The Benefits of Monogamy…or Something

Wedding Rings
"Wedding Rings" by firemedic58

Joseph Henrich, the evolutionary psychologist who testified against polygamy at the Canadian polygamy trial has a new paper out on the topic. I’ve engaged with his statements on the topic before, so I was curious what he had to say in peer review. It isn’t so much different from what he had to say on as a witness in court, and I have some of the same sorts of problems with it.

See whether you can spot them. Continue reading “The Benefits of Monogamy…or Something”

The Benefits of Monogamy…or Something

Photographing the Male Nude (NSFW, Duh)

A friend of mine is a photographer, who I believe is considering doing some male nude shots. Before going to the trouble of procuring a model and setting up a shoot, she wanted some sense of what worked for her in terms of lighting, posing, and composition. She recently commented (I paraphrase) that the male nudes she saw in other photographers’ work tended to either look like they were posing for an art class or saying, “Hey, baby. I got what you’re looking for right here.” Neither was what she wanted to do.

I’d recently seen some work that I thought might be the kind of thing was interested in, so I was pretty sure I had a good idea where to look. It turns out that a number of queer artists are quite good at taking pictures that appreciate the male form without either making it asexual or reducing it to sex. Go figure.

Tucked below the fold are some links, as well as some pictures. If you’re going to be offended, kindly don’t click through.

Continue reading “Photographing the Male Nude (NSFW, Duh)”

Photographing the Male Nude (NSFW, Duh)

Evidence on the Hebephilia Question

It’s funny how the best argument against allowing hebephiles to have sex with children is a hebephile arguing s/he should be allowed to do as s/he wishes. If you have a strong stomach for this sort of thing, feel free to read the comments on my prior post on the topic. If not, what you really need to know is that one showed up insisting that “Yes” was consent to be taken at face value and the harm of these relationships was an extraordinary claim. Also, consent is only an issue if there’s some demonstration of harm, and sex is healthy, so it’s always good.

So, time to shed a little science on the matter. Let’s start with a couple of definitions, since those are also in dispute in the comments.

Child: We are discussing the rights of a child and the responsibilities of a society toward children. By international treaty, a child is defined for these purposes as “Every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable under the child majority is attained earlier.”

Hebephilia: “sexual preference for individuals in the early years of puberty (generally ages 11–14, though onset of puberty may vary).”

Now for the documentation of harm. Wherever possible, sources are reviews of the literature available without special access.

Continue reading “Evidence on the Hebephilia Question”

Evidence on the Hebephilia Question

Garter Porn

The following video is not for the faint of heart. Not unless that wobbly pitter-patter is coming from the heart of a herpetophile anyway. In that case, it’s definitely worth seeing (the shaky video does even out shortly).

The consequences to the female snake of engaging in this sort of behavior would satisfy the stodgiest conservative Christian.

Continue reading “Garter Porn”

Garter Porn

Science, Sperm, and a Survey About Your Junk

If you don’t already read Scicurious’s Friday Weird Science (and why not, may I ask?), today is the day to start. Today’s post is titled, “Laptops and WIFI are coming for your SPERM. Again.

Sci loves her some science of sex, especially after a long week in the lab. She also loves pulling apart the methodology of a study. Sometimes it’s to point out where the authors made some hilariously strange decisions. Sometimes it’s to highlight clever mechanisms for getting at a research question, particularly where testing in vivo would be ethically problematic. Sometimes it’s just to caution against getting too excited about what are really preliminary results.

That’s the case with the study Sci highlights today:

So the conclusions of this study: Do not place your sperm cells in a dish under your laptop for four hours. It might stop some of them from swimming.

That’s it. No nuked sperm here. From the press releases I was expecting to see those poor little buggers dying by the millions. Heck there wasn’t an increased rate of death at all. I’m not sure I buy the increased DNA fragmentation. But it doesn’t show decreased fertility, it doesn’t show nuked sperm, and though they got much higher electromagnetic frequencies, it doesn’t necessarily show that the Wi Fi is coming for your balls.

Here’s why this doesn’t necessarily mean the Wi Fi hates your nuts:

Go find out why. While you’re there, take Sci’s survey about how likely you are to put your genitals in danger. I think we all want to know how much of a problem this may be and how much attention we need to pay to future studies like this. (Yes, they do just keep…er…coming.)

It’s for science.

Science, Sperm, and a Survey About Your Junk

Pornography and Pulpits

Greta Christina posted yesterday on why she will probably not make pornography ever again:

But that was back when I was primarily known as a sex writer. And it was back before the Internet made anonymous rape threats easy and cheap. Now that I’m trying to build a writing career around topics other than just sex, it’s hard to imagine that doing porn would be anything other than career suicide.

And that sucks.

I would freaking love to do porn now. I’m more comfortable and more happy with my body than I have been in a very long time. And I would love to share that… for my own exhibitionistic pleasure, and for the sake of others. There aren’t a lot of role models for women of my age — I’m turning 50 at the end of this year — being openly and brazenly sexual, being comfortable and happy with their bodies and their sexualities and proudly celebrating them. I would love to be one of those role models. If I was ever going to do porn or nude pictures, now would be the time.

And I just don’t think I can. Not if I want to be taken seriously as a writer.

Read the whole thing, of course. Greta pulls the problem apart in her inimitable style.

A few readers are telling her that in order to dismantle the current cultural thinking on porn, someone needs to do what she doesn’t want to do right now. They’re right, of course, but that still doesn’t mean that Greta Christina is the person to do it. She talks about being taken seriously as a writer, but what she’s really doing is engaging in the culture war through her writing. She’s already leading one fight. That doesn’t leave her much time to lead another, not if she wants to do the first right.

