Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Adequate Human Sexual Model is NOT Creation of the Brain

If you haven’t read the book Sex At Dawn, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethà, you better read it. This entry in my Blog is a critique of the critique made by Emily Nagoski about the book. But you will find, today, a quite extensive list of books along the lines of Sex At Dawn, like How to Think More about Sex by Alain de Botton, who has applied to practical life some immediate conclusions of scientific studies cited in the book.

One more quite interesting book, also very much to the dislike of Emily Nagoski, is Daniel Bergner’s What do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire. It is an extensive review of Meredith Chivers’s study, one of the interesting foundations of the thesis suggested by the book Sex At Dawn.

But then, again, this is about Emily Nagoski’s stubbornness in neglecting one, to me, extremely simple fact, which I proceed to quote here:

It’s true that the human brain itself doesn’t come with a built-in sexuality model. No, it doesn’t. Not the brain. It isn’t that, the part of the human animal that defines the biological sexuality model that would be 100% acceptable for all human individuals. The human brain is capable of designing all sorts of models of sexuality and also of elaborating mechanisms—culture, society, economy, religion, the law—to force entire populations to follow the elaborated model. The acceptable human sexual model is chaotic but coherent and it is built into the species' integral biological entanglement, not in the brain.

Franz J Fortuny Here and Today, June 18, 2013

We need—it’s urgent—to discuss the critique of Nagoski against Sex At Dawn; the critique is so extremely wrong, that it needs special attention…

Nagoski is a great writer. Her wording is excellent! She has an incredibly persuasive way of exposing her views. However, fortunately, her clarity of language makes it even easier to notice immediately what her mistake is.

Statistics show that the main stream solution to sex life is not working. Polyamory is not natural, just like monogamy isn’t. For the human species, the only thing natural as far as sex is concerned, is total freedom, acceptance, certainty and abundance.

Freedom of Eroticism

The human animal requires to feel free of engaging in erotic behavior at any time, anywhere and with anybody. The human animal will end up suffering if this need isn’t met or constantly repressed.

All known cultures have needed to repress and/or organize eroticism leading to sexual activity and reproduction.

This needed freedom of erotic behavior does not necessarily lead to reproduction. It doesn’t.

However, this needed freedom is a constant provider of bliss to the individuals of the species when they can exert it, just as it—the needed freedom—becomes the source of a constant feeling of deprivation when it is encased within any form of conditioning.

The problem becomes especially hard on the individuals of the species when the feelings of eroticism are provided as a reward and only after they have earned it. This really stinks!

In the book Sex At Dawn, they suggest that in any post-agricultural model, something needed to be designed in order to tame sexuality and control reproduction. Of course, the human brain has been very capable of designing models to keep sexuality tamed. However, it has been a constant that the first transgressors of all systems, have been the social leaders, the highest in rank.

How am I going to prove this Need of Erotic Freedom? I don’t need to: go ask anybody ready to give an honest response; they will all agree. They will also say that they want such freedom for themselves, but not for the others, and here, of course, is where the ego business of culture walks in.

Unconditioned Acceptance

The physical differences among human individuals of 2013 are incredibly substantial and acute. Some individuals really look like they belong to a different species, since they have grown to look so far from the average. No matter how much they may argue in “good will” about everybody being accepted, some people’s appearance is far from acceptable and automatic rejection happens.

This subject of “appearance” must be understood also as a subjective appreciation. Some people are sure they will never be accepted; then they revert to really terrifying crimes.

There was a time when our species didn’t need to design methods to combat the contestants competing for the common resources. These were not conceived as scarce; so there was no need to store them and keep them protected from “thieves”. Survival resources were scattered all over the initial densely populated and perfectly coherent ecological tropical system.

Since all resources were available for everybody, nobody was different from the others due to more or less agility to accumulate anything—as today, the thing is money, for instance. Things like sexual manifestations would happen in groups; sexual coitus was probably something done in the open and with the participation of several males with one or more females.

So, everybody was accepted, because nobody was supposed to be seen as the partner for life. They were all human colleagues for life, to enjoy in groups and to face their—truly—minor problems in groups, too.

Thus, it was possible to live without the deprivation of general acceptance. Who doesn’t want to be accepted? Do you know anybody that suffers from acceptance deprivation? Who needs to prove this need?

