Couples Corner

Discussions of sexuality

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Book Review - What Do Women Want? Adventures in the science of female desire

This book by Daniel Bergner is the worst kind of pop science.  The author has a clear agenda, that woman are naturally promiscuous, and proceeds to cobble together non-human studies, conjecture, and bad science, to support his case.  Women’s sexuality might be naturally promiscuous but there’s nothing in this book to support this. The book should be labelled fiction - it’s that bad.

Like many sham, pop science books, the author presents bad evidence early on in a convincing way and then proceeds as if it’s established fact.  For example, he repeatedly cites rat studies that show female rats like clitoral stimulation and rhesus monkey studies that show females initiate sex with the male.  The problem is that rats and rhesus monkeys are incredibly poor subjects for studying human behavior.  The last I checked human females don’t attack and beat low status women if they attempt sex too obviously with the dominant male that all the women share.

For some reason the author ignores sexual studies of primates much more closely related to humans, like chimpanzees or bonobos.  Possibly because they show sexual behavior so different than humans that the reader would immediately see through the charade and put the book down.

Another trick the author uses to cover up the weakness of his arguments is to present case studies.  A case study is simply an individual’s particular story.  They’re useful to beguile people because we find ways to relate to the stories and, as presented, we think they represent the average person.  The book contains stories of women that grew bored with their sex lives, felt trapped in a relationship that no longer excited them, and a woman that found the romantic, tender mate of their dreams but to whom they had no sexual attraction.

These stories and more are presented and I have no doubt they are real, but not once are we told how common this feeling is among women.  Instead the author presents them as the norm and as evidence that women are not meant to be monogamous.  No other theory is considered.  It is stated as fact that the reason these women lost their sexual desire for their mate is women are promiscuous.

There are at least two problems with this conclusion.  For one, that alternative to monogamy is not necessarily promiscuity.  It could be that women are naturally monogamous for about 7 year periods (there is evidence for this).  Another problem is that no differentiation is made between the short term romantic love, characterized by high levels of sexual activity, and long term love.  Research clearly shows these two types of love exist.  What if the women in the study have been socialized to believe that the romantic love, with it’s surging hormones and fast beating heart, is the ideal and true love.  It certainly sounds that way in the case studies presented.  Do people that happily transition into long term love experience the same feelings of sexual despair?

The book concludes with a study done on human dating, which is held up as the most convincing evidence for human female promiscuity.  Speed dating has been used in several studies to research sexual attraction.  Initially these studies always had the female sitting at their table with the men sitting across from them and when the speed date was over the men would get up and move to the next woman.  Those studies found over and over that women were highly selective in the men they wanted to date while the men wanted to date almost all of the women.

The author correctly points out a major flaw in these studies: the women always stay seated and the men always move.  When researchers realized this problem they switched the roles and the results changed dramatically.  The men became highly selective and the women wanted to date almost all of the men.  The conclusion the author draws from this is predictable: women are as promiscuous as men.

The problem with this conclusion is that it assumes the promiscuity is part of the person rather than intrinsic to the role of that person.  In other words, what if people become selective when they have option after option presented to them and are “promiscuous” when they have to move about to find what they want.  For example, if instead of dating we changed the experiment to desserts.  In this experiment we would have people sit while dessert after dessert is presented to them.  Another set of people have to go from table to table, with 1 dessert per table, and they have to pick which one they want.  Would the people that have the desserts presented to them become very selective?

The point is it is not a given from the speed dating experiment that men or women are promiscuous.  It could simply be that when you stay seated and people present themselves to you that you naturally feel desirable and can pick anyone you want, so why not be picky.  It also follows that having to present yourself to a series of people for their judgement naturally makes people feel less confident.  In that case a good strategy is to say yes to almost everyone in hopes that you’ll get at least one.

The last thing I’d like to point out is that any conclusions about human sexuality has to account for 2 things: human physiology and primitive human societies.  Human physiology puts limits on what can be true.  Relevant to female promiscuity is that, in relation to other mammals, human males have testicles that are small - just like other mammals where the females are not promiscuous.  Likewise, female oviduct length is extremely short in women, just like other mammalian females that are mostly monogamous and completely unlike the long oviducts of promiscuous species like chimps.

