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Hello, Class! Today We’re Going To Talk About Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2010 Culture, History No Comments

Allow us to introduce you to Margaret L. Wade, an adult educator and co-author of Reclaiming Eros: Sacred Whores and Healers. She will be giving you a little background on this here holiday:

My Catholic Lives of the Saints makes no bones about it: St. Valentine’s day became the day of lovers only because it was the day before Juno Februata’s day. Juno Februata was the goddess of passionate love, or febris. To celebrate properly, well, what could you do? Erotic rites, of course. Young men each drew the name of a young woman, who then became his partner in the festivities. If chance was kind, perhaps the young couple would marry that June, the month that celebrates another of Juno’s patronages, that of marriage.

Other accounts claim the festival on the 15th was Lupercalia, an ancient cleansing festival centered at a temple near the cave in which the twin founders of Rome had been raised by a wolf. It was dedicated to either the she-wolf mother of Romulus and Remus or to Lupercus, who is associated with the Roman Faunus and the Greek Pan, the sexy goat god. Whichever it was who inspired the partying, the celebration gave young noblemen a chance to run around the town naked. They sacrificed goats and, in later years, started wearing loincloth skins à la Pan and Faunus. They made strips of the sacrificed goat’s skin and used them to flay others, mostly lightly and in jest. For women, it was to bless their marriage and fertility.

St. Valentine, on the other hand, was reportedly beaten and beheaded in 270 C.E. when the Romans were still beating and beheading those who were Christian (as opposed to a few years later when they killed those who weren’t Christian). Seriously un-fun by comparison to the Pagans’ activities. Sadly, he was an unsung hero until centuries later; he was not mentioned in a list of acknowledged Roman martyrs produced in 354. In fact, no mention of him was made until 496 when Pope Gelasius I claimed he was one of those saints that men didn’t know but God surely appreciated, so now he’s an official church saint. And oh, by the way, Pope G continued, his feast day is the day before that lewd festival that’s now illegal. So St. Valentine became the Patron of Greetings. Yeah, that’s even less exciting than being martyred. [An interesting tidbit (coincidence?) in the story is that the list of Roman martyrs produced in 354 was financed by a wealthy Roman named Valentius.]

Want more? We thought so. Wade is a veritable fountain of sex related- historical and cultural noms. Addictive as they get. Go check out her column on Carnal Nation.

Information from Carnal Nation.

Valentine’s Day Weekend From The Lots

February 13, 2010 Culture, Photography 3 Comments

The Streets Are Calling is without a doubt, a favorite when it comes to local picture blogs. This morning, photog @rathandsome was supposed to get up at the crack to take some shots of a private bondage thing in North Hollywood, but he overslept.

Behold the treasures from the back lots. Click on the images to be redirected to their site so you can see them in all their glory:

Want more? We know you do. Go check them out. They’re unparalleled.

Yeah, yeah. You’re welcome.

Women vs. Men (The Pity Party)

February 13, 2010 Advertising, Culture No Comments

We here at Sex and the 405 are mildly amused and also a little bit sad. At once. How uncomfortable. Below is the Dodge Charger Superbowl ad. Below that is “the female version” response.

The spoof response:

We have a choice, you know. We don’t have to do any of these things. We know, we know. It’s a bleak thing to consider not settling and never finding a partner. But isn’t being alone better than this? Jeez!

Via Mir.

The Best Things in Life Are Free… But, Uh, Baby? What’s Your Credit Score?

February 13, 2010 Culture 1 Comment

What’s the number one cited reason for divorce? Other than Facebook, that is: financial issues. Even though most of us go in knowing this, we rarely ever take the time to discuss finances with our partners until long into a relationship.

We here at Sex and the 405 think this is a bit ass-backward — especially in credit crisis times — so when we came across this little morsel from the peeps at FICO, we were giddy to share.

FICO’s Valentine’s survey found all kinds of other neat things. Check it:

  • Women were twice as likely to choose “a good FICO score” as the most important characteristic in a date while men are six times as likely to choose “good looking” as the most important characteristic in a date. Having an excellent FICO score ranked third – which topped being “rich,” “good looking” and “having great teeth” by both the men and women.
  • 20 percent of couples described their partners’ spending habits as “drastically different” from their own and over 45 percent described them as moderately different. (Only 20 percent of couples rated each others’ spending habits the same).

Via Rita Arens.

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.

Cyan Banister Bares It All In Never-Before-Seen First Zivity Shoot

February 12, 2010 Culture, Interview, web 7 Comments

In 2007, a start-up rocked the web with its fearless vision to combine the social network with adult photography into a formula that enables models and photographers to profit via a user voting system. The start-up, Zivity, even managed to raise a $1 million round of seed capital from Silicon Valley investors, notorious for steering clear of adult sites.

“We think it’s our unapologetic approach that has nabbed our investors,” founder Cyan Banister commented then. “Women who want to be sexy is not pornography, and us stressing that has helped us a lot. It’s never been about creating a site that’s a dirty little secret, and investors really need to hear that.”

