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Blog Snog: Why the Myth of Lesbian Bed Death Persists

April 17, 2015

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R.I.P. GĂĽnter Grass: A (Sexy) Excerpt from “The Tin Drum”

April 14, 2015

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photo via Wikimedia Commons

The German novelist and Nobel Prize winner GĂĽnter Grass died yesterday at the age of 87. According to the New York Times, “He was a pre-eminent public intellectual who had pushed Germans to confront the ugly aspects of their history. … Many called [him] his country’s moral conscience but [he] stunned Europe when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II.” He was also know for his poem “criticizing Israel for its hostile language toward Iran over its nuclear program.” And when awarding Grass the Nobel Prize in 1999, the Swedish Academy praised him for embracing “the enormous task of reviewing contemporary history by recalling the disavowed and the forgotten: the victims, losers and lies that people wanted to forget because they had once believed in them.” Oh yeah, and he happens to write a pretty decent sex scene, too. (If only Em had realized this back in school when she was a German major!) No surprise, that’s how we’d like to remember him here on EMandLO.com today.

Grass’s 1959 novel The Tin Drum features a severed horse’s head swarming with hungry eels; a criminal hiding beneath a peasant woman’s layered skirts; and a child who shatters windows with his high-pitched voice. The Nobel Prize peeps called it “one of the enduring literary works of the 20th century.” We chose the excerpt below because it’s a favorite of our old pal Jack Murnighan, of Jack’s Naughty Bits fame. Of this Grass passage, Jack wrote: “The excerpt is Oskar’s first brush with sexuality (told in both first and third person), but even more it is his flash recognition of what normally takes years to realize: that mingled in every moment of sweetest joy is an ashy tinge of finitude.”

From The Tin Drum by GĂĽnter Grass

translated by Ralph Manheim

It was quite beyond me why Maria . . . should whistle while removing her shoes, two high notes, two low notes, and while stripping off her socks. Whistling like the driver of a brewery truck she took off the flowery dress, whistling she hung up her petticoat over her dress, dropped her brassiere, and still without finding a tune, whistled frantically while pulling her panties, which were really gym shorts, down to her knees, letting them slip to the floor, climbing out of the rolled-up pants legs, and kicking the shorts into the corner with one foot.

Maria frightened Oskar with her hairy triangle . . . Rage, shame, indignation, disappointment, and a nascent half-comical, half-painful stiffening of my watering can beneath my bathing suit made me forget drum and drumsticks for . . . the new stick I had developed.

Oskar jumped up and flung himself on Maria. She caught him with her hair. He buried his face in it. It grew between his lips. Maria laughed and tried to pull him away. I drew more and more of her into me, looking for the source of her vanilla smell. Maria was still laughing. She even left me to her vanilla, it seemed to amuse her, for she didn’t stop laughing. Only when my feet slipped and I hurt her — for I didn’t let go the hair or perhaps it was the hair that didn’t let me go — only when the vanilla brought tears to my eyes, only when I began to taste mushrooms or some acrid spice, in any case, something that was not vanilla, only when this earthy smell that Maria concealed behind the vanilla brought me back to the smell of the earth where Jan Brodski lay moldering and contaminated me for all time with the taste of perishability — only then did I let go.

You can buy The Tin Drum on Amazon.com

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Blog Snog: 7 Signs It’s Time to See a Couples Counselor

April 10, 2015

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New Book: “Come As You Are”

April 10, 2015

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Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., speaks our kind of language. We read the first few pages of her new book, “Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life,” and we were sold. It tackles the tricky task of explaining women’s complex sexuality (which, hello, is different from men’s) so people can reconceptualize and recontextualize sex to unlock their pleasure potential. Why aren’t you having that much fun in bed? This book will give you the answers. Below is an excerpt from the introduction to give you an idea of Nagoski’s overall approach, which combines sound science with female empowerment to help promote positive sex education. It’s like looking in a mirror…except we don’t have the Ph.D. — so if you won’t listen to us, listen to her!
 

THE TRUE STORY OF SEX

From the introduction to “Come As You Are

After all the books that have been written about sex, all the blogs and TV shows and radio Q&As, how can it be that we all still have so many questions?

