Art by Ryan Huertas, www.ryanhuertas.com
Welcome to Hyphen’s inaugural The H-spot column, where Hyphen drops mad knowledge on readers’ questions about the nasty and other prurient delights. Our experts consist of sex goddess Nadia Cho, intrepid medical doctors Monica Hahn and Dharushana Muthulingam, and diva extraordinaire Barbie. Each week, we’ll feature questions that cover health, LGBTQ, and various other burning topics that our prudish parents have threatened to disown us from asking.
Feel free to send over more sex questions to Abigail Licad, our fledgling editor-assassin of all things repressed and taboo, at abigail.licad [at] hyphenmagazine.com (abigail.licad[at]hyphenmagazine.com).
Ready to straighten out the kinks in our thoughts on sex and sexuality? Let’s do it!
I'm a straight woman who very much enjoys sex. But I can't orgasm unless I fantasize about dangerous, misogynistic, pornographic images – such as being gang banged while handcuffed and gagged, and strangely with an apple in my mouth. If anyone actually treated me that way I would be scared to death. I've never been abused or assaulted, nor am I a porn phene. What's wrong with me? Will I ever be able to orgasm without these horrible thoughts?
--Story of O Devotee
Dear O Devotee,
Ain’t nothing wrong with liking rough sex. I’m definitely a huge fan. There’s nothing wrong with you for getting off on whatever gets you off, as long as you prioritize the consent and safety of yourself and those involved. Female submission is unfortunately framed as a dangerous psychological and societal problem, as is BDSM (bondage/dominance/submission/sadism/masochism or kink culture) in general. But there are quite a few explanations presented by sociological studies as to why women have fantasies involving bondage and forced sex.
Fantasizing about receiving pleasure against their will allows some women to avoid the guilt and stigma associated with those who openly enjoy sex. There are also female submissives who often tend to be upwardly mobile career-wise (for example, they are big executives) or highly empowered women who know exactly what they want and go about executing what turns them on. Or, the simplest and most probable explanation for fantasies such as yours is that human beings get off on potentially taboo, high-thrill situations. I encourage you to try out bondage and gagging with a partner. When doing this with someone you trust, you’ll feel safe and realize that kinky sex isn’t always dangerous or misogynistic.
And don’t worry about having orgasms to other thoughts. When the novelty of your current fantasies wears off, you’ll find different things that make you cum. You might be into kinky, intensely rough sex for a while though. That stuff never gets old.
Sex Goddess Nadia Cho
Nadia Cho is an undergrad at UC Berkeley majoring in psychology, with strong interests in sociology, Asian American Studies and gender and women’s studies. She was a Sex on Tuesday columnist at UC Berkeley’s student paper The Daily Californian. She continues teach sex positive thinking and living at her blog nadiacho.com. Her hobbies include drinking coffee, playing with cats and being sassy. She secretly loves Tumblr and kale.
Is it true that in order to conceive a boy, the woman should raise her hips up as high as she can upon male ejaculation? My relatives have sworn by this “secret” for generations, and most of them who have only one child have a son.
--Must Have Male Progeny
First of all, why do you feel you must have male progeny? In a world with increasing rates of sex-selective abortion and infanticide (so rampant that it skews the natural sex ratio), your question raises a helluva lot of moral concerns. But we’ll leave it aside (for now).
Popular lore has it that angling sexual position during intercourse can decide the child’s sex. The Shetlles Method, for example, claims that certain types of angling can force either the male’s X or Y chromosome to reach the egg. If it’s the sperm’s X chromosome that makes it, then the baby will be female. If it’s the Y chromosome that first crosses the finish line, then a baby boy will be born.
In a series of lab experiments in the 1960s, biologist Landrum Brewer Shettles observed that X sperm compared to the Y sperm swim at different speeds, live different life spans, prefer different acidity, and so on.
