James W. Hicks, M.D.

Archive for 2011|Yearly archive page

Bisexual Squid

In Research on October 14, 2011 at 5:37 am

Amorous Squid Seeks Partner: Any Sex Will Do
James Gorman
New York Times
September 20, 2011

Deep water squid have joined a long list of species known to engage in bisexual behavior. It turns out that male squid are quite happy to ejaculate on other squid, regardless of whether they are male or female. Of course, scientists don’t really know whether the squid experience anything analogous to sexual desire or pleasure, or whether they can even distinguish between male and female partners in the dark of the ocean depths.

Other species known to engage in bisexual behavior include mammals with relatively large brains, such as bonobo apes and bottlenose dolphins, but also herd mammals and birds.  And of course anyone who has a pet dog or cat has observed bicurious behavior in the natural world. Scientific manipulation of hormone levels in rats can also induce more homosexual behavior, though it’s not clear what this tells us, if anything, about behavior in humans.

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Married Man Discovers His Flexuality

In Stories* on October 11, 2011 at 10:35 am

The Secret (Sex) Life of A Middle-Aged Married Man
Rex Oso
October 6, 2011
Huffington Post

Thanks to a reader of the blog for tipping me off to this post by a man who has fallen in love with another man late in his marriage.

Visit the archives to see all Flexuality posts!

Rimbaud

In Flexible People, Media on October 10, 2011 at 9:15 am

The publication of a new biography of — and a new translation by John Ashbery of the poems of — Arthur Rimbaud, the prodidgy of French modern poetry, have been the occasions for several articles about the poet and his life.

Rimbaud was notorious as a youth for his homosexual relationship with the older poet Paul Verlaine, who left his wife to be with him. Rimbaud spoke graphically about engaging in sodomy with Verlaine, and complained that Verlaine sometimes expected him to top, when he would prefer to bottom. But about a decade later, after giving up life as a poet and becoming a trader in Africa, Rimbaud settled down with a local woman.

Disappointingly, the reviewer of these books in the New Yorker needlessly characterized Rimbaud as really heterosexual, suggesting that his earlier homosexual relationship was just a bit of performance art. The reviewer in the New York Review of Books more properly avoided imposing modern assumptions onto the sexuality of either poet, both of whom were clearly capable of having meaningful relationships with either sex.

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Mac vs. PC

In Research on September 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Alexander McCabe of Question Writer, who automated the Flex Test, was interested whether there might be differences in responses between Mac and Windows users. He looked at the answers of 2000 Mac responders and 3250 Windows responders and noted the percent who agreed (or strongly agreed) with the following statements:

“I am always looking for opportunities to have sex” – 35% Mac vs 30% Windows

“I’m similarly attracted to both men and women” – 25% Mac vs 23% Windows

“I would like to fall in love with both men and women” – 30% Mac vs 28% Windows

“I like to be watched by someone other than my partner when I undress, masturbate or have sex” – 23% Mac vs 20% Windows

“I have had sex with a stranger or in public” – (disagree or strongly disagree) 54% Mac vs 58 % Windows

These are probaby statistically significant differences, but there may be confounding factors that explain them. For example, Mac users might be younger as a group than Windows users, and younger people may be more flexible in general. Or perhaps there is something inherently more flexible about the iLifestyle?

Visit the archives to see all Flexuality posts! 

Feedback on the Test

In Ask the Doctor* on September 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Many of you have taken the time to give me feedback on the Flex Test, and I would like to share some of the more interesting comments with readers of the blog.

The following comment points out that sexuality has many dimensions that we might not think about, such as whether one “wants” an experience or would just be “willing to try.” I think this also nicely illustrates a sort of undefensive heteroflexible attitude.

