Adonis Diaries

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Body posture depends on teeth

posture teeth

Why teeth are so important for the posture?

The skull is the heaviest part of our body and it is supported at the top, on the last cervical vertebra (atlas).

To ensure that our head, which weighs on average 4 kg, remains at the top with the least expenditure of energy, Mother Nature has devised a very ingenious “bio-mechanical system of levers”.

The question that we must ask is: “What or who is holding the skull on the last cervical vertebra?”

We will try to give you a picture of the situation.

 posted this feb. 12, 2015

posture skull

Until a few decades ago people believed that the skull was simply supported by the neck muscles operated by our willingness to stand upright.

Over time and with the birth of gnathology science, clinical trials have shown a functional-anatomic and physiopathological link between skull-mandible (CMD) and skull-cervical dysfunctions, aggregating various areas of the body in a single tonic-postural system: the skull-cervical-mandible joint.

In short, scientific literature, or rather some pioneers in this new sector, has started to understand the role of the mandible in the human postural system, and that consequently neck and back problems are caused by skull-cervical-mandible disorders.

Having established that, we can realize that in this bio-mechanism that keeps sustained our head on top of the first cervical vertebra, the “jaw” has a vital role in supporting the skull.

It is a matter of fact that these medical-science pioneers have managed to understand, more or less, the bio-mechanism and how to act on it with the use of a bite in order to alleviate people health problems, but they have always proceeded by trial and error without ever being able to develop a proper relationship between correct body posture, jaw and teeth.

Despite this important scientific progress, no one has yet managed to truly solve the classic postural problems (scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis).

In fact, these scientists have been trying to test many different roads for years, in order to solve these problems. They have tried the most diverse methods, yet none of these have really focused on the issue. That is why this matter is still more of academic than practical interest.

Even some gnathologists assert that there is no proof of any relationship between occlusion and posture due to a lack of convincing scientific evidence.

You can solve a postural problem only if you know “precisely” how the bio-mechanism works and therefore the exact relationship between teeth, occlusion and posture.

The second question to ask is: “How does this postural bio-mechanism work?”


The first thing we do know is that the skull always leans on the first cervical vertebra and that it is supported only by the neck muscles.

The second thing we can notice is that the jaw is suspended between the hyoid bone and the skull and it is equipped with a movable articulation: the TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint), a joint which provides a movement along three planes of space.

Considering these peculiarity of the jaw, it is difficult to think that the skull can find support on teeth and lower jaw. And it is even more difficult to understand how a dysfunction in this district can produce such remarkable changes in the whole body.


The answer is in the fact that the lower jaw becomes a stable structure and has a carrier function only at the time of occlusion or during the occlusal contact. More precisely the highest stability is produced during the swallowing phase.

The support given by the jaw to the skull, through the occlusal contact, becomes even more stable during a stronger closure of the jaw thanks to the various muscles involved.

In fact, during the swallowing act all the muscles of the stomatognatic system start working and it is exactly at this time that the jaw becomes a solid structure, just like a sailing boat mast supported by cables.

During this process both the raising and lowering muscles of the jaw contract at the same time. When these muscles work together, from opposite points, they become like tie-beam giving a stabilizing effect to the jaw.

It is exactly during the swallowing act that the forces generated by the contact between the teeth are transmitted to the underlying structures.

Let’s try to progress in steps in order to fully understand this bio-mechanism.

Next questions might be: how this whole system can compromise body posture? How is a correct posture determined? How do back diseases generate? How can you fix scoliosis, and stop the deterioration of lordosis and kyphosis?

The answer to all these questions lies in the “teeth”.

We have seen how the skull is supported by the cervical vertebra and we have understood the role of the jaw. We also know that teeth are located between skull and mandible. Sometimes teeth may not be completely extruded in the premolar and molar area for various reasons.

In this case there may be several factors that can cause a dental arch inclination. In most cases these problems are related to birth defects, and mainly attributable to jaw bone dysmorphoses (lower bone thickness) or lack of teeth extrusion on thin and porous bones.

Other causes not related to birth defects may be a teeth collapse or bad dental work.

Nonetheless, it must be said that stress can be a trigger for the lowering of the tooth thickness. A body under high tension leads all muscles to work harder. Among them there are also those muscles in the mouth that constantly biting, especially on molars and premolars, can cause their collapsing.

Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

Let’s see in profile what happens to the posture of a skeleton looking at it from the sagittal plane. Let’s see if these premolar and molar teeth are not completely extruded or have collapsed over the years.


We note that the skull changes inclination with respect to the jaw then compressing all the cervical area. The skull changes inclination until it is re-established a good occlusal contact. A collapse of the teeth can occur in the years due to an excessive dental consumption or due to a heavy stress that can destabilize an already precarious situation.

Next step will be the consequent change in shape of the entire spine.

