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Confession: My Love-Hate Relationship with the 69 Position

May 9, 2013

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Our contributor Jewely Hoxie studies Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz (read her blog here). She has this to say about the pros and cons of the 69 position…

I will, with ease and without shame, say that 69 is a profoundly silly position. Sure, it sounds great upon first listen. We both get pleasure at the same time!¬†What‚Äôs not to like? But let‚Äôs take a moment here. Really think about that. Think about what it takes to make your partner feel crazy good in bed. Think about how you feel when your partner makes you feel crazy good in bed. Let‚Äôs not even go into how there‚Äôs no way your muscle control is that powerful or how your mind would even handle that! So let’s weigh up the pros and cons…

THE CONS

1. It Never Lives Up to Its Reputation
The expectation of what 69 will feel like can be a let down to the actual physical pleasure conceived from 69.

2. It Makes Giving Less Pleasurable
As it turns out, despite always hearing people say “I give to receive,” performing oral sex makes up my most fond sexy-time affairs. I enjoy building up a rhythm, mixing in different techniques, and basically using my whole body to get the job done. The positioning required for 69 is both physically limiting (e.g., stroking the frenulum while deep throating is nearly impossible at this angle) and mentally distracting.

3. It’s Seriously Distracting
It is important to focus on your own pleasure and tune into your body. For me, this idea is especially true when it comes to oral sex. I need to work a lot harder to have oral stimulation work for me. The simultaneous nature of 69, wanting to make my partner feel good and wanting to appreciate my partner’s techniques at the same time, ends up being too much of a conflict of interest and terribly distracting to be able to really get lost in my own pleasure.

4. It’s Hard to Coordinate
Can you saw awkward anti-rhythm?

5. The View
If you’re of a delicate constitution and are easily taken by surprise: Depending on your positioning and the state of your relationship, 69 has been known to offer you that special first butthole glance with a partner.

THE PROS

1. The Contortions Can Be Fun
69 is also a really silly position in a kind of great way, too. It definitely wins for being the position that elicits the most laughs in my sex life, and I consider that a serious plus — 69 has the beautiful potential of bringing you closer to your partner and easing any anxieties about getting too stuffy and serious about the sex you two are having.

2. The Vulnerability Can Bring You Closer
I suggest waiting to experiment with 69 until you and your partner are really comfortable with one another. Remember, all your undercarriage is going to be full frontal in your partner’s face. I‚Äôm not trying to encourage feeling insecure about this (although it’s good manners to please wash all your bits), I‚Äôm simply saying that the position does have the possibility of bringing out vulnerable feelings. And I happen to think that’s a good thing!

3. The Sexy Feedback Loop
This is one of the greatest little gifts 69 has to offer: That moment when one partner is breathing/moaning over your genitals — a great response to a job well done, while also being a superb teasing oral sex technique.

4. The View!
If you’re into this: Depending on your positioning and the state of your relationship, 69 has been known to offer you that special first butthole glance with a partner.

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Top 6 Toys I Fantasize About

April 11, 2013

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Our contributor Jewely Hoxie studies Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz (read her blog here). She has this to say about the sex toys she wishes were a part of her collection…

1. Whipsmart’s Pleasure Swing
A sex swing sounds like a combination of two of the greatest pleasures in life: playing on the swings and playing with your partner. A full-body, couples’ sex toy seems like a fantastic place to begin opening up to more possibilities for sex.

 

 

 

 

2. Cobra Libre
I know what you’re thinking, it’s a sex toy for men, but just look at it! It is so sleek and powerful. If I could be a man for one day, this is definitely one of the many things I would experiment with that day. But even as a women with a little bit of imagination, I could figure out how to make this toy just as enjoyable.

 

3. Knead Me Massage Stones and Candle from Jimmyjane
I’ve often heard that smell is the best aphrodisiac out of all our senses, which is why perfume and deodorant are always advertised in such a sexual manner. I also think that the massage part of a couples’ spa retreat is almost universally known as the pre-jump-my-bones part of the spa retreat. This combo has it all.

 

4. We-Vibe III
I’ve tried multiple cock rings to get that vibrating stimulation I love so much while I’m with my partner, but the We-Vibe has a whole new take on that sensation. The internal and external stimulation makes it the dual rabbit vibrator of the couples’ sex toy world.

 

 

5. Lelo’s Lyla 2 Vibrator with SenseMotion Technology
The trailer (see above) was enough to show me that my ultimate sex fantasy is to have my partner surprise me with orgasms while we have a dance party together. (Read more about Lelo’s SenseMotion technology here.)

 

6. Jimmyjane’s Eternity
It’s a 24K gold vibrator with 28 round-cut diamonds around it. I’m not much for jewelry — but on a vibrator? That is what I call a girl’s best friend. I don’t know how you could not get off from something that luxe.

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In Defense of the Slut

March 28, 2013

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Our contributor Jewely Hoxie studies Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz (read her blog here). She has this to stay about the slut stigma…

How many times have you heard people say, “If she wasn’t such a slut…” or, “She’s kind of a slut, but…” or, “I can’t believe she’s slept with [X number] of people”?

I always interject by pointing out that being a slut is not a bad thing — at least, not in the way I define it, i.e. enthusiastically enjoying your sexuality in ways that are always physically and emotionally safe. There is a big difference between sleeping with ten different guys in one month and taking ten Plan B pills in one month. The former is perfectly fine sluttiness (that I encourage!) while the other has nothing to do with sluttiness and everything to do with being careless and irresponsible. I’ll take the side of sluts any day.

