Dec 182012
 
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Originally published on Forbes.com on 5/28/12

You probably think you know a thing or two about sex…and I’m sure you do. But, you probably don’t know more than the handful of writers I’ve chosen to profile below, because these people are hardcore. By that I mean, they really know their stuff, and their stuff is quite sexy.  Most of them write about other topics as well and do a fine job of it, but for the moment I want to get you acquainted with their sensual sides.

 

images-4Jesse Bering

Jesse Bering writes the outstanding Scientific American column, “Bering in Mind”. His essays and books are consistently rich and engaging, but some of his best writing comes in response to reader questions — and people will ask him just about anything. The remarkable thing is that no matter the question–whether it’s about a latex fetish or scatological arousal–Bering has a well-researched, erudite response that teaches more about whatever sex-related topic is at hand than quite a few books I’ve come across.  I have yet to come away from reading one of his essays or responses to reader questions and not feel considerably better informed than I was just minutes before. Be sure to also check out his latest book, “Why is the Penis Shaped Like That?: and Other Reflections on Being Human” that’s scheduled for release in a couple months.

 

 

images-3Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is an example of a science writer (and scientist) with many interests and the talent to cover them all well, but her claim to fame is a book she wrote about the science of kissing, entitled, fittingly enough, “The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us”.  You think you know what’s going on when your lips meet his/hers?  Read this book and I guarantee you’ll start seeing the kiss and physical affection overall in an entirely new light. Kirshenbaum’s triumph is that she’s able to pull that off without leaving us with a clinical, sanitized aftertaste. There’s a fine line between scientific insight that broadens and enriches our perspective, and dispassionate knowledge that dulls our appetite for being human. Fortunately, Kirshenbaum knows where that line is and doesn’t cross over to the dark side.

 

 

do-gentlemen-really-prefer-blondes-bodies-behavior-brains-jena-pincott-paperback-cover-artJena Pincott

Jena Pincott is talented, sharp, and an extremely nice person — but most importantly for this list, one hell of a writer. Her sex science gestalt came with her book,“Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes? Bodies, Behavior, and Brains–The Science Behind Sex, Love, and Attraction”.  I read the book a couple years ago in preparation for an interview with Pincott and can still remember my astonishment coming across stuff I couldn’t believe I didn’t know.  Seems like there’d be an age of sexual cognitive ripeness after which there aren’t any new surprises. Read Pincott’s book and you’ll know that’s far from being the case.  More recently, she wrote a book about pregnancy entitled, “Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy”. If you are considering having a child, or even if you already have kids, this book will teach you a few new things with a style that will make you feel like you’re chatting with someone in the same room.

 

 

imagesMary Roach

Mary Roach holds the high honor of having written perhaps the best known sex-science book to hit shelves in the last 10 or so years: “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex”. When I spoke to her about her experiences writing the book (and she had a few notably salacious ones), she said “Bonk” is what happens when a liberal arts kind of person takes on a science topic — she had to experience the topic to do it justice.  If you are already acquainted with Roach’s writing, you know that she is as funny as she is smart.  You’d have a better chance of being bitten by a shark in your swimming pool than you would getting bored while reading “Bonk” or any of her other entertaining books.

 

 

 

images-1Kayt Sukel

Kayt Sukel’s work was just recently brought to my attention, but I’m already seeing why she’s a sex-science notable. Her first book, “Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Attraction”  is receiving several favorable reviews and, from what I have read so far, strikes me as a judicious blend of neuroscience, psychology and sociology. She also writes about sex and other topics for The Washington PostUSA Today and The Christian Science Monitor, and writes a regular blog about sex, love and life for The Houston Chronicle.  And she’s one of the few writers that I’ve seen embraced with equal passion in the pages of Elle and Scientific American on the same subject. She’s clearly doing something right.

 

 

 

images-2Marty Klein

When it comes to finding an expert on all things sex, you can’t come much closer than Marty Klein. He’s written seven books and over 200 articles on the subject, and he writes a regular blog at Psychology Today called “Sexual Intelligence”.  Of course, there are thousands of credentialed sex experts out there, but what makes Klein different (and worthy of this list) is his ability to communicate what he knows.  He’s also one of the more controversial of the writers on this list for his position on sex addiction (he calls it a “dangerous concept”) and his outspokenness on what he calls the “Oprah-ization of therapy.”  His strong stances on those and other issues contributes a grittiness to his writing that I find refreshing. Klein is going to tell you what he thinks with straight-to-the-point prose, and the best part is you’ll learn a lot from reading what he has to say whether you agree with him or not. Check out his latest book, “America’s War on Sex”.

