Whitecoaters, Disco Sex and as the Egg Turns

Whitecoaters

Did you ever wonder why your gynecologist or proctologist entered into their chosen line of business? Whatever the reason, at least they can claim they’re doing it for the money. Sex researchers don’t even have that excuse. The fact of the matter is, whitecoaters (like “raincoaters,” a term used to describe a subclass of anti-social porn consumers) are sex-positive pervs of the highest order. Instead of letting their kinks out in the open or locking them away in the closet like most sexually repressed folks, whitecoaters become scientists, masters of a radical disassociation between conscious mind and sexual psyche.

Whitecoaters publish their work as papers in peer-reviewed sex research journals. It is here, amongst the heavily footnoted pages, that you will discover some of the kinkiest, most delightfully perverted smut writing anywhere. Think Penthouse Letters, but substitute all the gratuitous vulgarity and obscenity for a clinical coldness. Historically, the most unusual sexual proclivities arise from cultures like the Victorian era or Japan, times and places where formalism rules the day and sexual freedoms are restricted, relegated to foment in hushed secrecy. Similarly, 20th and 21st century sex research is an underground Western subculture of extreme lifestyle fetishists.

Disco Motivation Status

Everyone throw on your dancing shoes and let’s take a took at “Disco Clothing, Female Sexual Motivation, and Relationship Status: Is She Dressed to Impress?” (Karl Grammer, LeeAnn Renninger, and Bettina Fischer from the Ludwig Blotzmann institute for Urban Ethnology), published in the Journal of Sex Research’s February 2004 (Volume 41, Number 1) special issue on evolutionary and neurohormonal perspectives on human sexuality.

The JSR, the world’s most prestigious sex research journal, is featuring this hot-button theme to acknowledge the dearth of sex research in the evolutionary field. The bulk of 20th century sex research has been preoccupied with mostly practical, hands-on stuff — like sticking probes up people’s butts and measuring electrical impulses of anal contractions in multi-orgasmic octogenarians and the likes. But now the scope of research is, ahem, ever widening. Sex researchers have only recently begun to smarten up to the idea that the rich evolutionary history of our species is relevant to understanding human psyche and sexuality. Today’s cutting edge sex research seeks to solve the riddle: how did millions of years of this whole Darwinism-survival-of-the-fittest thing shape the sexual chemistry and behaviors that rule us today?

The “Disco Clothing” study looks ho-hum harmless at first. But the deeper you examine this paper, the more it begins to read like some post-modern porno. In other words, this is your typical piece of scholarly sex research.

The study sets out to analyze the clothing choice of 351 females attending Austrian discotheques. Using cutting-edge digital imaging analysis, scientists can calculate precise mathematical percentage of skin vs. clothes. They can also measure clothing’s sheerness and tightness.

In addition to clothing analysis, the test subjects answered questions detailing their motivations for going out to the disco. Were they there for dancing? To get laid? Did they have a boyfriend? If so, had they left the poor bloke at home or let the little monkey tag along for the night?

(There’s something about this scenario invokes memories of a phone call in the middle of the night, an anonymous voice at the other line whispering, “W-W-W-What are you wearing?… [pause for heavy breathing]… Are you touching yourself?… Does having a team of scientists ogling your tits and measuring the hem of your skirt make you horny, baby?”)

Ignoring for a moment that we have a bunch of Austrian scientists here hooking scantily clad party girls up to their leering computers, this really doesn’t seem all that much different than the visual analysis many folks do every time they walk out of their house. And these folks certainly aren’t the first to go up to a girl in a bar and ask if she’s dressed for sex.

Hormones!

Researchers took saliva samples from the disco girl test subjects. From these samples you can measure levels of estradiol (estrogen) and testosterone in the body.

Researchers found that more testosterone meant more skin. Higher testosterone levels either influenced girls to shed clothes, or showing more skin raised testosterone levels. Also, girls with less clothing were more likely to report intentions of hooking up — this was especially true in girls wearing sheer clothes.

Only females with a partner (test subjects weren’t asked to specify boyfriend or girlfriend) showed a correlation between increased skin display, the tightness of their clothes and higher levels of estradiol. This may seem strange at first glance, but other studies have shown a links between females being in a committed relationship and fluctuations in sexual chemistry.

As the Egg Turns

In Ovualtory Shifts in Female Sexual Desire, (Elizabeth G. Pillsworth and Martie G. Haselton of the University of California and Los Angeles; David M. Buss of the University of Texas, Austin), findings show that only women who are in committed relationships show a link between horniness and fertility.

A woman’s fertile period lasts roughly nine days: seven days before ovulation (the release of the egg), the day of ovulation, and the day after ovulation. Logically, it would make sense that women would feel more turned on during this narrow window of opportunity for conception. However, Ovulatory Shifts exhibits compelling evidence that this is only the case for females in committed, long term relationships. For unmated (scientific jargon for “single, heterosexual”) women, conception probability and sexual desire were unrelated.

Historically, offspring fare better in the game of survival with a father around to protect and provide. This study suggests evidence that the evolutionary process has selected monogamy (to a certain extent) as a successful baby-making trait, passed down through the generations.

In Hormones and History: The Evolution and Development of Primate Female Sexuality (Kim Wallen of Emory University and Julia L. Zehr of Michigan State University), it’s pointed out that many — though not all — nonprimate species have evolved mechanisms restricting sexual behavior to when females are fertile. If the egg’s not in the right place to be inseminated, then the animal — say an alligator or a giraffe — can’t have sex. Sex only occurs when reproduction is possible. Otherwise, “God’s creatures” would be wasting valuable time and energy jumping on top of each other, always trying to have orgasms. Instead, fertility kicks in at an ideal time when offspring resulting from a good rut have the best chance of survival.

Primates are unique in that they’ve — we’ve — flipped the equation. Unlike other species, fertility doesn’t coordinate sexual behavior. Hormonal state and sexual behavior, though they interact in a myriad of ways, are ultimately autonomous. Hormones control when an egg will ovulate, but when it comes to behavior, hormones are merely a suggestion.

What this all boils down to is that in primates, sex can be used for social purposes. You can have sex even if you don’t want to. Or not have sex if you do want to. Or pretend you don’t want to have sex because you want to have sex with someone other than the person you’re having sex with because they’re having sex with the milkman.

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