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    Now, I know that air travel is really just a portal to foreign climes: a privilege for people who can afford to go on holidays abroad, an efficient means of transport for those whose work enables them to travel, and maybe even, for some, a one-way ticket to a new and better life. I know this, everyone on the plane knows this, so why is the notion that air travel is the sexiest thing since records began still pushed on us by endless tedious advertising campaigns? Wouldn’t Richard Branson do better to put down the women he insists on picking up for photo opportunities and spend his money on food that doesn’t taste like a foot, instead? ‘Sorry, Virgin - sex and air travel don’t mix

    Now, I know that air travel is really just a portal to foreign climes: a privilege for people who can afford to go on holidays abroad, an efficient means of transport for those whose work enables them to travel, and maybe even, for some, a one-way ticket to a new and better life. I know this, everyone on the plane knows this, so why is the notion that air travel is the sexiest thing since records began still pushed on us by endless tedious advertising campaigns? Wouldn’t Richard Branson do better to put down the women he insists on picking up for photo opportunities and spend his money on food that doesn’t taste like a foot, instead? ‘Sorry, Virgin - sex and air travel don’t mix

    (Source: Guardian)

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    Happy Valentines’ Day!

    The sexual revolution of the enlightenment still resonates today, argues Faramerz Dabhoiwala, author of The Origins of Sex. In this short video, he says the perceived difference in sexual appetites between men and women dates from this period, as does the concept of ‘pin-up girls’ and the decriminalisation of adultery

    (Source: Guardian)

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    Naomi McAuliffe writes about, er, the vagina’s mystique, and the Brazilian woman who allegedly tried to kill her husband with her lady parts:

Women using poison to murder their husbands is an old trope – one going back as far as Claudius’s poisoning, which implicated his wife Agrippina. “Arsenic Annie” Nannie Doss saw off four husbands, as well as most of her family, in the span of four decades (she confessed to the murders in 1954). And now a Brazilian woman may soon be added to this pantheon of gloom. Although this alleged attempted homicide was unsuccessful, the method will certainly go down in history: she allegedly put poison in her vagina, and invited her husband to perform oral sex on her. The man became suspicious while down south, surprised by an “unusual smell”. He took her to hospital, where the poison was found.

Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

    Naomi McAuliffe writes about, er, the vagina’s mystique, and the Brazilian woman who allegedly tried to kill her husband with her lady parts:

    Women using poison to murder their husbands is an old trope – one going back as far as Claudius’s poisoning, which implicated his wife Agrippina. “Arsenic Annie” Nannie Doss saw off four husbands, as well as most of her family, in the span of four decades (she confessed to the murders in 1954). And now a Brazilian woman may soon be added to this pantheon of gloom. Although this alleged attempted homicide was unsuccessful, the method will certainly go down in history: she allegedly put poison in her vagina, and invited her husband to perform oral sex on her. The man became suspicious while down south, surprised by an “unusual smell”. He took her to hospital, where the poison was found.

    Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

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    Check out our interview with porn star James Deen, who is one of a number of high-profile figures in the adult entertainment industry who are fighting a new law that would enforce the use of condoms.

    'Measure B' is due to come into force in January, and Deen tells Jessica Reed the ethical and practical reasons why he thinks it should be opposed. 'We've had zero HIV transmissions in almost 10 years,' he says.

    He also talks about his female fan base (‘women are currently comfortable watching porn’), whether pornography is becoming more extreme and how the industry is about freedom of choice.

    (Source: )

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    Adult performer Stoya [her tumblr is here, NSFW] explains why she’s against Measure B, which would introduce mandatory condom use in Los Angeles County’s porn sets.
Excerpt:

We haven’t had a case of performer-to-performer HIV transmission in eight years. The fact that any sexually active community that hasn’t had a single case of HIV transmission in so long even exists was interesting enough for the New York Times to send science reporter Donald G McNeil Jr to cover our self-imposed health and safety precautions.
Every 14-28 days performers are tested for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia, mostly through specialist testing agencies. We use the most sensitive tests possible. Because so many performers use these companies’ services, we are able to get our results back within 48 hours, usually less. Including the remote draw fee, I pay around $180 for each test. Compare this with the almost $400 I paid to be tested for the same four diseases the last time I went to my gynaecologist, and the week I waited for results.
The pornographic film production company Vivid saw a 10 to 20% drop in revenues when it was using condoms in all of its productions. Profits have already dropped across the industry due to pirating. When video clips and movies make less money, budgets decrease and fewer productions are made. This means less work and lower rates of pay for the work that is available. If income for performers continues to drop, voluntarily spending more than $4,500 a year on testing becomes less financially sustainable.
There is no law requiring adult performers to get tested for STIs, much less requiring us to get tested as frequently as we do. My concern is that further shrinking of performer incomes due to mandatory condom use will cause performers to test less frequently. Fewer tests being processed would likely result in raised testing costs. More expensive tests could cause even less frequent testing, until performers are relying solely on condom use to protect against transmission of STIs.

