How to Master Affirmative Consent (It’s Hot, We Promise)

consent, Sexuality

“I’ve never been with anyone who talks so much during sex,” he said. I was midway through an R-rated romp when this sexy someone’s comment stopped me in my tracks. What?! I thought. What could be better than alternating oral sex with oral expression? 

As a feminist writer, I spend a lot of time talking about sex, and that enthusiasm spills over into the bedroom. But it’s not just the obviously erotic possibilities of dirty talk that appeal to me. It’s also because, for me, verbal cues are the easiest way to make sure the sex I’m having is hot, fun, and affirmatively consensual.

 Read more at The Horizontal. Featured image: Charles, Unsplash

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When American Waitresses Were Labeled ‘Women of Ill Repute’

history, labor, Sexuality

WHEN NELL RETURNED TO THE breakroom, her waitress’ apron was full of money. Her coworkers, spotting the dollar bills, laughed. “Them ain’t tips,” said one waitress. “Them is dates, ain’t they, Nell?”

Nell displayed the cash to her friends. “Sure,” she said. “Be thankful for a dollar in these hard times!” Nell wasn’t the only waitress in the Chicago restaurant who found herself turning to some form of sex work, from casual dates in exchange for clothes or gifts, to sex acts in exchange for money. There was Marietta, who went on dates and engaged in other “unquotable” activities for tulips and candy, and Daisy, who beefed up her meager tips with sex acts under the table. But the sexualization wasn’t always so overt. As the women smoothed on their uniforms for another backbreaking shift, they knew a simple truth: If you want your tips, you’d better smile.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Cover Image: Vice squad interrogates women in Illinois, circa 1912. Public Domain.

Our Favorite Porn That’s Both Sexy and Ethical

Sexuality

Saying that porn is a contentious issue is like saying the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs was a space rock: It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t reveal the scope of the damage. From the “feminist sex wars” of the 1980s to current anti-porn crusaders, many have argued that filmed sex is inherently wrong, regardless of working conditions or whether performers consent.

Read more at The Horizontal. Featured Image: Heather Ford/Unsplash.

The Founder of America’s Earliest Lesbian Bar Was Deported for Obscenity

Food, LGBTQ, Sexuality

IT TOOK OFFICER MARGARET LEONARD three tries to get her hands on Eve Adams’ book of lesbian short stories. We don’t know what, exactly, the New York Police Department officer experienced when she first slunk undercover into Eve Adams’ Tearoom at 129 MacDougal Street. But it’s easy to imagine a group of artists gathered under gleaming electric lights on a hot June night, reciting poetry or discussing the latest performances in the Provincetown Playhouse next door. Leonard’s mission was simple: to “catch” Adams “in the act” of lesbianism, either by eliciting a romantic move or by finding evidence of obscenity. Lesbian Love, a book of short stories Adams had self-published and distributed among friends, was just the evidence Leonard needed to have the tearoom proprietor arrested.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Cover image: Loverna Journey, Unsplash.

Lesbian bars are disappearing. We spent a night at one that’s still standing.

$4 Wine, movements, Politics, Sexuality, social justice

Walking into Henrietta Hudson feels like taking off a heavy backpack. It’s a humid June night in New York’s Greenwich Village, and inside the reggaeton-pulsing bar, a sparse crowd drinks beer and laughs. My shoulders instantly relax, and not just because I’ve escaped a spring downpour.

Read more at The Washington Posts’s The Lily. Photo: FULBERT, CC BY-SA 4.0

How Lesbian Potlucks Nourished the LGBTQ Movement

Food, Sexuality

JEN MARTIN AND LIZ ALPERN lived in “that house.” Many queer friend groups have one. It’s the kind of place where a pot of soup is always boiling, where bread is always in the oven, where someone is always willing to read your tarot cards. Friends stopped to visit the Brooklyn apartment on weeknights. It was a space to cook and eat, to work and relax.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: Brooke Lark/Unsplash.

The Girl Who Jumped Out of a Pie and Into a Gilded Age Morality Tale

Food, Sexual violence, Sexuality, trauma

ON MAY 20, 1895, 16-YEAR-OLD Susie Johnson, wearing nothing but gauze and haloed by a flock of live canaries, burst through the crust of a giant pie. It was polo player John Ellliot Cowdin’s 10th wedding anniversary, and the dinner was lavish: 16 courses from clams to coffee, each punctuated by champagne. Two models entertained the male guests. There was a later rumor—likely apocryphal—that their hair color was coordinated with the wine, the brunettes pouring red, the blondes pouring white. Susie Johnson, dancing out of double-crust pastry, served herself.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: Hugo Aitken/Unsplash.

11 Things That Are Way Cooler Than Texting Your Toxic Ex

Relationships, Sexuality

YOU! Yes, I mean you. You, who are seeing holiday engagement photos and getting teary thinking about what might have been. Watching kids ice-skating and remembering the names you had already picked out for your future children. Hearing jingle bells and thinking of her phone jingling with your text. Your fingers twitch toward the phone. Should I text my ex? you wonder. Just one message, you think. Just one casual, ‘hey, how-are-you… I miss you… please can we try one more time… how about my place tonight’ text. How bad could it be?

Babe, bad. You know it. I know it. Dua Lipa knows it.

Read the complete article at Go. Featured image: Dollar Gill on Unsplash.

