Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Porn Problems

It seems that most often, porn is associated with male viewers and male sexual interests. Dialogue surrounding porn and its possible psychological effects tends focuses on males and their probable unrealistic expectations of sexual encounters.


However, this article takes a different standpoint, highlighting the very real ways in which porn can mislead female viewers as well. Women were asked what porn had "taught" about sex, and they paint a very unrealistic picture. One of the misleading ideas is that orgasms are effortless. A woman is quoted, "I thought orgasms were much easier to achieve than they actually are. As a result I thought something was wrong with me for a long time. I just assumed that PIV= almost instant orgasm. I was so disappointed to find that wasn't the case".

We hear a lot of talk about porn displaying unrealistic female bodies and female genitalia, essentially vaginas are expected to look like a prepubescent girl in every scene. However, female porn viewers can also be mislead about male genitalia, expecting all to be circumcised and much larger than average.  "I didn't know uncircumcised penises existed, because all the porn I'd seen prior had circumcised male performers".

One of the more damaging by-products of porn viewing is that you have to do everything women in porn videos do in order for your partner to enjoy themself: " It didn't occur to me until like age 27 that I didn't have to let a guy come on my face if I didn't want to. Or I didn't have to swallow. Or that it was okay to not moan if I didn't feel like moaning." I think that no matter how confident a person is during sex and in deciding what they are comfortable with doing, porn can be have a greater effect on how we perform during a sexual experience than we might think.

It is strange to think of a time when we wouldn't have to worry about porn influencing the ways in which we think about sex and about what we should and should not be done during sex. I am wondering if we are moving to a place where it is difficult to have completely unbiased sex because more often than not, at least one person in a sexual encounter watches pornographic videos. It would seem to be very hard to not compare your body, genitalia, and sexual experiences with porn once you have viewed it, and especially if you view it regularly. Can people still watch porn regularly and have it not interfere with their sexual experiences? Do you think that those who watch porn are subconsciously trying to live up to some pornographic standard? Besides expectations for orgasm and how genitals should look etc., can porn influence the ability to be aroused by sex without the intense visual stimuli? Do you think there could be a "safe viewing amount" in regards to the previous question, where it wouldn't "hurt" your sexual arousal with another person?

Thursday, May 15, 2014



Trojan is a relatively new song by Seattle-based hip hop artist Sol, a thought-proving melody about safe sex and condom use. He uses the Trojan brand of condom to discuss the reasons why he believes it's important to correctly use condoms, referencing one night stands: "She let me inside and she don't even know my name," and the value of properly assessing the effectively of the condom: "So careful, I've never let the condom rip and don't plan to." The chorus repeats, "That Trojan, I pack that sh** when I'm getting down, that Trojan, my best friend when I sleep around." He signs off at the end of the song, "Safe sex."

What do you think of the song? Does singing about condom use surprise you? Can you think of other blatant pro-condom references in media? Do we often see/ notice/ become aware of condom use in the songs we listen to/ movies we watch/ news we read? Could you see this song being effectively used as a pro-safe-sex tool? Do you have any concerns? 

Condom Ad

This condom ad, released only 3 days ago, depicts an assortment of couples in a plethora of sexual acts, highlighted by Edith Piaf's "Je ne regrette rien"-- I don't regret anything. This is the theme of the ad, which, after a presentation of the sexual acts, concludes with a simple picture of a condom. In the "Behind the Scenes," the directors speak (in French and German) about the pleasure gained from using condoms--rather, considering that protecting oneself is pleasurable.

What are your thoughts about the assortment of couples in the clip? Do you think this is representative? What messages did you initially get from the directors? Do you think this is provocative and effective advertising? In what ways? 

---What do these two ads make you think about? Are you impressed/ uninterested/ engaged? Thoughts? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No Glove, No Love

This humorous ad was shown on French national television, promoting the use of condoms to protect from sexually transmitted infections, specifically HIV/AIDS.  Using no dialogue and two simple words at the conclusion, “protegez-vous” (protect yourself), the commercial effectively and clearly communicates the intended message; use a condom whenever you have sex.  The way in which the message is communicated highlights the idea that condom use is beneficial in every country, by all people wanting to participate in sex.

I believe that this ad is effective because it tells a simple but engaging story.  The viewer is able to glean the important message from the both the animation as well as the entertaining music that is cleverly integrated into the short story.  In this way, the commercial is able to hold the viewer’s attention all the way through the 1:38 long ad.  The effort that was put into designing an engaging and non-offensive short story-like ad truly shows in the way the viewer will likely engage with it as opposed to quickly changing the channel or muting the television.

