Billboard Company Disgusted By Ex-Gay Ad, Promises To Take It Down

Originally posted on *ThinkOrg.com
Written by Zack Ford

This month, a new billboard in the Dallas area is promoting “Reparative Therapy: Real Therapy… Really Works.” The link on the ad directs toward the therapy practice of David Pickup, a practitioner and proponent of ex-gay therapy who has very publicly fought — unsuccessfully — to defend the harmful, ineffective treatment from being banned for minors.

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Pickup confirmed to reporter John Wright that the Texas billboard was his. Wright also noted that Jeremy Schwab, the head of Dallas ex-gay ministry Joel 2:25, had promoted an image of the billboard on Facebook, proclaiming, “Hopefully, this will help get the Truth to those who can benefit.”

ThinkProgress spoke with Terry Kafka, president of Impact Outdoor Advertising, the small Dallas billboard company that is hosting the ad. Kafka explained that they had been convinced the ad was for couples therapy, having never heard the term “reparative therapy” before. He described the true content of the ad as “repulsive to me personally,” promising that the ad would be coming down by next week at the latest. “If we had known, we wouldn’t have put it up in the first place.”

A billboard ad promoting ex-gay therapy similarly caused controversy in Virginia last month. That ad, posted by the ex-gay organization PFOX, asserted, “We believe twins research studies show nobody is born gay,” featuring two different pictures of the same model, who is not only not a twin but is also openly gay. Though Lamar, a national billboard company, agreed to keep that ad in place, Kafka promised, “There’s no way you’d ever see one of those on our billboards.” He said that at Impact, they have a “live and let live” policy and they carefully assess the messages on controversial billboards before agreeing to put them up.

ThinkProgress contacted Pickup, who explained that his Texas office is the larger of his two offices (despite his involvement challenging California’s law banning ex-gay therapy for minors), which is why he purchased the ad there. He clarified that his treatment is not about suppressing homosexuality, but “resolving issues that cause homosexuality.” He explained that his patients reject the idea that their same-sex attractions are in-born, but instead they stem from childhood “gender identity inferiority” and “unmet male emotional needs” that become sexualized during puberty. His patients tell him that once they resolve these issues, their homosexual feelings dissipate or lessen.

Major medical organizations like the American Psychological Association reject the idea that anything in childhood can “cause” homosexuality and urge doctors not to use any form of ex-gay therapy, because it has been found to be ineffective and harmful. Nevertheless, the Texas Republican Party endorsed ex-gay therapy in its platform last year.

‘My Husband’s Not Gay’ and Pop Culture’s Simplistic View of Sexuality

Originally posted on *The Daily Beast
Written by Parker Molly

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On Sunday night, TLC aired My Husband’s Not Gay, a controversial look into the lives of four married Mormon men from the Salt Lake City, Utah, area. The common thread linking the show’s subjects is that despite being in committed, monogamous marriages with women, they each admit to having at least some attraction to other men.

Almost immediately after announcing the show’s air-date, TLC was hit with a deluge of complaints coming from outraged LGBT individuals and their allies.

Within days, nearly 100,000 people had signed on to a Change.org petition asking the network—which has in recent years distanced itself from its “The Learning Channel” roots in favor of shows about dance moms, pageant girls, failed Alaskan politicians, and laughably large families—to pull the plug on MHNG before it aired.

“As a devout Christian, I understand the important role faith plays in the lives of the show’s main characters,” says John Sanders, the petition’s creator. “It was made very clear to me by the conservative community I grew up in that being gay was considered ‘unnatural’ and ‘an abomination.’ So I, too, did everything possible to hide who I am. I was even subjected to six months of so-called ‘reparative therapy,’ a discredited and dangerous practice that falsely claims to turn gay people straight. I was promised I could change, and told that I should ‘pray the gay away.’”

“This show is downright irresponsible,” wrote GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to. By investing in this dangerous programming, TLC is putting countless young LGBT people in harm’s way.”

Sanders and Ellis both make extremely valid points. Reparative therapy is viewed by most medical professionals as being either ineffective or outright dangerous.

