Ok folks, I am predicting that Origami Condoms will revolutionize safe sex. Currently, Danny Resnic, has conducted four clinical trials through NIH-funded grants as well as support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to test three types of condoms: a male condom, a female condom and a specialized anal condom which, if it passes, will be the first condom approved for anal sex by the US Food and Drug Administration. What else makes these condoms different? They are made of silicone instead of latex, which means they are better at resisting viruses and bacteria and they provide more pleasurable sensation (1)! Why does that matter? News flash: Research indicates that men do not like to use condoms, mostly because it feels better to have sex without one (2). Among men who do use condoms, many remove the condom before they orgasm (3), often due to a reduction in sensation and loss of an erection (4). The experience of a loss of an erection is very embarrassing (5), and what do we do when we get embarrassed? Avoid every possibility that embarrassment will happen again. Thus, reducing the likelihood of using a condom again.
Many men also describe feeling annoyed when a partner insists on using a condom because of the reduction of pleasure (6). In heterosexual couples, this annoyance often makes the female partner decline her assertion to use a condom because women (being the nurturers of the relationship) often feel the obligation to rescue their partners from embarrassment or dysfunction. This negotiation can put both partners at risk. Heterosexual women also report dislike for the use of male condoms because of annoyances “in putting it on in time” (2). Therefore, the use of a female condom can provide a safe alternative because they are inserted before intercourse and therefore do not disrupt intimacy because they do not have to be rolled onto a penis mid-way through sexual activity.
Origami’s condom that has been designed exclusively for receptive anal sex can also be inserted prior to anal intercourse. This is a major breakthrough in sexual safety. There are rising concerns about the popularity of barebacking among gay men, which is the act of intentional unprotected anal sex(7). Currently, people use male or female condoms during anal sex (both of which are notorious for not staying put) or they don’t use a condom at all during anal sex. It is really important to use a condom during anal penetration regardless of your sexual orientation. Even if you are in a committed relationship and are not using condoms for vaginal sex (when applicable) because both partners are STI-free and you are using a different form of pregnancy prevention (when applicable), you should always use a condom during anal sex.
Despite the popularity of ATM (inserting a penis in the anus and then in the mouth) or ATV (inserting a penis in the anus and then in the vagina) in pornography (8), these acts are a huge bacterial no-no because the rectum is a huge bacterial nightmare. You do not want the bacteria that live in the rectum anywhere near the vagina or mouth. If you are a woman who is having sex with another woman and using toys to penetrate the anus, a condom for the toy can also be a good solution to prevent the spread of bacteria after anal play. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with anal penetration, there are just extra efforts that need to be taken in order to engage in anal penetration without spreading bacteria to the mouth or vagina. That being said, I do encounter a lot of heterosexual women and girls in my workshops who feel pressure to engage in anal sex when they do not want to. If you don’t have any interest in anal sex, don’t do it. The majority of pleasure that comes from anal stimulation among women comes from the anus itself, not from penetration of the rectum, because women do not have a prostate gland. Therefore, simply applying pressure to the anus with a finger will provide maximum pleasure without the risk of rectal tearing and stretching-which can lead to problems over time.
Now, this next statement is a stretch: I also think these condoms, if they really do increase pleasure, could potentially combat unhealthy norms of masculine sexuality. Through the lens of heteronormativity, heterosexual men are more sexually privileged than heterosexual women and therefore can insist on experiencing pleasure and passion over responsibility, whereas women bear the responsibilities of unwanted pregnancy and negative sexual stereotyping, making their sexual choices more burdensome (9,10). Since the invention of hormonal birth control in the 1960s, the responsibility for contraception has predominately been delegated to women, which consequently excluded contraception from masculinity norms (11). From this perspective, a man choosing to not use a condom would be a symbol of masculine power and sexual agency because he would be emphasizing pleasure over responsibility. Therefore a condom that increases pleasure for the man or can be used by a receptive partner during penetrative sex, could help to reduce the risk associated with masculinity-induced unprotected sex.
Whatever type of penetrative sex you are into, these new condoms may be of interest to you. Unfortunately, due to FCC restrictions, Origami can’t show their condoms on television or talk about the appropriate anatomy to demonstrate how they work in radio. So, I’m asking you to check ‘em out and pass the word along so that Origami can get the funding they need to bring these revolutionary condoms to market ASAP!
