Jul 272011
 

I’ve had a surprising theme in my conversations with various people lately: not wanting orgasm.

Mostly these have been folks – both people with penises and people with vaginas – who desire sex with some frequency, but desire orgasm with LESSER frequency. They say,

“I just really love making my partner come.”

Or

“I just really love penetration.”

Or

“Orgasm is hard work for me, but sex by itself is really pleasurable!”

Or

“If I come, it’s over. I want it to last.”

To these people, let me say: Yes, you are normal. Orgasm varies from person to person and there are plenty of excellent sources of pleasure from sex that don’t involve orgasm. In many ways, your sexual desire might be MORE functional and healthy than the mainstream orgasm-focused sex we’re all supposed to be having, according to Cosmo.

To their partners let me say: Yes, your partner is normal. It’s not only possible to want sex without orgasm, it’s perfectly healthy. And at the same time, your greater (or more concordant) desire for orgasm is also perfectly healthy. You’re just different.

It’s not a man/woman thing, it’s not a male/female thing. People just vary. It’s one of those things.

Now, orgasm is a limited resource over which power conflicts can emerge. If Partner A has an orgasm, they often want Partner B to have one too. It seems fair. Orgasm takes effort and trust and intimacy and often skill, and if Partner A experiences Partner B as “withholding” orgasm, Partner A may begin to feel like there’s an imbalance. They may feel controlled. They may begin to feel a bit bitter.

Is it possible your partner is deliberately withholding orgasm in order to have control? Sure. If that is what’s happening, then there are OTHER issues in your relationship than just the orgasms, and my suggestion would be to focus on those.

But if not… what is the helpful way of giving the advice, “Let it go”?

Insight can go a long way – i.e., recognizing that you feel controlled by your partner when they aren’t remotely trying to make you feel that way, so now you get to decide what to do with that information. But often people get stuck here and I genuinely don’t know what to tell people past this point.

I bet if I ask nicely, some commenters will have suggestions?

Commenters? Pretty please?

Jul 252011
 

Someone asked me recently how I got the point of view I have about sex. I think she asked because she had quite a social constructivist point of view and wanted to know how, basically, any reasonably intelligent human being could view sex otherwise. So I told her.

I always liked biology. In high school, I had the best biology teacher on the face of the earth. And I always liked evolution. And then I REALLY liked evolution in the mid-90s, which is when I read Last Chance to See, Douglas Adams’ best book. That book is the reason I studied cognitive psychology; indeed THIS is why I studied cognitive psychology:

The world of smells is now virtually closed to modern man. Not that we haven’t got a sense of smell – we sniff our food or wine, we occasionally smell a flower, and can usually tell if there’s a gas leak, but generally it’s all a bit of a blur, and often an irrelevant or bothersome blur at that. When we read that Napoleon wrote to Josephine on one occasion, `Don’t wash – I’m coming home,’ we are simply bemused and almost think of it as deviant behaviour. We are so used to thinking of sight, closely followed by hearing, as the chief of the senses that we find it hard to visualise (the word itself is a giveaway) a world which declares itself primarily to the sense of smells. It’s not a world our mental processors can resolve – or, at least, they are no longer practised in resolving it. For a great many animals, however, smell is the chief of the senses. It tells them what is good to eat and what is not (we go by what the packet tells us and the sell-by date). It guides them towards food that isn’t within line of sight (we already know where the shops are). It works at night (we turn on the light). It tells them of the presence and state of mind of other animals (we use language). It also tells them what other animals have been in the vicinity and doing what in the last day or two (we simply don’t know, unless they’ve left a note). Rhinoceroses declare their movements and their territory to other animals by stamping in their faeces, and then leaving smell traces of themselves wherever they walk, which is the sort of note we would not appreciate being left.