The spinal column will be forced to stay in a smaller space while maintaining anatomically its length. For this reason, you will have an increase of the curves such as the cervical and lumbar lordosis as well as the kyphosis.

In the image on the side we can see in seconds what happens in years or even in a few months of postural decay (due to strong psycho-physical stress).


It is now clear that the collapsing or the lack of extrusion of molars and premolars over the years can make the skull incline and how this structural change passes on to the underlying structures.

In practice, as you can always see in the image on the side, the skull collapses until the upper teeth do not find contact with the lower ones.

The temporal masseter muscles etc etc. will force the skull to incline pulling it down.

From here on, the skull will lose its center of gravity and the body will perform a series of bio-mechanical changes such as the shortening of its natural physiological curves such as cervical and lumbar lordosis and kyphosis.

In the lower diagram you can clearly see this process broken into four phases.

This article aims to explain the bio-mechanism in a more simplified way.

If you want to know more about this, all information can be found in my book.

Carrying on with the reading we can observe the same mechanism of decay or postural imbalance on the frontal plane.

Just to sum it up, we analyzed the postural bio-mechanism on the sagittal plane observing a skeleton profile with lack of height in the premolar and molar dental area.

Now let’s see what happens to our skeleton on the frontal plane.


In the event that there is a lack of dental arch height as the left side of you may see on the picture on the side, the upper teeth will try to find occlusal contact with the bottom.

These are just examples, because, in reality, as already written before, the reasons for this asymmetry are connected to birth defects or bad dental work.

At this point, the skull will lean on the left side and the left masseter will shorten causing a stretching effect on that on the right side.

We also know that a short muscle is also much stronger, while the lengthened opposite side will be weaker.scoliosi1

The skull is pulled to the left side and all the muscles of the body to that side will begin to shorten.

A subsequent actions chain throughout the body will involve the development and worsening of the musculoskeletal asymmetry with abnormal curves of the spine or the origin of muscular imbalances.

The body or better the musculoskeletal structure will go through various stages until they find a new balance, or to be more precise, we could say a new “unbalanced equilibrium”.

There may be different types of unbalance according to the type of cranio-mandibular joint disorder (i.e. different types of imbalance that vary from person to person).

The hotness-IQ tradeoff in academia


(This repost was selected as one of the hot posts)

The other day I came across a blog post ranking academic fields by hotness. Important data for sure. But something about it was gnawing on me for a while, some connection I wasn’t quite making.

And then it hit me. The rankings looked an awful lot like another list I’d once seen of academic fields ranked by intelligence.

Only, you know, upside-down.

Sure enough, when I ran the correlation among the fields that appear on both lists, it came out atr = -.45. (No correlation whatsoever?)


I don’t know what this means, but it seems important. Maybe a mathematician or computer scientist can help me understand it.

Note: Is IQ score related to ability to model relationships? To comprehend models, from math equations, graphs, anything connected to quantifying data or designing experiment?

What’s on tonight?

Have you done your due diligence?

The next thing you read, the next thing you watch–how did you decide that it was next?

Just a few decades ago, there were only three TV channels to watch.

Worse, it was pretty common for people to continue watching the same channel all night, rather than checking out the two alternatives. The 8 pm lead in was critical.

TV Guide, at one point the most valuable magazine in the United States, changed that posture. The entire magazine was devoted to answering just one question: What’s on right now?

It turned consumption into a bit more of an intentional act. I mean, people were still hiding out, glued to their TVs, but at least they were actively choosing which thing to watch.

The internet, of course, multiplies the number of choices by infinity.

And our screen time has only gone up.

But here’s the question: The next thing you read, the next thing you watch–how did you decide that it was next?

Was it because it was the nearest click that was handy?

Or are you intentional about what you’re learning, or connecting with, or the entertainment you’re investing in?

We don’t have a lot of time. It seems to me that being intentional about how we spend our precious attention is the least we can do for it.

“I hate my époque with all my forces. Man is dying of thirst”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry of Petit-Prince and other books that were made into movies

The last letter from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry to General X on July 30, 1944. He disappeared with airplane the next day on July 31, 1944

Lettre d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry au général X : « Je hais mon époque de toutes mes forces. L’homme y meurt de soif. »


Antoine de Saint Exupéry : mythe absolu de l’aviateur et de l’écrivain, auteur du Petit-Prince et de nombreux romans, est mort au combat le 31 juillet 1944.

La veille, il écrit au général X et s’exprime avec une lucidité exceptionnelle sur la condition de l’homme moderne. Testament avant l’heure, cette lettre, déchirante à la lumière de son destin, parle étrangement et profondément de notre temps.

30 juillet 1944

Je viens de faire quelques vols sur P. 38. C’est une belle machine. J’aurais été heureux de disposer de ce cadeau-là pour mes vingt ans.

