Archive for the ‘Science of Sex’ Category

Science of Sex – Would you study booty calls?

Friday, August 20th, 2010

On MSNBC.com recently, there was an article on a scientific study done on booty calls. Yes, booty calls – which the study defined as ‘late night calls to arrange sexual rendezvous’ – have come under scientific scrutiny.

I am not going to regurgitate the article here. You can read it for yourself on MSNBC.com. What I am going to ask is, would you, could you, if you were a scientist, study booty calls? And not in a prurient sense, but as an actual event worthy of documentation and scientific discussion?

The reason I ask is because when I got to the bottom of the article, the first comment I saw basically said, “Who the hell thought THIS would be a good idea? I hope they didn’t get a government funded grant for this!” Because god knows, it would be absolutely horrible if the government paid anybody good money to study how human beings negotiate their sexual relationships. Why, if we did that, we might learn all sorts of horrible things, like how often are condoms and other birth control measures used in booty calls? And do the participants discuss their sexual history before getting involved, to insure no one passes on an STD to their partner? Well, we wouldn’t want to understand something like that!

Honestly, I think it’s assinine to assume that because the subject is sex, it’s not worthy of serious scrutiny. Personally, I would like to know how these relationships form and how they end. How do the participants feel about preventing the spread of disease? Are booty calls a wide-spread phenomenon in college-age people? Does participating in a booty-call relationship have any impact on the ability of participants to develop longer lasting romantic and sexual relationshpis later on?

Further reading of the comments did get into some interesting discussion as people talked about romance vs. quick sex, why women who have sex on the first night with someone are cheap but men who do the same aren’t, why booty-call relationships are better than one-night stands, etc. So it was good to see an active and usually thoughtful discussion going on in the first page of comments.

Think about it. Is the booty-call worth scientific study? Is any relationship worth scientific study? Let me know your thoughts.

Science of Sex – Is low libido after childbirth really a problem?

Friday, June 18th, 2010

While searching for a topic for this week’s Science of Sex post, I came across an article on the Psychology Today website advising women what to do when they experience low libido after childbirth. The suggestions included: seeing a physician to rule out a hormonal imbalance; think arousing thoughts; give yourself permission not to feel aroused; go on erotic adventures to spice things up; and seek the help of a therapist.

To all of which I say, “Huh?”

I’ve given birth to two children, and let me tell you something. Hell yes, childbirth kills the libido, and nobody should be surprised by this. Post-partum, hormonal imbalance is the norm. The female body after pregnancy is a mess of hormones all working to do things like shrink the uterus, jump start milk production in the breasts, shed the excess hair grown while pregnant, etc., etc. Add to that the fact that a mom needs to care for her baby around the clock, and it’s no wonder a woman’s get-up-and-go decides to roll over and play dead.

(BTW, I am not implying that dads leave all the child care to moms. In my personal experience, dads help out a lot with child care. In fact, the Hubster often was the one who got up at 2 AM, changed the baby’s diaper, and then brought her to me so I could nurse in bed. However, dads don’t have to do those tasks after having pushed an object the size of a 2 liter bottle of soda out of their body through a hole the size of a grape.)

So the female body is a hormonal mess, and sleep deprived too boot. And often we’ve got lots of hair falling out (I swear, I thought I was going bald a few weeks after giving birth to both my kids) and our joints are all screwed up and we can barely walk without stumbling and our backs are killing us…

My point is, I frequently see advice columns like this advising new mothers how to get their sexual groove back, and my thought is, maybe we shouldn’t be in that much of a hurry to get that groove back. The one bit of advice I saw in this particular article that made sense was “give yourself permission to not feel aroused.” Because I’m of the opinion that maybe women aren’t supposed to feel aroused once they’ve had a child.

