Tag Archives: sexual education

When Sex Toys Get Smart (And How We Can Learn From Them)

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Ever since our phones and computers got smart enough to talk to us, it seems as though every gadget, appliance, and widget we can possibly overpay for is getting smarter as well. Our cars are almost smart enough to drive themselves. Our ovens are getting smart enough to do most of the cooking for us. There’s even a smart fork that senses how fast you’re eating and tries to get you to slow down.

We can argue endlessly on whether or not so many smart gadgets are more trouble than they’re worth. I’m sure there are a significant number of people, young and old alike, who roll their eyes at the idea of making too many gadgets too smart. We shouldn’t be making Skynet’s job that easy in the first place.

Even those anti-gadget people, though, would have to admit they’re a little bit intrigued by the prospect of smarter sex toys. If nothing else, I’m sure the idea has crossed their perverse minds in some form or another, hopefully in a private setting where they can let their imagination get a little kinky.

Well, they don’t need to rely wholly on their kinky imagination because smart sex toys are already here. It’s true. Thanks to sexy new companies like Loiness, you can buy a colorful, phallic-shaped vibrator that can work with your smartphone to know how to pleasure you.

I’m not talking about a simple timer or different settings either. This thing actually gathers data every time you use it, creates a sexual profile for you, and extrapolates the optimum way to bring you to orgasm. Admit it. Reading over that last sentence got you more than a little excited.

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It’s as exciting as it is arousing, our sex toys learning how to pleasure us in the best way possible. It’s one of the most critical steps we can along the path that will inevitably lead to fully-functional sex robots. Those robots are going to need data on how to pleasure us. These sex toys will help them and give us more orgasms in the process. I can’t think of a better win-win that doesn’t involve melted chocolate.

Before sex robots can come, which I know is a lurid choice of words, we need to get comfortable with the idea of a machine giving us an orgasm. There’s only so much sexual interest we can gain from watching sexy female robots in movies like “Terminator 3” or “Ex Machina.” At some point, the idea has to be more than a novelty for tech-savvy nymphomaniacs. It has to be just another tool for sexual satisfaction.

We’re still not there quite yet, but these smart sex toys will help us and not just when it comes to orgasms. By being smart about how we like to pleasure ourselves, it’ll also help us be smarter on how we go about it. When it comes to having a satisfying sex life, few things are as critical.

You could make the argument, and I have on this blog, that all satisfying sex starts in the brain. Our genitals are close accomplices, but the brain is always the mastermind when it comes to making it the trip to O-Town. That brain, however, has many inherent obstacles and I’m not just talking about the struggle to keep picturing Hugh Jackman naked.

As much progress as we’ve made in our culture, we’re still somewhat uptight when it comes to talking about, or even thinking about, our sex life. When I was in high school, I got a pretty comprehensive education on the mechanics of sex and why certain priests, mullahs, and republicans didn’t want us having a lot of sex. At no point, however, did I ever learn about male and female orgasms. That wasn’t even hinted at.

Just knowing what sex is won’t equip anyone in forging a satisfying sex life. That’s one part of sex education where people just expect teenagers to wing it. That can be dangerous, leading to some people to become laughably misinformed about sex. Then, we’re surprised when we learn about things like the orgasm gap or that around 15 percent of women never experience orgasm during sex.

As an erotica/romance writer and a fan of both genders sharing in the pleasure, I find that situation untenable. It shows just how much we’ve failed to inform each other or ourselves about what gets us all hot and bothered in the best possible way. We’re not going to learn that from a teacher, a religious figure, or even our parents, who would rather clean a toilet with their tongues than talk to their kids about sex.

That’s where these smart sex toys can really show their value. A smart sex toy won’t get awkward or coy when talking about orgasms, discharges, and the various fluids involved with sex. A smart sex toy won’t censor certain parts of the process out of embarrassment. A smart sex toy will actually try to teach you and guide you in your effort to have the best orgasm possible.

In a sense, a smart sex toy is establishing the gold standard by which to gauge a satisfying sexual experience. It effectively does the work you once needed a dedicated, ambitious, overly-patient partner to help you discover. Smart sex toys will do that work for them, making things easier for yourself and your partner. Again, that’s as big a win-win as you’ll get without bacon flavored lube being involved.

It could even help prepare young people for sex more effectively than just giving them diagrams of genitals in health class. Most teenagers aren’t going to talk about how they like to stimulate their genitals in the presence of an adult, especially a parent or teacher. They will talk to a smart sex toy, though. They already talk to their phones these days. Talking to a sex toy wouldn’t be that great a leap.

A smart sex toy won’t judge, laugh, or belittle them. It’ll just gather data for the sole purpose of giving them a better orgasm. Imagine every virgin, male or female, being that equipped on their first time. They know what makes them come. They know how to go about it. How many awkward prom nights could be spared by this technology? In that sense, the work companies like Lioness are doing couldn’t be more vital.

Smart sex toys, if used responsibly, will do wonders for our collective sex lives. If knowledge is power and power is sex, then smart sex toys will make us all more inherently powerful. Given the many health benefits of orgasms, that power is invaluable.

