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Duck Sex and the Patriarchy

Four years ago, as the country was wrestling with a federal-budget crisis, conservative news outlets turned their attention, once again, to the topic of wasteful government spending. That March, a reporter with CNS News, a Web site devoted to countering “liberal bias” in the media, came across what seemed to be the quintessential example of such waste—a National Science Foundation grant to Yale University for a study of duck penises. Within days, the story had made its way to Fox News. “It’s part of President Obama’s stimulus plan, and it’s just one example of the kind of spending decisions that have added up to massive debt and deficits,” Shannon Bream told viewers. The following week, Sean Hannity piled on. “Don’t we really need to know about duck genitalia, Tucker Carlson?” he asked. To which Carlson responded, with a smirk, “I know more than I want to know already!” The controversy, dubbed Duckpenisgate by Mother Jones, roared back to life some months later, when Senator Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma, included the N.S.F. grant in his “Wastebook 2013.” At $384,949, it accounted for only a thousandth of one per cent of all the spending that Coburn had tallied up, but it made headlines again. Clearly, the combination of money, sex, and power—your money, ducks’ sex, and Ivy League power—was irresistible to the graying male demographic for conservative news.

I followed Duckpenisgate with particular trepidation, since I was one of the co-investigators on the maligned study. For the past decade, in collaboration with Patricia Brennan, of Mount Holyoke College, and other colleagues, I have explored the sexual behavior and genital evolution of waterfowl. Contrary to what Carlson thinks, it is a fascinating business. It can also be shockingly brutal. In the wintry months before breeding begins, male ducks flaunt their plumage, putting on dramatic courtship displays in an effort to entrance a mate. The females can be choosy, often picking a male only after extensive deliberation. (Their preferences tend to coalesce, like a genetic fashion trend, around a shared ideal of male beauty, with each species evolving off in its own distinct aesthetic direction.) When spring arrives, the pairs migrate together to the breeding grounds. But, as the nest-building and egg-laying season approaches, unpaired males start causing trouble. Many attempt to force copulation with paired females, sometimes even ganging up on them in groups. The female ducks resist strenuously; often they are injured, or even killed, in the process.

The males’ sexual attacks are made possible by the fact that, unlike most birds, ducks still have a penis. It is not, however, an organ that most humans would recognize, being shaped like a counterclockwise corkscrew and possessing a ribbed or spiky surface. Ducks’ erections are driven by lymphatic, not vascular, pressure, which means that their penises never become stiff. Rather, they erect flexibly, but explosively, into the female’s body in less than half a second. Ejaculation takes place immediately. And duck penises can be long—really long. A breeding male mallard in your typical city park has a five-inch penis. In the case of the diminutive Argentine lake duck, the penis is longer than the duck itself—more than sixteen inches.

What, exactly, is the function of these bizarre organs? To find out, Brennan dissected the genitalia of fourteen species of waterfowl. By comparing the results, we discovered that, as males have evolved longer penises with more heavily armed surfaces, females have coevolved increasingly complex vaginal structures—dead ends, cul-de-sac side pockets, clockwise spirals. We hypothesized that these twists and turns create a mechanical barrier to the penis, frustrating forced intercourse and lowering the likelihood of a female duck being fertilized against her will. Our subsequent experiments—high-speed videos of duck penises erecting into glass tubes of various shapes—suggested we were right. (Our observations also revealed that when a female duck solicits sex with a chosen mate, her cloacal muscles dilate to allow uninhibited entry.) The result is that, even for species in which nearly forty per cent of all copulations are violently coerced, only between two and five per cent of ducklings come from extra-pair matings. As a method of contraception, ducks’ vaginal barriers can be ninety-eight-per-cent effective—a level of reliability that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would readily approve.

A female duck’s vaginal barriers cannot shield her from physical harm. On an evolutionary level, though, they protect her in another way—by allowing her to choose the father of her offspring. If she has ducklings with her chosen mate, then they will inherit the fancy plumage that she and other females prefer. But, if she is fertilized by force, then her offspring will inherit either random display traits or traits that she has specifically rejected as less attractive. These extra-pair offspring will, on average, be less attractive to their peers, which could mean fewer grand-ducklings for the mother duck—and fewer of her genes passed on to posterity. By using her vaginal barriers, she is able to maintain her sexual autonomy in the face of sexual violence. Freedom of choice, in other words, matters to animals; even if they lack the capacity to conceptualize it, there is an evolutionary difference between having what they want and not having it. Unfortunately for female ducks, though, evolving complex vaginal structures doesn’t solve the scourge of sexual violence; it exacerbates it. Each advance results in males with longer, spikier penises, and the coevolutionary arms race continues.

Although many duck species are trapped in costly and unproductive sexual battles, other birds have pursued different evolutionary paths toward male disarmament. In bowerbirds, for instance, females have used mate choice to transform male behavior in ways that have advanced their own sexual autonomy. Male bowerbirds build elaborate seduction theatres, called bowers, out of sticks, which they decorate with gathered artifacts such as feathers, fruits, and flowers. When the time comes to breed, females visit a number of prospective mates, choosing one based on the attractiveness of the male, his bower, and his ornaments. As a result, the architecture of the bowers is shaped by females’ aesthetic preferences. Males work from a blueprint that actually prevents them from successfully coercing copulations. A so-called avenue bower, for example, features two parallel walls of sticks. The female sits cozily between them while the male does his dance at a safe remove. To copulate with her, he must go around the walls and mount her from behind, which gives her a chance to pop out the front, if she prefers, with her freedom of choice intact.

cientists admonish one another, often with good reason, to avoid anthropomorphizing animals. But they themselves regularly redraw the line between good science and anthropomorphism as a way of policing scientific discourse and favoring particular ideas. Most of us, for example, learned a strictly adaptationist version of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution; we were told that almost every feature of the biotic world, no matter how tiny, could be explained by how it contributed to an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce. In fact, though, Darwin also proposed a theory of sexual selection, in which animals may choose their mates according to aesthetic standards—their own subjective desires. This view has frequently been rejected as too anthropomorphic precisely because it implies that sexual selection can act independently of natural selection—an unsettling thought for the typical adaptationist. When it comes to the sexual politics of birds and people, there are, of course, enormous differences. Birds don’t have elaborate social cultures, money, or any notion of their own histories. Humans do. But, in seeking to understand the complexities of human evolution and sexuality, we can learn a lot by examining the diversity of life on Earth and acknowledging the parallels where they exist.

Consider, for a moment, that the sexual arms race between male and female ducks is not really a fair fight. While male ducks evolve to gain physical and sexual control over females, female ducks evolve to assert, and reassert, their freedom of choice. Sound familiar? The human “war of the sexes” is similarly one-sided. Contemporary anti-feminists often portray men as victims of the coercive social control of women, even as they actively organize to diminish women’s sexual autonomy by impeding their access to health care, contraception, and abortion. But this view is a grotesque distortion. Like convoluted duck vaginas, feminism is about autonomy, not power over men. Although one is genetic and the other is cultural, the asymmetry in ducks between the male push for power and the female push for choice is mirrored in the ideologies of patriarchy and feminism.

