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Momentum 2010: social media, sexuality, and feminism

July 27th, 2010 · 1 Comment


This looks like an interesting event, similar to Sex 2.0 (or perhaps it actually is the evolution of the Sex 2.0 unconference?)

Welcome to the first annual MOMENTUM Conference taking place on April 1 to April 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.

The phenomenal growth of online communication has given rise to an amazing amount of sharing, learning and experimenting with different expressions of sexuality, relationships and feminism. MOMENTUM provides a safe place to listen, discuss and learn about the ways the web has impacted our sexuality without the fear of reprisal or shaming. It is a space for acceptance and appreciation of diversity, including for those in the LGBTQ, sex-work, BDSM and non-monogamous communities.

During MOMENTUM we will discuss ways to bridge the baffling dichotomies our culture creates around sexuality. While on one hand we have unprecedented sexual freedom, on the other we continue to police sexuality with a frightening vigor. Abortion laws, restrictions on gay marriage, abstinence programs, medicalization of sex, fear of pornography and prosecutions for teenage sexting are examples of one side of the spectrum. The discomfort that strives to make us keep our sexuality hidden conflicts with the use of sex — especially the female body — to sell everything from food to cars to “performance enhancing” products.

I’m tempted to apply to give my “how to have great cybersex” presentation, if for no other reason than to provide some comic relief.

→ 1 CommentTags: events

I gotcher sex toy discount code right here

July 9th, 2010 · Comments Off

I noticed that polyamory author Jenny Block is gettin’ all coupony with Good Vibrations, so I negotiated a discount code for my readers too — at EstaNoche.com though, because that’s MY client. I’ve written everything in the Community section so far, and I’ve even filled in on the blog while our star blogger Elvira is galvanting around Europe. Oh and I wrote the Test Your Sex Toy IQ educational quiz, too.

DISCOUNT/COUPON CODE: SexRev2.0

It’s good for 10 percent off one order and you can only use it once, so don’t waste it on something cheap.

EstaNoche’s selection is smaller than some stores but it’s because they’re focusing on all the best stuff (yes, I consulted a bit on that too; you’re welcome) and of course they only launched a month or so ago so the catalog is still growing. But they’ve got OhMiBod, nJoy, Aneros, Tenga, Fleshlight, Sqweel, Red Hot Touch videos and books, Tristan Taormino’s videos and books, and these really pretty stick-on body bling things from Bijoux Indescrets that I bought but have yet to try on.

Sparkly stick-on boobie bling

I’m having a great time writing for them — in Spanglish, no less, as we are being playful with the language. I’m picking up muchas palabras I did not learn in la escuela (lo siento, señor Contreras, y no es necesario afilar mi lápiz o ir al baño.) I’m ex-Hispanic by marriage and I now regret that I was too shy to talk dirty in Spanish to mi esposo.

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Do you set or update your relationship status?

July 8th, 2010 · Comments Off

I’ve never set my relationship status on Facebook or any other social media. As you have noticed, I am an extremely private person, never willing to share any details about my romantic life, reluctant to open myself up to other people’s commentary about — okay, okay, you caught me. Yes, I am a private person about many things. Sex isn’t one of them.

But setting my relationship status will only complicate, not clarify. I’d rather people talk to me. Otherwise they might make assumptions about my interests, availability, or partner(s) based on their own interpretations of the multiple choice options.

Kelli Lawless has a thoughtful article on her Dating and Mating in America blog about What It Means when you do, or don’t, publish your relationship status in social media.

Will you change your relationship status?
For those who live and breathe social media, this little click of a button signifies a one-line piece of big news. But for people who are skeptical of the value of sharing their life with a world of partial strangers, changing that status can be a make it or break it moment in every relationship.

The real problems arise when you are dating someone who feels differently than you do about shouting out to the world that you are in a relationship. If you’re a little in doubt as to where your boyfriend or girlfriend falls on the “status change” issue, here are some tips on how to spot and communicate with the 4 most common types of social media attitudes.

Are you transparent? Cautious? Burned? Not gonna do it? Let her know in the comments.

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Male deep-water squid solves relationship problem with ’strongly elongated penis’

July 8th, 2010 · Comments Off

I suppose this isn’t on-topic as it is sex science related to animals, not people. Also, it’s sad — if I am reading it correctly, the discovery process involved vivisection. But it’s worth reading, just to be able to quote a scientist every time a problem crops up in the future.

Super squid sex organ discovered
The mating habits of deep-sea squid have been revealed for the first time, after the discovery of a male squid with a huge elongated and erect penis.

The male squid’s sexual organ is almost as long as its whole body, including the squid’s mantle, head and arms.

That shows how male deep-sea squid inseminate females; they use their huge penis to shoot out packages of sperm, injecting them into the female’s body.

