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Why You Have to Tell Your Partner If You Have HPV

March 27, 2015

1 Comment


 photo via flickr

Many experts, including doctors, will tell women that they don’t need to inform their male partners if they have HPV. The reason given is that 80% of sexually-active adults have or will acquire HPV — in other words, basically everyone — and also, the virus is much less likely to harm a guy’s health.

Our own medical expert, Dr. Kate, happens to disagree, and you can read her professional explanation here. And our man-parts doctor also has something to say about men and HPV — it’s not guaranteed smooth sailing.

And we happen to disagree too! Here’s our laywomen’s response to why you should fess up if you have HPV:

Everyone has the right to know what they’re getting into when they’re getting into bed with you. It doesn’t matter how pervasive an STD is, how inconsequential it might turn out to be, or how likely it is that you’ll eventually get it (or that you already have it) — everyone deserves to know the truth. So if you know you’ve got something, you’ve got to come clean (as it were). Fucking is not a right, it’s a privilege, and you’ve got to earn that privilege via honest communication about your bod and where it’s been. We’re pretty sure any one of the New York Times ethicists would have our back on this.

If more people fessed up to their sexual health status, then we’d all know a little more about the pervasive STDs that affect us — and probably not be so freaked out. Knowledge is power, and power is sexy. The more we all talk about it, the more it will become clear that it’s not only dirty, promiscuous, evil people who get STDs (such a tired yet stubborn cliche) — many totally cool, super nice and very good-looking people get sexually transmitted infections, too.

Unfortunately, honest communication isn’t always the quickest route to sex or even love. So people get scared into concealing an STD out of fear of loneliness (or horniness). Don’t fall into this trap: Even though it doesn’t feel like it when you first get diagnosed with something, you will have sex again. You will fall in love and you’ll probably get married, have a couple kids, the whole nine.

And please, if any of you happen to be on the receiving end of a conversation like this, be cool about it. Honest Abes should be rewarded for their behavior — not with unprotected genital-to-genital contact, natch, but at least with a polite, considerate, and sympathetic response. Of course, it’s your right to walk away (just don’t run). But know this: Many STDs are either curable, or at least manageable. So if you choose to turn your back, you could be turning it on your one true soulmate and walking into a future of eternal solitude.

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In Defense of Sex Toys, Feminism and Trolls

March 25, 2015

2 Comments

For the most part, we tend to ignore the trolls. But every once in a while, outlandish claims need to be addressed to ensure that reality-based facts win over fear, insecurity and hate. In response to a post about a woman whose inability to orgasm without a sex toy was hurting her boyfriend’s feelings, one commenter recently made some particularly ridiculous, utterly unhelpful statements — we break them down, one by one, below (without his, shall we say, colorful language).

Claim: Sex toys make women loose.
Reality: It’s pretty much the opposite. The vagina is not a cheap sock that goes limp with repeated use. It expands and contracts with arousal. The perineal muscles which surround it help maintain its integrity. So the more pleasure the area receives, with say a sex toy, the more workout those muscles get, the stronger they’ll be, and thus the more supportive they are of the area, the tighter they can contract, and the more responsive they become to stimulation. Win-win-win!

Claim: Men don’t want to be with women who use sex toys.
Reality: Smart people know that women who use sex toys are comfortable with their own sexuality, better understand how their bodies are built and work, know what they like, and are more successfully orgasmic — all things that make for better partner-sex. Men who are comfortable with their own sexuality will use sex toys with their partners for variety and fun without feeling threatened. Which is not to say that dangling a toy with “realistic” aesthetic details but “unrealistic” proportions in front of one’s self-conscious male partner is polite — in fact, it’s the epitome of insensitive rudeness. But a woman who uses her favorite toy, discretely if feelings require it, while finding some other accessory she and her partner can both enjoy can only improve their sex life.

Claim: Your vulva/vagina is your male partner’s property. AND: Men only like women for their genitals.
Reality: Do we even have to address this? It’s so tiresome, so transparent. We get it. You long for a time when men ruled the world, and women were their sex slaves. And now it kind of sucks that you have to deal with this upwardly mobile class of people who now have rights and power, often more power than you. And so, in a desperate attempt to slow down the inevitable rise of this group, you try to take them down a peg or two by insulting them. Are you twelve? It’s been quite a while, at least in this country, since women were married off as property. Yes, human rights are actually a good thing. Please acknowledge all the happy, well-adjusted grown-up men around you who interact, work, fall in love and/or have sex with women they view, value and respect as equal human beings. Both men and women are multi-dimensional — it’s not all about intercourse.

