Sunday, April 21, 2019
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Research into human sexuality

Sex is a subject on which every adult feels entitled to have their own opinion, however uninformed. Both individuals and institution have to fight for funds and scant resources. Everyone is competing for the limelight and for recognition. Those who can conjure up an attention-grabbing headline, regardless of any facts or logic, get the attention of the public. A few brave souls, having spent decades researching sexuality, are ignored because their conclusions were unpopular. The man and woman in the street think that they know better. No wonder we have so little sex research! There is no formal process for building a comprehensive explanation for our sexuality. As a result, there is no material available to educators that they can use with confidence to explain the issues surrounding sexuality.

Most people are only interested in sex research or sex education as a means of confirming fantasies. Few are interested in an intellectual understanding of sexuality. Everyone seems to assume that erotic fiction is gospel rather than a story aimed at arousing and entertaining. Sex research has always been led by men. Men’s lack of objectivity about female sexuality is never acknowledged. Men only fund sex research that backs their own interests.

There is little mystery to male sexuality. Both the physical stimulation and erotic turn-ons required for male arousal and orgasm are very evident not only to the man himself but also to his partner. Female sexuality has always been more controversial. Even today female arousal and orgasm remain a mystery. Clearly women do not respond sexually in such a way that men can divine what turn-ons and stimulation their lovers need for orgasm. A scientific understanding involves studying the behaviours and responses of the whole population. Researchers need to challenge what they are told.

Intercourse is an act that facilitates male orgasm. A man does not engage in sexual activity of any kind unless is he reasonably sure of achieving orgasm. So no one discusses male orgasm. Neither is it a female turn-on. By contrast, men are memorised by even a hint of female arousal and they talk of female orgasm much more than women do themselves. Inevitably there are women who are eager to claim that orgasm is easy. But rather than just accepting women’s claims, researchers must establish what psychological and physical stimuli cause orgasm. Research has indicated masturbation to be 95% effective. Whereas intercourse is only 30% effective, manual stimulation of the clitoris 44% and oral stimulation 42%.

Sex research can never compete with the sex industry that is dominated by the fantasies of the male consumer. Misleading information and exploitative images are everywhere. Theories in sexology are promoted on the basis of sensationalism rather than credible evidence. Men propose theories and assume they are correct. But women’s silence does not constitute proof. Women’s refusal to comment on the topic is evidence of their lack of enthusiasm for sex and their dislike of eroticism of any kind.

If sexology were a science, then women’s sexual experiences would be accepted for what they are. The political pressure on women to enjoy intercourse would not exist. This pressure comes foremost from men who insist that women should always be willing to offer intercourse. But it also comes from women who make money by saying what is pleasing men. If sexologists were scientists, they would welcome alternative points of view. They would encourage active debate of the topic. Instead sexologists disseminate their beliefs like political activists. They never reconcile their opinions with the silence of women in the population. The goal of sexology appears to be to educate women in their role of providing male pleasure.

Few people have the intellectual skills and sexual experience to do research. Most people are unable to approach the topic objectively. Adults are full of vague assumptions, misconceptions and erroneous knowledge on the topic. This is difficult to correct because there is no forum where adults can compare notes and learn about sexuality. The assumption is that if you have had sex, then you know everything there is to know. Most heterosexuals assume that sex is just a simple replication of the mating act.

Our society calls someone a genius when they discover new mathematical proofs or make scientific discoveries. But we don’t reward people for being exceptional in understanding subjects related to the human condition such as sexuality. One problem is the rarity of people who can understand the topic. So there’s no one to judge or reward. Also, very importantly, there’s no commercial or strategic advantage to any understanding of the topic.

Rather than measuring sexuality in terms of responsiveness, we should try to understand how men and women can enjoy sexual pleasure and how relationships endure. Researchers should establish women’s motivation to enjoy sexual activity alone and with a lover, their appreciation of erotic fantasies and their willingness to explore a variety of sex play with a lover.

Considering the importance which sexual problems have in the practice of psychiatry, medicine, psychology, and counselling of every sort, it is disconcerting to realize what scant bases there have been for over-all statements that have been made in this field. (Alfred Kinsey 1948)