Sexual Certainty

Deprivation from sexuality is today’s norm. Please, listen to this very carefully: yes, it’s true that it seems to be available everywhere and by everybody. But, is it really? With the lack of Freedom of Eroticism and the lack of Guarantee of Acceptance, who can be 100% sure that a good sexual encounter will happen?

Sexuality has become a random—at its best—happening, with total uncertainty about its actual happening. Also, the quality of the event will mostly leave a lot to be desired. Apply a poll and you’ll have your proof.

Did this feeling of sexual uncertainty ever exist in the dense initial environment where our species primarily evolved? Another blatantly and heavy NO. Freedom of Eroticism along with constant Guarantee of Acceptance, didn’t allow any room for sex uncertainty. Sex, for each and every individual and gender, was, like eating daily, a fact of life, shared by the group.

The human brain is undoubtedly a determinant part of the species; however, no matter how well connected it may be to the rest of the human body, it is still, by gene determination free to elaborate “on the go” any solution or response to problems posed to the species as it struggles to survive in different environments.

Of course, Sexual Certainty was not a problem or anything the brain needed to elaborate about within the ecological condition of no-scarcity, and no need to control, store, distribute, measure, and all those things necessary when scarcity becomes the norm. Which is exactly what happened when the human brain was challenged to elaborate solutions to survive in a different environment.

I say to the Nagoskis of the world, that the reasoning in the book Sex At Dawn is indicative that, no matter how efficient and fantastic the human brain may be, it isn’t infallible when it comes to elaborating a response for survival. As it all works in nature, all of the elaborations of the brain produced during the last ten thousand or so years—since agriculture became a necessity—have been a compromise.

In this case, Sexual Uncertainty was one of the prices to pay. Sex has become a goal that must be earned; in the process, the individual invests a lot of energy; however, there isn’t any certainty as to the final outcome, no matter how much energy is invested.

Abundance of Sex

Abundance is a concept to be understood at the level of the perception of the individual. If anybody needs one anything of certain kind daily and it’s there, for her to pick up, every single time she feels like having one, then there is abundance of it, whatever it may be.

Abundance can also be visualized as a desire that is felt when certain stimulus is received, being what generated the stimulus itself the element that will satisfy the desire that it evoked by just being there.

I’m not hungry, but I see a beautiful fruit at my reach as I walk by a tree. I can feel the juices flowing inside my mouth; so I grab the fruit and enjoy it!

That’s what I call abundance. Do we enjoy this kind of abundance today?

Did you say yes? Come on, please, think again! This kind of abundance is exactly what we lack today, in spite of being surrounded by abundant everything… As long as you pay a price, mostly with money, everything is scarce, because money is seldom abundant—or never for 99.8% of human beings. And that includes sex, even if it’s at home. And this is not only the guys; it’s everybody. Sex has become a reward, not an abundant source of pleasure, joy and peace. Sex has become a merchandise to trade for or to trade in.

We live in a world of scarcity. Nothing is abundant for the individual, except uncertainty.

This is the socio-economic-cultural environment our fantastic brains have elaborated for us. And along with the system, a sexual model has also been elaborated to go along with the complete mess. Of course—who said no?—it has evolved, into what we see in the world of today, 2013.

So, not because the human brain can elaborate all kinds of responses, they are all natural and thus, must be acceptable.

Monogamy, polygamy, polygyny, polyamory, celibacy, polyandry, masculine homosexuality, feminine homosexuality, and the rest, are all elaborations of the brain; but not because the human brain designed them, they have to be right or must be acceptable—and fees to psychiatrists and psychologists must be paid in order to adapt the maladapted ones.

Has anybody seen a human group in the habitat where the species as we know it today, first appeared circa 220,000 years ago? Unfortunately, no. However, are there any species alive today, very close in genes to humans? Yes, the closest one is called with the scientific name of Pan paniscus or “Bonobo”.

Our line of evolution separated from that of the Bonobos only about 2 million years ago. Any other species close to us between then and now has extinguished. Bonobos and Humans are the only two species left from that point of departure 2 million years ago. Bonobos and Humans are so close genetically that we better get a good understanding of what the Bonobos have to teach us about ourselves. (Humans are significantly closer to Bonobos than to Chimps).

Bonobos, even though they probably would be able to, have not needed to elaborate, with their brains, alternative social organizations from those naturally formed without any brain elaboration.