Comment: I believe my concern came up with the questions of threesomes, or sex with the same gender… if I am having sex with my girlfriend and a male friend naked as the day he was born comes in wanting to join in…ok, and if he wants to penetrate me or have me penetrate him…ok I suppose I can try that.  However, your question I thinks asked if I would seek that out or have I ever thought about things like that with the same sex…and the answer is no I have not, but if a situation like that arises, I suppose I will cross that bridge, but I do not think of it or seek it out.  Maybe it is just a matter of wording and I am a big fat dummy, I have been wrong before.

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Flex Test Findings

In Research on August 5, 2011 at 8:23 am

I’ve just begun to analyze some of the data collected since the automated version of the Flexuality Test was launched in April 2011.

About 5,500 people have taken the automated test.

57% identified as female, 41% as male, and 2% as other.

50% identified as heterosexual at the start of the test, 26% as bisexual, and 16% as homosexual.

(In analyzing the following results, I counted a sexual type as present if the score was greater than 5 out of 10. Results add up to more than 100% because more than one sexual type may be present in any given individual, reflecting the intentional overlap between categories.)

Among women, 47% were ambisexual, 43% were heteroflexible, 26% were flexamorous, 22% were straight, 7% were lesbian, and 4% were queer. As far as sexual traits, 11% had restrained features, 8% were transitioning, 4% were metamorphic, and 3% were supersexual. None were macho, and less than 1% were versatile.

Among men, 31% were straight, 30% were ambisexual, 17% were gay, 12% were flexamorous, 9% were heteroflexible, and 5% were queer. For sexual traits, 17% were restrained, 7% were supersexual, 7% were transitioning, 4% were metamorphic, 2% were versatile, and 1% were macho.

Among those who identified as something other than male or female (e.g., trans, genderqueer, etc.), 58% were ambisexual, 57% were flexamorous, 14% were queer, 12% were gay, and 3% were straight, with reference to their gender of birth. Only 53% scored as having metamorphic traits, which suggests that my scoring of that trait may not give enough weight to each of the different ways in which an individual may feel other-gendered.

Those who have taken the test do not constitute a random or controlled sample, and men and women may have learned about the test from different sources. Nevertheless, it is interesting that women were much more likely to score in the bisexual spectrum (especially heteroflexible, ambisexual, or flexamorous), even though their self-identification at the start of the test was similar to men’s. Relative to the other bisexual types, the flexamorous profile did not stand out as a particularly female presentation, challenging the sterotype that women are more interested in relationships. However, there were more supersexual, macho, and versatile men compared to women.

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Time Out New York

In Announcements on July 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm

“Fun Sex Test Alert”
Jamie Bufalino
Time Out New York
July 20, 2011

Last week TONY published my letter alerting the readers of the “Get Naked” column to the Flexuality Test. Nearly 2,000 more have taken the test as a result.

Visit the archives to see all Flexuality posts!

Demographics

In The Flex Test on April 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Some of you may be wondering, who has taken the Flexuality Test so far? Here are some of the demographic characteristics of the nearly 4,000 people who took the 2011 version of the Flex Test over the last few months, prior to the launch of the automated version of the test.

Gender: 58% were female, 40% were male, and 2% selected another term, including my new favorite: “genderqueer.”

Age: 26% were 19 or younger, 59% were in their 20s, 8% were in their 30s, and 7% were 40 or older.

Sexual Orientation: 51% identified themselves as heterosexual, 15% as homosexual, 26% as bisexual, and 8%  as “other” (including many “bi-curious,” quite a few “asexual,” and 1 “queer for a beer”).

Relationship Status: 53% were single, 30% were dating (or “engaged”), and 13% were married. Many said they were in an “open” or “polyamorous” relationship, and quite a few responded, “It’s complicated!”

Education: 14% were in – or had completed – high school, while 84% were in – or had attended some – college, university, or graduate school.

Ethnicity: 68% identified as white, 12% as asian, 3% as black, 4% as latino, 7% as multiracial, 3% as south asian, and 3% as other (including 1 “elf”).

