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This Week in Sex

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Weekend Review
Eats, Shoots and Leaves

When it comes to getting it on in the animal kingdom, pandas are famously non-starters. I’m talking specifically here about the ones in captivity. Most of the time, they just don’t seem to be feeling it. When they finally are in the mood, there are scores of snotty-nosed urchins pressed up against the glass as if they’re trying to spoil the moment. But we humans know a thing or two about how to inject romance into an otherwise flaccid evening. Porn. Hardcore porn. Earlier this week, pandas in a Chinese research center were shown videos of other pandas mating as part of a plan to encourage the animals to reproduce. The films are screened twice a day at the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center in Wolong, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, China. The latest participant, Didi, was placed in front of a television set on his sixth birthday for his first lesson in the facts of life. Didi seemed to like his gift immensely, as his eyes were glued to the screen. But come on, now: if pandas were meant to watch porn, God would have given them fully opposable thumbs. “Through this kind of sex education, we expect to arouse the sexual instincts of giant pandas, enhance their natural mating ability and raise their reproductive capacity,” said researcher Zhang Hemin, who has opted to employ this method of arousal rather than giving the beasts performance-enhancing drugs such as Viagra. More than 60% of male pandas in zoos or sanctuaries exhibit no sexual desire at all, and just one-tenth of them will mate naturally. Next, scientists plan to further emulate human mating rituals and start feeding the bears Zima.

Tight Wad

It’s surprising to see just how far somebody will go to weasel out of spending money. We’ve all had friends who fall asleep when it comes time to get gas or pay a toll during a road trip, or have perhaps gone to dinner with people who get the most expensive thing on the menu (as you make the most of the bread) and insist that the check be split evenly. This week, an Australian man plumbed new depths to get out of paying child support: he’s charging a former girlfriend with semen theft. The man has lodged a formal complaint arguing that he should not be required to pay $21 (AUS) in child support. The man alleges he could only have become a father if the woman used his sperm without his consent. “Following intercourse, X would, on occasion, dispose of the used condoms herself,” the complaint reads. “I consider that X secretly administered my semen to herself following intercourse. I also consider, therefore, that X became pregnant through an act of fraud.” The man’s allegation of discrimination centers on his belief that the federal government’s Child Support Agency should treat him as a sperm donor. In Australia, men who donate sperm through reproduction programs are responsible for paying child support.

Spunky Dory

Fine wines, Belgian chocolates, tickets to Riverdance. These are my three no-fail tricks for putting a lady friend in a good mood. But a report this week showed there is a cheaper, yet riskier, alternative to turning up at your lover’s door with a fistful of wilting carnations. Scientists from the State University of New York have announced that women who are exposed to semen through unprotected intercourse are generally a lot more chipper (not to mention herpetic) than those who use condoms. The scientists believe the mood-altering hormones in semen, when absorbed through the vagina, help to boost a woman’s mood. The scientists also found that depression and suicide attempts were more common among women whose partners used condoms regularly. (In X’s case, dating a loser like that had to be pretty depressing.) However, in a stunning example of stating the obvious, a spokesman for the study said: “Clearly an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease would offset any advantageous psychological effects of semen.” So until S.T.D’s are eradicated, your best bet for buttering up your girl is making dinner and slow-dancing around the living room to “Three Times a Lady.”

Kid Tested, Mullah Approved

Times, they are a-changing, both at home and abroad. This week, the Pledge of Allegiance was ruled unconstitutional by a California court. Meanwhile, social reform continues to progress at a blistering pace in Iran. Hot on the heels of legislation that limits the size of stones used for throwing at adulterers, an arbitrating body in Tehran has approved a law increasing the minimum marriage age from 9 to 13 for girls and from 14 to 15 for boys. The law’s approval is seen as a victory for Iran’s reformists, who seek to improve women’s rights. Right before press time, Rob Lowe and R. Kelly were seen stepping over their own mothers to get non-stop flights to Tehran, where Roman Polanski has already anounced his next film will be set.

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