Is it possible to be a feminist and like rough sex?

rough sex

The feminist movement, in its various forms, has fought long and hard against gender power inequality and the oppression of women by men (intentional and unintentional).

When it comes to sex, power is almost always at play. And in the context of consensual sexual experiences, playing with power dynamics can be hot and a fun part of sexual experiences. Rough sex is an extension of power.

For opposite sex couples, it might seem that feminism and male dominance in the bedroom are incompatible. But that's not necessarily the case, as explained in this article.

From Mashable:

Can you be a feminist and like rough sex?
By Yana Tallon-Hicks
Slapping, choking, spitting — if a woman gets off on a little consensual degradation in the bedroom, does that make her less of a feminist?
Many women who demand equal pay by day and harder spanks by night wake up feeling conflicted (and a little bruised) about their two favorite F-words: feminism and fucking.
Almost every version of feminism has been hell-bent on equalizing power structures and fighting gender-based oppression. But those feminists who are also hell-bent on bending over in the bedroom — using those very same power structures to get off — may be faced with questions about whether or not their political walk matches their pillow talk.
“I love being spat on during sex,” says Zoe, a 28-year-old graduate student I’m sipping espressos with. “The nastier the spit, the better. Does that make me a bad feminist? Do I need to burn all of my Audre Lorde books? Give back my Smith College degree?” She tosses aside a lock of hair as she laughs at the ridiculousness of her own rhetorical questions. I wonder how many times she’s caught a loogie.
Of the 1,500+ self-described “kinky” women Jennifer Eve Rehor studied in 2011, the majority were found to have participated in “at least one of the following activities for their own sensual or erotic pleasure: physical humiliation, deprivation, punishment (physical), breath play, obedience/training, verbal abuse/humiliation, other forced activities and service-oriented submission/domestic service.” They did so in the role of the receptive or submissive partner.

Read the rest here, including the ways in which kink, rough sex, and feminism can work in harmony: link.



What Google searches tell us about peoples' sex lives.

Google makes all of its search data publicly available. According to Google, 100 billion searches are done each month. That means a lot of data. And because sex is something that is searched often, there is a treasure trove of sex-related search data for the taking. 

This piece in the New York Times by economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz digs deep into the Google search data to tell us about our anxieties and the states of our relationships. There are a couple of nifty infographics that summarize his findings. The piece is worth a read - it's fun and informative.

From the New York Times

Searching for Sex
ARE you confused by sex? I certainly am.
One of the many reasons sex is puzzling is that we lack reliable data. People lie to friends, lovers, doctors, surveys and themselves.
Three years ago, when I was a graduate student in economics, I began to write about how new data, particularly Google searches, could give us fresh insights into socially sensitive topics. Since then, many people have asked me to write about sex.
I was wary because I wanted to do more research. Now I’m finally ready to report. Call it everything you always wanted to know about sex, but didn’t have the data to ask.
Let’s start with the basics. How much sex are we having? Traditional surveys are no good at answering this question.
I analyzed data from the General Social Survey, a classic source. Heterosexual men 18 and over say that they average 63 sex acts per year, using a condom in 23 percent of them. This adds up to more than 1.6 billion heterosexual condom uses per year.

And one of the infographics: 

Google sex searches

Read the rest here: link.


TEDx talk on female genital cutting.

Female genital cutting (FGC), otherwise known as female genital mutilation or female genital circumcision, is the ritual removal of part or all of the vulva. It's practiced in regions of Africa and the Middle East, even though it's illegal in most countries. It tends to be most common in areas of greater gender inequality, where women have no options but to be married. The procedure is required to be eligible for marriage and is considered a rite of passage.

The theory behind FGC is that women will be overcome with desire and will have sex before marriage if their genitals are left intact. FGC is intended to maintain their purity by removing any structures that could bring them sexual pleasure, thus reducing temptation.

FGC is usually done around puberty, and in some places at much younger ages. Usually female village elders will do the procedure, and rarely ever is it performed in sanitary and safe conditions (by western surgical standards).

Gena (thanks!) passed along this TEDx clip of a talk by a woman struggling with her cultural roots as an immigrant growing up in Australia, in relation to her beliefs about FGC. Check it out. 

