Jul 152016
 

Many Indian films that indulge in strong language, suggestive scenes, gender taboos, Kashmir issues and religion banned by censor board but not that the viewers missed any of it! Here’s a list of movies which the censor board banned:

Neel Akasher Neechey (1959)

Neel-Akasher-NeecheyNeel Akasher Neechey (Bengali: নীল আকাশের নীচে Nil akasher niche, “Under the Blue Sky”) is a 1959 Bengali language film directed by Mrinal Sen, starring Kali Bannerjee, Manju Dey, Bikash Roy and others.

Set in the background of the last days of the British Raj in Calcutta, the film explores the lives of a number of characters, including the platonic relationship between an immigrant Chinese wage worker, Wang Lu, and the main female character called Basanti. The film had overt political overtones and was the first film to be banned by the Government of India. The ban was effective for two years. It showed the troubles faced by an immigrant Chinese wage laborer in 1930s Calcutta.

Directed by :    Mrinal Sen
Produced by :    Hemanta Bela Production
Written by:  Based on short story “Chini Feriwala” written by Padmabibhushan Mahadevi Barma
Starring :    Kali Banerjee, Manju Dey, Bikash Roy, Smriti Biswas, Suruchi Sengupta, Ajit Chatterjee and Rasaraj Chatterjee
Music by :    Hemanta Mukhopadhyay

Neel_Akasher_NeecheyThis story revolves around the political situation of Calcutta in 1930 when freedom fighting movement is going on in its full phase . Young and old, from lower middle class to upper class people are affected by it, including housewives. Basanti, a house-wife,works for freedom fighting for the whole day. Her husband, a renowned lawyer, doesn’t like his wife’s work. His upper class society can’t take it easily, but he can’t prevent his wife.He likes to gift his wife costly, fashionable dresses, but Basanti returns all the gifts as she has boycotted foreign goods . Wang lu, a Chinese man, lawles sille ?clothes of ebiana ? Basically, poor and not happy Wang faced with his illucle ?after an incident-the zamindar saw hi younger sister planned ? to capture her ?. He demanded for tax from Wang lu and gave him chance fora few times. Wang lu, tried to get the money by over -work, and got fever. His sister went to the zamindar with her only jewellery, a gold chain with locket. The zamindar, didnt accept it, but got his due by raping her.She returned home, only to get insulted farther by her brother. She left home, forever. Wang lu, tried to search for her, but failed. He left his country and came to India, started his own small business there. Wang lu meets Basanti , he takes her as his own lost sister. Their relationship makes Basanti come to him and begs pardon on behalf of her husband. She comes to know about his lost sister. She and her husband feels pity for him. Ot that day, police arrests Basanti and sends her to jail for three years . It is now 1936, her ? between chiana any japan goes on ?. Wang, inspired by Basanti decides to return to his own country. But he has some pending work. so he goes to Basanti’s house. She is released. They meet again. Wang feels anout ? his decision and gives Basanti,his sister’s chain and locket. Wang catches his ship for China, Basanti gives him farewell.

 

Garam Hawa (1973) 

The release was held up by the censors for 8 months. The film depicted a Muslim family during the partition of India.

 Garam Hawa (Hot Winds) was the first feature from director M.S. (Mysore Shrivinas) Sathyu of India. The film was controversial from its inception, as it was the first film to deal with the human consequences resulting from the 1947 partition of India. This action, ordered by British Lord Mountbatten, split India into religious coalitions, with India remaining Hindi and the new country of Pakistan serving as a refuge for Muslims.

Despite its controversial subject matter the film was initially accepted by a commercial producer, but then pressure and fear of the critical and governmental reception of such a work led to a rapid withdrawal of the offer. Sathyu turned to the government sponsored Film Financing Corporation (FFC) for support. This agency was created as an alternative for filmmakers seeking financing for work which was not commercially embraced by institutional distributors. Its aim was to free these artists from the dominance of loan agencies and their control of film content. Sathyu secured FFC financing and his film, based on an unpublished story by Marxist activist Ismat Chughtai, was completed in the city of Agra. The production of the film was plagued by a smattering of public protests; ultimately, Sathyu had to divert attention from his actual locations by using a fake second unit crew and sending them out with an unloaded camera.
Garom hawaOnce finished, Garam Hawa was again the subject of controversy; it was banned as an “instigation to communal dissension.” Sathyu was strong in his conviction, however, and he showed the film to many government leaders and journalists. The influence of these people on the censorship board led to a reversal of the ban. The film went on to win a national award for its contribution to “national integration.” More recognition followed, including accolades that praised the film’s efforts to create “a language of common identity” and to humanize the situation endured by Muslims in North India who did not wish to move from their homes after the partition.

Producer: Ishan Arya, M.S. Sathyu, Abu Siwani; screenplay: Kaifi Azmi, Shama Zaidi, from the unpublished story by Ismat Chugtai; photography: Ishan Arya; editor: S. Chakrabort; music: Ustad Bahadur Khan.

Cast: Balraj Sahni ( Salim Mirza ); Gita Shauhat Kaifi ( Amina Mirza ); Jalal Agha ( Shamshad ); Dinanath Zutski ( Halim ); Badar Begum ( Salim’s mother ); Abu Siwani ( Baqar Mirza ); Faroukh Shaikh ( Sikander Mizra ); Jamal Hashmi ( Kazim ).

Awards: National Award for Best Film on Integration and Best Screenplay, India, 1974; Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay and Best Story Writer, India, 1974.

Aandhi (1975)

It was banned during Emergency by Indira Gandhi and subsequently released in 1977 after Janata Party came into power.

AandhiAandhi (Hindi: आंधी, Storm) is a 1975 Indian political drama film starring Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen, and directed by Gulzar. At the time it was alleged that the film was based on the life of the then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her relationship with her estranged husband, but in reality, only the look was inspired by the politician Tarkeshwari Sinha and Indira Gandhi. The story is based on a chance meeting of an estranged couple after several years, when wife Aarti Devi, now a leading politician happens to stay in the hotel run by her husband during an election campaign. The movie is noted for its songs composed by Rahul Dev Burman, written by Gulzar and sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.

Suchitra Sen, the noted actress from Bengali cinema, who also worked in a few Hindi films, played the lead role of Aarti Devi after actress Vyjayanthimala refused the film as she had reservations about enacting the role.

The movie was not allowed a full release when Mrs. Gandhi was in power. The film was banned during the national emergency of 1975 a few months after its release. The ban immediately made the film a national topic. After her defeat in the 1977 national elections, the ruling Janata Party cleared it and had it premiered on the state-run television channel.

It proved to be an important film in the career of Sen, and also her last Hindi film, as she retired from films altogether in 1978. At the 23rd Filmfare Awards, she was nominated for Filmfare Best Actress Award, while Sanjeev Kumar won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor. The film itself won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie.

Kissa_Kursi_Ka_film_posterKissa Kursi Ka (1977)

Kissa Kursi Ka (Tale of Throne) is a 1977 Hindi film directed by Amrit Nahata, who was a member of Indian parliament and produced by Badri Prasad Joshi. The film was a satire on the politics of Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi.

A political spoof, the film was banned by the Congress government for lampooning the Emergency. The master prints and all copies was lifted from the Censor Board office and burned by Sanjay Gandhi supporters. The movie was later remade with a different cast.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

A skirmish in Shanghai puts archaeologist Indiana Jones, his partner Short Round and singer Willie Scott crossing paths with an Indian village desperate to reclaim a rock stolen by a secret cult beneath the catacombs of an ancient palace. It was banned temporarily for its “negative” depiction of Indians. The ban was later rescinded.

Pati Parmeshwar (1987)

It was denied a rating by the Censor for depicting a woman in “ignoble servility” of her husband. Later, Bombay High Court allowed its release.

Kuttrapathirikai (1993)

The film was completed in 1993. As it had Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination as a backdrop, it was not released until 2007.

Bandit Queen (1994)

Bandit Queen was straight up ‘offensive’, ‘vulgar’, ‘indecent’ and almost laughed at the cinematic conservatism of the Indian censor board. The subject was such. Based on the life of Phoolan Devi, this Shekhar Kapur movie was banned due its explicit sexual content, nudity and abusive language, which the Censor Board could not (obviously) digest.

