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Abigail Mary Allen and James Allen (The Female Husband); a hand-coloured etching and aquatint by Thomas Howell Jones (c1829). Courtesy the National Portrait Gallery, London

Essay/
History
Female husbands

Far from being a recent or 21st-century phenomenon, people have chosen, courageously, to trans gender throughout history

Jen Manion

Erotic scene from the Persian Safavid period c1660. Photo courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Essay/
Sex and sexuality
Islamic sexology

Popular stereotypes of Islam as a prudish religion ignore rich traditions of freewheeling, explicit erotica and advice

Mark Hay

Five O’Clock. Plate VII from the series Intimacies (1898), by Félix Edouard Vallotton. Courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago

Essay/
Love and friendship
The joy of intimacy

A polyamorous friend challenges me: are you really happily monogamous or are you just hung up about your philandering dad?

Lily Dunn

Erotic ‘Spring Picture’, Ming Dynasty, 16th century, China, artist unknown. Courtesy Wikimedia

Essay/
Sex and sexuality
Anti-climax

Coitus reservatus is an ancient technique promising bliss and longevity. Does orgasm data back up these tantric ideas?

Peter von Ziegesar

Margaret Mead photographed at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, 1930. Photo by Irving Browning/The New York Historical Society/Getty

Essay/
Anthropology
The meaning of Margaret Mead

Mead argued that non-Western cultures offered alternative (often better) ways to be human. Why was she so vilified for it?

Sam Dresser

Photo by Ante Badzim/Getty

Essay/
Sex and sexuality
Being asexual

What is it like to feel love and share physical intimacy yet feel no sexual attraction to the person you are with?

Natasha McKeever & Luke Brunning

Study in Orange (1904), by René Le Bègue. Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933. Courtesy the MET Museum, New York

Essay/
Stories and literature
Eros at play

Why the ancient erotic poems of Sappho and Wallada bint al-Mustakfi are far more stimulating than modern pornography

Jamie Mackay

Actor Mark Rylance in the all-male production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in New York. Photo by Walter McBride/Getty

Essay/
Stories and literature
Queering Shakespeare

So many arguments are given against Shakespeare being gay – yet his sonnets contain their own message, that love is love

Sandra Newman

Photo by Terry Vine/Getty

Essay/
Philosophy of language
Sex talks

The language of sexual negotiation must go far beyond ‘consent’ and ‘refusal’ if we are to foster ethical, autonomous sex

Rebecca Kukla

Red light district, Antwerp, 1993. Photo by Harry Gruyaert/Magnum

Essay/
Gender
Prostitution is slavery

The free-market arguments won’t wash: prostitution trades on the lives of the poor and marginalised – just like slavery

Julie Bindel

Detail from a 1926 Soviet poster ‘Emancipated women – Build Socialism!’ Photo by Getty

Essay/
Sex and sexuality
The revolutionary sex

For one shining moment, being a Russian woman meant sexual freedom and radical equality. Never seen before – or since

Paula Erizanu

Azuma Hikari, the virtual home robot from Gatebox. Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg/Getty

Essay/
Love and friendship
Embracing the robot

Robot relationships need not be kinky, exploitative or fake. In fact they might give human relationships a helpful boost

John Danaher

From Decretum Gratiani with the commentary of Bartolomeo da Brescia, Italy, 1340-1345. Lyon, BM, Ms 5128, fol 100r. Photo courtesy Discarding Images

Essay/
History
The salacious Middle Ages

Medieval people feared death by celibacy as much as venereal disease, and practiced complex sexual health regimens

Katherine Harvey

Photo by Timothy Shonnard/Getty

Essay/
Sex and sexuality
Afterglow

The intensity of orgasm is sublime, but the gentle love cocktail that follows is what helps relationships to endure

Tove K Danovich

The Ain Sakhri lovers figurine. This is the oldest known representation of sexual intercourse in the world, dated c10,000 BCE. Photo courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum

Essay/
Human evolution
Sex makes babies

As far as we can tell, no other animal knows this. Did our understanding of baby-making change the course of human history?

Holly Dunsworth & Anne Buchanan