Roe v. Wade: More Harm Than Good?

February 2, 2010 Opinion No Comments

Suzanne Reisman over at BlogHer had a very thought-provoking piece regarding abortion that we here at Sex and the 405 didn’t think you should miss. An excerpt:

January 22, 2010, marked the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when the Supreme Court legalized abortion across the United States. This is not to say that abortion was not legal at all before Roe — it was legal in 1/3 of states before Roe, and it was legal in the US before the Victorians more or less ruined everything with their horrid morality issues. But don’t get me started on the Victorians…

Anyway, for a little while, Roe changed things for women who lived in states that did not have legal abortions. But in the long run, as a staunch supporter of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy within a reasonable time frame for whatever reason, I actually think the national legalization of abortion did more harm than good. What it did was open the flood gates to little laws that chipped away at the right to have an abortion so that while abortion is technically legal, it is not necessarily accessible. This keeps most Americans complacent, wondering why pro-choicers are complaining when abortion is legal. At the same time, the protesters remain whipped up in a self-righteous frenzy because abortion is legal, even though abortion services are not available to many women in America.

Consider: The good folks at The Guttmacher Institute* reported that 87% of counties in the US lacked an abortion provider in 2005. Over one-third of American women (35%) live in those counties. As a result, 25% of women seeking abortions in non-hospital facilities travel 50 miles or more, and 8% of women traveled more than 100 miles to exercise their legal rights to a medical procedure. Given that these access issues are most pronounced in states that did not have legal abortion before Roe, I’m not sure how things are so different for women who live in those places today. Legal or not, they still can’t get the services they need.

Read the entire piece here.

Information from BlogHer.

She screws! She Talks! SHE HAS AN OFF SWITCH!

February 1, 2010 geek, News, Technology, Toys 8 Comments

Before we begin, we want to take a second to instantaneously orgasm at the realization that we are thisclose to living in a postcyberpunk universe, OMG. The cyborgs are so close, the Sex and the 405 newsroom can almost taste them! Nom nom nom! /geekery

But let’s explore the robots that are actually among us, shall we?

Meet Roxxxy, a 5-foot-7-inches TrueCompanion that outweighs our editrix at 120 pounds. Her skin is soft, her orifices are willing and! She will talk to you about anything that interests you. For as long as you like. Without rolling her eyes!

(Our editrix should send one to her ex-husband.)

A TrucCompanion is a talking sex robot. Priced at $7,000, Roxxxy is the brainchild of Douglas Hines, a mad scientist who thought to slap silicone skin on a computer with voice-recognition and speech-synthesis software, and five pre-programmed personalities ranging from Frigid Farrah to Wild Wendy — take your pick!

A motor in her chest pumps heated air through a tube that winds through Roxxxy’s body, which keeps her warm to the touch. She also has sensors in her hands and genital areas that elicit vocal responses from her when she’s touched. She even shudders to simulate orgasm (like most women you know! Just kissing, sorry).

Her battery-life is only three hours, but then, that’s more than our iPhones, so we’re not going to complain too much.

“There’s a tremendous need for this kind of product,” said Hines, who’s really a computer scientist and former Bell Labs engineer, and happily married in Licoln Park, New Jersey.

This version of the bot cannot move on its own, though it can be contorted into many positions. We’re looking forward to advances in the technology that will allow for Roxxxy to get up and make dinner, give us a back massage, then go service our boyfriends and husbands so we can deal with our deadlines.

And once they figure out all the bugs, we expect her male counterpart, a sexy man-thing to change lightbulbs, play with our hair for hours on end and, of course, do us 24/7 — between deadlines, of course.

It’s not cheating if it doesn’t have a pulse, right?

Ew, that’s gross. Sorry. YOU KNOW WHAT WE MEAN.

Image from TrueCompanion. Information from CNN, via Denise Tanton.

Valentine’s Day: Gaping Void of Love

February 1, 2010 Art, Culture, Interview No Comments

Our editor has the same argument with her mother every year about Valentine’s Day. It looks like this:

AV: I want a man to give me presents for no reason, because he simply can’t resist being reminded of me whether he’s in the shower or strolling around town.

HER: good luck with that. Men are goal-oriented creatures. They need execution dates and a general template to follow or defy, hence the importance of holidays, anniversaries and birthdays — and nudges from us.

