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    Showing posts with label Women News. Show all posts

    Reasons Why I'm Not Having Children

    I've been on the receiving end of these statements because I've chosen not to bear children.

    My reasons to remain childfree are plentiful (and nobody's business). Yet I'm constantly asked to justify my choice.

    Here's a sampling:

    1. Economics: Children are expensive. As of August 2013, the average cost for a middle class family to raise one child for 18 years is $304,480. Giving birth can cost between $3,296 and $37,227. Sending a child to college costs between $8,893 to $22,203 per year, per child. I'll go make myself a stiff drink; those numbers make me dizzy.

    2. Logistics: In spite of social and cultural advancements, women are still default caregivers, especially in a child's formative years. Raising a kid before s/he begins school is more than a full-time job. It's 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no time off for good behavior. I'm not fit to be around adult human beings when sleep-deprived, let alone a child dependent on me for Every. Little. Thing.

    3. Environmental: There are an estimated 153 million orphans on Earth. Why add another mouth to an overpopulated planet for an ego-driven biological imperative I don't feel? If anything, I'll adopt.
    4. Physical: My body has been through enough physical trauma in its 35 years of being knocked about this world. Post-traumatic stress disorder from surviving a gun crime has wreaked havoc on my nervous system. I also grew up abroad and wasn't exposed to the additives and preservatives rife in American food. Adding just one child to my family means no more organic and clean eating because we can't afford it. Well, we also can't afford cancer.

    5. Emotional: Every day I struggle to manage PTSD. Having the freedom to be sleepless when the pain tsunami hits has been a godsend. Being able to sleep for 12 hours uninterrupted if need be has been a savior. I work from home and set my own hours, an ideal situation. Add a child and what happens when depression hits and I can't get out of bed? Or I cry for an entire week? Or during bouts of rage in which I lose complete control?

    6. Social: Last time I checked, this world is messed up. There is a school shooting almost every week in this country. Also, there's this gnarly thing called "rape culture" and it permeates every aspect of our society. Many of the children of today will likely be its victims or perpetrators in the not-so-distant future. I'll go ahead and make myself another drink, that is one Big Bad.

    10 Things All Men Should Know About Pregnant Women

    When it comes to dealing with pregnant women, I'm no expert. Hell, I still don't even know how to figure out women in general. In fact, I'm the antithesis of an expert. Luckily for you, I've made just about every single stupid mistake and placed my foot so far in my mouth during my wife's pregnancies that I'm overqualified to speak to you about things you need to know to avoid getting knocked out by the knocked up.

    Here are the 10 most important things to remember.

    1. Feed her constantly.
    Everyone knows food is important to pregnant women. But what the uninitiated might not realize is that time is of the essence. The bottom line is, when she says she's hungry, she means it. Feed that woman immediately or she will eat your f*cking face. Know that "I'm hungry" doesn't mean she's looking forward to the dinner plans you have in an hour. It means give her a snack before you leave for the restaurant. And then again when you get in the car. Failure to promptly produce snacks will result in extreme b*tchiness at best, and bodily injury at worst. Just turn yourself into a walking, talking vending machine for nine months and you'll be fine.

    2. Food: What's yours is hers, what's hers is off-limits.
    There's a good chance you've been married or together a few years now, so it's perfectly understandable that you bought into all that stuff about togetherness and sharing a life, etc. And while some of that still applies, all bets are off when it comes to food. If you eat food that's hers (or food you bought for yourself but she somehow claimed as hers), she will cut you. Not physically, perhaps, but by the time she's finished excoriating you you'll wish it was just a knife wound you suffered. I ate some of MJ's chocolate once, and when she went to find it during a craving and saw that it was gone, she flew into a rage that was one of the scariest things I've ever seen. Just don't do it.

    3. Get ready to gain weight.
    Notice how all the topics so far have involved food? That's no mistake. Ultimately, at some point, she'll have cravings. When MJ was pregnant with Will, she wanted pizza, Kit Kats and grapefruit. The second time around, it was nothing but fruit salad. But whatever the craving, one of the unmentioned side effects of pregnancy is YOUR weight gain. Yes, the guys gain weight, too. Mainly because we inevitably partake in our partners' cravings and all the extra junk food results in a spare tire. I gained 25 pounds during MJ's pregnancy five years ago, just a shade under the total amount she gained -- WITH THE BABY! So watch your step.

    4. Don't point out how big she's getting.
    My Boston sports habit notwithstanding, I'm a fairly logical person. I knew MJ was pregnant and pregnant women gain weight. That's why I thought absolutely nothing of pointing out my wife's really cute swollen belly. In my mind, it was just nature progressing and running its course, and there was nothing more beautiful. But after the first two or three times I said it, she snapped on me. "STOP TELLING ME I'M FAT! I KNOW I'M FAT! I DON'T NEED YOU POINTING IT OUT!!" It didn't matter that in my eyes she had never looked more beautiful, or that she was SUPPOSED to be gaining weight. Which leads me to my next point...

