Friday, July 22, 2011


Sam Biddle —

It goes like this: horny teenagers have always been horny. Then they got cellphones, and used them to exchange raunchy pics with each other. Horrified parents demanded an explanation, and "sexting" was born. But what does that mean, exactly? This.

"Sexting" has become as nebulous as it is overhyped. And this is problematic, because the definitions in use are as ambiguous as they are many. Some say a sext is just a naked pic. Some say it's flirty. Some say it's sexually-suggestive or sexually themed. "Sexually-themed" being one of those wonderfully American catch-all danger words. It can be kissing! It can be nudity! It can be—sex. Is saying "I wanna make out with you" a sext? What if I include a picture of my penis with that message? What if it's just the picture?

Nobody seems to agree—and that's a problem. We're swept up an exciting new word that has the potential to help unseat politicians, but we're not exactly sure what we're talking about.

With every wave of technology, we accumulate new words. Upload. Delete. Google. These are fine, because their meanings are technically clear, and innocuous. But sexting is something one's accused of—an act with some degree of shame accompanying it. It might be a lot of fun (I mean, right?), but you wouldn't want to talk about doing it over Thanksgiving dinner.

So let's set things straight right now.

Sexting is a portmanteau of sex and texting. Agreed? Good. We'll stick with that. It's not sexual texting, or sexually themed texting—it's sex texting. Texting as a simulacrum of doin' it. Remember cybersex?

There wasn't any confusion about cybersex. Like phone sex before it, cybersex was the acting out of sexual performances via internet. Sexting is the same thing. If I tell you I want to make out via text, I'm not sexting. If I say I want to rip off your pants and push you up against a wall (in a sweet way!), I'm probably sexting. If you send me back a naked picture with a reply to that effect, now we're both sexting.

If I just send you an unsolicited cell snapshot of my junk, I'm not a sexter—I'm a pervert. If you're my girlfriend and I do it, I'm still not sexting—there's no message, no action—just "Here, look at my blurry genitals."

So let's stop being confused. And moreover, let's stop being afraid! It's a little dystopian and indicative of an alienated and repressed society, but pretending we're having sex with electronics can be a lot of fun! So open up your phone, scroll down that contact list, and say some freaky shit. Dong shot optional.

Photo: Poulsons Photography/Shutterstock

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Couples In a Relationship Like To Snoop On Each Other [Survey]

Click here to read Couples In a Relationship Like To Snoop On Each Other

Face the facts. People can't resist the urge to snoop on each other. It doesn't matter whether you're married or dating. If you're in a relationship, you have probably looked at your mate's personal information without them knowing. More »

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This Woman Will Give An iPad Or $500 To The Person Who Finds/Becomes Her Soulmate

Redmond Pie
Téa Smith, a lady from Australia, has announced that she is willing to giveaway an iPad on $500 in cash in exchange for a soulmate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Online Dating Studies Don't Tell You [Science]

Click here to read What Online Dating Studies Don't Tell You

A new study shows online daters tend to message people in their attractiveness 'league.' But can online dating studies really tell us about love? More »

Monday, July 11, 2011

Race And Craigslist Dating: An Experiment [Identity]

I'm a tall, half Asian woman. I'm a performing artist and a healer. I dance in nightclubs, as well as talk to people about their problems. I have tattoos. I dress in black and chrome a lot. I'm Buddhist. I speak Texan fluently. All of these could be qualifying or disqualifying factors depending on who you're talking to in the online dating world. All of this swirls together into a bewildering racial and cultural stew that defies straightforward presentation. More »

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Science of Gaydar: How Ovulation and Sexy Stories Sharpen Sexual Perception

Curtesy: Popular Science

The results from a recent study show that straight women are better at judging men's sexual orientation when they are unconsciously motivated to do so, either by hormonal fluctuations or by the power of suggestion.

Nicholas Rule, a psychologist who studies social perception and cognition, and colleagues ran three sets of experiments to test women's gaydar. In the first, Rule showed 40 heterosexual women pictures of 80 self-reported gay and straight men on a computer screen. The black-and-white face shots were devoid of adornments, such as jewelry and facial hair, that could throw off the game. After the women guessed whether the subjects were gay or straight, they reported the date of their last period and the typical length of their cycles, from which the researchers extrapolated how close they were to ovulating. The nearer the women were to ovulating, the more accurately they guessed.

'Evolutionarily speaking,' Rule explains, 'when women are most fertile they should be more motivated to find the partner that will be most effective at helping them succeed in conceiving a healthy offspring. Naturally, straight men are better-suited to their needs than are gay men, as they are more likely to collaborate on achieving that goal.'

To test whether women simply become more attentive overall near ovulation, the researchers next asked a different group of straight women to guess whether 200 women were gay or straight based on their pictures. This time, no correlation was found between the women's fertility and their ability to guess the subjects' sexual orientation. This suggests that, for straight women, gaydar is more finely tuned close to ovulation when it's relevant - i.e. when a potential mate is on the scene.

Sexy stories also make sexual orientation more relevant. In a third study, straight women who read a 'romantic' story before guessing male sexual orientation were more accurate than those who hadn't read the story, regardless of where they were in their cycles. (Again, no correlation was found when the researchers ran the same study using pictures of women.) Thus, it isn't just hormones that heighten women's perception of nonverbal clues, but rather a more general disposition toward mating brought about in different ways, such as thinking romantic thoughts. 'These data provide information about how subtleties that we often overlook can meaningfully influence our thoughts and behavior without our even realizing it,' Rule says. (I wonder if a nagging mom counts as subtle.)

Rule says we still don't know exactly how women sharpen their gaydar. He theorizes that they're unconsciously allocating more mental resources toward making the judgments. 'They may be more vigilant and attentive to cues to who will be a successful partner,' he says. The same may be true for gay men. Previous studies have shown that gay men are better than straight men at judging whether subjects are homosexual or heterosexual, which could be because they are more attentive to differences in sexual orientation or because they have more experience making these judgments.

But just how can a person tell gay from straight by looking at a non-descript black-and-white picture? A study Rule published in 2008 found three key facial features involved in accurately perceiving men's sexual orientations: hairstyle, the eyes (with or without eyebrows) and the mouth. 'Without those, people can't make the judgments; with any one of them, people can,' he says. We still don't know, however, what it is about these features that gives it away.

I asked Rule why the researchers asked the participants to self-report their cycles, rather than using a more reliable ovulation test. (I know that whenever my doc asks me when my last period was, I'm guessing to a certain extent.) He says they would have loved to have more precise hormonal measures but that at the time it wasn't possible. 'That said, given that we're relying on self-report, it is all the more impressive that we find the effects that we do,' he says. 'One can only imagine that our effects would have been stronger if we had more precise measurements.'

Jennifer Abbasi is a science and health writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She has seen every episode of The X-Files. Have a question about the science of sex? Email Jen at