Sex and sexuality


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Photo by Redux/eyevine

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Sex and sexuality
Kept women

Mistresses are big business in China, where no official is a real man without his own ernai. What’s in it for the girls?

James Palmer

Photo by Ulrich Lebeuf / M.Y.O.P/ Eyevine

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Sex and sexuality
Pornucopia

Critics say that porn degrades women, dulls sexual pleasure, and ruins authentic relationships – are they right?

Maria Konnikova

Photo by Antoine d'Agata/MagnumPhotos

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Pleasure and pain
The orgasm cure

What if we could expand ecstasy, reduce stress and lift depression, all by delaying and extending orgasm?

Peter von Ziegesar

Photo by Ozgur Albayrak/Gallery Stock

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Gender
Male escorts

Is the growing market for male escorts a sign of female sexual liberation or just a re-run of the same old stereotypes?

Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

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

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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 Terry Vine/Getty

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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

French actor Alain Delon  and Italian actress Claudia Cardinale during a scene from The Centurions 1965. Photo by George Rodger/Magnum

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Evolution
Stone-age sex

When it comes to sex, will humans ever be liberated from the basic biological needs that drove our evolutionary past?

Neil McArthur

Sexbot Roxxxy can take on preprogrammed personas, such as ‘Mature Martha’, ‘Young Yoko’ or ‘Frigid Farrah’. Photo courtesy truecompanion.com

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Sexbot slaves

Thanks to new technology, sex toys are becoming tools for connection – but will sexbots reverse that trend?

Leah Reich

Photo by Timothy Shonnard/Getty

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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

From The Secret Companion  by R J Brodie London, 1845. Photo by Wellcome Images

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Virtues and vices
A handy history

Condemned, celebrated, shunned: masturbation has long been an uncomfortable fact of life. Why?

Barry Reay

In dreams; a beach-roamer, Germany, 1933. Photo by Herbert List/Magnum Photos

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Sex and sexuality
How sex rules our dreams

Gritty, emotional, smelly and dirty: new evidence supports Freud’s long-debunked theory that sex fuels our dreams

Patrick McNamara

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

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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

Counterintuitive as it sounds, extra testosterone can suppress sperm-cell production. Photo by Dennis Kunkel Microscopy/Corbis

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Human reproduction
Where’s the male Pill?

Many promising male contraceptives are in development, but none have come to market. What’s taking so long?

Jalees Rehman

A mother and daughter in Chinatown in New York. Photo by Steve McCurry/Magnum

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Love and friendship
The science of love

We each carry an intricate machinery of love, calibrating and attuning our moods and bodies to one another

Barbara Fredrickson

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

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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

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

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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

Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation complex in Marseilles (1952) was designed around the display of the body, its pools and terraces, meant for inhabitants to show off. Photo by Stephen Burrows

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Architecture
Room for sex

Most architecture sets out to make us civil and efficient. Where are the homes that give us passion and pleasure?

Richard J Williams

Photo by Horacio Villalobos/Getty

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Human rights and justice
Prostitution is not sex work

Decriminalising the sex trade is touted as a means to empower women and rebrand a necessary service. This is utterly wrong

Kat Banyard

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