    5. "Pregnancy Brain" is very real.
    I know it sounds like some sort of cutesy, media-created term. But it's not. Pregnancy Brain is legit. It starts with everyday occurrences like looking for her glasses while they're on her head, which is kind of adorable. But it soon progresses to things like leaving the basement door open in 5-degree weather and freezing the entire bottom floor of the house while simultaneously leaving us susceptible to a home invasion. And in a fit of irony, I just asked MJ to give me more examples of Pregnancy Brain, but she couldn't -- because she can't remember.

    6. Goodbye, sense of humor.
    The good news is: she's gained a baby. The bad news? There wasn't enough room for the baby AND her sense of humor. If you're a smart-a** like I am, this is especially troubling, since I show affection by giving people good-natured sh*t. Unfortunately, my pregnant wife does not appreciate my unique brand of humor while carrying our little parasite around in her stomach. The results are often me firing off (what I consider to be) beautiful comedic quips and zingers, which don't just fall on deaf ears -- they fall on potentially homicidal ears. You've been warned.

    7. Say goodbye to sex, too.
    Listen to me carefully -- you're about to be sexually frustrated. The first trimester is by far the worst. It's when she'll be going through the most changes and feeling the sh*ttiest. It's everything she can do to avoid throwing up every morning (and sometimes at night), so your feeling unloved and "backed up" doesn't really register. So fire up the porn and give yourself a hand, because you're now a sex camel, my friend. The only silver lining is you'll have sex two times during the pregnancy. You have a one- to two-week window when her sex drive returns early in the second trimester. Enjoy that, because it's not happening again until very late in the pregnancy. Right at the end she'll be so desperate to get the baby out of her that she'll use you in the hopes that sex will send her into labor. It's slightly awkward, but after the drought it's a welcome relief -- as long as her water doesn't break right then and there.

    8. Yes, her boobs are bigger; no, you can't touch them.
    While we're on the topic of sex, let me tell you about one of nature's cruelest tricks. When a woman is carrying a child, it's a beautiful thing. That "pregnant glow" you always hear about is real, and it does wonders for her hair, her fingernails and -- her rack. A becomes C, B becomes D and C becomes Hallelujah Thank You Jesus! They swell up to gargantuan sizes, literally breaking bras at the seams and popping off her chest in a fit of Playboy glory. The only problem is, you're not allowed to touch them. It's like going to the pet store and seeing the cute puppies behind the glass but not being able to pet them. They're adorable and you want to take them home and keep them forever, but if you try to motorboat her puppies she will slap the sh*t out of you. Trust me.

    9. Your dick can't hurt the baby.
    Let's get this one out of the way right now -- your penis will have no effect on the baby in your wife's womb. Got that? I don't care if you're on par with Ron Jeremy, your dick is not going to scare the kid and it's certainly not going to poke him in the forehead. Not only that, but any suggestion to the contrary will send your pregnant wife into hysterics. And there's nothing more demoralizing than a conversation that involves your penis and hysterical laughter. So I'm told...

    10. You will be replaced by pillows.
    Did you spend a crap ton of money on a mattress? Some sort of memory foam or pillowtop deal that makes you feel like 1,000 little angels are massaging you as you fall asleep every night? Well, I hope you also spent money on a comfortable couch, because that's likely where you'll be sleeping for a decent part of the pregnancy. And it's not so much because of the increased space your pregnant wife takes up, either. It's the pillows. Yup, that's right. You become increasingly irrelevant as the pregnancy wears on, but the 37 pillows -- including that godforsaken full-body pillow -- become absolutely vital nighttime companions. And when push comes to shove, you're getting the shove to the sofa.

    I Watched Duke Porn Star Belle Knox Strip At A Gentlemen's Club

    Mind you, I've never actually been to a strip club. But I had imagined a dark, dingy place where men slink in and out with their eyes averted, afraid they might run into their wives' Pilates instructor (or something like that). Armed with two female friends and more than a few whiskey gingers, I walked into Headquarters Gentlemen's Club to watch Belle Knox's debut stripping performance on Tuesday night with a tote bag full of gym clothes and a grandpa sweater on. Let's just say the bouncers seemed more than a bit perplexed.

    When Belle Knox, sex worker and all-around badass feminist, came out as the Duke porn star last month, I immediately went into full-support mode. Knox is refreshingly articulate and steadfast about her beliefs -- especially impressive given that she's only 18. As a sex-positive feminist, I support Belle's choice to work in porn and completely respect her ambition to succeed in her career. So when I got the chance to attend her stripping debut at a New York City gentlemen's club I decided to take it, because frankly, I was curious.
    After bee-lining to the bar, my coworkers and I found prime viewing spots directly in front of the stage. There was a swarm of journalists in the club and some poor, unsuspecting (non-journalist) men huddled away from the flashing camera lights. And while we may not have been getting the truest strip club experience, given the bizarre media circus, there was no ignoring the naked and gyrating women strutting around the room.

    Our small entourage slowly acclimated to our surroundings as we gossiped and watched Knox's many opening acts come and go from the stage. During the three-hour show (I swear, this was for work), our conversation slowly evolved. We started out nervously giggling, quickly realized this was disrespectful, and attempted to pay attention to the dancers onstage.

    Staring at these women exposing themselves for the pleasure of the audience, me and my two heterosexual female companions began to pick apart each performer's body: "Oh my gosh, she is absolutely gorgeous!" "Her boobs are totally fake." "C'mon, I could do a better job than her."

