Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex


There a few interesting articles today on everyone's favorite topic, sex (well, almost everyone - Rep. Weiner is probably not feeling so good about sex these days). These four articles cover the spectrum from why we have sex (probably not merely for reproduction) - why we stopped being polyamorous (if we ever truly were) - what our post-coital behavior says about us (if anything) - and what the color of the hankie in your pocket means in a gay bar (you could end up getting interesting offers if you don't know this).

What if Making Babies -- Extending the Species -- Isn't the Real Reason for Having Sex?

By A Modern Love Muse, SeXis Magazine
Posted on April 15, 2011, Printed on June 7, 2011

What if everything we’ve ever learned about our basic motivation to have sex — the procreation of the species — is unequivocally wrong? What if making babies is a byproduct of the real purpose of our couplings?

What if the reason humans as a species spend more time having sex than any other creature on the planet — including our randy bonobo cousins who don’t seem to have any hang-ups about enjoying a good knoodling — is driven by something entirely different from what we’ve thus far been taught?

For this jaunt down sexual lane, we’re wrapping our scientific hands around controversial notions of female sexuality. An illuminating place to start is the recently published best-selling memoir by Pamela Madsen: Shameless: How I Ditched the Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure...and Somehow Got Home in Time to Cook Dinner (Rodale, 2011).

Madsen’s narrative is a bold revelation of the pursuit of sexual gratification within the confines of marriage. Her courtship story reflects the social norms of her time: monogamy and matrimony, not necessarily in that order, but certainly till death do us part. When that construct no longer worked, Madsen found herself needing to scratch that immeasurable sexualove itch, the one begging for satisfaction and novelty, without violating her vows.

Based on her uber-popular blog by the same name, Shameless describes her sexual metamorphosis through oily encounters with sex surrogates in New York, to BDSM parties in San Francisco. Madsen did what few women in her demographics would dare do: gets her rocks off, and write a best-selling sexual tell-all that has some wagging their tongues, and others simply drooling. Her story is audacious, but really, is it that far off base from all our primal urges?
Read the whole article.

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Speaking of Sex

An interview with psychologist Christopher Ryan, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

by: Barry F. Seidman and Arnell Dowret

Published in the March / April 2011 Humanist.

Christopher Ryan received a BA in English and American literature from Saybrook University in San Francisco, California, in 1984 and returned twenty years later for an MA and PhD in psychology. The intervening decades, he writes, were spent “traveling around the world, living in unexpected places working at very odd jobs (e.g., gutting salmon in Alaska, teaching English to prostitutes in Bangkok and self-defense to land-reform activists in Mexico, managing commercial real-estate in New York’s Diamond District, and helping Spanish physicians publish their research).” Drawing upon his multi-cultural experience, Ryan’s research focuses on trying to distinguish the human from the cultural; his doctoral dissertation looked specifically at the prehistoric roots of human sexuality. Based in Barcelona since the mid-1990s, he has lectured at the University of Barcelona Medical School and consults at various local hospitals. He speaks about human sexuality to audiences around the world, and his work has appeared in major newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals. He is also the author of a textbook used in medical schools and teaching hospitals throughout Spain and Latin America.

In December 2010 Ryan appeared on the radio program Equal Time for Freethought (ETFF) where he spoke about Sex at Dawn, coauthored with Cacilda Jetha and published by Harper in 2010—and also about just what the anthropological and psychological evidence says about humans’ “natural” state. The following excerpt is reprinted here with permission from the producers.

ETFF: Dr. Ryan, can you give us an overview of your work, as explored in your new book?

Christopher Ryan: Essentially, what we argue in Sex at Dawn is that there’s a great deal of data—evidence from primatology, from human anatomy, comparative primate anatomy, psychology, sexology, all sorts of anthropology—that all point to the fact that our sexual evolution was as a promiscuous species where most of our ancestors would have had several ongoing sexual relationships at any given point in their lives. And when I say promiscuous, I mean it in the original sense of the word, which is just “to mix”. I don’t mean any sort of moral judgment. And I certainly don’t mean to imply that these were casual, non-loving relationships.

Our ancestors spent their lives in groups, generally of under 150 people, where they would have known everyone very well, very intimately. So even if they had several ongoing sexual relationships, they would have been more intimate in many ways than the casual relationships that people experience these days. We evolved as sharing everything before the advent of agriculture, including sexual pleasure. Then with the agricultural revolution, which was only about 10,000 years ago (a period that’s only 5 percent of our existence as anatomically modern humans), we took a 90-degree turn off the path that we had been on for a very long time, and everything changed. And that’s when we became possessive about each other, about sexuality, and also about paternity and land and housing and animals and all these things that entered human life with the advent of agriculture.

