Posts Tagged ‘sexuality’

Interview with Amy Andre about sexuality studies

January 23, 2008

Best Sex Writing 2008 cover

Here’s the latest in my series of interviews with Best Sex Writing 2008 contributors. Click here to read the table of contents and introduction. Amy Andre

Amy Andre has a master’s degree in human sexuality studies from San Francisco State University. She works as a sex educator and writer.

What inspired your article “The Study of Sex?”

I’m actually the guest lecturer I refer to in the essay. I’ve lectured in Dr. Nick Baham’s class a number of times. He’s doing great work, and I wanted to spread the word.

Your essay starts off with a description of a course called African-American Sexuality and goes on to talk about how race is handled in the field of sexuality studies and the lack of people of color in the field. How is race dealt with generally in the sexuality studies classes you’ve taken? What are some of the areas where the intersection of race and sexuality should be explored in academia, in your opinion?

Sexuality and race are two things that infuse every element of people’s lives. So I feel they should be in every area of academia. When I was in grad school, I was lucky enough to have a couple of professors who were very cognizant of their importance. But that was not the case in every class.

That course was actually part of the Ethnic Studies Department. Do you think a course like that also belongs in other departments?

Absolutely. I would love to see it replicated in Ethnic Studies departments across the country; it belongs in Sexuality Studies departments, too. As far as Nick and I know, his is the only course of its kind anywhere in the US, and, in fact, the world.

You quote SFSU Human Sexuality Studies professor Rita Melendez who says that the word sexuality “gets associated with white people,” and that if it’s in the title of a course, people of color tend not to sign up for that. Based on your own experiences and research, why do you think that is, and what can the field of sexuality studies do to be more welcoming to people of color?

She’s right. For example, even though SFSU, where I got my master’s degree, is, like many California universities, a majority minority school (most students are people of color, and mostly Asian American), the students in the Sexuality Studies master’s program are mostly white. When I was a student there, I was one of three students of color in my graduating class, and the only African American. Sexuality scholarship seems to have a reputation as being a white field, and that’s to the detriment of everyone, current scholars as well as potential scholars. Professors who are passionate about diversity should follow the example that Nick and Rita are setting.

Another interesting notion you bring up is a quote from California State University Professor Nick Baham about BDSM being a “political act.” What’s your take on that notion?

I agree. It’s political because engaging in BDSM is so recreational (as opposed to procreational), that it’s really the loudest you can metaphorically scream “I deserve erotic pleasure.” And that’s a political statement.

One of the first comments on the article at Alternet is an objection to its even being posted there on religious grounds, and religion is also something you touch on in the article. Is there a greater degree of tension between traditional religious beliefs and the field of sexuality studies from people of color?

I’m a non-practicing Jew, so I can’t speak from experience here, only from what I’ve read. But I have not read any social science research indicating that people of color are (a.) more religious than white people; (b.) more sex-negative than white people. There’s a stereotype, for example, that African Americans are more homophobic than whites (and that this homophobia is linked to the involvement of African Americans in Christianity). But, in fact, all the research I have read shows that the opposite is true: white people are just as homophobic as blacks, and blacks are just as LGBT-rights-affirming as whites. That’s a social scientific fact.

You have a Master’s degree in Human Sexuality. Was that also what you studied for your undergraduate degree, and what drew you to the field?

I have a BA in psychology. What drew me to sexuality was the just that I love sex. I’m constantly curious about it. I love to read about what other people do and why they do it. Also, I’m bisexual, and I am especially interested in understanding bisexual identity, politics, health, community issues, etc.

What do you see as the future of Sexuality Studies? Where would you like to see it go?

I would like to see sexuality studies focus a lot more on bisexuality. I recently co-authored Bisexual Health, a book published by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and bisexuals are experiencing a major health crisis. When we look at health status in relation to sexual orientation, people who identify as bisexual (which is, by the way, 50% of all those who identify as either gay, lesbian, or bi) have poorer physical and mental health than people of any other orientation. There’s a lot of work to be done.

What is a typical class you’re taking now like? What do most people in your field want to do after they finish their studies?

Right now, I’m getting an MBA, so a typical class is about finance and math! Coming from the social sciences, and as a writer, I feel very much like a fish out of water. Most people with MBAs go into the corporate world, but I’m planning a career in the nonprofit world, specifically focused on the needs of LGBT people.

In terms of sexuality studies, most of the people I got my first master’s with ended up back in school, working on PhDs, or working as researchers doing sex research at local universities.

You’ve been doing a lot of press around Lisa Diamond’s recent study on women and bisexuality. Can you tell us more about your thoughts on that and the general media treatment of bisexuality? Do you feel the topic is overly sensationalized in mainstream news outlets?

