Sex in the Times

April 10, 2007

Today’s Science Times features the latest research on human sexuality. Articles by Angier, Wade, Tierney… the sort of all-star section they might have published for Valentine’s Day; I guess it didn’t get done in time. Anyway it’s got the latest on the differences between the sexes and between “orientations,” the latest debunking of stereotypes – like, that when looking at erotic pictures men are more likely than women to be interested in close-ups of genitalia, whereas women look more at faces… I could have told them that was bunk.

As for the surprising findings indicating that men’s emotions are triggered by glandular stimulation, whereas with women the two tracks seem to be separate… what else is new?

I remember back in the last millennium reading an early version of the report that women often deny being “aroused” when looking at certain pictures even though their glands clearly are responding. Back then, it was written up in terms of denial, repression, lack of emotional self-awareness… Now they’ve learned to take women’s word for the fact that they aren’t really aroused just because their glands are. Whereas with men there really doesn’t seem to be much of a difference.

Along with this goes the fact that women are a lot less exclusive in their “orientation.” Whether straight or lesbian, they have a greater tendency to be aroused by images of both sexes than men. Someone even says women may not actually have an orientation like we do, but only (sometimes very strong, to be sure) preferences.

And the brain. The male and female brain. They haven’t yet isolated the map-reading versus direction-asking regions, but I’m sure that will come in time…

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