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Special Report: The problem with phthalates | Reuters

Posted: October 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

What's the problem with plastics? Many products, from sex toys to tooth brushes to pencil erasers to shoes, contain chemicals called phthalates, which can easily find their way into the body, where they can impact many aspects of health including sexual development and fertility. This isn't a new problem, either – phthalates have had known risks associated with them since the 90s, and they are already regulated in some industries, such as toy manufacture. But not in sex toys – classed as novelty items, or pencil erasers, although a single eraser can contain nearly the level of phthalates that would cause a toy to be banned. Regulation of products is a slow process, but at least more light is beginning to be shed on the dangers of things that we put near, and in, our bodies.

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Do You Have Anything to Declare? Yes. My Breasts. | The Stir

Posted: October 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Remember the ill-fated Australian law demanding travelers Down Under declare "pornography"? Its enforcement proved so confusing that not only has the customs card been rephrased to read "illegal pornography," officials have been telling travelers who ask for clarification to declare: "anything explicit."

So, fearing they'd break the law otherwise, that's exactly what one newlywed couple did, showing their nude beach honeymoon pics in front of everyone in the customs line. Australian Sex Party leader Fiona Patten said that the law encourages "an incredible breach of people's privacy. […] If the objective is to stop child pornography then this is not going to achieve this." Like DRM, this law only punishes the law-abiding.

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Study: What the Risky Sex Lives of NYC Teens Reveal – TIME Healthland

Posted: October 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Data from New York City's health departments from 2005 to 2007 "suggests that the focus of public-health messages about sex may be outdated: it needs to shift from kids' self-identities ('I am homosexual,' e.g.) to their behavior ('I have homosexual sex')," Meredith Melnick reports. One strong reason for this is because, according to the data released as part of a study on Monday, 39% of teens who identified as heterosexual or straight had sex both male and female partners, yet very few sex-ed classes deal with bisexuality.

Additionally, "36% of girls with both male and female partners were assaulted by a date in the previous year and 35% of boys with partners of both sexes reported the same thing." Although this article's headline implies the problem is "risky sex," the real problem is intimate partner violence, exacerbated by a stigma of homosexual acts, especially for men.

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Apple’s New Anti-Sexting Technology (via Gawker.com)

Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

"The same company that keeps blocking iPhone apps over stuff like illustrations of gay dudes making out can now help overbearing parents control their children's text messages and email," Max Read reports. That company is Apple, who also thinks the Olympic uniforms are too sexy for your iPhone, and they made headlines last week when their 2008 patent for a "way to monitor and control text communications to make them user appropriate" was granted.

The tech itself seems uninspired, not very new at all, and basically a repackaging of existing techniques including word blacklists and pre-defined rating criteria. According to the patent, one embodiment would be a parental control application which, upon detection of the "objectionable" content, could alert a parent to its existence and automatically delete the sexy message.

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ThinkProgress » GOP Legislator Who Crusaded Against College Sex Ed Classes Owns Company That Sells Kinky Sex Gadgets

Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Rep. Calvin Hill, Republican legislator from Georgia, is in the news after it was reported that he owns a business selling, among other items, "stress relievers" shaped like breasts and penises, gay pride pins, and "safe sex" kits that include a condom, an anti-bacterial wipe, and 2 breath-mints. Sadly, it's not that his company's safe sex kit is pathetically sub-par (no dental dams or glycerin-free lubricants!?) that makes this newsworthy. No, it's the fact that Rep. Hill led an anti-sex campaign to fire sexuality educators in Georgia colleges, saying, "Our public colleges are not the place for our young adults [to] experience these types of sexually explicit behavior."

Although the airtime he garnered for his sex-negativity is disgusting, equally disgusting is how he treated college students—legal adults—as though they're unfit to learn about the very things they would pay his company to use.

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Pretzel nation: Many combinations of sex – Health – Sexual health – Sexploration – msnbc.com

Posted: October 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Researchers today released The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, the largest such study since 1994, which asked 5,865 Americans ranging in age from 14 to 94 about their sexual lives. Among the findings, which filled 130 pages of a special issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, are a consistent theme that American's sexual mores are far from a monolithic set of heteronormativity: 15% of men in their fifties received oral sex from another man, despite only 8% of men overall identifying as gay.

The study was funded in large part by manufacturers of Trojan Condoms, prompting Brian Alexander to note "the crying need for government and academic bodies to fund such studies." He recalls in 1988 "a skittish Congress passed a law expressly forbidding funding" for similar studies. Public funds are still frustratingly hard to find.

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Anderson Cooper 360: Blog Archive – Michigan attorney general defends employee’s right to blog – CNN.com blogs

Posted: October 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A painfully hypocritical double-standard is on display in Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox's office as he refuses to discipline assistant AG Andrew Shirvell for waging a bigoted campaign against the first openly gay president of the University of Michigan's student council. Mr. Shirvell has called the student "Satan's representative" and runs a blog where he posts pictures of the student with nazi insignia scrawled across his face.

A State Attorney General has legal grounds disciplining employees for engaging in "conduct unbecoming" of public officials. But while Cox rightfully defended Shirvell's actions under the First Amendment, he also called "conduct unbecoming" an "empty vessel," with no meaning. This would certainly shock Melissa Petro, a tenured teacher who may face the loss of her job for "conduct unbecoming" of her role after blogging about being a former sex worker.

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Dr. Logan Levkoff: Sex Educators Unite to Support University Sex Weeks

Posted: September 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Sex-negative propagandists spread the lie that those who support sex education are a well-funded industrial complex while its opponents are just people leading local, grassroots campaigns. But it is in fact the opposite that's true.

This was evidenced once again today as sexologist Dr. Logan Levkoff self-published a Letter to the Editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education supporting college sex education initiatives called Sex Weeks in response to a "think of the children!" style outcry by economics professor at Bridgewater State College, Margaret Brooks. While Brooks' piece was published, Levkoff's letter was ignored. Levkoff's colleagues were unanimously "frustrated by Brooks' mischaracterization of their events and their work," strongly calling out The Chronicle for its bias in ignoring their letter, and Brooks for her sex-negativity.

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The smart Dutch take on teen sex – Broadsheet | Salon.com

Posted: September 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It seems that, as with alcohol, European parents take a much more enlightened view of adolescent relationships and sexuality than American parents – or at least, the Dutch do. Apparently, unlike in the America, 2/3rds of parents there would be willing to allow the significant other of their teenage child to sleep over at the house. In the same room. With a door that closes, and everything! Data minded people can find the original study here, but the data reflects a simple fact: if you treat young people as intelligent individuals capable of making informed decisions based on accurate information, be it about drinking or about sex, then that is what they will be. If you tell them that they'll be in for "a world of hurt" if they disobey you, well – you're probably right. But you could have helped instead of hindered them or harmed them.

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Abstinence program partners Chinese officials with U.S. evangelicals

Posted: September 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

In case you needed more proof of Christian evangelical's worldwide cultural colonization attempts, William Wan reports on a four-year effort to provide abstinence-only education in China's Yunnan province. "In Yunnan schools this year, teachers are being trained with a sex education curriculum created by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family. […] Chinese authorities, despite the country's official atheism, want help with controlling population growth and managing the society's rapidly shifting values."

Well, the suckered Chinese officials will be in for disappointment. The IWHC's Audacia Ray points out that "abstinence-only programs do not raise the age of first intercourse, and that young people who receive abstinence-only sexuality education are more likely to practice unsafe sex that puts them at risk of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy."

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