How to Tell Someone You’re Not Interested

mental health, Sexuality

The anxiety starts in my chest and then blooms, smothering my lungs and filling my belly: a guy has just asked me out. Oh no, I think, panicked. Am I interested? How do I turn him down?

I’m not a character in a preteen novel, with butterflies in her stomach because she’s never been asked on a date. It’s definitely not my first rodeo. I have, however, had bad experiences of being asked out by men who couldn’t take no for an answer — including one guy who harassed me online for two years after I declined a date with him. With 81 percent of women having experienced some kind of sexual harassment, I’m definitely not alone in this anxiety.

Read the whole article at Talkspace. Featured image: Alessandro de Bellis, Unsplash.

Indian Supreme Court Decriminalizes Queer Sex, and Everyone Celebrates!

India, Sexuality, social justice

HAPPY 377 READ DOWN DAY, EVERYONE! In a rare piece of absolutely fabulous news, on Thursday, September 6, the Indian Supreme Court officially decriminalized homosexuality.

Technically, the Court “read down” Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to exclude consensual sex. Implemented in 1860 under British official Thomas Macauley, Section 377 outlawed “carnal acts against the order of nature”—meaning any sexual activity that isn’t heterosexual, penetrative vaginal sex. For 158 years, the law has been used in India to harass, persecute, and imprison queer people, especially transgender and third gender people, and sex workers.

That is, until now! In a landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court, in the form of a five-judge Constitution Bench, declared that it was unconstitutional for Section 377 to criminalize consensual sex between adults. The ruling does preserve the part of Section 377 criminalizing bestiality and sex with children. The Judges’ opinions touched upon the constitutional right to equality before the law, the fundamental right to autonomy and privacy, and the right of minorities to equal citizenship regardless of popular morality. Opening up the possibility of future rights guarantees for the LGBT community, Justice DY Chandrachud wrote in his opinion:

Members of the LGBT community are entitled, as all other citizens, to the full range of constitutional rights including the liberties protected by the Constitution. Members of the LGBT community are entitled to the benefit of an equal citizenship, without discrimination, and to the equal protection of law.

This decision comes as a result of over a decade of struggle by the queer community, feminists, and rights activists, reflecting the much longer legacy of feminist and queer struggle in India. It’s been a windy road. Section 377 was initially “read down,” or decriminalized, by the Delhi High Court in 2009. That decision prompted severe backlash from conservatives, notably from many members of the Hindu nationalist political establishment, including one politician who labeled homosexuality “illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture.”

In a major blow, a 2013 Supreme Court judgement reversed the 2009 Delhi High Court judgement, drawing on popular prejudice to once again render queer sex a crime. “While reading down Section 377, the division bench of the HC overlooked that a minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitute lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals or transgenders [sic],” the decision read. That “minuscule minority” responded with protests and a curative petition, or a petition seeking to return the case to the Supreme Court for review by a five-judge Constitution Bench.

The Supreme Court’s reading down of Section 377 is a beautiful, historic, vastly important moment for LGBT Indians. It also, hopefully, will set a precedent for future affirmations of the rights of minorities. One sentiment from the judgement in particular has come to the attention of rights activists: The judges cited a line from the ruling in the Supreme Court’s 2017 Right to Privacy case that reads, “The guarantee of constitutional rights does not depend upon their exercise being favourably regarded by majoritarian opinion.”

In the contemporary global political climate, it’s a desperately-needed reminder. Under the current Hindu nationalist government in India, mob lynching of minorities has increased, as members of the dominant population target mostly Muslim and Dalit (members of the most oppressed caste) people. Majoritarian morality or “tradition” have also been cited to limit women’s dignity and autonomy and persecute couples who marry across religion or caste, as in the 2017 Hadiya case, in which the right of an adult woman to choose her spouse was eventually affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the “collective conscience,” or majoritarian morality, has long been cited by the Supreme Court itself to substantiate capital punishment, including in cases, like the 2013 hanging of Afzal Guru, that some rights activists still believe to be wrongly decided. As human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover wrote in response to the 2017 hanging of the men convicted of the 2012 Delhi Gang rape, which was condemned on principle by activists opposed to the death penalty, “If ‘collective conscience’ is invoked as a reasonable ground, how will communal attacks, fake encounters, public lynching of Dalits and now Muslims, all enjoying social endorsement, be held unlawful?”

For me—and many of the friends and activists I’m talking to—this point resonates most. Queer people, all queer people, are entitled to the right to life, dignity, and equality regardless of what the majoritarian morality thinks of us. That’s not because we’re special: that’s because all people—all people—are entitled to the right to life, dignity, and equality. Regardless of who we are, what we’ve done, where we come from. Regardless of how the majority feels. The point of rights—and the thing that makes both the Indian and the American Constitutions tools in the struggle for social and economic justice despite their many flaws—is that rights are not based on majority rule. They are inalienable. And they are for everyone.

Of course, there is always more to do. Hierarchies of class, caste, religion, and gender identity haunt the Indian LGBT community as they do communities worldwide. And the framework of privacy falls short when it comes to issues of economic justice and public space—what does the right to have sex in private do for the many queer Indians who live, and have sex, on the streets?

But right now, as joy and color fill the streets across India, it’s time to celebrate.

Read the original post on Feministing. Cover photo: Delhi Pride 2017, courtesy yours truly.