Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kids are weird

Thanks to Public Television, I understood as a kid that to have babies, you have sex. Thanks to network television and the copy of "The Joy of Sex" my friends and I discovered in one of our parents' bookshelves, I understood that to have fun, grown-ups have sex.

What I didn't understand was that both could be accomplished at the same time. I had the idea that in order to get pregnant, you needed to have sex in a hospital, fully clothed, sitting up and facing each other. It had to be very clinical in order to work. If only, right?

A little later on I had the idea that a woman couldn't get pregnant if she had an orgasm. Something to do with muscle contractions expelling semen, perhaps? Wishful thinking? An extension of my previous goofy beliefs? Who knows. Kids are weird.

These are some choice former beliefs from people on the interwebs. Kids may be weird, but they're hella entertaining. Feel free to share stuff you believed in mah comments there! It'll be fun!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

They're Safe, Dangscragit.

A British girl died yesterday a few hours after receiving her first dose of Cervarix, a vaccine for HPV not approved in the US (an FDA panel did give a recommendation to approve it earlier this month, though). There is no evidence that her death was caused by the vaccination at this point.

Now, I'm a vaccine kind of girl. I've tested them and have had them tested on me. I know that countless lives have been saved because of them - have you ever met someone with smallpox? Polio? Highly doubtful - thanks to vaccines. Yes, I think they're one of the greatest achievements of humankind, right alongside space flight and salami.

Some insist they're unnecessary and others say they're actually harmful. I really try and be open and to hear things objectively in case I can go ahead and learn something, but I have Feelings about people letting pop science and fear dictate their health decisions.

Yes, some people do have bad reactions to vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control track these reactions closely. Any adverse event that occurs around the time of a vaccination is reported. If you get a flu shot then get hit by a bus on your way home from the doctor's, it's an adverse event.

Gardasil, a vaccine similar to Cervarix, was approved in the United States in 2006. In 2009, the CDC reported that 985 serious adverse events (events involving "hospitalization, permanent disability or death") have occurred since approval. That's an average of about 330 serious adverse events per year, some of which had absolutely nothing to do with the vaccine.

Considering that an average of 3700 women die (not become hospitalized, not become disabled - they die) of cervical cancer every year, I'm having a hard time understanding how HPV vaccines are anything but a big fat positive.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It WORKS!

Drug scientists in Thailand announced today they've developed the first vaccine that reduces a person's risk of a contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. SWEEEEET!

16,402 Thai volunteers took part in the clinical trial, which started in 2006. Everyone got 6 shots - half got the candidate vaccine (which was actually a combination of two previously unsuccessful vaccines), and the other half got a placebo. Each person was then HIV tested at regular intervals for 3 years. The result was that the vaccinated people were 31.2% less likely to have contracted HIV than the placebo group. SA-WEEEET!!!

Now, exciting as the news is, it's not perfect. 31% is significant, but nowhere near good enough to release to the public. Even more troubling is that this vaccine was developed for a very specific strain of HIV found in Southeast Asia, which means it may not work on other strains in other parts of the world.

But you know what? I'm not going to let it kill my buzz. This is the best result in 20 years of research. Yes, this is fantastic news and I'm frickin' STOKED! Check out this more in-depth article courtesy of the folks at the NYT! This calls for celebration, people!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Barrier fun!

And now, a quick primer (or refresher) on how to operate latex and polyurethane barriers! Good times!

(thanks to EvilMinded1!)
Couple things to add:
  • check the expiration date on the condom wrapper - throw it away if it's expired!
  • make sure there is air inside the unopened condom wrapper - if there is no air, the wrapper has been compromised - throw it away!
  • pinch the tip of the condom before rolling it on to create a little pocket - it gives the cum somewhere to go.
  • don't keep condoms in your wallet or pants pockets - heat breaks down latex!
  • spermicidal condoms and lube can be irritating to the vagina or rectum, and can actually increase the risk of STD transmission - use them with caution!
(thanks to msuhealthpro!)
The only thing about dental dams is that they can be hard to find and are REALLY expensive. You can totally Martha Stewart up your own, though, using a condom and a pair of ordinary household scissors:

Dental dams for pennies on the dollar - it's good thing.

Have fun and be careful!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hooker Power

One of my favorite themes in books and/or movies is that of historical women gaining independence and power through prostitution. It can be glorified, and is not the typical story of prostitutes, but I find it utterly fascinating. In a world where women were generally unable to become educated or earn a comfortable living for themselves (those who did not marry well or work in domestic service were often very poor), these ladies were able to do both by 'falling from grace'.

