What do woman want?

Dear Friend and Reader:

Yesterday, the Sunday Times Magazine published an article by Daniel Bergner that explores the work of Canadian sex researcher Meredith Chivers. Dr. Chivers has conducted research that explores the differences between what people think turns them on sexually, and what actually turns them on. She did this by placing probes on or in the genitals to observe sexual excitement (an objective measure) and by providing a keypad to rate what turned the subjects on. Then a diversity of erotic scenes were played on a monitor — apes having sex, women together, men together, men and women together, and so on.

What she discovered is that men pretty much know what tuns them on. Women think very little turns them on, when in fact nearly everything does. I think this study has profound implications on how men and women relate, and also how women tend to relate to the world: if Dr. Chivers is right, with an enormous gap between what they think they want and what they actually want.

Please take a look at the article. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Eric Francis

55 thoughts on “What do woman want?”

  1. care7care…

    Precisely. You sound like me from 17 to about 45, when testosterone/estrogen/oxytocin spun from every pore. You’re gifted, and dynamically-balanced enough to ride it out. Now. Hook it up, babe. Like the captain says, there’s a ruckwerk as the energy pulls into harbor. The deep spin of cumming combines nicely with what the old guys like to call ‘bodhi swaha’ – “hailing the Goer.” With all due respect to the big M, it does take the Other to *see against* while you’re making that move, which will pop loose the Compassionator (yeah, I’m teasing Awwnawld) for a good 48 hours.

    If this makes no sense to your outside mind, start at ‘you’re gifted’ and say it outloud a few times.


    Things have been hotting up nicely ever since I called the cops on the beat-down guy on the evening of the 27th. It prefigured a whole wave… back to it.


  2. Oh and I have to say that when I am fucking for repro, Damn is it HOT and amazing. My visualization as I am getting there is always a hugely pregnant woman being plowed from behind by a man with a huge thick penis. Every time I ram it home with my dh the man rams it home and the whole fecundity of it all drives me wild. I come and come and come from that. So JanesD has a point. Or I visualize that I am a priestess in a field at night fucking for the fertility the fields. My dh becomes that free male buck, lusting and in total rut. God but that is so amazing and HOT.

  3. Ok this article made me think of something different from what I am reading here. It was a validation actually. I have long been aware that so many things turn me on but I have never felt I could express that because my society and culture don’t allow it. In my twenties, I was the one that was “on the prowl” for sex and got it a lot because unlike women, men are far more willing to fuck. Just the picture of the woman in lace with half her breast hanging out there had my juices flowing and my vagina contracting. I get hot SO easy. Fucking in all forms, animal, human, male on male, female on male, female on female even just certain thoughts get me hot. For me, this article blasts that whole bullshit about women not wanting sex as much as men. We DO, and are turned on A LOT but unlike men, we are far more aware of the COSTS of sex in terms of long term committments; or babies. So we repress, repress, repress those hot feelings and just deal with the frustration. We are also aware of the fact that men fear our high desire because they are afraid they cannot satisfy us which translates “she will go with another man/woman/bonobo etc. And men wonder why some of us are SO bitchy? Birth control changed all that for women but society hasn’t caught up with the sex-wanting woman and men fear her because they have performance anxiety; “can I get it up?” Just lick me, who CARES if you get it up or not, you have fingers, a tongue, let me HAVE it! I want to fuck, I want to feel an exploding orgasm, I want to get close!

    God but this article is SO freeing.

    Sure, biological reproduction may be the biological reason we are wired for orgasms, but it is the huge pleasure of those orgasms that we are going for, not the babies. I certainly was NOT fucking for repro, it was to get OFF, plain and simple! What a release of all that female tension! If our society, the world, would let women express their higher ability to feel desire and get fucked regularly, maybe more of us would be happier, less bitchy, less frustrated and less taking out that frustration on EVERYONE. What a world THAT would be!

    Phew, is it hot in here? I wish my husband were here….pardon me while I go release some tension! :::creeping off to my bathroom so the kids don’t hear:::::

  4. Then there’s the intersection of the sacred and the profane, where we are all spiritual beings in our ‘earth suits’ (Ram Dass). Say all of us are gods and goddesses possessing biological bodies. The spiritual meets in the energetic, fully present, egoless space, whereas the biological meets in the base instinct, baby making, animalistic space. Where these two meet is sexual ecstasy, or meeting each other in loving, connected, fully present sex. Too much of the sacred and sex loses its juice, too much profane and sex is meaningless, or scary.

    I love the evidence that everything is a turn-on. This may be true for both genders, but the research may have investigated the question in a way that missed this truth. I went to UW-Madison in my twenties and remember surviving the f-ing cold winter to awaken to a constantly aroused state in spring. Everyone suddenly went from bundled up bodies to near nakedness over the course of about 6 weeks. Every flash of bicep, exposed toes, thighs, calves, or barely covered breasts would get me wet, gender schmender!
    Plus all the spring energy of sex is hard to deny; when nature in the northern hemisphere is preparing for sex, having sex, having babies, we must be affected by all that sexual energy.

