TIME Media

James Franco: Horndog or Marketing Genius?

The actor said he "used bad judgement" in messaging a 17-year old Scottish girl on Instagram, but some think the awkward flap may be a bizarre publicity stunt for Franco’s upcoming movie about a soccer coach who has an affair with a teenage player

James Franco was mighty quick to admit that the sketchy Instagram messages he sent to an teenage girl were actually real during his Friday appearance on Live with Kelly and Michael.

“I used bad judgement and I learned my lesson,” said the This is The End star. “But unfortunately in my position, I mean I have a very good life, but not only do I have to go through the embarassing rituals of meeting someone, sometimes if I do that then it gets published for the world, so it’s like doubly embarrassing.”

That was easy.

The awkward flap with a 17-year old Scottish schoolgirl broke just as the first trailer was released for Franco’s movie Palo Alto, in which the actor plays an adult soccer coach who has an affair with one of his teenage players… sound familiar? The movie is also based on a book of short stories Franco wrote.

So is James Franco sketchy for hitting on a teenage girl through Instagram? Or is he sketchy for pretending to hit on a teenage girl in order to promote his new movie in which he plays a guy who hits on a teenage girl?

Either way, it’s icky.



Left-Handed People Have Better Sex, Study Finds

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We foresee a line of "Lefties do it better" t-shirts debuting soon

Life can be pretty tough for left-handed people. For example, they can’t use those those university classroom desks and they struggle with everyday devices like can openers.

Apparently, though, left-handed people ultimately prevail over their right-handed counterparts because they have better sex. According to a recent survey, lefties are 71% more satisfied in the sack than righties.

Of the 10,000 people surveyed, 86% of left-handed people reported being “Extremely Satisfied” with their sex lives, compared to just 15% of righties. Just 15%! Too bad, so sad.

It’s hard to say exactly why lefties are more fulfilled, but we assume it’s because while righties are off doing things that are engineered for righties — like using desks or playing video games or opening cans — lefties are off perfecting other skills.

TIME relationships

To Sleep or to Sleep With? Study Shows Night-Owl Women Have More Sex, Fewer Relationships

Woman asleep in bed Cultura RM/Greta Engel—Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RM

Women who stay up late are more likely to get laid, but less likely to get married than women who get up early to do a sun salutation or whatever

You know what Ben Franklin said: Early to bed, early to rise makes a woman rested, safe, and married.

A new study from the University of Chicago shows that women who stay up late tend to have similar risk-taking tendencies as men, and that night-owls of both genders were less likely to be in long-term relationships.

Researchers found that men generally have higher levels of cortisol and testosterone than women, but that night-owl women have just as much cortisol as men. High levels of cortisol are usually associated with high energy, arousability, stress and even cognitive function, and some research has shown that successful people usually have higher cortisol levels. The researchers found that high cortisol levels may explain why night-owls take more risks.

In other words, women who stay up late tend to get laid more often, but women who go to bed early and get up early might be more likely to be in stable relationships.

Apparently the tendency to stay up late may have been an evolutionary trait that enabled our caveman ancestors to get frisky after the kids went to bed. “From an evolutionary perspective, it has been suggested that the night-owl trait may have evolved to facilitate short-term mating, that is, sexual interactions that occur outside of committed, monogamous relationships,” lead researcher Dario Maestripieri told UChicago News. “Being active in the evening hours increased the opportunities to engage in social and mating activities, when adults were less burdened by work or child-rearing.”

By the way, men who are night-owls have twice as much sex as men who are early birds. But since sleep loss might cause brain damage, you might have to choose between sex partners and brain cells.

[Journal of Evolutionary Psychology]


#AfterSex: The Instagram Selfie Trend We Don’t Need

Woman using a smartphone
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Just put the phone down

The Internet’s latest infatuation is the #AfterSex selfie, which is exactly what it sounds like. In fact, taking a selfie after you’ve had sex might just be the new post-coital cigarette. (Unless, of course, it’s scrolling through your phone to see what you missed while otherwise occupied.)

