Category Archives: Sex and Psychology

Do heels make a women sexier?

Once back in the mists of time — well, truthfully, last year — I went on an OKCupid date with a man who had more than a passing interest in my shoes. Before the date he emailed me to ask how tall I was. I had neglected to include this nugget of information in my personal info for two reasons: firstly, I don’t care about height, either my own or a man’s; and secondly, I can never remember. Seriously, I know I’m “average” and somewhere over 160cm — hold on, I’ll check! I have just measured myself and it appears I am just over 164cm or around 5’4”, which is pretty average for women in Ireland — and taller than I thought!

You’d think I might have remembered this because I measured myself last year and sent the information to my date. He was French, and I’ll call him Pierre. Pierre expressed relief. He was on the short side, he told me, but taller than me. “Fantastic! You can wear high heels!” he joyfully informed me. I was less than thrilled by this, since I hate high heels and only wear them when I absolutely have to.

On the evening of the date I considered wearing heels, but it was a cold and miserable day. We were meeting for a drink, and personally I don’t see the point in getting dolled up to the nines for the pub — or for a man I didn’t know, for that matter. Heels would also have required a taxi, as the pub was more than ten blocks from my bus stop. I didn’t fancy either wet or painful feet, or worse, both. Taking all of this into consideration, I decided to wear boots. Pretty cool boots, even if I say so myself, and sexy in a Nancy Sinatra “these boots are made for walking” way, but definitely flat.

For the next few hours, Pierre quizzed me about my shoe choice. How often did I wear heels? How many pairs did I own? Were any of my shoes designer? Would I wear heels if we went out a second time?

Perhaps Pierre had a shoe fetish, or perhaps, like his countrymen, he just found high heels a lot sexier than flats. A study conducted by the French social scientist Nicholas Gueguen found that men are more likely to respond positively to a woman if she is wearing heels.

Gueguen conducted an experiment with a young woman dressed soberly in a black suit and white shirt. She approached various men asking them to take part in a survey. When she was wearing heels, 83% of the men she approached said yes; when she was wearing flat shoes the number of willing men dropped down to 47%.

Gueguen was also interested in whether or not this preference would be noticeable in “mate selection” and he wasn’t disappointed. It took men on average 7.49 minutes to approach women wearing high heels in a bar. For those wearing flat shoes, it took 13.54 minutes.

Gueguen hypothesis seems to correct — most men prefer women in heels. But meh — so what? I prefer to walk in comfort, and not risk bunions, hammer toes, nerve damage, stress fractures and ankle sprains. I don’t care that only 47% of the men I might encounter would respond to a request for help, or that it would take me a whole six extra minutes to find a dude in a pub if I was so inclined. Men may prefer high heels, but lots don’t care that much — and those are the men I prefer.

It won’t be much of a surprise when I tell you I never saw Pierre again, which was just as well. He was quite entitled to his preferences as I am to mine, Either way, we were not a good match. He hated my favourite boots; I hated being quizzed about my sartorial choices, especially by a man whose hair could have done with a wash… I don’t care about shoes, or height, but basic grooming? That’s just good manners.

Swipe left or right? Here’s why.

Do you judge someone’s class by their Tinder picture? According to a study done by journalist Anne Helen Petersen markers of class, race, religion and education all affect whether we decide to swipe left or right. Here’s the full piece. There are a few issues with how the study was conducted (Petersen doesn’t focus on weight, for example) but it is a pretty fascinating read.

Do Straight Women Secretly Hate Themselves?

Are you a straight woman who prefers the old P in V to oral sex? If so, maybe you are suffering from internalised misogyny and body issues.  That’s according to an not-very-scientific study done by vlogger Arielle Scarcella.

Scarcella hosts the popular “Lesbians Explain” YouTube series, and she wanted to know what kind of sex her viewers preferred, so she asked 500 of her straight female viewers and 500 lesbian viewers whether they prefer oral sex or penetration. She found that a majority, 55 percent, of her straight female viewers preferred penetration, but only 25 percent of lesbian viewers agreed. Scarcella wanted to know why there was such a large difference, and analysed the responses.