    After two hours of standing next to flashing lenses, eager reporters and a dude who actually asked if I worked there, Belle took the stage. With a small army of cameras trailing her, the 18-year-old star made her entrance to none other than Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation."

    10 Ways Mainstream Porn Misleads Women About Sex

    Anyone who has watched even a few minutes of porn may end up with some very particular ideas about what real-world sex entails.

    Porn -- at least, the kind where super-toned, tanned, hairless women are penetrated in a variety of acrobatic positions by equally toned, tanned men -- is full of myths about sex. Redditor black_brotha decided to ask women on the site what they "learned" from porn that turned out to be completely untrue in the real world.

    Here are 11 of the most worrying un-truths women said porn taught them:

    1. That their bodies were abnormal: "I was 100% convinced that I needed labiaplasty and was really ashamed to be naked in front of [a] guy because I thought he would think I was a freak."

    2. That all sex focuses on the guy's pleasure: "I thought having sex with a man meant having to pretend I enjoyed it even if I wasn't, that it didn't matter if I had an orgasm, and that it was normal for a guy not to give a shit about my pleasure."

    3. That "sexy" is purely physical, and incredibly specific:

    I felt like I had to fit into a box I could never fit in. It made me feel dysphoric about not just my body, but who I was. I'm a clumsy, boyish, awkward female, that couldn't do an attractive striptease to save their life AKA the antithesis of your typical "sexy female"... There is more than just one kind of sexy and its all subjective. I've realized that Im sexy in my own way and I'm much happier now.
    4. That men don't like women with hair "down there": "I thought men would expect completely hairless women and they would be repulsed by me."

    5. That orgasms are almost effortless: "I thought orgasms were much easier to achieve than they actually are. As a result I thought something was wrong with me for a long time. I just assumed that PIV=almost instant orgasm. I was so disappointed to find that wasn't the case."

    6. That men only find certain bodies (white, toned and smooth-skinned) attractive: "It did make me think that only women with perfect bodies ever had sex."
    7. That all penises are circumcised and eight inches long: "I didn't know uncircumcised penises existed, because all the porn I'd seen prior had circumcised male performers."

    8. That insanely complex sexual positions feel good for everyone:

    Those positions? Yeah, most of them don't feel good.I know everyone's different, but it is VERY DIFFICULT, bordering on impossible to have an orgasm with that much distance between the partners! Besides, one of the best things about sex is the closeness of skin-to-skin contact.
    9. That you had to do everything women in porn videos did in order for your partner to enjoy themself: "It didn't occur to me until like age 27 that I didn't have to let a guy come on my face if I didn't want to. Or I didn't have to swallow. Or that it was okay to not moan if I didn't feel like moaning."

    10. That men are always ready and willing: "I thought that all men liked being aggressive and dominant, like in porn, and that if they were under 50, they were always going to be able to get hard and orgasm."

    Girl Talk: How Do You Know, Really Know, You Want To Have Children?

    I have a couple of girl friends whom I really envy. They know exactly what they want — or rather, what they don’t want.  They don’t want to have children.  Two of my girl friends are childless by choice, which means that while they enjoy being involved in the lives other people’s children, they have no interest at all in becoming parents of their own. There isn’t a doubt in either of their minds that kids are not a possibility.

    My own feelings on the subject are much more hazy.

    In childhood, I assumed I would have lots of children when I grew up, probably because that would have been a continuation of what I already knew. I’m the youngest of five kids and the chaos and coziness seemed like the definition of “family” to me. I also played with baby dolls and was probably socialized, on some level, into believing it was a foregone conclusion that I’d have children.

    I felt serious about becoming a mother all the way up and through my first serious adult relationship. I could envision our lives together and fantasized about what our children would look like (cute); we had serious conversations about the sort of career and finance-related decisions we needed to make in order to become parents.

    When that relationship ended, the attendant fantasies died with it. At this point something must have switched. Maybe it was that I worried my certitude about having children someday partially scared him away. Maybe it was that I simply recalibrated my own “must have” list for future happiness. But the next serious relationship that I entered was with a man who didn’t want children. He envisioned a life for himself that involved traveling and going out to dinner whenever he wanted and having no responsibility to others, save the ones he already had with his family. He made that lifestyle look really, really appealing (although he, ultimately, was not such an appealing person). For the first time in my life, I seriously considered that I might be happy without children if I had the right partner to spend it with. The next serious relationship — with a divorced guy who had two children from his previous marriage and didn’t want any more kids — only solidified that decision. I could very happily be a stepmom, too.

    Now I can see lots of options about parenthood that might appeal to me. Without any sense of certainty anymore about such a big decision, I feel rudderless at age 29. That feels like a perilous age to be adrift on these big subjects like whether I really want to procreate or whether I’ll regret not doing so. My husband seems to feel similarly ambivalent — or perhaps characteristically happy-go-lucky is a better way to put it. When we talk about it, he says “not now but maybe someday” a lot; that’s about the same way I feel, although I’m the one with the ticking biological clock who knows “someday” is realistically some point within the next decade. For now, both of us like being an aunt and uncle to my siblings’ kids and waving hi to cute babies on the street. But we recognize there’s a lot more than that to becoming a parent. Becoming a parent completely changes your life.

