Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ask Dr. Efficient, the Love Guru:
Dr. Efficient Answers All, #5

Warning: The following is an adult entry. If you are underage or simply do not want to read about sex-related topics, stop now.

All opinions are those of Dr. Efficient.

Dr. Efficient's fifth guest column comes to us from a land of gentle waves and scorched sand.

As usual, both questions he answers originated with U.S. women who chose to remain anonymous.

Why do you think that women are inherently bisexual? Are men inherently bisexual?

Don't be ridiculous. Men are either straight, gay, or lying.

To be fair, women aren't strictly bisexual either. It would be more accurate to describe them as omnisexual, since they're also turned on by watching apes have hot monkey sex. Now that is some sick shit, and something to think about the next time you're getting up on your "Ew, fucking sheep is gross" high horse.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. All of these results come from experiments in which sex researchers attach monitoring devices to record blood flow to the genitals while subjects are shown a variety of visual stimuli.

In 2005, a team of Northwestern University researchers lead by Dr. J Michael Bailey recruited 101 young male research subjects. Thirty of the men self-identified as straight, thirty-three as bisexual, and thirty-eight as gay. All were shown sexual videos, some featuring only men, others only women. Self-professed straight and gay men behaved as expected: straight men were aroused by looking at women, while gay men were aroused by looking at men.

Self-identified bisexual men, on the other hand, were not aroused by both men and women. They were aroused by only one sex or the other, and usually they were aroused by men. In the laboratory, most bisexual men are indistinguishable from gay men.

Women, on the other hand, are different. Whether they self-identify as straight, gay, or bisexual, women show similar indiscriminate patterns of physiological arousal: They go moist looking at either men and women. They go moist looking at either straight sex or gay sex. Dr. Bailey says, "I'm not even sure females have a sexual orientation. But they have sexual preferences. Women are very picky, and most choose to have sex with men."

Enter Queens University researcher Dr. Meredith "The Queen of Bonobo Porn" Chivers. Chivers showed a wider variety of images to her female subjects. She found that women were physiologically aroused not just by watching videos of humans having sex, but also great apes. This would suggest that all women are, to some extent, inherently into yiffing. On the other hand, when surveyed, women reported subjective levels of arousal that bore no relation to their physiological responses. Straight women claimed they were aroused by images of men, gay women claimed they were aroused by images of women, and nobody admitted to being turned on by hardcore apefucking.

So does this mean that all women are bisexual? Or that all women are into bestiality? Chivers herself says that "To conclude that women are bisexual on the basis of their sexual responding overlooks the complexity and multidimensionality of female sexuality.” Or to put it another way, as David M. Buss writes in The Evolution of Desire, "women's preferences in a partner are more complex and enigmatic than the mate preferences of either sex of any other species."

To sum up: Men are simple. Women are complicated. Male sexual wiring appears to be a matter of hardware, while female sexual preferences are a matter of software. And it's hard to be certain of anything about women, except that any of them would go gay with enough alcohol and the right partner.

At least that's my hypothesis; I'm still looking for grant money to test it.

Further reading:
"Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited"
"Pas de deux of sexuality is written in the genes"
"What Women Want (Maybe)"
"What do women want?"
all from The New York Times.
I know they say men think about sex all the time, but what about women? I am female and literally think about sex so much it is a constant "background noise" in my head. Is that normal?
Normal? Maybe. Hot? Totally.

But seriously, who gives a shit? Will you be happier if I tell you that you're in the middle of the human bell curve than out there on the extreme?

You know that profound sense of alienation that you feel from time to time? You come by it honestly. You are as much a stranger to this world as if you were a visitor from Mars. You were not born for this. You were born to walk across the pre-Saharan veldt with a spear in hand (if you're male) or an infant (if you're female). You were born to feel the dry grass beneath your feet, and to know the hot sun on your back.You were born to hunt and to forage. You were born to watch a third of your children die in infancy. You were born to leave another third of your children to die of exposure in times of scarcity--or to smother them to death if you are merciful. You were born to be a nomad, constantly moving to follow the herds. You were born to never be alone, to live your life in the bosom of thirty to fifty close relations who've known you your entire life and who impart to you the wisdom that you will pass on to your surviving children.

That is the world we were shaped for by a million years of evolution. But we've made a different world. Instead of scarcity, we have abundance. Instead of the comfort of the band, we have the loneliness of the crowd. Instead of timeless rhythm, we have constant flux. Instead of wisdom, we have statistics.

The statistics are these: 54% of men report thinking about sex every day. 19% of women report thinking about sex every day. Presumably those percentages are higher for men and women in their twenties and are lower for children and the elderly, as with other reported sexual activity. These, and a variety of other fascinating stats are available at the Kinsey Institute FAQ.

The Kinsey statistics don't report how many times a man or woman thinks about sex in a day, but with 81% of women thinking about sex less than once a day, presumably it's pretty low. On the other hand, ABC News did an admittedly anecdotal study (one man, one woman) in which the man reported thinking about sex thirty times in a day, the woman twice. There are going to be problems with any self-reported statistics: people are unlikely to remember everything they think about in the course of a day, different people will have different thresholds for what they consider to be worth reporting, and cultural inhibitions will keep some--especially women--from reporting sexual thoughts.

So you're probably out there toward the end of the bell curve, but it's only something to worry about if that bothers you. The American Psychiatric Association doesn't consider "thinking about sex a lot" to be a disorder. If it's a major inconvenience for you, antidepressants and therapy might help. Your level of sexual interest will probably lessen as you get older in any case.

And in the meantime, you can make a lot of men pretty happy. Or one man very happy.

As long as you keep sending in questions, Dr. Efficient will return soon! Email your queries to me or send them via the Contact page on my site.

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