Scientists have examined our stereotypes about sexuality: preferences, reactions to erotic images, scenarios of sexual behavior. The results were quite unexpected
The traditional view of sexual behavior instructs a man to protect a woman and provide her with everything she needs in exchange for her fidelity. But psychologist Christopher Ryan, co-author of Sex at Dawn, encourages us to take a broader view.
The scenario of sexual behavior habitual for us has developed in an agricultural society. But its duration is only 5% of human history. In the previous period – throughout 95% of human history! There was no monogamy. Sexual relations between members of primitive communities were more flexible and free. Knowing this and understanding our true nature, Ryan believes, we must become more tolerant of ourselves and others, imbued with respect for non-traditional unions – same-sex or polygamous – and finally get rid of the idea that a man has the right to control a woman’s sexual behavior. “Not just homosexuals, we all should come out,” he says.
Here are some more unexpected findings about sexuality that researchers have come to recently.
Is bisexuality a sexual orientation, a transitional state, or a manifestation of the sexual flexibility inherent in all of us?
Lisa M. Diamond from the University of Utah (USA) studied the behavior of about 70 women who identified themselves as lesbian, bisexual or undecided. Over the course of 10 years, they were asked 5 times about their orientation, changes in sexual behavior, social and family relationships, and new hobbies. These data led to the conclusion that bisexuality is neither an intermediate stage on the path to a lesbian position, nor an experimental stage for heterosexual women.
What comes first – desire or excitement?
Ellen Laan, Stephanie Both and Mark Spiering from the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) studied the physiological response of experiment participants to erotic pictures. It turned out that our body reacts to candid images before consciousness. In other words, arousal precedes desire, not the other way around.
Do men and women react differently to erotic images?
Scientists from Emory University (USA) tracked the gaze trajectory and brain activity of participants who viewed candid shots. Women were expected to look first at the face, and men at the genitals. The reaction of men and women turned out to be really different – but different. Men fixed their eyes on the face longer than women. Then both of them quickly slid their eyes down.
Do people in different parts of the world have different sexual preferences?
It is generally accepted that our perceptions of attractiveness are due to culture and the influence of the mass media. The first International Body Attractiveness Project surveyed 7,343 people around the world to find out what else influences our preferences.It turned out that in regions with a low level of socio-economic development, women with magnificent forms are considered more attractive, and in highly developed regions, slender ones. Perhaps the reason is that in societies where resources are limited, body fat is perceived as an indicator of status. However, the influence of the standards imposed by the media cannot be ignored: in highly developed regions, women are clearly dissatisfied with their figure and desire to become slimmer.
Does the strength of attraction differ between women and men?
Such a statement is at least debatable, scientists from the University of Wisconsin (USA) concluded after analyzing approximately 800 studies on sexuality. From their point of view, the evidence cited by some psychologists for innate differences, such as the number of sexual partners or the frequency of masturbation, is inconclusive, since such sexual behavior is largely culturally determined. The authors acknowledge that in long-term relationships, women’s attraction decreases – but this is most likely due to monogamy.