    The Types Of Sex Women Are Having More Than Ever Before Photo

    Women may be having more types of sex than ever before -- but less sex overall.

    So say the findings from Britain's third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3), conducted from 2010 to 2012. The 8869 women polled for Natsal-3 reported higher incidences of sex before age 16, same-sex encounters and anal sex than their counterparts in the first and second Natsal surveys, conducted in 1990-1991 and 1999-2001 respectively, as well as a declining frequency in sexual encounters.

    Sixteen percent of British women aged 16–44 reported having sexual experience or contact with a same-sex partner, up from 10 percent in Natsal-2 and four percent in Natsal-1. A similar trend was found when it came to anal sex -- 15 percent of women reported having anal sex in the past year, compared with 11 percent of respondents in Natsal-2 and 7 percent in Natsal-1.

    It's possible that some of these changes are simply the result of people feeling more comfortable revealing their sexual practices then they have been in the past, perhaps due to decreasing stigma around various sex acts or different survey techniques. But, as William Saletan at Slate put it: "Even if you attribute most of it to changes in candor or interpretation, the willingness of so many women to admit to same-sex activity represents a big cultural shift."

    While the types of sex women are having seems to be increasing, they may be having sex less frequently. In 1990, the median number of times that women reported having sex in the previous four weeks was five. This number dropped to four in 2001, and three in 2012.

    One explanation for such a drop is that people are having less sex because they're too busy. Professor Kaye Wellings of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine told The Gloss: "Work comes into our home now and there is no strict divide. People are taking laptops and iPads to bed. People are working very, very hard. They are very busy."

    Too busy for sex? That's a sad state of affairs. But we're glad to hear that women feel more comfortable engaging in -- and talking about -- sex that isn't of the vanilla, heterosexual variety.

    10 Things Every Woman Should Have Been Told About Sex, But Probably Wasn't

    Talking about sex during your formative years can be incredibly awkward -- even squirm-inducing. But whether you experience formal sex ed, awkward "birds and the bees" talks, candid conversations with friends or all or none of the above, it's all theoretical until you're actually doing it -- which can make for some surprises along the way.

    On a Nov. 7 Reddit thread, commenters answered the question "what is something about sex that you wish someone had told you?" The thoughtful responses touched on everything from the way pornography has influenced our sex lives ( "changing positions every 30 seconds not actually required despite what porn clips had taught me") and calling out the unrealistic portrayal of sex in Hollywood ("Sex on a beach is not half as good as the movies make it out to be"), to safe-sex information ("Antibiotics impact the effectiveness of birth control pills") and general wisdom ("Sooner or later, one of you will do something utterly embarrassing. It will be absolutely mortifying. A good partner will not care.")

    We decided to ask our readers what they wish someone had told them about sex before they started having it. Here are 18 things they shared with us:

    1. There is no dignified way of "cleaning up" -- and you WILL need to clean up afterwards.

    2. A male partner won't always have a higher sex drive than you.

    3. You can have as much sex as you want, with as many people as you like.

    4. Sex is truly awesome when you really love the person you're having it with.

    5. Women are allowed to enjoy sex as much as men.

    6. Sex doesn't look like it does in the movies -- or in porn.

    7. You are not more valuable as a person if someone wants to have sex with you, and you are not less valuable as a person if you choose not to.

    8. Learn what turns you on and don't be afraid to ask for it, because your partner isn't a mind-reader.

    9. It's fine to say "no" -- it doesn't make you less sexual.

    10. The best sex is about mutual giving.

    This Woman Was About To Go In For Surgery. What She Did Moments Before Was Awesome.

    Facing a double mastectomy with grace takes courage. Facing one with courage and joy is extraordinary.

    But that’s exactly what Deborah Cohan did yesterday right before she went into surgery to have her breasts removed. Cohan, an Ob/Gyn and mom of two, held a dance party with her medical team in the operating room of Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco.

    This inspiring 6-minute-long video, posted on YouTube, shows Cohan busting some serious moves as she wiggles and twerks to Beyonce’s hit “Get Me Bodied.” Cohan requested that friends and family make videos of themselves dancing to Bey too so that she could watch them during her recovery. “I have visions of a healing video montage,” she wrote. “Nothing brings me greater joy than catalyzing others to dance, move, be in their bodies. Are you with me people?”

    They were. You can check out videos of Deborah’s fans shaking their booties in solidarity on her CaringBridge page.

    Deborah, we wish you a speedy recovery. And can we go clubbing with you when you’re all better?

    Do Women Need Bras? French Study Says Brassieres Are A 'False Necessity'

    Women who go braless may actually have the right idea, new research suggests.

    According to the results of a 15-year study in France published Wednesday, bras provide no benefits to women and may actually be harmful to breasts over time.

    "Medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity," Jean-Denis Rouillon, a professor at the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon, told France Info.

    Conducting the study at the university's hospital, Rouillon measured and examined the breasts of more than 300 women, aged 18 and 35, taking note of how the additional support provided by bras affects the body over time. (It should be noted the study does not mention breast size.)

    Overall, he found that women who did not use bras benefited in the long term, developing more muscle tissue to provide natural support. As France's The Local notes, Rouillon also noticed that nipples gained a higher lift, in relation to the shoulders, on women who went braless. When bras are worn, the restrictive material prevents such tissue from growing, which may actually accelerate sagging, the study concluded.

