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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Art to push the curious to explore

Check out Copenhagen-based artist Spurv, whose erotic art pieces reached/touched others, particularly those “like me (who) have the curiosity to explore, and the people who are afraid to dare.”

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Sometime in 2015, Copenhagen-based artist Spurv started making erotic art pieces. It was, he said to Outrage Magazine, “somehow my personal journey through sex life where I explore my hidden sides, curiosities, fetishes, desires, limits, et cetera.

And so – in not so many words – Spurv said that without wanting to sound self-centered, he was “inspired by life itself – my life.”

Here’s the thing, though: although his artworks are “my story”, Spurv’s work eventually reached/touched other people, particularly those “like me (who) have the curiosity to explore, and the people who are afraid to dare.”

Spurv uses the old technique of gravure, this time on linoleum to create linocuts (block prints).

Linocut, a printmaking technique that is a variant of woodcut where a sheet of linoleum is used for a relief surface; the design is cut into the linoleum surface with a knife and the raised/uncarved areas represent a reversal/mirror image of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is then inked with a roller, and then impressed onto paper or fabric.

“I chose (this technique) because I find very appealing (in creating) the contrast between this technique and the depicted topic of gay fetish,” Spurv said.

His subjects are actually reminiscent of Tom of Finland, Hal Fischer, Jim Wigler, Rinaldo Hopf and Etienne (among others), adapting the same raw approach to (male-to-male) sex/sexuality. And yes, as he noted, the use of linocut – instead of sketching/drawing/painting/photography – differentiates Spurv’s works.

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Obviously, Spurv is cognizant of how – even if erotic art is now very pervasive – it continues to be frowned upon. But not wanting to go deeper into this topic, he said that appreciating this necessitates going deeper to see beyond the superficial perspectives/POVs/analyses.

With art, Spurv said that there is no need to compare oneself with others, particularly since “every artist depicts his own universe in his own way. This is not a competition.”

For up-and-coming artists, “I would always encourage people to know and then express themselves (since being able to) express themselves in an artistic way is a blessing,” Spurv said. So, just like the many males in his artworks, going about discovering their sexuality, “fear is not an option.”

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

College-age males at bars, parties more likely to be sexually aggressive

A study found that it wasn’t alcohol use, per se, that leads to sexual aggression, but the combination of alcohol and the setting that the drinking takes place in had a major impact on the number of reported aggressive tactics used.

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College men who frequently attend parties or go to bars are more likely to be sexually aggressive compared to those who don’t, Washington State University researchers have found.

“We found that it wasn’t alcohol use, per se, that leads to sexual aggression,” said Michael Cleveland, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development. “But the combination of alcohol and the setting that the drinking takes place in had a major impact on the number of reported aggressive tactics used.”

The study, which surveyed a group of over 1,000 college males repeatedly for five semesters at a large Northeastern university, asked participants if they had used sexually aggressive tactics, Cleveland said.

“We asked them how often they drank and if and how often they went to bars or parties,” Cleveland said. “Then we asked if they used any specific tactics to convince, or even pressure, women to have them sex with them.”

Those tactics ranged from threatening to break up with her to getting her drunk and harming her physically.

The results were published April 25 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Personality traits

The study questions looked at the personality traits of each participant. The researchers found that the men who went to bars and parties more often tended to have higher levels of Impersonal Sexual Orientation, characterized by a preference for sex without commitment and a greater number of sexual partners.

“Men with that orientation have a proclivity towards more casual sex,” Cleveland said. “And it’s been associated with a higher level of sexual aggression. So this study shows that men with those personality traits are going to parties – perhaps in order to find sex partners –and acting more sexually aggressive.”

There are hot spots, like bars and parties, where aggressive behavior happens more often. Having bystander intervention, where someone intervenes on behalf of the victim, is really important in these situations.

Study timeline

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The researchers started the survey by contacting every male in the freshman class at a large university in the northeastern U.S. in 2012. Over 1,000 took part through their first five semesters.

