Red Pillers: Pickup Artists Plus Mens Rights Activists?

In case you haven’t heard of the Red Pillers, they’re an internet community that is “an overwhelmingly male population advocating unpopular opinions on females, but it is almost entirely focused on attracting and seducing as many of them as possible.” This is in the words of a Business Insider column that describes the group’s goals and interactions. Many of their strategies sound like those of pick-up artists, while many of their complaints about how women are actually manipulative gold-diggers sound like those of men’s rights activists (or MRAs for short – check out some of their crazy logic over at Manboobz). I think discourse about gender is usually a good thing…but discourse built upon sexist stereotypes? Not so good. Continue Reading →

When Abstinence-Only Sex Education Is Against Your Religion

This Patheos blog post by Sunweaver discusses an uncommon dilemma: we’re very accustomed to people objecting to sex education because they say it’s against their religion, but what about people who object to abstinence-only sex education citing the same reason? She points out that “to use fear and shame to intimidate children into avoiding sex until marriage is to vilify something I see as sacred.” Further, she cites studies of abstinence-only education demonstrating that it is based upon religious belief, leading to this problem: “Abstinence-only is a religious teaching and it isn’t my religion they’re teaching.” We know it’s impossible to please everyone, but this is yet one more reason to embrace a fact-based approach to sex education. In an ideal world, at least, it’d be harder to alienate people with facts, but especially with sex, it can be (unfortunately) difficult to disentangle fact from belief. Continue Reading →

Why Telling Women To “Just Close Your Legs” Isn’t Good

Every so often, I run across arguments about women in poverty or other difficult situations who should just, like, stop having babies already. The message “just keep your legs closed” is a prevalent one… but I don’t think it works, or that it’s remotely a good idea. First, until we get closer to universally accessible (meaning affordable) contraception, it makes no sense to berate women for their choices. Any “choice” made within an oppressive environment is not really a choice at all, or at least, not a freely-made choice. Continue Reading →

When It Comes To Sex Or Religion, Intent Doesn’t Excuse Bad Behavior

In a recent conversation, a friend mentioned that she was upset about about a pattern she noticed. She described how when Christians tried to convert her, her attempts to describe how hurtful it was were met with their disbelief – after all, everyone involved had good intentions! This set off bells in my head. Because when it comes to discussions of aspects of rape culture like street harassment or those supposedly-innocuous-but-possibly-threatening flirtation attempts that get labeled as “creepy,” intention is often invoked as a cure-all. “But he didn’t mean to be creepy!” Continue Reading →

Dealing With Sexual Harassment As A Professor

GracieABD blogs about an experience being sexually harassed in her college classroom, when a student wrote on a mid-semester evaluation that her teaching would be improved if she taught naked. Her reaction – to use it as a teaching moment to educate her class about what sexual harassment is – was brave and inspired. I received one comment like that while I was assisting with a class; one student responded to the end-of-semester evaluation question “What did you like least about the class?” with something along the lines of “That I wasn’t dating the instructor.” GracieABD’s remarks about feeling humiliated and objectified resonated with me. Continue Reading →

Messages To Teenage Girls (And Boys)

Those of us who spend a lot of time on the internet will have seen this “letter to teenage girls” that has been circulating. The author, a mother, is basically telling teenage girls to stop taking sexy-looking self photos and putting them online, because it’s not good for the innocent eyes of her chaste sons. Or something like that. There’ve been a number of responses, pointing out that this upholds the idea that women are responsible for managing men’s sexuality (which they are most certainly not!), or the notion that girls need to be modest (an idea that varies by time period and culture) while boys do not. Personally, I was struck by how much the letter demonizes sexual self-expression, arousal, and, well, sexual stuff in general. Continue Reading →

Consent On The Playa

I’ve discussed sexual assault at Burning Man in the past, and so I was pleased to find that when my husband came home from the playa this year, he came home with this pamphlet:
The BED is a grassroots effort to promote consent-based interactions both on-playa and off-playa. Check out their publications for some of their tips on consent and intimacy. Anything that foregrounds consent gets a thumbs-up from me, so I’m glad this souvenir found its way home to me (even if it was trailing playa dust). Continue Reading →

Genitals in the Wild: Labia and Art

My boyfriend and I went to a Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at the local art museum, and as we were climbing the stairs to get to the display—I noticed this painting on the staircase. The artist, Ryotaro Tokita, left the piece untitled, so you cannot take away any clues or insight from the name. But if it were up to my interpretation, I would guess that Tokita was inspired by a rather symmetrical pair of labia majora. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor or follow Madeline Haller, the author of this post @madeline_haller. Continue Reading →

The Double Bind Of Sexual Harassment

Author Jim C. Hines nails it with this comic on how reporting sexual harassment at conventions tends to go down. As we’ve covered previously, geek culture is notoriously misogynist at times, and the handling of sexual harassment is but one manifestation of this general trend. Unfortunately, we see plenty of these attitudes in the rest of contemporary culture as well. Continue Reading →

Sex Toy Review: Spirit by Leaf

I recently had the pleasure of testing out the Spirit for the Men’s Health sex awards, and let me tell you: This petite toy packs some powerful vibes. What you need to know right off the bat: It’s waterproof, great for travel, and fits right in the palm of your hand. The bright green exterior is aesthetically pleasing, not to mention it’s extremely easy to use. The main perks:

It’s rechargeable. (In my opinion, this feature is a must-have if I’m going to consider purchasing the toy.) A single charge will give you an hour and 15 minutes of playtime, and it takes two hours to charge completely. Continue Reading →