The discovery may also help explain how giant squid mate in the ocean depths.

[snip]

“Obviously a strongly elongated penis is the solution,” says Dr [Alexander] Arkhipkin.

Isn’t it always?

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Psssst … want to buy a domain? Sex.com is up for auction

July 6th, 2010 · Comments Off

The sex.com domain is for sale again, along with two trademark registrations, reports CNET blogger Lance Whitney.

But before you whip out that credit card, you might want to consider the history of the domain. First it was stolen from Match.com founder Gary Kremen by con man Stephen Cohen. Cohen exploited the domain for millions of dollars before the court system finally decided that domain names could be worth something. But by the time Kremen won a lawsuit against Cohen, the thief and the money had already left the country.

Now the domain is for sale because the current owners — who paid “an estimated” 14 million dollars for it in 2006 — have gone bankrupt.

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Is there more sex online or in your head?

June 23rd, 2010 · Comments Off

Apparently 37 percent of the Web is porn. I don’t know if they mean pornography literally or if they included all sex-related content – I will have to do some digging to find out.

According to the report, which looked at a representative sample of around four million extracted URLs, adult content on the Internet increased by 17 per cent in the first quarter of 2010, as compared to the same period in 2009. Web sites related to the online role-playing games RPGs, such as World of Warcraft; Final Fantasy and Grand Theft Auto 4, have grown by more than 212 per cent in the first three months of 2010. Web sites that contain violence have grown by 10.8 per cent, terrorism content by 8.5 per cent, and illegal drugs purchase by 6.8 per cent, and are continuing to grow, according to to the study, although it failed to define what it means by these terms.

via Over a third of the Internet is pornographic | THINQ.co.uk.

In discussing this report with a friend, he mused “I wonder if that corresponds to real life. If we spend 37% of our meatspace thinking/doing/fantasizing” about sex.

What do you think? Do you?

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iPad to revive porn economy?

June 21st, 2010 · Comments Off

Interesting post over at Gigaom about the opportunity for porn companies to take advantage of Apple’s use of HTML5 instead of Flash for its mobile devices. And, to complete the “which came first, the porn or the tech” cycle of engineering, how porn’s adoption of HTML5 will push HTML5 into the forefront of multimedia authoring and delivery.


Why Porn and the iPad Are Key for HTML5
The emergence of HTML5 is largely being spurred by the iPad and its big, high-resolution screen, which offers a far more immersive (read: porn-friendly) experience than any handset can deliver. So adult sites are moving quickly to re-encode their video content for the new, video-friendly device.
[snip]
Mobile porn has never found much of a market here in the U.S. thanks to carrier prohibitions and handsets that make for poor platforms to view it. The rise of the iPad will change that, though, providing an easy way for users to access adult content online wherever they are. And there’s no question that demand for online porn is immense: the worldwide adult web industry has an estimated value of $37.2 billion. The rise of the iPad will only fuel that fire.

I don’t know where that figure of $37.2 billion comes from, and my sources within “the industry” say that numbers like that are usually exaggerated. But it’s only fitting to let porn in through the back door, considering Apple’s reluctance to carry adult-oriented applications and content openly, not to mention its inability to define its “adult” standards with any sort of consistency.

According to Gigaom, porn studio Pink Visual is already on board with HTML5, and DIY porn exchange YouPorn is encoding everything for the new standard. Gay site RocketTube was well ahead of the game, ready with its shiny new HTML5 video before the iPad even launched. All this despite known security issues with HTML5.

I guess we’ll find out what’s more important to consumers, content security or easy access to porn. I know which way I’d bet.

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Facebook Freudian Send: Why is the Search so close to the Status?

June 16th, 2010 · 2 Comments

If you have ever obsessed about a flame, an ex-flame, or an ex-flame’s new flame, then you have probably noticed how close the Facebook people search box is to the status update box.

Have you ever accidentally typed your obsession’s name into the status box and published it? What happened next?

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Cool New Research on Vibrator Use

June 16th, 2010 · 1 Comment

I’m sure that “people use vibrators!” isn’t news to you, but here are some honest-to-goodness statistics with which to wow your skeptical friends and to help a shy partner open their hearts to toys.

New Research on Vibrator Use.

…researchers Michael Reece and Debra Herbenick along with colleagues from Indiana University (and one self-interested researcher from Trojan) recently published two studies on vibrator use in the Journal of Sexual Medicine and they represent a quantum leap in research quality and methodology. The studies involved just over 2,000 women and 1,000 men, all U.S. adults, and were conducted online, using a nationally representative sample from the company Knowledge Networks.

The most surprising and significant finding in my mind is the number of people who use vibrators. 52% of women and 45% of men report having ever used a vibrator.

Cory quotes several of the results, such as that the majority of women report no negative side effects, that the majority of males used vibrators with a partner, and that vibrator use corresponds with higher levels of sexual confidence and health.