 

 

13ce661a5749d13150b5505905169ad4David DiSalvo: I’m a science, technology and culture writer who contributes to Forbes, Scientific American Mind, The Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today, Esquire, Mental Floss and a smattering of other publications. My first nonfiction book, “What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite” (Prometheus, 2011) is available in paperback and Kindle, and my second book, “The Brain in Your Kitchen” is now available for Kindle. More at my website: www.daviddisalvo.org. Contact me at: disalvowrites [at] gmail.com. You can find me on Twitter @neuronarrative and at my website, The Daily Brain.

Dec 092012
 
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Originally published on www.CyndiDarnell.com on 5/30/12

In fragile times, it’s often our most intimate and close relationships that suffer. Intimacy is the glue, the enhancer that gives us the drive to connect, and in many situations, also the factor that can be a passion killer for some and the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

I have been reflecting a lot recently on what it means to be intimate with someone, what vulnerability is and how honesty plays a role in all of this. This of course in turn affects the way we can approach sex, but of course not all of our relationships are sexual or erotic, but that doesn’t have to mean they lack intimacy. Intimacy has many faces which can be misunderstood or worse still, ignored when we only relate to intimacy as something sexual or erotic. Intimacy is the essence, the determining factor that decides how close someone gets to us and what we’re prepared to do or share to maintain it.

Intimacy comes from sharing and bonding. People share and bond in hundreds of ways; from a drink at the pub, to a long, lazy dinner , to a friendship that has been cultivated over years, a cry on a shoulder, a rewarding hug, a sporting win  or a love of the same activities, revealing a truth about yourself that you trust another person to take care of, asking for help , asking for attention or allowing yourself to be seen as you really are, flaws and all, in the hope that you won’t be judged for it.

Whilst most of us have these requirements at different stages in our lives, very few are able to acknowledge this need within ourselves, let alone share it with others. It can often be the core of a nagging internal voice that manifests as only a hum or faint murmur rather than bolt of clarity. It can also be the trigger that releases aggressive outbursts, where words said, are later regretted because it’s easier to cast the uncomfortable sensation / feeling out and onto another, than to claim it as our own. It’s easier to blame others than to take a little agency, and while at times this is effective; what is the long-term cost? When this is the perpetual default setting, there is no recourse.Your default setting is powerlessness.

The rise of anxiety among not only Australians, but Westerners in general as a primary emotional default saddens me, but does not surprise me as we become less and less intimate, less and less able to acknowledge our own feelings and thus less able to share with others or learn how to listen to others without judging, being judged or feeling attacked.

While I generally tend to avoid binaries of any kind as a measure for looking at the world, it seems when it comes to emotions, we have only two options. We either allow them to be there, accept them, in all their discomfort and learn to work with them rather than against them; (thus having control over them or even better still, a relationship with them); or we can ignore them. (The latter in my experience can only last for so long before manifestations of ill health become apparent; excessive anxiety, delusion, sleeplessness, depression and a general corrosion of relationships as a result of any one or all of these things.) Shakespeare grasped the ultimate quandary: To Be or Not To Be, that IS in fact the ultimate question, the question that hundreds of years later we still philosophically ponder, but most of us avoid for the sheer terror of facing our internal truth, our shadow, that which makes us vulnerable.

So what is this vulnerability that can make even the most mighty a quivering wreck, or the mostfeeble a guilt-ridden avoider, keen to maintain the facade or status quo at any price, even their own well-being?

Vulnerability for many may be the shadow, the hidden that which dare not be revealed, OR it may also be the default, wherein manipulation and carelessness can take centre stage to avoid speaking a truth that is more confronting, potentially freeing but also downright terrifying to the inexperienced.

The vulnerability I am talking about here is the genuine kind, not the ‘’tantrum’’ or ‘’drama’’ kind where the protagonist is actually quite capable of helping themselves, but prefers instead to use manipulation or passive/ aggressive tactics to get their needs met consciously or unconsciously. True vulnerability here is acknowledging what is actually going on in the relationship in question, whether the relationship is with the Self or another. Vulnerability is a resource to actually achieve a mutually beneficial outcome rather than as a tool to wage messy, dirty conflict.

