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Why Sober Sex Is Better

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The first time I ever let a man kiss my clit, had someone’s fingers inside me, saw a penis, put my mouth on a penis, let a penis enter my sacred virginal parts—that is to say, the first time I did anything sexual—I was drunk or high or both. I lost my virginity at 17, a month shy of my 18th birthday, on Christmas Eve. I was plied with a 22 of Newcastle, a joint, and while I wasn’t so obliterated as to not remember it, I was fucked up enough to be able to do it. In the years that followed, while not every sexual encounter was lubricated with alcohol, absolutely every first encounter was and most of the subsequent encounters required it. Which is to say, almost all my sex was the fuzzy kind.

And thank god for that because if there was one thing I didn’t know how to do, it was to be around men or fuck men or suck their dicks without putting on a show. I was an actress, one that moaned at the exact right moments and faked orgasms to get it to stop and withstood the jackrabbit thump so favored among men who have absolutely no idea—or care for—how to please a woman. Which was fine by me because I didn’t have sex to be pleasured; I had sex to please.

Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol

Back then, there was enough evidence to prove I was a “normal drinker” (I didn’t drink every night, and I didn’t drink any more than my friends when we went out), and equally enough evidence to qualify me for Betty Ford (I was hungover more days than not, and I kept airline shots in my purse—just in case). I went back and forth between knowing I needed major help and thinking if I just did more yoga, I’d be fine. In that sense, my passage into sobriety was both slow and fast. Slow, in that it took me 17 years to realize that alcohol had never done me any favors, 17 years of trying to make it work for me like I imagined it worked for all the other “normal” people. Fast in the sense that once I crossed some invisible line, I was hurtling so quickly toward total dissolution that I didn’t have the strength to stave off what was happening to me. The whole thing was like that Price Is Right game where the little yodeler is climbing the mountain and you never know when he is going to stop or how far he’s going to make it, but you know he has the potential to go all the way.

When I stopped drinking alcohol for good in 2013, I also stopped having sex and not just with men but with myself too. Meditation, exploring the astral plane, thinking about Jesus, taking pictures, crying in the bathtub, looking at the sky and running through fields, researching addiction, finding myself: these things were what mattered. An orgasm, which I didn’t have for the entire first year, didn’t.

But then one day, the desire came back along with a new skill: I could orgasm for minutes at a time—a howling, screaming, endless rip of pleasure—which was not discovered through any sort of intercourse, but in the course of remembering I could masturbate. To say that I started to desire sex again would be an understatement, because I was insatiable, in a way I had never even imagined I could be insatiable. The term “walking sex” might have been a term used to describe myself, and by might I mean did. I was an orgasm waiting to happen.

It took me 17 years to realize that alcohol had never done me any favors.

The first man I slept with in sobriety—someone I’d only met because my friend had fucked him and we’d started following each other on Instagram—was a target the second I saw his big bear face on social media. I knew we would fuck, and I knew it would be good. After a few weeks of incessant texting and DM’ing, he came over to my apartment, tore my clothes off, pulled my tampon out, and put his glasses on. He told me he wanted to have a better look at my pussy. Then I basically starred in my own porno, and not the kind I’d grown up on where it’s all about the size of John Holms’s dick but the kind of pornography where the star of the show was just me and my desires. This was new.

Whereas before sobriety I couldn’t stand to be seen with my clothes off or let anyone give me pleasure without feeling the need to repay it; whereas before—when I was mostly drunk through the whole thing—sex was shameful and words like pussy were even more; whereas in every single sexual encounter I’d been in prior to this moment in my 34th year of life, I’d focused on looking fuckable, fucking good, and being the prop for his pleasure; in this first sober sexual encounter of mine, there wasn’t any of that. It was, for the first time in my life, entirely about me and what I wanted.

I wish I could tell you that this was the case in every encounter thereafter, but it wasn’t. I’ve had terrible partners and selfish partners and the kind of partners that still make me want to contort myself into a mirage of female fuckability. I’ve been jackrabbit-thumped and choked and I’ve had men who turned on ESPN instead of cuddling with me. In other words, sobriety hasn’t prevented me from having terrible sex with terribly inconsiderate, ill-equipped, emotionally unavailable, clueless, selfish men, because LORD, they are out there, and they are abundant, and good luck dodging them. But what I have had, most notably, is a severely escalating awareness of what it feels like to be left out of the equation of your own sexuality and an escalating inability to put up with it. Here is the time in my life when I walk out on bad sex, I ask for what I need, and his ego does not hold more value than my comfort or what I’m willing to put up with.

I’m not talking about how awkward it is to be fully present for the sound of your own queef or to hear the slapping noise that sex actually makes. This isn’t about what your naked skin and naked humanity really feel like in the presence of another person and you are, maybe for the first time, present. This whole thing isn’t even about sex. It’s about my sexuality, and sobriety is the reason I came to own it. This is about reclamation.

I was an orgasm waiting to happen.