Fire (1996)

Deepa Mehta’s work is recognised for its global content and appeal. However, closer home, that translates to controversy. Among others, one such movie was ‘Fire’ which garnered a lot of critical acclaim worldwide but failed to impress Hindu groups (like Shiv Sena) in India due to its subject, which dealt with lesbian relationship between two sisters-in-laws in a Hindu family. The controversy ended with the leading actors, Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das along with their director Deepa Mehta receiving death threats and Censor Board finally banning the movie in the country.

Kama Sutra – A Tale Of Love (1996)

In a rather hypocritical move, Kama Sutra – A Tale Of Love too faced the wrath of Censor Board which termed it ‘explicit’, ‘unethical’ and ‘immoral’ for the audiences of the nation which came up with the concept of Kama Sutra! This Mira Nair movie, which depicted the lives of four lovers in the 16th century in India, was a hit with the critics but a major flop with the Censor Board and ultimately got banned. We did see it coming.

Urf Professor (2000)

Another movie to run into trouble with the Censor Board was Pankaj Advani’s Urf Professor starring Manoj Pahwa, Antara Mali and Sharman Joshi. The movie traces the journey of the protagonist after a hit-man’s car and a winning lottery ticket goes missing and the chaos that follows. However, what irked the Censor Board were the ‘vulgar scenes’ and ‘bold language’ used in this black comedy, which ultimately led to a ban on the movie.

The Pink Mirror (2003)

While experimental movies became the norm, gender issues was still a touchy topic to explore. The Pink Mirror by Sridhar Rangayan is one such movie which brought the concept of trans-sexuality to the forefront. The story dealt with the quest of two transsexuals and a gay teenager to seduce a straight man. No prizes for guessing that the Censor board got offended by the ‘vulgarity’ in the movie and banned it even after the film garnered rave reviews at film festivals around the world.

Paanch (2003)

Paanch, an Anurag Kashyap movie, faced a lot of heat from the Censor Board . Said to be based on the Joshi-Abhyankar serial murders in 1997, the movie was a thriller with high octane violence, crass language and drug abuse. No wonder, the Censor Board decided to ban the film and people awaiting the release of the movie had to make-do with the pirated version of the film.

Black Friday (2004)

Loosely adapted from the famous book Black Friday – The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts by S Hussain Zaidi, Anurag Kashyap’s movie was considered too dark to be released in India. The movie faced a stay order from The Bombay High Court because the 1993 Bombay blasts case and remained slated-to-release until the trial got over.

Parzania (2005)

Parzania cut open the wounds of Gujarat’s scarred past, and received backlash and appreciation in equal amounts. The film was based on a superb plot which revolved around a boy called Azhar who goes missing during the Gujarat riots in the year 2002. Even though the film won a National Award, its cinematic excellence was not considered enough for political parties to let it screen in Gujarat, where it was fiercely banned.

Sins (2005)

Sins is an erotic journey of a Kerala priest who falls for the charms of a woman and gets sexually involved with her. Filled with obsession, lust and his struggles with the norms of the society he lived in, Sins did not go down well with with the Catholics. They thought the film projected Catholicism in a very immoral light. The Censor Board too, had issues with the nude scenes in the film and hence the movie did not see the light of the day.

Water (2005)

Water is another Deepa Mehta movie which courted a lot of controversy because of its dark insights on the life of the Indian widow. Set in a certain Ashram of Varanasi, the script of the movie was written by none other than Anurag Kashyap and took up controversial issues like ostracism and misogyny which were alien to the Indian Censor Board back then. No wonder, the movie was widely attacked by protesters and around 2000 fanatics even destroyed the sets of the film.

Firaaq (2008)

Another film to deal with the Gujarat riots, Firaaq was reportedly based on true incidents which happened in the riot-torn Gujarat. Nandita Das was widely criticised for hurting the sentiments of Hindus and Muslims and ultimately the movie got banned. But what came as a major achievement was the fact that the movie finally saw a release date and upon its release, garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences alike.

Gandu (2010)

Gandu is a black-and-white Indian film, in the Bengali language, directed by Qaushiq Mukherjee who has described the film as a “rap musical”. It features Anubrata, Joyraj, Kamalika, Silajit, and Rii in the lead roles.     The film was banned in India due to explicit sexual scenes.

Inshallah, Football (2010)

Inshallah, Football is a documentary about a Kashmiri boy who aspires to travel abroad and become a famous footballer someday. However, the boy is denied travelling outside the country because his father is charged with militancy. This film was intended to bring out the problems civilians face due to the insurgencies and militancy in the Kashmir Valley, but the purpose was defeated as it was denied the necessary censor certificate because of its sensitive subject.

Dazed in Doon (2010)

Doon School is one of the most highly respected schools of the country. The Doon School had problems with the content of Ratna Pathak Shah’s coming-of-age movie Dazed in Doon which depicted the story of a boy who is studying at the prestigious Doon School and the life he leads there. The school did not find it amusing to say the least and believed that it spoilt the name and heritage of the school and hence got the film stalled.

Unfreedom (2015)

The most recent one to join this long list of banned movies in India, Unfreedom is a modern-day thriller which talks about a lesbian love story entangled within an Islamic terrorism-related angle. Bringing together two ‘taboos’ in one package, the Censor Board could not digest the nudity and the lovemaking scenes between the two protagonists. Reports also suggest that the movie was accused of “igniting unnatural passions” and hence was denied release in India, except for a few states.

Jul 142016
 

Indian school girl punishes a stalker

Sunayana Suresh: The recent murder of S Swathi, a young software engineer, in broad daylight by her alleged stalker has brought back the debate about the lopsided portrayal of love in cinema, in which, more often than not, stalking is masked as candyfloss romance. Online posts and tweets have already got many people debating this topic, wondering when makers will stop legitimizing stalking as love in their stories.

Filmmaker and mother of a young girl, Kavitha Lankesh, tells us that the situation that these films create can put society in a Catch-22 situation. “We want our young girls to grow up being strong and brave. But these situations and the popular stereotyping of women ensure that we end up raising them in an over-protected environment. If you take a look at young kids today, most of them are packed off with gadgets galore to ensure parents are assured of their safety. There are updates and messages sent if a child misses one day of school. This is a society that is only a direct result of the way popular media has portrayed women,” she maintains.

Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla

Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla

Filmmaker Lingadevaru also believes that films and aesthetics play a big part in the conditioning of the male psyche. “If we look at films of Puttanna Kanagal, the women were independent and the relationships were real. The way he portrayed women was something else. If you look at films like Samskara, Ghatashraddha or even my own film Naanu Avanalla… Avalu, these films all dealt with sex in their own fashion. But the makers chose to showcase them in a different way. I did suggest scenes that involved my protagonist in sexual acts, but the way we showed it got us a U certificate. The fact is that filmmakers can ensure their films are real and not hyped with unnecessary factors. But the commercial aspect has taken over the art value of cinema,” he points out.

Also Read: The Guardian, UK:  Does Bollywood normalise stalking?

A leading heroine from South Indian films, on the basis of anonymity, says, “I have played roles that required me to say no to the hero and then end up with him by the end of the film because he is relentless, and that is supposed to be romantic. Unfortunately, only a fragment of the scripts portray realistic relationships. They want to make romance aspirational. While cinema is meant to be a means of entertainment that helps one get away from reality, one must restrict the false hopes they build in young minds.

The Chennai incident can be pinned down in some way to the way most films in India dictate that a woman always says yes to a romantic proposal, irrespective of what the hero does.”
Kavitha agrees: “Almost every hero is a stalker in Indian cinema. If we are to put it into numbers, around 90% of the heroes are portrayed as stalkers. It is bad that we have to accept this as romance. These films see the hero pursue his woman long and strong until she gives in and turns around a new leaf. And this has always been the case in films from as long as we can remember.”

Courtesy: The Times of India

Jan 072013
 

Late actor Vinod Mehra’s daughter says acting is a hereditary calling and shares the ecstasy of holding the highest scorer title in the last level acting exam. Soniya Mehra talks on her aspirations, time at the acting school and why it’s great to be a women.