Just last month, transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn took her life, leaving behind a heartbreaking note detailing the painful experience she was made to endure at the hands of her parents and their decision to enroll her in one of these “therapeutic” programs.

Even with the justifiable concerns about people feeling the need to “hide” who they are in order to comply with their faith, and worry over the potential that the show would be used to promote reparative therapy, something struck me as odd about the statements aimed at TLC: they were built on the assumption that these men—who admit that they’re attracted to other men—are, in fact, gay.

Maybe they aren’t. Though it’s likely that at least one of these men is bisexual or otherwise outside of the gay/straight binary, that possibility was all but dismissed by the show’s critics, and in itself, is a form of bisexual erasure.

Upon airing, however, it became clear that none of the show’s subjects actually identified as such. When asked whether or not he identifies with the term “bisexual,” one of the men, named Curtis, replied, “I don’t necessarily.”

The men and their wives seem intent on doing whatever mental gymnastics are needed in order to convince themselves that being gay is a “lifestyle choice,” built around exhausted stereotypes and expectations of masculinity.

In one scene, the men suggest that playing basketball connects them to masculinity, and therefore, distances themselves from the “gay lifestyle.” Never mind the fact that it’s while playing basketball that the show’s stars ogle other men, insisting that they be “skins” in a “shirts versus skins” pick-up game; the irony is entirely lost on them.

A number of outlets have reported that several of the show’s subjects are in one way or another affiliated with Voices of Hope, a branch of the Mormon organization North Star International, a group tied to the “ex-gay” movement and it’s controversial “conversion therapy” tactics.

Additionally, a number of the couples have gone on record promoting “non-gay lifestyles” for other men who experience “same-sex attraction.”

The men of MHNG are perfectly within their rights to date and marry whoever they’d like. If that means being with a woman, that’s their prerogative. The way the show was formatted, however, was consistent with TLC’s recent formula for ratings success: take a group of people who are in some way “odd” or “outside the mainstream,” point a camera on them, and watch as a nation gawks at the weirdos.

It’s win-win; the network churns up controversy and ratings, and more progressive viewers are able to pat themselves on the back for being so much more open-minded than the subjects, while those who politically align with the subjects can rally around the opinions shown.

Programs like MHNG highlight society’s frequently-narrow interpretation of sexuality. When asked whether they think gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults should be legal, 31 percent of respondents of a May 2013 Gallup poll answered “no.”

This number is improved over the poll high in 1986, when 57 percent of respondents affirmed their beliefs that same-sex relationships should be outlawed, but it remains a startlingly high number. Unsurprisingly, those in favor of banning same-sex relations are also of the mindset that one’s sexuality is a choice or is impacted by how one was raised.

More socially liberal members of society will scoff at the idea that sexuality is so simple that it can be defined as “men are attracted to women, and women are attracted to men.” Even so, many of these same individuals will find it hard to extend their beliefs in sexual complexity beyond simply accepting that some people are gay.

In truth, whether or not you take the hard-line anti-gay stance that all people are straight, or take the stance that both gay and straight people exist, both views oversimplify sexual orientation and one’s sexuality.

Even in shows that are frequently championed as being LGBT-friendly, we see just how limited our view of sexuality is. In Glee’s season two episode “Blame it on the Alcohol,” Blaine (Darren Criss) tells Kurt (Chris Colfer) that he thinks he might be bisexual after kissing Rachel (Lea Michele) at a party, and that he’s agreed to go on a date with her.

“Acknowledging bisexuality messes with society’s ideas of binaries. All of a sudden it’s not as neat as we like it to be.”

Kurt is taken aback, and Blaine says, “When we kissed, it felt good…I’ve never even had a boyfriend before. Isn’t this the time you’re supposed to figure stuff out? Maybe I’m bi. I don’t know.” Kurt responds by dismissing the very idea that Blaine’s sexuality is anything other than 100 percent gay, saying, “Bisexual’s a term that gay guys in high school use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel like a normal person for a change.”

