in the passing
spent and gone without shame;
goosedown fingertips grip the mattress,
spine pushing gently against the otherside.
That limbic staircase.
Tag Archive: sex
…by tapping into the zeitgeist of a cultural shift, where concerns about privacy were becoming paramount. Masturbation, along with reading printed books–a new technology at the time–had become a symbol for the uncontrolled, uncensored private lives of individuals, including women. Such private power was felt to threaten the social order. The social keepers of the order–the politicians, aristocrats, and professional classes–hence hurried to proclaim the potential dangers embodied in this newly shamed and shameful act.
Historians at Stanford have uncovered the earliest known survey of sexual behavior. Similar in style to the more-famous Kinsey Reports, the survey began in 1892 and focused exclusively on women. While more than half of the subjects said they’d known nothing about sex before marriage—about what you’d expect thanks to Victorian stereotypes—almost all of them seemed to be making up for lost time, both actively desiring and enjoying sex, even those who thought they probably oughtn’t.
tasty snippets from the article in question:
Thanks to a steady supply of young female research subjects, Mosher’s scholarly aim soon became clear: to prove that women were not inferior to men, and that frailties chalked up to sex were really the effects of binding garments, insufficient exercise and mental conditioning. Her master’s thesis, for example, showed that women breathe from the diaphragm, as men do, rather than from the chest, as was believed at the time. She concluded that this so-called biological difference was really due to tight corsetry.
Slightly more than half of these educated women claimed to have known nothing of sex prior to marriage; the better informed said they’d gotten their information from books, talks with older women and natural observations like “watching farm animals.” Yet no matter how sheltered they’d initially been, these women had—and enjoyed—sex. Of the 45 women, 35 said they desired sex; 34 said they had experienced orgasms; 24 felt that pleasure for both sexes was a reason for intercourse; and about three-quarters of them engaged in it at least once a week.
Unlike Mosher’s other work, the survey is more qualitative than quantitative, featuring open-ended questions probing feelings and experiences. “She’s actually asking these questions not about physiology or mechanics—she’s really asking about sexual subjectivity and the meaning of sex to women,” Freedman says. Their responses were often mixed. Some enjoyed sex but worried that they shouldn’t. One slept apart from her husband “to avoid temptation of too frequent intercourse.” Some didn’t enjoy sex but faulted their partner. Mosher writes: [She] “Thinks men have not been properly trained.”
Their responses reflected the cultural shifts of the late 19th century, as marriage became viewed as a romantic union, not just an economic one, and as people began to dissociate sex from procreation, says Freedman. One woman, born in 1867, wrote that before marriage she believed sex to be only for reproduction, but later changed her mind: “In my experience the habitual bodily expression of love has a deep psychological effect in making possible complete mental sympathy & perfecting the spiritual union that must be the lasting ‘marriage’ after the passion of love has passed away with the years.” Wrote another, born in 1863, “It seems to me to be a natural and physical sign of a spiritual union, a renewal of the marriage vows.”
This makes me think of Foucault
Humans have had a long-running affair with foods believed to entice or enhance sexual performance, and it’s led to a host of recipes for stirring up some mojo. Some of these concoctions are based on science, some are based on folklore, and some are just based on last-ditch efforts by really desperate guys. For Valentine’s Day, here are 10 foods you never want to catch your parents eating together.
1. Jolt Juleps
Since ancient times, most great sex has taken place when both parties were awake. Maybe that’s why stimulants, from geisha tea to Red Bull, have long been held in high esteem as aphrodisiacs. According to a 1990 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, drinking coffee increased sexual activity in 744 participating Michigan residents over the age of 60, strongly suggesting that caffeine promotes arousal. That, or the subjects confused the study with a casting call for another sequel to Cocoon.
While caffeine has not yet been directly linked to an increased sex drive, the consensus in the medical community is that anything that gets the central nervous system pumping will have a general stimulating effect on the body. This explains why the ancient herb ginseng, which is said to increase energy and memory, is considered a strong aphrodisiac. It impacts the central nervous system, gonadic tissues and the endocrine system, thus enhancing arousal. Ginseng has long been respected in China for its systemic healing properties, including the ability to aid sexual function.
2. Yohimbine Chai Latte
Before Viagra, there was yohimbine, an oil that comes from the bark of the West African Pausinystalia Yohimbe tree. For hundreds of years, African natives have dried yohimbe bark and made it into a tea, used both as a treatment for impotency and as a general aphrodisiac. Yohimbine works by blocking the blood vessel-constricting effects of adrenaline on the nerves. This promotes the flow of blood to the genitals, thereby assisting erections. Although yohimbine doesn’t have as much research (or Bob Dole) to back up its claims, the principles of operation are essentially the same as Viagra. It even has the same side effects, such as elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure and anxiety. In fact, while Viagra has become the recommended treatment for impotency, the use of yohimbine has also been approved by the FDA. Fortunately, the key component of yohimbe bark, yohimbine hydrochloride, is available by prescription in pill, capsule or liquid form.
3. Raw Oysters by the Bucketful
You only need to gaze upon Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (otherwise known as Venus on the Half Shell) to know why oysters are one of the world’s most popular aphrodisiacs. For starters, the word aphrodisiac comes from Aphrodite, the goddess of love (and Venus’ Greek counterpart). And since she’s associated with the ocean (and in some stories sprang forth out of the foam of ocean water), it stands to reason that other fruits of the sea would possess similar charms, right? Actually, it’s been theorized that oysters are considered aphrodisiacs because, evolutionarily, the origins of life began in the water. In other words, the concept is that we, like our amoeba ancestors, have a kind of subconscious desire to return to the primordial ooze to mate. (Ah, romance!) But perhaps the more likely explanation is simply that, nutritionally, oysters are high in zinc content, which is essential to testosterone production—testosterone being a key component in both male and female arousal. Now we know why Casanova liked to start his day in a hot tub with oysters served on a woman’s breasts. Not that anyone needs a reason.