If ducks reflect our cultural present, bowerbirds may illuminate both our evolutionary origins and our social future. It is well established that our ape ancestors were more violent than we are. But the traditional evolutionary mechanisms—natural selection and male-male sexual competition—have not yet produced a satisfying explanation for why this violence declined and coöperative social cognition flourished in its place. In my forthcoming book, “The Evolution of Beauty,” I propose that, as in some birds, female mate choice among our forebears transformed male behavior. Since the time of our last common ancestry with chimpanzees, millions of years ago, it may have contributed to the de-weaponization of maleness, including the elimination of self-sharpening male canine teeth, the reduction in male body size relative to females, the elimination of infanticide by ascendant alpha males, and the origin of paternal investment in their offspring. By evolving to regard violent, antisocial maleness as unsexy, females may have instigated the evolution of many elements critical to our biology, including big brains, language, and even our capacity for self-awareness and reflection.

At first, the idea that humans evolved through the expansion of female sexual autonomy would seem to conflict with the fact that, practically everywhere on the planet, men are socially dominant. But this phenomenon is, I maintain, more cultural than biological. Men and women are closer to each other in size than are the famously peaceful, and non-hierarchical, male and female bonobos. How could male dominance be a result of biological destiny in people but somehow not in bonobos? Here again, the coevolutionary dynamics of duck sex may clarify how men came to regain social control over female sexuality. Like a cultural version of the toothy spikes on a ruddy duck’s penis, patriarchy may have arisen as a cultural countermeasure, reversing the advances in female autonomy gained in the millions of years since hominins diverged from chimpanzees. When sexism becomes unacceptably antisocial and hopelessly unsexy, then patriarchy may finally give up its remaining weapons.

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The decline or destruction of Europe is in the interest of China, in the interest of all of Asia, and in the sexual interest of the male population just anywhere on earth. The political system of Europe is stupid feminism and hypocritical humanism. By contrast, the patriarchy as political system is best for men and mankind.

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In Japan, Pillows Can Be Sex Partners

The Japanese market of sex toys for men is an impressive array of human substitutes, most of which either appear to be sleepy or sleeping. Fully 30 percent to 50 percent of online catalogues feature such offerings, and new products are being released at a dizzying rate.

Browsing the sites, it’s notable how many Japanese sex toys play on the notion of unconsciousness. Eyes closed, cut off from the real world by sleep, these dolls invite their human companions to follow them into a fantasy dreamworld.

This strange invitation is the subject of my latest paper, published this spring in the French anthropology journal Terrain.

Love surrogates The association of desire and sleep seems paradoxical. In trying to understand this market, I first looked at the physical shapes of these objects and the language that manufacturers and retailers use to describe them.

The company Dekunobô (木偶の坊), a leader in the “flesh pillow” sector, was founded in 2002 by Nobuyuki Kikuchi (菊地信行).

Starting then and continuing today, these sex toys – that is, dolls or body parts used for masturbation – are replicas of young women, sometimes pared down to the most basic female contours: a bolster cushion, for instance, or a vaguely human-like inflatable mattress.

These “bodies” come with interchangeable coverings and parts, from adjustable heads (featuring varied facial expressions) to wigs, legs and arms. There are optional breasts of all sizes, of course, plus stick-on nipples, disposable vaginas and more.

Without the jigsaw of their detachable limbs and other accoutrements, fresh-from-the-box human simulacra often resemble an inflatable or stuffed pillow.

That realization feeds one subtle marketing strategy, in which these “therapeutic products” (iyashi gûzu, 癒しグーズ) are presented as aids for a restorative sleep, variously referred to as “head rests” (makura, 枕), “cushions” (kusshion, クッション) and “pillows” (pirô, ピロー).

When sold more explicitly as “sexual sensation cushions” (seikan kusshion, 性感クッション), the products are referred to as “sleeping companions” (surîpu konpanion, スリープ コンパニオン) or “body dolls” (bodi dôru, ボディドール).

From Venus bodies to tush cushions

In their most basic versions, these sex dolls are shaped like cushions that can be concealed within pillowcases. There are three main kinds of sleeping companions.

The most minimalist versions, such as the momojiri kusshion (桃尻クッション) (which roughly translates as “tush cushion”), are just rudimentary anatomical representations of female hips.

The “Venus body” (bînasu bodi ビーナスボディ) has suggestive contours inspired by curvaceous carved figurines of the Palaeolithic era. Bigger breasts can be added (see photo).

Finally, there are the flesh-colored rectangles, which the Dekunobô company calls “cushion units furnished with a orifice” (hôru tsuki yunitto kusshion, ホール付きユニットクッション). Artificial vaginas can be inserted into all these items and removed for cleaning after use.

Dekunobô also sells an accessory that can transform any ordinary pillow into a sex partner. The “apron” (apuron, アプロン), which looks like a layer of skin with a pair of breasts and a vulva, can be attached to a bolster cushion or folded quilt to create the impression of a body.

At this stage in their evolution, the dolls are so similar to ordinary pillows that it’s difficult to know whether they should be categorized as bedding or sex toys.

Many Japanese manufacturers accentuate this ambiguity in their marketing. The vocabulary used seems to be a conscious attempt to associate sex toys with pillows, which have positive connotations in Japan.

They give their products evocative names like kû pirô (“sleepy pillow”) – a play on the word kû, meaning “empty” or “air” – or oppai makura (“breast pillow” オッパイ枕).

Other allusive appellations include the dî enu eâ piro (“inflatable DNA pillow” ディーエヌエアーピロー), the insatto hagu piro (“hug and penetrate pillow” インサットハグガールズピロー) and the nama rori pirô (“Lolita flesh pillow” 生ロリピロー).

Recently put up for sale by the brand Hot Powers, there is also a human-cushion hybrid called the “Lovely legs hopper pillow” (bikyaku hoppa pirô, 美脚ホッパッピロー), which has the upper body of a pillow and the lower body of a human.

It can be covered with a pillowcase featuring a trompe l’oeil image of a young woman to complete the effect.

Blurring the lines

Interestingly enough, the Hot Powers’ Lovely legs hopper pillow is dressed as a miko, a Shinto shrine maiden, and presented as a “wife” that can “cross the barrier between dimensions” (Jigen no kabe o tobikoete, ore no yome 次元の壁を飛び越えて、俺の嫁).

This is a very specific cultural allusion. In the Japanese Shinto religion, gods can appear to humans in a wide range of shapes, including mountains, pebbles, horses, cucumbers, mirrors, brooms, children and, yes, anthropomorphic objects.

In an article titled “Substitutes, Tricks and Transformations”, ethnologist Laurence Caillet notes that Shinto gods, having no inherent form of their own, move from object to object, both animate and inanimate.