“I don’t know much about luck… I can’t really consider myself lucky considering it is not easy to be taken seriously by some people who can throw around terms like ‘bimbette’ and ‘airhead’ which are extremely offensive. It’s a timeless brains v/s beauty debate where according to urban myths coming across a beautiful intelligent woman is like finding life on the moon! But women are a force to reckon – always have, always will be.

When my dad passed away I was a mere toddler. I was brought up by my maternal grandparents in Kenya with all the comforts. There I mixed with so many different cultures and races that I could have been anyone or anything I wanted. Nobody there knew the importance or symbolism of being Soniya ‘Vinod’ Mehra. But I think acting has been handed down to me as a legacy, a hereditary calling as opposed to an opportunist one; which is why I started my training when I was only eight-years-old.

This is when I reached my last levels exams at the age of 15, and boy, was I nervous! Our acting coaches and examiners were all from the Academy in London. After I gave my exam I waited anxiously as my coach Mrs Hughes went inside to collect my results. She came in with a stony look on her face. “What happened? Is it that bad?” I asked. “Soniya, she loved you… Nobody has ever got that high a score in Mombasa or Nairobi.” We hugged and both started crying. It was a big deal for me to finally see my efforts reach some kind of fruition. I found out later that it was the highest anybody had ever got in East Africa. It was a proud moment for me, and being a female Indian actor, I was so happy I was awarded with this title.

Being the fairer sex, since we are constantly judged by people, it has become pertinent to prove yourself and we have done it time and again. Today Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Film and Best Director, that too with a male-oriented script. Just goes to show that men should just take directions from us women!”

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Jan 072013
 

Sales of Kim Kardashian’s sex tape have gone up by 80% since her pregnancy was revealed.

The reality TV star’s boyfriend Kanye West announced on Sunday that the pair are expecting a child together and Vivid Entertainment – who own the rights to Kim Kardashian: Superstar which features X-rated footage of the beauty and her ex-boyfriend Ray J – report business has soared since the news was made public.

The company say the sudden surge in video-on-demand sales is the biggest since Kim’s 2011 nuptials to Kris Humphries.

Additionally, they told TMZ that sales of the erotic material – on DVD, online and video-on-demand – have increased steadily every month since the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star started dating Kanye last spring.

The tape – which was made in 2003 – was leaked online in 2007.

Kim sued Vivid Entertainment for ownership of the tape – which was allegedly stolen during a house move – after they paid $1 million for the rights but in April 2007, she dropped the case and settled with the company for $5 million.

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Jan 022013
 

Dhaka, Jan 02, 2013: Singer Runa Laila of Bangladesh occupies a special place in South Asian music. Born in Bangladesh when it was still East Pakistan, then establishing a successful musical career in India and Pakistan too. She has memorable hits like ‘Dama Dam Mast Qalandar’ to her record.

Interview with times of India, Laila discussed her public debut when she was too small to hold a tanpura up, musical similarities across South Asia – and bouquets and biryani with Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle:

How did you get into music?

Born into a family of music lovers in Sylhet, Bangladesh, i started learning classical music at a very early age. I received vigorous training from Ustad Habibuddin Khan. At the age of 11, i cut my first disc for a film called Jugnu. But my full-time career as a singer happened by accident. My elder sister, Dina, got a break but on the day of her performance, she developed a sore throat. I was asked to stand in. I was so little that i could not hold the tanpura up! I held it horizontally and sang a khayal. Somehow, this became an instant hit. You’ve worked in India and Pakistan too – where do you feel you truly belong?

I was born and brought up in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. I belong to the subcontinent though as i have had the privilege of singing in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. In my view, like music itself, a singer has no boundaries.

Are there more similarities or differences in music between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh?

Well, classical music is the same across all three countries. In light music, there are certain similarities. The beats are more or less the same. Sometimes, there are marked variations in the style of singing or the use of certain musical instruments – for example, in Bengali folk music, the ektara and dotara are widely used. These touches make folk music special and across the region, each area has its own unique, distinct style.

We often hear of Indian and Pakistani musical collaborations – much less about tie-ups involving Bangladesh. Why is this?

In Bangladesh, Bengali is the main language along with Urdu. If this is included, then there can certainly be a greater exchange of artists.

What kind of music moves you the most?

I like all genres. But personally, i prefer classical-based songs most – that is our real foundation.

What’s been a significant development in South Asian music over recent years?

Well, technology has greatly improved – but sadly, the use of acoustic instruments has become very limited. I really think we should maintain a balance between the two.

Finally, what are your memories of starting out as a singer in India?

My very first recording was with music composers Kalyanji-Anandji for the title song of a movie called Ek Se Badhkar Ek.Lata Mangeshkar was present during that recording and she gave her blessings to me. It was like a dream come true when Lata didi came across, blessed me and offered me a bouquet! Even now, Lataji calls me whenever she hears i`m in town and invites me over for lunch or dinner.

Her sister Ashaji too has become a close friend. I had met her informally before but we became friends when recently judging a musical show together. Ashaji used to bring wonderful biryani to the sets!

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Dec 262012
 

Controversial plans to open a lapdancing club in the heart of Hemel Hempstead town centre have come under further fire this week.

The Gazette reported last week that town MP Mike Penning was planning to object to the proposal because of the inappropriate site.

And his objections are echoed by the Rev Vindra Maraj-Ogden of Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church, who said: “We are deeply concerned by these plans.

“We believe that all people are made in the image of God and we object to any business that profits from degrading and objectifying both women and men.

“Should the licence be granted, we hope that the establishment’s staff will receive high levels of support and protection from harm.”

After 8 Entertainment Ltd already runs a lapdancing club in Luton and has applied for the licence to open a ‘sexual entertainment’ venue open from 8pm until 6am in the morning on Fridays, Saturdays and bank holidays.

It’s the second application of this kind this year after Images nightclub in the Old Town had a licence granted to open an ‘upmarket’ basement gentlemen’s club.

Others who have reservations include Angela Irving from Bennetts End, who said: “It’s a bad place to have it.

“It will only attract more problems with alcohol. If it’s open until 6am there will be normal people wanting to go to work with drunks staggering everywhere.”

Howard Hyames, who runs the temporary Christmas shop next door to the proposed venue, had a more pragmatic view.

He said: “It’s not the right kind of town for this sort of thing, but then again there are lot of empty shops around so if it’s a good money maker, good luck to them but I don’t think it’ll work.”

A decision on the application will be made in the new year.

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Dec 262012
 

Don’t Watch On The Road Just For The Sex

If you’re planning to watch On the Road for the sex scenes, think again.

One of the film’s stars, Kristen Stewart, says as individual moments, the sex scenes are “fairly ridiculous.” They make sense within the context of the movie, though. Obviously. And Stewart says she doesn’t regret the scenes at all.

“Actresses love to stand up and say, after they’ve shown their t**s in a movie, that it was done tastefully and that it was, you know, far from gratuitous,” she recently told The Huffington Post. “I mean, projects that really require it are really few and far between. I think that in this case, it needed to be.”

Why, though?

“The book celebrates being alive and it celebrates being human, and if you want to cover up and deny any aspect of that, you’re denying the spirit of the book,” she said, explaining that refusing to dive into those scenes would have only been because she was afraid to disappoint her Twilight fans.

On the Road is an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s book by the same name. Stewart plays Marylou, a girl who married Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), but has sex with both Dean and Sal Paradise (Sam Riley).

The book, published in 1957, was a defining piece of postwar Beat generation fiction. The book and movie tell a story parallel to that of the friendship between Kerouac and Neal Cassady. Marylou’s actions may seem scandalous now, but for the beat generation, the laid-back attitude toward love and sex was completely natural. The only thing that ought to be more entertaining than the movie is the soundtrack. The Beat movement was connected to and spawned from the jazz scene.

The sex scenes might cause some controversy (don’t they always?), but Kristen doesn’t mind.

“I wanted to do it,” she said after the premiere. “I love pushing, I love scaring myself.”

Hopefully, On the Road will mark the return of the Kristen Stewart from Adventureland… a far more entertaining acting effort than films from the Twilight Saga.

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Dec 242012
 

Kristen Stewart’s sex scenes in “On the Road” are “fairly ridiculous” to watch as isolated moments, according to the actress.

