The Humpday Gazette

Posts Tagged ‘February 2011’

Kate and Michelle on Wisdom from our Elders

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 4:51 am

Let’s face it: hearing our parents talk about sex is about as comfortable as being on the receiving end of an atomic wedgie. A recent episode of Modern Family where the kids walked in on their parents “celebrating their anniversary” was just a snapshot of how awkward it can be to acknowledge that our parents are sexual beings.

Phil on talking to the kids after they walked in on him and Claire having sex: “What if  I was all knock knock and they were like ‘Who’s there?’ and I was all ‘Someone who doesn’t want to see their parents doing it that’s why we knocked!’”

It gets weirder still to realize that yes, in most of our cases, our birth happened due to that fact. At some point, though, it becomes essential for our parents to at least mention sex. That being said, few people we talked to while putting this issue together said they were lucky/unlucky enough to have never received “the talk.” Some parents may take a hard-line abstinence approach, some may take the be-safe-I-just-don’t-want-to-know road, and others may be way, way too interested in imparting us with a well-rounded sexual education. While most of us try to find a happy place inside where we can shut out the ‘birds and the bees talk,’ if we actually opened our ears and listened to our parents we could learn a lot. Even if parents aren’t always the most comfortable people to discuss sex with, talking to someone who has more experience, both in the bedroom and generally in life, can help make healthy decisions. Let’s be real: we at Hump-day Gazette have done a lot of research, but we’re 19 years old. While we are able to compile some great resources and try to give good advice, we thought that in this issue we should focus on people who have “been there, done that.” So, look forward to reading some input from our “elders,” memories and reflections on what we’d be taught on sex, and some things that we wish our parents had taught us.

Have fun and be safe,

Kate and Michelle

 

Grandparents Talk Sex

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 4:34 am

A guest writer for the HumpDay Gazette interviewed her own grandparents (both now in their 80’s) for this issue.

When she asked them if they’d both share their thoughts about healthy sexuality for this article, she was amused to hear her grandpa say, “Well, there isn’t much we haven’t seen.”   Some excerpts from their candid conversation are below. As you read their responses, try to visualize a couple who still enjoys spending time together after raising seven children and over 60 years of marriage.

 

On Casual Hook Ups

Q: So, do you have any opinions on what they call hook ups these days, casual sexual relations, would that be something that would have been appealing to either of you at that age?

Grandpa: Well it probably would have been to me! [laughs]

Grandma: Not to me!

Grandpa: But, ah, I don’t think it’s a healthy thing.

Q: And Grandma, you said not for you…

Grandma: No, no, no… I’m satisfied with one, period. [laughs] And, ah, I wasn’t too sure about him for a while. [laughs]

Q: Seems to have worked out okay.

Grandma: Yeah, yeah, I’ll keep him, I won’t throw him back [laughs] But, the casual thing… well. Actually, a lot of stuff is just lucky that you just don’t fall into something, you know. Because a lot of those guys who talk smart and really treated you like a queen were up to no good. And one of them… a person lives your life well, you look back at your life and say I’m lucky I didn’t do something I shouldn’t have done. Especially after you’ve had a few drinks and you’ve been treated like a queen and you think you’re really special and lo and behold, the person that you’re with is just… he wouldn’t think of doing anything wrong, you think, but let me tell you, it doesn’t work that way. My dad always said, the devil walks with a beautiful face. When you think of how things are now… When we were young I wouldn’t call a guy up. No way.

Grandpa: You didn’t have a phone to begin with!

 

On Parent’s Involvement In Marriage

Grandma: Parents controlled a lot of things back then, and I don’t think that’s good either. It is to a certain extent. I mean, you don’t want them [girls] to marry a tough guy. But apparently a lot of these couples would be a good marriage, but they weren’t allowed because the parents didn’t let them.

 

Sexual Health

Q: Is there any advice you would give to people, young adults, on their sexual health?

Grandma: Always see a gynecologist! That is the number one thing, I really think that’s important. Have a good physical on your sexual organs and all that. Because it can really make such a difference between a “whoopee!” and ‘ohhh… not again’. It really can. I lived with something for a long time before I figured it out. They sent me to a gynecologist and they figured out what was going on all along.

 

On Homosexuality

Q: Would [someone being gay] change the way you respond to or feel about that person?

Grandma: Oh no. I don’t see why they make such a big deal about it really. All families have somebody who is, uh, queer? Is that what you call it? But they are nice people for crying out loud!

Q: What would you say if one of your grandsons or great-grandsons introduced you to their boyfriend and said they wanted to live together and be together?