If you’re interested/horny to explore smart sex toys, please consider products like the Lioness, the Lovelife Krush, the VaGenie, and the Afterglow. The future will surely bring us more and better smart sex toys. If something really groundbreaking and sexy comes along, expect me to write about it.

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Khan Academy: The (Near) Future Of Education?

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In talking about education, I’ve highlighted issues that give me fever dreams about my experience in high school and those that give me hope for future students. While I know it’s not a very sexy topic, it does matter a great deal.  A society full of idiots is only good for creating embarrassing YouTube videos and Chuck Lorre sitcoms, but not much else.

Our current method for education people in the western world has a lot of room for improvement. Some, like South Korea and Japan, do it better than others. Others, like the state of Texas, are easy punchlines in jokes about stupidity and I’m not just talking about their laughable record on sexual education.

Let’s not lie to ourselves. Education is hard. Every human being is wired different. Kids are especially tricky. Between puberty and sugar, it’s hard to help them learn, especially if they don’t want to learn. Our brains weren’t wired for assembly line style education that requires memorization, lectures, and standardized tests. They were wired for survival, reproduction, and avoiding hungry bears.

At some point in the future, we may be able to tweak that old wiring to make education easier. Companies like Neuralink are already working on that. However, that kind of brain building is years off. While it is promising, there are many who may lament that they or their children won’t get to benefit from this kind of innovation. They’re stuck using textbooks and number two pencils.

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Well, for once, I’m not going to fantasize about an advancement that’s way off in the future, like smart blood or sex robots. There are some amazing advancements in this field and they don’t require a brain implant. They don’t even require a private tutor from South Korea. Big changes to education aren’t just some far-off future fantasy. They’re actually happening.

That brings me to Khan Academy. I’ve mentioned them before, albeit not in great detail. I kind of feel bad about that because it’s doing some amazing work in the field of education. It is, very much, a game-changer to the way we think about education. It has the potential to educate people all over the world at a cost that’s almost negligible.

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What is Khan Academy, though? Well, that’s not an unreasonable question because it’s one of those things that is known in some crowds, but not others. It’s also fairly new. Khan Academy started only ten years ago and it started by accident, which happens a lot more than you think.

The story of how it came to be is actually pretty remarkable. The man who created, Salman Khan, didn’t intend to make it into one of the biggest innovations to hit education since the invention of pocket calculators. It just played out that way. Several years ago, 60 Minutes did a story about it and it reveals some pretty amazing insights.

However it came to be, Khan Academy’s mission is as bold as it is important. It seeks, in their own words, “to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.” At a time when the cost of education is rising frustratingly fast, Khan Academy dares to be bolder.

It doesn’t require big, fancy schools. It doesn’t require an army of trained teachers, some of which may or may not be qualified for their job. It doesn’t even require students to leave the house. It only requires someone with a computer, an internet connection, and an ability to access a website. These days, those are skills that most kids learn to do right out of the womb.

That’s not to say it’s better in every way. There are some things that you can’t just learn by doing exercises online. You wouldn’t want a mechanic, plumber, or gynecologist only learning their trade through online videos. You’d want them to have some kind of training.

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Even so, the value of having a cheap, effective way of educating young children cannot be understated. Beyond simply knowing how much to tip at a restaurant, education helps children think and reason for themselves. It helps them make sense of a world where the Kardashians are celebrities and Johnny Depp still makes movies.

We, as a species, need societies of kids and adults who can think. Until we perfect neural implants, education is still going to be a challenge. That’s why innovations like Khan Academy are so valuable.

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The Future Of Education (And The Demise Of Idiots)

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In his seminal book, “Outliers: The Story Of Success,” Malcolm Gladwell explored the factors behind some of the world’s most successful individuals. In that exploration, he stated that it took approximately 10,000 hours of correct, focused practice to master a skill. It’s an often-repeated rule espoused by athletes, artists, and YouTube stars.

It’s also somewhat debatable. If that figure really were accurate, then I should’ve mastered writing three years ago. I don’t think I have. I still find new ways to improve with every book and every blog post. I get the message of Gladwell’s rule. To get really good at anything, you do need to practice and practice well.

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Then, we see movies like “The Matrix,” where Neo mastered every martial art ever created in the span of a day. Even though it was a work of fiction, it presented a scenario where practicing a skill was for suckers. Neo didn’t have to practice anything. He just sat in a chair, plugged a gizmo into the back of his neck, and just like that he knew Kung Fu.

That scenario may have been pretty extreme at the time. Keep in mind, though, that the Matrix came out in 1999. Back then, a flip phone was still considered cutting-edge technology. A lot has happened since then and I’m not just talking about our ability to watch porn on the bus.

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The ability to upload knowledge directly into our brains, effectively learning a skill in an instant, is one of the most underrated technologies in science fiction. It’s never more than an afterthought or plot convenience at most. In terms of its utility and impact on human society, though, it’s right up there with flying cars and sex robots.