Well. The frustrating reality is we ’ve been lied to—not deliberately, it ’s no one ’s fault, but still. We were told the wrong story.

For a long, long time in Western science and medicine, women’s sexuality was viewed as Men’s Sexuality Lite—basically the same but not quite as good.

For instance, it was just sort of assumed that since men have orgasms during penis-in-vagina sex (intercourse), women should have orgasms with intercourse too, and if they don’t, it ’s because they’re broken.

In reality, about 30 percent of women orgasm reliably with intercourse. The other 70 percent sometimes, rarely, or never orgasm with intercourse, and they’re all healthy and normal. A woman might orgasm

lots of other ways—manual sex, oral sex, vibrators, breast stimulation, toe sucking, pretty much any way you can imagine—and still not orgasm during intercourse. That ’s normal.

It was just assumed, too, that because a man’s genitals typically be- have the way his mind is behaving—if his penis is erect, he ’s feeling turned on—a woman’s genitals should also match her emotional experience.

And again, some women’s do, many don’t. A woman can be perfectly normal and healthy and experience “arousal nonconcordance,”  where the behavior of her genitals (being wet or dry) may not match her mental experience (feeling turned on or not).

And it was also assumed that because men experience spontaneous, out-of-the-blue  desire for sex, women should also want sex spontaneously.

Again it turns out that ’s  true sometimes,  but not necessarily.  A woman can be perfectly normal and healthy and never experience spontaneous sexual desire. Instead, she may experience “responsive” desire, in which her desire emerges only in a highly erotic context.

In reality, women and men are different.

But wait. Women and men both experience orgasm, desire, and arousal, and men, too, can experience responsive desire, arousal nonconcordance, and lack of orgasm with penetration. Women and men both can fall in love, fantasize, masturbate, feel puzzled about sex, and experience ecstatic pleasure. They both can ooze fluids, travel forbidden paths of sexual imagination, encounter the unexpected and startling ways that sex shows up in every domain of life—and confront the unexpected and star- tling ways that sex sometimes declines, politely or otherwise, to show up.

So . . . are women and men really that different?

The problem here is that we ’ve been taught to think about sex in terms of behavior, rather than in terms of the biological, psychological, and social processes underlying the behavior. We think about our physiological behavior—blood   flow and genital secretions and heart rate. We think about our social behavior—what we do in bed, whom we do it with, and how often. A lot of books about sex focus on those things; they tell you how many times per week the average couple has sex or they offer instructions on how to have an orgasm, and they can be helpful.

But if you really want to understand human sexuality, behavior alone won’t get you there. Trying to understand sex by looking at behavior is like trying to understand love by looking at a couple ’s wedding portrait . . . and their divorce papers. Being able to describe what happened— two people got married and then got divorced—doesn’t get us very far. What we want to know is why and how it came to be. Did our couple fall out of love after they got married, and that ’s why they divorced? Or were they never in love but were forced to marry, and finally became free when they divorced? Without better evidence, we ’re mostly guessing.

Until very recently, that ’s how it ’s been for sex—mostly guessing. But we ’re at a pivotal moment in sex science because, after decades of research describing what happens in human sexual response, we ’re finally figuring out the why  and how—the process underlying the behavior.

In the last decade of the twentieth century, researchers Erick Janssen

and John Bancroft at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction  developed a model of human sexual response  that provides an organizing principle for understanding the true story of sex. According to their “dual control model,” the sexual response mechanism in our brains consists of a pair of universal components—a  sexual accelerator and sexual brakes—and  those components respond to broad categories of sexual stimuli—including genital sensations, visual stimulation, and emotional context. And the sensitivity of each component varies from person to person.

The result is that sexual  arousal, desire, and orgasm are nearly universal experiences, but when and how we experience them depends largely on the sensitivities of our “brakes” and “accelerator” and on the kind of stimulation they’re given.

This is the mechanism underlying the behavior—the why and the how. And it ’s the rule that governs the story I’ll be telling in this book:

We ’re all made of the same parts, but in each of us, those parts are organized in a unique way that changes over our life span.