Grandma: I would say, well go spend the rest of your lives together!

Grandpa: It’s their problem!

Grandma: I don’t see anything wrong with that, it’s their decision.

 

On Divorce

Grandma: My mother always used to say, every pot has a cover. If it’s not the right cover, you better get rid of it and find the right cover… I would never turn any of my family away, simply because they were divorced or being gay or whatever. No, you love them. They’re yours.

 

How Do You Know When You’ve Found the Right Person

Grandpa: After you go together and talk to each other… that will tell you a lot, if you are being honest. You get a good idea of the other person’s ideas and values. And if they compare to yours, then you’re okay… Or you can [try to] change them, but that doesn’t work very often.

 

Closing Words on Sex

Grandpa: [Sex] is a wonderful invention.

Grandma: Well God invented it, so he must have said “go to it!” Preserve the human race!

 

Experiential Learning

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 4:31 am

We’d all like to imagine we’re good in bed. After all, who gives a blowjob and then says to themselves, “Damn, I really suck at that!” (Surprisingly, the pun is not intended). We all like to think we’re rock-stars when we take off our clothes. We imagine our partner melting with desire, their jaw dropping open, their hands groping, smacking, slapping. Or at least I do. I love buying lingerie and imagining myself as a dominatrix, a Santa, a valentine… the list is alarmingly long.

However, no matter how much I imagine myself to be a wizard in the nude, I can’t imagine I live up to my own expectations. After all, for all of my fantasies, the fact remains that I have very limited experience. No matter how hard my imagination works, little work goes on between my legs. No matter how much I talk about sex, I sometimes still feel awkward and shy once the clothes come off and I’m left in my leopard-print Hanky Panky.

Being a Dartmouth student, I have approached sex with a rather academic approach. I do my research, I study, I interview. Yet I am coming to realize that no matter how much Cosmo tells me about how to pull off the hand-job he’ll never forget, these are things I’m going to have to figure out for myself. So while nothing may stop me reading The Joy of Female Orgasm, I have to remember that sex is ultimately something you learn about through experience, not from other people.

 

 

Stories of “The Talk”

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 4:28 am

The Birds and the Bees: Due to cultural background, poor timing, or the general awkwardness many feel discussing *it* with our parents, not all parental wisdom on sex is shared in the best way. When asking a range of  Dartmouth students how they were given “the talk,” we got a wide range of  responses.

When I was in high school and had my first serious girlfriend, my dad came to my room one day and said, “Look son… I don’t care what happens. As long as you don’t get anyone pregnant or get any STDs.” And he threw me a pack of condoms.  -Male

My birds and the bees talk was pretty straightforward: my mom sat my sister and I down (I was way too young for this) and went: lets talk about penises. I ran out of the room screaming. It got to the point where I was afraid to be alone in a room with my mom and would stay glued to my dad. Car rides were particularly horrific.  -Female

My dad tried to give me the sex-talk when I was 15. He first told me to read my sisters Biology textbooks (*eye-roll*), and then sat me down telling me he had “something important to tell me”. When and told him I already knew, he was shocked and actually cried out, “How?!” -Male

I never got a sex talk and moved schools in such a way I missed sex education in school. Just last break my dad told me that you could get pregnant from “kissing and toilet seats.” So I’ve had to do a lot of self-education….  -Female

I didn’t really get a sex talk from my parents, except my mom telling me that if she found out I was having sex she would “cut it off.” It was terrifying.  -Male

When my mom was pregnant with my younger brother, I got a computer program called “Where Do Babies Come From?” I didn’t really think to ask the question of how the sperm found itself in the woman’s body, so I didn’t unlock the level actually explaining sex until I was around 11. When I asked my mom why anyone would ever want to do that, she told me I might have a change of heart in a few years.  -Female

Sex in the Headline in February

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 4:24 am

Ke$ha talked about her own experiences learning about sex, saying she “knew everything about sex” before she was seven years old. The pop star explained, “My mom left me at home when I was 14 with a credit card, and a box of condoms and the keys to the car and said, ‘Don’t get pregnant and don’t drink and drive’.” [Huffington Post]

A University of Indiana study of 2,453 biological females revealed that participants experienced greater sexual pleasure and satisfaction when using a water or silicone based lube while having vaginal or anal sex and masturbating. Additionally, chances of vaginal or anal tearing were significantly reduced. Reasons the women reported using lubrication were approximately 22% to reduce the risk of tearing and 22% to increase pleasure/comfort. [Indiana University]

A study of 434 young heterosexual couples ages 18-25 found that, in 40 percent of couples, only one partner says the couple agreed to be sexually exclusive. The other partner said there was no agreement. Open and honest communication you guys! [Science Daily]

It Gets Better!