I’ve talked about the ongoing deficiencies of our education system and the human brain’s limitations when it comes to learning critical thinking skills. Now, I’d like to stop spitting on my own species and give everyone some reason for hope. I do believe that our species will one day make idiots, as we know them, a relic of the past, much like circumcision and the orgasm gap.

That’s because our species, despite its many limitations, is really good at one particular skill. That’s the ability to build tools. As we speak, the fine folks at DARPA, also known as the United State’s Military’s “mad science” division, is working on a form of accelerated learning that would make Neo proud, albeit unimpressed.

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It’s not the same as uploading a skill the same way we upload files to our phones. They call it Targeted Neuroplasticity Training, which is a fancy way of saying it seeks to directly stimulate the human nervous system to facilitate the learning of an advanced skill.

From a pragmatic standpoint, it makes sense for DARPA and the military to want something like this. A lot of time and money goes into training soldiers, pilots, officers, and operatives into mastering a specialized skill, be it flying a plane or interrogating a suspected terrorist. Not every military recruit has the skill or sex appeal of James Bond. Most have to work at it.

This new form of training will cut down on the amount of time soldiers and recruits need to learn various skills. Like many other advances that got their start in the military, it may only be a matter of time before this sort of technology finds its way into classrooms.

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There’s already a potential business opportunity, thanks to Elon Musk’s new company, Neuralink. I’ve already talked about the potential of how brain interfaces will make us smarter and sexier. The current research with DARPA will provide a viable method for using that interface to improve learning.

Once this technology matures, and there are plenty of financial and pragmatic incentives behind it, then we’ll have to completely rethink how we educate ourselves and our kids. Old methods like catchy nursery rhymes or standardized tests, which have a limited effectiveness at best, would instantly be obsolete.

The school of the future may not involve big, bulky buildings full of lockers, overpriced textbooks, and wedgies. It may just be a simple office building where an individual, be it a kid or an adult, sits down and links their brain implant to a computer. Then, through a mix of direct neural stimulation and machine interface, we learn the kinds of skills that used to take decades to master.

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That means every kid, from the age of five, can learn the kind of critical thinking skills usually reserved for college grad students and NPR talk shows. It also means learning technical skills like how to operate a computer, fix a car, build a birdhouse, or paint like Bob Ross are as easy as downloading an app to our phones.

Make no mistake. There are people working on the technology to download knowledge directly into the human brain. The incentives are just too strong and I’m not just talking about the military. Between big business and professional sports teams looking for an edge, the idea of just downloading a skill into a person has too many potential uses.

The impact this will have on society cannot be understated. It’s an impact that few, especially an aspiring erotica/romance writer, are equipped to imagine. Education is one of the few policies cited as a major tool against poverty. Also, a society of fewer idiots is a healthier society by nearly every measure.

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While education is, on orders of magnitude, much better today than it was 100 years ago, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. There are just so many practical and logistic issues that come with educating over seven billion people from different backgrounds, cultures, languages, and what not.

The ability to download knowledge and stimulate the brain directly could be the key to finally closing what remains of the education gap. That gap is still pretty wide and a huge factor in many unresolved issues, from job opportunities to sexual education. There are huge swaths of the population that still don’t know how condoms work.

As this technology improves, the barriers that keep entire swaths of people from knowing and understanding the world critically will crumble. That has major implications for the multi-trillion dollar education market, as well political parties that rely too much on idiots voting.

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It also has major implication for our love lives, our sex lives, and everything in between. Whenever I’ve talked about human enhancement, I’ve pointed out how smart people tend to make better decisions in both their love lives and their sex lives. In matters of intimacy, it makes sense to know how your partner’s genitals work. That’s just common sense.

The extent to which accelerated learning would affect our personal and professional lives is still hard to quantify. As society becomes more and more educated, we’ve had to rethink and re-imagine what it means to be in love or make love with someone.

Like Morpheus pointed out in “The Matrix,” though, our system of education is still governed by a set of rules and limitations. Our brains and bodies are still stuck on the same settings they were during our caveman days. We’re only beginning to unlock and rewire those settings.

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That means there may indeed come a day where won’t just be able to circumvent the 10,000 hours of practice that Gladwell espoused. We won’t even need practice in the first place. When that day comes, we’ll all be Neo.

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Idiots And How They Effect Your Love (And Sex) Life

For certain topics, there’s just no way to be subtle. There’s no way to soften the blow. The facts are just too plain and too true. This is one of them so I’m not going to try and be funny, witty, or sexy about it. I’m just going to come out and say it.

The world is full of idiots.

I doubt that sentence will shock anyone. Hell, even other idiots would agree with it. There are so many idiots in this world that it’s hard to keep up.

There are people who kill each other over what they think happens when they die, but fail to see the irony. There are people who pay more money to drink water from a bottle than from a faucet, even when the water from the faucet is just as good. There’s just no way around it. The world is full of idiots.

I bring up this simple, inescapable truth to highlight an issue that is both relevant and timely. At the moment, the school year is ending for many kids out there. While I’m sure plenty of them are looking forward to a summer of sleeping until noon and then taking a nap, the issue of education as a whole is much bigger.