After reading that last night, I came across an article that gave me an entirely different perspective on pornography and leadership. This article about the pope’s recent statements condemning pornography and prostitution followed up on those statements with this:

Continue reading “Pornography and Pulpits”

Pornography and Pulpits

On Display: Clothing, Breasts, and Power

Greta Christina has been writing about fashion as a language, about how we choose what to express and the fact that we don’t get to choose to say nothing by our choice of clothing. On Friday, she wrote about her relationship to clothing as an expression of gender. The whole thing is interesting, but I was struck in particular by her statement that “male drag was a way of feeling sexy and sexually transgressive when my weight was up and I wasn’t feeling conventionally attractive.” I’ve been thinking about weight, clothing, and gender for some time. Greta’s post has inspired me to write about it.

Breasts are fascinating, but perhaps not quite for the reason you’re thinking.

All right, in addition to the reason you’re thinking.

Breasts, or at least larger breasts, are made up primarily of fat. As a culture, we hate fat, but we love breasts. Where else but in the bumpy cleavage of a very thin woman are the unmistakable signs of plastic surgery so generally accepted?

Hips and butts too, but as a former kid whose diapers slid off my nonexistent hips all the time, I’m somewhat less qualified to talk about the dichotomous reaction to those particular secondary sex characteristics. Breasts I’ve got, in plenty. Sex and fat in one package.

It’s a combination that brings…an interesting set of choices. Continue reading “On Display: Clothing, Breasts, and Power”

On Display: Clothing, Breasts, and Power

Why “No Means No”

PZ posted a comic about listening to a woman when she tells you what she wants. Predictably, the comment thread took a turn for “but sometimes they don’t mean what they say.” Time to repeat myself. This was originally posted here.

One of the tangential issues that came up in the thread that would not die is the statement “no means no.”

I really hate to have to point this out, believe me… but sometimes a simple “I’d rather not,” “I shouldn’t,” or even “no” isn’t clear enough. I won’t try to guess at numbers, I’m not qualified, but there are most certainly women who enjoy that particular game. Keep in mind that we’re talking about college kids here. Boys and girls in their late teens and early twenties for the most part, and clear communication about sex and relationships is going to be fairly uncommon. Again, I’m not even going to pretend to put numbers on it, but I’m absolutely certain that sometimes it is honest miscommunication.

“No means no” is a simple slogan, but it just doesn’t reflect reality. Imagine stopping only to be yelled at because your partner was getting into it and you ruined the mood. Imagine it happening when you’re young and still inexperienced and emotionally fragile. How many times do you think that has to happen before a person is capable of mistaking a sincere “no” for a repeat of the previous situation, if only for a short time?

Continue reading “Why “No Means No””

Why “No Means No”

Writing Fiction with Science: Pedophilia

When you listen to slush readers, editors, and agents talk about what they don’t want to find in their mailbox, you hear about hackneyed ideas, bland openings, purple crayons, and death threats. You also hear, “Don’t send me a sympathetic story about a rapist or a pedophile. Ugh.”

When Henry Gee asked me to submit a story to Nature Futures, I decided to break that rule. Why? Well, first off, I’m not much good with rules. Also, I felt this particular rule was malformed. What it really meant was, “Don’t make me read something that makes me feel I should tell the cops about you.”

One of my pet peeves is the conflation of pedophilia and child rape. Paying attention to abuses of authority, as I do, I have this peeve triggered a lot. The phrase “pedophile priest” makes me grit my teeth.

Continue reading “Writing Fiction with Science: Pedophilia”

Writing Fiction with Science: Pedophilia

Oh, Is It Blasphemy Day?

Taking enmellishment’s advice:

  • I don’t pay a lot of attention to these events.
  • Nonetheless, if you think your belief is sooooo much awesomer than the thousands or millions of competing beliefs out there, let it stand up on its own without government protection.
  • Religion is a propped-up means of saying “STFU! I’m better than you!”
  • Rebecca Watson has been awesome in the way she handled “Elevatorgate” from beginning to, well, now at least. I doubt that will change by the time it ends.
  • It is highly amusing that the principles of radical feminism are still considered radical.
  • Anger, sarcasm, insults, and mockery can all be very powerful tools.
  • Power tools require skill and practice to use, because they can make a bloody mess.
  • A stereotype is not scientific evidence. There is no “extraordinary claim” requiring mountains of proof inherent in sneering at a stereotype.
  • IQ is in large part a measure of institutional competence.
  • Social sciences frequently require far more scientific competence than “hard” sciences because they tackle more complex subject matter.
  • Everyone (yes, even you) is irrational about, not just something, but far more than they’d ever stop to consider.
  • Government is a requirement for civilization on this scale.
  • Politics is a tool and not a tool of Satan.
  • The evidence says that Ron Paul is a hard-core racist who’s merely learned to shut up about it.
  • Marriage is not and never has been–not even in the 1950s–one man and one woman. Nor has it ever been forever. Marriage laws only dictate what marriage looks like from the outside for those in the middle class, and they’re not very good at that.
  • Porn can be pretty cool.
  • The answer to “No” is not “Pleeeeeze” or “La La La La La La” for anyone over the age of eight.
  • There is a cat in another room who is gearing up to die, though she may last quite some time. I’m pretty sure that’s more important than blogging right now.


Oh, Is It Blasphemy Day?