3 Exciting Things We Learned About Sex This Week

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?

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

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

8 Worst Things Urban Outfitters Has Done

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 “8 Worst Things Urban Outfitters Has Done”

This Week in Sex: A “new” female erogenous zone…and more

Photo Credit: conrado / Shutterstock.com
Photo Credit: conrado / Shutterstock.com

1. Men and lesbians have more orgasms than straight women and that’s, apparently, news?!

Gay man, straight men and lesbians have more orgasms during sex than straight women, which is “shocking news,” said no woman ever.

2. Male scientist finds another female erogenous zone men won’t be able to find.

In related news, a male Italian scientist thinks he has put his finger on what makes women orgasm. And it’s not the G spot, the place the place its namesake, the German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, claimed to have found it back in the 1950s. In a new article published in the journal Nature Reviews Urology, Emmanuele A. Jannini, Professor of endocrinology and sexology at Tor Vergata university in Rome, claims that a woman has an orgasm in her “sensitive area” known as the clitourethrovaginal (CUV) complex: “Until now, studies have talked about a ‘G-spot.’ But it’s not simply a spot as has previously been thought…. Compared to the male erogenous zones, it is much more variable and complex, and also varies from woman to woman depending on the hormonal cycle.” Sounds very promising!

3. Contrary to popular belief, Isis lingerie is named after Egyptian Goddess and not the Sunni Jihadist group.

I understand the confusion. I really do. I mean, when a store which sells lingerie and sex toys, puts out a new “Isis” line of black and white lacy thongs and bras, it’s pretty obvious that said store is endorsing the Sunni Jihadist, Islamist, fundamentalist, terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and not, saying, referring to the Egyptian fertility goddess named Isis.

But thanks to the vigilance of critics who came to lingerie for jihad conclusion, the British retailer Ann Summers has been forced to come out against the terrorists. The store actually released a statement clarifying, “We acknowledge the unfortunate timing of this product launch in our store windows, however we in no way support or condone any act of terrorism or violence….We apologise for any offence caused.” Well, now we know where they stand. I feel a lot better.

4. Search for Kim Kardashian porn transcends geography and operating systems.

Continue reading “This Week in Sex: A “new” female erogenous zone…and more”

8 Most Homophobic Religious Protest Signs

These abhorrent messages are courtesy of Christians, Jews and Muslims.

These hateful homophobic church signs are made not by clergy, but rather the flocks they shepherd: Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. Enjoy!

1. Loophole for lesbians? This sign focuses on the solution to the “problem” of gay marriage. And that solution is hanging. The sign, on display at an Indianapolis rally during the National Organization for Marriage’s Summer for Marriage tour, is based on the book of Leviticus: “If a man also lie with mankind the way he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” Sure, this open call for executing gay men is way harsh. But it is surprisingly promising for lesbian women. Guess they can lie with women however they want. Also, where are the signs for enforcing the other punishments laid out in Leviticus, like killing people who curse their parents; shunning people who shave or cut their hair; wearing clothes made of mixed fabrics; having sex with menstruating women; and banning flat-nosed, “lame” or “blind” people from entering the altar of god.

2. GAY: Gay-related acronyms for Yahweh. If you’ve ever wished you had a mnemonic device for bigotry, you’re in luck! You’ll never forget why you hate the homos, thanks to this helpful and clever sign, which was held at a rally attended by 2,000 people in support of a North Carolina pastor who was under attack. What was his crime? He offended people during a Mother’s Day sermon when he quoted the Bible verbatim and said, “I figured a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers….Build a great big large fence—50 or 100 miles long—put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. And you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out. Do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”

3. If these anuses could talk. This sign is from an anti-gay protest organized by religious groups in Kampala, Uganda in 2007. It gets right to the orifice of the matter: “Anus 4 defication.” The tagline, “A spoon is a spoon & a spade is a spade,” reminds us that an anus is an anus. And it’s for defecation. Nothing more. Nothing less.

4. God loves “God Hates Fags” apparel for kids! This isn’t a sign, per se, but it is an effective and kid-friendly way to spread the homophobic and hateful word of god. Kids love shirts that say God Hates Fags (I mean, just look at how happy the little girl is)! And God Loves Parents who use their children as ideological props and dress them in propaganda expressing something kids definitely don’t understand! With these Westboro Baptist Church motto shirts, you can really wear your lack of heart on your children’s sleeve.

5. Men at devious work.Sometimes, a picture speaks 1,000 words. And when the words are in Serbian, it’s especially helpful. This is another kid-friendly and accessible way to say, “I’m really insecure.” Continue reading “8 Most Homophobic Religious Protest Signs”

9 Most Homophobic Church Signs

They’re not exactly preaching peace and tolerance.

Texan televangelist John Hagee called same-sex marriage supporters “counterfeit Christians.” A pastor in Tampa, Florida refused to perform a funeral service when he learned the deceased man had been gay, because that would have been “blasphemous.” And Pastor Steve Washburn of First Baptist Pflugerville, Texas, is warning that pastors will be imprisoned for speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage. And that was just this week.

Certain church leaders certainly seem to be re-prioritizing Jesus’ to-do list. They’ve decided to ignore the Bible’s minor points, like turn the other cheek and that whole Golden Rule thing. Also, they’re not going to worry so much about the poor. These shepherds, instead, demonstrate their love for Jesus Christ by hating on homosexuality. They instruct their flock by broadcasting messages of homophobia—literally—on church signs and marquees. Here are some of the worst church signs preaching against brotherly love.