Also, and you knew this was coming, it does affect your sex life. I’m not referring to the inherently futile issues surrounding teenagers and their insatiable desire to bone either. I’m talking about our collective sex lives, both as teenagers and adults. Education does affect that. It affects our sex lives a lot, often in ways we don’t think about.

For me to talk about this must make me sound like a hypocrite to some extent because I’ve repeatedly and excessively bemoaned how much I hated high school. Let me make one thing clear before I continue. Yes, I hated high school. No, that doesn’t mean I hate education in general. I actually enjoy learning and not just with respect to comic books, cartoons, and female breasts. I’m a curious person in general. I like learning new stuff.

Curiosity is one of those universal traits that’s hard-wired into our brains. We see such a crazy, complex world around us and want to learn more about it. That’s a good thing. By understanding it more, we’re able to adapt, survive, and prosper. It’s one of the few instances where caveman logic works to our advantage and doesn’t screw us over.

The problem is that when it comes to education, we’re still going about it like idiots. It’s like trying to get an idiot to fix your computer. Sometimes, he or she might do something right by accident. Other times, however, they’ll just make things worse.

Idiots are a reason why we still have so many problems. Crime, corruption, injustice, and inequality are largely driven and/or propagated by idiots. That’s not to say those idiots are malicious or cruel. Being idiots, they just don’t know any better. They see what they’re doing as right and can’ think on a level that allows them to understand why their approach is stupid in the first place.

Idiots are also a reason why we have so many problems in our love lives. Think about it. How many bad relationships or failed romances are a byproduct of stupid decisions from people who didn’t know the difference between genuine love and hopeless obsession? Why else would we have creepy stalker pop songs and iconic romances that are uncomfortably unhealthy?

Beyond the dumb decisions we make in our love lives, it gets even worse when we apply that to sex. Even though nature wired our anatomy to ensure that even idiots can successfully reproduce, we still find ways to screw it up.

There are still boys who don’t know the first thing about how a woman’s vagina works. They don’t understand there’s a right way and a wrong way to ensure their partner enjoys the process. At the same time, there are girls who don’t know the first thing about how a man’s penis works or how to keep it working. They either overestimate its durability or underestimate its efficiency.

This is why we have issues like the orgasm gap, which I’ve discussed before. It’s also why we have people who develop unhealthy attitudes about sex, love, and relationships in general. It’s not just that they’re idiots. They’re never given the kind of education that would allow them to improve the situation.

Make no mistake. Education does a lot to improve our situation. It improves our job prospects. It improves our ability to make informed choices about the economy. It improves our ability to form stable, loving relationships that turn into successful marriages. It improves our ability to raise our children. It also improves our sex lives. If a man or women knows how their lover’s anatomy works and can maximize that knowledge, then they have everything they need for a great sex life.

This isn’t a controversial position. Everyone from every side of the political spectrum, with the exception of some religious zealots who want to keep society locked in the first century, agrees on the value of education. They may not agree on the type of education that we should champion, but they do understand the value of having a society with fewer idiots.

In a sense, we’ve made a lot of progress on educating the human race and reducing the number of idiots in the world. Literacy, as a whole, is at an all-time high. More kids today have access to schooling and educational resources than at any point in human history. This is an objectively good thing. It’s why poverty has gone down. It’s why violence has declined to its lowest level in history, despite what the news may tell you.

However, there’s still room for improvement. There are still some woeful inefficiencies in our education system. I know this because I, and anyone else who survived high school, have lived through those inefficiencies.

There were times during my schooling where I really didn’t learn much. There are a few painfully long stretches where the only lesson that stuck was how much I hated school and how to count down the seconds until it ended. Pretty much every year after the fourth grade was like that for me.

Conversely, there were some times when education taught me a lot and really sharpened my thinking skills. A lot of this happened in college. That’s where I learned a lot more about the world and how to make sense of it. That’s also where I refined many of the writing skills that I employ now on my novels. Getting a college education is probably one of the most enlightening experiences I ever had.

That education didn’t come cheap, though. I know I’m lucky. There are some who simply can’t afford getting the kind of education I got. It also doesn’t help that the rise of student loan debt has turned an entire generation of otherwise well-educated students into debt slaves, which is almost as bad for society as being an idiot. That’s a major flaw that prevents too many people from enjoying the benefits of an education.

There are some countries that do a better job. The education systems of Finland and South Korea are well-known for their achievements in education. It shows in their rankings as first-world nations. They are, by nearly every metric, some of the most prosperous nations on the planet. There are other countries that are catching up, but it’s a race with no losers in the long run.

If there’s one message I’d like to belabor when it comes to education, it’s that the world needs less idiots. There are over seven billion people on this planet and it takes only a few idiots to ruin something for the rest of us. By having fewer idiots, the world is inherently better for our societies, our families, and our sex lives. Even if you hate school, chances are you still hate idiots just as much. Whether we’re still in school or graduated decades ago, we should all remember that.