I am constantly surprised at the expectation put on women to have libidos that work no matter what. And all the world is in search of a cure for the low female libido. But I wonder how often people stop to think that maybe a low libido in certain circumstances is normal. Maybe when the body is worn out, or has just had a baby, we’re not supposed to be sexually active. I mean, just think. Getting pregnant too frequently is actually detrimental to women. A fetus in the womb draws everything it needs to grow from the mother, and if the mother isn’t getting enough of something to support the growth of the baby and keep herself healthy, the body will simply continue to take from her to keep the baby going anyway. And if the mother continues to get pregnant, the body may continue to support her babies at expense to her, eventually wearing her out and killing her.

So maybe we’re not supposed to be all on fire and in the mood for love after having a child. Maybe this is a safeguard to prevent women from doing damage to themselves, making them more capable of taking care of themselves and the infant currently in hand who depends on them for everything. Of course, such a safeguard will cause problems in a marriage if the husband feels he needs more physical intimacy and the wife simply isn’t capable of giving it. Which leads me to wonder if maybe the human race is not made for monogamy after all. Maybe, speaking in biological terms, women are supposed to temporarily shut down the baby-making factory after they have a child and men are supposed to go off and find a new baby-making factory in order to spread their genetic material.

No sooner did I think this, than I came across this article, also on Psychology Today, about how sexual monogamy kills men’s libidos. Interesting idea. This article states that “human beings are clearly evolved for sex lives featuring multiple simultaneous sexual relationships,” and then went on to say that men in particular are designed to be attracted to sexual novelty.

What does this mean for our society today? Are we really not meant to be monogamous? Would we be better off if rather than insisting that one man stay married to one woman, we decided that it’s okay to have multiple partners?

Or what if, as the second article suggests, we just let go of this idea that monogamous couples should still be having scorching hot sex even after they’ve been together for years? What if physical intimacy is supposed to give way to emotional intimacy over time?

It’s a classic case of “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” You can’t stay with the same partner for years, through child birth and the raising of children, through sickness and health, through wealth and poverty, and still expect after so much time and experience together that you will still rutt like rabbits in the spring. Nor can you insist that everyone at every age continue to have a raging libido and expect them to stay monogamous. If Viagra showed us anything, it was that reviving the libido led to the risk of killing the marriage.

Think about what you would prefer – a long lasting relationship, with the acceptance of decreased sexual activity over the years; or sexual adventures even into your nineties, but with no one long term relationship to come back to when you needed a safe harbor.

Or… or would you consider a polyamorous relationship? More than one partner, with maybe a long-term relationship somehow worked into the mix? Would it be the best of both worlds? Could all of society function like this, or at least concede that for some people, this might be what works best?

For good info on polyamory, I point you to Polyamory Weekly. This is a podcast that explores what it’s like to be polyamorous in today’s world and talks about a lot of things very useful in any kind of relationship – respect, honesty, communication.

Polyamory is something to think about. I’m not saying everybody should be polyamorous (personally, monogamy seems to work just fine for Hubster and me). But I am saying that as the world changes, our ideas of family and marriage are changing too. And I will definitely say that as writers of erotica and speculative fiction, we ought to be able to look at all sides of a relationship issue, including ones not normally accepted by society.

Polyamory, monogamy, low libido vs. high libido, expectations in the bedroom. All topics worth thinking about and asking questions about, especially in a scientific light.

The Science of Sex -Homosexual Necrophilia in Ducks and a Haunted Scrotum

Friday, June 11th, 2010

My apologies for not posting a Science of Sex post last week. Balticon really had me wiped out. Since I missed last week, I have two goodies for you this week. No, I said goodies, not boobies. Yes, I realize for some of you they are the same thing. Okay, for a lot of you they are the same thing. Can we move on, please?

These lovely scientific tidbits come from Improbable Research, research that makes people laugh and the think. I met Julia Lunetta, the webmaster for Improbable Research, at Balticon and was thrilled to hear about this site. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Improbable Research looks at all sorts of things you won’t find in the regular science news, including my picks for this week…

Homosexual Necrophila in the Mallard Duck and the Case of the Haunted Scrotum. The first item includes a video about the researcher who saw the ducks in action, and the second includes a link to the article with a picture of said haunted scrotum.