Kurt’s dismissive attitude towards the thought that Blaine might be bisexual is all-too-common in both media and society as a whole. Kurt argues that Blaine is obviously gay, and Rachel responds by suggesting that maybe he’s straight.

In the end, Rachel again kisses Blaine, he doesn’t like it, and concludes that yes, he must be gay (again, as though those were the only two options available). When asked why he chose to make Blaine a gay character rather than bisexual, show creator Ryan Murphy reportedly said, “The kids need to know he’s one of them,” which again, plays into this limited, dimorphic worldview surrounding sexuality.

Discussing bisexuality and bisexual erasure, Eliel Cruz, a writer who has written extensively on the topics of religion and sexuality, told me, “Acknowledging bisexuality messes with society’s ideas of binaries. All of a sudden it’s not as neat as we like it to be. It’s not black or white. That’s why the trans community has had hardships being recognized. Bisexuality breaks down heteronormativity more so than homosexuality because of the lack of binaries.”

There are a great many misconceptions about bisexuals; one of the most common being that bi-identifying people are “really” straight or “really” gay. Additional fallacies include beliefs that bi individuals are actually just indecisive, or that they can’t be in committed monogamous relationships—more frustratingly, when people bi people in hetero couplings as “straight” and vice versa.

None of this is true. These views stem from a monosexual-normative culture, in which those who don’t conform to the single-gender attraction standards set in the gay/straight binary are rationalized out of existence.

Furthermore, if someone can’t fathom the existence of bisexual individuals, they’re extremely unlikely to be able to accept the existence of sexualities beyond that.

While general-population studies of sexuality are often skewed or criticized as under-representing the true number of LGB-identifying members of society, a survey specific to transgender individuals and their own relationship with their sexualities is one of the more notable examples of just how diverse sexual orientations and identities can be.

According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, more than three-quarters of trans people identify themselves as something other than straight. Straight trans people—defined in this study as trans women who are exclusively attracted to men, and trans men who are exclusively attracted to women—made up just 23 percent of respondents.

Roughly a quarter of those surveyed defined their sexuality as gay, lesbian, or same-gender; another quarter identified as bisexual, 23 percent responded “queer,” and four percent as asexual. These identities extend beyond merely straight, gay, or bi, because sexuality is simply too complex to be limited to just a few terms.

Maybe it’s that trans people tend to be more forthcoming with the especially nuanced nature of sexuality as a result of already finding themselves in defiance of identity expectations. Or maybe it’s that trans individuals often undergo an extremely introspective look at their existence and identity in discovering who they are in terms of gender, leading them to naturally examine their sexuality.

Either way, the survey is proof-positive that like gender, itself, sexual orientation is an infinite, unique spectrum borne of self-discovery.

TLC’s hour-long special ends just as it started. None of the men had any sort of revelation. None of them have cast off their “same-sex attraction.” They’re still men in inexplicably monogamous, heterosexual relationships; this despite the fact that by the end, viewers are left asking, “Why would they do this to themselves?” At this time, TLC hasn’t made any indication that they plan to make MHNG into a full series, but who knows? The network typically trots out new show ideas first as “specials,” and then develops them into complete series should demand call for it.

If this is the TV end for My Husband’s Not Gay, the world will be a slightly less cringe-worthy place. If it continues, perhaps showing us the seedy goings on of Voices of Hope, it’s possible that what began as an unsettling look at men in sexual denial will transform into something far more insidious and misleadingly persuasive.

But before we harangue the show’s stars, the Mormon church, TLC, or anyone else, we must first acknowledge how our own views have been shaped by the world around us. Are we really so far removed from the “narrow” views we criticize?

Reference To Female Condoms Appears In Grade School Curriculum

*Originally published on CBS Chicago

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Click here or picture above to watch news video.

(CBS) – Parents at one of the city’s elite magnet schools are threatening to pull their 5th-graders out of sex education classes.

They got a sneak peak at a curriculum that includes a how-to segment about female condoms. But as CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker explains, those are lessons parents should have never seen.

A binder passed out to parents of 5th-graders at Andrew Jackson grade school included information about female condoms as part of the curriculum for the school’s new sex-education classes.

