Monthly Archives: March 2012

This issue’s sex tip: Playing to your strengths

Ian Kerner, a famous New York sex therapist and author of the classic sex guide She Comes First believes that, in sex as in life, we’re better off if we play to our strengths.

Playing to your strengths means accepting that there are just some things that we cannot change about our sexual abilities or bodies and working around them. Kerner himself claims to have suffered from premature ejaculation for many years and thus learned to compensate for this with oral sex. Playing to your strengths means finding clever ways around your limitations, whether it is by using alternative techniques, positions or toys. For example, a woman who needs a lot of stimulation to orgasm may use a toy to assist her partner or a man with an unusually small penis can compensate by favouring positions where size is of less importance.

Kerner advises developing what he calls “sex scripts” – actions and techniques that lead to pleasure. The point being that, if everyone has an enjoyable and orgasmic experience, it doesn’t really matter how you get there.

BOOKS: The Smart Girl’s Guide to the G-Spot by Violet Blue

If anyone can help you track down the elusive G-spot it is probably sex educator and author Violet Blue. The new edition of The Smart Girl’s Guide to the G-Spot updates Blue’s classic book on the subject. As well as being the definitive guide to the much debated, controversial G-Spot, this book offers a wealth of information. There’s a guide to the body, suggestions for play and sex positions, advice on sex toys, and safer sex information as well. Ms Blue has also included a list of further reading for sexual swats, recommended videos and DVDs and practical information on choosing sex toys. The 2012 edition is out now, but only available on Amazon UK from April.

Seeing red

It is a myth that red angers bulls, but it appears it does attract men. A study has found that if a woman is wearing red, men are more likely to think she’s interested in a little something something. What’s more, it doesn’t have to be a slinky number – even a red t-shirt should do the trick. Apparently men interpret a red outfit as signalling an interest in sex, but this can be a double-edged sword for women who may be unintentionally sending out come hither signals and attracting unwanted attention.

Anyone for skitching?

Sexting is like, so 2009. Skitching is where it’s at and is allegedly the brainchild of comedian and actress Olivia Munn. Skitch is a basic photo-editing app for phones and computers and skitching is sexting with instructions – superimposing text and arrows on a photo explaining what you want done to which body part. Well, they do say communication is important for happy sex…

Moan, moan, moan

Why do women moan during sex? Is it because it is expected or is there something more at work? Two British boffins decided to find out if moaning – or copulatory vocalization as they put it – had some purpose. The researchers found that many women made noise during sex, but not necessarily while they were having an orgasm. Two thirds said that they moaned to hurry along their partner’s climax, and 87 percent did so to boost a partner’s self-esteem. Some women moaned to relieve boredom, fatigue or pain and discomfort during sex. Oh dear!

Sex ed does not encourage sex

Half the reason certain parents object to sex education in school is a fear that this will encourage their little darlings to start shagging like rabbits. Anyone who has had sex education will know that this is patent nonsense and now a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health has confirmed that sex ed actually delays sex – but so does abstinence instruction. Laura Duberstein Lindberg and Isaac Maddow-Zimet of the Guttmacher Institute in New York found that young adults who had received instruction on both abstinence and birth control tended to be older when they first had sex and they were more likely to have used condoms or other contraceptives during their first experience. Interestingly, if perhaps obviously, women who had only received abstinence-only education were significantly less likely to use a condom during their first experience of sex, most likely because abstinence education often erroneously claims that condoms do not work.

Feminist Porn Awards

One of the big debates within feminism is whether or not porn is always degrading to women. Some say yes, some say no, and some say, that like most things in life, “it depends.”

Since 2006 the landmark Toronto sex store, Good For Her, has been running the Feminist Porn Awards. The idea behind the awards was to give kudos to erotic films, documentaries and websites that challenge stereotypical depictions of sexuality, whether this be female or male sexuality. The awards also highlight films that depict marginalised sexualities in a positive light.

In order to be considered for an award, a female director, producer or writer has to have been involved OR the film must depict female pleasure in a realistic and believable way OR it has to challenge the sexual stereotypes and boundaries common in mainstream and commercial porn.

The 2012 nominees has been released and includes straight sex, gay sex and educational videos such as Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Advanced Anal Sex.

WOMEN MAKE MEN STUPID. REALLY?

That’s according to research from the Netherlands where scientists claim they have evidence showing that even planning on talking to a woman negatively affects a man’s ability to think.

