May 31, 2011

Vibrators For Me And We {featured video}

vibrators for me and we from lovesexfamily on vimeo.

Originally conceived as a short video promoting our product give-away, we wanted to capture the fun and intimate integration of vibrators into sex play for partners. It features the co-founders of Love, Sex, and Family – and a Passion Flower Mini Vibrator complements of Good Vibrations. Produced by Leighton Hambrick and Anne G. Sabo. Created in collaboration with five Cinema and Media Studies students at Carleton College: Joey Fishman, Hannah Jensen, Sam Scherf, Jameson Siegert, Matt Spevack.

‘Bikini-Ready’? Who’s Judging? | The New York Times {featured read}

EVERY spring, as sure as cherry blossoms bloom, so does the notion that women should diet, exercise and even liposuction their way to bikini-ready bodies. Magazines like Shape and Self reinforce the idea that preparation is essential, with months-long bikini body countdowns (100-calorie snack tips included) and workout DVDs like “Bikini Ready Fast!” as if the beach reveal were a test on par with the MCAT and only a slacker would settle for a one-piece.

“It really sends the message that you’re not worthy right now to put on a suit,” said Malia Mills, a swimsuit designer whose brand’s motto is “Love Thy Differences.” Ms. Mills, 44, said shoppers often declare in one of her 10 stores: “I just wanted to see what you had. I’m coming back when I lose five pounds.”

As our culture increasingly enshrines physical perfection, the bikini has come to inspire dread and awe. It wasn’t always so. In the 1960s, when bellybutton-baring suits first became popular in America, “it was a youthful phenomenon definitely,” said Sarah Kennedy, the author of “The Swimsuit: A History of Twentieth-Century Fashions.” Then the high-fashion set and movie stars began to put on bikinis, and by the ’70s, she said, the bikini was “worn by all ages.” Read More >>

May 30, 2011

Betty Dodson with Carlin Ross {featured resource}

Known for her work to empower women sexually, Betty Dodson (b. 1929) today runs Betty Dodson with Carlin Ross: Sex Information Online with the thirty-something Carlin Ross who left her career in law to devote herself to sex information. In addition to their own texts and podcasts, their website also includes the posts of several sex informed guest bloggers, each with their own specific profile and expertise; a sex column featuring Dodson's practical advice to readers; a reader forum; a book and video shop; galleries and more.

May 29, 2011

The Healing Power of Sex Work {featured contributor}

By Wrenna Roberston/Show Off Books

Wrenna Robertson
There’s a story not often told about sex work. It’s a story that most of society would scoff at if they did hear it; write it off as pure, deluded fantasy. Many of us won’t allow it to be true. I am a sex worker, and even I immediately felt that it was too-tall-a-tale-to-tell. It’s the story of the empowered sex worker who finds healing through their work. The sex worker who has become more whole a person because of what they do. But it is a story which rings true for many of the incredible women and men I have had the pleasure of knowing, who work as strippers, escorts, tantric practitioners, porn actors and erotic masseurs.

I have been stripping for half of my life - since just days after my 18th birthday. Almost immediately I became aware of the judgment that would come my way until the present day – from friends, partners, parents, sisters and strangers. They all expressed their disappointment in me for having chosen to make money by taking my clothes off for strangers. When I explained to people that I was doing it to save money for university, they eased off a bit, conceding that it was indeed a good way to put oneself through school.

Report back from the Annual Conference of the Council on Contemporary Families | Feministing {featured read}

I just returned from the annual conference of the Council on Contemporary Families, a group that is a terrific resource for the latest research on gender, sexuality, family trends, and race, ethnic, and class diversity.