Vulnerability needn’t equate to meekness Being vulnerable is actually one of the most assertive things I for one have ever done. Having the gumption to tell someone I love them, to tell them I miss them to tell them I am angry with them is absolutely fucking terrifying when I don’t know whether or not I will be heard or acknowledged. (This of course requires that such statements are made as declarations rather than ultimatums or any kind of manipulation.) Acknowledgement of another person’s feelings is a vital part of communication and creating intimacy through vulnerability. If / when you acknowledge that you are actually valuable in another person’s life, you are then compelled to be responsible for your own responses and behaviour toward them. Acknowledging responsibility is an act of both vulnerability and power. Pretending it doesn’t matter that someone you’re close to just told you how they feel is not only inharmonious it’s also a form of rejection and an inhibitor to intimacy. They wouldn’t have been close to you in the first place if you didn’t actually care about them.

For example, we can all think of situations where for one reason or another we have wanted, or even needed to be taken care of in some way, shape or form, to be soothed if you like, or just supported and appreciated for a day, a night, a month, a life time. Where a need to be understood was crucial, but where the ability to recognise that need was impossible because the mere thought of allowing such a realisation was too much to bear. It was only with hindsight that we realised what we needed, but were too fearful to acknowledge it; instead judging our own feeling for example as ‘’weak’’ or ‘’inappropriate’’, rather than seeing it for what it is, a basic human desire to be understood and acknowledged. Somehow to admit our humanness is weak, is animalistic, is dangerous. My belief is that not acknowledging our feelings is far, far, far more dangerous. As my dear friend Cath says: What you resist; persists! I can think of few cases where this is not a universal truth. When your strongest motivator is actually also your blind spot, communication can get very very messy.

So where do we go from here? The concept of acceptance has been around for ages, thousands of years in fact. Buddhists cottoned-on to it yonks ago, and have been its greatest advocates ever since. Recently psychologists have decided it’s OK too, even beyond OK; downright effective! Good stuff! So we finally have science and spirit intersecting. (For the atheists who walk among us, substitute the word ‘spirit ‘for ‘feeling’ instead). So, what does this mean for us lay-people? It means two things that I can see so far. One is, we have one of the most powerful tools available to us to give ourselves the leverage to get a bit real with ourselves and stop pissing-about on the edges, and Two, it enables us to understand that being honest with ourselves first, and then with others (whilst being a bit scary at times), is actually a very assertive practice, and at times, a whole lot harder than running in on the defensive, but ultimately more fulfilling and anxiety reducing!

Are you more powerful when you act or re-act? Who is more powerful,  the initiator or the reactor? When it comes to relationships (not just sexual ones, remember?) the most effective work can be achieved when we take action, rather than just re-action. When our default is thoughtful, emotive and inspired rather than an act of defence strategy and one-upping, we are operating from a place of creativity and agency.

Here’s the thing; a wise teacher once asked me and I will ask you; Do you want to be rightOR Do you want to be close? Depending of your values, you may struggle with choosing between what may seem to be opposing alternatives. Sometimes (but not always) you can’t be both. Sometimes you just have to accept what is there, without judging it. Your answer to that question may actually be a cause of vulnerability for you…………… and so the cycle starts again.

The old adage we teach what we most need to learn rings absolutely true. I have spent years working through issues of accepting and embracing my vulnerability. It’s still a challenge for me, but I’ve been practicing for years and it gets better and easier. Believe me. I spent years feeling nervous, anxious and profoundly deranged trying to keep all the plates spinning, while trying to look cool as a cucumber. Will I ever have it totally mastered? Probably not! But then again, I don’t know that mastering emotions is the kind of goal I am looking to achieve anyway. Emotions by their very nature are erratic and arousing. Some are pleasant, others are not. But emotions in their essence are a necessary part of life, as necessary and water, air, food and sleep, yet these things are not judged as invalid, in the way that emotions often are. Feelings add value, colour and texture to what would otherwise be rather rudimentary and cardboard lives. Why would anyone want to dominate the one thing that gives their life its authenticity, its spark and its vigour. Conversely, being a slave to one’s emotions is also unsavoury and potentially deadly. Common Sense is calledcommonsense for a reason. It’s everywhere and everyone has access to it………. in theory at least! Learning to allow access to feelings, process them and foster acceptance is where the magic lies. Find the edge, find the distance you’re prepared to get to, wait and see. Don’t judge it, don’t push it. Just wait and see. …………………. What CAN you see? Let me know.