Many of the straight women felt that oral sex requires a greater level of vulnerability, and felt uneasy about receiving pleasure without giving any in return is uncomfortable. That’s entirely believable given that simultaneous orgasm is the Holy Grail of straight sex – despite the fact that this is can be very difficult for many couples to achieve.  Gay and lesbian sex tends to be more turn-based, for obvious reasons, so it is not surprising that Scarcella’s lesbian viewers felt more comfortable being on the receiving end.

However Scarcella loses me when she concludes that a preference for penetrative sex “all relates back to misogyny and how women feel about their bodies.” Er no. I can think of several reasons why straight women might prefer P to O more so than their lesbian sisters that have nothing to do with sexism or self-esteem. Here’s a few:

1. Penises are better than strap-ons or dildos. No matter how fancy your strap-on is, it is never going to be as flexible or as fleshy as a dick. If you are in an exclusive sexual relationship you have skin-to-skin contact, which allows a man and woman a lot of sensory feedback about their partner’s enjoyment, which is not possible with a toy.

2. Furthermore, penetrative sex is *supposed* to be about mutual pleasure, if not necessarily mutual orgasm. If you are both having a great time simultaneously, that can feel more emotionally satisfying than taking turns.

3. Practice. Straight couples probably have more penetrative sex than oral. Orgasm is partly a learnt response, so if you have more P in V than oral, and learn to achieve orgasm this way, you’re likely to prefer it.

4. Many men are not that good at oral. If you have a full set of lady parts, you’re probably going to be better at dealing with them than if you don’t. No disrespect intended. I’d bet good money that the average gay man is better at blowjobs than the average straight woman too.

5. Having to return the favour. Many women just don’t like giving blowjobs, and if you nix oral in favour of penetration, you won’t feel obliged to.

That’s off the top of my head. Anybody have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them.

Bad Sex Awards

FRENCH TO OUTLAW SEX WORK?

France’s ruling Socialist Party has tabled new legislation aimed at criminalising paying for sex. If the legislation goes through, anyone found guilty could face a fine of €1,500 and be required to attend an “awareness” course on prostitution. The magazine Causeur has started a protest campaign called “Touche pas a ma Pute!” (Hands off my Tart/Bitch!), led by writer Frederic Beigbeder. Beigbeder condemned the government for trying to “decree norms for desire and pleasure” and the campaign has claimed that the proposed law seeks to control women, not liberate them. The Socialist Party has hit back, claiming the campaign’s real aim is the preservation of “male domination and female submission”.

Many who work with prostitutes also oppose the bill; they fear that the law will drive the sex trade further underground making workers more vulnerable to exploitation. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of France’s 20,000 prostitutes are foreign nationals and one of the aims of the new legislation is to ‘tackle sex trafficking’ – for which many will read ‘oppose immigration’ – and forced prostitution.

SURVEY SAYS BISEXUALITY NOT REAL

This one will anger many and rightly so. A study by the University Of Pittsburgh found that heterosexual men and women have serious doubts about the legitimacy of bisexuality as a sexual orientation. Researchers administered a 33-question survey to an online sample of 1,500 adults and found that heterosexual men were the most likely to cast doubt on the existence of bisexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation – but straight women, gay men and lesbians had similar negative feelings. According to the authors, the study confirms the “prejudice, stigma and discrimination” faced by the bisexual community.

ASHLEY MADISON SUED

Ashley Madison, the website specialising in promoting extramarital affairs, is being sued by a former employee for work related injuries. Doriana Silva has claimed that typing up hundreds of fake female profiles for the site has left her with permanent damage to her wrists. She is seeking a whopping $20 million claiming that the company unjustly enriched themselves at her expense and another $1 million in punitive and general damages. Ashley Madison charges men to access the site but women join for free (can this be legal??) The fact that the company uses fake profiles to separate men from their money is not at all surprising.

