Friday, April 13, 2007

Ten Things You Didn't Know About Sexology

I wrote this for Digg it if you haven't already.
p.s. the comments in quotes were written by a colleague, as you can gather from the intro...

Hey guys. Our intern, Sabrina, was taking a sex and gender studies class and she kept telling us the craziest stuff in between doing her work for us. At first we were scared..then disgusted…and finally, intrigued. "Sabrina," we said, "why don't you write this up?" "Okay," she said. So she did. And here it is. (she wrote it up in a Question/Answer format and I've included my notes in parentheses).

Q: Does penis size necessarily correlate to a man’s worth as a lover?

A: First of all, studies have revealed that women are equally aroused by pictures of large penises as by images of small penises (right...they don't like pictures of penises, be they large or small). Regardless of popular stereotyping, penis size is not related to body shape, height, length of fingers, race (no?), or anything else. Interestingly, it has been proven that “small, flaccid penises tend to increase more in size during erections than do penises that are larger in the flaccid state” (Best comeback to ‘you have a small dick’ ever..."Naw son, that's just when it's...flaccid"). And even still, it should be emphasized that bigger is not always better. In fact, deep penetration can cause pain similar to that experienced when a male gets kicked in the balls (even mentioning that hurts my sack, Sabrina...c'mon!), if the penis bangs into the cervix and causes the uterus to be slightly displaced which may jolt an ovary. The vaginal canal’s greatest sensitivity is concentrated in the outer portion, as opposed to deep within. If you happen to have a huge penis, just don't go too hard.

Source: Crooks, Robert L. & Baur, Karla (2004) Our Sexuality 9th edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 135.

Q: How common are intersexed babies (hermaphrodites)?

A: Intersexed babies in the United States are born with about the same frequency as red heads (burrnn for red heads). It is estimated that intersexed may account for 4% of all births, or 40 out of every 1000 people, worldwide [Fausto-Sterling]. Interestingly, inter-sexed and transsexual babies who are switched over to the female gender often grow up to have careers as models or actresses due to the fact that their tall height, an aspect of masculinity, is considered to be an symbol of beauty. Such examples include the stunning Italian actress Eva Robinson, angelic Japanese pop sensation Harisu, and purportedly Jamie Lee Curtis who qualifies as American Hollywood royalty. (Say it ain't so!!! Jamie Lee? Had a...peen?)

Source: Fausto-Sterling, A. (1993). The five sexes: Why male and female are not enough. The Sciences, 33(2), pages 20-25.

Q: What is the purpose of female genital cutting that occurs in countries like Africa, the Middle East, and Asia?

A: There are multiple reasons why genital cutting is performed. One is to ensure virginity before marriage. In some countries, such as Sudan, the social stigma for remaining uncircumcised is harsh, as indicated by the fact that being called “the son of an uncircumcised mother” is a most intense insult [Al- Krenawi & Weisel-Lev] (I'm gonna use that one from now on whenever my buddy gets out of line). A second incentive for procedures such as clitorectomy, removal of the clitoris, is to reassure men that they are not having sex with another man in societies where the clitoris is seen as a small penis (c'mon, Africans, stop making me think I'm one of teh gheyz).

Source: Al-Krenawi, A., &Wiesel-Lev, R. (1999). Attitudes toward and perceived Psychological impact of female circumcision as practiced among the Bedouin-Arabs of the Negev. Family Process, 38, 441-443.

Source: Hamilton, T. (2002). Skin Flutes and Velvet Gloves. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Source: Vissandjee, B., Kantiebo, M., Levine, A., & N’Dejuru, R. (2003). The cultural context of gender identity; Female genital excision and infibulation. Health Care for Women international, 24, 115-124.

Source: Crooks, Robert L. & Baur, Karla (2004) Our Sexuality 9th edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 85-86

Q: Are there any societies where homosexuality is predominant?

