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NYC’s Toxic Bachelor Is Now L.A.’s Guy Gone Mild

January 3, 2011 Books, Culture No Comments

Cad, Rick Marin

“Somehow it’s OK for moms to have their wine nights. But try getting dispensation for a weekly bender with your fellow dads,” writes author and playwright Rick Marin. “Never happen. At a certain point, your typical Family Guy stops seeking out the Company of Men ‐‐ and all his references are Netflixed. We don’t get out much. We turn hermit, unless thrust together by forces beyond our control. Like our wives. ‘Do you enjoy the friends your wife has picked out for you?’ a buddy asked when we moved to L.A. a couple of years ago. Matter of fact I do. But there’s only so much quality bro time you can squeeze in at a 5‐year‐old’s birthday party.” … Continue Reading

Nothing More English Than Bad Sex

December 3, 2010 Books, Culture No Comments

Rowan Somerville's The Shape of Her

Literary perverts the world over can rejoice! The Literary Review‘s eighteenth annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award winner has been announced: Rowan Somerville’s second novel, The Shape of Her.

Somerville accepted with grace,joking in a release: “There is nothing more English than bad sex, so on behalf of the entire nation I would like to thank you.” … Continue Reading

A View of Heaven

November 22, 2010 Books, Culture, Faith No Comments

I’m not normally one for novels: I know enough make-believe people without having to meet them in the fiction shelves. But when I heard about Kimberly Cain’s Heaven, a novel about a theology-talking stripper, I was intrigued.

Heaven is a novel with pacing like a Dan Brown novel: the book’s many short chapters are shot through with scenes where the action stops and people have long conversations on interesting topics.

In Heaven, those topics are on sexuality and spirituality. The spirituality is of a predominantly Christian sort, but it’s the kind of Christian spirituality found among the refugee camps of those disaffected souls who chafed on the boundaries of their parents’ church. … Continue Reading

Monogamy Has To Be Dirty To Work

August 31, 2010 Books, Culture 1 Comment

“In order for monogamy to work, it has to be ‘dirty.’”

Those are the words of Rabbi Irwin Kula, author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life.

“If the forbidden is what is exciting, we have to work hard to bring the taboo into our most intimate relationships,” he goes on. “If transgression is so titillating, we have to learn to transgress where we’re most safe. Our relationships can be nothing less than pleasure chamber. But we need to create situations and takes risks that are out of the ordinary and push the envelope.”

Via Tinamarie Bernard.

Fearless Storyteller (And Most Banned Children’s Author) Turns 72

February 12, 2010 Books, Culture No Comments

blumeJudy Blume’s children and young adult novels have covered everything from racism to menstruation to religion and sex. Her dedication to writing about difficult issues for the younger set has resulted in her fair share of controversy. She is one of the most challenged children’s authors of all time.

On her site, Blume writes about censorship:

I believe that censorship grows out of fear, and because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children don’t read about it, their children won’t know about it. And if they don’t know about it, it won’t happen.

Today, it’s not only language and sexuality (the usual reasons given for banning my books) that will land a book on the censors’ hit list. It’s Satanism, New Age-ism and a hundred other isms, some of which would make you laugh if the implications weren’t so serious. Books that make kids laugh often come under suspicion; so do books that encourage kids to think, or question authority; books that don’t hit the reader over the head with moral lessons are considered dangerous.

Since the 1980s, when she found herself the target of censorship, Blume has been reaching out to other writers, as well as teachers and librarians, under fire, and working tirelessly with the National Coalition Against Censorship to protect the freedom to read. She is the editor of Places I Never Meant To Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers.

Thanks for telling it like it is, Judy. Happy birthday.

Image via Answers.com.

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.

Southern California Schools Ban Dictionary

January 26, 2010 Books, Culture, Freedom, News, OMGWTFBBQ 4 Comments

I wish this was a joke or a statement about how the three people who hit on me at the coffee shop this morning seemed to only use monosyllabic words and so liberally sprinkled the word “like” in statements that nothing they said made too much sense.

It’s not. Some schools have in fact banned the dictionary.