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An Ode To Hot Teachers

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Being a teenager sucks. Going to high school sucks. Going through puberty sucks. Unless you’re a star athlete or a cheerleader with the body of a young Carmen Electra, chances are your adolescence in general sucked.

Mine sure sucked. As I’ve said before, I was socially inept shut-in who did little to take care of himself. On top of that, I had a horrible acne problem that eventually required medication. I wasn’t just a pain to be around. I wasn’t much to look at either. That basically guaranteed that my teenage years were going to suck, despite having great parents, great siblings, and an environment that gave me every opportunity to be less miserable.

I get the impression that my experience is not typical. Teenagers are walking cocktails of hormones, emotions, and ignorance. Everyone, from the nerds to the jocks, finds a reason to be miserable at some point. The fact anyone survives it at all is nothing short of a miracle.

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I highlight this misery because I want to establish a certain context here. Life as a teenager, going to high school and enduring the monstrous transformation that is puberty, is fraught with misery. Anything that makes it just a little bit easier is akin to giving a starving child a lifetime supply of chocolate cake.

That leads me to hot teachers. No, I’m not talking about a porno sub-genre. I’m not talking about the scandals involving teachers sleeping with their students that make the front page of Fox News’ website at least three times a year either. I’m just talking about that one teacher during that one year in your teenage life that actually made going to school less miserable.

Don’t deny it. You had a teacher like that. I’m not saying he or she was a supermodel or an Olympian, but they definitely got your attention and not with their teaching skills. Something about them just sparked that chaotic cocktail of hormones in your body in just the right ways. It made you think thoughts you didn’t quite understand, even after you discovered internet porn.

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Hot teachers are a sliver of gold in the mountain of horse shit that is adolescence. In some ways, they’re a rite of passage. You only really feel like you’re growing up when your genitals start doing strange things around a teacher you find attractive. It can be awkward, as anyone who has ever had to hide a boner in the middle of algebra class can attest. Then again, awkwardness with teenagers is par for the course.

I believe that hot teachers are a gift to the world, if not an act of mercy to all those whose adolescence was more miserable than most. They remind miserable, emotional, melodramatic teenagers that there’s still beauty in the world. It’s not all just acne, homework, and standardized tests. For teenagers of every generation, their value cannot be overstated.

As a tribute to the hot teachers of the world, I’d like to share another personal story. Unlike some of my previous stories, though, this one doesn’t involve actual nudity. It does involve thoughts of nudity though. How can it not? It involves my teenage self.

It’s true though. I too once had a hot teacher, one I still remember fondly to this day. She was a rare beacon of light in the never-ending torment that was high school. She actually made me less miserable in high school. That’s something that therapy, anti-depressants, and Taco Tuesday can’t boast. She’s kind of a personal hero is what I’m saying.

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Out of respect for her privacy, I won’t reveal her name. For the sake of this story, let’s just call her Ms. Diana. I had Ms. Diana for a history class in my sophomore year. At the time, I was 16. My acne problem was just starting to become a crisis. My hormones were just starting to go into overdrive as well. I remember having to hide at least one awkward boner a day. Ms. Diana didn’t help in that effort, but with her, I didn’t mind.

Ms. Diana was one of those young, energetic teachers who loved to talk fast and fill the room with energy. She wasn’t the kind of teacher who would just give presentations, pass out worksheets, and lay out lists of facts. She actually tried to keep people engaged. She tried to get people excited. She might as well have been the high school equivalent of a lion tamer.

She was also hot. I hope that goes without saying. I don’t just mean hot, in terms of personality. I mean Ms. Diana was hot in that she would’ve looked awesome in a bikini and not because she had a beauty regiment on par with Gwenth Paltrow, complete with jade egg for a healthy vagina.

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No, Ms. Diana’s beauty was a natural beauty. She didn’t need makeup. She didn’t need designer clothes. She came into class wearing something she probably bought on sale and she still made it look sexy. That’s a special kind of beauty, even by teenage standards.

That beauty definitely resonated with my teenage self. I can’t remember a class where I paid more attention and felt more engaged. I can’t say that about a lot of the teachers or classes I’ve taken. I also can’t say those classes got me thinking and feeling things that I didn’t feel without an internet connection. It was a strange, but beautiful thing.

Now I never went out of my way to tell Ms. Diana that I found her very attractive. That’s not because I wanted to avoid a scandal that would end with one of us being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer though. I didn’t tell her because it wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t necessary because I wasn’t the only hormonal teenage boy in that class and some of those boys did not have filters between their brains and their mouths.

It was very much an open secret in the school. The boys thought Ms. Diana was hot. Nobody really argued about it. Nobody denied it either. I get the sense she knew that. I don’t think she would’ve agreed to teach teenagers if she didn’t to some extent. Maybe she knew she could keep her students’ attention by being hot. I’m not saying it’s a little coy, but you can’t argue with results.

