Sex Soundtrack: BDSM

Work has been very stressful for the past couple of weeks, and while I finally feel like I’m making some progress on that front, I’m still trying to spend most of my free-time on relaxing activities. I’ve started working on a more substantial post for next week, but in the meantime, I figured I would try something a little different and share some of my favorite songs about BDSM.

“In Your Room” by Depeche Mode

In your room
Where souls disappear
Only you exist here
Will you lead me to your armchair
Or leave me lying here
Your favourite innocence
Your favourite prize
Your favourite smile
Your favorite slave”

A list like this just wouldn’t be complete without Depeche Mode. Although “Master & Servant” usually gets top spot on every BDSM music list, several of their other songs have an overlying theme of sexual power dynamics as well. And while I love “Master & Servant” for everyday listening, I enjoy the slow and sensual feel of “In Your Room” much more for actual intimacy.

“Discipline” by Nine Inch Nails

“I see you left a mark
Up and down my skin
I don’t know where I end
And where you begin

I need your discipline”

Trent Reznor certainly knows how to create powerful sex music. And while “Closer” usually gets all the attention, elements of Dominance & submission can be found in quite a few other songs as well — whether in a sexual context or not. “Discipline” is a recent favorite of mine, because if interpreted as being about D/s, the focus falls on the emotional side of a relationship rather than the purely physical/sexual.

“I’m Your Man” by Leonard Cohen

“If you want a lover 
I’ll do anything you ask me to 
And if you want another kind of love 
I’ll wear a mask for you”

Okay, I know that this song doesn’t have the kinkiest lyrics. But thanks to the movie Secretary, it will always make me think of James Spader as Mr. E. Edward Grey and send shivers down my spine. Plus, Cohen’s voice is so gravelly and deep that you can practically feel it reverberating through your body, which is an awful nice touch.

“Pain Makes You Beautiful” by Judybats

“No sorrow tied
Tied to my hurting you
To the compromising position to all the painful things I do

Pain makes you beautiful
I give you what you want, the pain and the pleasure”

I accidentally stumbled upon this song recently… and I became a little bit obsessed with it. It’s such a peppy, upbeat tune that really seems to embody the playful nature of BDSM and the connection between partners. This song doesn’t make it seem like it’s dark or taboo — just another way for people to enjoy themselves sexually. (Although there is a line about “not being good for you” that I wrinkle my nose at and choose to ignore.)

“The Power is Mine” by Lords of Acid

“Dance the dance of lovers
I don’t need no other
To ride the waves of pleasure and pain
Come on boy obey me
Lick my boots to please me
Maybe I will loosen your chains”

With the exception of the classic “Venus in Furs” by Velvet Underground, I don’t know of many songs about female dominance. I love the dual points of perspective in this song — switching between the submissive male’s spoken word and the more sensual & hypnotic dominant female. And although Lords of Acid are somewhat known for their raunchy sexual lyrics, this song is surprisingly clean for the subject matter.

“Little Whip” by Danzig

“You crawl across the floor
On your hands and knees
To seek revelation
Little whip
I pull you up
I grab your hair
I give you hope
Little whip”

Danzig is no stranger to incorporating BDSM into his lyrics and music videos. In fact, the video for “Wicked Pussycat” was what first caught my attention about him. And while his wailing certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, this song is incredibly sexy if you enjoy it (or can at least look past it). The way that it starts out so seductively slow is simply perfect.


“Games” by Ayria

“Monologue” by She Wants Revenge (A lot of their other songs have the same dark, sexual feel to them.)

“Breath Control” by Recoil (Obligatory Warning: Breath play can be very dangerous.)

“S&M” by Rihanna

“Fun with Ropes” by The Go Go’s 

“I Wanna Be Your Dog” by Iggy Pop & The Stooges

“Hurricane” by 30 Seconds to Mars (For the video more so than the lyrics.)

Tell me: What are your favorite BDSM songs? I love discovering more to add to my playlist!

Dear Hobby Lobby: Birth Control ≠ Abortion

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby. Basically, they were granted religious freedom to deny their female employees insurance coverage on their full choice of birth control methods — specifically IUDs and emergency contraception, which they consider abortifacients. A lot of people (not just pro-choicers) are angry about this ruling. Many consider contraceptive accessibility very beneficial to both individuals and society as a whole. Others are angered over Hobby Lobby’s alleged hypocrisy of investing in the very companies that create the products they are against.

