Art & Culture

Recent posts

Experiencing Gender Differences In Spatial/Visual Abilities

We’ve all heard it before: boys are better at math and spatial reasoning, girls are better at relational thinking and language skills. There’s always more to the story than that, however. The fact that scientists and scholars are still trying to disentangle cultural conditioning from biology means that these concepts must be treated with nuance and approached skeptically until empirical evidence is brought forward to clarify them. But what’s a feminist scholar to do when life experiences rub these supposed gender differences in her face? Over dinner with my partner once, we were playing a spatial reasoning game (Pentago, for those who want to check it out – it’s actually a pretty fun game, when I’m not constantly losing). Continue Reading →

Queer Alphabet Soup: Moving Beyond Sexual Inclusivity

LGTBQIA…and the list goes on. What we once simply called gay expanded to gay and lesbian, then to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, and then further to include the umbrella term queer, as well as intersex and asexual. A recent New York Times article by Michael Schulman tackles this expansion of inclusive terms, discussing the new generation of queers and the gender inclusivity that they are striving for. “If the gay-rights movement today seems to revolve around same-sex marriage, this generation is seeking something more radical: an upending of gender roles beyond the binary of male/female. The core question isn’t whom they love, but who they are — that is, identity as distinct from sexual orientation. Continue Reading →

Praying Mantis Sex: How Often Do the Females Eat the Males?

 

 

You may have heard that the female praying mantis eats its mate post-copulation. Fortunately for the male praying mantis, this doesn’t seem to be the case – at least in every instance:
“By most estimates, sexual cannibalism by praying mantis females occurs less than 30% of the time outside the lab. Those are pretty good odds for the fellows. Praying mantis sex, it turns out, is really a rather romantic series of courtship rituals that typically ends satisfactorily and safely for both parties involved.” (Source: Insects.About.com)
Follow Debby on Twitter at @DebbyHerbenick or follow MSP at @MySexProfessor Continue Reading →

Sexual Assault And Burning Man Culture

Those of you who know what Burning man is (here’s a link for those who don’t) probably have positive mental images of the festival – after all, it’s an intentional community based on art, freedom of expression, and radical inclusion and participation. However, sexual assault does happen at burns, and so it’s good to be aware that the possibility exists. I highly recommend this essay on rape at Burning Man by Clarisse Thorn. She discusses an assault, the community response, and some of the legal and cultural issue affecting consent and vulnerability. Not all of us will go to Burning Man, but we all should have conversations about how to create safe environments and spot abusers. Continue Reading →

The Politics Of Regulating Guns And Regulating Sexuality

Buckle up, folks, I’m going to draw a number of parallels and ask you to put on your metaphorical thinking-caps while reading this post. Maybe you don’t automatically think “vaginas!” when you’re tuning into the gun debate in America, but I do, and I think you should consider doing the same. Here’s why. Continue Reading →

Ray Bradbury on the Science Fiction of Birth Control

Ray Bradbury, in an interview for The Paris Review (emphasis mine):
Science fiction is the fiction of ideas. Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves. Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible. Continue Reading →

Denmark’s Sperm Bike

Talk about genitals in the wild! I recently stumbled upon an article that added another bullet point to my long list of reasons to live in a Scandinavian country. The Nordisk Cryobank, a European sperm bank, decided to get creative in transporting donor samples. Naturally, they chose a bike- but this isn’t just any bike.  

The “sperm bike” is not only a green form of transportation, but it serves as a wonderful form of advertisement for the Cryobank. Continue Reading →

My Visit to Tokyo’s Female Masturbation Bar

Love Joule's owner, Megumi, holding my vulva puppet

Like many sex geeks who inhabit the internet, I delighted in reading about the existence of Love Joule, Tokyo’s “female masturbation bar” when it made the rounds on Jezebel, Huffington Post, and Wired back in October. I was especially excited because I had an upcoming trip to Tokyo planned, and any place whose sole purpose is the de-stigmatization of female masturbation was surely going to top my to-do list. While Love Joule’s website is (not surprisingly) in Japanese, I managed to find their location and opening hours through their Facebook page. Completely coincidentally, Love Joule was a five-minute walk away from my hotel. Call it divine intervention or sex geek synchronicity: given how giant and sprawling Tokyo is, I considered this a sign of awesomeness to ensue. Continue Reading →

Intersections Of Folklore And Sex: My Mentor, Alan Dundes

alan_dundes

Longtime MSP readers will know that I’ve written a lot on the connections between folklore and sex, sexuality, and gender, with topics including vaccines and public health, rites of passage, sexual slang, family meal practices, storytelling and sexual health, urban legends about sex, Little Red Riding Hood and sex, breasts in the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and how the very idea of folklore connects to sex. Clearly, folklore and sex connect in a lot of ways. However, I didn’t reach this conclusion on my own: I have my mentor, Alan Dundes, to thank for it. Professor Dundes was one of the best-known scholars in the field of folklore, and he was my teacher and mentor while I did my undergraduate training at UC Berkeley. Sadly, he passed away in 2005, leaving those of us lucky enough to have studied with him to forge ahead in the field. Continue Reading →