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Battle of the Sexists: “Blurred Lines” VS. “Rude”

September 16th, 2014

During this, the last official week of summer, we thought we’d compare this year’s “Song of Summer” with last year’s official hit to see which would win the title of “Most Offensive.” For the sake of argument, we’re calling “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke the winner of 2013 (though it was pretty much a tie with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”) and naming “Rude” by the band Magic! the winner of 2014 (though we’re sure many arguments could be made for “Fancy,” “Problem,” “Chandelier,” even “All About That Bass”…the list goes on). When it comes to our car-radio listening experiences these past two summers, Thicke and Magic! are the S.O.S. champions, hands down.

So since we’re dealing with these songs as radio hits, let us dismiss their videos entirely, at least for this particular column. After all, it wouldn’t be a fair fight: in the objectification department,¬†”Blurred Lines,” with its topless women bouncing around the fully-clad male singers, would easily and roundly¬†kick “Rude”‘s ass, what with its casual-Friday wedding attire and adorkable lead singer.

Actually, we imagine most people would automatically give the title to “Blurred Lines,” even just musically speaking, considering its traditionally sexually suggestive R&B roots and all the controversy and criticism the song’s lyrics garnered: ¬†I know you want it…I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two… Lines like that, along with the narrator referencing toking up with this “bitch”, getting blasted, her playing hard to get and him hating “these blurred lines,” resulted in the song being widely labeled as “rapey,” accused of sending mixed messages about consent, to the point where several student unions in the UK banned the song outright! ¬†(It also probably didn’t help that Robin Thicke often comes across as a slimy, philandering, drunken, musical liar.)

By contrast, Magic!’s “Rude” has seemed sweet and romantic, with its light reggae beats under lyrics about wanting to get married and create a family. The narrator is so in love with this woman, and so emotionally hurt by her father’s rejection of him, we can’t help but fall in love with this sensitive ponytail guy right back!

Even so: in this Battle of the Sexists, “Rude” is the winner.

As sleazy and smarmy as “Blurred Lines” is, its lyrics are still open to interpretation:¬†The way you grab me /¬†Must wanna get nasty /¬†Go ahead, get at me… As some mags like Slate and XOJane argued last summer, the woman is actively touching him, and though the narrator may be misinterpreting what that ultimately means, he’s leaving the call up to her, inviting her to make the first move. Same thing happens during T.I.’s rap: ¬†So I just watch(in) and wait(in) for you to salute /¬†But you didn’t pick.¬†She has sexual agency. And it can’t be denied that there are certainly straight women for whom having a guy whisper confident, alpha-male, dirty nothings in their ear is a real turn on (hey, there’s no accounting for fantasy fodder…or taste.) Perhaps the big crime in this song is not condoning date rape but endorsing cheesy, egotistical, pick-up artist techniques.

In “Blurred Lines,” the woman seems to have a choice; in “Rude,” she doesn’t even have a role. The lyrics are straight out of the 1950s, even though it was written around 2013: man wants to marry “that girl,” so he seeks out her father¬†to ask for his permission, which — hello? — isn’t his to give! The only person the singer has to ask is her. Just because the dad is “an old-fashioned man” doesn’t mean his old-fashioned sexism should be honored or met in kind.¬†Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life?¬†the narrator croons, as if she is something to be owned, as if this is a necessary step in the processes of two heteros getting married these days. Even if you’re a sucker for long-time traditions grounded in the ancient practice of women being traded like chattel in property deals, why not update things by going to both sets of¬†parents¬†as a united couple and hoping for their blessing. After all, marriage is no longer a deal made solely by patriarchs conducting real estate business; it’s a commitment entered into by two consenting, equal partners. Do we need to mention again that this is North America in the 21st century?

With “Blurred Lines,” you know you’re getting a sexed-up, sexist song — there’s no hiding it. With “Rude,” its retro sexism is hidden under layers of romance and love, which makes it more insidious. One is about casual sex, which automatically doesn’t get much respect, crap lyrics or not; the other is about marriage, which automatically seems more noble in our puritanical culture. Don’t be fooled!

“Blurred Lines” is way easier to dance to, anyway.



Your Call: Is It Fine for a Grown, Non-Religious Man to Be Celibate?

September 15th, 2014

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
Advice Service!



