Letty Cottin Pogrebin: Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate

Letty-Clickthru-1_1Here is a great interview with Letty Cottin Pogrebin on her novel Jewish Single Male Seeking Soul Mate, published by the Feminist Press. Make sure you catch Letty live at one of these upcoming events. Tune in to WBAI’s Morning Show on 99.5 FM or online to hear the rest of the interview this Thursday during the 7:00 hour, probably around 7:20 or later.

Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate is the story of “Zach Levy, the left-leaning son of Holocaust survivors who promises his mother that he’ll marry within the tribe. But when Zach falls for Cleo, an African American activist grappling with her own inherited trauma, he must reconcile the family he loves with the woman who might be his soul mate. A New York love story complicated by the legacies and modern tension of Jewish American and African American history, Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate explores what happens when the heart runs into the reality of politics, history, and the weight of family promises.”

Justin Williams and I talk Al Sharpton’s curves and Baltimore’s riot on WBAI’s The Morning Show

Justin Williams came into the WBAI studios today to be a guest on The Morning Show. We talk Baltimore, Newark, racists and lament the loss of Al Sharpton’s curves and medallions.

5 Things We Learned About Sex This Week

Maybe size does matter, at least when it comes to fingers.

Last week brought some surprising findings about the thing on everyone’s mind: sex! (See? You knew what I was talking about.) Learn all about the link between emojis and sex, education and porn, storms and porn, the Super Bowl and porn and… finger length and fidelity.

1. More emojis, more sex :p. The online dating site Match.com has released its fifth annual Singles in America survey. The survey, which included 5,675 singles 18 and older, was conducted by Helen Fisher, Match.com’s chief scientific advisor and a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute. The study found that the more emojis people used, the more sex they had ;). Or the more sex they had, the more emojis they used.

Therein lies the rub. Before looking at the specific data, it’s important to note that while there is a sex-emoji correlation, it’s not necessarily causal. But 54% of “emoji users” had sex in 2014 while only 31% of non-emoji users had sex during the same time period.

Emoji users also go on more dates and want to get married more than their non-emoji-using counterparts. Fisher says, “Sixty-two percent of emoji users want to get married compared to 30% of people who never used an emoji.”

Why this bizarre correlation? Forty-nine percent of men surveyed and 53% of women liked emojis because, “they show personality.” Thirty-seven percent of the men and 36% of the women appreciated that “they make it easier to express feelings.” And emojis are “more convenient,” according to 21% of the men and 18% of the women.

The three most-used emojis are the kiss, the wink and the smiley face. Among men, the most frequently used are the kiss and the heart eyes, while among women it’s the smiley face and the lips.

2. Porn-ucation: You know how the Brits sound smarter? Well, it turns out they look smarter when they watch porn. Because, it turns out, they may be doing it for educational reasons. The National Union of Students in the UK surveyed 2,500 university students and found that 60% of them turned to porn to find out more about sex, with 40% claiming that watching porn actually helped them learn about sex. The students aren’t delusional, since 75% of the ones in the survey stated that porn created unrealistic expectations. But they have found the UK’s Sex and Relationship Education to be lacking. Two thirds of the students surveyed said consent was never covered in their classes, less than half had learned anything about relationships, and not even a fifth had discussed LGBT issues.

3. The perfect blizzard activity and Super Bowl chaser.  While some Brits may have educational aspirations behind their porn viewing, we in the United States like to watch to come down from our drunken Super Bowl stupor or pass the time when it’s cold and snowy. I’m using the term “we” loosely  since I’ve never watched… the Super Bowl. (True story.) Data from PornHub Insights, the more wholesome branch of the site Porn Hub, reveals that porn viewing on Porn Hub and Youporn dropped by 28% between 8 and 9pm on Sunday.  People were quick to make up for lost time, however, and average porn watching went up by 9% after the game.

Porn Hub also collected data on how people spent the blizzard Juno. The Northeast found solace in porn, watching an average of 20% more than usual. But guess which state really got it up in terms of porn use? New Jersey, where the porn consumption during Juno spiked by 26%.

4. Men and women cheat! Most animals are either totally monogamous or totally polygamous. Walruses, chimps and baboons, for instance, are swingers, so to speak, as anyone who’s ever tried to date one knows all too well.  Penguins and marmosets, however, are committed for life. But we human beings can go either way, so to speak.

