The long, hard road to legal birth control

The Trump administration recently announced a rule that would roll back an Obamacare mandate that requires employers to cover birth control in health insurance plans. This is just one of the administration’s many efforts to threaten or diminish women’s access to contraception.

Even though women still battle for affordable birth control today, not long ago, selling birth control was illegal in many U.S. states. It took four people, multiple arrests, three clinic shut-downs, and a wave of government backlash before the birth control pill was created and ready for wide distribution.

In the early 1900s, activists Margaret Sanger and Katherine McCormick were champions of the radical idea that women could enjoy sex without reproductive consequences. While the two women defied taboos and worked tirelessly against legal restrictions, pioneering endocrinologist Gregory Pincus and gynecologist John Rock joined the women to create a future where sex wasn’t synonymous with getting pregnant.

The invention of the pill led to opportunity, democracy, and massive changes to sexual, medical, and basic human dynamics. Here’s a brief history of the creation of birth control, the “magical pill” that changed the reality of sex and choice for women forever.

Photo via lookcatalog/Flickr

When was birth control invented?

Women have been using “birth control” for centuries—early 19th-century American devices like the “womb veil” preceded the rubber diaphragm and cervical cap, which were popular in the mid-1800s. So, the concept of blocking the cervix to prevent pregnancy isn’t new by any means, but giving women widespread access to medication is.

Before the pill was even manufactured, Sanger tried to create a cultural space in which the pill could be accepted. After being indicted for a series of essays on birth control that breached obscenity laws, Sanger fled the country to avoid trial. Shortly after returning to the states, Sanger coined the term “birth control” and opened the first women’s birth control clinic in October 1916 in Brooklyn. The clinic was only open for nine days before it was shut down by an undercover policewoman. It reopened again, then was shut down again. In November 1916, it was shut down for a third time resulting in a series of arrests for Sanger.

Five years after the first clinic was opened, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921. It is now known as Planned Parenthood and has been helping to provide access to vital healthcare ever since.

Though Sanger obviously had a large hand in the pill coming to fruition, identifying one person as the sole creator of the first birth control pill is controversial. Three men also studied the movement in the 1950s: A chemist in Mexico City named Carl Djerassi, endocrinologist Gregory Pincus, and gynecologist John Rock.

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Djerassi was the one who created the chemical solution for the pill first—coupling the ovulation-controlling hormone progesterone with the steroid norethindrone—but Pincus and Rock were able to test, produce, and distribute their own version around the same time.

In 1951, Sanger met Pincus at a dinner party and she later persuaded him to start researching how a birth control contraceptive could be created. Pincus and Rock conducted their first test of synthetic progesterone on 50 women in 1954, some of which did not give their consent for the test or have any knowledge of what was being tested on them, causing later controversy. For example, one of the trials forced a group of “hospitalized schizophrenics to participate in an experiment whose long-term side effects were unknown.”

Photo via the New York Times/Wikimedia Commons

Kitty Marion holding copies of the Birth Control review in 1915

In 1956, Pincus and Rock moved their tests to Puerto Rico, where the birth control laws were less strict than the U.S. and the two could have little to no limitations with their testing methods. Pincus went on record with the media shortly after, saying the pair created the first birth control pill. However, this was before they had worked out several severe side effects. Regardless, news spread fast and thousands of women wrote to their doctors asking for a prescription.

When did birth control become legal?

The birth control pill was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) in 1960. Since there was so much publicity when Pincus jumped the gun, the FDA approved the birth control pill, but on one condition: It had to be labeled explicitly as a solution to menstrual disorders, not as a contraceptive. Three years later, the pill was finally approved for contraceptive use.

Photo via the Science Museum, London/Wellcome Images via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

The pill was far from perfect, though. According to Planned Parenthood, the first brand, Enovid, had more hormones than necessary to be effective, containing 10,000 micrograms of progestin and 150 micrograms of estrogen, which stop ovulation. By comparison, birth control pills today contain between 50 to 150 micrograms of progestin and 20 to 50 micrograms of estrogen. The larger dosage of the first FDA-approved birth control pills causes heart problems, blood clots, and strokes for many women, often leading to lawsuits. A lower dosage significantly decreased the risk of harm, but as with any medication, there are still some risks associated with birth control today.

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What is birth control like now?

You might be surprised to learn that the pill is Americans’ most common form of birth control.

According to a 2012 survey from the Guttmacher Institute, nearly 62 percent of women in the U.S. in their “reproductive age” currently use a contraceptive method. Some 5.7 million women rely on the male condom as a birth control method, likely because the condom also protects against sexually transmitted infections, something the birth control pill can’t prevent. According to the same survey, the millions of women who take the birth control pill rely on its added benefits, like managing acne, severe menstrual pain, irregular periods, and endometriosis.

Photo via Nate Grigg/Flickr

Other contraceptive options like the birth control patch, implant, shot, or vaginal ring have become increasingly popular. The implanted intrauterine device (IUD) has gained massive popularity over the last year—after Trump was elected in 2016, Planned Parenthood reportedly saw a 900 percent increase in the number of patients seeking IUDs. Still, the pill reigns supreme in the world of contraception use. As the conversation about birth control accessibility continues and women seek viable solutions to an age-old problem, the same fight Sanger fought rages on.

Still, the pill reigns supreme in the world of contraception use. As the conversation about birth control accessibility continues and women seek viable solutions to an age-old problem, the same fight Sanger fought rages on.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/when-was-birth-control-invented/

Doctor Warns Women Not To Do The “Cucumber Cleanse” In Brilliant Viral Post

The cucumber is a versatile vegetable. It can be used in any number of sandwiches and salads. At IFLScience we have a colleague who happily just munches down whole cucumbers, unseasoned, during editorial meetings.

But now it appears it has become a little too versatile, with a new baffling and concerning trend of “cucumber cleansing” taking off. Brace yourselves, it’s much weirder than it sounds.

Proponents of the “cucumber cleanse” suggest that you peel a cucumber and “insert it into the vagina and twist around, in and out movements to cleanse the yoni”. They suggest it “resets your pH balance” (which is nonsense) and leaves you smelling fresh (which is also nonsense).