Gentlemen seeking their services would be looking for a good time - interesting, witty conversation, commiseration and sexy pleasures, all things most 'proper' wives were not taught. To provide these for their customers, higher-end prostitutes were often highly educated and well-read. This education, along with the pay they received, often allowed them to become shrewd businesswomen, and to become self-supporting and contented (I did say it could be glorified!)

My top book in this vein is The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber - follows the stories of prostitutes throughout Victorian society, from the gutter to the palace. A friend of mine found his writing style grating, but I absolutely loved it!

As for a great film example:

For the sake of balance, I also offer you Very Young Girls. It does not glorify anything about prostitution, not even one little bit. Hold on to your faith in humanity while watching this one, people...it might just go missing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Aspiring to Thumperness

If you don't know, Caster Semenya is a South African woman who set (shattered) the world record for the Women's 800 Meters with a time of 1:55.45 (she starts pulling away from the pack at about 1:35). What made the news was not that my girl ran half a mile in less than 2 minutes, though...what made the news was that she did it while kind of looking like a man.

A whirlwind of controversy and a battery of gender identification tests ensued. The results of said tests show that Semenya is Intersex, or DSD (Disorder of Sexual Development), which means she has both male and female sex characteristics.

Yes, there are things to consider when women with male sex characteristics (increased muscle mass and lung capacity, for example) compete against women without them, but is it really something that needs to be dragged out through the media like this? I mean, she's a kid, for Pete's sake. Do we really need to call her a hermaphrodite (which is an outdated term many intersex people find offensive) or accuse her of being a man trying to cheat? I'll admit, I even threw in an ignorant-ass comment about her being a dude to some friends of mine. And man, I really feel like an asshole about it.

It just goes to show it's best to just keep yer trap shut until all the facts are in.
We should all aspire to Thumperness, folks.

I wish all the best to this young woman, both in her athletic career and her personal life. She's an incredibly brave young person (not to mention FAST AS HELL), and I hope she can become someone the Intersex community (and the black community, the female athlete community, the rockin' cornrows community, etc.) can look up to. I'm also totally interested to see what all this brings up with the Winter Olympics coming up here in BC.

The Daily Beast had this interesting article today, which inspired me to post. And Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, is a fantastic novel. BTW.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ugh.

A girlfriend sent me this today for a laugh. It was funnier when I thought it was just a crazy, clueless guy that made me happy I have the Manfriend.

It became less funny when I found out the messages are actually part of a viral marketing campaign for the guy's business...a business telling Canadian men that the best way to get women to sleep with them is to treat them like whores. Awesome...like the world needs another one of these jackoffs.

Here's a flyer he gives to women with enough self-respect to tell him to get lost:

This guy is serious, people. Look him up! I've been trying to come up with the words to describe how much he makes me want to barf in my mouth. I have not been successful.

That's the best I've come up with.

The worst part is there is no talking to this guy. As far as he's concerned, anyone who has a problem with him is just jealous or frigid or a lesbian or something.

Look, there is a flicker of truth is what guys like this espouse: confidence is definitely sexy. A little air of cockiness in a man makes most women want to know why you think you're so great. But when it's taken to the extreme that this guy goes to, it becomes disgusting and does nothing but perpetuate stereotypes: men only want one thing, women are only good for one thing.

Man, f#$k this guy. seriously.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Herpes

Whilst cruising the internet this weekend, I found this on PostSecret (which is like crack, so be warned):

This is what I mean about sex making people go batshit crazy. This is SO SAD. Two lives are ruined out of ignorance.

I must point out that she did not get herpes from her boyfriend spitting on her. Herpes lives in the nervous system, and is only passed through direct skin-to-skin contact.. And not by inanimate objects. This will do it. This will not. Will. Won't. Will. Will NOT.

I must also point out that herpes does NOT have to end sex lives. It does complicate them, but having herpes and having sex are not mutually exclusive. There will always be someone who thinks you're worth the risk. PostSecret, in its infinite depth and wisdom provides proof:
written on back: "Today I told him about my herpes. It went well. He attentively listened to me and said he wasn't worried about it."

SEE?! Don't get married if you don't want to, people. Divorce is really expensive.

Questions to: info@chakabox.com! All questions will get answers!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Plasticized Sexy Time

I saw the Bodies exhibit when it came through Seattle last year, and thought it was one of the most incredibe exhibits I've ever seen. If you've not heard of it, it is a collection of real human cadavers that have undergone a procedure called plastination. The detail was just amazing...one piece was just a nervous system...there was another that was just the circulatory system. It was every anatomy textbook in the plasticized flesh.

