All posts filed under: Sex

A Treasure Trove of Priceless Pornography

The art world’s initial encounter with the Hungarian-Italian porn star and politician Ilona Staller, better known as Cicciolina, was in her capacity as the muse of Jeff Koons. Koons’s “Made in Heaven” series of sculptures and photographs, which depicted the couple enjoying sexual congress in a variety of settings, rocked the 1990 Venice Biennale. Now, the 69-year-old Cicciolina is involved in another art-related project, this time starring in a promotional video for “Classic Nudes”—“Pornhub’s interactive guide to some of the hottest scenes in history at the world’s most famous museums.” “Classic Nudes” was launched by the adult entertainment platform on July 13th, and features erotic paintings and sculptures from the collections of London’s National Gallery, New York’s Metropolitan Museum, Madrid’s Prado, and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The Uffizi in Florence and the Louvre were also originally included, but demanded the withdrawal of the associated images, citing fair use violations. Two weeks after the launch, 56 paintings remain on the site, accompanied by text descriptions and, in some cases, video guides. In-person museum visitors are …

Gender Transition and Desistance in Teenage Girls: Two Psychotherapeutic Case Studies

When doctors always give patients what they want (or think they want), the fallout can be disastrous, as we have seen with the opioid crisis. There is every possibility that the medical treatment of young people with gender dysphoria may follow a similar path. Practitioners understandably want to protect their patients from psychic pain. However, quick fixes based only on a patient’s self-reporting can have tragic long-term consequences. There are now a growing number of people who once self-identified as transgender but now have reversed or renounced their trans identity. Depending on their circumstances, these individuals are variously known as desisters, detransisitioners, or regretters. Some are seeking accountability from the medical professionals who affirmed their wish to transition, without adequate assessment. An increasing number are speaking out on social media and at conferences, arguing they have been let down by mental-health services that failed to assess their psychological problems before prescribing medical treatments such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, and referring them on for surgeries. Having initially felt welcomed in and encouraged by the …

Rescuing the Radicalized Discourse on Sex and Gender: Part Two of a Three-Part Series

Our choice of words affects the way we think. That’s why we spend so much time fighting over which terms to use, whether it’s “undocumented immigrants” versus “illegal aliens,” “foetuses” versus “unborn babies,” or “militants” versus “terrorists.” In recent years, the question of word choice has figured prominently in the activism of gender supremacists (as I described them in the first entry in this essay series), who seek to entirely replace biological sex with self-identified gender as a legal category. According to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, a priest’s blessing transforms the material substance of communion wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ, even as the wafers and wine retain their outward appearance. Gender supremacists have a comparable doctrine—let’s call it transgenderation—by which the faithful must believe, literally, that “transwomen are women.” (It also demands that transmen are men, though it’s interesting to observe that the male-identified half of the trans community isn’t nearly so strident in its insistence on transgenderation as the female component.) I am not speaking figuratively here: …

Mate Selection for Modernity

“All things in nature occur mathematically.” ~ Rene Descartes Dating and the process of mate selection have changed. The rise of hook-up culture, proliferation of dating apps, and ever-increasing age of first marriage are evidence of this. This current situation can be summarized along four parameters: Increasing female achievement. Growing variability in male status and competence. An evolutionary desire among females to marry up. The globalization of the sexual marketplace and resultant collapse of local status hierarchies. Together, these conditions have created pronounced imbalances in the modern sexual marketplace. Put plainly, an increasing cohort of successful women are chasing a shrinking number of high-value, commitment-averse men. At a cursory level, much of this can be explained by sex ratios and partner availability. However, the underlying structure of modern mate selection is fundamentally mathematical. For us to truly understand the causes and consequences of the modern sexual marketplace, a bit of math is required. Chads, dads, and hypergamy Hypergamy is an evolved sexual strategy where individuals mate with and/or marry those most capable of providing long …

Standing Up to the Gender Ideologues: a Quillette Editorial

On June 23rd, Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts put out a carefully worded five-paragraph media statement regarding German-born textile artist Jess de Wahls. “We have apologised to Jess de Wahls for the way we have treated her and do so again publicly now,” read the RA communiqué. “We had no right to judge her views … This betrayed our most important core value—the protection of free speech.” The controverted speech in question was contained in a 2019 blog post, in which de Wahls wrote that “a woman is an adult human female (not an identity or feeling),” and that trans women are “biological males [who] choose to live as a woman, or believe they actually are women.” These are statements that almost every person knows to be true, but which have become unfashionable to say out loud in highly progressive subcultures. And so, when a handful of people raised a fuss about de Wahls’ work being sold in the RA gift shop, Academy officials not only purged de Wahl from their inventory earlier this month, …

