Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Podcast Round-Up: Week of 1/19/09

Savage Lovecast, ep. 118: Should a mom let her daughter know that Grandpa's a crossdresser? How to you dump an unmedicated bipolar girlfriend who is threatening to hurt herself? How can you help a 29-year-old ex-fundie over his performance anxiety? Dan Savage will tell you in this week's episode.

Sex is Fun, ep. 159: Kidder, Laura, Coochie and Gay Rick interview Veronica Wolf, an NYC dominatrix and an editor of $pread Magazine, about sex work in general and professional domination in particular.

Ropecast 1/22/09: Gray Dancer interviews Japanese bondage model Kogure.

The Mistress's Podcast 1/23/09: Matisse and Monk discuss all of the recent sex worker busts in Seattle.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

L'Amore e La Morte

Check out io9.com's list of potentially fatal sci-fi sex. It's kind of twisted how people are obsessed with getting fucked to death.

"What Do Women Want?" (New York Times Magazine 1/25/08)

The cover story of today's New York Times Magazine is about the study of women's sexual desire by a new generation of female sexologists. Considering how much time has been devoted to this subject over the centuries by poets and lovers of both genders it is remarkable that it has only emerged as a field of scientific study in the last few decades.

The Times Magazine article basically focuses on the conceptions of female sexuality developed by three scientists: Meredith Chivers, Lisa Diamond and Marta Meana. These models are sometimes complimentary and sometimes contradictory.

Meredith Chivers: There is a discord, noted in scientific studies, between what women say turns them on and what causes observable genital responses. What men say turns them on is reliably the same as what makes their cock hard but what women say turns them on is not always in sync with what makes their pussies the wettest. Chivers wonders (while admitting her research is far from complete) if women might become aroused by the idea and possibility of sex, not to what they themselves think is hot.
Ultimately, though, Chivers spoke — always with a scientist’s caution, a scientist’s uncertainty and acknowledgment of conjecture — about female sexuality as divided between two truly separate, if inscrutably overlapping, systems, the physiological and the subjective. Lust, in this formulation, resides in the subjective, the cognitive; physiological arousal reveals little about desire.

Lisa Diamond: Female sexuality is extremely fluid. Women are likely to change a lot in their sexual desires, often changing sexual orientation based on the situation, because they are attracted to emotional intimacy rather than physical cues. They fall in love with the person, not the person's gender, as it were.
Diamond argues that for her participants, and quite possibly for women on the whole, desire is malleable, that it cannot be captured by asking women to categorize their attractions at any single point, that to do so is to apply a male paradigm of more fixed sexual orientation. Among the women in her group who called themselves lesbian, to take one bit of the evidence she assembles to back her ideas, just one-third reported attraction solely to women as her research unfolded. And with the other two-thirds, the explanation for their periodic attraction to men was not a cultural pressure to conform but rather a genuine desire.

Marta Meana: Women are turned on essentially by the awareness that they are sexually desired. Their desire is for the most part reactive and (if you can get past the negative connotations of the word) narcissistic. This is why sexy images, even those targeted at women, focus more on women than on men, why rape/submission fantasies are so arousing to many women, and why long term intimacy can be such a buzz kill -- a married man is "stuck with" his partner, in her mind, not caught up in an uncontrollable desire to possess her.
“Female desire,” Meana said, speaking broadly and not only about her dyspareunic patients, “is not governed by the relational factors that, we like to think, rule women’s sexuality as opposed to men’s.” (...) The generally accepted therapeutic notion that, for women, incubating intimacy leads to better sex is, Meana told me, often misguided. “Really,” she said, “women’s desire is not relational, it’s narcissistic” — it is dominated by the yearnings of “self-love,” by the wish to be the object of erotic admiration and sexual need. Still on the subject of narcissism, she talked about research indicating that, in comparison with men, women’s erotic fantasies center less on giving pleasure and more on getting it. “When it comes to desire,” she added, “women may be far less relational than men.”

While reading about scientific attempts to understand sexuality, I always feel slightly resistant to the entire concept. Maybe I don't like the tendency to reduce all women (or all men) to one emotional model or maybe I just don't want science to take the mystery out of this part of life. I can't decide. In any case, my aversion to this sort of research is irrational -- it can never hurt to know more, right?

The point of the article, of course, is not that one of these researchers is right and the others are wrong. It is that female sexuality has a complicated and contradictory landscape and that there is at least some truth in all of these theories. So for people like me who enjoy that there are still mysteries in life this article is ultimately pretty satisfying.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Saddleback Update

The election is too close to call. Dan Savage reports that the definition of the new sex term "saddlebacking" (named for Rick Warren's Saddleback Church) is neck-and-neck between "anal sex with a condom, the opposite of barebacking" and "when straight teenagers have anal sex instead of vaginal sex to supposedly preserve their virginity." Only time will tell.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Leather Archives & Museum - Chicago

While traveling in Chicago this weekend I found out from one of my partners that there's a museum in the northern part of the city called the Leather Archives & Museum. Naturally I had to go.