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This eventually culminated in an incident I still laugh about today. It happened one day after lunch. We were filing into class. I was there a few minutes early and so were a couple of my male classmates. Then, out of nowhere, this exchange happened:

Male Student: Hey, Ms. Diana! Is your dad a terrorist?

Ms. Diana: Um…no. Why do you ask?

Male Student: Because you’re the bomb!

I laughed. We all laughed. Even Ms. Diana laughed. This after September 11th, by the way. The fact that we laughed about it should hint at just how hot Ms. Diana was and how much me and my fellow male students appreciated her.

To this day, Ms. Diana holds a special place in my heart and my memory. At a time when so many memories from that era were bleak and forgettable, she was a shining star that came along at just the right time for an awkward teenage boy. I like to think that the feelings she inspired in me helped inspire my future aspirations as an erotica/romance writer.

I doubt that’s what Ms. Diana intended to teach me. I’m pretty sure she just wanted me to pass my tests and exams. Thankfully, I did. That other inspiration was just a bonus. Maybe one day when I become a famous erotica/romance writer, I’ll thank her. She deserves as such for helping me survive high school.

Until then, I remain forever grateful to Ms. Diana. On behalf of all those who had lurid thoughts about their teachers, I thank those wonderful teachers who look good naked who helped inspire both minds and genitals. You may not think it, but you helped us in ways that went beyond teaching us. You helped make our teenage years slightly less miserable. For that, you should be proud.

With that, I leave you with the ultimate ode to hot teachers, courtesy of Van Halen.

 

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The Paradox Of Traditional Romance

The more I read and write about love, sex, and the elaborate hoops we jump through in order to get them, the more I notice something frustratingly profound. When it comes to love and sex, there is no normal. There is no true tradition. There is only the ever-evolving, constantly-adapting dynamics between lovers, love interests, and fuck buddies alike.

Human beings are such complex, diverse creatures. That’s a big reason why our stories about them are so elaborate and varied. I’ve written stories about repressive religious communities that engage in ritualistic orgies. I’ve written stories about strippers who find love in the never-ending party that is Las Vegas.

In each case, there are elements of what some people, namely those who watch too much Fox News, would call “non-traditional” behavior. Whether it’s in love or sex, these people and the mentality they embody represent a standard set of assumptions that we in the Western world cling to, despite any evidence or anecdote to the contrary. They cling to it so hard that it can openly conflict with the very nature that makes us human.

Now I’m not talking about the kinds of assumptions that lead to uptight religious leaders calling same-sex marriage a cause for terrorist attacks or old men thinking granting women equal rights will turn them into lesbians. Those assumptions are the product of one too many intimate encounters between a baseball bat and a skull. They can’t be taken seriously, nor can they be effectively debated.

The assumptions here involve our standard perceptions of sex and romance. Some call it the “standard model” and since I’ve used that term before, that’s the term I’ll keep using until someone comes up with something better/sexier. We all know about these assumptions to some degree. It goes like this:

  • Boy meets girl
  • Girl meets boy
  • Boy and girl fall in love
  • Boy and girl get permission from religion and government to legally have sex
  • Boy and girl move into together, start having babies, and become upstanding members of society
  • Boy and girl constantly struggle to avoid the urge to cheat one another with more exciting sex acts
  • Boy and girl do what they can to abide by societies expectations about how a married couple and family should behave

These assumptions are a big part of the narrative in “Sex At Dawn,” a book that continues to intrigue/arouse me with each chapter. In one of the early chapters, this book makes a keen observation that even my dirty mind missed. It’s an observation that’s so painfully obvious that you really do wonder if psychic lizard people are controlling our thoughts to make us think such crazy things.

If this traditional model of sex and romance is so natural, as many traditionalists claim, then why does it need all these elaborate legal, religious, and social institutions to reinforce it. If it’s so natural, then those protections wouldn’t be necessary, would it?

Think about it. There’s no need for a thought experiment this time. Look at all the elaborate tactics that religion, government, and society uses to preserve and reinforce the traditional model of romance and sex.

They make cheesy sitcoms. They make elaborate love songs. Entire countries even create this massive web of benefits for married couples that, until very recently, were reserved strictly for couples that stuck to the standard model of romance and sex.

This says nothing about the draconian extremes that religion went to in preserving this standard model of romance and sexuality. For some, just having laws, TV shows, and legal benefits wasn’t enough. Entire religions had to make this standard model of sex and romance a matter of spiritual importance. To go against it would be to go against an all-powerful deity that doesn’t want you using your genitals in a certain way.

Combine all that together and you start to see an odd pattern. This institution that’s supposed to be so “natural” needs all these elaborate traditions to protect it. It’s almost as if these traditions are not at all conducive to mankind’s natural inclinations for love and sex. If I could say that with any more sarcasm, I would.

Now some will claim that these traditions are necessary because mankind is naturally rebellious and immoral. Hell, that claim is the basis for no less than three major religions in this world. However, if you think about it just a little bit more than any priest or mullah ever dared, you should be able to see the flaws in that logic.