Claim: Sex toys make it harder for women to reach orgasm.
Reality: Many women require clitoral stimulation in order to reach orgasm. Unfortunately, it’s another of Mother Nature’s cruel jokes that the jackhammering many men prefer during intercourse avoids contact with the clitoris altogether. Add to that the great variability among women with how their genitals operate and respond to stimuli; the atrocious state of sexual education in this country; the pervasiveness of male-centric, unrealistic porn; the still-rampant sexism in our country which shames women’s sexuality and limits their sexual agency (Exhibit A: your comment) – and it’s a miracle women can orgasm at all! They need all the help they can get; sex toys offer that help. And often times, once a sex toy can finally get them to their happy place, they’re better equipped to experiment with other ways to find satisfaction, both alone and with a partner.

Dear Commenter, we condemn the straight woman (or women) who hurt, belittled or shamed you. They are not representative of our entire gender. Just as they should not speak ill or dismissively of the male member (as we’re assuming they did), neither should you speak so ill of women’s genitals. Both men and women, gay or straight or transgendered, are so much more than the sum of their sexual body parts. The more we all start thinking about sex with our heads instead of our junk, with our hearts instead of our hatred, the better we’ll all get along, both in and out of the bedroom. Here’s hoping you find someone who can love you for you, and vice versa.


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Your Call: I Was Bi, But Now I’m Not Attracted to Men. What Happened?

March 23, 2015

3 Comments


photo via Wikimedia Commons

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Leave your suggestions in the comments section below. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE*
Advice Service!

 

Dear Em & Lo,

I’m a 21 year old woman who realized she was bisexual about a year ago, but recently my sexual desire for men has disappeared. My sex drive is fine, and my attraction to women is still there, but I don’t feel anything for men any more.

I’ve asked my mother and some friends, and they said it could be because I’ve been heavily depressed, but I’ve been clinically depressed for years and it hasn’t affected me that way at all. And, as I said, I’m still attracted to women — in fact my attraction to women has increased.

Was I just a lesbian all along? Do all bisexuals go through phases? I’ve been like this for weeks, and I’m worried I’ll never love men again.

– Bye-Bi Birdie

What’s your advice for Bye-Bi Birdie? Leave your thoughts in the feedback section below.

 

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Your Call: My Husband and I Don’t Care That We Don’t Have Much Sex. Should We?

March 16, 2015

5 Comments


photo via Flickr

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE*
Advice Service!

 

 

Dear Em & Lo,

My husband and I have been married for ten years. Three kids later, we don’t have sex very often — nothing compared to our pre-married life. But neither of us seems that bothered by it. He doesn’t initiate that often and isn’t asking for more. I’m fine with the occasional sex we do have. I know we both occasionally masturbate, him I’m guessing more (we don’t advertise it to each other). I feel like we have a close, trusting relationship. But I’m always hearing about how sex is such an important part of a relationship. If it isn’t for us, should we be worried? Should I be worried?

– Libidoless in Los Angeles

What should LILA do? Leave your advice in the comments section below.


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What to Do When You Say “I Love You” Too Soon

March 13, 2015

0 Comments

Hi Em & Lo,

I just started dating this guy and recently we were making out, it was going well, he started to go down on me. I wanted to tell him “I love it when you go down on me” but it came out as ” I love you..when you do that.” He paused for a second and just continued. I felt like such a dork!  The thing is, I know I don’t love this guy. We’re a new thing and I like him, but not that way. What do you when you get yourself tangled up in situations like this?

