Back to New Research, Articles, & News Homepage
By Jenna Wortham
Jan. 24, 2018
On a soundstage deep in the hills of Los Angeles one morning last August, RuPaul Charles and several drag queens made their way to a set that had been transformed into a simulacrum of the reality-TV show “The Bachelor.” Lacy strands of lights dripped down plastic boxwood hedges, and a row of white fluted columns framed a velvety red strip of carpet. A hot tub bubbled quietly in a corner. The contestants arranged themselves onto a set of bleachers to be appraised by the dashing bachelor, who in this scene was played by the actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, best known for his role on the Lifetime television drama “UnREAL.” They were filming the latest season of the reality competition show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and the day’s challenge was meant to showcase the competitors’ acting abilities. The challenge, called “The Bitchelorette,” was a parody of the farcical dynamics that play out on “The Bachelor” each season. The goal was not to win Bowyer-Chapman’s heart but rather to see who could perform — satirize, really — stereotypes of femininity with enough humor to impress the judges.
More teenagers are identifying themselves with nontraditional gender labels such as transgender or gender-fluid, according to a new study.
The research, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that almost 3% of Minnesota teens did not identify with traditional gender labels such as "boy" or "girl." That number is higher than researchers expected. A UCLA study from a year ago estimated that 0.7% of teens identified as transgender.
Lead researcher Nic Rider of the University of Minnesota said the main purpose of the new study was to examine health differences between gender-nonconforming teens and teens who are cisgender, a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth.
Debra Soh holds a PhD in sexual neuroscience from York University and writes about the science and politics of sex
In a list of today's top-10 contentious issues, the subject of transgender children easily covets the No. 1 spot. Parents, teachers, and medical professionals have been told that "affirming" a child who identifies as the opposite sex is the only acceptable approach. Anything short of that is transphobic and will lead a child to suicide.
EMILY BOBROW | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2017
Americans are increasingly intolerant of adultery, but Esther Perel believes they should take a more European attitude. Emily Bobrow met the country’s most celebrated – and controversial – relationship guru
Seth and his girlfriend of many years were already engaged when he discovered she had cheated on him. It was only once, with a co-worker, but the betrayal stung. “I had jealousy, insecurity, anger, fear,” he recalls. “It was really hard to talk about it.” He wondered whether his fiancée’s infidelity meant there was something fundamentally wrong with their otherwise loving relationship. He worried it was a sign that their marriage would be doomed. He also still felt guilty about an indiscretion of his own years earlier, when he’d had a one-night stand with an acquaintance. “I knew that what I had done meant nothing,” said Seth, a New York-based entrepreneur in his early 30s. “It felt like a bit of an adventure, and I went for it.”
The relationship between sex and technology has advanced dramatically over the past few years. The “sextech” industry, as it is now known, is expected to be worth $50 billion by 2020, with analysts now starting to realise the potential opportunities available in this previously unspoken about industry.
Encompassing any kind of technology that enhances or disrupts human sexuality, sextech has been described by many as one of the key areas that will drive future tech. From apps to hardware, VR to robotics – the sector is making huge progress, with significant implications for both culture and business.
In spite of this impressive growth, there are still huge obstacles that remain for sextech companies just starting out, with the stigma surrounding sex continuing to rear its ugly head. When we first launched MysteryVibe, we struggled to find funding and the best manufacturing expertise and our eyes were opened to just how niche the industry was that we were looking to break into.
How can we take sex, which is as natural as eating and sleeping, and create a viable business model for the companies of the future?
Using empirical information based in academic research, this blog explores the issues facing polyamorous relationships and families. It covers topics as diverse as sexuality to parenting, jealousy to coming out to families of origin, and employment and housing discrimination to online dating.
“Hundreds of men in Britain and thousands more worldwide enjoy being under the control of a financial dominatrix or ‘findom’. These guys are not ‘sugar daddies’ who shower young lovers with expensive gifts in return for a sexual pay-off. In most cases they don't even get to meet the ‘goddess’ they worship. They just enjoy being ‘paypigs’ or ‘slaves’…[most findoms] never [have] sex with [their] clients.”