For more posts on FGC click here, here, and here.

What it's like to become a male escort.

Rocco Steele male escort

Ever wondered what makes people choose to become sex workers, and what it's like to enter the trade?

Motivations to get into sex work vary widely. Some get into it because they love sex and the attention; for others, it's a matter of survival as their choices are extremely limited. For most, the primary motivation is money.

The following is from a blog run by a male escort in New York. Here's the opening from his account of entering the trade:

Becoming an escort…
I spent my 20’s in a marriage in which I was happy and fulfilled in every way except sexually.  I had next to no sex for 13 years.  After an amicable but very sad and painful divorce and a lot of soul searching, I made up my mind that I would explore any kind of sex I had the slightest fancy of curiosity about.  Anything.  I would never judge myself, shame myself, or allow myself to suffer from regret for this decision.  I was going to explore the profound kaleidoscopic spectrum of human sexuality…  Every kind of kink, every dirty secret, every taboo, every delicious, piggy, nasty iteration I could possibly imagine of the most primal and essential male act of fucking.  Escorting was right at the top of my sexual bucket list.  It’s classic ego-driven male sexual fantasy… If you’re an escort, that means your cock is so amazing, your ass is so tight and hot, your stamina so crazy, your ability to get hard so reliable, your moves are so spectacular that people will PAY to have sex with you. It’s the ultimate ego trip.  Ever since I was an underage clubber, I’ve idolized strippers, gogo boys, porn stars, and any other kind of adult entertainer.  I’ve always been hypnotized by them… The confidence, the total commitment to being a sex object, the jacked bodies, big cocks, the flirting… They were just so fucking HOT.  They had such power, they made all the men in the room hard.  Everyone wanted them!  I wanted them.  And being an attention whore since I was a kid, I wanted to BE one of them.  The idea of being one of them gave me both a huge boner AND a delicious ego trip, and that’s a powerful combination.

Go read the rest here (it's the post at the bottom of the page): link.

Penis extender sheaths for extra length and girth.

There really isn't anything available that can physiologically increase penis size or girth. However, there are other options. Oxballs is a sex toy company whose target clientele are (kinky) gay men. Among the products they sell (check out the rest here - NSFW) are penis extender sheaths. This is what they look like:

They're worn over top of the penis, adding length and girth (see the rest of the NSFW photos here).

Oxballs isn't the only game in town - other companies are making similar products. If this sort of product could be marketed to straight men in a way that doesn't bruise their egos, I could see something like this becoming very popular for those men looking to gain a few centimeters (or more). In fact, some have already started to dabble, according to sex toy stores.

Dan Savage addressed penis sheaths in a Savage Love last year: link.

Jonah Falcon, the man with the world's largest penis.

Jonah Falcon has the world's largest, officially recorded penis.

He's an aspiring actor, and as such, agreed to appear on John Stewart's The Daily Show a few years back. Clip here (clip only available in the US).

While his appearance on the show is undeniably funny, his life story is more complicated. A significant part of his self-identity has been tied to his huge penis; this isn't really that surprising, given how central penis size is to masculine identity. People that have met him claim he's somewhat socially awkward, and struggles with the balance between pride in his penis and the need to be recognized as a person separate from his massive member.



This clip from the show Strange Sex tells his story:

Here are some more recent clips:

Homologous genital structures, explained.

In the early stages of development, male and female embryos are almost indistinguishable. Over the first few weeks of pregnancy, the gonads (what will eventually become the ovaries or testes) start to develop and differentiate (i.e., become different).

After about the seventh week, the male gonads begin to produce male sex hormone (a relation of testosterone), which causes the genital tissues in males to become masculinized. Female development continues without the presence of male sex hormone.

Because the female and male genitals come from the same original embryonic tissue, and differentiation is simply the result of the presence of male sex hormone, much of the male and female genital anatomy can be traced back to a shared origin. The parts of the anatomy that come from the shared original embryonic tissue are called homologous structures. For example, the glans of the penis is homologous to the glans of the clitoris (they come from the same original embryonic tissue).

This video does a great job of explaining the concept:

Pornhub's 2015 review: Porn, porn, and more porn.

For those unfamiliar with Pornhub, it is a pornography sharing website. It's the biggest porn site on the web.