– Mortified

Dear Morty,

You dig a hole in the sand and bury your head in it for a few weeks until the humiliation wears off. At least, that’s what you wish you could do when you get yourself tangled up in a situation like this. Here are four real-world options for people in these circumstances (though, sadly, since the moment has no passed, they won’t all apply to you):

  1. In the moment: You could laugh it off right then and there. Joke that you swear that wasn’t a Freudian slip, just an innocent slip of the tongue. “Oh my god, total slip of the tongue! Nothing to worry about, carry on, carry on.” Pros: You allay any of his fears right then and there, so they don’t snowball into bad sex or a premature breakup. Cons: You interrupt the sexual moment, which might throw some people (or their penises) for a loop, and risk protesting too much, turning an already awkward situation into a painful one (painful like the answering machine scene in Swingers).
  2. Immediately after the sex: As you’re both lying there, catching your breath, or putting your clothes back on, you lightheartedly say, “Remember what I said when you were going down on me? Yeah, that was just a genuine slip of the tongue — I meant to say ‘I love it when you go down on me’ — so you don’t have to worry about me wanting you to meet my parents or move in anytime soon.” Pros: It doesn’t interrupt the sex, and you nip any concerns in the bud pretty quickly. Cons: Again, you run the risk of sounding defensive, as well as insincere, like you got caught up in the moment and spoke your heart’s true feelings but now that the emotion and hormones of sex aren’t as intense, your brain is trying to rewrite history.
  3. Several dates later: You randomly bring it up when you’re in a non-sexual situation, laughing about how funny and awkward that slip of the tongue was: “Oh man, do you remember on one of our first dates, when I was trying to say ‘I love it when you do that’ and it came out ‘I love you when you do that’? Yeah, that was pretty funny. So glad you didn’t take that to heart.” Pros: Getting some distance from the event allows you to reminisce about it as if you both realized in the moment that it was an awkward slip of the tongue. In this case, you almost can rewrite history. Cons: He may have forgotten it by now, so reminding him just makes things awkward all over again. Or maybe what you said really warmed him up to you and now you’re almost insulting him by telling him you don’t love him and suggesting you never will.
  4. Now to eternity: Just don’t bring it up ever. Let him think that he misheard you and let sleeping dogs lie. And from now on, choose your words more wisely. Pros: You don’t really have to do anything. Cons: He may continue to think that you’re in love with him.

Any of these options could work, so long as they’re employed with a good sense of humor and an air of lightheartedness. Act like it’s not that big of a deal, and it won’t be.

We’re the best…Uh, we mean, we wish you the best,
Em & Lo

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Your Call: How Do You Know If It’s Settling or Being Smart

March 10, 2015

4 Comments

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Leave your suggestions in the comments section below. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE*
Advice Service!

Dear Em & Lo,

How do you know the difference between being discerning and being too picky? I hate the Princeton Mom but I’ve read smarter articles about not waiting too long to settle down, especially if you want a family. To go with the person who’s just good enough, rather than perfect (since no one’s perfect). But my last few relationships haven’t been with people I can see making it long term with. They had many pros but a few cons that just felt like deal breakers to me. I can compromise, but I don’t want to betray myself or my values. Still, I’m in my late thirties and am starting to get worried. At what point do you just settle and hope for the best?

Fence Sitter

What should F.S. do? Leave your advice in the comments section below.

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How Do I Ease Into Kink with a New Partner?

March 2, 2015

2 Comments

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Dear Em & Lo,

My bf and I have been together for about 3 months, and have been sexually active for about 4. My thing is, he has a domination kink. And while the idea of it (spanking, hair pulling, choking…) is appealing to me, the few times we have engaged in such activities, I haven’t enjoyed them as much as I would have hoped. Granted, we never really have eased into things, and we were both either tipsy or other such reasons. I want to try things like bondage and light domination but I’m worried. What do I do?

– Don’t Call Me Ms. Steele

Leave your advice for D.C.M.M.S. in the comments section below.

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When His Mouth Says “Booty Call” But His Body Says “Relationship”

February 26, 2015

1 Comment

romance_ocean_couplephoto via flickr

Dear Em & Lo,

I met this guy who is really sweet and nice.  He is 20 and I am 21.  We’ve hung out a few times and I am starting to like him.  Then, I saw him at a fraternity party the other night (although he does not go to my college) and he barely said hi.  I was walking with one of my guy friends when I ran into him. He told my friend he was too “sweaty and gross” and had to go.