Photograph: Corbis

    Adult performer Stoya [her tumblr is here, NSFW] explains why she’s against Measure B, which would introduce mandatory condom use in Los Angeles County’s porn sets.

    Excerpt:

    We haven’t had a case of performer-to-performer HIV transmission in eight years. The fact that any sexually active community that hasn’t had a single case of HIV transmission in so long even exists was interesting enough for the New York Times to send science reporter Donald G McNeil Jr to cover our self-imposed health and safety precautions.

    Every 14-28 days performers are tested for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia, mostly through specialist testing agencies. We use the most sensitive tests possible. Because so many performers use these companies’ services, we are able to get our results back within 48 hours, usually less. Including the remote draw fee, I pay around $180 for each test. Compare this with the almost $400 I paid to be tested for the same four diseases the last time I went to my gynaecologist, and the week I waited for results.

    The pornographic film production company Vivid saw a 10 to 20% drop in revenues when it was using condoms in all of its productions. Profits have already dropped across the industry due to pirating. When video clips and movies make less money, budgets decrease and fewer productions are made. This means less work and lower rates of pay for the work that is available. If income for performers continues to drop, voluntarily spending more than $4,500 a year on testing becomes less financially sustainable.

    There is no law requiring adult performers to get tested for STIs, much less requiring us to get tested as frequently as we do. My concern is that further shrinking of performer incomes due to mandatory condom use will cause performers to test less frequently. Fewer tests being processed would likely result in raised testing costs. More expensive tests could cause even less frequent testing, until performers are relying solely on condom use to protect against transmission of STIs.

    Photograph: Corbis

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    So, a 20-year-old Brazilian woman has auctioned off her virginity for $780,000. This story has too many levels of WTF, but Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett tries to make sense of it all:

The Virgins Wanted terms and conditions state that “the female virgin will undergo a medical examination by an accredited gynaecologist and provide the winning bidder with medical evidence of her virginity”. Retro. Meanwhile, Stepanov gets off lightly: “Given the difficulty in certifying a male’s claim to virginity, we ask that you take into consideration the chosen participant, his story and his demeanor when considering his claims to sexual abstinence.” So we’ll just take his word for it, then. And of course, we all know that there isn’t really any medical way to prove virginity – you can lose your virginity to a tampon, a finger or a horse’s saddle. This is one of the reason’s society’s prizing of virginity is so bizarre.
A comment on the Daily Mail’s take on the story sums up this attitude: “At least she is smarter than most women in the UK, who give it away for free.” What fools we are. All I got was a hangover and a trip to the STD clinic, which is nowhere near as good as 780 grand (then again, my big moment didn’t take place on an aeroplane flying between Australia and the US in order to counteract international prostitution laws, but on dry land within easy distance of a hot water bottle).

Photograph: Getty/Greg Wood/AFP/

    So, a 20-year-old Brazilian woman has auctioned off her virginity for $780,000. This story has too many levels of WTF, but Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett tries to make sense of it all:

    The Virgins Wanted terms and conditions state that “the female virgin will undergo a medical examination by an accredited gynaecologist and provide the winning bidder with medical evidence of her virginity”. Retro. Meanwhile, Stepanov gets off lightly: “Given the difficulty in certifying a male’s claim to virginity, we ask that you take into consideration the chosen participant, his story and his demeanor when considering his claims to sexual abstinence.” So we’ll just take his word for it, then. And of course, we all know that there isn’t really any medical way to prove virginity – you can lose your virginity to a tampon, a finger or a horse’s saddle. This is one of the reason’s society’s prizing of virginity is so bizarre.

    A comment on the Daily Mail’s take on the story sums up this attitude: “At least she is smarter than most women in the UK, who give it away for free.” What fools we are. All I got was a hangover and a trip to the STD clinic, which is nowhere near as good as 780 grand (then again, my big moment didn’t take place on an aeroplane flying between Australia and the US in order to counteract international prostitution laws, but on dry land within easy distance of a hot water bottle).

