Mar 312011

So here’s a photo of a skirt hanging in a window at a local shop:

What do you see?

A big lovely flower?

Because what I see is SEX.

I see a giant, springing, spreading load of sex organs on generous display, advertising their availability, ripe, ready.

I see sex spread wide and colorful, so that it directly overlaps the wearer’s genitals. I mean I’m surprised parents don’t feel the need to cover their children’s eyes when they walk past. It might as well be a giant drawing of a wet vulva or a throbbingly erect penis. I mean, I could NEVER wear that skirt, NEVER. Compared to that flower, I’m a downright prude.

And I can’t NOT see sex. I walk past this skirt every single day, and every single day I think to myself, “I bet a mom would be okay with her 14 year old daughter wearing that, just because it’s not a picture of ANIMAL sex organs.” And I shake my head in bemusement.

Sex. Nerd. Did I mention?

Mar 302011

I am not, in the general run of things, a joiner. But the National Institute for Reproductive Health asked people to blog about emergency contraception. I think it’s important. So.

There’s all kinds of political hullabaloo I could write about, a buncha mythbusting I could do, and a lot of basic, necessary education I could provide. But instead, here’s this:

More than 10 years ago, I took Plan B.

On Valentine’s Day, as it happens.

We (that is, the boy and I – he had waist-length curly blond hair, liberal politics, and a nerdy way of laughing with a snort and pushing his glasses up his nose; I was In Lurve) walked into Planned Parenthood shortly after they opened and told the girl at the desk we wanted emergency contraception. She gave me a clipboard with some paperwork to fill out, and we took it to the waiting area, where we sat in murmuring anxiety while I checked off boxes and wrote in numbers to describe my sexual and reproductive history.

Sex partner in the past year: 2. (“Depending what you call ‘sex partner,’” I thought.)
Number of sex partners in my lifetime: 7 (“Again…”)
Number of pregnancies: 0
Number of abortions: 0
Method of contraception: condoms

“God, do they need to know all this?” I thought. “I’m not even certain HE knows all this.”

Soon, another girl led us into a room not more than 6 feet square, with little more than three plastic chairs and an industrial carpet in it. We sat like guilty children trying to behave while she asked us questions.

“When did you have intercourse?”

“About 12 hours ago.”

“What form of contraception did you use?”

“A condom. It… failed due to user error.” (I couldn’t quite bring myself to describe to this stranger the way the boy had, half-laughing, half-abashed, fished the condom out of my vagina with two fingers and the way I had, sticky, flushed, and mussed, put a hand on my forehead and said, “Well, hell.”)

“When did your last period start?”

“14 days ago. So pretty much I’m fertile now. Which is why we’re here.” (I had in fact started doing the math before the condom had even been retrieved.)

And we walked out with a little cardboard packet with two pills in it.

“Take one this morning,” the girl explained carefully, not knowing I was a sex educator and had written all about it for the website I worked on, “And take the second one 12 hours later.”

“12 hours later, got it,” I repeated, obedient, repentant.

She did her spiel about potential side effects, about how it’s more effective if you use it sooner, about how it won’t affect an intact pregnancy. I nodded, reminding myself that almost none of the people she counseled already knew all this stuff. But inside I wanted to scream, “I KNOW!! JUST FUCKING GIVE IT TO ME!!”

We paid cash. I think it was $60?

Our next stop was a nearby shopping plaza, where we rented some movies and bought a bunch of junk food. We spent Valentine’s Day on the futon in my living room, tentative and apologetic, watching romantic comedies. 12 hours after the first dose, I took the second dose, and we went to bed. We did not have sex that night.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” I said into the dark.

Next to me, the boy laughed with a snort.

I had no side effects at all at the time, which was unexpected given the catalog of potential problems our counselor had listed. My next period, two weeks later, was VERY intense – nausea, cramps, and fatigue so powerful I had to take days off work – but otherwise normal. I didn’t mention it to the boy.

And so that was my experience. I’m glad I took it and the boy was glad I took it.

Things have changed in the past 10 years, they’ve gotten better. You can get EC over the counter, without explaining your entire sexual history to someone you’ve never seen before and will never see again. You can take both doses of Plan B simultaneously, or get a 1-pill version. There are other, more effective forms of EC available.. And maybe, maybe, maybe, there’s less stigma and condescension about Plan A not quite working out the way you expected. Things have gotten better.