No organization is better or worse than any other, and no phase in our life span is better or worse than any other; they’re just different. An apple tree can be healthy no matter what variety of apple it is—though one variety may need constant direct sunlight and another might enjoy some shade. And an apple tree can be healthy when it ’s a seed, when it ’s a seedling, as it ’s growing,  and as it fades at the end of the season, as well as when, in late summer, it is laden with fruit. But it has different needs at each of those phases in its life.

You, too, are healthy and normal at the start of your sexual development, as you grow, and as you bear the fruits of living with confidence and joy inside your body. You are healthy when you need lots of sun, and you’re healthy when you enjoy some shade. That ’s the true story. We are all the same. We are all different. We are all normal.

From the book “Come As You Are” available on Amazon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Photos of the Week: I Am Lion, Hear Me Roar

April 3, 2015

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When you do a search for “sex” on Getty Images, you get a lot of interesting results — so many, in fact, that we were compelled to create a superlative series of Getty “sex” search images. Lions, shall we say, come up a lot. (So often, in fact, that this is our second installment of jungle royalty getting it on.) Many of them remind us of the old joke: “My doctor asked me if I’m sexually active and I said, ‘No. I usually just lie there.’”

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Blog Snog: 12 Actors Who’ve Graced Us With Full-Frontal Nudity

April 3, 2015

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25 Things You Didn’t Know About “Pretty Woman”

April 1, 2015

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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the movie Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts, Julia Roberts’ hair, and Richard Gere. (Now don’t you feel old?) The big celebration, with the cast reuniting for the first time in twenty-five years on the Today Show, happened last week. But we were out of town last week, so we’re going to join the party late, because Pretty Woman is one of Em’s favorite movies of all time. Right up there with Grease, Sound of Music, and Airplane. Somehow, director Gary Marshall managed to turn a movie about a street-walking prostitute into a much loved family classic. The original script, however, probably wouldn’t have been the kind of film Em and her family would have sat down to, hundreds of times, with a pot of tea. Read on to find out why… plus 24 other things you probably didn’t know about the 1990 film Pretty Woman.

1. The original Pretty Woman script was way darker. In the original script, Julia Roberts’ character Vivian is addicted to cocaine, and agrees to give the drug up for a week so she can earn enough money to take her friend Kit to Disneyland. And in the movie’s original ending, Richard Gere’s character, Edward, throws Vivian out of the car, and, yes, she takes a bus to Disneyland. Not quite the “Disney” ending of the final version!

2. The final version had Vivian’s roommate Kit saddled with the drug habit and the questionable life choices instead.

3. In the version of Pretty Woman we all know and most of us love, Edward breaks into the bathroom to find Vivian flossing her teeth, rather than doing drugs, as he’d suspected. In the original — and far more realistic! — script, he was right: she was doing drugs.

4. One of the main reasons that the movie got its fairytale ending was the immediate chemistry between co-stars Gere and Roberts. The filmmakers knew audiences would storm the screen if Vivian and Edward didn’t end up together. The other reason is that director Gary Marshall doesn’t do dark endings.

5. But don’t feel bad for the screenwriter, J.F. Lawton. He claims he was just trying something different with his Pretty Woman script, and that he likes a happy ending as much as the next guy.

6. Pretty much every actress currently in her forties or fifties is rumored to have either auditioned for the role of Vivian and been rejected, or offered the role and passed it up — and later regretted the decision, of course. (As Vivian says to the snooty shop assistant: “Big mistake. Huge.”) Actresses who allegedly turned down the role include Megan Ryan, Kim Basinger, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Michelle Pfeiffer, Heather Locklear, Diane Lane, Molly Ringwald, Sandra Bullock, Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Connolly, and Kristin Davis. And rumor has it that both Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder wanted the part, but director Gary Marshall thought they were too young.

7. Speaking of that scene with the snooty shop assistant: that was in the original script!

8. Actors who (allegedly) almost played Edward include Burt Reynolds, Albert Brooks, Al Pacino, and Daniel Day-Lewis.

 9. In the poster for the movie, Julia Roberts’ head was superimposed on the body of famous body double Shelley Michelle (see above).

