There’s Something Rotten In The State Of Social Media

TechCrunch

1397903264_90cb9bcfdf_oWe need no ghost to tell us something smells increasingly rotten in the state of social media.

Facebook forcing users to download a separate messaging app if they want to carry on IMing their friends.

Twitter polluting its users’ carefully curated timelines with content they did not choose to read.

Facebook manipulating the emotional cadence of content to figure out whether it can actively impact users’ emotions.

Twitter flirting with the idea of adding even more algorithmically selected content into the timeline — content that prioritizes what’s already popular, and thus mainstream, at the expense of non-mainstream interests, nuance and minority views.

Meanwhile, studies suggest the majority of Facebook users are unaware that what they see in their newsfeed is not actually the sum total of their friends’ news, but rather an algorithmic skim — biased for clickbait, stickiness and, of course, advertising.

There are a few clear themes to point to here that can illuminate exactly where the rot stems from. The overarching theme being monetization — or, more specifically, increasing external pressure…

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43.5 Socks Removed from Dog’s Stomach During Surgery

TIME

After owners rushed their dog to an animal hospital because their 3-year-old Great Dane was retching in pain, doctors noticed something unusual in his X-rays.

The dog’s stomach was full of “a large quantity of foreign material,” which after two hours of surgery—plus time spent carefully counting—turned out to be 43 and a half socks, according to the Associated Press.

A spokeswoman from the Portland, Oregon, animal hospital that treated the dog said the pet is alive and still kicking, and that it was perhaps the strangest case in the hospital’s history, according to The Oregonian.

But apparently it wasn’t strange enough to win the “They Ate WHAT?” contest sponsored by the Veterinary Practice News magazine, which solicits each year entries of the weirdest objects eaten by pets. The Great Dane’s case placed only in second.

The grand prize winner? An exotic frog that had eaten 30 ornamental marbles

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17 Lies We Need to Stop Teaching Girls About Sex [[From Mic]]

 
[[Originally from Mic]]

Whether it’s the constant fretting over Miley Cyrus‘ influence on school girls or the growing (and troubling) tradition of Purity Balls, it’s clear that society has a fascination with young women’s sexuality — especially when it comes to controlling it. But what are we actually teaching today’s girls about sex?

Fueled by outdated ideals of gender roles and the sense that female sexuality is somehow shameful, there seem to be certain pernicious myths about girls and sex that just won’t die. That sex education in America has gaping holes in its curriculum hasn’t helped much, either; in a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report just 6 out of 10 girls said that their schools’ sex ed program included information on how to say no to sex. This lack of personal agency was reflected in a forthcoming study by sociologist Heather Hlavka at Marquette University as well, which found that many young girls think of sex simply as something that is “done to them.”

Knowledge is power, and we can promote a healthier relationship with sex by encouraging a more open dialogue, teaching girls to feel comfortable with their sexuality and, most importantly, emphasizing that their bodies are theirs and theirs alone. But first, we’re going to need to stop perpetuating the following 17 myths about female sexuality.

1. Virginity exists. 

Therese Shechter’s 2013 documentary How To Lose Your Virginity asks a seemingly simple question: What is a virgin? The answer is actually pretty complicated. The common idea of virginity is focused on a heteronormative, male-centric definition of intercourse — that is, penis-in-vagina penetration. But this definition ignores LGBTQ couples, oral and anal sex, instances where it “didn’t go all the way in,” rape and emotional intimacy.

The cultural obsession with virginity is more about keeping girls pure than anything else, and because the term begins to crumble upon close inspection, it doesn’t have to carry such weight. There’s no clear universal concept of virginity, and people should be able to define meaningful markers of intimacy for themselves.

Image Credit: Flickr

2. Hymens are a sign of virginity. 

Given that the entire notion of virginity is dubious at best, it’s not all that surprising that there is actually no medical way to tell if someone is a virgin or not. This includes a broken hymen. Hymens usually become worn down throughout adolescence, and can be torn by everything from jumping on a trampoline, to horseback riding, to simply playing sports. Some women aren’t born with one at all.

Despite the fact that more than half of women don’t bleed the first time they have penetrative sex, blood on the sheets has remained a signifier of losing one’s virginity throughout history. The persistence of this myth surrounding a basically irrelevant anatomical feature has even spawned a market for artificial hymens and reconstructive surgery to “restore” virginity. More disturbingly, girls around the world are often subject todegrading, invasive virginity “tests” to ensure their purity.

Image Credit: Hymen Shop

3. All women are born with vaginas. 

Some items on this list focus on the anatomy of those assigned female at birth in an effort to illuminate issues that many girls don’t get to talk about enough, but the purpose is never to be exclusionary. Gender identity is different from biological sex, and trans women are women, period.

Image Credit: YouTube

4. The first time is going to hurt — a lot. 

Much of the pain young women are taught to expect during their first sexual experience actually comes from increased muscle tension due to nervousness. Blood usually comes from vaginal tissue tearing due to lack of lubrication and, ahem, inexperienced love making — not the hymen breaking. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, really; maybe if we stop telling girls to be terrified of the excruciating pain of their first time, things would be a little more comfortable for everyone.

Image Credit: YouTube

5. If someone buys you something, you owe him or her sex. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a drink or a diamond necklace: You never “owe” someone sex. Ever.

Image Credit: Getty

6. Too much sex will stretch you out. 

Nothing like the old “hot dog down a hallway” analogy to scare young women away from safe, consensual promiscuity. The truth is, women differ in size just like men do. The vagina is like a rubber band, and unless you’re regularly getting down with fire hose, you should be fine.