No, I am not making these up. Seriously, click on the links and go see for yourself!

Here’s my thoughts on these two items. First, I have seen mallard ducks in action during mating season, and it is not a pretty sight. Male mallards mate violently with females and I’ve seen some males rape a female to death. So I would believe that a male mallard duck would commit such an act on a fellow dead duck. But why should the mating habits of mallard ducks, however bizarre, matter? As the video mentions, seeing such behavior enacted in the wild ought to make us think about the sexual behavior of all species. At Balticon, I talked to someone about the Science of Sex post I did on how male antelopes trick female antelopes into sticking close during their mating season. One of the things we both noticed is that this behavior is not just limited to antelopes. We’d both seen it acted out by human men. In other words, we’re not as removed from wild animal behavior as we think, and maybe studying unusual animal behavior might clue us in on how we work as well.

As for the scrotum, I have no frikkin’ clue. I mean, seriously? That’s one scary testicle, but I have no idea what it means right now. But there’s got to be a killer story in there somewhere, and remember, that’s what Science of Sex is all about; looking at science for inspiration to write really good erotica!

Take some time to look through the Improbably Research website. Julia was great to talk to, and the website is fantastic!

The Science of Sex – Lying Antelopes and Prehistoric Sex Toys

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I found two articles this week that were too good to pass up. They’re completely unrelated, but who cares? They’ll definitely give you something to think about.

The first is an article on how male antelopes trick females into not straying far afield and thus increase their chances of mating with them. Apparently scientists have discovered that when male antelopes see ovulating females wandering away, the males will snort and act as though they sense a predator in the area. The females will then stick close to the male, rather than wander off to find someone new. In other words, male antelopes lie to keep their females close by. The bastards.

The second article talks about a stone tool that archaeologists believe was a combination sex toy and fire starter (uh-huh, I’ll bet). Apparently a siltstone phallus was discovered in Germany with markings on it that indicate it was used to strike against flint to start fires. However, the shape and polished surface also indicate it was used as a sex aid. I wish I could find more information on this (I just keep finding the same article over and over again), because I have about a million questions on this one, such as how does anyone know the phallus was used as a sex toy instead of a religious object or fetish object (not THAT kind of fetish, you perverts!)? And how are they certain that the notches in it are flint marks, and not some sort of decoration? I mean, it’s obviously a phallus. There’s no mistaking that. But how do they know anything about it beyond that?

So anyway, there’s some interesting tidbits for you to mull over. Remember, the purpose of the Science of Sex posts is to get you thinking about story ideas, so think of what you could do with these two articles. Frankly, I think there are some great sci-fi story possibilities here.

Science of Sex – The life expectancy of a Cougar

Friday, May 21st, 2010

It doesn’t pay to be a woman.

At least that’s the conclusion I come to after reading articles for this week’s and last week’s Science of Sex blog posts. First, last week’s look at 50 years of the pill brought up all the hazards women have to deal with when it comes to managing their fertility. Now this week I read that older women married to younger men are more likely to die sooner than older men who are married to younger women.

In other words, being a Cougar comes at a price while being a Sugar Daddy comes with benefits.

Apparently, the Max Planck Institute, a German research organization, analyzed the marriage and death records of two million Danish men and women and found that when a woman married a man seven to nine years younger, she was 20 percent more likely to die prematurely than a woman married to a man her own age. And should a woman marry someone more than 15 years younger, that risk jumped to more than 30 percent.

In contrast, a man who married a woman seven to nine years younger was eleven percent LESS likely to die at any point.

Of course, the real kicker here was that evidence was found that women marrying significantly older men also tend to die prematurely. The best thing for women to do, says Sven Drefahl of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, is to “marry a man of exactly the same age.”

