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3 Exciting Things We Learned About Sex This Week

29 Sep

For once, science has given us some good news about weight and sex.

This week, science brought us a surprising study about sex work, an unsurprising study blaming everything on women’s allegedly low sex drives, and the link between body fat and sexual stamina. Here’s what we learned.

1. The bigger the cushion, the longer the pushin’.

I get most of my life lessons from comedian Christopher Guest, so I’m not surprised that a new study confirms (kind of) a claim made by a song from This is Spinal Tap. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll definitely remember the epic rock ballad, “Big Bottom.”

The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’/That’s what I said/The looser the waistband, the deeper the quicksand/Or so I have read

It turns out a similar song could be written about men’s big bellies. A new study shows that men with bigger bellies may last longer in bed than lean men, because men with more fat have higher levels of oestradiol, a female hormone that inhibits orgasms in men. “We found that patients with lifelong PE [premature ejaculation] were leaner than the healthy control cases… As the BMI [Body Mass Index] increased, the number of patients decreased in the PE group,” said the study’s authors.

On average, the study found, overweight men stayed erect for seven minutes before climaxing, while slimmer guys lasted two minutes. To put that into perspective, it takes an average of 10-20 minutes for women to orgasm. I guess we need to write another song: “The bigger the cushion, the longer the pushin’ that’s what I said. The looser the waistband the more time in the quicksand, or so I have read.”

2. Dissatisfied with your job? Maybe you should consider becoming a sex worker.

Canada’s first national study on sex workers had some interesting findings that undermined its conservative government’s arguments for criminalizing sex work. Justice Minister Peter MacKay claims that Bill C-36, which aims to abolish sex work, is needed because, “the vast majority of those that sell sexual services do not do so by choice. We view the vast majority of those involved in selling sexual services as victims.” Yet the five-year study found that 82 percent of workers felt appropriately rewarded, 70 percent were satisfied with their jobs, and 68 percent felt they have good job security.

Perhaps, you might argue, the study is biased, or the workers delusional. What still doesn’t make sense is how criminalizing their behavior helps them. It has the opposite effect, making them less safe by pushing them further underground and making it harder for them to seek help and support. So whether you like to think that every single sex worker is a radical, feminist, subversive, anti-patriarchal, empowered, autonomous revolutionary on the one hand, or a hopeless, helpless victim on the other, we should all be able to agree that persecuting and prosecuting them doesn’t help anyone.

3. When in doubt, blame women’s low sex drive.

Hong Kong’s birth rate has dropped from 1,933 births for every 1,000 women in 1981, to 1,285 in 2012. What’s behind this trend? According to a poll conducted by Hong Kong’s Family Planning Association, it’s ladies’ low libidos.

This is how the South China Morning Post article describes the results of the study:

“The association polled around 2,100 ethnic Chinese women aged between 21 and 40 from December 2007 to December 2009, and found almost six out of 10 had at least one sexual problem.

“Of that number, about 400 said they had no sexual desire and had arousal problems, 500 did not have orgasms and 430 experienced pain during sex.”

OK. First of all, what is a “sexual problem”? Second of all, do these 400 women have no sexual desire and arousal problems at the same time? Or is it one or the other? And if they are simultaneous, couldn’t it be that the arousal problems they encounter hamper their sexual desire? In other words, couldn’t it be that nothing is wrong with their own sex drives, but it’s something related to what their partners are or are not doing? Or, perhaps, just perhaps, their failure to orgasm and you know, physical pain, are preventing them from getting in the mood. But why talk about how women’s sexual needs aren’t being met or fulfilled when it’s so much easier to paint women as frigid?

Cop who killed young Black man with dreads warned of Rasta drug culture

25 Sep

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The same cop who shot and killed a 21-year-old Black man who wore dreadlocks had a lot to say about the nefarious connection between drugs and Bob Marley music.