Primitive cultures provide the other litmus test that any theory on human behavior.  The book is full of studies of women in the western world, but this is nothing like other parts of the world.  It’s even further from our human ancestors.  Primitive cultures do not have access to birth control and women spend most of their lives pregnant.  Tribal, hunter-gatherer, nomads, which was the human reality for millenia, face entirely different problems than a city dwelling woman.  What is sexuality like for those women?  I would think we are much more likely to learn about “natural” human sexual behavior from these primitive cultures than we are from modern civilization.

In summary, this book aims to be sensational by making the claim that what women really want is sex with many men but have been prevented from doing so because patriarchal society has allowed men to “control the pussy”.  Like any good lie the book contains many truths and reasonable statements.  Unfortunately it tells us nothing about what women really want.

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Book Review - How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction

If you’re a science junkie or have a deep curiosity about human sexuality from sperm and egg production all the way through birth then you’ll love this book.

Unlike most books on sexuality this book looks at the physiology of human reproduction.  It covers the latest research and scientific thinking on sperm and egg production in humans, delves into human mating and the curious absence (or so it seems) of a human mating season, then on to conception, birthing, infant development, and then returns to conception, but with a focus on how science can prevent or assist it.

What I liked most about the book was how it shows the practical side of evolution.  Too often evolution is viewed in the abstract and appears as nothing more than conjecture.  That’s a shame because, as this book shows, evolution creates form out of behavior.  This book presents the form and then examines what this tells us about human sexual behavior.

For example, there is specific, tangible evidence that humans tend towards some form of monogamy or at the very least minimal polyamory.  The evidence is in the length of a woman’s oviducts.  In mammals, the longer the oviduct the more males the female has sex with.  Human females have extremely short oviducts.  There is similar evidence in male physiology.  This, and more, is discussed in a clear, non-technical language.

What you won’t find in the book is wild speculation or pet theories of the author.  Robert Martin goes to great length to present the evidence along with the leading theories to explain it.  There are no grand proclamations on men are from Mars and women from Venus.  This is refreshing in the age of opinion presented as fact.

Highly recommend.

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Swinging as Parents

One of the topics we promised to address when we created the blog was swinging when you have kids.  Swinging is predominantly a couples activity so it’s no surprise we weren’t the only parents in the lifestyle.  Nearly all of the swingers we’ve met have children.

As parents we had concerns.  What do we tell our kids?  Where do we meet people? What if I meet someone that knows our kids?  Worst of all, what if our kids find out?

The first question is the easiest.  Mom and Dad are going out on a date.  It explains why Mom is so dressed up and why Dad keeps looking at her and smiling.

Where to meet depends on the couple and their situation.  When we started in the lifestyle our kids weren’t infants or toddlers, but we did meet with couples who’s kids were.  They often put their kids to bed and then hosted in a private part of their house and locked the door.  As one couple with a toddler explained to us, if they get up and hear something they think it’s mom and dad.  It does require you not be too loud.

There are other options, though, and they also work when you have kids older than two.  Have the kids spend the night with a family member.  We lived far from our families so this wasn’t usually an option, but it’s ideal.  Plus it provides great laughs as you joke about “How if only Grandma knew…”  It’s more difficult when you have multiple kids, but having the kids spend the night at friends is another option.

Our situation now is a lot easier since our kids are either adults or old enough to stay home alone.  Hosting at our house is impossible unless they’re all gone, but we’re not big on hosting unless we know the people anyway.  Usually we get a hotel, which is what most couples with kids we know do.  It’s also common for both couples to split the cost of the room.

The bottom line is that your sex life doesn’t and shouldn’t end when you have kids and swinging, with some effort, can fit in.  Like with everything else in a parent’s life, nothing is as spontaneous as it was before, but most people understand.

So what do you do if you meet someone that knows your kids?  This has happened to us.  They didn’t just know our kids - their son is still our oldest son’s best friend.

A common arrangement for a first “swinger date” is to meet socially for drinks or dinner.  We met a couple in just this way and decided they were nice people, but we weren’t interested sexually.  A few months later I answered the door and a woman introduced herself.  She had just moved into the neighborhood and was saying hi.  We both looked at each other, clearly trying to remember where we had seen the other. The memory came to her first and after a vague hint it came to me.

She smiled and said “Small world.”  We haven’t spoken of it since, but their kids often spent the night at our house while they went on dates.  They were kind enough to return the favor.  The arrangement worked great.

There are surely other solutions to swinging as parents.  Some probably depend on the style of play.  Early in our swinging I used to meet men on my own.  The first time was when our babysitter cancelled on us.  My husband suggested I go and he would watch the kids as long as I brought back pictures.  At first it turned us both on, but we like playing as a couple, so we stopped.  For others, it’s the perfect arrangement.