While I’m upset for several reasons, I’m most angered by the fact that a ruling like this upholds ignorance on matters of basic sex education and further perpetuates a confusion between birth control and abortion that is already too prevalent in our society. Although they have a belief that these forms of contraceptives are abortifacients, that does not make it true. In fact, there is strong research-based evidence that makes Hobby Lobby’s argument unsound. First, we have to take a look at how emergency contraception and IUDs actually work.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is commonly referred to as “the morning after pill” as well as the most popular brand name, Plan B. Other brands sold in the U.S. include Ella, Next Choice, and My Way. Many brands of daily oral contraceptives can also be used as emergency contraception when multiples are taken. (There is a fantastic chart here that shows how many pills of what brands can be taken in this way.) Basically, all methods act by releasing a large dose of synthetic progesterone into the body. Note that these pills should not be confused with Mifepristone, which can be used to induce a medication abortion. The “morning after pill” and “abortion pill” are two different medications, working at two very different times — one before pregnancy and one after. Emergency contraception does not have any effect if the woman is already pregnant.

To understand how a contraceptive method can work after intercourse, we first have to recognize that fertilization of an egg does not happen immediately. At the very least, the sperm have to find their way into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg (which can take a few hours). If ovulation/the release of an egg hasn’t yet occurred, the sperm may have to try to survive for a few days in waiting (7 days appears to be the longest observed time). This is the key to how emergency contraception works, and explains why it has to be taken quickly — usually within the first 72 hoursIf taken before ovulation occurs, the synthetic progesterone signals to the body not to release an egg, thereby preventing fertilization by keeping the sperm and egg separated.

The once-hypothesized idea that emergency contraceptives can provide a second barrier to pregnancy by preventing implantation is not being supported by scientific studies.Instead, what we are finding is that most, if not all, emergency contraceptives are not effective if ovulation has already occurred, meaning that they are not working at the level of implantation. The only brand that seems like it might alter the uterine lining (which is not to say that it necessary would inhibit implantation) is Ella, which uses a different form of synthetic progesterone than levonorgestrel.


Although all the details explaining how IUDs work have not been determined yet, we are discovering more as their popularity increases, more research is conducted, and they are better refined. (Being comparable to permanent sterilization in their effectiveness, but still remaining a temporary method, they offer a lot of promise for the fields of reproductive health & family planning.) What research shows is that just like all other methods of contraception, an IUD primarily works by preventing fertilization. Depending on the type of IUD (copper or hormonal), this can occur a number of ways. Copper appears to be a very effective spermicide, killing off sperm as they enter into the uterus, thus preventing them from reaching an egg that may be present in the fallopian tubes. Hormonal IUDs (which contain levonorgestrel) may prevent ovulation for some women, but they also thicken the cervical mucus so that sperm cannot quickly move through it.

It has generally been thought that because hormonal IUDs also thin the uterine lining and copper alters the uterine environment, these methods may also prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. This is still debatable, with some arguing that it explains why IUDs are so greatly effective. However, even from the beginning, the use of IUDs has not shown any greater rate of failed implantations than what occurs naturally.

Which brings me to my other point: Even if we were to ignore much of the scientific evidence and admit that these methods of contraception may provide a last-ditch effort to prevent pregnancy by blocking implantation of a fertilized egg…

Fertilization and pregnancy are not one and the same.

Pregnancy is a much more complicated process than most people give it credit for, with a lot of room for error. (Although this is very simplified, the basic steps of the process are: ovulation + intercourse + fertilization + implantation = pregnancy.) As far back as 1965, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognized this and determined that the very definition of conception (or pregnancy) depended on implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterine wall. Fertilization by itself is simply not enough for your body to be considered pregnant. It is only one step along the way.

When contraception is not being used, at least 50% of fertilized eggs never fully implant and are thus naturally destroyed by the woman’s body before anyone is any wiser.This usually happens so quickly that it does not even alter a woman’s menstrual cycle, let alone begin to release pregnancy hormones. In general, because contraceptives reduce the amount of fertilized eggs, they actually help reduce the amount of failed implantations that would otherwise occur naturally. (This article does a fantastic job explaining the basic idea, even though the exact numbers reflect the use of oral contraceptives — not EC or IUDs.)