Corporal Matthew Schauerhamer of Saratoga Springs, Utah, is one of the two police officers who were involved in the shooting and killing of Darrien Hunt, which took place last week. The police claimed they shot Hunt as he lunged at them with a samurai sword. The Prosecutor initially backed up the claim but has since stated that Hunt was actually dozens of yards away when he was shot multiple times and killed. An independent autopsy and witnesses corroborate not only that Hunt was far away from police, but that he was running away and shot from behind.

It has been revealed by The Guardian that in June of this year Schauerhamer, 32, had written an article in the local newspaper offering parents tips on how to figure out if their kids are into drugs:

If parents are able to familiarize themselves with the specific trends of drug culture, they will be more likely to recognize if their child is descending into the culture and subcultures that drug users associate with. It will be easier for parents to distinguish whether their child is using or associating with people who use drugs.

According to Schauerhamer’s helpful guide, which was published in a local newspaper in June, one of the gate-way subcultures into drugs is “Rasta” culture.

 if your child is listening to Bob Marley’s “Kaya” is wearing a Bob Marley shirt with Bob Marley on it smoking a joint, has a Bob Marley poster in his room, and is wearing a Rasta hat (red, yellow and green), it is highly likely your child is highly high. If they have Rasta colored anything, it is a good bet your child uses or hangs out with drug users.

Nor does the officer shy away from overstating the allegedly indestructible link between style and criminality. He actually writes that,

the spade associated with this [SRH] clothing brand is so mainstreamed now that simply wearing it makes you a walking billboard proclaiming to the police, ‘I use drugs! Arrest me now!’

Continue reading

The Endless March of Police Brutality—7 Stories From Just This Week

22 Sep

Amid the new wave of protests in Ferguson, the sad and tragic cycle continues.

From Ferguson, Missouri to Staten Island, New York, it seems like a new story about police brutality breaks every day. Here are some recent incidents of police violence from around the nation that you may not have heard about. Because honestly, who can keep up?

1. 22-year-old black man police claim they shot in self-defense was actually shot from behind

The two officers who shot and killed 22-year-old Darrien Hunt in Saratoga Springs, Utah, claimed that they acted in self-defense after the young man lunged at them with a samurai sword. This week, the family’s lawyer announced that Hunt’s parents had a private autopsy performed, which determined that Hunt had actually been shot in the back six times from a distance of 100 yards. Witnesses also say Hunt was shot as he was running away from the cops. As the family’s lawyer said, “The shot that killed Darrien, which was straight in the back, did not have an exit wound…. It raises the question as to how you can lunge at someone and be shot in the back at the same time.” Hunt’s mother, who is white, explained why she thinks this happened to her son, who is bi-racial: “They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away.” Less than 5% of the population of Saratoga Springs, a wealthy community 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City, is non-white.

2. 17-year-old is in critical condition after being tased, stepped on and allowed to fall

Last Sunday, 17-year-old Bryce Masters, of Independence, Missouri, was driving to a friend’s house to play video games, when the police pulled him over for driving a vehicle for which they had a warrant. According to the police, Masters, the son of a Kansas City Police officer, “became uncooperative, physically resistitive [sic] to exiting the car, and an altercation ensued leading the officer to deploying his Taser.” According to witnesses, however, when the police officer asked Masters to roll down his window, he explained that he couldn’t because the window was broken. So, the police officer did what anyone would do when faced with a slight teenager who had made no physical threat whatsoever: tase him in the chest against department policy, pull him from the car, handcuff him and allow him to fall face first onto the concrete. And then, for good measure, put his foot on his back. The Independence Police Department only permits tasering if the subject is an immediate threat to an officer or another person, uses force to resist arrest, flees or attempts to hurt himself. Sitting in a car does not meet any of these requirements. As a result of the totally unnecessary tasing, Masters went into cardiac arrest, stopped breathing, had to be resuscitated, was hospitalized and put into a medically induced coma. Doctors began to bring him out of the coma on Monday and, as of Tuesday, he was in critical but stable condition and was being treated for acute oxygen deprivation to the brain during his cardiac arrest.

