Which raises the question,
can one human being understand another?
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Nancy Gish 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 8:13 PM
  Subject: Re: Men women sex - The scientific pov.

  Despite the scientific work in this article, which I read, the question remains as absurd as when Freud asked it.  There is no one thing women want.  And if they respond to more sexual images than men, we do not know that it is just because women are innately more polymorphous (though I think they very likely are more open to experience, in practice) or whether it is just that men, especially in this culture, are taught to be so much more inhibited.  Tell it Socrates.  Or many other cultures where a range of sexuality is not just blanked out or suppressed.

  Like men, women are individuals with many many kinds of response:  there is not an essential "woman" whose desire can be identified and generalized.  Note "the feminine soul" as if there were such a thing but not a "masculine soul."  Or "a woman" but infinite possible men.  It's a meaningless question.  

  >>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> 01/28/09 10:41 PM >>> 
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Kate Troy 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 3:08 PM 
  Subject: Re: : By The Way 
  Hemingway didn't understand women well, either. Certainly Eliot didn't. 

  first part of NY Times article, with link to the rest: 

  What Do Women Want? 

  The New York Times 
  January 25, 2009 

  Meredith Chivers is a creator of bonobo pornography. She is a 
  36-year-old psychology professor at Queen's University in the small 
  city of Kingston, Ontario, a highly regarded scientist and a member 
  of the editorial board of the world's leading journal of sexual 
  research, Archives of Sexual Behavior. The bonobo film was part of a 
  series of related experiments she has carried out over the past 
  several years. She found footage of bonobos, a species of ape, as 
  they mated, and then, because the accompanying sounds were dull - 
  "bonobos don't seem to make much noise in sex," she told me, "though 
  the females give a kind of pleasure grin and make chirpy sounds" - 
  she dubbed in some animated chimpanzee hooting and screeching. She 
  showed the short movie to men and women, straight and gay. To the 
  same subjects, she also showed clips of heterosexual sex, male and 
  female homosexual sex, a man masturbating, a woman masturbating, a 
  chiseled man walking naked on a beach and a well-toned woman doing 
  calisthenics in the nude. 

  While the subjects watched on a computer screen, Chivers, who favors 
  high boots and fashionable rectangular glasses, measured their 
  arousal in two ways, objectively and subjectively. The participants 
  sat in a brown leatherette La-Z-Boy chair in her small lab at the 
  Center for Addiction and Mental Health, a prestigious psychiatric 
  teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, where 
  Chivers was a postdoctoral fellow and where I first talked with her 
  about her research a few years ago. The genitals of the volunteers 
  were connected to plethysmographs - for the men, an apparatus that 
  fits over the penis and gauges its swelling; for the women, a little 
  plastic probe that sits in the vagina and, by bouncing light off the 
  vaginal walls, measures genital blood flow. An engorgement of blood 
  spurs a lubricating process called vaginal transudation: the seeping 
  of moisture through the walls. The participants were also given a 
  keypad so that they could rate how aroused they felt. 

  The men, on average, responded genitally in what Chivers terms 
  "category specific" ways. Males who identified themselves as straight 
  swelled while gazing at heterosexual or lesbian sex and while 
  watching the masturbating and exercising women. They were mostly 
  unmoved when the screen displayed only men. Gay males were aroused in 
  the opposite categorical pattern. Any expectation that the animal sex 
  would speak to something primitive within the men seemed to be 
  mistaken; neither straights nor gays were stirred by the bonobos. And 
  for the male participants, the subjective ratings on the keypad 
  matched the readings of the plethysmograph. The men's minds and 
  genitals were in agreement. 

  All was different with the women. No matter what their 
  self-proclaimed sexual orientation, they showed, on the whole, strong 
  and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women 
  with women and women with men. They responded objectively much more 
  to the exercising woman than to the strolling man, and their blood 
  flow rose quickly - and markedly, though to a lesser degree than 
  during all the human scenes except the footage of the ambling, 
  strapping man - as they watched the apes. And with the women, 
  especially the straight women, mind and genitals seemed scarcely to 
  belong to the same person. The readings from the plethysmograph and 
  the keypad weren't in much accord. During shots of lesbian coupling, 
  heterosexual women reported less excitement than their vaginas 
  indicated; watching gay men, they reported a great deal less; and 
  viewing heterosexual intercourse, they reported much more. Among the 
  lesbian volunteers, the two readings converged when women appeared on 
  the screen. But when the films featured only men, the lesbians 
  reported less engagement than the plethysmograph recorded. Whether 
  straight or gay, the women claimed almost no arousal whatsoever while 
  staring at the bonobos. 

  "I feel like a pioneer at the edge of a giant forest," Chivers said, 
  describing her ambition to understand the workings of women's arousal 
  and desire. "There's a path leading in, but it isn't much." She sees 
  herself, she explained, as part of an emerging "critical mass" of 
  female sexologists starting to make their way into those woods. These 
  researchers and clinicians are consumed by the sexual problem Sigmund 
  Freud posed to one of his female disciples almost a century ago: "The 
  great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet 
  been able to answer, despite my 30 years of research into the 
  feminine soul, is, What does a woman want?" 



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