Several instructional videos exist, and it appears to be a thing that actual people are doing. 

Here one “expert” in the practice explains the benefits…

“So how do you cleanse your vajayjay?” Gigi writes. “If you didn’t know, a natural cleaner and one of the tools you can use for restoring pH to your yoni is a peeled organic cucumber. The same can be done with cleansing the throat & the mouth. Using a peeled cucumber you can clean your mouth and throat of any bacteria or viruses.”

This, unfortunately, isn’t a joke post. Some of Gigi’s followers are very devoted. “I’ve slept with mine inside of me, smelled like a day spa when I woke up,” one commented. “I do it once a month a few days after my cycle, I wasn’t sure how often I should do it but it feels so refreshing,” said another.

Enter Dr Jen Gunter, she of debunking Goop’s bullshit fame, to warn that it’s not only a waste of good salad, but it could have negative impacts on your health. 

In a brilliant and hilarious blog post titled “Don’t cleanse your vagina with a cucumber. Please.” Dr Gunter explains (largely in block capitals because “I am yelling”) that there are a number of reasons that you shouldn’t put a peeled cucumber into your vagina to cleanse it.

They include: “VAGINAS ARE NOT DIRTY” and “ATTEMPTS AT ‘CLEANING’ THE VAGINA ACTUALLY DAMAGE THE VAGINA”. 

Both excellent reasons not to turn yourself into an unorthodox salad bowl.

“This idea that some kind of vaginal cleansing is required, be it a peeled cucumber or the ‘feminine washes’ sold at drugstores, is misogyny dressed up as health care and I am having none of it. Vaginas are not dirty,” she writes.

She then explains how doing the “cleanse” instead puts you at risk of diseases.

“By damaging lactobacilli and the mucosa, attempts at vaginal cleaning increase a woman’s risk of contracting HIV or gonorrhea if she is exposed. Paradoxically it will also cause odor.”

What’s more, the whole exercise could also be pointless as “NOTHING EXTERNAL CAN ‘BALANCE” VAGINAL pH’: The pH in the vagina is controlled by the good bacteria, the same bacteria that attempts at ‘cleansing’ actually damage.”

She goes on to warn that cucumbers can contain nasty fungi, as well as describing a case where someone perforated their vagina and bladder with one.

So, all in all, the only thing you should put cucumbers in is your mouth.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/doctor-warns-women-not-to-do-the-cucumber-cleanse-in-brilliant-viral-post/

The Worst Pseudoscience Of The Year Award Has Been Announced!

Congratulations Gwyneth Paltrow, you are now the proud owner of a Rusty Razor award. If it doesn’t sound too prestigious, well, you’d be right.

Paltrow’s website Goop, a frequent spouter of bunk science, is the first to win this award, presented by The Skeptic Magazine. The goal is to highlight the worst pseudoscience of the year, as part of the magazine’s annual Ockham Awards, voted for by the public.

Goop reached new levels of infamy this year with its numerous stories of bogus science. First they sold jade eggs to insert into your “yoni” ( that’s Goop-talk for vagina, which is unquestionably a bad idea). Then they claimed to have NASA’s endorsement for some bogus “healing stickers” (which NASA, understandably, officially refuted). And, more recently, they were selling “psychic vampire repellent”.

It’s not clear which of these claims earned Goop the Rusty Razor. Any of them would be worthy, truth be told.

The website was invited to collect its award at the QED Conference in Manchester in the UK over the weekend (October 14 and 15). Perhaps unsurprisingly, no one showed up.

“We were surprised at quite how many public vote nominations GOOP received for the ‘Rusty Razor’ award for pseudoscience – it’s certainly a popular win,” said Skeptic Magazine Editor Deborah Hyde in a statement.

“When there are so many issues affecting public health today – the rise of measles and whooping cough due to reduced rates of vaccination, for instance – it’s a shame that many people prefer to contemplate their yonis than engage with evidence-based reality”.

What piece of pseudoscience nonsense will win the award next year? We can only imagine.

(h/t Gizmodo)

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/gwyneth-paltrows-goop-wins-award-for-worst-pseudoscience-of-the-year/

Helen Mirren brilliantly shuts down sexist interviewer

Harvey Weinstein at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017.
Image: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

As anyone could’ve predicted, last week’s New York Times exposé was just the tip of the horror iceberg that is Harvey Weinstein’s past. 

The New Yorker on Tuesday published its own exposé of the disgraced movie mogul – and these accusations are somehow even more detailed, more disturbing, and more damning.

Journalist Ronan Farrow spent ten months speaking to 13 different women who alleged that Weinstein had sexually harassed or assaulted them – including three who say they were raped. Some remained anonymous; others identified themselves on the record, including actresses Asia Argento, Mira Sorvino, and Rosanna Arquette. (Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow have since gone on the record to the New York Times detailing their experiences with his harassment.)

Collectively, they paint a portrait of a man who was not only monstrous enough to commit these acts in the first place, but powerful and intimidating enough to get away with them again and again and again. Combine that with a wider culture of victim-blaming and an inclination not to believe women, and, well, you’ve got a toxic recipe for decades of sexual abuse getting swept under the rug.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest report.

Weinstein didn’t just harass women. According to new allegations, he raped them.

Asia Argento, Lucia Evans, and one other unnamed woman allege that Weinstein didn’t just harass them – he forced them into oral sex and vaginal sex. 

“I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,’” recalled Evans. Eventually, she said, “He’s a big guy. He overpowered me.” In a depressingly similar account, Argento says she told Weinstein “no, no, no,” to no avail. “[He] terrified me, and he was so big,” she said. “It wouldn’t stop. It was a nightmare.”

Chillingly, Weinstein himself apparently found the encounters to be no big deal. “It was like it was just another day for him,” said Evans. “It was no emotion.”

Another woman, actress Emma de Caunes, managed to leave before he could physically attack her. But, she said, “I didn’t want to show him that I was petrified, because I could feel that the more I was freaking out, the more he was excited … The fear turns him on.”

