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Jun 03 2013

Brooklyn Cops Stop Condom Busts

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by thepleasurechest

condoms

As we reported back in March, the NYPD has been arresting people on suspicion of prostitution simply for carrying condoms. The practice is especially problematic since the same city also distributes free condoms to help combat STIs. Now there’s some good news out of Brooklyn where prosecutors, bowing to pressure from sex worker advocates, have ordered the police to stop collecting condoms as evidence.

Prosecutors will continue to use condoms as evidence in trafficking cases, a policy that remains controversial among sex worker advocates. Still, this new rule should help to reduce the number of arrests and reduce fears of getting arrested simply for carrying protection.

h/t @Melissa Gira Grant

May 31 2013

Google Glass Porn is Coming

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by thepleasurechest

glass

It’s common knowledge that if you give people a new technology, they’ll immediately start using it for porn. So no one should be surprised that Google Glass porn is already in production. Google’s “augmented reality” glasses seem ideal for giving viewers a “you are there” POV experience. A company called Mikandi is already experimenting with the new medium. Mikandi co-founder Jennifer McEwen told Violet Blue:

Being hands-free and hassle-free is a simple but big difference Glass has over other similar devices. It’s so easy and familiar to wear, that from a shooter’s perspective it feels like you’re recording with your own eyes. Because it feels so natural, you can forget about the technology and just be in the moment. 

On top of that, with Glass you can share and interact with fans and followers, allowing them intimate access to your experiences. It’s like being John Malkovich where you’re viewing the world through someone else’s eyes.

But is the world ready for Being James Deen? Blue wonders if Google will embrace the porn possibilities of their new toy or follow Apple’s example and try to keep their cool new toy squeaky clean.

 

May 28 2013

Peer Educators Teach Sex Ed In Cleveland

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by thepleasurechest

cleveland

We’ve talked before on this blog about the need for an alternative to the abstinence-only sex education model, an approach that places importance on consent, communication and practical information. In a welcome move last week, Illinois lawmakers voted to make discussion of birth control mandatory in its sex education classes. Today, we learned about an unusual program run by Case Western University in Cleveland, where teens are trained to teach other about sex and responsibility.

During an after-school program at St. Martin de Porres Family Center on Cleveland’s East Side earlier this year, a freshman voiced his confusion during a talk about safe sex:

“You mean, if she’s drunk or high and says, ‘Yes,’ that’s still rape?” 

Several of the boy’s friends sitting nearby seemed nearly as incredulous, silently shaking their heads in agreement with the question.

Standing in front of the nearly 20 teens, mostly boys, 18-year-old senior Scott Traylor confirmed in a steady voice: “That’s rape.”

Traylor is one of four peer educators trained to help combat a local rise in STIs among teens, but as the above passage indicates, consent is also a big part of the curriculum.

As part of their training, peer educators are trained by medical professionals, sit in on sex education classes and learn self defense to help build their confidence. Peer educators are recruited directly from the communities where they teach and classes are in high demand. To read more about this promising program, read the full story at The Plain Dealer.

h/t Jezebel

 

May 27 2013

The Best Porn On Tumblr

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by thepleasurechest

cat-porn

Last week, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer assured us that Tumblr’s robust network of porn blogs would be safe from censorship. We were relieved. But, ironically one of the biggest problems with porn on the internet is that there is already too much. How do you find the good stuff?  To help us sort the wheat from the chaff, Salon‘s Tracy Clark-Flory has compiled a list of the best Tumblr smut sites. What did she miss? Tell us in the comments!

May 27 2013

Should You Go Bare Down There?

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by thepleasurechest

shave

Whether by shaving, waxing, plucking or electrolysis, Americans have become increasingly obsessed with taming and  eliminating pesky pubic hair. The era of the 70s porn bush is long gone, replaced by the fashionable Brazilian and “boyzilian” wax. While shaved and waxed naughty bits can certainly be sexy, few of us consider the evolutionary advantage to having all that unsightly hair. By going bare, we may be increasing our risk of transmitting STIs, injuring our most sensitive parts, and sending confusing messages to young people. Alternet’s April Costa looks at the downside our current “battle against pubes.”  Check it out!

