Tag Archives: behavior

Can We Do It Like Bonobos?

As a burgeoning sexuality student I had a mild obsession with the human implications of bonobo sexual behaviors. They were like this unshared secret of zoology, hidden from sight on nature channels because of apparent prurience and I wondered if we could locate some inherent sexual truth about humanity by looking at bonobos. But doing that means locating the same truths in chimpanzee behavior. Human predilection towards rape, war, and infanticide would be just as valid as promiscuity, cooperation and sex for the fun of it.

In evaluating and understanding our own, often confounding, sexual behaviors I think it’s a mistake to hold any other animal up as an ideal or try to identify immutable parts of our sexual behavior by observing them. Continue reading

Girl Guilt

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror running my hands over the marks he’d left on me. Little nibbles and scratches, like sexual graffiti on my skin. Flashes of his flesh surged through my mind and I smiled as I fantasized about what we could do the next time.

And then it hit me.

Girl Guilt.

A knot of post-sex shame tangled inside of me. I’d violated the most primary tenet of female sexuality: Continue reading

Humans Aren’t Rodents. Porn Isn’t Ruining Marriages.

Look familiar? I thought not.

Humans are not prairie voles. We are not guinea pigs or mice. We’re humans.

Pop science loves to trot out research on rodents to confirm or challenge behavioral assumptions. But what the writers often miss is that our behaviors are shaped by far more than food, fights, flights and fucking. Humans are highly complex social primates and, because of this, our responses to the world can be difficult to explain with simple biology or neurotransmitters.

And yet, as a recent porn hysteria post at The Good Men Project demonstrates, we still love clinging to these simplistic notions. The writers cite our dopamine reward system as evidence that porn’s excitement is ruining marriages. Continue reading

“Brutish” Male Sexuality: Part 1

The tired trope of aggressive male sexuality is a pervasive one. The story goes like this: because men are full of testosterone and sperm as well as unhindered by the consequence of pregnancy, their sexuality is naturally brutish and promiscuous. Testosterone fuels aggression, billions of sperm want hundreds of outlets and nature failed to offset these desires with physical dangers associated with reproduction.

The compliment to this heterocentric sex story is that women, with their limited eggs, lack of testosterone and pregnancy burden are naturally chaste and self protective. Any sexual adventurousness or licentiousness is only done to please men and keep them around so they will help with the child rearing.

A simple and neatly packaged explanation of human sexuality. But it’s wrong. Let’s do some debunking. Continue reading

No Pleasure in the Ghetto

Social injustice is a hard wall to break (pic via yoostin.com)

This morning I woke up to a local housing project’s message about canceling a workshop on safer sex. The reason? No funding for outside presenters.

Welcome to the most frustrating injustice in sex education: information access and restricted conversations. Continue reading

Study Explains Cougars with Evolution. Uh, disagree.

http://www.scheissprojekt.de/evolution.htm

People love explaining human sexual behavior with evolution. If a behavior exists, it must be because of evolution…right?

In a recent study, among 827 women who self-reported on sexual behavior and fantasies, those women in the 27-45 age range reported the highest frequencies of sex and fantasy. The study authors explain this with evolutionary theory: older women compensate for their aging uterus by being hyper-sexual. Essentially, they’re saying an aging female brain incites more sexual desire in order to compete with younger (and ostensibly more attractive) females.

Here are my critiques of this analysis:

  • Nulliparity. If the evolutionary explination is correct, you would find that nulliparous women (those that have never borne a child) would have higher rates of sexual fantasy and behavior than women in their age cohort with one or more children. Pregnancy and childbirth are hard on the human body so it makes sense to level off sexual desire with age if a woman has already had children and women with no children would have more of an impetus to be hypersexual. An earlier study by the same researcher found no difference on account of having children or not.
  • Does not account for fecundity. Women with higher fecundity (fertility) would be less likely to need this adaptation because they get pregnant easily.
  • Fails to address social factors. The social taboo against female desire for the sake of desire can compel younger women to avoid sex and actively resist fantasies. Factor in roommates, ability to assess or obtain a sexual partner and sexual confidence, and an argument for social conditioning emerges.
  • Simplifies evolutionary theory to explain  one strategy. Multiple mating strategies and behavioral adaptations exist within the same species. I’ve written about oversimplification of evolutionary theory in media before.
  • No cross-cultural or longitudinal comparisons. If the “cougar” approach to mating is indeed an evolutionary adaptation, you would find this phenomenon in many locales and points in history. I checked into data from the Kinsey Studies and the evidence is a bit muddled concerning frequency. Women reported a gradual rise in solitary sexual practices (ie jillin’off) but the website summary does not state when that behavior begins to level off.

