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Monday, April 30, 2007

School evacuated because of condoms

Doesn't get much wierder than this! School evacuated because of condom box at a Des Moines, Iowa Community College.

Love this blurb...

The condoms had been sent to the teacher of a class on human sexuality, by a previous speaker in the class.

Authorities somehow resisted the urge to destroy the condoms in a controlled explosion.

With our connection to the Human Sexuality Department at San Francisco State University, this could happen to us!


Have bike, will travel... Crosscountry

Friends of ours at the Center for Sex and Culture are sponsoring this funky lady on a cross-country bike-ride! Very cool posting, and its just getting started. If you feel so moved, throw her a few bucks. A woman's gotta eat!


Friday, April 27, 2007

Tales of an op/ed activist

There are some unbelievably brave folks in the world. People like Phoolan Devi, the “Bandit Queen” a personal hero of mine (sorry self-indulgent blogging!), a survivor of untold abuse who became one of the most badass freedom fighters around.

Sometimes I wonder if these people are driven to change history by their realities or if they’re just dealing in their own extraordinary way. I fantasize about what I would do in their situation. Would I hide, fight, nut out, or, perhaps write an Op/Ed column?

So, todays hero kudo go to Mike Penner, a 23 year employee of the Los Angeles Times sports department, who in an incredibly brave maneuver, ‘outed’ himself as a transsexual AND revealed his plans to transition from mtf (male to female), in an opinion piece in yesterdays LA Times.

By making the personal public, Penner presents a rare opportunity for us to learn a little more about transexuality and does it in a way that neither alienates people nor sensationalizes the issue.

There is a dire need for education on transsexuality and transitioning and I would argue that this piece by Mike/Christine could bring this discussion to the mainstream.


Planned Parenthood Golden Gate YouTube video

Really awesome YouTube video by our friends over at Planned Parenthood Goldengate!


Now abstinence-only sex-ed favors heterosexual relationships

You may have heard about the efforts of a young lesbian couple in Okeechobee, Florida to form a Gay-Straight Alliance at their high school. After being denied the right to form a GSA by the school, they asked the ACLU to help them file a suit against the school.

The most recent news is that the Judge in the case ruled that the GSA can temporarily meet on school grounds and that the school district attorney cannot question witnesses' sexuality in the case. Phew!

That's not stopping school district attorney David Gibbs, however.

[S]chool district attorney David Gibbs says that...Florida law requires schools to teach abstinence, "while teaching the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage."
Great, as if abstinence-only sex education wasn't bad enough. Now it's also supposed to teach gay students that they don't have the same rights as their straight peers? For shame, David Gibbs.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Discussion on Federal Abortion Ban with pro-choice experts

Update 2: Here's the recording in MP3 format, as promised. Thanks so much to our wonderful panelists for participating in our discussion about the Federal Abortion Ban.

Update 1: Unfortunately, Dr. Autry will be unable to make the call. Instead, Dr. Eleanor Drey will join as the medical voice. She's the Medical Director at San Francisco General Hospital's Women's Options Center and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics at UCSF.

The National Sexuality Resource Center is sponsoring a conference call to discuss the latest Supreme Court decision on the Federal Abortion Ban. If you'd like to listen in, call in at 12pm Pacific / 3pm Eastern to (605) 772-3434 and enter access code 396-467-297.

We will be discussing the implications of this court decision for pro-choice activism and the impact on the average woman. Here's who will be joining us:
  1. Amy Everitt, State Director, NARAL Pro-Choice California. NARAL Pro-Choice California provides resources and information for voters who want to support pro-choice legislation and elect pro-choice legislators.
  2. Joy O'Donnell, National Outreach Director for the National Sexuality Resource Center. A long-time activist on sexuality rights issues, Joy is one of the founding members of the NSRC.
  3. Amy M. Autry, MD with Physicians with Reproductive Health and Choice. Dr. Autry is an clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at University of California San Francisco.
  4. Amy Moy, Associate VP of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Golden Gate. Planned Parenthood Golden Gate is committed to delivering the highest quality reproductive health care, teaching responsible and age-appropriate sexuality education and working to protect a woman's right to choose.

If you have a specific question you'd like answer, post it in a comment on this blog post before or during the call. We'll try to answer as many questions as possible.


Monday, April 23, 2007

the naked truth

“Saya membelinya karena artikel”

That, my friends, is “I buy it for the articles” in Bahasa Indonesia, a language spoken by 200+ Million people in Indonesia and at least two people here in the Bay Area (holla - Bekey and Holi!).