SEXTON’S MISCELLANY BAD SEX AWARDS

The shortlist for the Literary Review’s 22nd Annual Bad Sex In Fiction has been announced and there are indeed some (cringe)-worthy entrants this year. Past winners have included famed writers including Sebastian Faulk, Norman Mailer and AA Gill. The purpose of the prize is “to draw attention to the crude, badly written, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it” – but it doesn’t seem to be working.

There is some terrible literary sex going on. This extract from Jonathan Grimwood’s The Last Banquet is the cheesiest (ho ho) sex scene you’re ever likely to read: “In my mouth her nipple turned from strawberry to deep raspberry but the taste I wanted was missing. I had sweat and what had to be soap from washing her dress or herself. Reaching behind me, I found the Brie and broke off a fragment, sucking her nipple through it.”

Here is the full shortlist:

House of Earth by Woody Guthrie

Motherland by William Nicholson

The City of Devi by Manil Suri

Secrecy by Rupert Thomson

The World Was All Before Them by Matthew

Reynolds

My Education by Susan Choi

The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt

The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood

Beware of Horny Ladies

BEWARE OF HORNY LADIES

A ‘female Viagra’ is due to be released in 2015. The drug, called Lybrido (ho ho), has passed stage-II clinical trials and should be approved by America’s FDA within a year. The problem with Lybrido appears to be that it actually works, which has lead to questions about the advisability of it – horny ladies being a huge problem apparently. Andrew Goldstein, a scientist with Emotional Brain, the manufacturer of Lybrido, has claimed that “a fear of creating the sexually aggressive woman” stalled the process. A New York Times report claimed that Emotional Brain was concerned that the FDA would reject the drug out of concern that it would lead to “female excesses, crazed binges of infidelity, societal splintering.” Hmm… Sexually active women – ruining a society near you soon. Hopefully.

 

BEWARE OF HORNY  IRISH PEOPLE

In a second news story that got my blood boiling, and not in a good way, an article on a popular New Zealand website has essentially accused Irish folks of being riddled with sexually transmitted diseases. The article claims that rates of chlamydia have increased, as has the number of Irish people attending a sexual health clinic in Christchurch. The article quoted a doctor who claimed that Kiwi women had higher STI rates than in other countries and that many of them “found the Irish accent alluring.” Unsurprisingly the article has angered Irish people living in New Zealand. You could draw a completely different conclusion from these facts if you wished – namely that Irish men have been infected by locals, and are at least smart enough to deal with the problem (even if they weren’t smart enough to wear condoms initially). The author defended the article claiming that statistics for other nationalities were not yet available. Dear oh dear…

SEXTON’S MISCELLANY : WEB BONDAGE JUNKIES

Bondage Junkies offers original amateur bondage photos and films, but despite the amateur status the quality is really good. The site is new and currently has over seven hundred downloadable photos, and a total of 155 minutes of downloadable movie files. The site has a transparent preview so you can see exactly what you are getting before you download. The site costs $19.95 for a single month’s access or $15.95 for a monthly subscription. See bondagejunkies.com for details.

 

WEDDING NIGHT BLUES

More than half of newly weds don’t have sex on their wedding night. That is according to a survey of 2,000 British people, which found that 52 percent of just hitched couples skip wedding night sex. The majority of the couples surveyed (72 percent) said that sex on the wedding night was not the big deal it once was. As most couples have consummated the relationship long before wedding bells peal, that’s hardly surprising. The biggest factor for lack of sex was a squiffy groom who either couldn’t or couldn’t be bothered. For shame!

 

Here are the top ten reasons newly weds didn’t bed:

