Clever new campaign reveals dangers of abstinence-only sex ed

Abstinence-only sex ed programs can be damaging for teenagers.
Abstinence-only sex ed programs can be damaging for teenagers.
Image: SIECUS / Advocates for youth / answer

It can be hard to convey the danger of abstinence-only sex ed programs, but a new set of trading cards is hoping to do exactly that. 

The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), Advocates for Youth, and Answer, nonprofit organizations that promote comprehensive sex ed, have partnered to create a new campaign called #SRAisAbstinenceOnly

The campaign calls out the rise of sexual risk avoidance (SRA) curriculum to teach sex ed. While “sexual risk avoidance” may sound nice, it’s really just a rebranding of abstinence-only-until-marriage, which the new trading cards effectively illustrate.

“These trading cards highlight some of the lessons that are actually used in abstinence-only sexual risk avoidance programs,” said Samantha Dercher, federal policy director at SIECUS. “They tell people things like, ‘If you have sex, you’ll be as undesirable as an already chewed-up piece of gum.'” 

Clever new campaign reveals dangers of abstinence-only sex ed


Clever new campaign reveals dangers of abstinence-only sex ed


The trading cards, which are dubbed the “SRA Stigma and Shame Starter Kit,” contain examples of real lessons used in abstinence-only programs. Teachers, for example, compare people who’ve had sex to objects like an unwrapped piece of candy that’s been touched by everyone in a room, a cup full of communal spit, and a used toothbrush. The cards are easily shared on social media. 

SIECUS, Advocates for Youth, and Answer recently delivered the cards to nearly 150 congressional offices to provide a counterpoint to the material that SRA lobbyists share with politicians. The groups also hosted a briefing in Washington, D.C., where sex educators, parents, and students shared their concerns with congressional staffers about the harm these programs can cause.

Research shows that abstinence-only programs aren’t effective because they don’t prevent pregnancy. These programs also often fail to educate young people about contraceptive use or how to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The Trump administration, however, continues to promote SRA programs. In fiscal year 2019, the federal government has spent $110 million on funding such curriculum. 

Clever new campaign reveals dangers of abstinence-only sex ed


Clever new campaign reveals dangers of abstinence-only sex ed


Often, these abstinence-only approaches are prevalent in places that need comprehensive sexual education the most. In the South, where there are high rates of HIV, STIs, and teen births, curriculum focusing only on abstinence is common, Dercher said. 

“We wanted to make it clear to policymakers and to the general public that sexual risk avoidance is abstinence-only,” said Dercher. “We need to stop funneling millions of taxpayer dollars every year into these harmful programs that don’t work.”

Instead of sexual risk avoidance programs, SIECUS, Advocates for Youth, and Answer argue for inclusive programs that teach students about issues like healthy relationships, consent, abuse, and sexual assault, as well as contraceptives and STI protection. 

“In a time when our sexual and reproductive health and rights are constantly under attack, we need to be providing young people with honest, accurate, and inclusive sex ed,” said Dercher.  

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A nonzero number of people have had sex with AirPods in

Are these sex toys?
Are these sex toys?
Image: Getty Images / iStockphoto

Tragedy is afoot in the sex-having community. According to a highly dubious survey, there exist multiple people in this world who’ve had sex while wearing AirPods. 

This “study,” which was conducted by the ticket selling platform TickPick, focuses on “the intersection of music and sexual preferences.” Basically, it surveyed 1,010 people about a bunch of music and sex stuff, most of which is fairly boring. (Of course nearly one in four folk fans has cried during sex.)

But one of its finding is outright disturbing: 17 percent of respondents who own AirPods said they’d left their AirPods in during sex. Were they playing audio while the sex was happening? We can’t be sure. But imagine having sex with someone while simultaneously understanding that they were wearing — and we can’t stress this enough — AirPods. AirPods are ugly, gross, and ethically dubious — basically everything you don’t want to associate with a sexual partner!