Cyndi Darnell: I have always been a pleasure enthusiast. For as far back as I can remember, my fascination with pleasure and sexuality has been part of my identity. Having travelled the world extensively in my 20s in the pursuit of self-knowledge and then my 30s exploring more introspective wonders and delights, I have come to embrace the understanding that sexuality and pleasure is not something separate from our lives, but part of our lives as a pathway to genuine wholeness, contentment and wellbeing.

My pursuit of quality sex-knowledge has led me down a variety of avenues to get the expert and diverse know-how I have today. From the dedicated hands on approach I took during the 1990s through workshops, seminars (including Sexological Bodywork and contemporary tantra) and good old fashioned trial and error; through to the academic and clinical studies I have completed in the 2000s in both general counselling and specialist clinical sex therapy, I am thrilled to be able to bridge the world of sexology from a variety of perspectives and approaches that embrace, understand and challenge the diversity of human sexuality.

I am also the founder and creator of Pleasure Forum Australia , a monthy  adult to adult sex education program where the emphasis is on pleasure and practical education, not sleaze and clinical theory. More recently my educational and therapeutic skills have been heard on Australia’s Triple J radio program The Hack for Sex Week, as well as working with Australia’s most outspoken darling,Catherine Deveny, on a series of free-to-air educational podcasts about sex, pleasure and the human condition. I am a mentor for the Minus 18 Sex Gurus, a queer  sex and health project for young queer identifying and gender questioning people. I work predominantly in Melbourne, but also offer my workshops and therapeutic sessions across Australia and globally via Skype.

 

Dec 092012
 

Originally published on his site Sexual Intelligence on 11/30/12

Even if you don’t watch porn—even if you think porn should be illegal—you still get the benefits of the porn industry’s fight to safeguard your freedoms as an American. And this goes way beyond your right to watch porn, to areas of privacy, capricious taxation, and elsewhere.

Here’s the latest.

Say you produce adult porn films for a living (go with me on this). You, the government, and society all agree that only adults should act in such films. And in fact, the adult film industry has an amazing record of accidentally employing almost no underage actors/actresses girls in the last 30 years—a far better record than the number of oil spills, crashes, or explosions in any other industry.

So it’s illegal for underage people to act in adult films. No problem. The government goes a step further, and requires age documentation of every participant in adult films. You must prove you’re an adult. No problem.

One day you decide to make a film featuring only 50-year-olds. All participants must prove they’re adults, and they do. But the government has this law (called “2257”) about record-keeping, unique to the adult film industry. They can come into your office unannounced, with no warrant or even probable cause, asking for the IDs of the 50-year-olds in the film; if you don’t have them handy right there, you can be prosecuted and sent to jail. You can go to jail not because you have underage actors in your film, but because you can’t prove that three 50-year-olds are over 18.

This law isn’t keeping underage talent out of films—because they haven’t been in commercial films to begin with. It’s simple harassment of a legal industry, which no other industry has to suffer. It’s an unconstitutional invasion of privacy—government agents coming into your premises unannounced not because they have a reasonable cause, but because the law allows them.

So here’s the big news—the porn industry has challenged this law, the government asked the case to be dismissed, and a federal judge refused.

In this case, the porn industry is protecting all Americans’ rights—to be, as the Fourth Amendment says, “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Here are just three other ways (there are many others) the porn industry protects your rights, whether you watch porn or not:

* Fighting arbitrary zoning: Cities and counties around the country try to prevent adult bookstores from opening by inventing discriminatory zoning rules—which are also used to prevent swing clubs, education centers, and religious centers from opening.

* Fighting taxes based on content: Several states now tax strip clubs more than other forms of live entertainment. If they can do this, they can levy extra taxes on any form of communication they want to discourage (such as violent video games or religious newspapers).

* Fighting government agencies advancing a moral agenda: Even though there is no HIV problem in the adult film industry (you’re safer sleeping with a porn actress/actor than a stranger you meet in a bar), Los Angeles County plans to require condoms and dental dams on all porn shoots. If they can do this, they can supervise any legal activity of which they disapprove, such as fashion shows, church bake sales, and campus protests.