The moral here: condoms fail. Even for sex educators who have read the research on condom use errors and who teach others how to use them correctly. It’s not a moral failing or even a product of ignorance; it’s just life. Sometimes things go wrong. That’s why you have a back up plan.

If you can manage to accompany the backup plan with romantic comedies and half price Valentine’s Day candy, I say go for it.

Mar 242011

Uh, this is a post about a sexual assault conference, so read with caution if that kind of thing might be triggering for ya.

I’m at a conference hosted by the federal government called “Title IX and sexual assault: changing the paradigm.” As a faculty member from the Harvard Law School mentioned at lunch, it’s remarkable that the federal government is even using the idea of “changing the paradigm.”

What’s striking to me is that their “new paradigm” is the paradigm in which I was trained in during my original training as a prevention educator and crisis hotline volunteer. In 1996.


It’s stuff like:

* Most rapes involve two people who know each other “acquaintance rape,” not a stranger
* Rape is not a “miscommunication” or an accident
* Women aren’t to blame for their assault

Well, it’s the difference between the prevention/counseling/crisis response side and the law enforcement/legal side. I was talking about the conference with the student who’s dogsitting for me while I’m away, and she said, “I wonder how many times you’re gonna hear the word ‘victim’ in the next two days?” She also suggested I make bets about how many times they’d use “rape” and whoever is farthest away buys the drinks that night.

Well. It has absolutely been a day of “victim” and “rape;” I lost count long ago.

(For reference for those who don’t do this work: the preference is “survivor,” as being more empowering, and “sexual assault,” as being both more inclusive of this range of violent crimes and also usually feeling less triggering.)

It has also been a day of Men-Rape-Women. The keynote was about perpetrators – men perpetrators – as sexual predators. It was an excellent talk, actually, but I spent the whole time recognizing how frustrated my peer educators would be with it. It was, on the one hand, a talk that helped us understand something like 90-95% of sexual assaults. And on the other hand, it described only ONE gender configuration: man as predator, woman as victim. When of course we know that men can be assault and women can be perpetrators, and that doesn’t even enter the realm of non-normative gender.

In fairness, women do represent a very, very small proportion of offenders – possibly because they’re much less likely to use sex as a weapon, but also possibly because the people they assault are less likely to report or their behavior is less likely to be identified as assault. That, combined with the fact that women, as usual, vary more than men, makes research difficult.

So the “new paradigm” of sexual assault is that a small number of men (around 5%) victimize women and women aren’t to blame. Both of those things are, in their way, good. But it’s 2011, people.

Anyway, I’ve spent the last few days tromping through the radical Everglades of queerness, both sexual and gender, and now here I am, plonked squarely into the mainstream, where the closest they’ve come to mentioning anything other than men-rape-women was the mention that 1 in 16 men experience an assault or attempted assault (compared with 1 in 5 women). It’s an important dose of reality, I’ll tell ya, to hear the mainstream language of sexual violence.

Mar 232011

Breakthrough! Well, for me anyway!

The story so far: I define “sex” as “the genetic recombination of two individuals’ DNA.” Some femisists feel that this is heteronormative and delegitimizes non-reproductive sex. I, of course, think they’re wrong; I believe that I understand why they feel that way, yet I’m having the devil’s own time explaining my definition in a way that clarifies what I mean. I’m learning that it might be a hopeless and, moreover, pointless exercise – like, does it actually help people to think about sex the way I do, or is it just intellectual fodder with no practical use? – but there was a glimmer of hope recently.

A commenter in the feminist cheese sauce thread said that the following was totally helpful in moving her from “sounds kinda heteronormative to me” camp to the “oh! I see!” camp:

The more I think about it, the more I think the species-neutrality of my definition is a big part of the problem [the problem being the belief that defining "sex" as the genetic recombination of two individuals is "heteronormative"]. I don’t mean HUMAN SEXUALITY is the genetic recombination of two individuals; I mean SEX, all sex, monkey sex and bird sex and plant sex and seahorse sex. Released from species and culture and relationship, the evolutionary origin of sex is the genetic recombination of individuals.

Does that help? At all? Because surely it’s obvious from everything on the blog that I KNOW that human sexuality is about more than making babies, or else I wouldn’t spend as much time as I do talking about, say, oral sex or women’s orgasms.