Read the whole interview.

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This next article is actually an academic essay, but it's interesting and not too long - you might learn what your post-coital behavior says about your personality (if anything).

Daniel J. Kruger, Institute for Social Research and School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Susan Hughes, Department of Psychology, Albright College


The Post-Coital Time Interval (PCTI) may be particularly important for pair-bonding and establishing relationship commitment. Women have greater incentives for establishing relationship commitment than men because of their greater necessary investment in offspring and the benefits of long-term paternal investment. Thus, sex differences in PCTI experiences may emerge based on sex differences in reproductive strategies. We generated 16 items to assess PCTI experiences and extracted three factors related to: 1) satisfaction and bonding, 2) a desire for more signals of bonding and commitment from one’s partner, and 3) romantic partners having a greater interest in talking about relationship issues. Consistent with our predictions, women’s satisfaction with PCTI experiences was inversely related to the extent to which they desired greater bonding and commitment signals from their partner, whereas men’s satisfaction with PCTI experiences was inversely related to the extent to which their partners’ had greater interests in talking about relationship issues. These dimensions were also related to other indicators of reproductive strategies, including attachment style.


This study investigated experiences with partners during the time interval immediately following sexual intercourse. There is a tremendous volume of research on human sexuality, and in recent decades, evolutionary researchers have generated a large body of literature on variance in human reproductive strategies (see Buss, 2005). Much of this literature has focused on differences between male and female reproductive strategies and how these differences are represented in psychology and behavior. In comparison to topics such as mate selection preferences, courting behavior, and sexual activities prior to full sexual intercourse, there has been relatively little attention paid to psychology and behavior following acts of sex in the evolutionary literature. Others have noted that discussions of the time spent together after sex has been conspicuously absent in the mass market products on sexuality and also underrepresented in the initial empirical literature (Halpern & Sherman, 1979).

We believe that the Post-Coital Time Interval (PCTI), the time in which couples spend together after sexual intercourse before one partner leaves or falls asleep, is an important component of sexual relationships. Specifically, we argue that sex differences in PCTI experiences reflect divergence in the evolved reproductive strategies of men and women. We also predict that individual variation in PCTI experiences within each sex is related to other psychological aspects of variation in life history strategy, particularly tendencies towards engaging in committed long-term monogamous relationships. We designed an exploratory investigation of PCTI experiences and tested predictions derived from evolutionary theory regarding the psychology of human sexuality.
Read the whole article.

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We conclude with one for my gay brothers (and their straight allies) on how gay men in a bar can tell who wants oral, who wants S&M, and so on - but is there code for tops and bottoms, or is that discussed openly?


My nose has been running a lot lately so I have been forced to carry a handkerchief to wipe the snot from my face. After jamming a lavender plaid hanky into my back pocket today, I found myself wondering what kind of dudes would hit on me if it were hanging out for all to see. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s probably time to introduce yourself to the Hanky Code. A long time ago fags figured out how to cut any bullshit that might get in the way of shooting one off by letting different colored handkerchiefs hang out of their back pockets in order to show their sexual proclivities to others aware of the code. There are two theories about how this trend began. One theory says that the hanky code began at square dances in San Francisco (that’s weird) after the Gold Rush. Due to the shortage of women, the men had to dance with other men (disgusting). The dancer who took the male role wore a blue hanky and the dancer who took the female role wore a red hanky. The second theory says that a journalist from the Village Voice wrote that instead of wearing keys to indicate if someone was a “top” or “bottom,” gays should be more subtle and just wear different colored hankies. The chart below is the basic guide that comes from Larry Townsend’s The Leatherman’s Handbook II (’83). It’s simple and easy to learn.


Genuinely interested in where this whole thing began, I asked the two most knowledgeable homosexuals (besides myself) whose emails I happen to have. Writer-God Edmund White wasn’t sure, but thinks it began with The Leatherman’s Handbook as well, while Project Runway’s Chris March had this to say:

“I don’t know, but one of my college professors was a creepy older guy who kept giving me these lascivious looks all the time. Then I found out why—he had an orange hanky in his left pocket, which means ‘anything, anytime, anywhere—just clean up afterward.’ Ew.”

Thanks for nothing, guys. So it looks like the genius who thought this whole thing up will forever remain unremembered. I’m sorry about this, whoever you are. You were a true trailblazer.

Read the rest of the article.

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