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 4:15 am

Website of the Month: itgetsbetter.org

On the theme of learning from one’s elders, the website of the week is the ‘It Gets Better’ project on youtube. Founded by Dan Savage with the goal of preventing gay teen suicide, thousands of people including celebrities, politicians, and college students submitted videos attempting to speak to gay teenagers to convince them, no matter how hard life is now, it will get better. By sharing their eventual happiness after their own difficulties finding acceptance due to their sexuality, these adults provide hope for and solidarity with teens struggling to imagine a future in which they are openly gay and happy.

As a queer woman who enjoys tearjerkers with happy endings, I was immediately hooked. However, after hours of procrastination through youtube watching, my opinion of the project started a steady decline. Clearly the project is well intentioned. However, at a point, I started worrying that the ‘It Gets Better’ videos were like those “post what bra color you’re wearing for breast cancer lolzz” facebook campaigns you do because its easy and even amusing, despite that fact that even buying a cookie on DASH at a Novack bakesale makes a greater actual impact. It doesn’t hurt anyone, but it shouldn’t be held up as the paragon of activism. My misgivings grew as the amount of submissions exploded.

Even if I didn’t identify with every video in my early procrastination stage, I enjoyed most of them. As the project gained notoriety, it became less of an outlet for older non-heterosexuals to discuss overcoming the issues they faced in their youth with teenagers, and more of an attempt of celebrities and politicians to gain virtual facetime. Ke$ha, Nancy Poleski, Kathy Griffin, and Barack Obama all made videos that racked up huge amounts of hits, despite identifying as straight.

At risk of sounding snobby, I do think it is very difficult for people who are heterosexual to understand what it is like to be a non-heterosexual teenager. I’m not saying other people didn’t have difficult times in high school, or that all gay teens face the same issues (I honestly had a pretty good, if mostly closeted, time in high school). However, ‘It Gets Better’ seemed to be becoming a way for people, heterosexual and non-heterosexual, to pat themselves on the back for a job well done without addressing the social and political issues that make it hard to grow up and not follow or identify with heterosexual norms. While suicide is not the answer, and life overwhelmingly does improve for teens after high school, currently homophobia still remains embedded in our culture and our laws, affecting people of all ages.

A couple months later, while procrastinating for finals, I somehow stumbled upon the ‘It Gets Better’ video of Joel Burns, an openly gay Texas politician, speaking about the bullying he faced in his youth and his current political success and happy marriage. Please watch this video- I can almost guarantee you will be teary eyed at the end. While I am still critical of the ‘It Gets Better’ project, it is videos that like this that remind me why it needs to exist. ‘It Gets Better’ may be an easy fix manufactured by people who like to hear themselves talk, but is that necessarily a bad thing if it allows a wide variety of voices to be heard? Connecting to someone through shared experiences when you feel most alone is an incredible opportunity that would have been impossible a decade ago without the advances that created the accessibility of youtube videos. Even a cynic like me cannot dismiss the value of that kind of experience. Though maybe not the most genuine, even the facetimey celebrity videos are steps in the direction of making all sexualities on the spectrum equal and accepted. Finally, not to be cliché, but if the videos make life a little better for one person, then or band-aid fix for the alarming rate of gay teens’ suicide. The ‘It Gets Better’ project isn’t perfect, but it provides a platform for stories that can be incredibly influential for queer, lesbian, gay, bi, and trans teens, as well as any other teenager who feels alone and confused as to where they fit in the spectrum of sexuality. If you need to talk to someone, there are some great resources and people at Dartmouth you can find through the GSX, or call 866-4-U-TREVOR a national 24- hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth.

Some of my favorite ‘It Gets Better’ videos, all of which can be found on youtube or itgetsbetter.org:

‘Joel Burns tells gay teens “its gets better”’ – as I mentioned, one of my favorites, a recorded speech to the Fort Worth City Council

‘“It Get Better” – Love, Pixar’ – from the creative and diverse employees of Pixar

‘It Gets Better: Wisdom From Our Gay Elders’- men and women the same age as your grandparents sharing experiences from their long lives

‘It Gets Better, Samantha Lauzon Hamilton Ontario Transexual’: a woman who discusses the difficulties faced by trans teensgender teens

Eco-Friendly Sex Toys of the Month

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 4:14 am

This month, Hump-Day Gazette is featuring not one, but three sex toys that fell under the category of eco-friendly. While we have not been fortunate enough to personally test these (please blitz us if you have!), these caught our eye after being featured in Time magazine in an article titled ‘Sex and the Eco-City: Getting It On Is Getting Greener.’ While the article cited a wide variety of examples including toys made out of mahogany, stainless steel and glass, these three caught our eye.

