This blog is no longer being updated. About this blog.

What Women Want

I just finished a fascinating article focusing on women’s sexuality. In the process of discovering what makes women tick, it shines the light on parts of female sexuality that we would rather not admit exists.

No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, the women showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women, and women with men. They responded objectively much more to the exercising woman than to the strolling man, and their blood flow rose quickly and markedly as they watched the [bonobos engaging in sexual intercourse], though to a lesser degree than during all the human scenes, except the footage of the ambling, strapping man. And with the women, especially the straight women, mind and genitals seemed scarcely to belong to the same person. During shots of lesbian coupling, heterosexual women claimed less excitement than their vaginas indicated; watching gay men, they reported a great deal less; and viewing heterosexual intercourse, they reported much more.

[Dr. Chivers] has confronted clinical research reporting not only genital arousal but also the occasional occurrence of orgasm during sexual assault. And she has recalled her own experience as a therapist with victims who recounted these physical responses. She is familiar, as well, with the preliminary results of a laboratory study showing surges of vaginal blood flow as subjects listen to descriptions of rape scenes.

“Female desire is not governed by the relational factors that we like to think rule women’s sexuality as opposed to men’s.’’ [Dr. Meana] finished a small qualitative study in the past year consisting of long interviews with 20 women in marriages that were sexually troubled. Although bad relationships often kill desire, she argued, good ones don’t guarantee it. The generally accepted therapeutic notion that for women, incubating intimacy leads to better sex is, said Meana, often misguided. “Really, women’s desire is not relational, it’s narcissistic,’’ she said. It is dominated by the yearning to be the object of erotic admiration and sexual need. Still on the subject of narcissism, she talked about research indicating that in comparison with men, women’s erotic fantasies centre less on giving pleasure and more on getting it. “When it comes to desire,” she added, “women may be far less relational than men.”

According to an analysis of relevant studies published last year in The Journal of Sex Research—an analysis that defines rape as involving “the use of physical force, threat of force, or incapacitation through, for example, sleep or intoxication, to coerce a woman into sexual activity against her will”—between a third and over a half of women have entertained these fantasies, often during intercourse, with at least 1 in 10 women fantasising about sexual assault at least once per month in a pleasurable way.

Tags: ,

Comments (7)

Honest Talk on the Internet

Valkenburg and Peter have an idea about this. They believe that the 21st century Internet encourages honest talking about very personal issues—feelings, worries, vulnerabilities—that are difficult for many self-conscious teens to talk about. When they communicate through the Internet, they have fewer sounds and sights and social cues to distract them, so they become less concerned with how others perceive them. This in turn reduces inhibition, leading to unusually intimate talk. This emotionally liberating frankness is healthy and tonic. (Coming of Age on the Internet)

I resemble that remark!

Compare and contrast with Snark Undermines Public Discourse.

Tags: , , ,

Comments off

The Broadening Power of Positivity

Wray Herbert at We’re Only Human confirms something that I’m experiencing in my experiment with gratitude. In talking about the new book Positivity, he says:

Consider this deceptively simple experiment. Fredrickson used lab techniques to “prime” the emotions of a large group of volunteers. Some were primed for amusement, some for serenity, still others for anger or fear or nothing at all. Then she asked them simply to make a list of things they would like to do at that moment. Those who were amused or serene listed significantly more possibilities than the others, suggesting that their minds were more open to ideas, more exploratory. She ran a similar experiment with abstract shapes, and found that the positive thinkers were more apt to see hidden patterns, to make connections. Those who were angry or fearful were too narrowly focused on details to see the big picture.

This is what Fredrickson calls “broadening,” and she had shown this cognitive benefit time and again in a variety of studies. (Ode to Joy and Serenity and Curiosity and . . .)

As I’ve taken time each week to focus on gratitude, aside from feeling generally more positive, I have felt more open, more ready to take on new projects, looking forward to next semester, etc. Interesting.

It gets better.

But what is the value of such openness beyond the moment? This is where is gets really interesting. Fredrickson has shown that these moments of serenity or amusement have an accumulative effect over time. They break down the barriers between self and others, and build trust. In short, positivity creates open-mindedness, which sparks even more good feelings, creating an upward spiral of emotions. This is the “building” for the future: Over time, those with the most positive moments become more mindful and attentive, more accepting and purposeful, and more socially connected.

Time will tell.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments off

Justifying the War

Cognitive dissonance is everywhere:

How do soldiers come to terms with having taken a life in combat? Research has suggested that when people consider themselves to be “good” but are forced to do something “bad” to others, they adopt negative opinions about their victims to rationalize their actions. But according to a new study, this tendency may not apply to soldiers or at least not to those who have served in the Iraq War. American soldiers who have killed in Iraq do not think more poorly of Iraqis than Iraq War soldiers who have not killed—they do, however, think worse of Americans who speak out against the war.

Wayne Klug, a psychologist at Berkshire Community College, asked 68 Iraq War veterans about their experiences, their thoughts on the war and their opinions about Iraqis and Americans. Compared with soldiers who never saw combat and those who witnessed a death but were not involved, veterans who “were directly involved in an Iraqi fatality” were much more likely to consider the war to be beneficial to both countries. The finding is consistent with prior evidence that people tend to value outcomes that require great effort or distress. But although previous research predicts that these soldiers might disparage their victims, investigators were surprised to find that these veterans instead resented Americans whose opinions about the war suggest that their killings may have been unjustified. (Soldiers Who Have Taken a Life More Likely to Defend Iraq War)

Tags: , , , ,

Comments off

Moral Psychology

I see the complementary progressive and reactionary impulses as necessary to the survival of the human species. One provides the drive to innovation and adaptation in the face of challenges new and old. The other puts a brake on rampant change that could pull our fragile system apart: “…the centre cannot hold;…“.

That is not to give credence to a middle position between, for example, the artificial extremes of Liberal and Conservative politics in the United States neither of which represents what it claims.

A recent talk at TED by Jonathan Haidt explores the psychological roots of the two modes of thought. He provides a useful framework to understand our own views.

(via Lubab No More)

Tags: , , , ,

Comments (2)

← Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »