Health, Sex

BREAKING: Men have body image issues!

Nice try, Cosmopolitan.com. Perhaps author Anna Breslaw was trying to be funny, but the list of “10 Reasons Sleeping With a Husky Guy Is The Best” really isn’t. I stumbled upon it on Facebook last night, and clicked, thinking it would be nice. Instead, it was rife with awful jokes and tired stereotypes (guhuhuh, you can eat in front of him and he won’t care!) The line that stands out to me the most is “his largeness makes you feel like a gossamer porcelain ballerina!”

Where do I begin with the wrongness of this? Firstly, if Men’s Health or Maxim made a list of “10 Reasons Sleeping With a Plus Size Gal Is The Best” and included lines like, “you get three extra pillows with a pussy!” or “you’ll feel like Joe Manganiello next to her largeness!” there would be an angry response on Cosmo about ten minutes after it came out.  Second, as I mentioned earlier, it’s tired jokes and stereotypes. If Breslaw had wanted it to be funny, she could’ve come up with better reasons that didn’t involve food or comparing figures.

Third, men do have body image issues. Think about it–the praise that Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill got after losing great amounts of weight–they went from “schlubby” to “sexy and funny!” And not gonna lie, I don’t think someone like Billy Gardell is going to be on the cover of People‘s Sexiest Bachelors issue. And I’m pretty sure most guys weren’t feeling too hot after Magic Mike came out in 2012. I think the reason a lot of people don’t see that this kind of shit has a negative effect on men too. I think the reason that there aren’t a lot of “Love your body!” type campaigns for men is because they don’t really talk about it. You have larger men in movies and in positions of power, so why complain? That doesn’t mean that men don’t have the same insecurities as women. Who enjoys being referred to as “a third pillow with a dick” simply because you don’t have six pack?

What people don’t realize is that, while it’s easy to laugh things off out loud, it’s still wrong as it gets internalized. I mean, look at Richard Simmons on Wendy a few years back detailing his struggle, he’s near tears:

There will probably be some guys who’ll read the Cosmo piece and feel like a punchline. A younger bud of mine once lamented that because he didn’t look like the “teen idols” of his department at work, he couldn’t find a girlfriend. It made me sad that he was down on himself due to the lack of a six pack. He has plenty to offer, and to be honest, just because someone is physically fit doesn’t mean that they’re perfect overall–once you get past the just hooking up stage, if you really want to date, it’s going to take more than a gorgeous smile and great arms to sustain a relationship. You need to bring intelligence, humor and patience as well. 

So, Breslaw, Cosmo, think before you write. I know you could’ve come up with a better, more positive list of reasons to sleep with a larger guy that didn’t reduce them to a punchline. You get mad when it happens to women, so why should men be treated any differently in that regard? It just sucks all around.

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Celebrity, Sex, Women

Lena Dunham Hates The Girls XXX Parody

Yesterday, it was announced that Hustler is releasing This Ain’t Girls XXX, a porn parody of the controversial HBO comedy. Lena Dunham is not thrilled. At all. Creator/star/writer/director/producer Dunham took to Twitter to explain why she wasn’t happy with Hustler:

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It’s refreshing to see someone take a stand against something they find offensive. In this day and age, it seems like female celebrities are just expected to follow the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” way of life, especially in regard to sexuality. Rather than be offended, laugh it off! Be like the boys! Uh, no. If you’re not comfortable, there’s a reason you’re not comfortable.

 

While I’m proud of Dunham’s response (and surprised, I thought she’d be all for it, to be honest,) I can’t help but have so many mixed feelings on the subject of porn itself. It’s odd how porn has gone from trying to be on par with mainstream films (please watch Inside Deep Throat, the documentary about the controversy behind 1972’s Deep Throat, if you can. Linda Lovelace’s story is so heartbreaking and the whole hoopla was so…odd. You just have to watch it) to protested to “empowering” and now it seems to be back again.

 

Is porn itself sexist? No. The core of porn is that it’s two (and sometimes more) people engaging in sexual acts. That is not sexist. What is sexist, however, is the porn industry. I remember watching a porn clip with some of my guy friends in college, and while they were all for it, I looked at and thought–really? This is what gets you guys going? I found myself very uncomfortable with an often “faceless” penis going at a very busty young woman, who looked like she was having an orgasm just looking at a bald middle aged man. It irritated me then and it irritates me now.