The story of sex, post addiction, is as wide and deep and varied as we are. Some of us will come through sobriety and find that it opens the door for more questioning—of our sexual orientation or our gender or both. Some of us will find that we have never wanted to be monogamous or that maybe we don’t ever want to have sex again. Others of us, and a good number too, will have thicker layers to peel back. For survivors of sexual assault that have any sort of sexual trauma, sober sex might reopen every wound you’ve ever tried to deny or maybe it’s even impossible—this is a thing that happens too. Maybe you married your college sweetheart and all you’ve ever known is the drunk version of each other, and maybe you don’t know where to go from here, and maybe you never will. Perhaps you no longer want to fuck your partner, or perhaps you’ve found—as so many of my friends have—the fact that your partner still drinks is a barrier to your sexual attraction. I could go on.

Whatever it is, sober sex, or even the lack of sex in sobriety, is like all other things: another offering, another way for you to find your way home to you.


This essay has been adapted from Holly Whitaker’s new book about drinking culture, Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed With Alcohol.


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12 Best Soaps for Men 2020

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You may not have thought about bar soap in a while, except when you’re suddenly confronted with it in a hotel room shower or a guest bathroom. It seems retro, like something you used when you were taking baths as a kid, but we say it’s time to re-examine the power of the bar.

Body washes may be exceedingly popular among men, especially those who struggle with dry skin, but the kind of clean you get from a bar soap is second to none. While they are not self-cleaning as Joey Tribbiani once claimed, they get the job done with less mess and can last longer than a bottle of wash.

Plus, in our current age of sustainability and eco-friendliness, bar soaps come with less waste. Think about it: they’re smaller, you can use them till they’re completely gone, and there is no plastic bottle to throw into the recycling bin when you’re done. Many soap companies are even changing their packaging to make bar soap an even greener option. In short: there is no way Greta Thunberg uses body wash.

Bar soaps are versatile and can be great for you no matter what your skin type. You can find a soap for oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, and everything in between. Check out the 12 best bar soaps and we promise, you won’t go back to the bottle.

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Baxter of California Vitamin Cleansing Bar

baxterofcalifornia.com

$18.00

One of the biggest complaints about bar soap is that they can make your skin feel too dry; not this one. It contains sunflower oil and glycerin to keep your skin hydrated and smooth all over. Plus, the citrus and musk fragrance is one of our favorite men’s scented soaps.

Method Men Sea + Surf Exfoliating Bar Soap

Exfoliating bar soaps have a little grit in them to help smooth away dry, dead skin cells and leave your body feeling clean and fresh. This one contains minerals, instead of microbeads (better for the environment) and the scent is fresh without being overpowering. 

Dove White Beauty Bar

This dermatologist-endorsed bar is one of the best for your face, but here’s a secret: you can use it all over your body, too, especially if you have sensitive skin. It’s contains gentle moisturizing ingredients that hydrate and clean skin without overstripping it.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Gentle Cleansing Bar

Another soap bar that can be used on your face as well as your body, this one includes colloidal oatmeal, which is known for its skin-soothing properties. It’s ideal if you struggle with sensitive or dry skin and other skin issues like eczema.

Beekman 1802 Goats Milk Bar Soap

Beekman soaps are hand made from natural ingredients. The brand says goat milk is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, which means it may help calm irritated skin while cleansing. All we know is that it smells damn good and leaves you feeling clean AF.

The Rich and Clean No 09 Bar Soap

therichandclean.com

$12.00

For guys with oily skin or who sweat a lot, the charcoal in this soap helps soak up excess oil and leave you fresh without that telltale tight feeling. The Japanese peppermint is said to help curb oil production, but also gives this soap a bite of fresh, but not overpowering, fragrance.

Caswell-Massey Cold Cream Luxury Bath Soap Set

Triple milled soap is known for its silky-smooth texture and it cleans effectively with less lather (which can strip away your skin barrier). The natural vegetable base of this soap is gentle enough for all skin types and the subtle almond fragrance smells fresh, without being in your face.

Ursa Major Morning Mojo Bar Soap

It’s called Morning Mojo, because the peppermint and eucalyptus fragrance in this soap gives you a jolt of clarity in the morning, even before you have your first cup of coffee. It has grit to it, but doesn’t feel rough on your skin, thanks to moisturizing honey and coconut.

PLANT Apothecary BE GENTLE Organic Bar Soap

This soap is heavy on the shea butter, which is great news if you have dry or sensitive skin. The ingredients are naturally-derived and sulfate-free, but still gives enough lather to adequately clean your whole body.

Oars + Alps Natural Moisturizing Alps Bar Soap

Want to smell like you just got back from a hike through the Rockies? This soap delivers a woody, outdoorsy scent that says “I’d rather be exploring.” It also contains shea butter, so it’s gentle on even dry skin.

Ethique Pumice, Tea Tree, & Spearmint Bar Soap

Ethique has every kind of bar you could imagine (even shampoo and conditioning bars), but we like this exfoliating and clarifying bar because it helps get rid of dead skin cells and excess oil at the same time. It’s ideal to keep in your gym bag for a refreshing post-workout shower.