Rafael Wlodarski, an experimental psychologist at the University of Oxford in England and his colleagues asked 585 North Americans and British respondents between the ages of 18 and 63 to fill out an online questionnaire on sexual habits and beliefs, with questions like, “With how many different partners have you had sexual intercourse on one and only one occasion?”

According to Wlodarski, “We observed what appears to be a cluster of males and a cluster of females who are more inclined to ‘stay,’ with a separate cluster of males and females being more inclined to ‘stray’ when it comes to sexual relationships…. This research suggests that there may be two distinct types of individuals within each sex pursuing different mating strategies. Rather than it being a whole gamut of mating strategies, there seems to be two potential phenotypes within males and within females.”

But the questionnaire isn’t the only evidence to support this claim. Which brings us to….

5. Maybe size does matter, at least when it comes to fingers. The study also collected photocopies of people’s right hands to look at the length of their index and ring fingers, specifically the 2D:4D ratio, or the ratio between the lengths of the index and ring finger. Previous studies have shown that the longer someone’s ring finger is in relation to the index finger, the more testosterone they were exposed to in the womb. Typically, higher levels of testosterone lead to higher rates of promiscuity. Combining the images and the hand measurements, the authors determined that 57% of men and 47% of women were more likely to be promiscuous, while 43% of men and 53% of women were more penguinesque, or predisposed to commit.

Of course, this isn’t a genetic life or sex sentence, if you will. People with relatively shorter ring fingers can be rock-solid faithful partners. And someone with a really long pointer finger could break your heart into a million little pieces by cheating on you with a million people of various sizes.

As study co-author Robin Dunbar says, “It is important to note that these differences are very subtle, and are only visible when we look at large groups of people: we cannot really predict who is going to be more or less faithful… Human behavior is influenced by many factors, such as the environment and life experience, and what happens in the womb might only have a modest effect on something as complex as sexual relationships.”

I’ll still be looking at people’s hands.

Originally posted on Alternet

Infographic of the Day: The incarceration of domestic abuse survivors

image via justiceformarissa
image via Justice for Marissa
Originally posted on Feministing
Marissa Alexander should never have been convicted for shooting at the ceiling to scare off her abusive husband. On Tuesday, Alexander was “allowed” to fill the rest of her sentence at home, under house arrest. Sadly, the incarceration of women like Alexander is an epidemic. ColorOfChange and UltraViolet have collaborated on this disturbing infographic showing just how frequently women, especially women of color, are criminalized for surviving domestic.image via ultraviolet



RIP Aishah Rahman: playwright, author, professor, renaissance woman

Aishah Rahman was a playwright, author, professor, and renaissance woman who lives on through her her work.

Aishah Rahman was born in Harlem on November 4, 1936 and died on December 29th at her home in San Miguel de Allende, as the New York Times announced this week. Along with Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, and Sonia Sanchez, Rahman was part the Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s and described her writing style as using a “jazz aesthetic.” Rahman graduated from Howard University with BS in Political Science in 1968 and got an MA in playwriting and dramatic literature from Goddard College in 1985.

image via New York Times
image via New York Times

Rahman wrote several plays including “Unfinished Women Cry In No Man’s Land While a Bird Dies in Gilded Cage, ” “The Mojo And The Sayso,” “Only in America,” “Chiaroscuro” as well as three plays with music, “Lady Day A Musical Tragedy,” “The Tale of Madame Zora” and “Has Anybody Seen Marie Laveau?” two collections of one act plays Transcendental Blues and Mingus Takes 3. Ms. Rahman’ plays are published in Plays by Aishah Rahman and are widely anthologized in several collections including Nine Plays Moon Marked and Touched by Sun and Plays by African Americans. Her plays were produced across the United States at theaters including the Public Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, BAM and universities. Rahman published a Chewed Water: A Memoir, the story of growing up in Harlem in the 1940’s and 50s, in 2001. Her countless awards and prizes included a recognition by the Rockefeller Foundation of the Arts for dedication to playwriting in the American Theater and received The Doris Abramson Playwriting Award as well as a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.

Rahman served as director of playwriting at the New Federal Theater in New York, taught at Nassau Community College on Long Island and most recently at Brown University, retiring in 2011.