Of course, we must take this survey with a hefty grain of salt. Keep in mind that only 17 percent of AirPods owners surveyed said they’d had sex while wearing them, not 17 percent of the total participants. For example, if only 100 participants own AirPods in the first place, then only 17 people admitted to participating in AirPod-inclusive intercourse. Is that still too many people? Yes! But it’s not necessarily indicative of a wider trend.

What we’re trying to say is this: Please take your ear wax baskets out before fucking. Thank you.

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Boomerang nude GIFs are the latest sexting trend

A buffet of Boomeranged nudity.
A buffet of Boomeranged nudity.
Image: bob al-greene / mashable 

Last week, while I was brushing my teeth before bed, my phone flashed up with a voice note sent by a close friend. “Rachel!” my friend yelled down the phone with some urgency. “The days of the dick pic are gone. I can’t tell you how many dick GIFs I’m getting.”

The next day, I launched an investigation into whether or not people are *actually* sending “dick GIFs”. What I discovered was this: people are sending Boomeranged solicited nudes to one another. 

And it’s not just dick pics. It’s also butt GIFs, boob GIFs, and a veritable buffet of moving nudity. According to the people I’ve spoken to, a nude Boomerang offers something that a pic does not: a flirty bit of movement. 

Boomerang — an Instagram owned app — allows you to create “mini-videos” by capturing 10 photos and sticking them together to create a looping GIF. You can use the app to create Boomerangs without sharing them publicly and you can save them to your phone and send them via a messaging app. 

Ann (not her real name), who works as an editor, told me she started making nudes on Boomerang — Instagram’s app which lets you make “mini videos that loop back and forth” — about a year ago. Ann says she feels that Boomeranged butt GIFs are “like the flirty wink of nudes.” 

“Most of my nudes focus on my butt and the light/mirror situation in my apartment isn’t great, so I was trying to figure out how to take better ones using the front facing camera,” says Ann. She tried taking a photo by lying on her stomach and taking a pic of her butt over her shoulder. 

“I was struggling a bit to capture the thiccness of my butt because it looked flat.”

“I was struggling a bit to capture the thiccness of my butt because it looked flat,” Ann continues. “And then somewhere along the line — trial and error! — I realised I could do a boomerang to get some motion.” 

She likes Boomerang nudes because they feel “a bit more playful” and fun. “I would feel like an absolute cornball ever taking a video, so Boomerang is like the perfect middle ground,” says Ann. “They’re only like, what, five seconds long at most? So there’s not really pressure to nail a move or anything like that — you can just do something cute and silly.”

A writer who’d prefer to remain anonymous says she’s had nude GIFs made of her consensually. 

“I’m not a big fan of videos being made of me because I think with sound and everything it can get really identifiable,” she says. “But GIFs seem really fun and catch something sexy and short.”

She says one of her current sexual partners has, with her consent, used Boomerang to capture “little moments” during sex. “I’m into kink and he has made GIFs of me being hit on the ass with a flogger, for example. Or a moment during sex.

“I’ve sent them on to others instead of nudes,” she adds. “Like, you can’t see my face and people are always really into it.”

How to save your Boomerangs in the app without posting publicly.

How to save your Boomerangs in the app without posting publicly.

Image: rachel thompson / boomerang

I ask what the appeal of sending a gif is over, say, sending a still image. “I think it feels more real in some way too, because of the short movement,” she says. “It’s like you’re in the room a bit more.” 

While Boomerang is being used for solicited and consensual nudes, it’s perhaps unsurprising that people are also sending unsolicited Boomeranged nudes. 

Erin, who’d prefer to be identified by her first name only, says she received a Boomeranged gif of a penis after going on a date with a guy. “I’ve had some guy send me a helicopter dick Boomerang once and needless to say there was not another date. Fucking gross,” she tells me. “Helicopter dick alone is terrifying.” (Just as an FYI, the term “helicopter dick” is defined by Urban Dictionary as “a sexual display wherein a male gyrates his pelvis so that his flaccid penis whirls in a radial manner like the blades of a helicopter.”)

“Is anyone ever ready for a helicopter dick Boomerang nude?”

