The Magic of Movies; The Story Behind The Danish Girl

People have been fascinated with movies for more than a century now. The first movie theatre devoted to showing moving pictures was the Nickelodeon, which opened on June 19, 1905, in Pittsburgh, Penn. The name Nickelodeon was a combination of the price of admission, a nickel, with the ancient Greek word for theatre, odeon. The theatre’s owner Harry Davis, a vaudeville impresario, bought a machine called a cinematograph from a Frenchman named Lumiere and set up a storefront theatre where everyone could afford the admission price. Davis showed a 10-minute thriller, The Great Train Robbery. A bonus scene at the end of the short film featured the film’s bandit, actor George Barnes, pointing his revolver at the camera lens and shooting point-blank directly into the camera. Audiences were terrified, but the love of movies was born as a result of this unexpected drama. Davis’ low overhead meant he could show the movie several times a day to thousands of people. Within months, Davis had opened more than a dozen Nickelodeons throughout Pittsburgh.   Movies are magical in that they allow us to trade our own realities for new ones, even for just a few hours, and that they can give us a different perspective of the world around us and of other people in lifestyles different than our own. Currently showing in theatres is The Danish Girl, which may make some people uncomfortable due to its controversial subject matter.   The Danish Girl, released in the United States on November 27, is about artist Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), who prepares to undergo one of the first sex-change operations with...

The Persecution of Homosexuals in the Holocaust

Recently, I spent nearly two weeks in The Netherlands with my partner, Dutch, whose family is from this small European country. My take-away from this vacation was not the indulgence in freely available marijuana or the Red Light District and its openly accepted prostitution; I came home still thinking about the Holocaust and its victims. The Holocaust ran from January 30, 1933, to May 8, 1945. The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide in which six million Jews and countless others were murdered by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime in the name of racial superiority. The Netherlands alone was home to 107,000 Jews; some arriving there as they fled persecution in their native Germany, which borders The Netherlands to the east. Only 5,000 of the Jews living in The Netherlands survived the Holocaust.   My education about the Holocaust began at Verzetsmuseum (the Dutch Resistance Museum) in Amsterdam. Dutch and I visited this museum because the Dutch Resistance helped save the life of one of Dutch’s family members during World War II. Dutch grew up with knowledge about this group and wanted me to learn about them as well. The Dutch Resistance helped undermine the Nazis during their occupation of The Netherlands in World War II. This group forged birth certificates and passports to help male Dutch citizens avoid working in the German labor camps, which were just slightly better than concentration camps, and to assist in hiding Jewish citizens from the Nazis and avoid deportation to the concentration camps, where death was imminent. The Dutch Resistance provided counterintelligence, domestic sabotage and communications networks that...

How Stress Affects Sexual Health

When a person experiences stress, his or her body releases cortisol, a steroid hormone. Cortisol belongs to a class of hormones called glucocorticoids, which are present in almost every vertebrate animal cell, and is produced from cholesterol in the two adrenal glands located on top of each kidney. In addition to being released during times of stress, the body releases cortisol after a person wakes up and during and after exercise. Cortisol and the hormone epinephrine, which is also known as adrenaline, work together in “fight-or-flight” responses. After an individual is faced with stress, the adrenals secrete cortisol, which in turn floods the body with glucose (a simple sugar used as a source of energy in living organisms) that supplies immediate energy to large muscles. Cortisol causes this glucose release when it taps into protein stores in the liver. Cortisol’s focus is on supplying the body with glucose for quick energy which is why cortisol blocks insulin production as well. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Lack of insulin causes a form of diabetes. As cortisol narrows the arteries, epinephrine increases heart rate. Both of these occurrences force blood to pump harder and faster through the body. Once the stressful situation is resolved, hormone levels return to normal. All this sounds very simple in theory, but many health experts theorize that our fast-paced lifestyles with ever-present stress causes our bodies to pump out cortisol almost constantly, which can have a negative impact on our health in general and on our sexual health in particular. Since cortisol stops the...

Sex in the News

Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is planning on introducing legislation that would make the posting or sharing of non-consensual pornography a federal crime. She is calling her proposed bill the “Intimate Privacy Protection Act.” The bill is aimed at reducing “revenge porn,” which is the act of posting or sharing of sexually explicit images online without consent of the depicted. University of law professor Mary Anne Franks wrote in a Huffington Post article the term “revenge porn” is “misleading” because “while a number of cases do involve bitter exes whose express purpose is to harm or harass their former partners, many perpetrators don’t know their victims at all.” Franks further explains, “A more accurate term is non-consensual pornography, defined as the distribution of private, sexually explicit material without consent.” Websites, such as Twitter and Reddit, have taken steps to stop the posting of non-consensual pornography. Google recently announced it would “allow people to petition for such images’ removal from search results” on its site. This is an interesting move on the part of these websites as federal law currently grants legal immunity to Internet service providers and online platforms for most content posted by third parties, with exceptions for child pornography, copyright infringements and sex-trafficking ads. The advocacy groups Without My Consent and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative have helped increase awareness of online privacy and both sites offer advice on what to do when someone is a victim of “revenge porn.” The mission statement of Without My Consent, which appears in bold print on the group’s main website page states the group “empowers victims of egregious online privacy violations...

Dispelling the Assumption that “Everyone Has Kids!”

The dictionary definition of an assumption is a fact or statement taken for granted or presuming that something is true. The Your Sexy Librarian definition of an assumption is making an ass out of you and me. I organized a meeting at work with several positive, outgoing people from other areas of the building. Our goal was to lay the foundation for a fundraising event. The meeting was going smoothly, until a young woman, who just moments before toted her multiple college degrees, suggested we create a summer fun basket because “everyone has kids!” Sigh. I despise assumptions because the little bastards just keep popping up despite their lack of truthful existence. Some great past examples of failed assumptions include, “Women with short hair are lesbians.” and “Women with short hair are not feminine.” Short hair does not measure femininity at all. That sexy woman with the short hair may very well be sporting matching La Perla undies, which are far more feminine than run-of-the-mill store bought underwear sold at mass retailers. Then there are the assumptions that men with bigger physical statures will be rude or mean, that all people who grow up in a trailer park turn out to be drug-abusing trash, that a rape victim “was asking for it” based on her attire and that all Catholics do not believe in birth control. Assumptions are essentially opinions that some people share without thinking. My absolute favorite asinine assumption was spoken by a middle-aged female newspaper editor. This woman had the nerve to say to me, “Your mom is from the Appalachians. Can she read?” Socio-economics and...