Sexy Sex Newsy News Week of November 29-December 5, 2013

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Sexual Fluidity in the News!
This week we can discuss the possibility of sexual fluidity in a <gasp!> man, the adorable and hot Brit diver Tom Daley, thanks to his recent YouTube foray to discuss, if not his sexual orientation, at least his relationship status. He didn’t say “it’s complicated”: He said he’s happily in a relationship with a man, and that he “still fancies” women, and that’s plenty of complexity for many in the chattering class. And the Twitterati? WAY too much for some of them. All the usual biphobic nonsense came out, and may I just say, biphobes, that I haven’t heard an original and non-cliched word out of your mouths since prior to 1973. If you’re going to be uncomfortable, find some new reasons, please; it’s getting downright boring. Ann Friedman in New York Magazine calls out “people who assumed Daley was gay but unable to fully admit it, or unwilling to relinquish the privileges of being straight. He was called greedy and accused of trying to have it all. (Which is baffling. It’s not as if he’s dating six people at once.)”

Besides, we don’t know whether Tom is bisexual; he didn’t say. He didn’t say he was gay, either, though many gay people promptly adopted him, which puts him in great company, historically; late-20th-century gay rights activists were thrilled to get Virginia Woolf and Alexander the Great, too, even if we were basically naming their sexuality for them posthumously. That could be a faux pas. And as it’s been noted, Daley’s sexual orientation may not be set in stone yet; he’s young and maybe the best orientation word for him right now is Questioning. That’s one reason why that term made its way into our LGBT Etc. alphabet soup; it acknowledges that some of us do not feel “born that way” and move around the Kinsey Scale for a while before we settle down (if we ever do).

Could Daley have thrown in the quip about fancying females simply to throw the homophobic hounds off his scent? Sure, and he wouldn’t be the first to do so; but that really doesn’t work, since anyone who’s uncomfortable about homosex is pretty much also uncomfortable about bisex, as Sir Elton learned many long years ago. No, better by far to just speak your own truth. Welcome to the wonderful world of sexual fluidity, Tom! And after all, you’re a diver. We know you’re comfortable in the water.

Thanks to SMH.com.au, the Guardian, Chicago.gopride.com, New York Magazine, and the Advocate for their coverage of biphobia and sexual fluidity.

In Sexy Roundworm News (and it ain’t all good)…

C. elegans, the splendid roundworm, star of science experiments everywhere, is in the news: Apparently the very presence of male c. elegans shortens the lifespan of female worms. Science World Report committed an awesome fail when they announced that “mere-presence-males-shortens-female-lifespan-giving-evolutionary-advantage” — not mentioning that it was roundworms (and not, say, humans) who have won/lost the war between the sexes. But Science Recorder went them one or two better: They make it clear (in the headline!) that those worms aren’t exactly female; those roundworms that aren’t male are hermaphrodites. Not, as some other media outlets termed ’em, “the opposite sex.” Sigh.

Catching Up with Previous Stories
More body image: Apparently some people think the new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, is too skinny. She’s an Israeli Army veteran, though, so I’m guessing when she starts whipping that golden lasso around and her muscles pop, folks will calm down about it. We shall see. (Thanks to MTV.com for catching me up on this drama.) And there was a cool and excellently Gender Studies-inflected piece in the Daily Dot about transgender folk taking selfies, which can document and reflect gender identity and transition in a very particular (and to many, personally significant) way. I myself feel very happy to have a new thing to think of when I think “selfie”–now that lingering image of Anthony Weiner can be replaced by pictures of my trans friends, lookin’ cute. Thank you, people, I needed that.

Salon weighed in on body image as well, with a piece about “Dating in a Push-Up Bra.” Care2 tells us about a sexy calendar created by folks with disabilities–speaking of which, if you have a change to see the amazing erotic movie “Krutch,” do it! And my old pal Mike Szymanski writes in Examiner.com (he’s the Bisexual Examiner! Fabulous job description!) about the pretty-new movie “Unhung Hero,” in which I briefly appear with an armful of Good Vibes dildos, talking to the hero of the title: a guy who feels his penis is too small.

We discussed the NSA’s Muslim-porn-spy-campaign last week; the Houston Chronicle has a pretty terrific piece about it that I missed by SF Chronicle columnist James Temple which adds value to the conversation.

Finally…

Slate‘s XX Factor posts are always pretty fab, and this week we learn about a faskinatin’ study with a very cheeky (and awesome) headline: “Women Hate Sexually Explicit Ads, Unless They’re Selling Something Expensive.” A “a new study in the journal Psychological Science shines a light on when it’s OK to objectify the female body in the name of Mammon,” writes XX Factor’s Katy Waldman. “According to researchers led by the University of Minnesota’s Kathleen Vohs, women find erotically charged ads less distasteful when they promote very expensive items. We like our objectification classed up, thank you.” Heh heh. A caveat, as is so often necessary: The population studied was made up of undergrads. Sophomores like bling–who knew? The theory through whose lens this study is best understood is sexual economics theory; this, Waldman explains, “treats the heterosexual dating pool as a marketplace and sex as a commodity. The story goes that since women sell sex to men in exchange for resources—including hard-to-quantify ones like attention—they want the world to perceive their eroticized bodies as ‘rare and precious.’ Ads that link female sexuality to exclusive, high-value goods help; ads that equate a woman’s erotic charms to a cheapo Casio timepiece obviously do not.” Gentlemen, I hope you are learning valuable lessons here. “Shall I compare thee to a luxury watch?” Obviously, yes. And this also sheds very interesting light on a phenomenon I noticed long ago (I’ve heard Susie Bright talk about this as well): Women are more likely to enjoy porn that’s very aesthetically styled, shot in luxe homes, with performers (semi-)clad in designer finery. Porn shot on that dirty plaid sofa in an old San Fernando Valley motel is trashy and exploitative, while super-blingy stuff reminds us of a fabulous catalog come to life (with people fucking). Andrew Blake, I’m talkin’ to you! In your next movie: even more expensive watches! You can’t go wrong!

And RIP to Nelson Mandela, one of the 20th/21st century’s most significant humans. Horizons Foundation reminded me just how diverse his impact was in an e-blast yesterday: executive director Roger Doughty wrote, “Mandela’s vision was broad, encompassing not only those of the rainbow of racial and ethnic groups, but LGBT people as well. In all of Africa today, it is only the South Africa that Mandela led that has extensive legal protections for LGBT people, enshrined in its very constitution. That milestone would not have happened without the fierce and brave advocacy of LGBT South Africans themselves – nor without Mandela’s inclusive vision.” Here’s to the extraordinary life of Mandela: point of the wedge of change.

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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