    I’m excited that women are asking the questions, and doing the research. There’s alot of biology vs. culture to tease apart, but these are worthwhile questions to ask.

  5. (kristenb, I’m just going to echo your insight to a certain extent, with less elegance perhaps:)

    Janes, “Blasphemy”… would occur if there’s a god on the scene. My position about sex-for-babies isn’t in that room. I have no concerns about ‘firstness’ or ‘most important’ – those are the province of theologians (of every profession) and that question simply doesn’t fit in my basket.

    Sex-for-babies vs. (as you say) the Ladeedah might be understood with this comparison:

    Hair, we are told, was designed to keep us warm. But *now* hair is for display and expression. Clothing has turned hair into a *communication tool* not a climatological one. Clothing = culture. When was the last time you thought about growing your hair down to your feet to replace that coat/furnace/spaceheater… or your own Inner Heat? You do think, however, about cutting it to keep it out of your way, coloring it to express independence, expanding and loosening it to signal presence. Etc.

    Whatever one has to say about the pluses and minuses of culture’s effect on cognition, it’s a done deal. I’m using ‘cognition’ as a gateway word to ‘spirituality.’ Culture’s integration with sexuality is accomplished, irreversible, embedded-with-the-troops – despite the desperate efforts of the barefoot/pregnant/kitchenist throwbacks among us (the Pope, for example). Sex certainly makes babies, but that’s because *most people don’t know the codes to unlock its other capacities.* I won’t be throwing away 22,000 years of sex magick, babe. (Maybe more, I have a photo of a 34,000 year old male figurine with sixpointed stars incised on his butt, hmmmm). Or, to be more contemporaneous, I won’t be throwing away the cultural/cognitive riddle that sexuality presents us.


    That said, I have Big Respect for your mind (and your lineage), so I will allow as how the last time Ekmother deigned to speak to me (jezuus that woman is *fucking* Scary), she had a baby sleeping just above each breast. I thought they were symbols for the lateral channels, but with your remarks I’m starting to think she was serious.
    So. I’m listening…

  6. I notice that I can come a lot faster with a female partner who has never had an orgasm — as if she’s somehow using my energy or experience, and like I’m entering a vacuum rather than a full space.

    I know what I like, do you?

    That’s ‘know what you (not I) like?’

    You don’t? Then how shall I?

    I guess I’ll reach quickly for the sky..

    Pardon, you say do? And you’re orgasmic too!

    Then you may as well be dry, my explosion’s no longer nigh

    When you take from the well, I’ll just have to wait my turn..

    Do I like it that way?

    It’s hard to say..

    Still, I’m banishing my analyst from the bedroom..

    At least for one day

    At least for one day..

  7. JD – Ego shmeego, sure. Ego is here, and not only that, it’s necessary, like fear in context. I believe what is also necessary is the ’embrace of the unknown’ or the ‘absolute’. One can get stuck either side, if one doesn’t find a way to integrate both and operate in balanced way.

    So, what about the “ego” of making babies and then mind fucking them as they develop removing all their capacity for creativity and meaningful participation so they end up as bodies in boxes in C130’s? Is war required of the race over touch and love and health and housing and food?

    Just for a moment consider this question: Are babies still required of the race? In other words, what does evolution look like for humans?

    I just heard a great comment as related by Al Gore in a public talk; humans are at a point of discovering if the opposable thumb and neocortex work together!

  8. “Yeah, Marymack, it’s sort of nuevoretro… and you know where it flirts: Back to the God and all of his Proscriptions on where the ovum is allowed to go, where the semen is allowed to flow. Because it’s all about the Bebe.”

    :). Hey — you know this is the fourth time in two days somebody told me to watch my mouth and stop talkin blasphemy.

    I like it.

    Eric was talking about narcissism earlier and it occurs me I know what you mean, Jefe; I mean I know the theory: We only desire sexually what we wish or believe we were or will become, and so that’s about fucking your way to identity; fucking to prove you exist, or plain old fucking yourself, and then when you get there you can say, well then, all sex is masturbation. I’m *in love with myself*.

    Okay…maybe. That could be true.

    Then we’ve got the Creative Intent ladeeda, Desire is the intelligent creative force of love, and it Makes Stuff and unifies stuff and we’re all running a groove on the deep longing to merge, we’re…wait a minute..I’m gonna find this in the backfiles…co-creators of the Universe…and uh…we’ve got…Infinite Powers of Manifestation and all that. In fact we’re…physical manifestations of divine intent…and so on.

    Okay. Maybe, cool story.

    But to me this is all coming through the filter of individual ego experience; not to mention cultural identity. That’s why I say it’s a mindfuck. The act was about making kids before it was beaded so intricately with all these heavy fantasies. To me those are about the ego — fucking yourself makes you the center of the action; fucking the universe makes you god. The experience then reassures the ego that the body is essential; the special relationship is an infinite loop that keeps us clinging to these mental polaroids of ourselves.