Dear Em & Lo,

Is this weird?: Intelligent, sarcastic, and attractive early 40′s male who will find any manner to exit a situation that may lead to intimacy. He’s been celibate for a year or so (work is his love) and basically thinks sex is unnecessary and far too overrated anyway. Although he’s very interested in getting attention (he is a pretty darn fascinating guy actually) and making sure dates enjoy his company, he has just made a point to avoid all the baggage and nonsense and time consumption that comes with sex. ¬†Is this more common than people think? ¬†Or is it abnormal? ¬†And ultimately, does it really matter, as he’s definitely not a player nor a user so nobody gets hurt anyway…? Or is this all wrong?

– What Gives?

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




Your Weekly Horoscopes: 09-15-14

September 15th, 2014

grandcentral_ceiling_421photo by Simply Schmoopie

Each week, we at EMandLO.com predict the course of your love life for the week with our own version of irreverent horoscopes — ignore our advice at your own peril. (Hyperbole intended for dramatic effect.)

aries (Mar. 21st-Apr. 20th)
Someone will become infatuated with you this week. Of course, the dictionary defines infatuation as “a foolish, unreasoning, extravagant, and short-lived passion.” Which means that the second you show signs of reciprocating this infatuation, it will suddenly feel “foolish” to your paramour ‚ÄĒ hence the whole “short-lived” thing. So don’t fall for the wooing and the roses; this isn’t the real thing. (Hey, don’t get mad at us: It ain’t easy being the harbingers of doom.)

taurus (Apr. 21st-May 20th)
Kink is relative. (We think Freud said that.) For some, all it takes to spice things up is doing it before “Game of Thrones” instead of after. Others find themselves struggling to break out of the routine of the same old purple leather thirteen-inch strap-on, day in, day out. You may never have described yourself as “kinky” before now, but your latest partner is one of those “GOT”-watchers (we mean that in the nicest way). You are Kink Master. Your partner likes being Kink Student. Make them earn some extra credit this week.

gemini (May 21st-June 21st)
Woah, serious. Things are getting hea-vy in the relationship department, huh, Gem? Are you sure you’re ready? You do have options, you know that, right? Getting serious should feel like a step into the future, not back into a corner. And getting serious does not necessarily require three months of your hard-earned filthy lucre, no matter what the diamond industry tells you. Hey, there are starving advice columnists out there who could be saving the sex lives of Americans everywhere with money like that.

cancer (June 22nd-July 22nd)
If someone isn’t warming up to you, there may be a good reason. For instance, they may hate your guts. Instead, look for someone gullible who will fall for your sleazy charms. Now that’s what we call a match made in heaven.

leo (July 23rd-Aug. 22nd)
Your next fortune cookie might read: “The person with a biggest mouth has the least chance of scoring.” Shut your hole so that others may get filled.

virgo (Aug. 23rd-Sept. 22nd)
Flirting isn’t always harmless. If not administered carefully, it can shoot someone’s eye out. You may think you’re a skilled marksman: Just enough extended eye contact, not too much coyness, a double entendre here, a shoulder squeeze there. But even the best coquettes miss their targets sometimes. And then they end up with psycho stalkers looking for sweet, sweet revenge.

libra (Sept. 23rd-Oct. 23rd)
Are you ready for rejection? Are you dying for a dis? Hoping for a Heisman? Begging for a big fat “not if my life depended on it”? We didn’t think so. Best to keep your mouth shut and be a quiet observer for the week. For whatever reason ‚ÄĒ pet death in their family, bacne break-out, sudden email from their ex ‚ÄĒ now is not the time to make your patented “move” on that certain someone, unless you want your heart put through the blender.

scorpio (Oct. 24th-Nov. 22nd)
Resist any temptation to talk about your past relationships with a new partner. We know, it’s hard ‚ÄĒ after all, the assholes who’ve beaten your heart into a bloody pulp have made you the cold and bitter person you are today. But stories about how you ate nothing but marshmallows for ten days straight after your ex left you for their golden retriever just aren’t sexy.

sagittarius (Nov. 23rd-Dec. 21st)
You’ll feel like Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians this week. Break free from your chains and squash those annoying little obligations like bugs. Continue your travels. Bring extra-large protection in case you meet any giants.