We had an opportunity to speak with Banister last week and asked her to tell us something she hadn’t told anyone before about Zivity’s story.

“The first time I posed nude was very nerve-wrecking,” Banister said. “I called all my photographer friends and I said ‘I’m thinking abut this company again’ — I tried to start this company ten years ago and I was very young and inexperienced and lacked a lot of maturity in person and business — and I told them, ‘I need to pose nude because if I can’t do this, I can’t start this company.’ ”

She set up the appointment and dove in.

“I knew nothing about looking at the camera, or how to pose,” she recalled. “I loved it. It was transformative. I didn’t think much about my body but afterward, I looked at it in the pictures and thought ‘wow, my body is nice.’ I regretted not doing it sooner and appreciating myself sooner. If I could go back, I would tell myself to pose sooner.”

That’s essentially the heart of Zivity right there — it’s about beauty in all its forms, it’s about the discovery of self and the sharing of this self through collaboration with photographers and through interaction with users.

Banister’s first shoot never made it into the site because the images didn’t meet the site’s quality guidelines.

“Has no one seen these?” we asked, our curiosity piqued. “Can we see them? Can we run them?”

Ask and you shall receive.

Presenting the photo shoot that started it all. Un-Photoshopped, and never before seen:

“A camera will show you something about yourself a mirror never can,” Banister told us. “When you see a picture of yourself, you see everything. Have some shots taken. Even if you don’t do it for the website, do it for yourself. Delete it if you have to, but do it.”

And just in case you want to check out this fabled website of epic win, you can get a 30-day trial by sending an e-mail to sexandthe405@zivity.com, no credit card required — until the end of those 30 days, that is. Then you’ll need to pay up. But don’t worry, you’ll find no damn good reason not to, and over 500 reasons worth doing so.

(Be patient, the 30-day trial messages are sorted manually, not by machines, so give it 24 hours before you leave us impatient comments. Not that we don’t love your eagerness, our sweet flytraps of oversharing and voyeuristic delight.)

Oh, yeah: you’re welcome.

Special thanks to Enrique Gutierrez for inadvertently catalyzing this.

Let There Be Sex

February 12, 2010 Culture, Faith No Comments

Without a doubt, the beginning of the Bible is the most controversial text in Western culture. Despite the controversies, it seems as if most people haven’t actually looked at Genesis 1 and 2 very carefully. For instance, there seems to be something already in existence at the beginning of Genesis 1: “the deep” and “the waters” are presumed to exist before Creation happens. So the Bible doesn’t portray God creating ex nihilo, and that’s true whether hundreds of years of tradition likes it or not.

Also oft-surprising is that Genesis 1 and 2 contain two modes of creation by God: if you read through the two chapters as a narrative, God first creates everything by decree and then creates everything by building up reality from the clay of Eden. And in both of these modes, the creation culminates in the creation of the human pairing — and even more, in the explicit charge to have sex!

To make that argument, I need to back up a second and clear some smoke.

If you check, the first creation account seems to go past the end of Genesis 1 up to Genesis 2:3. Despite this bleed-over, the first account is sometimes called “Genesis 1″ and the second account is sometimes called “Genesis 2″, leading to a bit of slop and confusion about where “Genesis 1″ ends. While I know there’s a good reason for that alternative numbering, I am sticking to the canonical numbering used in the Christian Bible: when I say “Genesis 1″ here, I mean very precisely the first chapter of Genesis.

Genesis 1 begins with God in the dark, and the world hidden beneath a sheet of water in that darkness. God’s breath moves over that sheet of water, and He whispers, “Let there be light.” But the world can’t see the light when it appears — it is blurry, mixed with the darkness. God separates the light and the darkness and then separates the sheet of water, revealing the dry land beneath it. Through God’s words alone, the life potential within that dry land is called forth. Through God’s words alone, the lesser and greater lights are hung in the sky, the sea explodes with sea monsters and living creatures, and then the dry land is populated with all the varieties of animals.

Then, in the climax of Genesis 1, God creates humanity — “male and female he created them.” The first words that He gives to humanity are a charge to have sex, and in no uncertain terms: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth”. Now, the sex there is intertwined with the idea of procreation — sex and bearing children are simply indivisible concepts. While we contemporary readers may want to address these ideas separately, we need to realize we’re in a unique historical situation: pervasive, safe, and reliable birth control is a purely 20th century concept, and so it’s only recently that we have the luxury of divorcing sex and bearing children. Since the ancient Hebrews didn’t have the pill and weren’t too keen on homosexuality, the idea of sex is tied up with having babies — but for all those caveats, the sex is still definitely there, and it is how the story of creation ends.

