TIME Japan

Women Are Starting a Sex Strike in Tokyo Because of This Guy

Yoichi Masuzoe
Yoichi Masuzoe AP

A modern day Lysistrata

Women in Tokyo have been brushing up on their Greek theater. To protest conservative Yoichi Masuzoe’s gubernatorial bid, women are threatening a sex strike against any man who gives the candidate a vote.

One reason for the boycott stems from a Masuzoe’s 1989 declaration that women shouldn’t hold high governmental decisions because they have periods.

“Women are not normal when they are having a period,” he told a men’s magazine.”You can’t possibly let them make critical decisions about the country (during their period) such as whether or not to go to war.”

A Twitter handle which describes itself as “The association of women who will not have sex with men who vote for Masuzeo” gained more than 3,000 since its launch last week. A separate website to prevent his success has been pulling in 75,000 hits a day. That’s a lot more action than Masuzeo supporters are going to be getting.

TIME Dating

Millennials in Love: Why They’re Not So Different From Their Parents After All

Couple holding hands outside in thick fog.
Couple holding hands outside in thick fog. -Rekha Garton-—Getty Images/Flickr Select

Technology might be rewriting the rules of dating, but the game itself is a very old pursuit

There’s nothing quite like a new generation setting out to breed. It’s an exercise in feverishness and fretfulness, in urgency and appetite, a sweet and simpleminded leave-taking of the senses in the pursuit of, well, a lot. Sex, certainly—plenty of that. Then there’s companionship, and security and the esteem of your friends—to say nothing of yourself—and the basic thrill of thinking that maybe, just maybe, you’re in love. Only a handful of years earlier, the same demographic was nothing but a swarm of pre-sexual children. Then the mating software booted up, but it was constrained by bodies and minds way too young to do much about it. And to the extent that anyone tried, there were parents, teachers and society as a whole policing their behavior.

Then all at once the limits are gone—the young breeders jump the traces and are set free to have at it. Soon enough, their sexuality will be back in harness—they’ll be married, with children, their primal impulses constrained again by commitment and culture. But for now, they’re a cohort of sexually electric young adults, and romance is one big, heaping helping of yes.

And oh, the kind of sex they’re going to enjoy. Their parents and grandparents had their turn at it, but theirs was sex within limits, sex by the rules, sex—let’s be honest—as intercourse. The new generation has sex with a wink, sex with awareness—sex as an exercise in bonding and socializing, experimentation, even irony, sex as a complex act that can mean anything at all or nothing at all, and you know what? That’s just fine. This is a whole new breed of breeders.

( MORE:The New Dating Game: How Smartphone Apps Have Changed Courtship)

Except it’s not. The popular trope of the Millennial age is that sex and love might not be any different now from what they’ve always been, but the way they’re practiced and pursued has changed meaningfully, in large part because of the technology that enables it. The school dance gave way to the singles bar which gave way to the personal ad, which gave way to the Internet which gave way to the smartphone—your handheld, in-pocket, 24-hour police scanner for love. OKCupid and Match.com have always-with-you apps; Grinder and a host of other new apps trump that by swapping compatibility for geography: who’s nearby and who’s available—right now? Tinder gamifies it all—dating and mating as a portable match game, with an unending succession of faces appearing on your screen, all dispatched with a swipe one way to pick the winners and a swipe the other to designate losers—and somewhere out there, your face is being swiped too.

“Curation has been a lifestyle trend for a while now,” says consumer anthropologist and consultant Jamie Gordon. “There are services and apps that help you access and consume products. Tools like Tinder are just about accessing and consuming humans.”

By any measure, that does seem like a sea change. But the thing is, the sea is always changing, in big ways and small, from generation to generation and even year to year. When it comes to romance, the last century alone has seen multiple transformations, all of which felt like never-before force multipliers for human sexuality. There was feminism in the 1970s—which freed women to heed both the urges of their bodies and the imperatives of their dignity, allowing them to make the kinds of choices they never could before. There was the Pill in the 1960s and the back seat of the Chevy in the 1950s. There was the exquisite collision of illegal gin, hot jazz and the forbidden lure of the speakeasy in the 1920s. That same car with the big back seat was a “struggle buggy” back then, something you’d share with a snuggle pup you met at a petting party. Laugh now, but the sex was just the same.