What ever your solution is we offer these suggestions.

  1. Don’t discuss your sexual relations with your kids.  This is different than discussing sexual relations - that you should do.  Your kids know you have sex.  You don’t have to explain that to them.
  2. Keep it simple.  You’re going on a date.  We’ll be back late.  Don’t wait up.
  3. Keep your photos G-rated on swinger sites.  All people need to see is generally what you look like.
  4. Be as private or open with your friends and family as you wish.  Some people are comfortable telling their sisters, brothers, or friends that they’re swingers. We know several people that have. We don’t.
  5. If you do chose to tell your kids about your lifestyle, don’t be explicit.  Explain it in terms of relationships and general sexuality.  Reinforce that it doesn’t change anything about your parent-child relationship.

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Our Intimate Creations: Better sex

intimatecreations:

There aren’t many universal tips for having better sex. Different people enjoy different things in different ways. The things that I think create the conditions for great sex are:

Be open to new experiences. Everyone has hard limits, but be open to trying things short of those. You would be…

I wrote this for the Our Intimate Creations blog I run with two other women. Thought it would be good for here, too.

(Source: intimateseduction)

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Shooting nudes / porn

I’m writing about this topic at the request of my wife.

On the side I do photography and recently shot my first “pro” video.  I have worked with other photographers in the past and talked with several women in the sex industry (porn and escorts).  I feel a bit embarrassed even writing this post because it’s primarily about how to treat women in the sex industry.  The reason I’m embarrassed to be writing it is because I don’t think my view is something to be proud of - it’s shouldn’t have to be said.

I’m reminded of a brilliant comedy skit by Chris Rock where he points out “You’re SUPPOSED to take care of your family!”  Well, you’re SUPPOSED to treat people with respect (until they prove they don’t deserve it) - that includes sex workers.  The woman spreading her legs in a video, fucking all those men, and swallowing load after load…she’s still a woman.  If you don’t approve of it, find it immoral, or disgusting, that’s fine - it’s YOUR opinion.  If you think it gives you license to denigrate her and treat her like a piece of meat then keep it to yourself and grow the fuck up.

Just because a woman is willing to shoot a video with multiple men fucking her doesn’t mean you have a right to feel her up, grope her, or even touch her.  When I’m shooting I ask for permission to touch her - even adjust her hair.  I remind them constantly that if I ever touch them in a way they’re uncomfortable with to tell me immediately.

When I’m working I’m trying to control light and shadow.  Sometimes a loose thread is on their asshole, I want the pussy lips to open slightly, or something similar.  Even though I’m the photographer I ask before I touch. Even when I’m paying the model I still ask.  She’s agreed to model for me, not be molested.

This applies even if the woman is an escort.  That’s right.  Whores have the same rights not to have their body touched as everyone else.  I haven’t worked with many escorts, but the same rules still apply.  They’re still women, which makes them human, which makes them deserving of respect.

So how should people behave.  Like they’re a person.  Believe it or not they have interests outside of sex (usually).  Engage them in conversation about their life.  For example, I just shot a video with an incredibly sexy woman - young, petite (I love petite), an amazing ass, and she was having sex with my wife.  She had time after the shoot so we took her out for dinner and we talked about her travels, where she went to school, and her major in college (that’s right, she has a college degree).  She was fascinating to talk with and we had a great time.

During the shoot I told her how gorgeous she was and what a beautiful ass she had, but afterward I talked to her like I would any other woman I had recently met.  I got to know her.  I asked questions about her.  I found points of common interest and talked about those.  Another time I shot photos of an escort.  We talked about all the jobs she’s had (she used to be a small business owner), past relationships, and a recent vacation she had taken.

What I don’t do, because I would never do it with a woman I had just met, is ask how many people she had fucked, if she does anal, or how many clients she sees in a day.  I have seen a photographer do those things and let his fingers roam and I know he’s talked some of the models into sex.  I’m not averse to sex with these women and I have had threesomes with my wife and some models, but I don’t put moves on them while we’re working.

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Novelty and excitment

I’ve been fantasizing about gangbangs a lot lately.  More than being with women even!  The last one I did was last August, so it’s been a while and I feel a little nervous about doing another.  That’s probably why it turns me on right now.  The thought of doing it feels novel again.

