Ideal Male Bodies from History 1

Most everyone agrees that the female body is more aesthetically pleasing than the male, and women are much more commonly portrayed as reifications of beauty than are men. (Perhaps the most famous exception is Michelangelo’s David, above.) Men aren’t generally depicted for their beauty, but perhaps we can learn a bit about the historical “ideal male body” by examining some artwork of men who were at the top of the social hierarchy for another reason: martial prowess.

Redditor PartyMoses writes about depictions of men in 15th century fencing manuals.

I’m going to take some time to talk about a man named Paulus Kal. Kal was a fencing master who wrote a treatise on the knightly arts, and had a long career as a knight in various capacities, served some civic functions for Nuremberg, and was sworn in service to a couple of dukes. In the 1480s (probably), he wrote his treatise, which contained a fair amount of art.

We think Kal depicted himself in the middle here, wearing the red/pink suit. He’s helping a knight (right) prepare for a duel. Take a look at Kal and a look at the anonymous knight for a moment. Kal doesn’t look the way we think of as “fit” today. He has a noticable belly, no definition of arm muscles, stout legs. He looks very similar in other images, even from (possibly) different artists. Now take a look at the arming knight: again, no muscle definition, the man in fact looks quite thin. It’s the same in most of the images throughout the treatise.

Ideal Male Bodies from History 2

Aside from these fencers, PartyMoses also points to “Kal’s Birdman”:

I have eyes like a hawk, so you do not deceive me.
I have a heart like a lion, so I strive forward.
I have feet like a hind, so I can spring to and fro.

Ideal Male Bodies from History 3

Obviously the ideal man is not an exquisite corpse or a nightmarish fusing of animal with human, but we are supposed to understand the animal-like features of the ideal fencer. Eyes that can’t be deceived, courage that won’t falter, quick feet. But look at the body of this ideal man. No muscle tone, nearly anywhere. An exaggerated waist even with a bit of a gut, thin arms, tapering legs.

(Follow the link above for commentary and many more pictures.)

Did 15th-century women swoon over these emaciated birdmen? Unfortunately I couldn’t find any depictions of men created by women of that era… maybe someone more proficient with art history would know the answer.

Women: are you familiar with any artwork that portrays an attractive male figure? Leave a comment and let us know.

4 Ways a Wife Can Increase Her Husband's Life Expectancy 4

Although we’re all living longer, the life expectancy for men remains about five years shorter than for women.

4 Ways a Wife Can Increase Her Husband's Life Expectancy 5

We all know about the obvious things a man can do to increase his life expectancy: stay fit, don’t smoke, eat right, and avoid dangerous jobs. But those are boring!

Wives, I’m sure you’re wondering… what can you do to help your husband live longer? Well, here’s an interesting list of six items that research indicates will boost male longevity, and four of them directly depend on your assistance!

Stare At Women’s Breasts
Men’s eyes tend to wander from a woman’s face down to her chest. Previously, it’s been reported men who stare at women’s breasts tend to live longer, but this has been debunked. However, Men’s Health provided a scientific explanation for why ogling at breasts could boost longevity for men.
They explained staring at breasts or looking at cute animals benefit a man’s health by creating a positive mindset.

Wait… this has been debunked? Then why is “stare at women’s breasts” even on the list? I know that Sexy Corte’s boobs make be feel better. Let’s leave this one in the “maybe” category, mostly because we’d like it to be true.

Have Lots Of Sex
If men need an excuse to have more sex, look no further than doing it for your health’s sake. A study in BMJfound sex could have a protective effect on a man’s health. Mortality risk was reduced by as much as 50 percent and life expectancy increased by three to eight years in the group who reported more orgasms.

We’re proponents of daily sex, and the more you have sex the better it gets. There’s also evidence that sex boosts women’s immune systems and helps you sleep better. There’s really no downside to more sex with your spouse.