“Tipping Point? What Minority Families Become the Majority” was the theme of the April 8-9 Conference at the University of Illinois Chicago. Highlights included an evaluation of the interpersonal implications of new racial and ethnic data from the US census, an in-depth discussion of multiracial identity, a fascinating panel on sexual diversity, a discussion of the racial and ethnic tensions surrounding paid and unpaid caregiving, and a riveting series of reports on the challenges of raising children who can thrive — from the differences in the gestural communications between mothers and babies in various racial and income groups, to understanding the high suicide rates of Latina teens, to the efforts of Chicago Ceasefire to reduce violence in Chicago’s streets using the same methods that epidemiologists use to interrupt the spread of contagious diseases. Read More >>

May 28, 2011

Barcelona Sex Project {featured trailer}


Barcelona Sex Project (2008) by Erika Lust is shot as a documentary featuring three women and three men. We get to know each on a personal level through one-on-one interviews, before we see them masturbate individually for the camera. Both the interviews and the masturbation scenes are shot in a more subdued style than Lust’s short films, further emphasized by the white backdrop and minimalist furniture used for this documentary.

Barnes & Noble Censors Cover Featuring Androgynous Male Model | Jezebel {featured read}

Barnes & Noble recently took an unusual step — the bookstore chain required the magazine Dossier wrap its new issue in opaque plastic before agreeing to stock it. The problem with the cover? Nudity. More specifically, the nude torso of the famously androgynous male model Andrej Pejic. Barnes & Noble was concerned customers would mistake Pejic for a shirtless woman.

Dossier co-founder and creative director Skye Parrott told me that the directive came as a shock. "We knew that this cover presented a very strong, androgynous image," said Parrott, "and that could make some people uncomfortable. That's partly why we chose it. I guess it has made someone pretty uncomfortable." Added Parrott, "I've been talking to all my friends who work in magazines, and nobody I know has ever heard of anything like this happening. Especially with a guy. Guys are shirtless on magazine covers all the time." Read More >>

May 24, 2011

Hard Core {featured book}

Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible" (1999; first ed. 1989) by Linda Williams, professor of film at the University of California, Berkeley, provides a film historical analysis of the porn genre from the early stag films of the late nineteenth century through the classical features of the seventies and the video porn of the eighties. In the illustrated epilogue added to the 1999 edition, Williams addresses the most recent historical trends in porn and porn studies, in particular the need for a method with which to discuss the visceral viewing of porn; "the rawer, less sublimated, responses of viewers to moving-image pornography" (289).

What Women Don't Tell You | The Good Men Project {featured read}

Are you trying this and then trying that and finding nothing works to get her there? There’s a strong possibility she actually knows exactly what needs to happen, because she’s had practice masturbating, but is afraid to say so because her path to orgasm has been perceived by other men or the culture at large as bitchy or emasculating. She might feel that bringing a vibrator in bed will make you feel like less than a man, or she might worry that having you eat her out at length is boring for you. So she won’t ask. If you suspect this might be the case, it’s well worth bringing up. But don’t do it during sex, when fear of judgment is that much higher. While you’re sitting on the couch watching American Idol will lower the stakes of this discussion tremendously. Read More >>

May 22, 2011

Why Marriage? Or the Right to Marry?

Opponents to legalizing same-sex marriage often argue that marriage is rooted in religion. That it is intended for procreation and child rearing. Some fret about slippery slope scenarios if we were to legalize same-sex marriage.

But consider what marriage historian Stephanie Coontz has to say to this. As she writes in Marriage, a History: from Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage (2005),
The demand for gay and lesbian marriage was an inevitable result of the previous revolution in heterosexual marriage. It was heterosexuals who had already created many alternative structures for organizing sexual relationships or raising children and broken down the primacy of two-parent families based on a strict division of labor between men and women. (274)

May 21, 2011

"Piss" {featured film}

An official selection of the Miami Short Film Festival and Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, winning Best Comedy Short at CineKink NYC – "Piss" is a short film about a girl trying to convince her feminist boyfriend to pee on her. Comments Michaela on the film at
The film depicts a young heterosexual couple trying to work out a kink in their sex life ... In my opinion, this film portrays a very real issue. Though these two clearly care for each other very much, he is unable to comply with her somewhat “non-normative” sexual fantasy, because, in his mind, it’s just plain weird. He doesn’t want to demean his partner, or be excessively dominant. While this comes easily to many, it is just as challenging for others.