Lisa Diamond’s study shows that, for bisexual women, attraction to people of more than one gender remains consistent over time. Of course, to bi women, this comes as no surprise. I came out as bi when I was 14, which was almost 20 years ago, and I’ve never wavered from that. What she’s proving is that being bi isn’t a phase. The idea that it is a phase – and that phases are bad or wrong or inauthentic – is not only biphobic to me, but also confusing. Why would desire not based on gender be temporary? Why would desire based on gender be the ideal permanent state? I don’t have anything against monosexual (gay and straight) people – in fact, I’m engaged to one – but I do object to a monosexual-centric imperative.

There is definitely a lot of sensationalism happening in the mainstream media. It’s almost as though journalists can’t figure out any other way to present bisexuals.

You directed the short documentary film On My Skin about a transgender man and his family. Can you tell us more about the film and how it came about?

On My Skin is about my friend Logan Gutierrez-Mock. He and I got our sexuality masters degrees together. For fun, after I graduated, I took a free intro-level film class at a local community center. My fiancée, Kami, is a film-maker, and I love visiting her on sets and watching her in action, so I thought it would be cool to learn how to make one. Logan had just come back from Mexico, where his grandfather is from, and he had blogged about his journey. He was also just starting to transition from female-to-male and had a lot to say about his family and his gender. I decided to make a film based on his blog, and six months later, On My Skin was born and showing at film festivals all over the world. It’s even been translated into Spanish for the showings in Latin America and Spain!

What are the differences for you in working in academia and working in film? Do you prefer one over the other?

Other than giving guest lectures on topics like bisexual health, I don’t work in academia. And, other than directing On My Skin, I wouldn’t say I work in film, either!

What are you working on now?

Currently, outside of being a full-time MBA student, I’m writing a book, getting essays published in various places, and promoting Bisexual Health, which is available on the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force website as a free PDF download. And bringing On My Skin (which is available on my site, amyandre.com) to universities; it’s perfect for Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Sexuality Studies classrooms. Oh, and I’m also planning my wedding. I stay pretty busy. 😉

Sex in the news roundup: Thurston Moore gets Pervy, Katherine Heigl’s sex life, SaSi sex toys, and more

January 20, 2008

“Thurston Moore to Soundtrack Arthouse Erotica Film,” Uncut

Thurston Moore has soundtracked an arthouse erotica film, made by acclaimed New York underground director Richard Kern.

The 60-minute film, titled “Extra Action (And Extra Hardcore)” , is released on DVD on March 18, and features original music from the Sonic Youth guitarist.Kern has collaborated with Moore in the past, directing the gory video for Sonic Youth’s 1984 single “Death Valley ‘69″ and supplying the cover image for their 1986 album“Evol”, which was taken from Kern ’s film “Submit To Me Now” .

Also: ”Thurston Moore gets Pervy,” Synthesis.net

”Marriage boosts Knocked Up star’s sex life,” The Times

Katherine Heigl has confessed her sex life has got “10 times better” since getting married.

The Knocked Up star — who married musician Josh Kelley in December — says her bedroom gymnastics have improved dramatically since tying the knot. She told the US’s Cosmopolitan magazine: “Our sex life has always been phenomenal, but I think it is 10 times better than it was. We understand each other better.”You feel sheltered in the moment, whether you’re being wild and crazy and you’re doing your striptease or it’s more mellow.”

”Teenagers’ cell nudity under fire,” The Salt Lake TribunePolice and school district officials are investigating several Farmington Junior High teenagers who traded nude photos of themselves over cell phones.

The latest incident is the third time this school year that Farmington schools have caught students trading photos of their genitals and other nude shots, said Christopher Williams, a spokesman for the Davis School District.

“This type of technology creates problems,” Williams said. “Imagine being a teacher trying to teach a class and you’ve got students sharing inappropriate photos of each other. You’re not going to have the attention of the students.”

A parent recently found the explicit photos on a child’s cell phone and contacted police with concerns about the material, said Farmington police Lt. Shane Whitacker. The photos were traced to 13- and 14-year-old students enrolled at Farmington Junior High School, he said. Both boys and girls were involved.

”Sex, Lies and Contraception: The Male Pill,” Blowfish Blog, Greta Christina

If I were a single guy, dating and screwing around, I wouldn’t want to leave the contraception question in the hands of some woman I’d just met, either. I mean, think about it. If, as a woman, I wouldn’t trust some strange guy who told me, “Don’t worry, baby, I’m on the pill” —

then why on earth should men trust some strange woman to tell them the same thing? The consequences for men of an unwanted pregnancy aren’t as intense as they are for women . . . but they’re not negligible. (Can you say, “child support”?)

And I think that might point to the real market for the male pill. (Or patch, or injection, or however the drug winds up getting delivered.)

