DID YOU SEE: “When Did Porn Become Sex Ed?” in the New York Times

Peggy Orenstein has written very well for many years about the issues confronting young women in American culture. An excerpt from her new book, Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, was published in the Sunday New York Times today that directly addresses the question “When Did Porn Become Sex Ed?” While much has been written and discussed about the impact of pornography on how young men learn about and practice sex, not so much has been said about the same subject as it applies to young women.

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A passage that stood out for me:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than half of high schools and only a fifth of middle schools teach all 16 components the agency recommends as essential to sex education. Only 23 states mandate sex ed at all; 13 require it to be medically accurate.

Even the most comprehensive classes generally stick with a woman’s internal parts: uteruses, fallopian tubes, ovaries. Those classic diagrams of a woman’s reproductive system, the ones shaped like the head of a steer, blur into a gray Y between the legs, as if the vulva and the labia, let alone the clitoris, don’t exist. And whereas males’ puberty is often characterized in terms of erections, ejaculation and the emergence of a near-unstoppable sex drive, females’ is defined by periods. And the possibility of unwanted pregnancy. When do we explain the miraculous nuances of their anatomy? When do we address exploration, self-knowledge?

No wonder that according to the largest survey on American sexual behavior conducted in decades, published in 2010 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers at Indiana University found only about a third of girls between 14 and 17 reported masturbating regularly and fewer than half have even tried once. When I asked about the subject, girls would tell me, “I have a boyfriend to do that,” though, in addition to placing their pleasure in someone else’s hands, few had ever climaxed with a partner.

Boys, meanwhile, used masturbating on their own as a reason girls should perform oral sex, which was typically not reciprocated. As one of a group of college sophomores informed me, “Guys will say, ‘A hand job is a man job, a blow job is yo’ job.’ ” The other women nodded their heads in agreement.

I love that Orenstein is calling attention to the discrepancy between the sex education that schools offer kids and what porn teaches them. And I love that enlightened sex educators like Carol Queen, who co-founded the women’s sex-toy emporium Good Vibrations in San Francisco, take it as their mission to teach people not just about sex but about pleasure. Her newly published The Sex and Pleasure Book, co-written with Shar Rednour, is a valuable resource for anyone’s sexual health bookshelf alongside Erika Moen’s web comic (collected into two book-length volumes so far) Oh Joy, Sex Toy.

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MEDIA: Presidential penis size

I’m as amused as anyone else by College Humor’s new video, “Donald Trump: Show Us Your Penis.” But I’d like to shift the conversation a little bit, out of compassion for my small-dick bros, who die inside a little bit every time they hear jokes about little dicks.

For the record, Trump never said, “I have a big dick.” He said, “I guarantee you, there’s no problem.” You can read that any number of ways. Perhaps he would like you to read it as, “I have a big dick.” He could also be saying, “No one’s ever made any complaints. My junk works.”

In any case, I’d like to go easy about equating “small dick” with “problem.” Mostly because “small dick” is entirely relative, and the ubiquity of porn (in which no one has a dick that is not big and hard) has oppressed legions of men into fearing that they are somehow inadequate because they don’t have a porn-star dick.

Not that Madonna speaks for all women or all connoisseurs of cock, but when I interviewed her for The Advocate in 1991 at the time of Truth or Dare, we had a playful conversation about her sex partners, in which she modeled the proper attitude for any sensible sex-positive person who has sex with men:

madonna coverHow do you feel about dildos?

I’m not really interested in dildos.

How about sex toys of any kind?

No. I like the human body. I like flesh. I like things that are living and breathing. And a finger will do just fine. I’ve never owned a vibrator, if that’s what you want to know.

Tell me about your boyfriend Tony Ward. Is it true he has an ass you can serve drinks off of?

Well, I’ve never been served a drink off his ass. But he does have a great ass.

How big is his dick?

I don’t know. I haven’t measured it, but it’s big enough for me.

Does size matter to you?

No.

Do you used a strap-on with Tony?

No. I don’t know where that story came from….

Tell me about Warren Beatty. How big is his dick?

Once again, I haven’t measured it, but it’s a perfectly wonderful size.

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As for Donald Trump, I don’t care about his penis. Nobody cares about his penis. The problem with him is that he’s a racist demagogue and a pathological egomaniac who isn’t qualified to lead anything other than his own demented reality TV show. If you need concrete documentation of any of that, here’s the video you need to watch.