The survey was conducted by email or online, with participants compensated with money deposited in their student accounts. Participants were guaranteed confidentiality in the hopes of getting more truthful results.

The study states that the more the students reported drinking as freshmen, the more likely they were to commit a sexually aggressive act by the end of the survey period, Cleveland said.

“The results are very cumulative,” Cleveland said. “If a student reported drinking as a freshman, then he would be more likely to report going to parties or bars the next year as a sophomore. And then the men who were most likely to drink at these types of settings were the ones that most likely were sexually aggressive during their junior year.”

Preventing aggression

The study showed how much room there is to educate men on their role in reducing and eventually eliminating aggressive sexual behaviors.

“Prevention of sexual assault should target men’s behaviors and attitudes,” Cleveland said. “There are hot spots, like bars and parties, where aggressive behavior happens more often. Having bystander intervention, where someone intervenes on behalf of the victim, is really important in these situations.”

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Health & Wellness

LGBT-identifying females are at increased risk of substance use in early adolescence

The odds of substance use among females who identify as sexual minorities – an umbrella term for those who identify with any sexual identity other than heterosexual or who report same-sex attraction or behavior – is 400% higher than their heterosexual female peers.

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Females who identify as sexual minorities face an increased risk of substance use that shows up as early as age 13, suggesting early adolescence is a critical period for prevention and intervention efforts, a new study from Oregon State University has found.

The odds of substance use among females who identify as sexual minorities – an umbrella term for those who identify with any sexual identity other than heterosexual or who report same-sex attraction or behavior – is 400% higher than their heterosexual female peers.

“We saw this striking difference in substance use at age 13 and there was rapid increase in the rate of cigarette and alcohol use from there,” said Sarah Dermody, an assistant professor in the School of Psychological Science in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts and the study’s lead author. “That tells us we need to find ways to intervene as early as possible to help prevent substance use in this population.”

The findings were published recently in the Journal of LGBT Youth. Co-authors are James McGinley of McGinley Statistical Consulting and director of behavioral analytics at the Vector Psychometric Group; Kristen Eckstrand, a physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; and Michael P. Marshal of the University of Pittsburgh.

Among youth, alcohol, marijuana and nicotine are the three most commonly used drugs. That is a concern because youth who use those substances are at risk of negative health and social outcomes, including addiction and poor cognitive, social and academic function.

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Past research has shown that sexual minority youth reported nearly three times more substance use than heterosexual youth. The disparity may be due in part to stress from discrimination, violence and victimization rooted in their sexual minority status, Dermody said.

The pattern of increased substance use for youth who identify as sexual minorities is magnified significantly for females. In the new study, researchers hoped to gain better understanding of how substance use rates develop over time for this group in particular, Dermody said.

Using data from about 2,200 participants in the Pittsburgh Girls Study, a large, longitudinal study of the lives of urban girls, researchers examined substance use among females over time from age 13 to 20, comparing those who identified as heterosexual to those identifying as lesbian/gay or bisexual.

They looked at when disparities in use between heterosexual and sexual minority identifying females began to emerge; rates of change over time for both groups; and how rates change as the girls approach young adulthood.

The researchers found that disparities in substance use between heterosexual and sexual minority girls were already present at age 13. The difference in use between heterosexual and sexual minority girls persisted and increased as they entered their 20s.

The findings suggest that early prevention and intervention efforts may be needed to reduce initial use and slow the escalation of substance use among the population. Such efforts could also help decrease substance use disparities over time, Dermody said.

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“It’s already a risky and vulnerable period for youths’ social development, and it’s also a vulnerable time for brain development,” Dermody said.

It’s also important to remember that within the population of youths who identify as sexual minorities, there are many youths who are not using any substances at all, or who are not using them as heavily, Dermody said.

“This is a subgroup that we are concerned about,” she said. “In future research, it would useful to explore how individual youths’ experiences influence where they fall on the spectrum of substance use.”