The Manhattan District Attorney declined to charge Weinstein for sexual abuse in 2015

In 2015, Weinstein groped Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who promptly reported him to the authorities. The New York Police Department arranged to have her wear a wire to her next meeting with Weinstein, in hopes of recording an incriminating statement. 

She did. You can hear her confrontation with Weinstein here:

However, as the investigation continued, unflattering stories about Gutierrez’s past hit the tabloids, which cited a “source” at the company. Eventually, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. decided not to file charges, even though, according to a police source, they “had collected more than enough evidence to prosecute Weinstein.” 

Weinstein used ‘honeypots’ to lure his targets into meetings

Weinstein’s reputation was well known around Hollywood, and had been for decades. That may partially explain why he reportedly used women who worked for him to trap his victims.

According to a female executive who spoke with the New Yorker, Weinstein would set up late-night meetings with his targets, often in hotels. She continued:

And, in order to make these women feel more comfortable, he would ask a female executive or assistant to start those meetings with him … It almost felt like the executive or assistant was made to be a honeypot to lure these women in, to make them feel safe.

Weinstein retaliated against women who rejected him

Actress Rosanna Arquette detailed an early-’90s incident in which she rebuffed Weinstein’s advances. He told her she was making a mistake and, lo and behold, she saw her career suffer afterward. “He made things very difficult for me for years,” she said.

Similarly, Sorvino told the publication that her rejection of Weinstein seemed to impact her professionally. “There may have been other factors, but I definitely felt iced out and that my rejection of Harvey had something to do with it.”

On the flip side, still other women, including Asia Argento, say they continued to have professional relationships with Weinstein after he attacked them, lest he ruin their lives. “I was in a vulnerable position and I needed my job,” said one anonymous woman. “It just increases the shame and the guilt.”

Weinstein was very proud of not being a Bill Cosby

According to Emily Nestor, formerly a temporary front-desk assistant at the Weinstein Company, Weinstein propositioned her on her second day at the job. 

In the same conversation, Nestor says, he bragged that “Oh, the girls always say ‘no.’ You know, ‘No, no.’ And then they have a beer or two and then they’re throwing themselves at me.” He was “weirdly proud” to report “that he’d never had to do anything like Bill Cosby” – meaning, presumably, that he’d never had to drug anyone. 

But Weinstein’s downfall isn’t entirely unrelated to Cosby’s: Later in the article, Farrow mentions that Weinstein Company employees felt more emboldened to speak out about Weinstein now, after decades of his misbehavior, because scandals like Cosby’s and Ailes’s demonstrated “a growing culture of accountability.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/10/harvey-weinstein-new-yorker-expose/

If you’re not having period sex, you’re missing out

Listen, typically I wouldn’t tell you what to do, but typing some variation of “should I have period sex” into Google tells me you’re looking for input. Here’s mine: Have period sex. If you are in any way on the fence about that, I think you should just go ahead and do it.

Why you should have period sex

Period sex is extremely similar to regular sex, except, yes, OK, it can get a little messy. But such is sex. Your sheets end up flecked with sweat and spit and maybe semen—unless, oh God, you bought this product—and none of those secretions stop any of us from doing it.

Perhaps you are saying to yourself, “But with period sex, there will be blood, and blood is so gross! Especially menstrual blood, with its occasional clots and tissue clumps! And it’s going to be everywhere, my entire bed smeared with rusty streaks like a crime scene someone forgot to clean up!”

Cool it: The average period means about one to one-and-a-half ounces of blood lost, with a heavy period likely clocking in under three ounces. That’s over the course of days, mind you. There may not even be any blood at all, but its specter often eclipses the fact that, for many menstruators, period sex feels extra good.

Oh, you remark, eyebrows pricking up in interest. Why’s that?

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Sex on your period could feel better

At that time of the month, one’s undercarriage is—duh—flooded with blood, and that elevated circulation can make the clitoris, labia, and vagina more sensitive and potentially more responsive. In addition to experiencing hormonal surges that often up the libido, a person might also be more aware of their vagina than usual—because it’s leaking blood, and because all that blood might make things feel heavier than the norm. More full. Certainly more lubricated. All of which may well mean that, from the outset, a menstruating vagina is primed for sex, should its owner feel so inclined.

Photo via Pixabay (CC-BY)

On top of the very compelling reason that sex is better, orgasms might also help relieve menstrual pain and shorten the length of a period. Orgasms cause uterine contractions, speeding along the uterus’ process of shedding its lining and flushing out the chemicals that cause menstrual cramping.

The Sex MD speculates that the menstruating uterus’ hyper-sensitivity can translate to more intense orgasms (yes, please) but orgasms of any magnitude cue the brain to release oxytocin, a hormone that both encourages bonding and acts as a strong natural pain reliever. Would you rather slap a heating pad on your crampy uterus and weather the storm, or climax your way to a lighter period?

Sex on your period is sex is still sex, period

What’s most important is that you and your partner are comfortable and communicating. Getting your period can make you feel lethargic and cranky and very, very reticent to move. This is fine. Your partner can do the legwork, unless your partner is also menstruating, in which case you can strike a compromise. If you’re having penetrative vaginal sex, though, just make sure to use a condom, because, yes, you can get pregnant while on your period, and, yes, your open menstruating cervix is more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections.

Photo via Max Pixel (CC-BY)

Period sex shouldn’t be taboo

Those two minor provisos aside, period sex serves another oft-overlooked purpose that bears mention. The reason most people Google “should I have sex on my period” is likely rooted in some sense that sex while menstruating is gross, if not for the menstruator, then for their sexual partner. At the heart of that sentiment is the widely held view that menstruation is, in itself, disgusting—something shameful and embarrassing that should be kept separate from sex. This is a stigma that needs to be broken.

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Worldwide, culturally constructed taboos around menstruation keep too many women and girls out of school, out of work, and sometimes out of their homes for roughly one week each month, if not always engendering tragedy, then holding those girls and women back. Without inflating your sex life into a human rights issue, I’d argue that it’s important to do the daily work of eroding those taboos—normalizing the period so that it’s viewed as the deeply average biological function that it is, rather than a barrier to work or education or any other part of daily life.

