March 31, 2011

Bond in Heels {featured video}

– So, are we equals? Until the answer is yes, we must never stop asking.

At the end of "Women's History Month," we've decided to feature one of the most interesting videos supporting this International Women's Day (March 8).

"The two-minute short, specially commisioned for International Women's Day, sees 007 star Daniel Craig undergo a dramatic makeover as he puts himself, quite literally, in a woman's shoes." Equals?

How to be as Horny as a Guy | Rabbit Write {featured read}

Lazily plucking an old copy of The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order from the “feminism” section of my bookshelf, I came across a piece called “How to be as Horny as a Guy” written by someone named Lady J. While the idea of “being horny as a guy” felt kinda dated and gender-hetero-normative–I loved the piece. It was a subversive take on the usual lady-mag round-ups. And it was actually helpful.

Inspired, I compiled my own “How to be as Horny as a Guy” tips. Like Lady J warns: horniness may lead to sex! So protect yourself, grrrrl. Read More >>

Mature Women's Sexuality Needs More Focus {featured news}

The cast of Calendar Girls (guardian)
A major new study conducted on behalf of the UK Film Council found that mature and older women feel marginalized in film. These women are keen to see film roles for women that more accurately communicate the characteristics of the modern, sexually liberated mature and older woman rather than being cast as background, sexless figures. 

How Sex Affects Women's Body Image

(The Huffington Post/Glamour)
Pennsylvania State University study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescence, relied on a longitudinal survey of students who entered college as virgins and found that male students were more satisfied with their appearance after first intercourse, whereas female students became less satisfied with their appearance. 

As Tracy Clark-Flory wrote this week in her article commenting on this study, the body image findings in this latest research might have "something to do with what Masters & Johnson dubbed sexual 'spectatoring,' which is when you see yourself 'from a third person perspective during sexual activity, rather than focusing on [your own] sensations and/or sexual partner.' Translation: You think, 'Do my breasts look OK from this angle' instead of, 'Wow, this position feels fantastic.' The researchers suggest that women may be especially prone to this -- in part because, duh, they are much more commonly sexually objectified in the culture at large. So, when it comes to actually getting busy, they are more likely to critically evaluate their bodies in terms of the worshiped feminine ideal."

Toddlers' obsession with sex

Free to Be You & Me
Free to Be You & Me
This isn't about the toddler's interest in exploring her genitals that I've posted about here; this is about the toddler's obsession with identifying and categorizing everyone around her according to their sex. As I'm eager to nurture a new generation of little women and men breaking out of conservative and confining gender roles, I often pause to think about how best to respond to y toddler daughter's repetitive "she's a girl and he's a boy and mama's a woman and papa's a man." 

When I brought this up in a conversation with some mama friends of mine, one said her mother, who ran a daycare for a number of years, had said that the boy-girl topic was the most prominent of all among the children she'd cared for over the years.

Sex educator Debra W. Haffner, author of From Diapers to Dating, seconds the significance of this topic. By as early as six months of age, babies can pick out male and female voices, and children learn to divide the world into "male" and "female" before they reach the age of two. Depending on the behaviors they see in their homes and preschools, they will identify certain behaviors as male or female.

March 27, 2011

Pink Brain, Blue Brain {featured book}

Boys and girls are different, but not so different as cultural stereotypes would have us think. And differences caused by genes and hormones can be compensated for by encouraging appropriate games and activities to kids. That's the gist of Pink Brain, Blue Brain(2009) by neuroscientist Lise Eliot. Eliot takes the reader from the womb through infancy, toddler years, preschool, and the beginning of formal schooling, so her book might be particularly interesting to parents of children in those age groups.