A: Ah, this brings us to my favorite cultural sexual oddity, which occurs in Sambia, New Guinea. In the Sambia tribe, as early as age 7, young boys are expected to “suck the penis of a mature boy every night and swallow the sperm" (I'd make a joke if I wasn't terrified). Boys who refuse are forever treated as children within the context of their community, because “without regular ingestion of male seed, the Sambia believe, boys will never grow up into strong, mature men.” At the age of 15, the boys are considered mature enough to provide their own genitals for the younger boys to felicitate. Performing fellatio on a younger boy is strictly forbidden; as it is considered stealing his manhood because it results in a loss of semen from the growing boy (makes me wonder if they replace their “Got Milk?” ads with the tagline “Got cum?” No? Awww shucks). As soon as the boys marry, they cease to engage in homosexual contact, but often times, since they are so estranged from female sexuality and coitus, they ask their new brides to wear a bag over her head and fellate them on their wedding night. Interestingly, according to Loving Boys Vol. 1 (haha, cum again?), “After 10 to 15 years of exclusive homosexual activity carried on by 100 % of the Sambia population, the incidence of adult homosexual orientation is only 5 % - exactly the same as in Western society.” So...short answer, yes, long answer, no.

Source: Brongersma E: Loving Boys Vol. 1. Elmhurst. New York.: Global Academic Publishers, 1986.

Source: Crooks, Robert L. & Baur, Karla (2004) Our Sexuality 9th edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 276.

Q: In the 1800’s, what did women do with left-over cleaning agent Lysol after scrubbing the kitchen floor clean? (nice leading question, Sabrina)

A: They used it as a douche. It was unnecessary, harmful and served no medicinal purpose.

Source: Crooks, Robert L. & Baur, Karla (2004) Our Sexuality 9th edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 92.

Source: Lysol ad from March 1948 By Harry Finley, 2004

Q: Where do vibrators come from?

A: The vibrator was devised as a medical instrument to take some of the load off of doctors who owned some very tired fingers (they never would have made it in the field of video gaming). Authorities in the medical community theorized that hysteria, “a term that was first coined by Hippocrates and described a medical condition peculiar to women… considered to be a symptom of irregular blood-movement from the uterus to the brain,” could be cured through orgasm. In the mid 1600’s doctors recorded their treatment method of conducting such therapy by hand (or as the author of Unbalanced Drive Shaft hilariously put it “er, uh … manually”). Clitoral stimulation often was required for up to an hour before the resulting fit of convulsions, and thus, doctors developed a tool to ease the amount of labor (tisk tisk, lazy lazy). In the 1800s rocking chairs and swings were manipulated to act as promethean devices to help a woman relieve herself of hysteria, but by 1905, the vibrator had evolved into a portable motorized gadget that could get the job done in ten minutes or less and was advertised in “housekeeping, sewing, and ladies' journals with innocuous pictures of an old woman mechanically massaging her temples with a statement akin to: all the pleasures of youth will throb within you” (Well, I know what I’m getting grandma for the holidays!).

Source: Unbalanced Drive Shaft by Jason Bellows, 2006

Q: Are there sexual anxiety disorders that do not exist in America, but do in another society?

A: Absolutely. Genital retraction syndrome (GRS), widely referred to as koro (translated as “shrinking penis”), is a thousands of years old culture-specific epidemic which is known to spread mass hysteria at lightening speed, or at least the speed of ejaculation, and is equivalent to Western culture’s phenomenon of anxiety attacks. Koro consists of delusions in which men, especially in Asia and Africa, believes he is “the victim of a contagious disease that causes his penis to shrink and retract into his body, an alarming prospect made worse by local traditions or folklore that adds the warning that this condition is usually fatal” (135). In 1982, the rumor of koro spread in India and resulted in freaked out parents flooding the hospitals pressed to get their sons (who arrived with “penises bound up to prevent further shrinkage) help. In Singapore during 1967, contaminated pork was announced as a cause of penis shrinkage, prompting men to hang “weights from their penises [or even have] relatives or friends [grab] on …to keep their penises from slipping away.” The concept of koro similarly has infiltrated the consciousness of men all up and down the west coast of Africa producing “recent outbreaks of ‘penis thievery…involving public accusations of penis theft, usually as a result of the unexpected or unwelcome touch from a stranger.” In January 2002, twelve of the accused “sorcerers” (ie. my next Halloween costume) who convinced men that they had used black magic to put a curse on the penis to shrink and were demanding monetary payment in exchange for the antidote, were brutally beaten to death by hordes of men who believed their penises were losing inches as a result. Medical authorities are working on educating the public, enlightening citizens that koro has no basis in reality with a presentation of quantitative measurements of their penis over a period of time. (in the mean time, I can blame it on Koro)