Get Married
Men, marriage, and mortality are the three m’s that go together. Men who have spouses tend to live longer than their single counterparts. A survey of over 127,000 American adults found men who marry after age 25 get more protection than those who get hitched at a younger age, and the longer a man stays married, the greater his survival advantage compared to his single counterparts.
Researchers have questioned whether healthy men are more likely to marry than men with health problems, but unhealthy men actually marry earlier, are less likely to divorce, and more likely to remarry after divorce or being widowed than healthy men. Others wonder if marriage is linked to better health, or just living with another person provides the benefit. However, it seems to be both — people living with unmarried partners fare better in health than those living alone, but men with spouses tend to have the best health.

If you’re reading our blog then you’re probably already married! Good job — now stick with it.

Become A Parent
Men who get married and become parents are more likely to live longer than their childless peers. A recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found men and women with at least one child had lower death risks than their childless counterparts. When parents reached age 60, the difference in life expectancy was two years for men and 1.5 years for women.

For bonus longevity points, learn how to keep your darn kids from interfering with your sex life! Lock your door, have sex during and after pregnancy, don’t co-sleep with your kids, put your kids to bed on time, and be prepared for sex on vacation.

So there you have it: wife, you have a critical role to play in your husband’s longevity.

For Female Arousal, Excitement Is Better than Relaxation 6

Dr. Cindy M. Meston from the University of Texas at Austin explains that the key to female sexual arousal is excitement, not relaxation.

“For years we were told, ‘Have a bubble bath, calm down, listen to relaxing music, do deep breathing exercises, chill out before sex,'” she says.

“But my research shows the opposite, that you actually want to get women in an active state.

“So, you can run around the block with your partner and get them to chase you around the block, or watch a scary movie together, ride a roller-coaster together, even a good comedy act. If you really get laughing, you’re going to have a sympathetic activation response.”

Meston is talking about the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for subconscious muscle contractions that get us ready for the flight or fight mode, like heart rate and blood pressure. She has found that if this system is activated before sex it will help women respond more intensely and more quickly.

Paul Byerly at The XY Code has a great story about excitement:

I recall a time when Lori thought I had fallen off a cliff (I had not). We went home and had really good sex. Now I know the reason for that was the adrenaline running through her system. Likewise, this is why teenage boys used to like to take a girl to a scary movie; their chances of something sexual in the back seat of the car were much better after such a movie.

We write a lot about games, activities, and novelty on our blog because they create excitement! Wives tend to be sexually responsive and usually don’t even realize when they’re becoming aroused!

Men’s subjective ratings of arousal were in agreement with their body’s level of sexual arousal about 66 percent of the time, while women’s were in line only about 26 percent of the time.

“The general pattern that I have seen in my laboratory is that women experience a genital response but do not report feeling sexually aroused,” Chivers told LiveScience.

Husbands and wives should both ponder that statistic for a while: a woman’s body often gets aroused before her mind does, and she won’t even notice.

Do you want to kick up the intensity of your sex life? Here are a few ideas from previous posts:

How do you get your sympathetic nervous system revved up? Leave a comment and let us know!

Useless Science: Sex and Happiness Are Associated 7

Brilliant new research indicates that older people are happier if they’re sexually active. That’s not surprising, but I’m shocked to see how little a difference sex makes.

In the new research, Smith and his colleagues examined data from nearly 7,000 U.K. adults ages 50 to 89. People self-reported how and how often they were having sex, and said how much they agreed with statements about their quality of life and well-being (such as “I enjoy the things that I do” and “I feel full of energy these days”). Based on their answers, each person was then assigned a total life enjoyment score on a 0-to-15 scale.

Adults who were sexually active tended to have higher total quality of life scores in general, as did those who reported feeling close to their partner. Sexually active men had average life enjoyment scores of 9.75, while those who were not sexually active had average scores around 9.44; for women, those ratings were 9.86 versus 9.67. These differences were small, but statistically significant enough to suggest an association.

The quality of life difference is small (around 3%!), and the study doesn’t determine whether sex causes happiness or happiness causes sex. Both are probably true. This study is stupid and the results are useless — you don’t need to survey seven thousand people to “suggest” that sex and happiness are “associated”.

How Birth Control Pills Affect Women's Brains 8

First off, let me say that we’re not advocating for or against the use of birth control pills. We used them, and when we decided we were done having kids we stopped using pills and selected a permanent method to prevent conception. The point of this post is simply to remind people that hormones (and medication) can have a significant effect on how you feel, think, and act — whether the hormones are produced by your own body or come in a pill.

Study 1: Birth control pills make your brain more masculine.

In recent years, scientists have started to realise that the brains of women on the pill look fundamentally different. Compared to women who are not taking hormones, some regions of their brains seem to be more typically ‘male’.

There are behavioural changes, too. Women on certain types of pill are not as good at coming up with words – something our gender are usually highly skilled at. On the other hand, they are better at mentally rotating objects, as is often the case in men. Finally, women on a different type of pill are better at recognising faces – something women are usually good at.

Study 2: Birth control pills change the shape of your brain.

In 2015, neuroscientists from the University of California, Los Angeles in the US took brain scans of 90 women who were either currently using the pill or not, and found that two key brain regions were thinner in pill users – the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex.

These two regions are involved in emotion regulation, decision-making and reward response, and the researchers believe that their findings could help explain why some women become anxious or depressed when taking the contraceptive pill.

And in 2010, a team from Austria also found that the contraceptive pill could change the shape of the brain regions associated with learning, memory and emotion regulation.

Study 3: Birth control pills affect your memory and critical thinking skills.

What’s more, new research suggests that oral contraceptive use doesn’t just reduce your risk of certain cancers, lighten your period, alleviate horrible cramps, clear your skin, and improve your mood (among other benefits).

It shows that women who take the pill or use other methods of hormonal contraceptive for more than 10 years may end up with better memories and critical thinking skills post-menopause, according to a study that looked at 830 women around age 60, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Study 4: No one knows if the effects of birth control pills on your brain are permanent or temporary.

The researchers affirm it is unknown whether the cortex would become thicker again if the women on birth control stopped taking the pill or whether it would remain the same. “Maybe you go off the pill and it persists for a week, and, by week two it is back to normal,” Petersen said, Braindecoder.com reported.

This study contradicts the results of a 2010 study published in the journal Brain Research, which found women on the pill showed larger gray matter volumes in the prefrontal cortex, pre- and postcentral gyri, the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri and temporal regions, compared to their non-pill counterparts. It was not determined whether increased gray matter translated into enhanced performance. Similar to the recent study, the findings remain inconclusive and warrant further research.

The point of sharing this information isn’t to make anyone worry. Birth control pills have been used for decades without serious problems for most women. However, it’s worth considering how your medication (or change in medication) may be affecting how you think, feel, and act. The same goes for men — we take medication and have hormonal cycles too!

Board Games for Couples 9

Normally we post sex games, but several people have asked for more information about the board games that Sexy Corte and I play together. We are disciplined with our kids’ bed time and try to minimize our television viewing, which leaves us with a few hours each night to spend doing shared activities. This time is great for our marriage and our friendship! Sometimes we have people over or go on dates, but most evenings we play board games. Below is a list of the games that we most enjoy playing as a couple — the list doesn’t include games that we most enjoy playing with friends or kids.

For each game I’ll give my impression of how “heavy” it is — how hard it is to learn and play — along with a brief description. All the links go to BoardGameGeek.com, which is a board game database not a retailer; follow these links to learn a lot more about each game. If you have a good Friendly Local Game Store or shop around online you should definitely not pay full MSRP for board games.

Cooperative games

We really enjoy cooperative games — if you’re not familiar with the term, it means that all the players are on the same side, trying to beat the game together. These are great team-building activities, they stretch our brains, and they give us a fun set of shared experiences to talk about later.

Eldritch Horror — Weight: Heavy. Our go-to game for several years. It’s a cooperative adventure game of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. We own all the expansions and have probably played 100 times.

