‘sex and history’

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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Film Review: Fellini’s “Amarcord” (“I Remember,” 1973)

Today I had the great pleasure of watching the masterpiece “Amarcord” again. The film is a charming series of vignettes set in Fellini’s seaside hometown during his childhood in 1930s Italy. A warm and gentle comedy, it lovingly skewers the platitudes by which everyday people manage their daily lives. Although Fellini is ever the romantic, he is also honest. And so a film about early adolescence includes story after wry story of adolescent sexual fantasy. We see daydreams of erotic conquest, braggadocio that cannot be fulfilled (including the largest breasts on this earth), boys lovingly tailing the town’s glamorous hairdresser,…

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Trusting Artists To Tell The Truth

Last night I spent $100 on a theatre ticket in New York. I saw “Sleep No More” off-Broadway, a site-specific, avant-garde show. Just for the record, I didn’t love it. But its use of sexuality and nudity did make me think about the artist’s responsibility to the audience, which is primarily to tell the truth. Well, some truth. For in every story, there are many truths. When Macbeth kills King Duncan, is he being selfish, a weakling caving in to an ambitious wife, or simply playing out the destiny that a witch has foretold? When Oedipus kills his father and…

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Mona Lisa Censored From TV?

Say a deranged woman attacked the Mona Lisa as it hung in the Louvre last week. It would be big news worldwide, including in the U.S.. Your favorite TV station would of course show the painting and discuss its historical and economic value. Now what if instead of the Louvre it was America’s National Gallery in Washington, and instead of DaVinci’s Mona Lisa it was Gaugin’s Two Tahitian Women. Same deal, right? Some perky anchorwoman would read the teleprompter: “…masterpiece done for the upcoming Exposition Universelle of 1900, similar to Gaugin’s famous works now hanging in London’s Tate and Moscow’s…

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Religion & Sexuality: Iron Age or Dark Ages?

Since today is Christmas Day, our subject is sexuality and religion. Specifically, what do the world’s three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, & Judaism) say about sex? Of course, it depends on whom you ask. Each religion’s adherents form a wide spectrum of observance, from the orthodox/fundamentalist to the “I like the holiday food.” That said, here are some of the common ideas about sex featured in the mainstream traditions of one or more of the three religions: * no sex during menstruation * no birth control * no abortion * no same-gender sex * no anal sex * no oral…

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IVF, The Nobel Prize, & Sexuality

Robert Edwards has won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his development of in vitro fertilization. The procedure takes one or more eggs from a woman, mates them with sperm in a petri dish outside the body, and then inserts the fertilized egg(s) back into a woman—either the donor or a surrogate—for gestation. The procedure has been a boon for couples who wish to conceive together but can’t. Its techniques have also led to scientific advances such as cloning and the creation of human embryonic stem cells. As human achievements go, IVF is pretty impressive, up there with the…

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