In a new interview with Indiewire, Stewart said that though those sex scenes are difficult to watch, they fit in with the film as a whole.

“To be honest, I think if you were to isolate the scenes, it’s fairly ridiculous watching yourself fake have sex,” she said. “But within the movie, watching the movie, I do get so caught up in this one. I’ve seen it three times, and that’s not typical for me. I have to complete the process, I need to watch the movie at the end of it.”

In the new adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” Stewart plays Marylou, a young woman who marries Dean Moriarty (played by Garrett Hedlund), and has sex with both Dean and Sal Paradise (Sam Riley). As Stewart told HuffPost Entertainment, it was imperative to keep the nudity and sex scenes in the film.

“Actresses love to stand up and say, after they’ve shown their t*ts in a movie, that it was done tastefully and that it was, you know, far from gratuitous,” she told HuffPost Entertainment. “I mean, projects that really require it are really few and far between. And I think that in this case, it needed to be. This book celebrates being alive and it celebrates being human, and if you want to cover up and deny any aspect of that, you are denying the spirit of the book. I think that it would have been so wrong to shy away from anything in this movie. I think that I would have gotten flak for that. I think that it would have been that I was scared to disappoint my ‘Twilight’ fans or something.”

Stewart said the experience of making “On the Road” was one that she wouldn’t soon forget.

“I wanted to do it,” she said after the film’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May. “I love pushing, I love scaring myself.”

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Dec 242012
 

Washington, December 24, 2012: The main factors contributing to low sex drive in women, including younger woman, seem to intensify during the craziness of the holidays, it has been claimed. Contrary to what is shown on TV, a lull in sexual desire isn’t always a crisis, ABC News reported.

In a 2010 study, researchers looked at 400 premenopausal women age 18 or older with low sexual desire disorder. In the study, it turned out that 85 percent of the low-sex-drive women cited multiple factors for their low drive.

The main culprits that were cited were – stress or fatigue, dissatisfaction with personal appearance and sexual difficulties including problems reaching orgasm.

The authors of the study concluded that boosting self-esteem along with reducing fatigue and stress could significantly fire up a woman’s sex life.

The study has been published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

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Dec 242012
 

If the Christian Right had its way, the United States would be a fundamentalist theocracy in which contraception, homosexuality, abortion, sexually explicit hip-hop lyrics and all adult pornography were illegal. But making the U.S. that much of a theocracy would mean overturning a lot of major Supreme Court decisions. Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has had many rulings that helped to advance sexual freedom in the United States—and it will be easier to protect those advances if fewer socially conservative justices of the Antonin Scalia/Clarence Thomas variety are appointed in the future.

Certainly, the Christian Right would have had a better chance of bringing more hardcore social conservatives to the High Court if Republican Mitt Romney had been elected president on November 6, whereas President Barack Obama has shown a tendency to nominate justices who are at least centrist in their judicial philosophy. And now that Obama is getting ready to begin his second term, he will be more likely to appoint justices who will uphold or perhaps even expand Supreme Court decisions that are favorable to gay rights (Lawrence v. Texas), contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird), or one’s right to possess sexually explicit adult erotica (Stanley v. Georgia).

Below are 10 landmark decisions that have had major implications for sexual freedom in the United States.

1.        Stanley v. Georgia (1969)

The Christian Right loves to demonize the late Earl Warren, who served as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1953-1969—and social conservatives’ hatred of Warren is quite ironic in light of the fact that he was a Republican who was nominated by GOP President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Warren served three terms as California’s Republican governor and was Republican Thomas E. Dewey’s running mate in the 1948 presidential election). But then, the term “socially liberal Republican” wasn’t an oxymoron in the days of the Warren Court. And shortly before Warren’s retirement in 1969, the Warren Court handed down one of the rulings social conservatives are still cursing 43 years later: its decision in Stanley v. Georgia, which said that simple possession of adult pornography is not a crime even if the material is obscene. The Stanley v. Georgia ruling upheld that selling, creating or distributing obscene adult material was illegal, but a consumer could not be charged with obscenity merely for being in possession of that material. In the U.K., civil libertarians have been quite critical of what has been called the “extreme porn law” (which says Internet users can be sent to prison for up to three years merely for downloading “extreme pornography”). Britain’s extreme porn law would not be possible in the U.S. because it would be a violation of the Supreme Court’s Stanley v. Georgia ruling. Only if the Supreme Court overturned Stanley v. Georgia could the U.S. adopt a possession-oriented adult obscenity law along the lines of Britain’s law.

2.     Roe v. Wade (1973)

If there is one High Court decision that the Christian Right hates more than any others, it is the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. Before that, abortion laws varied considerably from state to state—and Roe v. Wade declared most of the state abortion laws that existed at the time to be unconstitutional. Nationwide, Roe v. Wade made it much easier to obtain abortions during the first trimester of a pregnancy. The Christian Right, after all these years, continues to hope that Roe v. Wade will eventually be overturned—which could happen if enough socially conservative justices are appointed to the Supreme Court. Were that to happen, it wouldn’t be a total nationwide ban on abortion; rather, one would likely see abortion banned in some states and maintained in others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there would be more abortions in liberal-leaning states than in socially conservative Republican-dominated states. Possibly, the more socially liberal states would encourage comprehensive sex education and easier access to contraception, thus reducing the need for abortions—whereas in the Bible Belt states that banned abortion, Christian Right attacks on sex-ed and birth control would lead to more unplanned pregnancies and an abundance of illegal, unsafe back-alley abortions. So per capita, there might be more abortions (albeit illegal ones) in so-called “red states” should Roe v. Wade be overturned. But that is pure speculation. What we can say with certainty is that President Obama favors upholding Roe v. Wade while Romney favors overturning it.

3.        Regina v. Hicklin (1868)

Although the Regina v. Hicklin decision of 1868 was a British case rather than a U.S. case, it had a profound influence on American obscenity law—one that lasted 89 years. Regina v. Hicklin came about because of a British man named Henry Scott, who distributed copies of an anti-Catholic pamphlet titled “The Confessional Unmasked.” When a lower court decided the pamphlet was obscene and ordered it to be destroyed, Scott appealed that decision—and when Regina v. Hicklin went to the Court of Queen’s Bench, the higher court upheld the lower court’s ruling. Scott argued that the pamphlet wasn’t obscene because he wasn’t trying to be offensive; he was merely trying to shed some light on the problems of the Catholic Church. But the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that Scott’s intent was irrelevant—that if even a small portion of a book or pamphlet had a “tendency to deprave and corrupt,” all of it was obscene. Across the Atlantic Ocean in Britain’s former colonies, that “tendency to deprave and corrupt” standard was adopted in American obscenity law. The Hicklin standard was applied in the U.S. in 1873 when Anthony Comstock (a lobbyist and extreme social conservative) got Congress to pass the Comstock Act, which made it illegal to mail “obscene, lewd and/or lascivious” material, which included not only erotic literature, but also pamphlets dealing with birth control and abortion. In 1896, the Hicklin test was upheld with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Rosen v. the United States.

4.     Roth v. the United States (1957)

No less than 144 years after Regina v. Hicklin, U.S. law continues to state that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But what has changed dramatically since then is the way obscenity is defined. In 1957, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren redefined obscenity in a major way with its landmark ruling in Roth v. the United States. The Roth decision threw out the Hicklin standard and said that an artistic or literary work could not be obscene because of a small or isolated passage; the intent of the entire work had to be considered. The Roth test made it much harder for prosecutors to get obscenity convictions. Christian Right zealot Phyllis Schlafly, a vehement critic of the Roth decision, has complained that “the flood of pornography started with the Warren Court.” Hugh Hefner’sPlayboy magazine (which was founded in 1953) existed before the Roth decision, but Roth no doubt made it safer for Hefner to publish photos of nude or scantily clad women, and the Roth test certainly made it less risky for Bob Guccione, Sr. to launchPenthouse magazine in 1965.