“Technology is changing rapidly but human beings are not,” says clinical psychologist Elizabeth Churchill, currently director of human-computer interactions for eBay research labs and formerly with Yahoo, where she analyzed blog profiles for the company’s personal and dating services. “Dating apps just let you collapse space and time in ways you couldn’t in the past. Back then, if I wanted to know if there was someone around the corner I could have sex with I had to get up and have a look. Now I can do it all online.” That’s different—a little—but only in the way that going out to a movie is different from streaming one at home.

(MORE: Inside Tinder: Meet the Guys Who Turned Dating Into an Addiction)

The gamification element may be less than it seems too. There’s no way to deny that Tinder has reframed the win-lose quality of mate selection like nothing ever before. But gamification has always been a big part of the mating mix. It’s what mid-century makeout games like spin the bottle and pass the grapefruit were about. It’s strip poker and suburban key parties —whose spouse are you going home with tonight? It’s half the point of the game Twister, with its left-hand-red, right-foot-blue, and who knows what other body parts will bump up against each other in the process? Arm wrestling in a bar gamifies which man’s fitness display will best catch the eye of a woman. Four-inch heels ain’t worn for comfort; they’re worn because they give a woman an advantage over her friend who can barely totter around on three-inchers.

Conception itself is the biggest, most existential game of all. If a woman ovulates for 35 years, she’ll release 420 eggs, and conception requires just one. The rest? Thanks for playing. And as for sperm? In a single sex act, perhaps 250 million of them go racing for the same irresistible target. If a sperm could spike a football, don’t you think the winner would?

Global events—which are by definition unique to a particular point in time —don’t make any one generation as special as it seems either. Gordon cites 9/11 and the global recession as formative experiences for Millennials—and they surely were, piling burdens of loss and economic hardship on the shoulders of young people who might not be equipped to bear them. In the process, diversions like steamlined dating, enabled by game-like apps became all the more appealing. “It makes the work of finding a mate more lightweight,” she says.

Maybe, but listen to all the recent sociological jawboning about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan. In this case, it was the assassination of President Kennedy that was the traumatic experience, feeding the need to cut loose with new, faintly outlaw music, and leading in turn to the freedom of the sexual revolution. Before that it was Pearl Harbor and before that the Depression. Crises are episodic, but human sexuality is eternal, and it’s a certainty that the two will line up now and again.

Even the image-curation power that apps provide—posting your most flattering pictures, with your best-looking friends, and advertising only your good points—is just the digital version of ancient analogue behavior: leaving your glasses at home when you go on a date, or choosing a dimly lit restaurant because who doesn’t look better in candlelight? Yes, it’s all more sophisticated when an app is involved, but that’s a difference of degree, not of kind.

“When I was at Yahoo, we interviewed people and watched them as they filled out their profiles,” says Churchill. “People are were smart and they knew there was an algorithm out there, so they were forever changing what they wrote to game the system—saying they’re 39, for example, because they weren’t getting enough hits with 41. They’d admit that that felt like lying, but it’s all just impression management.”

None of this is to say that new technologies and circumstances don’t present situational challenges that didn’t exist before. The condomless era that the Pill ushered in meant dealing with the rise of STDs—including, eventually, AIDS. Key parties and mate-swapping led to long-term affairs and broken marriages. Single secretaries and predatory Mad Men were just obeying ancient seduction rituals, but those rituals had a new impact in a suburban-centric era in which wives and children were parked a train commute away and the randy dad got to spend his days in the city. What happens on Madison Avenue stays on Madison Avenue—until it doesn’t and the family busts up.

So too is it with Tinder, Grindr and the whole new world of app-potentiated dating. Easy technology in the hands of young, hormonally charged singles is undeniably a mutually reinforcing match, especially since the apps are designed with all the psych-savvy bells, whistles and reinforcement signals that make games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds so addictive.The thing is, we didn’t come from the factory pre-loaded with a primal need to line up jelly beans or launch birds at pigs, but we did come with a powerful suite of sexual needs and behaviors. Millennials must admittedly wrestle with all that in ways no other generation did. Still, it’s a very old struggle—even if it’s being fought by very new rules.

Click here to join TIME for as little as $2.99 to read more about The New Dating Game and how apps like Tinder have changed courtship.

TIME

These Graphs Show the Changing Popularity of Porn

Charting the world's most popular genres

Sexualitics is a big data project by a group of sociologists, demographic experts, computer scientists and math experts based in France that seeks to parse human sexuality by studying huge datasets and tracking how popular different genres of porn video uploads are.

Using every video uploaded to the popular adult site xHamster from its creation in 2007 to February 2013, the Sexualitics team built Porngram, a tool that maps porn tags people search for and shows you the terms’ rate of popularity since 2007.

