Vice doc: Polyamorous unicorns.

Another post on the theme of not-to-everybody's-taste. But a poignant example of sexual and identity diversity.

From the description:

When a charismatic former alcoholic named Shaft had his life changed by Burning Man, he realized that he actually identifies as a unicorn. No longer able to face the monotony of work and life in the real world, he decided to form a polyamorous and hedonistic movement with other like-minded unicorns.
Donning glittery horns and galloping through London's streets, Shaft's unicorns set about trying to create a free-love utopia.
But as the unicorn revolution begins to clash with the realities of life and love, some of the "glampede" became disillusioned, and Shaft's reasons for starting this whole thing came into question.
Is this the hedonistic, free love revolution we were promised in the 60s? Or is it as fake as the unicorn horns they wear, a desperate and clever ploy by Shaft to escape his own inner loneliness by starting a cult?

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 marriage sexual behavior | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

Read the rest here: link.


Soul mates.

The idea of a soul mate, or one true love, is one of those deceptively lovely myths that we've all been sold (I'm looking at you Disney princess and prince movies).

A study of Americans found that 73% believed in the idea of a soul mate. The problem with this sort of belief is that it can lead to relationship and partner dissatisfaction. The reality, no matter how good, will never live up to the fantasy (i.e., the ideal) of that one perfect person.

This is not to say they aren't lots of fantastic people out there who would be a great fit, but the idea of a single person who is absolutely 100% perfect is a trap.

Someone in the comments section passed along a clip by Tim Minchin, the comedian, and piece by xkcd, the artist and satirist, on the subject (thanks!). Here's the clip:

And an excerpt from the piece by xkcd:

But what if we did have one randomly-assigned perfect soul mate, and we couldn’t be happy with anyone else? Would we find each other?
We’ll assume your soul mate is set at birth. You know nothing about who or where they are, but—as in the romantic cliché—you’ll recognize each other the moment your eyes meet.
Right away, this raises a few questions. For starters, is your soul mate even still alive? A hundred billion or so humans have ever lived, but only seven billion are alive now (which gives the human condition a 93% mortality rate). If we’re all paired up at random, 90% of our soul mates are long dead.

Read the rest, with lots of fun doodles, here: link

A dominatrix challenges some long-held beliefs.

A very unique perspective on some of our cultural myths and assumptions, from a professional dominatrix.

From the article at the Rumpus:

There’s no such thing as:

  1. Intimacy without vulnerability
  2. An accurate definition of sex 
  3. A typical submissive man
  4. A woman who isn’t someone’s wildest fantasy
  5. A neat cause-and-effect explanation for the nuances of human psychology
  6. “Normal”
  7. A replacement for hard work
  8. A one-sided relationship
  9. Universal taboos
  10. A good age to stop playing

Read the whole thing to get all the details(it's a good read): link.

Another approach to classifying sexual orientation.

Linked article passed along by someone in the comments section (thanks!).

Before Kinsey, sexual orientation was classified predominantly as heterosexual or homosexual. In the 1940s, Kinsey introduced a new way of thinking about sexual orientation. He viewed it as a continuum with the anchor points being 100% heterosexual and 100% homosexual. In between were shades of grey, or bisexuality. When he created a corresponding scale to measure sexual orientation, he focused on sexual behaviour as the indicator. Here's what it looked like:

This model persisted until the 1980s when Storm introduced a model that conceptualized sexual orientation not as a single continuum, but as two unrelated but interacting continuums: interest in people of the same sex (homoeroticism), and interest in people of the opposite sex (heteroeroticism). People were scored on both continuums:

This model proved to be much more helpful and importantly, it includes the experiences of people who identify as asexual.

The article linked below describes another model. The model was proposed by a non-academic man who identifies as heteroromantic asexual. He felt that other models of sexual orientation didn't apply to his identity and experiences. While the model isn't entirely effective, it's still an interesting approach to thinking about sexual orientation and identity.