What Can Sex And Dating Teach Us About Race And Ethnic Relations? | Kinsey Confidential {featured read}

Despite the ongoing debate over the origins of human sexual orientation — whether it is biological, genetic, environmental, or even chosen — we are comfortable in our understanding of what sexual orientation is.  Sexual orientation is an individual’s sexual, emotional, and romantic attraction to a particular gender or genders (e.g., cis- and transwomen, cis- and transmen).  Unlike the role of gender in our sexual orientation and desire, we are less clear in our understanding of the role of other social characteristics, including race, ethnicity, social class, body shape, age, etc.

An important perspective that many social scientists use in their research is an understanding of the way that various systems of inequality intersect and mutually reinforce one another.  This perspective, known as intersectionality, helps us to see how people are simultaneously privileged or disadvantaged along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender, social class, age, nationality and immigrant status, and ability. Read More >>

Transgressive Sex Play {featured news}

Bringing up the rear recently featured an article—Bringing up the rear—on the growing trend of more straight men exploring a formerly taboo hot spot: the male anus. A national sex survey published last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found eleven percent of men ages 20-24 reporting that they've been on the receiving end of anal intercourse at some point in their lives. Says sex educator and editor of Good Vibrations Magazine Dr. Charlie Glickman: “more heterosexual men are discovering prostate and anal play with their female partners than ever before.”

Heart to Heart {featured resource}

Heart to Heart: A Couples' Enrichment Weekend Retreat is a nondenominational program for opposite-sex and same-sex couples, married or not. Founded in 1994 by three local Twin Cities couples, Friday-Sunday retreats are organized twice a year in Minnesota and Wisconsin where they volunteer as leaders.

May 15, 2011

"May is Masturbation Month" {featured video}

Betty Dodson (b. 1929) is to many their mama of masturbation; I know she is to me. Dodson has informed and inspired my intimate and loving relationship with myself since I first approached her work.

A trained artist, Dodson recognized the need for more attention to women's genitalia and masturbation early in her career. In the seventies and eighties, she became a significant voice as a sex positive artist, feminist, and masturbation activist, hosting regular masturbation workshops for women.

Dodson's self-published book Liberating Masturbation (1974) has become a feminist classic. Reprinted several times (also under the name Selflove), it is now best known as Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving.

Dodson has also made several sex pedagogical documentaries featuring masturbation and masturbation workshops available for purchase at her site:
Self-Loving:Portrait of a Woman’s Sexuality Seminar (1991)
Celebrating Orgasm:Women's Private Selfloving Sessions (1997)
Viva la Vulva: Women’s Sex Organs Revealed (1998)
Most recently, Dodson has partnered with Carlin Ross and created an online sex information site under the brand Betty Dodson with Carlin Ross. Watch Dodson and Ross' discussion about the importance of Masturbation Month in this featured video.

Vibrators for Me and We

Vibrators can be a nice addition to your self-love sessions, as well as to your partner sex. In my post earlier this month I promised that we would be giving away a Passion Flower Mini Vibrator as a contest prize.

Read on to find out how you can enter for a chance to win this delicate little sex toy, or link directly to the contest guidelines.

For over a century, it has been shown that vibrators enhance sexual pleasure. In the US, Betty Dodson (b. 1929) has been a masturbation advocate for decades. Recognizing early on the need for more attention to women's genitalia and masturbation, she hosted regular masturbation workshops for New York women in the seventies and eighties.

The Evolution of My Wank Style | Betty Dodson with Carlin Ross {featured read}

May is masturbation month, and it is also my birthday month! Yes, I am a Taurus (with Scorpio rising to be more specific), and today I will be talking about the evolution of my wank-style. I know, how very Taurus of me.