1. Krakauer, H. (2013). See ya, latex: reinventing the condom. New Scientist, 217(2900), 37-39.
2. Brook (2005). The choreography of condom use: how, not just if, young people use condoms. Research conducted by the University of Southampton. Available online at: www.brooks.org.uk (accessed 12 August 2013).
3. Crosby, R. A., Sanders, S. A., Yaber, W. K., Graham, A. C. & Dodge, B. (2000) Condom use: errors and problems among college men, Sexually Transmitted Disease, 29, 552–557.
4. Measor (2006). Condom use: A culture of resistance. Sex Education, 6 (4), 393-402.
5. Wood, A. (1998) Sex education for boys. Health Education, 3, 95–99.
6. Vittellone, N. (2002) Condoms and the making of sexual difference, Body and Society, 8(3), 71–94.
7. Crossley, M. L. (2004). Making sense of ‘barebacking’: Gay men's narratives, unsafe sex and the ‘resistance habitus’. British Journal of Social Psychology, 43(2), 225-244.
8. Jensen, R. (2007). Getting off: Pornography and the end of masculinity. Cambridge: South End Press.
9. Tolman, D. L., & Diamond, L. M. (2001). Desegregating sexuality research: Cultural and biological perspectives on gender and desire. Annual Review of Sex Research, 12, 33-74.
10. Tolman, D. L., Striepe, M. I., & Harmon, T. (2003). Gender matters: Constructing a model of adolescent sexual health. Journal of Sex Research, 40, 4-12.
11. Oudshoorn, N. (2004). “Astronauts in the sperm world”: The renegotiation of masculine identities in discourses on male contraceptives. Men and Masculinities, 6, 349-367.
Photo Source: Origami Condoms
A documentary called Porn on the Brain aired in the UK, but you can watch it on YouTube for a limited time. I recommend it, but there are some intense images and subject matter, so keep that in mind before watching. Like all documentaries, there is an agenda. However, I think this documentary’s agenda is more than reasonable. To me it seems that they have highlighted what a lot of folks know to be true: Internet pornography is not the same as the pornography from "back in the day" and use of it in adolescence is pervasive. Yet, no one is talking about it.
Topics such as how pornography has changed since the advent of the internet, how internet pornography is addictive, how adolescents are affected by pornography differently than adults (due to lack of a pre-frontal cortex), and how sexuality education can include pornography education are all covered. What’s great, is that it is all put together and narrated by the former editor of Loaded magazine, Martin Daubney, who was never anti-porn, and who used to actually like porn. His perspective is very similar to mine, although arrived at very differently. He describes growing up with pornography, but ultimately realizes that pornography today is vastly different than it was in the 80s and 90s, and therefore we need a vastly different approach to addressing it. What I argue in my lectures, is that it is no longer adequate to only analyze pornography from a limited pro vs. anti moralistic perspective. Pornography needs to be discussed from a neurological, physiological and behavioral perspective. I am a social and developmental scientist, so I typically rely on statistics and peer reviewed research to trust information in order to understand something. Yet, there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made for us to fully understand sexuality and pornography use in adolescence, or even adulthood, through the scientific study of it for two reasons:
1. There are ethical considerations to be made when you conduct research on sensitive topics. In order to conduct a scientific study, one needs to get approval from their IRB, which is a bureau that approves a study as ethical before data collection can begin. Thus, topics such as violent pornography use, masturbation, exposure to incest, exposure to group sex, experienced fantasies, etc. are often off limits in the U.S. because reporting on these topics can potentially be traumatizing to participants. However, some European countries have produced informative studies, most likely due to their more realistic and integrated views of sexuality.
2. If we do get IRB approval to ask participants about their experiences with pornography in the U.S., we are limited in what we know, by what we measure. For example, this is a popular item used in a multiple-item scale to measure pornography use:
“How often do you view pornography?” CIRCLE ONE
1-Never 2-Rarely 3-Sometimes 4-Often 5-Always
Do you think that question paints a real picture of someone’s pornography use? Do you think that questions changes what we know about pornography use? Yeah, me neither. Therefore, because we have a limited understanding of internet pornography use, simply asking people what their experience is contributes to our ability to understand what we need to measure in order to analyze those data statistically. This is why I think the work featured in this documentary as well as studies conducted in Europe, have done what social and developmental scientists in the U.S. haven’t yet. They simply asks adolescents how they experience pornography.