5.        Miller v. California  (1973)

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Warren E. Burger tweaked the Roth decision with its Miller v. California ruling, which established the three-prong Miller test for obscenity. According to the Miller test, a film, book or magazine is obscene if it 1) appeals to a prurient interest when contemporary community standards are applied; 2) is patently offensive; and 3) lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value when taken as a whole (the so-called SLAPS test). And #3 was somewhat of a departure from Roth, which said that obscene material was “utterly without redeeming social value.” Some people in the adult entertainment industry were worried about the SLAPS test, which they feared would make it easier for prosecutors to get convictions in obscenity cases. For example, they thought it would be easier for a prosecutor to convince jurors that Deep Throat (which came out in 1972) lacked serious social value than to convince them that it was totally devoid of social value. But in fact, the market for hardcore triple-X adult films grew considerably in the 1970s (a decade that also saw the birth of Larry Flynt’sHustler magazine, which was much cruder thanPlayboy orPenthouse). The Miller decision, likeRoth before it, essentially stated that adult pornography is legal as long as it isn’t “obscene.” If a social conservative of the 1970s claimed that porn films like Debbie Does Dallas, The Opening of Misty Beethoven and Behind the Green Door were obscene, the films’ supporters would counter that no, they weren’t obscene because they did, in fact, have serious artistic value. And 39 years after the Miller test was established, it continues to be the standard for determining obscenity in the United States.

6.        Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972)

Another Warren Court ruling that social conservatives detest is the 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down a Connecticut law that forbade the use of contraceptives for married couples. That law, which had been on the books since 1879, had been unsuccessfully challenged in previous cases, including Tileston v. Ullman in 1943 and Poe v. Ullman in 1961. But it wasn’t until Griswold v. Connecticutthat the law was finally declared to be unconstitutional, and the person we can thank for that case is the late feminist Estelle Griswold (who served as executive director of Planned Parenthood’s Connecticut branch). Griswold began to challenge the Connecticut law in the 1950s, when she organized “border runs” in which Connecticut women were taken to New York State or Rhode Island in order to obtain the contraception they couldn’t legally obtain in Connecticut. Griswold later opened a birth control clinic in New Haven, which resulted in her being arrested and fined $100 for violating the 1879 law. Griswold’s arrest was upheld by the Connecticut Supreme Court, but that ruling was overturned when Griswold v. Connecticut went to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1972, the Griswold v. Connecticut decision was expanded to unmarried couples with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Eisenstadt v. Baird. That case went to the High Court thanks to pro-birth control activist William Baird, who was arrested in 1967 for violating a Massachusetts law that prohibited the distribution of contraception to unmarried people. The Massachusetts law wasn’t as restrictive as the 1879 Connecticut law that was struck down in 1965, but it did say that contraception could only be given to married people and only by doctors and pharmacists. Baird’s arrest came about when he gave a condom and a package of contraceptive foam to an unmarried 19-year-old woman after a lecture at Boston University. The Massachusetts law, however, was declared unconstitutional when Baird appealed his arrest all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

7.        Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

In 2003, the Supreme Court was way to the right of where it had been in the days of the Warren Court or even the Burger Court. Yet it was in 2003 that the Supreme Court handed down its historic ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which declared a Texas sodomy law to be unconstitutional and in effect invalidated sodomy laws in 13 other states. Lawrence v. Texas was passed by a 6-3 majority, with justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice William Rehnquist dissenting. Like Stanley v. Georgia, Lawrence v. Texas was a “right to privacy in the home” decision—and it was a major victory for gay rights, which is why Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum (a senator at the time) opposed it so vociferously. Santorum infamously stated that the ruling was flawed because a right to privacy “doesn’t exist” in the U.S. Constitution.

8.        Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (1997)

The 1990s saw the rise of a new medium that could be used to sell and distribute sexually explicit or erotic material: the Internet—and the Communications Decency Act of 1996 was Congress’ first major attempt to regulate obscenity and indecency online. The CDA made it a crime to knowingly transmit “obscene or indecent” images to anyone under 18; using some of the language of the Miller test, the CDA made it a crime to send minors material that “depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs.” But when the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the CDA, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down anti-indecency elements of the CDA on the grounds that they violated the First Amendment. Justice John Paul Stevens, who felt the CDA’s language was much too broad, wrote that “the CDA effectively suppresses a large amount of speech that adults have a constitutional right to receive and to address to one another.” In other words, the Supreme Court ruled that some material can be inappropriate for minors but perfectly OK for adults. Stevens’ assertion was a major blow to those who wanted to suppress adult-oriented material on the grounds that minors shouldn’t see it. In that sense, it was yet another nail in the coffin of the old 19th-century Regina v. Hicklin belief that material was obscene if it wasn’t appropriate for “the most susceptible members of society.”

9.        Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (2002)

While the laws governing the creation, sale and distribution of adult entertainment in the United States are complex and nuanced, the Supreme Court has been much more clear-cut where child pornography is concerned. Child pornography is flat-out illegal in the U.S., and that includes simple possession (Stanley v. Georgia only applies to adult erotica). The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in New York v. Ferber in 1982 that child pornography doesn’t enjoy the protections of the Miller test. So when Congress passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) in 1996, civil libertarians had no problem with Congress reaffirming the illegality of child pornography. But they found parts of the CPPA to be overly broad and problematic, including a ban on “virtual child pornography” (material, including computer-generated images, that appears to depict sexual activity with minors but doesn’t involve any actual minors). The Free Speech Coalition (FSC), a Los Angeles-based trade organization for the adult entertainment industry, challenged those parts of the CPPA—and they were struck down when Ashcroft v. the Free Speech Coalition went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002. The Supreme Court upheld the illegality of actual child pornography — and rightly so — but pointed out that countless mainstream Hollywood films have had stories depicting sexual situations among teenagers, including American Beauty and Traffic. The High Court said: “If these films, or hundreds of others of lesser note that explore those subjects, contain a single graphic depiction of sexual activity within the statutory definition, the possessor of the film would be subject to severe punishment without inquiry into the work’s redeeming value. This is inconsistent with an essential First Amendment rule: the artistic merit of a work does not depend on the presence of a single explicit scene.” The FSC applauded the High Court’s decision, asserting that government’s prosecutorial efforts should be focused on real child pornography instead of “virtual child pornography.”

10.   Jack Thompson v. the 2 Live Crew (1992)

The majority of obscenity cases in the United States have involved films, magazines or books. But in 1990, Florida-based Christian Right activist Jack Thompson (who was an attorney at the time) tried to prove that U.S. obscenity law applied to music as well—and his main target was 2 Live Crew, a Miami-based rap group known for its sexually explicit lyrics, raunchy humor and song titles like “We Want Some Pussy,” “Head, Booty & Cock,” “The Fuck Shop,” “Me So Horny” and “S&M.” Thompson’s campaign against 2 Live Crew led to Jose Gonzalez (a district court judge in Florida) ruling that its 1989 album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, was obscene and illegal to sell; some retailers were even arrested for selling it. But in 1992, a court of appeals in Georgia overturned Gonzalez’ ruling and asserted that As Nasty As They Wanna Be did not fit the Miller test for obscenity—and that decision was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Nonetheless, Thompson continued to rail against rap lyrics, and after that, video games that he didn’t like, although his legal career came to end when, in 2008, the Florida Supreme Court permanently disbarred him for his long history of unprofessional conduct (which included, among other things, libel and slander, frivolous filings and making false statements to tribunals).

Courtesy: AlterNet.

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Aug 182012
 
The novel Fifty Shades of Grey may have Britain’s housewives experiencing something of a sexual renaissance, but women’s steamiest thoughts are still tame compared with the male imagination, scientists claim.

While men spend more time thinking about sex than their partners overall, a survey found that women have more fantasies which could be described as “pleasant”.

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to occupy their minds with wilder and more exploratory ideas such as “swinging” with other couples or taking part in an orgy, researchers found.

Women more frequently imagined being forced into submission in a sexual scenario — but they also took less enjoyment from the idea than men.

Nieves Moyano Muñoz, who led the study, said: “These fantasies are not very frequent but compared with men, women have more. But they experience it in a more negative way.”

The researchers, from the University of Granada, questioned 2,250 Spanish people who had been in a heterosexual relationship for at least six months about the frequency and nature of their sexual thoughts.

Their results, published in the Anales de Psicología journal, showed that almost all participants had experienced a pleasant sexual fantasy at some point in their life, and 80 per cent had also had a negative one.