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Travel

Bhutan moves to decriminalize homosexuality

The tiny Himalayan kingdom’s parliament became the world’s latest to decriminalize homosexuality.

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Rainbow rising in Bhutan, with the tiny Himalayan kingdom’s lower house of parliament, overwhelmingly voting to repeal two sections of the 2004 criminal code which made “unnatural sex” illegal.

While the law was never been used, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering, who submitted the recommendation to repeal sections 213 and 214 of the penal code, said they had become “a stain” on the country’s reputation.

Tshering said he is optimistic that the upper house in the nation of 750,000 people would back the lower house decision.

Speaking to Reuters, Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying: “Taking steps to end the criminalization of same-sex relationships is a welcome and progressive step by Bhutan.”

The bill now needs to be passed by Bhutan parliament’s upper chamber before being sent for royal assent.

If this amendment passes, 69 countries remain worldwide where same-sex relations are illegal.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Is risk-taking compatible with forex trading?

There are many types of risks which are an inherent part of forex trading, from exchange rate and interest rate changes to marginal and transactional risks. However, this doesn’t mean that reckless risk-taking is a necessary or even advisable part of forex trading. Having a detailed plan and a strategic approach means you will be prepared to deal with risks and there consequences when and if things go awry.

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It would be impossible to trade in forex without assuming some type of risk, according to several experts. Does this mean that risk-taking is part-and-parcel of forex trading and that being prepared to take risks without fear of the consequences is an essential part of the game?

On the contrary, experts say that the question is how you identify and manage risk to fit your individual circumstances. Whether it is stocks or forex traders on a platform like FXPro, all investors should draw up unique and comprehensive risk management plans that would stop them from trading within acceptable risk parameters according to Stockmarket College.

“High risk is typically associated with high returns, although this isn’t always the case; high risks can also mean incredible losses,” Stockmarket College  warns, adding that you should get clarity on 

Trading Academy defines forex or foreign exchange as the trading currency pairs. “When you go long on EUR/USD, for example, you are hoping that the value of the Euro will increase relative to the U.S. Dollar,” they explain.

The article added that as with any investment you could “guess wrong” or add additional risk to your trading by targeting less popular currency pairs.

“It’s useful to keep in mind that the vast majority of forex transactions are made by banks, not individuals, and they are actually using forex to reduce the risk of currency fluctuation,” Trading Academy explains. “As an individual, you are less subject to many of these risks, and others can be minimized through sound trade management.”

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In an article on iForex, the authors write “risk is an important part of trading and – in the right hands – it’s a valuable tool that can help you make trading decisions.”

They describe risk management is a way to identify, measure and analyse risk before taking a decision. “Miscalculated risk management can have substantial impact on companies and individual traders alike,” the article continues.

iForex advises tailoring the size of investment to size of capital. “Why? Because no trader – not even the most professional, experienced, gifted trader in the world – achieves a 100% rate of trading success,” they added.They also advise the use of “Stop Loss” – a market order allowing traders to limit potential losses and calculating the risk/reward ratio for a specific investment by “dividing the amount the investor will lose if the price moves unexpectedly by the profit the investor expects to make when the position closes”.

“It’s useful to keep in mind that the vast majority of forex transactions are made by banks, not individuals, and they are actually using forex to reduce the risk of currency fluctuation.”

Trading Academy identified the following risk factors in Forex trading:

EXCHANGE RATE RISK

This is caused by changes in the value of currency – due to shifts in demand. It can be significant The fact that off-exchange trading in foreign currency is not really regulated adds to the size of this particular type of risk as it means that there are no daily price limits, according to Trading Academy.

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iForex explains that some types of currency are traditionally viewed as more risky than others but these have shown larger returns.

INTEREST RATE RISK

Interest rate risk refers to the profit and loss generated by fluctuations in price of currency including forward outright, futures, and options. Interest rate risk can be ameliorated by continuous analysis of the interest rate environment and timeous forecast of changes.