Browse through the feed on Instagram (NSFW), and you’ll see people using the hashtag on a variety of photos: raunchy cartoons, eyeroll-worthy memes, a very relaxed looking open hand (get it?) and a surprising number of photos of actor Dave Franco (why it’s not James, the weirder brother, is anyone’s guess). But once you wade through the joke images, you get to the good stuff.

Look for the carefully filtered photos of attractive couples with bedroom eyes and tousled hair, smily coyly amid twisted bedclothes, or on sofas, or elsewhere. There’s also a number of singular selfies of one person staring moodily into the camera, often with a strategic amount of skin bared for the camera. These images have an identifiable post-coital aesthetic, a messy hint of real life that differs from the very posed, strained “sexy” selfies that populate the web. These people look… relaxed.

A similar hashtag #AfterSexHair shows a series of people showing off with beachy waves meant to emulate the carefree, look someone might have after a roll in the hay.

Of course it’s not like there’s anything new about showing off your relationship bliss. After all, couples around the world have been posting cutsey photos and status updates referencing “the boy” and “the gf” for years. But in the era of the groupie (and the belfie and the lelfie and who even knows what else), the #AfterSex selfie is a way of pushing digital boundaries (and boasting) to a new level. Anyone who sees one of the better versions of these photos will realize how amazing you are, how fulfilled you are in life and love, and damn if you don’t look good in the process.

These may seem like the ultimate overshare of life’s most intimate and private moments, but it’s an extension of a culture that places a premium on constantly sharing details about your good fortune, even though it’s actually making us miserable. CNET even posits that this could be part of a confessional trend started by apps like Secret and Whisper, both of which encourage users to share their true thoughts — often about sex, love and bodily functions — anonymously.

There’s no doubt many of the #aftersex photos are fake — because let’s be real, it takes a sincere lack of awareness to post a picture of yourself in any state of undress to the Internet at this point — but that doesn’t even matter. By declaring it a trend, it will become one. And certainly, articles like this might inspire more people to share pictures of themselves in posed, heavy-lidded bliss. The Internet knows that we can’t stop scrolling through our social networks, which is why we end up looking at a friend’s vacation photos on Facebook even though we know that it’ll only make us feel bad about ourselves. Creating and posting an evocative image is a guaranteed way to get more likes, more comments, more compliments. And any attention that accompanies an extra interesting or sexy shot will no doubt validate our sex lives or coupledom.

In an era where we decide on an outfit in a store because we’ve already snapped the perfect Instagram photo of ourselves wearing it in our mind, it’s scary to think about whether we’ll start consciously staging our most uninhibited moments. And soon, instead of thinking about what’s just happened with another human being, we’ll be arranging our every move the way we arrange our food on plates so that everything looks right before you decide on an image filter.

There are social scientists who think that posting selfies can be a healthy exercise for young people who are struggling to express themselves. But #aftersex might be the definition of taking it slightly too far.

[h/t to Nerve for spotting the trend]

TIME Internet

There’s Now A Website That Will Write Personalized Craigslist ‘Casual Encounter’ Ads For You

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Because writing "wanna do it?" takes too much effort

For the casual “Casual Encounter” Craigslister who doesn’t have the time to write out irresistible prose like “Wanna bang?”, there’s now a website that will actually generate a personalized personal ad for you.

Collective Love only needs your location and inclination (man/woman seeking man/woman?) to customize an ad that would be appealing to the people perusing your local section. “It parses the content of these listings and applies a markov chain algorithm to generate text using the ideas and feelings expressed by the ad posters,” the website explains.

Length ranges from 20 to 100 (!) sentences. (Again, “Wanna bang?” would probably suffice, but whatever.)

So what kind of sonnet can you expect from the randomized generator? My 20 sentence, m4w, NYC ad began:

Hold me u looking for pic Free stress today, for freaky something warm feel you won’t Answer, don’t Text Only a great mind right now! I promise you breathless.

I expect a full inbox by noon.