Je constate avec mélancolie qu’aujourd’hui, à 43 ans, après quelques 6,500 heures de vol sous tous les ciels du monde, je ne puis plus trouver grand plaisir à ce jeu-là. Ce n’est plus qu’un instrument de déplacement – ici de guerre.

Si je me soumets à la vitesse et à l’altitude à mon âge patriarcal pour ce métier, c’est bien plus pour ne rien refuser des emmerdements de ma génération que dans l’espoir de retrouver les satisfactions d’autrefois.

Ceci est peut-être mélancolique, mais peut-être bien ne l’est-ce pas. C’est sans doute quand j’avais vingt ans que je me trompais.

En Octobre 1940, de retour d’Afrique du Nord où le groupe 2 – 33 avait émigré, ma voiture étant remisée exsangue dans quelque garage poussiéreux, j’ai découvert la carriole et le cheval. Par elle l’herbe des chemins. Les moutons et les oliviers.

Ces oliviers avaient un autre rôle que celui de battre la mesure derrière les vitres à 130 kms à l’heure. Ils se montraient dans leur rythme vrai qui est de lentement fabriquer des olives.

Les moutons n’avaient pas pour fin exclusive de faire tomber la moyenne. Ils redevenaient vivants. Ils faisaient de vraies crottes et fabriquaient de la vraie laine. Et l’herbe aussi avait un sens puisqu’ils la broutaient.

Et je me suis senti revivre dans ce seul coin du monde où la poussière soit parfumée (je suis injuste, elle l’est en Grèce aussi comme en Provence). Et il m’a semblé que, toute ma vie, j’avais été un imbécile…

Tout cela pour vous expliquer que cette existence grégaire au coeur d’une base américaine, ces repas expédiés debout en dix minutes, ce va-et-vient entre les monoplaces de 2600 chevaux dans une bâtisse abstraite où nous sommes entassé à trois par chambre, ce terrible désert humain, en un mot, n’a rien qui me caresse le coeur.

Ca aussi, comme les missions sans profit ou espoir de retour de Juin 1940, c’est une maladie à passer. Je suis “malade” pour un temps inconnu. Mais je ne me reconnais pas le droit de ne pas subir cette maladie. Voilà tout.

Aujourd’hui, je suis profondément triste. Je suis triste pour ma génération qui est vide de toute substance humaine. Qui n’ayant connu que les bars, les mathématiques et les Bugatti comme forme de vie spirituelle, se trouve aujourd’hui plongé dans une action strictement grégaire qui n’a plus aucune couleur.

On ne sait pas le remarquer.

Prenez le phénomène militaire d’il y a cent ans. Considérez combien il intégrait d’efforts pour qu’il fut répondu à la vie spirituelle, poétique ou simplement humaine de l’homme.

Aujourd’hui nous sommes plus desséchés que des briques, nous sourions de ces niaiseries. Les costumes, les drapeaux, les chants, la musique, les victoires (il n’est pas de victoire aujourd’hui, il n’est que des phénomènes de digestion lente ou rapide) tout lyrisme sonne ridicule et les hommes refusent d’être réveillés à une vie spirituelle quelconque.

Ils font honnêtement une sorte de travail à la chaîne. Comme dit la jeunesse américaine, “nous acceptons honnêtement ce job ingrat” et la propagande, dans le monde entier, se bat les flancs avec désespoir.

De la tragédie grecque, l’humanité, dans sa décadence, est tombée jusqu’au théâtre de Mr Louis Verneuil (on ne peut guère aller plus loin). Siècle de publicité, du système Bedeau, des régimes totalitaires et des armées sans clairons ni drapeaux, ni messes pour les morts. Je hais mon époque de toutes mes forces. L’homme y meurt de soif.

Ah ! Général, il n’y a qu’un problème, un seul de par le monde.

Rendre aux hommes une signification spirituelle, des inquiétudes spirituelles, faire pleuvoir sur eux quelque chose qui ressemble à un chant grégorien. On ne peut vivre de frigidaires, de politique, de bilans et de mots croisés, voyez-vous !

On ne peut plus vivre sans poésie, couleur ni amour. Rien qu’à entendre un chant villageois du 15 ème siècle, on mesure la pente descendue. Il ne reste rien que la voix du robot de la propagande (pardonnez-moi). Deux milliards d’hommes n’entendent plus que le robot, ne comprennent plus que le robot, se font robots.

Tous les craquements des trente dernières années n’ont que deux sources : les impasses du système économique du XIX ème siècle et le désespoir spirituel.

Pourquoi Mermoz a-t-il suivi son grand dadais de colonel sinon par soif ? Pourquoi la Russie ? Pourquoi l’Espagne ?

Les hommes ont fait l’essai des valeurs cartésiennes : hors des sciences de la nature, cela ne leur a guère réussi.