How We Learn the Slut Stigma

At a young age we are often taught that women are somehow damaged if they do not “save themselves” sexually for their one true love. As we grow older, many of us find ourselves¬†– naturally — wanting to have sex before marriage or even true love, but the negative connotations attached to more casual sex can still linger, sometimes subconsciously. This can make women feel detached from their own sexual pleasure, turning sex into something that a women does for someone else rather than for herself. How many times a day do we hear the message that a man needs to work hard in order to convince or trick or pressure a woman to sleep with him in order satisfy his natural animalistic libido, while less lustful-women women resist and hold out until perhaps they eventually “give it up.” The conventional cultural wisdom tells us sex is something men do to women, not something people do together on an even playing field, and certainly not something women ever do to men. You hear that enough times, you start to believe it.

Why People Don’t Want the Slut Stigma to Go Away

We all know the tired old double standard of how awesome and studly men are when they sleep around, compared to how dirty, loose, and unlady-like women are when they have a few notches on the bedpost. Stigmatizing the word “slut” has become a way of controlling women’s sexual behavior. If a women thinks that having a lot of sexual partners makes her undesirable, then she might avoid that kind of behavior. She may end up staying in a relationship that is unhealthy, just to make sure she does not sleep with too many people. She may miss out on experiences that she might otherwise enjoy. And if she dares to follow her desires, the guilt and shame that may follow can be debilitating. Thanks to slut shaming, a woman’s sexual agency is seriously limited.

Why the Slut Stigma Is Dangerous

Using the term “slut” as a pejorative is, in part, responsible for the way in which rape victims often get blamed. A woman was raped because she was “scantily clad,” she was “asking for it,” she was “leading him on” — you know, acting like a “slut.” Retaliating against this way of thinking is what spurred the proliferation of the SlutWalks over the past few years. Organizers wanted to reclaim the word “slut” as something positive.

Why We Need to Embrace “Slut”

Expressing one’s sexuality is a good and healthy thing — duh, right? A thousand studies tell us that sex is good for us, but not everyone seems to have gotten the memo. We are told, over and over, that we need to have more sex and better sex and hotter sex — and yet we should also be careful not to explore too much or say too much.

You’d think we’d be over the whole madonna-whore thing by now (yawn), but just last year on¬†Bravo’s reality show “Miss Advised,” columnist Julia Allison described the perfect dress to wear on a first date as one that says to the man, “You can take me home to your mom and I might give you a blowjob on the way there.” Ludacris jumped on the bandwagon with his less-than-original lyric “a lady in the street and a freak in the bed.” Aside from the fact that women are more interesting and more complex then these media portrayals, in both of these examples the sexual part of the women must be hidden in order for her to be seen as respectable.

Women deserve respect. Women are sexual creatures. Ergo, women’s sexuality deserves respect.

What We Can Do to Help

If we could be more open about sex at a young age and actually call a vulva a vulva and not a “private part” or — I even cringe typing this — a”vay-jay-jay,” we might all be better off. We have vaginas just like we have elbows and legs. As much as society does not want to admit it, Freud had it right when he said infants are sexual creatures too. We masturbated as children because we were curious about our bodies. As sex negativity grew, we explored less. Whether you want to find your inner Anastasia Steele/Christian Grey relationship exclusively with your spouse, or you¬†want to enjoy some simple vanilla missionary with your whole block, I don’t think you should be judged any differently. Just keep it honest and safe.

A Slut Mission Statement

I love sluts, perverts, deviants, freaks, and geeks alike. As long as you are fucking in the name of pleasure (and consent), you are okay in my book. A pervert is someone who is not only conscious, but proud, of their sexual nature. That is already more than what a lot of people can say. If you find someone attractive and it just so happens you also like getting off, I say go for it.

 

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Top 10 Ways to Make Oral Sex More Fun for Both Partners

March 14, 2013

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Our contributor Jewely Hoxie studies Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz (read her blog here). She has some words of wisdom to share about oral sex…

Going down on someone is no easy task. And letting someone go down on you can be quite nerve-racking. Despite these potential oral sex setbacks, the experience can be awesome. Both partners deserve to enjoy the journey down south. Rather than focusing solely on techniques to please the receiver, I’m going to share some secret tips that will benefit both partners — how to improve your overall experience without having to change those special techniques that already work for you and your partner.

 

1. Educate Yourself

Know what the clitoris is, know what the perineum is, and know all your partner’s favorite spots. Without this knowledge, I don’t know how you’ve been going down on someone all these years. For reference: buy Em & Lo’s Sex: How To Do Everything.

 

2. Don’t Change What’s Already Good

We all know that moment when your partner is at the sweet spot going down on you with just the right rhythm and you have an overwhelming urge to vocally express your gratitude — but somehow that translates to faster, harder, etc. No, just no. If you’re the one going down, accept the praise and keep doing what you’re doing — don’t make your partner wish they never said anything.

 

3. Be Clean

This really should be common courtesy, but just as a friendly reminder: please wash your bodies and mouths thoroughly. Facial trimming helps prevent that rough sandpaper feeling against your partner’s sensitive parts. Trimming further down will make a clearer pathway — and remember, the less hair there is, the more skin there is to be touched! (That said, however, some people like playing with a little hair/having a little hair played with down there.)

 

4. Warn Them

A little warning before you ejaculate can build up excitement for the giver and more importantly, ease any anxiety about not knowing if you’re going to end up with sticky hair or running to spit in the sink.

 

5. Stock Up on Bedside Essentials

Like I said before, oral sex is no easy task. Luckily, there are a few tools I use to make my job a little easier.

