Sex Angst Revealed and Sex Research Proposed

Elizabeth's picture

Kinsey Institute Another quickie for you, and I swear I'll get back to some serious blogging soon:

Debbie Nathan has another great Sex Angst Roundup. This one spotlights stories on the impact of early teen sexual activity, the decline in teens' visits to online porn sites, the continuing legal struggles over 2257, the continuing debacle that is abstinence-only sex ed, the issues posed by child porn that doesn't include real children, and the unhelpful ways we attempt to deal with sex offenders while not really making kids safer.


Meanwhile, Tristan Taormino attended the annual conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and wrote about her experience in the Village Voice. One strong reaction: There are lots of studies of sexual dysfunction but not nearly enough about sexual diversity. Below is her list of the top 5 research projects she'd love to see (anybody out there looking for a dissertation topic?):

1. Female Ejaculation. We still have very little scientific information about female ejaculation—most of what we know is based on anecdotal evidence. We need some heavy-hitting studies to prove wrong all the people who still insist that "women are just peeing."

2. Sex-Toy Use. In his talk about the history of sex-toy stores in North America, Cory Silverberg from Come As You Are, a sex-positive shop in Toronto (, pointed out that no research has been done on people who buy sex toys, how they use them, and how the toys affect their sex lives and attitudes about sexuality. Silverberg sounded an unabashedly activist note when he called on sex researchers to pay attention to current trends; sadly, there were only a dozen people in the room.

3. BDSM. There were a handful of papers on BDSM, but I'd like to see lots more, particularly a study on the intersection between people who do BDSM and their perceptions and attitudes about body image. In my experience, people in BDSM communities appear to be more comfortable with nudity and diverse body sizes; I'd love to see if this hypothesis holds up with research.

4. Female Porn Viewers. There were only two papers on porn at this conference, but that's pretty representative of the lack of information we have about porn consumption. We know especially little about how women react to different kinds of porn and what they want to see in porn. And not just college students. I get it—college students are a convenient pool of research subjects because they're in the professor's backyard—but there seemed to be far too many studies of college students.

5. Sex-Toy Safety. We don't have enough information about sex-toy materials, like the safety or toxicity of those made with phthalates (which I reported on in my February column, "Dangerous Dildos," part one and two.). My suggestion: Why not study a population of people that has extensive "exposure" to these toys—i.e., porn stars?

Click here to read her whole account of the conference. Don't miss the part where she describes helping to arrange an impromptu field trip to a BDSM party!


Photo of the Kinsey Institute at the Indiana University - Bloomington campus by Atonal on Flickr and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license.