3. Milwaukee police officer won’t be punished for lying about witnessing an illegal strip and cavity search

In August, a jury awarded Leo Hardy half a million dollars in damages after determining that Milwaukee police had illegally, “maliciously,” and with “reckless disregard” for civil rights, strip and cavity searched him. Officer Stephanie Seitz, who is either forgetful or legally blind, told investigators she was unaware of these searches. The only problem is that the prosecutor’s office recovered a surveillance video in which Seitz “clearly observes” the anal search. They determined that she had had been “clearly untruthful” and committed perjury. But, she won’t be charged with anything. Because, what’s the big deal? I mean, lying, perjury, probing? They kind of cancel each other out, right?

Continue reading

Urban Outfitter’s greatest racist, sexist, tasteless hits

21 Sep

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This week Urban Outfitters sold a great sweatshirt. It said Kent State and had, what appeared to be a blood stain. Everybody except, allegedly, Urban Outfitters saw the sweatshirt as a reference to the blood-stained history of Kent University where, in 1970, the National Guard killed four students and injured 10. Urban Outfitters released an apology, via Twitter, which is really huge. And then they came out with another apology which was surprisingly honest in its acknowledgement of how little their word counted:

this truth does not excuse us from our failure to identify potential controversial products head on. We, as a company who caters to a college-age demographic, have a responsibility to uphold to our customers. Given our history of controversial issues, we understand how our sincerity may be questioned.

Because it turns out, Urban Outfitters has an amazing resume of offensive products under its belt. And to be fair, they take diversity really seriously. They are an equal opportunity offender, whose products have mocked eating disorders, Jews, African Americans, Native Americans. I know I’m leaving someone out, so I apologize. On this week’s Morning Jew, Heather Gold and I talk about these Urban Outfitters blunders, which include a game of “Ghettopoly,” which sounds sooooo fun, full-figured fashion, and  Jewish behinds. Enjoy!

Originally posted on RawStory

8 Worst Things Urban Outfitters Has Done

18 Sep

The recent furor over its faux-bloodstained Kent State sweatshirt isn’t the only controversy the company has been involved in.

On Monday, Urban Outfitters made headlines when it posted for sale on its website a Kent State sweatshirt. There’s nothing controversial about selling a college sweatshirt, but selling a sweatshirt that appears to be stained with blood at a college where the National Guard killed four students and injured an additional 10 in 1970 is truly disgusting.

Urban Outfitters apologized, but claimed it was a total coincidence that what looked like a bloodstained sweatshirt happened to bear the name of the college that became a “bloodstained symbol of the rising student rebellion against the Nixon Administration and the war in Southeast Asia,” as Time Magazine put it weeks after the shooting. Urban Outfitters was so contrite it actually took to Twitter to issue its apology. It used twitlonger, since 140 characters just doesn’t cut it when apologizing for making light of a historically significant national tragedy.

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

It is possible that nobody at Urban Outfitters who reviewed the sweatshirt thought the discoloration looked like a piece of evidence from a Dexter episode. It’s also possible that nobody who worked at Urban Outfitters knew the bloody history of Kent State. But here’s a question. If Urban Outfitters were so torn up about it, wouldn’t it remove the “vintage Kent State Sweatshirt,” which was going for a mere $130, from its website? As of Tuesday night, the company had the item listed as sold out. There is no image, but it seems like a better PR, damage-control and moral move would be removing the whole page.

