Easy Ways to Be Kinky

kinkySex can be liberating, mind-blowing, stress-reducing, soul-moving, or just plain fun. This much we know. And while we’re all for “spicing up your love life,” as the magazines like to call it, we’re pretty sure it’s not rocket science to do so — and certainly doesn’t require a new story every single month about it (we’re looking at you,Cosmo). So here it is, the definitive — and only — cheat sheet we’ll ever give you for mixing things up in the bedroom. And since we freely admit that this is hardly brain surgery, little, if any, explanation will be provided. Simply pick the ones you like, ignore the rest, and have a great time:

1. Spanking. Biting and hair-pulling also options. And, hey, be careful out there.

2. Sex toys. We hope we’re far past a time when any guy would be intimidated by the introduction of a vibrator, and certainly there are other options as well.

3. Tying up. Many, many modern young women are into this, and we could spend days analyzing that fact. But trust us, it’s fun. Lots of guys like to be tied up, too.

4. Various forms of anal play. Might be good to discuss this first, as romantically as possible, of course. It’s definitely a love-hate kinda thing.

5. Role-playing.

6. Telling each other what you want, in the moment, and doing it, in the moment.

7. Lingerie, etc. Some guys are into it, some don’t care that much, few will complain, and you might feel super-sexy, so try at will.

8. Do it somewhere other than the bedroom.

9. Share a hot memory from your past. Your shared past, to be clear. Probably you should keep the fantasies about exes to yourself.

10. Shower sex! But be sure it’s the right time. You don’t want to sneak in on him doing … whatever he might take care of in the bathroom when he doesn’t think you’re around.

11. Share a fantasy.

12. Sexting! So scandalous for teens, so awesome for grownups who trust each other implicitly.

13. Masturbation. With or without your partner there.

Feminist or Not?: ‘Friends With Benefits’

friends-with-benefitsI went into Friends With Benefits with my paws up, ready to hate it (and also ready to very much enjoy the relief of the movie theater’s hyper-powered air conditioning).

I walked out wistful, hopeful, thoughtful, and desperate for the oppressive heat to counteract the ridiculously hyperactive air conditioning in the movie theater. Seriously, if the power grid fails, it will be because of multiplexes trying a little too hard to assuage their customers.

In any case, Friends With Benefits turned out to be the most gender-balanced romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time — I might even compare it vaguely with When Harry Met Sally. Of course it’s more knowing, more meta, more technologically aware, and, especially, far more raunchy than that paragon of romantic comedies. But it combined the dude-ness of all those Judd Apatow movies — The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up – and the cool-chick sensibilities of a Bridesmaids (also Apatow’s production, incidentally), and emerged with fully formed male and female characters, all of them funny, none of them slighted. Glory be.

We all get the concept of the movie from the title, because that’s how we name movies these days. (One fully expects a film entitled Two People Who Meet and Fall in Love but Encounter Various Difficulties and Then Reconcile Photogenically to take the nation by storm at any moment.) But this movie goes beyond, just a little, just the right amount. Particularly when it comes to Mila Kunis’ driven, swearing, “emotionally damaged” New Yorker Jamie, female characters actually live here, and male characters don’t suck, either. It hardly matters that our darling Jamie happens to lust for the fairy-tale endings of romantic comedies; that is, in fact, the entire point. Even the copious use of flash-mobs made me uncomfortable in its of-the-moment-that’s-already-passed-ness until I realized that’s just what the movie is using them for: to be the ultimate symbol of cheese. This is a movie about how lame “chick flicks” have become, and about what damage they have wrought. And somehow Kunis makes of Jamie what so many female stars before her have failed to assemble from the parts of their romantic comedy heroines: a woman who seems like a living, breathing human being. One we’d actually like to hang out with. We love her even more for being both a fairy-tale-ending girl and one who can still enjoy sex, who doesn’t expect to wake up with prince charming just because she went to bed with him.

We still don’t buy that in the end the Justin Timberlakes of the world — those “friends with benefits” who can’t quite bring themselves to commit their souls to us worthy women — are about to turn into our prince charmings. But when it comes to women as cool as Jamie, we certainly want to deliver a swift kick in the head to any guy who doesn’t snap her up.

Feminist or not? More feminist than not. We wish we could get a movie about the ridiculousness of the happily-ever-after myth that resists the temptation to give it to us at the end, but this still comes close, and has a fun time doing it.

Feminist Dating Dilemmas

datingdilemmas1After our “How to Be a Feminist Boyfriend” post sparked its share of debate, we realized how ripe for discussion this intersection of politics and personal life is. Just goes to show that heterosexual dating is an endless minefield in a world that’s otherwise pretty clear-cut when it comes to implementing feminism. (In areas like the workplace and the law, strict equality is the standard; in relationships, where power dynamics constantly switch, some of us like to be tied up in bed, and, in any case, we need men, by definition, it’s a little bit more fraught.) To that end, we offer up some thoughts on more specific situations a feminist can find herself in — and our thoughts about how to approach them, many culled from previous posts on related topics. As always, these are just suggestions — feel free to offer up your own. (We know you will!)