First, the good news: According to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, 99.4 percent of teenage women use some form of contraception during sex, up two percent from 2002. Earlier this year, the organization reported that the teen birth rate in the United States hit a historic low, with only 24 births per 1,000 women. In addition, today’s teens are having less sex altogether versus previous generations; about 40 percent have reported having sex “at least” once. Back in the 1980s, these figures were between 50 and 60 percent.
Now, the bad news: While stats are improving, the U.S. pregnancy rate is still higher than most other developed countries. The reason could be attributed to the fact that, besides condoms, the pullout method is reported to be the second most popular form of contraception practiced by today’s young people. Sixty percent of teenage boys think they have the stamina and experience to retract just before they climax. Yeah…right. What’s worse, young women trust these guys.
Thankfully, condoms had been used by 97 percent of the CDC’s survery sample; oral contraceptive pills followed closely behind in third place, at 56 percent.
When it comes to sex, teens may be more responsible than they're often given credit for.
According to new government data, the percentage of American teens having sex is lower than in decades past – and more teens who do have sex are now using contraception.
The report, published by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, finds an estimated 55 percent of U.S. teens have had sex at least once by the time they turn 18.
Among adolescent females aged 15 to 19, 42 percent report having sex at least once. For males, that number was 44 percent. The numbers have gradually dropped since 1988, when 51 percent of female and 60 percent of male teens reported having had sex.
Should a former dominatrix who appeared in bondage movies for pay be allowed to work as a Hudson County sheriff's officer?
That's a question that is expected to be answered when newly sworn-in sheriff's officer Kristen Hyman, of Bayonne, attends a disciplinary hearing on June 27.
The county Sheriff's Office suspended Hyman without pay on May 26, six days before she was scheduled to graduate from the police academy, saying she failed to disclose that she made bondage videos and saw clients privately for money.
The sheriff's office cited her activities, roughly from 2010 through 2012, as conduct unbecoming a public employee. She was also accused of neglect of duty and other causes for disciplinary action after an internal affairs investigation, which was triggered by allegations about Hyman's past.
According to data published in a new report by the Pew Research Center on the LGBTQ community, we’ve reached a monumental plateau in America: more than half of U.S. citizens—63 percent—now believe homosexuality “should be accepted.” That’s a 12 percent jump compared to 11 years ago, when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was still observed in the U.S. military and gay marriage was illegal across the nation.
Nine in 10 LGBT adults report having noticed positive changes in terms of society becoming more accepting of them, compared to the previous decade. This is progress worth noting, though we still have a long way to go.
The Pew report also noted that bisexual people, surprisingly, actually comprise the highest percentage of LGBTQ Americans, which is interesting considering the common misconception that bisexual men are secretly gay.
The Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP): A Dimensional Alternative to Traditional Nosologies
Giants in the field have introduced a new hierarchical, spectrum-based model of mental health diagnosis. I respectfully am cheering it on, and hope it takes off. It would demolish the anecdotal, personality-driven issues that underly so many controversies in our field.
Humbly, I also suggest that it might have remarkable and far-reaching effects on sexual diagnostic issues, in part by moving away from a medical model and by better integrating sexuality within the context of a whole person.
Dr. David Ley's take on the sexual implications of the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiToP).
HiTop is a revolutionary new strategy to approach mental health diagnoses and all of the complex problems involved in them. Since the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) was introduced, mental health diagnoses have been plagued by inconsistency and subjectivity. The first DSM identified homosexuality as a mental illness, and masturbation itself was identified as a hallmark of mental health problems.
In 1973, homosexuality was removed from the DSM after activists and gay psychiatrists forced the APA to recognize they were diagnosing based on social stigma and sexual morals, not science. Multiple Personality Disorder became a hot, popular, and sensational diagnosis in the 80's, and it was heavily involved in the scandal of the Satanic Ritual Abuse and Recovered Memory movement. MPD was predominantly diagnosed by therapists who believed in it, and differential diagnosis from personality disorders and other issues was controversial. Ultimately the MPD diagnosis was changed to Dissociative Identity Disorder, and has quietly been de-emphasized since, with increased recognition that therapist influence and issues of personality disorder can be deeply involved in this presentation.