    I’ve thought that people have a real terror of allowing their sexuality to serve some purpose that has nothing to do with them personally, and this is why they feel so revolted by babymaking instead of, like, somebody fucking a sheep or something. But whatever you’re decorating your head with, babies are required of the race. The mindfuck is not.

    Oh. That woman? In the article, going blind from gazing at genital humidity readings. What the hell does she want, that’s what I really want to know.


  9. John Updike, author, died today. His character in Rabbit, Run, said this: “Men are all heart and women are all body. I don’t know who has the brains. God maybe.”

    “Rabbit, Run” was successful, as were Updike’s other ’60s books, including “The Centaur” (1963), which featured a teacher much like Updike’s father, and the short story collection “The Music School” (1966). But it was “Couples” that made Updike a household name. The book, about a group of spouses engaging in the sexual revolution in suburban Massachusetts, became a No. 1 best-seller.

    –unshamefully taken from CNN article for quote

    1960’s strikes again today…

  10. Stormilarue,

    I’m finding the conversation in this space to be very eye-opening and healing.

    About the bliss in wholeness – the start of the new life is not quite the same thing. I experienced it in a sweat lodge once with other spirits, but not in the same way as getting pregnant

    We have to be careful who we invite in is about the best way I know to say it. Maybe some of the other women have other experiences to share about this.

  11. Gardener so cool to hear about another doctor visit. If we can somehow get to the space of spreading knowledge about the beauty and breadth of sexual experience in this country, as is done in other cultures, I feel we would leap ahead in evolution of mind-heart connection and positive sexuality for all.

    As for Caravaggio, I got to see several of his works in Roma nearly 4 years ago now, and they are magnificent in their way.

    Storm – totally agree – one size fits all – NOT! What is that pantyhose cum tempurpedic cum cotton-poly-stretch material?! The “unified theory” is that there are end members, polarity, man/woman, and all the data points inbetween which maybe create a third point of “awareness”, triangle, or fulcrum point about which to turn and rock and orgasm!

    Sex between men and women, for me, comes down to ability to communicate, honestly – THAT’s H*O*T.

  12. Gardener – Cool to hear about another doctor visit. It takes a strong spirit in an age or community of denial to hold onto truth 🙂 While I did not go on to give birth to children, fathers didn’t want the babies, nor did I at those young ages, everyone KNOWS little kids are sexual, they just choose to pretend its not happening, except of course often predators who take choice away and violate innocence. If we can somehow get to the space of spreading knowledge about the beauty and breadth of sexual experience in this country, as is done in other cultures, I feel we would leap ahead in evolution of mind-heart connection.

    As for Caravaggio, I got to see several of his works in Roma nearly 4 years ago now, and they are magnificent in their way.

    Storm – totally agree – one size fits all – NOT! What is that pantyhose cum tempurpedic cum cotton-poly-stretch material?! 🙂 The “unified theory” is that there are end members, polarity, man/woman, and all the data points inbetween which maybe create a third point of “awareness”, triangle, or fulcrum point about which to turn and rock and orgasm!

  13. In education (I teach teachers), we are consistently deconstructing the myth of the one-size-fits-all learner and standardized knowledge, yet science & research continue to look for the one unified theory (GUT) of seemingly each niche of knowing in the world. Even within the variety of learning -& I would add loving- styles is inter-textuality[sexuality]. When asked my “orientation” often my response depends on the day, and if I feel the need to define myself. Though I may lean more one-way than another most times, for me, context matters. I feel my sexual being is core to my identity, yet my sexuality can be contextual. But I also tend to lean more to the relative subjectivity of living, learning and loving where it’s all in dynamic flux. I would say multi-dimensional as well. Our identity is contextual in that we are situated beings constantly interacting with ourselves, each other, and our environment in varying circumstances. In this sense I believe this flexibility to be imbedded in human “nature” and this standardization is socialized.

    I can personally affirm Chivers’ analysis that I’m turned on by a wider range of visuals, but for me, the core is the sexual connection. I admit I am aroused by sexuality and sexual beings, but that includes thinking about them, reading about them, AND seeing them. Does that make me multi-sexually literate?

    (i.e.; I just watched “Adaptation” the other night and the best part (for me) was the bee scene; then again, I was also turned on/resonated with scenes from “Shortbus,” “YPF” and “Green Porno” – it’s all about the love honey. 😉

    I also think of ancient Goddess cultures (pre-Patriarchy), where sexuality was sacred and core to the divine feminine. I believe there are men and women who remember and resonate with that part of our humanstory, more so now than ever and perhaps why so many are not satisfied on so many levels.
    As a woman I have experienced the generational scars and patterns of sexual abuse and distorted body/sexuality image, and it has been a daily struggle at times to appreciate my primal perviness towards self-pleasure (the clitoris is a gift after all) and embrace and express that in my Being in society. Yes, I want to be wanted, and yes, I want a deep connection. In my perhaps limited experience, nothing is hotter than being connected to yourself enough to know that the desire you feel from someone else is real because it’s a reflection. It’s so true it’s clichГ© – when I love myself fully, I am open to receiving the fullness of your love and desire. It’s that conscious transformative moment of Bliss in wholeness. (I’ve never had kids but from what I’m reading, the conception is similar for some?)