Good Vibrations {featured resource}

Good Vibrations is one of the oldest sex-positive female oriented sex shops in the United States, which were launched to provide a "clean, well-lighted" alternative to conventional "adult" bookstores. Following the New York retailers Adam & Eve, which opened in 1970, and Eve’s Garden from 1974 where men were only allowed in the company of women, sex educator Joani Blank founded Good Vibrations in San Francisco's Mission District in 1977. Originally a retailer of books and sex toys, it has added on adult sex films, including its own movie production line, and has opened up three more stores, today covering coast to coast.

March 25, 2011

Vulvae Galore

Since posting about a sculpture exhibit celebrating the varieties of vulvae which is meant to empower every woman to embrace her vulva as it is, pre- and postpartum (see more on the artist's page here), my reader list has been inundated by other posts with news about vulva celebrations. March is Vulval Health Awareness Month after all. First came a post from the ever so prolific sex blogger Violet Blue reporting that women in Denmark right now are lining up to have pictures taken of their vulvae to capture the diversity (click on link at end of post to see gallery). Writes Blue: "Kvinfo has set up a so-called ‘kussomat’ (Eng: pussy-o-mat) in Copenhagen – and I think that is one well-lit chair." (KVINFO is the Danish Centre for Information on Gender, Equality and Ethnicity, with their feature here: En Kusso-hvaffor-noget?).

Then feminist porn maker Erika Lust posted about I'll show you mine, a photo study of women's genitalia accompanied by the women's stories. I'll Show You Mine is published by the Canadian publisher Show Off Books and became available for purchase this month on their site: “The photos in the book demonstrate and celebrate the wonderful diversity of the vulva; the stories illuminate the range of experiences that women have relating to the genitals in a world where mass media and pornography increasingly set the standards for sexuality and the look of all body parts, even our genitals.”

March 22, 2011

Embracing the Varieties of Vulvae
I had a memorable lesson with my toddler the other day; teaching her about her vulva empowered her, and it renewed my relationship with my own vulva--much changed after the 64 hours of labor almost three years ago.

Recently featured a piece on an exhibit by British sculptor artist Jamie McCartney titled "The Great Wall of Vaginas," which will showcase how "all vaginas are different, and that difference is a beautiful thing." Explains the artist, "I realized that many women also suffer anxiety about their genitals and I was in a unique position to do something about that... If this sculpture helps just one woman decide not to proceed with unnecessary plastic surgery on their genitals then it will have succeeded."

March 21, 2011

Matinée {featured film}

Skin. Like. Sun., an erotic experimental documentary music video, goes on pre-sale on Monday, March 28 at Blue Artichoke Films. In our LSF Amazon Shop, we currently have Blue Artichoke’s erotic short porn film Matinée available for purchase. Featuring two actors, lovers in real life, but accused by critics for not displaying chemistry on stage where they play two lovers, the two decide to take it up a notch in a reunion scene in a matinee performance of the play.

Matinée is a porn film with high cinematic quality, presenting professional photography, strong acting, and realistic settings. The characters are naturally beautiful in their anachronistic ways; he thin, his jaw distinct, fine lines around his eyes and mouth, short coarse dark hair, his gaze present; she softer, pale skin and blond hair in dreadlocks, a furrow between her eyebrows, some thin lines along her neck, full lips and eyes to sink into. Matinée portrays their sex on stage in near real time, capturing the warmth and textures of skin, layers, curves, and forms, and the intensity of their mounting desire and pleasure crosscut with the audience’s keen response, all underscored by the film’s excellent soundtrack.

Matinée won the award for best short film at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (2009) and at CineKink NYC Film Festival (2009).

Bike Ride Dutch Style {featured video}

Office Of Adolescent Health {featured resource}

While significantly cutting abstinence-only programs, the Obama Administration has also signaled the importance of addressing the inter-related health needs of adolescents by establishing the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), charged with coordinating all activities within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “related to adolescent health promotion and disease prevention.” The office is responsible for implementing and administering “a new discretionary grant program to support evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention approaches” (OAH).

March 18, 2011

"Perfection" {featured video}

"Perfection" from Thomas Kruesselmann on Vimeo.