So, we need to emphatically affirm that the human brain depends on the adequate human sexual model, which is embedded in the whole essence of the human species. The brain might generate elaborations to adapt the human natural sexual model to survival conditions, but as long as those elaborations contradict basic needs of the human sexual model, human life will not be as blissful as it most probably was during the initial 150,000 years of the species. Ultimately, the adequate human sexual model is NOT a creation of the brain, inasmuch as the brain, though, is very capable of elaborating a better adaptation than all the variations we have seen throughout the last 10,000 years—which have been rather of cruelty for most individuals.

The thesis of the book Sex At Dawn, thus, is on the right track to make the human brain generate a better elaboration for a less cruel culture.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Culturally Acceptable Moments to Enjoy Sex

And here she comes again. This was even before all the other discussions. You should read this and then come back here, so we can discuss the issue:

Read this: Dangerously Untrue in Psychology Today

Here is the thing: As we read the above article by Dr. Emily Nagoski, we might get to the point where we need to accept that there is no guarantee that what the genitals are showing is also what the brain is accepting. Now, the big question is why the discrepancy. And this is what we need to focus on.

Sexuality is a subject that has been extensively encased within a social box of what is practical, acceptable, convenient, not only for the individual—during social programming, as growth happens—but mainly for the culture, society, the establishment, the—at any one time—current survival system. Of course, as I type this I can remember hot arguments of persons that insist that they do what they do because that’s what they feel like doing. Of course, they can’t be blamed for being human, i.e., organisms with programmable brains, which is the main evolutionary advantage of this species.

You see, Ph.D.’s like Emily Nagoski should not be in need to be reminded that the evolutionary advantage of the human brain is the so called gregarious instinct. This is the instinct that allows humans in general to internalize the patterns of behavior and cultural formulas in such a way that they get to believe that they do what they do because that’s what they want, and not because they have been socialized.

So, is what you feel like doing the result of your sole free will? Do you really believe that you are 100% free to feel as you wish? (Some people are free; but they have gone through very special training and, actually, what they have been able to overcome is any ego identity formed during socialization.) So, what you feel like is not the result of our free will. Our freedom is confined to clear limits, which happen to be, also, what cultural systems need in order to function.

So, what is really dangerously irresponsible and untrue is to suggest that the discrepancies between conscious feelings about situations, and the actual responses of the sexual organs to those situations, are something natural or embedded in our genes.

Following Dawkin’s reasoning—The Selfish Gene—sexuality is part of our biological essence; the human brain, though, is a successful gene elaboration. The evolutionary advantage of the human brain could be, precisely, that the genes “decided” to make it huge, capable, but empty at birth. It became, thus, the perfect element upon which to build cultures. As part of the genes' guarding box, the power of the brain lies on the fact that it was left on its own for it to choose the most convenient way to take successful survival decisions.

Thus, it should be clear that the sexual responses of the human parts are truly and irremediably the unambiguous agent(s) of sincerity. Our sexuality has been encased, jailed within the boundaries of the boxes defined by different cultures. Yes, the body does receive from the brain the OK signal to behave as though engagement in sex were something imminent; that’s the part of the brain connected to biological sexuality; at this point interferes the cultural formula to respond to sexuality, and the conscious person says: “I’m not really interested”.

The other way around is just as true. Our brain is a very complex machine. The occasion is culturally positively sanctioned, the persons are the culturally “OK” persons, but the biological essence of the individual is not interested in the engagement-to-be; then a good lubricant must be used for the event to be a culturally acceptable moment.

What we need to accept is the fact that, not because our culture dictates that we should be crazy about sex at certain moments, our bodies—more connected to the bare universe of biology—are going to respond accordingly.

Culture does have a price to pay. However, Dr. Emily Nagoski insists: Monogamy is not the problem. Really, scientist?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Is Monogamy “The” Problem?

This is an issue of my fascination. Let me tell you briefly why.

As you grow up within certain cultures, they want you to believe that women and men are entirely different. You learn that males are looking for sexual mates all the time, but females—on the contrary—are absolutely uninterested in anything sexual; if they engage in sexual activities, they do so only to please the male with whom mating has been “approved” by those who lead their lives.

Sigmund Freud, when confronted with the question What do women really want?, replied, at once: That’s something I still don’t know. So, a man dedicated to dealing with men and women whose problems seemed to be that their lives demanded from them attitudes towards sex that were incompatible with their biological nature, was—within the confines of the main stream human culture—unable to answer such an important question.