LA&S is a museum of the gay leather movement. The permanent collection there tells visitors all about the history of BDSM (for you neophytes, that stands for Bondage & Discipline, Domination & Submission, Sadism & Masochism) of all kinds, but most specifically of gay leather fetishists. There you can see all kinds of artifacts of kinky gay stuff from the time when the fetish was totally underground to the present day when it's only sorta underground!

By far the most amazing part of the museum to me, geek that I am, was the archive, which is a library of books and magazines. Some of them dating all the way back to the '60s when they were underground publications. The archive contains a huge collection of informational works, how-to manuals for all types of kinky sex, and an enormous collection of kinky erotica. A lot of this stuff is out of print so it's wonderful that you can check it out of the archive and read it at home ...if you're lucky enough to live in Chicago. I've never been so bummed to be based in New York.

If you live in Chicago, get a library card. If you're just visiting you still owe it to yourself to go and check out this out of the ordinary tourist attraction.

A Real Store in My Neighborhood

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So True...

via Slog, who got it from Wonkette

(That's Bush's face on the condom. It took me a minute to get it too.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

TES Novice Group Meeting

The Novice Group of The Eulenspiegel Society met on Wednesday night and, since I've always meant to go to some of their kink related activities and the topic sounded so funny, I decided to drop by. Princess Wendy (not actually pictured above, that's just the most interesting image Google kicked out) talked about "Boo-Boos, Blunders and BDSM," which basically consisted of explaining a few of the most annoying behaviors aspiring dominants fall into. P.W. got some knowing laughs as she labeled Greedy Smurf (the dom who wants to play with absolutely everyone), Robo-Dom (the top who is always in character, resulting in an unfortunate lack of personality), Master Dragon Breath (the guy who takes himself so seriously he'll use his dominant role as an excuse to act like an asshole to people outside the scene), the Dissatisfied Cypher (who drifts from one kind of play to another but never really finds something they like), Lord and Lady Overeager (who will engage in any kind of play, even if it doesn't turn them on or if they don't know how to do it safely) and, finally, Super-Dom, aka The Equipment Rack (self-explanitory).

From this meeting, I'd recommend TES as a support group for anyone who's into BDSM. The people I met were welcoming, down to earth, and with only one exception totally uncreepy. I'm definitely going back soon.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Define a Sex Term

As anyone who reads about sex, is interested in sex, or has ever had sex should know, Rick Warren, the pastor of the Saddleback Church, an evangelical megachurch in Lake Forest, California, has been invited to give the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration next Tuesday. Warren is much more progressive on a lot of issues than most evangelicals which is undoubtedly why he was invited. Unfortunately Warren isn't so progressive when it comes to gay rights -- he was a big supporter of Prop 8, one of the few dark spots of the November elections. It's hard not to see inviting a California homophobe to the Inauguration as a tacit approval of Prop 8. Obama has tried take some of the sting out of this sleight by inviting gay Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson to give the Inauguration prayer but some people are still royally pissed off.

One of the most creative and hilarious reactions is coming this week from sex columnist Dan Savage -- and the good news is we all can be a part of it. During an interview with Savage last month Stephen Colbert suggested that Saddleback, the name of Warren's church, sounds like some kind of gay sex. Ever since then Savage has been gathering possible definitions for the term from his readers and in this week's column he puts the final definition up for a vote. This isn't new ground for Savage. He and his readers coined the term pegging (anal sex with a dildo), and they forever stained (pun intended) the reputation of Senator Rick Santorum by giving his name to the frothy mixture of feces and lube that is sometimes the accidental by-product of anal sex.

The nominated definitions are:
(1) "Logically, if 'barebacking' means having butt sex with no condom, then 'saddlebacking' should mean having butt sex with a condom."

(2) "Saddleback (verb): to submit someone to any kind of humiliating, unreciprocal sex act, either literally or metaphorically, consented to by passive partner due to submissive/masochistic tendencies, desire for approval, or other darker motive. E.g., 'I don't know why Obama is letting Rick Warren saddleback him into presiding over his inauguration.'"

(3) "The saddleback position involves placing your lubed dick between the butt cheeks of your partner. This position can be performed on your sides or on top of a facedown partner (maybe with a pillow under his or her hips). My favorite way of finishing up the saddlebacking is to lift up and come on my wife's sweaty back. The saddleback is a nice compromise position when your partner won't allow anal entry."

(4) "To saddleback is to rail against gay sex in public while secretly indulging in the same in private. Ted Haggard? Total saddlebacker. Larry Craig? Saddlebacker. Rick Warren? Probably a saddlebacker."

(5) "'Saddlebacking' should be the term for the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities. 'After attending the Purity Ball, Heather and Bill saddlebacked all night because she's saving herself for marriage.' Please, please adopt this definition!"

