Friday, November 30, 2012

You can lead a horse to water.*

A while ago, Roissy linked to a study which showed that disgust seems to be diminished when people are sexually aroused. The study was part authored by Charmaine Borg, who is a researcher with an interest in sexual dysfunction. Her main area of interest seems to be in trying to elucidate the mechanisms of vaginismus and dyspareunia in the hope of find an effective treatment for the conditions.  Her research findings suggest that these two conditions are strongly linked to the disgust response. Apparently, there has been very little research into the disgust mechanism, so she is really paving some new ground. However if some of her preliminary finds are anything to go by, I feel that her research will have profound implications in our understanding of intersexual dynamics. Particularly the traditionalist understanding of sexual interaction.

The traditonalist "romantic" model of sexual interaction saw sex activity as an endpoint after a period of escalating romantic involvement. Essentially, a man "niced" his way into a woman's pants. Having sex for purely "physical" reasons was seen as a form of debased behaviour and hence aspects the sexual dynamic which emphasised a partners physical characteristics were downplayed or censured amongst polite society. There was a strong anti-carnal nature to our understanding of sexual love. Keep that thought.

Back to Ms Borg's research.

More interesting than her disgust study is this one, which is hot of the presses (Only have the abstract). In this experiment, women were divided into two groups; those who had positive emotional associations with sex and those who didn't. Explicitly erotic images were then shown to both groups of women whilst they underwent functional MRI scanning. The interesting finding in this study was than in both groups of women, brain activation patterns akin to that seen in disgust were activated, with the strongest activation being in those who were sex negative. The authors felt that a woman's sexual memory modulated the disgust response. In other words, women with a good experience of sex were able to modulate their disgust response more effectively than those with negative memory.

This is actually a groundbreaking experiment on two levels. Firstly, it seems to demonstrate a  default disgust-mediated inhibitory mechanism to female sexuality. Unlike men, who are good-to-go,  women it appears are in a "switched-off " mode through a disgust mediated mechanism. It's this default hard-wired bias which probably explains why there is no equivalent to the raw-sex-gay-bar scene amongst women.  All other things being equal, women are wired to find raw-anonymous-sex disgusting.

Secondly, the research seems to provide evidence to support Baumeister's erotic plasticity hypothesis by demonstrating that modulation of disgust response is possible. In fact, Borg et al have done some research which hints at cultural factors also being able to modulate this response. In this small study, Borg was able to demonstrate a link between conservative moral values and sexual dysfunction. If you encourage prudery you're going to get asexual women, as sexual puritanism re-enforces the disgust response.

Now, this research is interesting in how it intersects with traditional conceptions of sexuality and marriage.

Traditional conceptions of love placed a strong emphasis on romantic love and de-emphasised the carnal nature of the sexual dynamic. Christian writers placed particular emphasis on duties towards each other and of the need to render the marital debt owed to each other. Wives were told to submit to their husbands.  Fair enough.

But what happens when a good Christian wife, out of wifely duty, has sex with a husband she finds unarousing? Her "hard wired" neural circuitry is bound to find the experience disgusting. (Aspergoids: she has no choice in the matter).  If she does it enough times, a conditioned response sets in and the wife is involuntarily put off sex. Add a puritanical cultural environment, and you have a great mechanism for killing off sexual intimacy and encouraging extra marital liaisons. Who would have thought?

For those who are interested, an appropriate Victorian cautionary tale.

*I know it's not a horse but I liked the picture.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I'm calling it Koreogamy.

As mentioned in my previous post, there really is no convenient term to describe object of male desire. Considering the suggestions made in the previous post, I've decided that Elusive Wapiti's suggestion is the most appropriate.  Hence, Koreogamy will be term I'll use to describe the quiddity of male sexual desire.  Kore being Ancient Greek for maiden (Young woman). If anyone has any objections speak up. Perhaps the Dark Lord will confer his blessing on the term.

Thanks to EW for the suggestion. BTW, he has a good essay on the topic over at The Spearhead.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Femogamy: A New Term for the Manosphere.