capricorn (Dec. 22nd-Jan. 20th)
This week, you’ll suddenly develop a very handy, very hardy, thick skin. You will no longer feel the sting of rejection. Oh sure, you’ll get rejected plenty, you just won’t feel the burn. “Ha!” you will say to all your spurners. “No problem!” You will shrug. “I’ll be back!” You will counter resistance with persistence and you will win out in the end. Because it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how long you can continue playing the game unsuccessfully before collapsing in a bawling heap of self-loathing.

aquarius (Jan. 21st-Feb. 18th)
If you want to know how someone really feels about you, ask him or her outright. Don’t break into their email account, don’t fake a personal ad and try to get them to respond to you, don’t have your BFF pass them a note with check-off boxes about whether or not they’d go steady with you. No, communication (which may or may not mean confrontation) is the best way to know where you stand. Because you have to know where you stand before you can move forward. For instance, if you figure out you’re standing at the end of a plank over a pool of sharks who lust the blood of a broken heart, only then will you realize in which single direction you can move.

pisces (Feb. 19th-Mar. 20th)
Don’t make any promises you don’t think you can keep. Because we know you and we know you won’t keep them. And then we’ll have to distance ourselves from you, because we can’t be seen with promise-breakers ‚ÄĒ it’s bad for our reputation.


10 Reasons to Become a Submissive (If Only for a Night)

September 12th, 2014

LELO’s Etherea Silk Cuffs

  1. You want a little freedom from all your daily responsibilities.
  2. You’ve been with your partner for a while and things are getting a little routine.
  3. You kinda like being held down and tickled.
  4. You think our book on the topic “150 Shades of Play” is fascinating.
  5. You don’t want to over-think things in the sack, you just want to get caught up in the moment.
  6. You enjoyed acting in high school and want an excuse to be more theatrical.
  7. You’re sick of having to make decisions.
  8. You’re shy and you have a hard time taking initiative in bed.
  9. You’re not shy, you always take the initiative, and you’re ready for a change.
  10. You think you could do a hell of lot better job than Anastasia Steele.

You don’t have to adopt a new permanent “lifestyle” just because you’re a little curious about BDSM. You can simply choose to spend an evening being submissive and let your trusted partner call all the shots for a change. By being (temporarily) submissive in the bedroom, you don’t have to do anything…except what you’re told. Which is not to say that you’re passive; you are receptive, responsive, appreciative, grateful. And no, there’s no correlation between social, economic, or mental status and your power preference. Being dominated isn’t demeaning; it’s fun! So set some ground rules, set a time limit, come up with a safeword that means “time out,” and then take it and like it.

For more BDSM tips, check out our latest book¬†”150 Shades of Play“.


The 10 Best “Sex” Photos of Ancient Sculptures

September 11th, 2014

When you do a search for ‚Äúsex‚ÄĚ on¬†Getty Images, you get¬†a lot¬†of interesting results ‚ÄĒ so many, in fact, that we were compelled to create a¬†superlative series of Getty ‚Äúsex‚ÄĚ search images. This week, it’s naughty ancient sculptures (that’ll make your sex life seem pretty tame by comparison).

Read the rest of this entry »

Dream Interpretation: Why Do I Cheat On My Boyfriend in My Dreams?

September 11th, 2014

Other people’s dreams are never interesting…except when they’re about sex. Each week, our dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg tells one lucky reader what their dirty dream means. Got a dream you want Lauri to analyze? Click here to submit it (18 and older only, please). This week, a reader asks Lauri:

I keep having dreams that I cheat on my boyfriend. We have been dating for about a year, and we’re very much in love. I have absolutely no interest in cheating on him whatsoever. However, in the past week, I’ve dreamt about cheating twice. The first time, with an old fling. The second time, with a (married) man I do not know. Each time there was sex involved. My boyfriend and I have a SUPER healthy sex life; I am not dissatisfied. But I am, however, confused. What do these dreams mean, and why do I keep having them?

Lauri: Cheating in the dream world is a very common occurrence; however, we tend to be the cheated more than be the cheater. In either case, it is usually because, ¬†in real life, there is some form of a third wheel in the relationship — and it’s usually a thing rather than a person. By thing I mean work, a project, a hobby some sort of extracurricular activity that is taking a lot of the dream cheater’s time and attention.

You’re the cheater in this case, so what is it you are giving yourself to more than you should? Or perhaps more than your boyfriend would like? Hanging with your friends? Taking selfies? (Kidding!) Your job? Whatever it is, deep down you know it is causing somewhat of a divide… it is causing you, or perhaps just your boyfriend, to feel “cheated” out of quality time together.

