For the last two days, articles about “anal Botox” have been blowing up my Facebook and Twitter feeds, with most of the headlines (like this one from Cosmo) saying something along the lines of “Anal Botox Is A Thing, And Costs Up to $25,000.” To me, the surprising thing about these headlines wasn’t that people were putting Botox in their butts, but what they were supposedly paying for it. Let me explain.Read More
In the final budget proposal submitted by the Obama administration last year, funding for abstinence-only sex education was put on the chopping block. They proposed eliminating abstinence-only programs entirely and, although it didn't ultimately come to pass, their proposal at least showed recognition of the fact that we need a new approach to sex education in this country. Study after study has shown that promoting abstinence only just doesn’t work. In fact, if anything, it seems to be counterproductive. For example, research has found that the U.S. states with the most abstinence-only programs actually have the highest rates of teen pregnancy !Read More
During my teaching stint at Harvard a couple of years back, a few colleagues from out of state came to visit me on a lovely spring afternoon. I gave them a brief tour of campus, followed by some bar-hopping through Harvard Square. It was a memorable day for several reasons, but mainly because, over a few drinks at my favorite local dive bar, we laid the groundwork for one of the most ambitious research projects I’ve ever undertaken in my professional career. Specifically, we set out to conduct the largest and most comprehensive scientific investigation of polyamorous relationships to date.Read More
Since becoming an adult, how many Americans have ever had a sexual experience with someone of the same sex? And how has this number changed over time? According to a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, 8-9% of American adults today have had a same-sex experience—a figure that has doubled since the late 1980s. Check out the infographic below for a closer look at the numbers and how they have changed over time.Read More
Both before and after the recent election of French president Emmanuel Macron, his wife, Brigitte, found herself to be the target of constant attacks on social media. Why? Because she happens to be 24 years older than her husband.
Age-gap relationships in which a woman is significantly older than her male partner have always attracted a lot of attention and scrutiny. Case in point: remember what big news it was when Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were together? As you may have noticed, this same scrutiny isn’t usually applied to relationships in which men are significantly older than their female partners. As some evidence of this, just consider what a non-issue it has been that U.S. President Donald Trump happens to be 24 years older than his wife, Melania (the same age-gap as the Macrons).Read More
Scientists who study sexual desire have long been wary of over-relying on self-report data because people don’t always tell the truth on surveys. Some people answer questions about what turns them on and what their sex lives are like in whatever way makes them look best. For example, someone might underreport their sexual desires and experiences in order to appear wholesome, or perhaps because they don't want to own up to something. To get around this issue, many sex scientists utilize devices that can measure genital arousal under the assumption that “genitals don’t lie.” Among researchers who subscribe to this belief, they have a tendency to let genital data trump self-report data whenever they seem to be saying different things.Read More
How many people in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)? A large, nationally representative survey conducted by Gallup last year put the overall number at 4.1% of the U.S. population. It is worth noting that this number increased from 3.5% in 2012, which suggests that as the LGBT community has made more social and political gains--including nationwide marriage equality--more and more Americans have decided to come out.
The overall number is just one small part of the story here, though.Read More
Teen sexting is an issue that parents and politicians alike are increasingly worried about. The message they’ve been sending to teens has been pretty uniform: don’t do it. Of course, a lot of teenagers do it anyway—and, unfortunately, some of them end up facing criminal consequences as a result. Sharing nude images of persons under age 18--even if they are images of yourself--falls under the category of child pornography. Sadly, more and more teens are being arrested for child porn for having done nothing more than engage in consensual sexting with their peers. Believe it or not, 7% of all arrests for possession of child pornography in the U.S. are among teens aged 17 and under—a figure that has more than double since the year 2000.Read More
According to the results of Gallup's 2017 Moral Issues Survey, Americans’ views on sexual morality continue to become more liberal. In fact, for a majority of the issues Americans were surveyed about, Gallup recorded the most liberal views on record. The most notable changes observed were that more Americans than ever believe same-sex behavior, sex between unmarried adults, and having children outside of marriage are morally acceptable. Although substantial shifts have occurred in those attitudes, Americans’ attitudes toward other sexual issues—particularly abortion and affairs—haven’t really changed at all. Check out the table below for a closer look at the numbers. You can also compare results from 2001 to today.Read More
In recognition of June being LGBT Pride Month, I'll be running several LGBT-themed posts on the blog in the coming weeks. Let's kick things off today by debunking some of the most common misconceptions and false beliefs about sexual orientation.
