Research Into Human Sexuality
Sex research is not taken seriously because every adult feels as qualified as the next. Sex is a subject on which every adult feels entitled to have their own opinion, however uninformed. Sex research can never compete with the sex industry that is dominated by the fantasies of the male consumer. Misleading information and exploitative images are everywhere.
Incredibly it is assumed everyone has the intellect, experience & emotional detachment needed to understand sexuality. It is assumed that because most people have sex, that everyone understands what they are doing and why. This is like saying that everyone eats so of course they must want to understand good nutrition and eat food that keeps their bodies healthy.
Few people have the intellectual skills and sexual experience to do research. Most people are unable to approach the topic objectively. Adults are full of vague assumptions, misconceptions and erroneous knowledge on the topic. This is difficult to correct because there is no forum where adults can compare notes and learn about sexuality. The assumption is that if you have had sex, then you know everything there is to know. Sex is assumed to be very simple and for many people it is.
Theories in sexology are promoted on the basis of sensationalism rather than credible evidence. Unpopular research findings are simply ignored. There is no formal process for building a comprehensive explanation for our sexuality. As a result, there is no material available to educators that they can use with confidence to explain the issues surrounding sexuality.
If sexology were a science, then women’s sexual experiences would be accepted for what they are. The political pressure on women to enjoy intercourse would not exist. This pressure comes foremost from men who insist that women should always be willing to offer intercourse. But it also comes from some women who are intent on pleasing men. If sexologists were scientists, they would welcome alternative points of view. They would encourage active debate of the topic. Instead sexologists disseminate their beliefs like political activists. They never reconcile their opinions with the silence of women in the population. The goal appears to be to educate women in their role of providing male sexual pleasure.
No one ever talks about their sexual experiences. Our so-called sexual knowledge is based almost entirely on erotic fiction. Our confidence in our ignorance is reinforced by the bravado of others. But this is a closed loop. We all repeat and assume what everyone else repeats and assumes. Yet we have the impression that we know all there is to know. The magazine articles we may glance at occasionally regurgitate the same old wives’ tales. These are written by ‘sex experts’: not those with any sexual expertise but simply those who are willing to talk about sex in public.
Sex information needs to be objective to gain as wide an audience as possible. It must be constructive. It needs to present the different perspectives of men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals, in such a way as to fairly represent both sides rather than distorting the facts.
Most people are only interested in sex research or sex education as a means of confirming fantasies. Few are interested in an intellectual understanding of sexuality. Everyone seems to assume that erotic fiction is gospel rather than a story to arouse and entertain. So sex research has traditionally been led by men. Men’s lack of objectivity about female sexuality is never acknowledged. Even though researching, men back their own interests.
Men propose theories and assume they are correct because so few women ever comment. But women’s silence does not constitute proof. Little significance is placed on most women’s refusal to comment on the topic. Both individuals and institution have to fight for funds and the scant resources. Everyone is competing for the limelight and for recognition. Those who can conjure up an attention-grabbing headline, regardless of any facts or logic, get the attention of the public. The rest is quietly ignored.
Our society calls someone a genius when they discover new mathematical proofs or make scientific discoveries. But we don’t reward people for being exceptional in understanding subjects related to the human condition such as sexuality. One problem is the rarity of people who can understand the topic. So there’s no one to judge or reward. Also, very importantly, there’s no commercial or strategic advantage to any understanding of the topic.
Rather than measuring sexuality in terms of responsiveness, we should try to understand how men and women can enjoy sexual pleasure and how relationships endure. Researchers should establish women’s motivation to enjoy sexual activity alone and with a lover, their appreciation of erotic fantasies and their willingness to explore a variety of sex play with a lover.
Considering the importance which sexual problems have in the practice of psychiatry, medicine, psychology, and counselling of every sort, it is disconcerting to realize what scant bases there have been for over-all statements that have been made in this field. (Alfred Kinsey 1948)
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