(h/t: Daily Dot)


Women May Fake Orgasms to Have an Actual Orgasm, Study Says

BDLM—Getty Images/Cultura RF

Yes, women fake it to boost their partner's ego, out of insecurity and to just get the darn experience over with. But a new study suggests women also fake it 'til they make it.

The mystery of the faked orgasm is no trivial issue: research suggests that up to 80 percent of women faking the big O. And everyone seems to have an opinion about why a woman would fake an orgasm.

On Masters of Sex, the fictional version of sex researcher Virginia Johnson informed William Masters that a women fake orgasms so they can back to other more important things. Sally explained to Harry that women were just faking orgasms to boost his ego—and demonstrated how easily women can do that—in When Harry Met Sally. Cosmo has given us a wide range of explanations, including insecurities about asking their partner for the things they really want.

Finally science has weighed in and it turns out that Virginia, Sally and Cosmo were all correct, according to a new study published in the Journal of Sexual Archives.

But that’s not the exciting part.

The recently released research revealed a novel and surprising reason for feigned ecstasy: some women may be faking orgasms in an effort to, well, orgasm. Researchers at Temple University and Kenyon College surveyed 481 sexually active heterosexual females who were not in serious relationships. You, know, members of the sort-of fake, overhyped college hookup culture.

According to the study, there were four main factors that influenced women to fake orgasms. Here they are ranked in order of prevalence:

1. Altruistic deceit — faking orgasm out of concern for a partner’s feelings

2. Fear and Insecurity — faking orgasm to avoid negative emotions associated with the sexual experience

3. Elevated Arousal — a woman’s attempt to increase her own arousal through faking orgasm

4. Sexual Adjournment — faking orgasm to end sex

Yes, it’s true. Women fake it for selfish reasons too. Those who participated in the study were more likely to pretend to have an orgasm in order to work themselves up to an actual orgasm than to stop sex altogether. If you believe in the power of positive thinking, the theory makes sense. If you envision yourself achieving a goal, you will achieve it. Plus, if faking an orgasm gets your partner more excited, seeing him excited may excite you.

One caveat: Earlier research indicates that women having casual sex, like the women in this new study are less likely to orgasm that those in serious relationships. Again, that makes sense, the more comfortable you are with a partner, the easier it is to communicate with them what turns you on and the easier it is to be selfish. It’s not surprise that women are reaching into their sexual toolbox to find more ways to arouse themselves.

TIME beauty

When Enforcing School Dress Codes Turns Into Slut Shaming

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Middle school girls in Illinois are protesting for their right to wear leggings after being told by teachers that their clothes are 'too distracting' to their male peers

Correction appended, March 27

In my junior year of high school I wore leggings to my AP Latin class. Leggings were against dress code at my school, as were sweatpants and skirts that were shorter than the ends of your fingertips. I had my leggings on under a dress, which admittedly probably didn’t pass the fingertip rule. My female teacher admonished me in front of the class before sending me home to change. She said something about how I wasn’t respecting myself. I ran home crying and changed into jeans. When I returned, one of the older boys in my class made a rude comment as I sunk into my seat.

I broke school rules—as just about every other teenage girl in high school did when they got dressed in the morning—and probably deserved to be punished. But this time, my teacher, tired of reprimanding girls for dress code violations every day, had decided to make an example of me in front of the class. The result? I missed important test prep for my upcoming AP exam, and she gave some immature boys an excuse to make sexual remarks in a classroom setting. They weren’t punished. That teacher was walking the fine line between enforcing a dress code and slut shaming.

This week, a group of middle-school girls in Evanston, Illinois picketed their school for the right to wear leggings. The girls at Haven Middle School had been told, like I had, that leggings were “too distracting to boys” to wear to school, according to 13-year-old Sophie Hasty who was quoted in the Evanston Review. Hasty makes the sophisticated argument that “not being able to wear leggings because it’s ‘too distracting for boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do.” Five hundred students signed their petition, and a group of girls wearing leggings and yoga pants (also banned) protested outside the school last week with signs saying, “Are my pants lowering your test scores?”