1.) Homosexuality is contagious. Research has failed to find support for the idea that same sex attraction can be transmitted through social contact. For example, a recent, large-scale study found that same-sex attraction does not spread within adolescent peer groups. Likewise, other research has found that gay parents are no more likely to raise gay children than their heterosexual counterparts.Read More
How is sex determined? In humans, it’s a matter of genetics, and it begins the moment a sperm cell fertilizes an egg, thereby producing a certain combination of sex chromosomes. Throughout the animal kingdom, though, sex determination varies widely and isn’t always genetically based, as biologist Aaron Reedy explains in the TED-Ed video below. For example, in some species—such as alligators and turtles—sex is actually determined by the environment. Specifically, the sex of these reptiles depends upon the temperature of their eggs at a critical point in development (cooler = male; warmer = female). Check out the video below to learn more about other fascinating variations in how sex is determined throughout nature.Read More
Condoms are one of the best tools we have for reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and preventing unintended pregnancies. Unfortunately, however, they don’t always provide as much protection as they could because people tend to make a lot of mistakes when it comes to applying condoms. These mistakes include using sharp objects to open condom packages, not checking the expiration date, and taking the condom off before sex is finished. Why are condom use errors so common? Undoubtedly, there are multiple reasons, not the least of which is a simple lack of knowledge regarding proper condom use. However, a recent study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections points to at least one other important potential contributor: rushed condom application.Read More
As you might imagine, in my work as a sex educator, questions about penises--and especially about penis size--come up all the time. As such, I thought it might be helpful to put together a resource guide that addresses some of the most commonly asked questions on this topic. So, here are my answers to the five most popular questions I've encountered about penis size.
1.) “What is the average penis size?”Read More
May is Masturbation Month. We can trace the origin of this special month back to 1995, when US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders said that masturbation is a part of human sexuality and something that should perhaps be taught in sex education courses. Her comments set off a huge controversy that ultimately led to her being fired. To mark her unjust dismissal, sex toy company Good Vibrations declared May 14 to be National Masturbation Day, which was later expanded to include the whole month.Read More
As part of the study abroad course I’m currently teaching on Sex and Culture in the Netherlands, I’ve done some research into what sex laws look like over here. As I wrote in previous posts about this class, two of the ways that laws in the Netherlands are unique compared to the United States are that prostitution is legal and comprehensive sex education is mandated. However, those are just a couple of the most interesting differences. Here are a few more:
1.) Sex and the disabled. The Netherlands doesn’t just have legal prostitution—they also have government-subsidized prostitution for certain segments of the population. Specifically, disabled citizens are eligible to receive government assistance to hire sex workers. Why? Because sex is seen as a right—something that everyone who wants to participate in should be able to enjoy. Also, it’s something that’s seen as good for people’s mental and physical health.Read More
The next unit in my Amsterdam study abroad course focuses on sexual health and sex education. As a starting point, I shared some statistics with my students highlighting just how dramatically different teens’ sexual health outcomes are in the Netherlands compared to the United States. So that you can get some sense of this, too, I’ve put together the infographic below, which reveals that teen girls in the Netherlands have far lower rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion. Below, we’ll discuss why.Read More
What would it be like if prostitution were legal? If you're from the United States or any other part of the world where sex work is (largely) prohibited by law, this might be a very difficult thing to imagine. However, if you look to countries where sex work is legal today, you can see that there are actually several different forms it can take. For example, in Switzerland, they’ve opened up drive-in sex garages, which you can learn more about here. And in the Netherlands (where I'm teaching a study abroad course on sex and culture at the moment), they have walk-up sex windows in the Red Light District.Read More
Hello from Amsterdam! Today is the first day of a class I’m teaching on Sexuality and Culture in the Netherlands. I’m confident I could not have picked a better place to teach my very first study abroad course. Amsterdam is, well, just an awesome city—but it’s also a fascinating place to go learn about cross-cultural differences in sexuality for a couple of weeks. Here's why.Read More
Throughout the animal kingdom, genitals are very complex—way more complex than they are in humans. Take the male argonaut octopus, for example, which has a detachable penis that can swim on its own. Or consider female kangaroos, which have three vaginas and two uteruses each. On the surface, these genitals might seem way more complicated than they actually need to be for reproductive purposes. So why is that?Read More
As a sex educator, one of the topics I get asked about most often is anal sex. Given how curious people seem to be about this activity, I thought it would be worth putting together a brief guide that addresses some of the most common questions people have about anal sex. So, here goes:
1.) Anal sex is a very popular sexual activity in the United States today, with CDC research suggesting that close to one-half of men and about one-third of women have had anal intercourse before.Read More