Cosmo “studies” porn, says it hurts relationships

In an amusing bit of irony, one industry that promotes an unrealistic and largely unobtainable set of standards on sex and sexuality is criticizing another industry that promotes an unrealistic and largely unobtainable set of standards on sex and sexuality, over what the former claims is the latter’s harmful effects on relationships. Without having seen the title, if I told you that one industry was porn, and the other was Cosmopolitan Magazine, would you necessarily have guessed which was which?

So Cosmo asked 68 self-professed “relationship experts”, and the majority said porn was harmful. The credentials and peer review of these opinions are, of course, not up for debate. The sample size is, of course, perfectly adequate. The methodology is, of course, free from potential bias and leading. And the sample is, of course, totally representative. Trust them.

Alternet covers the story:

The glossy surveyed 68 “relationship experts” and found that the majority think X-rated material can harm relationships. The magazine also found that said experts believe porn damages women’s confidence, which is rich coming from a publication that inflames women’s insecurities in order to sell them a consumerist wet dream.

Yeah, there’s that irony I was talking about.
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Jim Garlow: Sexual orientation is a “modern construct”, therefore a choice

Following the logic chain Garlow lays down here, apparently because “sexual orientation” wasn’t described in the Bible, us mere humans have invented the concept rather than describing something that previously existed. In the exact same way, I guess everyone just chose to stay anchored to the ground instead of floating away, until Isaac Newton invented the modern construct of gravity.


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Free contraception has prophylactic effect against abortions

I’m shocked. Are you shocked? I’m definitely shocked. Shocked is what I am. Find the crayon that most resembles “shocked”, and color me with it.

MotherJones posts about a new study that shows that when women have free access to contraceptives, there are fewer abortions. Meaning, people who don’t want or can’t have kids, for whatever reason, don’t have to use abortion as their last resort as often.

That’s according to a new study published on Thursday by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. The project gave free birth control to more than 9,000 local women and girls, many of whom were poor or uninsured, and tracked them for two years. There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study group, compared to the 2010 national rate of 34 per 1,000. As for abortions, there were fewer than eight per 1,000 women in the study, compared with the almost 20 per 1,000 nationally.

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Catholic disinformation site shows how to use condoms

Via Christian Nightmares (in turn via Friendly Atheist), there’s apparently a Catholic site touting itself as the “revolution against contraception in marriage”. And they’ve built a great little infographic explaining how to properly use a condom.

Just look at this twee motherfucker. You KNOW you want to click Read More.


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Dawkins stabs at Skepchick over “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated” campaign

One of the most painful lessons I’ve learned over the past several months is that there are no heroes. There is always — always — some measure, small or large, of disappointment hiding behind all the awesome things that drew you to idolize one person or another.

Of course, while I always thought of Dawkins as a science popularizer and atheist first, and a humanist dead last, I figured this latest Great Sorting of the skeptical and atheist communities into those that are down with social justice causes and those that would rather entrench themselves in privilege would pretty much end exactly this way. The hyper-privileged folks nearest the top of our movement have pretty uniformly fallen on one side of this divide — the side that would rather not skeptically examine ideas like social conventions, consent, harassment policies and protecting the underprivileged.

So it’s absolutely no surprise to me that Dawkins has, again, sided against Skepchick — this time, instead of writing a “Dear Muslima” comment at Rebecca Watson (telling her that the sexism she encounters isn’t nearly as bad as female genital mutilation, so she should grow up or get a thicker skin), he’s stabbing at Skepchick the organization for a) being on board with the idea of harassment policies, and b) for having written a post last year offering free vaccinations with hugs as your reward.
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What’s better than sex?

According to a Salon article, surveys are trying to make the answer to that question “everything”.

I had to wonder: Why have these sex-devaluing surveys become so popular?

In part, it’s good business. Take a survey finding that 43 percent of Canadians would choose bacon over sex – it was conducted by Maple Leaf Foods Inc., a bacon producer. Then there’s the one sponsored by the Better Sleep Council, a creation of the mattress industry, which found that 61 percent of American adults would choose a good night’s sleep over sex. See also: a survey by mobile app company Telenav which found that — surprise, surprise – one-third of Americans would rather go without sex than their cellphone. (On a related note, Gazelle, an electronics trade-in site, found that 15 percent of respondents would rather “give up sex than go for even a weekend without their iPhone.”) Sex is the ultimate measure of desire — so why wouldn’t a company try to position its product as shockingly even more desirable?

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Argentina enacts most progressive transgender laws ever! Bravo!

Via the New York Times:

Argentina has put in place some of the most liberal rules on changing gender in the world, allowing people to alter their gender on official documents without first having to receive a psychiatric diagnosis or surgery.

The measure, which won unanimous support in the Senate this month, would also require public and private medical practitioners to provide free hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery for those who want it — including those under the age of 18.

This is seriously the most progressive legal take on transgender rights in the world, and will save countless people untold emotional hardship in trying to make their physical sex comport with their gender identity.

Next steps: defend this foothold for human rights, and export this set of laws to the rest of the world. Can we do it?

Gay Students of Brigham Young University: It Gets Better

This broke my heart.

It broke my heart at least partly because these students are all Mormon, and are less capable of questioning their religion than they are capable of questioning their peers or the gender roles proscribed to them, and partly because they faced such disapprobation at the hands of others that shared their faith.
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How easy it must be to be Be

Natalie Reed is a transgender activist and an atheist, and possibly more importantly, a fantastic writer. She wrote an insightful post (like she does) regarding a meme spreading amongst the transgender community that “God loves trans people”, wherein she vehemently disagreed with the statement, because there is no evidence for the existence of this corporeal entity that people claim loves them. She also lays out the fact that religion, historically, has been aggressively anti-gay and anti-trans and, well, extraordinarily xenophobic with regard to anything and anyone that does not fit into the “traditional” (e.g., “DEFINED BY GOD!”) gender roles. These facts are well in evidence around these parts, so I won’t rehash them.

Be Scofield is a Divinity School pantheist and a pro-theism activist, and probably more importantly, terrible at both reading for comprehension (as Chris Hallquist covers), and at writing persuasively. He rebutted Natalie in a most repetitive and anti-Gnu-Atheism manner that she is wrong because she believes supporting religious delusion also supports the more extremist of the religiously deluded. Maybe not in exactly those words, but that’s the gist of his argument, which, while he demands sociological evidence for Natalie’s assertions, he supports his own via argumentum ad nauseum. He also makes several assumptions about Natalie’s line of thinking, about her method of argumentation, her reasons for making the arguments she does, and about her general psychology.

This, by the by, is the same person who, not long ago, accused Greta Christina of racist imperialism by pullquoting Sikivu Hutchinson, one of the biggest contributors to Black Skeptics.
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Catholics’ protest against HHS contraceptive rules completely misfires

So Catholic officials are up in arms about the US Department of Health and Human Services’ new regulation requiring all employers to provide contraceptives to insured employees with no co-pay. The very idea that people who use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy might actually not have to pay for those contraceptives is evidently so anathema to the very foundational dogmas of the Catholic church, that the leaders of said church must absolutely take a stand for their parishioners. To wit:

In a letter read to congregants in the Atlanta Archdiocese, Archbishop Wilton Gregory called the policy “a matter of grave moral concern.”

“In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty,” the letter continued and was read at all English and Spanish language Masses, the diocese said in a statement.
[…]
“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan in a statement.

“To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty,” said Dolan who is also the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the public policy arm of the church in the United States.

And yet…

And yet I wonder.
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