May 23 2013

Illinois Dumps Abstinence-Only Sex Ed

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by thepleasurechest

condomsLast week, our own Sarah Tomchesson made the case for a sex-positive alternative to the abstinence model of sex education. Yesterday, Illinois lawmakers took a big step in the right direction, by mandating discussion of birth control in all sex ed classes in the state’s public schools.

Gawker reports:

Previously schools had three options when it came to sex ed: abstinence-only classes, comprehensive classes covering both abstinence and safe sex, or no sex ed classes at all. Thanks to the new measure, which Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign into law, schools will now have to either teach the comprehensive sex ed courses or avoid sex ed altogether.

It’s a start. In the meantime, those young people in less enlightened states can always find help at Scarleteen.

May 16 2013

Consent is Sexy: How Pleasure-Centered Education Can Help to Dismantle Rape Culture

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by thepleasurechest

Tomchesson picThis is a guest post by Sarah Tomchesson, The Pleasure Chest’s Director of Business Development and Strategy.

Introducing the concept of pleasure into sex education geared toward young adults has long been frowned upon and rarely implemented with the exception of a few progressive models. Instead, the United States has largely adopted risk-focused education since the federal government’s first allocation of funds for sex education after World War I, when the spread of syphilis and gonorrhea posed a real public health issue. The HIV/AIDS pandemic of the 80s and 90s reinforced the need for sex education as a public health necessity, specifically STD-focused education (more appropriately known now as STIs).

As we know, some contemporary sex education curricula teach that abstinence is the only viable means to avoid pregnancy or contracting an STI. And, wow, nothing is sexier than abstinence! As if taking anything remotely sexual out of the teaching will make young folks ignore their own budding sexuality. This method of sexuality education is misguided. Ignoring the amazing plethora of nerve endings in our genitalia and throughout our bodies, avoiding discussion of self exploration and skipping over how to talk about sex with a partner, does not make kids want sex less. It does not empower them to make healthy choices about their or their partners’ bodies; it does not equip them for their first time (or their first 20 times) and I think it most definitely contributes to the prevalence of rape culture in our society.

abstinence

This pleasure-denying approach to sex education in the US suggests that we are trying to socialize physiological urges out of young folks’ bodies through fear tactics. This method may be helping some of our youth avoid pregnancy and STIs, but ultimately it is putting a lot of them at risk. We are not providing young people with a healthy alternative to the powerful and often disparate messages they receive about sex and sexuality through the internet, music, sports-culture, celebrity-culture, politics and religious institutions.

Sluthood is simultaneously exalted and stigmatized in mainstream media. Similarly, virility and “manliness” is glorified. Viagra and Cialis commercials are now ubiquitous. Politicians are regularly caught cheating. Female professionals are still judged by looks and sex appeal first, effectiveness second (Kamala Harris IS the best-looking Attorney General after all, right?). Professional athletes get sexual assault cases dropped left and right. Stuebenville High School has just extended their football coach’s contract for two years even while the grand jury has convened to determine his culpability in a 2012 sexual assault case (!) In this context, where sexuality is omnipresent but rarely meaningfully discussed and where there is limited access to sexuality education, particularly on the topic of consent, objectification, rape and sexual assault have become normalized. Unfortunately, most sex education curricula do not provide a viable alternative to the disempowering and pervasive model of sexuality provided by our culture.

skirt

Pleasure-centered education can provide our youth with meaningful tools to help them navigate one of, if not the most, vulnerable parts of their identity. As a sex educator, who teaches from a pleasure-based perspective I understand how complicated and loaded the concept of pleasure can be, even to adults. However, to embrace a healthy model of sexuality in which consent is a key piece one must be able to wrap their head around the vast pleasure possibilities consent unlocks. The model of sexuality that our culture constructs is unattainable because within it exists an irresolvable conflict between repression and overstimulation. I believe that introducing the concept of pleasure is essential to educating on consent and can offer a significant alternative to the current “one size fits all” model of sexuality. Empowering people to understand their sexuality and showing them the ways their bodies are built for pleasure, encourages them to seek out the sex that is right for them and to reject sex that hurts or is unsatisfying.

In a pleasure-based model, exploration of one’s own body is at the core of the ideology and anatomy is taught from the perspective of the potential of the different nerve endings in the body. Anatomy lessons serve as a tool for individual empowerment. Education on the ways our bodies are wired for orgasm is especially important for young women who are discouraged by society’s messaging to enjoy sex, and who have largely been denied permission to be sexual or to have sexual needs for fear of being labeled a slut.

vaginalodor

Also, women are not taught to have pride for their genitals in the same way that a lot of men come to love and readily explore their penises. Just watch any feminine hygiene or douching commercial and you will see the deep shame that we as a society feel about the vulva. Likewise, the inherent power of the penis is ingrained in young men, but we are not teaching them that possessing a penis does not entitle them to pleasure any way they want it, whenever they want it.

Pleasure-based curriculum approaches sex from the perspective of mutual pleasure, through detailing the body’s pleasure map and also by laying out a framework for safe exploration in relationships through strong communication. Demonstrating how to negotiate sex with a partner, what you like and don’t like, provides an excellent opportunity for meaningful discussion about what consent means and what it looks like in practice. The affirmative consent model where only “yes” means “yes” is perfectly positioned in pleasure-centered education. Introducing consent in this context, where the goal is greater pleasure for both partners, makes it sexy and helps elucidate how sex with a consenting partner is always more satisfying.

consentissexy

The problem with risk-focused or abstinence-only sex education is that the concept of mutuality is absent; the curriculum has been disinfected of any remnants of sexiness. Young people know that when sex education focuses solely on negative outcomes that something is missing. In the absence of comprehensive and affirmative education they will seek out information where none has been provided. The sexuality resources that are most readily available and accessible are not promoting consent, sex-positivity or contributing to a rape-free culture.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing that “Blow Jobs 101” or “The Ultimate O: Achieving Multiple Orgasms” is appropriate curriculum for teenagers.  However, recent events at Occidental College, USC, Amherst, Stuebenville High School and in the military demonstrate that rape culture is alive and well. These events highlight that people are entering their sexually active years with little to no understanding of what informed consent is.

sexed

There are age-appropriate ways to sexually empower our youth and it is a priority that we do so. One great example of progressive education is Planned Parenthood Los Angeles’ pilot health program, which includes an educational curriculum for students and parents that is paired with health resources and peer advocacy on high school campuses. Another is Dr. Laura Berman’s Sex Ed Handbook for parents (PDF), which encourages discussion in the home from a young age. Young people are confused about their sexuality and their bodies and are becoming confused adults. Hopefully, some will find their way to a sex-positive or pleasure-centered workshop in adult life but many will not.

Our sex education has sheltered young people by focusing on risk and denying pleasure while the rest of society bombards them with a precarious model of sexuality. This combination is not working for us anymore. It is time that we introduce pleasure, and with it sexy consent, into more sex education curricula.

To read more about how young people are combating rape culture, read our previous post on the Know Your IX campus movement. 

May 15 2013

The Orgasmatron

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by thepleasurechest

In Woody Allen’s 1973 comedy Sleeper, “The Orgasmatron” was a futuristic machine that gave instant sexual pleasure to its users. A couple would step inside and emerge moments later, disheveled and satisfied.

Dr. Stuart Meloy thinks he may have discovered a real life Orgasmatron. Originally developed as a spinal cord stimulator for pain relief, Meloy’s device has also proven effective at triggering orgasmic responses in men and women. Here’s how i09 described it back in 2008.

orgasmatronA small box about the size of an Altoids tin is attached to two thin wires that snake under your skin and attach to the nerves in your spine responsible for sexual pleasure. Send electricity through the wires, stimulate the nerves, and watch the hot results.

Of course, the downside to this Orgasmatron is that you’ll need to have it surgically-implanted in your body. But as the video above suggests, it may not be long before a wireless version is invented. In the meantime, may we suggest the most reliable Orgasmatron we know of?