Source: Crooks, Robert L. & Baur, Karla (2004) Our Sexuality 9th edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company 135-136.

Q: Is there a way for men to exercise their genitals in effort to achieve more pleasurable sex? (again with the leading questions, girl!)

A: Kegel exercises, famous for helping to strengthen the pelvic walls for women in preparation to give labor, also result in positive changes for men, including “stronger and more pleasurable orgasms, better ejaculatory control, and increased pelvic sensation during sexual arousal.” The male version of these exercises work to strengthen the muscles surrounding the internal extension of the penis, which are usually only contracted during ejaculation, with the following steps suggested by Crooks and Baur’s Our Sexuality: (time for your homework lesson…)

1. Locate the muscles by stopping the flow of urine several times while urinating. The muscles you sqeeze to accomplish this are the ones on which you will concentrate. If you do a correct Kegel while not urinating, you will notice your penis move slightly. Kegel’s done when you have an erection will cause your penis to move up and down.
2. Begin the exercise program by squeezing and relaxing the muscles 15 times, twice daily. Do not hold the contraction at this stage. (These are called ‘short Kegels’).
3. Gradually increase the number of Kegels until you can comfortably do 60 at a time twice daily.
4. Now practice ‘long Kegels’ by holding each contraction for a count of 3.
5. Combine the short and long Kegels in each daily exercise routine, doing a set of 60 of each, once or twice a day.
6. Continue with the Kegel exercises for at least several weeks. You may not notice results until a month or more has passed. By this time the exercises will probably have become automatic, requiring no particular effort.

Source: Crooks, Robert L. & Baur, Karla (2004) Our Sexuality 9th edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 125.

Q: Is it true that the larger a woman’s breasts, the better able she will be to provide nourishment for a baby?

A: In a physically mature woman the breasts are composed internally of fatty tissue and mammary, or milk, glands. There is little variation from woman to woman in the amount of glandular tissue present in the breast, despite differences in size. This is why the amount of milk produced after childbirth does not correlate with the size of the breasts. Variation in breast size is due primarily to the amount of fatty tissue distributed around the glands. Therefore, with bigger boobs, you are receiving higher fat content. (‘Aint that something to brag about?! )

Source: Crooks, Robert L. & Baur, Karla (2004) Our Sexuality 9th edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 110

Q: Do perfumes really work as a turn on?

A: It is theorized that perfumes are used so that others will be more likely to breathe in more of the fragrance-wearers pheromones, or odors produced by the body that relate to reproductive functions. While this, and the fact that aphrodisiacs may be learned through association of a trigger (stench) with an experience (hot girl kissing you), may be true, it is interesting to note that “contrary to what the marketers of commercial scents would like us to believe, Alan Hirsh, a researcher at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, recently found that the odors reported to be most sexually arousing for either sex were not colognes or perfumes.” To determine arousal, Hirsch measured the blood flow to privates in response to certain smells and found that the strongest reactions by men correlated to scents of “lavender, pumpkin pie, and doughnuts”, whereas women were most stimulated by “licorice, cucumbers, and banana nut bread”. Smells that proved a turn off to women included “barbeque meat, cherries, and men’s cologne.” (But she loves it when I cook her go figure)

Source: Crooks, Robert L. & Baur, Karla (2004) Our Sexuality 9th edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 157.

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