Well, now the German anatomist that pioneered the plastination process, Gunther Von Hagens, and and his wife Angelina Whalley have taken the idea to the next level (because apparently a dude on his horse and a dude holding his own skin aren't awesome enough) and created 2 plasticized people gettin' it on. And now they want to do a whole exhibition!!

The manfriend, who sent me the link, finds this hideous ("Gah! This is right up your alley, babe, but it's horrible"), but I find it to be wholly, entirely awesome. Please please please go through with it, Gunther and Angelina. Please go through with it and send it on a US tour and make Seattle a stop on said tour. Hell, I'll even go to Germany. Beer, sausage, beautiful countryside, fast cars for the manfriend AND plastic sex shows? Zählen Sie mich innen!

STDs a la Chakabox

We will be embarking on a wonderous tour of all that can go wrong with your bathing suit area. I am not a doctor or a nurse, just an educated person that's worked with this stuff for a long time. Most of my info has come from infectious disease and sexual health specialists, and participation in research, both as a subject and a researcher. You can find this info elsewhere on the interwebs, but nowhere will it be so amusing.

Repeating to please my legal department (I'll have one - just you wait): I'm not a health practitioner - just a health educator. I was a health care assistant for about 6 years, but that hardly counts. If you have specific questions about symptoms, I can't help you directly. HOWEVAH, get in touch with me (email at bottom of the page) and I will be happy to help you find the right place to go.

And, we're off!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I may be horribly behind the times on this, but I only just heard about this while watching guilty pleasure television on VH1 (100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs). (aside: Big Daddy Kane is not quite as chiseled as he once was. And it's kind of freaking me out that Fab 5 Freddy is on VH1.)

I can't actually find whether or not Lifstyles has or will actually release this line, but I hope they have/do. This is such a better idea than a clothing line. I'm not trying to rank on G-Unit or anything, but 50 Cent scores a huge win with this. It's been too long since condoms have been promoted in the popular mainstream.

If anyone finds these, tell me. I will happily support.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Take That, Cancer

Yesterday, on NPR's Fresh Air, Terri Gross interviewed two women that were diagnosed with cancer in their 20s. A chunk in the middle (~21:00 - 31:00) was right up the alley of this here blog.

I hadn't really thought about how cancer could affect a person's sex life. That sounds unbelievably boneheaded when I read it, but it's true. I always think about the puking and the hair falling out and the surgeries and all the death, to put it bluntly. But it makes sense that all of that would make one supremely not horny. The crazy thing is, though...quite the opposite happened to these ladies

One of the women, Iva (colon cancer), found that her ordeal actually improved her sex life. Speaking openly about her cancer involves talking about pretty uncomfortable things (poop, colostomies, etc). Speaking openly about those uncomfortable things left her feeling much more open about talking about other potentially uncomfortable things - like sex. Being able to talk about it more openly about sex allowed her to become ultimately more sexually fulfilled.

The other woman, Kairol (thyroid cancer), said she was 'randy as a 15-year-old boy' at the beginning of her treatment. For her, sex was something her body still did right, and was a great 'escapist activity to engage in' that helped erase the stress of doctors and tests and fear.

As her treatments intensified, unfortunately, she began to feel like her body 'belonged to doctors', which diminished how comfortable she was in her skin. Additionally, a hormone treatment she underwent (and continues to undergo) had the side effect of making her so anxious that she required anti-anxiety meds, further decreased her sex drive (as they tend to do).

What I take away from this is that it wasn't the cancer that killed her sex drive...it was the treatment. Cancer itself can't beat down the goodness or the power of sexuality. There are exceptions, of course...things like cervical or penile cancers are going to eat into a sex life, for sure...but at least for these two women, their sexy selves not only withstood cancer, they overcame it. And who doesn't love overcoming cancer, even in a small way?

Take a listen...there's a lot more to the interview (~40 minutes in total), including some interesting thoughts about colostomies in young, sexually active people, about whether or not to freeze embryos prior to chemotherapy, just in case the chemo leaves a woman infertile, a whole lot about cancer and health insurance, and some fun stuff about giving cancer the beatdown with humor.

And I do love to hear about cancer taking a beatdown.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Richard the Lionhearted, Pasty Cline and ME!

While Rhodesia was busy becoming Zimbabwe, the Soviet Union was busy capturing Afghanistan, and Rod Stewart and Steve Miller were busy duking it out for Billboard's #1, my Ma and Pa were busy gettin' busy.

After some big surprises, some big decisions and a poorly-administered spinal block (the anesthesiologist came and APOLOGIZED to my mother the next day - and she had a CESAREAN. This woman has a ridiculous pain threshold, I swear), selaka and her dizygotic sistercreature were introduced to this crazy world, 45 seconds apart.