Genesis 2 (as the Bible counts it) begins with God at rest. The world has been created with seeds resting in the ground, but there had never been water nor anyone to work the ground. God calls forth a stream to water the ground, and forms The Human to work the ground. God breathes the very breath of life into the face of The Human, and The Human comes to life. God plants The Human in the Garden of Eden, with every plant that is beautiful to see and delicious to eat. But The Human is alone, and while all the rest of creation may have been declared good by God, here God says, “It is not good that The Human should be alone.” With every physical need taken care of, with all the most beautiful and delicious plants, with all the animals of the world, with every comfort and power second only to God Himself, The Human is still alone, and that is not good. And so God causes The Human to sleep, and splits The Human in two, into man and woman.

The man apparently won the wishbone contest and inherited the identity of The Human. When the man awakes, he sees the woman, and then we get the first recorded human quote — an exclamation of long-awaited love: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” Even having been split in two, The Human is ecstatic at having a partner to touch, and to relate to in a very present, physical way. We are then told: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.” Here we have another mode of God’s creation culminating in a praise of the human creative power in sex. This time, the praise is based on the innate need for each of us to be near another physically, to be touched in love and to join back together to become one flesh. Here at the headwaters of the Bible, we find an acknowledgment of the loneliness that defines our existence and a story explaining why that loneliness is assuaged through joining ourselves physically with another: in a real sense, we are seeking the half of our body that is missing.

Now, the next words we hear from the man are in Genesis 3, and they’re him blaming the woman for giving him the forbidden fruit: even the Bible seems cynical about marriage. These words from the man escalate the chain of events that end with misery and pain being introduced into the world. So it’s true that Creation isn’t all roses — but this Valentine’s day, let’s have a Genesis 2 kind of night and leave Genesis 3 for another time.

NOTE: Thanks to Terence Fretheim’s “God and World in the Old Testament” for inspiring this post.

Oldest Married Couple Hit Twitter To Give Us Answers

February 11, 2010 Culture, web No Comments

Oh, sweet! If love is confounding you, you can put Twitter to use and connect with the longest living married couple, who will be answering questions about finding and sustaining love.

Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher (@longestmarried), were married in 1924 and are 104 and 102 years old respectively. The couple will be taking questions until February 12, just send them an @message. They will handpick 14 questions to answer this Sunday, which is Valentine’s Day.

The Mashable article through which we at Sex and the 405 found out about this fun idea makes mention of the fact they have separate bedrooms. The author jokes, “Well, I guess distance does makes the heart grow fonder.”

Actually, yes. We’re willing to bet some of our romantic issues have to do with how readily we murder The Mystique in this day and age. There are some things that should never be shared. Snoring is one of them.

Image and information from Mashable, via Nordette.

Get With It: “Tweet Me” Is The New “I Love You”

February 10, 2010 Culture No Comments

Remember when people wrote epic poems to each other? How do I love thee, etc.? Yeah, we don’t, either.

So, get this, the company that makes those heart candies with words on them is adding more phrases to its love lexicon. What are they adding? “Text Me” and “Tweet Me.”

New England Confectionery Co. (NECCO), the Boston Globe is quick to point out, is right to commemorate the text and tweet. These things are, after all, continuing in the company’s tradition of distilling a big message into a teeny, tiny bit of space.

Image from NECCO. Information from the Boston Globe.

Facebook to Humanize the One-Night Stand? 0N N0Z!

February 9, 2010 Culture, web 1 Comment

POSSIBLE TECH URBAN MYTH ALERT!

But still, so scary and full of sensationalist goodness, we just have to tell you. So get this — the Facebook app lets you sync the contact info on friends’ profiles with your address book, right? Awesome! Except…

FACEBOOK KNOWS YOUR ONE-NIGHT STANDS.

That’s what the subject line of the e-mail Valleywag received said. (We get some weird e-mails here at Sex and the 405, but that one’s just OMINOUS.) Anyway, yes, imagine Facebook identified and told you everyone who gave you their number — and vice versa?

Don’t panic (yet)! Read Valleywag’s Maureen O’Connor explain the sitch:

You know how when you meet someone at a bar or alcohol-soaked party, sometimes you put him in your phone without a last name? And you already have a Jonathan, so this guy will be “Jonathan Pencil Factory,” because that’s the bar where you met him. And it was a moonlit night with too many margaritas, and your fingers were busy with activities far more urgent than tapping a new entry into your contact list, so when you finally had a second to type him in, it ended up more like “jonthann pencil factry blueyes.” (Sometimes you need a defining feature, too.) Sometimes these besotted acquaintances turn into true love. Sometimes they become friends. But most are nothing more than a single night of your life—and a quiet chuckle every time you scroll past their names in your phone book, months later.

Until you sync your iPhone with your Facebook. And then you will be forced to look your every unwise sexual decision in the eye, again, in full color and with full names!

An update from Valleywag reveals they did not experience any syncing when they tried it out. We thought about giving it a shot, but we’re too busy having hot one-night stands without names, much less numbers to verify this story. Send our editrix an e-mail about it, though. She’s bringing self-denial and cloistered pining back, and has ample time for this kind of thing.

Information from an unnamed tipster, via Valleywag.

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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...