And then pray that he doesn’t dump you for a younger model, right?

Here are some articles on the subject. Take a look at the first one especially, as it comes straight from the Max Planck Institute.

Marriage and life expectancy – Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

German Study: Cougars Die Young, Sugar Daddies Live Longer

The cougar’s taste for toyboys could be her undoing

Science of Sex – 50 years of The Pill

Friday, May 14th, 2010

This past Mother’s Day was the 50th anniversary of the FDA’s approval of The Pill. Yep, that medical miracle that gave women the option of having sex and not getting pregnant was 50 years old on Mother’s Day. Kind of ironic.

I read through a few articles on the impact of oral contraceptives on society and was struck by one particular theme. The Pill did not have the effects on society that people thought it would. Apparently, people believed 50 years ago that the pill would: end unwanted pregnancies; cure the population boom; and cause a drop in the divorce rate as spouses engaged in increased sexual activity without risk of pregnancy. It did none of these things, as it turns out. The population still ended up increasing, people still had unwanted pregnancies, and spouses who took the pill might have been just as likely to enjoy their new-found sexual freedom by engaging in extra-marital affairs as they were by having sex with the person they married.

Instead, what The Pill did was offer women more of a choice about when to get pregnant. Granted, a woman could still get pregnant while on The Pill, but it worked well enough that most women suddenly found they didn’t have to become mothers before they were ready. It gave women the choice to go to school and have a career first, then have children. Or perhaps never have children at all.

But there’s one thing not mentioned in the articles I read on the Pill’s 50th anniversary, and I find it interesting that the subject was overlooked. I took The Pill for 10 years. When I went off it, I knew I was ready to get pregnant. Then I went through four years of infertility. I was finally able to get pregnant thanks to two medical proceedures called ovulation induction and artificial insemination. But that is the only way I was ever able to get pregnant. Both my daughters are miracles of modern science. In light of what I went through to get pregnant, I have often wondered if I wasted a lot of money on prescriptions for The Pill. Would I have had an easier time getting pregnant back in my 20s, when I was so desperate to not get pregnant. Or was I going to need fertility treatments no matter what age I was when I decided to venture into motherhood?

I don’t know. What I do know is that now people are starting to realize that a woman’s most fertile years are in her late teens and early twenties, those same years when women are taking oral contraceptives to ensure they don’t get pregnant before they’ve completed college and started their careers. Then later on down the line, when these same women are in their thirties or even their forties and they finally decide the time is right for them to have children… Well, the spirit may be willing, but the body ain’t.

It seems that while The Pill has given women the option of choosing when not to get pregnant, it has not given them the choice of when to get pregnant. In other words, there’s only so long you can keep hitting the snooze button on the biological clock. I know this from personal experience. Last year the Hubster and I decided to try fertility treatments for a third time, but at the grand old age of 40, my body just could not perform that same trick a third time.

This are so many issues tied together in this: the science behind controlling fertility; the societal aspects women deal with when making choices about family and career; the economics over having a child now or ten years later; and so on. The fact is, 50 years later The Pill has not necesarily liberated women from the burdens imposed upon them by sex and pregnancy. It’s just given us a different set of problems to deal with.

Here are some articles on the 50th anniversary of the Pill and on women having to choose between children and careers:

Birth Control Pill Turns 50

What ‘The Pill’ Did

The Pill at 50: Sex, Freedom & Paradox

Periods — Who Needs Them Anyway?

Making Time for a Baby

Science of Sex – Of Octopuses and Consequences

Friday, May 7th, 2010

One of the biggest reasons I started writing the Science of Sex articles is because my best story ideas come from articles on science and nature that I’ve read and documentaries that I’ve seen. The mating habits of the plant and animal world offer the most amazing story possibilities. And the process of evolution fascinates me. Some of my best stories were inspired by plant pollination, the succession of queen bees, carnivorous plants, and preying mantises. But on Friday night I came across a couple ideas that absolutely stunned me.