But while I was studying cognitive psychology, I was also working as a peer health educator and sexual assault crisis responder, doing all this work with sexual health, learning a shit-ton about human sexuality, and generally gearing up to become what I am now. Yet somehow – even with that reference to Napoleon – I didn’t make the link between evolution and sex.

But then. Then.

(This is the point in the telling when I got embarassing and weepy.)

I was in my second year of my Masters degree, in a clinical internship at the Kinsey Institute Sexual Health Clinic (an experience for which I was underprepared and am now breathtakingly grateful) and the brilliant, gentle, kind, amazing human being who is John Bancroft (*sigh*) was talking about the Dual Control Model, the new theoretical model of sexual response that he and Erick Janssen were developing. They had just published about it for the first time that year.

He said something like, “… many motivational systems are structured this way in the nervous system, with separation inhibition and activation systems. It makes evolutionary sense to balance activation response with inhibition response.”

And a light went on.

I sat there silently and it felt like… like the whole inside of my brain was a game of Jewel Quest: one thing shifted, and the consequence was a cascade of changes that went on and on; my entire understanding of sexuality, everything I’d learned in 5 years of education suddenly became new again, more meaningful, more powerful, more real.

I thought, “So SEX is actually an integral part of an organismic body, a biological function that we share with lots and lots and lots of other species, and what goes on in our bodies is not just about the movement of water and electricity and meat, but about how those movements have supported survival for millenia.”

And I thought, “And from that beginning you might be able to trace causal lines to everything true about human sexuality. Certainly you can understand the fundamentals of human sexual response.”

And I thought, “Why did no one ever explain it to me this way before?”

Since then I’ve learned a BUNCH more about it. I know that HUMAN sexuality in particular is vastly social, which is adaptive (or, at minimum, exaptive) because of the duration and intensity of infant dependence. Our reproductive functions are by no means limited to actual reproduction but expand to a breathtaking array of parenting behaviors, necessary to keep themselves and their offspring alive for the decade and a half, until the offspring reach their reproductive years.

So I started with a less biological, more constructivist point of view. And I landed where I am because of the MASSIVE explanatory power of evolution. It was like I had been admiring and studying a lovely tree, and then someone showed me THE FOREST, in all its complexity and awe-inspiring glory.

Jul 242011
 

I have a great deal of sympathy, most of the time, for the anxiety and fear that people often carry around in the same psychological pocket with their sexuality.

And yet.

There are occasions when I wonder if people aren’t simply LOOKING for something to be worried about. They’re globally worried and they need to put their worry somewhere, they’re searching for somewhere it will fit, and sexuality makes a nice, easy target because the culture facilitates questions about “Am I normal?” and “Am I healthy?” and “Am I enough?”

Nearly always, the answers to these questions is, “Yup.”

And almost never is that answer enough to put down a person’s anxiety. Which, because I’m a sex educator, I find frustrating. There’s only so many times I can say, “Nope, that’s normal. Yes you’re actually fine. I know you still feel worried, but there’s nothing to worry about, so you can put the worry down now anytime you choose,” before I roll my eyes and give up, trying not to give in to contempt for someone so determined not to be happy in their body.

I have tried the tactic of saying, “I’ve told that this thing you’re worried about isn’t actually anything to worry about, that you’re healthy and normal, and I can see that you’re still worried anyway. So what is there that I could say or do to help you not worry anymore?”

Answer: “I guess I just need to: stop comparing myself to others/accept the way I am/try what you’ve suggested and see if it works/talk to my partner about it.”

All of these things the person “just needs to do” are things they could easily have done before they came to me – apart from whatever I suggested of course, though that’s usually something along the lines of “have sex and don’t worry or judge or question, just enjoy,” which is something all of us can do without being told, if only we think to do it.

No, when the problem isn’t the sex but the worry, no amount of sexual health education will really get to the heart of the matters.

Which is how I, a sex educator, began working to find ways to teach people to understand and cope with their anxiety.

