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"1 In 6 People Has a Sex Fetish. A Neuroscientist Explains Why"

on Saturday, 14 May 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

This sex researcher has interviewed hundreds of people with peculiar erotic tastes. Here’s what she’s learned

Men's Health

BY DEBRA W. SOH

You might think that fantasizing about being swallowed by a large animal sounds weird.

 

But a new study in the Journal of Sex Research finds that paraphilias—unusual sexual interests—are actually common: One in three people have experimented with one at some point in their lives.

 

 

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PRIVACY POLICY | ABOUT US

Paraphilias range from kinks you’ve heard of before, like stiletto fetishes, to more rare interests, like the fantasy about being swallowed.

 

Why would someone be into that? Why are some people turned on by golden showers, or wearing diapers? The subject is so riveting that I’ve made a career out of studying it.

 

As a neuroscientist, I’m interested in what it is about the brain that makes people like the kinds of sex that they like. When guys come in to do my fMRI study, we spend a few minutes scanning their brain. Afterwards, I ask them lots of questions about their sex lives.

 

Needless to say, my work never gets boring. At last count, sex researchers estimated that about 549 different paraphilias exist.

 

So, for starters, here are six fascinating fetishes worth learning about.

 

Golden Showers: Why Are Some People Into That?

 

People interested in urophilia—also known as golden showers or water sports—enjoy urinating on their partners, being urinated on, or both. About 9 percent of men have this interest, research suggests.

 

Men who are into water sports tell me the act of sharing human waste, as disgusting as it might seem, creates a bond between partners. Clearly, two people need to share a certain level of comfort in order to pee on each other.

 

“It’s like I’m sharing my love,” says Kevin, a 20-something university student who likes to urinate on his sex partners.

 

For some guys, the more disgusting or taboo the act, the more sexually exciting it becomes. Others tell me that they’re turned on by the fact it’s humiliating to be peed on.

 

Women’s Clothing: Why Are Some Guys Into That?

 

Many—if not all—straight men (who identify as men) who take part in my studies find women’s clothing, such as shoes and underwear, to be sexually arousing.

 

It’s one of the most common kinks. A study out of the University of L’Aquila in Italy analyzed the content of online discussion groups and estimated that 32 percent of men have a sexual interest in shoes and 12 percent are into underwear. ...

"Best and Most Beautiful Things Premieres at SXSW"

on Thursday, 10 March 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

by Xaque Gruber

One of the year's most touching documentary films, Best and Most Beautiful Things, makes its world premiere this month at SXSW. A provocative and joyous coming of age portrait of precocious 20 year old Michelle Smith of rural Maine, she's both legally blind and diagnosed on the autism spectrum, but the film does not pander to that. She bursts off the screen as someone immensely relatable. You'll want to know her. This is a powerful, affecting journey into a young woman's mind as she searches for connection and empowerment by exploring life outside the limits of "normal" through a "fringe community."

I had the pleasure of speaking with the film's Executive Producer, Kevin Bright, who has succeeded in navigating the waters of both TV (he was Executive Producer of Friends) and film (his previous documentary work includes directing the 2007 film about his vaudevillian father, Who Ordered Tax?). Kevin executive produced the film with Claudia Bright.

Xaque Gruber: What was it about this project that attracted you? How did it find you?

 

Kevin Bright: My involvement with the project began in 2009 when I started a filmmaking class for students at the Perkins School for The Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. Michelle Smith was in that first class and was part of a group that made an award winning film Seeing Through the Lens. I loved the impact the film had on these students, giving them the power to tell their stories to the world. Our director, Garrett Zevgetis, was a volunteer at Perkins who at that time was making a short film about the impact of Helen Keller on current Perkins students. After seeing an early cut, my recommendation was to focus the film on Michelle as a "modern day Helen Keller". Garrett filmed Michelle - it was a 20 minute short that became a feature film and now here we are with a premiere at SXSW.

 

XG: Let's talk about Michelle Smith. She is legally blind, on the autism spectrum and lives in rural Maine - with those details she seems plucked from a Stephen King novel. She's bound to win over many fans and hearts. Tell me what it was like working with her and do you see any of yourself in Michelle?

 

KB: Michelle is an inspiration to me. She could roll over and be a victim of her disability, instead she embraces it and challenges the rest of us to step out of our comfort zone and be open to different people and life styles, "unlearning normal" as Michelle says. Everyone falls for Michelle because she draws you in, makes a connection, but sometimes, can really shock you. Pity is not what she seeks, it is not in her vocabulary. ...