  • Lubrication. I can’t say enough about how important lube is to our sex lives. Whether you’re feeling a little dry, you want to add some flavor, or you want to extend teasing foreplay, lube is your best friend. (See also My Top 6 Reasons to Love Lube¬†and My Top 6 Favorite Lubes.)
  • Hair ties. For those of us with long locks, having a couple hair ties close by will keep your hair of out of your eyes and can also give your partner a better view of the show.
  • Tissues. Or wipes, for all around post-show clean-up.
  • A glass of water. For the inevitable dehydration/mouth drying.
  • Toys. Because a little helping hand never hurt anyone. A small vibrator for teasing, a cock ring, prostate massager, butt plug, nipple clamps, stimulating gel, mix and match, etc. Many things contribute to a good sex life, and creativity is one of them. Get inventive!

 

6. Try New Positions and Locations

Sure, a new tongue technique is fun to bust out, but sometimes you know what you like, and what you like works. When we masturbate we often engage in the same artistry that works best for us. Despite this seemingly monotonous routine, I still absolutely love every orgasm I have. So, instead of changing techniques for some novelty, change the position or location. Maybe do that move she loves, but while she’s on her side instead of her back. Go in an elevator, don’t press any buttons, and see how long you can go down on him before it starts moving again. Keep it interesting for both of you by switching up the routine.

 

7. Use Your Hands

There’s a reason Rabbit-style vibrators are the most popular toys for women — dual stimulation is where it’s at. Suck on her clitoris while you finger her. Give your partner’s tush a squeeze. And give yourself a helping hand if you don’t want to risk a deep throating gag reflex.

 

8. Mix in Masturbation

Be careful with this one. It can backfire if touching yourself while you are going down on your partner gets a little too distracting. However, masturbating can also get you more in the mood to please your partner, and those little moans you make can definitely be a turn on for the receiver.

 

9. Talk It Out

If you are familiar at all with Em & Lo’s advice, then you’ve probably heard enough about the importance of communication. And I’m here to tell you that you can never hear that enough. Pushing yourself to fully and honestly communicate with your partner is an ongoing practice in relationships. And it doesn’t stop in the bedroom.

  • Show your partner enthusiasm! The only time I don’t like going down on someone is when there is no indication of their enjoyment. What’s the point then? Show them how much you enjoy that twisting tongue, and you might wake up to your partner begging to go down on you. Flattery can get you anywhere, amiright?
  • Talk dirty. It’s great for a libido boost, an ego boost, and a hot way to tell your partner what is it you are really enjoying. Note: A critical, in depth analysis during sexy time of what they are doing wrong for you is not the biggest turn on.
  • Debrief afterwards. This is (embarrassing/geekily) one of my favorite parts about getting it on. This makes for a nice time to share what you really liked, to compliment, and to critique. If you weren’t super into something that your partner did, they deserve to know. This is really about learning how to have the best sex you can with one another. Everyone likes something different.

 

10. Remember the Golden Rule!

As mentioned above, thank your partner in all all the appropriately dirty ways you see fit. If you are tired after that mind-exploding orgasm they just gave you, don’t sweat it — but ensure that next time, it’s all about them.

 

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Confession: My Top 6 Favorite Lubes

February 28, 2013

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Uberlube is for sale on Amazon

A few weeks back, our contributor Jewely Hoxie wrote a post for us titled Top 6 Reasons to Love Lube. This week, our favorite lube cheerleader is back with some specific recommendations. Jewely studies Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz; you can read her blog here.

The best embarrassing story I can tell to emphasize the importance of lubrication is the first time I gave a hand job. I kept running back and forth from the sink to the bed pouring water on my hand so the process would go more smoothly. That method involved an excessive amount of wasted energy for an orgasm. Thankfully I learned from my young sexual naivety and found myself loving lube. I will now pass on my knowledge to you. Here are the six best lubricants I know:

1. Pjur Cream Glide
This lubricant offers the best of both worlds because it is a mixture of silicone- and water-based lubricant: It is smooth and long-lasting like silicone, but there isn’t enough silicone to damage your silicone toys. On top of already being perfect, it is soft and creamy for the sensitive types.

2. Swiss Navy Passion Fruit Water-Based Lubricant
I find most flavored lubes to be awfully unappetizing, but Swiss Navy did something right with their passion fruit flavor. It doesn’t have that too sweet and sugary taste to it. I once saw Midori, sex educator and bondage expert, drink it straight from the bottle. (Even better, all their flavored lubes are¬†paraben-free and sugar-free, which is excellent news for sensitive veegees.)

3. Yes
This lubricant has my favorite texture out of all the lubricants I’ve tried. It is clear, smooth, silky and has a very natural feel to it. Yes is also one of the least sticky and messy lubes I’ve had the pleasure of using. Lube is my best friend in the bedroom because I often need help with moisture and Yes is ultra-moisturizing and very wet. So if you are older and coping with dryness, or similar to me in basically requiring lubricant for sex, you’ll love this product.

4. Sliquid Organics Silk
This is probably the only Sliquid product worth getting. The other ones I’ve tried last less time than your 15-year-old boyfriend did when you lost your virginity to him. This is a similar concept as the Pjur Cream Glide in that it is a silicone- and water-based hybrid, but this lubricant is not as thick and creamy. The most amazing part about it is it has absolutely no taste. And for you vegan types out there: 100% Vegan/No animal testing/Organic/Natural/Hypoallergenic/Glycerine, paraben, petroleum free/etc.