I noticed too that other commenters restated my definition and got it wrong, imposing human-centrism (or mammal-centrism) on my definition:

Melinda, who disagrees with me, said that I was saying that “biological reproduction involves internal fertilization between a male and female.” But I’m not saying internal fertilization (that would exclude the many species of fish, among a great many other lifeforms), nor did I say male and female (that would exclude the leopard slug, among many others!)

DexX, who agrees with me said, “a female of the species having an ovum fertilised by a male of the species,” but that excludes seahorses and many others.

I would not go so far as to say that the people who were conflating “sex” with “human sexuality” were “humancentric” or “human-normative” and minimizing or erasing or excluding the sexualities of other species – after all, we’re ALL inclined to do it. Carl Sagan described it as “our posturings, our imagined of self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe.”

But just to make a point, let me say: sex is the primary reproductive method of a WHOLE LOT of life on Earth. Humans are my favorite species, but we can only understand human sexuality in the context of life, all life. And the starting place understanding WHAT SEX IS for all sexually reproducing lifeforms is the definition I’ve given: the genetic recombination of two individuals’ DNA. Two orchids. Two seahorses. Two kakapos. Two lions.

Like “gay,” “heteronormative” is a human concept that can only apply to human sexuality. My definition isn’t about humans and therefore literally can’t be heteronormative.

As for humans, my friend Bill said it for me:

Vulvas, penises, breasts, testicles, uteri — they’re about reproductive sex. But individual species pirate them for all sorts of things. Ask a hyena about her giant clitoris, or a bowerbird about his collection of trinkets. Or a human about his or her sexual activity. Truth is, only a minuscule portion of human sexuality is about reproduction. We’ve pirated it quite spectacularly for everything from circle jerks to Lesbian poetry — for FUN, for bonding, for profit, for oppression, for Republican talking points. In fact, there are few things we haven’t pirated it for, and given the fact we’re overreproducing ourselves into a planetary crisis, it might be good if we got busy and pirated it for even more things.

Mar 212011

A very kind person mentioned my blog as one that other blogs Feministe readers should read. Thank you! So nice!

To my chagrin, though, she writes:

[Emily] mainly blogs about sex, and it is mainly hetero-normative sex, but she admits that openly. I think she does this because she scientifically studies sex. That is what the blog is about, but I still think it has feminist roots, and I think she says some noteworthy things.

Which. I mean.

(1) The blog isn’t mainly “heteronormative sex;” I checked, and during 2011 I’ve written just as many posts explicitly about gay sex as I’ve written posts explicitly about straight sex. So if heteronormative means bias in favor of opposite-sex relationships of a sexual nature, and against same-sex relationships of a sexual nature, then the blog definitely hasn’t been heteronormative in the past 3 months, at least. Indeed, given the disproportionate representation of queer sex and queer gender, I’d say just the opposite.

(2) What I admit openly is that I ground my thinking about sex in evolution, which demands a definition of sex as the genetic recombination of two individuals. This is not a heteronormative attitude, nor is it exclusionary. I’ve confronted this before and it has given rise to some pretty major ranting. A key thing to remember is that sex is inherently about DIVERSITY, and that when science says something is true about a population, it’s not saying anything at all about YOU. Just because half-baked journalism makes the mistake of conflating population level science with individual-level decision making doesn’t mean you should too. They don’t get paid enough to use insight and precision when they write about science, but don’t let that draw you into the same mistake.

(3) It’s not feminist DESPITE the science (“that’s what the blog is about BUT…”), it’s both sciencey and feminist, with no conflict between the two!

Look, can I plead with the queer folks to embrace the biology? The whole point about the biology is that the phenotype is innately VARIED. It is GLORIOUS. Sex is of, by, and for DIVERSITY and VARIATION, from its very foundations.

And can I plead with feminists to embrace the evolutionary origins of women’s sexuality, to love and cherish the fact that we’re the ones with the vaginas and the breasts, and to allow their minds to be blown by the impact of our reproductive role on the processes of natural and sexual selection?

It is a BEAUTIFUL thing, evolution, despite the fact that a lot of the science about it is terrible. We need feminists to PARTICIPATE in the science in order to disprove the bullshit and discover the truth, not to reject it whole, like a kid at the dinner table refusing in eating her Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are GOOD FOR YOU, whether you like them or not.

Science is feminist when feminists make science. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and Elisabeth Lloyd and Lisa Diamond prove it. So yes, I am a feminist, and yes, I love the science of evolution, and yes, and there is no conflict between the two.

Will anyone ever believe this? Will anyone ever perceive a biological approach to sex as feminist and queer-friendly?

My grandmother put cheese sauce on my sprouts and then I ate lots of them. Maybe my job is to discover the feminist cheese sauce that will tempt you all to enjoy science in spite of yourselves.

(BTdubs, unrelatedly, can I register a slight gripe that, like, a little girl playing with a big gun is totally not feminist to me? No child playing with a gun is feminist.)

Mar 182011

This may well be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read in the New York Times.

There’s too much specific stuff to deal with, so I’ll just skip to the end. He writes:

Liberals argue, not unreasonably, that Planned Parenthood’s approach is tailored to the gritty realities of teenage sexuality. But realism can blur into cynicism, and a jaded attitude can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Social conservatives look at the contemporary sexual landscape and remember that it wasn’t always thus, and they look at current trends and hope that it doesn’t have to be this way forever.

Let me just rewrite that as it SHOULD be:

Planned Parenthood’s approach is tailored to the gritty realities of the politics of teenage sexuality. They emphasize condoms and contraception because social conservatives fear the possibility that teenage sexuality could be beautiful, meaningful, pleasurable, and self-actualizing, and that fear means PP couldn’t get funding for education that talked about self-pleasuring, talking with your partner about pleasure, or understanding the role of pleasure in a sexual relationship. Social conservatives look at the contemporary sexual landscape and fear that teenagers having sex is inherently dangerous, emotionally and morally.

And social conservatives are afraid of women, especially women’s sexuality. They fear the change and that would come if girls measured their own worth by something other than their ability to sustain relationships with boys, so PP could never get funding for programs that taught women about how to say yes, how to know what they want in bed and in life, how to be women and agents of their own sexuality; and PP could never get funding for programs that teach boys about the context-dependence of women’s sexual response or the importance of the clitoris or the vital, crucial importance of listening to a girl’s words.

Finally, there is a correlation between depression and earlier “sexual debut” in girls. That’s true. There is also a a correlation between sexual abuse and depression in girls and sexual abuse and earlier consensual sex, and between insecure attachment style and depression in girls and between insecure attachment style and more sex partners. … But… obviously the early sex is what’s causing them to be depressed, not the poor parenting, the abuse of their bodies, or, let’s be real, the unequal access to educational and economic opportunities that create an environment where a girl’s only way to judge her value is in her relationships to boys.

The best “abstinence-based” sex education in the world? Girls’ sports. Give girls something to do, a way to gauge their own worth, other than having sex with boys.

You want teenagers to start having sex later and have fewer partners? So do I. You want the sex they have to be in the context of emotionally engaged relationships with a commitment to honesty and monogamy? So do I!

But you conservatives are creating the sickness, creating the disease of “teenage promiscuity,” the way footbinding shapes a foot. If you allow it to grow, if you give it space, it will become beautiful, natural, healthy.

The new sex, the sex of the twenty-first century, is about pleasure. Even for teenagers. And that’s a revolution.

Mar 162011

I wrote a post about managing risk with lesbian sex, and mentioned that I should write a post about how people perceive risk. This is that post.

So. The big news (<– facetious) is that people’s practical version of "rationality" is not the same as logical rationality.

We make decisions about risk – and I’ll be focusing on health risks here – based on the potential outcomes, and our perceptions of those outcomes are colored by three variables: time, certainty, and valence. This is the reward matrix.

TIME: When might a consequence or outcome occur? SOONER consequences have more impact on decision-making than DELAYED consequences.

CERTAINTY: How LIKELY is any given outcome or consequence? The more certain it is, the more impact it has on decision-making.

VALENCE: How intense, either positive or negative, will that consequence be? The more intense, the greater the impact.

Imagine a view of a landscape – trees and things over a wide, deep vista, right? Trees that are farther away appear smaller, even though they’re not, really. And the big tree in front of you makes more of an impact than the little squirrel still like a statue in that tree, even though that tree can’t do anything to do you and that squirrel could jump on your face.

Time is like physical distance, certainty is like size. See it? What we pay attention to is determined not by ACTUAL importance but by PERCEIVED importance.

For example, smoking. If you are addicted to nicotine and light a cigarette right now, you will INSTANTLY, FOR SURE, get a MASSIVELY POSITIVE rush of the drug your body craves. And possibly, 50 years from now, you might DIE OF EMPHYSEMA. Whereas if you quit smoking, you have a giant wall of misery immediately before you, all in the name of preventing something that wasn’t necessarily going to happen anyway.

