September 28, 2009

Thumbs Down in Advertising: Coopers Premium Light Beer

Posted in 1, Gender Politics, sex tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:09 pm by Femme Mystique

Apparently shaming women who don’t fit traditional western models of beauty is an acceptable way to market your product for this beer brand. Advertised as having just 2.9% alcohol, the company’s three ads suggest that their brew won’t give you “beer goggles”, thus impairing your judgment of what is attractive. Here are the culprit ads:

Coopers Light beer ad 1

Coopers Light Beer ad 2

Coopers light beer ad 3

Because that’s all we need is more companies perpetuating traditional standards of beauty, thus “othering” those who don’t fit the mold.  Hat tip to Socialogical Images for the offending ads.

September 11, 2009

Trim Your Bush, Dammit!

Posted in 1, Gender Politics, sex tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:47 pm by Femme Mystique

OK, I’m sure by now you’ve seen this commercial. Last night while watching Project Runway (hey, don’t judge), I saw it no less than three times. I can just imagine someone coming into the weekly board meeting saying, “Hey, I have an idea, let’s take the oldest and most overused metaphor for women’s pubic hair and use it to promote our product”.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m a shaver. I don’t like hair on myself, but that’s a matter of personal preference. I DON’T want to be marketed to in such a way that implies that if I did have pubic hair that it would need to be manicured like shrubbery. I don’t need a special fancy schmancy razor to cut my pubic hair into hearts and flowers and fairy princess crowns, thank you!

I don’t get why they didn’t go with the simple approach of saying, “hey, we have a bikini razor so that if you do choose to shave, you can use something that might give you less irritation,” instead of pissing a bunch of us off.

Thanks, Schick, for reducing our bodies to landscaping projects.

July 21, 2009

Dildos: An Imitation of the Male Penis?

Posted in 1, Gender Politics, Queer Politics, sex, Sex Education tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:02 am by Femme Mystique

As a mostly woman-identified queer person, I have at several points battled internally with the idea of using dildos for partner sex.  Identifying as a lesbian places one in a very unique place with regards to heterosexism.

Upon coming out, early lesbian friends of mine shunned the dildo as a representation of the male penis.  “If I wanted a penis, I could have the real thing,” they chided.  Upon further analysis, however, I found this to be a very androcentric and problematic statement.

Havelock Ellis, a nineteenth century sexologist, originated the idea that lesbian sex, especially with the use of sex toys, was an imitation of heterosexual, penis-in-vagina sex.  This androcentric analysis places an extraordinarily higher value on the penis versus the vagina, with emphasis on imitation rather than pleasure.

Without  a doubt women can experience sexual pleasure from sex without the involvement of a penis.  I propose then that dildos are not by default phallic representations, nor in contrast are they necessarily yonic.  They are, in their purest form, merely instruments of pleasure.

I’ve never seriously wanted to be a man.  Sure, I think it might be fun to try.  Sure, I sometimes wish I could gain the privileges that come along with being born into a male body.  But overall I am content with the biological sex into which I have been born and the gender which I choose to present.  I don’t think that my use of sex toys threatens either of these things in any way.

July 1, 2009

Book Review: Good Vibrations Guide to Sex

Posted in 1, sex, Sex Toys tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:49 am by Femme Mystique

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What is it?
The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex is a 300+ page mega resource of sexual knowledge from the Good Vibrations company.

Who is its target audience?
All people who are even remotely interested in sex.  It deals with sexual issues of males, females, young people, seniors, people with disabilities, sexual assault survivors, and everyone in between. The book is written in a way that is humorous and accessible while still providing a ton of information. Did you know that vibrators were invented in 1869 to treat “hysteria” in women, which was thought to be the womb’s reaction to sexual deprivation. Doctors would use the vibrators to produce “hysterical paroxysm”, known today as an orgasm.

How is it laid out?
The book is separated into 20 chapters, each with several subsections.  The chapters are:

1.  About Good Vibrations
2.  Sexual Self-Image
3.  Sexual Anatomy
4.  Sex Over a Lifetime
5.  Communication
6.  Masturbation
7.  Lubrication
8.  Creative Touching
9.  Oral Sex
10.  Vibrators
11.  Penetration
12.  Dildos
13.  Anal Toys
14.  Fantasies
15.  Books, Magazines, and Videos
16.  World Wide Web
17.  S/M and Power Play
18.  Where Sex Toys Come From
19.  Safer Sex
20.  Censorship

These chapters are sprinkled with illustrations, the most helpful being a comparison of aroused and unaroused vulvae, circumcised and uncircumcised penises, and how to put on a condom.