Beliefs are important to all of us, but we can’t forget to continuously reexamine them in the light of new evidence that speaks to the contrary.




5 Porn Stars (and Why I Love Them!)

It’s not a big secret that I’m a fan of porn. I also realize that a confession like that can make a lot of different people uncomfortable (or even angry). I’m planning a future post on porn from a more societal perspective, but for now, I wanted to share a few of my favorite well-known performers in the porn industry!


Yes, Stoya is beautiful. Her pale skin, small breasts, and mildly punky appearance (especially when she had pierced nipples & blue/purple hair) were the first things to catch my eye. But a pretty face isn’t enough to make me seek out more of a porn star’s work for years to come. No, I return to Stoya’s videos because she makes sex look fun. She giggles, squeaks, and makes the absolute best sex faces. Her scenes effortlessly switch from playful and light-hearted to rough and breathtakingly passionate, reminding me that intimacy is rarely “serious business.”

As if I needed any more reasons to adore Stoya, she’s also very talented off screen. She writes fantastic articles for Vice and educates about consent and adult performers rights as part of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee. Her blog and Instagram are intellectual but down-to-earth — filled with mentions of her favorite books, adorable photos of her many cats, and occasional appearances from her real-life partner, James Deen.

James Deen

***On November 28, 2015, Stoya confessed on Twitter that she was raped by James Deen. I can no longer support him as a person or suggest him as a performer.***

Deen has a certain charisma that is absent in a lot of male performers. Whether he’s doing mainstream porn or BDSM, his scenes aren’t focused on what he’s doing to a woman, but what he’s doing with her. I am continuously in awe of the on-screen chemistry that he shares with all of his female co-stars — especially Stoya. He’s always pulling them close, grasping them tightly, and whispering into their ears. (What I wouldn’t give to know what he’s whispering!) For me, his confidence and dominance are even more attractive than his physical appearance, but I can’t deny that I am also really curious about his signature vibrator.

To make him even more charming, he seems to have a very carefree sense of humor. This sometimes carries over into his work, like the internet-famous “Lemon Stealing Whore” clip and the video behind “I am a baby panda! I do what I want!” (Confused? You can read about it on his blog.) He also does an online video series called James Deen Loves Food where you can see him make a $580.37 burrito, taste test 27 different kinds of mustard, and occasionally lose some clothing.

Buck Angel

I firmly believe that porn can be used for more than just helping people achieve orgasm. As the self-proclaimed “Man with a Pussy,” Buck challenges our society’s gender dichotomy. He helps make transgendered individuals more visible in the sex industry and the media at large. His work with trans women forces viewers to question if what they are watching is still mainstream heterosexual porn — or if perhaps they should abandon those labels altogether. His body positive attitude towards his vagina disproves the widely-held belief that all transgendered individuals choose bottom surgery. Some do and some don’t. It’s a personal decision.

I highly suggest watching Dan Hunt’s 2013 documentary, Mr. Angel. (At the time of this post, you can find it streaming on Netflix.) Buck’s Youtube channel also offers a lot of uplifting and educational messages for trans men, including his Public Cervix Announcement.

Nina Hartley

As a fellow sex-positive feminist and advocate for sex education, Nina is a big inspiration to me. Her interviews show that she is a passionate and well-spoken woman who could be the official spokesperson of the porn industry. (She is also a member of Adult Performer Advocacy Committee.) With a degree in nursing, her fame proved that a woman could be professional & educated and still choose porn because she enjoys it. Poly, bisexual, and active in the D/s lifestyle, she completely owns who she is. She has also continued to be prolific despite the fact that she is an aging female in an industry that values youth and Photoshopped beauty. And people say that you can’t be an empowered woman in porn!

Ron Jeremy

Admittedly, I have seen surprisingly little porn starring Ron Jeremy. While I find the nickname “Hedgehog” completely adorable, he’s not exactly my type. However, I do have respect for the man. Watch Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy and you’ll see that he works hard and takes his job seriously. Because of that, he has made a name for himself in an industry that commonly reduces its male performers to nameless penises. Over the years, his body has aged and changed, only making him more of an idol for the “average guy.”