Among the objects best able to welcome a “presence” are those that recall the idea of transportation and passage: vessels, pipes, any forms of receptacles, containers, hollow objects… Pillows also belong to that category. For aren’t they ideal vehicles for crossing over and travelling in the land of dreams ? A person, using a pillow to rest his head, goes from the state of wakefulness to sleep, his body dissociating from his mind as he falls into an oniric world… Similarly, sexual dolls play the role of such an interface. They act as a specific medium which has the capacity to blur categories.

The same logic applies to the strategy of marketing sex toys as pillows. The idea is to transform the sexual playing field into a sacred space, one in which the supernatural existence of a young woman conjured from thin air is believable to the customer.

For sex pillows to bring satisfaction, users must pretend that there is a real presence behind the artificial, balloon-like object. As the anthropologist Albert Piette has said, believing means accepting fuzziness. In the case of sex toys, believing also means being able to cross boundaries.

The attraction of these Japanese simulacra no doubt lies, in part, in the seductive game of hide-and-seek: on one side of the pillowcase hides a lady; on the other, just a pillow.

With tush cushions and Lolita pillows, customers can tinker with appearances, control them or transcend them, encouraging men into a playful and even dream-like exercise in secular, sexual faith.

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Ageism is pest of rich countries. If you are old you have no value. In poor countries, value depends on wealth. That is much better than value depending on youth because wealth can become more with advancing years. This is why rich men have every reason to invest in destruction. Plain math.

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Khmer Rouge terror in Cambodia

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This New Strain Is Specifically Catered To The Female Orgasm - And Perfect For Valentine's Day

Marijuana’s ability to act as an aphrodisiac has been well documented – but what about a strain specifically designed to bring women to orgasm?

Introducing Sexxpot, the “aphrodisiac weed” specially targeted at women – and set to make your Valentine’s Day romp that much more spectacular.

The idea for the strain came to Paradigm Medical Marijuana founder Karyn Wagner after a passionate lovemaking session enhanced by a pre-coitus joint last year. While there’s nothing new about smoking cannabis to get in the mood, this time she was taken to new heights.

Sexxpot is derived from the low-THC strain, Mr. Nice. Wagner says the lower-than-usual levels of THC (about 14 percent) are beneficial because the consumer is placed in a “sensual” headspace that doesn’t get them too high to actually get down and dirty.

Berkeley-based cannabis consultant and nurse practitioner Eloise Theisen, who routinely treats men and women looking to enhance their sex lives with cannabis, recently weighed in on the product and gave it her stamp of approval.

“And high levels of THC can promote anti-estrogen activity, though science is still very limited … My guess is that Sexxpot, with the lower THC, regulates the body’s endocannabinoid system (the group of brain receptors that are involved with processes like pain, sensation, mood, and mediating effects of cannabis) and helps bring back the balance of hormones, but without sacrificing the therapeutic properties.”

The only downside? Sexxpot isn’t known to be quite as effective for men, whom Wagner said reported less-than-stellar experiences when consuming it themselves. Good thing the aphrodisiac cannabis market is already ripe with strains designed to make lovemaking especially explosive for all parties.

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Eurycomanone is one of several dozens of components of tongkat ali. There are many phony claims about standardization. Chinese chemicals companies sell Eurycomanone as a lab chemical for about 100 USD for 10 milligrams: http://m.phytopurify.com/eurycomanone-p-8083.html?gclid=CJHynuOa1tQCFUqhaAodtAMAlA However, this is lab grade, not intended for human consumption. You are NOT a guinea pig.

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Has the Normalizing of Pedophilia Begun?

CNN hosts scientist who sympathizes with child predators claims 'brain's wiring' to blame

Do people who rape children, or fantasize about sexually abusing them, deserve sympathy – because they were born with the brains of pedophiles?

That’s the question a prominent scientist and a well-known anchor at CNN have asked in the wake of the recent Jerry Sandusky scandal.

CNN recently featured a story by James Cantor, a homosexual psychologist and scientist at the Sexual Behaviors Clinic of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health who serves as associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

“It appears that one can be born with a brain predisposed to experience sexual arousal in response to children,” he wrote in his CNN piece.

He continued, “Cases of child molestation that involve long strings of victims over the course of years illustrate what can happen when someone gives in to, or outright indulges, his sexual interests, regardless of its potential damage on others. It is those cases that dominate headlines and provoke revulsion toward pedophiles.

“But they are rare. An untold number of cases merit sympathy.

“The science suggests that they are people who, through no fault of their own, were born with a sex drive that they must continuously resist, without exception, throughout their entire lives. Little if any assistance is ever available for them.”

According to the American Psychological Association, Cantor is passionate about the neurological underpinnings of sexual behavior and jokes, “I feel lucky to have found a way to stimulate my brain intellectually by indulging myself in thinking about sex all the time.”

He has studied the brains of male pedophiles using magnetic resonance imaging. Cantor explained his findings:

“Pedophilic men have significantly less white matter, which is the connective tissue that is responsible for communication between different regions in the brain. Pedophiles perform more poorly on various tests of brain function, tend to be shorter in height and are three times more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous (characteristics that are observable before birth). Although nonbiological features may yet turn up to be relevant, it is difficult, if not impossible, to explain the research findings without there being a strong role of biology.”

He explains, from his experience with such individuals, that pedophiles act on their sexual urges and molest children “when they feel the most desperate.”

“Yet, much of what society does has been to increase rather than decrease their desperation,” he wrote.

In the U.S., Cantor notes, the focus tends to be on punishments invoked after sex abuse has taken place – rather than implementing social policies aimed at prevention.

“If it is the brain’s wiring that ultimately determines who will go on to develop pedophilia, can we detect it early enough to interrupt the process?” he asks. “Until we uncover more information, we will do more good by making it easier for pedophiles to come in for help rather than force them into solitary secrecy.”

Meanwhile, a CNN anchor chimed in to express sympathy for Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 child sex-abuse charges after he molested at least 10 boys over a period of 15 years.

CNN’s Don Lemon, an open homosexual who has revealed he was molested as a child, interviewed Cantor about his findings. In that segment, he said:

“I know people are going to send me a lot of hate mail for this. I’ve never been one to take glee in anyone’s demise, and when I saw Jerry Sandusky walk out in handcuffs, I did kind of feel a bit sorry for him, even though I know the jury found him to do some horrific things, I was like ‘His life is over.’ All of these young boys, it was terrible for them as well. There are no winners.”

Meanwhile, some experts warn of a highly controversial campaign in recent years that seeks to sympathize with – and even normalize – pedophilia.

Just last year, Dr. Judith Reisman, the principal expert investigator for a U.S. Justice Department study on child sex abuse, said pedophilia advocates are using the same strategy that was successfully employed to make homosexuality a classroom subject for small children in the nation’s public schools.

As WND reported, Reisman attended a symposium held by the “minor-attracted people” advocacy group B4U-ACT to disseminate “accurate information” on the position that pedophilia is just one more alternative sexual orientation.