AV: that’s bleak, Mom.

Then, without fail, a few days before said holiday, AV will receive an e-mail from her father requesting approval of his latest gift. Everything from bizarre orchids (which her mother loves even though she invariably kills them) to a dinner in a tiny island only big enough for a table under a gazebo, with an ensemble of musicians in boats around them to serenade them.

AV got roses — once. From her ex-husband before he was her husband. Moral? UR DOIN IT RONG, AV.

So we here at Sex and the 405 have decided to do everyone a favor and put some options on the table for you, the first of which is a personal favorite of ours: art by Hugh MacLeod.

Somehow, our shameless editrix-in-command got the Wall Street Journal bestselling author to take a few seconds from his incredible creation schedule to give us some answers. We present these to you for your nomage:

AV Flox: Tell me about the Love Series — how did it come about?

Hugh MacLeod: The Love Series came about in 2007, when I was asked to design some Valentine’s Day promotion material for one of my clients. They went down a treat, and then when Valentine’s Day came around this year I decided to resurrect them.

AV: One of my favorite pieces by you “Commitment” isn’t on there — it should be. That’s love in a nutshell for me.

Your description you included with that piece goes like this:

Within 1 week of meeting this person you realize that not only have you found your soulmate, but you’ve found your soulmate who likes to have sex 4 times a day in the bed, on the dining table, on the kitchen floor, in the changing rooms at Bloomingdale’s etc.

Within 2 weeks you’re already talking about moving in together.

Within 3 weeks you’re talking about having babies together.

Within 4 weeks you realize this person is a complete psychopath.

Within 5 weeks this person also thinks you’re a complete psychopath.

Within 6 weeks you’re sitting at a restaurant with an old friend who is giving you the “How come you only call me when you’re single” speech.

Which is a really long way of asking: have you really had sex in a changing room at Bloomingdale’s? How was it?

HM: I never had sex in Bloomingdale’s. My parents gave me a double bed for my 17th birthday (“Hey, we’d rather have you doing it on that than in the back of a car…”), so from an early age I never had to scout out exotic locations, unlike some of my hapless single-bed school chums. That informed me as I got older.

AV: I have a queen-sized bed but I still love changing-room sex.

HM: The trouble with changing rooms, it’s impossible to spoon afterwards.

AV: But you can grab high tea at Neiman’s! [Laughs] Anyway, since we’re on the subject of the delectable: have you ever done a drawing on human flesh? If not, can I reserve the rights? Thanks.

HM: I once had a wonderful girlfriend who loved getting naked and getting me to draw on her. I was happy to oblige, but never really understood why it turned her on so much. I guess we all have our kinks, so whatever…

The lovely and charming Hermione Way asked me draw on her neck with a Sharpie last SXSW. But we were just having a laugh, nothing kinky happening there. She had already had a ton to drink that night (as did I), so when she woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror…

As for yourself, by all means! The next time you see me, bring a Sharpie!

AV: We all have our kinks, you say. What’s yours?

HM: It takes at least four cocktails to get the kinks outta me.

AV: Duly noted. So Valentine’s Day — because I have to ask — sweet or stupid holiday?

HM: I think Valentine’s day started off well, back in 17th Century Europe, where the idea was to send somebody a secret, anonymous letter that said, “I fancy you”. That’s pretty hot, to get one of those in the mail. But now we send Valentine’s cards to our grannies and vice versa. It kinda defeats the original purpose.

+++

There you have it, our sweet orchids of desire and destruction, the inimitable Hugh MacLeod. If you have an art junkie in your life, check out his gallery. If you’re a Twitter junkie, add him: @gapingvoid.

Closing words?

“Ladies, please always remember The Golden Rule: Men Are Stupid,” says Hugh MacLeod. “So if you want your man to get you one of these beauties for Valentine’s Day, do not assume he and his walnut-sized brain will be smart enough to figure it out on their own. Best to drop him a hint. Maybe kick him in the shins. Or something.”

Tila Tequila Loves The Ladies

January 30, 2010 Hollywoody, News 1 Comment

Proof positive that you can be a sleazy douchebag even if you’re a cute chick, we present to you Tila Tequila, the Singapore-born MySpace sensation, reality TV favorite and tabloid fodder:

All righty, then. Mind you, we love Tila, but, really?