The team said there were not “significant” differences between men’s and women’s racy thoughts, but that there were subtle differences between the sexes in the scenarios that they imagined.

Although men had more sexual fantasies in total, women reported having “pleasant” fantasies “a few” times a month — a greater frequency than men.

Men were more likely to admit having either positive or negative thoughts about experimental activities, such as “being promiscuous”, “being a swinger” or “participating in an orgy”, although most said that they only had such fantasies once a year or at some point in their life.

Ms Muñoz added: “These are not very frequently experienced — in normal life men and women have very similar fantasies. They have this type of fantasy about one or two times in their whole life.”

Sexual submission was the least enjoyable fantasy among women, with most imagining it at least once in their life, while for men the most negative thoughts involved homosexual activities.

The survey was aimed at helping determine whether unpleasant fantasies harm the development of healthy sexual behaviour.

Researchers pointed out that imagining sex could be helpful in some ways, for example by encouraging sexual desire or arousal.

They suggested that therapists should not only ask whether or not people have fantasies about sex, but also consider their attitude towards them.

(By ; Courtey: The Telegraph)

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Aug 182012
 

Friday, 17 August 2012: For many women, pregnancy can be a monumentally joyous occasion. There are lots of positive things that expectant mothers can look forward to, but most would agree that morning sickness isn’t one of them. Fortunately there is a psychologist out there that may have found a cure to the ailment in sperm, specifically through ingesting sperm.

I have little doubt that someone out there right now is pondering to themselves “How can a person ingest sperm?” To put it tactfully, if you have to ask that question you’re not old enough to be reading this article.

Believe it or not, there is actually someone out there encouraging pregnant women suffering from morning sickness to perform oral sex to combat feeling sick. The hypothesis stems from the belief that women are sometimes sick during the first trimester of pregnancy because their bodies view the embryo as a foreign object that doesn’t belong in their body.

It is almost as if their bodies are having a strong negative reaction to the man’s sperm. The hypothesis (can’t stress it enough that it’s only a hypothesis) suggests that since the sperm a woman digests is the same chemical makeup as the sperm used to fertilize the mother’s egg, a woman could potentially ward off morning sickness by simply increasing her sperm intake. Yes, I did just say “increasing her sperm intake.” Try not to laugh.

The father of this theory (see what I did there?) is a man by the name of Gordon Gallup, a psychologist at SUNY-Albany. According to an article for the NY Daily News, Gallup specializes in human reproductive competition and behavior.

According to a Daily Mail article, Gallup is arguing that the more sperm a woman consumes while pregnant, the more tolerance that woman’s body will develop for the sperm in general, thus eliminating the nauseating feeling commonly referred to as morning sickness (which, by the way, does not only occur in the morning). There is somewhat of a necessary stipulation: the woman must perform the intimate act on the father of the child she is carrying, otherwise performing the act defeats the purpose. The genetic makeup of the sperm taken in orally must match that of the sperm taken in during normal sexual intercourse in order for the pregnant woman to build an immunity of sorts.

The psychologist’s reasons for urging women who are “with child” to engage in this highly personal activity are based off of research from the National Center for Biotechnology information, according to a CBS News article. That research made a correlation between oral sex and preeclampsia, a disorder that causes high blood pressure in expectant mothers and protein to be found in their urine, and states oral sex may decrease a pregnant woman’s chances of getting the condition. On the other hand, it is important to mention that Gallup’s theory, which tells soon-to-be mothers to perform fellatio on the baby’s father in order to build immunity to sperm, has never been tested.

Do you think it is a coincidence that the person behind this theory is a man? I think not, however, I’ll let you all decide.

(BY NICOLE JAMES; Courtesy: newjerseynewsroom.com

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Aug 182012
 

Does it matter what wine is poured when the intention is to seduce? And if so, what bottles might it be good to open? I ask these questions because I was browsing in wine merchants Lea & Sandeman last Friday when a chap, who I’ll call Mr X, walked in and asked for help.

“I have an important date tonight,” I overheard him say. “She likes white wine. What should I buy?” He twinkled. “My life is in your hands.”

Unwisely, I interfered. I don’t know what came over me, but I gave him the most terrible advice. If wine choice matters, Mr X might well be miserably logging into match.com and cursing me right now.

The American writer Jay McInerney once wrote that his friends favoured fragrant, heady Condrieu when an important date was in prospect – a good plan, so long as the Condrieu is freshly young and not heavily oaked. I had Mr X buying sancerre (a reasonable choice) for stylish ease and godello for interest (a silly idea).

What I wish I’d told him to go for is fizz, not just because Lea & Sandeman has an Aladdin’s Cave of a champagne section, but also because being handed a sparkling glass sets an upbeat tone for an evening.

The episode set me thinking. How would a wine-and-women-smart gentleman deal with this situation? On condition of anonymity I consulted a collection of wine-savvy Rogues and Scoundrels, and Former Rogues and Scoundrels. What, I asked, would you pour for a woman if you were hoping she might share your cab home?

Their responses said less about wine and far more about their characters than I had anticipated. “Any wine seemed to work,” emailed Mr A airily. Mr B concurred but framed his response with a bit more bite. “Quantity over quality most of the time”, while “Mine’s a Rohypnol and tonic”, deadpanned Mr C.

They all agreed that a glass of fizz puts everyone in a good mood. Or as Mr D put it, “I always found gassing them had the best results. “Prosecco or champagne depending on how snobby they are; never cava.”

It was reading Mr E’s thoughts that I remembered the art of seduction doesn’t just pertain to dating. “Bubbles first choice,” he said. And then, (sounding perhaps a little more dangerous than he intended): “Flattering, charming and there’s a perception of spoiling someone, even if it costs less than a proper bottle of red or white.”

There’s the thing: flirtation (with either sex), fun and pleasure should be stitched through our lives like a golden thread. A drink with a colleague or contact, a night out with an old friend; they are all dates in their way and all demand the same careful balance between putting someone at ease and creating a moment. These guys were giving me a masterclass in how to deal with women. And reminding me that they know what I like on such occasions better than I do myself.

If champagne feels too heavy-handed, Saint Péray, bottle fermented chenin blanc or English sparkling wine were suggested as alternatives for a first glass.

Mr F followed my thinking on sancerre. “Good Loire whites, sancerre or menetou-salon purvey a certain amount of ‘man about town’ without being a wine bore,” he said. And then, rather sweetly, “Wines with lowish ABVs, given that your date may have had a couple of Cosmopolitans beforehand and you don’t want her leaving the taxi head-first.”

Back to Mr E, whose intentions lay in the opposite direction. “Pinot noir from the New World. No tannins, pretty fruit profile and quite alcoholic. Perfect!” He’s certainly right about the pretty fruit profile. It might sound daft but pretty drinks do make you feel pretty, or prettier; I’d have steered Mr X towards Domaine Tempier rosé Bandol if he hadn’t been so set on white.

Mr G was also a fan of rosé, “at this time of year —unchallenging, quite quaffable, metrosexual, food-friendly”. I love that metrosexual, don’t you? My goodness, these men are good. Mr G also counsels, “Avoid ostentation – no super-cuvée champagne – grim death for any date.” Or a tentative friendship, I suspect.

To all that I’d add any white you really love yourself that isn’t obscure (wine show-off territory!) and doesn’t reek of oak. The guys had one more thing to say. It involved pinot grigio.

Mr E: “Not pinot grigio. You might get a kiss but she’ll question your taste.” Mr F: “If she orders pinot grigio, then I’m afraid it’s a taxi for me.”

I have a final comment too. If you’re reading this feeling grateful your dating days are over, please remember that your wife might appreciate a similar level of attention. Only she’ll also expect you to know and remember what she likes.

(By ; Courtesy: The Telegraph)

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Aug 182012
 

Female Laysan albatrosses have a habit of building nests together and sharing child care responsibilities. Does this make them lesbians? Scientists say no. Still, there have been dozens of news headlines trumpeting the discovery of gay marriage among albatrosses. Now, to fight back, two scientists have done a study on how often the media misrepresents animal sexuality. Their findings are hilarious.