But, even in DSM-5, political issues, financial conflicts, and personalities continue to influence diagnostic formulations. During DSM-5 development, there was brief consideration of classifying the disorder Vaginismus as an anxiety disorder. But, the stigma associated with diagnosing or treating sexual issues interfered, and Vaginismus remained relegated to the “sexual ghetto” of diagnoses, robbing many women of better treatment and consideration of their needs.
David J Ley PhD
Women Who Stray
As people watch porn, they become more accepting of sexual diversity, in themselves and others. They become less religious, and more egalitarian in their gender values. Are they then more likely to be willing to explore sexual desires they previously thought "disgusting"? Yes, because that disgust was a reflection of a moral conflict between their desires, and what they had been taught about sexuality. As they've watched porn, they've learned that sex is not inherently scary, bad or destructive, and that their desires are not unique nor sinful.
With the onset of menopause, a decrease in the production of hormones causes vaginal tissue to get thinner and drier. Vaginal muscles can also atrophy, leading to painful sex ― a problem for half of all menopausal and post-menopausal women, according to the National Institutes of Health. But the solution might be as simple as a vibrating piece of silicon.
The world’s largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons has for the first time released the number of gender confirmation surgeries performed in a single year: 3,256 male to female and female to male operations in 2016.
That’s an almost 20 percent rise from the prior year, said the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in a report released Monday. A publicist for the ASPS could not disclose geographic information about where the majority of these operations were performed in 2016, as it is still being compiled.
LGBTQ Nation has learned exclusively that the majority of the GCS operations last year were performed on transgender women: 1,759, to 1,497 surgeries for trans men. That’s a 27 percent increase year over year for trans women and a modest ten percent boost for operations on trans men.
I have nystagmus, a condition in which involuntary, jumpy movement of my eye muscles makes it difficult to focus, a chore that constantly challenges my brain as it frantically tries to keep up. As a child, my thick bifocal glasses and lack of confidence made me the brunt of cruel names and pranks, like being surrounded by kids who threw things on the ground and forced me to look for them. Later there were awkward, sometimes hostile encounters with potential landlords, dates and employers who I tried to brush off as a few gross kids who never grew up.
Two students at California State University, Northridge presented their groundbreaking research on student sex worker identities, a little-known and poorly understood population. Societally, we may be surprised to hear that many university students engage in sex work, as sex work is often unfortunately associated with pathology and criminality. Ute and Alex's research sheds light on the subjective experiences of sex workers, illustrating the commonplace experience of sex work as another valuable form of labor.
Are our fetishes and sexualities based on nature or nurture? In the case of ecosexuality, an identity that celebrates an heightened connection between body and Mother Earth, it’s all about nature. Ecosexuality is not exactly what you might expect it to be. Nobody is fucking a tree hollow. But, then again, it might be exactly what you think it is.
Ecosexuality is about incorporating more elements of nature into our sex lives and being more mindful of them, as well as our senses.
From The New York Times: Why Are Some Mice (and People) Monogamous? A Study Points to Genes A groundbreaking study has found that genetic variations in mice are linked to parental care and monogamy, the first time such a link has been found in mammals.
The original draft of the bill also prohibited groups from advertising gay conversion therapy, as it was the only way we could try to restrict the practice in unlicensed religious counselors. Sadly, that part of the bill was removed, due to conflict and precedent over other business issues, and the bill that was signed into law only prohibits the practice licensed clinicians.
Still, it's a remarkable and unexpected success for a state with a highly conservative Republican governor. We did not expect her to sign it into law.
A new study on the frequency of sex seems like bad news, but quality matters more than quantity when it comes to intimacy.
Dan Savage commented on this article in a recent SavageLove podcast stating that the people that complain about quantity also don't want to be intentional. (These individuals don't want to schedule sex.)