Country: 64% took the test while in the USA; 19% were in Canada, the UK, Australia, or New Zealand; and a surprisingly high 5% were in Singapore or the Philippines (thanks, guys, for sharing the test with your friends!) There were also submissions from Russia, all over Europe, Latin America, India, South East Asia, the Caribbean, and several Middle Eastern countries.

Religion: 48% said they had no religion or identified as “atheist” or “agnostic.” 14% were christian protestant, 12% were catholic, 12% were “spiritual,” 4% were jewish, 1% were hindu, 1% were muslim, and quite a few identified as “pagan” or “wiccan.”

Click on the page tabs above to see charts of the sexual profile results for these same respondents.

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Automated Flexuality Test!

In Announcements, The Flex Test on April 10, 2011 at 10:59 am

I have just published a new version of the Flexuality Test, which has the great advantage of being automated. At the end of the test, you immediately receive your results. You no longer have to check back here for your results.

Alexander McCabe at Question Writer did a fabulous job redesigning the test for me. In addition to being automatically generated, the report page displays your sexuality profile in two graphic charts, providing you a visual snapshot of your sexual traits. If nothing else, this makes the test a lot more fun!

Though the questions on the test are essentially unchanged, I have revised the scoring algorithms so that you can see your traits on a spectrum. My previous scoring tended to oversimplify sexual potential, boxing you into one category or another, when in reality the categories can overlap considerably.

I think you will find that the new scoring results in a more subtle and accurate picture. I encourage you to take the new version of the test, if only to see if your profile has changed. Let me know what you think!

At the time of this posting, 8,400 people have taken the Flex Test!

Visit the archives to see all Flexuality posts!

Asexual

In Ask the Doctor*, Sexual Types on April 8, 2011 at 7:49 am

Q: What if someone is asexual, as in completely uninterested in having sex at all with anyone, not out of fear, but simply out of boredom? Is this a sign of depression? What if said person doesn’t feel the least bit mentally stressed or poorly but, in fact, perfectly healthy?

A: I have received several questions like this, and also several comments expressing dissapointment that “asexual” is not a category recognized on the Flexuality Test. The point is well taken, because asexuality has become a self-defining sexual identity for many people, and not just one end of a dimensional measurement of sexual desire or behavior.

As with other types of sexual orientation, any discussion about asexuality is complicated by a multitude of definitions (does it refer to attraction, desire, behavior, or identity?), and even more so by a lack of research, though a couple of interesting exploratory studies have been published in recent years.

Perhaps the most common and useful definition is the one implied by the question above: you are asexual if you lack sexual feelings. You may find other people attractive in an aesthetic way, but not in a way that triggers sexual arousal or desire. Like many asexuals, you may have engaged in sex, if only out of curiosity or to please a partner, but you wonder, “What’s the big deal?” You are probably able to masturbate, but you may experience orgasm as a relaxing, physical release unaccompanied by sexual fantasy and craving. You may be concerned about your lack of sexual interest, since everyone else is so impressed (if not preoccupied) by sex, but you do not feel you have lost some necessary feeling.

Some people find themselves romantically attracted to others (either men or women or both), but the romantic feelings are not accompanied by a desire to have sex. Some people choose not to have sex, even though they experience some sexual desire, and this might be better characterized as celibacy. But those who choose to be celibate may do so, in part, because they experience less sexual desire or arousal to begin with.

For more information about asexuality, and to make contact with an internet community of asexuals, check out the excellent web site of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

As a psychiatrist, I should point out that some people lose interest in sex for medical or psychological reasons, such as depression or hypothyroidism. Some people have learned to fear and avoid sex, sometimes because of painful, coercive, or otherwise distressing experiences, but this seems to be distinct from the more neutral disinterest experienced by those who consider themselves asexual. If you are troubled by your lack of interest in sex, if you dread sex, or if you have experienced a change in your level of sexual desire and functioning, then you should probably consult with your doctor or a therapist.