For more by Kruesselmann, the German photographer and director based in Duesseldorf and New York City, click here.

Freedom to Marry {featured resource}

Anne Hathaway, Jane Lynch, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Ellen and Portia DeGeneres are among the over 43,000 people (and counting) who have signed a letter written by the Freedom to Marry campaign, which seeks to legalize gay marriage nationwide and end discrimination based on sexual orientation. In February, President Obama made a powerful statement about the unconstitutionality of the law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriage; the letter asks the President to follow up by ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage.

Forty-five states continue to exclude same-sex couples from marriage, and through the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), the federal government refuses to honor the marriages of thousands of legally-wed same-sex couples, depriving them of the 1,000+ federal protections and responsibilities that come with marriage.

March 17, 2011

Comstock Films {featured film}

Comstock Films by the New York couple Tony & Peggy Comstock is a combination of documentary and hardcore where real couples are invited to be interviewed about their relationship and feelings for each other and their sexual life, and to have sex for the camera. The films' first part consists of the interview with glimpses of the couple's sex, while the second part presents the viewer with just sex in close to real time.

The Comstocks get that what’s truly arousing to see is realistic desire and pleasure, and their films milk the sexy energy one can find between real partners. My personal favorite is their second film, Xana and Dax: When Opposites Attract (2005). First of all, I’m completely charmed by Xana and Dax; they are two beautiful people to look at and listen to, talking about how they met, and the first time they had sex. In their case, "objectification" becomes a mutually adoring, affirming, and embracing gaze. There is such compelling love and kindness, desire and admiration, in the voices of Xana and Dax as they describe how they first saw and still see each other’s bodies. The smiles, the warmth in their voices, looks that caress; it’s beautiful.

The seventh installment of Comstock's "Real People, Real Life, Real Sex" series, Brett and Melanie: Boi meets girl, was recently released on DVD. Tony Comstock has a lot of interesting thoughts about the challenges—cultural, political, and financial—that confront those who seek to make new and better porn today that he writes about in his blog. Now he's decided to test the MPAA's rating standards (again) with this latest installment and is asking for our support. To find out more, read his blog post here.

Obama and a New Era of Sex Ed. {featured news}

(Photo: The Huffington Post)
In his weekly address last weekend, President Obama, father of two young girls, endorsed his support for women's rights to equal pay, rights, and opportunity, avowing to work towards closing the gender gap. Indeed, since taking office, President Obama has ended nearly thirty years of strong support from the federal government for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that disempower girls in particular, launching a new era of sex education, eliminating two-thirds of federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs while introducing new funding to comprehensive sex education initiatives. However, with policies and funding thus taking a major turn, much of this has yet to lead to real program implementation on state and local level.

Saying Yes for the Sake of Pleasure

(From Royalle's "The Tunnel")
As therapist and holistic sex educator Gina Ogden, Ph.D., writes in Women Who Love Sex,  there is a curious paradox in our culture about women’s sexuality: "While there is increasing encouragement for women to say ‘No’ to abuse and violence, there is still virtually no broad-based encouragement to say ‘Yes’ to pleasure”(xi).

The Californian based news, commentary, and politics blog, sacratomatoville post, recently had five women in their twenties and thirties tally up their sexual score. Said Cecilia, age 31, ad executive, who reported 20 as the number of men she'd had sex with: "In my 20s, I often slept with guys to get them to like me even if I wasn’t in the mood. Now that I’m 31, sex is about my pleasure. I’m not as skinny as I was in my 20s, but I don’t care. I’m more comfortable with my body because I view it as a powerful machine, and I carry myself with confidence."

March 16, 2011

Positive Sex Education

You have the right to:
- a sexual life
- determine over your own body
- demand abortion within the twelfth week of pregnancy
- free birth control consultation
- free birth control pills if you're between 16 and 19 years old."