So whether you watch porn or not, whether you think porn is evil or not—this holiday season, give thanks that, in addition to making films, porn producers are protecting your rights.

 

Dr. Marty Klein is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Sex Therapist, and sociologist with a special interest in public policy and sexuality. He has written 6 books and over 100 articles about sexuality. Each year he trains thousands of professionals in North America and abroad in clinical skills, human sexuality, and policy issues.

Marty sees men, women, and couples in his Palo Alto office for psychotherapy, couples counseling, and sex therapy. For an appointment, write Klein AT SexEd.org or call 650/773-2425.

Each month Marty publishes the electronic newsletter Sexual Intelligence,TMwhich examines the sexual implications of current events, politics, technology, popular culture, and the media.

For an archive of his original articles, lots of Q/A about sexuality, and other material, see www.SexEd.org.

Marty’s current award-winning book is America’s War On Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, & Liberty.

Dec 072012
 
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From Intentblog 12/6/12

After speaking out against critics of her daughter Willow’s new haircut, the mega-articulate actress and activist Jada Pinkett-Smith earlier this week used her Facebook platform to bring awareness to a much larger issue: how the degradation of women in the media negatively affects both men and women.

Talk about a woman who knows how to use her words as a weapon for justice and equality. We’re with you, Jada.

“How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eye’s of an incomplete woman? The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only. The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes.

I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection.

 

There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer.

He doesn’t recognize that the [creation] of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize.

He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him 4 four children.

When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.

Power and control will NEVER out weigh love.

May we all find our way.”    ~ Jada Pinkett-Smith, via Sinuous Magazine

Dec 032012
 

 

PHOTO OF ANTONIA CRANE BY SHEILA HIBER

I’m staying in a dark Motel 6 in room 205 off Highway 111.The shades are drawn. It’s a dark and warm desert night. Someone is rolling their luggage on plastic wheels back and forth in front of the door as if they’re determining which room they should bury the fingertips of their dead. I hope not room 205. In places like this, bad things happen.

I’m applying bright turquoise eye shadow on my lids the color of striped mini-skirts I wore in 7th grade. Turquoise reminds me of Love’s Baby soft and Breck shampoo. I curled my hair and burned my ear those mornings in Mom’s pink bathroom waiting for “99 Luftballoons” to play on the radio again before school. Mom was a big believer in baths and I inherited her soaker gene. She filled glass vases with red and silver bath beads. She could build a robot out of erotic oil and bath salts clumped together in pink chalky balls. She morphed our DNA with her bubble bath, soaking and soaking while she assessed. The steam from that room was so epic I expected tendrils to slip through the crack under the door.

But this eye shadow would not sit on the shelf next to her incandescent body powder. This desert shadow was from Target down the road. I smear the lid with a cheap blue film. I know there’s a really good chance they won’t hire me but at least my eyes will sparkle nice.

I’m supposed to have a teaching job. I’m supposed to be happily married. I’m supposed to have a book. I’m supposed to have a full time gig. I’m supposed to be self-supporting. I’m supposed to have kids. I’m supposed to own something.
I’m supposed to know how to do this mainstream work thing. I don’t.

It’s been exactly one year since I’ve stripped. In that time, I’ve played a stripper in two movies and worked as a technical consultant for Jill Soloway’s dark comedic stripper film “Afternoon Delight,” but I have not danced for dough. I’ve not spread a man’s feet apart so I can squeeze in between them. I’ve not been on the pole.

I’m nervous. One look at my ID and they’ll turn me away. On tough girls, terror of rejection is dressed up like an over-smiling prom queen candidate, but never believe that. In my turquoise and pink spandex glory— I’m skinless. A part of me hopes this Motel 6 will be the end of the line but even the fart smells of our broccoli and hummus dinner on counter charms me. I focus on the task at hand: Eyelash glue.
$1.99 Sugar body spray also from Target.
My tax bill to the IRS=$337.00

Desert Showgirls is less than a mile away from our luxurious digs and like many places I’ve worked before, the parking lot is not full of cars—a bad sign.