Why? A parent complained the definition of “oral sex” in Merriam Webster’s 10th edition, common in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (populated by nine and 10-year-olds), is too graphic.

It describes oral sex as “the oral stimulation of the genitals.”

The Press-Enterprise reported on the incident:

“It’s just not age appropriate,” said [district spokeswoman Betti] Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the [Manifee] district.

“It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” Cadmus said. She explained that other dictionary entries defining human anatomy would probably not be cause for alarm.

I AM ASHAMED OF THIS STATE TODAY. ASHAMED.

Information from The Guardian and Press-Enterprise.

Joshua Ferris: We Don’t Really Have Anybody Writing Boldly About Sex

January 26, 2010 Books, Culture, Interview No Comments

Vanity Fair‘s Claire Howorth talks with Joshua Ferris, lit darling and author of the acclaimed Then We Came to the End and the new The Unnamed.

VF: Do you think your generation of writers is conflicted about sex? Or feels awkward writing about it? The Unnamed contains two pretty notable sex scenes and they’re… relatively tame… I mean, they’re not Roth-ian…

JF: But they’re also not deciding to masturbate in two corners [laughs]. If I had gone on, it would’ve taken the wrong tone. I think if a book is going to take on sex, it should take on sex, and do so boldly.

I’m not sure that there’s a categorical mistake that’s being made somewhere by saying that this generation of writers is too tame compared to the earlier generation, or that somehow this generation doesn’t take it as seriously, or is even less preoccupied by it. A lot of those Roth and Updike books almost have sex as the only object.

I don’t know where a writer can be faulted… Michael Chabon, let’s say. Michael Chabon can’t be faulted for having a far more ambiguous ending spot or approach towards sex simply because he might be the heir to Bellow or Roth.

I think you could talk similarly about a departure of prose style, and wonder, well, why isn’t Jonathan Safran Foer writing as effervescently as Bellow? It seems slightly misguided.

At the same time, we don’t really have anybody writing boldly about sex. So maybe there is something in the water, I’m not sure. But I suspect that it’s not over. I don’t think the sex game is over.

Information from Vanity Fair.

Crowdsourced Sex: Coming & Crying

January 21, 2010 Books, Culture, web No Comments

“It’s not the business of all sex writers everywhere to solve the world’s sex problems.”

Written by tech and sex writer and sex educator Melissa Gira Grant, this statement would become the premise of the book Coming & Crying: real stories about sex from the other side of the bed. Using crowdsourcing to fill the book with real stories, Grant and Meaghan O’Connell recently completed the first round of pledges to have it published.

(In fact, demand is so huge, they doubled the amount of money they initially set as a goal in the first three days.)

Unsurprising, especially once you read Grant’s development on the original premise:

Sex writing within the limited scope of “erotica” has been unfairly burdened with rehabilitating sex in public. We as writers have to turn in work that exalts sex, always treats sex like the hottest, the most revelatory thing two (or however many more the CFS required) bodies can do together.

Sex within “real” “literature” doesn’t fare much better, where even if only a very tiny group of writers insist we write in a “post-sex” world, the rest are left making sense of how to not just fade-to-black on fucking.

Or worse than all of that and certainly within that, sex is never treated as a site of inquiry in its own right. Sex stands in for “freedom” or “cultural disintegration” or “womanhood” or whatever. Sex is asked to be too much, and “sex writers” are expected to answer to all of it. Oh, and make it really hot, too.

For some reason, the internet gives sex writing the room to breathe and be more than someone else’s platform to sell a thing or be a thing, anything but what it is: storytelling from a raw and flushed and necessary place. Sex, as commercialized and stupid as it gets online, is also still ours. The continuous partial disclosure of blogging (as in, you would never maybe say this much if you had to do it all at once) makes writing sex even more human, gives us nigh infinite space to say what needs to be said and not have to worry about how well it will do on a rack at the airport.

If we’re successful, we’ll have a beautiful, crazy, lovely book and before it even hits our shelves, a whole lot of people will have let us know how much they want that, too.

Watch the book trailer:

Now go get a copy.

Image from Coming & Crying. Information via Melissa Gira Grant.

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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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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...