Thus, I believe that campaigns promoting condom use, safe sex, awareness of sexually transmitted infections, as well as other sexually relevant topics would benefit from the use of media that is engaging to their target audience in this simple manner.

What is your response to this ad? Do you find it more effective than other campaigns you have viewed in the past? Do you think it was inappropriate to broadcast this on national television?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Like a Virgin

Wikipedia states virginity as, “the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse”.  Going beyond google searches seems to make this definition much more complicated. Growing up we heard things like “Only if he cums”, “Only if her cherry pops”, “Anal doesn’t count,” and endless other descriptions. Interviewee from Losing Virginity Stories from the Huffington Post states, “It’s kind of a double-edged sword isn’t it? If you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap.” Our society sends mixed messages about virginity and certain expectations are prevalent for both males and females.

A 25 year old women, interviewed in Losing Virginity Stories, stated, “I lost my virginity quite late, I was 24: way too old. I was dating a guy but the only thing he didn't know about me was that I was still a virgin. Every time we made out I made up a silly excuse not to have sex because I was afraid I'd bleed and reveal the embarrassing truth: that I was a virgin. I say "embarrassing" because I assumed being a virgin at that age was something wrong -- that I was unwanted, ugly, undesirable and therefore, unworthy as a woman, that all the times I had said no to sex because I didn't like the guy or didn't feel comfortable with it had made me a prude and that I probably didn't deserve the sex. I wanted to have sex with [my boyfriend] but at the same time I didn't, because I didn't want him to know my secret. So one day it just happened: we were having drinks, we went to bed and we did it. I didn't even bleed (maybe because I had already broken my hymen masturbating) but he didn't notice it was my first time. I was nervous, I wanted him to feel he was having sex with a "normal" girl (thanks, prejudice) so I didn't particularly enjoy it.”

The interviewee explains that she felt she was too old to be a virgin. At what age do you think that our society claims it to be too late to be a virgin? After college? Before college? At what age would you claim it to be too soon?

Another interesting point when analyzing the concept of virginity is to understand that the word itself is gendered. It comes from a Latin word that means young woman, and while the term can be referred to both, there always has been pressure for the woman to perform in some way (Vagianos 2013).  The concept of virginity is heteronormative and leaves little room for people with a same sex orientation to identity with the term. Something that I found interesting was all the popular press articles I found never discussed virginity with same sex couples, and all the fun tips and truths were presented to straight women or men.

What do you all think about the concept of virginity in relationships? Do you hear about it being a deal breaker?
Do you feel that since Kalamazoo College is a sex positive campus it puts pressure on people to have sex for the first time?

Josie Cibelli

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Peaches, Snowflakes, and Envelope Factories

Trigger warnings: gendered slurs, crude language, sexual content

“Key & Peele” is a popular series of sketches produced by Comedy Central. In the linked video, two men are depicted as teaching a “cunnilingus class” to male youths, and later the teachers are revealed to be women with the goal of teaching their techniques to all men. As the characters so eloquently point out: “Now, bitches aren’t being satisfied, so check it!” What was your initial response to the video?

Although primarily amusing, the sketch has problematic elements. The video uses gendered slurs to grab the viewer’s attention and to colloquialize the content. In addition, the women at the end of the sketch are portrayed in a malicious, “taking over the world” light. Media often portrays women who seek a fulfilling sex life as being manipulative, nymphomanic, or immoral. How does this sketch perpetuate these stereotypes?

“Key & Peele” also fails to mention the reasons for youths to engage in oral sex, choosing rather to focus on the techniques of such acts. In a study conducted by Jodi L. Cornell and Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher at the University of California, 425 ninth-grade adolescents were presented with the the following prompt: “Please list the reasons why teens your age have oral sex.” Responses (in order of frequency) included: improve relationship, pleasure, curiosity/for experience, peer pressure/friends are doing it, pressure/force/fear, wants to/can’t wait, under alcohol or drug influence, to rebel, popularity/reputation, media, low self esteem/stupid, less risk than vaginal sex, fun/bored, family problems, and don’t know. Which reasons (if any) for oral sex have you or your friends experienced?

Cornell, J. L., & Halpern-Felsher, B. L. (2006). Adolescents tell us why teens have oral sex. Journal of Adolescent Health, 38(3), 299-301.