// Anthony Weiner and the Problem with “Sex Addiction”//

The internet is abuzz over a recent brain imaging study on sex addiction that questions whether those with compulsive sexual behavior have real neurological differences from those who don’t. Since the diagnosis has come into fashion—and I do mean fashion—we’ve watched a vaguely ashamed procession of celebrities (David Duchovney, Tiger Woods) give sheepish press conferences and then retreat to the safety of sex addiction treatment centers. Most later return to their understanding partners.

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// How Biological Anthropologists Got Oral Sex All Wrong//

As a writer and editor who spends a lot of time at the intersection of sexuality, relationships, and gender, I see the influence, both undeniable and subtle, of the cult of evolutionary-psychology-explains-everything on the material I read and the articles I am pitched. And if I read one more email that leads with any variation of, “Because women are seeking partners for monogamous relationships/to breed with and men were born promiscuous cheaters who want to spread their seed..,” I will lose it.

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// Why We Need an Academic Journal for Pornography//

Porn Studies is a newly formed, peer-reviewed academic journal for pornography. The publication is now accepting submissions. Its creators describe it as such:

Porn Studies is the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic and their cultural, economic, historical, institutional, legal and social contexts. Porn Studies will publish innovative work examining specifically sexual and explicit media forms, their connections to wider media landscapes and their links to the broader spheres of (sex) work across historical periods and national contexts.

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// I Signed Up for Infowars’ Dating Site for Conspiracy Theorists//

In the “Dating Freedom Lovers” group on Infowars, Alex Jones’ “news site,” nearly 6,000 men and women are looking to meet somebody special. Their profiles usually indicate interests (firearms and survivalism rank high), location (often in terms of the FEMA zone in which they reside), and how long they’ve been “awake” to the conspiratorial nature of the United States government, Zionism, Obamacare’s true aim, fluoride exposure effects, GMO dangers, or some breathless, hang-wrung cocktail thereof.

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// We Want Our Internet Girls Good//

Cat Marnell’s exploits are well known and well trodden. She’s a generally unapologetic, fucked up party girl and writer who just landed a book deal worth $500,000. She’s always been forthcoming about her drug use, particularly when it comes to regularly eating vast arrays of pharmaceuticals. The art of attention seeking through showcasing deviant behavior is not a new tactic to achieve celebrity and notoriety. And the conflicted, addicted writer has become such a cliché that I often wonder why Cat’s behavior stokes the sort of shock and dismay that it does. It’s obvious that we want to watch her, and that she wants us to watch. But there’s no reason to be especially surprised by what unfolds.

What is most interesting about the current backlash against Cat’s book deal is the absolute Internet vitriol and concern-trolling it has unleashed. Every article published over the past couple days has decried the state of entertainment and the literary world (Marnell did not single-handedly create a culture where sensational, “reality television”-style entertainment was financially rewarded) or expressed condescending concern that she will blow her advance on blow and die.

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// Create a Better Condom, Win a Million Dollars//

On Friday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new challenge in the group’s Grand Challenges for Global Health: $100,000 to develop a next-generation condom, which can be increased to one million dollars depending upon the project. 

Historically, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has sought out innovative and inexpensive fixes for some pretty basic technologies. The condom is a fair candidate; they’re used by over 750 million people a year worldwide, and is the simplest, most widely available contraception technique. Obviously, the healthcare costs of unintended pregnancy and STIs are enormous.

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// Steubenville and Rape in the Digital Age//

The Steubenville, Ohio, rape trial concluded yesterday. The case, brought to public attention through a New York Times story and the ensuing hack/dox led by Anonymous sub-group Knightsec, captured the attention of the world with its frighteningly horrible allegations backed up by frighteningly horrible social media proof. The alleged sexual assault of a drunken, incoherent sixteen-year-old high school student by at least two football players in Steubenville is, on its own, an incredibly upsetting news story. But this particular incident left a social media trail so callously celebratory of rape-culture as to dishearten anyone with a shred of empathy.

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// How Tales of Damsels in Distress Came to Dominate Video Games//

I’m sure we all remember the particular brand of internet rancor Anita Sarkeesian’s video series about women and video games and, in particular, its Kickstarter provoked. But even amateur games where players could beat her senseless didn’t deter her, and Sarkeesian launched the first episode of her controversial series, “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games,” was released last week. The particular trope investigated in this first episode, “The Damsel in Distress,” as portrayed in most of Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s franchises, including Super Mario and Zelda.

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// Did Feminists Cancel Violet Blue’s Hacker Sex Talk?//

Blue, a respected sexual educator and journalist whose work is primarily focuses on the intersection of sexuality and technology, frequently speaks on television and at tech conferences on matters of sex, porn, and the tech world. She often focuses on women’s representation and sexual consent. So to hear that her talk on sex and drugs was canceled due to concern about her subject material was extremely surprising. In the hours that followed, she discovered that it was a feminist organization, Ada Initiative, that had become concerned about the subject matter of her talk and had spoken to conference organizers.

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// Why Talking About Violence in Pornography Is Important//

Though the availability and morality of hardcore pornography has been debated since the internet made it more widely available, it’s traditionally been those on the conservative side of the fence arguing against it. But in the past month, Iceland has seriously put forth the prospect of banning violent internet pornography, though they don’t really specify how violent that “violent” is.

Icelandic society is hardly a traditional one; Icelanders have an openly gay prime minister, and their politics are nothing if not progressive. Yet they’re growing increasingly wary that violent pornography undermines women’s gender equality and augments young children’s libidos irrevocably.

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sex and tech
from vice magazine's