Sexing up porn

I guess it should come as no surprise that the top two links that you readers clicked on from my first post were related to sex and pornography. So, since you seem to be interested, I decided to explore this for a little while.

My explorations led me to an article in Men’s Health entitled, What Type of Porn are You Into?, which summarises the findings of a U.S.A. national study by the website, PornHub. The first key finding listed is: “When analyzing the top choices from each state, the two most popular search terms were ‘teen’ and ‘creampie.’ In fact, 31 out of 50 states had ‘teen’ listed amongst their top three, while 29 out of 50 states had ‘creampie’ in theirs.” 

Now, I don’t know about you, but this finding worries me for two reasons. Firstly, what does it mean, in terms of how men are defining their masculinity, if such a large number of guys across the U.S. are specifically seeking out pornography featuring underage people? What types of ideas are men and boys forming about power and consent in sex? And how does this play out in their sexual interactions in real life?

The finding about ‘creampie’ (don’t worry – I also had to look it up) pornography is also concerning because it discourages (or, more precisely, completely ignores) condom-use. It is ironic that a site entitled Men’s Health would publish the article without any discussion about the real-life impacts on men’s health (and women’s, for that matter) of this sexual behaviour.

Although the article encourages readers to post thoughts, questions or concerns, no one has raised these issues. In fact, one of the comments from a male reader is “Thanks a lot for these sex tips, I hope they will help improve my sex life.” So if at least some men, and probably most boys, are learning about sex primarily through online pornography and their favourite types of pornography to watch feature unsafe, underage, illegal sex…and they are trying to apply this in their own sex lives…hmm….

There is fascinating research on the impact of pornography addictions on the brain, and some male sex educators talk about why they have quit watching pornography. However, my gut feeling that eliminating pornography entirely may not be realistic and, instead, more efforts need to be placed into making pornography represent safe, consensual, and realistic sex. Thankfully, sites like Make Love, Not Porn and The Pleasure Project are working hard to push this agenda. Others are also trying to normalise sex so that boys’ and girls’ main source of information about sex is their parents, teachers, and community – and not online pornography.  And what can we do? Openly talk to each other – to our friends, families, kids, partners – about sex, support initiatives to change how sex is presented in the media, or lobby companies that produce or promote pornography to highlight consent and condom-use in their material.

Other ideas? What are you doing to normalise sex?

Quintessential commodification

A reader and I were, yesterday, discussing an extremely disturbing post that came up on his Facebook, in which a mother is requesting help to find a life-sized Barbie box to make a photo booth for her daughter’s birthday. There are so many things that upset him and me about this: the skimpy clothes, the unrealistic proportions of Barbie’s body, teaching girls that they are just pretty little things to be played with, the thought of PACKAGING GIRLS IN A BOX!

But, enough from me. What do you think?

tumblr_inline_n03lp7MCK41rnjfxa   tumblr_inline_n03m95ipIW1rnjfxa

Women and men in the world of international politics

Is the world ready for a female UN Secretary General? While reading today’s article in the Guardian*, “Will Helen Clark be the first woman to run the UN?”, I am pondering that very question.

Clark highlights the need to recognise the double standard imposed on male and female politicians, wherein men in politics are seen as ‘strong’ while women are seen as ‘tough.’ Indeed, stories of unequal treatment of female and male politicians abound – whether from the USA, Australia or Germany. And it is worrying that a Media Guide for Gender-Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates and Politicians needs to spell out, “If you wouldn’t talk about a male candidate’s eye colour, make-up, haircut, singleness, child care, or lack of children, then don’t talk about a female candidate’s.” Actually, it’s troubling that we even need a media guide for gender-neutral coverage! A study by the same group discovered found that media coverage (whether positive, negative or neutral) about female candidates’ appearance had a direct and negative impact on their success in the polls.

But even if, with the help of the Media Guide and creative apps like Jailbreak the Patriarchy, we achieve gender-neutral language in the media, a systemic barrier still exists for women in politics who also want to have children. In case you haven’t noticed, these same barriers don’t exist for male political leaders. In addition to stunting the political careers of women, however, such barriers also call into question the value that we put on fatherhood. Former Australian senator, Natasha Stott Despoja, says that her male colleagues were never even asked about how they juggle family and a political career: “It genuinely drives me nuts when we debate ‘can women have it all’, because we don’t even consider that phrase when we talk about men…Perhaps a better way of looking at it is ‘no-one can have it all, all the time’, and we all make trade-offs and decisions and choices, and I’m a big one for respecting those choices.” I don’t know about you, but if I was a male politician, I’d be out there fighting for my right to be an active and present father.

But, surely, you might say, the UN doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race for its leadership, so why would it discriminate on gender? Although all forms of oppression are interrelated and overlapping, as Gloria Steinem argues, “sexism is still confused with nature, as racism used to be.” The perception that women are ‘naturally’ soft, emotional and caring, while men are ‘naturally’ strong and objective decision-makers is, I fear, still so deeply ingrained in many societies that I wonder if I will live to see a female UN Secretary General who is judged by her leadership, not by her skirt length or her mothering skills.

As Clark explains, resolving the gender inequities in politics requires fundamental changes in our societies: “It really points to the need for a lot more discussion of families and of the role of boys and girls, women and men, so that the boys grow up with an expectation to be an equal in the household…It shouldn’t just depend on a group of exceptionally ambitious women. We need it to be in the culture of our societies, institutionalising it in the normal scheme of things.”

What do you think? Take part in the poll and add your thoughts in the comments.

Special thanks to reader, Kristal B., for recommending this article.

Congratulations – you found it!

‘G’ stands for guys, for gender equality and, of course, for g-spot. This blog is a spot dedicated to sharing information and encouraging fruitful conversations about masculinity, men’s active participation in gender equality, and healthy sexual lives for all.

So many of my guy friends agree with the need to redefine masculinity, to celebrate the multiple ways of being a man, and to show that it IS manly to see women as equals and to respect women’s sexual pleasure as much as your own. But (and correct me if I’m wrong, guys), apart from ‘liking’ Facebook posts, many  aren’t quite sure how to get started or what actions they can feasibly take to start making these changes.

This blog aims to shift that by acting as both a resource centre for articles, videos and other resources on the topic as well as a collaborative and creative space for people, of all genders, to share their thoughts, questions and stories of change about creating healthy, non-violent, and gender-equitable masculinities. I will regularly add new resources and discussion topics but I encourage you to do the same in the comments box or by contacting me and I’ll be happy to add your content (until I sort out the best way for you to contribute content directly).

Thanks for finding the G-spot. Here are a few cool links to get you started:

If you like women:

If you like sex:

If you’re a parent: