Robin Thicke, No Means No

I'll be honest, when Blurred Lines came out, I dug it. I hummed. I danced. I liked it until I actually listened to the lyrics. Project Unbreakable features photos of sexual assault survivors holding posters with quotes from their attackers. Comparing their words to lyrics from Blurred Lines is unnerving, to say the least. The Society Pages goes more in depth, but that's not what this post is about. Let's just say it's been shown that Mr. Thicke has difficulty understanding that no means no.

Thicke's new music video was released this week, for the song Get Her Back, about his estranged ex-wife. The song is from the album he wrote about her, fittingly titled Paula, which will be released on July 1st. Apparently, he's pretty damn determined to get her back. 

I'm all for romance. And usually, I'm all for second chances. But when someone says no, they mean no. This video takes that line and crosses it by about thirty feet, featuring a nude-ish model resembling Patton, weird drowning scenes, completely unnecessary and scary blood, and desperate texts. 

The text messages are supposedly between Patton and Thicke. Hopefully, she approved them. More likely, he's using them, real or not, to tell the side of the story he's created.  He seems to believe that he's entitled to a reunion if he tries hard enough, if he earns his girl back. Here's the thing; nobody, ever, is entitled to someone else. You cannot pressure someone or publicly shame them into a relationship. 

Either way, watch the video. Apparently, Thicke drank too much, embarrassed his wife with his infidelity, and got dumped. And he's taking that as an invitation to try harder. Throughout the video, he appears bloody and beaten, the Paula-woman nearly drowns, and he holds his fingers like a gun against his head (threatening suicide is a common signal of an abuser). He and the naked woman rub against each other (not the best way to apologize for cheating). He says he's gotta "cherish her for life", which is probably something he should've figured out when he got married, not after the divorce. The video ends with him swearing, "This is just the beginning." Clearly, he's not going to take no for an answer or respect anything she's saying. That's not romantic. That's terrifying.

Get Her Back isn't the first song to play this stalker-lover angle. Remember Hey There, Delilah? The lead singer was smitten by a girl who rejected him. Hell, even Taylor Swift got a little weird when she insisted her crush (who was taken) belonged to her and watched him through his bedroom window. 

I think what makes Get Her Back so specifically creepy is that it's directly targeting Thicke's ex-wife. The idea that seduction is abuse and vice versa is a very troubling one. His narrative is backed up by horrifying real world statistics about stalking and domestic abuse, which gives it too much seriousness to be ignored. No means no.

Beach Day

I'm leaving for the beach in a little bit. Here, in my absence, enjoy a quick guide I found useful in determining my beachwear for today.

OK Glass, Let's Get it On

Alright, so technically, the command is "OK Glass, it's time", but that would've made for a rather vague title, don't you think? The soon to be launched app Glance for Google Glass is meant to be used during sex. (The link also works if you just try to go to Classy, right?)

Google has a pretty strong anti-porn, anti-nudity, and anti-profanity stance regarding Glass. The safe-search controls are a lot stricter, and if you try to curse, it cleans it up with little asterisks. That's not unheard of with dictation features, but with Glass, there's no way to turn off the censor. So, understandably, porn isn't too welcome. Because sometimes there's nudity. And profanity.

"What the f*** are you doing, Glass?"
Even though you can't watch porn with Google Glass, with the app Glance, the point is to create your own porn. Yeah, sorry, it doesn't provide sex for you. You and your partner both wear Google Glass while getting it on, and record each other, and it'll stream to you what your partner sees, so you can see yourself having sex. Honestly, I can't imagine that would be sexy, it'd probably just make me feel self conscious. Suck in my tummy a bit. Critique my O face. Maybe that's just me. Anyone else? Back me up here, guys.

With and without Google Glass. (credit here)

James Deen imagined what this all might look like, and the (hilarious) video is here. It's technically nsfw, but there's no real nudity. All thanks to adult app company MiKandi.

