Sex & Culture

The Need For the Sexual “Other”

It seems like most human beings need an “Other” through which they demonize aspects of sexuality they fear, obsess about, or feel guilty about. That Other may be considered slightly less than fully human; more or less out of control; immoral, uncaring about the consequences of his/her/its actions; dangerous, either in its coercive power or (just as often) its seductive power; ultimately, Not Like Us. For much of history that Other has been homosexuality. But at various times, the Sexual Other has been Too-Sexual Woman; Masturbating Child; Adulterer; Perverted Child Molester; Pornographer; Compulsive Rapist (recently updated to Campus Rapist and…

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Michelle, Her Breasts, & the Male Gaze

I have a close friend in Santa Cruz, a therapist named Michelle, with whom I have lunch once a month. It’s usually pretty glorious, with several conversations going on at once—professional, personal, political, and mmm-this-bagel-is-perfect-isn’t-it. Yesterday we talked about women’s breasts. We were talking about breasts as symbols of sexuality—whether their owner wants that or not. We reminisced back to junior high school—when Michelle (in California) already had adult-sized breasts, and I (in New York) just gawked at such things wherever they were, whenever I could. Like a large number of early-teen boys, I was so overwhelmed by how amazing…

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Oral Sex: You Said A Mouthful

Before the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, there was a joke popular in New York nightclubs. What do eggs benedict and a blowjob have in common? They’re two enjoyable things you don’t get at home. Yes, kids, there was a time when oral sex was exotic, primarily the province of prostitutes and gay people. Well, times have changed. In the 1994 “Sex in America” national study, Ed Laumann and colleagues 3,432 American adults. They found that about a quarter of their sample had had oral sex in the past year. Today, depending on the study, it appears that over half…

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Sex is Constructed—By You

What is sex? There are as many answers as there are people. Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton’s famous testimony about “sexual relations” made “what is sex” a daily topic of conversation (look it up, kids, under Monica Lewinsky and some-blow-jobs-require-you-to-shut-your-mouth). Couples who see me for therapy have been arguing the question longer than that, and […]

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Not Just Another Vegas Convention

Last week I spoke at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. It wasn’t exactly an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But porn lovers (and porn stars, porn producers, porn distributors, and porn photographers) are people too, and there had to be something interesting to see there, so I accepted their invitation. Besides, I have a book coming out in September called His Porn, Her Pain, and I want to get some advance support from people in the industry. I spoke on “Has the internet really changed anything about sexuality?” My answer, of course, is “not really”—the human…

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2015: The Year In Sex

2015 was a complicated year for sex. Americans won rights, lost rights, gained some products, lost (even more of) their innocence about internet privacy, found new ways to be entertained, and were horrified more than once. As I wrote about these and other stories, my heart rose, and fell, just like yours. I was glad to have you along for the ride. I’ll be here throughout 2016, too—promise. You can also follow my 3-times-per-week tweets at @DrMartyKlein. Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner Famous athlete Bruce Jenner became famous transgender role model Caitlin Jenner. And now it seems like every third person is transgender,…

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