I freely admit my bias when it comes to evolutionary explanations, especially concerning desire. The biggest reason is that the evidence is contrary to my experience as well as many of my female friends. When I was a teen my sexual desires came into conflict with basic social acceptance. I felt horny but I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even realize that masturbation was an option for me. Instead, I supressed everything I felt between my legs and was constantly frustrated. One time, at 16, I was so horny I actually cried.

And no wonder. If the recent public outrage and ridicule of Taylor Momson’s vibrator comment is any indication, young women are still being shamed about their sexual desire.

I’m not in Time’s “old lady” category just yet (27-45, WTF?) but I definitely fantasize more and have more sex. Why? I don’t feel ashamed about it. Simple as that. Cheers to getting older and learning when to not give a fuck about others’ opinions.

Note: I am not saying that biological factors are meaningless in this case. Rather, a completely biological explanation is insufficient to explain human sexual desire.

Human Obscenity is Forever

As my friends and I prepared the dinner table last night, the sweet sounds of 1930s blues filled the room. The scratchy, canned recordings of that bygone era masked the lewd lyrics, so it wasn’t until the second verse of Lucille Bogan‘s “Till the Cows Come Home” that we knew for sure she was singing about fucking with a capital “F”.

A sample verse:

If you suck my pussy, baby, I’ll suck your dick

I’ll do it to you honey, till I make you shit

Listen to the song in all its glory:

Lucille Bogan Till the Cows Come Home
Uploaded by sergheirugasky. – See the latest featured music videos.

We stared at each other in total disbelief as she sang of giving her lovers the clap, her floor sweeping pubic hair with “funk from those hairs that will shut the door” and how her two lovers had dicks like baseball bats. There is an extra layer of shock when you discover our predecessors could be just as smarmy as any modern day porno.

We have a preoccupation with sanitizing the past in order to present its occupants in a more noble light, similar to the way we eulogize the dead and forgive them their earthly indiscretions. Hindsight is not only 20/2o; it is also easily manipulated for our own comfort.

Champions of family values often shriek about impending moral doom, holding up copies of Penthouse and rattling off porn sites as evidence for cultural entropy. But the moment you dig below the bleached façade of official history, you’ll find the same old dirty jokes, songs and images. Drawing cocks on the walls is nothing new for humans.

Of course, social sanctions against sexual innuendo and expression are nothing new either. Though the urge to create “dirty” entertainment and art is culturally ubiquitous, the urge to eradicate those creations waxes and wanes. Even the bounds of what constitutes prurience are in constant flux.

Personally, I find it humbling that Ancient Romans scrawled offensive lines on public walls or that medieval writers drew dirty cartoons  in religious texts. Perversion is a uniquely human trait and I am happy to embrace bawdiness.

We Need More “Don’t Rape” Campaigns

An Image Inspiration for a "Don't Rape" PSA

According to anti-rape campaigns, women (but apparently not men) have many modern tools against rape: self-defense classes, walking in groups, avoiding getting drunk and being aware of their surroundings. What we don’t have is an comprehensive anti-rape campaign with one simple message to would-be rapists:

DON’T RAPE

Campaigns raise awareness about rape by debunking myths, providing statistics and offering ways for potential victims to protect themselves. But the campaigns and discussions rarely address the rapist.

When we only spotlight the victims we create a disembodied construction of a rapist as a supporting character in rape prevention discourse. The rape victim is the focus while the rapist is an auxiliary entity. Meanwhile in the real world, rapists are related to us, work with us and go to the bars with us. They are our friends, lovers and family members. Rarely are rapists complete strangers hiding in the bushes.

Realizing that many of us have known or do know someone that committed rape is an uncomfortable truth. Focusing on victims is mentally convenient, especially in a culture places the onus of sexual responsibility on females. Since we’re already taking birth control and keeping male sexual desire in check it makes sense for us to prevent rape, whether through wearing teethed condoms or by starring in anti-rape commercials.

Imagine a different type of conversation about rape, one that focused on (primarily male) perpetrators. Continue reading