Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Take Strictly, as Directed

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  • Peter Ashby,

    The studies on homosexuality that found that in some wider families with homosexual men the female members have more offspring than average and over time those families have just as many offspring as other families. The idea being that male homosexuality in those cases is a consequence of females who are more attracted to males than other females. Their higher fecundity means the lower (though non zero) contribution of the homosexual men is cancelled out making them at worst neutral to natural selection. So on that reading male homosexuality is evolved and perfectly 'natural'. Like men having both nipples and breast tissue, it being something that is difficult to get rid of in just one sex. Only nipples on men is so normal only us scientists think it necessary that it needs an explanation.

    Of course other studies show there are other ways to be born gay, like having a lot of older brothers (whether or not you are raised with them) as well as good old genetics.

    We always have to careful of assuming that the way we categorise the world to make sense of it is a completely accurate reflection of the joints nature actually has. So if we have learned there is more than one way to be born gay, there are likely to be many 'reasons' or 'causes' why some people enjoy BDSM. None of which as I've said means informed consenting adults cannot do what they want in private.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Page 2 was where Craig and I started discussing anal sex...

    I'm terribly sorry, Stewart. Next time I promise to write about kittens or something.

    So we can start chatting about anal sex with kittens -- which is a place where I am willing to get a wee bit judgemental. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    there is good science there the fact that most people seem to be born gay is a neutral fact. You can for eg be born deaf but be taught to speak and lipread.

    Um... did you just compare sex with lipreading?

    Yeah, I've had sex like that, too.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Damn, Jack, I feel an urge to pig out on my own weight in vanilla ice cream. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    No, no need to start writing about kittens, Emma. In fact, I would be disappointed if you did as kittens are way less interesting than your usual posts. As Craig (I think) pointed out, it was probably the references to anal sex that grossed-out The Marshall.

    (I've now got an off-network notebook specially to stay in touch with PAS. You bastards have started taking over my life!)

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    As Craig (I think) pointed out

    'Twas Emma, but hell... you should know by now that lowering the tone of any discussion is me thang, and I work it like a supermodel. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Hunter,

    BDSM boredom...yep I'd have to say I've lost interest in getting the details sorted out and wandered off - either metaphorically or physically. I've even fallen asleep. But 'put the shoe on the other foot' and allow me to take control and I'm a happy and engaged boy ;-)

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    What I'm saying is relax about the research.

    So if one of the researchers on a particular community, who is often quoted, is on record as publicly saying that members of that community should "get therapy - or kill themselves", you wouldn't worry about that either?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Oh, and dinner was excellent, and possibly why I'm a little slow getting moving today.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    So if one of the researchers on a particular community, who is often quoted, is on record as publicly saying that members of that community should "get therapy - or kill themselves", you wouldn't worry about that either?

    "My Mama didn't raise no rude boy - you first," would be my response.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    So if one of the researchers on a particular community, who is often quoted, is on record as publicly saying that members of that community should "get therapy - or kill themselves", you wouldn't worry about that either?

    Depends on how good and honest a researcher they are. A good scientist follows the data, so that person may get their mind changed both by engaging with the community and studying it. The problems arise when people let their biases blind them and thus they produce skewed data, kind of like Margaret Mead in Samoa.

    There was for eg a case in the US where a creationist PhD sued when fired from his postdoc research job. He claimed he had been fired for being a creationist, he was in fact fired for refusing to engage in the research he was hired to do because it directly contradicted his beliefs. Then there is the guy who is a YEC and a geologist who participates in papers that talk about rock being Xmillion years ago. He just does a sort of mental dissonance. He also functions as a group conscience since he won't uncritically accept stuff without the evidence. Just two ways of doing science with biases, one bad, one good.

    You just have to suck it and see, just how much power would this person have to set up therapies etc or force them anyway? Desire and ability are often two different things and this may be an empty threat.

    BTW I have been forced to revise my scientific Worldview by the data several times, paradigm shifts are very mentally stimulating I find.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Getting back to the gratitude thing, learning how to express it appropriately (in context, for that person) is a skill. And I'm, er, grateful to everyone who likes practising it.

