Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A sweeping generalization

Is this the week readership ratings are compiled for newspapers? Is this the month avid page-turning and clicks can be turned into higher advertising rates?
NY Times has not one, not two, but three "science" sex related articles on dating, the gendered brain and summarized findings on recent research into sexual arousal. If my local TV news did that, along with cheesy teaser spots, I'd know for certain that it was sweeps month.

The magazine length article on which aspects of getting in the mood researchers find to be more illusion than real, in its entirety, is a fun read. Don't be put off by the NYT registration.

This one paragraph particularly struck me:
The results suggest that having a good set of sexual brakes not only dampens the willingness to commit rape or sexual abuse, but the desire as well, giving the lie to notions that “all men are the same” and would be likely to rape their way through the local maiden population if they thought they could get away with it.
Men are victims of this myth, behind women in severity of consequences but at least as likely to suffer consequences either through trying to be what they aren't or living with success at being what they shouldn't.

I assume one of the reasons my blog has never caught on is that I go off on goofy tangents and do not have a predictable category of content: no product means you can not have a "brand name". Quality control is not much in evidence either. In self fulfillment of that prophesy, I will now lurch into an uncalled for speculation.

Consider this quote from the first paragraphs of the sexuality article:
For researchers in the field of human sexuality, the wide variance in how people characterize sexual desire and describe its most salient features is a source of challenge and opportunity, pleasure and pain. “We throw around the term ‘sexual desire’ as though we’re all sure we’re talking about the same thing,” said Lisa M. Diamond, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Utah. “But it’s clear from the research that people have very different operational definitions about what desire is.”
But wait a minute here! Sex, is absolutely essential behavior, a primitive pan-species performance sina qua non. How can it be so varaiable? I find in this an opportunity to sketch my accounting for the varieties of religious experience. [And yes, I did read James' book, so there!]

This "variation" is perceptual. What we individually perceive looks random because that part of our brain that is aware of anything and able to report it is very poorly connected to those deep and ancient centers of action that must have existed long before our species branched from other monkeys. [Mr. Dodson, don't leave! Even if you did branch sooner, the analogy still applies to you!] This randomness of perception, I speculate, is similar to the reasons many have a feeling that their religious impulses are real yet few, if honestly answering, would report the same exact feelings as the members of their own church. Religion cannot be dismissed as a purely intellectual mistake: it is deeply rooted behavior and that is why it will set up shop in the average mind with or without tutoring and acculturation. And why, like sex, behavior around the impulse is rife with myths and desperate if furtive efforts to "be normal".

This speculation wanted to be a long and scholarly post or series...the drafts lay wadded up in the buffers of my blogger account. I will never have the time to get it convincingly right so I am going to let myself get it wrong, at last, at least.

hmmm. I think I left out politics.


Shokai said...

You beat me to the blog! I was going to write something about these same articles and while pondering what to say, saw your comments and couldn't come up with anything better.

Well done.

GreenSmile said...

Thanks, Shokai. Like they say, "great minds.." ;)

I just got back from a weekend in Buckhead, so named it would appear, because that is where all the bucks are headed. I will try to travelblogue it.

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