The result is a whole lot of information about the world’s sexual preferences placed into pretty little charts. And really, if we’re being honest, aren’t graphs their own kind of porn?

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Porngram

Films tagged “teen” dropped at the same rate as though with an older theme.

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Porngram

Meanwhile, uploaders seem to be a whole lot more into threesomes recently.

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Porngram

After a brief dip in popularity in 2007, “secretary” and “boss” are on the upswing.

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Porngram

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have the adorable statistic that people want the lovey dovey stuff more than the other stuff. Aww.

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Porngram

Blame it on the increased popularity of “revenge porn,” but the tag “revenge” appears to be skyrocketing.

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Porngram

Despite the stagnation of “mature,” “MILF” is on its way up.

TIME Science

Congratulations! Science Confirms That Post-Breakup Revenge Sex Is a Real Phenomenon

Qusai Al Shidi / Flickr

Victims of breakups are also more likely to rebound

Just went through a painful breakup? Then you’re probably having sex with other people in order to get over your ex, explains a report in the new edition of the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Once again, science has proven something that was anecdotally supported many times over. Many, many times. Maybe too many.

Through a survey that had 170 undergraduate students keep weekly online diaries of their sexual experiences (hello Tumblr), the scientists found that “people really do use sex as a way to… get back at their ex-partner in the aftermath of a breakup,” according to University of Missouri researcher Lynne Cooper. One-third of the students in the study who had recently experienced a breakup went on to have rebound sex within a month of the end of the relationship, which we probably could have guessed. But the experiment had other, more surprising results.

“Having sex to cope with distress and to get over or get back at the ex-partner were elevated immediately following the breakup and then declined over time, as did the probability of having sex with a new partner,” the report explains. In other words, rebound sex is a time-sensitive issue—the chance is high that you’ll get some right after the end of a relationship, but after that you’re increasingly less likely to be sleeping with someone different as you move on.

The victim of a breakup also has a higher chance of rebound sex. “Those who were dumped by their partners were more distressed… and more likely to have sex to cope and to get back at or get over their ex-partner,” according to the report.

In other news, the sky is blue, bears poop in the woods, et cetera.

TIME Marriage Equality

Black Gay Men Are Still Invisible

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Whenever I read about this mythical place in which a person’s sexuality is no longer taboo, in the wake of a handful of states allowing marriage equality, I often think to check the balance of my credit card. I would love to be able to afford to go to such a wondrous place. Unfortunately, reality quickly smacks me upside the head. There’s no way I could ever enter such a utopia — given that the only people allowed admittance are white, upper middle class white gay men. (Oh, and maybe the occasional straight “ally.”)

Months ago, I read David Carr’s essay in which he asserted “now that gay marriage is a fact of life, a person’s sexual orientation is not only not news, it’s not very interesting.” I chalked that up to him being a straight, white guy who didn’t know any better. However, Brandon Ambrosino recently lent credence to Carr’s possibly misguided remarks by noting, “Carr’s is a welcome reminder of the progress we often forget we’ve made. A person’s gayness isn’t a talking point, and his alleged gayness ought never be since it takes us back to an era when it was culturally acceptable to shame a gay person as a curious oddity.”

For the record, it’s still culturally acceptable to shame a gay person as a curious oddity. Otherwise, any conversation about a public figure’s sexuality would reflect that on its own. What really bugs me about this conversation, and all those like it, though, is that marriage equality is often the sole basis on how to weigh progress.

Should I meet the R&B singer or NBA player of my dreams, I’d love to get married and have all of the legal protections that come with that institution in all of the 50 states. Nonetheless, when I think about actual progress, as a gay Black man I can’t be silly enough to base “how far we’ve come” on where I can get married. I can see same sex marriage being legalized nationwide — but at present moment, I have other things on my mind to worry about.

We can start with the one-sided representation of the LGBT community.

Although Black people have traditionally been portrayed as the boogiemen and boogiewomen of gay rights (disproportionately opposed to gay marriage, on the whole), a Gallup poll nonetheless found that “Blacks are more likely to identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender than any other racial or ethnic group in the nation.” A year before that, the Census Bureau highlighted that gay couples “in Southern states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are more likely to be raising children than their counterparts on the West Coast, in New York and in New England.”

And yet, who are the faces of gay families in the media? I recall Stephen Marche’s review of the now cancelled NBC comedy, The New Normal, in which he claimed that, “Gay people are becoming too boring for television.” Well, maybe the ones we’re stuck with are.