Several months ago my husband found a scientific paper on the “economics of swinging”.  When he first told me about it I laughed.  Math and economics aren’t something I find very interesting, but he convinced me to read it.  I admit that a lot of it was over my head - OK, it quickly overwhelmed me with all the statistics, tables, and citations, so I had my husband to tell me the short version.  Yes, there was a lot of focus on economics, but the part that interested us the most was the theory for why people swing.

In essence, it says that swingers are generally novelty seeking people.  We often start with “soft swinging”, having sex with your partner with another couple in the same room.  If the experience is good then we continue doing it until it becomes routine.  Once it is routine it no longer excites us so we move to full swinging.  This leads to people to doing more and more extreme sexual acts - at least until there’s a bad experience and then we stop.

My husband LOVES science so I definitely saw his interest in the paper and we discussed it quite a bit.  Sometimes he gets so caught up in the numbers and details that I lose interest, but other times it leads to incredibly interesting conversations.  This was one of those times.

I won’t pretend to understand everything, or even most, of the paper, but given my sexual lifestyle and what I assume are the interests of the people reading this blog, my husband and I thought it would be interesting to bring up the topic and get people thinking about how novelty seeking behavior affects us and whether it applies to our (or your) situation.

The paper talks a lot about people moving to “harder” sexual behaviors.  It is upfront that you can’t quantify “harder”, but some things can generally be agreed upon.  For example, it seems fair to say that having sex with other people is harder than having sex with your partner while in the same room as other people.  A gangbang is probably more hardcore than a threesome.  After that things get kind of fuzzy so we tried coming up with our own rankings.

Is a gangbang more “hard” than an orgy? We thought so.  Is BDSM more hard than a gangbang?  We thought it depends.  In our opinion, tying up your partner is BDSM and seems a lot more mild than even having sex with your own partner in front of others.  To us whipping seems more hardcore than a gangbang.  Where does wearing a collar fit in?  Is a bukkake more hardcore than a gangbang? We thought so.  Is an anal / pussy DP more hardcore than oral / pussy?  For some reason, we thought it was.

My husband and I agree with most of the paper.  A common theme among swingers is they got started to spice up their sex life.  I think that was true to a large extent for us, too.  What doesn’t seem to “ring true” is that most swingers don’t keep escalating their sexual behavior.  Most never go further than orgies.  A few explore BDSM, but we don’t see a lot of people chaining each other up and pulling out whips.  Very few swingers try gangbangs either.  Bukkake, where a bunch of guys cum on a woman’s face, is extremely rare (we’ve never seen it done ourselves).

Ultimately what we came to was trying to define what was more hardcore really didn’t matter.  What mattered is do you end up doing things you didn’t want to do?  For us, and for nearly everyone we know, the answer is no.  When we started swinging I knew watching gangbang videos turned me on, but there was no way I was going to start out doing one.  DP videos turned me on, but I wasn’t going to try that at first either.  It seems that people have things that turn them on and when they get involved with swinging they end up trying those things.  Women that were turned off by orgies before they started swinging don’t suddenly become interested in doing them after they start swinging.

To us this seems to differentiate alternative sexual lifestyles from addictive behavior.  People in alternative sexual lifestyles don’t keep trying new sexual behaviors in search of a better high or to escape.  We certainly have lower inhibitions and are thrill seekers at least to some extent, but people seem to get involved mostly knowing what things turn them on.  They progress through their fantasies from what they consider “softest” to “hardest”.  Along they way they modify their opinions slightly, but rarely do they expand beyond that.

What are your thoughts?

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Sexy and Self-esteem

"Sex positive" is a popular buzz word right now, but what does it mean?  Obviously I can only answer for myself, but I thought I’d take a stab at it after reading some things that I think are nonsense.

Being sex positive is accepting sexuality is a healthy part of human relationships.  Everyone, regardless of their weight, orientation, or looks has a right to express their sexuality as long as it doesn’t harm others.  People are different so it’s not surprising that not everyone expresses their sexuality the same way, which honestly makes life more interesting.

Sex positive doesn’t mean that you find every expression of sexuality arousing or every person attractive.  This is the part that some people seem to forget.  Every culture generally considers youth more attractive.  This isn’t just a choice, it’s normal or as my husband puts it “genetically advantageous”.  There really is a norm for attractiveness that holds true across culture and time.  I’m using norm in the sense of an average - if we asked 100 people to rate how attractive people are  some people would be rated more attractive than others.  Put crudely if everyone is beautiful to someone than everyone is also ugly to someone.

