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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 →

Sexism In Science

In case you missed it, a scientist who contributes to Scientific American turned down a blogging opportunity from one of their affiliates – who then called her an “urban whore.” And yet, rather than use this as an opportunity to combat racism and sexism in science, the blog removed her post commenting on the issue. It’s since been restored, but important questions remain: how can we hope to address issues of inequality (by gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and other identity factors) if there’s still so much bias at institutional levels? And how do efforts to combat sexism and racism in science reflect similar struggles in other parts of society? Continue Reading →

Informed Consent: The Zimbardo Experiment

Also called the Stanford prison experiment, this psychological experiment is known along with Milgrim’s experiment as one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for the human tendency to react dramatically to power imbalances. A group of young people were randomly divided into prisoner roles or guard roles, and the arbitrary amounts of cruelty and control exhibited by the guards exceeded anyone’s expectations. This video clip shows some of the original footage as well as present-day commentary (and some hilarious 1970s hairstyles). The subjects knew that they were in an experiment, but they had no way of knowing how drastic the humiliation and psychological suffering would be. So again, we return to the idea of informed consent – that it’s important for people to understand what kind of situation they’ll be getting into in advance. Continue Reading →

Informed Consent: The Milgram Experiment

I mentioned in the first informed consent post that we apply the idea of informed consent in academia and research in order to make sure we’re being ethical when dealing with human subjects. Why is this a big deal? Stanley Milgram’s experiment that tricked people into thinking they were administering electric shocks (in dangerous amounts) to other people is a great example of how an experiment can be psychologically damaging to people who don’t know what they’re in for. This video clip succinctly explains the experiment and shows footage from a similar experiment. If you felt disturbed while watching it, just imagine how the unknowing subjects involved felt! Continue Reading →

Science, Gender, And Needlepoint

As a folklorist, one of the areas of human existence I study is material culture. We talk about material culture as culture made material: literally, the objects created by humans that display facets of culture, belief, and worldview. Sometimes we’re interested in the material culture of the present, ranging from handmade works like pottery to re-purposed mass-made objects like scrapbooks or quilts. Like archaeologists, we look at objects of the past, too. Folklore intersects with sex in many ways, and material culture is no exception. Continue Reading →

Why I Refuse To Use The Term “Pro-Life”

In light of Savita Halappanavar’s death due to being refused an abortion after miscarrying, using the term “pro-life” to mean “anti-abortion” is increasingly problematic. As therapist Lyla Cicero points out, “when a choice must be made between a mother’s life and a child’s, choosing abortion is still being pro-life, isn’t it?” Her piece on a pregnant teenager who identified as pro-life yet choose an abortion exemplifies this dilemma: the girl was choosing her life, choosing to delay having children, choosing to commit her time to working her way out of poverty. The irony, as Cicero notes, is that “The politicians who so vehemently call themselves pro-life are the same politicians who would resent [the teen mother's] living off the government.” That quote leads into the connections between pregnancy, poverty, and abuse. Continue Reading →

On Rape And Pregnancy

I did not watch, read, or listen to the news for over a week, as I was busy getting married on the beach, going on a mini-honeymoon in Santa Barbara, and then performing dance for 4 days straight at one of the largest gaming conventions in the country. Beyond the chores of unpacking and laundry and scraping glitter off everything, all I wanted to do was sleep and recover. And then I came home to this. “This” being Representative Todd Akin’s comments about how in regard to the possibility of pregnancy after rape, in his understanding, ”if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Far more bloggers than I can count have protested the idiocy behind these remarks, and pointed out the irony that a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology would be so ill informed. Continue Reading →

Condoms Don’t Ruin Sex

I’m not getting paid by the condom industry to write this, I assure you. But when I see a webpage titled How Condoms Ruin Sex, my first reaction is surprise and my second reaction is outrage. Why on earth would someone attack a form of birth control that’s been shown to reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs? For women who do not wish to be on hormonal birth control, condoms (when used consistently and properly) are helpful in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Sure, there are valid reasons for people to choose not to use condoms, but as a sex-positive feminist, I really have to say that those should be personal choices, not decisions mandated by a website with a thinly-veiled religious agenda (and let’s keep in mind that many religious women use birth control too). Continue Reading →

Benefits Of Non-Monogamy For Animals

Recent research from Indiana University suggests that female birds who mate with males outside their monogamous pairing are conferring reproductive advantages upon their offspring. This long-term study measured reproductive success by noticing that the offspring of promiscuous female birds went on to have more offspring of their own. The interesting take-home points here are that not all species are monogamous, and that non-monogamous behavior appears to be beneficial in some circumstances. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist. Continue Reading →