Based on these test-tube findings, he advised couples hoping for a boy to get busy using deeper penetration (i.e., as “doggy-style” or “reverse cowgirl”). He theorized that this would give the lighter, leaner Y sperm a head start in that perilous swim towards the egg.
In contrast, to conceive a girl, Shettles advised couples to knock boots by means of shallower penetration (“standing” or “lotus” position), presumably to tire out the shorter-lived, weaker Y sperm while the hardier X sperm outraces it to fertilization.
Unfortunately, while Dr. Shettles’s lab observations are widely accepted, the translation from lab to boudoir has had poor scientific showing. Studies of sexual position to date have shown flaws or could not be replicated. The official position of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is that “No current technique for prefertilization sex selection has been shown to be reliable”
Sex selection can, however, occur in a clinical setting -- but it’ll cost you big bucks. The most reliable way to predetermine fetal sex before pregnancy is in-vitro fertilization by which an embryo’s sex is selected before implantation in the uterus.
Bottom line: sorry, MHMP, there is no reliable natural way to predetermine the sex of a baby prior to fertilization without involving laboratory personnel. Your relatives are either lucky, or have additional secrets. However, many couples may find their efforts justified by finding “reverse cowgirl” beneficial for other reasons. Good luck!
-- Monica and Dharushana
Intrepid doctors Monica Hahn and Dharushana Muthulingam
Monica Hahn (L) is a resident physician at the UCSF Family and Community Medicine Residency at San Francisco General Hospital. She received her MD from UCSF School of Medicine and her MPH from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She has been involved in community-based youth empowerment advocacy, as well as HIV prevention projects. She is currently interested in adolescent health, HIV prevention and sexual health. She enjoys capoeira, Afro-Latin dance, and Brazilian percussion.
Dharushana Muthulingam (R) is a resident physician in the department of Internal Medicine of the Kaiser Medical Center in Oakland. She studied medicine at UCSF and public health at UC Berkeley. She is interested in infectious disease, healthy aging, health justice and working with patients to live the good and flourishing life. In her spare time, she has been attempting to read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. After two years, she is happy to report she is almost half way done.
I'm dating a guy who I am very attracted to. We get along great and he is definitely boyfriend material. However, there is one problem: we are both bottoms. While we have fooled around in bed, we haven't actually had anal sex yet because neither of us envisioned ourselves of being a top. What should I do?
Dear Bottoms Up,
Love to hear that you want to take it up a notch with your potential boyfriend!
Jockeying for positions cannot be the deal breaker. It's totally possible to switch, but keeping it up while taking turns will be the challenge. "Topping" does take work. Talk it out with your guy, but not in bed. Emotionally processing in bed will stop you both from experiencing your climax. Let each other know what feels good and better. Keep at it and you'll both be ready.
When your boyfriend is ready to penetrate you from the top, relax yourself as he slowly enters you. I also suggest that while you jack off, he wear a butt plug as he penetrates you. When it’s your turn, work his pole with your loving hands while he fingers you. Twerk your kink with rub-downs, rimming or performance creams. Toy with cock rings, double dildos, and wireless vibrators. You’ll both keep peckers poking and puckers stronger. And remember, BREATHE deeply! It takes practice to flex those topping muscles.
Let's be clear: a sexual position isn't tied to your personal identity. "Topping” and “bottoming” is an activity, while labeling as “top” or “bottom” is restrictive stereotyping. What a drag to let yourselves be caught by others’ conclusions and expectations -- "keeping up" appearances with your Sunday brunch pals and subscribing to their assumptions is a major turn-off in the sack. So, why not keep everyone guessing? Live your life hot, safe and stay mantastic!
Diva Extraordinaire Barbie
Barbie wants to be your sister and pal in all things love and taboo. NYC-based, she loves long walks on city streets, watching sunsets over the river, farming, and looking for the next big thing. She’s your wellness connector, media maker, and fellow troublemaker. She loves her food homestyle, hands down. If you're ever in town, do look her up to chat and chew.