I took a screenshot for you. It reminds me of a Skype call. 
Google Glass is super helpful, so if you don't know what to do during sexy time, just say, "OK Glass, give me ideas". You can sync it to suggest positions from the Karma Sutra, or to adjust lighting and music. You can choose to save your recording after you watch it, otherwise, it disappears after five hours. Supposedly. Unless you save it yourself. Or it gets into the cloud somehow.

What worries me is the control that Google would, or wouldn't have, over video shot with Google Glass. What if someone chooses to save and share a video shot with Glance? Does Google get any say in how its company or products are being represented or used? Remember when a man used the "Playroom" feature on his PlayStation 4 to live-stream his drunk wife as he stripped her?

The app is available for iPhone for free right now, and soon to be launched for Glass. I downloaded it for my phone (blog research, I swear), and it's pretty useless. I can't sync with anyone (that's the app's problem, not mine), so the only thing I can do is record two separate videos and watch them side by side. Which is, ok? I guess? Kinda pointless? Ok, really pointless?

Once it actually comes out, if you do try it with Google Glass and a lover, when you're done, all you have to say is "OK Glass, pull out." Stay classy, Glass. 

Comic Books and Power Fantasies

This weekend, I went to New York Comic Fest. Comic fests are a blast; there's so much to see, so many people to meet, and so, so many comics. I'm a Harley Quinn fan, myself, I think she's hilarious. Apparently, so do a lot of other people. After seeing half a dozen interpretations of Harley cosplay, I've come to an important conclusion: There's not a lot of costume left to cosplay.

This is her costume in the New 52. Hardly practical for fighting, er, causing crime, eh?
Harley isn't the only sexualized woman in a comic book.  Starfire's costume reboot is even more revealing. Catwoman's boobs absolutely defy gravity. The women are generally unnatural and heavily objectified.

But what about the men?

11.. 12... 13... Sorry, I lost track of how many bulging muscles are in this picture.
Batman is a hunk of man. A rippling, muscled, delicious man hunk. But I'm not offended by it. "But Reagan," you say, "Why? While we're horrified by the unrealistic standards of female beauty set by Barbie's 1:4 waist to hip ratio, shouldn't we also be concerned with what boys are idealizing?" And I'll tell you yes, but I think it's important to look at who dreamt up the ideal. 

The heavily muscled man is an example of a power fantasy, not a sexual one. Say you had a bad day at work, or a broken heart, or literally any situation that makes you feel helpless. Who hasn't fantasized about suddenly being strong enough and hey, terrifying enough to hurt the bad people and right all the wrongs in your life? Heck, even when Calvin fantasizes about his spaceship, it's a power fantasy. Now look at Batman. Powerful, strong, intimidating. Some people have described the entire superhero genre as an "adolescent male power fantasy". Batman isn't someone's wet dream, he's what they wish they could be, what they would be with power. 

Shortpacked is brilliantly relevant and sums this up nicely. 
So, while Harley may be an oversexed erotic fantasy, Batman isn't quite objectified in the same way. Now I've got a stack of comics waiting to be read, so, until next time!

But first, I'm just gonna objectify this a little. Just a little. Mmm. (credit)

Somaly Mam: Saint and Sinner

In my high school (a very ethical and globally informed place), we watched part of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a documentary based on a movement that seeks to put an end to the oppression of women and girls. The clip above is about Somaly Mam and the Somaly Mam Foundation in Cambodia.

Somaly Mam is a Cambodian author and human rights activist, focusing on sex-trafficking. She's received many awards and honors, including carrying the Olympic flag at the 2006 Olympics in Italy, the U.S. State Department's "Heroes of Anti-Trafficking" award, and being named one of TIME's 100 most influential people in 2009 and one of The Guardian's top 100 women in 2011.

Somaly works with young girls who have been sex slaves in Cambodia. As she partially explains in the clip, doesn't know her real name or age. She was abused by her grandfather until she was approximately 14, sold to a brothel, forced into prostitution, and forced to marry a stranger. Her story isn't that different from the girls she works with; at 5:14 in the video, we hear the girls in the foundation singing songs that about their lives in the brothels. At 7:55, we meet a girl, Long Pross, who had her eye gouged out by a brothel owner. All of these girls have found comfort with Somaly and the foundation, many having been rejected from their families.

