Tagged: science

Sep 15

Pathologising Passion

Did you know that wearing socks in bed may improve your sex life?  It’s true: in a study, 80%  of people wearing socks came, compared to 50% of those with no socks on.  Brain scans carried out during sex (there were no diagrams so I’m a bit hazy on the details of how, exactly) showed that different areas of the brain are active in men and women during sex: in male brains, emotion centres are deactivated and the focus is on sensations transmitted from the genitals to the brain; in female brains, the response is more complex, combining emotions, physical sensation and the relaxation of brain areas processing anxiety and fear.  The more hyaluronic acid a person has in their face, the more attractive they appear.  After a break-up, brain scans show that the same parts of the brain light up when someone is shown a picture of their ex and thinks about time they spent together as when they experience physical pain by having a hot probe touch their arm.  A study during which men watched porn with a device attached to their penis that measured arousal, showed that homophobic men are most sexually aroused by gay male porn.  60% of normal people have ongoing “sexual desire” problems and 80% of women say they make their loudest ohs and ahs when they’re not enjoying sex and want their man to hurry up and come so it’ll be over with.  Exploring your date’s “Sociosexual Orientation” (i.e. why they have sex) can help you decide if there should be a second date or you’re likely to be fatally incompatible in bed.

I know all these things because I read about them in scientific studies which, of course, means they must be true.  They’re quite interesting in an anecdotal sort of way, but I don’t really see why the studies are necessary or quite what the point of them is.  Scientists have their say about every single aspect of our lives, from what we eat and how much exercise we do to how much sleep we need and how many compartments there should be in our recycling bin.  Now they’re dissecting sex by attaching devices to penises that measure girth (increased girth being a sign a man’s turned on) and immobilising people’s heads in CAT scans so they can see which bits of their brains light up most during sex.  I admire people who take part in these studies because I’ve no idea how anyone could get turned on immobilised in a room full of labcoats, but the results are hardly likely to be reflective of people who aren’t under scientific scrutiny.  Who’s to know what’s going on in the brains of people who are just frolicking in their bedroom?  It could be that, left alone, people’s brains light up all over the place – not just in localised spots that indicate men feel no emotion during sex while women experience a gamut of them.  Tying desire to evolution already took half the romance out of it and now we’re supposed to have sociosexual orientations that determine why we have sex, none of which allows for just fancying the pants off someone, and a barrage of statistics telling use what, why, how and where we’re doing it.  We can’t even keep our socks on without there being some scientific reason for it – it’s got to be because, if I wear socks, I’m 1.6 times more likely to come than if I’ve got bare feet.  These statistics and percentages serve no purpose, aside from the faint possibility they might make one of the 80% of women faking it in deafening tones feel a bit better because she knows she’s not the only one having crap sex.  I don’t think there’s a place for science in the bedroom (or wherever your sociosexual orientation dictates you like having sex).  It’s one of the few places where we aren’t likely to run into science and all its predictions/explanations/investigations – unless, of course, you’re sleeping with a scientist in which case, frankly, it’s your own fault.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s my bedroom and I’ll keep my socks on if I want to – or not, if I’m willing to risk a 37.5% drop in the likelihood I’ll come.



Jun 09

Spark gone out of your relationship? Just get your man to scowl.

A recent study declared that, when ovulating, the majority of women prefer to look at a man with a “low pupil-to-brow ratio”.  The study didn’t specify whether this was the glower of Heathcliff or the lumpen brow of the Neanderthal so it’s difficult to know whether the expected follow-on from the look is a life – or, at least, a night – of maddening melodrama or one spent crouched in a cave grunting and fashioning hunting implements from bits of flint.  I suppose it depends on taste, level of commitment desired, level of communication required (the likelihood of needing couples’ counselling is probably slightly higher with a highly strung foster brother than a caveman, though both are likely to be poor communicators), and mood at the time.

Presented with the images of two men – one rugged; the other barely pubescent – the female subjects decided the former would be more likely to satisfy their sexual desires as he looked to be more dominant.  He of the masculine prominent jaw line, thinner lips, smaller eyes, larger nose, and lower brow (whole new meaning to the expression) was considered a more attractive mate than a wide-eyed boy.  Not hugely surprising.