The argument being made by school administrators is not that distant from the arguments made by those who accuse rape victims of asking to be assaulted by dressing a certain way. We tell women to cover themselves from the male gaze, but we neglect to tell the boys to look at something else. That this has a sexist undertone is demonstrated by the fact that the girls who had more curves to show off were the ones more often disciplined. “Students who were getting ‘dress-coded,’ or disciplined for their attire, tended to be girls who were more developed,” Juliet Bond, a parent of a student at Haven, told the Evanston Review.

Lucy Shapiro, a 12-year-old at Haven, added that when both she and a friend wore the same type of athletic shorts, a teacher disciplined her but not her friend because, she was told, “I had a different body type than my friend…With all the social expectations of being a girl, it’s already hard enough to pick an outfit without adding in the dress code factor.”

“For me, it’s about shaming girls about their bodies,” Bond said. “It’s this message across genders that girls have to cover up, and teachers saying to girls, the reason for this rule is so that boys aren’t distracted.”

The dress code in a middle school in Evanston is far from an isolated incident. In April of 2013, a New Jersey middle school banned girls from wearing strapless dresses to prom because they were “distracting,” but later compromised and allowed one strap dresses after parents protested. A high school principal in Minnesota emailed parents asking them to forbid their children from wearing leggings to school because their “backsides” were “too closely defined” and therefore “highly distracting.” A kindergartner in Georgia was asked to change her short skirt because it was a “distraction to the other students,” which begs the question, were kindergarten boys lusting after their peer during coloring time?

Are uniforms the answer? Many teens (including myself when I was in high school) would argue that a uniform would prevent them from expressing their identity through their clothing when forging their individuality in middle school and high school is hard enough. And sometimes schools can take uniformity too far, as with the girl in Colorado who was banned from classes this week after shaving her head to support a friend going through chemotherapy: she was told she violated dress code. Could the answer be single-sex schools? Distractions from the other sex are a key reason many parents opt into same-sex education for their developing teens. But other parents value a co-educational experience and some even argue it’s essential in teaching girls how to lean in early and be competitive with their male peers in class.

In the end, what’s disruptive in the classrooms is not the clothing that girls are wearing but their bodies themselves. I’m sure teachers mean well by encouraging girls not to think that they need to wear tight clothes in order to get attention from boys or emulate their favorite TV show characters. But by implying that boys simply can’t control themselves around girls’ bodies, administrators are pandering to a culture that too often transfers blame from men to their female victims. They risk encouraging young, impressionable minds—both male and female—to think that women are in some way responsible because of their “suggestive” clothing and their behavior for sexual crimes and transgressions, rather than making clear that each individual is responsible for his or her own actions.

Some clothes are appropriate for school and some are not. But we ought to make that distinction without implying that a girl must be accountable for the sexual attention she gets. Take sex out of the equation. Don’t use the word “distracting” when explaining the rules to girls. Enforce the code equally between the genders. Tell students that the dress code is meant to show respect to learning and school; conforming to the rules is not a measure of how much a student respects herself. And use encouraging language because no teacher should tell a kid how to respect his or her own body.

Correction: The original version of this story, using information from the Evanston Review, misstated Juliet Bond’s first name.

TIME relationships

5 Percent Of People Have Checked Facebook During Sex, Says Survey

Couple in bed with smartphone
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Is this what Zuckerberg had in mind when he created the dubious "Poke" feature?

In today’s modern, fast-paced, hyper-connected society, multitasking is simply a necessary part of life. Stealthily checking your texts during a meeting? Fine. Checking your bank account balance while waiting in line at the grocery store? Sure! Checking Facebook during sex — wait, what?

Yes, apparently people do that. According to a survey conducted for condom maker Durex, around 5 percent of people have checked their Facebook during coitus. Oh, 12 percent of respondents had answered a phone call during sex, and 10 percent had read a text. Technically, calls and texts could be relaying urgent, life-altering information, so we guess that’s a little more acceptable. But Facebook? Can’t you just wait till after you’re done to find out what your co-worker’s kid ate for breakfast?