    Capucine Vercellotti, a 28-year-old woman who participated in the research, found that she breathes easier without the constraints of a bra.

    "At first, I was a little reluctant to the idea of running without a bra, but I got started and after five minutes, I had no trouble at all," Vercellotti said, according to the Agence France-Presse.

    Real Bikini Bodies Look Like This

    It's only March and we're already seeing it: "Kate Beckinsale's Hot Bikini Body: Tips From Her Trainer"; "Snooki is 'Beach Body Ready' in New Bikini Pictures"; "'Summer isn't far away': Victoria Beckham prepares her bikini body."

    But what does "bikini body" even mean? We happen to believe that if you're physically able to put on a bathing suit, you're bikini-ready. This week we asked readers on Facebook to send us images of their perfectly beach-ready bodies -- unstarved and unairbrushed. We've received some awesome photos already and we hope that you'll send more our way to help us prove that we're all beach- and bathing suit-ready just as we are.

    The Nu Project's Nude Photos Tell The Truth About Women's Bodies

    Female nudity isn't hard to come by in the media, but the bodies we see usually represent a fairly limited scope of sizes and shapes. The Nu Project, a collection of nude photographs shot by Minneapolis photographer Matt Blum, seeks to add some variety to the mix.

    Blum started The Nu Project in 2005 but said it really took off when his wife, Katy Kessler, became the project's editor. Blum sees the photos as filling a void. "When I started shooting nudes there was no project like it," he told The Huffington Post in an email. "The things that I had seen either used models with typical model bodies or average people who were made to look extremely unimpressive. I figured there was a way to treat women (of any size/shape) like models and photograph them beautifully, respectfully without a lot of sexual under or overtones."

    The women photographed are all volunteers, and most of the pictures are taken in the subjects' homes -- where they feel most comfortable. The Nu Project's website showcases six galleries of nudes, three shot in North America, three in South America.

    Although Blum told HuffPost that he feels that they have a "good variety of people involved," he and Kessler acknowledge on The Nu Project website that they'd love for the subjects to be more diverse. "The hardest part for us is that the project is 100 percent volunteer, so I do not see the women until I show up at their door," Blum writes on the website. "We’re doing our best to encourage all types of women, but we need volunteers of all backgrounds and walks of life to make the project more complete."

    Blum said he ultimately hopes that these images inspire the women who see them to feel better about their own bodies. "It's been really exciting to hear people react to the images," he told HuffPost. "We get a lot of feedback from women (especially) who have struggled to see themselves as beautiful, and this project has helped them on that path."

    Alain de Botton On 'How To Think More About Sex'

    Alain de Botton's latest book How To Think More About Sex has an eye-catching title, and is an intelligent discussion of society's greatest obsession. "We don’t think too much about sex," he says. "We’re merely thinking about it in the wrong way."

    We interviewed the British writer and public intellectual via email about how none of us are 'normal', why sex will always be difficult, and what the ultimate point of sex is for us all.

    Why did you choose to write about sex?
    I wrote it because it's rare for anyone to get through this life without feeling – generally with a degree of secret agony, perhaps at the end of a relationship, or as we lie in bed frustrated next to our partner, unable to go to sleep – that we are somehow a bit odd about sex.

    It is an area in which most of us have a painful impression, in our heart of hearts, that we are quite unusual. Despite being one of the most private of activities, sex is nonetheless surrounded by ideas about how normal people are meant to feel about and deal with the matter.

    In truth, however, few of us are remotely normal sexually. We are almost all haunted by guilt and neuroses, by phobias and disruptive desires, by indifference and disgust. None of us approaches sex as we are meant to, with the cheerful, sporting, non-obsessive, constant, well-adjusted outlook that we torture ourselves by believing that other people are endowed with. We are universally deviant – but only in relation to some highly distorted ideals of normality. So it's time to accept the strangeness of sex with good humour and courage - and start to talk about it with honesty and compassion.

    This is what my book is about: an invitation to think more about a subject we mistakenly think we know all about already.

    What are the advantages and disadvantages about society's obsession with sex?
    The problem lies in the feeling that we live at a time where we're very advanced about sex. We look back at the 19th century, or pre 1960s and think, 'Now they had a problem. Whereas we...' Well, it's not so simple. Whatever discomfort we do feel around sex is aggravated by the idea that we belong to a liberated age – and ought by now, as a result, to be finding sex a straightforward and untroubling matter.

    Despite our best efforts to clean it of its peculiarities, sex will never be either simple in the ways we might like it to be. It can die out; it refuses to sit neatly on top of love, as it should. Tame it though we may try, sex has a recurring tendency to wreak havoc across our lives. Sex remains in absurd, and perhaps irreconcilable, conflict with some of our highest commitments and values. Perhaps ultimately we should accept that sex is inherently rather weird instead of blaming ourselves for not responding in more normal ways to its confusing impulses.

    This is not to say that we cannot take steps to grow wiser about sex. We should simply realise that we will never entirely surmount the difficulties it throws our way.