When it comes to recasting menstrual blood as just another bodily fluid, as unsurprising as sweat or spit or semen, sex seems as good a means as any. Better even, considering all the aforementioned benefits.

Photo via Pixabay (CC-BY)

Of course, the sanguine-averse may find reversing their feelings harder than simply listening to a stranger’s advice. But according to science, the revulsion you’re anticipating might not even surface when you’re actually doing the deed: A 2012 study out of the Netherlands found that women were a lot less bothered by generically disgusting things when sexually aroused. Who knows, maybe you will get so lost in all the sensations that you’ll find yourself finger painting blood hearts on your partner, just like this man did.

No one is saying you need to go that far, but truly, you have nothing to lose; unless you’re a person who faints at the sight of blood, a little period sex won’t hurt you. So what are you waiting for? Put a towel down and hop to it.  

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/period-sex/

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop faces new false advertising claims

Nonprofit group Truth in Advertising claims Goop is exploiting women by marketing products as having the ability to treat diseases and disorders

Goop, the lifestyle and publishing company founded by Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow, is facing new criticisms from an advertising watchdog for making false claims promoting almost 50 products, including a Carnalian crystal claimed to treat infertility and the now-infamous jade vaginal egg promoted as preventing uterine prolapse.

The new claims against Goop were lodged with two California district attorneys connected to the California Food, Drug and Medical Task Force by Truth in Advertising (Tina), a nonprofit group that says it conducted an investigation into Goop for using unsubstantiated, and therefore deceptive, health and disease-treatment claims to market many of its products.

In addition, the group drew attention to claims that walking barefoot cures insomnia and that the companys signature perfume improves memory and can work as antibiotics.

Bonnie Patten, the groups executive director, said that marketing products as having the ability to treat diseases and disorders not only violates established law but is a terribly deceptive marketing ploy that is being used by Goop to exploit women for its own financial gain.

Tina said it had contacted Paltrows firm earlier this month to remedy the deceptive marketing. It noted that Goop had since made limited changes and called on California authorities to look into the matter further.

Last month, Goop published a letter defending its unorthodox health practices. Being dismissive of discourse, of questions from patients, of practices that women might find empowering or healing, of daring to poke at a long-held beliefseems like the most dangerous practice of all.

In the latest salvo against the company, the adverting watchdog listed dozens more products it says Goop makes claims for that are unsubstantiated, and therefore deceptive, health and disease-treatment claims to market many of its products.

The complaint also listed Goops essential oils claimed to help tremendously with chronic issues from anxiety and depression to migraines; Goops Black Rose Bar, brilliant for treating acne, eczema and psoriasis; Goops Eau De Parfum: Edition 02, said to contain ingredients that improve memory, treat colds and work as antibiotics; and Goops Aromatic Stress Treatment that treats the nerves (its been shown to help alleviate panic attacks).

In June, Paltrow, 44, conceded on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that she is sometimes baffled by the unconventional products and practices her brand promotes. Asked about the practice of earthing walking barefoot she ventured theres some sort of electromagnetic thing that were missing. Its good to take your shoes off in the grass.

Paltrow eventually conceded: I dont know what the fuck we talk about!

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/24/gwyneth-paltrows-goop-faces-new-false-advertising-claims

These Are The Luxury Goods Farrah Abraham Wants YOU To Buy Her In Exchange For Sex Cam Show!

A rejuvenated vagina doesn’t come cheap!

As we reported, after documenting her noninvasive vaginal procedure on Instagram at the end of August, Farrah Abraham‘s fresh lady parts will make their debut on Wednesday for the porn site, CamSoda!

However, the Teen Mom OG star wants to make sure her investment is paying off!

Related: Farrah & Her Mom Go Back & Forth Over Abuse Claims

The 26-year-old created a wish list where admirers can send her various gifts. Not surprisingly, she wants expensive shit!

Miz Abraham is requesting:

-Trips to Thailand, Greece, Monaco, and Brazil
-$200 for her nails
-$3000 for her hair
Louis Vuitton purse, travel bag, and luggage
-$1000 for general shopping
-Size 9 heels

Open your wallets, fellas!

[Image via DJDM/WENN.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2017-09-13-farrah-abraham-camsoda-webcam-porn-rejuvenated-vagina

Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz review what internet searches reveal

Do web porn clicks deliver data that Freud and Foucault would have drooled over, or are we not as weird as our online behaviour suggests?

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz wanted to call his new book How Big Is My Penis?, but his publishers demurred. He settled for Everybody Lies. The book is subtitled What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are and its a polished display of some of the early fruits of big data science. Its principal defect, perhaps, is that it doesnt say enough about how many of these fruitsare rotten.

Stephens-Davidowitzs first source, when he set up as a data scientist, was Google Trends, which records the relative frequency of particular searches in different places at different times. He soon added Google Adwords, which registers the actual number of searches. Then he moved on to other vastnesses: Wikipedia, Facebookand then PornHub, one of the largest pornographic sites in the world. PornHub gave him its complete data set, duly anonymised: every single search and video view. He also scraped many other sites, including neo-Nazi sites such as Stormfront, which account for the internets resemblance to the box jellyfish, a highly poisonous predator with 60 anuses.

Ignoble metadata flowed in. He found that searches for racist jokes rise about 30% on Martin Luther King Day in the US, and that in the recent Republican primaries, regions that supported Donald Trump in the largest numbers made the most Google searches for nigger. Data from Prosper, a peer-to-peer loan website, showed that there are five expressions in particular that one should beware of when reviewing applications for loans: God, promise, will pay, hospital and thank you. Making promises is a sure sign that someone will not do something. God is particularly bad news.