If you can cut back on the amount of time you devote to this third wheel activity, you probably should. If you can’t because your income or education depends on it, then make sure the time you spend with your boyfriend is well spent and that he feels like HE is #1 in your life, not this other time and attention sucking element. When you do that, your subconscious guilt will ease up and the dreams will stop.

Visit Lauri’s brand new site,¬†WhatYourDreamMeans.com, for even more dream interpretations! If you want to be able to figure out your own dreams every morning, then check out her latest book,¬†Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams Change Your Life, which will give you the tools you need to become a dream expert, too.¬†Check out all of Lauri’s books here.




I Took My Kids to the Jeff Koons Retrospective (Oops)

September 10th, 2014

from the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney

My family had an opportunity to visit New York City for a full week recently. It was the longest my husband and I¬†(the Lo half of Em & Lo)¬†had been there since having kids. Before breeding, we’d lived there for years, gorging on the countless cultural opportunities at our disposal. Post-spawn, we moved to the Hudson Valley and have only managed the occasional day-trip back. But thanks to friends whose summer plans left their kid-friendly Brooklyn apartment empty, we got to live the life of city parents, complete with a borrowed Maclaren (natch).

I was determined to pack it in:

  • MoMA – check!
  • Off-Broadway show with discount tickets from TKTS – check!
  • Row boat ride on The Lake in Central Park – check!
  • Outdoor family movie at South Street Seaport – check!
  • Visiting all 9 playgrounds of Brooklyn Bridge Park…in one day¬†- check!

The only thing left was a visit to the Whitney to catch the popular Jeff Koons retrospective. With its bright bubblegum colors, its larger-than-life scales, its cartoonish sensibilities, it would be perfect for kids, right?

My husband had to work that day, so I hauled my daughter, 6, my son, 3, the snack bag and the stroller from Carroll Gardens all the way uptown on the F, and then the 6, in sweltering August heat. By the time we got to the Whitney, the kids were done. Not one to let something like my kids’ exhaustion get in the way of their cultural education or my own artistic enjoyment, I was determined to visit all six — count ‘em, six — floors of the show (it’s the first time a single artist has taken up so much real estate at the Whitney).

I felt a cool breeze coming off the ticket salesperson. Was it the poor fit of my mom jeans or my sensible shoes? Could he tell I was dragging these poor kids along against their will? Or did the fact that I failed to donate money to the museum beyond the cost of my ticket irk him? (Hey, kids tix are officially free. Plus, this new economy can be brutal on bloggers.) When I asked which floors were must-see for kids, I got no friendly warnings.

We started with what would be the surest kid-pleaser: the 4th floor, with its ginormous, metallic, balloon-animal dog; the rainbow-colored mountain of Play-Doh poop; and the oversized kitten hanging in a clotheslined sock. As we rode up the crowded elevator, I imagined my children’s eyes widening with wonder and their jaws dropping open with awe at these sights.

The elevator doors opened, we took a look around, and within 30 seconds they both told me they were ready to leave. This was going to be a challenge.

I kicked it into high gear, breezing through each gallery, swerving around patrons’ toes, wrangling the kids and reminding them about 20 billion times not to touch anything — all so we could get in and out without any meltdowns from my kids (or me). In my haste, I must have missed the small plaque that apparently gives a warning to parents and those with delicate sensibilities about the graphic content of the works around one corner.

So there we were, suddenly face to face with Elvis, a painting depicting a plastic blow-up toy in the shape of a lobster flanked by two images of topless (and, for all intents and purposes, bottomless) Playboy Playmates, with their silicone breasts and impossibly smooth skin. Kind of funny, if I’d had a second to think about it, but my visceral reaction was,¬†I don’t want my daughter to think that this is what women are supposed to look like. I must have made some involuntary groan. It was the first time during our visit that my daughter really looked at the art.¬†(Fortunately, my son was more interested in the intricacies of his belly button than the pictures on the walls.)

Pressing on — quickly, quickly — we turned another corner and found one of the mural-sized works from his 25-year-old “Made in Heaven” series, featuring a naked Jeff Koons and his Italian porn-star soon-to-be-wife (now ex). His penis and testicles and her pube-free vulva were at kid eye level. A woman behind me told her friend rather sternly — and loudly — “This is not appropriate for children.”

I panicked, mumbling something to my kids like, “Nothing to see here!”, and bee-lined it to the next, less scandalous room.

We made it out alive. The kids hopefully made it out unscarred. But I sure didn’t help matters. One might think a person who writes about sex for a living, endorses comprehensive sex education, uses accurate anatomical terms with her kids (e.g. wash your vulva; boys have penises, girls have clitorises), answers questions about where babies come from honestly and without shame, and tries to exude a positive body image in all states of dress (even if she has to fake it) would be able to handle her kids seeing nude artwork with aplomb and grace. But my fear of being perceived by strangers as a bad parent, along with my own deep-seated embarrassment, won out.

I realize now that my frazzled reaction made this nudity a bigger deal than it was, made it instantly taboo, and therefore gave it more power, mystery and allure than it would have had otherwise. After all, we all have bodies — and genitals — that come in different shapes and sizes; just as everybody poops, everybody is naked under their clothes. The most offensive thing about the painting of the couple was actually the incredibly tacky ’80s accessories the woman was wearing. (I mean, white lace thigh highs and a floral headband? Come on!) Even Elvis‘s fake boobs — which I am generally not a fan of, for both philosophical and aesthetic reasons — weren’t as offensive as some of the violence portrayed (and thus condoned) in contemporary kids’ cartoons and movies. But I’ve certainly let my kids watch those without as much guilt. (I mean, machine guns in Disney’s¬†Cars 2? Come on!)

What I should have done was acted normal and unfazed, gotten through the museum in a calm and orderly fashion, then asked my daughter what she thought of the show and if she had any questions about what she had seen. Probably not a teachable moment on the ills of the cosmetic surgery industry or the benefits of pubic hair. But maybe something a little less Nudity = Shame.

Actually, what I really should have done was bitten off only what I and my kids could realistically chew, been content with seeing just the 4th floor, and then taken them to get ice cream, stat. But that’s another parenting article altogether.



Film: How to Lose Your Virginity

September 10th, 2014

“How To Lose Your Virginity” Trailer from Trixie Films on Vimeo.

Two years ago, we asked you to give some Kickstarter lovin’ to the fledgling documentary,¬†”How to Lose Your Virginity”, being made by¬†Theresa Shecter and the gals at Trixie Films. You must have come through, because it’s now a full-length doc, all growed up! The film aims¬†”to undo centuries of myths and contradictions around¬†virginity, and to encourage an honest conversation with people¬†navigating the confusing process of deciding when and why to become¬†sexual.” Its subjects include a rock violinist, an Ivy¬†League blogger, an Ohio engineer, a porn¬†producer — all subverting the virginity narrative. The¬†trailer¬†is compelling, with interviewees including former Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders and author of “The Purity Myth” Jessica Valenti. The world needs virginity taken off its pedestal,¬†as we’ve argued in the past, and this could be just the film to do it. So check out the website, watch the film online or buy the DVD, and read the V-card Diaries. If you’re in NYC this Friday, there’s a free screening of the film at 6pm at Hostos Community College presented by Planned Parenthood Action Fund.



(Atrociously Ignorant) Comment: Bisexual Is Just an Excuse Gay Men Use

September 9th, 2014

Sometimes, a comment on our site is so out there, so ill-informed, so close-minded, so staggeringly wrong that we feel compelled to share it, simply so that all of you can join in the chorus of disapproval. Please tell us, dear readers, that this commenter is in the minority amongst you! This post on bisexuality was submitted¬†by reader Bobby B in response to the article, “Your Call: I Can’t Handle My Boyfriend’s Bisexuality”:

Your boyfriend is not a bi sexual (there is no such thing having sex with a person of the same gender makes yo a homosexual bi sexual is a word that homo’s have made up to lessen the sting of the fact that they can’t admit just what they are even to themselves) he is a straight up queer who has sex with men.

Your best bet would be to find a man who is not a queer and only has interist in sex witp persons of the opposite gender and then make sure that he does not run off and have sex with every menber of the opposite gender that he meets.

The likelyhood is that you will have a much better outlook on your new boyfriend if you were to stick to faithful hetrosexual males who are attracted to you rather than remaining with a homosexual who needs to have a woman around to convince himself that he is not queer only‚ÄĚbi sexual‚ÄĚ.

Get rid of him and move on