Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Erotic Plasticity

I’ve just read two books about sex (Sex at Dawn, and Perv), and the same fascinating study, about something called “erotic plasticity,” was mentioned in both.
In 2005 psychologist Meredith Chivers set up an experiment where she showed a variety of sexual videos to heterosexual and homosexual men and women. The videos depicted a wide variety of activities covering various sexual combinations: male/female, male/male, female/female, female alone, and man alone. At the end, just for the hell of it, she threw in one of bonobos mating. The subject’s genitals were wired to measure blood flow (an accurate indicator of arousal) and the subjects also indicated how turned on they felt with a keypad.
Men were consistent—if they were heterosexual the naked women turned them on but the men did not, and if homosexual, vice versa. The bonobos didn’t turn any of the men on. In addition, the men’s reported feelings matched their genital blood flow.
But women responded genitally to everything—even the bonobos! However, they didn’t report being turned on to everything. They only acknowledged arousal about a subset of videos.
This is interesting enough, but there’s more. It would be easy to conclude that this is just a strange human quirk. But another study, done in 2001 with goats and sheep, shows the same erotic plasticity difference between males and females.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Recently someone asked me to describe my spiritual path. First, I dislike the word “spiritual,” because I’m interested in being a more loving and caring person; I have less interest in connection with the divine. I think of my path as being more about consciousness; becoming more aware every day.
The basic components of my path are: acceptance, love, humility, compassion, honesty, and gratitude. For fun I thought I’d make an acronym to remember them better, and the best sounding word I could come up with is GLACH2.
Gratitude: This has been a tough one for me. I seem to expect a lot from the world, and since my life hasn’t been perfect (according to my expectations) for most of my life I couldn’t see many reasons for gratitude. However, the foundation of my path is this concept: reality, as it is currently manifested in this moment, is perfect. This moment is whole and complete. The more I experience this, the more I feel gratitude for the way it is (no matter how it is!). I feel like I have a lot more to learn about gratitude, and perhaps that is why it ended up first in the acronym, to keep it present in my awareness.
Love: My definition of love is “the experience of unconditional acceptance of what is.” Loving what is means I am seeing the perfection of this moment of now; I’m not bitching about it and wanting it to be some other way. Loving what is dissolves the boundaries between the world and me.
Acceptance: My ego-identity fights to survive just like an animal, with fight/flight behavior. It seems like the world is almost never quite right, so I have to either battle to get my way or run from what’s happening. There is an option, and that is to face the world as it is, to bow to the reality of the now. This doesn’t mean I become a doormat, it just means I’m not rejecting what already is.
Compassion: Another foundational premise of my path is that everyone is insane (We are ALL Innocent by Reason of Insanity). Crazy people do crazy things. In addition, free will is a cruel myth. People don’t choose to do mean, cruel, or hurtful things, they are driven to do them by their mental programming. The only sane response is compassion: seeing another’s limitations without value judgment.
Honesty: I used to hide myself because I believed that if people knew what I was really like, what I really thought, they’d start laughing or run screaming. But then I felt like a fraud, and hated myself for my weakness. I began seeing how I was hurting people by not telling the truth. As a simple example, say you’re about to give an important presentation. I notice you have a piece of food between your teeth. It’s a little embarrassing for me to tell you about it, but wouldn’t not telling you the truth hurt you?
Humility: This is another one that has caused me some trouble. I used to confuse humility with humiliation. I couldn’t understand why anyone could want to be humble, it sounded weak and pitiful to me. I tried hard to never make mistakes and to do everything perfectly, because I believed that only if I was perfect would people like me. I couldn’t laugh at myself when I made a mistake. I’ve come to realize that humility is extremely powerful because it’s just recognizing the truth of my limitations.
Every moment is an opportunity to experience/express GLACH2. Every moment I'm not experiencing/expressing GLACH2 is an opportunity to learn about what I'm still attached to, afraid of, or angry about.