Take a moment to channel your inner Mother Nature. Pretend for a moment you’re programming a successful species from scratch. Why the hell would you install a program that makes the species rebellious and deviant? You want them to survive and reproduce, right? Making them rebellious just means you’re giving them a mechanism to defy the very goals you established in the first place.

That’s not to say that some people don’t have faulty wiring in their brains and their biology. Some really are naturally deviant, rebellious, and arrogant to a point where they get their own reality show on Fox. Those individuals are a byproduct of the diversity that every species have, daring to venture into uncharted territories to pave the way for others. They’re supposed to be the exception and not the norm.

What the assumptions surrounding the standard model of romance and sex do is invert that dynamic. It creates the impression that the norm is the exception. All those powerful mechanisms that urge us to love, hump, and cooperate in ways that make Catholic Bishops cry at night are scolded and shamed. The only way to subvert them is to create entire traditions and cultures that warp peoples’ mind into believing these assumptions.

It is a romantic paradox in many respects. We claim this standard model of romance that is the basis of so many Shakespeare plays and boy band songs is natural, but it still needs all these protections and traditions to propagate.

It’s enough to make you wonder what will happen as these traditions and assumptions fade. It’s another interesting thought experiment, but one I’ll have to hold off on until I finish “Sex At Dawn” in its entirety.

It’s already giving me many interesting ideas for the kinds of sexy love stories that may fly in the face of everything Stephanie Meyer ever wrote, but these are ideas worth exploring. When our love lives and our sex lives are involved, the stakes are pretty damn high. If my erotica/romance novels can flesh out those ideas, then that’s a worthy endeavor if ever there was one.

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The Cult/Myth/Absurdity Of Virginity

I talk a lot about the absurdities in our culture that undermine or ruin our ability to love, make love, or just plain hump. These absurdities are important to me because I’m in the business of telling sexy, romantic stories. If there’s something that hinders or attacks our natural inclination to love and hump one another, then it’s going to affect the ability of my readers to get the most out of my books.

Since I want my readers to get the most out of my sexy love stories, I feel inclined to confront these absurdities. Sometimes it comes in the form of radical feminism. Sometimes it comes in the form of religious dogma. There’s no one singular force that’s putting the locks on our collective panties. It’s more of a drunken brawl of forces that are coordinating to attack one person, but don’t realize it.

It’s chaotic. It’s controversial. It’s bound to offend certain people with certain sensibilities. For that, I apologize, but I still feel that these absurdities need to be called out for what they are. It doesn’t matter if sticking your hand in a deep fryer is a sacred tradition. It’s still an absurdity on some levels.

The absurdity in this case has to do with the big V-word that we in the erotica/romance world must navigate. No, I’m not talking about a certain body part for a certain gender. I’m talking about the other big V-word. I’m talking about virginity.

Say that word out loud and measure your reaction. Then say another word like pencil and measure your reaction as well. Is it the same? If so, then you’re excused from reading the rest of this post. You’re more than equipped to appreciate the sex appeal of my books, which I highly recommend. If not, then this is something we need to talk about.

The whole concept of virginity is one of those concepts we, as a society, actively avoid scrutinizing. As a definition, it’s not that hard. Virginity is just a colorful term we used to describe those who have never had sex. If that were there was to it, then it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d lump it together with words like “moist” and “juicy.” They may make some people uncomfortable for entirely personal reasons, but most just shrug it off.

The problem is that, for reasons that have a lot to do with pre-modern culture and little to do with actual physical traits, the concept of virginity has been conflated, twisted, and in some cases deified. There’s a reason why the Virgin Mary has that moniker. If she were just the Hot Blond Mary, it would not have the same impact.

So why does it have this impact? Well, I’d love to say that there’s some complex, fascinating, socio-political reason for it. I’m sure there are some people who teach entire classes on this subject who can conjure complexities from this issue that make it seem akin to quantum mechanics. I’m not one of those people. That means I’m the answer I give is simple, crude, and frustratingly concise. Spoiler alert: I’ll be using caveman logic again.

Virginity has this impact for a pretty simple reason. For most of human history, we didn’t know squat about diseases. We didn’t have reliable pregnancy tests. On top of that, our best contraception involved trusting men to pull out at just the right moment. We can barely trust men with smartphones these days. You really think we can trust them that much when orgasms are involved? Just ask Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner.

This means that virginity is pretty much the only thing our ancestors had to be certain that a woman was disease free and not carrying someone else’s child. Marrying a virgin means there’s little chance she has the plague. It also helps guarantee that the kids she has are going to be yours biologically.

When your entire society is based on land-owning, agrarian traditions, that’s kind of a big deal. By kind of, I mean wars will be fought and people will lose their heads (among other body parts) if they find out their bride slept around or had a kid who wasn’t theirs.

Naturally, our caveman brains can’t process this on a wholly rational basis. Our biology, and the mechanisms that drive it, are blunt instruments. That means they’ll see an issue that may be as simple as a bent nail, but try to fix it with a jackhammer. It’s bound to cause some collateral damage. Unfortunately, the collateral damage in this case undermines the sexuality and agency of women.