5. Uberlube
For all the silicone lubricant lovers out there, this is my absolute favorite! I don’t usually explore the silicone lubricants often because I like to take my silicone toys with me where ever I go, but I’m willing to change it up for this lube. It also makes for a great hair product! Plus, the packaging is simply gorgeous.

6. Liquid Silk
This is one of the top rated lubricants out there. Super smooth and long lasting, especially for a water-based lubricant (although it does have a tiny bit of silicone in it, though not enough to make it unsafe to use with silicone toys). It has a very natural quality to it, which I find to be kind of hot (yes, thaaaat kind of natural). One warning though is that it does contain parabens, which can cause allergic reactions in some people, yikes!

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Top 6 Reasons to Love Lube

February 14, 2013

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photo via flickr

In addition to being a cheerleader for lube, our contributor Jewely Hoxie also studies Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz (read her blog here):

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from My Big Fat Greek Wedding: “My dad believed in two things: That Greeks should educate non-Greeks about being Greek, and every ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy can be cured with Windex.” This is because it kind of sums up how I feel about lubrication when it comes to sex: Lube makes it all better. And as almost any lube enthusiast will tell you, too much lube is almost enough.

1. Lube prevents cuts and pain

Lubrication is the first step in relieving pain from sex. The first time someone told me to use lubricant was when I was getting a check-up at Planned Parenthood. I had some abrasions from the night before, so they tossed me a bag full of lubricant samples. I never looked back.

2. Lube wards off over-sensitivity

Both men and women can suffer from over-sensitivity during manual sex — what was feeling awesome one minute can feel like rug burn the next minute. Lube can help you enjoy longer and more varied stimulation, which can be especially helpful for a woman’s orgasm.

3. Lube enhances sensations

I mean this in two ways: The first being actual pleasure-enhancing lubricants. Lubes that warm upon touch or cause a tingly sensation can be fun to experiment with, but remember to communicate with your partner, because some people can experience more pain (and I don’t mean good pain) than pleasure from these kind of lubes. The second way lube can enhance sensation is taste: Flavored lubricant can be a nice perk for those who prefer the scent of, say, strawberry-banana to their partner’s genitals. Just know that a lot of flavored or otherwise gimmicky lubricants contain glycerin, which can be irritating to sensitive vaginas, so be sure to reading the packaging first.

4. Lube provides variety

Water-based, silicone, warming, cooling, flavored, etc. — there’s a whole variety of lubricants to try. Each one can physically change your sexual experience. Get more adventurous.

5. Lube gives you rhythm

Any kind of penetration can be difficult when you or your partner are experiencing dryness. Silky smooth penetration makes it easier for the penetrator to keep up an even rhythm and to be able to control when to slow down and speed up. A smooth entry means you can try different positions more easily, too.

6. Spit is not enough

When getting hot and heavy, it’s common to get dehydrated, so the go-to oral sex spitting technique is not necessarily at the plenty (nor may it be the exact vibe you’re going for!). Lube offers a gliding, moisturizing feeling that can reduce the discomfort of friction. Lubricant is quite the helping hand during oral sex, especially on a man. I hate to use Sex and the City for sex ed, but Samantha’s blowjob quotation explains it well: “Teeth placement and jaw stress and suction and gag reflex. And all the while bobbing up and down, moaning, and trying to breathe through our noses. Easy? Honey, they don’t call it a ‘job’ for nothing.” (And this from a woman who actually enjoyed going down!) Basically, lubricant makes the “job” a little easier for the giver as well as more pleasurable for the receiver.

Coming next week: My Top 6 Favorite Lubricants

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The REAL Reasons Why Yoga Improves Your Sex Life

January 3, 2013

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photo via flickr

Is your New Year’s resolution to improve both your health and your sex life? Yoga could be the answer, though not for the reasons you might think, says our contributor Jewely Hoxie, who is studying Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz (read her blog here):

As a teenager, naive to what both sex and yoga were really about, I would gossip with my friends about our sprouting sex lives. We giggled about starting yoga classes in order to be better in bed, with the idea being that yoga = flexibility and flexibility + twisted pretzel positions = good sex. We’d learned this from movies that portrayed woman who could put their leg over their head as sexy and promiscuous. As I grew up and learned more about sex — and started taking yoga classes — I figured out that, while pretzel sex positions can be more awkward than pleasurable, there are plenty of other reasons why yoga can improve your sex life. Here are five…

1. Yoga Is a Stress Reliever
A tightly wound mind is not exactly conducive to orgasmic bliss, especially for women. Studies have shown yoga can lower anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and general mental and physical dissatisfaction. Carving out time for yoga each week is an easy and inexpensive way to be good to yourself. Consider it a kind of ongoing D.I.Y. foreplay.

2. Yoga Improves Body Awareness
Yoga helps you become more aware of and more in touch with your body, often through the practice of mindful meditation while you work out. I know what you’re thinking: Hold the oms, I just want to get in shape. But there’s an awesome side effect to all this body awareness: You learn to listen to what your body wants and likes. Which is a serious advantage in the bedroom, where women especially often find themselves doing things that they think are supposed to feel good, rather than figuring out what actually turns them on.
You don’t have to completely make your mind blank to achieve body awareness. It’s basically just about focusing your energy throughout different parts of your body, and then doing what feels right.