Writing today in Nature, biologists Andrew B. Barron and Mark J. F. Brown explain the scope of the problem:

The vast majority of studies reporting sexual contact between pairs of males or females were presented in media articles as documenting gay, lesbian or transgender behaviour. This is not innocuous – these are terms that refer to human sexuality, which encompasses lifestyle choices, partner preferences and culture, among other factors.

More worryingly, studies that invoked atypical sexual behaviour through genetic or hormonal manipulation were reported as inducing gay or lesbian behaviour or changing the animals’ sexual orientation, even in the case of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which has males and hermaphrodites, rather than males and females.

Humans have spent thousands of years heaping cultural ideas on top of our behavior. So when a human says she’s a lesbian, it can mean a lot of things that are fairly complicated. When an animal has sex with another animal of the same sex, it doesn’t really mean any more than when they have sex with an animal of the opposite sex. It’s simply a variant on sexual behavior.

Barron and Brown call out one headline from New Scientist as a perfect example of this issue of translating dry scientific headlines into more exciting (but incorrect) ones:

For example, ‘Female-limited polymorphism in the copulatory organ of a traumatically inseminating insect’ became ‘Bat bugs turn transsexual to avoid stabbing penises.’

The problem? Transsexuality is a human category. Animals do not have to go to a doctor, take hormones, and get their gender designation changed with the social security office in order to engage in the biological function described in the paper. Also, FYI, not all “copulatory organs” are penises.

Here is a funny (and sad) chart Barron and Brown made of some of the wild ways that the media has twisted studies of animal sexuality (click to enlarge).

But is it always wrong to point out that animals engage in homosexual sex, or that they have a lot of sexual variations that go beyond male/female coupling? As biologists like Joan Roughgarden (author of Evolution’s Rainbow) and Bruce Bagemihl (author of Biological Exhuberance) have argued, it can be instructive to reveal that same-sex sexual behavior occurs throughout nature. Humans who prefer same-sex partners are not “ill,” or “unnatural,” but simply behaving the way many animals do naturally. Roughgarden is fond of pointing out that the existence of nature’s many sexual permutations — from hermaphroditic worms to male cuttlefish who camouflage themselves as female — helps put human sexuality in perspective. Sexual diversity in nature reminds us that human sexual diversity is not an aberration, nor does it undermine evolutionary fitness.

Still, it can be hard to explain that animals are not gay nor lesbian, nor are they transsexual. They engage in behavior that looks so similar to those human ideas that we want to project human feelings onto them. This is the same urge that makes us want to make birthday cakes for hamsters and project complicated psychological motivations onto our cats when they barf on the pillows. Yes, animals do have feelings; and yes, they have sex in a lot of different ways. But that doesn’t mean they’re “passive aggressive” or “lesbian” in the way humans are.

We’ve had many debates about this at io9, most recently when a study came out about male cuttlefish camouflaging themselves as female to avoid conflicts with other males. Researchers had amazing pictures of a male cuttlefish who had transformed only one side of his body to look female — the side facing another male. So he had a kind of Victor/Victoria look, female on one side and male on the other. How do you explain that in a headline without coming across as wrong or douchey? Were these cuttlefish transvestites? Absolutely not. Were they two-faced deceivers? In a sense, but we worried that a headline like that, using “two faced,” would imply that gender transformation was negative. We finally settled on this headline: “Secrets of the half-male, half-female cuttlefish revealed at last.”That isn’t exactly perfect either, but we felt that it described the image of the cuttlefish accurately (half-male, half-female) — and the “secrets” part of the headline hinted to the reader that the image was also more than it seemed.

Writing is not an exact science. Plus, humans are so fascinated (and terrified) by our sexuality that it’s especially hard to avoid getting our knickers in a bunch over the scientific study of sex. But if we truly want to understand why humans do it, we’d do well to report as objectively as possible about how everybody else is doing it. Hopefully, by seeing animal sexuality for what it really is, we will learn to see human sexuality for what it is too.

(By Annalee Newitz; Courtesy: i09.com)

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Aug 182012
 

Aug 9, 2012 : The media’s coverage of scientific research into same-sex animal behaviour promotes negative stereotypes of gay and lesbians, say researchers.

Dr Andrew Barron from Macquarie University, and Dr Mark Brown from Royal Holloway University of London, present their analysis today in the journal Nature.

“People who identify with these minority groups in a human population see themselves presented for titillation, humour and not to be taken seriously,” says Barron.

He and Brown identified 11 recent scientific papers on key areas of same-sex animal behaviour research. They then searched for media coverage of these papers and chose 48 representative press reports to analyse in detail.

“Consistently any scientific report of same-sex sexual contact in any animals is reported as gay or lesbian behaviour,” says Barron. “It’s presented for titillation, often for humour, regardless of what the science actually is.”

“Gay and lesbianism is more than same-sex copulation in humans. Let’s not turn this animal behaviour into something that it isn’t,” he says. “Scientists would never call it gay.”

And Barron says in many cases the animals in the scientific study didn’t even copulate but simply showed some form of atypical male or female behaviour.

“It’s not just a simplification but a gross misrepresentation of the science and it’s having a negative effect,” he says.

Pathologising

Barron says sometimes the media portray homosexuality as something that is a result of a genetic fault and then coverage “goes from being derogatory to downright dangerous”.

He quotes a study in which female mice that had a certain gene knocked out exhibited some male typical sexual behaviour.

The Telegraph presented this as ‘Female mice can be turned lesbian by deleting gene’,” says Barron.

“If we’re saying we can induce lesbian behaviour by a mutation then we are, by extension, saying lesbian behaviour is a pathology,” he says. “That’s neither an accurate or positive message about lesbians. It perpetuates profoundly homophobic attitudes.”

Another study of neurobiological features associated with male-male sexual behaviour in domestic rams was reported in the media under the headlines “Brokeback Mutton” and “Gay sheep may help explain biology of homosexuals”.

Barron says media reports portrayed the research as being part of an effort to “cure” homosexuality in sheep, which “could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans”.

Appeal to scientists

Barron says scientists can make a difference by being careful about what they say to journalists.

“When scientists themselves … used the term ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘she-male’, ‘transvestite’ or ‘drag’ it was lept on by the popular media,” says Barron.

He contrasts this with reports on the work of researcher Lindsay Young, who studied pairs of female albatross involved in caring for their young.

While one press report referred to “Lesbian albatrosses”, most used the term “same-sex couples” and reported Young’s active denial that the findings were relevant to humans.

She was regularly quoted as saying “Lesbianism is a human term. The study is about albatross. The study is not about humans.”

Barron says Young managed to get a lot of media coverage despite not sensationalising her research.

“Research on sexual behaviour in animals does not need to be sensationalised to catch public attention,” conclude Barron and Brown.

Double bind

Science in the media expert, Dr Joan Leach of the University of Queensland, welcomes the study and agrees some of the examples of media coverage given by Barron and Brown are “outrageous”, but thinks their analysis of the problem is simplistic.

She says reports on scientific research have to prove newsworthiness in a very competitive media environment, which likely encourages sensationalism.

But beyond this, it is not just the media that is to blame for such coverage, says Leach.

She says press officers and press releases play a major role in shaping the messages about research.

And scientists themselves are pressured to think about the impacts and implications of their research when talking to journalists, says Leach.

“Scientists are in a double bind,” she says. “They have all been to media training and been told to make their work relevant … and interesting to the general public. Talking about sex is definitely a way to do that,” says Leach.

And Leach says in some fields of research – for example evolutionary psychology – scientists are actively linking human behaviour to animal behaviour.

“You read this stuff not just about gay behaviour but about female versus male behaviour and it’s irritating,” she says.

“I get really tired of evolutionary psychology explanations that my behaviour has to do with hunters and gatherers.”

(By Anna Salleh, Courtesy: ABC Science)

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Aug 182012
 

Aug 16, 2012 (Reuters) – A federal study on the sexual behavior of young Americans released on Thursday countered a widespread belief that oral sex was increasing and vaginal sex decreasing among teenagers due to fears of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Two in every three young Americans have engaged in oral sex, about the same percentage as those who have engaged in vaginal intercourse, the study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for Vital Statistics found.

It also showed that the rates of both practices among the U.S. youth have dropped since a decade ago.