And even when there is some diversity — e.g. the picture of two gay Black men raising children together that caused a stir recently — it comes from the Internet and is still framed with a disingenuous, “Ohmigod, why are you talking about their race as if that matters?” It’s always the people who aren’t subjected to scrutiny because of their color telling everyone else about the beauty of colorblindness.

The lack of effort to reach and represent other types of gay men has numerous consequences. For instance, take the New York Times report about Black and Latino men becoming the face of HIV. The story notes that “there has been little political pressure to focus on young gay blacks and Hispanics.” On the booming AIDS rates among minority gay men, Krishna Stone, a spokeswoman for Gay Men’s Health Crisis, lamented, “There wasn’t even an ad campaign aimed at young black men until last year — what’s that about?” Phill Wilson, president of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, added that there are “no models out there right now for reaching these men.”

But again, someone’s sexual orientation doesn’t matter anymore because a few guys in New York and San Francisco have gotten married, which means the gay dudes living in New Orleans, Houston, and Atlanta just need to shut up and smile. The struggle is over now.

TIME

Sexting in Middle School Means More Sex for Preteens and Teens

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Younger students are no different than their older peers when it comes to sexting, a new study reports.

More high school students are sending and receiving sexually explicit text messages or photos, and that makes them more likely to engage in other types of sexual activity as well. Now researchers say the same trends are trickling down to younger students in middle school. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that a significant number of adolescents between ages 12 and 14 sext, and that these children are more likely to kiss, have oral sex or sexual intercourse than their counterparts who did not send such explicit messages.

The study surveyed 420 seventh grade students from five urban public middle schools in Rhode Island. The students answered several yes/no questions that ranged from “In the last six months have you texted someone a sexual message to flirt with them?” to whether or not they participated in a variety of sexual activities from kissing to intercourse and whether they had casual or serious romantic partners.

The results revealed that 22% of the students sexted, with 17% sending text messages only and 5% sending both texts and explicit photos. More concerning, say the scientists, was that sexting was associated with a higher likelihood of sexual behaviors such as touching genitals, oral sex, and vaginal sex. According to the study authors, teens who sexted were four to seven times more likely to also partake in sexual activities. Students that admitted to sending pictures showed even higher rates of sexual activity.

The sexting adolescents also reported that they felt family members and peers were more likely to approve of various sexual activities. And they admitted to higher rates of intending to engage in sexual acts than their non-sexting friends. Sexually explicit photos are becoming more commonplace among teens and pre-teens on social media, in part because school officials and parents aren’t addressing the practice. Michael, a 16-year-old high school student in New York, says sexting is popular in his high school, and generally viewed as not a big deal. “People post pictures of themselves on their Facebook pages,” he says. And even though his high school talks to students about bullying in substance abuse, he says sexting has never been discussed or punished.

That could make adolescents who may not be mature enough to understand the possible consequences of exchanging sexually explicit messages vulnerable to sexual predators, say the study authors. “Although adolescents may be more digitally savvy than their parents, their lack of maturity and inattention to consequences can quickly lead to serious negative outcomes,” they write. In San Diego, dozens of students from San Dieguito Union High School District are facing possible criminal charges after teen girls sent naked photos of themselves to their boyfriends, which were then shared among six different high schools and one middle school. Sharing nude photos of young people has been classified as distributing child pornography in some states.

How can schools and parents crack down on sexting? Some parents have resorted to apps, like EyeGuardian, which was created by two fathers and alerts parents whenever explicit or abusive content is shared on their child’s Facebook account. There’s also the app ZipIt, which is targeted to young people. If a teen gets a text from someone asking for an explicit photo, the app suggests an alternative meme, like a photo of a trash can with the corresponding text, “here’s a picture of my junk.”

Whether they solicit the help of such high tech aids, however, parents can discourage sexting by being more aware of what their pre-teens and teens are sharing and seeing on social media. Simply limiting the amount of time they spend on these sites or the number of texts kids can send could be a useful first step — one study in 2010 found that teens who hyper-text, or send more than 120 text messages in a single day — were more likely to have sex or do drugs and drink alcohol.

TIME Sex

Add Inches!! (No, Really, Men Can Make It Longer)

Don’t worry, you didn’t just accidentally click on spam e-mail. Though most advertised penis-enlargement methods are bogus, a new review of 10 existing studies suggests that some nonsurgical techniques really can increase the length of a man’s organ. (more…)

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