    Photograph: Getty/Greg Wood/AFP/

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    Is it good or bad that for young men, going to a strip club is the new normal? I’d venture that it’s a good thing. It’s a place where they can step outside the anxiety-fraught dating scene and talk to a woman who, as long as he keeps tipping, will give him the time of day. It’s a world where women parade around nude or nearly so in which doing so doesn’t get anybody arrested or elicit gasps. It’s a private room wherein a lap dance is on the table and a man expressing his sexuality isn’t going to be met with a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Rather than criminalising male desire by banning strip clubs, as a city council in Portsmouth is debating whether or not to do, we would be better served by admitting that male sexual fantasies are complex and not infrequently politically incorrect. That these young men are able to explore their sexuality safely and consensually is progress, not the downfall of the 21st century male.

Strip clubs are the new normal – and that’s a good thing, says Susannah Breslin

Photograph: Alamy

    Is it good or bad that for young men, going to a strip club is the new normal? I’d venture that it’s a good thing. It’s a place where they can step outside the anxiety-fraught dating scene and talk to a woman who, as long as he keeps tipping, will give him the time of day. It’s a world where women parade around nude or nearly so in which doing so doesn’t get anybody arrested or elicit gasps. It’s a private room wherein a lap dance is on the table and a man expressing his sexuality isn’t going to be met with a sexual harassment lawsuit.

    Rather than criminalising male desire by banning strip clubs, as a city council in Portsmouth is debating whether or not to do, we would be better served by admitting that male sexual fantasies are complex and not infrequently politically incorrect. That these young men are able to explore their sexuality safely and consensually is progress, not the downfall of the 21st century male.

    Strip clubs are the new normal – and that’s a good thing, says Susannah Breslin

    Photograph: Alamy

  8. Quote

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    So here it goes: having sex before marriage is the best choice for nearly everyone.

    How do I know? Well, first of all, nearly everyone has sex before marriage – 95% of Americans don’t wait until their wedding night. And that’s a longstanding American value. Even among folks in my grandparents’ generation, nine out of ten of them had sex before they wed.

    Of course, just because lots of people do a thing doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. But sex is. In terms of happiness, sex is better than money, and having sex once a week instead of once a month is the “happiness equivalent” of an extra $50,000 a year. People with active sex lives live longer. Sex releases stress, boosts immunities, helps you sleep and is heart-healthy.

    Sex is good whether you’re married or not, and certainly folks who wait until marriage can have a lot of sex once they tie the knot.

    Feminist writer Jill Filipovic makes the moral case for sex before marriage
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    Anthropologists have studied brain scans of couples in love. The ones in the early throes of romantic love virtually dribble dopamine. Their brains, according to Dr Helen Fisher, behave exactly like someone on crack cocaine. They are obsessed and infatuated. Thankfully – for the sanity of society – couples who’ve been together for a bit calm down. Their brains bathe in oxytocin: they feel attached and secure and want to pack each other’s lunch boxes but alas, they’re unlikely to want to snog in the back of a taxi.

    People only started to marry for love in the late 18th century. Marriage was a strategy to form business partnerships, expand family networks, craft political ties, strengthen a labour force or pass on wealth. In aristocratic societies of the 12th century, adultery was considered a higher form of love. True love was thought impossible with a spouse. In the 16th century, the essayist Montaigne wrote that any man in love with his wife was “a man so dull no one else could love him”. It’s therefore ironic that people moralise about the demise of “old-fashioned family values” or “traditional marriage”. The true “traditional” approach to marital commitment had nothing to do with either everlasting love or exclusivity.

    Helen Croydon writes: Monogamy is a fairytale ideal - affairs won’t go away
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    Zoe Williams takes a critical look at the marketing behind 50 shades of grey. We have to ask, however: who would buy 50 shades loungewear?

The author of Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James, has signed three licensing deals to create themed clothes, a range of T-shirts, hoodies, tights, daywear, pyjamas, loungewear and underwear. The Telegraph noted that, as its central character Anastasia Steele spends most of her time naked, “we can’t fathom what the range will be based on”. This is because they haven’t read the second and third volumes of the trilogy which, having moved on from the nuts and bolts of dominant-submissive sex, are basically shopping lists. Long, meandering passages of wish fulfillment – if you had a billionaire boyfriend, what would you want him to buy you next? There’s so much Wi-Fi enabled Apple paraphernalia that at times it reads like an Apple catalogue written by a computer- generated sexbot. There are also large amounts of clothes, underwear, loungewear, office wear, everything your cut-out-and-keep everygirl might need for her sexual awakening.

Illustration: Matt Kenyon

    Zoe Williams takes a critical look at the marketing behind 50 shades of grey. We have to ask, however: who would buy 50 shades loungewear?