Except it's not true. Newsweek released an article at the end of last month about Somaly Mam, accusing the stories of being fabricated. Pross never had her eye gouged out, rather, medical records show the removal of a malignant tumor. She was one of many girls who had auditioned and rehearsed her story under Mam's instruction. Mam's own story is fake as well. Newsweek revealed that she lived with her family, graduated from high school, was well-liked and never abused or forced into prostitution. Everything seems to be a well crafted lie for attention and sympathy, a distorted interpretation of the actual problem. (Mam claimed girls as young as 3 are being held in brothers during an interview in 2012, but experts in the field say that's unheard of. Prepubescent girls are rarely kept in brothels, though there is a steady supply of 14-17 year olds.)

Some people aren't surprised. After all, Mam's details haven't all lined up. She made false claims in front of the UN, reinvented her facts in different interviews, and changed her story every time she told it. But some people refuse to believe the exposé, still believing Mam and her mission to be holy. Regardless, she resigned as president of her foundation.

I don't think it matters if she's holy or not, or even truthful or not. It's not about her. It's about her mission. She was exposed, she resigned. Her story is over. Whether or not her story was fake, her work has helped to draw attention to and build a foundation that has served thousands of women and girls. The foundation has affected over 100,000 girls, treated nearly 6,000 individuals at a free medical clinic in Phnom Penh’s red light district and engaged nearly 6,400 students in anti-trafficking activism.

There are nearly 21 million individuals who are still enslaved today, and their stories are real. Her eponymous foundation released a statement about her resignation, and reaffirms their mission:

"We don't expect this transition to be simple, but we ask that you stand with us in the face of these serious challenges and help us to honor all victims and survivors, and the millions of women and girls who are enslaved across the globe."

Somaly's lies aren't important. The mission still is. You can get involved with her foundation here, and with the Half the Sky Movement here.

Porn Educated (How Lesbians Have Sex)

Quick question. Did you take a sex education course? Healthy living? A talk with your parents? Whatever it was, did they talk to you about tribbing?  Strap-ons and dildos? Dental dams?

Sex ed doesn't spend much time teaching us about lesbian sex. After all, there's no risk of pregnancy, and without penetration, there's a lower risk of exchanging bodily fluids, so the risk of STIs is lower. Cracked (my favorite humor website, weirdly enough) did a surprisingly informative article about problems gay people encounter, including a lack of knowledge and education. Because they don't think they're at risk, lesbians are 10 times less likely to get routine Pap tests, but most people, including gold-star lesbians, will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives, which can lead to cervical cancer.

Orange is the New Black just started its second season (I'M SO EXCITED). For those of you that don't watch it (what's wrong with you?), a lot of the series explores the lives of lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered women in prison. So we're finally starting to talk about how lesbians have sex. Except it's not totally accurate.

My mom watched this scene over my shoulder. 
The Nerve phrases this beautifully, addressing "the misconception that all [lesbians] do is go down on each other like diving for pearls is the only activity in the lesbian sea." Seriously, I love the show, but the sex usually focuses on oral. And when we aren't taught by educators or parents, porn fills the gap. We're porn educated. Porn actor and director Jackie Strano explains, “girl-on-girl scenes focusing on oral sex are popular in mainstream porn so viewers can see more vulvas for their money.”

Nobody spoil Season 2 for me, ok?
Cunnilingus is comfortable for us. After all, it's not exclusively a lesbian act (thank god). Viewers can wrap their heads around it. We understand it. We like it. When lesbians have sex in the media or porn, that's usually what's depicted. But we need to step beyond that.

Though not with a partner, I was super pleased that OITNB (briefly) addressed penetration, in Big Boo's (portrayed by Lea DeLaria, first openly gay comic on a late-night talk-show) masturbation scene with a screwdriver, because a lot of people, even gold-star lesbians, do like penetration, regardless of how they feel about dick. The two aren't always connected.