Erin says they had started to get “a little sexy” during texting, but “not so much that I was 100 percent helicopter dick nude.” 

“But is anyone ever ready for a helicopter dick Boomerang nude?” she asks. Good question. 

She replied to the dick gif saying “WTF” and the sender then accused her of “killing the mood.” 

“But seriously — how am I the one that killed the mood?” she muses. 

If you’re sharing nude Boomerangs with a consenting partner, there are a few things to bear in mind.  Instagram — which owns Boomerang — has a strict policy on the sharing of nude or sexual content. That rule applies to content showing sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully naked buttocks. The policy also applies to some photos of women’s nipples — with the exception of photos showing post-mastectomy scarring, active breastfeeding, or images of breasts where the nipples are censored by blurring or pixelation. So, sharing your nude Boomerangs to your Instagram Stories or grids would be in breach of Instagram’s policies.

Instagram has a section in its Help Centre detailing how to share photos safely. This section also contains advice on what to do if someone is threatening to “share things you want to keep private.” In instances where you feel you’re being threatened with revenge porn, Instagram asks people to report the profile of the person making the threat — and if you don’t have an Instagram account, you can use this form to submit a report. If you’re receiving unsolicited nudes that you believe are in breach of Instagram’s community guidelines and terms of use, you can report the sender using Instagram’s reporting tool. 

In this day and age, it often feels like no app is immune from hacks and data breaches. As with any app that’s used to create images or videos, it’s important to think about your own digital safety and privacy. 

Stay safe out there.

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Here are the most relatable depictions of women masturbating on TV and in movies

Aimee from 'Sex Education' discovering the wonders of masturbation.
Aimee from ‘Sex Education’ discovering the wonders of masturbation.
Image: netflix

May is National Masturbation Month, and we’re celebrating with Feeling Yourself, a series exploring the finer points of self-pleasure.

For too long, female pleasure was portrayed on-screen through the prism of the male gaze. 

When it came to TV and movies, scenes portraying women masturbating were basically straight out of a male director’s sexual fantasy. More often than not, the woman would writhing around on her back and she’d usually begin moaning the moment her hand came into contact with her vulva. If only it were that easy. 

Truth is: We don’t masturbate like that. We’re not always thrashing about on our back making loud fake orgasm noises. It’s usually pretty mundane and unglamorous. And we can get pretty creative with positions and props depending on how we’re feeling. 

Thankfully, times are changing. TV and movie depictions of self-love sessions are becoming more realistic, more anatomically accurate, and much, much more relatable. 

We’ve ranked some of the most iconic on-screen female masturbation moments for their realism and relatability. 

Samantha’s priest fantasy in ‘Sex And The City’

Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) did a lot of good in smashing the stigma surrounding female sexuality. But, it needs to be said that some of the orgasm scenes were a tad melodramatic. In “The Agony and The Ex-tacy” Samantha meets a good looking priest who she quickly dubs “Friar Fuck” — only problem is, this friar won’t, uuuh, fulfil her fantasy. Samantha ends up masturbating about him, during which she breaks out into a full-on operatic orgasm. If only masturbating were actually that good.

Marnie’s bathroom break in ‘Girls’ 

In Season One of Girls, Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams) does something many of us have but dreamed of doing. She becomes so aroused after talking to bonafide arty douchebag Booth Jonathan that she has to go masturbate in the bathroom of an event space. “I want you to know, the first time I fuck you it might scare you a little because I’m a man and I know how to do things,” Booth says to Marnie. Soon after, Marnie locks herself in the loo, puts her hand down her tights and cracks one out while standing up. I mean, it’s a great idea in principle, but who among us has ever had great success masturbating in an upright position (not me!). 

Betty Draper and the washing machine 

In Season 1, episode 11 of Mad Men, we witness Betty Draper become overcome with horniness after meeting a good looking door-to-door salesman. After he asks to come inside to measure windows upstairs (we’ve heard that one before), she decides against it and instead asks him to leave. Once he’s left she begins fantasising about him and rubs herself up against the vibrating washing machine. Anyone who’s ever tried this move at home will know that it’s a nice idea in theory, pretty anti-climactic in practice. 