I asked my good friend Holi for the translation after I told him that I was doing a post on Indonesia Playboy. "They do have really great articles," he replied, not skipping a beat "really stuff that you don’t see in any other Indonesian magazines." "Yeah, right!" I scoffed.

But, he does bring up a good point. In Indonesia, where home-grown, hard-core porn is not hard to find, Playboy is surprisingly mild. Which is why it’s extra strange that the magazine’s editor, Erwin Arnada, was put on trial for indecency charges (he was cleared). The monthly publication doesn’t even show full nudity. One thing it does feature, however, is something that can be difficult to find in Indonesia: smart and controversial articles about sex, politics and art.

In a country still reeling from the bloody legacy of Suharto, the personal is very political. To me it’s just a case of the government jumping into bed with the moralists, the good old "by any means necessary" strategy. It’s just so darn politically expedient to use Playboy as an example, condemning porn being so much less objectionable than promoting censorship.

So maybe I shouldn’t have doubted Holi, maybe Indonesia Playboy really is about the articles.


Can it be? The United States is more liberal than Canada on child pornography?

Terry Stein is the editor of the Sexuality Research and Social Policy Journal of the NSRC.

Well, maybe not, but at least the Supreme Court seemed to use some sensible logic when it made a distinction between simulated and real child pornography on the Internet. Remarkably, Justice Clarence Thomas, in the case Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, actually wrote the majority opinion denying the government's right to place prohibitions on virtual child pornography.

Thus, according to authors Mark McClelland and Seunghyun Yoo, "it is unconstitutional in the United States to prohibit the possession and distribution of child pornography when the images are purely fictional, because such a ban would violate an individual’s First Amendment right to free speech." Canada and some states in Australia do prohibit such portrayals.

McClelland and Yoo discuss this finding in their article in the new issue of Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC, "The International Yaoi Boys’ Love Fandom and the Regulation of Virtual Child Pornography: The Implications of Current Legislation." Yaoi is a depiction of fictional, so called beautiful boys online, which is enjoyed by a predominantly female group of fans who view this Japanese genre online. The article discusses the implications of child pornography legislation world wide on yaoi and other forms of virtual child pornography, which consists of "purely fictional images and textual representations of young people defined as minors." Check out the article's abstract here or view the whole article in volume 4 issue 1 of the journal, available for purchase here.


First John Amaechi in the NBA, then....

...we've got a gay man in NASCAR. No folks, this is not a shameless reference to Jean Girard (in green on the right) from Talladaga Nights. It's Evan Darling, the first openly gay pro-racecar driver. From the article...

"I think it’s a pretty bold move, being an out pro racecar driver," he says in a phone interview with EDGE. "But every step we make, where we have people doing things that you don’t see a typical gay person doing, is a step in the right direction."

Remember this article from 2005? Well, it's 2007 now and we've got a gay NASCAR driver. We even have Gaytona.com, the website for gay Nascar fans.


Lesbian sex book upsets father

This news story was sent to me by not one, but two friends. I suppose they thought it was something worth our attention!

I think it is worth our attention. Sure, it has a dog-bites-man / McDonalds-didn't-warn-me-that-my-coffee-was-scalding-hot feeling to it. But the active banning of books from libraries smacks of censorship - the next step is book burning, no? It's sad that library's advisory board didn't have the courage to stand up to this overreacting father and tell him that a liberal society likes books as a rule of thumb.


Feminist porn?

I've had this post waiting in the wings for a week or so, but with all the news last week - Virginia Tech, Federal Abortion Ban, and the Abstinence-Only study - I hadn't found the right time to post it. Well, here you go!

The Cambridge Women's Pornography Cooperative has recently released
"Porn for Women," a 98-page volume. The money sentence from the article in the San Diego Union Tribune summarizes...
...when it comes to pornography, what really turns women on is men who clean the bathroom without being asked, or make a gourmet dinner, or bring home flowers for no reason, or volunteer to watch the kids.

The book's about power, no? That men who are caring and submissive at home, like the quintessential 1950s wife, would be sexy is causing quite the ruckus in the blogosphere. Via RebelDad, a link to a study showing that women find men who clean, cook, and care for the children as partners tend to get laid more often. DUH.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

'Women's health counts' rally today in SF

Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice CA, the ACLU and PRCH have joined forces to sponsor the Women's Health Counts Rally at SF City Hall (Polk St. side) today at 5pm.

Our legislators need to know that California will not stand for anti-choice politicians interfering in women's private medical decisions.