We walk in the door like we’re really grateful to own the place and a cute blonde chick with rugged lines on her eyes puts her arms around my shoulders. “How old are you?” she asks. (I lie and tell her 40.)
“I’m forty-two,” she admits (three seconds from my age). I feel like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler when he knows better but does it anyway.

A big black guy younger than my nephew hands me a job application even though I just told him I worked here a year ago.

The blonde is taking her break with me. She looks older than forty-two but who am I to say.

“I made $250 on Thanksgiving just playing pool,” she crosses her arms. She must have kids and some dogs she rescued from the pound. I thought of all of the Thanksgivings, Valentine’s Days and Christmases I spent on the laps of strangers in clubs in San Francisco and that specific lonely ache of holiday sex work. Chasing the holiday spenders hoping for a big mint, but it never once was what I hoped for. It was always just a little more lonely than was reasonable.

And now. It’s Thanksgiving weekend and I’m dancing at a titty bar in the middle of the desert that attracts military guys from the base in 29 Palms and prehistoric golphers—completely in my element.

The black body builder dude did look at my ID and at me. Back at my ID. Back to me but he just shook his head and said I didn’t look my age at all.

The man returned my ID and took my filled out application while I watched the women dance on stage.

I have missed women’s bodies. How they uncoil and sashay on stage climbing the pole like savage hunters after blood in the ceiling. And customers are a place to mine stories, a place to fall into.

I sat with a woman who was so pretty like Heidi Klum. She had the word “Warrior” tattooed on her forearm so I got curious about it and waited for the story. Her boyfriend was short and charismatic with silver hair and had a gadget fixing business and he told me that I was exactly like him because I never give up and probably I had a bad childhood.

“I know you. You’re just like me,” he said. He sat very close to her and held her one free hand.

I wanted to tell him I’m not competitive, just hungry, but maybe that was his point. After all, I glanced at the strippers’ dances and made sure that I had more pen marked “X’s” than the other girls on the chart. The ones who had lots of “X’s” I studied hard for gesture and technique. Once we were are all little girls just doing our best, then things got ugly.

I didn’t want to hear about the man’s childhood or mine. I wanted to know about the “Warrior” on his Heidi Klum’s forearm. She got up to find the bathroom.

So when she was gone I asked him. The boyfriend swirled the gold liquid in his glass and leaned over so he was speaking directly into my ear and breathed jack and coke in my face. He told me a serial rapist guy who had killed 7 women abducted her when she was 19 and she was the only one who escaped. He told me that she had a daughter named August who didn’t know. I thought again about all of the little girls doing their best and things getting ugly like knives and projectile vomit and rape ugly.

She appeared again and sat down and crossed her Heidi Klum legs that were sweetly draped in a flow-y pant that looked more like a skirt. Maybe those things are called “skorts.” I wanted to hear the story from her, but I didn’t ask. She grinned the familiar sad girl grin and held her drink too tightly and I knew it was true. And when I danced for her I kissed her neck so softly that it’s possible she never even noticed she was kissed.

ANTONIA CRANE is the only person from Humboldt County who doesn’t smoke weed. She teaches creative writing to incarcerated teenagers in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Salon, The Heroin Chronicles (edited by Jerry Stahl), The Rumpus, The Los Angeles Review, Black Clock, Slake, PANK, ZYZZYVA and other places. She wrote a memoir about the sex industry and her mother’s cancer called “SPENT” and hopes to find a home for it soon.

You can follow Antonia on:

TWITTER | FACEBOOK | WWW.ANTONIACRANE.COM | THE CITRON REVIEW

 

Dec 022012
 

Come see Kelly ShibariCathy VartuliHeidi AndersonN’jaila Rhee
and me, Lady Cheeky at

CatalystCon East

Friday, March 15, 2013 – Sunday, March 17, 2013

for our panel:

Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality

Sunday, March 17 at 12:00pm
Crystal City Marriott at Regan Airport
1999 Jefferson Davis Hwy
Arlington, VA 22202

For 2 more weeks register for  CatalystCon at the
EARLY BIRD rate of $85 (reg. price $125).
It will be a fantastic weekend … Hope to see you there!

What is CatalystCon?

 

CatalystCon is a conference created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality. It is about reaching out and stimulating those who attend to create those important conversations in their own communities, changing how we as a society talk and treat sexuality.  It is about stimulating the activist that is within all of us and sparking transformation in the way our friends, neighbors, children and even politicians discuss one of the most important aspects of humanity.