Rahman is survived by a daughter, Yoruba Richen, a son, Kevin Brown, grandchildren Thalia Zephyrine and Ishyah Yisrael and great grandchildren; Thelonious Gatling, Amir Yisrael-Mosby, Eliyahkim Yisrael, Jelani-YechiYAH, Neriyah Yisrael.

When I asked Yoruba Richen, the award-winning documentary filmmaker (The New Black)  if there was anything she wanted people to know about her mother she said, “Her plays were focused on exploring the black female experience in all its joys and pain and complexity.”

Yoruba also had these inspiring and moving words to say:

My mom was dedicated to her craft.  Despite frustrations that sometime arise in the life of an artist – she was committed to her writing and to  using her voice to contribute to some kind of understanding of those who are often marginalized.   She inspires me to be dedicated to my work and to telling stories that have often been ignored and  give voice to the voiceless.  And she instilled in me to never be bitter, to have faith and humor and generosity of spirit and, as she wrote to me one time,  to always remember- in spite all of the pain, and the misery and injustice the world is good.

RIP Aishah Rahman.

Originally posted on Feministing

How to Get a Vagina High: 4 Things We Learned About Sex This Week

Some interesting tidbits about sexuality revealed.

From why we have sex in the first place, to marijuana lube for your lady parts, here’s what we learned about sex this week.

1. If you have to cheat on a straight man….

David Frederick, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. wanted to look at the different ways people respond to sexual infidelity, which he defines as having sex but not falling in love, as opposed to emotional infidelity, or falling in love but not having sex. For the study, 64,000 Americans expressed via an online survey how they would respond to sexual and emotional infidelity. The participants also indicated their gender and sexual orientation (straight, bisexual, gay/ lesbian). Only one of the groups was more upset by sexual cheating than by emotional cheating. And that was…straight men! Fifty-four percent percent of heterosexual men were more upset by sexual infidelity, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women. Sixty-five percent of straight women and 46% of straight men said they would be more upset by emotional cheating. For bisexual men and women as well lesbians and gay men, only around 30% would be more upset by sexual infidelity than emotional infidelity.

2. The mystery of why we have sex, solved at last.

As you may have noticed, humans reproduce sexually, while other species like jellyfish or plants can create offspring asexually. And for a while, scientists had a theoretical understanding of why. Fun factor aside, combining genetic information from two individuals is less efficient than doing it solo, but it’s healthier because as Jesse Hollister, a former University of Toronto post-doc fellow, puts it, “Asexual reproduction leads to a buildup of deleterious mutations over time; it’s called Muller’s Ratchet.” Of course! Muller’s Ratchet! Hollister explains, “The species’ average fitness is reduced and they are less able to compete in the ecological arena than sexual species, so they have an increased probability of extinction.”

But as any scientist knows, theories are great, but they don’t hold a candle to data. Thanks to Hollister we have empirical evidence backing the theory and the evening primrose. The evening primrose! Some evening primroses, or EPs as I like to call them, have evolved to reproduce sexually, while others reproduce asexually. In a totally incomprehensible process, Hollister and his colleagues were able to document that the EPs which produced sexually were healthier.

3. The first lubricant designed to get your lady parts high.

Continue reading “How to Get a Vagina High: 4 Things We Learned About Sex This Week”

Bess Myerson: The only Jewish Miss America, pianist, politician you’ve never heard of

Image via wikipedia
Image via wikipedia
Bess Myerson
Bess Myerson
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Meet the late Bess Myerson: the first and (as of today) only Jewish Miss America, pianist, adviser to three presidents, Senate primary candidate and consumer rights advocate. I’m not sure about you, but I had never heard of Bess Myerson before Monday when headlines announced that she had died at the age of 90 at her home in Santa Monica California. (Though she died last month, her death wasn’t confirmed until January 5.) Nor had I heard about Miss America’s rule number  seven, which required that contestants be “of good health and of the white race.”

Born on July 16, 1924, Myerson grew up in the Sholem Aleichem Cooperative Houses in the Bronx. She started piano when she was nine years old, and after she graduated from Hunter College, hoped to get a graduate degree in music. Despite teaching piano at 50 cents an hour, Myerson was unable to afford the piano or education she wanted. According to Myerson, her sister Sylvia sent Bess’s photo to the Miss New York City contest, without telling her, during the summer of 1945. Myerson borrowed a bathing suit and performed the piano and flute. After becoming Miss New York, Myerson went to Atlantic City and participated in the Miss America pageant.

