Mmm, Chimp Sex

Note: The following was originally posted on my old personal blog on November 1, 2005. I’m reposting it now because Meredith and her research are in the news and currently getting raked over the coals at Shakesville, which bums me right out.

I already piped up in the comments there, but I want to put this out here, too, because I’m disappointed that this research–which, as I say below, can easily be used to refute “She secretly wanted it” accusations–is being so totally misunderstood and misrepresented on a site I love.

Without further ado…

Nov. 1, 2005

This is the kind of thing going on in Toronto, now that I’m gone. Everywhere gets more interesting after I leave.

Well, more interesting and more stomach-churning, in this case. I can’t believe the woman’s attorneys are basically going with, “Hey, it’s not that big” as a rebuttal, when I can think of a psychologist in Toronto, off the top of my head, who could get on the stand and tell them exactly why a woman could be both “sexually aroused” and raped. In the course of a study on sexual arousal and orientation, my sometime friend Meredith learned that men become physically aroused based on what mentally arouses them: e.g., straight and lesbian porn, but not gay porn, for heterosexual men. Women, however, may only report mental arousal with regard to porn that floats their particular boats, but they exhibit signs of physical arousal when watching straight porn, gay male porn, lesbian porn and… drumroll… chimp porn.

The theory is, we’re designed to get wet at the merest hint of sex, for a very good reason: so if we do end up having sex, whether we want it or not, we don’t sustain physical damage that could lead to bacterial infections, which could have led to infertility or death for our ancestors.

In other words, our bodies become “aroused” at the drop of a hat, precisely so getting raped won’t kill us. Which strikes me as a slightly better argument than “Seriously, six inches around isn’t so big.”

And because this post is not yet All About Me, I’ll add that I first learned about the study from Meredith while sitting on my back deck in Toronto a couple years ago, complete with a detailed description of how levels of arousal were measured. (To sum up: ewwww.) And we’d had a little bit of wine, and there were several other people there asking follow-up questions, so it was not a quiet conversation. And I’m pretty sure that was the moment my Toronto neighbors started hating me. Just a fun fact there.

Hat-tip to Salon’s new “Broadsheet” for the Sun link, and for coining the word “repli-cock.”

4 thoughts on “Mmm, Chimp Sex

  1. FWIW, I just left a comment over at Shakes trying to clarify where my disconnect might be.

    Just wanted to let you know I’m not unconcerned about the conversation, in the hopes it will leave you less bummed. ;-)

  2. Thank you! :)

    I was less bummed after Brynn’s response anyway, and I’ll go check out your comment!

  3. Hey Kate! Thanks for your supportive comments here and on Shakesville. I often troll the blogs after a news story comes out to see what the reactions are like. I too was dismayed but certainly not shocked: my research gets badly mischaracterized all the time. I’m made out to be some evil, in-the-sack-with-the-patriarchy, woman-hating crackpot who got her Ph.D. from the local vending machine. It’s all par for the course for this kind of edgy research.

    I wrote a response to the thread on Shakesville, which is probably not going to be read by the actual discussants as they moved on to tear something else apart, but you might want to check it out.

    Hope all is groovy with you.

    take care,


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