10. There was no body double for Richard Gere on the poster, but they did turn his hair brown for the poster! In the movie, on the other hand, it’s completely grey.

11. According to the IMDB Parents’ Guide for this movie, “The main character and a supporting character are prostitutes, and both sex and sexuality are repeatedly depicted as well as discussed (though not “coarsely”). The protagonists are sensually involved throughout the movie.” Which is pretty much the reason this movie was a huge hit and a family favorite in TV dens across the world: lots of “sensual involvement” and no “coarse” sex. It’s also the reason many people think the movie’s depiction of prostitution is unrealistic. (Duh. It’s a Disney movie!)

12. The IMDB Guide also offers this helpful heads up: “A woman wears a pair of fetish latex boots for most of the film.”

13. The famous scene where Edward gives Vivian a diamond necklace, and snaps the case shut on her hand, wasn’t in the script. They were filming the day after Roberts’ 21st birthday, and Gere and director Marshall planned it as a surprise for the (probably hungover) birthday girl. Roberts’ reaction (huge laughter) is genuine, and the filmmakers liked it so much, they kept it in.

14. That necklace is genuine, too, by the way: it was worth $250,000. During filming of those scenes, an armed security officer from the jewelry store stood behind the director.

15. Producer Laura Ziskin contributed the final line of the last scene: “She rescues him right back.” When they’d filmed the earlier scene, where Vivian says, “I want the fairy tale,” this closing line hadn’t yet been written.

16. Pretty Woman was originally titled $3,000, i.e. the amount Vivian was paid for the week.

17. Continuity oops: When Vivian is offering Edward a choice of condoms, she is holding four colored condoms (plus the gold circle condom). In one shot, Vivian holds the condoms in a certain order. In the next shot, they are in a different order, and then in the third shot, they are back in the original order. Given the number of times super-fans have watched this movie, the level of detail here shouldn’t be surprising.

18. You may recall that in that condom scene, she’s sitting on a desk (on a fax machine, actually). Vivian rarely sits down on a chair in the movie. The filmmakers wanted to show that, because of her profession, Vivian felt more comfortable sitting on the floor or on top of furniture.

19. In the famous piano scene, Richard Gere is actually playing the piano. He also composed the piece of music that he plays.

20. Later in that scene, Vivian and Edward get busy on the piano, hitting all sorts of random piano keys with flailing limbs. According to the DVD director’s commentary, the piano sounds you hear during that sex scene were dubbed in afterwards, because the actual keys the two of them randomly hit made such a discordant sound that it was unusable.

21. Porsche declined the opportunity for product placement in this movie, because they did not want to be associated with soliciting prostitutes. Lotus Cars UK said yes to being the car that Gere drives to pick up Roberts, and their sales tripled in the year after the movie came out. We’ll say it again: Big mistake. Huge.

22. In the restaurant scene when Vivian accidentally catapaults a snail across the room, the waiter says, “It happens all the time.” Many years later, director Gary Marshall cast the same actor in The Princess Diaries and gave him the same line.

23. Here’s another ridiculously detailed report of a continuity error: The pancake Vivian is eating during breakfast is, for most of the scene, a croissant. Then the croissant magically becomes a pancake. In the first scene with the pancake, she takes a second bite. In the next scene with the pancake in her hand, there is only one bite missing. Also, the pancake with one bite missing has a different bite pattern and is clearly a different pancake. Yes, people really do notice this stuff!

24. During a sex scene, Roberts got so nervous that a visible vein popped in her forehead. Director Marshall got into bed with Roberts and Gere and the two guys massaged her forehead until the vein disappeared. Roberts allegedly also broke into hives during this scene, and was given calamine lotion to calm them.

25. In the establishing shots of the city, at the start of the movie, some of the neon letters in the hotel where Vivian lives are burned out. The only remaining lighted letters spell “HO.” Stay classy, Hollywood!