"Can You Be Asexual, but Also Enjoy Kink?"

on Monday, 15 February 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Cosmopolitan

By Angela Chen

At first, Lily Zheng saw kink as a way to have great sex. "I thought of it like an escalator: First I would do bondage, then this and that, and then at the end, I would have the most fulfilling, amazing sex ever," said the Stanford University junior, who is also co-president of the university's kink club.

 

But when the sex at the end turned out to be a disappointment — "I was just lying on the bed, checking out my nails and thinking, 'This is silly and not fun'" — she realized that she wasn't interested in sex so much as the dynamics of dominant and submissive relationships. For her, sex is a tool in service of those relationships, not something she cares about much for its own sake.

 

Zheng is part of a growing community of asexuals, or people who are not sexually attracted to any gender, who are attracted to the kink scene because they like touch, relationships, sensation, and power dynamics — all reasons that have nothing to do with sex itself. Many say that because kink focuses so much on negotiation and consent, this environment feels safer than traditional relationships, where sex is usually expected. Still, says Zheng, identifying as both asexual and kinky initially felt like "a huge contradiction" because of the stereotypes around both subcultures.

 

Kink is often broken down into the four categories — bondage, domination, submission, and masochism — and has become more popular recently, thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey. But while its roots were in explicit sex, it has become more about general "connection," with people "having entire relationships where explicit sexual contact wasn't a part of it," according to BDSM educator Mollena Williams-Haas.

 

Asexuals, or "aces," often divide attraction into three categories: aesthetic, romantic, and sexual, with the last one being the most self-explanatory. Aesthetic attraction means finding someone physically attractive without necessarily being sexually attracted. Romantic attraction or romantic orientation (often broken down into homoromantic, biromantic, heteroromantic, panromantic, and so on) means wanting to be in a romantic relationship with someone regardless of whether you want to have sex with them.

 

Aces don't experience sexual attraction but some aces have a sex drive and enjoy having sex, some are sex-repulsed and don't enjoy it at all, some really love touch and sensation but dislike penetrative sex, and so on.

 

Still, asexuality is often conflated with being celibate, prudish or, as Zheng said, pointing to another stereotype, "hating to be touched." So it can be confusing when people encounter someone who doesn't experience sexual attraction or isn't interested in sex, but is still very interested in the kink scene.

 

Lauren*, a writer in northern California, says she is involved in kink because she likes "sensation-play, interactions, complex human relationship, a balance of power and control and trust." Lauren has been "tying up my Barbies since I was about 3, which is probably a warning sign" but found later that she was not really into sex, and has since had many kink partners that she's never been sexually attracted to.

 

Instead of being into BDSM for the sex, she says, "I appreciate this ability to step outside normal social strictures and explicitly say, 'We are going to very carefully negotiate the way we interact with each other to be safe and careful with each other.'"

 

Not all contact during a kink scene is sexual because it often depends on the person and the context, according to Lauren. For example, cuddling with one person can be sexual, and not at all with another. And aftercare, or the contact after a scene, typically should not be sexual at all. "It's kind of like you picking up your cat, and you're hanging out and bonding — you're having very intimate contact, but very explicitly not sexual and sometimes to the point that being sexual would make that really uncomfortable and would be undesirable," she adds. ...

"Back-to-back events discuss non-traditional sexual practices"

on Saturday, 13 February 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The Michigan Daily

by Emily Miillers

About 50 people attended back-to-back interactive lectures on sexual health Wednesday evening as part of the annual Sexpertise conference on sexual health, hosted by the University Health Service. The events, titled “Seeing Other People: Open Relationships, Polyamory, and More” and “Kink Outside the Box,” took place in the Michigan League.

 

Public Health graduate student Tahiya Alam coordinated the Sexpertise conference this year. She heads the Sexpertise committee, which is a part of Sexperteam, a group that promotes sexual health through various campus events. She said the conference is largely based on student recommendations from last year.

 

“We look at what the students are looking for in terms of sexual education and what’s available in terms of resources in our community,” Alam said.

 

Amy Jacobs, a clinical social worker at the University of Michigan Health System, presented “Seeing Other People: Open Relationships, Polyamory and More.” She discussed different types of consensually non-monogamous relationships and discussed her own experiences with open relationships.

 

Jacobs emphasized that consensual non-monogamy is not cheating because these relationships are based on communication and honesty.

 

“You’re negotiating those kinds of things with your partner to find out what’s important to you,” Jacobs said. “What do you need out of our relationship so that I make sure that I’m respecting that relationship when I’m with other people?”