1. Ménage a trois with God. This sign, which was placed in front of the Devon Park United Methodist Church polling site in Wilmington, North Carolina, may go down in history for being the first, and probably only, religious sign to push a threesome as an alternative to same-sex marriage. The sign’s message is so urgent, no time or plastic could be spared for punctuation: “A true marriage male and female and god.” The takeaway? Marriage exists between one man and one woman and the omnipresent voyeur known as god.

Ménage a trois with God

2. God good, gays bad! In this sign, on display at the Santa Clara Jesus Is Lord Baptist Church in California, the beauty is in its simplicity: “God is good/Gays are bad/vote Yes on Prop Eight.” If only all get-out-the-vote initiatives were this straightforward and Manichean, voting rates would go through the roof. Prop 8, the statewide ballot proposition in California to ban same-sex marriage, brought together churches, synagogues, Mormons, Catholics, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, who were able to put aside their religious differences and come together in a beautiful interfaith collaborative effort to strip people of their civil rights. Because, at the end of the day, we may call him different names, but we all believe in the same god, who happens to be very homophobic.

God good, gays bad!

3. Homophobic haiku. This short and catchy “Gay Is not Okay” sign appeared outside of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in South Des Moines, Iowa. Pastor Mike DeMastus was merely using the church’s illuminated marquee to advertise the theme of his upcoming Sunday sermon, something he does for every sermon every week. Besides being an effective promotional tool, the minimalist text is just 12 syllables shy of being a homophobic haiku. Continue reading “9 Most Homophobic Church Signs”

6 Holocaust Survivors Who Fight Against Israel’s Treatment of Palestinians

The lesson of the Holocaust should be “never again” for anyone, including Palestinians.

The Israeli government draws on the experience of the Holocaust to justify many of its policies, especially those relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many of the people who defend Israel cite the Holocaust as one of the justifications for the founding and aggressive militarism of the Jewish state. For these people, the Holocaust serves as both a reminder of Jewish history and a cautionary tale for the future. When the Jewish people had neither a nation nor a military of their own, they were nearly exterminated; now anything the Israeli state and army does is acceptable because extermination could threaten Jews again.

But some Holocaust survivors cite the Holocaust as the very reason they oppose Israeli policy; specifically, its treatment of Palestinians. These people see that oppressing Palestinians is not just unnecessary and wrong, but hypocritical for a nation founded to provide people with a refuge from oppression. For them, the lesson of the Holocaust isn’t “never again” for Jews. It’s never again for anyone, including Palestinians.

1. Hajo Meyer. Born in Bielefeld, Germany, in 1924, Meyer fled Germany for the Netherlands at age 14, where he went into hiding when the Nazis invaded a year later. Captured in 1944, he was sent to Auschwitz. His parents died after being deported from Germany. When the war ended, Meyer returned to the Netherlands and studied theoretical physics, eventually becoming the director of the Philips Physics Laboratory. He has written several books, including  The End of Judaism. In 2011, Meyer went on a 13-city speaking tour throughout the U.S. and Canada called ” Never Again for Anyone.”

Although initially supportive of the founding of Israel, Meyer grew not only to reject Zionism but to see it as antithetical to Judaism.  Meyer rejects the way the Israeli government exploits the Holocaust and survivors to achieve its ultimate goal of “the maximum territory with a minimum number of Palestinians….They use the Holocaust to implant paranoia in their children.”

Meyer criticizes Prime Minister Netanyahu for using the Holocaust to further Zionism: “And like Netanyahu did the other day in the General Assembly of the United Nations, he used the number on my arm—or the number on our arms—to defend a coming attack on Iran. They have nothing to do with each other… The Zionists have not any right whatsoever to use the Holocaust for any purpose.”

Meyer likens the experience of the Palestinians to that of Eastern European Jews during the Holocaust, “in that they are very often held up at checkpoints, or they are not allowed to move from one place to another.” To Meyer, Israel’s mentality bears comparison to National Socialism; he believes Israel has “given up everything that has to do with humanity, with empathy, for one thing: the state. The ‘blood and soil,’ just like the Nazis. I learned in school about blood and soil, and that’s exactly their idea, too.”

2. Hedy Epstein. Born in 1924 in Freiburg, Germany, Hedy Epstein was sent to England at 14 via the Kindertransport, which brought nearly 10,000 children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland to England during the months between Kristallnacht and the onset of WWII. After the war, Hedy returned to Germany. Her parents had perished in Auschwitz and Hedy worked on the Nuremberg medical trial. In 1948, she joined her only living relatives, an aunt and uncle, in the United States.

Epstein has been to Palestine five times since 2003, taking part in demonstrations against the Occupation, the wall, and the demolition of Palestinian homes and olive orchards. Epstein’s autobiography, Remembering Is Not Enough was published in 1999.

Continue reading “6 Holocaust Survivors Who Fight Against Israel’s Treatment of Palestinians”

7 Best Jon Stewart Clips on Israel

With his brand of cutting insight, the ‘Daily Show’ host offers his take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 Last week, Jon Stewart addressed how hard it is to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a sketch called “we need to talk about Israel.” Though he mocked both sides, to a certain extent, the bulk of the sketch went after those who see themselves as “pro-Israel” and see Jon Stewart as a self-loathing Jew.

Now, from what I can tell, having been called a self-loathing Jew myself, the term applies to people who make any criticism whatsoever of the Israeli government. One can easily make the case that more diplomatic solutions, dovish approaches if you will, are more helpful for the state of Israel and Israelis than more military or hawkish ones. That makes some of the self-loathers more “pro-Israel” than the ones who blindly support the government.

Stewart is one of the few public mainstream Jews with the chutzpah to say anything critical of Israel’s policies. And as a Jew, I appreciate the way he’s been doing this ever since he took over the Daily Show. So, without further ado, I present 7 great Daily Show skits on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 Continue reading and see all the clips at Alternet.org