Friends-With-Benefits Use Condoms but It Might Not be Enough, Porn Stars Aren’t Damaged Goods, and Harvard Gets a Sex Club


Friends-With-Benefits more likely to use condoms but that might not make them any healthier

A study published in a new issue of the Journal of Sex Research examined differences in behaviors of couples in different types of relationships. Researchers conducted an online survey of 376 young people (the majority of whom were in their mid-twenties). Respondents were pretty much equally divided between those who said they were having sex with someone they defined as a “friend-with-benefits” and those who said they were in a traditional romantic relationship. 

Researchers found that friends-with-benefits were more likely to use condoms but were also less likely to be sexually exclusive. The researcher explained that since these friends-with-benefits did not use condom 100 percent of the time, they could still be more at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than those in traditional relationships who were monogamous. Individuals who said they were in a friends-with-benefits relationship also reported a greater number of lifetime sex partners, which likewise could raise their risk of STIs.   

The researchers also found that friends-with-benefits devoted relatively more of their time together to sexual activity but communicated less about sex than romantic partners did (though they were more likely to tell each other about sexual experiences with others).  Ultimately friends-with-benefits had less sex and were less sexually satisfied than those in romantic relationships. 

Porn Actresses are not “Damaged Goods”

A new study has resurrected the debate over what makes women grow up to be porn stars. The prevailing theory has been that female porn actresses are suffering from numerous past and present psychological problems such as childhood sexual abuse, drug use, and low self-esteem. In order to test this “damaged goods” hypothesis, researchers paired 177 porn actresses with a sample of women who were the same age and ethnicity and had the same marital status. They asked the pairs about their sexual behavior (current and past), self-esteem, quality of life, and drug use.

There were some differences but not necessarily what would have been expected. Porn actresses were more likely to say they were bisexual, to have had sex for the first time at an earlier age, to have had more sexual partners, and to have used drugs. They were also more likely to enjoy sex, but (for what seems like pretty obvious reasons) were more likely to be concerned about contracting an STI. Perhaps surprisingly, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality than the women they were matched with. There were no differences when it came to reports of childhood sexual abuse. The researchers concluded that these findings did not support the “damaged goods” hypothesis. 

These results would likely not surprise Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor of feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara who has written about porn stars in the past. She believes that that porn can be empowering for female performers by offering them the opportunity to get out of poverty and perhaps even go to college. 

Miller-Young interviewed dozens of women in the porn industry and wrote in the New York Times:

… I have found that women enter the pornography industry because they are enthusiastic about its potential for lucrative, flexible and independent work. Women who previously worked in the retail sector or in nursing found that pornography offered them greater control of their labor, and surprisingly, it treated them with more humanity.

Not everyone agrees. Jennie Ketcham, a former porn actress who currently writes for the Huffington Post, wrote this in the New York Times:

While jobs like pornography (really any sex work, including prostitution or stripping) do offer immediate gratification of one’s need for attention and money, which might be interpreted as fun and rewarding, they aren’t exactly self-esteem builders. The emotional damage pornography causes to performers far outweighs any achievable financial gains or physical gratification.

Harvard Has a New Sex Club on Campus

Right after Thanksgiving, the Office of Student Life at Harvard University approved a handful of new clubs including the Harvard College Comics Club, the Harvard Undergraduate Mathematics Association, the Harvard Undergraduate Maternal Health Initiative, and Harvard College Munch, a group of about 30 students who meet for lunch or dinner to discuss issues and topics relating to kinky sex.  

The club started over a year ago with just a few members who met to discuss their mutual sexual interests which they describe as “kinky.” Members of the group say that this recognition from the University is very important because it will make the club easier to find and provide legitimacy. The founder of the club told the student paper, the Harvard Crimson

“It’s a little hyperbolic for me to get teary-eyed and paternal about sophomores, but it’s really a joy to see the experience they will have now.”

Another member said this:

“I didn’t think that anyone was even remotely interested [in kink] on campus. It’s a community where you can feel safe, and you can feel comfortable talking about [kink].”

She went on to say that the group was important because many of its members might feel uncomfortable discussing their sexual practices for fear of being judged. Being a recognized student organization means that Munch is able to hang notices on campuses, apply for food grants, and get help finding locations to meet. 

Despite this recognition, it is interesting to note that neither the member nor the founder felt comfortable giving the paper their full name and it was the paper that replaced their original words with the word kink.  

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