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Ink on Skin Indicates Sin? (LOL)

January 13, 2010 Culture, News, Research 3 Comments

If you’re worried what your mom will say about your girlfriend’s tramp stamp, you can fear no more–research is on your side!

A new study by researchers at Texas Tech University who studied piercings and tats for the last decade suggests the relationship between body art and deviant behavior is significant only for those who have adorned their exteriors in extreme ways. The paper, just published in The Social Science Journal, reports that the relationship between body modification and deviant behavior is only significant for those who have gone to the extreme.

Researchers surveyed 1,753 students from four American colleges (two state schools and two highly selective religious institutions) and found 37 percent reported at least one piercing and 14 percent were tattooed.

Four percent reported having seven or more piercings, four or more tattoos, and/or at least one piercing in their nipples or genitals.

Aside from their tats and piercings, the students surveyed answered questions about drug and alcohol use, sexual activity and whether they cheat on tests.

The findings suggest there is a distinct difference in deviance between students with just one tattoo and those with four or more, and between those with just one to three piercings or seven or more.

“The level of deviance reported by respondents with low levels of body art is much closer to those with none than to those with multiple tattoos and piercings, or intimate piercings,” said sociologist Jerome Koch, the paper’s lead author. “Results indicate that respondents with four or more tattoos, seven or more body piercings, or piercings located in their nipples or genitals, were substantially and significantly more likely to report regular marijuana use, occasional use of other drugs, and a history of being arrested for a crime. Less pronounced, but still significant in many cases, was an increased propensity for those with higher incidence of body art to cheat on college work, binge drink and report having had multiple sex partners over the course of their lifetime.”

Tom Jacobs writes at Mullen-McCune:

The researchers suggest the traditional subculture of piercing and tattoos, traditionally associated with deviant behavior, has been “encroached upon from the outside” by the increasing acceptance of body art. So those who feel a part of this subculture “may need to modify or extend their behavior to maintain social distance.” Ergo, nipple piercings.

So, that butterfly on your sophomore’s ankle is not a sign she is hanging out with the wrong crowd. But if she comes home for spring break covered from head to toe, start worrying.

I guess that means my un-pierced, single-tattooed self a mainstream. Sweet.

Image by Doug Sparks. Information from Miller-McCune.

What America Said About Adam Lambert

January 9, 2010 Hollywoody No Comments

As you may recall, at the close of the American Music Awards of 2009, former Idol runner up Adam Lambert performed his first single For Your Entertainment, a raunchy tribute to rough sex that contains delicious little jewels such as “It’s alright, you’ll be fine, baby, I’m in control. Take the pain, take the pleasure, I’m the master of both.”

We like that. And we thought his performance was nothing particularly out of the ordinary given that nowadays everyone and his shoe retailer tries to do something really shocking during award shows. From Angelina Jolie sucking face with her brother James Haven at the 2000 Oscars all the way to Madonna kissing Britney Spears, then Christina Aguilera, at the MTV Video Music Awards, shock has become so commonplace at these things as to no longer be all that shocking. (Scroll to the end of the post for the clip.)

But, you know, we’re a little more progressive (and dare we say, rational?) than most people.

The watchdogs at the Parents Television Council were not quite so calm in regard to the performance, which briefly simulated oral sex and involved a kiss between Lambert and a male performer. The group urged viewers to complain to the FCC if they were living in an area where the performance was shown before 10PM local time.

The FCC has received 5,000 complaints just for his performance alone. And now, we can all get a look at what America’s saying thanks to The Smoking Gun:

Speaking in his own defense, Lambert was quickly to point out to Rolling Stone magazine: “Female performers have been doing this for years–pushing the envelope about sexuality–and the minute a man does it, everybody freaks out. We’re in 2009–it’s time to take risks, be a little more brave, time to open people’s eyes and if it offends them, then maybe I’m not for them. My goal was not to piss people off, it was to promote freedom of expression and artistic freedom.”


Adam Lambert AMA 2009Click here for funny video clips

Image of Lambert from the official Adam Lambert website, complaints via The Smoking Gun.

Reversing Vasectomies–There’s A Bot For That

Urologists at the University of Florida are using robots to reverse vasectomies, effectively shaving off 20 minutes of surgery time from the procedure. Not only does this spare surgeons’ backs, as they have to be bent over a patient operating with high-power microscopes, but it appears that the decreased time spent in surgery enables sperm count in patients to return faster.