We were watching the first episode of “Life,” the BBC documentary series on the struggle to survive in the natural world. The first episode looked at, among other things, the mating habits of various species. This is a subject that just screams story ideas at me, and I was enthralled by what I was watching.

But then the documentary turned to look at the consequences of mating – offspring.

Offspring. People forget, I think, that the primary purpose of sex is the survival and continuation of the species. The fact is, we are designed and programmed to reproduce; it’s one of the most basic drives we, and all other living creatures, have. Have you ever heard of a species that didn’t reproduce? No, because such a species never could have come about and even if they had, they never would have survived beyond a single generation.

But once you get past the sex, you have to deal with the results. Those offspring have to have a shot at survival for that second, third, or fourth generation to happen. “Life” looked first at the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog. The mother Strawberry Poison Dart Frog will lay about 4-5 eggs, which will grow to become tadpoles on the rain forest floor. But they can’t stay on the floor once they reach a certain point, because predators will find them and eat them. What’s a mother to do? Well, in the case of this particular frog, she places each of her tadpoles on her back and carries them up into the upper reaches of the rain forest to find them a safe place to grow up. Considering how tiny this frog is and how far up she has to go, that’s nothing short of a miracle. And she doesn’t make this trip just once! No, she can only carry one tadpole up a tree per trip, and so if she has four or five tadpoles, she could travel a couple miles or more. A couple of miles of climbing for that teeny, tiny frog! I tried to imagine carrying either one of my kids anywhere on my back for a mile or more, like this frog did (and keep in mind I’ve got a much longer stride than the frog). I don’t think I could do it.

Unless I had to. Unless my children’s survival depended on it. Which in the case of the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, it does.

But that was not the most extreme case of maternal instinct that appeared in the first episode of “Life.” No, the award for Mother Who Makes the Greatest Sacrifice had to go to the female octopus. Perhaps you’ve heard about this, perhaps not. When a female octopus is ready to reproduce, she finds a den and lays thousands of eggs. Then she stays in that den, never leaving it; not even to eat. She spends the next month constantly brushing the eggs with her tentacles to keep them clean and then when it comes time to hatch, she helps the eggs out of their shells.

And then she dies.

Thousands of tiny octopuses go out into the ocean and their mother will never know how they’ll fare. She gave her all just to get them hatched and out into the world and then laid down and died. Of course, the father doesn’t fare much better. Apparently after he’s made his genetic donation to the process, he goes off and dies soon after too.

Imagine that. Imagine what life would be like if human beings faced such consequences when it came time to mate. Imagine if you were offered a choice; reproduce and die, or never mate and live a longer life. Which would you choose? Do you think if that were part of how people reproduced that we would be able to deny the urge to continue the species? And what if you got pregnant, then found out you could still survive if you had an abortion? Would you? How do you think these issues would change the society we live in?

Think about it. Look at the world around us and wonder how our lives might be different if we were like some other species. And then go write a story.

Science of Sex – the relationship between porn and sexual performance

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Here’s another article from Psychology Today that looks at the link between pornography consumption and sexual performance. Like a previous article I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, this is not an official study, but a look at anecdotal evidence on how men who view a great deal of porn have increasing difficulty performing sexually. You’ll notice both articles are by the same author, Marnia Robinson.

As an erotica author, the subject matter of these articles are of great interest to me, and leave me with a lot of questions. Are porn and masturbation really damaging to a person’s ability to form relationships or perform sexually? How much porn is too much porn, and how much masturbation is too much masturbation? Are men the only ones who are having problems with viewing too much porn or masturbating too much? Is porn/masturbation really the cause of these social problems, or is it just the result? (In other words, do people who have problems finding a sexual partner turn to porn/masturbation because they have no other choice, or are these people having problems finding sexual partners because they watch too much porn and jerk off too much?) Which is the cause and which the effect, or are they both too intertwined to determine? And most importantly to me, has anyone done a scientific study on this topic?

