The Media on Sex

Meet Throb, your new go-to resource for everything that’s science and sex, launched as a collaboration between the Gawker blogs io9 and Gizmodo. Among its posts you’ll discover juicy tidbits from a number of scientific disciplines as they apply to your tireless search for pleasure and romance. At the helm is Diane Kelly, a biologist you might remember from that infamous TED Talk about how erections work in mammals.

It is not that surprising that Alix Tichelman didn’t call the police when her client overdosed, choosing instead to try to erase herself from the scene before fleeing. Whether she knew about medical amnesty in California ultimately doesn’t matter as this protection is very limited and there is no amnesty for sex workers. This is clearly a person who committed criminal negligence out of a combination of ignorance and well-placed fear.

The FBI has seized the escort directory and forum and indicted its owner and administrator on counts of racketeering and money laundering. At present, this effort doesn’t seem connected to a recent crackdown on the sexual trafficking of minors being undertaken by over 400 law enforcement agencies in over 100 cities nationwide. A number of arrest warrants have been served throughout the Bay, though additional details are unknown.

Monica Lewinsky is back, and on her own terms, in an essay for the magazine Vanity Fair. It took us a long time to get here — the relationship she writes about, with former U.S. president Bill Clinton happened in 1995, when she was 21. It’s been nearly twenty years since the affair happened, over fifteen since it exploded in 1998 — what’s she after? More importantly, is that the right question to be asking?

The May issue of Good Housekeeping has shocked the internet with an article about vibrators. But this isn’t the first time vibrators have appeared in a magazine targeting the homemaker. In the late 19th century, after technology advanced enough to enable vibrators to be marketed directly to consumers, they started popping up in ads alongside sewing machines in many magazines, including Women’s Home Companion, National Home Journal and Hearst’s.

On Valentine’s Day, the Duke Chronicle ran a piece about a Duke freshman who spent her breaks in Los Angeles shooting porn. The student, who was given the pseudonym “Lauren”, told reporter Katie Fernelius that the idea to go into the adult industry first came to her while grappling with the question of paying for her education. This is the story of what happened next.

Everyone is currently reporting that Pope Francis blessed a parrot belonging to a porn star. I’m trying to understand what is so newsworthy about that. Is it surprising that people of Catholic faith come to the head of their church to have things blessed? Is it surprising that a sex worker would have a pet? Or that a sex worker would have faith? Is it surprising that a sex worker would be able to approach the Pope without being smote by a vengeful deity?

“Our society, which privileges cisgender bodies, has a systemic entitlement to bodies that deviate from the norm,” writes Kat Haché “It is seen as fair game to interrogate us, dissect us, and put us on display to gawk at our Other-ness, not as a means of truly understanding and accepting us, but as a way of justifying their own oppressive beliefs and separating us from the status of ‘normal’ people.”

The story here isn’t a cautionary tale about the dangers of sexual appetites. Nanula isn’t a bad guy because he likes sex or wants to sleep with a lot of women, some of whom are sex workers. Nanula is a bad guy because he knew that some of these women wouldn’t consent to a specific sort of act with him so he deceived them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think there is a difference between porn and prostitution. At least two of the women involved do see a difference. They ended up doing something they didn’t want to do. Richard Nanula lied to them. That’s why he’s a bad guy.

“CNN will continue to refer to him as Bradley Manning since he has not yet legally changed his name,” said Jake Taper on The Lead. In a later piece CNN added, “CNN’s policy is to reference Manning with masculine pronouns since he has not yet taken any steps toward gender transition through surgery or hormone replacement therapy.” The media is setting a terrible example. Here are some resources for those who understand that educating ourselves about transgender issues is a vital step in making ours a just and equal society.