Although the documentary does interview addiction experts and features a groundbreaking study on pornography addiction that used fMRI measurement, there is quite a bit of research on the topic of pornography that this documentary doesn’t reference. They say that there is only speculation on the affects from pornography use so far, but no real evidence. This really isn’t true. I would normally overlook such a thing, but I'm endorsing this documentary, so I want to be clear: Although there is still a lot of work to be done, there has been research on the affects of pornography use for decades and internet pornography more recently. In the documentary, a young man is featured who is preoccupied with sex, who is unsatisfied with the relationships he currently has with women, and whose pornography use is negatively affecting other aspects of his life. This is only one case, yet studies with larger samples have found similar findings.
For example, adolescents who use pornography consistently are less satisfied with their sex life in emerging adulthood (1,2), pornography use in early adolescence is longitudinally associated with an increased sexual preoccupancy a year later (3), and young men who are dependent on pornography have similarly destructive life patterns as substance abusers (4, 5). Further, there is some evidence that pornography addiction is successfully treated with the drug naltrexone (6), which is a drug used to treat substance use dependency. Finally, a study of Greek adolescents found that infrequent and frequent internet pornography use is associated with social maladjustment such as conduct problems and antisocial tendencies (7). Despite the documentary’s flaw of not recognizing at least some of the hundreds of studies that have been conducted, I think the message of this film is clear: We need to draw even more attention to the scientific study and evidence based education of internet pornography use.
Given the research that has been done and the reality this documentary highlights, we need pornography education in addition to sexuality education, and we need it yesterday! It is clear that our cyber-reality is having a profound effect on how we form relationships, interact with people and live our lives. Every person deserves to know how they can live, parent, teach and grow in such a way to insure that they are contributing to the positive development of romantic relationships and sexuality in themselves and the individuals around them. I think this documentary represents a shift in perspective that I have been arguing for the past five years. The old perspective regarding pornography from the 1950s-1990s mostly revolved around these questions: “Should we allow pornography to be produced, sold and consumed by adults?” or “How does pornography use affect someone’s perception of women?” The new perspective should evolve (and maybe has evolved) to include: “What are we going to do about our kids having unlimited access to rape, incest, sexual abuse and sexual humiliation on the internet?" And, “what kind of impact will this brand new cyber-reality have on their brains and consequently, their lives?”
(1) Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2009). Adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit internet material and sexual satisfaction: A longitudinal study. Human Communication Research, 35(2), 171-194.
(2) Štulhofer, A., Buško, V., & Landripet, I. (2010). Pornography, sexual socialization, and satisfaction among young men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39(1), 168-178.
(3) Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2008). Adolescents' exposure to sexually explicit internet material and sexual preoccupancy: A three-wave panel study. Media Psychology, 11(2), 207-234.
(4) Cavaglion, G. (2009). Cyber-porn dependence: Voices of distress in an Italian internet self-help community. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 7(2), 295-310.
(5) Cavaglion, G. (2008). Narratives of self-help of cyberporn dependents. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 15(3), 195-216.
(6) Bostwick, J. M., & Bucci, J. A. (2008). Internet sex addiction treated with naltrexone. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 83(2), 226-230.
(7) Tsitsika, A., Critselis, E., Kormas, G., Konstantoulaki, E., Constantopoulos, A., & Kafetzis, D. (2009). Adolescent pornographic internet site use: A multivariate regression analysis of the predictive factors of use and psychosocial implications. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(5), 545-550.
Some excellent progress has been made to put an end to revenge porn this week. Revenge porn is essentially an image or video of someone who is nude or engaging in sexual activity, that is posted on the internet without the consent of the person in the image or video. Last month, Erica Goode at the New York Times wrote about the experiences of female victims with ex-partners who decided to get "revenge" on them by posting private nude images online. Now, there will be a criminal penalty for anyone in California who is convicted of posting sexual images of someone online without their consent, thanks to the Anti-Revenge Porn Bill that was signed into action on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. Before this law, if someone wanted to pursue legal action toward someone who posted images without their consent, they had to go through costly civil court proceedings to sue for defamation of character and/or privacy infringement.