Pornhub has its own data analytics team, and they regularly publish findings from the piles of data that they collect. You can check out their blog, Pornhub Insights, here: link . I've posted from the blog before (I love stuff like this).

pornhub insights 2015

Every year, Pornhub Insights publishes its annual review. It's long, and chock full of super interesting data. Here are some of the key, or most interesting, findings of 2015:

  • 4,392,486,580 hours of porn were watched
  • there were 21.2 billion visits
  • the highest page views per capita belonged to the USA at 191 (Canada was 3rd with 165)
  • average length of visit was 9 minutes and 16 seconds
  • most searched term worldwide was lesbian; teen and stepmom were almost tied for second
  • teen and milf were searched almost equally frequently worldwide (although teen still more)
  • largest gain in proportion of searches was giantess (giant women), with a 1091% gain
  • top searched porn stars worldwide were: Kim Kardashian, Mia Khalifa, and Lisa Ann - these three were far more popular than the all others
  • 24% of viewers were women
  • the average age of viewers was 35.3, but 60% were millennials (a skewed distribution)

Below is the first of many interesting infographics. Go check out the whole review here: link.


Purity balls.

Second post this week about purity balls. I can't help but be fascinated (I've posted about purity balls previously: link and link).

In many cultures, religious denominations, and families, virginity until marriage is considered sacred. Virginity is typically associated with purity, innocence, virtuosity, and thought of as a gift to a future marital partner. Loss of virginity prior to marriage is equated with being a used, cheapened, damaged, or otherwise unappealing (keep in mind this isn't the case for all people are waiting for marriage to have penetrative sex).

Women are often held to this standard much more so than men (a great example of the double standard). In some cultures, a non-virgin woman is unable to get married, and often times in those cultures, there are no options for women other than being a wife.

Purity balls are a logical extension of the abstinence-only approach in Western culture (particularly North American). If you're unfamiliar with purity balls, the following clip provides a pretty superficial glimpse. Keep in mind that it's from a mainstream American network, so it's a bit sensationalized.

Herbal womb detox pearls: Not a very good idea.


Another product that will leave you scratching your head.

There is no science to back this product up. It has a hint of the old vaginas are yucky and need cleaning vibe that has caused so much harm in the past.

Vaginas are largely self-cleaning, and messing with the delicate flora that live symbiotically within can cause infections and other problems.

My favourite quote in the article linked below, from Dr. Jen Gunter, a gynaecologist:

"Your uterus isn’t tired or depressed or dirty and your vagina has not misplaced its chakra. 
They want no real help from you unless there is something wrong and they will tell you there is something wrong by bleeding profusely or itching or cramping badly or producing an odour."

From the Independent UK:

Women putting herb balls in vagina to 'detox their wombs' have been warned of dangers
US firm claims its small 'holistic' herb packages 'aid to correct' endometriosis
Women are being warned about the dangers of a “womb detox” product after health experts said it could cause irritation and even toxic shock syndrome.
US firm called Embrace Pangaea is selling “Herbal Womb Detox Pearls” online, claiming the products "aids to correct" conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts and thrush.
The pearls - small balls of perfumed herbs - are sold in one or two-month packages, with packages on sale for between $85 (£59) and $480 (£335).
Another package - claims to promote “vaginal tightening”, which it says works by “tightening the womb” so the “vaginal canal will shrink”.
The company says the herb pearls are designed to "cleanse the womb and return it to a balance state" by flushing out "toxins".
In a blogpost, the company said the pearls could be issued in the same way natural solutions like oranges and lemons can be used to counteract a cold.
But a sexual health expert insisted that not only were the “pearls” ineffective, but they could be dangerous.

Read the whole piece here: link.

You can check out the product homepage here: link.

And the blog post by Dr. Gunter here: link.


Purity ball portraits.

Repost from Slate.

I really like this piece, as the way Magnusson describes his experiences shooting his subjects moves away from the judgement that typically accompanies pieces on purity balls. And the photos are pretty striking.

Striking Portraits of Fathers and the Daughters Whose Virginity They’ve Pledged to Protect By David Rosenberg

Photographer David Magnusson’s portraits of fathers with their daughters could almost pass for formal shots taken at a father-daughter dance.

