History

Recent posts

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching Masters of Sex (Photos NSFW)

Within the span of three days, I received text messages from each of my (divorced) parents insisting that I watch “the new sex show” on Showtime. Mind you, my parents assume that my newly-minted bachelor’s degree in Sexuality Studies grants them permission to send me a daily smattering of sex-related articles, which I usually find sort of endearing and only slightly annoying. For whatever reason, I decided to give this particular suggestion a go. And oh. My. Continue Reading →

Sex Ed Isn’t In Text Books?

The past few weeks I have been greatly enjoying the tv series “How Sex Changed The World” (it’s on the History Channel’s sibling station H2). According to History’s website, the series is about one of the necessary things to survival; “powerful need that has transformed history, silently steering us at every turn… sex.  HOW SEX CHANGED THE WORLD spans thousands of years and sheds light on how sex has changed history.” In two sentences, they have made it possible for my history nerd friends to not only get along with, but have several conversations with my sex geek friends. courtesy of H2

While I do think if you are interested in sex and history this is worthy of watching, I have one contention with the program. During the voice over that begins each episode, they mention how interesting and unique this is, especially because these are “the stories you won’t find in textbooks.” Continue Reading →

Remember: We’re Not The First Advocates for Equality

As I wait with bated breath for the Supreme Court to make a decision on the repeal of DOMA and Proposition 8, I’m reminded of all those that came before me. In the past several years, the LGBTQ community has seen some incredible legal, social, and political advances. Just in my lifetime, I’ve seen several states pass laws that recognize same-sex unions, gays and lesbians in the military be allowed to discuss their sexuality openly, and have experienced a huge growth in cultural acceptance of the queer community. To put this in a different perspective, here are some numbers. A document from the Movement Advancement Project recorded that between 2000 and 2010, the United States experienced a 1300% increase in states outlawing gender discrimination based on gender presentation, a 600% jump in the number of high school Gay-Straight Alliances, and today, majority (57%) support for marriage equality. Continue Reading →

Sexual Health Among Aboriginal Australians: An Interview with Kat Byron

The sexual health status in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) communities is a hot topic among public health professionals in Australia, but rarely makes international news. I knew relatively little about Indigenous health before I moved to Australia and was shocked when I learned about the degree of health inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, especially since Australia has a nationalized healthcare system. To shed some light on this issue, I interviewed Australian sex and drug harm reduction educator Kat Byron about her extensive background working with ATSI communities on sexual health promotion. Kate: How did you get started working in Indigenous sexual health? Note: The “countries” listed below represent specific Aboriginal nations within Australia. Continue Reading →

Syphilitic Reflections on the 20th Century

At times, working on a long-term STI research project, it is easy to become embroiled in the minutiae of the day-to-day. When times like this strike, it is crucial to remember the bigger picture. From a less cosmic perspective, some historical appreciation of our place in sexual health is often required, both as a reflection on how much has been achieved and a reminder of the forces that continue to influence this work. Above is a graph to which I turn when such a reminder is necessary – it depicts syphilis diagnoses in genitourinary medicine clinics in the UK from 1931–2004. A favorite of epidemiologists working in sexual health, this graph appeared in lectures in various subjects throughout my studies; it was used as a tool to prompt students to consider transmission dynamics of STIs and the many factors that influence these. Continue Reading →

Evolutionary Sexual Behavior: Still Useful Today?

An intriguing idea I read about in Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser is the notion that our early ancestors developed “alpha male” behavior because it was advantageous during evolution, and remains so today. This is supposedly why women are attracted to dominant men (even when they’re jerks). I found this blogger’s take on the issue interesting (and compelling, since he cites scientific research): Masculine or “alpha” behavior is attractive to some women sometimes. It appears to be a retained trait from multiple millions of years ago, that was once advantageous, but has lost its significance with respect to the population as a whole. Whether or not women are hard-wired to want more aggressive, active mates, it seems to me that individual preference and cultural context also play a large role. Continue Reading →

Fun Facts from a Vintage Sex Book

Over the past several years, I’ve amassed quite a collection of vintage/antique sex books. I keep meaning to share all the hilarious tidbits with MSP readers, but haven’t yet gotten around to it. So when Kate announced that this week’s theme was ‘Sex in History,’ I finally had a reason to share! My most recent trip to the Montague Book Mill (if you’re near Western Mass and haven’t checked this out, I highly recommend it) was a success. I walked out with two books: one on the history of the flapper, and the other on the history of, you guessed it, sex! Continue Reading →

The Sexed-Up Fairy Tales Of The Past

With all the fairy tale retellings that are popular today, ranging from dark like Grimm and Snow White and the Huntsman to light-hearted like Mirror Mirror and Brave, now’s a great time to look at sex in fairy tales. As I discuss over at my personal blog, fairy tales have always been flexible in form and function. Since they tend to address humanity’s big questions – what is a family, what is the role of the individual in society, what is love – it makes sense that sex would figure in there somewhere. I’ve already written on sex in Little Red Riding Hood, so today I’ll talk about two beloved Grimms’ tales: Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. Both have a much sexier history than most people know. Continue Reading →

A Biblical Perspective On Abortion

Abortion is a tricky issue, resonating with people on multiple levels (personal, religious, political, among others) and I feel that I should state that in this post I’m not trying to convince someone to think differently here, or come over to my view (which is pro-choice if only because I’m hesitant about people without wombs making decisions for people with wombs, and because I believe that abortion needs to be safely available as part of the effort to provide social equity and begin to fix the socio-economic-educational problems that lead to unwanted babies in the first place). However, I recently discovered that the Bible does not necessarily unilaterally condemn abortion, so I thought I would share some of that information here in case others find it as thought-provoking as I did. I followed a link (I forget from whom) to the site of a Christian blogger who provides close readings of Biblical passages. The first post, What the Bible Says About Abortion, discusses a passage in Numbers wherein God tells Moses that if a husband suspects his wife is pregnant with another man’s baby, they can perform a ritual that will cause the woman to abort. Whoa… Continue Reading →

This Week on MSP: Sex and History

This week, the MSP blogging team will be discussing a number of sexuality issues related to the past for our “Sex and History” theme. From syphilis in the 20th century, to an analysis of biblical passages on abortion, we’ll be covering a wide array of topics we hope will pique your interest. Have an idea for a future theme week? Tweet us @mysexprofessor. Continue Reading →