He constantly shows his fun-loving nature with comedy performances and parodies of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video. I also had the chance to meet him recently, and he was just as nice as I had expected — even while I was reduced to nervous giggles and awkward silence. Fun fact: He has a Master’s degree in Special Education, freaking some people out but proving to others that ‘Hey! Porn stars are real people too!’

Victim Blaming: The Absurdity of Rape Justification

I remember the first time that I was made aware of victim blaming. It was before I knew that there was a term for it, before I knew rape statistics & facts for the society that was I growing up in. Honestly, it was before I even had a mature understanding of what exactly “rape” meant for the survivor of such an act, beyond knowing that it was real bad. When I was around 10 years old, I was watching a daytime talk show with my grandma. A young female was talking about how she had been raped and suddenly my grandma vehemently stated that the girl had been asking for it — dressing the way she was. I can still remember gaping at her, the otherwise most kind and caring person that I had ever known, and realizing that what she had just said was completely fucked up.

What is victim blaming?

Victim blaming occurs any time that the responsibility for the crime of rape/sexual assault is pushed onto the survivor or “victim,” instead of the rapist being held completely at fault. Whenever you have heard someone bring into question a survivor’s attire, sexual history, alcohol/drug consumption, or even the physical time & location of the attack, you have witnessed victim blaming. The sad truth is that this harmful behavior is everywhere, being spouted by the young and the old, male and female.

A 2010 UK survey, Wake Up to Rape, found that 56% of responders thought that “there are some circumstances where a person should accept responsibility” for being raped. Disturbingly, females were more apt to blame the victim than males were: 71% of women vs. 57% of men thought the victim was to blame if they got into bed with their perpetrator. Younger responders were also more harsh, with 20% of 18-24 year olds (vs. only 7% of 35-50 year olds) placing blame on the victim if they simply had a conversation with their perpetrator and accepted a drink from them at a bar.

What prominent rape cases have taught us over the years is that anyone can be blamed for their own rape. In the 1989 Glen Ridge rape trial, where a girl with cognitive disabilities was sexually assaulted with a baseball bat and broom handle, the perpetrators’ defense attorney tried to convince the jury that the victim was a sexually aggressive lolita. In 2011, the press found it necessary to report that an 11 year old girl, who had been gang raped by 18 males, was known to dress “older than her age” and “hang out with teenage boys.” And in 2012, individuals in their hometown and across the internet showed support for the Steubenville football players, bemoaning the loss of their athletic careers after they sexually assaulted a girl who was so intoxicated that there were jokes about her being dead.

The effects of victim blaming stretch far and wide. 

Victim blaming plays a major role in rape culture by insinuating that victims deserve what they get, and that perpetrators are put into positions where they “just can’t control themselves” — or shouldn’t be expected to. This has a harmful effect on everyone. Survivors of rape and sexual assault often internalize the blame. Men (although not the only gender to be rapists) are unfortunately reduced to a distrustful Neanderthal stereotype. And many individuals structure their lives around what feminist writer, Jessica Valenti, calls a “rape schedule.” (If you have ever considered buying rape protective clothing, taken a more populated or brightly lit route instead of the most direct, or avoided going somewhere alone for fear of being raped, you have lived by a “rape schedule.”)

By focusing on a victim’s “mistakes,” we ignore the importance of consent. Not teaching consent leads to beliefs like those expressed in a 1998 survey of Rhode Island students, where 62% of boys and 58% of girls in the 9th grade said that a person had the “right to sexual intercourse against their date’s consent if they have dated a long time.” It doesn’t matter if someone is completely naked, if they are a sex worker, if they have had several other sexual partners, if you have had sex with them in the past, or if they have changed their mind about having sex now. Sex without consent is rape — no matter what the victim did or didn’t do. Yet we still focus on teaching people how to avoid getting raped, not how to avoid raping.

Speak out against victim blaming!

Sometimes it seems that victim blaming occurs out of nothing more than meanness and one person/group’s sense of entitlement over another. However, victim blaming can also be seen as a misguided way that some people try to make sense of the world. It’s a classic example of the “Just-World Fallacy.” By insisting that the victim was doing something in order to deserve punishment, other people are able to separate themselves from that victim. This is how we get comments like, “I’m also a woman, but you don’t see me getting raped.” It’s a way for people to stay in denial that sexual assault could happen to anybody — including themselves.