I have already discussed my first momentous wank at the tender age of fourteen, but solo sex, like most of life, does change over time. When you're young, hormones are like alchemy; they transform the raw lead of lust into the pure gold of orgasm. After a certain age, it becomes a question of mind over matter. My brain is definitely my biggest sex organ. That's one of the reasons, I believe that women who don't masturbate have more sexual problems with age. They have less self-knowledge and often less of an erotic imagination at a time when the body is closing down the baby-making machine (which, of course, is the real purpose of all those heat inducing hormones).

Masturbation builds sexual muscle; it connects the vulva with the pleasure centers in the brain. Over time, these connections become stronger. We all know how hard habits like smoking are to break, and there is a reason for this. Habits exist on a biological level. When you repeat an action over and over again, you form neural connections in the brain that facilitate the repetition of this habit. Masturbation can fine tune sexual response, reinforce those neural connections and, therefore, enhance partner sex.

May 12, 2011

The Band {featured film}

The indie sex and rock feature film The Band (2009) by Australian Anna Brownfield (1971) stands out from all other new porn by women. In 2009, The Band was the opening film at the Berlin Porn Festival and was also shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Brownfield’s film gives association to Michael Winterbottom’s 9 songs (2004) and John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus (2006), films along with which Brownfield classifies her own: art house films with hardcore sex.

Anti-Porn Feminists Can’t Acknowledge Feminist Porn | Ms Naughty {featured read}

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed (in my Louise Lush filmmaking persona) by Alyssa McDonald and the end result was published today in the SMH: Feminist Porn Faces Hardcore Critics.

I had a decent chat with Alyssa and showed her my film which she enjoyed. I think the end result isn’t too bad, although I wish she’d included some of the other things I’d said. I also have an issue with this paragraph:
The vast majority of explicit material is made for a male audience; at best, it is degrading, and at worst it is often physically harmful to the women featured in it.
This is too much of a generalisation and not backed up by facts. Porn is not inherently degrading and it’s doubtful that porn is “often” physically harmful to the female performers. Not to say that these things are concerns but this is too much of a blanket statement.

My other problem is that last quote about “objectification.” It hasn’t quite come out right. I was questioning the entire concept and the way it’s always trotted out as a criticism of porn. No-one really questions what it means, or whether “objectification” is something that only happens in porn. I was pointing out that objectifying others is a human trait, it happens in everyday life all the time including when we’re at the supermarket. Read More >>

May 10, 2011

What's Going on Down There? {featured book}

What's Going on Down There? Answers to Questions Boys Find Hard to Ask by Karen Gravelle with Chava (13) and Nick (11) Castro provides accessible information and advice to boys going through puberty. The book includes information about body changes, sex, birth control, preventing STDs, and lots of practical reassuring advice in response to typical concerns and questions.

Masturbation is Healthy | My Pleasure {featured read}

Jerking off, self pleasuring, beating around the bush, letting your fingers do the walking, answering the bone-o-phone. A euphemism by any other name is masturbation.

May is National Masturbation Month. When I found that out, I got to thinking about how uncomfortable our society is with masturbation. I’ve never really understood why. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly agree it is something that shouldn’t be done on the public thoroughfare, but I don’t see why people freak out with the idea of people doing it in private.

Let’s everyone say it all together,”Masturbation is a normal, healthy sexual behavior and there is nothing wrong with doing it!” Say it loud and proud! For someone with no sexual partner, masturbation may be their only sexual activity and outlet.

May 9, 2011

It Gets Better {featured video}

"Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, leading them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. ... The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years." (

Launched in September 2010 when by syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage and his partner Terry created a YouTube video to inspire hope for young people facing harassment, the project had within two months turned into a worldwide movement. More than 10,000 videos have been submitted and viewed over 35 million times. In March, the It Gets Better book was released as a collection of submitted stories. All proceeds from the book are donated to LGBT youth charities.

The Facts - "Abortion in the US" {featured video}

Advancing the sexual and reproductive health in the United States, the Guttmacher Institute, now four decades into its foundation, brings us these facts to ensure that the debate around abortion is based on sound evidence and placed in the proper context of closely related issues like unintended pregnancy, contraceptive use and sex education.

