Cancer: The Human Experience

Depending on the source, a taboo is defined as generally as “not acceptable to talk about or do” to as specific as “a vehement prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behavior is either too scared or too accursed for ordinary individuals to undertake, under threat of supernatural punishment.” The more general definition is what the taboo portion of the Your Sexy Librarian blog is based upon, which means anything that people shush others over is fair game for a blog topic. American society bottles up communication about certain topics, not because those topics are truly taboo but rather just plain uncomfortable for other people to think about or to discuss openly. One of these topics is a less than ideal medical diagnosis, such as a high-risk pregnancy or one involving birth defects, the diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease or a positive cancer screening. I grew up with a mother who was diagnosed with a rare and often deadly form of skin cancer in the midst of my childhood. Her disease and its treatment would shape my childhood in many ways, both negative and positive, and would build my foundation as a natural caregiver. The Coolest. Mom. Ever. recently told me that, when she was first diagnosed, the other Parent-Teacher Organization mothers shied away from her. She believes this was because they were fearful of her disease. At that time, cancer was a death sentence more often than not. For whatever reason, my mom had a smaller support system than she deserved as she battled for her life. My mom has told my brother and...

The Evolution of the Condom

The basic concept of the condom has existed for hundreds of years, but the modern-day design of the individual, foiled-wrapped packets we use today came much later in the evolution of the condom. The reasons for condom use changed throughout its evolution as well. The one consistency for the condom throughout history is that the origin of the word “condom” is still unknown. Egyptian paintings depict condom use as far back as 950 B.C.E., putting the age of the most basic condom at roughly 3,000-years-old. The Romans used oiled animal bladders and lengths of animal intestines as penile sheaths. In other parts of the world, such as Japan, early condoms were made from fine leather. These primitive penile sheaths were used to prevent venereal diseases and were not used to avoid unwanted pregnancies, because, historically speaking, men considered pregnancy to be solely a female concern. In the mid-1500s, Italian physician and anatomy professor Gabriello Falloppio designed a medicated linen sheath that fit over the glans, or the head of the penis, that was secured in place by the foreskin. This sheath was intended to prevent users from contracting venereal diseases, especially syphilis which was spreading rapidly throughout Asia and Europe at the time. Falloppio’s invention was the first clearly documented prophylactic for the penis. According to his records, Falloppio tested his sheath on “over a thousand men, with complete success.” Soon after Falloppio’s invention was created, a version was created for circumcised men in which the sheath, a standard six inches in length, was tied securely at the base of the penis with a pink ribbon. Other condoms at...

Communicating About Sex, Part 1

I find inspiration from blog topics in everyday life, through interactions with other people, from a blurb on the radio, from a news story on television or from a Tweet or facebook post. I asked my friend J.R. Mounts, the creator of Scairy Tales Noir, for suggestions on blog topics that would appeal to male readers. J.R. suggested I write about how men and women in relationships communicate with one another. I mulled J.R.’s suggestions over in the car on my way to and from work this week, and I think he is on to a hot topic.   Men and women in relationships can say to one another, “Can you take out the garbage?” or “Is the dishwasher clean or dirty?” without much issue. We easily talk about the laundry, the dog or the cat, what to eat for dinner, what movie to watch on date night and what kinds of landscaping we prefer. But when it comes to what we want sexually, sometimes men and women simply clam up and just won’t talk about individual sexual interests with their partners. This is a bit mind-boggling. The person we are most intimate with should be the one we confide in about our sexual desires and interests, but that is not always the case. How can men and women get past the clamming up reaction and communicate more freely with their partners about sex?   For starters, acknowledge that conversations about sex and sexual interests can be difficult in general. As humans, the majority of us seem to have internal emotional and mental wiring that makes us want to...

Unwrapping the Mysteries of Female Orgasm and the Clitoris

Females differ from one another in how their individual exterior genitals look and in how they orgasm. Anal stimulation, vaginal stimulation, clitoral stimulation, or a blend of two or even all three of these can create a female orgasm. Some women only orgasm through one of the three forms of stimulation. Some women have never experienced an orgasm, a condition called anorgasmia. Other women have the ability to have multiple orgasms in the same sexual encounter. A woman named Savannah shared her experiences with clitoral stimulation and multiple orgasm during an interview to help unwrap the mystery of the female orgasm. Savannah maintained her virginity until she was 18-years-old and out of high school. She found herself with opportunities to experiment sexually with men her own age and quickly discovered that sex made her feel beautiful when she did not consistently feel that way in her everyday life. Savannah’s third sex partner was her then roommate’s boyfriend, and this one-time encounter was when Savannah discovered she could have multiple orgasms. Savannah points to this shining, yet not-so-shining, moment as a turning point in her individual sexuality. She remembers very vividly the feeling of this first multiple orgasm and how she withered and shook for a very long time afterwards. Her partner held her close, rubbed her back and delighted in her personal discovery. After this encounter, Savannah explained that she began to develop increased sexual desires that lead to dozens of partners in a just a few years’ time, but that she felt bad about having been the other woman in a few of those sexual encounters. Savannah said...

Sex in the News

Last week, these news articles about sex made national headlines and created some conversational buzz.   The North Carolina Ethics Commission publicly announced that it is “perfectly legal” for a lobbyist and a government official to have a sexual relationship with one another. The commission’s opinion, as reported in The Daily Beast, “essentially says that your body is a temple and sharing it with anyone else is a priceless gift.” The commission’s view that sex is “priceless” equates to “sex has no value.” Items of value need not be disclosed, according to the commission. In an editorial published by the Beaufort Observer, the paper denounced the commission’s opinion. “[S]ince the Ethics Commission has now ruled that sex has no value how will prostitution ever be prosecuted any more in this state? If sex has no value, how can prostitution be illegal?” the paper’s editorial argued. I prefer to think that the commission meant “having incalculable monetary, intellectual, or spiritual worth” or even “precious” as the meaning of “priceless.” In this regard, sex would indeed have value, even if we cannot describe that value in monetary terms. At the very least, a sexual relationship between a lobbyist and a government official should be considered unethical, a position that U.S. Senator Tom Tillis supports. In 2012, two of Tillis’ staff members due to relationships with lobbyists. Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, enforced his personal policy of banning such behavior between lobbyists and members of his staff. “What these people are guilty of is very bad judgment,” Tillis said at the time of this staff members’ resignations.   Since mid-December 2014,...

Intelligence versus Sexism

Last week, I had the nervous pleasure of giving a four-minute inspirational talk to around 167 people at a networking event. I began to work on my speech in October, shortly after I was asked to present. I chose a topic that I felt would resonate with the majority of the audience and that would allow me to inject some humor into the speech as this was the first time I would be speaking to more than 10 people at once. I talked about life lessons learned from online dating. Or, rather I tried to talk about this topic, as the technical difficulties of a non-working microphone left me shouting at all those people. I wrapped my four-minute speech up at 3 minutes and 15 seconds because shouting is simply not my thing. Neither is sexism and dealing with double standards, which are two things most women in American cannot seem to shake. An hour prior to my inspirational talk, I met with the founder of the networking group during an audio-visual check. The 10-minute speaker, a woman, was there with me on stage. We were dressed in the same professional manner, except our choices in footwear. The other four-minute speaker was a male and running late to the sound check. The founder of the group questioned my choice in footwear, which that day was a pair of pink Adidas. February in the Midwest is generally a miserable cold. That night the weather was frigid, with gusts of wind and freezing rain. I wanted to wear my Adidas so I did not get frost-bitten toes from my open-toed heels...