On belonging to the more visually arousing, socially adept sex (and other links)

Posted by Sappho on September 18th, 2010 filed in Blogwatch, Feminism, Sexuality

H. M. Stuart, sigiliris and I got into a discussion in sigiliris’ thread on “sola skirtura” skirmishes, in the course of which H. M. Stuart put to me the question

Are you saying that men and women are equally arousing one to another by visual cue at visual distance?

Since I don’t wish to misrepresent my good Alexandria blog administrator, I hasten to qualify this quote by saying that I do not take his theorizing about why some cultures place heavy constraints on female (but not so much male) modesty to be saying that he himself wants to live in such a culture. That out of the way, I dodged the question of whether men and women are equally arousing one to another by visual cue at visual distance, for a simple reason. The only honest answer I can give to that question is, I don’t know.

I do know that I personally sometimes find men (and sometimes women) plenty arousing by visual cue at visual distance, that, in fact, I think about sex every day, and many of those thoughts are inspired by visual cues. But, who knows, maybe if I were a man, I’d be provoked even more frequently to desire, by said visual cues.

Likewise, I know that such visual porn as I’ve had occasion to catch a glimpse of hasn’t inspired me (and that men are said to respond more readily, in experiments, to visual porn than women do). But, who knows, maybe if I lived in some different hypothetical culture, one that presumed that women were the more readily visually aroused sex, I’d be surrounded by visual porn fitted just to my tastes, and eager to partake of it. It’s hard to tease apart the contributions of nature and nurture here, because both are so pervasive.

This is a lead in to the first links of today’s round up:

The Onion reports on Sexy Career Woman To Take Hot Bath After Stressful Day.

On a more serious note, New Gene Clues to Autism Prevalence in Males.

Industry statistics suggest that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) currently affect four times as many males as females. Now there are further clues as to why this disparity exists.

Research conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) revealed that specific alterations of DNA on the sole X chromosome carried by males contributes to a greater risk for the development of ASD.

Here are my thoughts on how this one relates to gender differences. We have a real biological difference that’s sex-linked, and that happens to line up with stereotypes; women are supposed to be more socially adept than men, and, sure enough, people with autism spectrum disorders (who tend not to be socially adept) are more often male. But still, even among men, people with autism spectrum disorders are a minority. For all I know, most men have exactly the same biological capacity to perceive social cues as women, no more and no less.

And then we have Echidne of the Snakes’ post on The Dangers Of Popularized Research.

GdF sent me the link to a blog post discussing a study on parenting styles by first-time mothers and fathers and how those might relate to their oxytocin levels.

The instructive thing to do is to begin with this carefully written blog post on the topic and the comments attached to it. Then skate over to the New York Times parenting blogs to see what the popularization said.

At issue: if fathers and mothers respond differently to increased oxytocin levels, do you read this as men and women being hardwired to react differently to the chemical oxytocin? Or as men and women reacting in different culturally conditioned ways to increased fondness for the baby inspired by the chemical oxytocin?

That said, I’ll now move on from the gender difference links to my other links.

I think about myself thinking, therefore I am: Scientists Watch Brain Thinking About Own Thoughts.

More on the complexity of how genes affect the mind: Understanding How Genes Affect Bipolar Disorder.

A new research study has definitively associated the presence of bipolar disorder to two genes – ANK3 and CCACNA1C.A key thing that the research brings to light is that even though all humans have both the ANK3 and CACNA1C genes, people who have bipolar disorder or manic depression were more likely than others to have variants of these genes. The important phrase used in the research report is the term “more likely.”What this indicates is that even some of the people that show no signs of bipolar disorder also possessed variants in their ANK3 and CACNA1C genes. So, evidently, Although the gene variances do seem to be an important indicator, there must be some additional factor as well which scientists have yet to discover.

You do turn to the Economist for porn news, right?: Why pornographers no longer love the web.

My favorite upcoming political rally is Jon Stewart’s “million moderate march.” Or perhaps it’s Colbert’s counter rally.

“We’re looking for people who think shouting is annoying … who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard,” Stewart writes in promotion for his rally. “Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement.”

Colbert is encouraging “all freedom-loving patriots” to bring an overnight bag and five extra sets of underwear to challenge Stewart’s “dark, optimistic forces.” He said the nation can’t afford a rally to restore sanity in the middle of a recession.

Facebook friend requests are soon to change, so that rather than vanishing a request forever with “ignore,” you send it to invisible friend request purgatory with “not now.” This is probably a good thing for those friend requests from I-Can’t-Remember-Whether-This-Person-Was-a-High-School-Classmate. On the other hand, some people may prefer Facebook hell to Facebook purgatory for friend requests from certain old flames.

I’m going to pull out the Africa news links into a separate post, so they don’t get drowned out by the other stuff.

2 Responses to “On belonging to the more visually arousing, socially adept sex (and other links)”

  1. SamSeaborn Says:


    “For all I know, most men have exactly the same biological capacity to perceive social cues as women, no more and no less.”

    But it *could* also be different, right? You are saying that the research presented is not affecting all men, albeit differently, but just the subset suffering from ASD – that, on the other hand, doesn’t mean that men and women are actually equally capable of perceiving social clues. They may be, but maybe not. So everything we say in this respect is like talking about the visual stimulation bit. Maybe… maybe not.

  2. Sappho Says:

    Yes, it *could* be different. As far as I know, we don’t have enough information to know one way or the other.