Category Archives: Queering Sex Ed.

Have a Merry Masturbation!

What better way to summon the season of twitterpating than by celebrating May Masturbation Month! Here are some fun facts about Annual– now International- Month of Masturbation and some great links to help you…participate.

Dr. Jocelyn Elders. Image from US National Library of Medicine

Dr. Jocelyn Elders. Image from US National Library of Medicine

1) The true poster child of Masturbation Month is former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders. Following a speech at the 1994 UN World AIDS Day, Elders was asked about masturbation as a way to discourage youth from engaging in partnered sex. She responded, “I think it is something that is part of human sexuality and a part of something that perhaps should be taught” (EmpowerHer, 2010). Gasp! The result: Elder was forced to resign from government.

But this sex shaming and conservative wrath backfired with a whole month dedicated to public talks, workshops, dancings, plays of all thing Masturbation! Thanks to Good Vibrations, the guru of sex toy shops. National Masturbation Month aims to encourage people to talk freely about it, to end the guilt associated with it and dispel the notion that it is “second-best” to “real” sex (Good Vibes’ official statement).

2) The celebration of #radical self-love has taken place every year since. The ever-so-climatic Masturbate-A-Thon is its biggest fundraiser. It encourages people to collect pledges and raise funds for sex-positive non-profits. Masturbate-A-Thon was originally hosted in San Francisco by Good Vibration and has spread to other cities like Portland OR, Washington D.C., London, England, and Copenhagen, Denmark. For it’s 14th Anniversary, the Thon will be held in Philly, PA, and funds will be used to benefit local LGBTQ inclusive sex-ed organizations, Pleasure Rush! and ScrewSmart. These guys established a CrowdRise fundraiser to help raise $3,000 from 1 May to May 27th, 2013, in order to help pay for the end of the month party, festively named Creamium.

Both Pleasure Rush! and ScrewSmart believe that the Philly Masturbate-A-Thon 2013 has the power to deliver the following:
-Reduce stigma and shame around sexuality.
-Promote sexual health Create a community of dialogue around the importance of pleasure. -Give you an excuse to jerk off for hours!” (Crowdraise).

Masturbation Month Poster made and sourced from The Buzz, Good Vibrations Magazine, www.GoodVibes.com

Masturbation Month Poster made and sourced from The Buzz, Good Vibrations Magazine, www.GoodVibes.com

3) In honor of International Masturbation Month, the Center for Sex & Culture (CSC) in conjunction with Shilo McCade’s “I Masturbate…” photo exhibition (summary about the photo project), is facilitating a writing class on the power of masturbation. Participants will spend a few hours writing response to photos and sharing stories about orgasms, self-love, and other aspects of sexuality. Proceeds support the CSC.

4) Ever heard of Betty Dodson? She is only the Queen of Masturbation and a pioneer in sexual liberation. Here is a great article by a woman who attended one of Betty’s 5-hour masturbation workshops and learned new types and ways of orgasm.

5) The student run news source, The Interloper @ USC is running its first ever masturbation writing contest. Winner gets a vibrator. You can read the first story: You Are Sleeping Inside Me.

6) Think you’re a master of masturbation? Test your knowledge with this 14 question quiz!

Taboo History Brief: Why we should celebrate

Image from article by William Bell @ BlogHer.com

Image from article about Masturbation Month by William Bell @ BlogHer.com

Masturbation Month is growing in profile but it stems from a long history of societal hush-hush syndrome. In fact, masturbation didn’t receive any attention on prime time television until Seinfeld brought up the taboo topic in 1992. In the episode (wikilink), George Constanza is caught by his mother masturbating. He confesses to Jerry, Elaine and Kramer and the conversation results in the four entering a contest to determine who can go for the longest period of time without masturbating.
No one wins. What’s interesting is that while the topic is quite blatant and insinuates that everyone masturbates (often!), the word “masturbation” could not actually be spoken. NBC thought the topic wasn’t suitable for TV, so the taboo is described in a series of hilarious euphemisms.