Il n’y a qu’un problème, un seul : redécouvrir qu’il est une vie de l’esprit plus haute encore que la vie de l’intelligence, la seule qui satisfasse l’homme.

Ca déborde le problème de la vie religieuse qui n’en est qu’une forme (bien que peut-être la vie de l’esprit conduise à l’autre nécessairement). Et la vie de l’esprit commence là où un être est conçu au-dessus des matériaux qui le composent.

L’amour de la maison -cet amour inconnaissable aux Etats-Unis – est déjà de la vie de l’esprit.

Et la fête villageoise, et le culte des morts (je cite cela car il s’est tué depuis mon arrivée ici deux ou trois parachutistes, mais on les a escamotés : ils avaient fini de servir) . Cela c’est de l’époque, non de l’Amérique : l’homme n’a plus de sens.

Il faut absolument parler aux hommes.

A quoi servira de gagner la guerre si nous en avons pour cent ans de crise d’épilepsie révolutionnaire ?

Quand la question allemande sera enfin réglée tous les problèmes véritables commenceront à se poser. Il est peu probable que la spéculation sur les stocks américains suffise au sortir de cette guerre à distraire, comme en 1919, l’humanité de ses soucis véritables.

Faute d’un courant spirituel fort, il poussera, comme champignons, trente-six sectes qui se diviseront les unes les autres.

Le marxisme lui-même, trop vieilli, se décomposera en une multitude de néo-marxismes contradictoires.

On l’a bien observé en Espagne. A moins qu’un César français ne nous installe dans un camp de concentration pour l’éternité.

Ah ! quel étrange soir, ce soir, quel étrange climat. Je vois de ma chambre s’allumer les fenêtres de ces bâtisses sans visages. J’entends les postes de radio divers débiter leur musique de mirliton à ces foules désoeuvrées venues d’au-delà des mers et qui ne connaissent même pas la nostalgie.

On peut confondre cette acceptation résignée avec l’esprit de sacrifice ou la grandeur morale. Ce serait là une belle erreur.

Les liens d’amour qui nouent l’homme d’aujourd’hui aux êtres comme aux choses sont si peu tendus, si peu denses, que l’homme ne sent plus l’absence comme autrefois.

C’est le mot terrible de cette histoire juive : “tu vas donc là-bas ? Comme tu seras loin ” – Loin d’où ? Le “où” qu’ils ont quitté n’était plus guère qu’un vaste faisceau d’habitudes.

Dans cette époque de divorce, on divorce avec la même facilité d’avec les choses. Les frigidaires sont interchangeables. Et la maison aussi si elle n’est qu’un assemblage.

Et la femme. Et la religion. Et le parti. On ne peut même pas être infidèle : à quoi serait-on infidèle ? Loin d’où et infidèle à quoi ? Désert de l’homme.

Qu’ils sont donc sages et paisibles ces hommes en groupe.

Moi je songe aux marins bretons d’autrefois, qui débarquaient, lâchés sur une ville, à ces noeuds complexes d’appétits violents et de nostalgie intolérable qu’ont toujours constitués les mâles un peu trop sévèrement parqués. Il fallait toujours, pour les tenir, des gendarmes forts ou des principes forts ou des fois fortes.

Mais aucun de ceux-là ne manquerait de respect à une gardeuse d’oies. L’homme d’aujourd’hui on le fait tenir tranquille, selon le milieu, avec la belote ou le bridge. Nous sommes étonnamment bien châtrés.

Ainsi sommes-nous enfin libres .

On nous a coupé les bras et les jambes, puis on nous a laissé libres de marcher.

Mais je hais cette époque où l’homme devient, sous un totalitarisme universel, bétail doux, poli et tranquille. On nous fait prendre ça pour un progrès moral !

Ce que je hais dans le marxisme, c’est le totalitarisme à quoi il conduit. L’homme y est défini comme producteur et consommateur, le problème essentiel étant celui de la distribution.

Ce que je hais dans le nazisme, c’est le totalitarisme à quoi il prétend par son essence même. On fait défiler les ouvriers de la Ruhr devant un Van Gogh, un Cézanne et un chromo. Ils votent naturellement pour le chromo. Voilà la vérité du peuple !

On boucle solidement dans un camp de concentration les candidats Cézanne, les candidats Van Gogh, tous les grands non-conformistes, et l’on alimente en chromos un bétail soumis.

Mais où vont les Etats-Unis et où allons-nous, nous aussi, à cette époque de fonctionnariat universel ? L’homme robot, l’homme termite, l’homme oscillant du travail à la chaîne système Bedeau à la belote.

L’homme châtré de tout son pouvoir créateur, et qui ne sait même plus, du fond de son village, créer une danse ni une chanson.

L’homme que l’on alimente en culture de confection, en culture standard comme on alimente les boeufs en foin.