As some readers have pointed out, asexuality is not explored on the Flexuality Test. Some questions assume that the test taker has some sexual desire (aimed at people of the same or opposite sex, or both). My intention was not to deny asexuality as a type of sexual orientation in an overall scheme. Rather, my project has been to explore only those dimensions that contribute to a spectrum of bisexual feelings and behaviors. I similarly excluded from consideration many other areas of interest, such as age preferences, sexual addiction, and fetishes. Of the categories discussed on this blog, the flexamorous sexual type is probably most likely to overlap with asexuality, in that the gender of the partner may be unimportant for some asexuals who have romantic feelings but little desire.

Gandhi

In Flexible People on April 2, 2011 at 9:00 am

A new biography of the Mahatma Gandhi – Great Soul, by the acclaimed journalist, Joseph Lelyveld – has sparked controversy after reviews in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal published revelations that Gandhi may have been bisexual.

While working as an attorney in South Africa, Gandhi apparently left his wife and moved in with a male friend, a German bodybuilder and architect, with whom he also exchanged homoerotic letters.

“Flexamorous” Replaces “Polyamorous”

In Announcements, Sexual Types on March 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Update (4-7-11): I have decided on the term “flexamorous,” which retains the association with love while emphasizing fluidity and flexibility rather than implying a multitude of partners. Thanks to everyone for your advice. I will be replacing the terms throughout the blog and on the next version of the Flexuality Test.

………………………

Several of you have suggested that I consider a name change for the polyamorous sexual type. The term is already claimed by men and women advocating for the right to have, and the benefits of having, concurrent loving relationships with more than one partner.

One reader of this blog pointed out that my usage of the term encroaches on a marginalized group’s efforts to clarify and establish a minority position. It may also confuse people who take my test or who share their sexual profile results with others, unaware of the differences in usage. I agree that this is counterproductive.

“Polyamorous” has a romantic sound that nicely fit the description of my sexual type. The next best term I have come up with is “ambiphilic,” a term that is already in use in chemistry, but that pre-existing meaning (molecules that are attracted to both water and oil) is unlikely to confuse and may even be seen as symbolic. Unfortunately the word also sounds a bit like “amphibian.”

I’m open to other suggestions. Please comment if you can think of a better term that captures those who have the capacity to fall in love with others, regardless of the other’s gender. Then I’ll revise the term throughout the blog and on the test.

Sexuality in Sri Lanka

In Cultures on March 13, 2011 at 7:51 am

I posted previously about widespread bisexuality among men in South Asia, but I noted that women’s sexuality in South Asia has remained somewhat invisible. Equal Ground, an organization addressing the sexual and gender rights of the Sri Lankan community, has just launched a campaign to make women’s sexuality more visible. Check out their powerful poster, which reads, “A Woman Loving Another Woman is Also a Woman: Respect Her Rights.”

Homosexual acts are still illegal in Sri Lanka (if widely practiced by men who think of themselves as straight) and homosexual status is persecuted, but we should keep in mind that Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to grant suffrage to women, and it was the first country to elect a female head of state. Also, nearby India recently decriminalized homosexuality. So change may be under way.

If you are interested in bisexuality (and the history of women’s suffrage) in Sri Lanka, read the excellent historical novel, Cinnamon Gardens, by Shyam Selvadurai. He is also the author of another beautiful novel, Funny Boy, about growing up gay and gender atypical in Sri Lanka.

Cunnilingus

In Ask the Doctor* on February 24, 2011 at 10:45 am

Q: How can I convince my boyfriend to eat me out? He’s so stubborn.

A: There are several reasons why a partner might be reluctant to administer cunnilingus. He might have a gut feeling of disgust for nether parts in general or for the female genitals in particular. He might have unquestioned beliefs that anything other than procreative sex is immoral. Or he might view going down on a woman as an unmasculine act. I imagine you have tried to engage him on this topic and might have some idea about his reasons.