COUNTRY AND LIQUIDITY RISK

Periods of illiquidity have been observed in several countries and especially outside the United States and European markets.  Countries can also impose trading limits or restrictions on the amount of Forex to be traded, the volume and penalties. This can stop a trader from liquidating an unfavourable position. In some countries foreign exchange prices are also government regulated, Trading Academy states.

Investopedia explains further that interest rates have an effect on countries’ exchange rates meaning that an increase in interest rates would strengthen domestic currency in that country. They add that the converse is also true. This, the authors explain, can cause dramatic fluctuations in forex.

They add that it would be good to assess the structure and stability of a country before investing. “In many developing and third world countries, exchange rates are fixed to a world leader such as the US dollar. In this circumstance, central banks must sustain adequate reserves to maintain a fixed exchange rate,” the article added. “A currency crisis can occur due to frequent balance of payment deficits and result in devaluation of the currency.”

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MARGINAL OR LEVERAGE RISK

As low margin deposits or trade collateral are required in forex trading, it would allow for a high degree of leverage (using other people’s money to invest) – but this also means that small price fluctuations can lead to considerable losses.

Investopedia explains that leverage involves borrowing a certain amount of the money needed to invest in something – and adds that foreign exchange trades often offer high amounts of leverage.

TRANSACTIONAL RISK

This describes the risks of procedural mistakes and mishaps like errors in communications and problems with the handling of an order according to Trading Academy.

Investopedia adds that this type of risk is amplified by time differences between the beginning of a contract and when it settles. The greater the time that passes, the greater the risk, they explain, adding that the reason for this is that it allows for the exchange rate to fluctuate.

The greater the time differential between entering and settling a contract increases the transaction risk.

iForex advises tailoring the size of investment to size of capital. “Why? Because no trader – not even the most professional, experienced, gifted trader in the world – achieves a 100% rate of trading success,” they added.

They also advise the use of “Stop Loss” – a market order allowing traders to limit potential losses and calculating the risk/reward ratio for a specific investment by “dividing the amount the investor will lose if the price moves unexpectedly by the profit the investor expects to make when the position closes”.

There are many types of risks which are an inherent part of forex trading, from exchange rate and interest rate changes to marginal and transactional risks. However, this doesn’t mean that reckless risk-taking is a necessary or even advisable part of forex trading. Having a detailed plan and a strategic approach means you will be prepared to deal with risks and there consequences when and if things go awry.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

What’s your attitude about body hair removal?

New study lays bare cultural reasons around the globe for bikini waxing and man-scaping.

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As beachgoers scramble to trim their nether regions ahead of swim season, new UNLV research shows they aren’t alone in their ambitions for a bare bikini line.

A study led by UNLV anthropology graduate student Lyndsey Craig and co-authored by professor Peter Gray combed through written records from the 1890s to early 2000s from nearly 200 societies around the world to figure out how pubic hair removal practices differ from Western societies and the motives behind it.

The study, Pubic Hair Removal Practices in Cross-Cultural Perspective, was published in the April 2019 issue of SAGE Publications’ Cross-Cultural Research, a journal of comparative social science.

Existing research had already found that in the cultural West, it’s typically women who sport shorn slopes – about 84% in the US alone compared to 66% of men. In those studies, both genders cited the influence of pornography and of product marketing for waxing salons and depilatory creams as the main motivating factors in choosing to remove their pubic hair. Other factors include partner expectations, oral sex practices, peer pressure to conform to cultural norms, the desire to feel sexy and self-confident, perceived hygiene concerns, and the association of pubic hair with feelings of disgust and uncleanliness.

Meanwhile, research on non-Western cultures has been scarce. For a majority of the 72 societies that UNLV researchers found to specifically mention pubic hair removal or retention, it turned out that women were similarly more likely than men to lop off their lower locks. Their most common motive, however, was actual hygiene concerns (prevention of lice, ticks, and irritation) rather than perceived thoughts about cleanliness. Other reasons included cultural beliefs that pubic hair is ugly and social signaling to mark ocassions such as marriage or a couple’s return to a vibrant sex life following mourning over a deceased child. A few mythological texts referenced using the stray strands to craft archery strings, mix into medicines, or perform rituals or spells.