The classes start next month. On Wednesday, parents got a preview of the lessons from a CPS representative.

When the school representative passed out the binder, Amy Miller got a close look at what her daughter might learn.

“To tell my 5th-grader, who’s still into ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ that it’s OK to have safe anal sex — I’m sorry. That’s just not appropriate,” Miller says.

CPS officials are apologizing, saying the material on female condoms “was mistakenly downloaded and included in the parent presentation, and we agree with parents it is not appropriate for Elementary school students.”

Only teachers were supposed to see the material.

CPS doesn’t want to see another mistake. School officials say they’re taking steps to make sure teacher resources and supplemental materials are kept separate from the curriculum.

Porn industry the main sex educator of kids, says child advocate

*Originally posted on CBC News

Written by Daniel Schwartz

More kids at ever younger ages are accessing pornography online, according to a range of international studies, but there’s not much consensus about what, if anything, should be done by parents or teachers to address the issue.

Today in Winnipeg, a children’s advocacy group called Beyond Borders will host a symposium entitled “Generation XXX, the pornification of our children.”

“The porn industry is the country’s main sex educator of our boys and girls,” says Cordelia Anderson, one of the experts scheduled to speak at the symposium, referring to the situation in the U.S.

“Young people have never had this ease of access to this type of material at this young of age,” the founding president of the U.S. National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation told CBC Radio. “This alone should encourage us to be talking about it and studying it.”

Cathy Wing, the co-executive director of Ottawa-based MediaSmarts, another conference speaker, says “we really need to talk to kids from an early age, before they become exposed to online porn.”

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28% of boys look for porn at least once a week

In May, her group published the results of a survey that found 23 per cent of students in Grades 7 to 11 say they have searched out pornography online. Twenty-eight per cent of the boys said they looked for porn at least once a week.

Children’s advocacy group Beyond Borders hosts a symposium entitled “Generation XXX, the pornification of our children,” in Winnipeg, Nov. 17. (Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada)

As Wing observes, “there seems to be less of a stigma about looking for pornography, because everybody’s doing it, than there is for looking for good information about sexuality.”

Just eight per cent of the students surveyed said they had searched online for information about sexuality.

Of course, when it comes to viewing pornography there may be a discrepancy between what kids say they do and what they actually do.

A Spanish survey, for example, said that 53.5 per cent of Spanish youth aged 14 to 17 viewed online porn, while a poll by Opinium Research in June of 500 U.K. 18-year-olds had almost half saying that viewing pornography was typical by age 13 to 14.

Is porn damaging?

While almost half the U.K. teens said they saw nothing wrong with watching pornography, 70 per cent agreed with the statement that, “pornography can have a damaging impact on young people’s views of sex or relationships.” Just nine per cent disagreed.

“Porn can have both negative and positive impacts,” says Alice Gauntley, a sex education activist and a student in gender and sexuality studies at McGill University in Montreal.

“It can reinforce sexist, racist and transphobic stereotypes and give us unrealistic expectations about sex and our bodies. But it can also be a source of pleasure and a means of exploring our sexualities.”

But for young teens with no sexual experience, processing the porn on their screens may be quite a challenge. Gauntley argues, “it is necessary to equip teens with the tools they need to make sense of the erotic material they might come across.”

You’re not going to get realistic portrayals of sex from the porn industry, says Cathy Wing of MediaSmarts. (MediaSmarts)

Sex educators are concerned that young people are getting the wrong picture about sex from viewing online pornography.

As Wing points out, “you’re not going to get realistic portrayals in the pornography industry. It’s a business; everything is constructed, like all media.”

She advises teachers and parents to, “make sure the kids understand that this is not reflecting reality, that it’s a constructed reality that contains bias and it’s there to make money.”

Fantasy, not reality

Sex therapist Wendy Maltz says that while kids have a sense that they should view pornography as fiction, she doesn’t think they do.

“That takes a lot of high-order thinking to maintain that, especially under the influence of sexual arousal. It can start getting blurry when there’s an excitement associated with it.”