Is it queer-inclusive?
Good Vibrations has been diligent about including queer sex issues in this volume.  The illustration of fellatio, for example, shows two men instead of a heterosexual couple.  Similarly another image shows two women using a double dildo, which appears to be the Nexus. The book also lists many good resources for queer people and touches on using toys for gender expression.

What is the quality of the information?
There is a lot of great information contained within this book, with the only real glaring error I could find being the suggestion of wearing two condoms at once, which is a very unsafe idea. Besides this statement, the rest of the safer sex chapter is exceptionally well written.

What about toys?
This book is several years old but gives a nod to some classic favorites such as the Hitachi Magic Wand, Rabbit Pearl, Wahl, Eroscillator, Nexus, Fleshlight, and the Tristan anal plug. It refers to cyberskin as one of the “latest” innovations in sex toys. It has helpful information about the maintenance of sex toy materials and unique ways to use these and other similar toys.

Is it worth it?
Absolutely. I don’t think this book was intended to be read cover-to-cover, but it is a well organized go-to manual for many sexual questions or new ways to spice up your sex life.


product picture
Book by Anne Semans / Cathy Winks
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Cleis Press Inc.

June 26, 2009

Confessions of an Ex-Catholic: Sex and Guilt

Posted in 1, Gender Politics, sex, Sex Education tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:58 pm by Femme Mystique

Religion and mainstream media have ingrained in us very disturbing attitudes about women and sexual pleasure.  If we as women like sex too much, we’re slutty and whorish.  If we don’t want to have sex or don’t enjoy the sex we’re having, we’re uptight, frigid bitches.

It has also been taught to us that we are not the focus of sex.  For many of us, receiving pleasure is a source of guilt–what if the other person isn’t enjoying this?  Do I look OK?  Do I smell OK?  Does my partner like the sounds I make?  And, of course, am I taking too long?

A quick internet search produced a ton of results of women who were afraid they were taking too long.  One even said her partner rarely tried, and she didn’t blame him.  This attitude is pervasive even in women who have sex with other women.  Our roles as pleasers of others too often come before our roles as recipients of pleasure.

Many women are not just not having orgasms though, they are going a step further by faking it.  An article in Slate reports that 72% of women have faked it in their current or most recent relationship.  Still more have likely faked it at least once in their sexual histories.  What causes faked orgasms though?  I speculate that it is a combination of guilt about the time we’re taking and an unwillingness to hurt our partners’ egoes.  Faking it allows us to avoid confrontation, but hinders us from getting what we want.

I wish we could free ourselves from the cycle of sexual guilt and dissatifaction.  It’s obvious that attitudes need to change, but how do we go about making those changes?

June 5, 2009

Shaming of the STI

Posted in 1, sex, Sex Education tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:52 pm by Femme Mystique

Recently I conducted a poll about sexual attitudes within the confines of a sex-positive community I participate in.  The question I posed was this:

Would you have sex with a new partner that confided in you they had an STI (other than HIV)?

I must admit, I was a little surprised and disappointed by the results of the poll.  Of the 42 respondents, an overwhelming 36% percent answered simply that no, if they found out a partner had an STI, they would not have sex with them, protected or otherwise.  Another 55% said that it would depend on which STI their partner had.  With the exclusion of the most harmful STI, HIV, I was unsure which STI’s people were most worried about.

There was some nervousness about cancer causing strains of HPV, but even more so there was quite a bit of worry about herpes.  The herpes virus carries a very low level risk of complications except for genital sores, which are a nuisance but seem to cause many more emotional issues that physical.

The emotional issues can be traced back to the perceived social and moral implications of herpes.  Culturally we are raised to value purity and virginity, so we often see STI’s as a sign of promiscuity and carelessness.  The herpes virus is the same virus that causes cold sores, yet confessing a cold sore often doesn’t cause potential partners to even bat an eye.  I believe that the key here is in the word “genital”, in genital herpes and is the synechologically the same reason for using words like “slut” and “whore” to insult.

Interestingly, the word “pudenda” (you thought it was just a slang term, didn’t you?), which is a somewhat antiquated word referring to a woman’s genitals and presently is the clinical name for a nerve running to the clitoris, derives from a Latin word meaning “to be ashamed” (Source).  It is not hard to see then how our negative attitudes about sex, genitals, and consequently STI’s have persisted.

Unfortunately it seems like healthier attitudes about STI’s are still pretty far off, but I have some hope that things will get better.