(Scanned from brochure co-sponsored by the Norwegian government, distributed to teenagers)

Debra W. Haffner, author of From Diapers to Dating, encourages parents to educate children about their developing sexuality from when they are babies. While Haffner is considerate of people's varying comfort levels with respect to nudity and sexuality, her book promotes an overall positive and open approach to sexuality.

March 14, 2011

From Diapers to Dating {featured book}

From Diapers to Dating: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children by Debra W. Haffner, parenting and sexuality educator with more than twenty years of experience, is based on Haffner's firm belief that "sexually healthy families raise sexually healthy children who grow up to become sexually healthy adults" (5). Taking into consideration different religious, ethical and individual norms and comfort levels, Haffner provides informed and balanced advice to adults of different backgrounds and values on how to teach their children about sexuality and serve as positive role models for them.

March 11, 2011

Sex and Disability

(Photo: Ashley Savage)
While I was on leave with my family in Norway not too long ago, I led a conference workshop for The Norwegian Network for Sexuality and Relationship among the Physically Disabled (NFSS), at which I spoke to health care professionals about the potential benefits of erotic and pornographic film for physically impaired individuals. Recently feminist porn maker Erika Lust addressed the topic, "Sex and Disability - not sexual disability," in her blog. Lust points out the many stereotypes that continue to deny the sexuality of women and men with disabilities and not just in the sense of the construction of "negative asexualizing stereotypes." Individuals with disabilities are also denied ownership of their sexuality and to be sexually self-determined in other respects. Lust proposes this scenario:

"Think for instance about being in a bar and there’s a good looking guy or girl, but you don’t feel like starting to flirt, because this person sits in a wheelchair. A little hater pops up in your head and asks you ‘what will the people think?’ They’ll ask themselves how strange this guy/ girl may be having the hots for disabilities, trying to take advantage of this helpless being…’.

March 9, 2011

Planned Parenthood {featured resource}

I encourage you to stand with Planned Parenthood and sign the open letter to the representatives who voted to cut funding, and to the senators who still have a chance to stop it. Click here to sign.

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives’ voted to bar Planned Parenthood health centers from all federal funding for birth control, HIV testing, cancer screenings, and other lifesaving care. Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider and an informed educator, providing vital reproductive health care, as well as sex education and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.

"Love Hotel" {featured video}

Room 33 Erika Lust from boolab on Vimeo.

Swedish-born Erika Lust in Barcelona, Spain, presents us with a new direction in adult sex films by women today. Currently only her documentary film Barcelona Sex Project is available for sale in the United States (see our LSF Amazon Shop), but soon I hope to make available all her erotic short films that reveal Lust's definite talent in film techniques. Lust has a sharp eye for picture composition, and a style and rhythm that can appeal to modern urban people today. Her films are shot in the style of modern music videos with hip editing and catchy soundtracks. As she herself puts it, her porn speaks to a generation that grew up with MTV and shows like Sex and the City.

In 2010, Lust—together with five other directors—was invited by the ultra-hip international shoe company Camper to shoot a short film using their boutique hotel in Barcelona, Casa Camper, as its setting. Lust's vignette, "Room 33," features a couple checking into a hotel charged with erotic atmosphere that is tantalizingly captured in quick spinning flashbacks to their previous erotic stays at the hotel. Watch the vignette above or the entire Hotel Casa Camper movie with all six short films here: (Lust's is the third film).

Women's Sexuality More Fluid Than Men's {featured news}

In a recent survey, more than twice as many females as males reported some type of sexual encounter with a member of the same sex at some point in their lifetime, providing empirical support for the popular sense that women have more fluidity in their sexual attraction than men do (12.5% versus 5.2%). Women were less likely than men to report that they were only attracted to the opposite sex (83% versus 94%), and more women than men reported being bisexual (3.5% versus 1.1%). Younger women were more likely to identify themselves as bisexual than older women.