When I do yoga, I’m in a large studio space with at least 50 other people and an instructor who walks around describing the next position, while also encouraging us to do what feels best for our bodies. When we are all on our backs, some will want to have their legs tucked close to our bodies and rock back and forth, while others will want to spread their legs up and hold their feet with their hands. In my class, I’ve learned what positions feel good to me without worrying how I might look. It’s impossible not to translate this sort of acquired wisdom to the bedroom, where an arched back might look really sexy to my partner, but may not be the best way for me to get off that night.

3. Yoga Is an Aphrodisiac
Exercise is one of the greatest natural aphrodisiacs. And yes, yoga is a work-out if you’re doing it right! It improves strength, balance, and flexibility. And once you get those endorphins going, you’ll have more energy to do all the things you enjoy. In fact, in general, the more you look out for your health — exercise, diet, and rest — the better you will feel and the more eager you will be to jump in the sack with your partner!

4. Yoga Improves Blood Flow to the Pelvis
Many positions increase blood flow to the pelvis, for example, the bound angle position. And increased blood flow down there is exactly what happens when you get turned on! It’s also the same thing that those stimulant gels you can buy at your local sex shop are going for, too — except that, once you’ve learned the right positions, yoga is free! (And better for your heart, too.)

5. Two Words: Yoga Pants.
Ladies, a good pair of yoga pants can be an awesome visual turn-on for your partner — but more importantly, they can make you want to admire your own ass in the mirror. Aw yeah.

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Open Letter: Here’s What Romney Thinks Of Your Gay Son

November 5, 2012

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Our friend Nathaniel Frank is the author of the book Unfriendly Fire:¬†How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America. He¬†was an expert witness in two Constitutional challenges to “don‚Äôt ask, don‚Äôt tell,” whose success helped end the policy. Yesterday he spoke on the phone with the parents of his best friend about how they were planning on voting tomorrow; he was moved afterward to write this open letter to them:

Dear X & Y:

We go back a long time, to the beginning of my college years. I’ve known you over half my life, and you’ve become like another set of parents to me. I’ve enjoyed sparring with you over politics at Christmas dinner, and I respect that you, X, have been a proud Republican all your life (for reasons that I understand, even though I disagree with them) and that you, Y, have prided yourself on being an independent voter.

I realize there are many factors that shape our decisions about whom we think should lead our country. No one person will fully represent all that’s important to us, so we must choose the issues we value the most, size up a candidate’s character as best we can, and ultimately pull the lever we think will do the most good.

For me, that’s Barack Obama’s lever, as I’ve explained¬†elsewhere. You’ll decide who it is for you, but I feel compelled to ensure you know just what Mitt Romney believes and promises to do about gay people like me and your son, Z. For I fear that many people have the vague sense that Romney can’t be that bad on gay rights, but they haven’t really gotten all the information. And even when they hear tidbits trickling out, they haven’t fully absorbed what a Romney presidency could mean for the gay people they love.

Romney not only opposes your son’s right to marry the person he loves, but¬†opposes civil unions, a back-of-the-bus version of relationship recognition designed to do nothing but remind gay couples that they’re lesser. That puts Romney to the right of George W. Bush who supported civil unions, and well to the right of Dick Cheney, who supports marriage equality. Marriage is not a mere abstraction or symbol — a¬†government study found¬†that it provides over 1100 crucial rights and protections, and states provide many more.

It gets worse: Romney doesn’t only oppose marriage equality, he supports tearing a hole in the U.S. Constitution to ban it, using the amendment process for the first time ever to remove instead of protect a right.¬†This could annul tens of thousands of existing marriages, yanking away rights and tearing families apart. If you think I’m being dramatic, check out¬†this report¬†I helped author showing that the two million children of LGBT parents have become “collateral damage” of anti-gay ideology and law.

Romney doesn’t only oppose marriage for gays, he finds the prospect of gay parenting to be anathema to all that’s good and civil. As governor of Massachusetts,¬†according to the Boston Globe, he “opposed child-rearing by gay couples” and when his state’s Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, he refused to grant accurate birth certificates to kids born to same-sex couples. Indeed, Romney hasn’t only opposed gay parenting, he’s been downright derisive of it. “Some gays are actually having children born to them,” he¬†told a South Carolina audience¬†in 2005. “It’s not right on paper. It’s not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and father.” More recently, Etch-a-Sketch Mitt tried to moderate his image by warming to gay adoptions but — after hollering from the religious right –¬†back-tracked the very next day claiming¬†that “actually” all he’d done was to “simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal” in most states.

It gets worse: Romney¬†approves of the idea that states should be free to bar your son from entering the hospital¬†to sit by the bedside of his dying partner (don’t worry — he’s not dying!) And he puts his considerable money where is mouth is. He’s¬†donated at least $60,000 to anti-gay causes. That’s more than a lot of Americans make in a year.

It gets worse: Romney signed a pledge with a fiercely anti-gay organization that he would appoint federal judges who would block gay rights. That means, if he can, appointing a Supreme Court that would likely have criminalized homosexuality itself, not to mention that will oppose same-sex marriage.

It gets worse: As governor of Massachusetts, Romney, who was¬†forced to apologize for having bullied a gay student¬†in prep school, blocked the publication of an anti-bullying guide when he learned it mentioned bisexual and transgender people, and he¬†abolished¬†the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth.

In fact, what we now know of Romney suggests he can be not only frighteningly out of touch but astoundingly cold and unfeeling about vulnerable and unfamiliar people. As governor of Massachusetts, he¬†told Julie Goodridge, a lesbian mother who was the named plaintiff in the same-sex marriage court case, “I didn’t know you had families.” And it wasn’t a moment of touching revelation. When Goodridge asked him, “What would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her state, are going to block our marriage?” he reportedly said, “I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter.” She wasn’t adopted. “Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.” Trying to usher her out of his office, he said, “is there anything else?” Goodridge recalls it as a heartbreaking meeting. “I’ve never stood before someone who had no capacity for empathy,” she said. “It went [beyond] flat affect. It was a complete lack of ability or motivation to understand other people.”