I made a gif for you because the Internet was lacking.
And if you didn't know, tribbing (sometimes just called scissoring) is vulva-to-vulva contact, and can be done in a variety of positions, like missionary or doggy-style. The specific "scissor" position is debated, mostly because it's not accurate (also I bet people accidentally kick their partner in the face). Tribadism still has the potential to transmit STIs like HPV, pubic lice, and herpes. Though using protection isn't common (again, studies suggest it's because lesbian women feel less at risk than heterosexuals), dental dams, or condoms cut in half, can help women practice safer sex.

South Park made the term "scissoring" popular. 
Porn is not a great teacher. Gay sex comes with risks, just like everything else. Sex, for anyone, doesn't depend on a position or a tool. Remy Merritt, an author for The Daily Californian, sums it up nicely ,"It’s all about desire and what you’re attracted to, be it traditional or kinky, quiet or loud, gentle or rough. Once you find that mutual attraction with someone, that spark that everyone is searching for, the possibilities are endless for heteros, homos and everyone in between."

Equality at its Finest - Imgur

Earlier this week, this gif made it on the front page of Imgur, with the title "Equality at it's [sic] finest" and nearly 5,000 upvotes. But this is not equality. Equality does not mean we all get to hit each other.

This year, a survey found that 65% of women in the US had been victims of street harassment. Among all women, 23% had been sexually touched and 9% had been forced to do something sexual. A guest blogger for Jezebel recounted her encounter with harassment on the Metro. Unfortunately, this problem isn't new for women.

In an effort to increase public safety, some cities in Egypt, Japan, and India even have women-only sections. This gif comes from a video about equality in India. India, where in 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was brutally raped and beaten after she got on a public bus. About two-thirds of Indian women say they have experienced sexual harassment on public transportation, most of which are not officially reported. Not something to be taken lightly.

Let's watch the actual video. The gif leaves a lot of it out. So the boy runs to get on the bus. No empty seats. He squeezes behind the girl to stand behind her. She looks uncomfortable, but nothing has happened. No big deal yet.

At about 1:10, they both stumble. He uses his free arm to grab a bar on the other side of her, so he has her trapped up against him. His hips are completely pressed against hers. He steadies himself. She looks uncomfortable. At this point, he should've just apologized. It was an accident, no harm done. He could've moved to the other side of the bus, leaving her and her friend alone. But instead, he just stares at her and readjusts his bag. Super rude. 

At 1:24, it happens again. He falls into her,  against pressing his crotch against her butt. This time, she turns to face him. Still, he doesn't apologize. He glares at her. She slaps him. Nobody says sorry. Nobody says excuse me. She looks horrified and scared, but doesn't apologize either. Not the best move. 

He watches her, glaring, cradling his cheek, and decides to punish her. Purposefully, he moves in front of her (why didn't he stand in front of her in the beginning? or at least after the first incident?) At 2:22, again they stumble, her shoulder bumps into his, and he immediately turns and whacks her across the face. He then switches between glaring at her and out the window for the next 30 seconds before getting off the bus. 

Equality does not mean you get to hit each other.  Equality would've been him respecting her enough to say "I'm sorry" after bumping into her the first time, instead of taking the opportunity to grind his junk into hers. Equality would be when all people feel comfortable on a bus. Instead, he clearly made her uncomfortable and then set her up so he could get revenge.  This is in no way equal. 

The YouTube description says, "An very innocent Boy like us..;) got a slaped from the girl with a full of attitude. and she thinks that she's the only last beauty on the world. but boys dont thinking so. so boy payback with their 4finger & 1 thumb to a girls lovely face.." Does this sound at all like a man who felt uncomfortable and harassed, like she was? Does this sound equal? Or does this sound like a man trying to punish a woman for having "attitude"? Paying her back for acting stuck up? Giving a woman "what she deserved"? If this was really about equality, why would it matter in the least if she was attractive or not? Men do not have the right to a woman's body. Nobody has the right to hit each other. This is not equality. 