Via Twitter, on an unrelated e-stalking expedition.

Schools Pull Anne Frank’s Diary From Curricula Because of “Vagina” Passage

January 29, 2010 Books, Culture, Freedom, News 4 Comments

“There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it,” wrote Anne Frank in her famous diary. “The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!”

This, according to the Washington Post is the passage that caused Culpepper County, Virginia, school public officials to pull the book from the shelves.

This passage is present in the Definitive Edition of Anne Frank’s memoir, written between 1942 and 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II.

This book is usually assigned to eighth-graders.

“What we have asked is that this particular edition will not be taught,” said Jim Allen, director of instruction for the school system. “I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. So we listened to the parent and we pulled it.”

The book will still be taught; the original work published by the girl’s father, Otto Frank, was heavily edited before publication in 1947, eliminating young Frank’s criticism of other people living in the Annex and all her discussions about sexuality.

It wasn’t until the 50th anniversary of Anne Frank’s death, in 1995, that the Anne Frank Foundation published the unedited, definitive version, which contains the passage. From now on, the edited version free of these passages will be used.

“I’m happy when parents get involved with these things because it lets me know that they are really looking and have their kids’ best interest (in mind). And that’s where good parenting and good teaching comes in,” Allen said.

Sex is evil! Water it down! Cut it away! Sanitize everything there is to read about it! Come on, world! This will definitely help our children grow up informed and aware!

If our sarcasm isn’t clear in the above statement, we’ll make it clear: we here at Sex and the 405 do not approve of this move.

I would also like to take this moment to thank my parents for sending me to private schools all of my life, most of which were run by super-progressive heretics.

Image from Amazon.com. Information from The Star Exponent and The Washington Post, via Eric Ludzenski.

Southern California Schools Take Back Dictionary

January 28, 2010 Books, Culture, Freedom, News No Comments

A couple of days ago we reported on a Riverside County district that had banned the dictionary because of the graphic manner that it defines oral sex (“the ora stimulation of genitals”).

According to the Huffington Post, a committee of parents, teachers and administrators decided this week to allow the kids at Oak Meadows Elementary School in Menifee to use Merriam-Webster’s. The school enables parents to opt to have their kids use an alternative dictionary.

Common sense prevails. Small victory in an epic battle.

Information via the Huffington Post.

John Dvorak: To Avoid Embarrassment, Avoid Everything!

January 28, 2010 Culture, web 1 Comment

“The Internet is often eternal,” says PC mag columnist and the host of the weekly podcast CrankyGeeks, John Dvorak. “Once something appears on it, someone will invariably keep a copy of it — or the thing will simply stay online forever. Just as the rest of us are finally forgetting that video of the chubby kid prancing around the room with his light saber, someone will reintroduce it to a whole new generation of viewers. When this kid turns 60, I guarantee that someone will pull out the video at his birthday party.”

Stuff we do online is like a tattoo that never goes away. How can we avoid the possible embarrassment of having to face our digital footprint down the line? Refuse everything that is human interaction via technology! Duh!

Cardinal rules:

  1. Do not sext. “This is probably the dumbest thing you can do,” he says.
  2. Facebook and Myspace. “Facebook is a product you use after agreeing to its terms of service,” Dvorak says. “It’s a well known fact that the guy who runs the site is not interested in your privacy. Never assume that anything you post on the Internet is going to stay private. Nothing is.”
  3. Twitter. “Sounding like an idiot on Twitter with hour-by-hour chatter about your feelings is incredibly revealing,” he says. “Every so often I check in on someone’s tweets, only to discover that the person I just met is a total dingbat.”
  4. Blogging. “I’ve never understood why someone wants to reveal their innermost feelings on a blog,” Dvorak says. “It’s generally not that entertaining. Too often it focuses on someone’s cat. You have to wonder why people present such sad personalities online. Do they even know that they’re doing it?”
  5. Chat Rooms. “It’s also very easy to record a video chat,” he says. “What would an employer think if they got a hold of the video? What would your mom think?”
  6. Flickr. “I constantly use Flickr to do due diligence on people,” he says. “Why not? If someone has hundreds of pictures posted of him or herself, an immediate red flag goes up. Why do you need so many pictures of yourself online? These pictures were usually taken at parties where people end up acting like the Whore of Babylon or an out-and-out drunk.”
  7. YouTube. “While you can indeed remove videos from YouTube, I can assure you that, if you are really making a fool of yourself, someone will capture the stream and repost it,” Dvorak says. “Again, you can expect to see yourself as a dopey 15-year-old on the big screen of every birthday part from 21 to 60. Like the fat kid with the sword, you may forever be defined by that video.”