(6) "Saddleback (verb): to ejaculate on the back of a partner at the culmination of doggy-style anal sex."

(7) "Before being invited to give the invocation, Mr. Warren was most noted for his book The Purpose Driven Life. Therefore, 'to saddleback' is to fuck with a purpose, i.e., to procreate. A heterosexual couple asked if they're trying to have children could reply, 'No, we're not ready for kids yet, but we'll probably start saddlebacking next year.'"

I myself favor definition #5. I think it's perfect. You can vote for the one you like best by sending an e-mail to saddleback@savagelove.net with the subject line "saddleback: 5" (or whatever definition you favor). Remember, voting is your civil duty!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Pure Bed - Website Review

A few weeks ago while surfing the web for sites about sex -- 'cause it's what I do... -- I ran across what has to be the strangest sex site I've ever seen. It's called The Pure Bed, a "married couples intimacy store." Let me translate that: this is a website that sells sex toys for Christians!

This site has to be seen to be believed. Between condemnation of pornography ("") and links to Focus on the Family's website, The Pure Bed sells everything necessary to make your relatively vanilla fantasies come true -- scented candles, sensual massage oil, pink and lacy lingerie, sex games and, of course, "marital aids" (known to most non-Christians as "vibrators").

The site also contains a lot of information for Christians:
"Sexual practices among married couples, especially those of the Christian and some other faiths, are often complicated by a lack of context and guidelines for acceptable sexual practices. (...) Equally as unfortunate, many places of worship and many homes fail to adequately provide direction -- leaving a needless sense of taboo concerning what constitutes healthy sexual practice. Because our worship centers tend to teach the negatives of sex (adultery, fornication) without a balanced view for the gift of it in marriage, sex is treated as the forbidden fruit both in and out of the church."

I'm of two minds about this site. I think it's great to know that someone is out there encouraging Christians to have hot sex. That's got to be cause for celebration, right? God knows (pardon the pun) there are too many uptight Bible thumping prudes running around this country.

BUT... while the site doesn't explicitly condemn anything but porn, it doesn't even deign to mention extra-marital sex. In that one move, a stroke of cowardly brilliance, it ducks a whole world of questions. Since we're only discussing monogamous married couples the site doesn't have to say anything about contraception, STIs or gay sex of any kind. That leaves only porn to verbally smite (the creators of the site should look a little more closely at some of the pictures in their lingerie section!). The Pure Bed also sticks its head in the sand and refuses to mention certain sex acts that married couples could enjoy. There are no butt plugs, floggers or restraints anywhere to be found. There are no books containing information about sex.

This site deserves a mixed verdict, I'm afraid. It's nice to see, but a lot of the ludicrous Christian sexual taboos are still on display at The Pure Bed which is too bad -- more than any other cause, those taboos are what drive people away from Christian spirituality.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Geeky Sex

According to an article on io9.com, Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman, spent part of the 1950s drawing fetish comics featuring men that look suspiciously like the Man of Steel being dominated by dominant women. A new book, Secret Identity, by Craig Yoe, will tell the whole story, plus include plenty of the art. You can bet I'll be reviewing that as soon as it's available -- it's the very definition of sex geekery.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Stacks - Open

Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage
by Jenny Block
Seal Press, 2008

Jenny Block wants to make sure you understand that she's normal. She dated in high school and college, sowed some wild oats, experimented with bisexuality, then met a man whom she fell madly in love with, got married, had a daughter, moved to the suburbs, started a career, had some marital problems but worked them out through good inter-spousal communication and now lives with her husband in a stable, quiet open marriage. Wait, huh?

If you're already practicing polyamory or if you're familiar with it, Block's book won't be much of a revelation for you. The parts where she is explaining the logical reasons why she chose open marriage are the same as what you'll find in many other books on the subject, such at The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt (aka Janet Hardy), or Opening Up, by Tristan Taormino. And the parts where she's relating her trials and tribulations as she worked out how to have an open marriage will be a story that you've heard a hundred times.

The book's contribution is its appeal to people who are not polyamorous, who have never met a polyamorous person and who freak out at the very idea of open marriage—the people who believe that if you're going to find love outside of your marriage, you should at least have the decency to lie about it to everyone you know. Those people can dismiss Easton and Hardy as established BDSM players in San Francisco. They can dismiss Taormino as a porn director and female anal sex expert. But they're going to have a harder time dismissing Block.

Block walks you step by step through her process of deciding to open her marriage. She doesn't sugar coat the mistakes she has made, nor does she claim to have discovered all the answers. While Block does take time out to discuss some of the built-in double standards and mixed messages aimed at women in monogamous marriages, her feminism doesn't go as far as The Ethical Slut (which theorizes that monogamy exists to pass on land in an agrarian society). By sticking to her personal experience and removing a lot of the politics of sexual liberation that can be off putting, Block has created a good introduction to polyamory for the uninitiated.