My experience throughout life has been more towards what Meredith Chivers found out in her experiments than towards what Emily Nagoski implies that we should believe and accept and control ourselves to be happy with. This is what she has to say:

Indeed, the whole a-woman’s-genitals-are-more-honest-than-she-is [bold is mine] thing is a zeitgeisty thing lately, with Alain de Botton saying that genitals are “unambiguous agents of sincerity.”

Emily Nagoski The Dirty Normal

“Zeitgeisty” Thing Lately…

If you have seen the documentaries named “Zeitgeist”+something else, you know now what Emily Nagoski is worried about. This woman is tremendously in love with the establishment and believes very deeply and with great conviction that her goal, her mission as a scientist, is to convince everybody that what our culture demands from us—all the behaviors and values systems—is what rocks, what should be followed.

Thus, the goal of all scientist of behavioral sciences is to find ways of making people live in a bliss within the confines defined by the status quo. As far as she is concerned, any findings that shake the foundations of the main stream culture, are Zeitgeisty things. I can imagine her and those that think of themselves to have such missions, arguing endlessly on behalf of the structures ordered by the culture, and even trying to find connections to the nature of humankind in the “main stream” cultural system.

Her attitude is identical to that of traditional medicine: help the patient endure the pain, but continue feeding her the same food that’s making her sick.

My question is: Why is it so difficult for this kind of persons to understand that, precisely as scientists, it’s their most delicate obligation to be totally honest with the individuals of the species and act on behalf of the happiness of them? Instead, they seem to be acting on behalf of the Establishment, which organizes things to benefit only very strict minorities among the human groups.

So, yes, Dr. Nagoski, yes, it’s true: it’s all very zeitgeisty, and hopefully everything will follow the same path.

A woman’s genitals are more honest than her carrier

Does that mean we need to distrust women because they lie? Why would Emily Nagoski get so pissed off about a fact found in a perfectly controlled experiment? Why doesn’t she simply proceed to accept the facts and try to understand them without the bias of what the culture needs things to be?

When Emily Nagoski—herself a Ph.D.—reacts to Chivers' study, she is projecting a gender identity feeling—one of being attacked. “Oh, no, we are not liars! We simply don’t find, in the brain, what our genitals are expressing.” Why is her need to say this so strong?

I would say: They are lying, so what? Have they not been trained by culture to hide their real feelings about sex? Aren’t they supposed to be educated so that they will never sound like they want or need or would like to engage in sex?

The “main stream” culture—if you allow me to call “Western European Culture” like that—has mostly dictated that women should behave “low profile” when sex is involved. The background of such attitude is probably buried in the horrible 450 years or so when the dark ages—called like that precisely because nobody would like to remember—wanted to tame the feminine character by applying the fears of the Inquisition.

If their acts of repression over women were registered, any registries must have been destroyed or effectively buried to be never found. The Christian fundamentalists of those times were no different than the present time Taliban in Afghanistan. Didn’t the latter destroy a Buddhist Temple that had been carved on a mountain side for centuries? Wasn’t that an act of barbarism? Well, the acts perpetrated by Christians during the dark ages and earlier in Alexandria—remember Hypatia—were no different in intolerance than the recent Taliban acts.

The way women are treated by the Taliban is probably just as bad as they were during the times of the Inquisition. Women who behaved with any air of freedom and sensuality, were immediately denounced to those in charge of handing them over to the Inquisition for trial. It is calculated that over three million women’s lives were interrupted—they were separated from the pool of genes and were not allowed to reproduce. How many were actually burned in the fires of the Inquisition? The number is probably impossible to determine accurately.

The women who would survive were those capable of disguising their real feelings—as discovered by the Chivers' study. Today the world is somewhat different—not entirely so, though. Some attitudes prevail, probably as disguised in men and authorities as the real biological feelings of women were found to be in Meredith Chivers' study.

“Monogamy is not the problem”

Wow, wow! Dr. Nagoski is concentrated in one objective, one task, one main agenda—does she really work for super special entity?—and that is, to make us believe that, no matter how difficult it may be to adapt to the needs of monogamic marriage, it isn’t in such kind of arrangement where the problem is, but in the lack of practice and imagination to make it work.