Their husbands and boyfriends were not impressed.  It seems that, when at the “high risk” stage of their menstrual cycle, women were more likely to take a critical look at what exactly their men had to offer and set it against the possibility of future happiness surely there behind a chiselled jaw line and large nose.  Quite what the scientists carrying out the study meant by “high risk” is unclear – they didn’t clarify their terms.  High risk to whom exactly?  Surely not to the women themselves if their ovulation days were spent evaluating their relationship and wondering just where their lives were going.  Not to humankind, either: masculine facial features, the scientists concluded, are the result of high testosterone and men with a high testosterone level have better genes, stronger immune systems, and are likely to produce hardier children.  Really, in choosing to ditch her weak-chinned, high-browed, button-nosed boy to run off with Action Man, she’s only doing her bit for the survival of the species.

In response to the possibility of losing them to the more handsome alternative, men became more jealous and possessive of their partners, attempting to assert greater dominance in the relationship.  These aren’t hugely attractive attributes so if – as the study concludes – they’re the most common things men come up with to convince a woman they’re everything she could wish for in a mate, it’s hardly surprising the testosterone-high, better-looking guy gets the girl.

Quite where this all leaves us, I’m not sure.  Science says it’s all subconscious and the result of aeons of evolution.  Could be that years spent playing with Ken has left us believing he’s the ideal man.  He’s missing a few vitals, but the study only looked at the most appealing faces – it didn’t extend to the crotch.  I really don’t know, but I do know that if the flame is waning between you and your mate, don’t look to therapy, lingerie or pills.  Just get him to scowl.


Jun 09

A G-Spot The Size Of The Moon

Last week I read an article about the peculiar things people do to their bodies with plastic surgery. There was the usual lunacy: women injecting a neurotoxin into their faces; collagened-up bloody, swollen pouts; Macrolane-filled breasts (a sort of injectable jelly it takes your body 12-18 months to absorb, leaving you with plain old mammary tissue); laser hair removal; earlobe reshaping (quite how bored, body dysmorphic, obsessive, or surgery-addicted you’d have to be to decide that your earlobes were imperfect I don’t know); a laser inserted under the skin to liquefy fat so it can be sucked out along a cannula; spikes rolled over the skin to ‘stimulate skin repair’ (presumably from the damage caused by the spikes); skin tightening via radio-frequency energy; fat sucked out your belly and injected into cheeks.

Then there was one that made me wonder if there is any part of the human anatomy that is to remain as it exists in nature: g-spot amplification. I’ve heard of labial trimming, as it’s called, thanks to a documentary about a woman who’d presumably spent enough time squatting over a mirror to know that her labia were not as she’d like them to be. The camera only showed her head during surgery, everything below the waist discretely covered by a surgical gown, though her mother was down there narrating. Things like “Oh yes, that’s much prettier”, “Maybe just a little more out of the right hand side”, and “Oh you’re going to love what he’s done down here, hon”. I don’t know which was more peculiar, really – the surgery or the mother-daughter relationship.

What I didn’t know was that surgery had moved on to re-form the inside of the vagina. In this procedure, collagen is injected into the g-spot to enlarge it, the idea being that this will then make sex more enjoyable and orgasms more frequent.

Anatomically/mechanically/geographically I’m not sure quite how this works. Whether the idea is that the greater the surface area, the higher the chance of the g-spot being touched during sex – improving the odds as it were – or if it’s supposed to make it easier for the man to find it, minus his periscope and head-torch, I don’t know.

The case study in the article was a woman who’d been with her one and only partner for five years and, during that time, had never had an orgasm. The doctor told her the procedure wouldn’t work on someone who’d never had an orgasm (he didn’t elaborate and I’ve no idea why this would be) so she said she might have had one once, she thinks. Personally, I’d be casting aspersions on the boyfriend at this point, but I wasn’t there to comment or glance. Perhaps an additional extra could be a brief anatomy/technique lesson from the surgeon who, it appears, knows where the g-spot is.

It’s hard to know whether it’s just a way of enhancing what is already supposed to be a fun way to pass an afternoon or if it’s yet another way that scientists have found to exploit women’s bodies and their insecurities about them. Isn’t it enough that the sculpted and the airbrushed are paraded as the ultimate objects of desire? Must we also assume that their insides possess the same perfection?

Apparently, the procedure has an 80% success rate in America. Quite how that’s measured, I’m not sure. I don’t know whether it’s that the women have 80% more orgasms (though 80% of nothing would still be no orgasms at all, or even less than nothing) or it’s that 80% have orgasms or that 80% of the time they’re having sex the women have orgasms. Either way, it costs from £800 and the enlargement only lasts six months. I’d have to be getting some seriously good lovin’ when I got home to make that worth the money.