To address the feeling of disgust, you might consider making your move when you are in a shower together or after you have just stepped out of the shower. Many partners might also find shaved genitals to be cleaner and less frightening than naturally hairy ones. Exposure and knowledge also tend to undermine feelings of disgust, so teach him about your clitoris, vulva, and vagina. Take his fingers on a tour, show him how his touch is arousing, and at some point suggest how excited you would be if he put his tongue where his fingers were. Most partners want to be fair, even if they have strict ideas about what men and women are supposed to do, so you might have more luck if you offer him oral sex from a “69” position. He can hardly ignore the proximity of your genitals when you are servicing his in a reciprocal position. If he licks your thighs or nuzzles you with his nose, that’s a start.

The key is to overcome his reluctance gradually, rather than frighten him off. Make it easy for him, and let him try a little bit at a time. Reinforce his efforts and his confidence by expressing arousal during the act, by turning him on at the same time, and by telling him how much you enjoyed it afterwards. If you watch porn together, you can also express your interest by pointing out how the scenes of cunnilingus look like fun and something you would like to try together.

Many men love cunnilingus, but that simple fact probably won’t convince him. He’ll have to find out for himself. Be careful about stressing how much you have enjoyed cunnilingus in the past (if you have), because that might make him feel jealous and make the whole topic more difficult to approach in the future.

[You can e-mail your questions about sex, sexuality, and sexual relationships to me at flexuality@hotmail.com, or post a question anonymously as a comment. The answers I post are for informational purposes only and do not constitute individual treatment.]

Visit the archives to see all Flexuality posts!

Bisexual Invisibility

In Announcements, Research on February 24, 2011 at 6:30 am

Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations
LGBT Advisory Committee
San Francisco Human Rights Commission
(Lindasusan Ulrich, principal author)
January 2011

Download this fascinating report which cogently discusses myths and mistreatment of the “invisible majority.” The report includes a useful glossary and discussion of terminology, as well as illuminating first-person accounts that illustrate the diverse ways in which “non-monosexuals” think about their sexual orientation (the final example on p. 33 is particularly good). The latter half of the report focuses on health and policy matters.

Visit the archives to see all Flexuality posts!

How Straight Are Heterosexuals?

In The Flex Test on February 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

A gay friend recently expressed bewilderment at how often straight guys hit on him. As he put it, completely without irony, “That’s so gay!”

For this, my 100th post, I looked back at the data I collected last year from the 4,633 men and women who took the original Flexuality Test. Half of them identified themselves as “heterosexual” at the start of the test. But it should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that people who consider themselves straight have often had same-sex desires and experiences.

Here are the percent of “heterosexuals” who reported having had the following feelings or experiences for someone of the same sex:

52% had been physically attracted to…

52% had been sexually aroused by seeing or thinking about…

48% had flirted with…

37% had had a crush on…

37% had fantasized to the point of orgasm about…

28% had made out with…

23% had given or received a sensual massage from…

22% had engaged in deep kissing with…

17% had been aroused by being naked with…

16% had masturbated with…

13% had received oral sex from…

11% had provided oral sex to…

11% had been in a threesome with…

7% had fallen in love with…

3% had engaged in vaginal sex with…

3% had penetrated anally…

3% had been penetrated anally by…

……. someone of the same sex.

Rates of sexual desire were even higher. Here are the percent of “heterosexuals” who would like to have sexual experiences with someone of the same sex:

41% would like to have a threesome with…

40% would like to receive oral sex from…

30% would like to masturbate with…

29% would like to provide oral sex to…

16% would like to engage in vaginal sex with…

14% would like to be anally penetrated by…

13% would like to anally penetrate…

……. someone of the same sex.