Here's to ma and pa fer gettin' some and stickin' with it, to my sistercreature for being superfun science lady, and to my unequaled manfriend for a delicious dinner, lots of birthday kisses, and for designing a beautiful chakabox.com logo that will be displayed here in a couple of days.

Happy day indeed!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nervous Sounding Guy

It is evening at the Bookstore, 1999-2000ish. The phone rings.

me: "Thank you for calling the Bookstore, how may I help you?"

nervous sounding guy: "Yeah...uh...I've kind of got an emergency on my hands...I need a book, like, now...do you have a copy of 'A Hand in the Bush'?"

me (looking in computer system): "By Deborah Addington? I'm afraid to say we don't have it in stock, but I can have it here in a couple of days."

NSG: "Uh...no, that's alright. I really need it tonight. Thanks anyway." Click.

Oh, Nervous Sounding Guy, I want to know your story. I know you may have been some college punk trying to get a rise out of the girl on the phone, or some lonely old man trying to get a rise out of himself...but I like to think your call was in earnest. That some delicious kinky vixen was waiting there in the background, getting more and more insistent with each moment, and that you were so stoked to have the opportunity to finally give this a try, but want to make sure you were doing it right so you sought printed reference material.

I love that this book exists. I love that this guy called and asked for it. I really hope he was legit...and I really hope he found his book. I hope he found himself wrist-deep in delight and half deaf from the screams. Sigh.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Best Commercial Ever.

I cannot personally vouch for these products...
but do vouch for how awesome their ads are.


Ms. Congeniality:

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Chakabox Bill of Rights

Excuse me if I go a little sex-educator cliche here for a sec, but it's time to lay it down.

Assuming you are of a legal age and mental ability to make your own sexual decisions, and that any partner (or partners) are human, consensual, legal and alive, you have the right to:

  • Experience sexual pleasure.
  • Be sexual at all ages and stages of your life.
  • Define your own sexuality, how you wish to express it, and with whom.
  • Remain celibate.
  • Enjoy your body and all of its sensations.
  • Pursue sexual satisfaction any way you choose - without shame.
  • Ask for what you want and to set your own limits.
  • Say NO to any sexual encounter at any time.
  • Say YES to any sexual encounter at any time.
  • Feel GOOD about saying yes and no.
  • Partners who respect you and are willing to communicate.
  • Know if a partner might put you at risk of an STD, and to insist they get tested.
  • Ask questions and to receive accurate and factual information about sex and sexual health.

No matter how basic these rights may be, they don't guarantee deep contentment and orgasmic bliss for all time. Sometimes putting your foot down means someone hits the road. You also have to respect these rights in your partners, as well, which means you don't always get everything you want all the time.


Now go exercise your rights!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Sex Lady, Part 2

CAPE lost its funding when I was partway through college. It's unfortunate, because it was doing a lot of good things. It was also a great job that I really liked. Feh.


After a short detour (I sold books for a couple of years, and drank a bunch of beer), I re-entered the world of sexual health when I landed a job as a research coordinator and community educator at the Virology Research Clinic (VRC), one of the top centers of herpesvirus research in the world.


Oh, wait - this is important - at one point during the course of these past events, I started having sex myself. This continues to be one of the best things to happen to me, ever.


Anyway, after nearly 8 years at the VRC, it became clear to me that sex and sexuality are absolutely central in the lives of people. Not that people do nothing but think about boning all day, but that very little in this world effects people as deeply as sex does. I've seen successful, happy people go completely bonkers on account their sex lives. End-up-in-the-hospital-getting-shock-treatment bonkers. This is powerful stuff, I'm telling you.


This winter shall be the season of me biting the bullet, as I head back to school for a master's degree in marriage and family counseling, which is the recommended training for sex therapists. The degree, along with this here blog and some things I'm not yet ready to reveal, are all part of my master plan. We live in a society that wants us to be ashamed of our sexy feelings and abilities, while simultaneously shoving sex down our throats. I think this ruins more lives than we know. I'm going to help change it.


They're already calling me the Sex Lady, right?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Sex Lady

I walked into a party where I had met most people only once or twice, yet as I entered, someone shouted "Yay! The Sex Lady!" This was vaguely embarrassing, but it does fit - sex is kind of my thing, but not just in a sexy way. How did this come to be, you ask? Like this:

TMOL laid the foundation. Then, in 1984, hemopheliac blood-transfusion recipient Ryan White brought the AIDS epidemic into the kid sphere (at least my Seattle-alternative-elementary-school kid sphere, which I understand is a different kind of place). Around the same time, a colleague and friend of my mom's died of AIDS.