The study showed that about equal numbers of young women and men aged between 15-24 have had oral sex, and that about a quarter – 26 percent of women and 24 percent of men – had first had oral sex before engaging in vaginal intercourse.

Around a quarter of youth had likewise had oral sex only after first experiencing vaginal intercourse, the study said.

The belief that oral sex was being practiced more and vaginal sex less to avoid pregnancy and STDs has gained traction in recent years.

“Now we know that’s not necessarily true,” Monica Rodriguez, president and chief executive of the nonprofit group, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, told Reuters.

“Now we have some real data,” she said after reviewing the new study based on 6,346 interviews conducted between 2007-2010.

LESS SEX

Teenage oral sex has declined slightly since 2002, as has vaginal sex, the author of the CDC study Casey Copen said. She attributed the drop to a “decreasing trend in sexual experience among teens.”

The study also revealed differences in experiences linked to race, education and income.

White youth and those from more educated, two-parent homes are more likely than others their age to engage in oral sex first, the study showed. It found that 44 percent of white youth had oral sex before vaginal sex, compared to 30 percent of black youth.

“A higher percentage of females and males who had oral sex, but not yet had vaginal intercourse, had mothers who had some college education or higher,” the study found.

Also, females who had oral sex, but had not yet had vaginal intercourse, were more likely than others their age to live with two biological parents, according to the study. (By David Beasley)

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Aug 182012
 

Fidelity is a tough promise to keep. So whenever a woman has dared to stray from her relationship, she’s done it for love. But now the trend is changing. Like men, even women are craving for casual sex outside.

Love, excitement, money, loneliness or revenge — there are so many ways to justify why women are unfaithful to their husbands and boyfriends. But have you wondered why sex doesn’t figure on this list? Well, that’s because we’ve been conditioned to believe that women are ’emotional’ creatures and it’s only men who cheat for sex. However, the reality seems a little different from that.

 Just a few weeks ago, Twilight star Kristen Stewart came under intense criticism, when she was captured with her Snow White And The Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, (who is 19 years her senior, and married with two children), in what the media termed a ‘marathon makeout session’ in her car one afternoon! Naturally, this came as a shocker, as the pretty actress was dating Hollywood heartthrob Robert Pattinson for the past four years. In fact, just two days after her steamy rendezvous, she was spotted with Pattinson at an award function, where she looked calm and composed, almost blase about the affair. What’s more, when her infidelity was exposed by the paparazzi, Kristen immediately issued a public apology to her boyfriend stating that it was a “momentary indiscretion” and that she’s still in love with him.

While Kristen’s infidelity came as a shock, (she and Pattinson were the perfect young celebrity couple),what was more scandalous was the fact that she acknowledged she had succumbed to the temptation and that it was a result of bad judgment. While the puritans are busy playing the blame game and have bestowed the scarlet letter on Kristen, die-hard fans are still wondering what made her cross the boundary of her stable and seemingly happy relationship, just to enjoy a few moments of physical gratification!

If you think that cheating for sex has always been a man’s prerogative, think again. It’s not only men who compartmentalise sex and emotions separately; today women too are trying to do that. Love aside, the fairer sex can also look past their stable relationships, and indulge in an affair, which promises pure lust! And you’re naive if you think only celebrities or women with an adventurous streak or lifestyle look for sexual pleasures in an affair — you could be a bored, stay-at-home mom or a busy working woman too.

So, why is this happening? Today, the gap between the two genders is diminishing, and it’s not just at the workplace. Dr Anjali Chhabria, psychiatrist says, “Women are becoming more aggressive. Traditionally, we believe that women are emotional fools, while men only think from their d*cks, but now you can’t rule out the fact that it’s possible for women to cheat for sex, as they also have desires. It’s just that these desires are subconscious and when a woman is faced with a tempting situation, she is bound to give in. Believe it or not — nowadays, sex is equally important, just like love.” It’s little wonder then, even if women are in perfectly happy relationships, they can still venture out, to quench their lust for better sex!

Sometimes, it’s the adrenaline rush random sex provides that becomes a reason to give in. Seema Hingorrany, relationship expert, comments, “Women can have random sex, and not sex just for love or materialistic reasons. They are simply doing it for the thrill it provides. They believe, if men can do it, why can’t they?” Whoever said men and women are from different planets?
By, Purvaja Sawant; Courtesy: Times of India

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Aug 182012
 

Mumbai: Mallika Sherawat has apparently stated that her body and hair stay in shape due to her strict vegetarian diet, her regular yoga sessions and being happy. The star has never heard of botox and getting under the knife to rectify what nature doesn’t give.


Emraan Hashmi’s eye problems on sets of ‘Raaz 3’

The posters of Emraan Hashmi’s upcoming horror flick has the star sporting red eyes. He had to wear red lenses for the shoot. As the actor has an aversion to wearing lenses, it took some time to convince him that he had to do it. Would red glares have done instead?

Karan Tacker turns into a Parineeti Chopra admirer

Telly actor Karan Tacker had hosted the red carpet for an award function held abroad recently where he got to interact with Parineeti Chopra. He says, “She was very real. She called me a fattu because I refused to go on a roller-coaster as the ride seemed really scary. I then bought lunch for her. She seemed very happy so it was nice to bring a smile on her face.” Well Parineeti, your list of admirers is increasing day-by-day!

Sunidhi Chauhan refuses a song to avoid controversy

Sunidhi Chauhan was scheduled to record a song for Khalid Kidwai’s upcoming film and even went to Kailash Kher’s studio to record it. But she later developed cold feet over some bold political intonations in the lyrics. She asked to change a few lines in the song but Khalid and director Ranjeet Gupta bluntly refused to comply and got regional singer Indu Sonali to sing it instead.

Singer Babul Supriyo designs football jersey for Mohun Bagan

Singer Babul Supriyo designed a jersey for the football club, Mohun Bagan, with his daughter Sharmilee’s colour pencils after seeing one of their matches recently. He felt that the jersey lacked the right mix of the signature green and maroon colours on it. His design was selected as the club’s 2012-2013 footballing season. The jersey was unveiled over the weekend in Kolkata in the presence of Dutch football great Ruud Gullit.

Incidentally, Babul’s proposal for an alternative to tie-breakers during matches has been welcomed by the footballing fraternity with the proposal being sent to the international football association. Let’s sing to this!

Mahaakshay gets a birthday treat from dad

Mahaakshay Chakraborty turns 28 today. He is celebrating his birthday with his family and friends. The star son plans to stay at home and binge. The menu includes mutton masala cooked by his dad Mithun Chakraborthy. Remember Mithunda loves to cook and is good at it.

Second innings for musician Daboo Malik

Musician Daboo Malik who was away from public glare for a while is now back. He was recently roped in by ad film director Turan Chopra for his forthcoming project in which Daboo will be collaborating with international musicians. Alongside, he also launched his first online album with Sunidhi Chauhan. On being asked whether this is his second innings in the industry, he turned philosophical and says, “My journey has just begun. Now I’m not chasing my dreams. My dreams are chasing me!”

Courtesy: IBNLive

Aug 182012
 

It’s four years to the next Olympics in Rio, but before that, Mallika Sherawat will be racing for an Olympic medal. She plays a Jat sprinter who represents the country in actor-producer Sonu Sood’s film, Lucky Unlucky, which will be shot this winter in Delhi, UP and Punjab. “Mallika’s character, Lucky, is a bindaas girl who is fearless in the way she speaks. I’ve read Mallika’s interviews in which she came across as moahfat (frank), which is how I thought of her for this story that unfolds in the course of one day,” explains Sonu, who plays the character called Unlucky.

Three of India’s six medal winners from the just-concluded London Games are from Haryana, including wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, and badminton player Saina Nehwal (she was born there). A large part of India’s 81-member contingent was from this state, including many of the female athletes. Mallika, who was born Reema Lamba in Rothak, Haryana, is kicked about her new role.

“Having been born in an old-fashioned, patriarchal family where a woman’s role is confined to household chores, it’s heartwarming to see these female athletes stepping out of their homes and shaping their destinies,” says Mallika, who will be undergoing special coaching for the role. “Many women in my home state have been inspired by my success story and I hope Lucky Unlucky will inspire many more to come out and change the rules.”