Information from PC Magazine.

She Lied About Infecting Over 500 People With HIV

January 27, 2010 Crime, Culture, News, web No Comments

Last week, the interwebz went ballistic over a YouTube video wherein a woman confessed to infecting some 500 people with HIV.

“Just because something looks good, it could be dirty on the inside,” the masked woman says, talking to the camera in almost a sing-song voice. “Like a fruit. If you see a shiny red apple — you should have learned from Snow White. Just because the apple was pretty and inviting, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t harmful.”

It’s the scariest thing we have ever seen. Naturally, everyone went into a panic. The woman has since been identified as Jackie Braxton, an adult star on the web. She confessed to the Detroit News later that she does not have the virus.

“I made the tape because I wanted to raise awareness about AIDS,” the 23-year-old said.

Police picked her up at the Detroit college she attends and immediately took her to the city’s health department to be tested for HIV. The results are confidential, but Deputy Chief James Tolbert told the News “we are 100-percent positive it was a hoax.”

More from the News:

Braxton said she feels “bad” about making the video that has spread panic among Metro Detroiters and others around the country. But, she said she felt her tape served its purpose when she went to the city’s health department this morning and saw people waiting to get tested for AIDS.

Braxton, who uses the stage name “Fame” and has a 5-year-old daughter, admitted she made the videotape to market her own porn site, which she says she operates with her husband. Braxton’s video on the Mediatakeout.com site had recorded more than 430,000 hits by Thursday evening.

Police do not know yet if criminal charges can be levied against Braxton because they don’t know if she has broken any laws. Failure to disclose to a sex partner that you have HIV/AIDS is a felony.

Here’s the video for those of you who can’t take our word for it on how terrifying this is:

OK, so we here at Sex and the 405 know there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but… just the thought of HIV/AIDS makes it impossible for us to even think about getting down. Fame’s a cute pornstar name — very Lady Gaga — but Braxton will forever be “AIDS Girl” in our minds.

Good job on freaking everyone out into getting tested, though. According to WCTV, Michael McElrath, a spokesman for the city’s health department, said that the number of walk-ins for HIV testing more than doubled in Detroit on Friday.

That’s gotta count for something.

Image and information from the Detroit News, via @miamirotica.

A Peek at the D&G Threesome Flame War

January 27, 2010 Culture, Fashion 2 Comments

Last year, on November 16th, the day after our fearless editrix’s birthday (and quite possibly the best day of all time), Dolce & Gabbana released their new Time ad.

The ad featured 2009′s ultimate sex obsession, the ménage-a-trois (you can all thank Sean Percival and Gossip Girl for that).

We should have reported on it, but we failed, because as we said, our editor was too busy having The Best Day Ever.

She offers her sincerest apologies — as sincere as you can get from a woman who wouldn’t have traded marathon sex to update a blog, anyway.

In penitence, we bring you some e-mail fresh from D&G’s inbox from people who are pissed about the ad — and D&G’s bitchy responses!

But first, the ad, of course:

From: Prim and proper
To: a little helper desk [D&G]
Subject: Your ad

Your new threesome ad is disgusting. I only hope you have to describe to your daughter why it isn’t appropriate to have sex with two guys even though *your* ad says it is. I can only hope you use good sense and remove this ad. By the way, good job going from a gang-rape ad to a MMF threesome ad. You are truly moving in the wrong direction.

From: better things to do [D&G]
To: Proper deranged
Subject: YOUR daughter

Keep being that kind of parent and she will most probably end up in an MMF scenario, only off-camera and in your own bedroom. At least our model was paid for it…

Best regards,
A Little Helper Desk.

+++

From: A concerned mother
To: a little helper desk [D&G]
Subject: Your filth and total lack of wisdom

I could not help but notice your site these days is pretty covered in naked torsos and various depictions of boys in underwear; upon clicking on an article promising me to help with the last minute ski preparations I subjected my sons to the pretty upsetting sight of male models virtually undressed. The way you people have of objectifying the male body is frankly vile and unsettling for young boys growing up in a world like a meatpacking district. I sincerely hope you sort yourself out and learn the meaning of the word “respectibility”.