Everyone who has spent any time amongst the Manosphere blogs is by now familiar with the term hypergamy: the desire for women to marry up. Unfortunately, as far as I'm aware, there doesn't appear to be a similar term for the equivalent male urge: the desire to marry more attractive, feminine women, i.e. younger, hotter, tighter. This is an unfortunate omission which tends to stymy a good  understanding of the human libido and relationship dynamics. Many manosphere commentators, especially the MRA crowd, fail to understand that female hypergamy is a natural instinct and not some perverted moral choice.

The reason I bring this up is because there has been an interesting discussion going on over here which seems to illustrate quite clearly the categorical error made by many manosphere commentators. They can't seem to recognise that, when it comes to the human libido, the hypergamous impulse in women is equivalent to the (femogamous?)  impulse in men.  There may be better words to describe the impulse out there,  and I'm all open to suggestions, but I think this omission of a name for male-specific sexual desire confuses the situation, especially amongst weaker minds.

Weaker minds, I feel, make a category error when dealing with hypergamy, attributing to it a moral dimension which really isn't there.  Hypergamy is the natural object of female sexuality. It's not a choice, and therefore devoid of a moral dimension, but a hard wired instinct.  It's what women involuntarily feel in the presence of a suitable male. Women have about as much choice about their hypergamous natures as men do about their femogamous ones. It's a fact of life and getting angry about it is about as idiotic as getting angry about the orbital motion of the planets or the unfairness of Plank's constant. How a woman chooses to act on those feelings confer a moral dimension to them, but the fact of being attracted to alpha males is morally neutral.

In many ways the men complaining against hypergamy are akin to the "fat acceptance" crowd and their logic, when complaining about male femogamy.  The fatties are constantly harping on about how there is something wrong with men for preferring thinner women. The MRA/MGTOW crowd are constantly asserting that there is something wrong with women for preferring higher status males. Both loser groups, being the neglected victims of natural human desires, want to punish or constrain normal people from having them. Social engineering is the preferred vehicle.

One of the big tenets of conservative thought is of accepting the reality of human nature.  Conservatives believe that you can't socially engineer it to your pleasure; that intellectual error belongs to the Left.  And if you think about this a bit more deeply, you'll see then that the anti-hypergamy crowd aren't conservative in any sense at all, rather, their thought process is fundamentally radical, more akin to the left, in their understanding of human nature.  That's why there is an overlap between traditionalist "romantic" understandings of women and feminism.

If anyone has a better name for the concept I'd be glad to hear from them.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Hard Wired: Bonus Scientific Paper.

David Foster asked if the researchers investigating insula activation in women in the previous post looked at whether or not similar circuitry existed in men. Well, those particular researchers didn't but following paper demonstrated similar neural networks in men.

From, Distinguishing specific sexual and general emotional effects in fMRI—Subcortical and cortical arousal during erotic picture viewing, the authors state;

No differences were found in these effects when comparing females and males. Our findings demonstrate for the first time neural differentiation between emotional and sexual components in the neural network underlying sexual arousal.

Alpha Circuitry.

A while ago I put up a series of posts on the subject of female mate selection based upon my clinical and real life observations. It was my contention that in order for attraction to develop a man must stimulate certain "receptors" in a woman's brain in order to elicit reciprocal attraction. Now a "receptor" was a mental construct of mine meant to have some sort of analogy with a neuro-biological mechanism of the mind. To recap, I posited the existence of an alpha receptor--that is a mechanism which responds to stimuli signifying male sexuality, and beta receptor which responds to friendship and commitment like stimuli. It appears that science now has the data to back me up and analogous neuro-biological "circuity" actually exists in female brains.

From, Correlation of Insula Activation and Self-Reported Quality of Orgasm in Women; the authors, after analysing functional MRI data, conclude:
Neuroimaging data expanded these behavioral results by demonstrating the involvement of a specific left-lateralized insula focus of neural activity correlating with orgasm scores, irrespective of dimension (frequency, ease, satisfaction). In contrast, intensity of being in love was correlated with a network involving the angular gyrus.

These findings strongly suggest that intimate and sexual relationships are sustained by partly different mechanisms, even if they share some emotional-related mechanisms  [Ed]. The critical correlation between self-reports of orgasm quality and activation of the left anterior insula, a part of the partner-related neural network known to play a pivotal role in somatic processes, suggests the importance of somatic information in the integration of sexual experience. On the other hand, the correlation between activation of the angular gyrus and love intensity reinforces the assumption that the representation of love calls for higher order cognitive levels, such as those related to the generation of abstract concepts.
It would appear that when it comes to neural networks there appears a sexual network and a romantic network. But here is the real kicker from the study;

However, no relationship was found between intensity of love and partnered orgasm frequency.