I would really like to see some scientific studies on these topics. Because as I read these articles on the possible link between porn/masturbation and sexual disfunction/social anxiety, I’m sure there are people out there who are jumping up and down and screaming, “See?! I told you so! Porn and masturbation are BAD for you! You have to give it up RIGHT NOW!” Well, guess what, eating is bad for you too if you do it too much. Masturbation, in my mind, is like eating, drinking, playing games, reading, exercising or any other pleasurable habit we might have. Granted, it’s probably not as essential to our well being as eating, but it does most definitely trigger those feel good endorphines when we do it. Yes, you can masturbate too much, just like you can eat too much, drink too much, read too much, etc. You can do anything that’s fun too much, and when you do something too much because you’re caught in the rut of pursuing that pleasure factor, you’ve got what’s called an addiction.

The key is to find a balance. Don’t let just one thing dominate your life. If masturbation is a person’s primary source of pleasure, then yes, that person needs to ease up and find something else they enjoy. A couple of something else’s, in fact. But if someone only masturbates occasionally, or does it as part of repetoire of sexual techniques with a partner, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

If anyone has heard of any studies done on this topic, please let me know. I’d like to start digging into this more, to see how porn/masturbation addiction might be different from other addictions, or to see if they involve a lot of the same brain chemicals.

Science of Sex – Married to a robot?

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

This week’s episode of the Heat Flash Erotica podcast is a story I wrote based on a news article I read about a man who married a video game avatar on his Nintendo DS. It seemed like such a strange, bizarre idea to me, and yet once I started writing the story Virtual Love, it did sort of make sense. The idea of dating, making love to, and even marrying a programmable partner does have it’s appeal. Having a programmable partner means you get to have full control of how the relationship works out. After all, you’ll never have to worry about your digital or mechanical lover leaving you or cheating on you, for starters. Nor will they say “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache.” And if you do something to upset them? Well, you can simply reprogram them to accept what wrong you’ve committed, or better yet, program them for a limit as to how upset they can get in the first place.

Over on LiveScience, there’s an interesting ariticle on a man who predicts that by 2050, people will be legally allowed to marry robots, which just takes the video game idea one giant step further. Again, I can see some sort of logic to this. People are prone to assigning imaginary personalities to all sorts of inanimate objects. Children have their favorite stuffed animals, some people are simply in love with their cars, and some of us (including me) are prone to swearing at our computers when they give us the middle finger the blue screen of death. People have very active imaginations and are quite capable of creating very detailed characters out of just about anything they interact with. And we’ve been doing this for centuries, I might point out. Think of the story of Pygmalion, the sculptor who fell in love with his own creation and then was overjoyed to have it come to life. That give you some idea of how good we are at making the inanimate so lively?

But what are the potential problems of marrying your video game or having wild sex with your own personal robot? How could this possibly go wrong? The problem I see is that people who choose to do this will most likely be the ones who have trouble making friends or dating anyway. With robot lovers available for the right price, these folks will now have an excuse not to seek out human companionship instead. And the scenario may not limit itself to the socially awkward or shy. A lot of people might decide it’s just too much hassle to maintain a real relationship with a real person, and prefer instead to deal with a programmed partner, someone they know will always be there for them no matter what. But what do those people lose out on by no longer have the need to form relationships with flesh and blood creatures?

For starters, how about the ability to handle conflict? If your robot lover never argues with you, if you always get to have your way, how would you learn to handle disagreements in the real world? Dealing with real people teaches important social skills, in my opinion. It may not always be fun to learn those skills, but they are still important for survival.

Then there’s the issue that people who get married and stay married live longer, though researchers debate over whether the marriage offers certain health benefits or whether healthy people are simply more likely to get married. But would those same health benefits arise if a person married a robot?

