Tuesday May 21, 2013
I haven't talked about this project very much on my About.com site, but today I'm excited and nervous to let you know that my new book is available for sale.
I wrote What Makes a Baby for the four-year-old son of one of my closest friends. He and his partner were about to have a second child and their son started asking questions about his mom's pregnancy. My friend is Trans and so he isn't biologically related to his son. They wanted a book that would allow them to share their families story without devaluing a parent who didn't also contribute genetic material to the baby making process.
I quickly realized that this book really works for everyone. When you open up a story to make it inclusive you don't just bring people in who are usually pushed out, but you make room for those people who often are in the center to be more of who they are, share more of themselves. In decades passed the conventional wisdom was that you shouldn't share with your young child the story of how they came to be, especially if that story didn't involve intercourse in a heterosexual marriage. Adoption, sperm and egg donation, surrogacy, were all topics to be kept quiet and feel some shame about.
Many of us still do feel some shame or embarrassment about this, but more and more of us are being open about it as one way of resisting the shame, and transforming something oppressive into something that can be empowering. Mental health professionals are part of this, now regularly counseling parents to be open with even very young kids about how they came to be in their family, making it something that isn't strange or secretive, but something to be proud of and to celebrate.
After two years, dozens of re-writes, a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, the book is being released today from Seven Stories Press.
It's geared to children ages 3 and up, and describes the basics of reproduction, gestation, and birth in a fun and engaging way. It doesn't give all the answers. Instead it creates a space for parents to tell their children as much or as little as they want.
If you want to know more about it, you can check out our book trailer (featuring kids explaining just why the book is needed) and you can find it at your independent bookstore or your favorite online bookshop.
I also wrote a free Reader's Guide for parents which can be downloaded directly from the book's website. It includes general suggestions for talking with young children about sexuality, plus a page by page guide to using the book.
Thus ends the gratuitous self-promotion. I will now return to my more comfortable place of self-deprecation.
Read More: The Atlantic: A Truly Inclusive Way to Answer the Question 'Where Do Babies Come From?'
Sunday May 19, 2013
I got my first job at a sex shop in 1987. At the time I don't know if there was such a thing as flavored, water based lubricant. What we did have was a product called Emotion Lotion. Emotion Lotion (we never called it "EL" for short, but now I wish we had) came in a shapely clear plastic bottle with a white flip top. It was thick, sickly sweet, and branded itself as the original warming lotion. Put a little on your skin, rub it in, and blow on it, and the lotion would feel as if it is warming up.
This was not something I'd recommend anyone put in their body, and while tests had never been done, I was pretty sure that the high sugar content and sticky consistency during use would have been harmful to condoms.
Still, there was something sort of throw-back groovy about the product. Legend had it that the manufacturer began by making large batches of it in a bathtub in their home. It was always fun to watch people's reaction when they would pick up the sample and try it out on their wrist (less fun to watch the reactions of customers who would complain of burning...I learned to warn people after that).
Once Astroglide made a splash as the first lubricant designed for pleasure, the lube market blossomed and along with it the sub-category of flavored lubes has grown. I worked for over 20 years in sex shops and have heard customers opinions about the taste of hundreds of different flavored lubes. And to this day I still would never say to someone that brand X has the best taste or brand Y is the worst. Taste is taste, and for every hundred people who swear that one kind of lube is horrible tasting and should be banned, there will be a few who love it, and can't get enough.
Evaluating the flavor and taste of flavored lubes is a thankless job, and so I have avoided it for a while. But a few weeks ago an About.com reader asked if I would share with them a few recommendations, and in the interests of steering them away from Emotion Lotion and it's many step-children, I wrote the article below.
A Short Guide to Flavored Lube
Friday May 17, 2013
Growing up in the 70s I heard bad things about virgins from all sides. My friends were desperate to shed their virginity. They were excited to get to try out sex (after years of practicing on their own). But the desperation came as much from the sense that, like nerd or loser, virgin was a label you didn't want to stick.
I didn't feel that kind of pressure at home, but I was raised to understand that sexuality was something wonderful, something to be explored, and in contrast to the messages my parents received growing up in the 50s, sex was something that you probably should try out before settling down.
I wasn't convinced that I was even human so the idea of being a young virgin didn't bother me. Something in the culture let me know that it was okay to wait a little while, but if wait too long you might miss the boat entirely. Being an adult virgin was a problem.
Now that I'm older I realize that being an adult virgin isn't a problem. The idea that it is something that's clearly defined, diagnosable, something that someone else says about you, that's the problem.
When it comes to sexual identities it can be so easy to forget that these terms are labels. They are meant to help describe or define some aspect of our experience. For some people the label adult virgin works. And that's great.
But if it doesn't, it's time to peel back the label and remember that sexual experience is more what you've done, with who, how often. Sexual experience is first and foremost an experience.
Read More : Understanding Adults Virgins
Monday May 13, 2013
A few weeks ago an issue of New York Magazine featured a story about men who were quitting masturbation and finding solidarity and guidance on a Reddit forum called "NoFap". The piece was a mess of misinformation and confusion. It referenced to faddish research ("Your Brain on Porn") and conflated sexuality, desire, gender identity, and gender roles. All of this made it a pretty accurate reflection of many mens understanding of their own sexuality, and a good reminder of why things rarely get better for cisgender men.
As long as it doesn't involve coercion, everyone should get to choose how they want to be sexual, including whether or not they want to masturbate. But the idea that not masturbating makes you a better man is a sad, old chestnut that only looks new because of the technological platform and shiny stock rubber chicken images that accompany our current public discussion of it.
We're half way through National Masturbation Month and it seemed like a good time to review some of the most common questions I get asked on the site about masturbation, which perhaps tellingly almost always come from men.
Questions About Masturbation