“If a foreign country came in and did this to our nation, the nation would be outraged,” Reisman said about the B4U-Act event, also attended by J. Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action.

The speakers urged the removal of pedophilia from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental defects in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Reisman explained the same strategy was used by homosexual activists in the 1970s when same-sex attractions were removed from the APA’s list of disorders. Eventually, the legalization of “gay marriage,” the mandatory homosexuality lessons in public schools and the policy of allowing open homosexuality in the U.S. military resulted.

“Dr. John Sadler (University of Texas) argued that diagnostic criteria for mental disorders should not be based on concepts of vice since such concepts are subject to shifting social attitudes and doing so diverts mental-health professions from their role as healers,” the B4U-ACT organization said in a report about its symposium in Baltimore.

Another celebrity was Fred Berlin of Johns Hopkins who argued in favor of “acceptance of and compassion for people who are attracted to minors,” the report continued.

The report pointedly referred to “minor-attracted people” in reference to pedophiles and explained that the concerns can be resolved with “accurate information.” Richard Kramer, who represented B4U-ACT at the event, contended listing pedophilia as a disorder stigmatizes the “victims” of the lifestyle choice.

According to Barber, conference speakers said the Diagnostic Manual should “focus on the needs” of the pedophile and should have “a minimal focus on social control” rather than a focus on the “need to protect children.”

Barber, an ardent advocate for Judeo-Christian values and the traditional family, told WND the symposium was “the North American Man-Boy Love Association all dolled up and dressed in the credible language of the elitist Ph.Ds.”

NAMBLA openly advocates the legalization of sex between adults and children.

“This is a bunch of morally relative, highly educated people in the mental health community who are trying to achieve the ultimate in tolerance,” Barber said. “These are the people who are the disciples of Alfred Kinsey.”

It was in the 1940s and 1950s that sex “researcher” Kinsey published his writings ridiculing marriage, fidelity and chastity and preaching widespread sexual experimentation. But according to Reisman’s research, in “Sexual Sabotage,” Kinsey’s “research” was compiled from information frequently obtained from jailed sex offenders and then portrayed as coming from middle-class America.

Barber said the symposium themes became clear quickly:

Pedophiles are unfairly “demonized” in society.

The concept of “wrong” should not be applied to “minor-attracted persons.”

“Children are not inherently unable to consent” to sex with an adult.

“An adult’s desire to have sex with children is ‘normative.'” And the Diagnostic Manual “ignores that pedophiles ‘have feelings of love and romance for children’ the same way adult heterosexuals have for each other.”

Barber noted that self-described “gay activist” and speaker Jacob Breslow said it is proper for children to be “the object of our attraction.” Breslow said pedophiles shouldn’t need to get consent from a child to have sex any more than they would get consent from a shoe to wear it, according to Barber.

Berlin previously reported that 67 percent of pedophiles and child molesters relapse after being treated for the disorder. But the few who didn’t were tracked for a period of only two years, and any recidivism after that was unreported. And Reisman noted that even his success “stories” are anonymous and “wholly unverified.”

In a related commentary on WND, Reisman said, “The APA path to pedophile norms follows the success of the homosexual anarchy campaign. Arguably, the pedophile media lobby directed the passionate boy-boy kisses on the TV series ‘Glee,’ to enable fellow ‘minor-attracted persons’ to increasingly be seen as a boy’s sex ‘friend.’

“B4U-ACT claims to ‘help mental health professionals learn more about attraction to minors and to consider the effects of stereotyping, stigma, and fear.’ While the group claimed they want to teach pedophiles ‘how to live life fully and stay within the law,’ no one suggested how to stop their child lust or molestation,” she wrote.

However, in 2010, when Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a senior Vatican official, linked homosexuality to child sexual abuse, Cantor rejected the claim that there is any link between homosexuality and pedophilia.

“It’s quite solidly shown in the scientific literature that there is absolutely no association between being a gay man and being a pedophile,” he told CNN.

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Demography is destiny. That is why Saudi Arabia and Qatar have established billion-dollar funds to provide financial support for every child born in Europe to a Muslim parent. The money is available through mosque charities.

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Clitbait: 10 things you didn't know about the clitoris

On Saturday night, Alli Sebastian Wolf delivered a sex-ed lesson in one of the world’s most famous performance venues. The Australian artist was pulled on to the stage of the Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall at the request of the musician Amanda Palmer, who had seen Wolf’s recent piece “Glitoris” online.

It’s much as it sounds: a giant, sparkling clitoris, a 100:1 scale model of the real thing, covered in intricate, sequinned “nerves” so that it lights up the room “like a divine disco ball”, says Wolf.

Palmer said it was the most effective artwork in the fight against fascism she’d ever seen. Wolf will settle for a world with equality on toilet walls, where there are as many clitorises graffitied as penises.

She’s motivated by how little is known about the clitoris, even by those who have one themselves or interact with them regularly. “Sex ed was, ‘These are the ovaries, this is a penis, don’t get herpes, off you go’,” says Wolf.

This is a 3D model of a clitoris – and the start of a sexual revolution Minna Salami Read more “It’s really interesting to me just how few people know about how the clitoris works, or what it looks like. I personally didn’t know until I was in my mid-20s, which seems like just such a shame.”

With Glitoris, she wanted to create “something fun and fabulous ... [and] really pleasurable to engage with – not a static artwork or an anatomy lesson, but something where people could come have a bit of a fondle and enjoy the sparkly colours”.

Hooked into the foyer of the Sydney Opera House, she said, it seemed to do the trick: “Everyone wanted to give it a bit of a hug.”

And now that the giant, golden clitoris has got your attention, here are 10 facts Wolf wants you to know.

A clitoris is like an iceberg

Mostly invisible below the surface, wrapping around the vaginal tunnel and extending out towards the thighs. “The part that we’re seeing and feeling is just this tiny little glans that creates the head of the clitoris,” says Wolf. “From there, all this fabulous magical stuff is happening beneath the surface.”

2. There are more than 8,000 nerve endings in the tip of the clitoris alone – double the number of those in a penis A clitoris is made up of 18 distinct parts – a mixture of erectile tissue, muscle and nerves. “All those little pieces are working together to create the amazing sensations that anyone with a clitoris feels when they’re having orgasms.”

The actual vaginal tunnel has almost no sensation at all – giving birth through something as sensitive as a clitoris would be “excruciating”, says Wolf.

3. They can swell as much as 300% when engorged Clitorises range from 7-12 cm in length and swell by 50 to 300% when engorged when aroused. It’s not “a zero to 100 situation”, says Wolf, but as you draw closer to orgasm, it increases in size.

When at rest, the “arms”, or corpora cavernosa, of the clitoris’ body extend straight out towards your thighs. When you’re aroused, they curl around “and give your internal body a little bit of a hug”.

4. G-spot and penetrative orgasms are clitoral Both stimulate internal parts of the clitoris. “You can come from these different places that are all using the clitoris but using it in different ways,” says Wolf.