Gloomhaven — Weight: Heavy. Our new go-to game, recently replacing Eldritch Horror. It’s an adventure legacy game with character development and strong tactical decision-making. We’ve played about 20 times.

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition — Weight: Light. An immersive app-driven board game in which you explore a haunted house and try to solve the mystery before you get devoured by evil.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game — Weight: Heavy. A living card game in which you build a deck of cards that represents your investigator and then work through a campaign of scenarios to defeat cosmic evil.

Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (LCG) — Weight: Heavy. Similar to Arkham Horror (above), but set in the Tolkien universe. You can play scenarios that correspond to your favorite parts of the books, as well as scenarios that flesh out activities that the books allude to but don’t show “on screen”.

Hanabi — Weight: Light. A simple card game in which you and your team try to launch fireworks in the proper order. The tricky part is that you have to be able to reach each others’ minds in order to win.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island — Weight: Medium. A very thematic adventure game in which you explore a mysterious island. And probably die.

Sentinels of the Multiverse — Weight: Medium. A card game in which you each play a superhero and work together to defeat a super-villain.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective — Weight: Light. Solve mysteries like Sherlock Holmes. This isn’t really a “board game” per se, more like a choose-your-own-adventure book with numerous mysteries to solve together.

Mythos Tales — Weight: Light. Like Consulting Detective (above), but based in the Cthulhu mythos.

 

Exit: The Game — Weight: Light. Escape rooms in a box! You can only play each once, but they’re way cheaper than going to a real escape room and still plenty of fun. There are several other brands of escape room games, but we haven’t tried them yet.

Elder Sign — Weight: Light. We don’t own the board game, but we play the app together on our tablet. Cthulhu-themed Yahtzee.

Spaceteam — Weight: Light. This is a phone app, and a fun way to kill some time by shouting instructions at each other.

Competitive games

We each seem to think the other person wins “most of the time”, so I guess we’re pretty evenly matched at these competitive games.

Ascension — Weight: Light. A quick deck building game with art we love and chaotic mechanics. We play the free app version on our tablet and have paid a few dollars to unlock several of the expansions. Playing on the tablet means that there’s no setup or tear-down time!

Patchwork — Weight: Light. A fantastic geometric game in which you each craft a quilt using Tetris-like patches of fabric. It’s competitive, but there’s little direct confrontation.

7 Wonders Duel — Weight: Medium. Build your civilization from the ground up. Very competitive, and requires a lot of planning and foresight to optimize your turns.

Akrotiri — Weight: Medium. Easy to play, hard to master game of exploration in which you score points by building temples in secret configurations on random terrain.

Terra Mystica — Weight: Heavy. A game of resource management and area control in which tiny optimizations to your strategy are the key to victory.

Fury of Dracula (third/fourth edition) — Weight: Light. One player is Dracula, traveling around Europe and sowing chaos; the other player is the team of vampire hunters trying to track him down and kill him. Hidden movement and a complex rock-paper-scissors combat system make this a game of reading your spouse’s mind.

Tales of the Arabian Nights — Weight: Light. More of a fun story generator than a game. You wander around the Near East and have amusing encounters with bizarre characters, travel to other dimensions, and try to fulfill your personal goals. We usually don’t even finish the game, we just uncover random stories until we feel like going to bed.

Viticulture — Weight: Medium. A worker placement game in which each player runs a vineyard and scores points by growing grapes, crafting wine, and filling orders.

Role-playing games

Not sexy role-playing games, just the normal kind. Escape from yourself and pretend to be someone else — with awesome powers. Not just for geeks anymore!

Cthulhu Confidential — Weight: Light, for a role-playing game. Finally, an RPG designed to be played by just two people! The core book contains all the rules plus three noir-style Cthulhu mythos adventures. One spouse runs the game as the Game Master, and the other spouse plays a character who tries to solve the mystery without getting devoured.

Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Original Sin II: Weight: Medium. These are computer role-playing games that you can play cooperatively sitting on your couch. We’ve put over 100 hours into each of them, so you can’t beat the entertainment value. Good stories, good character advancement, and fun combat.

Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) — Weight: Medium, for a role-playing game. Thanks to 5th Edition (or “5e” as it’s usually called), Dungeons & Dragons is experiencing a golden age right now. This isn’t a game that you’re likely to play just with your spouse, but Sexy Corte and I are having a lot of fun playing in multiple campaigns together. We play over Roll20.net in the evenings after our kids go to bed, and it’s a great way to spend time together and be social without getting a babysitter.

Conclusion

I’ll add more games to the list above as our already insane library expands. Do you have a favorite game you like to play with your spouse? Leave a comment below!

 

Beach Sex and Bikini Bods 10

It’s almost summer! I feel like we missed spring, but at least it’s not winter anymore. It’s time to cover the two topics we know all our readers are wondering about.

First up, how much do men really care about “bikini bods”? Bridget Phetasy asked her followers:

ATTN: Men I need more of your anonymous blatant honesty. Summer is coming. The culture would have us believing men care a great deal about how a woman looks in a bikini but how much do you *actually* care about your significant other’s beach body?

We’ve posted several times about the importance of fitness and appearance, but we believe the focus should be on health and being the best you for your spouse, not pursuing some unrealistic worldly standard of “hotness”. It’s great to read that most of the men who responded to Phetasy feel the same way.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting such thoughtful, heartwarming and tender answers. (In all, 215 men responded, totaling 19,754 words, which, to give you an idea, is 34 pages of writing, single-spaced.) Instead, I expected men to behave the way they’re represented in the media (i.e., as gross pigs). And so, I anticipated vapid, crass responses, my DMs overflowing with hordes of men saying things like, “Hell yeah, my wife needs to lose 15 pounds. This isn’t what I signed up for.”

Obviously, it goes without saying that when you’re looking for a mate, physicality matters. Attraction needs to be there before anything else, but attraction alone isn’t enough to sustain a long-term relationship. This is a lesson men have a greater appreciation for with age. “In my 20s, I cared about looks,” one guy explains. “I think physical attraction is an important element in relationships, even in my 30s; however, now, I appreciate a girl who can effectively communicate more than her looks.” Another adds, “After giving birth to our three kids, my wife doesn’t have a bikini body anymore, but I couldn’t care less. To me she’s hot AF. I probably don’t even have a dad bod anymore, and yeah, I’m a little sensitive about it.”

Giving your best self to your spouse includes maintaining your health and fitness, but goes way beyond that. There’s a lot more to sexiness than appearance, and how you act is generally easier to improve than how you look. If you don’t believe us or anonymous guys on the internet, just ask Billy Bob Thornton.

Second: beach sex. From the page’s title we can see that the article used to be headlined, “women should do everything they can to avoid beach sex”.

Sand. It gets everywhere. And when you’re naked and rubbing your body up against another person, you’d better believe sand gets in places you never want sand to reach. This is particularly bad in instances where you’re having sex because when sand meets genitals, it acts as an abrasive, causing intense irritation and chafing.

Not only this, but sand isn’t the most hygienic of substances. Imagine all the infants you’ve ever known to pee in the ocean and then times it by a hundred because, according to a study from the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, beach sand can contain 100 times the levels of fecal bacteria of seawater.

Not just infant humans… the ocean is chock full of disgusting animals! If you really need to have sex on the beach, use a blanket or a tent. Spontaneous sex in public places can be hot, but we recommend doing it standing up.

Got any summer sex tips to share? Leave a comment!

Libertine Poetry -- History Is Full of Humans Just Like Us 11

We commonly get questions — usually from a wife — about “weird” things her husband wants to in bed. Where did my husband get this crazy idea?