    The author of Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James, has signed three licensing deals to create themed clothes, a range of T-shirts, hoodies, tights, daywear, pyjamas, loungewear and underwear. The Telegraph noted that, as its central character Anastasia Steele spends most of her time naked, “we can’t fathom what the range will be based on”. This is because they haven’t read the second and third volumes of the trilogy which, having moved on from the nuts and bolts of dominant-submissive sex, are basically shopping lists. Long, meandering passages of wish fulfillment – if you had a billionaire boyfriend, what would you want him to buy you next? There’s so much Wi-Fi enabled Apple paraphernalia that at times it reads like an Apple catalogue written by a computer- generated sexbot. There are also large amounts of clothes, underwear, loungewear, office wear, everything your cut-out-and-keep everygirl might need for her sexual awakening.

    Illustration: Matt Kenyon

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    I’m not sure if my mother, thrilled when I decided to study law, ever anticipated that this would involve me spending weeks in court live-tweeting about fisting and how best to stick metal rods down one’s penis. But it’s testament only to how extraordinary it is that Simon Walsh’s case at Kingston crown court ever reached this stage that I found myself doing exactly this … Read Alex Dymock on the extreme porn trial that just ended in London. Warning: explicit lyrics
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    Older women simply can’t win. And despite the fact that Madonna is a veritable goddess of excellent pop campery, she is, to her detriment, also 53. Which is about the same age as my mum. Now, I’m not suggesting that my mum should start flashing people in Buckingham Waitrose, but that’s because she’s not a multimillion-dollar recording artist under pressure to keep things saucy. Madonna is, and if she chooses to flash her half-a-century-old nipples, by God, I defend her right to do it. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett defends Madonna (and her nipples)
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    In my 20s, I wasn’t a good lover – and never met men my age who were good lovers either. We were all highly sexed, but mostly immature. Back then, sex was disappointing. Men seemed to enjoy having sex with me, but I didn’t “show up”. My body was a labyrinth of secret crevices and places hidden to me, let alone to my lovers. How did I get to have orgasms like Kim Basinger in 9 1/2 Weeks – rolling, thunderous full-bodied spiritual highs? Years went by, and I felt let down. I wasn’t having the sex I thought I was entitled to, the sex modelled by Hollywood.

    In my 40s I assigned myself to tantric sex school, took lessons from gifted body workers and tantric masseurs and finally discovered the wondrous variety of orgasms my body had to offer. All women possess a clitoris, g-spot, vagina and anus – all can produce much sexual ecstasy. Only now do I get the sex I dreamed of, and yet it’s nothing like Hollywood sex. Hands-on skill, experience and a lot of showing, asking and giving are part of it, as well as very intimate verbal communication. Good sex is harder to get than I thought – and yet worth all the fuss.

    Long-term heterosexual monogamy is still the dominant model: men and women still want to pair for a long period of time. Writing about the emotional complexities involved when, again and again, we copulate with only one other person over many years is rich material for fiction. The boredom, fatigue and frustration, and the joy, relief and loving pleasure shared in this long-haul journey is worth writing about. Sex can either be a non-verbal language that smoothes the other jagged edges, or the biggest edge between a couple. For this kind of up-close realism, I believe those who are well beyond vanilla land are currently leading the way, writing and blogging about sex online.

    Novelist Monique Forrey writes about why she agrees with Martin Amis: women are better at writing about sex than men
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In Fifty Shades, Anastasia is our narrator, and thus her character is never reduced to a sexual object, or a mere body. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the novel’s popularity: it offers an alternative to standard dehumanising visual erotic fare.
For this reason, it’ll be interesting to see how this important aspect of Fifty Shades of Grey translates to the screen. If the producers decide to tone down the story’s sexual content, we’ll be left with plotless drivel. If the decision is to stay true to the text, I wonder how many consumers of erotic literature will be comfortable becoming consumers of visual pornography.

- Emer O’Toole, 50 Shades of Grey is no one-handed erotic read for me but …

    In Fifty Shades, Anastasia is our narrator, and thus her character is never reduced to a sexual object, or a mere body. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the novel’s popularity: it offers an alternative to standard dehumanising visual erotic fare.

    For this reason, it’ll be interesting to see how this important aspect of Fifty Shades of Grey translates to the screen. If the producers decide to tone down the story’s sexual content, we’ll be left with plotless drivel. If the decision is to stay true to the text, I wonder how many consumers of erotic literature will be comfortable becoming consumers of visual pornography.

    - Emer O’Toole, 50 Shades of Grey is no one-handed erotic read for me but …

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