C’est cela l’homme d’aujourd’hui.

Et moi je pense que, il n’y a pas trois cents ans, on pouvait écrire ” La Princesse de Clèves” ou s’enfermer dans un couvent pour la vie à cause d’un amour perdu, tant était brûlant l’amour.

Aujourd’hui bien sûr les gens se suicident, mais la souffrance de ceux-là est de l’ordre d’une rage de dents intolérable. Ce n’a point à faire avec l’amour.

Certes, il est une première étape.

Je ne puis supporter l’idée de verser des générations d’enfants français dans le ventre du moloch allemand. La substance même est menacée, mais, quand elle sera sauvée, alors se posera le problème fondamental qui est celui de notre temps. Qui est celui du sens de l’homme et auquel il n’est point proposé de réponse, et j’ai l’impression de marcher vers les temps les plus noirs du monde.

Ca m’est égal d’être tué en guerre.

De ce que j’ai aimé, que restera-t-il ? Autant que les êtres, je parle des coutumes, des intonations irremplaçables, d’une certaine lumière spirituelle. Du déjeuner dans la ferme provençale sous les oliviers, mais aussi de Haendel.

Les choses. je m’en fous, qui subsisteront. Ce qui vaut, c’est certain arrangement des choses. La civilisation est un bien invisible puisqu’elle porte non sur les choses, mais sur les invisibles liens qui les nouent l’une à l’autre, ainsi et non autrement.

Nous aurons de parfaits instruments de musique, distribués en grande série, mais où sera le musicien ?

Si je suis tué en guerre, je m’en moque bien. Ou si je subis une crise de rage de ces sortes de torpilles volantes qui n’ont plus rien à voir avec le vol et font du pilote parmi ses boutons et ses cadrans une sorte de chef comptable (le vol aussi c’est un certain ordre de liens).

Mais si je rentre vivant de ce “job nécessaire et ingrat”, il ne se posera pour moi qu’un problème : que peut-on, que faut-il dire aux hommes ?

                            ( Source:                                                                             )

“How did you realize that you had become a man…”?

This question was asked by Lars to his elder brother in the movie “Lars and the Real Girl“.

Lars began by a short introduction stating that his human size doll Gloria has followed rites of passage in her homeland Brazil.

Lars said: “Was it sex that made you feel that you had reached manhood?”

His brother replied with hesitation: “Yes, it was sex. But there are other things that I don’t know. This is a very interesting question and I have to think about it…”

Then the brother said: “It is when you get aware of your responsibilities toward the other people. Like never to cheat on your wife and care for your family…”

Women, always and naturally, go to an unmistakable rite of passage when they get their first menstruation period.  A rite in her own blood and for a few days too, and every month thereon.

A moment of reckoning that the little girl has become a woman, and the family start readying her for marriage.

It is overdoing the rite of passage by mutilating the sex part of a girl, as done in certain traditions, with excuses that are worse than the practice.

Males kids have No natural rite of passage: The rites are mostly faked and never strike the kids as serious.

When wives frequently say: “My husband is a big kid“, they mean that he is still battling with the notion of manhood.

The training at an advanced age to manhood is hard and not effective most of the time.

In many tribes, the rites of passage are violent and the kid has to demonstrate that he can kill a big animal and many other feats of physical abilities.  Mainly, proving that he is strong and willing to obey the community customs and traditions.

Maybe circumcising a male kid when he is over 13 is a better rite of passage than when he is born: Blood is an excellent shock for rite passage. However, harsher mutilation methods could leave worse results than expected.

The female kid has learned many survival skills and more talents are patiently relayed to her to become a wife and a mother: Like seducing, cooking, sewing… and mostly, how to endure loneliness and isolation.

Sex needs a new metaphor

No more sex as a competition

For some reason, says educator Al Vernacchio, the metaphors for talking about sex in the US all come from baseball — scoring, getting to first base, etc.

The problem is, this frames sex as a competition, with a winner and a loser. Instead, he suggests a new metaphor, one that’s more about shared pleasure, discussion and agreement, fulfillment and enjoyment. Let’s talk about … pizza.


