Sexy Sex! Newsy News! Week of November 1-7, 2013

 

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The Cerne Abbas Giant Meets Movember
Any news story involving the Cerne Abbas Giant is automatically top of the fold, as far as I’m concerned. Why? Well, google this old chalk figure (he’s either ancient or a relatively-recent 17th century art piece, spoof, or summat), ranged out over 180 feet of the UK countryside, and get an eyeful of that giant whangdoodle! The Giant is proof that our ancestors appreciated a good erection in their midst: 36 feet of it, in fact. (Fun fact: They had to cover the giant with brush during World War II so that enemy troops couldn’t target him: “Are we over Dorset, Klaus?” “Nein, ich glaube nicht, that big giant with der grosser Weiner is nowhere to be seen!”) It’s been perceived as a fertility figure, naturally, and recently has been co-opted for several publicity stunts. In one case jeans were fitted to the Giant; in another, a big condom was rolled over his penis, and just this month, the Cerne Abbas Giant has joined the 21st century: He’s celebrating Movember with a moustache almost exactly the size of his dick, temporarily created for him by the National Trust.

Movember, following hot on the heels of the Big Pink Month (for breast cancer awareness), was developed by some do-gooder Aussie bloke friends, the Melbourne MoBros, who decided to grow moustaches for charily. Their fuzzy faces were intended to raise dough for prostate and testicular cancer, and they didn’t exactly rake it in during Year One of their project ($0 raised), “but they persevered and ended up raising $54,000 (£32,000) for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia the following year. Now operating in 21 countries, Movember…  generated £27m in the UK last year and more than £92m around the globe,” as the BBC notes. It’s not too late, facial-hair-endowed people, to grow and style it. Just don’t try to keep your sideburns attached; that’s a beard, and it doesn’t count.

The BBC adds that the ‘stache gives the Giant a “rakish appearance,” to which I retort: And that big ol’ hard-on doesn’t?
Big Week for LGBT Rights: ENDA, Marriage Equality
If you keep track of my pieces on The Buzz, you’ll recall that I was in Mexico last week and was impressed at the comprehensive sexual rights legislation going before their federal lawmakers. The US hasn’t gone quite that far, but this week ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has been stalled for the past 20 years (TWENTY YEARS!!), passed the Senate. It’s not thought that it will have an easy time in the House of Representatives, but the cause of non-discrimination has taken a leap nevertheless; as polls show US citizens’ feelings about homosexuality, marriage quality, and related issues continue to shift rapidly, it’s only a matter of time for the issue that many people have called the 21st century’s first significant civil rights struggle.

Meanwhile, marriage equality is now the law of the land in Illinois. Chapel of Love, Adam and Steve! Congratulations.

And big, big news on the sexual orientation front from across the pond: the Washington Post tells us that anyone facing imprisonment for their sexuality can now seek asylum in European Union countries. It turns out this is true for people hailing from countries where homosexuality is illegal — it’s not prevention against being jailed for any sexuality. (I’ve been noticing lately the the mainstream press uses “sexuality” as a synonym for “homosexuality” or “LGBT,” which, what? Maybe my old friend Will Roscoe had hit on something when  back in 1982 he explained the roots of homophobia to me thusly: “The reason heterosexuals hate us is that we have a sexual orientation, and they don’t.”)

Memo from Pomosexual-Land: We ALL have a sexuality, even if it’s asexual. It’s just that not everyone’s is equally represented or problematized.

I referred to the Washington Post, USA Today, Boston.com, and other periodicals in researching these topics.
German Ruling on the Gender of Babies
More amazing EU action on the sex and gender front: In Germany, parents of intersex newborns can now choose “gender undetermined” for the birth certificate, rather than being pressured into a classic (but problematic) binary definition: pink or blue/girl or boy. Though we may have not yet created a world in which a child can live hassle-free without a gender until they’re ready (if they ever are) to choose one, and while leaving this decision in the hands of parents still leaves plenty of room for bias, this may be a step toward the eradication of infant surgeries and nonconsensual gendering, and at the very least, it means that the discussion gets additional attention.

OzarksFirst, the Mirror.co.uk, and Huffington Post caught us up on this story. ABC News, too, whicha while back also published an interesting piece questioning whether royal consort Wallis Simpson might have been intersexed.
Um, Duh: “Science Proves Men Ogle Women”
I realize that no ink is spilled for headlines like this, since they appear via the evanescent magic of the Interwebs, but really, I have a long list of more pressing things for Mr. Science to do than this. On the other hand, this news story, brought to us by ABCNews.com, is really more complex and entertaining than the headline suggests: It reports that women, too, ogle women, and the researchers have apparently come up with a special theory having to do with sexual competition and jealousy to explain why that might happen.

Two words, Mr. Science: Sexual fluidity. Women also stare at other women because they find them attractive. For heavens’ sake, many women spend a significant part of their lives (and their incomes) trying to look attractive — it would be terribly disappointing if no one was responding! I am reminded of the fascinating book What Do Women Want (out this summer, authored by NY Times writer Daniel Bergner), which does not waste any time trying to establish non-sexual reasons for behavior like this, instead citing contemporary research about female desire and fluid arousal.

Ogle nicely, now, people.
Speaking of Ogling… How ‘Bout that Naked Shia LeBoeuf?
Does his name mean “beefcake” in some language, by any chance? Because apparently this week he freaked out YouTube with his nakedness. In spite of the zillion sexy things you can track down via the youTubes, they have a Policy, you see. Teasers (in this case perhaps that word is quite literal) from Lars von Triers’ upcoming film Nymphomaniac violated the policy! It didn’t stay gone, and you can still find the clips meant to promo the sex-heavy film, as well as the splendid series of orgasm posters that have been released to work up the public’s lust for the movie. Director von Trier used to make porn for women and is no stranger to sexually explicit work — he’s also called a misogynist in some circles (or possibly an overall misanthrope), so this film is preceded by plenty of buzz.

Thanks to Vanity Fair, Indywire and The Guardian for info on von Triers’ film.
“Rough Sex” Arrest in FLA
I am certain Florida is no weirder a state than most others — I have been there, and been to lots of other places too, and honestly, this might have happened anywhere. But when it happens in Florida, it makes The Smoking Gun. So: A young lesbian sadomasochist in the Sunshine State is in custody for continuing to use a sex toy on her lover even when said lover told her to stop. There IS too much of a good thing, and when this rough stuff was going down, no safe words were used.

I recommend they do use a safe word if they ever play again — perhaps breaking up would be a better idea, as a matter of fact — and if they need a nice, simple, impactful one, try this: “Rick Scott.” Or how about going with a classic: “No means no.”

Catching Up with Previous Stories
Men and Rape in Asia: The BBC follows up the story from earlier in the fall that suggested a quarter of Asian men admitted to nonconsensual sex, either with their partners or with others. Problems with these stats are reported, including that only one Asian country’s surveys could be considered representational of the entire country; in addition, some of the lands surveyed are in the midst (or recently out) of wars, which is known to change the reported numbers for rape. Questions about sex with an unwilling partner were also phrased at least two different ways. We’re reminded how challenging sex-related research is, and how carefully we must look at stats.

Hormones and such were back in the news this week, this time in two studies focused on men: First, the VA has found that giving men testosterone may increase their risk of heart attack. Doctors complain that many guys have seen ads for T and request it specifically, thinking it’ll up their chances for sexual success and more energy. One doctor comments that a “fall in hormone levels in both men and women is a normal part of aging; it is not necessarily a disease. Making it into a disease may end up causing more harm than good.” Word. Thanks to MedPageToday for that. And a European study discussed in LiveScience found that more than 14% of men had low sexual desire, in spite of the fact that most research focuses on this state as a female dysfunction. Social, emotional and relational factors can be involved… now, what was I saying about “the sexes are NOT opposites”?

Finally…
Salon published an excellent article by pseudonomymous author Isaac Abel this week. Discussing hot-button issues like the effects of media on our expectations and desire — and including moving thoughts about how to discover embodiment and intimacy after a porn-filled youth — this is a way more complex discussion of “pornification” than we usually get.

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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