Is what Dr. Nagoski implies different in any way to what—for instance—the Roman Catholic Church proclaims? Perhaps the only difference comes from the fact that the aforementioned religious institution pretends to convey the monogamous model as something ordered by the Super Entity of the Universe, which they call “God”. This Super Entity, understanding the limitations of the human species, approaches some individuals of said species and gives them “instructions”—The Bible—of how things should be.

And, of course, the order—“Be Monogamous”—can’t be the problem, since it was given by the Creator of the Universe Himself!

Is that what Dr. Nagoski is implying? Please, somebody out there, use the comments space of this Blog to help us understand Emily’s agenda.

Are you, Dr. Nagoski, really trying to tell us that the problem is in the human species, which obviously did not evolve to be monogamous?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Can you be monogamous if you're human?

Emily Nagoski accepts that as a valid question. She compares it to another question: Can you be an astronaut if you aren't good at math? As far as I'm concerned, it's difficult for me to see the parallelism in such questions.

To be or not to be good at math, golf, tennis, etc., is a matter of practice. All those sports are designed to be played by regular humans with arms, legs, a working brain and a lot of training. As far as I know, nobody is born trained to play golf or tennis; however, some people will do better at math and golf and tennis with less practice than others with more practice.

How do those activities compare to monogamy? According to Ph.D. Emily Nagoski, monogamy for humans is just one more activity to be trained for. Is she recognizing the fact that we aren't born with a natural tendency to be monogamous? Maybe she is!

Please, read what she has to say and then come back here and comment at the end of this entry.

The debate Ph.D. Emily Nagoski is suggesting is against the conclusions presented in the book Sex At Dawn by Ph.D. Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethà, MD. The book gathers evidence that supports a serious revision of the biological trends of our species, the humans, concerning sexual behavior. Some authors have classified us as naturally monogamous; apparently, Nagoski sees monogamy as a “no problem” condition, something that can be learned and practiced—with no consequences.

However, the book Nagoski seems to dislike, suggests otherwise. It sustains that monogamy is a specific way of organizing reproduction, imposing upon the individuals of the species, a burden of forced behaviors that result in a constant condition of sexual deprivation or, better, of sexual uncertainty. This condition generates a state of unbalance that manifests itself in sexual deviations like pornography, prostitution, rape, pederasty and the constant violations of the exclusivity of sexual partners expected by the monogamy model.

Sex At Dawn presents interesting arguments that indicate the natural sexuality of the human species to be deeply in disagreement with what the models monogamy and polygamy have demanded from the human individuals of both genders. Both models were the result of a new form of adaptation demanded by socio-cultural conditions elaborated by humans in their pursuit of mastering the environment for an efficient survival.

The main technology—the one that caused the need to elaborate new ways of organizing sexuality and reproduction—applied to exploit the environment more efficiently is agriculture. However, such cultural innovation needed paternity certainty. In the original habitat, humans simply took whatever they needed as food—most probably they didn't even eat dead animals. Such habitat of abundance, was gone, terminated, by a planetary event. A lot of species simply didn't make it: they are now extinct. Humans applied the power of their brains to find solutions.

The result has been so successful—in terms of numbers—that today we are 7.2 billion human individuals walking on Planet Earth.

But the success came with a price: paternity certainty required polygamy or monogamy. And paternity certainty was necessary because only identified offspring came to have the right to that which was produced in land owned by the father, with the personal energy of the couple—or the “hired” labor.

So, becoming happily monogamous is not a matter of practice. No matter how much practice is invested, the individual remains biologically non monogamous. It will always be a compromise imposed by the needs of culture.

However, today we are a more mature species. We are more conscious of things like biology versus culture. We know today that ultimately we own any cultural elaboration that we may find ourselves imposing upon our lives. And just as we designed it a few thousand years ago, we are entitled to revise it and modify it according to the better understanding we are capable of having based on our latest scientific process of knowledge.

If we're honest and accept the imperfections we all feel—at more or less intense levels—from living in the conditions imposed by the culture to be overcome, then we shall be able to allow ourselves the freedom to find ways of enjoying our lives, our sexuality and our interaction with other humans.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

“The Dirty Normal”, scientific thought processes and debate

Some blogs exist only to attract people in agreement with the blogger. The authors leave no room for debate: they don't want to see any comments that too strongly argue against their primary point of view.

One such blog is The Dirty Normal by Emily Nagoski.

I am sensitive to rejection, especially when I'm careful in stating my points of views—perhaps in a not so subtle way—with some hard comments towards the person exposing the ideas I feel I need to combat.