This is a great opportunity to add to the cacophony of dissent and to let the Supreme Court know that we do not take this attack lightly.

Feel free to use the comment section to inform us of other actions taking place nationwide.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Court upholds Federal Abortion Ban

Big news today from the Supreme Court. The new Supreme Court, including Bush nominee's Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, has ruled to uphold the Federal Abortion Ban. The legislation is officially called the Partial Birth Abortion since it was written and passed by anti-choice lobbyists and legislators. We'll have more for you soon...

Update 1: ThinkProgress has an excellent post on the decision that you can go to for more info. Justice Ginsburg wrote a scathing dissent. Here's an excerpt:

...the Court’s opinion tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception protecting a woman’s health.

Update 2:
Both NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood have actions up on their websites to take. These are organizations on the front lines protecting a woman's right to choose.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mourning together

At the NSRC, we, like the entire country and world, are horrified by the massacre at Virginia Tech. We join the community at Virginia Tech, and the families and friends of the 32 murdered Americans, in mourning. We won't be blogging today out of respect for the dead and their grieving communities.


Monday, April 16, 2007

readers weigh in on stanton-what do you think?

I just wanted to draw attention to some of the many wonderful comments from our readers regarding Stanton's appearance on Larry King Live. It's great to see so many informed and impassioned people involved in the discussion.

Let's start off with an incredible comment submitted to Larry King Live by our very own Joy O'Donnell. Such goodness!!
As the Director of Education and Outreach for the National Sexuality Resource Center, I would like to point out that the discrimination Stanton is being subjected to is a violation of human rights and a result of the lack of informed, open, and shame free discussion about sex and gender that causes so many of our social catastrophes today.

The good news is that the tide is turning. The majority of America is on your side Steve Stanton. We've got your back and we won't back down. This is about equality and human decency and there is nothing more American than that. Visit sexliteracy.org and start talking."

More great comments, submitted by readers:

  • "The announcement is that she is NOT going to sue...it's the high road and, despite my passion for the cause, I'm inclined to agree...education will, in the long run, do more than a protracted court case..." -Robyn
  • "After having been to the Trans Health Conference in Philly as well as the IFGE (sp)... we remain amazed by the level of information exchange that is critical to the success of all of this. The varying levels of awareness and acceptance are so multifaceted that we can only attempt to reach important "audiences" with the information needed to aide in understanding from individual perspectives."-donna
  • And Lily McBeth from N.J. states "There are also instances where the superficial 'Tolerance' shown to the public by some institutions is corroded beneath the facade by 'Discreet Discrimination' and such should be exposed for what it truly is."
What do you think about Stanton's decision not to sue the city? Do you think this could provide an opportunity to make the American public aware of human rights issues facing the trans community?


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Abstinence-only sex education debunked, again

A new study, ordered by Congress and with the soundest methodology used to date on sexuality education studies, has concluded the obvious. Well, obvious to us, but not-so-obvious to others. Abstinence-only sex education has no effect whatsoever on whether or not teenagers have safe sex. The money quote from the Washington Post article:
"There's not a lot of good news here for people who pin their hopes on abstinence-only education," said Sarah Brown, executive director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, a privately funded organization that monitors sex education programs. "This is the first study with a solid, experimental design, the first with adequate numbers and long-term follow-up, the first to measure behavior and not just intent. On every measure, the effectiveness of the programs was flat."

Let's hope that this means Congress finally acts to pass comprehensive sex education reform. This story will percolate for the rest of the week, so we'll have an opportunity to make our case on the talk shows, op-ed pages, and the blogosphere. Let's get to work!


Friday, April 13, 2007

Stanton's Larry King appearance moved to friday night

Due to a schedule change at "Larry King Live", Steve Stanton's appearance on Larry King Live was pre-empted for another discussion about the Don Imus controversy. He will appear tonight at 6pm EST / 9pm PST. Feel free to continue in this thread.

The discussion in yesterday's open thread was great, and I had to share a few highlights.
  • Learn more about Stanton's legal case against the city at Dr. Weiss' blog about transgender workplace diversity.
  • We had visitors from all over the world commenting - Tina from South Africa and Joey Mataele from the Kingdom of Tonga.
  • Dr. Lisa O'Connor said it best, I thought. "It is a wonderful opportunity to keep the Trans movement in the media spotlight as long as it does not become a tranny circus and remains a rights issue."
So wonderful to see how many of us there are fighting for equality in the workplace for transgendered people. Let's keep up the good work!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Discuss Stanton's Larry King Interview here!