For arguments sake, let’s give Urban Outfitters the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say they didn’t see the blood imagery, didn’t know about Kent state, didn’t have the IT power to remove the page and were forced to leave it listed as sold out. One big problem remains: Urban Outfitter’s extremely bad track record of selling offensive products. Even the store admits its history makes its actions pretty hard to forgive. In another apology released Tuesday, Urban Outfitters continued to claim ignorance, but conceded,

this truth does not excuse us from our failure to identify potential controversial products head on. We, as a company who caters to a college-age demographic, have a responsibility to uphold to our customers. Given our history of controversial issues, we understand how our sincerity may be questioned.

Let’s review the previous eight controversial issues Urban Outfitters has been involved with. Continue reading

As a Jew, I’m grateful that Joe Biden used the word ‘Shylocks’

17 Sep

US Vice President Joe Biden shakes hand with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the state memorial service for former prime minister Ariel Sharon at the Knesset in Jerusalem on Jan. 13, 2014 [AFP]

US Vice President Joe Biden shakes hand with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the state memorial service for former prime minister Ariel Sharon at the Knesset in Jerusalem on Jan. 13, 2014 [AFP]

Joe Biden, once again, pulled a Joe Biden, (made a gaffe) when he referred to predatory bankers as shylocks. During a Tuesday speech at the Legal Services Corporation’s 40th anniversary conference, Biden said that his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, heard stories about banks preying on fellow servicemen and women when he served in Iraq:

People would come up to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures in terms of bad loans that were being – I mean, these Shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas.

Of course, Shylock is a fairly charged reference, as it refers to the Jewish, interest-charging, money-lender in Shakespeare masterpiece The Merchant of Venice. There is much debate over whether the character is an anti-semitic stereotype, or a sympathetic character through whom Shakespeare critiques anti-semitism. But, to be sure, when people use the word, they mean it pejoratively. They are describing someone who takes advantage of others and not someone who highlights the inhumanity of anti-Semitism. You will not, for instance, hear anyone ever describe Anne Frank as a Shylock, though she certainly humanized Jews and indicted anti-semitism.

Predictably, Abraham Foxman, who is still the president of the Anti-Defamation League despite announcing his retirement last year, had something to say about this:

When someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden, uses the term ‘Shylocked’ to describe unscrupulous moneylenders dealing with service men and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society.

Biden issued an apology and a “Jews love me” #HumbleBrag: Continue reading

Ex-gay movie star tells Lady Gaga to “shut up”

16 Sep

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I was already sooooo excited to see the pro ex-gay-conversion “documentary” Such were Some of You. But after seeing the latest clip of the film that appeared on today’s 700 Hundred Club, I’m ecstatic. The clip opens with an enthralling image: white letters spelling out “Born Gay?” amidst a pitch black background. Then we see a random white dude on the street who says, “I believe they were born that way.” As the exciting soundtrack draws you in with its insistent violin and drums, a certain Doctor Michael Brown explains that “there’s absolutely no evidence” that anyone is born gay. And then, for some reason, the editors thought it would be a good idea to drive home Brown’s point with a fairly contradictory one as a woman says, “I didn’t want to be gay.” But by far, the best part is when a former gay young man with very engineered eyebrows (I’m thinking waxed but threaded is definitely a possibility) delivers this zinger: I have to say, Lady Gaga, shut up. I was not born this way.” Oh no he didn’t! Continue reading

Statistic of the Day: 1 in 5 American men admit to domestic violence

16 Sep

domestic-violence1People are justifiably outraged by Ray Rice’s treatment of his then-fiancee Janay Palmer. But what’s even scarier is that one out of five men admit that they’ve committed domestic violence against a partner or spouse. A new nationally-representative study by the University of Michigan asked 500 men the following question:

 Over the course of your relationship, how often have you ever done any of these things (pushed, grabbed, or shoved; threw something; slapped or hit; kicked, bit, or hit with a fist; beat up; choked; burned or scalded; threatened with a knife or gun) to your current spouse/partner?