Think Mitt’s a moderate dressed up as a “severely conservative” candidate (as he’s called himself)? What I’ve described above are not only his words but his thoughts, his beliefs, his actions, his record. These are the things he thinks, says and does. He did them when in power, and will do them again. Because the day he enters the White House, he’s running for a second term. He still needs to hold his coalition together. And he’s shown what he’ll do to maintain power.

In at least three cases, gay people who worked under Romney¬†were fired or forced out¬†when their identities became public — in all three cases, Romney was wooing the right wing by showing how tough he was on gays.

And that’s the thing: if all this is not enough for you to reconsider pulling the lever for Mitt, if his beliefs and positions and record on gay rights are just not enough to sway you, consider this: Mitt Romney is someone who will exploit the vulnerable to gain and maintain power. That’s a character flaw that transcends how we each may prioritize the various issues we care about. It speaks to leadership and trustworthiness. Sure, politicians throw folks under the bus all the time. Obama dissed “Wall Street fat cats” to leverage populist anger among his base. But here’s the difference: Obama picked on the powerful — they can take it (and sometimes they deserve it); Romney abuses the vulnerable to advance himself, and that’s despicable.

Other issues matter that we both care about — matter a lot. If those issues take precedence in swaying your vote, so be it — I probably won’t convince you with one letter. But let me just say a few sentences about these issues.

On the economy, you may have heard a pitched debate about whether the math for Romney’s plan adds up. The truth is in the middle: it’s based on wildly optimistic projections that are the opposite of conservative — anyone running a business or household that way would be laughed out of power. The only prudent take-away is that he’s highly unlikely to achieve the tax and growth agenda he’s selling, and¬†as Slate points out, he’ll never get it through Congress even if he wins. He promises 12 million new jobs that¬†experts predict will emerge no matter who’s in power. And Obama’s steps to save the auto industry, stop the bleeding and begin to¬†stimulate the economy have shown documentable results.

Some experts say it should take ten years to recover from the recession the Republicans left us with; Obama’s only had four and he’s still¬†created nearly 5 million jobs after the recession he inherited shedding over $4 million. There’s plenty more to do, but little evidence that Romney’s plan will make things better.

On foreign policy, Romney basically¬†endorsed every Obama position¬†in the last debate, putting almost no daylight between the two men. Benghazi was a tragedy that’s an unfortunate result of living in a world that’s not risk-free. The idea of a cover-up, that the White House expected to keep the possibility of Al Qaeda links from the public all the way through the election, is asinine, given how much information it turns out there was about what really appears to have happened. Meanwhile, did Bush prevent 9/11? No (but Obama brought Bin Laden to Justice), in part because his national security team was still fixated on a phantom Cold War that ended a decade before.

On the environment, people can disagree on the extent and threat of climate change but it was Romney who¬†used rising oceans as a laugh line¬†weeks before those oceans poured over sea walls to inundate American towns and cities, destroying thousands of lives. He has said we should¬†divert federal relief resources to local governments and even private contractors. How can a town or a company jet in $25 million gallons of emergency fuel to affected areas like the military is doing as we speak? This liberal will cheer the Pentagon every step of the way. Oh, and a woman’s right to choose? Don’t expect a Romney Supreme Court to protect it.

Many have called LGBT equality the civil rights issue of our time. I think they’re right. Now that the two candidates have offered us the starkest choice ever on this critical issue, the choice you make will become part of your legacy. With whom do you want to cast your vote? Which camp reflects who you are and who you want to be? No one ever doubted you love your son with all your being; no one thinks you have an ounce of homophobia in your blood. If you’re pausing even for a moment to consider voting for Obama, I hope it’s, in part, because your relationships with your son, with me, and with all your gay friends, have offered the opportunity to connect the lives of gay people with your own values. But I hope you won’t do it it for your son, or for me, or your gay friends. I hope you’ll do it, if you do it, because having processed the available information, you’ve decided it’s what you think is right.

– Nathaniel Frank

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This letter originally appeared on the Huffington Post.



Confession: 8 Rules for the Third Wheel in a Threeway

November 1, 2012

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photo via flickr

Our¬†contributor is a college student who wishes to remain anonymous. She has some sage advice to impart on the topic of three ways…

When people give warnings about threeways, it’s usually directed at couples who are bringing in a third party.¬†Threeways are not a relationship-building exercise, they tell you.¬†Are you sure your relationship can handle this?¬†they ask.¬†The reality is rarely as hot as the fantasy, they intone.¬†Do you both want this equally?¬†And this is all good, solid advice — I know this because I have had a threeway as one half of a couple.

But what people don’t often tell you is that it’s not easy being the third wheel, either. I’ve been there, too, and I can report that there are just as many potential pitfalls when you’re the single one — in fact, sometimes it can be even harder.

Until I tried it, I thought being the single person — the guest star of the evening! — would mean having all the fun with none of the pressure or tension of wondering what might happen to your relationship. All the tangled bedsheets, none of the nagging insecurities! And at first, this was true.¬†My single lady threesome days proceeded similarly to the San Francisco summer of 1969: the first few experiences and couples were all love, sunshine, and plenty of orgasms to go around. By the end of the summer, though, everything good about swapping favors with couples had turned bad.