Al Vernacchio. Sexuality educator
In his 12th-grade Sexuality and Society class, Al Vernacchio speaks honestly and positively about human sexuality. Full bio
I’d like to talk to you today about a whole new way to think about sexual activity and sexuality education.
If you talk to someone today in America about sexual activity, you’ll find pretty soon you’re not just talking about sexual activity. You’re also talking about baseball.
Because baseball is the dominant cultural metaphor that Americans use to think about and talk about sexual activity, and we know that because there’s all this language in English that seems to be talking about baseball but that’s really talking about sexual activity.
So, for example, you can be a pitcher or a catcher, and that corresponds to whether you perform a sexual act or receive a sexual act. Of course, there are the bases, which refer to specific sexual activities that happen in a very specific order, ultimately resulting in scoring a run or hitting a home run, which is usually having vaginal intercourse to the point of orgasm, at least for the guy. (Goal, goal say soccer fans)
You can strike out, which means you don’t get to have any sexual activity. And if you’re a benchwarmer, you might be a virgin or somebody who for whatever reason isn’t in the game, maybe because of your age or because of your ability or because of your skillset.
A bat’s a penis, and a nappy dugout is a vulva, or a vagina. A glove or a catcher’s mitt is a condom. A switch-hitter is a bisexual person, and we gay and lesbian folks play for the other team.
And then there’s this one: if there’s grass on the field, play ball.” And that usually refers to if a young person, specifically often a young woman, is old enough to have pubic hair, she’s old enough to have sex with.
This baseball model is incredibly problematic. It’s sexist. It’s heterosexist. It’s competitive. It’s goal-directed. And it can’t result in healthy sexuality developing in young people or in adults.
So we need a new model. I’m here today to offer you that new model. And it’s based on pizza.
Now pizza is something that is universally understood and that most people associate with a positive experience. So let’s do this.
Let’s take baseball and pizza and compare it when talking about three aspects of sexual activity: the trigger for sexual activity, what happens during sexual activity, and the expected outcome of sexual activity.
So when do you play baseball? You play baseball when it’s baseball season and when there’s a game on the schedule. It’s not exactly your choice. So if it’s prom night or a wedding night or at a party or if our parents aren’t home, hey, it’s just batter up.
Can you imagine saying to your coach, “Uh, I’m not really feeling it today, I think I’ll sit this game out.” That’s just not the way it happens. And when you get together to play baseball, immediately you’re with two opposing teams, one playing offense, one playing defense, somebody’s trying to move deeper into the field. That’s usually a sign to the boy.
Somebody’s trying to defend people moving into the field. That’s often given to the girl. It’s competitive. We’re not playing with each other. We’re playing against each other. And when you show up to play baseball, nobody needs to talk about what we’re going to do or how this baseball game might be good for us. Everybody knows the rules.
You just take your position and play the game. But when do you have pizza? Well, you have pizza when you’re hungry for pizza. It starts with an internal sense, an internal desire, or a need. “Huh. I could go for some pizza.” (Laughter)
And because it’s an internal desire, we actually have some sense of control over that. I could decide that I’m hungry but know that it’s not a great time to eat. And then when we get together with someone for pizza, we’re not competing with them, we’re looking for an experience that both of us will share that’s satisfying for both of us, and when you get together for pizza with somebody, what’s the first thing you do?
You talk about it. You talk about what you want. You talk about what you like. You may even negotiate it. “How do you feel about pepperoni?” (Laughter) “Not so much, I’m kind of a mushroom guy myself.” “Well, maybe we can go half and half.” And even if you’ve had pizza with somebody for a very long time, don’t you still say things like, “Should we get the usual?” (Laughter) “Or maybe something a little more adventurous?”
Okay, so when you’re playing baseball, so if we talk about during sexual activity, when you’re playing baseball, you’re just supposed to round the bases in the proper order one at a time. You can’t hit the ball and run to right field. That doesn’t work. And you also can’t get to second base and say, “I like it here. I’m going to stay here.” No.
And with baseball,  you need specific equipment and a specific skill set. Not everybody can play baseball. It’s pretty exclusive
But what about pizza? When we’re trying to figure out what’s good for pizza, isn’t it all about what’s our pleasure? There are a million different kinds of pizza. There’s a million different toppings. There’s a million different ways to eat pizza. And none of them are wrong.
They’re different. And in this case, difference is good, because that’s going to increase the chance that we’re having a satisfying experience. And lastly, what’s the expected outcome of baseball? Well, in baseball, you play to win. You score as many runs as you can. There’s always a winner in baseball, and that means there’s always a loser in baseball.
But what about pizza? Well, in pizza, we’re not really — there’s no winning. How do you win pizza? You don’t. But you do look for, “Are we satisfied?” And sometimes that can be different amounts over different times or with different people or on different days. And we get to decide when we feel satisfied.
If we’re still hungry, we might have some more. If you eat too much, though, you just feel gross. (Laughter) So what if we could take this pizza model and overlay it on top of sexuality education?
A lot of sexuality education that happens today is so influenced by the baseball model, and it sets up education that can’t help but produce unhealthy sexuality in young people. And those young people become older people.
if we could create sexuality education that was more like pizza, we could create education that invites people to think about their own desires, to make deliberate decisions about what they want, to talk about it with their partners, and to ultimately look for not some external outcome but for what feels satisfying, and we get to decide that.
You may have noticed in the baseball and pizza comparison, under the baseball, it’s all commands. They’re all exclamation points. But under the pizza model, they’re questions. And who gets to answer those questions? You do. I do.
So remember, when we’re thinking about sexuality education and sexual activity, baseball, you’re out. Pizza is the way to think about healthy, satisfying sexual activity, and good, comprehensive sexuality education. Thank you very much for your time.