According to RAINN, 1 in 6 American women and 1 in 33 American men will experience an attempted or completed rape. 73% of sexual assaults are committed by someone that the victim knows. Educate yourself! Recognize the ways that people commonly place blame on the victim, even when they are denying it. (Ex: “I’m not saying she/he deserved it, but…”) Some horrifying and depressing, but real, examples can be seen in the “Shit Everybody Says to Rape Victims” videos on Youtube (here and here). Familiarize yourself with the many analogies that people use to try and justify victim blaming, and learn how to refute them. A fantastic article to help with this has been prepared by the humanist organization, Nirmukta.

The next time that you hear someone engaging in victim blaming, speak up. If we don’t tolerate other violent crimes against our fellow humans, why would we make an excuse for sexual violence? Nobody deserves to be raped.

Slut-Shaming: Damaging to Women Everywhere

The first time that I remember being called a “slut,” I was about 10 years old. As an elementary student, I barely understood what the word meant — let alone how it applied to me. A kiss on the cheek was as “sexual” as I had been at that age. I know now that my sexual history had nothing to do with my label. I was an outsider. I preferred the rough & tumble company of the guys to the makeovers & gossip of the girls. I went through a phase of shopping in the boys’ section before coming to terms with my developing body. And I almost always had a boyfriend, although we were little more than best friends who awkwardly hugged in the hallway. In middle school, I embraced the role of the rebel and dated a couple of high school guys. The slut slurs thrived for a few years, but eventually, my purity ring and monogamy put an end to any controversy surrounding me. There were other girls to call a slut; girls who were said to have had an abortion or gotten chlamydia. I was old news.

What is “slut-shaming” and why do we do it?

Slut-shaming is sex-negative behavior that occurs when a person is made to feel shameful or guilty for enjoying sexual activity, participating in sexual activity, or even simply being part of a rumor involving sexual activity.

Many people hold tightly to the misconception that a girl is only called a slut if she “deserves” it, i.e., is sexually promiscuous. It makes people uncomfortable to think about the unrelated & insignificant reasons that slut rumors get started. In reality, these rumors may evolve out of jealousy, anger, peer-pressure, or nothing but plain old meanness. A girl can be targeted for anything, ranging from her appearance (knee-high boots or large breasts) to her real or imagined behavior (public displays of affection or association with certain cliques). Fellow girls often start these rumors in order to feel superior to a girl they dislike. Boys often lie about having sex with a girl simply to prove their manliness. Both genders spread the rumors in order to “fit in” with the crowd while distancing themselves from the girl in question. And adults may ignore the harassment, believing that making an example out of one girl will scare the rest into being chaste. 

What damage does slut-shaming cause? 

Even if someone is willing to accept that virginal girls are sometimes wrongly accused of being “sluts,” they usually lack sympathy for the girl whose rumors are actually true. This displays a fear of female sexuality, viewing it as something that is inherently wrong. It’s a perfect example of the sexual double standard. A promiscuous male is “just being a boy,” “sowing his oats,” or is praised for being a “stud.” But the idea that a woman could consensually engage in the same sexual activity (and enjoy it) makes people want to punish her.

Slut shaming is harmful to all women. It damages one’s confidence. It can cause isolation from peers and lead to depression. It invites sexual harassment, even rape, from boys who consider her “easy.” It may create a negative association with sex that could last a lifetime. And it perpetuates society’s dichotomy of good girl vs. bad girl, based entirely off our sexual purity — not our achievements.

How do we put a stop to slut-shaming?

Being raised with the idea that sex is shameful, I spent many years judging others (mostly females) by the number of people that they had sex with. Even now, I’ll occasionally catch myself trying to make a friend smile by reassuring her that her crush’s booty-call is a “whore.” Being conscious of slut-shaming does not automatically stop the behavior. It takes effort.

Get into the habit of checking yourself before you comment on someone’s sexuality. (Let’s be honest, it’s rarely appropriate.) Call others out on their slut-shaming — whether they’re male or female, teenager or adult. And if you’re looking for more information on the topic, I highly suggest Leora Tanenbaum’s book, Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation.