Friday, January 30, 2009

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

Though aimed at men, the drug [Viagra], which transformed the treatment of impotence, has dispersed a kind of collateral electric current into the area of women's sexuality, not only generating an effort -- mostly futile so far -- to find drugs that can foster female desire as reliably as Viagra and its chemical relatives have facilitated erections, but also helping, indirectly, to inspire the search for a full understanding of women's lust. This search may reflect, as well, a cultural and scientific trend, a stress on the deterministic role of biology, on nature’s dominance over nurture -- and, because of this, on innate differences between the sexes, particularly in the primal domain of sex.


How about the fact that women grow up in a society that is centered on men's experiences and lives? That the female body is used as a representation of sex itself, whereas (hetero) men's experiences and understandings of sex dominate our cultural narrative? To go back to an old feminist gem, men watch; women watch themselves being watched.

And women’s bodies are positioned as public property. Whether it's ongoing political battles about what we can and can't do with our reproductive systems or a cultural religious/virginity narrative that places female sexuality as a bartering chip between male "protectors" or not being able to walk down the damn street without a reminder that we don't have the same right to public space as men do, to be female is to be told, "Your body is not yours."


Wowzer. I think this is fascinating. In a world where women are often objectified against their will, is the ultimate turn on being able to control and even illicit our own objectification? This line of thinking also holds up when considering the number of women who have fantasies of being dominated, and sometimes raped. Is it sexually arousing to feel a sense of power over your own decision to submit in a world where you feel vulnerable to others domination against your will?


Today, we simply don't believe that science will uncover a Rosetta stone that translates sexual idiosyncrasy into truths about who we are as a species. Modern science reads odd compulsions as mere idiosyncrasy, glitches resulting from inheritance or environment that signal only damage or else particular solutions to particular developmental problems. As a result, perversions are back in the side show, a collection of curiosities at psychology's fringe. Scattered researchers still dedicate their careers to studying sexual aberrations, but the findings are likewise scattered: fragments of information about genetics, brain functioning, and cognition.

Yet the topic still fascinates, both because perversion is uncanny and because it is not alien to us.


If it weren't for intrepid New York Times Magazine reporter Daniel Bergner, I never would have known that Queen's University psychologist Meredith Chivers "favors high boots and fashionable rectangular glasses." Bergner's article doesn't bother mentioning such trivialities as Chivers' involvement in the infamous Northwestern bisexual erasure study of a few years ago, or about the anti-gay, transphobic record of that study's lead author and her mentor, J. Michael Bailey. But he does let the readers know that Chivers favors high boots, so we've got the relevant details.


The article posits that women have a wider range of arousal and stimuli. Rather than ask the question - Why are women so open to different sexual stimuli? We could ask the question: Why are men limited to so few sources of arousal?

Not, what do women want? But rather, why do men want so little?

This groundbreaking research is built on the old, sexist idea of "The Other Sex." This assumption that women are abnormal (as compared to men) is ridiculous. Assuming that women are the norm and men are limited and abnormal would result in a completely different set of research questions.

Top image by Ryan McGinley/Team Gallery


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