And here are the percent of “heterosexuals” who expressed agreement with the following statements:

58% have sometimes wondered what it would feel like to be pleasured by someone of the same sex

52% feel it would be okay for them to seek sexual release with someone of the same sex

38% would be willing to try gay sex

31% would have sex with someone of the same gender if someone of the opposite gender were not available

24% would like to be able to say they have had sex with both men and women

21% sometimes wonder if they are gay

16% could fall in love with someone of the same gender

11% could live their life with either a male or female partner

10% believe sex with a man is similar to sex with a woman

8% are similarly attracted to men and women

Keep in mind that the takers of the test are by no means a random sample of the population. Many who took the original test learned about it from internet forums about bisexuality. Nevertheless, this is only the data from those who consider themselves heterosexual.

If you consider yourself straight but worry about your same-sex curiosity, this data should be reassuring. If you are gay, bisexual, or curious, this data suggests that threesomes, oral sex, and mutual masturbation are the best ways to score with a straight, supersexual, or heteroflexible acquaintance.

Visit the archives to see all Flexuality posts!

After Track

In Stories* on February 12, 2011 at 7:01 am

Maria and I had not been particularly friendly before the season started. She hung out with a different group of girls, and even on the field, we were just competitive at first. But competition turned into admiration, and within a few weeks we were seeking each other out in the locker room or going out for pizza after practice. I’d never had a friend like Maria before; she talked faster and laughed freely and couldn’t care less about shopping at the mall or dating.

One night at the pizza parlour, I got a cramp in my leg and was squirming in the bench. I was probably dehydrated from practice. Maria looked at me with concern and then said, “Give it here.” She grabbed my ankle under the table, pulled off my sneaker, pushed my toes back with one hand in her lap, and squeezed the back of my thigh through my jeans with her other hand. She did it so casually, no one who was looking would have even noticed. I found myself staring at her with amazement as her fingers pushed apart the knot in my muscles, but she was looking down, either in embarrassment or concentration.

“I owe you a massage,” I said as she finished and lowered my leg.

She took me up on the offer that weekend, when we were hanging out in my room, though she brought it up hesitantly.

“I remember,” I said, putting away my homework. “Take off those pants and lie down on the bed.”

She turned her back to me and stepped out of her jeans, pulled her shirt over her head, and took off her bra. “Okay?” she asked, sitting down on the mattress and looking at the floor.

I put my hand on her shoulder and nudged her to lie down. Then I reached down to take off my shoes and added, “I’m going to make myself comfortable too.” Down to my underwear, I sat across her legs, put my hands on her back, and waited, feeling her chest rise and lower with her breathing.

She turned her head and smiled. “You got any massage oil?”

Commitment?

In Ask the Doctor* on February 11, 2011 at 6:54 am

Q: Thanks Doc, I was wondering do you have any advice on a how to cement a commitment between two bisexual married men who wish to enter into an exclusive closed loop relationship? Should we have some kind of private commitment ceremony? I suppose we should have blood tests as with getting married? What other things can you think of that might help ensure the exclusivity and success of the relationship? We have been friends for a couple of years and have had enough private time to know we are sexually compatible. Neither of us is out. Also, we both love our wives and want to protect those relationships. Thank you for any advice.

A: The medical part of your question is the easiest to answer: anyone who has unprotected sex should get tested for sexually transmitted infections. A good time to do so is at the start of a committed relationship, but also periodically thereafter if the relationship is not strictly monogamous, in which case it would also be prudent to use protection, for yourselves and your partners. Obviously there is no need to test for blood type compatibility, since two men can’t impregnate each other.

The part of this question I have difficulty addressing involves the ethics and practicality of committing when you are both already married (I am assuming that your wives do not know about this affair, since you are not “out”). I am suspicious of moral pronouncements that don’t consider individual circumstances; but it seems paradoxical to cheat on one partner in order to commit to another. Generally, spouses should have the opportunity to decide whether they want to stay in a relationship in which they have to share. But presumably you have considered this, and the risks and alternatives, and I think it is a very personal matter between you and your wives.

Kaboom

In Media, The Flex Test on February 10, 2011 at 6:11 am

Gregg Araki’s New Film Will Make You Ambisexual
Madison Moore
Splice Today
February 4, 2011

In her review of Araki’s new ambisexual apocalypse film, Kaboom, Moore refers to my Flexuality Test, which she characterizes cutely as “a simple, fun-for-the-whole-family game that tells you how gay or straight you are.”

Bisexual Arabic Literature

In Cultures, Media on February 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm

With Cairo in the news recently, I was reminded of an Egyptian novel that deals with bisexuality. The Yacoubian Building, by Alaa Al Aswany, was a best seller in the Arab world when it was published a few years ago, and it was subsequently made into a popular movie. One of the main characters is Abd Rabbuh, a young police officer who is married but also having an affair with an older, gay man, Hatim Rasheed. Rabbuh has features of several sexual types, though his role is most obviously macho and versatile. The characters are portrayed sympathetically, though the plot requires a perhaps stereotypical tragic ending.

For another great novel featuring bisexual characters in Egypt, pick up Norman Mailer’s colorful epic, Ancient Evenings, set mostly in the 13th Century B.C. The narrator (Menenhetet) has sex with both men and women, as does his pharaoh, Ramses the Great. Menenhetet is portrayed as macho, while Ramses seems to be supersexual. The novel is fascinating for the way in which Mailer immerses the reader in an alien culture, in which sexuality, bodily functions, and religion are completely unmoored from contemporary associations and assumptions.

And back to Arabic, consider reading the erotic wine songs of Abu Nuwas, a revered 8th Century poet who wrote in Baghdad during the early Abbasid period. The classic poet is famous for his sexual relations with men (when he was a boy) and boys (when he was a man), but he also married a woman and loved a slave girl during his youth. He wrote passionate songs about both young men and women.

Interview on Turnstyle News

In Announcements, Media on January 25, 2011 at 3:38 am

How Sexually Flexible Are You?
by Robyn Gee
Turnstyle News
January 24, 2011

Check out this interview of me by Robyn Gee on the cultural news blog, Turnstyle News, which has been released just in time for the launch of the new Flexuality Test.

The NEW Flexuality Test!

In Announcements, The Flex Test on January 23, 2011 at 7:07 am

Yesterday I launched the new version of the Flexuality Test for 2011.

The new test is considerably shorter; it has just one part and takes only about 5 mins. to complete. I was able to shorten the test by dispensing with the “flexuality score,” a global measure of sexual flexibility based on a broad survey of all relevant attitudes, constraints, experiences, and desires. Each of those factors is explored in the new version of the test, but not so exhaustively. I kept those questions which were most useful in distinguishing the test-taker’s sexual type.

Those of you who took the original test may wonder if it is worth your while to take the new version. Please feel free. You will recognize many of the same questions, and the new questions cover similar ground. But I have tried to further tease out the ways in which sexual feelings may be experienced differently towards men and women, and this is reflected in the focus of some questions and the weighting of items in the final scoring.

I have revised the scoring of the sexual profile. I hope that the more nuanced questions about sexual desire will better distinguish between overlapping categories like “ambisexual,” “polyamorous” (now called “flexamorous”, revised 4-7-11) and “queer.” The revised scoring allows for features of more than one sexual type to be present. For example, you could score as “queer with polyamorous traits,” if you are predominantly attracted to the same sex but also very open to forming a romantic partnership with someone of the opposite sex.

Before I lay the “flexuality score” to rest, here’s one final graph which illustrates that those who consider themselves bisexual have, on average, greater flexibility than those who self-identify as gay or straight. Not a surprise.

Comedian, Travon Free

In Flexible People on January 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

The young stand-up comedian, author, and former college athlete, Travon Free, has joined the small rank of celebrities who have declared themselves bisexual. His coming out is unusual not only because he is male, but also because he is black. Read his coming-out essay on his blog, which eloquently describes his evolving sense of his sexuality, his challenges and supports, and his relationship to god, religion, the black community, and college friends.