Understanding has been frustrated by historical heteronormative studies of the female anatomy that assumed stimulation by a penis was necessary to orgasm; Wolf blames Freud.

It was only in 2009 that a small team of French researchers carried out the first sonographic mapping of an erect clitoris, even though the technology to do so had existed for years.

5. ‘Clit’ is relatively recent terminology The first recorded use of the word “clit” was in America in the 1950s.

“Clitoris” dates back to the 17th century and could derive from words for “sheath”, “key” or “latch”, or “to touch or tickle”, says Wolf.

6. It is the only known body part with the sole purpose of pleasure ... But one in 10 women has never had an orgasm – and most, at some point, will have “a hard time” reaching orgasm with a partner, says Wolf.

She blames a “culture of shame” surrounding female sexuality that suppresses scientific research and personal exploration.

7. ... But it has not always been just a good time Throughout history, doctors have advocated for the removal of the clitoris to cure mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia, or “this pesky problem of women ‘unnaturally’ desiring sex”, says Wolf.

In ancient Greece, lesbians or women who actively desired sex were often considered witches, “despite the fact that your husband could have 16 lovers, and be off at the bath houses with young men”.

And in medieval times, it was referred to as “the devil’s teat”, through which the devil could suck your soul. “The witch trials are a great example of the war against women, which hasn’t really stopped.”

8. The clitoris can form a penis – and vice versa In some forms of gender confirmation surgery, the clitoris can be enlarged with hormones to form a penis. In other cases, the penile glans can be reduced in size and relocated to create a clitoris.

The first MRI scan out in 2009 was carried out by Dr Odile Buisson and Dr Pierre Foldès partly to aid in understanding of how to treat female genital mutilation.

9. It is the only part of the human body that never ages

Australia's first female genital mutilation trial: how a bright young girl convinced a jury Read more An 80-year-old clit looks and works the same as a 20-year-old one. But it does keep growing – it could be 2.5 times as big in your 90s as it was in your teen years.

“They’re weird, fabulous little creatures,” says Wolf happily. (Your nose also continues to grow past the point you reach your maximum height.)

10. Every clit is unique They come in different shapes and colours, from pale pink to black. “As varied as your face,” she says. “If you look at a picture of a swath of vaginas – I’ve never seen two that look similar.”

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The best investment a rich man can do, is one into destruction. Destruction of the surrounding world, near and far, makes his wealth more valuable.

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It is the secret dream of every Swedish or German woman to marry a black men, or at least have sex with a black man. Every smart young African man should migrate to Europe. Free money, nice house, good sex!

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Blogger 'not welcome' here: Canadian mayors tell Roosh V

The mayors of several major Canadian cities are adding their voice to the growing backlash against a controversial American blogger who’s behind a series of men’s meetups planned for this weekend.

The so-called “pick-up artist” Daryush Valizadeh, known online as “Roosh V,” also runs the website Return of Kings, which is described as a forum for “heterosexual, masculine men.”

An international Return of Kings meetup day is scheduled to take place in 43 countries around the globe, including 10 Canadian cities, on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson took to Twitter to publically tell Return of Kings supporters that their “pro-rape, misogynistic, homophobic garbage is not welcome in Ottawa.”

Watson is also asking venues in the city to deny renting space to the group to hold the meetup.

A number of other Canadian mayors quickly followed suit and decried the meetings.

Watson is also asking venues in the city to deny renting space to the group to hold the meetup.

A number of other Canadian mayors quickly followed suit and decried the meetings.

The Canadian meetings are apparently scheduled for Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Surrey, B.C, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg and Windsor.

Tenets of the “neomasculinity” beliefs promoted on the blog include the notion that a woman’s value depends on her fertility and beauty. Among some of Valizadeh’s most controversial writings includes a blog post where he wrote that rape should be “made legal on private property.”

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If you are still invested in the real estate of European cities, get out! A terrorist attack with chemical weapons will happen. And it won't be just one. Chemical weapons are just so easy to produce.

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The "Vagina Whisperer" Will See You Now

As far as publicity stunts go, the “first ever designer vagina showcase” was pretty damn effective. Timed to coincide with the spectacular runway parades that mark New York Fashion Week, the event was Dr. Amir Marashi’s chance to show the world what he can do: With a little slicing and suturing, he can give you the vagina of your dreams.

Inside the sprawling midtown conference room where the “show” would take place, sparkling rosé and cupcakes were served. Guests were greeted by a perfectly taut, hair-free, millennial pink silicone vagina model, which Dr. Marashi then used to explain the slate of procedures on offer during his powerpoint presentation of before-and-after vulva shots. There were the uneven labia minora that he’s trimmed (click), aging labia majora that he’s plumped (click), lax vaginal openings that he’s tightened (click), and those were just the surgical options. If you don’t like the idea of anesthesia, he can plump your lips with fillers, inject your G-spot with your own blood plasma to improve orgasms, or stick a laser wand inside you to painlessly tighten things up. If you didn’t walk into the showcase thinking your vagina was defective, you likely walked out of there worried over just how many ways it could be flawed.

For his part, Dr. Marashi, the self-described “vagina whisperer,” walked out with a lot of press. Yes, the concept was vulgar, but it got the job done: Over the next few days, there were articles in the New York Post, Jezebel and The Sun. He’s since been interviewed by Z100 and The Daily Mail, and outlets are becoming increasingly happy to add “vagina whisperer” to his other title, board-certified Ob/Gyn, as if it’s an actual qualification. All of this is why, two months after the showcase, I find myself in scrubs in a nondescript surgical center in Downtown Brooklyn waiting for Dr. Marashi to lead me through an up-close look at what this is all about. Yep, I’m about to observe a designer vagina surgery IRL, and it’s almost curtain time.

In the operating room, he’s telling me about how important it is to find a doctor who does these surgeries regularly. “This is why I do revisions a lot,” he says, in his slight Persian accent. “People think somebody is on Park Avenue so they’re good, but they might not do these over and over again.” He says he does these procedures three days a week, and has probably done more than 700 by now.

Dr. Marashi’s patient for today is lying on the operating table, knocked out, intubated, and covered by a sheet. She’s a 48-year-old mother of four who says she can feel nothing during sex. A nurse and surgical technician have just positioned the patient’s legs in stirrups, wrapping each one up in a sheet, so only her vulva remains exposed. Dr. Marashi is explaining that these cosmetic surgeries only make up half of his practice; he spends the rest of the time doing laparoscopic surgeries for pelvic pain related to endometriosis and fibroids. For those surgeries, “we listen to Enrique,” he says, and I assume he means Iglesias, but I don’t ask because he’s moving so quickly. “For vaginoplasties and labiaplasties, I want to get the right side of my brain to work, the more creative side. So I listen to Frank Sinatra.”

“Can we turn up the music?” Dr. Marashi asks with a wink, and “My Way” comes over the speaker. It’s a fitting song for a man who would later tell me he started doing cosmetic surgery because he likes to be “outside the box.”

