How do you feel about sex and sexuality research? It should always be a good thing, right? But is it always a good thing? Well, that certainly depends on how it is used. This week’s Sex Stories We Love looks at different types of discovery.

United in Porn

So, minds really do think alike! Take a look at these one-month stats on porn search terms and you’ll see that Americans from coast to coast love to look at lady-lovin’. Pornhub is at it again, this time releasing the most searched porn terms by state for the month of January 2016. And, indeed, “lesbian” is the favourite in the majority of states. In fact, other than “cartoon,” “black,” “ebony,” and “asian,” the favourite terms specify a certain kind of woman. “MILF,” “stepmom,” and “stepsister” round out the other top terms. I am truly surprised there isn’t more diversity in this. If you check out Pornhub and other tube sites, you’ll find never-ending lists of different niche categories to explore. Apparently, these companies could make their pages much more concise!

The Bi/Queer Confluence

I’ll admit straight up that I have struggled with which term I prefer to use to self-identify: “bisexual” or “queer.” Reading this outstanding discussion by Sara Habein on the differences and connections between the appellations queer and bisexual, and why someone wondering might choose one or the other, really framed a lot of thoughts I’ve had for 20+ years. Not only does Sara deftly intertwine self and community interpretations of each, she brings in personal and political perspectives that truly encapsulate the difficulties many bi and queer people face. Using either term can bring difficulties. As someone who has used both in different situations, I’m not going to say I am any more clear on what I want to use (years of unpacking to do!), but Sara has given me, and I believe many others, significant pause for thought.

Where to Play Rough

Let’s say you’re in Los Angeles and you’re looking for a good time. And by good time, you mean that you want some spanking, flogging, degradation, or something else on the wonderful BDSM spectrum. Just where are you going to go? Well, this is a handy list of some of the top dungeons in LA. I hope articles like this pop up all around the world! Travel is often listed as one of the top types of recreation people partake in, so being in a new city without a sense of where to scratch your itch can be challenging. You don’t even need to be traveling. Access to this type of info can greatly help people considering and questioning their sexuality and sexual interests. In this instance, you can see and read about the differences in venues to find the best that suits your needs. In the past, this kind of information was closely guarded. Fortunately, we’re opening up. So, when will Fodor’s start putting out sex guides?

A Chink in the Armor?

There is no denying the significant and devastating cultural impact that the AIDS crisis had—and continues to have to this day. Yet, things have changed for the gay community. Stigma has slightly lessened. Social advances have been gained. Treatments for HIV/AIDS have come so far, to the point of people now living long lives. Then came the medicine PrEP and everything changed. Under a specific regime, men who desired could again enjoy sex without using barrier methods. The medicine was gaining headway and continues to become more popular and more available. Efficacy rates are near 100%.

However, it is reported that a man has contracted HIV while on a PrEP regime. This very rare instance is being met with significantly different reactions. Some are upset and in fear. Some are regarding this with pragmatism, noting that this was bound to happen sooner or later. What it does prove is that the fight is not done yet. More research and testing still to be done.

The Danger of 2 cm

There are so many different types of research happening now to understand sex and sexuality­—and this is good! However, are all types of research particularly valuable? Not to throw a wet blanket, but there have been a slew of studies trying to determine physical difference in queer and straight folk. A recent one found that heterosexual men are, on average, about 2 centimeters (0.8 inch) taller than gay men.

This study was conducted with a limited pool and acknowledges there are definitely much taller and much shorter gay men. So...what’s the point? Call me fearful, but I see trying to determine physical markers and distinguishing traits in “others” as potentially harmful. Once distinct differences are determined, those with those differences can be separated out from the “norm.” This scares me, particularly for people who have already been persecuted so much.

The Clit - in Song

Finally, it you want a little taste of historical sexual “study” and “research” gone wrong for countless years, relive the amazingly fucked up history of the clitoris - in song! Scientists (men), social overseers (men), medical practitioners (men), and society in general (men) have long denied and ignored what we now understand as a pretty basic part of anatomy that provides pleasure. We were sending people into outer space before we’d even fully mapped the shape of the clit! For a species so preoccupied the pursuit of knowledge, you can see in the video that fear and prejudice are as powerful of a motivator as discovery and truth.