No… It’s true.
And do you know how I know it’s true?
I know it’s true, because I read it in a newspaper, and what’s more I was able to read it in a newspaper, because someone’s done a study, and studies are always true… aren’t they?
Well, of course, that depends on interpretation.
This particular study was done by Dr Gerulf Rieger, who happens to be a man (although I don’t know his sexual orientation), and who works at the University of Essex, researching sexuality. His findings were reported in the Times last week by the science editor Tom Whipple, also a bloke.
Dr Rieger’s research compares stated sexual orientation with actual arousal. Apparently, heterosexual women become physically sexually aroused when they are shown videos of sexually aroused subjects, regardless of the gender of those subjects. Heterosexual men are less aroused by videos of sexually aroused men, as are lesbians.
Dr Rieger’s interpretation of this research is that all women must be lesbians, or at the very least bisexual.
He goes on to suggest that women become easily aroused because mammalian males are brutal, and that female mammals who are forced to have sex are in a better position to endure the experience if they are lubricated. This, to my mind, absolutely refutes his findings, because it suggests that rather than be aroused by videos of sexually aroused females, both genders should be more aroused by visual stimulus of sexually aroused males, including women who identify as lesbians. If defence against rape is to be constantly aroused, then to be aroused by aroused males is surely much more useful than to be aroused by females. Yes, indeed, this did just get very distasteful!
Dr Rieger’s conclusions actually contradict his research. That doesn’t read like good science to me… Or perhaps the reporter Tom Whipple misinterpreted something along the way. I don’t know.
The virgin (and of course we’re speaking almost exclusively about the female of the species) was invented a very long time ago. I said to the husband the other day that the virgin was invented by the Victorians. He laughed, but it was certainly institutionalised by them, more-or-less wholesale, not least because of the anarchic nature of female sexuality.
Men have always been in fear of the heterosexual woman, of her orgasm.
But it goes back long before that. My grandmother used to say, ‘It’s a wise man that knows his children.’ And in the days before DNA testing it was very true. After Magna Carta, when the Barons were permitted to pass inheritance to their sons, knowing who their sons were was pretty damned important. For any culture where wealth and status were handed down the male line, marrying a virgin bride was of paramount importance, and then maintaining a faithful wife was critical.
It would have been infinitely simpler in the centuries, millennia before DNA testing to pass wealth and status down the female line, but that would have broken the patriarchy, and what society could possibly countenance that situation?
So, the heterosexual woman’s sexuality was ever a threat.
The problem, evolutionarily, is, of course, that women give birth, and giving birth was, and still is, incredibly dangerous, and having given birth, raising children and potentially losing them is a constant struggle, one which comes with more danger.
For most of humankind’s existence there has been very little incentive to bear children, and without the desire to bear children what would be the point of sex… unless sex was a whole lot of fun?
Now let’s go back to evolution again, and put a man and a woman together, having sex, in those dark days before civilisation and culture and whatnot.
Sex is dangerous. Sex exposes the participants to attack, it makes them vulnerable. In theory you might think that it would make the woman more vulnerable than the man, if we’re talking about heterosexual sex, except that the woman has the advantage of being able to expect the protection of the man.
During the act of heterosexual intercourse, the man is taking the bigger risk, because who knows what deadly creatures might be lurking nearby? He needs to remain as alert as possible for as long as possible, and he needs to recover as quickly as possible, but that’s OK, because he can also impregnate as many women as he chooses. He’ll get to have sex a lot. It stands to reason that his orgasm will be brief.
The act of heterosexual intercourse is really the least of the woman’s worries; she is risking nine months of pregnancy and its complications from which she might easily die, followed by labour and childbirth, during which she might easily die, followed by a lifetime of raising children, during which they might easily die. However, during the act itself, she has the protection of a male lover, stronger and more physical than she is. It stands to reason that her orgasm will be a substantial reward for her massive undertaking.
If you take another look at the research, I think this opens up a number of possible reasons why women become easily aroused when offered visual stimulus of aroused subjects. I’m not sure it’s got anything to do with the gender of the subjects at all. I think, and obviously I’m not a scientist and this is pure speculation, but I think it’s got more to do with the possibility that women might be more sexually receptive. It’s not that they’re turned on by men or by women or by both, but that they’re turned on by the idea of sex, because built in to the dangers of childbearing are the rewards of the female orgasm. Women might just be more suggestible.
If a heterosexual woman sees an aroused male subject, that might be directly arousing. If she sees an aroused female subject, it just might be very easy for her to empathise with that subject, to put herself in that subject’s position, to imagine how she feels and respond accordingly. It’s not exactly a huge leap, is it?
|Sorry, Dr Rieger, I'm Straight|
Scientists, in their various guises, have speculated on the anarchic sexual nature of women for generations, so have artists and writers. I wonder if it might take a woman to unravel the data and employ a little common sense or, perhaps, talk to some of the women who take part in the research to actually get to the bottom of this.
I just don’t think that anyone’s got it right so far, including Dr Gerulf Rieger. I have a great fondness for the lesbians in my life, but I can assure him that I am most decidedly not one of them.
If you're here to read the latest instalment of my free-to-read novel, just click on the link Addled Kat part IV but be warned, there's some graphic sex in it!
Spot on. I read that report and thought, shit, should write something on that. Now I don't need to.ReplyDelete
Thanks Jane. Since I read the article in the Times, I notice it's being written about everywhere! It just seemed to me like such nonsense. Smiles.Delete
Women are capable of empathy? What a crazy theory.ReplyDelete
Next you'll be suggesting humans are capable of understanding different viewpoints.