It’s inadequate because really CHANGING your relationship with worry and anxiety takes a great deal of practice and discipline. But I can at least send them in the right direction. Here is a brief overview, for those of you looking for the right direction.

When people worry, they often have all this noise in their head – usually verbal noise – all these thoughts and questions and ideas about what is going wrong or is about to go wrong or might go wrong or went wrong in the past. What I want you you to know is that all these thoughts, all that noise, it’s an illusion cooked up by your cortex to make meaning out of the stress, fear, and panic generated by your reptilian brain.

And because it’s just a story cooked up by your cortex, you don’t have to pay attention to it. It’s just noise. And your job is gently and lovingly to quieten the noise, hush it like a crying infant. Not squash or clamp down or otherwise FORCE it to be quiet, any more than you would FORCE an infant to stop crying. You soothe and hush and love and cuddle, understand and coo and adore, until eventually those noise is quiet?

Why does this work? Well that’s another post, but it has to do with attachment. Just trust me and try it.

The main thing is: the verbal, ideas-based worry, all the things you can SAY, are unimportant. What’s important is the speed and the panic and the embodied experience. And that can not be soothed with information or reason, it can only be soothed with love.

So if you want to stop worry about your sexuality… love yourself.

Clearly this is more easily said than done.

Jul 222011
 

This from Gawker, on the successful sales of sex toys in the face of major economic bad juju.

(1) I can’t get enough of that photo.

(2) I don’t quite buy the gas-and-gaiters story that people are using their unemployment, underwater mortgage, or lack of health care as an opportunity to explore sexually. That’s not how humans work, most of the time.

Most of the time, stress slams on the brakes and people lose interest in sex.

How, then, would I explain a boom in vibrator sales?

Well, it’s a common problem I run into that people believe a lack of desire is a lack of STIMULATION. They are searching for just the right thing to turn them on, when what they need is not more stimulation of their sexual gas pedal but LESS stimulation of their sexual brakes. Less stress, less worry and anxiety, less depressed mood, less shit to get in the way of the pleasure.

In which case, the vibrator probably won’t give you what you need.

This is a short post, but it’s an important point: when your sexual interest goes away, look first for what you can get RID of before looking for what you can add. Get rid of stress, worry, exhaustion, and grief. Once you’ve done that, then a vibrator is more likely to brighten your sex life.

(NOTE: to 10-20% of people, this will make no sense, because they use sex as a strategy to cope with negative affect. Those people can ignore this, except as it might apply to their partner(s).)

Jul 192011
 

Trigger warning.

I’m working on the sexual assault bystander program, so this is on my mind:

For the record – because there appears to be some controversy on this point – there is nothing, nothing, nothing anyone can do that is so bad that it is punishable by rape.

Getting drunk is not a crime that earns the punishment of rape.

Walking home alone at night is not an act so heinous that a person (or, let’s face it, a woman) who does so deserves to be raped.

Trusting someone enough to go into their room is not such a terrible thing to do that rape is just what you get if you do it.

Having sex with someone doesn’t mean they’re subsequently allowed to rape you.

Trusting your uncle, grandfather, sibling, or teacher is not an irresponsible thing to do, so that when that person abuses your trust, well, that’s what you get.

Think to yourself: what could my daughter, my sister, my mother, my son, my brother, my father, my husband, my wife do that would cause me to say, “Well, that’s what you get.”

And also for the record: there is no difference between “Well, that’s what you get for doing xyz” and “I’m not saying that’s what they deserve, but they really should know better and protect themselves!” No difference. None.

It’s not your job to “know better.” I want everyone to be safe, but if they make a choice that potentially puts them in harm’s way, it’s not their fault that harm was there.

Whose fault is it that harm was there? Well.

Andrew sent me this excellent link. Safety tips to prevent sexual assault.

Jul 182011
 

I have claimed that if you have sex too early, you risk having the other person view the relationship as primary (or even exclusively) sexual. Wait, though, and maybe all the time you spend together is colored by the question mark.

When to have sex.

Have it, say many feminists, when you WANT it.

Which is good and true and helpful as far as it goes. Definitely do have sex when you and your partner both want it. Yes.

But especially when it comes to having sex with someone for the first time, the question of what it is you actually want when you want sex is very complicated indeed. Because what do you want, when you want sex?

Do you want to get laid? Do you want a relationship? Do you want love? Do you want revenge? Do you want to rebel? Do you want to get pregnant?

So there’s the question of all the things you want. Then there’s the question of whether or not (and what kind of) sex will get you what you want.

Sex is very likely get you laid. Whether or not it get you a relationship or love or revenge or rebellion or a baby is less certain, and so the decision becomes complicated (though even just getting laid is complicated.)

Quite often I find that people want sex conditionally. They want sex (or not) based on what might happen (or not happen) afterward. And that makes good sense – many of the best reasons to have sex (or not) come from the CONSEQUENCES of sex, many of which are not predictable.

Examples: Straightforward physical risks like STI transmission or unwanted pregnancy, less straightforward emotional risks like unequal attachment or rejection, even less straightforward social consequences like reputation (for good or ill) or exclusion from a particular social group (say if you’ve been identifying as straight and this person is the same gender as you and people find out).

Maybe the emotional issues of “Are we or are we not in a Relationship? Are we or are we not monogamous? Do we or do we not care about each other in that special way, deeper and more tender than mere friendship?” You might hope the answers are no and you might hope the answers are yes.

Here’s an internal monologue:

I really like this person and I am sexually attracted to them. Having sex is a big deal for me, because it makes me feel more emotionally intimate, as well as bringing a certain degree of physical risk. I feel comfortable with the degree of risk involved and I would enjoy being more emotionally intimate with them – IF they would enjoy being more emotionally intimate with me. But if they aren’t going to feel more emotionally connected after sex, then I don’t want to have sex because that would suck.

I could talk with them about having sex and how it might affect our emotional connection but (1) can you really predict what will happen? (2) can I trust them to tell the truth about it? and (3) ironically, the act of having the conversation about intimacy demands a greater degree of emotional intimacy than we have yet.

And there’s the rub, I think. It’s a catch-22. You can’t know whether or not you want sex unless you know what the consequences will be, and you can’t know what the consequences will be. Even if you manage to have a conversation about it beforehand, who knows whether or not the person has accurately predicted their future desires and actions?

This isn’t a post where I give you an answer like, “On the 5th date” or “Next Tuesday.”

You’ll have sex when the potential for good seems intuitively to outweight the potential for negative consequences. This will be more successful when you can talk about your hopes with your partner before you have sex. But this isn’t something that all people feel comfortable doing. If you’re a person who doesn’t feel comfortable in that conversation, just be aware that the unknown makes the choice a bit less certain.

Jul 142011
 

Ready for a nerd post? Me too! It’s actually going to be a post about what it means to perform your gender, from a biological perspective.

Another of my media consumption bits lately was the doco National Geographic: Stress: Portrait of a Killer.

One of the things we learn is about a troupe of baboons. It gets described starting at 2:30 in the clip below:

Typical baboon troops are intensely hierarchical and patriarchal, competitive to the point of Machiavellian deceit and violence.

But.

In this one troupe, the aggressive alpha males were killed by infectious disease, leaving more females than males and the males who were left were non-dominant.

Result? A total revolution in the culture of the troupe. Low aggression, high social affiliation. New adolescent males joining the troupe would bring their learned, typical baboon culture, but within about 6 months they would unlearn the “jerkiness” of typical baboon culture and learn this new kinder, gentler baboon culture.

The dominant alpha jerks got killed off, and the troupe turned into a bunch of gentle, social baboons who didn’t tolerate jerkiness.

Now, when this happened, the standard wisdom was that jerks were what baboon are, naturally and innately.

What this teaches us is that the overall culture of a group of these primates is NOT innate in any straightforward sense. They will not always, under all circumstances organize themselves in a particular way. Where there is competition, competition will grow. Where there is collaboration, competition will not be tolerated.

What I want this to illustrate about humans is the idea that the roles we claim under the label “gender” are byproducts of who-knows-how-many variables related to resource abundance, sex ratios, fertility, and population density. They are not “innate” in the straightforward sense of being able to say that “men are this” or “women are that.” We can only say that in the particular given context in which behavior is observed are measured, people in one category behave in a particular, predictable way. The innate characteristics of humans will respond adaptively to the environment.

Maybe there are some things that are innate – for example, I’d buy an argument that the rules in our nervous systems that respond the environment and shape these adaptive behaviors are innate; but their behavioral phenotypes are so variable and complex that identifying the “trait” that underlies the diversity will be very difficult.

This is a terribly complex idea, this notion of socioenvironmental context shaping not just an individual’s behavior but an entire culture.

Hey, favor? Could someone say this point back to me so I know if I’ve expressed it clearly?

Word up.

Jul 132011
 

On the same day that I read what I could of Backwards in High Heels, my cousin posted a link on Facebook to this GQ sex advice column.

Like Backwards in High Heels, it’s charmingly written. Examples: “While we finally, thankfully are reaching a point where fewer men seem to be confusing having a personality with having a moustache…” and “…it’s important to remember that you are a person and not a mid-priced chain restaurant.”

But like Backwards, it only meets one of my criteria. Remember my three criteria? Scientifically accurate, helpful, and well-written.

This problem – and it is a problem – is actually what drove me to start writing about sex in public (er, that is, writing in public about sex. Darn predication). The ubiquity of sex writing that neglects actual helpfulness or accuracy and focuses exclusively on entertainment just makes life harder for anyone whose job it is to untangle the sociopsychological knots that popular culture, including these columns, create in people’s sexualities.

People really, truly want to know how to be better lovers, understand what their partner wants, and how to be more attractive to their crush object. People are starving for this information. It’s why they read the columns, at least in part. I can’t be the only person who, at 18, read these kinds of things ravenously, only to be left bloated and disappointed. It’s like giving candy to a starving person: hell yes it will taste good and it might even make them feel full, but it won’t actually nourish them.

And it doesn’t. You can’t REALLY meet a guy in the grocery store, and you can’t really turn on any woman, at any time, with ANY fancy sex trick. If you want to know how to meet a guy or how to make a woman want you, don’t ask a journalist. They don’t know any more than you do. Why would they?

Then again, you can ask me but you won’t particularly like the answers because they are not entertaining; they involve you doing stuff you don’t want to do. What you really want to know is how to meet a man without having to sieve through dozens of people you’re not interested in, without having to depart your comfort zone, without risking rejection. And what you really want to know is how to turn on a woman with something that turns YOU on, rather than with empathy, consideration, and affection.

Helpful sex/relationship advice is the spinach of the sex advice world. Some people truly love it, but lots of people only eat it because they know they should. And still more people just avoid it altogether.

There are times when I want to be poetic, because striped through my love of science, like vanilla and anise salt water taffy, is my core belief in the beauty and glory of human sexuality. But EVERY time, I end up sacrificing precision for chewy prose, and every time, I get called on it.

Is it possible to marry absolute precision with beautiful language? I think so. Read Bill Bryson. Read Douglas Adams. Just because I haven’t found a way to do it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It is my ultimate goal to tell you the exact truth, as science currently understands it, in a way that feeds your soul as it enriches your sexual functioning.

And that’s the only way I’ll ever make a dent in the glutinous edifice of mainstream popular writing about sex. I’ve thought about it and thought about it and I’m increasingly persuaded that the quality of the writing, the ENTERTAINMENT of the writing, is the cheese sauce that will make science palatable to folks. If it’s beautiful, people will believe it.