With sexual risk, it’s similar. If you want to have sex when there’s a risk of infection, and you have that sex, you will very soon, very likely, get the pleasure of sex. And you might – MIGHT – get an infection. And how bad would that be? Well there’s a lot of stigma, so socially pretty bad, and physically some infections are worse than others. Okay. And at the same time, if you try to introduce protection there’s the potential loss of that sexual opportunity, not to mention the untold awkwardness of pulling out the condom or having the conversation about infection etc – DEFINITELY, RIGHT NOW, AWKWARD.

You see the problem? We’re less influenced by long term consequences than by short term consequences, even though those long-term consequences might be EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

Indeed, our ability to recognize potential long-term consequence – to see into the future, if you will – is one of the things that makes us powerful as a species. But it has less influence on us than we might like.

There’s another problem with the way we perceive risk, related to the difference between thinking about the world from the individual level rather than the population level. Which is something I’ve begun to touch on, but I’ll elaborate further another time.

So. There’s the rub, as the man said, and it’s important to be aware of. Not that I think it’ll make anyone less likely to make irrational choices.

Mar 152011

In the comments, someone asked:

I’ve read a good share of your blog and finished your book:
The Good in Bed Guide to Female Orgasms. In Chapter 13 of the book, it suggests that women train themselves to “come reliably in 20 minutes” Is this the minimum, average, or target along the way to achieve a longer duration in which it takes for a woman to orgasm? Is the intent to help a woman build up to 20 minutes so as to enjoy a longer, more pleasurable experience? Would 20 minutes to come be considered a quickie or a long event for most women?

20 minutes is a very approximate “average” time to orgasm for women. Roughly half of women reading that can already do it – and some can come in minutes – and roughly half will have a little training to do, but it’s not really about the 20 minutes. The intent is to build RELIABILITY.

Women vary a LOT, for pretty complex evolutionary reasons. And all of that variability is normal and healthy. For a woman to have knowledge of her sexuality and the various factors that influence is, for her to be able to produce arousal and orgasm reliably, provides her with a foundation on which to build a vast array of satisfying sexual experiences.

The questioner continues:
I’m a bit perplexed on the whether or not my sweetheart (for 10 years) is faking orgasm. I’ve read the “Is she faking” chapter and usually see signs she really is having an O, but as you said, all symptoms can be faked. Is it possible for her to O in just a minute or two? Her “quickie Os” tend to occur after a couple of hours of sporadic (2-3 per hour) seductive behaviors such as suggestive banter, compliments, and bits of touching, caressing, and kissing. She says she gets her quickie Os regardless of stimulation method (oral and/or intercourse). If it has been 5-7 days since her last O, she tends come in 3 minutes or less, but these situations are not accompanied by the seductive behaviors and sometimes it takes much more than 3 minutes. [...] Can a woman come on a regular basis in such a short window as less than 3 minutes? Or is she just really preferring sleep over sex and preferring not to tell me I’m just not doing it for her?

Yes a woman – some women – can come in minutes on a regular basis. Remember that sexual stimulation isn’t just erotic touch; your “seductive behaviors” are absolutely part of her arousal process, both building sensation/emotion AND reducing CNS inhibition.

And as you may have experienced yourself, for some people a wait between orgasm makes the arousal process faster. So yeah, that could absolutely be real. Some women do that.

But is she faking? Only she can tell you for sure.

Faking is often about protecting the partner’s ego. Does she know that your happiness doesn’t depend on her orgasm but rather on her satisfaction? Because if she thinks you need her orgasm in order to be okay, on those occasions when orgasm isn’t there for her, she might fake it to make you feel better.

But it’s totally possible that she’s really coming that quickly. Women vary.

Unless this is all created simply by your uncertainty about the physiological capabilities of women’s bodies, another issue altogether is the communication skills that can bridge the gap in trust that created an environment where you don’t know whether or not she’s (however benignly) lying to you. That’s another post.

Mar 132011

Because I spent three days during the last week of February following playing host to Liz Canner, director of Orgasm Inc, when I saw that Laura Berman had something to say about the Northwestern University controversy, I *had* to listen to it.

She said, “When I was in training to become a sex therapist, I mean, this is the kind of thing we were exposed to, at a bare minimum.”

And I thought, “…


“…WHAT?! People came to your classroom and HAD SEX IN FRONT OF YOU when you were a grad student?!?!”