    Part of the problem with “research” is context also – the laboratory setting is not natural and no matter what, the expected behavior often comes as a result of observation. We are socialized creatures that way (not that I don’t believe we can de/re-condition our selves, I do). Hence, the “accuracy” of objectified measurement on subjective experiences is questionable for me and perpetuates the problem of generalizing sexuality. What were the subjective measures, did I miss that?

    So as cliché as it sounds, for me it really is about knowing my self, loving my self and my body and embracing the passionate connections I choose in life. I believe communication is key to getting there (it’s all about the language). An implicit and explicit dialogue, where a participatory consciousness can be created that goes beyond judgment and expectations is where I’ve found my self most comfortable, though it can also be a constant conscious effort to stay there in a society that is not so self-reflectively conscious.

    For me then, the need for self-love then is more a self-reflexive necessity in the sense that we have all internalized this oppression and expectations, and breaking that down to figure out wtf we really are is a central issue to accepting and engaging our sexual being. Still obviously a mind-body connection then and depends on where and when you are in your life, and how willing you are to travel beyond your current understandings perhaps. At least, that’s my perspective right now. Thankfully, I’m still learning, through the pleasure and the pain.

  14. I’ve been waiting for the zoom out. The sexual experience as to how it integrates into the whole of life. What women want gets a big and varied answer. One wants to keep her ship afloat, one wants the excitement of adventure, one wants to sculpt, to paint, one wants to raise her family, one wants to heal, one wants to run naked through the forest, on and on. Sometimes one thing, sometimes alot of things at the same time. It’s personal. It’s life. If you don’t have what you think you want and you need to blow a block, go for it. Cuz I think as we move through life, we learn no one is gonna do it for us.

  15. victor/ia… That led three of us into conversation about how the male form is expressed.

    Three painters: Caravaggio, Luis Caballero and (oddly enough) Francis Bacon. Shaken, not stirred, and you’ll find yourself slip sliding into the Man zone.

    LC is almost the reason I worked my way through Colombian erotic figuration. Ruben Dario is there as well, as is some of Juan Antonio Roda. His Cristo series is to be seen after several shots of tequila. Seriously, not for the faint of heart, but incredibly important as a documentation of a particular kind of cruelty and its meaning in the male phyz.


    The reason those women juiced up to all-kinda-which-way imagery is because *everything* is a Sign. Cf. notes on “reproduction” and the kinesis we call ‘sexuality.’ We (the womens) hum along to everything because it is ALL straight out of the great Yoni. (We all Dicks on this boat).



  16. Kristen what a thoughtful response. When i was younger my spouse wanted it 3 times a night, which was too much for me to really enjoy especially when you are exhausted from working and childcare . I found masterbation now and then a lot more relaxing because I was free in my own space. I never had a problem with orgasms either way, but self-love comes first I guess. Anyway I had forgotten about my first doctor visit at age 12. It was a turn on even then – but weird to think about now. I had a slight infection so I guess my mother paid attention.

    Anyway as to the mystical experience, just before my husband became ill, we had a truly wonderful vacation and sexual experience that I go back to mentally from time to time. The memory of that love energy has made a lot of things bearable.

  17. So cute; fur unit, the kitty, turned up in midst of reading this tome and has been on my lap demanding attention, as in being HELD firmly at head and tail, asserting tail reflexiveness, now finally curled up as close as possible to my core and literally holding me via adorable arm embrace. Who needs bonobos?!

    Had to take some notes as so many ideas were touched upon… not to mention the twists and turns of responses.

    One-handed typing skills also lack, but agility increasing… hmmm… which brings me to my launch point:

    I see the crux of this study as revealing entity integral truth versus deception. And, the conclusions based upon male genitalia being external while female genitalia cloaked, or obvious sexual arousal versus unknown/always ready, to be so obvious as to be difficult to prove, understand, is more bang on.

    Scientifically speaking, the most common materials or ideas often get ignored, sort of invisible, in favor of fancy complexity made simple. So, I find her study nice in showing the response inconsistency.

    Now, I wonder if she could narrow down her female subjects prior to data collection into groups who claim they are “honest” versus “fibbers.” That might help to eliminate or isolate cultural bias a bit.

    At fifteen, I had to have a full female physical exam due to being chosen as an exchange student. A female nurse prepped me and a male doctor collected the tissue swabs. At end, both said I was ‘discharging’ as if something medical was wrong being as I was a virgin. Truth? I was way turned on! So, of course I was lubing up! Plus, I had already been masturbating for 12-13 years consciously owning action thus very much aware of my sexuality versus my “skin bag.”