Mark thinks that, even if pharmaceutical researchers could make it effective, male hormonal contraception will always be a niche market, mainly limited to men in committed long-term relationships with women who trust them enough to leave the contraception in their hands. But while I can see his point, I think he may be overlooking another key market: the market of single men who want control of their own damn reproduction, just as much as women do. I think the biggest market for the male pill might well be single men who want the moral equivalent of a temporary vasectomy: a way to guarantee that they won’t get stuck with offspring they didn’t expect or want.

”The Roots of Western Pornography,” Marianna Beck, Libido Films blog

Prosecutions against pornography were largely haphazard in England during the 18th century, although the publication of pornography was judicially declared to be an offense of common law. As noted, Memoirswas successfully driven underground without any legal prosecution and, generally speaking, there seems to have been little government interference in regard to publications described as bawdy or licentious. The main exception, of course, was if sexual activity found itself mixed in with politics and/or blasphemy. Although the major campaigns against obscenity didn’t start taking shape until the beginning of the 19th century, it was clear that the winds of tolerance were shifting as the 18th century ended. One of the more perceptible changes occurred in 1787, when King George III issued a proclamation against vice, exhorting the public to “suppress all loose and licentious prints, books, and publications dispensing poison to the minds of the young and the unwary, and to punish publishers and vendors thereof.”

”Sex-ed effort in Glen Cove focuses on Latinos,” Newsday

For Blanca Recinos, doing laundry in Glen Cove has become an opportunity to lecture about sex education.

Armed with brochures and pamphlets from Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, Recinos talks to her Latino peers about the prevention of pregnancy, HIV, AIDS and human papillomavirus. Recinos, a six-year resident of Glen Cove, is one of 14 women recruited by Planned Parenthood of Nassau County as part of a new, Spanish-language marketing campaign to inform the Latino community in the city and the surrounding area about the services the health center offers and to draw them in. ”The community needs plenty of information in this regard,” said Recinos, 39. “At the very least I can talk to them a bit and hope that it stays on their minds.

”‘Sensual Intelligence’ Gives New SaSi Sex Toy an Erotic Edge,” Regina Lynn, Wired.com

But we’re finally starting to see sexual appliances that can compete in coolness with The Sharper Image’s kids-of-all-ages catalog, although not necessarily with the Roomba robotic vacuum.

British company Je Joue launched a new product, the SaSi, at the Adult Entertainment Expo last week in Las Vegas. If the original Je Joue oral-sex simulator is like a 60-GB iPod with multiple playlists you design yourself, the SaSi is like an iPod Nano with an automated Most Popular playlist.

The SaSi takes the best of the Je Joue — soft surface material, firm massage finger, sensual movements — and simplifies the control so all you have to do is press a button to say “yay” or “nay” to a particular movement. It also has buttons to control speed and to add or remove vibration.

Best Sex Writing 2008 contributor news

January 19, 2008

My own little news is that I walked through the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble tonight and saw Best Sex Writing 2008 right there on the new non-fiction release table, next to my friend Judy McGuire‘s book How Not to Date. Yay!

Violet Blue (“Kink.com and Porn Hysteria: The Lie of Unbiased Reporting”) was in the news this week with her snubbing by Steve Jobs.

She’s also just announced the call for submissions for Best Women’s Erotica 2009, also published by Cleis Press, and I particularly loved this part:

Desired themes include: Women’s sexual fantasies and experiences of all kinds, such as taboo sex acts, fantasy scenarios (real or imagined), bondage, fetish, male anal penetration (such as strap-on play), first-time experiences, light S/M, exhibitionism, power-play, voyeurism, public sex, seduction, role-play, spontaneous sex, spanking, erotic punishment, sexual surprise, emotional honesty, desire, longing, lust, passion, female fierceness, power (and power struggles), deviousness, meaning, themes that involve the Internet and technology, and sublime humor. Above all, include explicit sex.

Scott Poulson-Bryant (“The Hung List” from Hung) announced news of his novel which sounds so juicy and right up my Judith Krantz-loving alley:

I’ve been getting emails from peeps since I’ve announced that my new novel The VIPs will be released by Doubleday Books in Spring 2009. I’ll give you some more details soon about the exact plot of the novel, but til then you should just know that it’s very influenced by the page-turning books I loved when I was a teenager in the 80s, like Scruples and Hollywood Wives: lots of characters, sexy shenanigans, intrigue, betrayal—yup, it’s loads of fun. At least, I should say, it has been loads of fun to create. It’s a globetrotter of a story, taking place in the Hamptons, Manhattan, Miami and London. It’s about four guys who shared a few summers in Sag Harbor in the early 80s and are now Very Important People, or so they like to think. Then the past comes back to bite them all in their asses. I’m excited to finally be done; hope you get excited to read it.

