Monday, January 25, 2010

Sex words in your dictionary?

The Internet is abuzz with a story from The Press-Enterprise about the Menifee school district in Riverside County CA, which has banned the dictionary because it has an entry about "oral sex."

I'm not kidding! Here's an excerpt from the newspaper's Menifee local news:

After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across "oral sex" in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster's 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week.

School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the "sexually graphic" entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.

"It's just not age appropriate," said Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district.

There are so many things we could discuss here that my mind is reeling. But let's look at this from the perspective of those of us who had a heck of time getting accurate, meaningful information about sex when we were growing up.

Did we look in the dictionary? Of course! Did we find anything? Nada. "Clitoris" wasn't even in the dictionary or in any part of my sex education. I didn't know I had one -- or, for that matter, how to have an orgasm -- until a fellow college student named Alan showed me what he had learned with a previous girlfriend.

Do children look up sex words? You bet they do -- didn't we? Should children be able to look up "clitoris" or "oral sex" or whatever other permutation of sex or street name for a sexual act that interests them? 

Of course they should! How are we even needing to discuss this in 2010? Of course the dictionary can't be the complete resource, especially as children become teenagers. Thank goodness books like The Guide to Getting It On by Paul Joannides exist.

Here's a job for you -- grab your printed dictionary, old or new, and look up a few sex terms. Comment here to tell me what dictionary you used, its edition or publication date, what words you looked up, and what you found.

(Thank you, Carnal Nation, where I read this story first.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Single Man

A Single Man is a stunning, moving, unforgettable film. Most of the action is psychological and internal, the turmoil of the main character, George Falconer, a 52-year-old British college professor in Los Angeles, played brilliantly by Colin Firth. Jim, George's lover of 16 years, has just died, and George's grief must stay as closeted as his sexual orientation. It's 1962.

The film opens with George coming upon the lifeless body of Jim in the snow beside the car wreck that killed him. George kisses Jim's cold lips softly, and the camera lingers on Jim's vacant eyes. We learn later that this scene is fantasy -- not only did George never see the dead body of his lover, he wasn't permitted to attend the funeral, which was "only for family."

George and Jim had been a committed couple for 16 years. Despite the constant reminders that this was 1962 -- the Cuban crisis, the fashions and hair styles, the cars -- I couldn't help comparing the mores of the times with today's. Although George would not have to be closeted today at work or socially, he still would not have been permitted to marry Jim in most states -- including mine, California (the passage of Prop. 8 is a fact I still find unbelievable).  Jim's family still could have held his funeral without George.

A Single Man takes place over the course of one day, supplemented by flashbacks.George is planning his suicide as neatly as he has lived his life: He sets out the suit he wants to be buried in, writes letters to the few people in his life who matter, cleans out his office, buys ammunition for a gun, and experiments with different positions for doing the deed.

Life interferes with his plans -- people, really, but I dont want to reveal more. I've read several reviews, and I have to warn you that although the reviewers avoid spoiling the ending, the online commenters have no such compunction. I advise you to see the movie before learning how it ends.

Although this is clearly Colin Firth's movie, other actors deserve recognition: Julianne Moore who plays Charley, his best friend, who is still trying after all these years to get him in bed again (they tried it, before Jim); Matthew Goode, the appealing Jim in flashbacks; Nicholas Hoult, a beautiful young man, a student of George's who yearns to connect with George.

A Single Man was directed and co-written by  Tom Ford and was based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, which I'm now eager to read.

If you're looking for fast action and flashy scenes, A Single Man isn't for you. It's a film for people who are willing to watch, absorb, listen, and feel. I loved it.

View the trailer:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Autumn Romance: Stories and Portraits of Love after 50

Carol Denker had been a middle-class wife, mother and therapist, who lost herself in her forties, becoming addicted to tranquilizers, unemployed, and, finally, homeless. In her fifties she faced her demons and turned around her life: she got clean, worked as a reporter and then editor, and bought a home.

Then at 62, she met Warren, the love of her life.  Now she celebrates elder love with her gorgeous book,  Autumn Romance: Stories and Portraits of Love after 50.

Autumn Romance was a labor of love for Carol, who traveled for three years interviewing and photographing 29 senior couples whose lives had been transformed by love, then writing their stories.

Some met when they were young, lost each other, and reunited. Most didn't meet until later life. Some were married to other people when they met, others had been alone for years. They met in all sorts of ways -- speed dating, at work, volunteering, online dating, on an airplane, in a class, line dancing.

Yes, line dancing. Two couples met this way -- Robert and I were one of those couples. I'd love this book just as much if Robert and I weren't in it, but seeing our photos and our quotes makes the book even more special. 

Autumn Romance is a hardcover, coffee-table quality book that you'll be proud to leave on display. The photos by 16 photographers (including Robert's son, Mitch Rice, who took our photos) highlight the diversity and glowing love of elder couples. See some of them here. It would make a beautiful Valentine's Day gift for yourself, your lover/spouse/friends, and any older-age couples you know. Order here.

Thank you, Carol Denker, for bringing these entrancing and inspiring stories to us.

2/1/10 Update: Autumn Love: free shipping in February! Carol Denker writes to our readers, "I would love to send you a copy of Autumn Romance for Valentine’s Day with no shipping or handling charges. And happy to send you the special link to buy a second book at half price, so you can say ‘I love you’ to someone else."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Power Breeze Bullet review

Oooh, the Power Breeze Bullet is delightful! Don't panic at the size (6" by 1.625") -- this bullet stays on the outside, thank you -- it's for clitoral stimulation, not for insertion.