“For a couple that’s trying to get pregnant, this is a big deal,” said Dr. Sijo Parekattil, director of male infertility and microsurgery at the University of Florida, who led the study, soon to be published in the Journal of Endourology.

Many types of surgery are now being aided by robots, and surgeons continue to explore new areas in which they can be used.

“This is state-of-the-art stuff, it’s cutting-edge, and a stepping stone to understanding whether or not we can use this technology on a more widespread basis,” said Dr. Wayne Kuang, director of Male Reproductive Health at University of New Mexico, who was not involved in the study. “It’s a natural progression from back in the days when we just had magnified eyeglasses.”

But vasectomy reversal via bot is not without controversy: many specialists believe that developing an expensive robot to do something that’s already done with a microscope is a waste of resources and that the costs associated for patients (a bot-assisted reversal is $3,000 more than a conventional vasectomy reversal).

“The big question is did it improve outcomes — either pregnancy rates or the time spent in surgery?” said professor Dr. Jay Sandlow, vice chair of the department of urology at Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who initially had reservations about the robotic procedure but after seeing the preliminary results now says he sees value in the method.

“It certainly looks as if he has done that,” said Sandlow, who was not involved in the study. “He has shown a meaningful decrease in the amount of time it takes to do these robotically compared to the open procedure.”

It’s also worth noting that since many hospital fees are based on time, cutting down on operating time could offset some of the cost of using the robot.

It is too soon to tell whether pregnancy rates have improved since the conclusion of the 2009 study that compares the results of 20 men who had the robotic procedure and the seven who had the microscopic one.

But two months after surgery, average sperm count in the robotic surgery group was 54 million, compared with 11 million in the microscopic surgery group. Early results show that the difference in sperm count between the two procedures decreases over time, however.

Information from the University of Florida.

Fruit Fly Hook-Ups

January 9, 2010 News, Research No Comments

OMG, ever wonder why male fruit flies have spikes in their genital areas?

Yeah, me neither, but scientists are starting to figure it out, so I’m going to share with you: male fruit flies use these spikes to hook onto the female and prevent sliding during sex. They “hook up”–literally! Get it?

Not very long ago, researchers had suggested these spikes were used to deliver sperm into the wounds they inflicted on females, but evolutionary biologists at the University of Cincinnati zapped off the spikes of a few male fruit flies (Drosophila bipectinata) and found that males were still able to inseminate the females–though with much more difficulty, as they continuously slid off during copulation.

“In Drosophila, unwilling females resist male sexual advances by vigorous kicking with their hind legs, bucking, extruding their genitalia in telescoping fashion, and if all else fails, by simply running or flying away from eager males,” said researcher Michal Polak, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Cincinnati. “The spines may be an evolutionary solution in males to overcome these forms of female resistance.”

Essentially, the spikes act like grappling hooks or genital Velcro, preventing the female from pushing off a male, or as LiveScience says, “like seatbelts on a bucking bronco.”

(Yeah, science reporting for the masses is really fun.)

But because researchers have not studied the female of the same species, it is hard to say whether these spines behave as Velcro or hooks. Polak suggests it’s the former, as the spines seem to embed at the same place on female genitals, meaning there could exist a place for the spine to anchor itself on the female.

He and his colleagues are planning to conduct more laser studies on genitals to get to the bottom of creatures’ adaptive functions in sexual selection.

Can’t wait!

Image from LiveScience and BOLD Systems. Information via LiveScience.

Katy Perry: If Her Man Fails, There’s Always Girls!

January 8, 2010 Hollywoody, News No Comments

Katy Perry kissed a girl and she liked it–that much we know.

But just in case her fiance Russell Brand isn’t 100 percent clear, she’s gone on record saying she will turn to women if he somehow fails to fulfill her.

Lamest way to ensure fulfillment ever. Though what do I know about these things, I once beat my ex-husband over the head with my vibrator.

Don’t ask.

Image by Scott Nathan for Too Faced. Information from the Daily Star.

Have Sex To Quit Bad Habits? Yes, And More!

January 8, 2010 News, Research 2 Comments

Yoga instructor Sadie Nardini and her husband wanted to quit cigarettes and chocolate, so they decided to have sex every day for the entire month of December, hoping the activity would assist them in overcoming their cravings.

Not only did sex help, but the couple began experiencing other benefits as well: they slept better, they had more energy, and they didn’t come down with the usual winter cold.