It’s no coincidence that every major religion, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and pretty much every major religion founded before Scientology, places some emphasis on virginity. For these traditions, virginity isn’t just a pragmatic tool for ensuring disease-free, bastard-free brides. That’s too logical. They have to turn it into this esoteric, mystical brand of purity.

A virgin woman, in this context, is like a freshly-baked cookie that no one else has touched. It’s like perfectly ripened fruit that hasn’t been harvested yet. It’s like polished Rolls Royce that comes fresh from the factory, never driven and never sat in.

Is this starting to get creepy? Is comparing women to food, cars, and things that don’t have thoughts or feelings starting to bother you? Well, don’t go running to the toilet yet. That’s normal. That’s what happens when you peel back the layers about virginity and why it’s so deified. It really just comes down to a convenient excuse for old sexual traditions.

It’s still absurd, but it’s at least understandable to some degree. We didn’t know what we didn’t know for a long, long time. We only had these traditions and superstitions to guide us. The fact that we’re still here as a civilization and a species shows they did have some merit, but that merit is exceedingly limited, especially to those of us who think women should have agency in their sex lives. What a concept, right?

The concept of virginity became obsolete as soon as we discovered methods of contraception that don’t rely on trusting men to pull out at the right time. It’s become even more obsolete as medical science has advanced to a point where the diseases that used to render women sterile, weak, or dead are either curable or treatable. It’s a wonderful thing, women not being sick or at the mercy of their fertility.

Unfortunately, these outdated concepts of virginity didn’t die as soon as condoms and birth control pills became easier to obtain than cigarettes. Once again, our caveman brains screw us over and not in the fun way.

Remember, the caveman brain is not rational. That means it will cling to irrational crap for as long as possible because completely re-thinking a concept takes too much time and energy. That time and energy needs to be spent preparing for the winter and avoiding hungry bears, damn it! At least, that’s how our caveman brains see it.

As a result, the idea of virginity still has this strange place in modern society. It’s only strange because some people take it to distinctly creepy extremes. Those extremes lead to something like this.

That’s a purity ring. It’s one of the tools/gimmicks that extremely conservative types use in pushing their preferred brand of sexual education, “abstinence only.” They believe they can override an onslaught of hormones and millions of years of biological imperatives in impressionable, irrational teenagers. I want to admire their bravado, but at some point the absurdities are just too much.

They try to paint it as something romantic like, “true love waits.” As a romance/erotica writer, I just find that offensive. These religious, conservative types have their hearts in the right place. They don’t want young people engaging in risky sexual behavior that they’re not ready for. That’s entirely respectable, but extremely misguided.

It’s true that some people are better off waiting to have sex for the same reason some people are better off waiting to get their own credit card. They need to first make sure they’re responsible enough to handle all the proclivities that such things entail. Taking the abstinence route would be like not giving kids driver’s ed before they get a driver’s license. You’re just asking for trouble in the long run.

Even for those who wait, the religious dogma has a nasty tendency to misconstrue our libido. It’s why the idea of porn addiction is more prevalent among religious people compared to non-religious people. It’s also why some who do wait end up regretting it.

Sex is a lot like that road trip your parents to you on as a kid. You didn’t want to go. You worried and complained about it. Your parents just kept saying that if you think it’s going to be terrible, then it’s going to be terrible. You never admit they were right because you convinced yourself of something before you knew anything about it.

The same thing applies to sex. If you think it’s this dirty, evil deed that Satan created so that he could make babies to sacrifice, then you’re not going to enjoy it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your wedding night or your prom night. You’ve already convinced yourself it’s going to be terrible.

You bought into all the dogma and let it rewire your brain, which still has that nasty imperative to survive and reproduce. It’s the one way you screw yourself that you can’t enjoy.

To make matters worse, our society still struggles with shaming women who decide to defy these notions of virginity. We don’t do it to men because men are just expected to hump everything with a pulse, which is offensive in and of itself to me, but that’s a post for another day. The women still disproportionately suffer the bulk of the shaming. Lose your virginity and you can expect to be shamed.

Human beings are sexual creatures. We’re also loving, passionate creatures. Trying to temper or restrain that passion for all the wrong reasons is going to have some nasty side-effect. Sadly, women are the ones who suffer those side-effects the most. Women are the ones who get stoned to death in certain parts of the world for not being virgins on their wedding nights. They’re the ones who get shamed when they try to enjoy sex.

As an erotica/romance writer, I want to celebrate and explore these feelings for men and women alike. I think they should be celebrated, but false notions of virginity and purity are getting in the way.

It’s still part of our culture, this idea that women should be pure and virginity is a virtue. It’ll continue to be part of our culture, even if we get to a point where contraception is fail-proof and medical science cures all diseases. Like many absurd traditions, it doesn’t stop being absurd.

With this in mind, anyone looking to learn a bit more about the concept of virginity and purity should check out this book by Jessica Valenti. It’s called “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession With Virginity Is Hurting Young Woman.” I highly recommend it. If nothing else, it’ll give you another reason to enjoy my books.

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