The ‘Gender Supremacist’ Threat to the Progressive Alliance: Part One of a Three-Part Series

There have always been conflicts within the LGBT+ community. But the recent capture of Western political and cultural institutions by a faction of radicalized transgender activists presents a more existential type of crisis. The backlash against this clique’s overreach, which we are already beginning to observe, won’t be felt merely by the LGBT+ movement in whose name these activists present their demands, but by progressive causes more generally. Gender supremacists (as I call them) seek to entirely replace sex with gender as a legal category, an unpopular project that is squandering decades of hard-won LGBT+ social capital; contradicts the arguments that led to our most important policy victories; alienates our allies (especially in the women’s movement); and redefines gays and lesbians in a way that effectively erases us out of existence. To be clear: Trans people should have the same rights as everyone else to live openly, freely, and safely. Gender identity and expression deserve legal protection under human-rights and anti-hate-crime laws. I am not arguing that the LGBT+ community’s component groups and their progressive …

When Sons Become Daughters: It’s Time to Admit That Reflexive ‘Affirmation’ Has Been a Mistake

What follows is the seventh and final instalment of When Sons Become Daughters, a Quillette series that explores how parents react when a son announces he wants to be a girl—and explains why so many of these mothers and fathers believe they can’t discuss their fears and concerns with their own children, therapists, doctors, friends, and relatives. To find out more about how the author collected and reported information, please refer to his introductory essay in this series. “What are your preferred pronouns?” I ask Rene Jax, somewhat in jest. The answer: “Your Imperial Majesty. Look, you call me what you want. I don’t care. My friends say I’m half this and half that.” Rene (a real name, unlike the pseudonyms I’ve generally been using to describe others) is a 60-year-old male-to-female post-operative transsexual who looks both like a woman (hair, clothing, style of glasses) and a man (hands, Adam’s apple, jawline). My question felt farcical to both of us because Rene has written openly about the pathway that led to transition—and then to regret. …

When Sons Become Daughters, Part VI: Asexuality, Intelligence, and the Trans Co-Option of Intersex Discourse

What follows is the sixth instalment of When Sons Become Daughters, a seven-part Quillette series that explores how parents react when a son announces he wants to be a girl—and explains why so many of these mothers and fathers believe they can’t discuss their fears and concerns with their own children, therapists, doctors, friends, and relatives. To find out more about how the author collected and reported information, please refer to his introductory essay in this series. Whether they exhibit autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, many trans-identified boys seem to be fixated on a hypothetical future self: Once brought to life, it is believed, this woman’s mere presence will resolve whatever existential crisis the young man is going through. In many cases, the boy will spend a lot of his time thinking about the differences between his status quo and his imagined (feminine) ideal. This “hyper-ruminative” behaviour is something many parents I interviewed discussed with me. From Milwaukee, Liz emails me a number of papers she’s found over the years …

When Sons Become Daughters, Part V: The Links Between Trans Identity, Gifted Minds, Categorical Thinking—And Anime

What follows is the fifth instalment of When Sons Become Daughters, a multi-part Quillette series that explores how parents react when a son announces he wants to be a girl—and explains why so many of these mothers and fathers believe they can’t discuss their fears and concerns with their own children, therapists, doctors, friends, and relatives. To find out more about how the author collected and reported information, please refer to his introductory essay in this series.   The first four instalments in this series already have covered many disparate topics, each of which merits a fuller discussion than one writer can present. But younger readers with knowledge of trans Internet culture may have noticed that, until now, I’ve failed to cover one of its most prominent aesthetic motifs. I am referring to the Japanese art form known as anime. Parents of trans-identified boys mention anime repeatedly. The animation style seems to loom large in the lives of many—at least half—of the young men whose stories I’m telling. Many of these boys have anime alter-egos, …

Gaslighting the Concerned Parents of Trans Children—A Psychotherapist’s View

I first met Jo and Carol in Manchester two years ago, when I spoke as a clinician on a panel at what is believed to be the first conference dedicated to the issue of detransitioners (people who once presented themselves as transgender, but then decided to live in accordance with their biological sex). At this event, seven young women spoke publicly about why they transitioned, why it wasn’t successful, and how they came to the decision to detransition. All of these women had undergone mastectomies, and some had hysterectomies and even oophorectomies (the removal of both ovaries). They had all taken testosterone, which permanently deepened their voices, and gave rise to new forms of body and facial hair. Although they had experienced much in their lives, none was over the age of 25. As you might imagine, these testimonials were shocking and harrowing. Jo and Carol both have daughters embroiled in the trans-activist cause. (As at all points in this piece, I am using terms such as “girl,” “boy,” “son,” and “daughter” in reference to …