The Psychophysiology of Sex., Chapter: The dual-control model: The role of sexual inhibition & excitation in sexual arousal and behavior. Publisher: Indiana University Press, Editors: Erick Janssen, pp. 197-222.
Abstract: Pornography use is a common but controversial behavior in developed nations. At present, the scientific community has not reached a consensus regarding whether or not people may be become addicted to or compulsive in use of pornography. Even so, there is considerable evidence that a substantial number of people are likely to perceive their use of pornography to be problematic or addictive in nature. Whereas prior works considered perceived addiction dimensionally, the present work sought to examine what might lead someone to specifically identify as a pornography addict. Consistent with prior research, pre-registered hypotheses predicted that religiousness, moral disapproval, and pornography use would emerge as consistent predictors of self-identification as a pornography addict. Three samples, involving adult pornography users (Sample 1, N=829; Sample 2, N=424) and undergraduates (Sample 3, N=231), were collected. Across all three samples, male gender, moral incongruence, and pornography use behaviors consistently emerged as predictors of self-identification as a pornography addict. In contrast to prior literature indicating that moral incongruence and religiousness are the best predictors of perceived addiction (measured dimensionally), results from all three samples indicated that male gender and pornography use behaviors were the most strongly associated with self-identification as a pornography addict.
Grubbs, J., Engelman, J., & Grant, J. T. (2017). Who’s a porn addict? Examining the roles of pornography use, religiousness, and moral incongruence.
Limited empirical information exists on whether or not marriage and family therapists are having sexuality‐related discussions with their clients. When helping professionals ignore client sexuality, the potential for unintended negative outcomes increases. The researchers surveyed 175 clinical members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy to assess how their clinical training and education, their perceived sexual knowledge, and their comfort with sexual material influenced their willingness to engage in sexuality‐related discussions with their clients. The results indicate that sexuality education and supervision experiences are the cornerstone for a therapist’s base level of comfort. It is through sexuality education and supervision that sex knowledge is acquired and comfort levels are increased. Once comfort with sexual discussions increases, then therapists are more likely to engage in sexuality discussions with their clients.
Harris, S. M. & Hays, K. W. (2008). Family therapist comfort with and willingness to discuss client sexuality. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 34(2), 239-250.
Abstract: Transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) adolescents have difficulty accessing and receiving health care compared with cisgender youth, yet research is limited by a reliance on small and nonrepresentative samples. This study's purpose was to examine mental and physical health characteristics and care utilization between youth who are TGNC and cisgender and across perceived gender expressions within the TGNC sample. Methods: Data came from the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey, which consisted of 80 929 students in ninth and 11th grade (n = 2168 TGNC, 2.7%). Students self-reported gender identity, perceived gender expression, 4 health status measures, and 3 care utilization measures. Chi-squares and multiple analysis of covariance tests (controlling for demographic covariates) were used to compare groups. Results: We found that students who are TGNC reported significantly poorer health, lower rates of preventive health checkups, and more nurse office visits than cisgender youth. For example, 62.1% of youth who are TGNC reported their general health as poor, fair, or good versus very good or excellent, compared with 33.1% of cisgender youth (χ2 = 763.7, P < .001). Among the TGNC sample, those whose gender presentation was perceived as very congruent with their birth-assigned sex were less likely to report poorer health and long-term mental health problems compared with those with other gender presentations. Conclusions: Health care utilization differs between TGNC versus cisgender youth and across gender presentations within TGNC youth. With our results, we suggest that health care providers should screen for health risks and identify barriers to care for TGNC youth while promoting and bolstering wellness within this community.
Rider, G. N., McMorris, B. J., Gower, A. L, Colman, E., & Eisenberg, M. E. (2018). Health and care utilization of transgender and gender nonconforming youth: A population-based study. Pediatrics. 143(3).
New Research Articles Kink, BDSM, Etc
Response to Commentaries:
Michael T. Walton
James M. Cantor
Amy D. Lykins1
Past research has focused on narcissism’s global traits as being factors in predicting risk factors for infidelity, rather than specifically studying the traits that are activated in sexually situations.