Practicing safe sexting? (Texting sex)

Sexting, like anything that’s fun, runs its risks — but a serious violation of privacy shouldn’t be one of them.

Amy Adele Hasinoff looks at problematic responses to sexting in mass media, law and education, offering practical solutions for how individuals and tech companies can protect sensitive (and, ahem, potentially scandalous) digital files.

Amy Adele Hasinoff. Communications researcher. studies gender, sexuality, privacy and consent in new media. Full bio

People have been using media to talk about sex for a long time. Love letters, phone sex, racy Polaroids. There’s even a story of a girl who eloped with a man that she met over the telegraph in 1886.

Today we have sexting, and I am a sexting expert. Not an expert sexter. Though, I do know what this means — I think you do too.

0:42 [it’s a penis]

I have been studying sexting since the media attention to it began in 2008. I wrote a book on the moral panic about sexting. And here’s what I found: most people are worrying about the wrong thing. They’re trying to just prevent sexting from happening entirely. But let me ask you this: As long as it’s completely consensual, what’s the problem with sexting? People are into all sorts of things that you may not be into, like blue cheese or cilantro

Sexting is certainly risky, like anything that’s fun, but as long as you’re not sending an image to someone who doesn’t want to receive it, there’s no harm.

What I do think is a serious problem is when people share private images of others without their permission. And instead of worrying about sexting, what I think we need to do is think a lot more about digital privacy.

The key is consent.

Right now most people are thinking about sexting without really thinking about consent at all. Did you know that we currently criminalize teen sexting? It can be a crime because it counts as child pornography, if there’s an image of someone under 18, and it doesn’t even matter if they took that image of themselves and shared it willingly.

So we end up with this bizarre legal situation where two 17-year-olds can legally have sex in most US states but they can’t photograph it.

Some states have also tried passing sexting misdemeanor laws but these laws repeat the same problem because they still make consensual sexting illegal. It doesn’t make sense to try to ban all sexting to try to address privacy violations. This is kind of like saying, let’s solve the problem of date rape by just making dating completely illegal.

Most teens don’t get arrested for sexting, but can you guess who does?

It’s often teens who are disliked by their partner’s parents. And this can be because of class bias, racism or homophobia. Most prosecutors are, of course, smart enough not to use child pornography charges against teenagers, but some do.

According to researchers at the University of New Hampshire 7% of all child pornography possession arrests are teens, sexting consensually with other teens.

Child pornography is a serious crime, but it’s just not the same thing as teen sexting. Parents and educators are also responding to sexting without really thinking too much about consent. Their message to teens is often: just don’t do it.

And I totally get it — there are serious legal risks and of course, that potential for privacy violations. And when you were a teen, I’m sure you did exactly as you were told, right?

You’re probably thinking, my kid would never sext. And that’s true, your little angel may not be sexting because only 33 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds are sexting. But, sorry, by the time they’re older, odds are they will be sexting. Every study I’ve seen puts the rate above 50 percent for 18- to 24-year-olds.

And most of the time, nothing goes wrong. People ask me all the time things like, isn’t sexting just so dangerous, though? It’s like you wouldn’t leave your wallet on a park bench and you expect it’s going to get stolen if you do that, right? Here’s how I think about it: sexting is like leaving your wallet at your boyfriend’s house.

If you come back the next day and all the money is just gone, you really need to dump that guy. (Laughter) So instead of criminalizing sexting to try to prevent these privacy violations, instead we need to make consent central to how we think about the circulation of our private information.

Every new media technology raises privacy concerns. In fact, in the US the very first major debates about privacy were in response to technologies that were relatively new at the time.

In the late 1800s, people were worried about cameras, which were just suddenly more portable than ever before, and newspaper gossip columns. They were worried that the camera would capture information about them, take it out of context and widely disseminate it this sound familiar?

It’s exactly what we’re worrying about now with social media and drone cameras, and, of course, sexting. And these fears about technology, they make sense because technologies can amplify and bring out our worst qualities and behaviors. But there are solutions. And we’ve been here before with a dangerous new technology.

6:11 In 1908, Ford introduced the Model T car. Traffic fatality rates were rising. It was a serious problem — it looks so safe, right? Our first response was to try to change drivers’ behavior, so we developed speed limits and enforced them through fines. But over the following decades, we started to realize the technology of the car itself is not just neutral. We could design the car to make it safer. So in the 1920s, we got shatter-resistant windshields. In the 1950s, seat belts.

And in the 1990s, airbags. All three of these areas: laws, individuals and industry came together over time to help solve the problem that a new technology causes.