There are many such facts waiting to be harvested. For a social scientist such as Stephens-Davidowitz, big data has four central virtues. First, its a digital truth serum: it supplies honest data on matters people lie about in surveys, for instance racist attitudes, but above all (to quote Mick Jagger) sex and sex and sex and sex. Second, it offers the means to run large-scale randomised controlled experiments which are usually extremely laborious and expensive at almost no cost, and in this way uncover causal linkages in addition to mere correlations. Third, the sheer quantity of data allows us to zoom in precisely on small subsets of people in a way that was previously impossible. Finally, it provides new types of data.

Stephens-Davidowitz thinks searches of internet pornography habits are probably the most important development ever in our ability to understand human sexuality. They deliver data that Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud and Foucault would have drooled over.

Some of his sexual facts are depressing, others are funny and touching. Some are engaging because we find them extraordinary, others because we find them all-too-human. The search data suggests that hundreds of thousands of young men are predominantly attracted to elderly women. Many heterosexual men feel about their partner what William Wordsworth felt about his wife Mary (they wish shed put on weight). Anal sex is on course to overtake vaginal sex in pornography before the end of the decade. Pornography in which violence is perpetrated against a woman almost always appeals disproportionately to women. More than 75% of searches of the form I want to have sex with my are incestuous. Men search for ways to perform oral sex on themselves as often as they search for how to give a woman an orgasm.

There are many unwavering specialisations. For some women, only short fat men with small penises will do; for some men, only massive nipples. Thirty per cent only ever watch pornography of the ugliest kind. But many of us are not as weird as our online behaviour may suggest. Distortion is introduced by the fact that certain types of Google searches skew towards the forbidden, and there are numerous subtleties and traps when it comes to the interpretation of data, many of which Stephens-Davidowitz expounds clearly. For all that the numbers are big, and they add up.

The next Foucault will be a data scientist. The next Freud will be a datascientist. The next Marx will be adata scientist. This is unlikely, I think, but these future individuals will do well to work with data scientists, and by the end of Everybody Lies Stephens-Davidowitz has almost earned his flourishes (What constitutes data has been wildly reimagined Everything is data!). What he hasnt done is say enough about the dangers. I expected a reference to Cathy ONeil, who shows in her book Weapons of Math Destruction (2016) how programs based on big data introduce a frightening new efficiency into predatory advertising, distort higher education, drive up debt, spur mass incarceration, pummel the poor at nearly every juncture, and undermine democracy. Programs designed with the very best intentions fall into deadly self-confirming feedback loops that confirm their efficacy even as they spiral away from the truth and increase injustice.

One of the greatest dangers of the internet, noted by Daniel Kahneman in his valuable book Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011), arises from the fact that people can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers. This isnt any sort of exaggeration (witness the fact that some people deny the existence of consciousness); the trouble is that any belief any prejudice or hatred can now find a large supporting community on the internet.

Stephens-Davidowitz has a reply to these worries. Hes a social scientist, and malignant programs arent data science in his sense of the term. Their creators arent simply trying to describe and explain human behaviour; theyre directing it and manipulating it. Big data isnt intrinsically dangerous or evil, and it can be extraordinarily valuable and engaging. New facts spring up everywhere. Some of the results such as the correlation between hurricanes and the consumption of strawberry Pop-Tarts are agreeably surreal. For him the big point is this: social science is becoming a real science. Andthis new, real science is poised to improve our lives.

I like Stephens-Davidowitzs suggestion in a recent interview: Sometimes I think it would be a good thing if everyones porn habits were released at once. It would be embarrassing for 30 seconds then wed all get over it and be more open about sex. But Idont share his general optimism. Isuspect the easy availability of pornography is turning out to be one ofthe great tragedies of human history, destructive of the best kind of sexual relations. If we had an infallible happyometer that could measure the overall gains and losses to human existence caused by the internet, I think wed find that the balance was will increasingly be negative.

Everybody Lies: What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are is published by Bloomsbury. To order a copy for 17 (RRP 20) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/17/everybody-lies-seth-stephens-davidowitz-review

The 7 must-have BDSM toys for beginners

There’s a reason why BDSM toys and equipment are so popular, even among non-kinksters: They enhance playtime between partners, increasing the erotic sensations both a dominant and a submissive feel. BDSM gear can also establish and maintain dominance over one (or more) partners, creating a consensual power play rooted in being restrained, bound, or sexually teased.

Of course, some toys aren’t meant for newcomers; they simply present too much risk. Luckily, there’s plenty of equipment out there for kinksters just getting their bearings in the world of BDSM.

BDSM toys for every kink treasure chest

1) Blindfold

Arguably the easiest kink item to obtain, blindfolds should be in every dom’s collection. Why are blindfolds so fun? Well, they provide sensory deprivation.

When blindfolds are on a sub, they heighten the sounds, feelings, and, in some cases, tastes they are exposed to during play. This makes touching much more sensual and intimate. Blindfolds also force the sub into reliance on the dom, building tension between moments. Will a domme press her hand on a sub’s breast, or will she move her fingers down to her belly? Is a dom about to force his sub into giving oral sex, or make him receive? Blindfolds turn those actions into an open question, making this garment the perfect addition to any kinky power play.

Unlike other BDSM equipment options, there are very few safety precautions to keep in mind with blindfolds. Players just need to make sure a blindfold can be easily removed, and that the blindfolded partner remains in a safe area where they won’t accidentally stumble, fall, or roll into a dangerous object (such as a sharp knife or lit candle). Restraints can further prevent this from becoming a problem by, well, keeping a sub in place.

Photo via Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

2) Hitachi’s Magic Wand

The Magic Wand is one of the best vibrators on the market. Originally designed as a back massager, Hitachi’s Magic Wand revolutionized the sex toy industry by inadvertently creating a toy that worked perfectly for stimulating cisgender and transgender women’s genitals. And as far as kink toys go, the Magic Wand still remains one of the best vibrators to pick up.

The original Magic Wand has since been replicated by a variety of toy makers, with Hitachi creating an updated wireless version called the “Magic Wand Rechargeable.” Hitachi’s wand can be used for masturbation through direct application on genitals across genders, and with the Rechargeable model, different vibration settings also allow for different kinds of genital stimulation: from a low rumble to intense, pounding sensations.