Seriously, guys. We need to draw the line somewhere.

(h/t CNET)


TIME Crimea

Ukrainian Women Have Started a Hilarious Campaign to Deny Sex to Russian Men

The shirts read "Don't give it to a Russian," and proceeds from their sale will go to the Ukrainian army

Well, sanctions and diplomacy have failed — why not give this a try?

Neither Western sanctions nor Ukrainian protests have stopped Russia from annexing Crimea, so now a group of women in Ukraine are trying a different approach.

They have launched a campaign to deny Russian men sex, Foreign Policy Magazine reports, and sport t-shirts with a suggestively clasped pair of hands and the slogan: “Don’t give it to a Russian.”

The t-shirts are being sold on the group’s Facebook page (which is only in Ukrainian), and the revenue will go to the Ukrainian army.

The tactic of withholding sex goes as far back as Ancient Greece, where women banded together in chastity until men stopped fighting and started negotiating (with varying degrees of success). In modern times, there have been similar campaigns in Kenya and Liberia.

The Ukrainian campaign has gone viral on the Russian Internet, where predictably users are trolling and mocking the group.

[Foreign Policy Magazine]



TIME Pop Culture

The Porn Studies Journal Is a Real Thing — And I Read It

Phil Ashley / Getty Images

With article titles like 'Why Internet Porn Matters,' you can't go wrong

Want your academic journal to get some attention? Just make it free and about porn to bring in the ever-desirable “free porn” readership. Case in point: Porn Studies, the academic quarterly that published its inaugural issue today.

I read through the issue and, for better or for worse, anyone looking for titillation is likely to be disappointed. (Unless what turns you on is sociological analysis, in which case — it’s your lucky day.) Despite the tantalizing nature of its title, it’s dense albeit fascinating academic content, with articles like “People’s pornography: sex and surveillance on the Chinese internet” and “Finding gender through porn performance.”

But the sophistication of the analysis doesn’t mean there’s nothing relevant to the average reader in the journal: porn, it turns out, is at a turning point — at least academically. In the introduction to the journal, Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith (of Middlesex University, appropriately, and University of Sunderland, both in the UK) explain why they think Porn Studies is needed: it’s gotten a lot easier to study the topic, as pornography has grown more accessible and the media has developed an interest in covering it, but the field is still young. While academics from many fields, from cultural studies to psychology, talk about porn, they sometimes talk around each other. Porn Studies aims, among other goals, to be the place where they figure out how to talk about it and research it.

Porn is becoming an important part of increasing numbers of people’s lives, although what that means to them is something we still know very little about. The ways that porn is produced and distributed have undergone rapid, radical and incremental change, but much of the popular discussion about those changes is still based on guesswork… Academic work has begun to chart these developments and the field has taken on a new urgency and significance given the continued position of pornography at the centre of controversies around media, gender, sexuality and technology. Pornographies, their spread, their imageries, their imaginaries and their consumption always have a high profile, but in the past decade or so interest in pornography has grown exponentially – with a concomitant increase in claims about porn’s effects, both positive and negative.

If Porn Studies succeeds in that goal, research about porn won’t be twisted into click-baiting reports on how porn is destructive — unless the research actually shows that it is.

But that time isn’t here yet. So if what you’re looking for are weird sex facts, here’s one standout: An analysis of the tags used to search for porn online showed there’s something extra-appealing about Danes. Though the researchers found that search terms usually follow predictable clusters in the “porn semantic network” (“spanking” and “latex” go together, as do “upskirts” and “voyeur” — makes sense), some terms work as bridges between interest clusters. One of those terms is “Danish.” The researchers don’t go into why, and we don’t have any guesses either.

Also, there is such a thing as “fair-trade porn” and it’s not a joke; it describes content made with feminist ethics in mind. Also, there are ten distinct ways that consumers use pornography. Who knew?

One paper found, somewhat depressingly, that one of the major reasons users look at porn is because they have nothing better to do. Now, though, that reason is obsolete — anyone can just go read Porn Studies instead.

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