Revenge porn is not a new problem. In fact, it used to be confused with amateur porn. When today’s top 5 porn sites first started-up they were primarily comprised of revenge porn. These sites (which I will purposely not name) are designed like YouTube, where users can post videos and images of women who are nude or having sex in order to provide free content to other users. Thus, most porn users who only go to these popular sites think they aren’t supporting the porn industry because they “aren’t paying for porn” and “they are looking at real women”. However, it is hard to classify that type of porn use as righteous with video and image captions like, “Watch me *#%K my ex!” or “Check out this chick *#%ked. I don’t even know her name!” Until recently, no one knew what to call this type of porn and thus it defaulted to ‘amateur porn’. Today there is also content from older pornographic films and international pornographic films on these sites in order to avoid copyright issues, but revenge porn still dominates the content.
Unfortunately, the new bill doesn't solve all problems associated with revenge porn, but it is a great start. The law only makes some forms of revenge porn a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine because it only applies to photos taken by others that were posted with an intent to cause serious distress. The bill does not address nude selfies, which can be given to a partner with the intent of private use only. In 2010, an article in the Iowa Law Review explained the role the state could play in protecting youth from the unanticipated, reputational and psychological consequences of sending nude pictures to a romantic partner via “sexting” (1). This bill does little to address sexting among minors, which is still legally considered “self-produced child pornography” (2), despite its growing popularity with 20-30% of teens having sent naked pictures of themselves (3).
If a woman takes a nude selfie, it doesn’t mean that she intends to make that image public. Just as we recognize that two people having had consensual sex doesn't mean later encounters are necessarily consensual, we should recognize that a picture offered as a consensual sexual gesture can later be turned into a tool to harass and abuse. Even though it is certainly more the case that girls and women are the ones in the photos and boys and men are the distributers, I teach young women not to share or distribute nude pictures and I also teach young men not to share or distribute nude pictures. I definitely think it is natural to want to share nude images with someone you trust. Sadly, sharing nude photos and videos without detrimental consequences was a luxury that was afforded to those living before a digital age, when it cost money to get “double-prints” instead of “single-prints” and you had to go to the trouble of getting your nude images developed by someone other than the person down at the local Rite-Aid. The limit in quantity potential for nude pictures before the digital age made the possibility of your entire school, company or organization seeing those photos, slim to none. The motivation today is also less internally-driven and more externally-driven by an effort to emulate sexual imagery in the media in order to compete with other women in our “pornified culture” (4). Many of the women and girls I talk with also think that providing naked images of themselves to a boyfriend will ensure that he won’t masturbate to porn, but that rarely works because pornography isn’t about nudity it is about novelty.
Even though revenge porn website enthusiasts swear their motivation is nothing but an opportunity 'to look at real naked women' in reality, the act of uploading a nude picture to punish a woman for leaving you is less of an act of sexual expression and more similar to the criminal behavior of stalking and harassment (5). It is clear that non-consensual distribution of sexual imagery and videos is intended to humiliate the victim. With that in mind, we should amend stalking and harassment legislation to reflect our new cyber-reality. Just because the abusive acts are happening in cyberspace doesn't mean the experience of being humiliated and harassed by an ex is any less terrifying. So, what can you do to help? Please sign this petition and read more about what else you can do to criminalize revenge porn in your state.
1. Ryan, E. M. (2010). Sexting: How the state can prevent a moment of indiscretion from leading to a lifetime of unintended consequences for minors and young adults. Iowa Law Review, 96, 357.
2. Leary, M. G. (2009). Sexting or Self-Produced Child-Pornography-The Dialog Continues-Structured Prosecutorial Discretion within a Multidisciplinary Response. Journal of Social Policy & Law, 17, 486.
3. Eraker, E. C. (2010). Stemming Sexting: Sensible Legal Approaches to Teenagers' Exchange of Self-Produced Pornography. Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 25, 555.
4. Hall, P. C., West, J. H., & McIntyre, E. (2012). Female self-sexualization in MySpace.com personal profile photographs. Sexuality& Culture, 6(1), 1-16.
5. Davis, K. E., Ace, A., & Andra, M. (2000). Stalking perpetrators and psychological maltreatment of partners: Anger-jealousy, attachment insecurity, need for control, and break-up context. Violence and Victims, 15(4), 407-425.
Photo Source: endrevengeporn.org
About this Blog:
I'm here to help us discuss sexuality, gender, sexual media, and social media by integrating information from academic and mainstream sources. I do this so you can be informed about what is going on in the sex research world and apply the research to your life. I hope this process produces more sexually competent people who raise sexually competent kids.
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