May 8, 2011

The Period Book {featured book}

The Period Book: Everything You Don't Want to Ask (But Need to Know), written by Karen Gravelle with the assistance of her 15-year old niece Jennifer Gravelle, will appeal to adolescent and pre-adolescent girls with its informative and accessible approach to puberty. Since, as Gravelle writes, the reason a girl gets a period in the first place is that her body is changing from a child's body into a woman's body, the book provides good information concerning all these changes; in addition to practical advice on menstruation, from changes you can see (growth spurts, breasts developing, hair in new places, skin changes and perspiration, and genital changes) to changes you can't see (in the internal sexual organ).

Why do we give children such confusing messages about their bodies? | Daily Mail {featured read}

Last week, during one of the hottest Easter holidays on record in the UK, my three children and I went to the local park.

It was sweltering, and after an hour or so of running about with a football, my daughter, Phoebe, who has just turned 11, had turned into a sweaty, par-boiled lobster and desperately wanted to take her T-shirt off to cool down. But she didn’t.

When I asked her why on earth not, she said in an exasperated voice, as if I didn’t understand anything, ‘Mum, I can’t take my top off in a park. People will stare and point!’

Once I’d picked my jaw up off the grass and tried to make sense of what she’d just said, I realised to my utter dismay that her fears were probably completely justified.

Where boys often take their tops off in the hot summer months, many girls, even as young and totally undeveloped as my younger daughter, already feel that they ‘shouldn’t’ expose their top halves in public. Because their nakedness is somehow . . . wrong.

The Womanly Art of Bleeding

Go with the Flow (Kat Grandy)
I recently got my period back. -- After more than three and a half years of no period. Friends have been jealous. Personally, I've sort of missed it. "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding," La Leche League calls it. But while I've been nursing my toddler daughter for almost three years now, I have somehow felt less womanly for not having a period. For me, getting my period back was cause for celebration.

This wasn't always the case, however. When I first got my period, I felt ashamed. -- Much like Lorraine, a mother who reports the following to Karen Gravelle in The Period Book: Everything You Don't Want to Ask (But Need to Know):
My feeling about having a period was one of shame. This feeling was transmitted to me by my mother, who made me feel unhappy about this sensitive moment. Everything she said about the experience was negative. (98-99)

May 6, 2011

Sex Toys Against Cancer {featured news}

The woman-run silicone sex toy manufacturer Tantus has announced that their "Team Tantus" will be participating in Relay for Life 2011. In their fundraising efforts, Tantus has also created the limited edition Dark Vamp dildo and Dark Vamp Harness Kit – 100% of the proceeds from the sale of each item will go to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

May 4, 2011

"Honoring Young Mamas" {featured video}

Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ) and the Center for Young Women's Development bring us this music video "honoring all young mothers in their strength, commitment, and love in building their strong families!" This year, ACRJ with its Strong Families initiative will be commemorating Mama’s Day: "a celebration of the mothers in our lives who are often overlooked during traditional Mother’s Day conversations."

Real Life: A frank and funny guide to what's going on 'down there' | Independent {featured read}

Some women are still embarrassed about gynaecological issues but a new book hopes to change that

Women are generally more open and honest when talking about health issues, compared to their male counterparts. But according to American gynaecologist Dr Lissa Rankin, there seems to be one last taboo for women -- being able to talk frankly about what's going on 'down there'.

"There is a lot more education now and I credit 'Sex and the City' with helping to usher in a change in conversations -- they were four powerful New York women talking about body parts and sex," she says.

"For some women -- and I particularly see this on tours of colleges with younger women -- there is an openness to engage with the topic. A lot of the college students come into the venue feeling shy and crossing their legs.

The Kinsey Institute {featured resource}

Founded at Indiana University in 1947, just before the publication of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male(1948) by pioneering sex researcher Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, the Kinsey Institute works towards advancing sexual health and knowledge worldwide and has become a trusted resource for investigating and informing the world about critical issues in sex, gender and reproduction.

Today the institute carries out its mission for the public through, among other:

May 3, 2011

Children's Sex Education Book Too Graphic?!

