Sexy Sex Newsy News Week of December 13-19, 2013

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Unto Us a Child Is Born! Even Though we Never Actually Did It!: Virgin Births in the News

OK, now this whole Virgin Mary business begins to make some sense. We have been visited by the Angel of Survey Research, and glory shone around. Most interesting is that the research — conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by Amy H. Herring and colleagues, reported in the British Journal of Medicine — has uncovered the fact, or “fact,” that the US has seen 45 virgin births, one-half of one percent of all the women studied.  These births were reported by women who identified themselves as virgins. (A few virgin dads cropped up, too!) The researchers are a little worried that there might be a kink in the numbers — y’think? — but note that two things unite these women: the fact that they were more likely to have taken virginity pledges (meaning that Virginity Is Very Important To Them), and they have parents who are less likely than others to feel comfortable and competent talking to their kids about sex. Read all about it at ABCnews.com, Reuters, Today, MedicalXpress, and the National Post.

Polygamy (and Other Marriage Equality) in Utah

This week one of my favorite TV attorney pundits, Jonathan Turley (he’s a fixture on MSNBC and is always kibitzing about something legal-esque with Rachel Maddow) popped up in a most unexpected place: representing Mormon sister-wives and their hubby, preemptively arguing to the state of Utah that their family arrangement and union is just as legit as anyone else’s. “But we didn’t bother those darn reality TV stars!” Utah protested. (Yes, the actual Sister-Wives are involved in the case! Art imitates life! Or vice versa?) “Yes, but your statutes give you the option of bothering them at any time,” Turley sternly pointed out. He cleaned up the floor with the Utah statute that had been put into place to criminalize those renegade Latter-Day Saints (and by “renegade” I mean “the way all Mormons had the option of arranging their intimate lives until they got embarrassed about polygamy”).

I keynoted a conference about a decade ago that sought to bring together all the Alternate Family types: LGBT, open relationship and poly, swingers, and… polygamous Mormons! Well, none of the Mormons showed up, but they were invited, and they were addressed many times as people who were just as in need of protection around their relationship status as polyamorists and same-sex partners. Clearly Turley got that memo! Here’s one of the things I said in my Building Bridges keynote (it’s reproduced in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, volume 6):

“Of all the hot-button issues today, perhaps none is more controversial – and as linked to Lawrence [v. Texas, the Supreme Court decision that struck down US sodomy laws] – as gay marriage. It’s spun as everything from a basic civil right to the end of civilization as we know it – a Weekly Standard pundit even called it the slippery slope leading to acceptance of polyamory, which I expect will give several of you a heightened zeal for supporting it. I personally don’t support any marriage, really – I have managed to avoid it for many years and am doing just fine, and remember that one of the tenets of the Free Lovers was freedom from marriage – but there is no question that the unequal treatment of Americans over this issue will not go away until the marriage laws change. All our relational choices may wind up in the hot seat, or perhaps on the witness stand. And they should, because more important than what we choose intimately may be that we choose – that we engage in our relationships because we want to, and configure them in the best ways for us and our lovers. Increasingly, we are taking seriously our ability to do just that, ‘slippery slope’ or no.”

Word, Old-Timey 2003 Carol! And my amazing ability to time-travel also lets me see into the future… Hmmm, same-sex marriage is no longer on the Utah back burner. We’ll check in next week. If you want to read the Utah polygamy stories, see USA Today, SU Independent, and Fox News.

Down with Triclosan! Ditch the Anti-Bac Soap!

The Food and Drug Administration has joined me in speaking with suspicion about anti-bacterial soap. “Is this sexy?” you ask. Not especially, but it’s really quite newsy, and it’s possible that it has a sex angle as well. You see, the science on anti-bacterial soap’s main ingredient, Triclosan, might not be as strong as those soap bottle labels will lead you to believe (and I’m not talking about Dr. Bronner’s–everyone knows all that stuff is true). And one of the issues of concern is that Triclosan might foster resistant bacteria. Given that we have antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea making the rounds, voila! Sex angle.

Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug, wrote in Wired:  “Deep in the 137-page rule, [the FDA] also raises the issue that’s most interesting to me: whether the routine use of these products causes bacteria to develop resistance against the active ingredients, and against antibiotics as an unintended side effect… Bacteria use some of the same resistance mechanisms against both antiseptics and antibiotics. Thus, the use of antiseptic active ingredients with resistance mechanisms in common with antibiotics may have the potential to select for bacterial strains that are also resistant to clinically important antibiotics, adding to the problem of antibiotic resistance.” The Los Angeles Times and National Journal also covered this story.

Sex in the ER

No, it’s not an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, it’s apparently a new show set to premiere on Discovery Health in February, says ABC News. Sex Sent Me to the ER: Set your recorders! In the meantime, ABC tells you what we at Good Vibrations have known for decades: People lose things up their butts, then lie and say they fell down on them; cock rings can be a big problem when they aren’t removable; you get the picture. If you need to have it spelled out for you, are prone to intense longings that involve ravaging ordinary household items (that’s why they’re called “pervertibles,” people), or think you’re too sex-savvy to need a flange on your anal plug, I guess you’d better tune in!

Catching Up with Previous Stories

More James Bond The Los Angeles Times and The Nation threw down on that James Bond research. Dude, he was an alcoholic. Do not emulate him! Check out the LA Times‘ stylin’ infographic. In the Comments section we are reminded that Bond smoked too much as well, which would have also had sad effects, womanizer-wise. (Yes, buddy, your cigs are making your penis limp. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings.)

Rashida Jones has More Words for Your Vagina Some weeks ago we mentioned that Rashida Jones is not all into the current crop of pop stars’ pussy politics (if politics is in fact what they are). She tweeted some rather slut-shamey things, some thought; now she’s doubled down to make her points in an op-ed in Glamour, Salon reports. Prachi Gupta deconstructs the original discussion and the follow-up comments and notes, “Jones labels 2013 the ‘Year of the Very Visible Vagina,’ meant to be a criticism. But when you consider our nation’s draconian anti-abortion measures and fight for reproductive rights, it’s hard to see that as a bad thing.”

Finally… RIP Al Goldstein — it was always the Year of the Very Visible Vagina when he was around, helming Screw, the porn magazine that made almost all the others look pretty genteel. Goldstein’s view of sex was crass and raunchy, more than a little gynophobic on some days. As former Screw writer Eric Danville put it on his blog thecompletelindalovelace.com, “Al Goldstein, founder and publisher of Screw magazine and finger-giving host of its accompanying public-access cable show, Midnight Blue, has passed away from complications of being Al Goldstein.” Still, he was a First Amendment lion, an “angry Jew” with a thoroughgoingly political, not just sexual, way of looking at the world. He fought passionately against hypocrisy (as he saw it) and censorship and worked to make a world in which sexual discourse was acceptable and common. “In 1970’s NY #SCREW mag was a whore and porn star’s best source of adult industry news, gossip, promo–” tweeted Annie Sprinkle after Goldstein’s obituary appeared in the New York Times. “[T]he Facebook and Twitter of the day.” Her Facebook page doubled as a Goldstein obit Thursday as she reminisced about knowing him. The New York Times, NBC News, the Village Voice, and the Orlando Sentinel were a few of the many media outlets that ran obits for Goldstein.

And: We missed a good Cindy Gallop interview last week that is very much worth your time. The impresaria of Make Love Not Porn spoke to Vice and talked about her quest to return explicit media to the hands of The People — specifically, the people making movies of themselves doing what they really do for pleasure. Apparently Cindy had one date too many with a young guy who’d learned his moves from porn, and fellas? The cougars are not exactly impressed. Wait til the young women, too, find out that it’s possible to fuck without getting come in your eye!

And speaking of porn and cultural discontents: The Telegraph brings us the news that those UK porn filters, meant to protect legions of innocent Brit children, also block their access to sexual health information and other stuff they should be able to see. Nicely done, bluenoses! We expected nothing less from you. Al Goldstein, anything but quiet in his grave, gives you the finger.

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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