These and other health benefits of sex will soon be flooding our media, in a soon-to-be-published article in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Dr. Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of that journal, says that when you read about the physical benefits of sex, “you can’t help but say, ‘Holy God! Sexual activity is a very important thing to do. Human beings were really meant to do this.’”

The article on CNN outlines ten main benefits. These are our top five:

Longer life
In a British study, men who had intercourse at least twice a week lived longer than men who had sex less than once a month. A U.S. study had similar findings, and a Swedish study examining the sex lives of 70-year-olds found that men who died before their 75th birthday had ceased having sexual intercourse at earlier ages.

Healthier heart and lower blood pressure
In a British study, people who had intercourse twice a week or more were less likely to have heart attacks and other fatal coronary events. Those who had sex less than once a month had twice the rates of fatal coronary events, compared with those with the highest frequency of intercourse. In a study published in the journal Biological Psychology, people who had sex more often tended to have lower diastolic blood pressure, or the bottom number in a blood pressure reading.

Lower risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer
A French study found that women who have vaginal intercourse not at all or infrequently had three times the risk of breast cancer, compared with women who had intercourse more often. A Minnesota study found that men who’d had intercourse more than 3,000 times in their lives had half the prostate cancer risk of those who had not. While it’s not clear why this would be true, studies have found that men who had more intercourse tended to have better prostate function and eliminated more waste products in their semen.

Pain relief
Sex researcher Beverly Whipple and others have conducted studies suggesting that more sexual activity helps relieve lower back pain and migraines.

Better testosterone levels
A group of men being treated for erectile problems saw greater increases in testosterone when, along with the treatments, they had frequent sex. Specifically, men who had sex at least eight times per month had greater increases than those who had sex less than eight times per month.

Well, what are you waiting for? Have at it!

Information from CNN, via Neenz at Alltop.

Pregnancy And The Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is holding a webinar and conference call on how the flu affects pregnancy this Wednesday, January 13, from 5:00 to 6:30PM PST.

Speakers include Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, a board-certified pediatrician and senior scientist in the CDC Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and Dr. Betsy Mitchell, a health communication specialist.

Along side the doctors will be a… wait for it, wait for it… social media expert! This individual will turn you on to flu-related social media tools from CDC. Got flu? There may be an app for that. Stay tuned. Or just prepare to see your Twitter streams saturated with the #Preg&Flu hashtag.

Anyway, if you’re interested in attending, go ahead and e-mail NCHMInteractiveMedia@cdc.gov to RSVP and submit any questions you may have on the topic.

To call in during the conference, dial: 877-972-5886, the code to enter is: 7276457

To access the call via web, go to MyMeeting.

Information via Rita Arens.

G Spot: Fact or Fiction? Wait, What?

“Women everywhere have read or heard that they may possess a secret pleasure zone inside their bodies that, if stimulated correctly, yields intense pleasure and even orgasm,” CNN reported yesterday, adding: “But this so-called G-spot has never been precisely identified as a concrete biological entity. Scientists are still arguing over what it is and whether it exists at all.”

The g-spot (or g-ridge)–named so for Ernst Gräfenberg, a German scientist best known for his studies of female genitalia–is an area located on the anterior wall, one to three inches above the vaginal opening, which, when stimulated, reportedly leads to intense orgasms.

Now, research conducted by a team at King’s College London of over 1,800 female twins is suggesting that there is no genetic basis for a g-spot and that pleasure experienced from its stimulation may be more related to psychology than anything–meaning, it’s a bit like the placebo effect.

The existence of the g-spot has been the subject of contention since Gräfenberg’s day and now that this research has surfaced, media outlets are positively in a feeding frenzy over it.

Here’s my issue with the research: clinical psychologist Andrea Burri, who authored the report for the Journal of Sexual Medicine, and her team did not physically examine the women in the study to see whether they had a g-spot–they only gave participants a survey asking whether they believed that they had one.

To say there is no genetic correlation in a study of twins based on perception and not anatomy is to essentially say: in genetically similar or identical women, one may believe she has a g-spot while the other does not.

This is a study about perception, not about whether a g-spot exists.

They found that 56 percent of respondents answered “yes” and that there was no genetic correlation. But only about 30 percent said they were able to achieve orgasm during intercourse, which may indicate that women were confused by the G-spot question because stimulation of the G-spot is supposed to induce orgasm, she said.

