BREAKING: People still having, talking about sex in 2014. A lot, actually. Sex and sexuality are taking up an increasing amount of space in the cultural conversation, but I would argue it's merely taking up the amount of space in public thought that it has always occupied privately. Here's what we learned about sex in 2014.
MEN ARE TERRIBLE
Obviously #NotAllMen, but to be honest, it did seem like terrible assholes were everywhere this year. In particular, 2014 really felt like the Year of the High Profile Rapist. All over the place, famous men with money and powerful institutions behind them were being accused of horrific abuses against women. Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi, Cee Lo Green, Woody Allen, and others categorically denied that the allegations leveled against them were true, but as more and more women come forward with their stories, it feels like the conversation—and longstanding cultural history of not listening to or believing women—is changing. Aside from those assholes there were also lower-level perverts like the Innisfil foot licker, the church leader in Missouri who was fired for trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a dog, the "Swiss Cheese Pervert," and the person behind the headline "Man Accused of Sex With Pool Raft YET AGAIN." There were definitely a few men whose terrible penises let us all down.
SEX TRENDS GONNA SEX TREND
From the deeply depressing "mamading," to the disgusting "rosebudding," to the stupid-but-harmless "#aftersex selfie," and "lumbersexuals," to what feels like literally hundreds of Tinder and Grindr-style apps (Cuddlr, Hinge, Happn), we continued to turn any sex-related thing more than two people are doing into a "trend." Great.
THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT HAS NO IDEA WHAT CONSTITUTES A DANGEROUS SEX ACT
In December of this year, the prudey, dudey UK government banned pornographers from depicting a fairly transparently random shopping list of sexual acts—calling spanking, fisting, physical restraint, and female ejaculation (among many others) "content that is not acceptable" in porn. The ban overwhelmingly targets BDSM activities and the depiction of female pleasure, which led to a recent "mass face-sitting" protest outside Westminster. How the British porn industry is supposed to survive without depicting spanking and humiliation is beyond me, but have we considered the possibility that freaky MPs maybe just want all of England to beg them for a spanking?
BISEXUALS ARE STILL BEING TOLD THEY DON'T EXIST
Despite all evidence to the contrary (namely, the lived experience of thousands if not millions of bisexual people), 2014 still brought forth its share of "what's going on with those faker bis" baloney. Asexuals are in kind of the same boat. Related: The latest edition of your friendly neighborhood alternative sexualities acronym has expanded, and is now LGBTQIAA, although I prefer the alternative QUILTBAG because of both the coziness of the image and inclusivity (it stands for Queer and Questioning; Intersex; Lesbian; Transgender, Transexual, and Two-Spirit; Bisexual; Asexual and Ally; and Gay and Genderqueer).
NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO FEEL ABOUT PORN
Is it making us afraid of intimacy? Encouraging teens to jump from kissing to raw-dog anal? Ruining relationships? Spreading awareness of the breadth of human sexual desire? Instilling a sexually adventurous spirit in couples? Probably mostly fine? We're not sure! No one is sure. But in 2014 we continued to wonder aloud, before closing that tab and hitting up RedTube.
CONSENT IS CRUCIAL
This year made it clear that university campuses are in dire need of education about sexual consent. With a number of highly publicized rape-on-campus stories making headlines worldwide, legislative bodies and university officials have scrambled to find ways to make postsecondary institutions safer spaces for women. "The Fappening," a massive 4chan leak of celebrity nudes in August also brought up the issue of digital consent, and with Noe Iniguez becoming the first man in history to serve jail time for distributing revenge porn just last month, it looks like this debate will carry over into 2015 in a big way.
TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING THE GAME
Remote-controlled vibrators, vibrator alarm clocks, Oculus Rift virtual sex realities, teledildonics, drones making porn, 3D printable sex toys, the Google Glass sex app, the app that lets you have sex with your iPad—the future is here, and it wants us to have sex with machines. (We have a very cool series happening about it, we'll just leave that here.) Technology is also trying to help us have safer sex: Australian company Starpharma announced this year that they'll be moving forward with a condom coated in an antiviral gel that, in early tests appears able to inactivate 99 percent of HIV, herpes, and some other STIs; there are reports that Vasalgel, a non-hormonal, long-acting male birth control, is due to begin testing any day now.
ALTERNATIVES TO MONOGAMY ARE STILL GOING STRONG
Are millennials having wild, crazy sex and abolishing the heteromonogamist patriarchy one septum-pierced orgy at a time? Or are stories about young people having sex in a way that is different than old people the Boomer equivalent of those Thought Catalog lists about "things all hungover arts students will relate to"? A pearl-clutching peep into the windows of the younger generation is not a new idea, but that didn't stop 2014 from revisiting polyamory, "hook up culture," intentional living communities, and other nontraditional relationship models for clicks.
THE LAW IS STILL REALLY MESSED UP ABOUT SEX WORK
Sex work is a multimillion dollar industry in North America, yet legislation continues to drive it underground, restricting workers' ability to do their jobs safely and professionally. Canada's Supreme Court struck down the country's former prostitution laws as unconstitutional this year, finding that they violated sex workers' Charter rights to safety. However, the law the Conservative government has put together to replace it has been widely criticized by sex workers and activists as just as dangerous if not more so for its limitations on discussion of sex work transactions. It's frustrating because if you want to know how to make sex work safer for sex workers, it really is as simple as asking a sex worker, and you know government officials have the number of a few.
OLD PEOPLE ARE STILL DOING IT, LIKING IT
STI rates among the elderly are a real problem, and that's because old people are having sex all over the place. If the idea of your grandparents bumping dry, sagging body parts together bums you out, that's really your problem. Your grandparents are too busy putting the safety railing you helped them install in the shower to good use.
BUTTS ARE FUN
Nicki, J.Lo, and Iggy took over the 2014 music scene butt-first. Taylor Swift's li'l booty got dissed, then defended. That woman got famous for her gym belfies. We learned that Drake loves rimming. Lions fans were eating each other's buttonholes at a good old fashioned tailgate and Mama Minaj got a hot ref to toss salad into her updated ode to big butts. Basically, in 2014 we learned that no matter your orientation or level of kink, the ass is on the table, sexually.
THE MEDIA IS FUCKING TERRIBLE AT DEALING WITH TRANS STORIES
Between Katie Couric's obsession with Laverne Cox's body parts, the transphobic coverage of Chelsea Manning, this New York Times piece, or this Sunday Times bullshit about male prisoners "jumping" at transgender "privileges" by coming out falsely as trans while incarcerated, the media has been fumbling all over itself trying to talk about trans issues. Here's hoping the rise in trans narratives in television and film (see: Transparent, Orange Is the New Black, Three Generations) and the increased visibility of vocal trans people like Cox, Manning, and Janet Mock forces the media to equip themselves better to write about trans people both fictional and real.
Also, a legless lizard crawled up a man's penis and hung out in there until it was removed by doctors. Happy New Year!
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