    What are the biggest issues we face as a society about sex?
    It is very rare to have a lot of sex. Very few people do. There are good and bad reasons for this. Here are some of the worse one: we may not be having too much sex because our partner is angry with us - or we with them. The common conception of anger posits red faces, raised voices and slammed doors, but only too often, it takes on a different form, for when it doesn’t understand or acknowledge itself, anger just curdles into numbness, into a blank 'I'm not in the mood...'

    There are two reasons we tend to forget we are angry with our partner, and hence become anaesthetized, melancholic and unable to have sex with him.

    Firstly, because the specific incidents that anger us happen so quickly and so invisibly, in such fast-moving and chaotic settings (at breakfast time, before the school run, or during a conversation on mobile phones in a windy plaza at lunchtime) that we can’t recognise the offence well enough to mount any sort of coherent protest against it. The arrow is fired, it wounds us, but we lack the resources or context to see how and where, exactly, it has pierced our armour.

    And second, we frequently don’t articulate our anger even when we do understand it, because the things that offend us can seem so trivial, finicky or odd that they would sound ridiculous if spoken aloud. Even rehearsing them to ourselves can be embarrassing.

    We may, for example, be deeply wounded when our partner fails to notice our new haircut or doesn’t use a breadboard while cutting a bit of baguette, thus scattering crumbs everywhere, or goes straight upstairs to watch television without stopping to ask about our day. These hardly seem matters worth lodging formal complaints over. To announce, ‘I am angry with you because you’re cutting the baguette in the wrong way’, is to risk sounding at once immature and insane. But we may need to spell our complaints in order to get in the vulnerable, trusting honest mood that makes sex possible.

    In The Water, They Can't See You Cry

    A year after the 1996 Olympics, I ranked twenty-third in the world in the 100-meter breaststroke and twenty-sixth in the 200-meter.

    My parents did their best to shelter me from the unanimous criticism of public opinion. I didn't need anyone to tell me how bad I stunk; I knew that already. The harsh numbers of my ranking told the whole story. At least that's what I thought until I got acquainted with a whole new kind of low.

    I had come into the living room of our house to find the newspaper because I wanted the movie listings; I needed to find a flick I could lose myself in. After looking on the couches and coffee table, I sat on the recliner chair where my dad read the newspaper and all of his books. I saw a piece of newsprint sticking out from in between a stack of books. Thinking it might be the paper, I lifted up the four or five volumes on top. Instead I found a hidden stash of clippings and knew immediately they were about me.

    Since the start of my career, my dad was my own personal archivist, clipping any and all articles about me so that I could have them later on in life. But after carefully cutting them out, he always put them into the big red scrapbook he kept in his room.

    Reading the dozen or so articles in my lap, I saw clearly why these hadn't made it into the book. Sportswriters called me fat, washed-up, and finished. I'd never do anything good in swimming again, they wrote. There it was in black and white, a complete validation of the negative voice playing on a loop in my head. It was true, I was a fat loser. The words I attacked myself with stared out at me from the page, causing a kind of sweet dread. I had suspected that everyone was talking about me, and they were. The shame -- this wasn't just a couple of mean girls at school but the whole world -- hurt so much it almost veered 180 degrees into pleasure. I wrapped myself up in sadness like a martyr, then tucked the clips back in their hiding spot so my dad wouldn't know I had found them.

    I didn't talk about what was happening to me with anybody -- not my dad, mom, friends, or coach. Everyone knew that I knew I sucked, but we all ignored it. Hop into the pool, do your sets, dinner, homework, bed. Business as usual. At the time I was grateful for the normalcy. The last thing I wanted to do was draw more attention to myself. Not addressing something, however, doesn't mean it goes away.

    What Scoliosis Taught Me About Body Image

    I was recently diagnosed with a medical condition. I've got a mild case of it, but it brings a few troublesome complications regardless, nothing serious. And as one might well do, the first thing I did when I got home upon receiving my diagnosis was Google it to learn more. The list of symptoms included what took me to treatment in the first place, a good number of troubles I don't have, and a surprising entry: poor body image. The diagnosis? Scoliosis.

    Now, if I'm being officially diagnosed for the first time at age 35, obviously my scoliosis isn't terribly problematic. I was monitored for it as a child (do they still do those annual scoliois screenings at school? It somehow seems like a remnant of the '70s, like the Dorothy Hamill haircut) but it was so mild that it barely qualified as scoliosis, and it didn't warrant treatment -- certainly not intervention like surgery or a brace. Basically, my muscles compensate for my wonky spine, running me through varying degrees of pain; I treat it with exercise, occasional ibuprofen, massage, and masturbation. (Deenie in da house!) In other words, it's not a huge deal, and it's not something that weighs on my mind a lot.

    But there it is, that symptom far down on the list -- below the physical pain, below the visual cues -- poor body image. There's a whole body of work devoted to studying the psychosocial effects of scoliosis, particularly in adolescents, but it boils down to this: Something about your body is "wrong," and chances are it's not something you ever thought was a problem, and you really can't do much of anything about it. Wearing a brace may or may not have an impact on patients' body image, but there's evidence supporting a correlation between scoliosis and body image, regardless of treatment.