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Chatroulette considers penis-recognition software

June 14th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Russian-based adult chat site Chatroulette says it may implement penis-recognition software to filter out unsolicited cock pics for the rest of its users.

Chatroulette Enlists Shawn Fanning In The Fight Against The Masturbators
Can Chatroulette become something more? Look for feature changes soon that will try to send all those penises to the background. The service may add software that can quickly scan video to determine if a penis is being shown. And users that are consistently quickly skipped over (presumably because they are exposing themselves or otherwise being disgusting) can be flagged as well. With those and other changes Chatroulette may be able to put people who actually want to talk to each other in touch much more often.

You know what’s encouraging about this story? No, not the software, although I can think of a number of cool uses for that kind of app. It’s that people still try out new places to talk sexy to each other on the internet.

And you know me, I don’t freak out about penis photos. It’s not the penises themselves that bug me, it’s the rudeness of impinging upon other people’s experience, whether through deliberation or cluelessness. I don’t care if you’re flooding the service with pictures of cocks or kittens — it’s simply not polite to impose.

→ 1 CommentTags: software

PinpointsX and PPX-to-Go: All sex aside, the activity planning is cool

June 10th, 2010 · 6 Comments

I interviewed Ronen Gabbay one rainy morning about his mobile application PPX-to-Go, which finds you a sexually compatible person, a convenient getting-to-know-you activity, and a list of potential venues to do it in — and then plots it all on a map so you can spend more time on the activities than on the logistics. (The press release describes this as “dynamic positioning” functionality. Heh.)

I signed up for the free trial period at PinpointsX, installed PPX-to-Go on my Droid, and found that it works as described. All the users who met my picky criteria showed up on the map, along with bars, restaurants, theaters, adult stores, and other venues. Users who did not meet my criteria did not appear.

The criteria you can set is extensive enough to be comical, including not just hair and eye color and weight, but also physical endowment.

I found several users within an hour’s drive of my home. Now, I don’t even live in a town any more. After 20 years in San Francisco and Los Angeles, my new home is in a “Census Designated Place” with a population of 1400. “Going into town” means driving 10 miles to the whopping metropolis of 11,000 people. (Er, for those who didn’t know, after retiring from Wired, I moved to the mountains of northern California for a sabbatical…and stayed.)

Imagine how many icons would be on my prospecting map if I were in a hip city like New York, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, or Austin.

Ronen’s goal is to “close the triangle” and give users one place to handle all aspects of the pursuit of sexual happiness: Find and chat with a compatible lover or performer, make restaurant reservations, find live music or a strip club or other entertainment, make hotel reservations, buy a plane ticket, get directions from place to place. All communication is encrypted and private so your phone number and other information is not exposed.

Ronen is targeting most of his marketing campaign toward women, knowing that if he can get the girls to sign up, the boys will come. “Our research showed that women have three main reasons for using adult social media,” he says. “One is to be empowered to choose partners based on what she wants, not just on who happened to show up at a bar that night. Another is to add spice to her life. Maybe she even has a husband, kids, a career, but she wants to feel that thrill of something outside of all that, the thrill of fantasy. Another is opportunity — find someone you like and just go for it.”

But he is also firm about embracing the power of “and.” He believes the application provides a good screening mechanism along with the convenience of being able to set the stage for our fantasies, no matter what our gender, sex, orientation, kinks, desires, or hopes might be. “We tried to cover everything. We have 50 different icons.” (The icons represent who users are and what they are looking for.)

But he also knows that not everyone is going to find a compatible lover just like that. “You can enable the ability [in your profile/criteria] to view professionals on the map, like if you want to go get a lap dance, or a Chippendales show, a swinger club,” says he. “No one goes home unsatisfied.”

I see PPX as a good fit for those who require an additional layer of discretion in their search for sex. It’s a natural partner for Ashley Madison (an online dating site for married people seeking extramarital lovers) or Alt.com (a dating site for kinky people) or escorts and other professionals. It’s great for those impromptu urges when traveling away from home, especially if you just want to pop out to an erotic club.

The PPX app is free, but the matching service ranges from $10 to $24 per month, depending on the length of service.

Will women pay $120 for a year in advance just to streamline their casual sex encounters? Maybe not. But there were a couple of years in my life where the all-in-one, location-aware adventure planning would have been worth the price of admission, whether I intended it for sexual purposes or just a night out.

“We want to be classy,” says Ronen. “This is a community of people who want to spice up their lives. It’s not pornographic. Every person can find a person who can help fulfill their fantasies.”

