We'd like to think that we’re making progress for women. Unfortunately, many stories this week demonstrate the appalling attitudes and expectations many people have about women. There’s a highly publicized misogynist trying to organize meet-ups for his foolish followers, there are warnings about drinking and, here in Canada, there's scandalous Jian Ghomeshi trial. This is a week of hard-to-hear news. Let's take care of each other.

Who's on Trial, Anyway?

The trial of Jian Ghomeshi began in Toronto, and many are on edge because of it. Rightfully so. The former goofball band member and host of CBC radio show "Q" faces four counts of sexual assault against three women. Many other women also came forward with stories of abuse. It is admirable that these three women will take the stand against this celebrity given how survivors of sexual assault are often treated during and after courtroom battles. Because the case is so high profile, with news reports flooding social media, the trial itself may be triggering for some. To help survivors and allies, activist Farrah Khan provided this excellent list of ways we can support sexual violence survivors during the trial. We’ll have more as the legal proceedings unfold.

Drunken Suggestion

Pregnancy happens. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes accidentally. People enjoy having sex so these two occurrences are pretty likely to continue. People also like to drink alcohol. That’s not going to change either. Yet, was it right for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to suggest that women who are not on birth control refrain from drinking altogether because they might become pregnant at any time?

Now, the CDC does have some medical reasons for making such a heavy-handed suggestion. Fetuses exposed to alcohol at any point can be susceptible to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. They argue that women often do not know they are pregnant in the first 6-8 weeks, and that exposing a developing fetus to alcohol at that time would be dangerous. However, despite there being science behind it, there does seem to be a level of paternalism here. Women aren’t just prospective baby machines. This seems like yet another fight in the quest for body autonomy. Also, let’s consider something else about alcohol: the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that “researchers consistently have found that approximately one-half of all sexual assaults are committed by men who have been drinking alcohol.” By the CDC’s logic, guys better put those beers down or they just might rape someone.

Sexual Compatibility

When we look for a life partner, it is often assumed that the one we love will be someone with whom we share considerable interests. We don’t have to like everything in solidarity, but if there is one area we hope we’ll both smile at, it is our sexual interests and proclivities. However, what happens when the love of your life is kinky and you're more on the vanilla side? This compelling article in Vice icludes interviews with couples who have experienced divergent sexual interests, and illuminates both the difficulties and the potential solutions to this issue. It is a serious problem, one that has surely damaged and ruined otherwise happy couples. Of special note for the above link is the included interview with the authors of Partners in Passion, Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson. Even sex educators need to keep learning.

Taking It Off - By the Books

This delightful blast from the past is a unique record of what societal attitudes to sex were just 60 years ago. The year was 1953 and the incomparable Bettie Page posed for Carnival magazine’s guide to what strippers are allowed to take off according to the laws of the state they are in. First and foremost, the photos are a treat, funny and provocative. It is a very clever layout. However, I found it a bit surprising to learn that only seven states actually allowed any kind of strip tease at that time. For some reason, I thought stripping to actual nudity had a much longer history. I can only imagine this article was a great resource at the time!

Univibe

I’ve always found it interesting that vibration devices have not been more widely marketed to men. Men purchase a lot of sexual products. So, it seems to make sense that men would be likely to buy vibrators for themselves. Perhaps they don't because vibes have been so heavily marketed to women. Fragile masculinity issues still prevail for many fellas out there, and enjoying a device that is “meant” for women probably threatens too many egos. The thing is, vibrators of all sorts, not just “couples” devices used in the study noted, can feel amazing on many different parts of the body - outside, inside, and all around. Time to put down that front, guys, and just explore and enjoy all that sexuality can offer.

Playboy Tones Down

Finally, the granddaddy of skin mags will soon release its first covered-up skin edition. Playboy announced last fall that it would be moving away from its traditional naked pin-ups to offer a more contemporary presentation. Remember that sales were sharply down and porn is, well, everywhere else. It took Playboy 62 years to move on to something else. I will be curious to see if this move pays off or if the old adage - sex sells - will provide true and spell Playboy's demise.