From: better things to do [D&G]
To: The reason why your children will eventually do drugs
Subject: Two steps away from happiness

First one: buy yourself a dictionary unless you want your sons to be dysfunctional both sexually AND grammatically (hint: respectability).

Second one: Grow some balls, women have been subjected to such treatment… well, since about forever and apart from a notable few exceptions they have turned out just fine.

Best regards,
A Little Helper Desk.

PS: Find attached a few post-runway shower shots to teach your kids all about anatomy.

We can expect no less from Dolce & Gabbana, who brought us the first kiss between two men in a commercial in 2006.

What will it be for 2010? Dare we hope for plushies?

You know you love it.

Image via saksoffenderx. Information from Swide.

John Edwards Sex Tape? OMFG.

Calm down, there is no tape to be shared yet (I know, this blog is turning into a catalog of all the sex tapes that don’t exist, including my own. Sigh).

But bear with me because this one is juicy. So as you know former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had an affair with Rielle Hunter, a woman his team hired to videotape the candidate during his campaigning. Well, get this: his former aide Andrew Young says the ex-senator and his former mistress made a sex tape.

Young spelled this out in the proposal for his book The Politician.

This doesn’t sit well with the Edwards, obviously, but then things have been tempestuous between the two camps for a while.

According to an old piece on the New York Daily News gives us the juicy gossip on Young’s feud with the Edwards:

Young says that his belief in Edwards ran so deep that he agreed to take the fall for the candidate, inviting the pregnant Hunter to live with him, his wife, Cheri, and their three children. Later, after Hunter delivered the baby, Young and his family moved to a different home in California.

While he was unpacking, Young discovered a videocassette, according to the book pitch. Hunter had been hired by the Edwards campaign to videotape the candidate’s movements, but this one is said to have shown him taking positions that weren’t on his official platform.

The purported sex tape confirmed to Hunter that Edwards was even more reckless than he thought.

Elizabeth Edwards is said to hold Young partly to blame for her husband’s affair, since Young knew it was going on and sometimes used his cell phone to conference the senator and his girlfriend. Young has told friends that, in revenge, Elizabeth arranged for the media to learn about a youthful misdeameanor in which Young was arrested for stealing a sign from a biker bar.

Elizabeth also suspects Young stole the baseball card collection of her late son, Wade, according to a source who says that she told Young in an e-mail that other former staff members “have passed lie detector tests.”

Whoa, can you say drama? So, of course, now that Young’s book is thisclose to coming out, he’s bringing the deets on the tape out to stir up the jaded masses. But it gets better. John Edwards has told the National Enquirer that the story that Young found the tape is a total lie and that if there is a tape, then Young is the one who recorded it. The plot thickens! Dun dun dun!

So what’s in this tape that may or may not exist? Sources tell Gawker, the media gossip blog, that: “The tape… is explicit and reveals that Edwards ‘is physically very striking, in a certain area. Everyone who sees it says “whoa”. She’s behind the camera at first.’”

Oh, my! Well, now we definitely want to see it. Not that we didn’t before — but then, you know our editor here is kind of a sex tape aficionado.

Erin Kotecki Vest, Producer of Special Projects at BlogHer, raised another very important thing we need to verify: does Edwards’ hair move during sex?

People, the public has a right to know. Make it happen.

Image from the publication that brought you every gory detail about this affair (so recognize!), the National Enquirer. Information from everywhere we link, via Erin Kotecki Vest.

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Gamers Won’t Be Seduced, Will Stare At Random Cleav Instead

That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.

FetLife Is Not Safe for Users

That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.

Why You Should Vote No On Prop 35

Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?

Pretty and Calls Herself a Geek? Attention Whore!

If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.

Cuddle Chemical? Moral Molecule? Not So Fast

Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.

How to Avoid Pissing off a Stripper

Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.

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Editrix-in-Command:
AV Flox

In-House Theologian:
Robert Fischer

Eros and Desire Scholar:
Dawn Kaczmar

Scientific Consultant:
Jason Goldman

East Coast Liaison:
Jackie Summers

Arch-Nemesis:
Barbie Davenporte

Read about the contributors we've had over time on our staff page.

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Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...