 

While you do hear the stories of people from broken lives entering the business, you also seem to hear stories of people doing it just to do it. While Farrah Abraham denies that her “sex tape” was actually a porno, you have to admit that it’s kind of awesome that she took control, hiring her co-star (James Deen, who is something of a teen idol despite his profession) and using a professional studio to create the scene. Jenna Jameson made a pretty penny with making her own line of sex toys and being one of the first to start a pay site. And there is the rise of feminist porn, porn made for and by women.

 

But that doesn’t really change that porn is still problematic for many, and it’s not just about the way women are presented. Even in gay porn, there’s still issues, especially when it comes to barebacking and the question of whether or not it objectifies men–I can’t help but notice that some gay porn studios like to take risks with scenes–coaches and baseball players that look disturbingly young, for example.  And there are some scenes from certain studios that look very close to non-consensual, presenting one performer as being intoxicated and the popular jailbird and security guard scenario. That isn’t all pornography, but there seems to be a lot of it.

 

But if you indulge in porn, should you be ashamed? Isn’t shame part of the reason pornography exists, as our society is so backwards when it comes to sexuality? What’s your take on this very loaded issue, LivLunatics?

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Sex

Porn Star Tests Positive for HIV: Why HIV/AIDS Still Matters

I’ve discussed the porn industry before, but this recent news story is not a continuation of the critique of the industry–it’s a reminder as to why HIV/AIDS still matters.

 

 

On Monday, the adult film industry called for a moratorium on production after it was revealed that an actress who performs under pseudonym Cameron Bay had tested positive for HIV. Mark Schechter, owner of Adult Talent Managers L.A., which represents Bay, told The Times that she went in for her regular screening for sexually transmitted diseases last Monday and that the results came back inconclusive. She had a second test Tuesday with a new blood sample. Preliminary results came back Wednesday as potentially positive for HIV. Although her previous test results were negative, she had performed in shoots since.

 

Bay in happier times

Bay in happier times

 

 

 

Bay released the following statement: “As difficult as this news is for me today, I am hopeful that no other performers have been affected. I plan on doing everything possible to assist the medical professionals and my fellow performers. Following that, my long-term plan is to take care of myself and my health.

 

 

 

The news of Bay’s diagnosis has added to the debate surrounding a California law requiring porn actors to wear condoms. Many in the industry feel that the law is pointless as porn stars are required to undergo routine testing and report their results, but many public health organizations feel it’s a matter of health and safety. While I think it’s unfortunate that Bay contracted the virus, it is good that this story is making rounds on the news as a large portion of the general public has seemed to have almost forgotten about AIDS.

 

 

 

While there are plenty of messages out there encouraging safe sex, AIDS awareness seems to be nowhere near as high as it was in the nineties. It’s almost as if cancer has become the “trendy” disease, and AIDS has gone quietly in the background as treatments have vastly improved over the past thirty years. But we still need to talk about it, and not just on World AIDS Day. The statistics regarding HIV/AIDS is staggering:

 

  • There are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
  • It is estimated that one-fifth of those people don’t know they have it.
  • Since the start of the AIDS epidemic, 1.7 million Americans have been infected with HIV and more than 600,000 have died of AIDS.
  • An estimated 50,000 new HIV infections occur in the U.S. each year.
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for the majority of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses although MSM comprise only around 2% of the U.S. male population. In 2007, a third of these MSM were younger than 30 years old.
  • New HIV diagnoses among MSM were more than 44 times higher than among other men and more than 40 times higher than women in 2008.
  • African Americans accounted for 44% of new HIV infections diagnosed in 2009, although they comprise only 14% of the population.
  • The HIV infection rate among African American women is 15 times higher than the rate among white women.
  • The infection rate among Latinos was two and a half times higher than the rate among whites in 2006.
  • In 2009, more than 25% of people diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. were women.
  • The vast majority of newly diagnosed HIV-positive women contracted the virus through heterosexual sex.
  • In 2006, 34% of all new infections occurred among people aged 13-29—more than any other age group. (Updated October 2011)

 

 

And this is just for the United States. It’s stories like Bay’s and these statistics that prove that we still need to talk about HIV/AIDS. It’s easy to say, “Well, Bay’s a porn star, she knew the risks, what did she expect?” There may even be some cruel people who say she deserves it (which she didn’t.) But reading this, I say we need to stay aware. At this point in time, it’s safe to say everyone knows someone who has been affected by the virus. One of my great-aunts contracted the virus after a blood transfusion in the days before mandatory screenings. In a measure to save her life, she wound up losing hers. In case I can’t make this point clear enough:

 

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