    Regarding endorphins, when people hear a word like "flogging", they normally go AAHHHH at the thought. But actually, a mild to moderate beating like that is very similar to a vigorous massage. And, hey, it's nice to see people all mellowed out and/or giggly afterwards. Wonderful things, our bodies.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Depends on how good and honest a researcher they are. A good scientist follows the data, so that person may get their mind changed both by engaging with the community and studying it.

    Erm, if someone is making pronouncements like the one mentioned, it seems fairly likely that their interpretation of the data is at least somewhat conditioned by their own prejudices. I might make an exception for those talking about murdering psychopaths or compulsive pedophiles, but in terms of making a statement like that as a professional in whatever area, WTF?

    I also feel quite doubtful when people imply that scientists, "good" or otherwise, are somehow immune to bias. In my experience, the good scientists admit their bias and take that into account when carrying out and presenting their research.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    ...good scientists both know (or learn about) their biases AND follow the data-

    Peter is a good scientist.

    ...and our bodies are wonderful things - 'they' are us! We *are* our bodies! BUT - a very large number-the total majority- of humans find pain, intrinsic or inflicted, blighting. That's why we avoid it, or learn from it, or are frightened by it - and seek remedies.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Oh, while I was riffing off Peter's statement, I wasn't at all attempting to impugne his ethics at all -- more the kind of "professionals" who would assert in a public forum that people should "get therapy -- or kill themselves". Charming. And kind of not a great indication of their particular ethical stance.

    Getting back to the pain part, quite a lot of BDSM is done quite painlessly, and as I mentioned, quite a bit more is at the level of a deep massage (or a deep something else, if you know what I mean and I'm sure you do). Seriously. Then there's the more hard-core stuff. Like you know, those kinds of people who go skinny-dipping in the middle of winter in the South Island. ;-) There is definitely "good" pain and "bad" pain, and how that is experienced depends very much on context and, as you say, our individual selves.

    But it's one of those things that you may not truly know until you try it, and the imagery that you often get (people wearing strange accoutrements chained up with sharp objects sticking out of them), and the associations (stubbing my toe f#cking hurts -- how can that be pleasurable?) means that quite often we see no need to try BDSM, unless we have a strong desire for it (like people who have a high sex drive) or a partner introduces us to it in the right context.

    Personally, I'm glad to have had the latter happen to me, but if you asked me 15 years ago, I would have been saying things like, "I don't get it and I never will." In fact, I did say things like that. Oh well, "never say never" isn't now my favourite motto for nothing. Also, I finally realised that kink is like every other kind of sexuality -- you take the bits that work for you. I'm personally not much into domination/submission, but I'll whack the hell out of someone as long as they and I are enjoying it. It took me a while to realise that it wasn't actually compulsory to have someone crawling around the floor begging for my attention and calling me "Mistress/Master" (blergh) for me to get to the fun whacky part. For others, crawling around the floor is the fun part, and "sensation play" is not on the menu. Obviously a person like that and I are not a match made in heaven!

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    There is definitely "good" pain and "bad" pain, and how that is experienced depends very much on context and, as you say, our individual selves.

    Indeed. I still have a functional 'ow quit it' response to sharp sudden pain - like touching something hot or sharp. That warning is still well in place. That's 'wrong' pain. But sustained low-level blunt pain is lovely, and as long as people like Melissa Farley and Nina Hartley were kept away from the process, I'd LOVE to see evidence of what goes on inside inside a sub's head at times like those.

    The last experience of non-sexual pain I had that produced that effect was tattooing. Low-level pain over a sustained period of time. I came out of that all bouncy and giggly and I'd have happily stayed in the chair for hours.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    I came out of that all bouncy and giggly and I'd have happily stayed in the chair for hours.