Lux Nightmare (“The Pink Ghetto”), who’s now going by Lux Alptraum, gives the lowdown on homemade porn in the latest episode of Boinkology TV:

There’s no thrill quite like getting it on — and getting off — in front of a camera. But how can you make sure that your home porn adventure won’t turn you into the next Paris Hilton (or Pamela Anderson, or Dustin Diamond, or Amy Fisher, or Joey Buttafuoco, or…)? We’ve got some advice for you in this episode of Boinkology TV.

Greta Christina (“Buying Obedience”) on “All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Porn – Or Not”

Here is a very short list of things that people will get grotesquely wrong if they get their sex education from porn.

What women’s genitals look like. This is a biggie. If you’re looking at porn video to satisfy your curiosity about what a pussy looks like — well, standards of female beauty in porn are almost as rigid with pussies as they are with basic body types, and female genital cosmetic surgery in the porn industry is getting increasingly and depressingly common.

What male genitals look like. Another biggie — literally. Every time I read a letter to a sex advice columnist from a guy complaining that his dick is pathetically small — not like the guys in the porn videos — I want to scream and bite people. Male porn actors are specifically selected for their large genitalia. They are not a statistically representative sampling. Statistically speaking, they represent the far, far end of the bell curve.

The realities of female sexual response. This may be the worst offender of the bunch. There’s already enough ignorance about what gives women sexual pleasure and what gets us off, without “porn as sex ed” adding to the mix. Look, I have no doubt that there are some women out there who don’t need foreplay, get very aroused by giving blowjobs, have intense multiple orgasms from intercourse alone, and couldn’t care less if you touched their clit. But if that’s how you’re trying to get a woman off, you’re really not playing the percentages. Trust me on this.

And it’s not out until April, but because I’m a lucky girl, I got a galley of Rachel Shukert’s new book Have You No Shame? Check out the awesome cover and pre-order it on Amazon: (and come see her, Lux, me, Miriam Datskovsky and Liz Langley at the PARTY on Tuesday at Rapture!)

What’s new in sex interviews

January 16, 2008

Over at Conde Nast’s sex blog Daily Bedpost, Em & Lo interview Jamye Waxman, author of Getting Off: A Woman’s Guide to Masturbation, out from Seal Press.

E&L: Do you think it’s possible get addicted to sex toys? What would you say to the woman who can only get herself off with a toy, not with her hand?

JW: I don’t think it’s possible to get addicted to sex toys. I use sex toys often, and when I take a break I can get off with a hand or a tongue. Even when I’m using sex toys I can get off with a hand or a tongue, it just takes longer than it does with a toy. I’d tell a woman who can only get herself off with a toy, to remember first off that the brain is your biggest sex organ ever and that what you’re thinking about when you’re playing with yourself can make all the difference. If she’s thinking that she can’t get herself off, she needs to start talking up the fact that she can, and that it feels good to do so with her hand. She needs to visualize having that orgasm, and how happy she’ll be that she did it without outside help and that she did it for herself. Also she shouldn’t give up after fifteen, twenty minutes. Time doesn’t matter. She can’t let herself get stressed out about how long it might take, she needs to set aside as much time as she needs to get off, and she needs to just let herself go there. Go with the flow so to speak. If she can’t reach orgasm that first day, there’s always tomorrow. Oh, and she should use lube so she doesn’t irritate her clit or her vagina. Even if she’s got her own natural lubricant, which she probably does, lube is a great helper for all things sex.

Deborah Siegel interviews sex therapist Esther Perel on her blog Girl With Pen about her book Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Domestic and the Erotic (check out my Village Voice column “Keeping Married Sex Hot” on Perel from 2006 too)

Siegel: “I think it’s Fear of Flying meets Jane Sexes It Up—an implicitly sexy and intellectually fearless 21st century manifesto on sex inside marriage, for both women and men. According to Perel, mating in captivity is not a problem to solve. Rather, it’s a paradox to manage. And manage we can.”

DS: You write, “American men and women, shaped by the feminist movement and its egalitarian ideas, often find themselves challenged by these contradictions.” Please say more about how younger men—the sons of feminism, that is—are challenged by contradictions. Of what sort?

EP: In heterosexual couples, I see men who struggle to find a place for themselves sexually with their partner, and with how to express a masculinity that includes a striving force, a drive, assertiveness and that will be welcomed by the women. They are reluctant to reveal their sexual turn ons to their partner for fear of insulting her. Moreover, having lost the male privilege of a woman who’ll perform her wifely duty, they need to keep her erotically engaged, seduce her, make her feel desirable and interested in him. The idea that committed sex is intentional, premeditated consciously willed clashes against the myth of spontaneity. Another point is that if women can do all what the man does, where does that leave him? What is specific to him? Ou est la difference?

It is important for him to convey to her that the language of intimacy for him is often not verbal, but physical and sexual. Additionally, he wonders how to bring the erotic home, be safely ruthless with the woman he loves and respects.

Given the power shifts, men often struggle to integrate masculinity and sexuality in their intimate relationships.