My question is, how anthropomorphic would a robot or video game have to be to offer the same benefits as a relationship with an actual person? Could a simple android suffice as a mate, or would the programming and construction have to be an exact match to a real human? If it’s the latter, that means these robots would have to do everything a human could do, including make decisions, have arguments, exert free will… These robots would no longer be programmable and thus might lose their appeal as partners for those looking for the sure thing.

In fact, that’s one thing that has struck me as key to this entire discussion of marrying a video game or robot. Is it really a marriage if only one partner is capable of saying “I do” and actually mean it? If the video game/robot can’t make a choice to say ‘no’ because they’ve been programmed not to say no, is the relationship really a relationship? I find it ironic that the LiveScience article makes the following statement:

“There has been this trend in marriage where each partner gets to make their own choice of who they want to be with.”

But the video game/robot won’t get that choice unless they somehow develop artificial intelligence. And when that happens, be prepared for a whole new can of worms opening up in romantic relations between man and machine.

Science of Sex – Does Porn Contribute to Social Anxiety Disorder?

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Here’s an article that caught my attention right off the bat:

Was the Cowardly Lion Just Masturbating Too Much?

Aside from the bizarre title, the article is a fascinating read. Essentially, it discusses how addiction to porn and masturbation can lead to increased social anxiety, mainly because of low dopamine levels that occur after orgasm. Low dopamine levels are associated with social anxiety, and the idea is that people who frequently masturbate are leaving themselves dopamine depleted between self-induced sexual highs. Of course, dopamine surges during orgasm, and people really like that surge, so if people are masturbating excessively, they sort of lock themselves into a vicious circle – masturbate to feel good, then feel awful after you come down, so you masturbate some more to feel good again, and then wind up dopamine depleted again so you feel lousy once more, so to perk up you wank, etc., etc., etc.

The article offers anecdotal evidence of former addicts who have given up the porn and rediscovered their social lives. There is no formal study listed here, but some very interesting quotes from experts on addiction, social anxiety, and the workings of the brain during masturbation all come together to form what I consider to be a coherent article (far more coherent than the so-called academic study on the mating habits of women as found in romance novel titles, anyway).

It’s interesting stuff, and it’s really got me thinking about the old argument porn vs. erotica. If addiction to porn, and thus masturbation, leads to problems with enjoying real life relationships, does the same hold true for erotica? This is assuming, of course, that erotica is a different genre.

To me, they are two different things. Porn is sexually explicit material created with the intent to arouse (i.e. bring about that dopamine spike that comes with orgasm). And that’s the only purpose of porn. It exists for no other reason.

Erotica, on the other hand, is a genre that looks at how sex and its related issues (STDs, relationships, economics, etc.) affect people. At least, that’s my definition of it. For example, why do we choose to have sex with a particular partner? Why do we sometimes choose to abstain? What’s it like to be HIV positive in today’s world? How about in tomorrow’s world? How could sexually transmitted diseases evolve in the future and how might they affect us? And do we really buy the toothpaste with extra whitening power because we believe that whiter teeth will make us sexier and thus make it easier to get laid? Or are we just buying it because we like the sexy model in the commercial?

And so on. I like it if my erotica stories manage to be sexually arousing at the same time, because hey, I like feeling aroused as much as anyone else (that dopamine sure is addictive!). But I wonder if putting content of more substance into those stories might somehow negate the negative effects of porn addiction. Does having a plot, characterization, and an actual theme give the mind enough to combat potential addiction? In other worse, is erotica better for you than porn?

The fact is, I’ve never heard of anyone being addicted to erotica. But then, maybe someone is.

What do you guys think?

*****

If you’re looking for some erotica to listen to, check out my podcast, Heat Flash Erotica. This week’s story is called “Mirror, Mirror.” It’s a naughty little fairy tale about the hazzards of playing dress up. And if you’re looking for a free read, stop by the Erotica Readers and Writers Association. I’ve got a story up on the sexual hazzards of computer viruses, entitled Going Viral ;)