Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sex, Desire And Watching Monkeys Do It

The New York Times has a fascinating article about men and women’s sexual arousal and desire triggers.

Birds Do It. Bees Do It. People Seek the Keys to It.

In a series of studies at the University of Amsterdam, Ellen Laan, Stephanie Both and Mark Spiering demonstrated that the body’s entire motor system is activated almost instantly by exposure to sexual images, and that the more intensely sexual the visuals, the stronger the electric signals emitted by the participants’ so-called spinal tendious reflexes. By the looks of it, Dr. Laan said, the body is primed for sex before the mind has had a moment to leer.
There are many interesting parts to the article, one part that stood out suggested that not all men actually are programmed to rape. First they hooked men’s gentials up to a machine and tested their, ahem, “tumescence.” (I love it when the NY Times gets all coy).

More intriguing still were the divergent sexual responses between men who ranked high on the inhibition scale and those who scored low. Whereas both groups reacted to the nonthreatening sex scenes with an equivalently hearty degree of tumescence, only the low scorers — those whose answers to the questionnaire indicated they had scant sexual inhibition — maintained an enthusiastic physiological response when confronted with film clips of sexual brutality.

The results suggest that having a good set of sexual brakes not only dampens the willingness to commit rape or sexual abuse, but the desire as well, giving the lie to notions that “all men are the same” and would be likely to rape their way through the local maiden population if they thought they could get away with it.
It doesn’t explain why mens’ arousals might diverge, just that it does. I suspect it’s probably more nurture than nature.

However that’s not even the most shocking part of the article. One study basically says women get turned on by watching sex of any kind, including monkey sex.

Women’s genitals, it seems, respond to all sex, all the time. Show a woman scenes of a man and a woman having sex, or two women having sex, or two men, or even two bonobos, Dr. Chivers said, and as a rule her genitals will become measurably congested and lubricated, although in many cases she may not be aware of the response.
Of course then the doctor speculates that this might be because women are programmed to be raped all the time which I find not a particularly satisfying hypothesis.

Again, the why of it remains a mystery. Dr. Chivers and others have hypothesized that the mechanism is protective. Women are ever in danger of being raped, they said, and by automatically lubricating at the mere hint of sex, they may avoid damage during forced intercourse to that evolutionarily all-important reproductive tract.
Eh, he’s just speculating, the guy doesn’t really know why this might happen.

Anyway weirdest passage in the article:

In any given individual, each pedal may be easier or harder to press. One person may be quick to become aroused, but equally quick to stifle that response at the slightest distraction. Another may be tough to get started, but once galvanized "will not lose sexual arousal even if the ceiling comes down," Dr. Janssen said. Still another may be saddled with both a feeble sexual accelerator and an overzealous sexual inhibitor, an unenviable pairing most likely correlated with a taste for beige pantsuits and the music of Loggins and Messina.
Can anyone explain what that even MEANS????

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