    Now, the people being studied aren't people like me: I'm an adult, for starters, and one with a very mild case of scoliosis. Though I've been told repeatedly by chiropractors, tailors, and osteopaths that there's something irregular about my form, nobody until recently has used the word scoliosis about my body since the sixth grade. Whatever body image problems I have come from the usual suspects -- perfectionism, media, growing up girl -- not my spinal curvature.

    But it's not hard for me to see how my body image has shifted ever so slightly in the past few weeks. Part of it was the pain that drove me to seek treatment; it's difficult to feel like your body is something to be proud of when you're wincing whenever you take off your shirt. But more than that, I've learned that -- and this is an unkind term -- I'm misshapen. I found myself complaining of feeling "broken" and "twisted" -- words I've never used to describe myself. Whenever I've had a problem with my body, there's been a part of me that has known it's in my head, because the concerns I had were solely about about how I appeared. If I thought my thighs were unappealing, there was still a part of me that understood that "unappealing" was subject to interpretation. With a twisted spine that was causing me pain -- that wasn't in my head, that was in my bones.

    Chocolate Or Sex? Settling The Argument Once And For All

    It seems that the age old question -- do women prefer chocolate or sex -- has finally been answered. At least for Jezebel readers. The publication has just concluded it's month-long face-off of sexual acts vs. types of chocolate.

    The winner? Good, old-fashioned sex -- missionary style. Missionary trounced it's final competitor, brownies, by a wopping 6,350 votes to 3,443 votes. However, a survey from last October concluded that women thought about food and dieting more than they thought about sex, and in June Elle Canada reported on a study that found women found sex and chocolate equally compelling.

    It's understandably a tough call. Chocolate is not only delicious, but has been shown to have (in moderation) a few health benefits, including decreased stroke risk, UV protection for your skin, improved blood flow and elevated mood. And besides being (hopefully) pleasurable, sex can help you burn calories, boost your immune system and lower your stress levels.

    However from the looks of Jezebel's showdown, ladies would rather get down than chow down. This made us wonder what our readers would choose to give up. So vote! (And we've added a third option to make the stakes a little more interesting.)

    Fat Betty Draper: Why Do We Care So Much?

    "Well, with middle-aged women, it gets easier to put it on and harder to take it off." At the ripe not-so-old age of 34, Betty (Draper) Francis is sitting in her doctor's office facing two of her worst nightmares -- she's "old" and "fat."

    Last night's episode of "Mad Men" brought Betty back into the spotlight after she was noticeably left out of the season premiere. And though her storyline included a cancer scare and an almost-touching phone call with ex-husband Don, all anyone could talk about -- including Betty herself -- was her very noticeable weight gain. The opening sequence starkly contrasted Betty struggling to get into her party clothes and ultimately faking sick to get out of going to an event, with the thinner and younger Megan, who had no trouble at all getting zipped into her mod mini-dress for a meeting with Don and a Heinz executive. The aspirational Betty Draper that every fashion blogger felt compelled to write about during the show's first few seasons is officially a thing of the past. Just as Don is facing the prospect of getting older and therefore irrelevant, so too is former-model Betty.

    Betty's fear of permanently losing her lithe figure is compounded by a visit from her mother-in-law, Pauline. The elder Mrs. Francis tells Betty that she has a wifely duty to lose the weight in order to keep her husband attracted to her. "Honey, I know how it happens. You get comfortable and you give up a little bit, and then it just gets out of control," Pauline, a larger woman herself, tells Betty. Then she advises her daughter-in-law, "There are things you can do about this, there are pills you can take."

    Henry, Betty's politician husband, to his credit, never once shames her for her changing looks. I can't say the same for "Mad Men" viewers, many of whom appear to see Betty's weight gain as a reason in and of itself to dislike her. (Personally, I find her generally cold and selfish demeanor to be a far more compelling one.)

    The City Where Women Value Sex The Most

    How much do single women value sex? According to a new survey, it depends where you live.

    Online dating site, Chemistry.com, asked over 10 million singles across the country whether they strongly believed that sex was an essential part of a relationship. The question was part of a larger personality test, overseen by the website’s chief scientific adviser, biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher and addressed both men and women. After breaking down the data, Chemistry.com looked at the 10 cities that held the largest concentration of women who "strongly agreed" that sex was essential.

    While not new, the idea that women are into sex has received particular attention from researchers and the media in the last year. A July 2011 study found that sexual satisfaction was more important to women in long-term relationships than frequent kissing or cuddling. And contrary to popular myth, women rated sexual satisfaction as more key to a lasting relationship than their male counterparts did. When it comes to singles, Match.com's survey of 6,000 men and women from February indicated the single women were significantly less likely to settle for a partner that they didn't find sexually attractive than men were. And in her new book "The Richer Sex," journalist Liza Mundy predicts that in the near future, women will want sex more than men.

    Scroll down to see Chemistry.com's top 10 cities where women value sex. While California women overwhelmingly said that sex was very important in a relationship, Southern cities are glaringly absent from the top 10.

    Facebook Timeline May Add To Weight Insecurity, Study Finds

    Facebook Timeline may be exacerbating the weight insecurity that many users already feel by making it easier to compare their weights at different points in their lives, a new survey suggests.

    Researchers at the The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore commissioned a public survey of 600 Facebook users age 16 to 40 and discovered that the majority of users with Timeline had used the feature to compare their weights at different points in their lives.