What about the flowers, the roses, the dinners??

Clearly then, if romantic love does not necessarily fuel the sexual fire what does? Another study, however, did find something which modulated women's orgasm frequency. From, Men's masculinity and attractiveness predict their female partners' reported orgasm frequency and timing. The authors conclude:
We found that women reported more frequent and earlier-timed orgasms when mated to masculine and dominant men—those with high scores on a principal component characterized by high objectively-measured facial masculinity, observer-rated facial masculinity, partner-rated masculinity, and partner-rated dominance.
This was an interesting study since it demonstrated that orgasm frequency was contingent upon a male possessing objectively ascertainable characteristics. The relationship quality was an uncorrelated variable.

This fascinating study (abstract only) was able to decouple women's assessment of male facial attractiveness into sexual and non-sexual assessments (two separate circuits):
In the present study, while nonsexual judgments best explained facial attraction in whole-face images, a reversal occurred for split-face images such that sexual judgments best explained facial attraction, but only for mate-relevant faces (i.e., other-sex). These findings indicate that disrupting holistic processing can decouple sexual from nonsexual judgments of facial attraction, thereby establishing the presence of a dual-process.
And this study (abstract only) demonstrated that sexual arousal seems to activated by different set of of neurotransmitters when compared to romantic love:
The sexual arousal responses of women in the Lust group, but not in the Romantic group, were positively and significantly associated with elevated NE and DA. It is feasible that, when women are seeking a partner (Lust), NE and DA may facilitate attention toward sexually relevant stimuli
All in all, the research seems to point towards the existence of two separate neurological circuits. An alpha network; which is concerned with sexual desire, the activation of which is contingent upon men having certain objectively determined characteristics, and and a beta circuit concerned with asexual aspects of male/ female relationships.

Friday, November 02, 2012


One of the hardest tasks I find, when dealing with my patients, is trying to "get inside their heads". Frequently, seemingly inexplicable actions are logically explained when you take the patient's "point of view" with regard to things. This does not mean that the patient was correct in what they said or did, rather, their actions were understandable with regard to forces and reasons operating in their head.

The inability to get into the opposite sex's heads, I think, is a real problem amongst many of the commentators in the manosphere, who seem to have a very hard time trying to understand female logic and motivations. Many men assume that women think like they do, and in trying to understand female action project male "logic" onto female minds. Unfortunately, this is wrong. The mounting evidence from neuroscience clearly demonstrates that men and women have different cognitive processes. I think that it is important to come to grasp with these differences in order to understand how we got into the current predicament and how to best combat it.

I have a lot of respect with regard to commentator Dalrock, and his rebuttal to me in the last post was intelligent and thought out. Still I think he errs in his understanding of female motivations.
This goes against what we know, both from a biological perspective and what the PUAs are telling us. Having sex makes babies, and it stands to reason that there is a strong biological drive to have sex with men the woman perceives (psychologically) as the fittest genetic donor. This is core to your (correct) point that it isn't reasonable for unattractive betas to demand that women become attracted to them. This is in fact what they are doing (having sex with the most attractive men they can get), and also what they tell you they are doing. Yet when these women have sex based on exactly these constraints, you attribute it to peer pressure. Biologically they should want to have sex with these men*, yet you are convinced that they really don't. 
Firstly, I'm not a big believer in evolutionary explanations of human behaviour. (No, I'm not a Creationist). The evolutionary crowd attribute too much to the genetic imperative and not enough to cognitive, social or emotional reasons.  David Buss recently wrote a book on women's sexual motivations and found a multitude of reasons why women have sex.  The take home message is that women's sexual motivations are complex and simple "genetic" imperatives are a worthless guide to understanding female motivations

The first mistake many in the androsphere make is in attributing male thought processes onto female minds--it just doesn't work that way: When you enter into a woman's brain it's a totally different world where different forces are at play. For example, it was often assumed in the earlier days of sexual research that female desire was a weaker version of the male type. However, recent psychological research backed up with functional MRI data has showed that this assumption is wrong.  Take this fascinating study by Laan.  She was able to demonstrate that women seem to be "less connected" to their genitals than men are. Whilst women were able to perceive a sexual stimulus they were less likely to be aware of it.  Likewise, compared to men, visual erotic stimuli are processed differently.