Lush Karma Bar Soap

This handmade soap sounds like it would be overpowering, but it also has citrus which helps temper what could otherwise be a heavy fragrance. Bars are made fresh with natural ingredients and last for months.

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‘The Goop Lab’ Review – Inside Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix Series

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A few weeks ago, I passed along to a friend some CBD lip balm that had come across my desk. “Sure, I’ll take it,” the friend said. “And remind me—why would I want CBD in my lip balm?”

The best I could come up with was a shrug, because the mountain of evidence that backs up what it could do in a lip balm is pretty much flat ground right now. But people buy it. It’s trendy. They’re curious. They want to feel better, look better, be better.

Which is probably one of the reasons people are also tuning in to The Goop Lab, a 6-episode Netflix show that launches today, billed as a series “guiding the deeply inquisitive viewer in an exploration of boundary-pushing wellness topics.” It’s by Gwyneth Paltrow’s “lifestyle brand” Goop, of course, and the 30-ish minute episodes feature its staffers trying trends like psychedelics, cold therapy, energy healing, anti-aging, and psychics. It also explores female pleasure (hopefully not just a trend).

There are plenty of jabs you can take at the series, especially given Goop’s history of being slapped with penalties for making false claims about the products it sells (the essential oil that claimed to help prevent depression and the infamous Jade Egg). But passing on egregiously bad “facts” isn’t really one of them. In what’s probably a smart move for the company but a less helpful one for viewers, there aren’t a lot of them. In the first episode, staffers fly to Jamaica to take psilocybin—magic mushrooms—after a brief interview with the executive director of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) Canada, who outlines some legit findings about psychedelics (sure, it could go deeper, but it’s not claiming to be an investigative show). Their experience is interspersed with testimonials (positive! Whaddya know!) by other people whose lives have been transformed by psychedelics.

The trouble is that when the Goop starts—with the cast in the mushrooms episode imbibing and then crying, hugging, wow-ing over the clouds—you just don’t care. All you see is a bunch of willowy superpeople trying this trend as if it were another hoodie from Supreme. The crying, the writhing, the exaggerated comforting hugs feel like an endless scroll through the narcissistic Instagram feeds that make you say, “Oh, congrats! You took another picture of yourself!”

Which can turn the very real quest for feeling better and doing better into a potentially exhausting try-the-trend circuit—or a potentially expensive buy-the-trend circuit, conveniently available on Goop.com. Which may be why, no matter how many times her elegant wrists get slapped, people keep coming back for more Gwyneth, more Goop, more stuff.

Maybe so many people love/hate The Goop Lab and Gwyneth because it’s the symbol of the thing we want to deliver but never quite does. It’s the thing that left us with an empty wallet and an empty spirit but a smoldering desire to have abundance in both. There it is, the empty tube of CBD lip balm (or roll of CBD toilet paper, or CBD hair products) that’s still making you scratch your head about what it does. Meanwhile, you’re suffering under your workload, your mom has dementia, that pain in your back keeps getting worse, and you can’t afford PT.

For a moment, The Goop Lab might take your mind off all that, if you can stand the Goopy patina of perfection, the peek into “real” experiences that feel as authentic as reality TV does. But at the end of the day, or the end of the episode, you’re still left wondering, “now, why do I need this?”

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James Corden Doesn’t Always Drive During Carpool Karaoke

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  • A behind-the-scenes video revealed that James Corden doesn’t actually drive during his Carpool Karaoke segments.
  • The fans are betrayed. The fans are angry. The fans feel lied to.
  • This is their story.

    Update: January 23, 4:28 pm

    The Late Late Show has released a statement about Corden’s Carpool Karaoke segment: “James always drives during Carpool Karaoke. However, on the rare occasion when there is a stunt component and the producers feel it is unsafe to drive, we will use a rig (tow).”


    January 22nd was a pretty nice day, full of promise and hope—until Twitter user @zolihonig revealed that James Corden is NOT actually driving during the ever-popular and Emmy-winning TV segment Carpool Karaoke, and he actually just pretends to drive while his shiny black Range Rover is actually pulled around on the road by a truck in front of it.

    But how could this be? We’ve seen Corden turn the wheel. We’ve seen him put his foot on the brake. We’ve even seen him, like, swerve out of the way of some unseen obstacle. Well, my dear reader, it turns out that Carpool Karaoke is Corden’s finest acting job since his role as Bustopher Jones in Cats.

    Fans were shocked at the news, and they made sure that betrayal was heard online:

    But even in the midst of all of this outrage, there were a number of people that were like “dude, why would you ever think he was actually driving?”

    While they are actually 100% right, and safety should always comes first, it still stings to know that Mariah Carey wasn’t really driven around by Corden, or that Michelle Obama had to smile and laugh through a fake car ride. And poor, poor Paul McCartney. Doesn’t Sir Paul deserve to be actually chauffeured around?

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