Shot with a large format camera, the portraits, taken outdoors with a soft, blue-sky background are part of Magnusson’s book Puritya series of young girls who have made a pledge to keep their virginity until marriage and their fathers who pledge to help protect them during their journeys.

Magnusson admits he had a strong reaction when he first learned of the purity balls. He thought mostly of gun-wielding fathers trying to protect their daughters. He began to explore the idea of the balls further, reading everything he could find, and reaching out to various balls to see about photographing the fathers and daughters.

He made four trips to the United States to meet with and photograph the fathers and daughters and said the more he learned and met with the participants the more surprised he was about his initial prejudices.

“I had the idea to photograph the portraits to illustrate how our interpretation of the world—and photography as well—has to do a lot with our own values,” he said. “Many of the instantaneous, strong emotional reactions occur when we experience a clash with our own values and what we don’t’ understand.”

Magnusson said it took around six months of reaching out to contacts before he was finally invited to Louisiana to meet with participants. He took seven portraits during that first trip and attended two balls.

“I showed portraits on stage with a tuxedo rented from Al’s formal wear talking about my work,” he said. “I was clear from the start of my intention of trying to visualize the father-daughter relationship.”

He began interviewing the people he photographed and said that also helped shape his ideas of the decisions the young girls had made along with their fathers.

“When you start listening to what separate individuals who are part of a group have to say, it suddenly becomes about people and not just about a group mentality. There are huge diversities within the group and reasons for why they choose these ceremonies.”

He learned that many of the young women were independent thinkers and their fathers were simply trying to protect their loved ones the best way they knew how. Magnusson sent portraits to everyone who participated in the project and said they were all very happy with the results.

“I find it so interesting exactly the same photograph can provoke such a different reaction from a viewer with a different background,” Magnusson said.

Purity, published by Bokförlaget Max Ström is Magnusson’s first book and also his first major solo exhibition. He said had he known the project would take up four years of his life, he might have been terrified to begin it. He did, however, know when to stop working on the project. “You realize if you continue you will change your project but not necessarily improve it,” he said. “You can change it the rest of your life but you hit a point when it’s done and ready to be displayed and if you continue working on it you will turn it into something different.”

See the rest of the photos here.

The Bodyimage Project.

Passed along by Afrooz (thanks!), via Dodson and Ross.

Projects like this are not new, and that's a good thing. Over the last several years, a few have sprung up. Their express purpose is to provide some balance to the highly produced and processed (i.e., digitally manipulated) photos of models and celebrities that you see in the media. These projects are fundamentally about diversity, and how diversity is good.

The Bodyimage Project by Marshall Bradford is still in its development phase. Given its early success, he's committed to something much larger, which will be coming down the pipeline in the near future. For the time being, however, he's posted some photos through his Facebook account.

From the description:

Image is everything. If you don't look like the media tells you to you will never make it in the world. Forget about finding love and happiness. That's what the pretty people get.
Or that's what we are told. I don't really feel that way. As a photographer in Las Vegas I have shot my share of high polish perfect modeling photos and I'm not saying I won't shoot stuff like that in the future. I am also an artist and to that end I have the need to try new things with my art.
My thought with this project I wanted to show what we really look like. I wanted to photograph people simply being themselves and being proud of that. People should love how they look and love themselves first. No matter the way you look you should remember that your happiness comes from within. That's the goal of this work. To allow the subjects own beauty to show. I have learned a lot starting this project and I'm excited to see where it leads me to.

Go check out the project and photos here: link (you need to be on Facebook; also, Facebook doesn't allow photos of genitals and breasts, thus the silly edits)

Vulva/labia blogs.

Genital shame is a growing problem. This, in part, is due to the fact that most people don't get the opportunity to see a wide variety of genitals, and therefore presume that there is one specific way in which they should look (i.e., symmetrical, tucked in labia minora, etc.).

Several user-content blogs have popped up, intended to showcase the massive diversity in appearance of the vulva. Presumably, the hope is that by publishing these sorts of images, that people who see them will feel less dissatisfaction/shame about their genitals. The following are two examples of these types of blogs. Click on the images below to visit the sites (NSFW). The questions, comments, and replies are all interesting to read, too.

Learn more about the second blog here..