I was totally appalled and fascinated by this growing epidemic, but didn't know what a kid could really do about it. And then, frankly, puberty hit and I mostly tried to stop caring about everything except stupid shit like New Kids on The Block. It totally didn't work, but it sure did take up a lot of time. But I digress.

When I got into high school and the worst of puberty had passed, I joined a group called the Coalition for AIDS Peer Education (CAPE). I will write a full post later about how fucking awesome CAPE was.

With CAPE, I taught various sex ed classes throughout my teens and into my first years of college, in places ranging from my own junior high to a maximum-security juvenile detention facility - and let me tell you, watching 16-year-olds in orange jumpsuits and slippers running across a cellblock putting condoms on fake penises will give you something to smile about for LIFE. (Fake penises for children in state custody! Ah, the Clinton years...).

This is getting long and I'm late for dinnah, so this it to be continued - more to come!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hurts so good

Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist is about a performance artist (Bob Flanagan, unsurprisingly) with cystic fibrosis. About being a Supermasochist, he is not fucking around. He nails his cock to pieces of wood, amongst other things. With nails. Yow.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that, most notably, clogs the lungs with huge amounts of mucus, making infections extremely common, and breathing exceedingly difficult. It is very painful, and sufferers often don't survive past their teens.

This plays hugely into Flanagan's 'super-masochism'. He uses sexual masochism as a way to exert some control over his pain. This is pain he can anticipate - and stop - when he chooses. It also has the added benefit of totally turning him on, which we can all agree feels mostly great.

Assisting him in this is Sheree Rose, his long-time partner and dominatrix. These two love each other so much it makes my insides ache (in a good way). She delights in inflicting pain as much as he loves enduring it - and oh my goodness does she inflict it. Toward the end, though, when Flanagan is in the hospital for the last time, there is a scene of such tenderness between them that it makes The Notebook look like Fatal Attraction.

This film is many things, but I see it as a beautiful and unconventional love story. These are people who are able to use their sexuality to provide themselves great comfort, relief, and joy, which I think is the very definition of healthy sexuality. I strive to be as open as these people, even if it doesn't involve hammers and nails. Yow, for serious.

It is not for the squeamish, but it's fantastic. It's a look into a world a lot of us don't ever really see (mainstream fetish porn does not count). Break out the Kleenex, too...I hadn't cried at a movie like this since one night in college when I watched When Harry Met Sally by myself under the influence of a bottle of wine after being broken up with. This is not something I recommend under any circumstances.

This movie is, though. It's available on Netflix - Watch Instantly, even, if you're hip to the way.

It's a MIRACLE!

People hear about sex from all kinds of places. You've got your standard schoolyard talk, your awkward Mom/Dad conversation, you've got the perennially popular (but factually sketchy) University of the Slumber Party, and the ubiquitous (these days ALSO factually sketchy) Sex Ed in school.

I learned a lot about sex from those places, too, but there was one source above all of them that I think was most formative: NOVA's Emmy award-winning "The Miracle of Life", an hour-long program that first aired on PBS in 1983. It chronicles the beginnings of life from ejaculation to childbirth. It's been dubbed "the most popular NOVA of all time" by PBS.org.

Using magnification of up to half a million times, the filmmakers got some amazing shots. They got a penis ejaculating inside a woman's vagina (blows my mind to this day). They captured the very moment the zygote divided for the first time, and some incredible views of the developing embryo. It all culminates in some utterly terrifying childbirth footage that must have something to do with why I'm so devoted to my IUD.

TMOL doesn't cover the gamut of human sexual experience - it only really covers the biological basics. It introduces the basic plumbing - what each part is, what it's called and what it's actually used for. It doesn't encourage, it doesn't glamorize, it doesn't vilify - it simply provides the facts.

For me, it made sex unquestionably a part of nature - as natural as anything George Page or David Attenborough presented on any other nature show. Because it was so obviously a part of nature...there's never been anything to be ashamed of.

NOVA produced a 2001 sequel called "Life's Greatest Miracle", which can be viewed online here.

It's rated "TV-14", so I pass that on, though scoff loudly while doing so because I saw the original, complete with the above-mentioned cockshot (a scientific cockshot, to be sure, but it was still cock) when I was 6 flippin' years old and didn't burst into flames or anything.

To see if you or your children WILL burst into flames, the original program is available on DVD and can be ordered here.

You may be able to find it used or whatnot somewhere else, but PBS helped foster healthy sexuality in at least 1 young person - least I can do is try to return the favor. :)