    In addition, 14 percent of users who had switched to Timeline had installed applications that allow users to track and chart their weight loss, and 37 percent said they were interested in trying out the feature in the future.

    But Facebook Timeline or not, the survey found that 75 percent of users on the social network felt unhappy with their current weight, with 51 percent reporting that seeing of pictures of themselves on the site made them more aware of their size. Nearly 1 in 3 users said that when they compared pictures of themselves to pictures of friends, they felt sad.

    "Facebook is making it easier for people to spend more time and energy criticizing their own bodies and wishing they looked like someone else," Dr. Harry Brandt, director of The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, said in a press release. "In this age of modern technology and constant access to SmartPhones and the internet, it's becoming increasingly difficult for people to remove themselves from images and other triggers that promote negative body image, low self-esteem and may ultimately contribute to eating disorders."

    Steven Crawford, associate director at the Center for Eating Disorders, said that excessively monitoring one's weight can be a contributing factor to eat disorders, and that behavior is now easier than ever thanks to Facebook.

    "People are now constantly aware of their appearance, thanks to Facebook. A common reaction is, 'I need to be thinner' And it's that kind of thinking that can lead to hazardous dieting," Crawford told TechNews Daily.

    "Facebook is an influential factor in developing severe eating disorders," he said.

    According to the National Institute for Mental Health, about 1 percent of women will develop anorexia nervosa in her lifetime, and 3.5 percent of women will develop a binge eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa. Between 1999 to 2006, the rate of hospitalization for eating disorders increased by 18 percent.

    At least one study has linked Facebook use with eating disorders. A survey of 248 female Facebook users age 12-18 found that the more time young women spend on Facebook, the more likely they are to develop an eating disorder.

    National Day Of Unplugging: Can You Spend 24 Hours Offline?

    How many times today have you texted or emailed while talking to someone else? How often do you sit with someone and engage with your phone rather than the human being across from you? How frequently does a glance at your inbox inject you with a fresh dose of anxiety?

    At our recent panel at SXSW Interactive on women's online "performance anxiety," we talked about the pressure women feel to present their ideal selves online, but the conversation ultimately turned to the enormous amount of time the Internet occupies. While author Susan Orlean said she feels like she can be herself on Twitter, she admitted that social media "occupies mental space. It's on your ongoing mental to-do-list." The other panelists echoed this sentiment.

    Bianca Bosker, HuffPost's senior tech editor, said she addressed this issue in her own life by making a 2012 New Year's resolution to not "check in" digitally when she could be making eye contact with the person across from her and not to tweet when doing so would interrupt a conversation. (Read more of her tech resolutions here.) Then filmmaker Tiffany Shlain shared why and how she and her family actually take a technology Sabbath every week -- and yes, she really does it.

    We were impressed. What would it be like to go a day without the Internet? Would we wither under the force of our own tech-induced ADD? Would we be oblivious to major events elsewhere in the world? How would we let everyone know what we were doing at every moment?

    We think those are questions worth answering -- and we hope you'll join us (well, those of us not running this website). If you're not ready to spend a day every week away from the Internet, why not start with one day? Just one. Saturday, March 24 is the National Day of Unplugging. In what the site Sabbath Manifesto describes as a day of "tech detox," you spend a whole 24 hours without screens of any kind -- including TV. (You can take the pledge here.)

    If that still feels a little extreme, here's a modified Unplugging Day plan we've devised just for you:

    Step 1. On Friday night, put an auto-response on your email saying you'll be out of contact Saturday, March 24. READ MORE

    Alejandra Gaitain And YouTube ‘Reply Girls'

    You may not recognize Alejandra Gaitan’s face, but her voice and especially a certain area of her body have won her millions of views (and a number of sponsorships) on YouTube. Gaitan, who calls herself “The Reply Girl,” has carved out a career making YouTube videos commenting on other videos on the site. While a major source of YouTube’s democratic appeal is that everyone from your grandmother to a preteen can upload and discuss videos, Gaitan’s unconventional methods have earned her both advertising dollars and, now, a death threat.

    Gawker’s Max Read describes the method Gaitan uses to get views:

    ... she copies the original video's tags and secures herself a spot on its page. Her shirts do the heavy lifting of bringing people to the video, and then a quirk in YouTube's "related videos" algorithm kicks in: when viewers register their dislike of Gaitan's video en masse with the "thumbs down" button, it actually drives the video further up the "related videos" ranking. This makes sense — if the Speaker of the House makes a reply to President Obama, Democrats will hit "dislike," but his video is still a legitimate reply — but it can allow for deeply-hated videos to climb to prominent placement.

    His reference to her shirts is an understatement: Filmed in what appears to be a bedroom, the camera in Gaitan’s videos cuts off part of her forehead in favor of focusing in on her prominent breasts, which in video thumbnails are often framed by a low-cut shirt -- a tease Read refers to elsewhere in his piece as a “YouTube Porn Fakeout.”

    Gaitan’s isn’t the only "reply girl" on YouTube. The Daily Dot defines the phenomenon as “young women -- some young enough to still be in high school -- who make videos in low-cut tops and push-up bras. Rather than baring their souls, they’re baring that age-old device often used to get attention: cleavage.”

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