Skip to content

Sex and science stuff – 05/08/09

August 5th, 2009

Dr Petra

Let’s start with a bit of romance. In case you’ve not seen it here’s the world record attempt at the most people in a whisper chain. Watch to the end. I guarantee you a warm and mushy moment

One of my favourite bloggers Cory Silverberg has a refreshing and reassuring take on male sex problems in his rather surprisingly titled ‘why I love premature ejaculation’

Mind Hacks report on The Dark Side of Oxytocin. You know that stuff journalists love to call ‘the cuddle hormone’. Well, you may not be thinking about it quite so fondly after reading this research.

Newsweek have a surprisingly liberal take on polyamory. For those of you into poly you might find this useful – it’s a guide to self care by a previous quickie guest Meg Barker.

Competing for the crappest survey of the week award we learn ‘randy men ogle women up to 10 times per day’ – in a study funded by Kodak lenses. Also badly reported but possibly more robust research reported in the Telegraph suggests ‘housework makes men more attractive’. Worth paying attention to since we do
know unequal division of labour within the home and disagreements over this are a major contributor to arguments, sexual problems and relationship breakups.

Parents panic as we learn 1/3 teens have received a sexually explicit text (or sext). This comes from a survey by the charity Beat Bullying. While bullying in any form is unacceptable it’s worth noting this research was designed to promote a charity. It implies the findings represent teens as a whole, whereas it’s really only applicable to those who took the survey and owned mobiles. Even then it could be teens who don’t own a mobile still reported being harassed by sexts – particularly if the survey was written in a leading manner. Let’s be clear, not all teens have mobile phones and not all sex texts are necessarily negative. What an adult understands as a ‘sext’ may differ from what a teen interprets one as. We undoubtedly must challenge coercive sexual behaviour and bullying, but we must be careful not to overemphasise the idea of ‘sexting’ among our teens, or be hoodwinked by another one of those techno-panic style stories.

Over at the Daily Mail sex writer Flic Everett reviews Bettina Arndt’s ‘The Sex Diaries’ (which I’ll be reviewing in a future blog). This review interested me not for the discussion of Arndt’s work, but because it so clearly highlights the gap between those who discuss sex from an evidence based perspective and those who perhaps aren’t aware of or are unable to consult or apply such sources. It’s heartening to see Everett so honestly describing areas she was unaware of about sex, what she’d assumed as a sex advisor, and describing the media preoccupation with tips on spicing up one’s sex life. But the worrying issue is the very problems Everett describes around the distance between aspirational sex advice and real people’s lived experience has been covered and debated extensively within sex research and activism over the past decade. The findings of Arndt’s book should not be coming as a shock to anyone working in the area of sex advice giving.

Most telling is the statement “to a sexpert who’s become used to a rarefied world of tricks and toys, positions and pulsations, it can be difficult to imagine what’s really going on in people’s bedrooms”. To most media sexperts this is undoubtedly true. A sad indicator of how much time is spent by sex advisors in reinforcing sexual values most folk don’t understand, measure up to or even particularly want to engage in. As a book review the piece was interesting, as a warning to ‘sexperts’ about current poor practice it’s much more helpful. Wouldn’t it be nice if that changed the way some sexperts write about sex?

Fiesty and funny feminist science blogger Naomi Mc has a very candid take on the recent discussions about celebrity psychologists on her blog Vagina Dentata (have a rummage round on this site, if you want to know how to write challenging things in a clear and compelling way this ought to be your template).

You might remember last week the media were all abuzz over research suggesting that women were getting more beautiful. Studies apparently indicated women were breeding prettier daughters although it didn’t matter if men weren’t getting any more attractive. Oh and that the modern opportunities of affordable shoes, makeup and clothes helped ladies. Or something. To be honest I didn’t check it out properly as I was just so wound up about it. It seemed like pretty dire science. Turns out it seems to have been pretty dire science reporting. And the academic whose work formed the basis of the coverage is very unhappy about it. Markus Joleka has taken the time to set the story straight and I recommend you read his blog and sympathise with the shoddy treatment his work received (and in my case feel guilty for ranting on about the research when I hadn’t fully investigated it). Great Joleka was able to do this, but again why do scientists keep having to use their blogs to put right what the media get wrong?

To finish, here’s a trip down memory lane and back to 2003 with the track ‘Yeah is what we had’ from the album Sumday by Granddaddy (a band who’re sadly no longer together). I heard this the other day and it reminded me of the video which is beautiful and very sad, and so we end with something that may give you another mushy moment.

Comments are closed.