I was faking it…

one woman’s search for orgasm

Posts Tagged ‘scientism

Female sexual arousal: demystified at last?

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Does the image of two bonobo monkeys ‘doing it’ turn you on? Well if you’re a women then, according to the a study conducted by Meredith Chivers, it most certainly does, and if you think differently it’s because your just not paying attention to your vagina.

In Chiver’s study, (as referenced in the Jan 25 New York Times article) women’s level of arousal was measured as they viewed various images, including the bonobos. Tiny plastic probes were inserted into the subjects’ genitals, which in turn monitored genital blood flow via a machine known as a plethysmograph.  A high blood flow measure was interpreted as evidence of sexual response. In addition to the ‘scientific’ readings, the women were asked to identity which of the images did or didn’t ‘do it’ for them.

According to Chiver’s, women got this last part (yeah, the part where they actually had to make a decision) wrong:

[The women’s] blood flow rose quickly — and markedly…as they watched the apes… [However]…mind and genitals seemed scarcely to belong to the same person. The readings from the plethysmograph and the keypad weren’t in much accord…Whether straight or gay, the women claimed almost no arousal whatsoever while staring at the bonobos. (source)

The machine said yes, but their thumb said no. Chiver’s conclusion? Like the magician’s attractive assistant, women are ‘split’ in half-with their minds in one side of the box and their bodies in the other.

Excuse me? I checked it out on youtube just be sure—and I can confidently say, that as a woman, strawberry Jell-O is more erotic to me than Bonobo porn.

"Does this turn you on, m'am?"

"Does this turn you on, m'am?"

It shocks me that, sexologists like Chivers think can wire up a girl’s clit and claim that it gives a more accurate and authoritative assessment of her sexuality than what the girl being tested believes for herself?

Arousal is a complex interplay of emotion, experience, biology and I’m sure a lot more—and to reduce it to a Pavlovian like experiment–ring a bell and get a bone, show a penis and make her wet—seems ludicrous.

And what scares me most about Chiver’s experiment and the scientific rationale informing it, removes the agency of the person that the genitals’ belongs to—essentially undermining women’s ability to be masters (or mistresses) of their own bodies.

 As someone who’s out to do just that–take control over my sexuality–I’d like to tell her where to stick those wires.

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