Wendy Maltz says you won’t stop young people’s curiosity about sex, but that it’s important for them to know that curiosity is normal. Maltz receives an award from the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, presented by Patrick Carnes on Oct. 25 in Portland, Ore. (Larry Maltz)

Maltz, author of The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography, says “the image is the reality on the internet.”

She adds that you won’t stop young people’s curiosity about sex, but that it’s important for them to know that curiosity is normal. “It doesn’t mean you’re sick if you found this stuff exciting.”

But it bothers Maltz that, because of the prevalence of pornography, “kids are getting robbed of having their own sexual conditioning come from real-life romantic experiences.”

She would like to see kids start getting a healthy sex education before they start viewing pornography.

Getting educated about porn

The questions is where should young people get that education?

Linda Kasdorf is studying the impact of pornography on children and youth for her social work degree at the University of Regina, and she works at Saskatoon Christian Counselling Services. She says parents have the responsibility not only to protect kids from pornography, but also to educate them about sex.

“Sexual intimacy is totally missed when kids view porn, and there’s no way to prepare them to understand that void.”

McGill University student Alice Gauntley would like to see a media literacy component on pornography as part of sex education, to help students “recognize the differences between sex in porn and in real life.” (CBC)

Kasdorf argues when it comes to pornography, the education needs to begin with the adults. “Many parents have no idea that their children can even access pornography, they’re that naive.”

She adds that, “parents needs to be taught how to talk about pornography with their kids, how to help dissect experiences when kids are exposed to pornography.”

But she also wants to see pornography become a component of school sex education programs. Those programs should ensure that, “kids actually have trusted adults that they can talk to about things they’re curious about.”

Gauntley would like to see a media literacy component on pornography, “because it encourages teens to be critical thinkers — to be able to recognize the differences between sex in porn and in real life.”

Chris Markham, head of the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association, argues that sex education is a shared responsibility for parents, schools and the community, while acknowledging that, “parents are the first educators of their children.”

Markham says the provincial curriculum should address the internet pornography issue and that this is a pressing need for kids in Ontario, but his organization hasn’t taken a position.

The Ontario curriculum for sex education dates from the 1990s, when internet porn was in its infancy and before most of today’s students were born.

Women view other women who wear red as more interested in sex , Study shows

*Originally published on Today.com

By Meghan Holohan

Ladies, perhaps you pulled on that red dress today because it’s the only clean one in the closet. Maybe you look awesome in red. Or red makes you feel confident. We salute you for rocking red, but other women might not. A new study finds that women think ladies in red are more interested in sex and less faithful than women wearing white or green.

“The color of a woman’s shirt [affects] how men and women think about her,” says Adam Pazda, a social psychologist at the University of Rochester and one of the authors of the study. “Women don’t want other women in red near their boyfriends.”

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Picture courtesy of VastKid.com

Previous research has found that men believe women dressed in red are more interested in pursuing sex, regardless of whether they are. Pazda wondered if women shared the same perception about women in red.

Women participated in three different experiments. In the first two, they looked at pictures of women in red and white and in the third they looked at women in red or green. Because white is often associated with purity and virginity, the researchers wanted to examine a color with less emotional baggage.

In the first study, participants looked at a photo of a woman in white and the exact same photo after the color of the dress was manipulated to look red and were asked which woman appeared more receptive to sex. Overwhelmingly, the women believed that the lady in red was promiscuous.

“Women [in red] are perceived as being more interested in sex,” Pazda says.

Watch NBC’s Today Show segment on the study here:
http://www.today.com/video/today/55623478

In the second, women looked at the same photos and were asked to how they felt about the women’s fidelity and financial resources. Women were more likely to think that a woman in red would cheat on her partner, but weren’t judgmental about her finances.

“Women will derogate the sexual fidelity but not mundane things [like financial resources],” he says.

For the third study, women looked at the photos where the same woman wore a dress that had been digitally altered to be red or green. The researchers asked if they would introduce their boyfriends to or leave them alone with either woman. Again, women did not want their men around the ladies in red.

