Monday, October 11, 2010

Female Erotic Programmability, Reading Material.

A while ago I put up a few posts outlining my thoughts on how womens cognitive processing differs from that of men, based upon my experiences with patients suffering from Post Natal Depression.

See here, here and here.

Well it appears that someone else has been thinking on the same lines.

Dr Roy Baumeister is apparently a doyen of evolutionary psychology and has pretty much come to same type of mental model with regard to female sexual response.

BAUMEISTER, R.F. (2000). Gender differences in erotic plasticity: The female sex drive as socially flexible and responsive. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 347 – 374.


BAUMEISTER, R.F. (2004)Gender and Erotic plasticity: Sociocultural Influences on the Sex Drive. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 19, 133-139.

I plan to comment on these papers in the next post.


The Deuce said...

Very interesting and timely read in light of this Karen Owen trainwreck at Duke.

It seems to have a lot of people scratching their heads and arguing back and forth on what to make of it. As I see it, the crux of the debate comes down to whether this girl's attitudes, actions, and sexual preferences are primarily the result of a badly programmed social processor limited mostly to her and girls like her, or whether they are mainly the result of the female primitive processor unleashed, and thus reflect what all women would be like without social pressure to the contrary.

Of course, it could be a
combination of both, and probably is, but the question remains which aspects of her behavior belong to which category?

Any thoughts?

Dex said...

I like Baumeister's stuff. Other research he's done:

Self-control as a limited resource. You only have so much in a day and then you give out. or give in as the case may be. Turns out that limited resource is glucose in the bloodstream. I wonder if our national changes in diet have a correlation with the sexual revolution.

Another he's done I referenced in another comment thread was that women have a lower libido than men and this contributes to the greater erotic plasticity in women.

Two more: where there is cultural suppression of women's sexuality, it's the women in that society who do or instigate the suppression.

Passion is the first derivative of the level of intimacy over time. The more you get to know someone and over a shorter period of time, the greater the level of passion in the relationship.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ The Deuce

At the vary basic level, I do think that amongst women there is a natural variation with regard to the "primitive" sex drive.

Women with a high underlying sex drive are, in a permissive environment, going to go for it. They will try to sleep with the highest quality males for the sex alone.

On the other hand, women with a low sex drive, are going to feel that there is something wrong with them because they are not sleeping around. A lot of these girls are going to feel "pressured" into having sex in order to demonstrate to themselves, and others, that they are normal. i.e belong to the group.

The take home message here is that most women will override their "natural instinct" in preference to percieved social demands. Molding that perception is the task of wannabe social engineers. The Media-arts-entertainment complex has for years been fostering a view that female hypersexuality is the norm.

I'm not being arrogant here, but my conception of female cognitive process is better that Baumeister's. Baumeisters strength is that he recognises there is a thing such as erotic plasticity. I would extend his model to say that women have more behavioural plasticity than men.

I don't think women have a lower sex drive per se, what I think is going on is that a woman sex drive is under the influence of more factors than mens. The rationalisation hamster has more influence over their libido than it does in men.

mnl said...

@SocPath. Heads up: I left you an e-mail you might want to check out.

Regarding this post here, I fail to see how Baumeister's "erotic plasticity" finding is something special or more explanatory than your claim that females are, in general, more externally focused. Females have a more "socially weighted cognition", as you put it. Baumeister's theory seems to me just a more limiting instance.

I suppose it's nice to see occasion where your own thoughts are re-expressed and confirmed. However, as Baumeister's observations are focused on the erotic it makes him nearly forsworn to favor explanations focused on the erotic. For example, after proffering several candidate explanations, Baumeister favors the one "based on the idea that women’s sex drive is milder than men’s". Hmmmm... it seems to me there's something much more at work here.

Baumeister starts out by saying that, "The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s produced sweeping, far-reaching, fundamental changes in sexual behaviors, sexual desires, and sexual attitudes"... on the part of women. It's hard for me to now make the connection this came about because women's sex drives were milder. If women's sex drives were truly milder, none would have shown up for the revolution!

fyi... Snyder's idea of self-monitoring behavior is closely related to this topic:

Dex said...

Doesn't sound arrogant at all; I've just found some of his stuff interesting. I think a lot of it ties in neatly with what you're saying.

@mnl - Saying women have a lower mean level of libido than men is a bit like pointing out that the Amazon is a larger river than the Nile. We're not talking about puddles or brooks in either case.

The Social Pathologist said...

@MNL, Thanks for heads up. Checked the box earlier today.

Baumeister's theory seems to me just a more limiting instance.

I agree, however he does see the societal implications of female erotic plasticity. He apparently copped a lot of heat because of the article. A lot of people, especially the feminists were not happy with his ideas. What's good about his article is that he presents a lot of scientific evidence to back up his claim.

I agree that "lesser female desire" is a pretty poor explanation, but I think it is a good attempt given the limited scope which he was considering.

Thanks for the link to Synder. He's close too, but misses the mark. I get the impression that Synder believes that the self-monitoring is a conscious cognitive process whereas I would say that there is an element of that plus a far stronger subconscious (i.e hard wired) self monitor with regard to women. When a woman is doing something she perceives as the group norm, she is pleasurably rewarded by the act. If everyone's doing X a woman will get some pleasure from the act by conforming. That is conformity per se is a pleasure generating process. That's not to say that women can't override the mechanism, it's just that it's more "painful" for the woman.

BTW, I'm not convinced women have lower libido's. When intoxicated, lots of them seem quite willing to copulate with anyone. It probably goes to show that expression of libido is far more regulated in women than in men.

David Foster said...

Dex.."Passion is the first derivative of the level of intimacy over time." That is a very interesting comment.

knightblaster said...

Baumeister is generally loathed by feminists, but he has interesting perspectives.

On the plasticity issue, I'm not convinced that it has to do with lower female sexual desire resulting in greater flexibility in how that desire is expressed. To me, it seems much more likely that it has to do with what is culturally permitted and encouraged by the female culture itself -- and when that female culture is very positive with respect to female bisexuality, you're going to see many more females acting in bisexual ways than otherwise. Women go with the cultural flow a LOT more than men do -- perhaps because, as you mention, women feel rewarded for doing so, whereas men do not.

To take an easy case, a man who is dissatisfied with women after a series of disappointing relationships isn't going to up and decide to turn to having sex with men as a result of that, and neither are the men in his life apt to suggest this course to him. A fair number of "late bloomer" lesbians, however, are precisely motivated in this way, and encouraged by the female pr-bisex culture to do so (such as endless articles in Oprah's materials about how more women are "opting" for lesbian relationships later in life). This suggests both a much greater flexibility among women, sexually, than men as well as a much greater suggestibility. It doesn't really suggest less sexual desire, however.

The Social Pathologist said...


This suggests both a much greater flexibility among women, sexually, than men as well as a much greater suggestibility. It doesn't really suggest less sexual desire, however.

Agreed, but it can go the other way. In cultures which are hostile to sexuality women can become asexual. That brings its own set of problems.

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