Why so big, then? You can grip it with your thighs (hands free, great for arthritis sufferers) and the length of it covers all your sensitive spots: the entire vulva and points north and south. You can rock it, roll it, or just hold still and let the vibrations move you. Or you can hold one end and let the curved shape of other end work its magic.

This thermos-shaped, monster-sized clitoral vibrator is hard plastic with a smooth finish, powered by four AAA batteries.

An easily accessible button at one end controls three speeds: tame, strong, and really strong.  It's waterproof (who wants to lend me a bathtub?) and runs warm.

Thank you, adult toys, for sending me the Power Breeze Bullet!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Impulse 5 Hypersonic Wand review

I really enjoyed the Impulse 5 Hypersonic Wand.

At first glance, it looks flimsier than many of the toys I've reviewed, but it's not, it's just a different design for a different purpose. The long "neck" ends in an oblong, vibrating bulb, angled for easy G-spot discovery. The vibrational intensity is strong, the angle is right, and it's easy to use it vaginally while using another toy for clitoral stimulation, without the two knocking boots too often.

Size queens who favor big, phallic dildos might not enjoy this slim toy, but if you like a feeling inside that's more like a crooked finger (a big, vibrating one that doesn't get tired!) than a penis, this will delight you.

If you wish, you can cover the bulb with a squishy sleeve studded with little feelers. I love the idea, and it makes me laugh when all the feelers go crazy in my hand, but I admit that I couldn't tell much difference internally when the sleeve was on or not. I did worry that the sleeve could slide off the vibrator inside me and make retrieval problematic, but it didn't happen and maybe it wouldn't.

The controls look like they could operate a small airplane. The on/off button "F" controls five vibrational patterns (e.g. whirring or pulsing), and the arrows take the intensity from one to 10 in the steady pattern and show the surges of the other patterns in a light show. The only problem I had was not figuring out how to turn it off. No, "off" doesn't work by itself. You have to punch the "on-off" button to the steady vibrational pattern, and then cycle down the "down" arrow until it stops.

The Impulse 5 Hypersonic Wand is in the eggs and bullets category. Get the Impulse 5 Hypersonic Wand and other vibrators from, who sent me this sex toy for review -- thank you,!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What Don't You Tell Your Partner?

As we age, our sexual needs and wishes change. What worked for us before doesn't work for us now. If you're in a relationship, what do you keep private from your partner about what would make sex more pleasurable and satisfying for you? If you're not in a relationship, what would be difficult or embarrassing to tell a new partner?

I keep reading emails and posts on online communities that I frequent from women and men over 50 who have sex and relationship questions, doubts, needs, misgivings that they don't dare talk about with their partners. Are you in this situation? If so, I need to hear from you.

As you know, I'm writing my new book, Naked at Our Age, addressing sexuality concerns of women and men age 50-80-plus. One of the many topics I'm covering is how to communicate about sex. I'm seeking your real-life story about what you're not telling your partner, what you wish you could tell (or ask), what's interfering with being completely honest about sex. If you don't have a partner, what issues would be embarrassing to bring up with a new lover?

I have knowledgeable counselors ready to advise you in my book by addressing your specific concern and offering tips for talking about intimate needs and wishes, especially when you've gone a long time in silence. If you've submitted your story, I'll make sure you'll get a sneak preview of what these experts say.

Please email me with the heading "I don't tell my partner...." I hope you'll post a comment here, but also be sure to email me so I know how to get hold of you.

Thank you!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Do you have a G-spot?

Do you have a G-spot? I do -- or at least I think so, a particularly sensitive spongy spot that, coupled with clitoral stimulation, helps take me to the moon. A recent British study says I probably don't have one, and if you don't think you do, don't worry about it.

Actually, I'm not worried. As Dr. Petra Boynton says in her astute blog post today that's as smart as it is entertaining -- "Where have all the g spots gone?":

It’s pretty simple. Women are diverse. Some of us really enjoy vaginal stimulation by finger, penis, sex toy (or other item). Some women prefer clitoral, anal, breast or other stimulation. Research that tells us we should focus exclusively on one spot or ignore it completely does little to reassure us or enhance our sex lives.

We're all different, and other than the brain and clitoris being our #1 and #2 pleasure organs (in that order), we all experience sexual pleasure a bit differently, sometimes a lot differently. Maybe, Boynton suggests, the G-spot has become the subject of so much media attention because "as any journalist will tell you it’s much easier to get a g spot past your editor than mention the clitoris."

In this study, "Genetic and environmental influences on self reported g spots in women: A twin study," soon to be published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine,1875 women, aged 22-83 with a mean age of 55, answered questions about sex in a mailed questionnaire. Women were asked about their sexual practices and activity, and how frequently they experienced orgasm during intercourse and through masturbation.

The study used twins because, supposedly, if the G-spot is truly genetic, then both twins would report having one, which apparently did not happen. Does that mean they don't, though? I didn't get in touch  (so to speak) with mine, if indeed I do have one, until a digitally dexterous lover pointed it out (again, so to speak) to me. Did these twins share lovers?

I was surprised to learn that only the answers of heterosexual women who engaged in vaginal intercourse were counted -- why was that? 71 lesbian and bisexual women were excluded "because of the common use of digital stimulation among these women, which may bias the results." Wait a minute. Can't we learn the most about the elusive G-spot from women whose primary sexual expression is digital? I'm confused.

For me, the bottom line is this: Whether the G-spot exists or not, I hope you're enjoying yours!

Don't miss this spoof from the Daily Mash, MEN WHO CARE ABOUT THE G-SPOT ARE A MYTH, SAY EXPERTS.

Thank you, Dr. Petra Boynton -- researcher, sex educator, and "agony aunt" -- for your blog post that spurred mine, and for the diagram above.