A Washington state mother has filed a complaint against her local school district for exposing her 10 year-old daughter to a children's sex education book, which she believes is "completely too graphic." What's the Big Secret: Talking about Sex With Girls and Boys (2000; first ed. 1997) by Laurie Krasny Brown, Ed.D., and Marc Brown is actually recommended for children ages 3-8 by Debra W. Haffner in From Diapers to Dating: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children (2008; first ed. 1999, 2000, 2004). Haffner served for twelve years as president of SIECUS–the country's largest clearinghouse of sexuality education–and has been a human sexuality educator for more than twenty-five years. Incidentally, I read the book in contention to my toddler daughter on a regular basis.

What strikes me in the media's coverage of this story are the select quotations and presentation of the book:
"[The book] includes cartoons explaining masturbation" and "cartoon characters discussing the feeling you can get from ‘rubbing your genitals’ and shows a young boy telling a girl, ‘I’ll show you mine.’"(Mail Online)
"[The book] shows how boys and girls are physically different, offers a lesson in reproduction and "talks about 'different types of touching.'" (Q13 FOX News)

May 1, 2011

"Change" {featured video}

"Change" from Thomas Kruesselmann on Vimeo.

"Change" is another short video by Thomas Kruesselmann, the German photographer and director who also brought us "Perfection". Though it features a slim long-limbed model, the sensuous pleasure she expresses while changing clothes is familiar–you can almost feel how great these materials feel against the skin. At the end she stares into the mirror for an extended moment, reminding herself as we the viewers are reminded that, more than anything, it's about feeling good in your own skin.

Sexualization is Sex Negative | Good Vibrations Magazine {featured read}

Do you see a happy little girl? And do you see a confused one? I wonder if you can guess which one is my daughter.

Yes, you got it. My daughter is the one on the right, pictured with me posing for an embarrassing photo to advertise her preschool’s annual fundraiser. Goofy as we look, I still find this picture much easier on the eyes than the one on the left. All I can think when I look at this little girl made up like an adult and photographed with bedroom eyes, is how oblivious she must be to the meaning behind the directives she is being given. “More shoulder! Part those lips! Look, um, vulnerable!” Yikes.

This little girl is the victim of “sexualization,” a term which I use to mean the inappropriate IMPOSITION of a NARROWLY-DEFINED sexuality. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s everywhere.

Smut City Film Series {featured news}

Smut City made its debut last night at the New Movement theater in Austin, Texas with a screening of Café Flesh (1982), a post-apocalyptic science fiction porn film. Part of a growing movement of independent sex film festivals that include the Feminist Porn Awards, Porn Film Festival, CineKink, Sexy International Film Festival, Good Vibrations Indie Erotic Film Festival, and more; Smut City can contribute to building a greater public awareness of alternative re-visioned porn and its potential as a tool to empower men and women alike in their sexual lives.

Our Bodies Ourselves {featured resource}

Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS) began in 1970 with the publication of the first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Also known as the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (BWHBC), OBOS is a nonprofit, public interest women’s health education, advocacy, and consulting organization, which has inspired countless women and the women’s health movement; in particular by producing books that make accurate health and medical information accessible to a broad audience, weaving women’s stories into a framework of practical and clearly written text.

Celebrate National Masturbation Month

National Masturbation Month was launched by the sex-positive women oriented sex shop Good Vibrations in 1995, after the then-Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders was fired for saying that masturbation should be discussed as part of young peoples' sex education. Fortunately, while taboos linger around masturbation, and in particular women's masturbation, we've come a long way since then.

Last month, the New York Times featured an article about the mainstreaming of vibrators. For years vibrators were bought quietly in sex shops, and later online, arriving in discreet unmarked packages. Now they are boldly displayed at Walgreens and other mainstream drugstores, due in large part to the popularization of vibrators by television shows and films such as Sex and the City (remember the Rabbit?) and The Ugly Truth (in which Katherine Heigl wears a pair of vibrating panties to a restaurant--you get the picture?!).