And we can do the same thing with digital privacy. Of course, it comes back to consent. Here’s the idea. Before anyone can distribute your private information, they should have to get your permission. This idea of affirmative consent comes from anti-rape activists who tell us that we need consent for every sexual act. And we have really high standards for consent in a lot of other areas.

7:30 Think about having surgery. Your doctor has to make sure that you are meaningfully and knowingly consenting to that medical procedure. This is not the type of consent like with an iTunes Terms of Service where you just scroll to the bottom and you’re like, agree, agree, whatever.

If we think more about consent, we can have better privacy laws.

Right now, we just don’t have that many protections. If your ex-husband or your ex-wife is a terrible person, they can take your nude photos and upload them to a porn site. It can be really hard to get those images taken down. And in a lot of states, you’re actually better off if you took the images of yourself because then you can file a copyright claim.

Right now, if someone violates your privacy, whether that’s an individual or a company or the NSA, you can try filing a lawsuit, though you may not be successful because many courts assume that digital privacy is just impossible. So they’re not willing to punish anyone for violating it.

I still hear people asking me all the time, isn’t a digital image somehow blurring the line between public and private because it’s digital, right? No! No! Everything digital is not just automatically public. That doesn’t make any sense.

As NYU legal scholar Helen Nissenbaum tells us, we have laws and policies and norms that protect all kinds of information that’s private, and it doesn’t make a difference if it’s digital or not. All of your health records are digitized but your doctor can’t just share them with anyone. All of your financial information is held in digital databases, but your credit card company can’t just post your purchase history online.

Better laws could help address privacy violations after they happen, but one of the easiest things we can all do is make personal changes to help protect each other’s privacy.

We’re always told that privacy is our own, sole, individual responsibility. We’re told, constantly monitor and update your privacy settings. We’re told, never share anything you wouldn’t want the entire world to see. This doesn’t make sense. Digital media are social environments and we share things with people we trust all day, every day.

As Princeton researcher Janet Vertesi argues, our data and our privacy, they’re not just personal, they’re actually interpersonal. And so one thing you can do that’s really easy is just start asking for permission before you share anyone else’s information. If you want to post a photo of someone online, ask for permission. If you want to forward an email thread, ask for permission. And if you want to share someone’s nude selfie, obviously, ask for permission.

These individual changes can really help us protect each other’s privacy, but we need technology companies on board as well. These companies have very little incentive to help protect our privacy because their business models depend on us sharing everything with as many people as possible.

Right now, if I send you an image, you can forward that to anyone that you want. But what if I got to decide if that image was forwardable or not? This would tell you, you don’t have my permission to send this image out.

We do this kind of thing all the time to protect copyright. If you buy an e-book, you can’t just send it out to as many people as you want. So why not try this with mobile phones?

What you can do is we can demand that tech companies add these protections to our devices and our platforms as the default. After all, you can choose the color of your car, but the airbags are always standard.

If we don’t think more about digital privacy and consent, there can be serious consequences.

There was a teenager from Ohio — let’s call her Jennifer, for the sake of her privacy. She shared nude photos of herself with her high school boyfriend, thinking she could trust him. Unfortunately, he betrayed her and sent her photos around the entire school. Jennifer was embarrassed and humiliated, but instead of being compassionate, her classmates harassed her. They called her a slut and a whore and they made her life miserable. Jennifer started missing school and her grades dropped. Ultimately, Jennifer decided to end her own life.

Jennifer did nothing wrong. All she did was share a nude photo with someone she thought that she could trust. And yet our laws tell her that she committed a horrible crime equivalent to child pornography. Our gender norms tell her that by producing this nude image of herself, she somehow did the most horrible, shameful thing.

And when we assume that privacy is impossible in digital media, we completely write off and excuse her boyfriend’s bad, bad behavior. People are still saying all the time to victims of privacy violations, “What were you thinking? You should have never sent that image.”

13:10 If you’re trying to figure out what to say instead, try this. Imagine you’ve run into your friend who broke their leg skiing. They took a risk to do something fun, and it didn’t end well. But you’re probably not going to be the jerk who says, “Well, I guess you shouldn’t have gone skiing then.” If we think more about consent, we can see that victims of privacy violations deserve our compassion, not criminalization, shaming, harassment or punishment.

We can support victims, and we can prevent some privacy violations by making these legal, individual and technological changes. Because the problem is not sexting, the issue is digital privacy. And one solution is consent.

14:01 So the next time a victim of a privacy violation comes up to you, instead of blaming them, let’s do this instead: let’s shift our ideas about digital privacy, and let’s respond with compassion.

Sexting, like anything that’s fun, runs its risks — but a serious violation of privacy shouldn’t be one of them. Amy Adele Hasinoff looks at problematic responses to sexting in mass media, law and education, offering practical solutions for how individuals and tech companies can protect sensitive (…




March 2017
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