Well, as you know, humans have been having sex for a long time, and no matter how strict the rules are we’ve always been kinky. I recently listened to an episode of the Ask Historians podcast about libertine literature, and it mentioned a poem that I wanted to share titled “The Imperfect Enjoyment” from 17th century libertine writer John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. (You can see a portrait of him above — he’s hot for his time!) Rochester is frustrated by his own premature ejaculation, and has written this poem to curse at his penis for failing. An excerpt:

When, with a thousand kisses wandering o’er
My panting bosom, “Is there then no more?”
She cries. “All this to love and rapture’s due;
Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?”
But I, the most forlorn, lost man alive,
To show my wished obedience vainly strive:
I sigh, alas! and kiss, but cannot swive.
Eager desires confound my first intent,
Succeeding shame does more success prevent,
And rage at last confirms me impotent.
Ev’n her fair hand, which might bid heat return
To frozen age, and make cold hermits burn,
Applied to my dear cinder, warms no more
Than fire to ashes could past flames restore.
Trembling, confused, despairing, limber, dry,
A wishing, weak, unmoving lump I lie.

The poem is funny and poignantly humanizing. It’s easy to forget that our ancestors were as human as we are. The libertines are certainly not to be emulated in their philosophy, but why should they get to have better sex lives than married Christians? No way!

Do you have any sexy poetry to share? Leave a link in the comments.

Can we *BLANK*? Not in the Middle Ages! 12

“Can we *BLANK*?” is one of the site’s most popular and frequently referenced posts. You can go read the details, but the short version is that just about any sexual activity is acceptable within marriage! But it may not surprise you to learn that people in the middle ages had a different view on sex.

If it’s not procreative, it’s fornication. If it’s done on a holy day, it’s fornication. You see above what happens if it’s oral: you get a life sentence of penance.

The penitential writers saw marital sex as a concession, not as a right or even a gift from God. The pleasure it brought was inherently sinful, a gateway to lust, so sex within marriage should be carefully contained and scheduled to ensure the most possible procreation and the least possible pleasure. Married couples had to abstain regularly or the very state of their marriage would degenerate into an illegitimate and sinful union. Even the children born of sex during a period where the couple should have abstained — mainly based on the Church’s liturgical calendar and on the wife’s reproductive cycle — were to be considered bastards.

There’s even a handy flowchart!

Can we *BLANK*? Not in the Middle Ages! 13

It’s no surprise that Christians often bring so much baggage into their marriages! These man-made rules and fears can steal away the joy of sex with our spouse.

Of course, people then weren’t much different than people now — it’s one thing to write a bunch of rules, and it’s another thing to follow them. Fortunately God hasn’t created nearly as many rules as people have.

Better Sleep Leads to Better Sex, Which Leads to Better Sleep 14

Do you want to have more and better sex? Get plenty of sleep.

According to a large new study, women over age 50 who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are less likely to report being sexually active than their peers who sleep more, a problem that increases with age.

Sleep disorders can also interfere with sex. Research suggests that men with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition marked by snoring and breathing difficulties, have decreased levels of sexual activity, possibly because they produce lower amounts of testosterone. Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, which may be related to sexual dysfunction.

But the reverse appears to be true, too: Another recent study that looked at sleep and sex in college students found that for those in romantic relationships, every extra hour they slept corresponded to higher sexual desire, greater vaginal lubrication and a 14% increase in the chances of getting frisky the next day. That’s probably because a good night’s sleep leaves us feeling refreshed, relaxed and energetic — all important for feeling sexy.

Sleep is an important component of staying healthy, along with exercise, managing your weight, and maintaining good hygiene. For (the many) husbands who write to us asking for advice on strengthening their wives’ libidos, helping her get more sleep seems like a great first step.

And… do you want more and better sleep? Have plenty of sex!

The reasons are largely chemical in nature. After orgasm, our bodies release significant amounts of the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin, which lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in deep relaxation.

Sex also has gender-specific benefits. “For women, estrogen levels increase after sex, which can enhance a woman’s REM cycle for a deeper sleep. In men, the hormone prolactin is secreted after orgasm and has been tied to sleepiness,” explained licensed psychologist Rachel Needle, co-director of the Modern Sex Therapy Institutes.

Yeah, yeah — there’s just too much to do. But you need to make time for your health and for your spouse. Go to bed early tonight together!