Now, is such attitude a valid one? In the case of Emily Nagoski, the Ph.D., my intention was to call the attention of her readers to the fact that she might have a personal problem with what has been very carefully exposed in the book Sex At Dawn, which she has fervently disqualified from any possible value in the goal of understanding ourselves as a species.

In a few words, Sex At Dawn states that there must be something wrong in the way us, humans, have been trying to organize our lives surrounding our sexual needs, since all serious statistics show openly that marriages aren't working, neither males nor females can be naturally monogamous—that is, neither gender of the species naturally chooses one sexual partner and is perfectly happy, forever, to stick to it.

The sexual attraction for other individuals besides the “legal partner”—the socially accepted one—is constant and comes from both genders. We seem to be willing to forget that the socio-cultural organization by which we live today, is a response of our brains—a human elaboration—to try to be able to keep track of “who is the father of the children”. Now, was such a need something valuable for survival in an environment previous to the creation of agriculture?

The answer is a very simple no. On the contrary, it must have been much more a survival advantage to consider all males in a human group as contributing fathers to the lives of all children. Such an attitude is observable in groups of bonobos—the smaller chimpanzees—but mainly, with tribes organized differently—from the agricultural model—such as the Zoe from the Amazon.

Persons that become so delicate and sensitive about their conservative opinions—such as Dr. Emily Nagoski—raise suspicious about possibly underlying agendas in their general attitudes.

The way we eat when we sit at tables, the way we dispose of surplus material from our bowels, the way we cover our genitals and the way women can't even breastfeed their babies in public places, are all attitudes learned through social programming exerted upon us during our lives, since the day we first appeared in this world. Nothing in the mentioned behaviours is natural in any way; it is all the result of what our culture needs from us, the individuals.

Well, then, that's exactly what happens with our sexual behaviour. Just as we feel like visiting a toilet—but we withhold our urge until the time is right—we also feel some mild arousal when we see individuals that we feel attracted to; we control such arousal according to the cultural needs, just exactly the way we control our bowels until the time is right—which is slightly different for everybody: while some are quite comfortable visiting any toilets, some can only feel at ease at home.

Some people—Emily Nagoski is one of them—want to see our genes pre-programmed to behave in this or that way; they simply ignore the highly important and deterministic socio-cultural programming of our minds/brains throughout our regular lives, starting the day we're born.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dr. Emily Nagoski denies and neglects culture as a reality

Somethings need to be dealt with at once, with the proper tranquility and peace of mind needed, without any kind of hurry to prove one's point. But things need to be laid out in a functional perspective, one that will really help us understand how our species was evolved to work as opposed to how our species, by its own elaborations, has needed to adapt itself to function within cultural frames —not necessarily in connection with biological sources.

Emily Nagoski, the Ph.D. suggests this to us: “if nothing else, let’s get at least this one detail right”, and proceeds to argue in such a way that one can only infer that she hates reality and needs to find a scientific way to prove that it's the way it is.

About a dozen people have sent me this gushing Salon review of Daniel Bregner’s book.

In the interview, Bregner makes two of the (dozen or so) mistakes I’ve devoted this blog to correcting.

Is there room for debate? She has dogmatically called whatever Bregner says, two of the dozen or so mistakes that she has devoted her Blog to correct! Yes, other people are making mistakes and, no matter how many those persons are or where their conclusions come from, for Emily Nagoski, those are nothing but mistakes.

(1) Sex is not a drive. I’ll write about that another time (you can read about that here if you aren’t familiar with this tidbit and want to know more.)

OK, fine. Dr. Nagoski wants to apply a different vocabulary, with different semantic connotations, to terms that were supposed to have been sufficiently explained and studied in volumes of studies. So, what's the problem here? No big deal: sex is not a drive, and she will write about that in the future.

And (2) Genital response is not desire. Meredith Chivers would NOT say anything like, “the physical responses, registered in the plethysmography, really might well be a measure of being turned on, being in a state of desire.”

Genital response, is not desire? An erection in a man might be the result of desire—the guy is ready for copulation—but not so in women: a wet vagina does not necessarily mean naturally—that's what Dr. Nagoski implies—that the owner is ready to copulate.

But, wait a minute. Is she talking about biology or about the cultural adaptation of homo sapiens sapiens female to the elaborations of a culture? This is the most confusing part for most people who tend to deny the enormous importance of culture—brain programming through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, etc.—that appears disguised to even the most outstanding scientists when they deny themselves the vision of what gets into you through culture as opposed to what is within you as part of your biological equipment.