Not all situation activate personality system. Still undetermined is what sexual situations may or may not activate personality components.
Current above mentioned research aimed to study what specific narcissistic traits in the sex domain pose risk of infidelity.
Clients may benefit from therapeutic interventions by identifying narcissistic traits in the sexual domain. Focusing on increasing sexually empathy towards partner and decreasing entitlement to sex.
There is theoretical reason to believe that narcissism is associated with infidelity. Yet, studies that have examined this association have yielded inconsistent results. Given that these inconsistencies may have emerged because prior studies used global assessments of narcissism that do not capture the extent to which the components of narcissism are activated in the sexual domain, the current research drew from two longitudinal studies of 123 married couples to examine the extent to which sexual narcissism predicted marital infidelity. Consistent with the idea that narcissism predicts sexual behavior when activated in the sexual domain, own sexual narcissism was positively associated with infidelity, controlling for own marital and sexual satisfaction, own globally-assessed narcissism, partner globally-assessed narcissism, and partner sexual narcissism. Helping to explain why this association emerged, further analyses demonstrated that it was driven by all four facets of sexual narcissism—sexual exploitation, grandiose sense of sexual skill, sexual entitlement (Study 1 only), and lack of sexual empathy (husbands only). Additionally, although partner sexual narcissism was unrelated to infidelity on average, partners’ grandiose sense of sexual skill and partners’ sexual entitlement (Study 2 only) were positively associated with infidelity, and partners’ lack of sexual empathy was negatively associated with infidelity (Study 2 only). These findings highlight the benefits of using domain-specific measures of sexual narcissism in research on sexual behavior and the benefits of using domain-specific measures of personality more generally.
McNulty, J.K. & Widman, L. (2014) Sexual Narcissism and Infidelity in Early Marriage. Archives of Sex Behaviors, 43(7), 1315-1325.
This study explores the risky behaviors that occur during Spring Break as well as how those behaviors are perceived by other Spring Breakers. A survey of 1,540 college undergraduate were asked to describe their perceptions of what was normal in terms of having casual sex, how common is it to drink before sex, how many drinks and how often condoms are normally used in the context of Spring Break. The other key part of the study was for the person being surveyed to report their own drinking and sexual behaviors.
The study showed, the idea that the other same sex student was having more sex than the student's own self-reported sexual behavior was a common misperception. They also discovered, the choice of who a person travels with can affect the amount of risky behavior that occurs. For example, traveling with a friend versus a romantic partner, in this scenario condoms were shown to be used less. In closing, this article promotes the idea of counseling students to challenge their perceptions about what is really happening during Spring Break in order to avoid risky behavior with sex and alcohol.
Abstract: Spring Break trips are associated with heavy drinking and with risky sexual behavior (e.g., unprotected sex, multiple partners, unwanted sexual contact), especially for those students who go on trips with friends. The present study adds to this growing event-specific risk literature by examining Spring Break-specific normative perceptions of sexual risk behavior and the role that these perceptions and taking a trip with a friend or with a romantic partner have on Spring Break sexual behavior. College students (N = 1,540; 53.9% female) were asked to report descriptive normative perceptions of sex with casual partners, drinking prior to sex, number of drinks prior to sex, and condom use as well as their own Spring Break drinking and sexual behaviors. Students perceived the typical same-sex student to have engaged in more frequent sexual behavior for all outcomes than students’ own self-reported sexual behavior. Furthermore, results revealed that these perceptions were positively associated with behavior. The choice of travel companion (friend(s) vs. romantic partner) also deferentially predicted sexual behaviors. Results suggested that intervention efforts aimed at reducing risks for Spring Break trip-takers may be strongest when they incorporate corrective normative information and target those traveling with friends.
Lewis, M. A., Patrick, M. E., Mittmann, A., Kaysen, D. L. (2015). Sex on the beach: The influence of social norms and trip companion on spring break sexual behavior. Prev Sci, 15(3), 408-418.