 

Jacobs provided responses she often got when she told people she was non-monogamous, such as questions about how open relationships work and why she had gotten married. Overall, she said the decision to be non-monogamous is dependent on an individual’s definition of a relationship.

 

“What is your definition of a relationship that works? Is it being together for a long time? Or is it being happy?” Jacobs said. “To me that’s not a great marriage, just staying together.”

 

Jacobs also said being honest about her relationships is a positive for her daughter, in that she gets to experience alternative family styles and know she has options for future relationships.

 

Public Health graduate student Emma Sell-Goodhand and local sex educator Tori Renaud presented “Kink Outside the Box.”

 

“Kink,” according to presenters, is defined as non-normative sexual activity, like bondage or role-play.

 

Sell-Goodhand and Renaud incorporated various cell phone polls for the audience with questions about kink, misconceptions concerning kink, different roles and implements in sex play and areas to avoid in a more hands-on style presentation.

 

They cited studies that expressed the physiological and psychological benefits of kink, including having a more open perspective on sex and other aspects of life. Renaud said she believed communication among partners may lead to benefits from kink.

 

“These activities require a lot of communication,” she said. “A lot of psychological problems stem from suppressing things — whether those be your emotions, your desires. If you are communicating with your partner, you have better lines of communication to talk about what your needs are in other areas as well.”

 

The presenters also discussed safety in these situations. Renaud emphasized the importance of awareness and safe sex. ...

"Bar Raid At Alamo Leather Contest"

on Monday, 08 February 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The Leather Journal

by Vonn Tramel

Attendees of The 2016 Alamo Leather Contest will certainly never forget!

 

Late Saturday evening, at approximately 1030, just a few minutes prior to the announcement of The Alamo Leather Contest’s Winners bar staff swept through the Mad Marlin’s basement and parking lot. They were instructing customers in the basement to finish their drinks and instructed to dump their drinks if they were in the parking lot. Soon thereafter contest producers abruptly announced Mr. Alamo Leather 2016 Shawn Fox and Alamo Bootblack 2016 Sugar Bear.

 

At this time the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and San Antonio Police Department proceeded to raid the north side establishment. It was announced at the beginning of the raid that persons with faces not matching their photo ID could be ticketed and or arrested. Members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the event’s emcee bolted from the establishment. ...

"'Yes means yes' policy coming under fire from judges"

on Tuesday, 11 August 2015. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Fox News

By Cody Derespina

Judges across the country are saying “no” to the “yes means yes” standard of affirmative consent for date rape.

 

The legality of the standard – adopted on California and New York campuses by state legislatures and in effect on numerous other colleges throughout the country – is in question following a series of recent rulings that cite a lack of due process.

 

“These decisions are harbingers,” said John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School and a public interest lawyer. “It does take time for new ideas to percolate through the system.”

 

Under the standard, the accused, typically a male, has to prove he obtained consent, even if neither party remembers what happened. The standard forces the accused to prove his innocence, rather than be proven guilty.

 

Proponents of the “yes means yes” law claim it’s a necessary step to combat sexual assaults, which some studies suggest occur at a high frequency on campuses.

 

But judges in California, Tennessee and Virginia say it goes too far.

 

A student expelled from the University of California-San Diego had an “unfair” hearing, Superior Court Judge Joel M. Pressman ruled in July. The John Doe accused in the case said he was unable to cross-examine his accuser and other witnesses. He also said he was forced to submit questions to a hearing panel in advance, and many of his questions were then rejected. Pressman agreed this was a violation of his due process rights.

 

A student found guilty of sexual misconduct by the University of Tennessee because he couldn’t prove he obtained verbal consent had his verdict overturned by a Chancery Court judge on Aug. 4.

 

A student expelled from Washington and Lee University for alleged sexual misconduct will be allowed to continue with his gender bias lawsuit against the school, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Moon ruled on Aug. 8. In the lawsuit, a Title IX officer at the school is quoted during a presentation she gave to the woman who later accused John Doe. The Title IX officer is alleged to have said “regret equals rape” and “went on to state her belief that this point was a new idea everyone, herself included, is starting to agree with.” Shortly thereafter, an allegation of misconduct was launched against John Doe. The Title IX officer played a significant role in the investigatory process.

 

A right to due process at state universities may seem like a novel concept, but Banzhaf said the fourth amendment protection was never intended to apply solely to the court system.

 

“The Constitution trumps everything else,” he said. “So no matter what the Department of Education or Department of Justice suggest, regardless of what a state’s statute provides, or what the University decides, the Constitution trumps it all.”