Founder/Creator Dee Dennis regards this conference as a “melting pot of sexuality” that will unite sex educators, sexologists, sex workers, writers, activists, and anyone with a passion for creating change. “Knowledge is power, and sharing that knowledge is the first spark in igniting change.” This is the fundamental principle behind CatalystCon.

The fundamental principle of CatalystCon is that knowledge is power and sharing that knowledge is the first spark in igniting changing  conversations.

Check out CatalystCon on:

WEBSITE   |   FACEBOOK    |   TWITTER

Dec 022012
 

Come see Kelly ShibariCathy VartuliHeidi AndersonN’jaila Rhee
and me, Lady Cheeky at

CatalystCon East

Friday, March 15, 2013 – Sunday, March 17, 2013

for our panel:

Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality

Sunday, March 17 at 12:00pm
Crystal City Marriott at Regan Airport
1999 Jefferson Davis Hwy
Arlington, VA 22202

For 2 more weeks register for  CatalystCon at the
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The fundamental principle of CatalystCon is that knowledge is power and sharing that knowledge is the first spark in igniting changing  conversations.

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Dec 012012
 
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A report finds adult actresses are happier than the rest of us — and that being naked might lead to self-esteem

Originally published on SALON.COM – 11/27/12

A common stereotype of a female porn star is an insecure, sexually abused, mentally ill and/or drug-addled woman. It’s one supported by anecdotes (most memorably by Linda Lovelace’s harrowing autobiography) and rhetoric (the feminist scholar Catharine MacKinnon went so far as to claim that all porn actresses were sexually abused as children). But as for actual research? Eh, not so much.

Now, a new study claims to have debunked this truism, which is known as the “damaged goods hypothesis.”

Some performers were amused by the news. “As a happy, healthy female porn performer, my reaction is: thanks, science, thanks so much for proving I am real,” says writer and porn performer Lorelei Lee in an email.

On a similar note, porn actress Dylan Ryan tells me, “It’s about time that research catches up to the realities for a great many women who perform in porn,” she says in an email. “It’s important to me as a performer that the conversation evolve and develop to make space for the (as in any community and population) diversity of experiences, personalities and lifestyles of porn performers.”

Adult actress and director Kimberly Kane took a different tack. “I’ve found that everyone is damaged no matter what line of work they’re in,” she says.

Researchers compared self-reports from a group of nearly 200 porn actresses to those of women outside the industry who were similar in age, ethnicity and marital status. Not only did the report show no higher incidence of child sexual abuse or psychological problems among female performers, but it actually found that pornsters had higher levels of self-esteem and sexual satisfaction.

It’s true, however, that porn actresses are more likely to have ever tried a range of drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, according to the study. But as for recent drug use, performers were more frequent users only when it came to that devastating drug known as … marijuana.

Also of note in the study’s findings: Female performers were more likely to identify as bisexual, had sex at earlier ages, had more sexual partners and were more likely to be worried about STDs (although, due to mandated industry testing, they are perhaps more likely to know their status than the general populace).

The study, authored in part by Sharon Mitchell, a former porn performer and founder of the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, engages in plenty of speculation about what might account for these various differences — for example, in explaining the higher incidence of bisexuality, researchers suggest that “the adult entertainment industry acts as a facilitator of sexual fluidity by providing a supportive culture of same-gender sexual interactions and offers financial rewards for engaging in those behaviors.”

But the most fascinating hypothesis — and let’s remember, it’s just that — is that “being able to be completely naked in front of others” may be associated with higher self-esteem. (The paper cites another study finding that topless women at a beach reported higher self-esteem than those covered up.)

“I think that the misconception of porn performers as ‘damaged goods’ stems from a misconception that only women who have little respect for their body would take place in sexual acts in front of the camera,” says Madison Young, a porn actress, artist and self-described “sexual revolutionary.” “However, women who love their bodies, who are confident in themselves, many who have degrees and other careers, choose to be a part of the authentic documentation of pleasure.” They aren’t the only ones who choose to participate, of course, but that range does exists. “Pornography and the exploration of sexuality on film is a large and diverse realm and those that perform and work in the world of pornography are diverse as well,” she says.

And understanding that diversity means continuing to study it.

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon.
Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter.

 

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(Photo: Spanish News)

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