Then the next morning he texted my best friend (the one that kind of set us up) and asked her if she had fun the night before.  She said yes and asked him if he did and he said he “found a cute girl and stuck with her all night.”  My best friend texted him back and said “oh so no more cam?”  And he said “i am still interested and i still like her, she is really cool…i just don’t want a girlfriend right now, is she down with that?”  My friend said that he should talk to me about that and he said we should all hang out soon.  This is so out of the blue…he definitely does not act like he just wants a hook up, but now I am unsure of what to do…

– Hopeless in Seattle

Dear H.i.S.,

Hmmm, let’s see: What makes you think that “he definitely does not act like he just wants a hook up”? Does he like to cuddle? Is he fascinated by your thoughts on neoclassical architecture? Does he like to tell you about his day or whine about his Mom? Does he want to take you to brunch the next morning? And yet he tells your best friend — 100% sure that she will pass the info onto you — that he just doesn’t want a girlfriend right now. What we have here is a classic case of intimacy lite, also sometimes known as casual intimacy.

If you’ve ever spooned your booty call or held hands with your one-night stand, you’re familiar with intimacy lite. If both parties are fully onboard with the lite nature of the intimacy, it’s perfectly natural — everyone needs a cuddle sometimes, and even the most ardent commitment-phobe among us misses snuggling and nuzzling and — eww, okay, we’ll stop (like dirty talk, all that stuff should be kept in the bedroom; talking about it out of context makes our assholes contract).

Anyway, commitment-phobes (i.e. 99.9% of male college students) are especially prone to indulging in intimacy lite, and this often sends a mixed message, because if his mouth is saying one thing and his body is saying another, then you’re probably going to listen to whichever message you like best. Sure, he might tell you that that the sex doesn’t mean anything, but does brunch invalidate that sort of agreement? Not in our book — but plenty of tenderhearted young things out there might think so. All crushed up, you refuse to believe that sometimes, someone simply needs help finishing the crossword, or wants company at brunch because all their good friends are brunching with their significant others

To make a sweeping generalization (Who, us? Never!), men are most often the culprits in cases of misinterpreted intimacy lite, perhaps because they dominate the ranks of the commitment-phobic. It’s not just getting free milk — it’s having Bessie listen to you ramble on about your problems at work, too: a mini-me relationship on tap, whenever you need a top-up.

If someone regularly engages in intimacy lite, we like to refer to them as a “sampler,” i.e. a man — or, yes, sometimes a woman — who subsists on a diet of sex and relationship “samplers.” You know how some supermarkets offer tastings of new products in every aisle? If you’re a cheapskate (and not a germaphobe), you can make a meal of it — melon squares in aisle 1, cheese and ham at the deli counter, brownies over in aisle 7. Keep doing laps, avoid making too much eye contract with the product rep, and sample away. In the world of hooking up, samplers ensure a balanced diet by relying heavily on light intimacy from multiple product reps.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, if intimacy lite sounds like a fun way to pass the Spring semester to you, then go ahead and keep taking his calls. But if you really want to be his girlfriend, then we recommend moving on and not letting him sample any more of your, ahem, melon squares.

Lunch ladies,

Em & Lo

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Your Call: How Do I Give Women a Heads Up About My Penis?

February 23, 2015

9 Comments

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Hi Em & Lo!

Women’s advice on my situation would be much appreciated.

Imagine this: You like everything about a man, you get to the bedroom, you don’t like what you see as the undies come down.

So… I would like to know if anyone has any ideas on how I can let a girl know, ASAP, that I have a small (in my eyes, and hands!) penis. I measure an average L: 5.5 G: 4.5-5.

I understand that a lot of girls would be happy with this size, but I also understand that a lot of women will not. How do I let her know, so that she can make her mind up to go or stay ASAP, so that neither of us get hurt or, in her case, disappointed. I think it would be best for us to not waste each other’s time, so that we can both find someone who appreciates us.

Thanks!

– Average Joe

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Dear Em & Lo: How Will “Fifty Shades” Affect Young Women?

February 11, 2015

0 Comments

Dear Em & Lo, 

Have you thought about the effect that this film may have on young girls — how this film will set their expectations as to what sex is like?

– Fifty Shades of Fay

 

Dear FSoF,

Honestly, we haven’t. We’ve been too distracted by our upcoming ladies night screening of it!