Gender is not a social construct but a biological reality resulting in a differential information processing system.   To use a crude analogy, men and women don't just differ in processors but in operating systems as well. 

Secondly,  manosphere commentators need to grasp the importance of social factors in influencing female thought and motivation. Numerous psychological studies have shown that women are more conformist than men. (Google Scholar it). It's not just that women consciously choose to conform, it's that their cognitive processes actually biases their thinking to conform.  Female cognitive processes are wired to make exclusion from the "in group" a stressful experience. When men want to punish they physically hurt, when women want to punish they exclude; the pain comes from the effect of group exclusion.

When the fat lard-arses whine about being pressured to conform to social expectation they are simply  illustrating this fact. All women want to be pretty and the constant display of beautiful women in the media makes every woman regularly aware of he deficiency with respect to the group ideal. The "pressure" thus felt is generated by her own neurobiology which recognises her "outgroup" status and attempts motivate her toward in-goup behaviours and ideals. Men too, feel this pressure but not to the degree that women do. Men might be horny all the time but women are always trying to stick with the herd.

It is this phenomenon which helps understand the phenomenon of "Erotic Plasticity". Roy Baumeister was the first to introduce the concept. While I think Roy Baumiester's current opinion piece is poorly argued, his papers on "erotic plasticity" are simply superb. Women's sexuality seems "plastic" to a degree that it just isn't in men. And as Baumeister hints in his papers, it is the social milleu in which females operate that strongly molds their erotic desires. From his 2000 paper;

Over half (55%) of women who had coital experience had peer groups who encouraged sexual activity, whereas almost none(3%) of the virgin women associated with such groups.

I would consider that statistically significant. But it would be a mistake to think that this social weighting to their cognition only applies to sexual domain. Fashion, for example, exerts a greater influence on women than men. And it need to be remembered that women frequently dress with regard to the opinion of other women in mind. Romantic trajectories, mothering styles, school and suburb choice are strongly influenced by the in group social script.

Not only is there a pressure to conform, but there seems to be some sort of cognitive mechanism which punishes the women for asserting their individuality. Women will frequently assert that there is something wrong with them if they find dissonance between group sanctioned behaviour and personal displeasure.  In Victorian ages, where sexuality purity was idealised, women thought there was something "wrong" with them if they enjoyed sex. Now they wonder if there is something wrong with them if they don't. The whole cognitive mechanism is weighted to bias the group above the individual. It's the cognition of individual subordination

What this means practically is, when compared to men, women suffer from more cognitive pressure to conform to group norms, and it is this mechanism that explains erotic plasticity. Women can literally be reprogrammed to whatever you want them to be. The secret is not to make it explicit or one on one but rather to highlight a woman's deviancy from the norm. If you want women to engage in any type of deviant sexual practice, then what you have to do is show that all of the girls, especially the popular ones are doing it, and its only the weird one's or the fundies that aren't. Once she has accepted that it is part of  "in group" practice, her own biology and cognitive processes will impel her toward the practice even though she might find it personally objectionable. But so strong is this imperative that she will question her own "normalcy" if she doesn't find practice enjoyable.

This is why Sex in the City and Cosmo are far greater moral solvents than hardcore porn. Porn has to appeal to the individual directly, whereas shows like SITC only have to give the appearance of upholding an "in-group" norm to influence female behaviour. In societies where rape is punishable, it is women who are the sexual gatekeepers and the level at which sexually permissibility is set is determined by group norms.

It's this propensity not to override their social imperative, even in the face of obvious self-interest, which I find so interesting in women.   Now,  I agree that women possess moral agency, and can override their emotions, but it appears that,when it comes to in-group norms, they have a far harder time doing it than men do. It's why I have some sympathy for their predicament. Dammed if they slut, dammed if they don't.

I'm not trying to excuse women for their behaviour, rather I'm trying to get a better understanding of what the motivating factors are. It really is hard for a woman to be good these days, given the current social climate which makes sexual restraint as an "out group" behaviour. Society is really rigged against the good girl.