Spit or Swallow (Followup)

I got a lot of feedback on my post yesterday, which is awesome, I love hearing what you think. But I realized that throwing in research about the benefits of semen could've been a little confusing, and I wanted to clarify what I was trying to say.

Our culture puts a lot of pressure on the idea that people should be going down on men, for whatever reason. In these articles, instead of just presenting information (even though their information is true!), they cast it in a way that suggests women should should be doing just that. Neither article suggests that men drink their own semen, both assume that women (or gay men, as HerCampus acknowledged) swallow during a blow job. 

HerCampus writes, "It’s no secret that many men enjoy oral sex, but what about their female sex partners? There are a number of opinions regarding this topic in the female community, ranging from if we should plug our noses, close our eyes, and swallow the cum back like a tequila shot, or ignore the courtesies and spit it out," and goes on to argue that swallowing has more benefits.

And that's fine! If you're informed about your partner, go ahead. But you don't have to, and that's my point. It's not ever required, and you shouldn't have to feel expected or pressured to. I think sex is a good thing, and I think safe sex is a great thing.

Be informed, know the risks, and make your own choices. When I say "safe", I mean "informed". If you know you and your partner are clean, obviously, this isn't something you need to worry about. Know your partner. Get tested. Throat cancer isn't going to spring up out of the blue. If you're having sex with multiple partners, know what steps you can take to protect yourself, and if you choose to not use protection, know how you can get yourself tested if you suspect you caught something.

As always, be safe. Have fun.

P.S. Fun DIY project, because it's not fair that I'm neglecting cunnilingus. You can cut open a condom to make your own dental dam! Or use plastic wrap, as long as it's not the kind meant for steaming (that can have little holes). 

Seriously though, this looks pretty gross. Someone try it and tell me what it tastes like.

Spit or Swallow

tumblr fuels most of my rants

This came up on my dashboard the other day, so like always, I wanted to tear it apart on my blog. Flavored condoms are not just to smell nice (although they do). Flavored condoms are meant to make oral more enjoyable, but not everyone uses them that way. 

  • Young people (aged 15-24) acquire half of all new STDs*
  • 1 in 4 sexually active adolescent females have an STD

Here's the thing, while oral can't really get you pregnant, it's not the safest thing you can do either. Oral sex isn't safe sex. HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, and viral hepatitis can all be passed on through oral. 

  • Most people with herpes don't know they have it, and can be infectious without showing symptoms.
  • HPV can lead to cancer, which is why oral sex is linked to throat cancer. (For perspective, about half of sexually active people will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives)

I'm not just going to lecture about STDs. Seriously, they gross me out. But what I hate is a culture that ignores the risks of oral sex. I hate the normalcy of risky behavior. Most importantly, I hate how often I hear, "spit or swallow?"

Spit or swallow implies right away that there's no barrier protection. Here's an article in Cosmopolitan, a guide to oral sex, that tells girls they only have those two options, with no mention of anything else. The Gloss interviewed women about their preferences, and not one talked about an alternative. Thought Catalog writes that spitting just isn't an option, it's all about swallowing.

Huffington Post suggests that semen helps weight loss and fights depression. HerCampus writes that the nutrients in semen make it a panacea. Our culture is soaked in the idea that women should be going down on men.

If you tell me this ad doesn't remind you of a cumshot, you're lying.
When we live in a culture that tells people to swallow, we make it uncomfortable to break that expectation. We make it weird. We make it awkward to protect yourself. Maybe I'm paranoid. But there are shortcomings in sex ed, common sexual attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge, and we need to fill the gap. Suck as many dicks as you want. Have fun. But know the risks, and be safe.

honestly never thought I'd use a simpsons gif in a post about oral

P.S. I know I focused on fellatio here, but I promise, I've got a post coming up about going down on lady-folk. I'll leave you with Michael Douglas, the actor who got oral cancer through cunnilingus. Hopefully that'll suffice for now.

*Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)