→ 6 CommentsTags: general

Playing with the g-spot

June 2nd, 2010 · Comments Off

One of the fun things I’ve been doing lately is joining four sex educators — Jamye Waxman, Tristan Taormino, Deborah Sundahl, and Megan Andelloux — in talking about g-spots with Je Joue. While not technically “tech,” it is science. And you know me, always willing to make sacrifices for science. *dramatically brings hand to forehead*


Je Joue’s G-Spot Resource
The resource has all five of us answering a bunch of questions about g-spots such as how to find it and what to do when you get there, along with a list of stores that are participating in the “the g-spot does exist!” campaign.

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I wish I could talk sex in multiple languages

May 25th, 2010 · 2 Comments

My sympathy goes out to French first lady Carla Bruni, whose 1996 appearance on a talk show has come back to haunt her via YouTube. Yes, that’s right — she had a fun time on television 14 years ago, joking about hooking up in different countries and reading pick-up lines in multiple languages.

How that moment has any bearing on her current abilities, I don’t know. She’s a singer-songwriter and former model, for chrissakes; I’m sure she didn’t expect to marry the president of France.

What were you doing 14 years ago? Are you the same now? I know I’m not. Nor am I capable of living my life as if my future political enemies are watching, so I’m glad I have absolutely no ambitions to go into public office, civil service, or pre-K to 12th grade education.

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Unicorns, the holy grail, and the female libido pill

May 24th, 2010 · 4 Comments

This Washington Post article raises some interesting questions about the role of pharmaceuticals in sexuality:

FDA considers endorsement of drug that some call a Viagra for women
A German pharmaceutical giant wants to sell a drug with the decidedly unsexy name “flibanserin,” which has shown prowess for sparking a woman’s sexual desire by fiddling with her brain chemicals.

Some issues under discussion are the potential for abuse, the ability of a drug company to create diseases and then medicines to fix them, and the concern that waning sexual desire is a natural process that we should not interfere with.

Ack, really? You mean like wrinkles, arthritis, or dementia?

If it works, think of all those individuals who will be quietly humming and smiling as they go about their daily business, basking in the glow of renewed passion, closeness, and intimacy. We’ll be way too relaxed to worry about whether we have just allowed a pharmaceutical company to dictate to us what “normal” is and to sell us a medicine to make sure we meet their criteria.

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Toy Review (NSFW): Body Heat Vibrator from Pipedream

May 22nd, 2010 · Comments Off

Let me start by saying that the heat functionality makes up for a lot in this new vibrator from Pipedream Products. But it doesn’t make it worth $160 to $300 retail. Maybe $80, and definitely $60. But not $300.

Click here to see all the stats from the manufacturer.

For my first test, I chose the high setting — 120 F — and waited about 15 minutes for it to warm up. (That’s my best guess, as I was playing a word game on my Droid while I waited, which meant that time became even more abstract than usual.)

When the vibrator felt warm, I put the Droid down, lay back, closed my eyes, called up a reliable fantasy (you know who you are), and put the thing through its paces. Because this was for a review, I put up with the rabbit attachment much longer than I would have in real life.

Pipedream touts the bunny as a cock ring that you can use on other phallic structures, but don’t bother. It’s too weak to do anything more than get in the way. Even with my extra effort to position it, to push the bullet vibe deeper to get the ears to vibrate more powerfully, and to try other contortions I won’t go into, I ended up tearing it off the shaft and tossing it aside. It’s probably still under my dresser.

The warmth in the Body Heat shaft, though, is awesome. Sublime, even. I can’t believe a luxury vibrator designer has not incorporated a warming mechanism. Or if they have, why do I not know about it? The closest thing in my collection is an Elemental Pleasures Le Tigre that I got as a gift, and it warms only as a side effect of the powerful motor and the beautiful metal, not as a deliberate feature. Nor does it get this meltingly thermal.

The Body Heat’s rippled shaft creates a lovely massage effect during each stroke, while the angled tip gives you some options if you want to target a particular spot. The rotating beads enhance the massage with three motion patterns and speeds.

One of the reasons I am gushing about the heat and the massage is that I recently had to go off the Pill (migraines + over 35 = bad mojo) and chose the new-fangled Mirena IUD over a tubal or Essure for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the Mirena is more effective at preventing pregnancy. Even 10 days after my appointment, I was achy and sore, in places too deep to massage well, despite some truly heroic efforts. The Body Heat provides a surprisingly effective therapy and should be included with every Mirena procedure.

I ended up using the Eroscillator with the Body Heat shaft — I had that fantasy to finish, remember — and that combination resulted in a rather spectacular climax.

The device feels about the same middle-of-the-road quality as a Doc Johnson rabbit vibe, which is only $40ish (or $85 if you want the one that you can use with the HighJoy teledildonics system).

If the Body Heat replaces the useless bunny with an Eroscillator clone, it will be worth its current price. Until then — or until the Body Heat price drops to $80 — I wouldn’t splurge on it if I were on a tight budget.

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