I cannot vouch for the validity or weight of the studies in this article, but the findings range from “duh” to “really?” “Five Studies That Offer Fascinating Conclusions About Human Sexuality”
Christopher Ryan, co-author of Sex at Dawn in this summary of a TED talk discusses the origins of sexual behaviors and patterns growing out of an agricultural society and notes that the monogamy outgrowth of the Victorian era succeeded a more open sexual model based on needs and dictates of a more flexible community. I have excerpted a key passage below:
Ryan explains that our sexual patterns are an outgrowth of agricultural models—which accounts for only about five percent of human history. For the other 95 percent, human sexuality was “a way of establishing and maintaining the complex flexible social systems, networks, that our ancestors were very good at.” In hunter-gatherer societies, there were overlapping sexual relationships between members of a community—a more fluid system than the Victorian model we’re wedded to today. In fact, several contemporary societies around the world argue against the sexual myth we’ve built up, too.
“My hope is that a more accurate updated understanding of human sexuality will lead us to have greater tolerance for ourselves, for each other, greater respect for unconventional relationship configurations like same-sex marriage or polyamorous unions, and that we’ll finally put to rest the idea that men have some innate instinctive right to monitor and control women’s sexual behavior,” Ryan says. “And we’ll see that it’s not only gay people that have to come out of the closet: we all have closets we have to come out of.”
Another interesting data point about bisexuality as a transitional phase or an identity in its own is detailed in question and answer format below:
Question: Is bisexuality a sexual orientation, something that’s temporary or an outgrowth of the sexual fluidity we all exhibit?
Research: In a 2008 study, Lisa M. Diamond of the University of Utah presented the results of a decade-long assessment of nearly 70 women who identified as lesbian, bisexual, or sexually unlabelable. Five times over the course of the study, the women detailed their sexual identities, attractions, behaviors, and their social and familial relationships.
Results: Based on Diamond’s findings, bisexuality is not a “transitional stage that women adopt ‘on the way’ to lesbian identification” or an “experimental phase” for heterosexuals. Her results, instead, supported that, “Bisexuality may best be interpreted as a stable pattern of attraction to both sexes in which the specific balance of same-sex to other-sex desires necessarily varies according to interpersonal and situational factors,” she writes.
And finally, another point of interest for me was the question of the sequential order of arousal and desire in humans:
Question: Which comes first—desire or arousal?
Research: In a study from 2004, described in this New York Times article, Ellen Laan, Stephanie Both and Mark Spiering of the University of Amsterdam examined participants’ physical responses to sexual images.
Results: The research indicates that we respond physically to highly sexual visuals before our mind even engages with them. In other words, desire doesn’t precede arousal—it’s the other way around. And we aren’t even aware it’s happening.
It’s a brief but interesting read and something a little more substantial than a five reasons for sexuality or six steps to a better sex life article.