But it’s a great question, and its implications are interesting.

First off, the movie is rated R. Of course this won’t stop people under the age of 17 from seeing it, but we don’t think all adult content should be banned because of the chance that it may get into the hands of some younger people who are not mature enough to process it. Parents and educators have to give their kids guidance about media, talk to them about the distorted fantasies, stereotypes, and violence they’re bombarded with these days. Frankly, we’re much more concerned about the effects hardcore porn has on young people’s perceptions of how sex is supposed to be — something, unfortunately, most kids have been exposed to. (Compared to the stuff they can find online, we’re afraid this film will seem downright quaint to most of them.) Hell, advertising and women’s magazines in the aggregate are much more worrisome than this single movie. Even scarier is the chance that young people will think that, due to its popularity, the Fifty Shades trilogy represents decent writing (we’re only half joking here!).

One of the reasons we’re so looking forward to the movie is to see how (or if) the female director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, a feminist-artist powerhouse, was able — despite author E.L. James’ resistance — to transform the movie into a tale of female strength and empowerment. According to an article in this week’s Time Magazine:

[Taylor-Johnson] thought she saw how to address the troubling power dynamic in the book: give the control to Anastasia. Put her in charge of her own odyssey. “This is the emotional journey of somebody who doesn’t seem as strong as she becomes,” she says. “And by the end of the story, she holds all the power.” Taylor-Johnson wants to reclaim the sexual-submission fantasy for empowered women. “To be a feminist,” she asks, “do you always have to be on top?”

Our answer to that question has always been “No.” Our resident radical feminist, Lo, enjoyed Anne Rice’s original BDSM trilogy The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty…in high school. Our generation also ate up the movie 9 and a Half Weeks as teenagers, and we didn’t become doormats (in fact, we may have learned how NOT to do kink). In our first Em & Lo sex manual, 2003’s The Big Bang, we wrote, “Just because you like to be tied up, spanked, and called ‘bitch’ doesn’t make you a bad feminist.” In our next book, Sex Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, we wrote the following:

A fantasy may be counterintuitive to the lady or gentleman you present yourself as in society. For instance, a feminist may fantasize about bending over a carburetor dressed in cheesy, scratchy lingerie with her hair teased, sprayed, and back-combed in the tackiest of styles. This is perfectly correct, for one’s fantasies should not be bound by ‘politically correct’ mores. And no, seemingly hypocritical kinks do not necessarily reflect deep-seated repression, neuroses, or issues. As with dreams, fantasies may be inspired by something as shallow as the previous evening’ televisions lineup or that summer’s trashy beach reading (no matter what Freud said).

For a lot of women, the submissive fantasy is an effective one — and you can’t legislate people’s turn-ons, despite the countless attempts made by righteous, religious conservatives (many of whom have secret Red Rooms of Pain in their own basements!). As far as we’re concerned, BDSM and (self)respect are not mutually exclusive. As long as we teach young people how to make smart choices, be as safe as possible, understand the difference between fantasy and reality, respect each other, talk to each other, and elevate sex to a sacred level (even when it’s casual), then it shouldn’t matter if they eventually like to be spanked once in a while.

We’ve always tried in our own small way to be a part of that educational effort. In all our writing about sex and relationships, we’ve endorsed and emphasized comprehensive sex education, open communication, consent, and safety. As far as Fifty Shades goes, we’ve actually written about the ways we hope the film will improve upon all the troubling elements in the book: Christian’s stalkerish abuse, Ana’s total lack of any sexual experience, her lukewarm reaction to kink, her issues with eating, the dirth of well-adjusted kinksters, etc. They’re improvements any viewer would benefit from, whether female or male, straight or gay, old or young. Hopefully the movie delivers, but with James fighting tooth and nail to stick to the original story, warts and all, for the sake of her fans, we’re not holding our breath.

One thing’s for sure, though: there will NOT be enough equal opportunity nudity! More male nudity in movies would go a long way to evening the playing field for women. And not just in the bedroom, but in all areas of life.

Check back here at EMandLO.com next week to see just how good or bad we think the movie turned out  – not just for young people, but for us all.

Laters babe,

Em & Lo


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