    Given that we know most things in our earth world are dualistic or polar, I do not find it surprising that the response pattern is opposite, in general, between men and women. But, I do continually find it amusing that given the breadth of human physicality, the genome, that we persist as a species in search of exclusive definitions.

    I used to think of cats as feminine, but now think of them as more masculine on a cultural basis. Kitty comes when it wants, demands attention for engagement, stays until nurture quotient is reached, then departs. Dogs sit alongside in a more patient, begging way showering love nonstop.

    It is interesting that drug companies want to develop potent excitor drugs while government screeches to withhold all sexual expression. On higher level, I can only see this as manipulative force to whip up energy and then channel frustration into war or unnecessary projects that fuck up our environment. With more personal time [I advocate a 24 hour week 6×4], folks could have the time to get to know their bodies, their minds, their true communities which would de-emphasize serious nature of sexuality highlighting diversity and thus personal sexual exploration and discussion more acceptable.

    For now, in a world where sex offenders are advertised on tv and in newspaper what rational minded person is going to go out and say, “Hey, everything turns me on!”

    As for the baby angle, personally, having been pregnant a few times myself, despite using all the barriers correctly, great manifestor when I put my mind into activity, both me and my partners knew the moment. And, that moment is so mystical, so completely UNION that I think that is what drives people to ‘procreate’ it – just so happens that another human can begin, creation, the creative principle. If one can get to that space sans creating a baby, then one can begin to sort out desire for mothering/fathering versus desire for perfect merge between ego/non-ego.

    Finally, I feel the desire to be desired, strongly, is the key. If you track energy, objectively as possible, those that respond hold interest, potential, while those that do not, die away. There is the saying, you can not get what you can not give, or you get what you give. In new age land, this translates up ladder to point where you realize loving, desiring everything equally, equanimity, brings peace and passion.

    And, one way to isolate sexual energetic response is to masturbate, then its a bit harder, though not impossible, to lie to oneself about what one wants, desires, feels during different scenarios. For example, I used to get mad at my ex for sexing me up so frequently as I was SO tired as if I was looking after 3 small children, grandparents, siblings and a partner. But, what I understood from my masturbation was not the frequency of sexual expression, but the “intensity” in which I connected energetically (see above ability to get pregnant despite proper use of hormones or barriers and gels). Once I learned to modulate my connective force, I found I could engage in sex 14 times per week with him, if he desired, without feeling exhausted. Later, I wandered into some truly mystical experiences, again, all on my own.

    But, there is no one way, for anything, sex or spirituality. However, such studies are wonderful to read about as way to understand that very fact.

  18. Eric, I like dudes.

    I attended the local art street in beautiful downtown Green Bay once again last summer. I am bad about details (shame on this Virgo) but anyway, I will try to talk about art. The dude was into the nature thing like leaves and stuff and the medium he used and the framing worked. That’s really dull. Anyway, he had these what I would call line drawing things of the feminine. Wasn’t it Picasso who did those airy female line thingys. I told you I was bad at this. Anyway, these flowing line feminine forms, I can feel the woman in them.

    That led three of us into conversation about how the male form is expressed. The suggestion of the curvature and flow works for the feminine. We or I should say they, me being of little art knowlege, racked their brains. The Thinker sculpture was suggested, but naaa!

    I really don’t know about the base expresssion (probably a bad phrase again) of the male form. Maybe it just is what it is. Does this make any sense to you?

    About ejaculation, thanks for the information. I did not know men were not having an orgasm when they ejaculated. How’s a woman to know? That’s a question worth exploring. Well, I got a couple of brothers in the file who will probably be open to discussion.

    And I am still working on this mirror stuff. Linear gal going wild in process. It just seemed like with this orgonomic craze, and my understanding that ejaculation equalled orgasm, that the pe had it going on. Like his pleasure receptors are wide open and responsive.

  19. Eric writes… “I notice that I can come a lot faster with a female partner who has never had an orgasm — as if she’s somehow using my energy or experience, and like I’m entering a vacuum rather than a full space.”

    Yep… I also apply this principle to the quantity of affect in (particularly dyadic) relationships. There is a limit to longing, only so much to go around in any dyadic circuit. Hog it and the other blanks out, has an attack of dysaesthesia or even annoyance. As you say, work with “beholding” and there’s plenty to make the circuit.

    This is one of the reasons I *absolutely* dismiss the notion of ‘unrequited love.’ If it appears to be unrequited, then one is clinging, hogging, holding the energy. Not love energy, just fear lightly veiled as craving.

    So many shades of pink. So many shades of blue.

  20. I remember when “Open Marriage” was a radical concept … back in the day (!!) and doesn’t that notion sound uber-aquarian? I’m finding it so fascinating that we all cling to the classic notion of marriage as the pivotal model of relationship, and with it goes the lust and sexual creativity. This is where the fun/fearless/creatives come in and I look forward to seeing a LOT more progress in this area … ahem, Eric! can I get a little amen!! or maybe a dude or two in the book o’ blue. Just a thought.