The definition of G-spot in the study is too specific and doesn’t take into account that some women perceive their G-spots as bigger or smaller, or higher or lower, said Debby Herbenick, research scientist at Indiana University and author of the book Because It Feels Good.

“It’s not so much that it’s a thing that we can see, but it has been pretty widely accepted that many women find it pleasurable, if not orgasmic, to be stimulated on the front wall of the vagina,” said Herbenick, who was not involved in the study.

The study also found correlations with personality components in women who did report having G-spots: For instance, these women tended to be more extroverted, arousable and open to experience, which may indicate a psychological component to the G-spot, Burri said.

Certainly our perception of our bodies is critical to sex research, but to call into question that the g-spot exists without the proper examination of study subjects is bad science reporting at best.

“Initially, it was a good concept, because who wouldn’t like the idea of ‘push a button and get the best orgasm ever?’ ” Burri said, to which CNN’s Elizabeth Landau added: “But those women who can’t orgasm from vaginal intercourse may feel inadequate, and knowing that the G-spot may not exist can take some pressure off.”

That makes perfect fucking sense. Let’s tell people the clit doesn’t exist next so women who can’t orgasm through its stimulation and men who can’t find it don’t feel pressured, either.

God help me.

Slippery Slope: Government Regulation of Sex Toys

Last month in Canada, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, a Liberal Minister of Parliament, sent a letter to the Conservative Federal Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, expressing concern about the sex toy industry and asking the government to take action in regulating sex toys.

The letter, which you can read in its entirety here, read, in part:

I am writing to express my concern for the urgent need for responsible regulation in the adult toy industry. In Canada, we are not yet doing enough to protect women against the very high concentratuons of materials linked to reproductive and other health issues.

… Our current legislation is insufficient. There are safe alternatives to pththalates and [bisphenol A] that are readily available.

It sounds like a good idea, right? Like they say on Facebook: It’s Complicated.

I’m gonna turn it over now to Cory Silverberg, blogger at About.com’s Sexuality Guide, who’s written about this topic at length:

In order to regulate sex toys first one needs to define the product category for proposed regulation. What qualifies as a sex toy? Currently in the U.S. sex toys are defined legally in some states (often as devices intended for genital stimulation). But they don’t exist as a defined category by health regulators. The same is true for many other countries where the term “sex toys” won’t be found in legal or regulatory documentation.

Even among sex toy retailers and manufacturers terms like dildo, vibrator, penis ring, butt plug can mean very different things. Is a sex toy defined by how it’s intended use? How it’s commonly used? Is a sex toy defined by who uses it or what kinds of bodies it gets used on? There is no generally agreed upon taxonomy of sex toys. There isn’t even an organization or body (public or private) that would be in a position to develop such a taxonomy.

But until we’re there, I’m certainly not comfortable with a government deciding what is and isn’t a sex toy, and regulating the products they think are while ignoring the products they decide aren’t.

And that’s just the beginning. Read his impassioned piece Why Government Regulation of Sex Toys Is a Bad Idea.

I’m with Silverberg on this one. I believe in educating consumers and leaving the government out of as much as humanly possible. But then, I’m a conservative. That’s just how we roll. Or used to. Yeah, yeah.

Good For You

January 4, 2010 News, Research No Comments

The Sydney Morning Herald has compiled an entire alphabet of things that are good for you.

Unsurprisingly, a few of them deal with sex and sexy things. Surprisingly, one of the pieces of good news was actually very bad news.

KISSING

University of Zurich researchers studied 51 German couples for a week and found those who reported more physical contact had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva. But you need to be in a close relationship to benefit because apparently, indiscriminate kissing just won’t do. And it increases your risk of meningitis, a deadly infection of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

ORGASM

Orgasms are natural stress-relievers. Serotonin levels in the brain become elevated during sexual activity, promoting a sense of well-being that has a calming effect on cravings, such as those for junk food or cigarettes. An orgasm can also help boost the immune system and flush toxins from the skin.

UNDERWEAR

This is actually bad news: researchers are suggesting the loose cotton variety of undies is optimal to prevent fungal infection, which tends to occur in moist, airless and warm places such as the vagina or the anus. Loose undergarments are also preferable for men, as tight underwear can affect sperm production by increasing the temperature of the testes.

Maybe I’d give up smoking if the man of my dreams promised to make me orgasm every day, at least three times a day. But giving up cute underwear or letting him defect to loose boxers so I can no longer enjoy looking at his package? Never gonna happen.

Information from The Sydney Morning Herald.

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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...