The final couple of the summer was my worst experience to date. They¬†asked me to be their number three because they trusted me. And, perhaps, because they knew I was experienced in threesomes, too — I wasn’t some newbie who was going to try and mess with their relationship or commit some threeway faux-pas. But all the trust and experience in the world is no match for a couple who just isn’t ready for a threeway.¬†Despite our best attempts to outline¬†rules and regulations beforehand, the night ended in a storm of¬†arguments¬†between the couple.¬†¬†And if you think it sucks being a couple in that situation, imagine being the lonely third stuck on the bed watching the entire thing unfold.

When I first arrived at the couple’s house, they poured me a glass of white wine as we sat on their bedroom floor, all of us eager and a bit nervous. We discussed their previously¬†concocted rules and what everyone’s comfort levels were on various sexual acts. Additionally, I suggested that we choose a safe word in case things went in a direction someone was uncomfortable with — that way we could redirect the threeway without having¬†to disrupt the lively libidinous mood of the night.

The more we talked, the more we learned about each other. Sounds like we were on the right track, right? Unfortunately, the guy had failed to tell his partner just how many times he and I had been together previously. It was years ago, and it was never as a couple — his girlfriend knew this, but she didn’t know exactly how often. Awkward time to find out that your partner wasn’t completely honest with you! (I’d assumed she was fully in the know.) We¬†also discussed how he had cheated on every one of his partners, except her. Again, not exactly the best way to make your partner feel secure and safe as she prepares to engage in a threeway.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of tension in the room. For some reason, though, we all agreed that it was a good idea to go ahead with the threeway anyway. Once you’ve got that far, I guess it’s hard to turn back. And for most of the night, we¬†had a great time. But as the evening wore on, the man became¬†jealous of his partner and me getting intimate together. Rather than pull the plug on the evening, he let his jealousy grow until he couldn’t stand it any longer — and then he launched into a massive argument with her. In a slightly drunken stupor, they staggered to the bathroom, fighting all the way, and slammed the door shut behind them. Meanwhile, I was left in the dark,¬†somewhat dehydrated, lying on another couple’s sex stained bed and listening to them yell at each other through a closed door. Not exactly my favorite way to spend an evening. I gathered my things as I tried to put together how this night took such a dramatic turn for the worst.

Here’s what I came up with — consider it some much-needed advice for the pinch-hitter in a threeway (though most of this advice applies to¬†anyone¬†considering a threeway). Do not proceed without the following:

1.¬†Communicate. The couple needs to tell you exactly what is and is not acceptable — preferably at a time¬†before¬†the night of the threesome. This is because (a) this talk is necessary but not always sexy foreplay talk; and (b) this talk may make any one of you rethink the threeway — and some time lag will give you each a chance to change your mind. Some recommended topics to cover:¬†Will the guest be able to have intercourse with either partner? Can there be two-way kisses or only¬†three-way¬†kisses? What positions do you want to try that involve three people? How are we handling safer sex? Similarly, the guest should also communicate boundaries. Think of it as a consultation to make sure everyone is on the same page.

2. Know thyself. Really knowing yourself and where your boundaries lie is key. For example, the guy in this threeway had no idea that he would be jealous of his girlfriend kissing another woman. As a guest, are you prepared for what your role will be? What if the couple treats you as a human sex toy, for example? What if they only want to kiss each other?

3. Have (and use, if necessary) a safeword.¬†Of course, you can’t always know in advance how something will make you feel. Hence the need for a¬†safe word¬†– and the need to actually use it!

4. STOP¬†at any time.¬†You can pull the plug after the initial communication session, you can run a mile when they open the door to you, or you can yell the safe word right after everyone gets naked. Don’t ever keep going just because it seems like it would be “awkward” to stop. It’s way more awkward to keep going with a threeway you know one or all of you will regret later. And don’t feel bad ditching a couple if you sense they’re not ready for a threeway — you’re doing them and their relationship a favor.

5.¬†Make sure you trust each other.¬†Everyone knows that the couple must trust each other, duh. But the guest also¬†needs to trust that the couple has come to the right decision in having a threesome. If you think one of the partners is not emotionally stable enough for it, then you must politely decline the invitation. If you don’t trust one of the partner’s intentions for the threesome, or you think they might overstep their boundaries, then don’t do it. All three of you need to want the best for each other, and to understand the sexual dynamic you each desire. After all, as the guest you are not just there to heat up that couple’s relationship — there needs to be something in it for you, too!

6. Know your responsibilities. The couple is putting their relationship in a vulnerable position when they decide to share their other half with someone outside of the relationship. This means that the guest has a responsibility to stay aware of their boundaries and intently listen to what each partner wants and desires. Similarly, the couple has a responsibility to one another in maintaining trust by keeping in check with their partner to ensure that nothing has gone too far.

7. Don’t get drunk.¬†Consume¬†alcohol¬†responsibly and in moderation. Sure, some liquid confidence may seem like a good idea, but if you feel like you need alcohol to go through with a threesome, you probably should not be having a threesome. A glass of wine to settle the nerves and get in the mood is totally acceptable, but anything beyond that can lead you into the dangerous territory of disrespect, non-consensual sex, and — like my experience — heated arguments.

8.¬†Debrief¬†afterwards.¬†Maybe meet for coffee the next week to check in and see how everyone is doing. This is especially helpful for the single person, because they will be reassured that the couple is still solid in their relationship. Overall, everyone can feel more comfortable and have closure over the experience. Plus, then you won’t live in fear of bumping into each other in the supermarket and having to debrief¬†there!