But the Magic Wand can also be used in bondage and dom/sub play sessions. Wands can be tied and bound to a sub’s genitals, giving the sub ongoing stimulation for their dominant’s pleasure. Or wands can be applied for edging, allowing doms to control a sub’s orgasm by constantly denying them the opportunity to climax. The Magic Wand has many uses, and as far as BDSM goes, its application is a must.

Screengrab via em_lee_sleaze/Instagram

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3) Bondage tape

When it comes to restraints, bondage tape is one of the best sex toys for any kink fan to pick up. Especially beginners.

For the uninitiated, bondage tape is a PVC strip that can be used to wrap together different parts of the body, such as arms, legs, and breasts. Unlike duct tape and other adhesive-based tapes, bondage tape only sticks to itself. So while the strip is durable and hard to break without a pair of scissors, bondage tape is also safe to use without worrying about skin tearing or any other adverse effects.

PVC-based tape is excellent for beginners for that same reason. Unlike rope, there’s less risk for circulation. And binding a partner together is much easier than learning how to tie rope columns. For quick, easy but durable bondage, grabbing PVC tape is essential.

Some important safety points: When binding someone, be careful not to bend the tape or draw it too tightly to their skin. This can lead to circulation issues, not to mention general discomfort. Take care not to press bondage tape too tightly onto a sub’s body when using it as a blindfold or as a gag, and always come up with a non-verbal safeword before taping shut a play partner’s mouth or eyes (a hand gesture or series of squeezes are both great options).

Remember to have medical scissors on hand to cut your partner out of their bondage in case of an emergency or when it’s time to end play, too. Having blunted scissors allows kinksters to quickly free their play partner while diminishing the risk of cutting skin.

Photo via Simon Speed/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

4) Dildos

Dildos, of course, are phallic sex toys that can be inserted into a vagina or anus. They come in various shapes and sizes, and some even come with built-in vibrators. This makes dildos pretty versatile across play partners, as every person can use a dildo in at least one orifice of their body (if not more!). Whether a domme uses her dildo to peg a sub, or a sub is forced to use a dildo on his dom, dildos are perfect for kinksters into penetration.

When it comes to dildos, there are two ways kinksters can make the most out of these phallic playthings. Dildos can be used by themselves for penetration, either in aiding masturbation or with a partner’s guidance. They can also be used in conjunction with a harness, turning dildos into excellent toys for both anal and vaginal sex.

Whenever using a dildo, it’s absolutely necessary to use lubricant. Plenty of lube should be applied on the dildo, as well as inside and around the area that will be penetrated. Some dildos can only be used with certain kinds of lubes, too, such a water-based lubes. Remember to read any care instructions that come with a dildo before slapping on lube.

When done with play, make sure to thoroughly clean a dildo—especially if it’s about to be shared between partners. Again, carefully read through your dildo’s sanitizing instructions before passing it around.

Photo via Come As You Are/Flickr (CC-BY)

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5) Harness

Harnesses are a thing of beauty for any trans or queer couple. Owning one of these makes penetrative sex all the easier—and in some cases, sexier.

A harness is an undergarment worn over the genitals that can be used to hold and mount a dildo. They’re useful for a couple reasons. For cis women, harnesses are the key to “pegging,” a sex act where a strap-on dildo is used to penetrate a bottom’s anus. Of course, harnesses are also perfect for using a dildo during vaginal sex, and for some cisgender lesbians, this is their preferred use.

Meanwhile, for non-op trans women who cannot use their genitals for anal or vaginal penetration, strap-ons are also perfect solutions that simulate penetrative sex’s sensation without needing to “get it up” (or keep it up). And trans men (as well as cis men) can also use harnesses for penetrative sex for similar reasons.

As always, there are some safety tips to keep in mind with using a harness. Make sure the harness’ size is perfect for your body type before picking one out. Designers such as SpareParts’ Tomboi provide online guides for measuring body types to pick out the right fit. And before buying a dildo for your harness, make sure its diameter and size is perfect for your pick. The last thing you want is a strap-on falling out—or being too big to wear.

Screengrab via YouTube

Editor’s note: This article regularly updated for relevance.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/bdsm-toys/

Heres Everything Youve Ever Wanted To Know About The JonBent Ramsey Murder

1. JonBenét’s first name is what is know as a “portmanteau” given that her name is a combination of her father’s first and middle name, creating a completely new name.

2. JonBenét was a decorated beauty pageant contestant winning titles such as Little Miss Colorado, Little Miss Charlevoix, Colorado State All-Star Kids Cover Girl, America’s Royale Miss, and National Tiny Miss Beauty.

JonBenét, photograhped for a pageant. (Wikipedia)

3. Investigators found 38 registered sex offenders within a 1.8 mile radius of the Ramsey’s Boulder, Colorado home.

4. Jon Bennett Ramsey, JonBenét’s father, was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Access Graphics, a computer services company. In 1996, the same year as JonBenét’s murder, Access Graphics grossed over $1 billion, and he was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

5. Although JonBenét’s half brother from her father’s first marriage spent half of Christmas day with the Ramseys, her parents Patsy and John and 9-year-old brother Burke are the only people known to have been in the family home the night of her murder.

Burke, Patsy, and JonBenét Ramsey. (Splash News)

6. At 5:52 AM on the morning of December 26th, 1996, Patsy called 911 to report her daughter was missing after finding a two page ransom note on the back staircase of the family house, allegedly to be from someone who had kidnapped JonBenét in the middle of the night.

7. There was a phone call prior to Patsy’s from the Ramsey household to 911, but whoever made that phone call immediately hung up.

8. The ransom note is a point of suspicion for many people, given that it was proven to have been written in the Ramsey household, a “practice” ransom letter was found, and several handwriting analysis experts have determined it was very probable that Patsy herself wrote the letter.

9. The letter reads as follows:

Mr. Ramsey,

Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We do respect your bussiness [sic] but not the country that it serves. At this time we have your daughter in our posession [sic]. She is safe and unharmed and if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter.