The whole thing seems pretty insulting to men, as if the presence of a woman turned them into slavering beasts. It also seems a bit ridiculous. After all, men spend their days surrounded by women – working with women, studying at the same colleges, catching buses, trains or sharing the same road space, queuing in banks or coffee shops etc etc. None of these are segregated spaces, which if this study was correct, would mean that men spend their days in a fug of indecision and stupidity.

I can imagine that a specific woman (or man) might have an effect… being around someone whom you find particular attractive can scramble anyone’s brains. But this study says that merely the presence of women is enough to affect men’s ability to think (or impairs their cognitive function to use the shrink jargon.)

It’s always wise to be a bit sceptical about psychological studies. A great deal of the time, meta-analyses of all studies covering a particular topic show that the evidence cannot always be reliably replicated, or that other studies contradict the initial findings, or that the effects are so slight they are negligible.

Ever wondered where words like slut and playboy come from?

I did. And the Oxford English Dictionary provided the answer.

Recently I wrote a post for the Oxford Dictionaries Blog about sexist language to tie in with International Women’s Day. One of the things I was curious about was why terms for sexually promiscuous men and women are so different. Being labelled a “slut” is negative, while being called a “playa” just doesn’t carry the same judgement.

Anyway, I decided to research these words and find out their etymology. The OED tracks a word’s meaning and usage by finding examples of it in print.

Slut is of doubtful origin. The earliest reference to it comes from as far back as 1402, and used to mean a slovenly or untidy woman. The first known reference to slut as a promiscuous woman is from around 1450 – “Com forth, thou sloveyn! com forthe, thou slutte!”

Here slut is used ambiguously and could refer to a woman of unclean habits. Clearer examples can be found in Nicholas Breton’s 1577 Floorish vpon Fancie (“To haunt the Tauerns late And swap ech slut, vpon the lippes, that in the darke hee meetes”) and Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy from 1621 (“A peevish drunken flurt, a waspish cholerick slut.”). Of course, references to unclean habits don’t necessarily exclude sexual behaviour – since 1599 dirty has been used to mean ‘morally unclean’, ‘impure’ or ‘smutty’.

Slapper used to mean a large object or a strapping, or overgrown person. In its modern sense the term found its way into the 1990 Bloomsbury Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, which describes slapper as a working-class term from East London and Essex meaning ‘prostitute’ or ‘slut’. It’s possible that the word may have its roots in the Yiddish schlepper, meaning an ‘unkempt, scruffy person; gossipy, dowdy woman’ but its etymology is unclear.

Slightly less egregious – although not by much – is bimbo. Bimbo comes from the Italian, bambino, meaning ‘little child’. In American slang it dates from around 1919 and was originally used as a contemptuous term for ‘fellow’ or ‘chap’ but since the 1920s bimbo has been used to describe a prostitute or a sexually attractive woman of little intelligence, which is now the usual sense of the word.

While slut and slapper are the most common terms in use today, there are plenty of synonyms for them – tart, harlot, minx, jade, strumpet, hussy, trollop and tramp. While there are equivalent terms for men, these don’t carry the same pejorative connotations.

Consider the slang neologisms such as manwhore and playa. The amusing if not terribly scholarly Urban Dictionary defines manwhore as (among other things) ‘a badge of f***ing pride’, and notes that ‘it is “cool” and “hip” to be labeled as a “playa”. A female version of this would be slut.’

Older terms for promiscuous men include philanderer – “a man who philanders; a male flirt”; rake, which the OED explains is “a fashionable or stylish man of dissolute or promiscuous habits”; and sybarite, who we may disapprove of for being “devoted to luxury or pleasure” and “an effeminate voluptuary or sensualist” to boot. As I’m sure you’ll have noticed these terms are not in frequent usage these days, nor are whoremonger, lecher, debauchee or roué. Even playboy sounds a little outdated to contemporary ears.

Playboy originates from Irish English and refers to a wealthy man who pursues pleasure, is irresponsible and sexually promiscuous. The original playboy was Christy Mahon from JM Synge’s 1907 play, The Playboy of the Western World, although these days when most people hear the term they think of a dirty magazine and the smoking-jacket-wearing old codger who made a fortune from it.

To Beard or Not to Beard?

Oh oh! Apparently women don’t like beards – that’s according to a scientific survey. The boffins tell us that beards make men seem older and more aggressive. Hmmm… I had my doubts about this one. Lots of my lady friends rate beards, as do I. Not full-on soup catchers of course, but a neatly trimmed beard or goatee is always a delight.

A look at the actual study itself shows that the sample of women surveyed were from Samoa and New Zealand, which means the results are culturally specific.

I was wondering what y’all think: beards – yah or nay?