  21. I think the younger women are narcississtic, but as you get older (and lonelier), you experience desire more. You don’t want to be alone. Like my dog story above, I was not jealous of the pup (he kept trying to screw my adult yellow lab but couldn’t reach), but jealous for no longer having a sexual partner.

    Younger women are the ones that end up pregnant most often, so it serves them right for being so narcississtic I guess. We pay as we go.

  22. Victoria – what do you mean going on?

    Eroticism exists in a dynamic, at least when there is a partner present. So “premature ejaculation” is an experience between two people; not strictly inside of the male partner. I would like to see a study of premature ejaculation in couples where the woman is orgasmic versus not orgasmic. I notice that I can come a lot faster with a female partner who has never had an orgasm — as if she’s somehow using my energy or experience, and like I’m entering a vacuum rather than a full space.

    Also — I am sure that most men do not actually orgasm. They ejaculate, yes, but there is a difference between the two. Some men do orgasm; some do not.

  23. Eric, re: the article on sexual arousal: maybe I missed this in the data somewhere…I think there maybe a differences in the reactions by women to the stimuli because of age, culture, current circumstance, past experiences, etc. However, it was thought provoking.

    Personally I’ve always thought we females hide our extreme interest in sexual bonding with other females. We expect other women to know what turns us on and are frustrated in the the ability to get this desire out without taking too many risks. (I’ve seen how wounded men get when rejected- why try on my own?)

    As I age though. I want to have that physical contact with another women. It’s on my “bucket list”. Sure hope I don’t die first-haha. Linda Little

  24. I meant to say…Remaining open to the possibility that all these isses, biological programming, genes, nurture etc, *have an influence* seems to mean we can have a wider discussion and keep it вЂ?personal’.

  25. All four times I was pregnant I knew it immediately. One ended almost immediately in miscarriage, although I had the impression the little sprite was sending a warning, like ‘cool it – you are not ready’. I can relate to your experience completely – the holographic moment when you know another soul has entered in.

    But why do such a high percentage of rape victims end up pregnant. Why would a soul want to come into the world in such conditions? At least one of the partners wasn’t feeling any desire or longing. this happens a lot in loveless marriages, where sex is just a release of tension. Even when you don’t want sex you can have an orgasm – you are just a body (or not).

    The body is just a tool, an empty shell for carrying out the purpose of the spirit that lives within. I’ve never bought into the Buddhist notion that the soul enters the body much later.

  26. Sometimes I think evolutionary biology has a lot to answer for when it comes to explaining behaviour. There may be something in it, but not all of it and like all things, when it becomes a certainty, then the margin for error becomes wider. Ditto for trying to find what ‘women want’.

    What if it’s no good looking outside of oneself (or clamping probes on to your privates) for the answer? For me, as soon as we start talking about sexual desires of ‘women’ in the general, I’m turned off! Why? It starts to sound prescriptive, impersonal, theory based on existing beliefs, cerebral rather than emotive – and as challenging as a feature you’d find in this months edition of Marie Claire.

    Both men and women may find more about what they ‘want’ (and actually need) if they take a journey in a more inward direction. How do I FEEL and WHY? Some understanding of the scripts and programmes we have already been given and found ourselves forced into over the years. Handed down from parents, family, society, culture. What other experiences may have shaped the relationship with ourselves and sex? There’s too many to count.

    Remaining open to the possibility that all these isses, biological programming, genes, nurture etc, seems to mean we can have a wider discussion and keep it ‘personal’.

  27. OK Mystes!! I’m not sure what that means but I think you’re onto something there, all that kundalini energy feels right.

    Women since the dawn of time have picked men who keep a roof over their head and a full larder to feast on. In doing so they’ve traded in their lust, that’s what I read from the article in the NYT. This feels totally right to me, and as I watched a bit of the embarassingly horrible train-wreak show called the bachelor last night, I’m thinking this insane competition between the babes to get the guy lives on. OMG.

  28. Yeah, Marymack, it’s sort of nuevoretro… and you know where it flirts: Back to the God and all of his Proscriptions on where the ovum is allowed to go, where the semen is allowed to flow. Because it’s all about the Bebe.

    Jane’s, I adore you, but you’ve *got* to watch the company your mouth is keeping.

    (Blunt enough for you? Merc, say hello to Mars.)

    The old Kundalinists will speak to the up and down of the Phyzical Phire, but I tell you this: “Reproduction” is first the province of Vak, voice, which speaks beneath speaking as Things come into being.

    First? Second? Ninth? On the other hand, it’s goofy for me to argue any first or ninthness to the whole pattern. Comb the mandala one way, you have babies dropping through the wet door; comb it the other way, you have electric protozoa swimming toward that wormhole in your body that goes to Galactic Core. Sometimes you stop combing and they get tangled into one tall, bluehaired, guitar-twisted, trilingual boygod.

    And yes, Ghengis Mom, I’m talkin’ to you.