The cry-wank in ‘Mulholland Drive’ 

Naomi Watts’ masturbation scene in Mulholland Drive is not bad. It’s free from all the inauthentic thrashing around that you often see in porn, and all you see is Betty (Naomi Watts) sweaty, pained expression (accurate) as she makes repetitive motions with her hand down her unbuttoned trousers. The only thing we’d change is the fact that she’s aggressively crying. I’m just not one for masturbating when I’m upset.

Naomi Watts in 'Mulholland Drive' in 2001.

Naomi Watts in ‘Mulholland Drive’ in 2001.

Image: Studiocanal/REX/Shutterstock

The giant vibrator in ‘Slums of Beverly Hills’

Back in 1998, long before Russian Doll, Natasha Lyonne was already making quite the impression on screen. In Slums of Beverly Hills, Vivian (Lyonne) decides to try out her cousin Rita’s (Marisa Tomei) massive vibrator. One tip though: Try not to use other people’s sex toys. 

'The Slums Of Beverly Hills.'

Image: Fox Searchlight/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The bidet in ‘Broad City’ 

When it comes to portrayals of sex and masturbation, Broad City is a damn delight to watch. Free from the male gaze sex scenes of old, Abbi and Ilana have sex and masturbate like you and me. Ilana’s bidet scene was a wild, wet ride — the only note I’d give is that if she’d turned her body around to face the tap, she’d have a better chance of having an orgasm. But, hey, whatever floats your boat (or bidet).

Ilana Glazer told Out magazine what makes Broad City’s portrayals of female desire just so brilliant: “It’s like these girls are horny but not under the male gaze. They’re horny, period. Just starting from the vagina, not starting from some man looking at them.”

[embedded content]

The ‘Black Swan’ ‘bating sesh 

All too often, on-screen depictions of female masturbation show women in the same position: lying on her back with her legs spread apart. Newsflash: we don’t all masturbate in the one position. That would be pretty boring. This scene gets bonus points for showing a woman masturbating in the face-down position, which is a pretty popular position that you don’t often see in TV and movies. 

Image: Fox Searchlight/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Aimee’s first time in ‘Sex Education’

You always remember your first time. The first time you wank, that is. When Sex Education’s Aimee Gibbs admitted that she’d never had to masturbate before, wannabe sex therapist Otis stepped in to offer up some advice. “So you’re prescribing a wank?” she asked him. Correct. 

Aimee’s first time has a familiar feel to it — she tried out a bunch of different positions like she’s on a voyage of orgasm discovery. When she finally comes, she has a sudden pang of post-orgasmic hunger. We’ve all been there, Aimee. 

Aimee discovers the joys of masturbation.

Aimee discovers the joys of masturbation.

Image: netflix

The pillow hump in ‘The To Do List’

Aubrey Plaza stars as virginal valedictorian Brandy Klark who decides to draw up a list of sexual escapades to complete before heading off to college. In the film, we see Brandy masturbating by riding a pillow, which frankly you don’t see often enough in movies. 

Aubrey Plaza and Rachel Bilson in  'The To Do List.'

Aubrey Plaza and Rachel Bilson in  ‘The To Do List.’

Image: Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The dead battery in ‘Insecure’

[embedded content]

In Season 1, episode 3 of Insecure, Issa goes to grab her vibrator only for the batteries to die pretty much immediately. Obviously, she doesn’t give up on that dream straight away, so she trawls through her apartment looking for batteries and yelling out “fuck!” when she fails to find one. It’s a highly relatable moment, to say the very least. 

Issa Rae told Glamour about the significance of this moment: “In the [writers’] room we were talking about what it feels like to be thirsty and how we don’t really get to see female characters masturbate. Even in a funny way. Especially black women! So we wanted to portray that, while remaining true to our show and showing sexual frustration.”

The Obama speech in ‘Fleabag’

Anyone who’s ever masturbated with a computer in front of them will be all too familiar with the specific laptop-wobble that comes, uhh, hand in hand with the act of self-love. 