Dilemma #1: You want sex, and he doesn’t. This sounds straightforward, but can get tricky in the heat of the moment because we’re so socialized to believe men always want sex that it’s hard not to take their moods — or lack thereof — personally. We hope, however, that you’d give his headache the same respect you’d expect for yours. In fact, he might even be trying to spice things up or preserve a little mystery by holding back; a night off here and there is a compliment, not a curse. Though if this goes on for too long, a talk is probably in order — either you or he or both of you may have your signals crossed.

Dilemma #2: He wants things in bed that you don’t.
Man, Third Wave feminism is confusing, isn’t it? We’re supposed to be constantly breaking through our hangups to explore vast expanses of new sexual territory to take advantage of all that our foremothers fought for … or something … right? And yet, we might just not be that into having a threesome or making a sex video or anal. Stop trying to figure out why you don’t like some stuff — we all get to just not like stuff. Sure, give it a chance if you’re iffy about it and he’s dying to do it, but if something really makes you uncomfortable, draw the line. Not doing so can be the beginning of the end of any relationship.

Dilemma #3: Your insurance sucks and you’re paying hundreds of dollars a year — or even a month — for contraception that keeps both of you safe. Yeah, we’re still harping on this; ask him to pay half!

Dilemma #4: The paying-for-dinner thing. This caused a lot of discussion on our message boards last time we mentioned it; we’ll try to clear that up here. In short, equality absolutely means sharing costs in a relationship, no doubt about it. (“Sharing” can be different for every couple and evolve over time based on how much each partner makes, etc. But that’s between you and your partner.) There are men out there who like to use feminism as a way to duck that first dinner check completely; there are women out there who never offer to pay a dime. We think both of those kinds of people are wrong. Ladies, always offer to pay or split the check. If you find over time that you’re the only one ever picking up the tab, and you don’t want to, say something or ditch the guy for good. And, it should be said, this works the other way around, too. Some women like to be “taken care of,” but it’s important not to feel constantly indebted to the man in your life. Also, it’s just more fair.

Dilemma #5: He badmouths feminism. Too many of us have been on that first date where the guy makes some derogatory reference to what boner-killers “those feminists” are. Let us hope you never give him a second date. Let us hope further that you tell him why. We wish we had. We were young then. We’re sorry.

Feminist or Not?: ‘Teen Mom’

456x3301MTV’s Teen Mom — and the show from which it evolved, 16 and Pregnant — have taken their share of blame for everything from “glamorizing” teen pregnancy (with some critics even claiming girls were getting themselves knocked up now just to be on TV) to standing by as the young mothers have abused their mates and neglected their offspring. The latter criticism is more valid than the former — we have watched as Amber punched baby daddy Gary and as Farrah let her baby fall off a bed — though producers say they’re there to make a documentary, not to interfere with the girls’ lives. But as the subjects’ lives have also become tabloid targets, questions about whether there’s really some societal good to be gleaned from what some see as an exploitative show have become both murkier and more persistent.

With the show back this week for the third season featuring original cast members Amber, Caitlynn, Farrah, and Maci, two things seem clear: These girls’ lives are more complicated than ever — and for all the series’ imperfections, it does still do a spectacular job of highlighting the massive inequalities between what young mothers face versus young fathers. Particularly for Farrah and Maci — who no longer have their kids’ dads around, for very different reasons — life is one feminist lesson after another. Farrah, who lost her boyfriend in a car accident, has been trying to make her way in the world and provide for little Sophia, but the girl can’t catch a break. She’s patched things up with her mom, who served community-service time for hitting her during a heated argument last season, but she’s still, it seems, relatively broke. (The network and the girls are mum on how or whether they’re compensated for the show, but it doesn’t seem like much given what we see.) Farrah’s trying to go to culinary school while waitressing; the stunning girl has also decided to take up modeling, which could be more lucrative, though she’s decided she needs a boob job for that. Alas, after a string of rejected loan applications to pay for the surgery, one bank approved her during last night’s season finale — which kind-of bummed me out, even though I’m rooting for the poor thing. Maci, meanwhile, can’t get her ex to pay his share of child support, but she’s still stuck trying to keep the peace between him and her new beau for the sake of her son. Plus, of course, she can’t move too far away to be with her boyfriend — because she has to share custody with her ex.

Even Amber and Caitlynn, whose baby daddies are sticking with them — or trying to — are stuck with perpetual guilt: Amber for clearly not getting along (to say the least) with the father of her child, and Caitlynn for giving her baby up for adoption (a fact her mom won’t let her live down). Via Amber’s storyline last night, we also got a lesson in domestic violence as she and Gary went to a counselor, who told her that if she gets physical in front of her daughter, that little girl is more likely to become a victim of domestic violence when she grows up. That’s an important feminist message regardless of which gender is the perpetrator.

Is the show good for the girls starring in it? It’s hard to make an argument that it is. But as far as showing the realities of young motherhood, in all their stark grittiness, it sure beats Juno and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.