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In Defense of the “Woman-Child”

September 10, 2012

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photo via Flickr

I (Lo here) consider myself a pretty hardcore feminist. And I love Jezebel.com. So I expected their “Woman-Child” article today to be just my kind¬†of internet candy. My best guess about its focus? The media’s obsession with infantalizing women to make them seem cuter, softer, more¬†likeable. But it actually turned out to be one writer’s poop parade on grown, successful women choosing to have fun, be lighthearted,¬†dress up, and not take things so seriously. (I know by choosing the phrase “poop parade” I may only be proving her point, but I’m sticking¬†with it.)

The article talks about the female counterpart to the man-child: grown women who increasingly don’t act their age. Now, far be it from me to get in the way of someone going to town on Katy Perry’s lollipop-licking, Candyland-prancing, cherry-nippled persona — hey, go to town! But in the process, the piece totally dismisses the¬†benefits of being young at heart, of maintaining a childlike wonder about the world, of always learning and exploring, of making time for¬†play and fun and laughter. Why should kids get to have all the fun?

There’s nothing wrong with an adult wanting to read an engaging, plot-driven story that’s entertaining and takes you back (hello, Twilight) — especially when you’re too overworked or stressed out from a job¬†and/or kids to finally finish David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” right now even though you will eventually some day. Having older and¬†wiser personalities contribute to a magazine for teens like¬†Rookie¬†just makes sense. And board games are a hoot — especially when you’re¬†old enough to add alcohol to them!

So is dressing up. Now, I’m not defending the extremes the fashion and beauty industries go to in order to make a billion — namely¬†shaming women into spending way too much time, money and effort on this season’s sanctioned “ideal” look; what I am defending is the¬†right women have to wear whatever the hell they want without ridicule, especially if it’s cost effective, creative, nostalgic or empowering¬†for them. Sarah Silverman wearing comfortable t-shirts and sneakers and refusing to put her sex on display or to buy into the High¬†Fashion Industrial Complex is radical and refreshing and bold, especially for a celebrity — it’s not adolescent. And I would call¬†Zooey¬†Deschanel’s style retro, not infantile. Perhaps the writer, at least with these examples, is confusing a lack of cleavage with childishness.

And I hate to break the news, but wacky nail polish color has been around for a long time. I remember writing a bit for The Boston¬†Phoenix on the “crazy” new nail polish colors by, for example, Nars, that were new on the scene…twenty years ago. It just might seem¬†like a big, new deal right now because, during a recession, nail polish is a cheap and easy and therefore popular way to make a bold fashion statement.

There’s nothing worse than chatting with fellow moms or career women — especially younger ones — who take themselves too seriously,¬†as if having a sense of humor or a good time might get their membership in the Adult Club revoked. These types always seem to me like¬†they are playing grown up, making mountains out of molehills — when they should be making mud pies with their kids. After all, being able¬†to tap into your inner child — which includes the incredibly healthy quality of not being afraid to make an ass out of yourself — makes you¬†a better parent (and probably a better innovator and a better improviser and a better artist and a better friend…).

And I’m sorry, but pizza and cupcakes taste good. Not to mention the fact that they are economical and require minimal prep and clean up¬†– great for busy adults who want to get together with friends but don’t have the time, the money and/or the inclination to concoct five course meals with¬†linens and good silver. Her underlying argument seems to be one in favor of high status over low, rather than adulthood over immaturity. I¬†mean, are you really going to suggest that shopping at Banana Republic, where sweaters cost $100, is plebeian?

The author says women these days might just be afraid of growing up. I will concede that there¬†is¬†great prejudice in our society against women who dare to¬†age (I mean, if I hear one more joke about Madonna being elderly I’m going to hurl — the woman could literally kick most Americans’¬†butts! She’s a machine! Have you seen her guns?!?!). And this kind of shaming that happens to women and not men (who only get more¬†distinguished and experienced and dashingly silver-tipped as they age) results in horrifying Joan Rivers’ masks and Botox at 20. ¬†And so,¬†yes, many women are afraid¬†to get old. Can you blame them when such a sky-scraper high, almost moral value is placed on how women look in our society?

But are they afraid¬†of growing up? Nuh uh. Women want to be successful, competent, and powerful — at whatever endeavors they¬†choose. They stay single longer because they’ve got a lot of living to do and they want to grow their careers and their bank accounts and¬†their experiences before they get married and have kids (if¬†they get married and have kids) — which is a much more grown-up approach to¬†life than trying to live the fairy-tale fantasy of finding prince-charming at 18 to take care of you for the rest of your life.

Maturity and fun are not mutually exclusive.¬†Women can — and do — discuss feminist articles in¬†The Atlantic¬†or the dearth of female¬†directors in Hollywood¬†while¬†they are out on the town with their girlfriends, getting a relaxing mani-pedi, having a delicious cocktail,¬†cracking jokes and cracking up, taking pictures along the way to preserve the memory of a great night out with friends. (Then they post¬†those right along side their “age-appropriate” pics of their kid’s first day of kindergarten.) Sit-down dinners inspired by the Times Magazine‘s food column and¬†during which important geo-political issues are debated can be — and are — followed by epic rounds of charades.

Maybe I’m getting young in my old age, but if I have to choose between Ralph-Lauren-wearning Gwenyth Paltrow and blue-wigged Nicki Minaj, I’ll take Nicki any day. After all,¬†girls just want to have fun…and so do boys, and women, and men — at least the ones who want to enjoy this one-time ride do.