    You almost make tattooing sound fun.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    I recently encountered a group of very serious model train enthusiasts (the ride-on, steam powered, coal-fired sort), and it crossed my mind that all first-person pieces about some demi-monde will read the same way:

    Everything you know is wrong... Much more diverse than you think... Can't tell from looking at them... More women than you might expect turn up on club nights... Very sensitive to jokes about clothing and accoutrements... And how dare you suggest participants must have grown up next to a railyard, or had a formative experience while Eurailing, or were spanked while wearing a set of Thomas Tank Engine pajamas (when subcultures collide)...

    The only thing I did not learn was whether the "Model Engineering Enthusiasts" had a word akin to vanilla (or the SciFi TruFan's "mundane") -- "passenger" perhaps??

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    The last experience of non-sexual pain I had that produced that effect was tattooing. Low-level pain over a sustained period of time. I came out of that all bouncy and giggly and I'd have happily stayed in the chair for hours.

    Trust me: after the fifth hour, it gets very, very old. Then again, most of my recent sessions were characterised more by intense than "low level" pain. It's interesting feeling the different sensations as the needles hit different parts of you. I've found some areas (outside of the calf, outer bicep) are pretty painless, while the same needle running the same pattern on other parts (shin, inside bicep/tricep, crook of elbow) was agonising.

    Though the endorphin high is good fun. My tattooist of choice is a half hour drive away, so I get the fun experience of driving home through rush hour traffic afterwards.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    @Jack - I'm with you on the tattoo pain. Inside of the bicep - ow ow ow ow. And the shin, actually, yes (I was also mildly sunburned when I had a tattoo around my calf, so perhaps not the best time!)

    I also get the old endorphin buzz from getting piercings done. Ok, only 4 "significant" piercings so far, but I have had a couple in a more sensitive area upsized to 10ga, so I think that counts effectively as another piercing.

    "Play piercings" are something I'd like to try (on myself and others), while I certainly understand the enjoyment low-level pain over a sustained period can bring. It's nice to add ways of giving people pleasure to one's repertoire, whether it's being good at meeean massages, "mean" other things, or cooking mean meals. :-)

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Kong,

    I'm with the idea that you can over-egg explanations of just about any human behavior by trying to understand it 'scientifically', particularly when you use evolutionary examples (since they can lend support to pretty much ANY idea). But I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with trying to seek such explanations. What's usually wrong is maintaining you actually found the real one.

    Since Jul 2009 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Someone once reported to me a quasi reverse-engineered evolutionary explanation from his philosophy of science lecturer:

    Why do women orgasm less than men? Someone has to stay up and watch for tigers.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Kong,

    Why do women orgasm less than men? Someone has to stay up and watch for tigers.

    I spent a lot of time writing genetic algorithms to solve optimization problems a few years ago. One of the most frustrating things about that was that people always wanted me to explain the results. "But why didn't it find this particular result?". It's pretty much impossible to be specific - the evolution algorithm is very mysterious, and if the space you are optimizing in is the least bit complex (and just about every useful space is highly complex, or you wouldn't bother using such a complicated algorithm), then the answer to every question of that kind is on par with speculation as to why the dinosaurs died out. No-one really knows for sure, but there's lots of possibilities.

    What I did learn from it is that humans really don't like mysterious results. They would instantly latch on to any possible explanation I gave as the 'truth' of the matter. Which would lead to future frustrations when that particular 'truth' failed to explain something. Humans want explanations they can understand.

    Since Jul 2009 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Why do women orgasm less than men? Someone has to stay up and watch for tigers.

    First of all, we do what now?

    And yeah, I've heard a variation of this one, which is that the reason men feel sleepy after orgasm and women don't is so that when the tiger comes along, it gets to eat the now-useless man, while the woman, carrying the genetic future of her species, gets to run away.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And yeah, I've heard a variation of this one, which is that the reason men feel sleepy after orgasm and women don't is so that when the tiger comes along, it gets to eat the now-useless man, while the woman, carrying the genetic future of her species, gets to run away.

    And what do learn from this, boys and girls? Getting all Siegfried and Roy in the bedroom with live carnivores is a kink too far...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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