You will withdraw $118,000.00 from your account. $100,000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills. Make sure that you bring an adequate size attache to the bank. When you get home you will put the money in a brown paper bag. I will call you between 8 and 10 am tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. The delivery will be exhausting so I advise you to be rested. If we monitor you getting the money early, we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence a [sic] earlier delivery pick-up of your daughter.

Any deviation of my instructions will result in the immediate execution of your daughter. You will also be denied her remains for proper burial. The two gentlemen watching over your daughter do not particularly like you so I advise you not to provoke them. Speaking to anyone about your situation, such as Police, F.B.I., etc., will result in your daughter being beheaded. If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies. If you alert bank authorities, she dies. If the money is in any way marked or tampered with, she dies. You will be scanned for electronic devices and if any are found, she dies. You can try to deceive us but be warned that we are familiar with law enforcement countermeasures and tactics. You stand a 99% chance of killing your daughter if you try to out smart [sic] us. Follow our instructions and you stand a 100% chance of getting her back.

You and your family are under constant scrutiny as well as the authorities. Don’t try to grow a brain John. You are not the only fat cat around so don’t think that killing will be difficult. Don’t underestimate us John. Use that good southern common sense of yours. It is up to you now John!

Victory!

S.B.T.C

10. Another point of suspicion in regards to the ransom letter is the specificity of the amount of money. It was almost the exact amount of what John Ramsey’s Christmas bonus had been that year.

11. Despite being instructed not to contact anyone in the ransom letter, Patsy called the authorities as well and friends and family to alert them to her daughter’s disappearance.

12. When police entered the house they did a cursory search, but after failing to find any sign of a break in, struggle, or forced entry, only sectioned of JonBenét’s room and treated the scene as a kidnapping.

The Ramsey Home in Boulder (Jennifer Boyer)

13. Because the murder took place during Christmas, there were fewer police available to take statements from the Ramsey family and to secure the house. This lead to JonBenét’s room not being properly sectioned off, friends and family coming and going from the house contaminating the scene, and other missteps that basically made any DNA evidence unusable.

14. During a 2015 Reddit AMA, former Police Chief Mark Beckner said, “As for the police department in general, I wish we would have done a much better job of securing and controlling the crime scene on day one…We also should have separated John and Patsy and gotten full statements from them that day.”

15. At 1 PM Boulder Police Detective Linda Arndt suggested that John Ramsey and his friend Fleet White search through the house to see if they could spot if “anything seemed amiss.” While looking through the basement, the two men discovered the body of JonBenét.

15. JonBenét was bound by her wrists and ankles with a nylon cord, had duct tape over her mouth, and was covered in a white blanket. John Ramsey immediately carried her upstairs and Detective Arndt moved her into the living room.

16. Patsy claimed the clothes JonBenét was found in (white t-shirt and leggings) were not what she had put her daughter to bed wearing the night before.

18. The autopsy report showed that JoneBenét had been killed by strangulation (likely with the nylon cord wrapped around her neck) and also had a skull fracture. Her vaginal area had been wiped down, but there wasn’t any physical evidence of “conventional rape.” There was some sort of undigested fruit, thought to potentially be pineapple, in her stomach that had been consumed just a few hours before she died.

19. In photographs taken of the Ramsey household, there was a bowl of pineapple with a spoon on the kitchen table. The bowl and the spoon were covered in 9-year-old Burke’s fingerprints. Both John and Patsy said they had no memory of putting pineapple out for either of their children, and adamantly maintained that Burke had been asleep the entire night and woke up several hours after they called the police to report JonBenét missing.

The pineapple with milk, photographed during the 1996 investigation. (CBS)

20. After calling 911, Patsy thought she had hung up the phone but it was actually still on the line for a few seconds and voices were audible.

21. On the 911 call voices can be heard in the background during those seconds when the phone was not actually hung up. Some speculate that they can hear Patsy saying, “Help me Jesus,” or “What did you do?” and man, maybe John Ramsey, saying, “We’re not speaking to you.”

22. Kimberly Archuleta, the 911 dispatcher who took Patsy Ramsey’s call, was not questioned by the police.

23. Burke Ramsey, when questioned by the police about what happened to JonBenét, maintained (both as a child and to this day) that he was in bed when the 911 call was made.

25. A window in the basement was found to be broken, however it didn’t seem likely to be an actual, feasible point of entry for a break in. The window remained quite dirty (an intruder would have likely wiped most of the debris away while sliding through), it wasn’t actually found to be open at the time of investigation (reports vary on this), and a spider web in the corner was completely undisturbed.

26. It was however reported that there were “two sets of unidentifiable footprints” and a “palm print on the cellar door” in the basement where JonBenét’s body was found.

27. In 1999 there was an indictment against the Ramseys for two counts of child neglect that resulted in the death of JonBenét. However, District Attorney Alex Hunter refused to sign off on the documents stating lack of evidence, and therefore they were never actually indicted and/or prosecuted.

John and Patsy Ramsey during a local interview in 1997. (YouTube)

28. There was (and continues to be) wild speculation that JonBenét had been sexually abused/assaulted, both during her life and during her murder. When she was around 3 years old she was brought to the doctor for vaginal irritation, but her parents and the doctor stated that was simply from an allergic reaction to bubble bath. JonBenét was also a known bedwetter, which can be a sign of trauma and abuse in children. Lastly, although no seminal fluid was found there did appear to be vaginal trauma on her body during the autopsy. All of this has lead to the speculation that there was a sexual component to the crime.

29. In 2003 investigators found DNA evidence from a droplet of blood that was found in/on JonBenét’s underwear. The DNA was from an unknown male, not related to the Ramseys. While the DNA has been put into the FBI database so far it has lead to no new leads and no new developments.

30. One of the popular suspects was the “Santa Claus” suspect. A man named Bill McReynolds, who played Santa Claus along with his wife, Janet, who played Mrs. Claus, was at the Ramsey home just two days before JonBenét’s death. McReynolds described feeling very close to JonBenét and allegedly gave her a card that said, “You will receive a special gift after Christmas.” Mrs. McReynolds also wrote a play about a child who is murdered and their body is discovered in a basement. But despite these coincidences, as chilling as they may be, no other evidence was found to tie McReynolds to the case. McReynolds died at age 72 of a heart attack in 2002.