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Interesting Kickstarter: A Documentary on an Alternative Love Model

March 31, 2015

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Filmmakers Ian MacKenzie and John Wolfstone are challenging what they call “the myth of the one” by profiling a group in Portugal called Tamera, a “free love” community dedicated to “social sustainability” and a “future without war” by making all matters of love and sexuality within a community completely transparent. Check out their impressive pitch video:

The filmmakers will be going to Tamera’s annual Global Love School in May to “capture and translate Tamera’s systems on love & partnership for a wider audience.” Principle photography will be completed at Tamera, followed by post-production this summer, for a wide-release of the short film in September, which will coincide with the North American release of the book “Terra Nova: Global Revolution and the Healing of Love” from Tamera’s co-founder Dieter Duhm. (Tamera started as a small group in Germany in the 1970s, natch).

To do this, they’re looking for 21K. For as little as $5 bucks you can get your name in the ending credits! You’ve got until April 26th to help spread the love.

 

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Blog Snog: The 20 Hottest Sex Scenes in “Game of Thrones”

March 27, 2015

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An Open Marriage Can’t Fix Something That’s Already Broken

March 26, 2015

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A new memoir called The Wild Oats Project: One Woman’s Midlife Quest for Passion At Any Cost is giving a lot of committed monogamists the chance to say “I told you so!” about open marriage.

Here’s the book in a nutshell: San Francisco-based magazine editor Robin Rinaldi felt like her marriage was in a rut, and convinced her husband to open their marriage for a year in an effort to save it. He said okay, and she went on to sleep with eight men and two women in a year, while he had a lengthy affair with just one woman. Then, soon after she returned to him, they decided to divorce. It turned out she’d fallen in love with one of those eight men, and she’s now married to him. It’s like a morality tale for the Nerve.com generation!

Except that what Robin and her husband were going through was a little more intense than a rut. Here’s Rinaldi writing in the New York Post:

Stuck in a rut — our once-a-week sex life was loving, but lacked spontaneity and passion — I was craving seduction and sexual abandon. I was having a midlife crisis and chasing this profound, deeply rooted experience of being female.

Before then, starting a family had felt like one route to this elusive state of feminine fulfillment. But Scott had made it absolutely clear he never wanted a baby, and even had a vasectomy.

I broke the news to Scott that I wanted an open marriage in early 2008, a few months after his vasectomy. “I won’t go to my grave with no children and four lovers,” I told him repeatedly. “I refuse.” [She'd had only three partners before marrying at 26.]

In other words, “once-a-week sex [that] was loving, but lacked spontaneity and passion” wasn’t even close to being the whole story. The inspiration for opening their marriage sprung more from a kind of deeply emotional and fraught tit-for-tat: If you won’t give me children, then you have to give me more sexual freedom. We’re not saying that this is a bad reason to want to open your marriage, — her reasoning actually makes complete sense to us — but the fact that Robin Rinaldi’s experiment failed to save her troubled marriage shouldn’t be considered a failure of open marriages in general.

Open marriages may very well be able to get you out of a rut — if that’s all you’re experiencing. Of course, as The Wild Oats Project demonstrates all too clearly, the risk you take when opening your marriage is that one of you will fall in love with one of the pinch hitters. (Rinaldi limited herself to three dates per partner, to keep things light and casual, but who hasn’t fallen in love within three dates before?!)

But what open marriage can’t fix is a marriage that is broken because one partner wanted children and the other didn’t. It’s the reason that most people discuss this subject before getting married, after all. Here’s Rinaldi talking about her experiment on British TV:

I got into my early 40s and my husband got a vasectomy and I knew the discussion of having a baby was over, which kick-started this experience. I looked forward to my death bed and thought, What will I have? I won’t have children and grandchildren. Will I at least have lived fully? If I couldn’t have one I wanted the other. Like a lot of women at that age I was hitting my confidence and sexual peak and suddenly realized very dramatically that I wasn’t going to have children. It was the perfect storm.

So, sure, maybe Rinaldi’s marriage wouldn’t have ended if she hadn’t opened her marriage — but then she would have been trapped in a marriage that had a lot more wrong with it than lackluster sex once a week. And you can’t blame the swingers for that!

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