1. The groom was too drunk (24%)

2. The bride was too tired and fell asleep (16%)

3. The bride was too drunk (13%)

4. Had to look after our children (11%)

5. We had an argument before wedding reception ended (9%)

6. Needed to leave for our honeymoon (9%)

7. Stayed up all night partying/celebrating with guests (7%)

8. The groom was too tired and fell asleep (4%)

9. Neither of us felt like having sex (4%)

10. Other (3%) – I hate to think what this could cover.

Kink is Good For Mental Health

Good news for kinksters! A study has found that people who engage in “bondage-discipline, dominance-submission, sadism-masochism” or BDSM may be psychologically healthier than those who prefer their sex somewhat tamer. Andreas Wismeijer, one of the researchers, claimed that, “BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extroverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less rejection-sensitive, had higher subjective well-being, yet were less agreeable,” than his control group. According to the findings, dominants tended to score the highest in all measurements and submissives the lowest. “We did not have any findings suggesting that people who practice BDSM have a damaged psychological profile or have some sort of psychopathology or personality disorder, “ said Wismeijer. “We conclude that BDSM may be thought of as a recreational leisure, rather than the expression of psychopathological processes.” Well, we already knew that!

Oral Sex Keeps Ladies Faithful

The study published in Evolutionary Psychology, an academic journal, has claimed that men unconsciously use oral sex as a way of increasing relationship satisfaction and encouraging their female partners not to stray. I don’t know why this is an unconscious motivation because any fool, with or without a PhD, could guess that sexually satisfied women are less likely to look for their kicks elsewhere.

WOMEN MAKE MEN STUPID. REALLY?

That’s according to research from the Netherlands where scientists claim they have evidence showing that even planning on talking to a woman negatively affects a man’s ability to think.

The whole thing seems pretty insulting to men, as if the presence of a woman turned them into slavering beasts. It also seems a bit ridiculous. After all, men spend their days surrounded by women – working with women, studying at the same colleges, catching buses, trains or sharing the same road space, queuing in banks or coffee shops etc etc. None of these are segregated spaces, which if this study was correct, would mean that men spend their days in a fug of indecision and stupidity.

I can imagine that a specific woman (or man) might have an effect… being around someone whom you find particular attractive can scramble anyone’s brains. But this study says that merely the presence of women is enough to affect men’s ability to think (or impairs their cognitive function to use the shrink jargon.)

It’s always wise to be a bit sceptical about psychological studies. A great deal of the time, meta-analyses of all studies covering a particular topic show that the evidence cannot always be reliably replicated, or that other studies contradict the initial findings, or that the effects are so slight they are negligible.

To Beard or Not to Beard?

Oh oh! Apparently women don’t like beards – that’s according to a scientific survey. The boffins tell us that beards make men seem older and more aggressive. Hmmm… I had my doubts about this one. Lots of my lady friends rate beards, as do I. Not full-on soup catchers of course, but a neatly trimmed beard or goatee is always a delight.

A look at the actual study itself shows that the sample of women surveyed were from Samoa and New Zealand, which means the results are culturally specific.

I was wondering what y’all think: beards – yah or nay?

Erotic capital?

Catherine Hakim, author of a book called Honey Money, reckons women should use their charms to get ahead. Hakim calls this “erotic capital” and says this is an underused resource at women’s disposal. Although men can use erotic capital too, Hakim says it is mostly women who are able to leverage it since men are all slavering beasts who don’t get enough sex since women over 30 are not that interested.

Call me crazy, but I reckon that is equally insulting to both men and women.

On the one hand it is true that better looking people tend to have an easier time in life. Tall men earn more money and good looking women are more likely to marry rich. But on the other hand, if you get ahead in life by relying on flirting or the promise of sex, it is unlikely that you’ll get very far. Contrary to popular belief, sleeping with the boss is unlikely to get you promoted. What it will get you is fired.

Hakim basically says that for women being attractive is more important than being competent. I think an awful lot of women would disagree with that. I think most male bosses or co-workers would too. No company wants to carry a lame duck, no matter how lovely her legs are. Besides which, if you rely on your looks instead of skills to get ahead, how long will you be able to do so?

Hakim has been roundly criticised for her scholarship. Honey Money relies on data that is 20 years out of date and Hakim appears to has seriously misinterpreted the findings.

My major issue with Hakim (besides the fact that she is talking bollocks) is that her whole idea is just depressing. Seduction is reduced to a bargaining tool, sex is nothing more than a commodity; there is no room for joy, genuine pleasure or even love in a world where eroticism is just one more exploitable resource to make you money.