As Good Vibrations writes, “Almost everyone masturbates, but all too few of us are willing to admit to enjoying this simple pleasure – mostly because of the taboo against masturbation in our society, which has its roots in historical misconceptions that have survived to the present day.” During the 18th, 19th, and 20th century in Europe and America, masturbation was believed to be a debilitating wastes on energy that could result in exhaustion, impotence, insanity, epilepsy, etc. People obsessed over ways to prevent and treat the destructive urge.

For example, Dr. John H Kellogg advocated that circumcision should be performed with no anesthesia in order to deter children from “self-abuse” (cracked.com). Yes, this is Kellogg of the Kellogg’s cereal. Grape-Nuts, and later Corn Flakes, were invented to prevent “fire in the blood”. As early as the 1800s, masturbation experts believed that certain foods stimulated the urge, so people were recommended certain diets that eliminated instigators like pickles, candy, and eggs, and designed non-stimulating alternatives like cold breakfast cereal.

For more investigation into the rabbit hole of bizarre anti-masturbation treatments, Cracked.com offers a great article that covers all methods from Boy Scouts’ cold showers, to leeches, and spiked penile rings, bondage belts, and clitoridectomy.

So Happy Masturbation Month Everyone!

Let’s be thankful that our notions and acceptance of the deed has evolved from spiked penis restraints to Masturbate-A-Thon fundraisers! It’s great that there are many more sex positive resources out there that help normalize masturbation for us all. In some ways, it is a political act. It’s the ultimate safe sex, it increases awareness of your body and own sexual response, it relieves cramps, and it’s fun! So celebrate!

Do you have any fun facts or masturbation resources to share? Please comment below.

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Special thanks to Good Vibrations, BlogHer, EmpowerHer, and Bitch Mag for the images and information.

 

Where to Go for Safer Sex: Our Resource Recommendations

HaveAcondom (1)We are celebrating Valentine’s Day 2013 by acknowledging some of the most lavish, smart, and intriguing safer sex resources out there and giving them our thank yous for their hard work.

For safer sex guidelines we applaud and recommend you check out the following…

Planned Parenthood: A non-profit health organization that offers reproductive health care and advice on contraception, safe sex, and family planning.  They’ve been around since 1939 and in many cases are the only place where one can access birth control, STD/STI testing, sex education, couples counseling, etc.

The Body: A medically-based HIV/AIDS resource in the US which provides information on everything one needs to know about HIV/AIDS, including advice on prevention, HIV testing, treatment, safely navigating a mixed-status relationship, HIV/AIDS policy and activism, and the latest research on HIV/AIDS and other STDs.  This humongous site offers everything from Blogs, podcasts, bulletin boards, “Ask the Experts” forum, first-person stories and interviews, conferences and news coverage, and library resources.

SEX ETC: Who better to understand high school sex politics than the peers who are living and experiencing it themselves.  The blog, magazine, and stories on this site are written by and for teens and young adults across North America.  It provides different media to engage with sexual health info, such as videos about safe sex, forums where teens can participate and moderate discussions with other teens, a 400 words sex glossary, a state-by-state reference to info on birth control, health care access and your rights to sex education in “Sex in the States” guide, and a range of surveys and guides to sex ed activism.

Scarleteen:  A progressive sex-ed site written for teens who are female, male, genderqueer; gay, straight or somewhere in between.  It provides over 200 articles about sex, health, and relationships, covering everything from STIs to sexual orientation, body image, self-esteem, to birth control, masturbation, misogyny, sexual abuse, and technical advice from French kissing to BDSM.  The site also provides interactive question-answer-discuss services, including their new live help feature providing safe, anonymous live chats with Scarleteen’s staff and volunteers.

SEX-ED LOOP:  Another great resource for teens, based in Chicago, that gives up to date information on sexual health, rights, and identity through a range of social media channels including a weekly text messaging service and clinic finder that will identify health care services throughout Chicago.  Also provides helpful articles about gender identity and sexual orientation.

HIV InSite: A non-commercial, well-established source developed by the Center for HIV Information at the University of California San Francisco.  The site offers an extensive collection of original material including a complete textbook about the clinical management of HIV/AIDS.  It is also a great resource for global HIV/AIDS research, statistics, and policy analysis.

Our Bodies Ourselves: A global non-profit that promotes evidence-based information on girls’ and women’s health.  The information provided on the site is vast and includes excerpts from their famous book on reproductive health, as well as first-person blog stories that range from topics like body image, nutrition, menstruation, pregnancy and much more.