Needless to say there are also differences between genders.  It is OK for a man to like big boobs.  This doesn’t make men sexist and it doesn’t force women to get boob jobs.  Most women want to be attractive to men (the majority of women are at least not lesbian) so it is normal for us to do what we can to increase our attractiveness.  Most men want to be desirable to women.  Study after study shows that women tend to rate a man as more attractive if they believe him to have power or money.  It’s genetically advantageous.

It seems that we forget we are the human ANIMAL.  We have an incredible capacity for logic, but my husband tells me studies show we make decisions based on emotions or instincts and then use logic to justify them.  This is part of being human.

So what does all this mean?  It means that sometimes people are just assholes and not prejudiced.  It means that everyone has a right to enjoy their sexuality, but not to be attractive.  For myself, I am unhappy with the weight I’ve recently gained so I have started to eat fewer calories and exercise.  That is my choice because I do find how I look attractive.  Some people are happy with more weight - that’s their choice.  We both deserve to enjoy our sexuality even though others may not find us attractive.

That is sex positivity.

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Scenes in BDSM

So I was asked recently to explain a scene in BDSM.  This is one of those terms used a lot in BDSM.  The short version is to look at it like a scene in a movie “a part of action in a single location.”  A scene in BDSM can be short or long, and involve one or many types of play.  Scenes can be done solo with one person doing a certain task or series of tasks, or involve as many people as needed.   It’s one of the many terms that is very fluid and can mean many things.

For me, most of my scenes involve my pet babygirl who is my submissive.  For the most part, our scenes usually have many types of play in them as we both love the variety and spontaneity that having so many options gives us.  This means that a scene may or may not have impact, fire, edge, wax, rope, behavioral, pain, pleasure, sensation, and anything else I can think of. 

I like my scenes to be very fluid; in a way like the old saying “No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.”  I have found more times than not that when I have set out precise plan for a scene, that it will not follow that plan.  Things change, desires can change mid scene, bodies might not agree with some types of play at that time, etc.

When I am preparing for a scene, I do like to start at the end and work my way back.  When I want to scene, I usually have something that I want to accomplish by the scene.  That could be anything from making her cry, sending her into subspace, trying a new toy for the first time, or working on a specific tie. 

After I have that idea in place, I will set about setting the space with the necessary items.  Laying crops, whips, floggers, canes, rope, etc within reach so I don’t have to step away.  If the scene might get messy, I make sure there are towels nearby as well.  I set the aftercare items nearby, like her blanket, candy, and water.  I will also take time to set the mood of the space.  If it is going to be a dark scene, I light some candles leaving most of the space shrouded in darkness. On the other hand, if it’s going to be an interrogation scene, then I get out the bright work lights.  Either way, I make the lighting fit the effect I want on the scene. 

Last is music for the scene.  I have a few playlists that I have set up for types of scenes.  Most start slow and build with speed and tempo as the scene progresses.  Others are just a mix of good music to have in the background of any scene.  I also have some files of just sound effects if that is what I want.  Some are full of the sounds of a dungeon, people being beaten and crying, another is just the sound of wind and trees.  It all depends on what I want the scene to be.

Then we scene…  Use your imagination here…

Ok, so now that the scene is done, one of the things that I do is ask for a scene report within 24 hours of the end scene.  This scene report is simply the submissive or bottoms feelings about the scene.  It can be just feelings or very specific on how each part felt.  The reason that it can be vague is that once some bottoms get into the scene what’s actually happening stops being remembered…  They can remember that something happened, but they couldn’t tell you what did it.  I have had bottoms forget that a toy was used at all, to confuse it with another one.  In one case I have a bottom tell me that she loved the use of the paddle I used, but I hadn’t used a paddle in the scene… 

The scene report helps me, as the top know what worked for the bottom, what was liked, what was not, what reactions were gotten, etc.  I also will sometimes right my own thoughts after a scene.  Sometimes I share this with the bottom, sometimes not it depends on the scene.  Either way, this is a learning tool, a communication tool, to help everyone become better at what they are doing.

So there you have it, a sum up of a scene. 

Questions, comments, concerns, feel free to shoot me a message.

-Haven

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Laci Green cracks me up.  She’s more than a little hyper and animated, but she also is intelligent and covers some great topics.  Like her, I get LOTS of questions about anal sex.  Her video clip covers pretty much everything I have, but I like how she presents it.