Snippets from the article published at Connections.Mic:

Parks decided to develop a more comprehensive alternative: the Purple-Red Scale of Attraction, which he recently posted on /r/Asexuality. Like the Kinsey scale, the Purple-Red scale allows you to assign a number from zero to six to your level of same-sex or heterosexual attraction, but it also lets you label how you experience that attraction on a scale of A to F. A represents asexuality, or a total lack of interest in sex "besides friendship and/or aesthetic attraction," while F represents hypersexuality.
Parks told Mic that he came up with the idea for the Purple-Red scale after learning about asexuality and realizing that he was a "heteroromantic asexual, or a B0 on the scale" — someone who is interested exclusively in romantic, nonsexual relationships with the opposite sex. 
"I then thought, not only are there sexual and asexual people, [but] there are different kinds of sexual people as well," he said. "I thought of adding a second dimension to Kinsey's scale to represent different levels of attraction." (As for the color scheme, Parks opted for purple because of its designation as the official color of asexuality, while "'red-blooded' is a term often used to describe someone who is hypersexual.)

Read the rest here.


The happiest saddest story ever.

From the CBC:

'Baby Iver' born healthy, body of mother Robyn Benson dies

B.C. woman declared brain-dead on Dec. 28 underwent surgery to deliver 'Baby Iver' on Saturday

Robyn Benson, the Victoria woman who was declared brain-dead in December, underwent surgery on Saturday to deliver a healthy baby boy before she died the next day.

Benson was five months pregnant when she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on Dec. 28 that left her brain-dead. She was put on life-support at a B.C. hospital until doctors determined the fetus was viable enough for them to perform a caesarean section.

On Monday, Benson's husband Dylan announced his son's arrival — and Benson's passing — on Facebook.

"My beautiful and amazing son, Iver Cohen Benson, was born. Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person I have ever met," wrote Dylan Benson.

"On Sunday, we had to unfortunately say goodbye to the strongest and most wonderful woman I have ever met. I miss Robyn more than words can explain. I could not be more impressed with her strength, and I am so lucky to have known her. She will live on forever within Iver, and in my heart."

Dylan Benson said Iver will remain under the care of hospital staff until he is healthy enough to go home.

'Baby Iver' fund exceeds $144K

Dylan Benson, a 32-year-old who works for an IT company, started the "Baby Iver" fund on the crowd-funding website shortly after his wife's hospitalization.

He said he had to take leave from work to deal with the demands of single-parenthood and the stress of planning a funeral, and he needed money to cover some of the costs associated with missing work and having a new baby.

Dylan Benson's initial goal was to raise $36,000. Within days of his story making front-page news, however, people from around the world started donating. On Feb.10, the Baby Iver fund had raised over $144,016.

Benson said the additional money would go toward his son's care and education, as well as a new living space.

"Thank you to each and every one of you for your love, your kind words, and your support during this incredibly difficult time," said Dylan Benson.

Drugs for relationships.

This piece from The Atlantic has been getting tons of attention over the last little while. It's a long read, but fascinating (and polarizing), if you've got the time.

The Case for Using Drugs to Enhance Our Relationships (and Our Break-Ups)

George Bernard Shaw once satirized marriage as "two people under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, who are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part."

Yikes. And yet, nearly all human cultures value some version of marriage, as a nurturing emotional foundation for children, but also because marriage can give life an extra dimension of meaning. But marriage is hard, for biochemical reasons that may be beyond our control. What if we could take drugs to get better at love?

Perhaps we could design "love drugs," pharmaceutical cocktails that could boost affection between partners, whisking them back to the exquisite set of pleasures that colored their first years together. The ability to do this kind of fine-tuned emotional engineering is beyond the power of current science, but there is a growing field of research devoted to it. Some have even suggested developing "anti-love drugs" that could dissolve abusive relationships, or reduce someone's attachment to a charismatic cult leader. Others just want a pill to ease the pain of a wrenching breakup.


At first blush, love may seem like a poor prospect for pharmacological intervention. The reflexive dualist in us wants to say that romantic relationships are matters of the soul, and that souls ought to be free of medical tinkering. Oxford ethicist Brian Earp argues that we should resist these intuitions, and be open to the upswing in human well-being that successful love drugs could bring about. Over a series of several papers, Earp and his colleagues, Anders Sandberg and Julian Savulescu, make a convincing case that couples should be free to use "love drugs," and that in some cases, they may be morally obligated to do so. I recently caught up with Earp and his colleagues by email to ask them about this fascinating ethical frontier. What follows is a condensed version of our exchange.

Read the rest here.