If you want to engage in some light BDSM, but completely turned off by the cows that would have to die to get leather restraints, turn to Super Cuffs. A pair of neoprene cuffs with nylon straps, unusually secure Velcro closures, and stainless steel D-rings, they are adjustable, lightweight, and easy to clean. A genuine win-win-win situation for you, your partner, and cows everywhere! [$40 Babeland]

A variation on the Silver Bullet featured in our September 2010 issue, the Solar Bullet gives your clit/balls/nipples/whatever you choose the same great vibrations, but is powered by the sun instead of Double A batteries. 8 hours in the sun means 1 hour of vibrations, with a choice from 2 speeds.

Finally, we have the Earth Angel. Hand crank for four minutes and get thirty plus minutes of vibration! (It’s really difficult to resist making a hand job/fingering joke right now.) Everything from the packaging to the toy itself is made from recycled plastics. It even has three speeds, so you don’t have to sacrifice orgasms for the environment- though the $80 price tag is a bit steep.

An RN’s Perspective on STIs

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 4:08 am

One of  the contributors’ mothers was asked to contribute to the Hump-Day Gazette for this issue, due to her unique perspective on STDs/STIs, especially HIV/AIDS as someone who has been a Registered Nurse for over 20 years.

As a new graduate of a Bachelor of Science and Nursing program at a noteworthy University Medical Center in the Southeast (think Paul Farmer!), I was there as HIV/AIDS was first being diagnosed. Our unit would accept a young man with significant gastrointestinal symptoms and maybe a pneumonia and then watch unbelieving as he deteriorated and died within weeks. It was terrifying for the staff of new nurses, medical students, residents and well-established attending physicians. Quickly the medical community established that these patients suffered from HIV/AIDS. Some had acquired the virus through homosexual contact, but many had gotten it through heterosexual contact or IV drug use. I cared for a beautiful young woman in the medical ICU who was eventually intubated and placed on the ventilator terminally and ultimately died. She had contacted HIV/AIDS from her husband and his source of infection was never identified. I was part of the frenzy that surrounded the original HIV/AIDS diagnosing.

As Health Care workers we were strongly encouraged to use universal precautions in the hospital and to use serious protection in our social lives. We were encouraged to use condoms and to teach anyone who would listen to do the same. No one wanted HIV/AIDS to spread.

As I review articles from the 1980s, I see that some articles support that up to 40% of students who were well aware of AIDS and the importance of using a condom actually did use condoms. Apparently, the passion and commitment of many health care workers and educators has made a difference as the prevalence of new HIV infections in the US has decreased recently.

When I agreed to write this article I wanted to investigate why the dramatic intensity encouraging condom use that we experienced in the 1980s-1990s is no longer.  From what I could gather, because people live chronically with HIV/AIDS, it is old news and the numbers are not increasing in the US. However, the statistics for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections are still frightening.

More recent articles quote the statistics on condom use for college students as being anywhere from 7-20%. Students know they are at risk. The CDC estimates that 1 in 500 college students are HIV positive. However, for some reason, students are ignoring the statistic that each year 1.8 million people are dying from AIDS world-wide.

My point is that students need to remain vigilant They can’t just have a good night of pong and forget about being a tiny bit responsible. Some of the statistics I came across in a very casual search were:

  1. One in four College students has an STD.
  2. Over all there are nineteen million new STDs transmitted each year, almost half among 15-24 year olds.
  3. Eighty percent of people who have STDs experience no noticeable symptoms.
  4. More than half of the participants in a study done among college students believe that they can tell if someone has a STD just by looking at them … NO MATTER HOW SOMEONE DRESSES, ACTS OR LOOKS THERE IS NO WAY TO TELL WITH A RELIABLE DEGEEE OF ACCURACY WHETER SOMEONE HAS AN STD.

Students, pay attention to your Sexperts- get tested and use condoms unless you are in a monogamous relationship and you both have been tested. Bad STDs, STIs and HIV/AIDS are still out there, although they are not as dramatically portrayed as they once were. Pay attention, be smart and make good choices…Your parents and your health care workers love you and want to see you grow up and be happy and HEALTHY!

As always, STD screening at Dick’s House is typically quick and easy. You can schedule an appointment with a provider by calling the Dick’s House appointment office at 603-646-9401. Please do not urinate one hour prior to the appointment.