“Women are more likely to say that women in red are less faithful,” Pazda says. “They do pick up on the [sexually] receptive cue and what that leads to is some sort of defensiveness.”

The color red evokes sexy thoughts for several reasons, Pazda says. Red often represents love and lust in society. Red roses and hearts are synonymous with Valentine’s Day and amorous feelings. Men historically sought sex in red-light districts. But there’s also a biological reason why red appears sexy.

“When [women] become sexually excited, they blush,” he says.

Whether women are aware that donning red will make them seem interested in sex remains unclear. Women are more likely to wear red when ovulating or looking for a boyfriend or a hook up, Pazda says, but there’s little evidence that women intentionally dress in red for sex.

“We still don’t know if they are aware of it. So that is definitely something to look at.”

Is Halloween a “Safe Space” for Sexuality?

With Halloween just around the corner, stores everywhere are stockpiling all of the holiday essentials – candy, pumpkins, themed home décor and of course, the highly debated “slutty women’s Halloween costume.”

Naturally I don’t think they’re slutty – or that there’s anything wrong with women expressing their sexuality through costumes – but America has made the “day of the dead” a sort of unofficial day of uninhibited sexuality.

Any other day of the year, short skirts, tight dresses, and skimpy tops are frowned upon – acceptable only in the world of adult entertainment – but on Halloween, women get a pass.

Why is this? Why isn’t it acceptable for women to be openly sexual creatures? To have sexual desires? To experience natural human urges and emotions?

What if instead of dressing up for Halloween, women across the country are actually “stripping down” to reveal their repressed sexual selves?

According to Think Progress health editor Tara Culp-Ressler, who was quoted last year in the Huffington Post, “Halloween has become, for many women, one of the only days of the year that they feel comfortable really having their sexuality on display, really being overtly sexual.”

If this is true, then I encourage all women to take advantage of this “safe space.” Explore the hidden, intimate parts of yourself and have fun with it!

I’d also like to suggest using costumes to explore new erotic zones with your partner – or even by yourself if you’re inclined. You don’t have to wait all year for one day; the privacy of your own home affords the same safety. Communicate your desires to dress up in the bedroom with your partner – many sex surveys show there’s a good chance they’ll be up for the role-playing experience.

Have fun, and be you this Halloween – and every other night as well!

xo,
jd

Ask jessica: Exploring the Idea of Pursuing a Woman Sexually

Hi jessica,

Lately I have found myself attracted to other women and thinking about the possibility of exploring. Is this normal?

-Adrianne, Miami, FL

 

Hi Adrianne,

What you are feeling is perfectly natural. Many women are attracted to other women at one time or another, whether it’s casually in passing, actively fantasizing about the same sex, or acting on it. Our sexuality is constantly changing over time with personal growth and new experiences. If you are curious about having sex with a woman, you can use “Guide to Wicked Sex: Woman to Woman” as a way to explore that. Straight, bi, lesbian – we’re not trying to classify here, but simply guide you on your way to an amazing, sensual experience with another woman.

Often, your first sexual encounter isn’t even comprised of what we would call “sex”, but more of an exploration of bodies. The sensation of being completely caught up in the moment – suspended in time – is what many of us spend our adult lives trying to replicate. It’s true; you never forget your first.

You want to be with a woman. You’re ready, but you don’t know where to begin. This could seem like your biggest challenge. Personally, I prefer the more direct approach, but you ultimately need to decide what works best for you and makes you feel most comfortable.

Though in “Guide to Wicked Sex,” I start with foreplay, warm up, and go further, this is by no means linear. You don’t have to do things in order or encompass everything you learn here into your first encounter… or any one after that. You will find what you love, and depending on your partner, you will discover her turn-ons as well. Communication really comes into play here; if you love something, be appreciative and lavish praise. And if you’re not into something, it’s up to you to get that message across as well, but do it in a way that isn’t hurtful – encourage a different activity in it’s place instead.

For more information and a guide to your first sexual experience with another female, check out jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex: Woman to Woman.

xo,

jd

‘Dude, Where’s My Sex Drive?’ – Guest Blog

With everything from the Recession to Ritalin being identified as libido-busting sex drive-killers, guest columnist Daniel M takes a welcome look at healthy ways to get your groove back.

