For centuries, marriage functioned as a political, practical, and economical union, depending on your station in life. For the aristocrats, a good marriage secured fortunes and position. For common folk, it meant having enough kids to work a farm. It is only in the last 100 years or so that the idea of a passionate marriage took hold of the popular imagination. Today, most of us are less worried about basic survival and can focus more on what we desire in a union. Usually a healthy, dynamic, secure, relationship that is predictable, but not when it comes to sex, which people want to be anything but staid and predicable. Our guest is Esther Perel, she's based her career on how to unite those conflicting desires. She’s a psychologist, sex therapist and author who specializes in couples and sexuality. Her TED talk (watch it below) on “The Secret to Desire in a Long-term Relationship” has over 2 million views. Her bestselling book is called “Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic”.
In the new movie “Delivery Man,” Vince Vaughn discovers that his “donation” has been used hundreds of times without his knowledge. Far-fetched plot? Maybe not. The United States does not track sperm donations. We have no idea how many there are, how often they're donated, nor how many children are born from those donations. Rene Almeling is an assistant professor of sociology at Yale. She wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times about “The Unregulated Sperm Industry.”
According to a 2010 AARP survey, 85% of men and 61% of women over fifty said sex is important to their quality of life. This number, coupled with increasing rates of sexually transmitted diseases among adults over fifty, clashes with our societal taboo surrounding the elderly libido. Jessica Gentile wrote about that conflict, and the value of embracing sexuality at all ages for an Atlantic piece called “The 87 Year Old Virgin.”
The author and philosopher Alain de Botton addresses the chasm between our private feelings and real world experience of sex in “How to Think More About Sex." It’s one of two new books in The School of Life Series – a smart and frequently funny twist on the “self-help” genre, which he curates.
Check out this short film that accompanies the book:
The downfall of C.I.A. Director David Patraeus in the wake of his extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, continues to unfold in an unbelievable fashion. As the story breaks by the hour, we begin to glimpse a familiar narrative: powerful man succumbs to the temptation of a much younger woman.
The runaway success of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey has exposed some of America’s other sexual impulses. The trilogy has sold tens of millions of copies by appealing to readers of so-called “mommy porn”.