Well, that’s a handful of some of our favorite safer sex resources from sound sexual health organizations. Do you have any resources to share?  Please let us know in the comments below!

Watch Your Mouth! Protecting yourself during oral sex

oral sex protection tipsWe’ve received requests for more info about condoms that are made specifically for oral sex, as well as other safer oral sex methods.  Indeed, the know-how in this area is not as wide known as it should be.  People are less likely to protect themselves during oral sex…even among those cautious sexers who use condoms consistently.  Perhaps this is because some do not consider oral sex to be “real sex” and thus think it’s less risky.  But the fact is that oral sex is sex (some prefer it to genital sex) and many diseases and infections you can catch or transmit through intercourse you can also get through oral sex, regardless of whether you swallow or not.  As one of our readers pointed out, HPV (the most common STI in the USA today) is often transmitted during oral sex (these are some good sources for more info on HPV: HPV AwakeningScarleteen, SEX,etc.).  So in this post we go through safer oral sex practices and how to find the right method for yourself.

To reduce the risk of STIs, you can use latex or non-latex barriers.  For fellatio (oral sex with penis) use a condom.  For cunnilingus and analingus use dental dams, latex or nitrile gloves, or plastic wrap (but remember, not the microwaveable wrap!).

Fellatio and Condoms Options

A condom for safe oral sex can be perfectly satisfying should the right condom be used according to your tastes and needs.  First of all, do not use condoms or lubricants made with spermicide, such as nonoxynol-9 which can numb your tongue.  And do not use any condoms designed to “extend” male performance, such as Trojan’s Extended Pleasure, as these are made with not-so-tasty benzocaine that will leave an unpleasant sensation in your mouth.  Choose condoms that are water-based (most condoms are) or choose a non-lubricated condom.

For those who do not like the taste of latex or have a latex allergy, there are many non-latex options on the market made of polyisoprene or polyurethane (lambskin does not protect against STIs so do not use them for oral sex!).  These non-latex condoms are virtually odorless and tasteless.  However, most non-latex are difficult to buy in stores or pharmacies; but online stocks are varied and plenty.

Flavored condoms or lubricants are also a good option.  You can buy multipacks to determine your favorite flavor and there are usually small sample packs of lube available at sex-shops.  But be sure to use a lubricant that is compatible with the condom material- oil-based lubes cannot be used with latex or polyisoprene.  There are also flavored gel strips, like Masque, which simply dissolves on your tongue like a candy and the flavor lasts for up to 15 minutes.

Dental Dames and Barriers

If you are giving or receiving oral sex from mouth to vulva (outside of vagina) or mouth to anus there are various barrier methods to protect from STIs: Dental dams or making your own barrier from condoms, gloves, or plastic wrap.

A dental dam is a thin rectangle-shaped sheet used for cunnilingus or analingus to protect against sexually transmitted infections during oral sex.  Like condoms, dental dams are typically made with latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene.  There are flavored dams, colored dams, dams that you hold in place, and non-slip no-hold dams. Unfortunately, dental dams are not as readily accessible in pharmacies and retail stores.  This is part of an all too common and dangerous oversight in safe sex inventory.  Often female safe sex products or non-penetrative sex products are placed secondary to condoms and are not as easily accessible.  This is another advantage to shopping online.  Sexual health clinics, such as Planned Parenthood also supply dental dams.

If you and/or your partner are concerned that oral sex will not feel as amazing with a protective barrier, take some advise from Heather Corinna at Scarleteen.com, and put a few drops (not too many!) of lubricant on the genitals of the receiver before putting on the barrier.  This will keep the material from sticking and will increase sensitivity and sensation immensely.

Check out this pamphlet for more information about STIs and diseases that the dental dam protects against.

If you find dental dams too tricky to get a hold of or not the right material/shape for you, you should try making a barrier just for you or your partner using a condom or glove.

These are some excellent sources for step-by-step instructions on how to make a dental dam from condoms or gloves: YouShouldKnow.caSTD.about.com, PAMF.org.

Hopefully this information will help you receive and perform safer oral sex. If you have any further questions or even some extra tips / experiences to share then please leave a comment below.