — and then go for a walk. Sex burns calories too, as CNN reminded us, but not enough to skip other exercise. Lowered stress and good eating can reverse cell aging, though, and what lowers stress…? Oh, I know!

You may not be getting enough Szechuan pepper in your diet, but please don’t forget to masturbate.

Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at carolqueen.com.

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1 Response

  1. Nick Barber says:

    I just discovered this page today, and this is quite a fun read. I enjoy any all news related to sex because it strips away what society has done to sex and how it had made us feel and brings us back to the primitive beings that we are. We are all here because of sex, and most of the time because we wanted to have sex. Therefore I think we should be talking about sex more, make it less taboo. I look forward to digging through the archives for more fun articles on SEX.