31. Lou Smit, a detective who came out of retirement to assist the District Attorney’s office with the case in early 1997, has stated that one of his main suspects is Gary Oliva. Oliva, a registered sex offender, was found with a photo of JonBenét in his backpack when he was arrested on drug charges in 2000. Oliva said of the photograph, “I feel she was an exceptional girl whose death was an exceptional loss. I felt the need to build a monument, a shrine, to remember this little girl.”

32. Michael Vail, a friend of Oliva’s, came forward to magazine with the information that just a day after the 1996 murder Oliva called him in distress saying, “I hurt a little girl, I hurt a little girl.” However, the DNA evidence was not a match to Oliva’s.

33. In 2006 at the age of 49, Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer. She was buried at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia, next to JonBenét.

JonBenét’s Grave. (Wikipedia)

34. 10 years after the murder, John Mark Karr confessed via email to murdering JonBenét to a journalism professor named Michael Tracey. Tracey had been emailing with Karr for over 4 years in order to gain his trust.

35. In the emails sent to Tracey, Karr used vernacular similar to that which was used in the ransom note left at the Ramsey house. He also called Patsy by a nickname, “Neddie”, that it was strange he would even have knowledge of. Eventually, Karr confessed to being in love with JonBenét and that on that night in December, he hit her over the head with a flashlight.

36. In a conversation with Tracey about the murder Karr said,

“I guess I might have just kind of had like a nervous breakdown at that point, I think I must have. I think I must have had really something kind of clicked in my head and I kind of lost it, really lost it. I mean, I just started really feeling strange and I just kept looking up at her.

And then all of sudden it was like now she was dead and she once was this little girl, but now she was like a holy deity; she was just like a goddess at that point.

She was beyond a child; she was just like when Jesus died on the cross… and when Jesus died on the cross he transcended from being a man to being something immortal, and that’s what she became to me.

I don’t give damn if anyone understand it or not….

I just looked up at her I though I just want to worship her…she’s my goddess…”

37. On August 16, 2008, with the assistance of British Intelligence and the Royal Thai Authorities, the US Department of Homeland Security was able to locate Karr in Bangkok where he had traveled to avoid child pornography charges from the state of California.

John Mark Karr in an interview post-confession. (YouTube)

38. A few months after Karr’s confession, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy issued a formal apology to John Ramsey and his family saying, “No one in the Ramsey family is considered a suspect.”

39. Despite his confession, Karr’s DNA did not match the DNA found at the scene of the crime, and he was never charged.

40. Furthermore, Former Police Chief Mark Beckner said of Karr and Mary Lacy, “My gut reaction was that Mary Lacy did not know the facts of the case and was making a big mistake. His confession, once they shared it with us, did not match the evidence at the scene. After she asked for our help in proving he did it, we knew in about 18 hours he was not the guy. We were able to confirm he was not even in Colorado at the time by just doing some routine checking and then obtained photos of him in Georgia at the time.”

41. In the CBS documentary special , DNA specialist Dr. Henry Lee revisited the DNA found on JonBenét’s underwear. Lee concluded that it was highly possible that the DNA found was transfer DNA from the manufacturer, and proved this by testing an unopened bag of underwear that ended up also containing trace DNA. This meant that the DNA evidence wasn’t conclusive, and any prior suspects could in fact be JonBenét’s killer despite previously being ruled out when they were not a DNA match.

42. A popular theory is that Patsy Ramsey, known to be a strict mother, accidentally killed JonBenét while reprimanding her for wetting the bed. This, coupled with the fact that several experts say that the ransom note was written by a woman, lead people to assume Patsy’s guilt.

43. Another theory, greatly reinforced by the CBS special, says that Burke Ramsey killed JonBenét for eating some of his pineapple, and that Patsy and John worked together to stage the kidnapping/murder scene to keep their son out of trouble. Burke was known to show hostility towards his sister (housekeepers reported that he defecated in her bed and rubbed feces on her Christmas presents and bedroom walls), so this with the pineapple bowl being covered in his fingerprints, JonBenét having undigested pineapple in her system, and his bizarre testimonials where he is seen smiling and seems like he’s reciting a script lead people to the conclusion that Burke killed his little sister in 1996. In December 2016 following the special, Burke filed a lawsuit against CBS for $750 million, alleging defamation.

Burke Ramsey during a 2016 interview with Dr. Phil. (YouTube)

44. On top of his confession to Michael Tracey, John Mark Karr has maintained that while he was present when JonBenét died, he did not act alone and wasn’t solely responsible for her murder. Karr claims that he knows who this killer is, but that he staged the crime scene in order to throw the police off the trail. This “real killer” has never been identifed by Karr or anyone else.

45. A particularly bizarre internet conspiracy theory is that the popstar Katy Perry is actually JonBenét Ramsey. Stemming from a 2014 YouTube video (now removed), the theory states that the similarities in their facial structure proves Perry is actually JonBenét and claims that the Ramseys staged the murder and cover up so that JonBenét/Katy could become famous.

46. A man named Michael Helgoth worked near the Ramsey home and allegedly told a friend on the night of the murder that he would be making “between $50,000 and $80,000 that night.” Helgoth had a history of sexual abuse and violence, but two days after the DA announced they had narrowed down a list of suspects, Helgoth committed suicide.

47. In December of 2016 authorities in Colorado revealed they would be using new DNA technology on the evidence found in the JonBenét Ramsey case. However, they cautioned that this would likely not reveal anything new and that in order to make a strong case, “new results [would only be significant] if they can be matched with other evidence authorities already have.”

JonBenét Ramsey (Splash News)

48. Current Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett claims he’s very certain he knows who killed JonBenét and that, “If we can ever file a case in open court, I’ll tell the world.”

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/kendra-syrdal/2017/09/heres-everything-youve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-jonbenet-ramsey-murder/