  29. Eric, about brainwave machines. What’s the secret of what is termed the “premature ejaculator”. Have those guys got it going on or what?

  30. One more thing. I do believe that women are juicy about all kinds of things. I do believe that we may be moving into a kinduv next world understanding of the orgasm. Yeah sometimes we want to move the same old. But it is possible I do believe to experience another kind of orgasm through every pore of the skin. This is talked about in eastern mysticism, I believe. Why we would want to stop evolving when it comes to pleasure I do not know. Different strokes for different folks.

  31. All this baby talk sounds as retro as the whole masterbation focus. I remain very hopeful that creativity and invention brings some new insights on sexuality.

  32. What’s wrong with me? I never connected babies to sex. What’s wrong with me?

    I go to my teen reference. The young women I know who are college bound and don’t want to get pregnant. They are exploring their bodies, their sexuality with each other. They call it natural birth control. Meanwhile they are on the communication devices advising their teen brothers in matters of their hetero relationships.

    Me, I like living in my desire. I like meeting the other in my desire. I like being nowhere but there. When there dissolves into here, well that’s another thing. Residuals and that can get messy. I think that is called emotions or unbridled passion gone amuck or something. It’s a balancing act.

  33. STILL babies even after all these years? You mean fetuses don’t read The Second Sex or A Room of One’s Own? You think they would grow up sooner or later. But I guess a fetus is just a fetus. They just seem so immature these days.

  34. Yeah. It’s still babies. The brain makes all different kinds of koolaid; only one kind makes kids. I swear I never understand what pisses people off so bad when they hear the suggestion that babies are the endgame of desire instead of the other way around. I didn’t make that one up. And I aint said all that chemistry doesn’t cook up into some awesome drugs either way.

    Anyway what are you bitching at me for? Did you just call me a Tart(ar)?


  35. Jane’sD, what? Are you also a sociobiologist? Cripesjeezus, woman. THE entry into those cosmic petticoats of gnosis (bad homage) is through the door of what? oh right: longing. Longing –not just some little flimmery glamour frisson; but Longing as the Girl who flames up behind the umbilicus with It; who slaps you sideways silly with It. Longing that goes right on through the banal up-and-downs of differexuality, gathering in every trace of the Beloved then replicates Him/Her/It orderofmagnitudinally through those superb antennae called the skeletal system.

    Calcium, base (baseallyourbasebelongto…), is more important than carbon in the launch sequence. It is the imperturbable manifestation of semen, and carries much, much, MUCH more information than DNA. It is the frozen bodhicitta that hangs the whole phyz into semblance. (When our naughty, naughty navy was carrying out experiments on audiological weaponry, what did they measure? calcium conversion rates in the media cingulate. And that’s not the thousandth of it).

    This is not to gainsay your babycatching jizz. But soft, that may have more to do with your rather loooooong comm line back to the Scythian horsewomen than any putative genetic noise.

    You feel me?

  36. Well. This is what I think: I think men and women want to make babies. I think this is what their erotic equipment was designed for; to propagate the species. Women lubricate at the drop of a hat. So do men. Men have the seed-delivering device, women have the…oh, hell, the flowerbed or whatever.

    We are always ready, looking for every possible opportunity to increase our number, instantly, whenever, wherever, just like every other species from sperm whales to daffodils. And birds. And bees, you know?

    Masturbation — okay, it’s pretty fun, but it’s not the same as sex, it doesn’t make a baby. How can it be true that the purpose of sex is masturbation when the result is replicated DNA?

    To be honest the most dimension-shattering sexual experiences I ever had were the times I *knew*, I just *knew* I had gone and caught a baby. I went holographic, I was *gone*, chief. Vanished and replaced in the space of a breath.

    The only narcissism that seems universal is that we’re wired not to question the assumption that the world would be improved with more of us.

    It’s the babies is what I think. Everything else is a mindfuck.


  37. Both the words of Chivers and Meana reasonate, about fantasy and the women’s need to be desired. They both make sense to me.

    PS: Eric, I highly recommend you check out a book called “Still Lovers” by photographer Elena Dorfman. The images are compassionate documentary portraits of sex dolls and their owners.

    So different from the Ryan McGinley photos that accompanied the NYT article, which I thought were pretty but maybe a little too pretty- like overly lit film stills, where the subjects looked so artificial and plastic, they don’t look real.

  38. I think that the whole act of “placing probes on or in the genitals ” skews any results you might get from this study. Just the thought makes me shiver.

  39. Does anybody remember that book What Men Want. It was going around the office I worked in the late 80s. It basically said that men want to fuck as many women as possible and that women want family and children. So when man and woman marry woman gets what she wants but man does not.

    I didn’t read it (much more fun hearing the takes on it) and apparently the company owner did not either. He called me in one day for a sit down in his office. He was freaked out. Every night he went home from the workaholic world, and his wife looked like somebody different. He was having a meltdown. He just wanted to go home to the same woman. I just said hmmmm. I was not one to release the secrets of the sisterhood. In hindsight perhaps I should have. I think they needed to dialogue.