Before heading to Atlantic City, however, Myerson had a private meeting with the Miss America pageant director and Southern Baptist, Lenora Slaughter, who urged her to change her name to something more “attractive” — i.e. less Jewish-sounding — like Betty Merrick or Betty Meredith. Slaughter, who directed the pageant from 1935 to 1967, had, at some point in the 1930s, made it a rule that the Miss America “contestant must be in good health and of the white race.” This rule was abolished in 1950 but the first Black candidate was not until 1970 and the first Black Miss America, Vanessa Williams, was not crowned until 1984.

Myerson recalled the conversation with Slaughter and why she refused to change her name:

I said… the problem is that I’m Jewish, yes? And with that kind of name it’ll be quite obvious to everyone else that I’m Jewish. And you don’t want to have to deal with a Jewish Miss America. And that really was the bottom line. I said I can’t change my name. You have to understand. I cannot change my name. I live in a building with two hundred and fifty Jewish families. The Sholom Aleichem apartment houses. If I should win, I want everybody to know that I’m the daughter of Louie and Bella Myerson.

She would later tell her biographer, “Already I was losing my sense of who I was; already I was in a masquerade, marching across stages in bathing suits. Whatever was left of myself in this game, I had to keep, I sensed that. I knew I had to keep my name. It turned out to be one of the most important decisions I ever made.”

Another way Myerson maintained her identity was by being the only woman in the Miss America pageant who appeared in her cap and gown and not a bathing suit. And when she won the contest, the announcer said, “Beauty with brains, that’s Miss America of 1945!”

Not everyone was so happy about her victory, however, and three of the five sponsors pulled out of their partnerships with Miss America because they didn’t want their products to be represented by someone Jewish. During her Miss America tour around the nation, country clubs and hotels barred her and appearances were canceled. Myerson recalled, “I felt so rejected… Here I was, chosen to represent American womanhood, and then America treated me like this.” She also witnessed segregation in the South.

So Myerson cut the tour short, went back to New York and went on tour again, this time lecturing for the Anti-Defamation League, in cooperation with the NAACP and the Urban League, reading from her speech against anti-semitism and racism titled, “You Can’t Be Beautiful and Hate.”

Nor did her accomplishments stop there. Meyerson performed piano with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. She became New York City’s first commissioner of consumer affairs in 1969, passing some of the toughest laws in the country, including “sell-by” dates and unit pricing. In 1977, she chaired Edward Koch’s successful campaign for New York City mayor and served as director of cultural affairs under him. In 1980, she entered the Democratic Senate primary, but was defeated by Representative Elizabeth Holtzman. Myerson was an advisor on the White House conference on crime and violence under Lyndon B Johnson, on a board dealing with workplace issues under Gerald R. Ford, and on commissions on mental health and world hunger under Jimmy Carter.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Originally posted on Feministing

The Surprising Relationship Between Sex and Pizza: 4 Things We Learned About Sex This Week

The Surprising Relationship Between Sex and Pizza: 4 Things We Learned About Sex This Week

This week, we answer several fascinating questions: how long do car-based sexual interactions last on average? Why should you consider rolling around in pumpkin pie and/or cheese pizza? Why do people watch condom-free porn? Enjoy, and be sure to share these discoveries with your loved ones over the holidays.

1. Friends don’t let friends sex and drive. Or maybe they do, but they probably shouldn’t. It turns out lots of young people are have sex in cars, and the results can be a little dangerous. Looking at 195 men and 511 women, researchers from the University of South Dakota found that 33 percent of men and nine percent of women had sex while driving, and nine percent of men and 29 percent of women had sex as a passenger. According to the study, the sexual activity lasted 1-10 minutes for 42.7 percent of the respondents. Approximately 49% traveled at 100-130 km per hour during sex. The most common side effects were speeding (37.8 percent), drifting into another lane (36 percent) and letting go of the steering wheel (10.8 percent). Ah ha! “Letting go of the steering wheel.” So, that’s what the kids are calling it these days. Though fewer that two percent of those DWS (driving while sexing) had an accident.

2. The sexy smell of cheese pizza and Good and Plenty. If you want to turn on a man, you may want to put your face in a pumpkin pie or rub some pizza grease behind your ears. Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, reveals some interesting findings about smell in his book The Real Science Of Sex Appeal, which will be published in January. Dr. Hirsch looked at how 46 different scents affected penile blood flow in 31 men and found that lavender and pumpkin pie (individually, not combined) increased it by 40%. Cheese pizza increased it by 5%. So maybe you should wear lavender oil instead of pizza grease.

Hirsh also surveyed 30 women and found that vaginal blood flow was increased by pumpkin pie smell as well. But the winning combination was the scent of cucumber and Good & Plenty licorice candy, which increased vaginal blood flow by 13%. I guess if you really want to increase your odds, you should make a pumpkin pie with plenty of lavender, licorice, and cucumber, topped with cheese and tomato sauce. Then bring it out with you and see who comes around.

Continue reading “The Surprising Relationship Between Sex and Pizza: 4 Things We Learned About Sex This Week”

New survey shows the gender leadership gap in the non-profit world

The corporate world is famous for its all-too-often shatter-proof glass ceilings and old-boy network sexism. But, as a new study of Jewish non-profits highlights, the non-profit sector isn’t exactly a beacon of gender equality either.

When Jane Eisner became the editor-in-chief of The Forward, the largest and oldest running national Jewish newspaper, she was shocked by how few of the leaders of non-profits were women. As she explained to me, “I come to The Forward and that first summer in 2008 my boss takes me around to meet all these Jewish leaders and they were all men. So, I’m thinking, well, just because this was my anecdotal experience doesn’t mean that’s in fact the landscape.”

So, Eisner decided she would look at the actual data. In 2009, The Forward published its first salary survey which determined that only 11 of the 75  biggest Jewish non-profits had women leaders. Today, The Forward came out with its 6th annual salary survey. Continue reading “New survey shows the gender leadership gap in the non-profit world”

Men More Sexually Aroused When They Suspect Cheating? 4 Weird Things Science Told Us About Sex This Week

Here are some things we learned about sex this week. Rats: They’re just like us! Or a little like us, when it comes to liking their ladies in lingerie.

1. Male rats like their lady rats in lingerie: If you thought human males were the only ones into lingerie, you are wrong and very anthro-normative. It’s not that either humans or rats are evolutionarily programmed to like Victoria Secret. It’s that both humans and male rats can learn how to associate certain things with sex and thus find them sexier. Psychologists from Concordia University in Montreal gathered a dozen of male virgin rats (I know! Where do you find even a handful of virgin rats these days?) and threw a rat mixer for them. All the lady rats in attendance were wearing little rat jackets. And the male and female rats mated, as the do. On another occasion, scientists took the same bunch of now not-so-virgin male rats and threw them into a room, or cage, with two lady rats. One was naked and one was wearing the same jacket. The rats preferred the jacketed one. And by prefer I mean mounted her more frequently and ejaculated faster. Co-author Gonzalo R. Quintana Zunino explained that the experiment demonstrated that rats were able to learn, “Each time my partner wears lingerie [a jacket], I’m going to have sex.” Sounds a little presumptuous.

2. There must be something in the mistletoe: I must go to very boring holiday parties because I find this next study shocking. According to a survey done on 1,500 people by married dating site IllicitEncounters.com, 34% of Brits have sex with their colleagues after office holiday parties. So, a married dating site may skew a little, statistically speaking, when it comes to shagging (that’s what the Brits call having sex). Also 67% kissed a co-worker.

3. Indonesia introduces male birth control: Indonesian scientists are making pills with from the gendarussa shrub, which men on the island of Papua have long used as birth control by boiling it in tea and drinking it a half hour before having sex. According to scientists from the government’s National Family Planning Coordination Board and Airlangga University, the pills, which have been tested on 350 men, are 99% effective. They will go on sale in 2016. Why is male birth control so exciting? Well, it doesn’t mess with a woman’s hormones, which can have unpleasant side-effects.
Continue reading “Men More Sexually Aroused When They Suspect Cheating? 4 Weird Things Science Told Us About Sex This Week”