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What is it that makes Venus a hottie? Is it her hip-to-waist ratio, or just her slenderness? "The Birth of Venus", Sandro Boticelli c1486.

Is there really a single ideal body shape for women?

Is there an ideal body shape that is universally attractive? A recent study shows that beauty is more complex, and diverse, than that.
BDSM gear at Eros Pyramide shop. Manu2560/Wikimedia

Re-imagined power: BDSM as Utopian fantasy

The BDSM-themed movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, is the number one movie in Australia. Its success means that a lot of people are titillated by the idea of sex beyond “vanilla sex.” Controversy about BDSM…
Fifty Shades of Grey creates a minefield on the issues at play in consensual acts of violence. Universal Pictures

Fifty Shades of Grey and the legal limits of BDSM

Christian Grey knows exactly his hard limits in sadomasochism and he may also know a thing or two about his legal limits. The Dominant character Grey in the fantasy fiction Fifty Shades of Grey is bent…
We can’t talk about “consensual” BDSM without considering the levels of violence against women. Universal Pictures

Violence dressed up as erotica: Fifty Shades of Grey and abuse

This Valentine’s Day, why not ditch the roses and celebrate by watching some sexual violence? That’s a more honest marketing pitch for the Fifty Shades of Grey film. It’s astonishing that, in 2015, sexual…
Baby boomer women are dressing differently and rejecting a look they associated with their mothers. Pedro Ribeiro Simões/Flickr

Ageing gracefully: how women steer the line between inauthentic and old

It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still look fabulous. This message is sold to us by magazines, newspapers, the cosmetics industry, fashion labels and dating agencies. Think of the recent movie…
Why is it that women can retain their heterosexuality if they kiss, but if men do the same they’re labeled gay? David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

It turns out male sexuality is just as fluid as female sexuality

If women can kiss women and still be straight, what about men? Some scholars have argued that female sexual desires tend to be fluid and receptive, while men’s desires – regardless of whether men are gay…
Baby Boomer women are challenging ideas around what it means to grow old. Cesar Vargas/Flickr

Sex, desire and pleasure in later life: Australian women’s experiences

Older people, and particularly older women, are often thought of as being asexual or sexually undesirable. Although the particular age this is believed to happen varies somewhat in the popular imagination…
Our culture tells women there’s something wrong with them if they don’t orgasm. Gustavo Gomes/Flickr

Female sexual dysfunction or not knowing how to ask for what feels good?

The recently published Italian study suggesting women can only have clitoral, rather than vaginal, orgasms raises important questions about the medicalisation of female sexuality and sexual dysfunction…
Unlocking the secrets of the chastity belt. Science Museum / Science and Society Picture Library

Hunt to discover the ‘secret’ of sexuality is far from over

“Undress your mind” shouts the promotional material for the Wellcome Trust’s latest exhibition, The Institute of Sexology. It’s an apt tagline, encapsulating how sexology – or the science of sex – has…
Technology has done away with the need to insert swabs into the male urethra and speculums into the vagina. Instead, blood and urine are tested. In Tune/Shutterstock

Health Check: the STI check-up – warts and all

Sexuality is a means of pleasure, fulfilment and intimate connection with other humans. But it can also be a source of anguish. So it’s perhaps no surprise that of all the areas in health care, the “STI…
The extraordinary synod of bishops on family is meeting for two weeks at the Vatican. EPA/L'Osservatore Romano

Pope sets off a ‘gay earthquake’? No, the church has hardly moved

A report of debate from the first half of the extraordinary synod of Catholic bishops meeting in Rome has been described as a “pastoral earthquake” and a “seismic shift in Rome” for praising gay relationships…
Women’s Liberation was a worldwide mobilisation that paved the way for powerful critiques of conventional thinking about gender, sexuality and identity. Warren K. Leffler, 1970/Library of Congress

Four decades of thinking gender: the gains, struggles and debates

The past four decades have produced gains around the world for women and girls in literacy, formal education, life expectancy, workforce participation and access to some professions. We have also seen…
I LUV U BUT …, a local web comedy series, is on the program of the Queer Arab Film Festival currently screening in Sydney. Photo: Fatima Mawas

A right to exist: Australia’s first Queer Arab Film Festival launches

In a 2007 speech at Columbia University, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then president of Iran, famously proclaimed that there were no homosexuals in Iran. Despite the controversy that his words sparked, many Arabs…
Ian Thorpe in 2012. In 2014, do sponsors still only back certain sporting stereotypes that support social norms? AAP/ Ben Macmahon

Sexuality and swimmers: why Thorpe’s story made a splash

Ian Thorpe is unpopular with some critics, despite a largely positive reaction when he came out last weekend. The issue is money. Stories are circulating that he was warned prior to the 2000 Olympic Games…
You don’t have to look too far to find homophobia, hostility and discrimination against LGBTI people. Network Ten/ AAP

Ian Thorpe came out, but not in Australia – a wise decision

Few who watched Ian Thorpe’s “coming out” interview with British interviewer Michael Parkinson on Sunday night could haved failed to be moved by his story. The anxiety and turmoil he felt in telling the…
Research shows that high-profile gay and lesbian people have made a real difference to the lives of others. AAP Image/Paul Miller

Do openly gay public figures like Ian Thorpe matter? They sure do

In his unassuming way, Ian Thorpe is probably quite accustomed to making history. His swag of Olympic medals and world records makes him Australia’s most successful swimmer. Last night, when he told interviewer…

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