This is a big one. Chivers’s work has been misrepresented more or less universally in trade books – Sex at Dawn, for sure, and also in Brooke Magnenti’s “Sex Myth.” Indeed, the whole a-woman’s-genitals-are-more-honest-than-she-is thing is a zeitgeisty thing lately, with Alain de Botton saying that genitals are “unambiguous agents of sincerity.”

Ah, of course, “this is a big one”... The study of Meredith Chivers finds that the body reactions in women tend to show something the women themselves deny: they get biologically excited, but don't admit it to the machine by the button they press. Dr. Nagoski wants to liberate women from the burden of “lying” to the machines. Dr. Nagoski wants us to believe that women were not conscious of their arousal. But, why is she so insidious about this?

But it’s incorrect. Simply incorrect. And also wrong, in every sense.

Of course, what else? It must be wrong: women can't lie! They will always tell the truth. The process of social programming has absolutely no value for Dr. Nagoski... I suppose a course in Anthropology would have been of great help for her and persons like her.

Here’s how it actually works, according to my best understanding of the research:

And, of course, her “best understanding of the research” is the only understanding that could NOT be wrong, right?

Your sexual excitation system (SES) is constantly engaged in the scanning the environment for sexually relevant stimuli, which causes it to send “Turn on!” signals down to the peripheral nervous system (e.g., your genitals). That’s simple enough, and it tells us why a woman’s body may display physical arousal even when shown something as marginally sexual as videos of monkeys mating. “Sexually relevant,” says SES. “Go.” Genital response.

But, wow! What is this? She is totally accepting that such arousal is possible—but, of course, not acceptable... (by the Vatican?)—and introduces SES or Sexual Excitation System—one more system that needs to be defined in order to avoid any inclusion of social brain programming through culture.

And at the same time, you sexual inhibition system (SIS) is also busily engaged in noticing all the very good reasons NOT to be aroused.

Dr. Nagoski has just introduced one more system: SIS, or the Sexual Inhibition System. This system—and not cultural programming—is busily engaged in all the very good reasons—biological reasons!; this is incredible for a Ph.D. to ignore at such depth any existence of socio-cultural brain programming—NOT TO BE AROUSED. She implies that the reasons are embedded in the neurons of the brain, pre-programmed just like a bird knows how to build a nest.

“Desire” comes along when (a) SES activation crosses some threshold of awareness, which is different depending on the sensitivity of that system, and (b) all the OTHER brain systems involved agree that sex would be an interesting and non-problematic thing right now.

It's difficult for me—my BG is in Sociology—to understand how a Ph.D. could be out there, moving freely by the world, with zero knowledge of how the brain is programmed to function and respond according to the needs of culture. The lady Ph.D. is confusing everybody, by making a mess of things, simply to prove that “women don't lie; it's their biology...”

Your sexual inhibition system (SIS) needs to DE-activate, your stress response system needs to be calm, your attachment system very often needs to be engaged in its forward pull toward attachment an object, your overall wellness needs to meet some baseline criteria – how sleep deprived are you? are you starving for nutrients? dehydrated? can you really afford to shift your attention toward something as luxurious as sex right now? should you not be saving your energy for something more immediate to your own (and your existing offsprings’) survival?

Our SIS—not social values and cultural teachings—deactivates, the stress response system (SRS?) needs to be calm, and your attachment!!! system—nothing cultural, it's all biological; what's the matter with Nagoski?—needs to be engaged in its forward pull toward attachment of an object, your overall wellness needs to meet some baseline criteria: this is even MORE incredible!!! In each and every single word that refers to reactions that would be entirely different in different cultures, she wants us to believe that it is not cultural, but totally and absolutely biological, embedded within us as we are formed inside the womb.

When all of these things align, desire happens.

She is precisely talking about social conditions, which are what make up the environment to which the individual will respond but not according to biology, but according to social programming, through cultural adaptation.

Arousal comes first. Before desire. Genital response is not desire.

Genital response might not be desire, but it certainly IS arousal, and that's where sex starts. Whatever comes after the arousal IS NOT at all something embedded in the biology of humans, but learnt through social brain-mind programming

Dr. Nagoski, thanks for going back to your basic Anthropology books: Margaret Mead and others.