Dr. Marashi sits down on his stool in between the patient’s legs and snaps a “before” pic on his iPhone. He slips on a pair of gloves and enters full doctor mode as he signals me to come take a look. Her vagina looks just as expected. But then Dr. Marashi spreads her lips, revealing a startling laxity and — "What’s that?" I ask, about the round, meaty tissue bulging down from the top of her vagina. “That’s the bladder,” he says. More importantly, though, is that her perineal body, the muscle tissue that separates the vagina from the rectum, is completely flaccid. He sticks a finger in her anus and pushes up to show me how weak and sponge-y it is, and how this creates a drooping of the vaginal opening into the woman’s butt. This is what creates the lack of sensation, he explains. The vaginal opening should hug two fingers, and it should be much higher.

“This is a patient who has had four vaginal deliveries,” he says. Her kids are aged 19 to 27, and she hasn’t enjoyed sex for a long time. Her first husband left her, and she blames her inability to grip his penis during sex as one of the reasons. But she’s in a new relationship now and she doesn’t want to put up with it anymore. (At least, that is what Dr. Marashi tells me. The patient declined to speak to me directly.) “She didn’t take care of it sooner because of the taboo that’s with it, or maybe she didn’t have the money, you know all these things that get in people’s way.”

The “taboo” that Dr. Marashi refers to is very real. Between 2010 and 2016, the United States saw a more than 100% increase in labiaplasties, a surgery to trim the inner or outer labia. No one is tracking the number of cosmetic vaginoplasty procedures, also referred to as “vaginal rejuvenation,” because the practice is too new, but experts estimate a similar increase in demand thanks to new non-surgical options and greater public awareness. (Kourtney and Kim Kardashian have both reportedly been “rejuvenated” via the new non-surgical laser options.) A lot of this rise has coincided with a surge in social media, reality TV, and endless amounts of free porn, which has, in turn, been blamed for creating an impossible standard of beauty for female genitalia — as if women needed yet another standard to measure themselves against, another reason to hate their bodies.

"Is this really what women want? Or is this really a form of new-age ‘circumcision’ based on an obsession with Barbie doll looks?," asked a scathing 2012 editorial in Obstetrics & Gynecology. A Jezebel article on Dr. Marashi’s vagina showcase described people who choose labiaplasty as women with minds “warped” by the porn industry. That’s what critics have said, and that’s exactly what I was thinking, walking in. But now that I’m witnessing the surgery, it’s not clear that assessment is fair.

Dr. Marashi uses a blue marker to map out where he will cut. Once he’s done that, Charles, the surgical tech, clamps her vagina open, and Dr. Marashi begins to cut away a diamond-shaped chunk of muscle and skin from the bottom of her vaginal opening. Then comes the most important cut: a deep crevasse into the perineal body.

“It’s really important to take your time and dissect this very meticulously, because behind here is the rectum,” and any crossover could lead to a dangerous infection, he says. Dr. Marashi then sews multiple rows of sutures into the perineal body, starting from further inside of her vagina until he gets to the outside, where he finishes with a row of stitches up from her anus to the new, lifted bottom of her vaginal opening.

“Remember in the beginning how close the vagina and the anus were together? You're gonna see in the end how far apart it’s gonna be,” he says.

In the end, I do see how much higher the vagina is. The hour-long process reminds me of a slower version of that magical strapless, backless bra Amber Rose has been advertising on Instagram: It’s as if he just threaded it all, and pulled the strings tight so that the whole vagina is miraculously lifted an inch higher. The final stitches are the tying of the bow that holds it all in place.

If I had to choose a vagina for myself, I’d pick this one over the one she had before. This makes me feel really bad, until I remember that there are also the anatomical realities here: Sewing it all back together with multiple layers of sutures is not just for aesthetics; this is a repair job for that muscle. This repair will also create a lift in the bladder that may even help alleviate stress incontinence, not to mention making penetrative sex feel good again for her partner, yes, but also for her.

It’s hard to square all that with the way Dr. Marashi has marketed himself, and indeed the way the entire, fast-growing crop of “cosmetic gynecologists” have marketed this burgeoning industry, as though this is just about having pretty, youthful genitalia. In the operating room, it’s clear that selling this the way women were sold facelifts, Botox, or even breast lifts is not quite right. Having sagging breasts and wrinkles may not make you feel so great about yourself (especially in our youth-obsessed culture), but those things don’t make sex physically impossible to enjoy. And they have nothing to do with a problem as distressing as incontinence.

To hear Dr. Marashi describe it while he’s actually doing the procedure, women choose this surgery mostly for functional reasons: to make sex better, the way it was before they had a baby or three, and to stop peeing their pants (even just a little bit) when they sneeze or lift weights. So, why on earth is the best way Dr. Marashi can think to market himself a grotesque showcase that frames everything in terms of how the vagina looks? More importantly: Why is this woman paying out-of-pocket for a one-time tune-up for her perineal body, when her partner could easily get insurance to cover his lifetime supply of Viagra?

To even begin to answer these questions, you have to understand where “cosmetic gynecology” came from in the first place. Plastic surgery — cosmetic gynecology’s closest cousin — has always been controversial, but it has also always been a mixture of reconstructive surgeries (like implants after breast cancer) and elective surgeries (like breast lifts or implants simply because you want them).

Cosmetic gynecology seems to be a similar mixture — but thanks to a toxic combination of entrenched sexism and continued dismissal of women’s sexual concerns, even the reconstructive procedures are still deemed frivolous, unscientific, and ironically, misogynistic.

The truth is that gynecologists have always done vaginoplasties and labiaplasties, but historically they would only do them for women with “true” medical problems, such as uterine prolapse (when the pelvic muscles collapse completely and the uterus descends into the vagina) or labial hypertrophy, which is when the labia minora or majora are extremely long or uneven. Outside of that, most doctors deemed them unnecessary, says Marco Pelosi, III, MD, a pioneer in the field. “There has always been a chasm between what doctors consider a problem and what women consider a problem when it comes to their sex lives,” he says.

Variations in labia length are totally normal, as any gynecologist or even anyone who watches porn regularly, can tell you. And while, say, painful sex or prolapse are “real” medical issues, constant irritation caused by your long labia or even a change in sensation after childbirth are not, according to traditional medicine, Dr. Pelosi explains. So for years, the procedures remained unpopular thanks to low awareness and low interest among women, as well as low adoption among qualified physicians.

Then, Sex And The City happened. Brazilian waxes became very popular — and baldness meant better opportunities for women to actually look at (and, yes, scrutinize) the physical characteristics of their vulvas.

In a post-Samantha Jones world, the gates opened: Women were much less shy about openly complaining to their doctors about their sexual dissatisfaction. And when their doctors didn’t listen, they found another doctor. All of a sudden, women had gotten the message that they deserve pleasurable sex. This created a huge opening for the few doctors who did offer these vagina alteration services to grow their businesses.