Similarly, having a baby will not “ruin” your vagina. Many women report feeling different down there after childbirth (the post-baby healing process depends on a variety of factors like age, the size of the baby and your commitment to Kegels), but we should really be teaching girls to accept their differences as normal and natural — not as new-found flaws.

Image Credit: Bill Ebbesen via Flickr

7. Women don’t think about sex very much. 

Many sexologists have arrived at the same conclusion: Women want sex just as much as men. This isn’t some new trend, either; science is just learning to ask the right questions about female desire.

So why does this myth of the undersexed female persist? It certainly doesn’t help that women often are taught that thinking about sex is boyish or juvenile. Entertainment media also frequently likes to portray women as the more responsible party in a relationship (think: nagging wife, childish husband).

The flip side of this thinking is the idea that “real” men should always have a voracious sexual appetite. But the saying “men think about sex every seven seconds” is just not true. Society’s focus on young men’s libido has created a sort of caricature of male sexuality, one that treats an occasional lack of desire or displays of emotion as not being masculine enough. And that’s not fair to them, either.

Image Credit: YouTube

8. Women don’t like casual sex. 

Not only do women want sex, but as journalist Daniel Bergner points out in What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire, their desire is “not, for the most part, sparked or sustained by emotional intimacy and safety.” This means that, contrary to popular belief, women can most definitely have sex without getting emotionally attached. Studies of sexual desire have actually shown that plenty of ladies want casual sex more than the average guy, and many guys want it less than the average lady.

Much of this desire appears to be socially conditioned, anyway: Gendered differences in desire have been shown to diminish over time with more progressive generations, in countries with more equitable distributions of power and when the perceived stigma of being slut-shamed is controlled for in female subjects.

Moral of the story? It’s a personal preference, and blanket generalizations aren’t helping anyone.

Image Credit: Comedy Central via HitFix

9. Boys buy the condoms. 

You don’t need to depend on anyone else for your protection. Girls can be prepared, too.

Image Credit: AP

10. “Frigid” wives make cheating husbands. 

The myth of the frigid wife plays off outdated notions of women who are too uninterested in sex to keep their men satisfied. But instead of lazily blaming infidelity on gender stereotypes, let’s encourage a sense of personal responsibility. Besides, men deserve more than to be treated like animals who can’t control themselves.

Image Credit: Getty 

11. You have to wax. 

Despite ads that try to convince women life can only be fully enjoyed stubble-free, you do not have an obligation to do anything to your body that you don’t want to do. After all, hair removal is still an industry, designed like every other to exploit people’s insecurities to make the most money possible.

It’s working, too: Hair removal is a $2.1 billion industry in the U.S., and over the course of a lifetime the average woman will spend an estimated $10,000 on shaving products. You should do what works for you, whether or not that means buying in.

Image Credit: Coloribus

12. You can’t have sex on your period. 

If it grosses you out, no pressure. (Seriously though, is period blood really that much grosser than regular sexy-time fluids?) But such an act is both physically possible and safe. In fact, sex during your period canimprove menstrual cramps, and some women even report having a shorter period overall when they get busy during that time of the month. Be warned, however: It is still possible to get pregnant or spread an STI while on your period, so don’t forgo the condom.

Image Credit: NBC

13. Sex is supposed to hurt sometimes. 

Sex is not supposed to hurt, but for many women, it does. If your muscles aren’t ready, things can get painful. It can take 20 minutes of foreplay for a woman’s vaginal muscles to relax enough to be truly ready for penetrative sex.

For some women, however, foreplay isn’t the issue at all. Conditions like vaginismus and vulvodynia are very real, albeit unfortunately not very well known. The result is that many women suffering from these conditions don’t realize that there is help available. If sex hurts, it’s worth finding a specialist who can talk you through your options.

Image Credit: HBO

14. Once you start having sex, you’re not allowed to say “stop.” 

You can change your mind at any time during sex, and your partner must respect that. It doesn’t matter if blue balls are real or not. Know that your voice must be heard.

Image Credit: Charlotte Cooper via Flickr

15. Women don’t watch porn. 

The hatred many women feel towards porn is understandable, given that so much of it promotes unrealistic or downright unhealthy attitudes about female sexuality. The problem is, as the Kinsey Institute’s Debby Herbenick points out, “Most mainstream porn is made by men with other men in mind.”

This doesn’t mean that many women don’t enjoy porn, nor that there’s not a market for more female-friendly fare. Researchers have shown that men and women respond comparably to sexually explicit material, and that the increase in women’s brainwave activity when looking at erotic images is just as strongas the increase in men’s.

Image Credit: Imgur

16. Sexual harassment is normal. 

A disturbing new study concluded that many young women consider sexual harassment and violence to be part of everyday life. Girls shouldn’t have to think of this treatment as expected. Sexual violations of any kind are unacceptable, and the dismissive “boys being boys” defense is both ridiculous and damaging to all genders. Sorry, personal bodily autonomy is not up for debate.

Image Credit: ‘Stop Telling Women to Smile’ Facebook

17. Everybody’s doing it. 

The average American loses his or her virginity, for lack of a better term, at age 17. Plenty of people don’t start having sex until later (or earlier) in life, and that’s okay, too. Some people don’t have much of an interest in sex at all. Being sex positive isn’t about encouraging everyone to have tons of sex all the time; it’s about understanding that sex should be safe, shame-free and above all, based on informed, personal choices.

Image Credit: Listal