For the record folks, no one ever came and had sex in front of me during my graduate training. No one even offered. And I worked at the Kinsey Institute.

Then she said, “We were being sent down all over the place (42nd St in the 90′s) to witness things.”

Well, oh.

So, (1) I think that going to a peep show is not equivalent to having a live demonstration of sex in a classroom; and (2) a graduate student in professional training is not equivalent to an undergrad in an intro class.

So essentially she had no insight to offer and she confused the issue by bringing up misleading irrelevancies about her own training.

At least she mentioned that college age folks are getting the wrong info about sex from mainstream porn – though it seems to me that, given such an opportunity, I would have found a way to mention that less than a 1/3 of women are reliably orgasmic from penetration, women are more likely to experience “responsive” desire than “spontaneous” desire, and body image is among the most common sources of sexual dysfunction. Because why waste a media appearance NOT trying to help women understand who they are as sexual people?

When asked about failure during a Q&A session, Alice Ladas said, “When I was on the publicity tour for the G-spot book, our agent told me I don’t have to answer the question I’m asked. So with respect, I’m going to ignore your question and say something I’ve been wanting to say.”

Yeah man. One day soon I’ll write a book. And when people ask me about distraction bullshit or about things outside my area of expertise (both of which, I think, characterize this Berman interview), I’ll harp on about the big themes: the clitoris, responsive desire, body image, confidence and joy. Pay attention to your partner; it’s not about orgasm; enjoy the sex you’re having. And the rest of it is just details or distraction.

Mar 062011

I said I was writing this post, and here it is:

Everyone’s asking what do I think about the fact that a couple engaged in a real sex act in a classroom after class in front of a bunch of consenting adult undergrads. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read about it here.)

My first thought is, “Idano, I wouldn’t do that in my class.”

My second thought is, “But I do show sexually explicit media optionally in my class.”

So question is: what is the difference between live sex and porn, such that one is something I’m not willing to provide for my students and the other I am?

If the average age at which an American is exposed to porn is 11 (and I don’t actually know the reference for this statistic, but I’ve heard it multiple different reputable places), then lotsa lotsa lotsa the folks in that class had viewed sexually explicit media. Is viewing live sex categorically different from, or just an extension of, their experience with porn?

I think it’s the former. I kinda feel like porn is to live sex as watching “West Wing” is to ACTUALLY BEING IN the West Wing. We may enjoy the fantasy, but it’s really just actors, a script, and a production crew working with their imaginations. We’re not watching anyone really change policies, protect the President, or write the State of the Union, if you see what I mean. (I worked hard on that analogy and I’m still not satisfied with it.) Qualitatively, it’s not the same.

I feel comfortable offering my students the media representation, carefully screened by me, and I don’t feel comfortable offering the real thing, no matter how thoroughly vetted.

Why not? Do I think there is the potential for educational value in a live demonstration of sexual activities? I do. I’ve seen some in my life and I’ve always found them to be informative, memorable, and a vital part of my development of a sex-positive professional.

So why would I not provide it in my class?

Well, for me it’s really about the nature of power, coersion, and consent. No matter how often an instructor says, “This is going to be explicit, it is not required, you are free to leave,” it’s still the case that other people (maybe even the instructor) will observe you leave or stay and you may feel compelled to leave or stay based on your perception of others’ perception, if you see what I mean. “Freedom” to stay or leave is bound by the real and rarely acknowledged constraints of social expectancies and norms.

And my value judgment, in my class, is that providing that “freedom” around sexually explicit media is sufficiently non-coerced, but around live sex it isn’t.

Why is that? Dunno. Gut feeling.

Do I think Dr Bailey should have provided this opportunity in his class? I don’t know enough about it to tell what kind of screening process he used to select the folks involved, but I can imagine circumstances where you find safe, sane, consensual folks to whom an instructor could entrust their students. Are the folks involved such people? Idano.

A question to which I would like to know the answer is, how did this story make it to the news? Who informed a journalist that this was happening? Was it a student? The professor? Weird Chicago Tours? The couple? What was that person hoping to gain? WHY is this news, when we’re still basically fighting two wars, Lybia is a nightmare, there are earthquakes in New Zealand, and oh yeah, global poverty, hunger, AIDS, and the commodification of women’s bodies?

For reference, in my class I have shown Orgasm! Faces of Ecstasy, Zen Pussy, and a collection of vintage erotica that Patrick gave me for my birthday one year, and Nina Hartley’s Guide to Oral Sex.