 

Seeing Through the Haze

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 3:58 am

by The Polyphonist

Not long ago, I knew nothing about sex.  Well, I “knew” that condoms failed frequently and have microscopic holes in them.  I knew that if you had sex with someone, you would never be able to develop a trusting, loving relationship with anyone ever again.  I knew that I wouldn’t have sex until I was married and that sex meant intercourse, and intercourse alone.  I knew that guys wanted sex, and that girls didn’t, and that sex was basically steeped in coercion or trickery.

I grew up in a (can you guess?) highly conservative, highly religious environment.  My dad was an evangelical Christian, my mother a Catholic.  My dad’s “sex talk” with me was: “Don’t have sex until you’re married.”  My mom’s was “I left a book on your bed.”  (Good thing my dad never saw the book — it suggested that gay people had the right to love and marriage.)  I attended a Catholic high school, and lived in an area so isolated I was not afforded the company of friends outside of these small, homogenous social circles.  I had a few gay friends, but, bombarded on all sides by anti-gay rhetoric, I was unable to dialogue with them productively.

So when my first girlfriend was actively interested in sex, I didn’t know what to do.  On a core level I wanted sex too, but faced with the opportunity, I found myself confronted by the beliefs I had grown up with.  While no longer religious, I still asked such questions as, “Why would Judeo-Christian culture develop its specific notions of sex and sexuality if they were not, in some sense, correct?” (My speculation on this topic is far too long to fit in this newsletter.)

I could tell I was missing something, since my thinking was taking me in circles, offering no reliable answers.  I needed external help.  My girlfriend suggested I consult a friend.  On a Post-It note, I listed everyone I knew who might be able to provide some guidance.  I picked a ’09.

Over the next few weeks, the ’09 and I talked for hours.  She told me some of her experiences, and what she had learned over the years: how primarily sexual relationships can be very rewarding, how she stays safe and how her fear of contracting an STI helps her stay safe, and more.  Then she made a bold move: she sent me to a website intended to teach younger teens about sex. The website was Scarleteen.com.

 

In case you’re just skimming this newsletter:

PLEASE VISIT SCARLETEEN.COM.

I expected unintelligent authors, poor writing, trite advice for specific problems, and a generally flippant attitude towards sex.  What I found changed my life.

I learned that sex and love are two entirely different things.  Yes, bonding occurs during sex, but sex before marriage will not inherently condemn one to a life lacking intimacy, trust, and love with one’s future spouse.  I learned that masturbation can be healthy both physically and emotionally.  I learned that sex encompasses more than just intercourse — much more.  I learned that open communication, and a lack of coercion, pressure, or deadlines regarding sexual activity can lead to a very fulfilling, equitable sexual relationship.

As I’m listing these ideas now, they all seem so simple, so obvious.  Yet just a short time ago, none of them (except perhaps the last) was familiar to me.  After only knowing of one view of sex for my entire life, these ideas were revolutionary.  After years of repression, I finally heard the triumphant cheer of “Sex is nice and pleasure is good for you!”, as author Dossie Easton once put it.

I spent days reading the articles.  At home, on the train, at work.  I couldn’t read enough.  All of my notions of sex and sexuality were being challenged, and changed.  I didn’t read and think, “well, I guess I should try to take these things to heart”, because I had already done so.: everything I read felt native to me, fully self-evident, but the haze of an imposed religion prevented me from seeing these ideas clearly.

I realized that the falsehoods propagated in sex-negative cultures (which I found conservative Christianity to be, in my case) are designed to be self-securing within that culture.  If you’re told that having sex before you get married will doom your future marriage, and have no external evidence to the contrary, there is no escape from that idea.  How could you possibly know that this is not true?  I needed support from the outside.  I needed someone to show me other options so that I could decide for myself, and what I chose based on my research and reflection could be  entirely different from everyone else’s choice.  I’m sure others could go through the same process and decide that abstinence was right for them, or BDSM, anything else in the spectrum of sexuality.

So. if you’re struggling with your ideas about sex, torn in some way, please, go read Scarleteen.  The ideas presented therein won’t attempt to convince you to be cavalier — in fact, the “Sex-Readiness Checklist” article may help you be even safer, and not just with your body but with your emotions and even your finances.  If you think your relationship might abusive — even if you have just the slightest doubt — please read Scarleteen’s “Blinders Off: Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault”.  Or, if you’re about to start a new relationship, you will assuredly benefit from “Hello, Sailor! How to Build, Board, and Navigate a Healthy Relationship”.

 

Sex Song of the Month

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 3:48 am

From the makers of “Jizz in my Pants” and “I’m On A Boat,” the sex song of the month is…

“I Just Had Sex”