 

As the old saying goes, gravity sets into everything – even relationships. Sexually, some of this gravity can be viewed as purely genetic; as men reach their forties, the hormones that define sexual character go into what is often termed a “state of decline.” But beyond this virtually universal issue are a myriad of medical, emotional and psychological libido busters that lead to a lessening of one’s sex drive.

 

Let’s take a look at some well-known sex drive killers – and some potential cures:

 

Psychological Components: Stress / Anxiety / Depression: While most men maintain a healthy level of sexual engagement into their sixties and seventies, they do experience a subtle decrease in their libidinous impulses as they grow older.

 

This is understandable when one looks at the relative ages in play. Many men “settle down” in their middle years, and along with the blessings a committed relationship brings comes the pressure inherent in being “adults” in Western society. College loans, car payments, mortgages, credit cards, an unstable economy and shaky governments trying to print their way out of money problems. When such issues are taken into account, it becomes easy to see how stress and depression can contribute to a loss of sexual interest.

 

And if this sounds like you, waste no time in speaking to your doctor about what you’re experiencing. In addition to looking for a physical component to your condition (such as low testosterone), your physician may suggest counseling, or, depending on the severity of your condition, therapy in conjunction with an antidepressant. Since one side effect of many such medications, including the popular family of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors known as “SSRIs,” is a known libido killer, it’s critically important that you put modesty aside and discuss this issue openly and frankly so your healthcare provider can recommend most comprehensive treatment possible.

 

Physical Components: Fitness / Weight / Ailments: In addition to the emotional, psychological and other internal issues outlined above, sexual desire can be negatively impacted by a host of physical issues, some obvious, some not.

 

Temporary or chronic issues (along with the underlying emotional issues they may raise) can be a factor, as they sap energy and quality of life

 

In short, it’s hard to woo when you’re wincing.

 

And this brings us, finally, to the area of fitness. There’s no escaping it, guys, the older we get, the harder it becomes to conquer the battle of the bulge. Our bodies are creating less testosterone, leading to natural (and sometimes sudden) weight gain. And with the with the extra pounds comes the potential need for more medication, specifically blood pressure and blood sugar stabilizers – both known libido killers. The psychological stress associated isn’t to be ignored either, as it can lead to body-image issues which, if allowed to fester, can trigger self-esteem issues and a fear of intimacy.

 

As daunting as it may seem, however, the issues outlined above can be conquered. Knowing one’s body and how it works is absolutely critical. Sex is physical; obviously the more highly evolved you are physically, the more you’re bringing to the table and the more you’re going to enjoy in return. There’s no way around this: People who enjoy working out enjoy sex more. With regards to diet, I’m not here to endorse a specific plan other than to suggest avoiding obvious sex-drive slayers like high-cholesterol fatty foods that reduce blood flow over time.

 

In future columns, we’ll look at issues (and solutions) unique to women in these areas, as well as spotlighting some effective tools couples can use to transform a sex life that’s so-so into one that soars!

–Daniel M.

Sparking Conversations on Sexuality at CatalystCon East

This weekend I returned to CatalystCon for the second time – this one took place in Washington D.C./Arlington, VA. From the first evening reception to the closing keynote speech, delivered by Robert Lawrence and Carol Queen, everything was just as amazing as it was last year – maybe even more so now that I have come to know what to expect.

The conference began with a lively warm-up and social lubrication by Maria Falzone and shortly afterward, it was time for the opening keynote plenary, moderated by Tristan Taormino. I was one of the speakers, along with Dr. Mireille Miller-Young, Dr. Hernando Chaves, and Ducky Dolittle. Tristan came up with some interesting questions to get us started, and we spoke of what inspired us, the recent things we have done exemplifying our missions and commitment to change, and so much more. After we spoke, we took questions and comments from the audience, and we could tell everyone was motivated and ready for the next two days.

How can I possibly describe what came afterward? If I condensed my explanation, I’d say two days of brain-stimulating conversations, panels, introductions, and non-stop communication between sex-positive people from many walks of life. I attended panels on Sex Workers and Disability, Sex from the Trans Perspective, Polyamory, and Feminist Porn… and soaked it all in. I tried to go to completely different panels than I did at CatalystCon West, to get myself out of my familiar zone, and instead into realms where I don’t have much experience. Feminist Porn was the most crowded panel I attended, and I spent the entire time crouched down on the floor in the back of the room, shoulder to shoulder with everyone else. The aisles were full as we listened in awe to Constance Penley, Tristan Taormino, Dylan Ryan, and Sinnamon Love. Having just finished the Feminist Porn Book on the flight from LAX to DC, I was excited to hear more from these women. They did NOT disappoint. Each discussed their contributions to the book followed by an intense Q and A session lasting until the next panel came into the room.

I spoke on other panels as well – one on Measure B where I discussed the reality of the “condoms in porn” law with Tristan Taormino and Michael Fatterosi. Originally, when I was pitched the notion of this panel, I didn’t think that people would still be so concerned, or even consider it relevant. I was wrong. The audience intuitively understands it is much more than latex on film, it is a violation of our sexual rights as human beings and could echo repercussions far into the future, and far into our bedrooms.

The other panel I spoke on was Slut Shaming in a Sex Positive Community. Initially, we wondered about the interest in this topic, which isn’t frequently discussed, but it was nearly as packed as the Feminist Porn Panel.  In my background I have experienced Slut Shaming over the years in different degrees, but to hear it from everyone on the panel: Serpent, Femcar, Carol Queen, and Crysta Heart was comforting and reassuring. We opened up the discussion to audience questions and comments, and in that instant, started something that could have gone on for hours. We provoked thoughts; we started open dialogue; we may have even inadvertently started a disagreement/fight. I think it is a panel that must be repeated.

And the evening entertainment!
I went to Girl Gasms by Ducky Doolittle – Take it Like a Man with Charlie Glickman, and then surrendered my “Dirty Bingo” Virginity to Ducky loving every second up until the time I went to bed, knowing I had panels the next day.

I was also a guest on Tristan Taormino’s radio show, “Sex Out Loud,” and had an amazing conversation with one of my all-time inspirations. We also had a studio audience as we recorded, something I’m not used to with my show, but I actually really enjoyed. It was agreed we needed a part two to our discussion, and she may be on my show in the future.

One of the highlights of the weekend was getting #ccon trending on Twitter. Not only did CatalystCon have a hash tag, but each panel had an individual hash tag as well, so people who were unable to make the trip were still able to take part by following along as some of the panels were being live-tweeted by the audiences.

Again, I’m so honored to have been included in CatalystCon East, and even more honored to be included in such an amazing group of people onstage for the opening keynote speech. My sincere thanks goes out to the founder and organizer Dee Dennis, who took a risk having me appear last year, but did it anyway, and also to the notorious Girl Gang & The Evil Sluts who, along with Dee, are truly the glue collectively helping hold CatalystCon together. They also owe me some Nutella.

xo,
jd

Speaking at CatalystCon East in Washington D.C.

I’m excited to say CatalystCon East is only 5 weeks away!

Back in September 2012, I was on a panel for Catalyst Con West (www.CatalystCon.com), a conference devoted to “inspiring exceptional conversations about sexuality.”  As I wrote about here, I had an amazing time meeting and speaking with many of my idols in the field of sexuality.  The conference helped me grow as an educator and a woman.

I’m pleased to announce I will be participating in the inaugural CatalystCon East in the Washington D.C. area, March 15-17.  I am extremely honored to participate as a panel member for the Opening Keynote Plenary Address: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism, and Acceptance.  I will also present at sessions titled The Facts About Measure B, and How It Impacts Us All and Slut Shaming in Sex Positive Communities.

As we get closer to the conference, I’ll write posts about the various sessions I’m speaking at and let you know what sessions I’m most eager to attend.  If you live anywhere near Washington D.C. or are able to travel, I urge you to look into attending CatalystCon East.

xo,

jd