  40. Eric, tell me more, if you can, about your research on what woman want vs. Dr. Chiver’s studies. I felt sure she was onto something new/unique … mostly because it confirmed my own interests. Being the object of intense desire was what woman wanted, if I read that correctly. That seems inconsistent with masterbation as the centerpiece of a sex life. Hmm.

  41. Interestingly, I recently acquired one of the first pregnant mannequins ever made. And I started a fiction series about an affair with a love doll on Book of Blue. But I’ve never had sex with a doll; only, and thankfully occasionally, people who feel like one. I might continue the love doll series, but the problem is I don’t own the doll, so I can’t photograph her; which I would certainly do if I had one of those things (this is the high end variety, though not computerized). I’ll have a picture of the very, very pregnant mannequin soon, and also photos of the birth — which will be at-home, or rather, at studio.

  42. I was telling a friend about my young dog’s seeming non-stop sex life and the friend said, “You’re jealous of your dog!” and i thought to myself, “yep, that’s about right I guess” frowning. That was around 1997.

    Even playing the violin reminds me of sex and is a turn on – sometimes you play with short, very fast strokes as with Irish folk music. With the classics, you use a long bow (long strokes).

    As JanesD would say, ‘what the fuck.’

  43. Eric, you’ve had sex with a mannequin. I think I saw a movie about that.

    I’ve felt like a mannequin. I just watch the show and wonder what the hell must he be thinking. Oh yeah, he ain’t. He’s on a mission. It’s a hard one to break down, so I don’t go there. The last encounter like that just made me laugh. I guess that is something. The gentle friend’s face turned into that of a horned beast.

    One of my way old gal pals had a ticking clock and was on the search. She had sex with a man immediately when she met him. She said she could tell how he would be in a relationship from how he was sexually. I didn’t think much of it at the time but I bookmarked it. I ain’t much of a relationship person anymore but I think she had something there.

  44. What turns me on right now is butter and strawberry jam on warm toast, with my cup of tea. I am sure I will have a major release when the water pipes thaw. Apparently the heat of my orgasms could not defeat the subzero temperature effect on my household.

    I am wondering how much of the reactions to this testing has to do with the presentation of the material. Eroticism is all about physical sensation. Example: footage shot in a certain way might turn me on. But if the same act was played with strobe lights flashing would I really have the same reaction.

    I liken it to a wonderful pasta dinner I was trying to enjoy, but with Todd Rundgren on the stereo my stomach was ripped and stretched to the point of distraction. Or the German restaurant and that’s some heavy food, and these accordian players were playing the polka.

    The footage was obviously designed to provoke response. It just ain’t like real life, it’s a perfect presentation. Have people lost all their imagination or what? All we need to do is make sex this logical science so anyone who differs will have another scientific reason to feel shitty and guilty about themselves.

    Relax, take some time, and enjoy the journey. I like the mystery.

  45. Mary — I have often said that sex is used as a substitute for masturbation. This is one reason why we need to really understand and be at peace with masturbation on the way to being empathic lovers. Even at the height of contact, there is a contact with self that most people would describe as narcissistic. When that contact with self is missing, that is, when my lover is out of contact with herself or himself, it’s like having sex with a mannequin.

  46. i read this the other day and thought of you as well, Eric. only Merc Rx craziness with vehicle and phone diverted me from sending it.

    i would say that Chivers’ results jibe very well with me, except that i left behind the idea that very little turns me on a long long time ago, realizing that i am turned on by all kinds of things. i thought i was crazy, but accepted it. nice to have some scientific evidence.

  47. Wow, thanks so much for this fascinating article. It helps me understand my own sexuality in many ways.

    I think the discussion regarding biology vs. culture has loads of importance. As a woman (straight but definitely with Diamond’s described fluidity), brought up catholic, I’m well aware of the deep piles of cultural ‘good girl/bad girl’ expectation and behavioral modes forced upon women. As a biologist myself, I have been able (after many years) to develop my own body awareness and separate that to some extent from psychological conditioning. There’s a truth to my being, truth to my sexuality and truth to my femininity that transcends the cage that women have been put into on a cultural level. The question posed at the end was highly valid -“If (women’s) sexuality is relatively passive, then why so many rules to control it? Why is it so frightening?”

    Like any good research project, the closer you get to an answer, the more questions you have. It’s exciting to me that there are women asking the questions!

  48. PS: the results of her work would indicate that good sex is less relational and more narcissitic; does this jibe with your own research? For me, pluto in leo female w/ heightened feminist worldview, the theme of being the object of a desire so overwhelming that danger looms … well, bravo Dr. Chivers.

  49. As I read the article yesterday I thought of you, Eric, and how great it is that Chivers has such an awesome job. I wonder if you have shared the results of your own work with her, or at least combined forces. For me, I am so pleased to read such progress in the field and to be “turned onto” Zumanity and bonobos … without any plethysmograph hookup. BTW, look forward to seeing you on ted.com.

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