 

The Supreme Court somewhat settled the due process question in its 1976 Mathews vs. Eldrige decision, a case cited by Chancellor Carol L. McCoy in the University of Tennessee decision.

 

“The fundamental requirement of due process is the opportunity to be heard ‘at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner,’” McCoy wrote. “Due process is flexible and calls for such procedural protections as the particular situation demands.” ...

"'Marriage Equality' and the Politics of Love"

on Tuesday, 04 August 2015. Posted in NCSF in the News!, Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

by Tim Ward

The recent Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage makes it seem as if marriage equality has finally come to the U.S. But that is not actually accurate. The celebration is great step forward, but in truth, there's more work to do if we as a nation want to truly recognize and celebrate the diversity of love, relationships and family.

 

For example, polyamory. Polyamorous partners do not have the privilege of legal marriage. What's worse, many are closeted for fear of discrimination in housing, employment and child custody. Prominent organizations such as the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) have brought attention to how polyamorists and other ethically non-monogamous people are targets for discrimination in the same way that LGBTQ folks have been. See here.

 

The ironic thing is, there would be no big deal about a person who just happened to be sleeping with more than one lover. But call it polyamory -- in other words, a public, ethical stance about loving more than one partner with honesty and integrity -- and that seems intolerable to so many. Currently, polyamorous people do not have equal protection under the law, because anything other than monogamy is seen as a fringe/freakish/immoral lifestyle choice and not as a valid sexual or relationship orientation.

 

I interviewed author and poly advocate Dr. Anya Trahan about the Supreme Court Decision, and what she sees as the way forward for those who embrace ethical loving with multiple partners.

 

Question: Do you think polyamory is a sexual orientation? Is it a choice or is it inborn?

 

Trahan: One of the great things about being human is the ability to choose the language and the labels that best articulate our values. I have heard many polys say that their way of living is a sexual orientation. That is a totally valid label, and I support anyone who wishes to use it. And, it may even be that from a legal standpoint, embracing the label of sexual orientation to describe polyamory may help prevent discrimination in the future -- because it is already commonly understood that to discriminate based on one's sexual orientation is not only wrong, but illegal.

 

The way I personally think of polyamory is as a relationship orientation. In my work as a relationship coach, I have found that a surprising number of my clients consider themselves "partners" or "family" with those whom there is no sexual interaction. In other words, polyamory seems to be more about coming together for the purposes of co-creating a life together, a support system, based on mutually shared values and philosophies. Responsible sexual expression may be enjoyed, of course, but that is not necessarily a prerequisite to form loving, intense, committed connections.

 

Question: You are a public figure, an author and a spokesperson for polyamory. Have you suffered any negative consequences?

 

Trahan: When I first came out as poly back in 2012, I lost a number of close friends. Members of my biological family reacted with open hostility and judgment, resulting in a period of estrangement. Since my book about polyamory, Opening Love has been published this year, I have been fired from two jobs. I have no desire to bring this to the courts (legal battles are, for me, not a good use of my energy), although I know that I would have at least a small shot at winning a discrimination case, because one of the organizations stated openly in writing that the reason I was being fired was for being openly polyamorous. In theory, I could sue on the grounds of sexual discrimination. ...

"'Folsom Forever' Captures The Spirit Of San Francisco's Legendary Queer Street Fair"

on Thursday, 14 May 2015. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

By JamesMichael Nichols

The origins of San Francisco's legendary Folsom Street Fair may be much different than you think.

 

When someone talks about Folsom Street Fair in 2015, the leather and fetish elements of the historic outdoor celebration of sexual diversity are likely what come to mind. However, this event is also rooted in a very specific issue that queers and other marginalized groups have dealt with for decades: gentrification.

 

"Folsom Forever" is a new film from director Mike Skiff that takes a look at the historic legacy of Folsom Street Fair and how this festival was birthed from San Francisco's narrative of gentrification surrounding the HIV/AIDs panic.

 

"If you've attended the Folsom Street Fair in the last 30 of its 40 years, it would seem this outdoor kinky celebration has always been a Leather-oriented event," Skiff told The Huffington Post. "Making this film gave me the opportunity to, among things, correct that misconception. The fair was actually born in ’84 out of South of Market neighborhood's need for survival, as developers sought to bulldoze buildings and sex businesses -- like the bathhouses -- being closed by the city in misguided AIDS hysteria. What Folsom Street Fair always has been is an expression of human rights, be it the right to low-cost housing or to willingly be flogged without fear of arrest."

 

Skiff also added that the 1970s in San Francisco was a very specific time -- one in which members of the LGBT community were given the space to explore the spectrum of their sexuality and queerness. ...


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