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While Westerners tend to shave or wax, the most common method used by non-Westerners of both sexes was plucking with the fingers or make-shift tweezers fashioned from bamboo or shells. Other methods included plucking by a spouse or a same-sex person of lower status.

None of the non-Western societies were influenced by porn or product marketing, though researchers point out that the majority of the literature examined was from the 1930s through the 1960s, so the societies likely didn’t have access to porn, pubic hair removal ads, or even modern razors.

But researchers say the study shows how globalization might influence attitudes about the hair… down under.

For example, the Amhara society’s religious doctrine initially required that men prune their pastures with razors and women by plucking; the reverse was unforgivable. But once the European razor blade was introduced to the Eastern African region, women started shaving and men stopped removing their pubic hair at all.

“Given inferences that ancestral sexual selection pressures shaped the development and display of human pubic hair for visual and olfactory ends, why have humans often sought to partially or completely remove it?” the researchers wrote. “We suggest that … pubic hair removal practices enable humans to communicate information of sociocultural salience, such as signifying whether one is sexually active. One might draw parallels with how human head hair, armpit hair, tattoos, or male beards enable similar biocultural expression.”

The UNLV researchers additionally hypothesize that women’s pubic hair removal practices serve as important signals of receptivity to a partner’s sexual advances.

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But if you’re quite fond of your forbidden forest, no problem.

Not all the societies surveyed endorsed pubic hair removal. The Igbo people of Western Africa considered pubic hair for both men and women a source of pride, the Shona in Southern Africa viewed hair growth as a symbol of fertility, and the Kwoma people of Oceania called pubic hair – especially the “thickest and most luxuriant” kind – a “traditional mark of female beauty.”

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Health & Wellness

Hazard of smoking at a younger age greater for transgender boys

Transgender boys may be at higher risk for early and current cigarette use regardless of their sexual identity, whereas smoking varied more widely for youth across different sexual identities.

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Smoke gets in your eyes…

A study found that – with approximately 7% of sexual and gender minority (SGM) youths reported currently smoking – cisgender and transgender boys had higher odds of current smoking compared with cisgender and transgender girls (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.86; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.56–2.21); while pansexual-identified youth had higher odds of smoking (AOR = 1.33; 95% CI: 1.05–1.70) compared with gay/lesbian youth independent of gender identity. Pansexual-identified cisgender boys had the highest smoking prevalence (21.6%).

This is according to “Cigarette Smoking Among Youth at the Intersection of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” by Christopher W. Wheldon, Ryan J. Watson, Jessica N. Fish and Kristi Gamarel, published in LGBT Health.

The study eyed to identify subgroups of sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth who are most vulnerable to tobacco use. The researchers analyzed data from a national nonprobability sample of 11,192 SGM youth (ages 13–17). Age of cigarette initiation and current use were modeled using Cox proportional hazard and binomial regression. Sexual and gender identities were explanatory variables and the models were adjusted for ethnoracial identity and age.

The study noted that – surprisingly – predicted probabilities were higher among transgender boys across all sexual identities, except asexual. The hazard of smoking at a younger age was greater for transgender boys compared with cisgender boys (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] = 1.67; 95% CI: 1.43–1.94) as well as for bisexual (AHR = 1.12; 95% CI: 1.01–1.24) and pansexual (AHR = 1.17; 95% CI: 1.03–1.33) youth compared with those who identified as gay or lesbian.

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These findings “suggest that transgender boys may be at higher risk for early and current cigarette use regardless of their sexual identity, whereas smoking varied more widely for youth across different sexual identities. The findings suggest that specific subgroups of SGM youth require focused attention in tobacco control research and practice.”

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