On the East Coast, Dr. Pelosi (along with his father Marco Pelosi, II, MD) — who had been offering elective vagina procedures since the ‘90s — began training surgeons in Bayonne, New Jersey. Eventually, due to demand, the father-son duo founded the International Society of Cosmetogynecology in 2004; they were the first to coin the phrase “cosmetic gynecology.”

Meanwhile, in Beverly Hills, Dr. David Matlock had trademarked the term “laser vaginal rejuvenation” and started a franchise business where he performed surgeries and, for a hefty fee, trained other doctors in his procedure. This allowed doctors to use the term to market the procedure, which is essentially a slightly modified version of vaginoplasty, the same way he did. This being L.A., Dr. Matlock also managed to swing an appearance on an episode of the E! network’s Dr. 90210 in 2006, giving "laser vaginal rejuvenation" its first national spotlight.

Soon, as a workaround to Dr. Matlock’s hefty fee, other doctors just dropped the “laser” and started calling it simply “vaginal rejuvenation.” This prompted the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG) to issue a scathing committee opinion in 2007 deeming the marketing practices and franchising surrounding the term “troubling” and the procedures “not medically necessary.”

But warnings from ACOG didn't do much to stem the rising tide of demand. As the rise of social media and Dr. Google continued, labiaplasty alone started to explode in popularity, experiencing a 44% increase between 2012 and 2013 (the first period for which data was tracked). Dr. Matlock only grew more famous — and not necessarily in a good way. He went on The Doctors with his wife Veronica, who got a vaginoplasty, labiaplasty, and “pubic liposculpting” from her husband. And who can forget when Brandi Glanville, the Real Housewife, infamously charged her vaginoplasty to her cheating ex, Eddie Cibrian’s, credit card? Dr. Matlock was her doctor.

Soon, there were myriad non-surgical options for “enhancements,” each one more bizarre than the next. There were liposculpting and fillers for your vulva, followed by g-spot injections (which would supposedly improve orgasms), and targeted skin lightening treatments that would change the shade of a vulva to Carnation Pink. In hindsight, the vajazzling phenomenon — the iconic ‘00s trend of adorning your waxed pubic area with rhinestones — seems inevitable. And while it’s easy to roundly mock all the upgrades and accoutrements, the thing is, the vulva was having a moment, one that no one seemed to notice except to mock.

Most recently came the big innovation (and the big money-maker): lasers and radiofrequency devices that use thermal energy to tighten the vagina. FemiLift, the machine Dr. Marashi uses, came first in 2013. Then MonaLisa arrived in 2014. Both machines are FDA-approved for “vaginal laser ablation” to induce the growth of collagen in the vaginal walls. This is said to not only tighten and lift the vagina, but also to improve the health of the mucosal lining, making lubrication easier. Another side effect: The lifting may help some with stress incontinence, and in some cases may even shorten labia. Other machines that use thermal energy technology to the same effect: ThermiVa, Diva, IntimaLas, and more.

No doubt the ease in getting non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation has coincided with the huge increase in demand. According to data from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), more than 10,000 labiaplasties were performed by plastic surgeons in 2016, a 23% increase just from 2015. Now more than 35% of plastic surgeons offer the procedure, compared to 0% in 1997 when the society started their surveys. But the full breadth of designer vagina procedures remains a mystery, since nobody is tracking the variety of procedures that fall under the term vaginal rejuvenation, nor the number of doctors performing them, according to a spokesperson at ASAPS.

Because a laser treatment or an injection requires no anesthesia or downtime — all it takes is a series of in-office visits that amounts to having a laser wand inserted into your vagina — “it became a gateway,” Dr. Pelosi says. “Once you have a nonsurgical way to address some of the needs, it becomes way easier to do. It’s like Botox. Now everyone does Botox.”

Sandra*, a 31-year-old mother of one, has spent the past five years since the birth of her daughter yearning for her pre-baby vagina. Before she gave birth, sex was great. Now it’s lackluster. It wasn’t until she started Googling her symptoms and found her way to Dr. Marashi’s website that she realized there was a single thing she could do about it.

“After you have a baby, everything changes,” she says. “I realized during sex I wouldn’t stay as wet, and it just felt different. Also there were the urination issues, too.”

“This is definitely going to help a little bit with that,” Dr. Marashi says, handing her a pair of protective glasses. She’s laying on her back with her feet in stirrups and a paper gown over her lower body, ready for her second of three treatments with Dr. Marashi’s FemiLift machine. This time, he has outfitted me in a white coat to serve as his assistant while observing Sandra’s procedure.

It’s hard to say exactly how common Sandra’s situation is, but any mom (or any doctor) can tell you that it’s pretty prevalent. We all know that childbirth changes things. Another thing we can say for sure: A full third of women who have given birth vaginally have some damage to the muscles responsible for vaginal tightness. Vaginal delivery is the strongest predictor of developing a pelvic floor disorder, such as uterine prolapse, rectocele (when the rectum bulges into the vagina), or cystocele (when the bladder bulges into the vagina). The feeling of “looseness” that so many women come to plastic surgeons and cosmetic gynecologists to fix may actually be one of the earliest precursors to true prolapse, per a 2014 study in Surgical Technology International.

The treatment takes 10 minutes, tops. We all put on our protective glasses. Dr. Marashi replaces the glass cover on the probe, which looks like a clear dildo with a mirror on the tip to direct the searing light, with the one Sandra had to purchase. Each patient must bring her own personal probe cover ($150, not covered by insurance) with her to appointments.

Next, he inserts the probe, attached to a long bending metal arm that is connected to a machine. He steps on a pedal while simultaneously pushing the probe in and out and twisting the probe around inside of her. Every time Dr. Marashi presses the floor pedal, the laser is turned on and the mirror directs it to burn 81 tiny holes into the lining of the vagina. With the twisting and maneuvering, what you end up with is thousands of tiny holes, which draws a lot of healing blood flow to the area and promotes the growth of collagen, making the skin more taut. Industry-sponsored studies have also shown that it makes the vaginal lining thicker, which is why lubrication is easier. This is repeated three times at increasing levels of intensity. As his assistant, I press the button when he tells me to, to ramp up the intensity.

Afterward, Sandra says that it didn’t hurt at all — just a bit of tingling and burning toward the end. But it was hard not to notice the grimace on her face when the laser was all the way turned up.

Even just after the first treatment, she already feels some difference: “Sex is amazing,” she says. “It’s much better.” And now after this go-round with the laser, she should feel 70% of the potential effects; she can have sex after just two days of healing. In another 4 to 6 weeks, she’ll come in for a third appointment, and that’s when she will really see how amazing this treatment is, Dr. Marashi promises.

But it’s unclear how “amazing” the treatment really is in general. The machines are FDA-approved, which means they are safe to use. Many of the studies on the non-surgical options show positive results as far as improving lubrication and stress incontinence, but the studies are small, with only short-term follow-up. There is also not a lot of high-quality data on how well the machines work for improving vaginal laxity or sexual satisfaction. In practice, the experts I interviewed said although women can expect some result, it can vary widely depending on the particular patient and how experienced the person doing the procedure is — which is risky considering the cost ranges from $1,200 to $4,000 depending on the device.

