Sexual culture is under pressure - but what’s new, right? You’re thinking, “tell us something we don’t know!” Well, I hope this kind of statement will be shocking someday. I’ll write something like, “Can you believe someone thinks [insert something simple about sex here] is shocking?!” and you’ll all be like, “GASP!”

Yeah ... someday. But not yet. This week's Sex Stories We Love looks at

Artistic Expression

We live in a great big world in which there are many different belief systems. These belief systems can fluctuate and change over time and with prevailing social winds, but some are very strong and remain. One thing that has always challenged the dominant social and political mores, however, is artistic expression. Take two recent examples. The inimitable Amanda Palmer recently released a video for the song “Mother” offering a controversial and unique example of empathy (no spoiler) to deal with the alt-right and Donald Trump. The video has received notice and praise.

On the other hand, Shyma, an Egyptian performer, has been jailed for two years after the release of her “I Have Issues” video. Why? Because she suggestively eats fruit, notably, a banana, in her underwear. Here are two different cultures and governments dealing with artistic creation that challenge social conventions. In a world that is increasingly connected and with decreasing isolationism, how do we reconcile our differing standards of expression?

Sex Work Ads Under Attack

Ah, expression. We’re all familiar with the phrase “everybody’s got an opinion,” right? Well, sometimes is does remain tricky to keep in mind that we are entitled to our opinions. Sometimes it is galling to remember that people need to be allowed to express them, even when they are insulting, demeaning, and come from a source lacking integrity. The long-fought battle for sex workers' rights and protections has caused much controversy. In Canada, the matter has gone to the highest levels of the judicial system and is still under scrutiny. In Toronto, weekly newspaper NOW Magazine has published sex worker ads since the early '80s, but a social commentator/bar owner has recently started a campaign against the mag and these ads, alleging they promote human trafficking. Look, nobody’s going to say any venue can’t be used to promote an illegal or immoral practice. However, ad work is infinitely more safe than street work for sex workers.

St. FX Support

One of the first waves of recognizing systemic sexual assault was on college and university campuses, particularly by male athletes. Exposing these incidents and how athletes are protected and covered from both social shaming and criminal investigations opened a lot of eyes and brought much attention. Not enough to make it stop, though as we keep hearing these stories over and over. However, the conversation is now in the open and other women are able to offer their support and outrage. When male varsity football players were charged with sexual assault at a Canadian university, female soccer players created an outstanding solidarity campaign to raise the conversation and deflate victim-blaming. Hopefully other schools will follow suit before assault happen to prevent them.

Cheating Cheaters?

What we do when something happens, and how we react, can make a huge difference in how a situation is resolved. Now, this isn’t about sexual assault, but rather infidelity. Being cheated on, in our predominantly monogamous society, is associated with significant heartache, pain, and lack of trust in that person evermore. It has been enough of a legal reason to dissolve marriages. But can infidelity be reframed? Can we imagine it as something different, possibly thinking about the situation from the point of view of the person who cheated? Noted couples and relationship therapist Esther Perel is offering some new views that will be hard for many to even consider. But it is a conversation we definitely need to consider.

Not Hugging Matt Damon

Here’s a shocker: men are fearing the loss of casual, intimate touch in the wake of forced, violent touch. True to form when backed against the wall with accusations, men wondering whether hugging will still be OK after public acknowledgment of rampant male sexual misconduct is much akin to a child screaming “Well, I’m going to run away, then!” after being caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Now guys are worried about hugging and intimacy? Now that is a big concern? This is victim-blaming 101 and one of the stupidest arguments thrown out in a long time. It’s like trying to listen to Matt Damon, noted rape culture expert, explain the intricacies of sexual violence. Fortunately, Alyssa Milano, victim of sexual violence, shut his shit down.

Beautiful Bodies

Finally, in defense of all folks out there who lack the perfect body the marketing gurus are trying to foist upon us with circular psuedo-science, we’re all pretty awesome.