What are your thoughts about the interview? Post in the comments!


Stanton on Larry King tonight!

Ousted Largo City Manager Steve Stanton will appear on Larry King tonight with his legal counsel, National Center for Lesbian Rights's Karen Doering. The live interview will air on CNN tonight at 9pm EST/6pm PST.

On March 23, 2007, the Largo, Florida City Commission voted 5-2 to terminate Stanton after learning that he is transsexual. Stanton served as the Largo City Manager for the past 14 years, and consistently received excellent reviews. We invite you to join us in watching the show and supporting Steve.

"Larry King Live" is a live show with audience call-ins. We join National Center for Lesbian Rights in encouraging you to call-in or write-in during the show and stand up for equality.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

chocolate vs. sex: the subversion of pleasure

**disclaimer - gratuitous unsolicited product placement below**

One of my daily responsibilities here at the NSRC is to look up news stories that pertain to sexuality and sexual literacy. Sweet, right! That’s what I thought my first day when I ran across a juicy article about dead deer sex, ha! But, I soon realized that every morning, as I typed “sex” into the search mechanism on Yahoo News, there were just pages and pages of “sex” offenders, “sex” abusers, “sex”ploitation. Hmm, I thought, there’s got to be positive stories about sex too right? So, I started to experiment. Typed “pleasure” -- nothing sex-related there. Don't even ask about “passion” -- that term is reserved for the religious set.

So, if that’s not depressing enough, I discover that the reason we aren’t hearing anything fun about sex, is because sex for pleasure is going out of style. Apparently, like meatloaf and dirty martinis, complaining about that darn marital duty, sex, is back in vogue.

Just ask Joan Sewell, who just wrote a new and highly touted (by some) tell-all called I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido. Judging from the editorial review on Amazon.com, Joan is a freedom fighter of what could be a large army of oppressed (repressed?) women who’re saying no to hot sex and yes to hot cocoa. I can just imagine the book jacket cover with Joan in a beret and house dress, arm aloft, legs clenched shut, raised fist clutching a Milky Way.

Now, I must admit, I haven’t read the book, but judging from this tasty tidbit, I think I’ll pass:
Oprah was telling her audience, speaking to the camera, that you’re not alone, millions of women have this hidden shame. I can only say I felt a mixture of exhilaration and gratitude while I watched. Somebody was talking about it, real people, and not just the sexperts. Women were talking about the pain, fear, insecurity, guilt, and shame of having low sexual desire. Yes. This is big.

Now, are women really passing up sex for chocolate because they have low libidos or is this just symptomatic of a North America where women lack the necessary language to ask her man (sorry keeping it hetero here) to “move a little bit to the left” or “yeah keep it there”. I guess asking your honey to pick you up a quart of Ben and Jerry’s Karmel Sutra is just easier than discussing that darn sex thing.

I don’t want to make judgments, but this is a little distressing to me as single, hetero woman approaching her 30’s. I’m already feeling my biological clock ticking away and now I have to worry about my ‘getting busy’ clock too! Crap! Anyone got a Hersheys bar?


NSRC advisory board member featured in NYTimes

I love that Pepper Schwartz, a 'sexpert' and member of the NSRC Advisory Council is introduced in the New York Times today as "Carrie Bradshaw with a doctorate." Check out the interview here.

In fact, there's all sorts of goodies about S-E-X in the NYT Health section today. Let me leave you with one choice quote from another featured article.
“Listening to Noam Chomsky,” said a psychologist in her 50s, “always turns me on.”
Take that Fabio!


NSRC in the news

The National Sexuality Resource Center was mentioned in this article today from 365Gay.com entitled Federal Tax Law Hits Gay Families Harder. The article referenced our February 2006 study citing the "widespread psychological and social harm inflicted on same-sex couples because they are denied the right to marry. "


Monday, April 09, 2007

Sexy food

Sex and food go together like Bert and Ernie. (Aren't you glad I didn't use a contrived food metaphor like 'bread and butter' or 'peas and carrots')

It's the interplay of the sensual, I think, that makes almost any food an aphrodisiac. Diane Ackerman, author of 'A Natural History of the Senses' agrees with me: "Looked at in the right light," she writes,"any food might be thought aphrodisiac."

Food is also about power. Look no further than the Food-for-Sex scandal in Western Africa a couple of years ago. Many people in our world have to struggle everyday to put food on the table, and some resort to sex to make ends meet.

We'll be blogging this week about food and sex, and how they interact. If you've got any suggestions for topics, or would like to write a blog yourself, just email me at isaacg AT sfsu.edu.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Education video about transexuals

An educational video from my friend, Mark Angelo. He's one of the many courageous educators out there, fighting ignorance everyday.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Funny video about parents' fears of real sex-ed

British comedy is my favorite! This video is a good follow-up to Gil's blog earlier this week.


Hot or not?

A recent HIV/AIDS prevention campaign in France promotes condom use by equating unprotected sex to getting stung in the worst possible place. But seems to me the photos of a woman and a man having sex with giant bugs are more along the lines of haute kink than fear inducing.

Watch out scorpions and spiders. And look for bug fashions in next year’s runway shows.


O'Reilly accused Katie Couric of hitting on John Edwards

This guy comes up with the craziest stuff! This week, on the O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly consulted an expert on body language about Katie Couric's 'head-flip' during an interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards. Apparently, Katie Couric was being too sexual with John Edwards. You can watch the clip over at Media Matters.

Do you think Couric was making a sexual gesture? With Elizabeth Edwards right there? I doubt it. O'Reilly is such a libelous moron.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Trouble with Kids -- Parents' Sexual Literacy

A guest blog from Gilbert Herdt, Director at the National Sexuality Resource Center.

Kids need sexual literacy and parents are a prime source. The trouble is: most parents are reluctant, fearful or ill prepared about what to say, and when to say it. Studies have consistently shown that American parents fail to teach their children about sexuality. Ironically however polls reveal that parents want their offspring to have comprehensive sexuality education. How do we explain the contradiction? Poor parental sex literacy.

Americans have not received the literacy they need to have comfortable conversations anytime, anywhere, with their kids. Mature teens may suffer from the illiteracy the most. Psychologist Robert Epstein suggests that US culture is too restrictive of older adolescents who demonstrate good judgment and decision-making. Older teens should have the right to vote and drink and “have sex with whomever they want.” When adults condescend to youth, the young people fail to mature, learn good judgment. Others, such as John Cloud did in his Time magazine article in the April 9 issue, are not so sure that we should affirm young people’s judgment when it comes to sex. That is a conversation parents need to have with their kids. But they are not doing it out of fear and shame.

Parents in The Netherlands learned long ago that mature young people are going to have sex—it is not a matter of conjecture—and that it is better to acknowledge the fact and talk about it. As sociologist Amy Schalet has shown, Dutch parents apply this practical attitude with mature teenage sons and daughters, allowing them to sleep with their boyfriends or girlfriends in the parental household. The next morning the parents have the right to ask about what happened, however, and whether the sexual relations were done in an appropriate and safe way. That may seem fantastic to some Americans. But it seems to work: the Dutch have low rates of unintended pregnancy, HIV, sexual violence, and other sexual problems, compared to the US.

We need a new campaign to help parents be sexually literate and more comfortable with such conversations with their young. The trouble with kids begins with the parents.


Monday, April 02, 2007

let's talk about sex; californians bringing the dialogue home

I’m such an armchair activist. One sure sign being the 30 or so emails I get daily from various lefty organizations. Though I clearly remember joining some of these cyber movements (MSF, I love you!) there are others that just boggle the brain-what are some of these organizations, anyways?

So, most of the time my finger gravitates towards the delete button if I glance upon a subject line that starts with “Join Bette Midler in helping...”

However, I wanted to share this announcement I received from NARAL, an organization that is keeping reproductive issues on the forefront. It’s a call to back The Stronger Families for California Act, a groundbreaking campaign to fund programs that give families the tools to talk about sexual education, pregnancy and STI’s.

The assembly votes on April 10th so take a moment to visit NARAL’s Action Center and send a letter urging your local assemblyperson to vote for AB1511.

More information from NARAL’s website below:

“The Stronger Families for California Act, AB 1511 (Leno), will establish a statewide public education campaign giving parents the tools to talk with their teens about sex and sexual health in order to promote healthy, well-informed decision-making early and often.

Strong family communication is proven to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS. California’s parents want the tools to start open and honest conversations about sex and sexuality with their teens.

The Stronger Families for California Act will establish a prevention-based, culturally-competent public education campaign promoting well-informed decision making about sexual health, effectively reducing teen pregnancies, STIs including HIV/AIDS, and related state taxpayer expenses. And it will open the lines of communication in families before a crisis situation occurs. Strengthening California’s families is a solution we can all agree on.”