The same can be said of the actual surgeries, in part due to the same reason there aren’t statistics on vaginal rejuvenation surgery: It’s still an ever-evolving term, and it can mean different things to different doctors. One 2012 paper from The American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery says it’s difficult to study whether vaginal rejuvenation surgery “necessarily, usually, or reliably” improves sex because surgeons don’t want to share their surgical techniques (this is why ACOG hates the trademark model; when surgical techniques are “owned” by a doctor, they become hard to evaluate independently), and the outcome measurements are fickle (it’s difficult to reliably measure sexual satisfaction).

Otherwise, a few smaller studies have been conducted on specific techniques: One 2016 Turkish study of 68 women who chose surgery after complaining of vaginal laxity found that 88% said they were satisfied with the results after 6 months. There were no serious complications, except that 10% of patients reported pain during sex at follow-up. Another 2014 study conducted in Iran followed 76 women for 18 months following an elective vaginal surgery to address sexual complaints. At six months, researchers found that sexual satisfaction increased on average a few points on a validated sexual function questionnaire, but that painful sex and dryness had also increased. By 18 months, though, sexual function scores increased significantly, while the pain and dryness issues disappeared. These results are promising, but again the studies are too small to be certain, and results can vary based on minute changes to the surgical technique.

Still, many women swear there are completely valid reasons for these procedures — that their lives are changed for the better because of them, even for the procedures that seem totally about looks, like labiaplasty. “Absolutely love this doctor. He is very respectful and listens to what you have to say and doesn't give you the run-around,” reads one of the many breathless Zocdoc reviews for Dr. Marashi. “He performed a labiaplasty due to an accident I had a few years back and omg it looks sooo good like as if the accident never happened.” Katina Morrell, 41, another of Dr. Marashi’s patients, tells me she got a labiaplasty because her long labia made working out uncomfortable.

Jennifer Walden, MD, a plastic surgeon based in Austin, TX, who does “a high volume of labiaplasties and vaginoplasties,” was among the first wave of doctors to see the potential value of the laser machines. She also happens to be a woman, the mother of twins, and to have tried two of the procedures herself: ThermiVa and Diva. As a practitioner, she describes vaginal rejuvenation procedures as “absolutely, the opposite of misogynistic.” As a patient she describes the results as simply “awesome.”

Before the laser machines hit the market, there was nothing to offer women with sexual complaints other than surgery, which, unless they had a severe injury, could cost up to $12,000. There was no treatment for mild or moderate stress incontinence, outside of the “disastrous” vaginal mesh surgeries that were only worth doing for the worst of cases and medications that hardly work, she says. There was also nothing outside of estrogen creams (which are too dangerous for some women with a history of breast cancer or heart disease) to solve dryness or other lubrication issues. The laser procedures can still be pricey, and they don’t work as well as surgery. Also: the effects may only last for about a year, but still, it’s something, Dr. Walden says.

“Within the past 5 years, we’ve seen a sort of a-ha moment happening for women. It’s become okay for women to talk about their labia and their vagina with their doctors. It’s become okay for women to finally talk about sex and the real issues they’re having,” she says. “And, at the same time, we’ve finally had something to offer them.”

Yet the conundrum persists: Why then, on God’s green earth, is “vaginal rejuvenation” marketed as a frivolous lifestyle choice, instead of a possible treatment for a legitimate problem?

Well, partly it’s that the majority of pioneers in this field are men, and so the desire and need for these treatments is framed from their perspective — ah, the male gaze at work. Add to that the general cultural tendency to code all things female as frivolous and vain and to reduce women to their looks, alongside our inability to talk openly about female sexual pleasure, and it makes more sense.

It is the marketing of the treatment — not the treatment itself — that risks preying on women’s insecurities, and it would be a mistake to ignore the ugly fact that though vaginal rejuvenation is a positive for some (maybe even many) it does create a perception that there is a perfect-looking, or even a perfect-working, vagina out there, and no, you don’t have it.

In my time with Dr. Marashi, there was a 43-year-old mom of two who learned about Dr. Marashi’s Femilift procedure from Groupon, who had no sexual or urinary complaints. She seemed most attracted to the idea of being 18 again.

Then there was the second vaginoplasty I observed on surgery day. It was identical to the first, technically, except that the next patient was much younger, a mother of one, who was in a new relationship with a man who is “small,” Dr. Marashi explained. Her perineal body wasn’t nearly as damaged, and she had no visible signs of bladder prolapse. The idea that she did it for her partner made me sad, and before I could ask Dr. Marashi his thoughts he said: “Honestly she could have gotten away with this. I told her she could wait. But she said no, she doesn’t want to have any more children, and she’s with this new guy. So that’s her reasoning.”

In that moment, all over again, I was reminded of the critics who say this whole thing is just a gold rush of money-hungry, often male doctors willing to pathologize normal biology in service of making the vagina the final frontier in plastic surgery. That all this boils down to is a sanctioned form of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), just another way to reduce women’s bodies to mere objects for male pleasure.

Dr. Marashi doesn’t go that far. But he does admit that, a lot of the time, these procedures are a simple matter of want, not need. “So many times I get a patient and I’m like, 'Look, you don’t need anything to be done.' Now it’s a different story if they say, 'I want to do this.' I figure out why, and if they are good candidate, I say 'Okay, I’ll do it for you,'” he says. “At the end of the day, if I don’t do that procedure, someone else will do it, and I know I will do a better job.”

He doesn’t see the harm in doing what they want as long as he screens patients appropriately: He always looks for signs of body dysmorphia or partner pressure, of course. But in his view, the procedures are no more risky than other elective surgeries, and he’s personally seen the benefits in his patients for himself.

Still, wouldn’t it be better to explain to these women that, for example, it’s totally normal for their labia to be a bit longer? When Dr. Marashi is pressed on this, he launches into a diatribe about how a woman, not a doctor, should be making the decisions about what she does or does not deem a problem or a symptom for her body and her life. “I tell my patients: 'All vaginas, all labias, they’re all beautiful in their own way,'” he says. “I always tell people, ‘Do not ever do this for anybody else. You own your vagina.’”

As right as he is about that, it’s impossible to completely untangle the desire for these procedures from the pressures women face simply being alive in a youth- and beauty-obsessed culture. What’s also impossible to ignore, though, is that women’s sexual function has never gotten the same amount of research — or respect — as men's.

So perhaps in the end, Dr. Marashi is neither villain nor hero — he is but an emissary. Make what you will of his misguided self-promotion methods. But he has also devoted his life’s work to studying and addressing a facet of women’s lives that — until now — most of medicine has refused to acknowledge even exists. If that makes him a “vagina whisperer,” then so be it.

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Most European women have gang rape fantasies, because their vaginas are so big that there is space for two or more dicks.

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