Nineteen percent, or one out of five men, admitted to doing so at least once. And, of course, these were just the men who were willing to report it to the researchers, which means that the phenomenon is likely ever more common. The lead author of the study, Vijay Singh, explains, “If men could enter responses in a private way, (the percentage) could have been even higher.” The rate would also go up if it included other kinds of abuse: “It did not ask about emotional abuse. It did not ask about sexual abuse,” Singh said.

But even one out of five is unacceptably high. To put it in perspective, domestic violence is more common than diabetes. Continue reading

Maus creator Art Spiegelman comes out of the Israeli-Palestinian closet with this image

10 Sep

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Art Spiegelman who was the first person to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for a graphic novel, has come out of the closet on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The son of Holocaust survivors, Spiegalman told the story of the Holocaust through his brilliant graphic novel, Maus, which uses allegory to portray Jews as mice and Germans as cats.

Spiegelman has been reluctant to think about Israel. But recently he he came out of the closet, posting on Facebook a collage he had done for The Nation magazine.

He comments that

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to NOT think about Israel—deciding it has nothing more to do with me, a diasporist, than the rest of the World’s Bad News on Parade. Israel is like some badly battered child with PTSD who has grown up to batter others.
But… here’s a collage I did for last week’s Nation magazine.

The image is called Perspective in Gaza (The David Goliath Illusion). Mira Sucharov writes in The Forward,

the Biblical-style art image consists of two panels. On the left is a traditional rendering of David facing Goliath. The right-hand panel presents a shrunken Goliath brought closer to the foreground. Using the tricks of size and perspective to make what is surely not an original political point, it’s a clever play on Spiegelman’s life’s work as an illustrator.

Perhaps what is most profound in Spiegelman’s collage is not the binary view of flipping the David and Goliath metaphor on its head, but rather his use of the word “perspective.” Maybe where you stand is indeed derived from where you sit. But that’s not quite right either, since one Diaspora Jew would depict Israel as a monstrous Goliath while another would cling to the view that Israel remains small and moral David, and one Holocaust survivor sees genocide being committed by their own people while another sees the killing as self-defense against a Philistine-like enemy.

I wonder if this image will be able to reach people in a way that an intellectual argument can’t. Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 3.11.15 PMOriginally posted on RawStory

Media manages to make Senator Gillibrand’s teachable moment about sexism all about her mistakes

9 Sep

The media never ceases to amaze me. Its victim-blaming knows no bounds. Whether its Ray Rice’s then-fiancé who got herself attacked by not taking the stairs, or female celebrities responsible for getting hacked because they had naked photographs of themselves, the women who are assaulted and/or violated are always the focus.

This victim-shaming is so egalitarian and so equal-opportunity, it applies to extremely powerful people — like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Yet again, as Senator Gillibrand tries to raise the issue of sexism within the Senate, the media responds by blaming her for the way she’s doing it. Because… it’s a Tuesday. 

As we’ve covered before, Gillibrand’s new book, Off the Sidelines, recounts how she had to deal with comments about her weight and physical appearance, as well as touching, from her male colleagues. And, as we also covered, several politicians and pundits have responded by casting doubt on her claims, or by shifting the focus onto what Gillibrand is doing wrong. Today, MSNBCS’s Morning Joe show joined this cacophonous chorus. And remember, MSNBC is supposed to be the progressive channel. Host Joe Scarborough is, perhaps, the token conservative, but he is meant to be balanced out by co-host Mika Brzezinski, who is supposed to represent the liberal perspective and the woman’s view (problematic as that concept is…but that’s for another post).

Brzezinski did not hold back in accusing Gillibrand of doing the wrong thing: “Why wouldn’t you name names here?” Gillibrand tried to explain, “I want to elevate the debate. It’s not about a specific insult about one person… What this is about is how we elevate the debate to talk about these broader challenges.” Mika then replied by asking, “Wouldn’t you elevate the debate by naming names?” And Gillibrand said, “I want to talk about the bigger challenges, the fact that we don’t have equal pay in this country.” Continue reading

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