Free describes himself as sexually interested in both boys and girls since he was 14 years old. He’s had relationships with both men and women and is currently in a relationship with another man. He politely resists suggestions that he is “really gay.”

In terms of the sexual types defined in this blog, Free might be ambisexual or flexamorous, two categories which obviously overlap. But why parse, since he is proud and comfortable with the term “bisexual.”

You can also read more about Free on his professional web site, but be sure to read his essay.

Condoms for Oral Sex

In Ask the Doctor* on January 16, 2011 at 10:07 am

Q: What percentage of people wear a condom for a blowjob? I’ve seen it advised everywhere, but I’ve only met one person who actually does it, and zie [he/she?] does it for sex work. How important is it in terms of STD’s? How dangerous is it for the reciving and giving partner? Can you give me the skinny? THANKS!

A: Medical professionals urge condom use during oral sex, because potentially infectious fluids are exchanged. Even though the risk of transmitting HIV is low, you can catch gonorhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and herpes. If you have a cut in your mouth, or a sore, then you could also conceivably get HIV. In some anonymous sexual settings (such as a bathhouse or video store), your partner could pass on hepatitis, an intestinal bug, or even the common cold, if he hasn’t washed between sexual acts. Who knows where that penis has been?

Some people try to limit the risk by not letting a partner ejaculate in their mouth, but that can be difficult to control, and you may still be exposed to unclean skin and pre-ejaculatory fluids. If someone has ejaculated in your mouth, it may be relatively safe to swallow, since the acidic juices in your stomach should kill HIV and most bacteria, but spitting out is probably the safer course. It might help to gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash immediately after giving a blowjob, though the practice hasn’t been studied.

If you use a condom during oral sex, you may prefer one that is unlubricated, or one that is flavored. Though you asked about a blowjob, most of the risks described above also apply to cunnilingus. You can use a dental dam, which is a sheet of latex that you lay across the woman’s clitoris, vulva, and vaginal opening.

Returning to your original question, I suspect that condoms are not widely used for oral sex. A condom changes the experience of oral sex, though perhaps more for the one giving the blowjob than the recipient. Some people make it a rule to always use a condom themselves or on their partners, but others make an exception for oral sex. Condoms are almost never worn for oral sex in pornographic movies, but that’s probably not a good place to turn for guidance. Sex workers protect their health (and their clients) by using a condom regardless of the act.

The bottom line: The risks are lower than with unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse. You need to consider what level of risk, if any, is acceptable to you.

[You can e-mail your questions about sex, sexuality, and sexual relationships to me at flexuality@hotmail.com, or post a question anonymously as a comment. The answers I post are for informational purposes only and do not constitute individual treatment.]

Ask the Doctor

In Ask the Doctor* on January 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Q: If I had a gay experience when I was a little kid, but I’m horrified about it now, am I straight?

A: Your experiences do not define your sexual orientation. Even if you had a pleasurable gay experience as an adult, you could still be straight. Your orientation is defined by what you desire and enjoy, not by what happens to you. This is especially true of children, who may engage in sexual play out of natural curiosity or because an older person involves them in sexual activities that they are too young to understand. Unfortunately, these experiences can lead children, as they grow up, to feel ashamed and to question their sexuality. You may have reason to feel horrified if you were taken advantage of by someone more experienced, but there is no need to feel ashamed of youthful sexual experimentation, which is quite common. If you are currently only interested in the opposite sex, then you are straight. If you have some sexual interest in the same sex as well, that’s nothing to be ashamed about either.

[This is a new series, answering your questions about sex, sexuality, and sexual relationships. You can e-mail your questions to me at flexuality@hotmail.com, or post a question anonymously as a comment. The answers I post are for informational purposes only and do not constitute individual treatment.]