Male masturbators can’t seem to catch a break. Despite the assumption that every guy has masturbated, is masturbating, or will masturbate, self-pleasure has been getting a bad rap for 3000 years. From Orthodox Judaism to traditional Buddhism, the religious strictures against men masturbating are ancient and enduring. (Because the spiritual authorities were so often ignorant about female masturbation, women caught a rare break. What was the point in condemning a practice many men didn’t believe existed?) Keep reading »
“You’re either gay, straight, or lying.”
I first heard that oft-repeated phrase when I was an 18-year-old freshman at UC Berkeley. I was at my first meeting of the GLBA (Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Alliance). I’d recently broken up with a girlfriend, and had been dating (and sleeping with) both men and women; I was ready to “come out” as bi and to get involved in campus activism. But as I quickly found out, though there were equal numbers of gay men and lesbians in the group, the only bisexuals were women. And while many of those women faced a certain amount of “bi-phobia,” at least the GLBA acknowledged their existence.
Bisexual men, I was told, didn’t exist: we were either cowards or liars, too scared or too dishonest to admit we were really gay. Keep reading »
It’s been over 30 years, but I still remember the day Jenny Talbot caught me staring at her boobs.
Jenny and I sat next to each other in a couple of classes. We weren’t exactly friends, but friendly; she helped me in math, I helped her in social studies. One day, Jenny and I were working together on a project, our desks and bodies facing. Though she usually wore sweaters, this spring day she wore just a V-neck T-shirt. When she bent over, I could see her breasts encased in her white, frilly bra. I was not quite 14, and in a near constant state of arousal; the sight of a bra strap was, frequently, enough to produce an erection. With Jenny distracted by her work, I had a free close-up view of the kind I’d rarely had. So I stared. Keep reading »
With the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton just over two weeks away, Buckingham Palace is letting out daily updates of the impending nuptials. Few bits of news have proved as controversial as the announcement that the future king will forgo a wedding band after he’s married.That decision hasn’t been well received by the press or the public. Even those who take no interest in royalty have been drawn into a debate about the larger issue: should men wear wedding rings? Keep reading »
I don’t know that a formal survey’s been done, but I think it’s safe to say that in the eyes of most straight men in America, turbans on a women’s head aren’t hot. Neither are ostrich-feather miniskirts, utility pants, or capes. To many guys, tight, form-fitting, and revealing fashions constitute “sexy.” And isn’t that what fashion is supposed to be all about? Getting us to look at one woman rather than another?
According to Leandra Medine, young designer and creator of The Man Repeller, the answer is no. Her site (which has been the subject of worldwide buzz) celebrates fashion that “proudly obstructs the male gaze” (The New York Times) and acts (in her own words) as “sartorial contraceptives.” (Think creative use of bow ties and harem pants, and you’re just getting started.) The fashion press has embraced Medine’s “man-repelling” aesthetic. Judging from the comments on sites that cover the beauty and clothing industries, The Man Repeller is a hit with many women. Keep reading »
In my office, Amber is telling me a familiar story. She’s come to talk about her autobiography paper for my women’s studies class, and she reads part of her rough draft aloud.
“I was 12, and this car pulled up alongside me as I was walking home from school … the driver looked a little older than my dad, at least 40. He leaned out, and I thought he was going to ask me for directions, but instead he asked me how old I was. When I told him, he laughed. ‘Damn, you got some big titties for such a little girl.’ He made this gross smacking sound with his lips, and sped away. I ran all the way home.”
Amber looks up at me. “I want to know,” she asks, “why do older men hit on younger women?” She’s 20 now, tall and graceful; she tells me that for the last eight years, older men have been approaching her. “It’s not just me,” she adds, “it happens to most of my friends, almost regardless of what they look like or what they’re wearing. It makes me feel like I can’t trust anyone, like all men want just one thing. Why can’t they chase women their own age?” Keep reading »
I read a blog post earlier this month that sounded a familiar refrain: Are single women too independent for their own good? Women’s magazines ask that question, men’s magazines ask that question, and the answer is almost always the same: yes. Keep reading »
If you’ve turned on a TV since 1998, you know how obsessed we are with hard-ons. Since the little blue pill appeared more than a dozen years ago, countless imitators of varying legitimacy and effectiveness have hit the market. Ads for drugs that promise to cure erectile dysfunction run nonstop during sporting events, and the sales of these medications generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year. We watch these ads and pop these pills without ever considering that the periodic inability to get an erection could be the best thing that could happen to our sex lives.
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When I was getting clean and sober in a Twelve Step program many years ago, there was one phrase from the literature that always resonated with me. We addicts have been, the book said, the “architects of our own adversity.” Yes, I thought the first time I read that. It’s time to stop blaming others for my own pain. It’s time to take responsibility.
That same phrase comes to mind when I think about Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs). I’ve been crossing verbal swords with the MRAs for many years, particularly since 2004 when I began to develop a public presence as a male feminist writer and professor. I learned quickly that not all MRAs were the same; some offered thoughtful criticism while others offered only nasty invective. (Look up “Hugo Schwyzer Mangina” if you need evidence of the latter.) Keep reading »
Like countless American children, I grew up hearing the nursery rhyme that claimed that little boys were made of “snips and snails and puppy-dog tails” while girls were “sugar and spice and everything nice.” Attached as I was as a small boy to our pet dachshund, I thought puppy-dog tails were a fine thing indeed, but the point of the rhyme wasn’t lost on me. Boys were dirty, girls were clean and pure. Keep reading »