In Series 1 of Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge brought us a refreshingly honest masturbation scene. Not everyone can attest to having masturbated to Barack Obama delivering a speech about democracy while their boyfriend’s asleep in the bed next to them, but this particular masturbation scene felt mundane and real. There were no writhing around or fake orgasms in this scene, just a woman wearing her pyjamas masturbating noiselessly under her duvet as her laptop moved up and down with her hand. 

[embedded content]

Puberty hits in ‘PEN15’ 

Puberty is rough. Especially the rush of extreme horniness that comes with it. Episode 3 of PEN15 features one of the realest depictions of teenage self-exploration ever shown on TV. 

When Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine) first discovers the wonders of masturbation, she can’t stop herself from doing it all the time (who can blame her, tbh). But, Maya also feels ashamed of what she’s doing — a feeling that many of us can identify with. “I’m a pervert, and I really shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing,” she tells her friend Anna. “I’ve been putting my hands down my pants — my area — down there to feel good.” 

The episode is about learning to masturbate without feeling shame — which is a rite of passage that’s not often talked about, let alone shown on our TV screens.

[embedded content]

Happy masturbating! 

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19 people share the niche things that turn them on

A new can of tennis balls.
A new can of tennis balls.

May is National Masturbation Month, and we’re celebrating with Feeling Yourself, a series exploring the finer points of self-pleasure.

Everyone’s turn-ons are a little different. We know that. But what about the kinda niche ones, the ones that aren’t explicitly sexual at all?

Thanks to some extremely generous messages, we’ve compiled a list of images, sounds, and other sensory experiences that 19 people find arousing. The responses were incredibly varied, but a few understandable themes — food, water, candles, ASMR-adjacent sounds — came up more than once.

Here’s what everyone said:

1. “The sound of pouring soda into a tall glass with ice in it. Soft boiled eggs are arousing also.”

2. “Power tools.”

3. “The scent of this oatmeal cookie candle from Anthropologie really does it for me — it’s borderline sickeningly sweet, but I love it anyway. Sometimes my roommate catches me full face in candle for maximum effect.”

4. “The dramatic movie intro at theaters when they talk about emergency exits and tell you to turn your phone off and then pop the popcorn and pour the ice and Coke into the glass and say to enjoy the show.”

Enjoy the show.

Enjoy the show.

Image: Marie La Fauci / Getty Images

5. “Honestly, brown butter with sage. Sage is an herb that I truly think has a sexy scent.  Also, eating seafood with my hands. And the crunch of a really good baguette.”

6. “I’d say the, like, slopping sound that water makes on the side of a pool when it’s really quiet.”

7. “Deep scents: dark chocolate, coffee beans, etc., long car rides, the smell of sunblock.”

8. “Heavy bass and super deep voices! I am v hard of hearing but can still hear low pitches and they make me feel ways about things.”

“Eating seafood with my hands.”

9. “I live with a roommate and have for six years … when I have the house to myself, I inherently feel sexual and have the urge to do something about it. Even if it’s not about being sexual, something about being home alone makes me want to act out and get freaky!”

10. “This one candle that comes in a blue glass jar. It smells like roses and patchouli.”

11. “A freshly cut golf course at dawn, when there’s still dew on the grass and you’re the first one out there so you can see your footprints.”

12. “Being good at whistling.”

13. “Pulling the tab off a new can of tennis balls and the smell immediately after. Watching people do knife things to food. The gardenias are blooming right now and the first one I smelled this year surprised me in a good way.”

Surprising (in a good way).

Surprising (in a good way).

Image: Santiago Urquijo / Getty Images

14. “The dull roar of a skateboard coming down the street.”

15. “Less so now, but for a while the scent of Tide detergent had weirdly crossed wires for me.”

16. “Cigarette smoke. Blue light on people dancing at a music festival while the wind is whipping up.”

17. “Faint aromas with an unsure source.”

18. “The sound of a stream in the countryside. Yes!”

19. “A head to toe stretch that lasts for, like, 15 seconds.”

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