Jul 122011
 

Recently I watched “Ram Dass: Fierce Grace,” the documentary about Ram Dass post-stroke. He talked about his first time taking mushrooms with Timothy Leary, who assured him, when Ram Dass felt himself disintegrating and panicked with the certainty of his own death, “Trust your nervous system.”

I’ve been thinking about the relationship between the nervous system and experience – or what I might loosely call “consciousness” or “awareness.” And I must say that while the idea of trusting your nervous system resonates deeply with me, there are ways in which the structure of the nervous system actually makes life difficult for people in C21st America. The nervous system isn’t all that trustworthy for telling us about the nature of the world or the universe; it’s only good at interpreting that world in terms of survival in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. Which is not where we live.

A handful of examples:

The nervous system can only accommodate a limited amount of stimulation before it simply overloads. Women often experience this just before or just after orgasm and they wonder if they’re broken. Not at all, they just have ordinary, human, limited nervous systems.

It can only communicate a limited amount of information, and can only generate awareness of a small subset of that limited amount of information. Of all the things you are sensing right now, and right now, and right now, you are aware of almost none of it. The feel of the chair under you, your clothes on your body, the muscles in your pelvis, the tension in your feet. How much were you aware of before I drew your attention to them?

The nervous system can only pick up a narrow band of sensations, and much of the potential information in the world and in the universe is utterly unavailable to it. Infrared: invisible to us. Things as small as a cell: invisible to us. Smells: “The world of smell is now virtually closed to modern man,” quoth Douglas Adams.

The nervous system can only understand sensory experience in the context of its past and its present, never outside that context; no matter how much you practice, you will never quite get to know the world unmediated by the history of your nervous system.

And trauma to the nervous system changes it profoundly, channeling new sensations into tide pool of experience, a miniature ecosystem of your own consciousness, shut off from the larger ocean of your life until you begin to heal the trauma and return to your full (but still limited) experience.

Just a few examples.

No, the nervous system is not good at telling us about the nature of the world or the universe.

But the worst thing is that your nervous system will, for its own good reasons, lie to you. It will tell you that things are alarming or unsafe when in fact they are safe. And yet it will tell you to stay with someone who hurts you, even if you’re actually safer if you leave.

Your nervous system has its own mathematics, its own way of calculating odds, and it is biased in favor of safety for most people. For high SES, low SIS people (maybe 5% of the population? 10%?) it’s biased in favor of risk.

I wonder what it would take to help people tune their nervous systems as you tune a piano, periodically undoing the inevitable souring of harmony. It’s not too complicated, actually. All you have to do is grab the reins of your awareness and choose what to pay attention to. Where your nervous system would have you pay attention to risk and fear and pain, shift your focus to safety and joy and pleasure. Where your nervous system would have you tuned to your thoughts, shift your focus to your body’s sensations. All it takes is practice.

It’s one of those things that’s simple but not easy. And people get frustrated because their brains will wander away and over and over; they have to take their attention by the hand and gently return it to what they want to attend to, like a distractable child, wandering in a meadow after butterflies, when she’s supposed to be learning about the flowers.

Sex is, in my view, the ultimate expression of being human. It is the nervous system playing its game, full blown. But that includes the ways it is incompatible with modern life. To overcome the games your nervous system would play, you have to take deliberate, slow steps, recognizing the ways in which your nervous system lies to you in order to keep you safe and training yourself to be in control of your brain, so that your brain isn’t in control of you.

Jul 112011
 

I read Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.” Well, I had her read it to me. Audiobook.

I admit that part of the appeal is her reference to Pathmark and No Frills, two keystones of my own childhood in northern Delaware. But also she talks a lot about body image and the sexualization of women, both of which are topics dear to my heart. She says near the end:

I have a suspicion that the definition of “crazy” in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore. [...] Even if you would never sleep with or even flirt with anyone to get ahead, you are being sexually adjudicated by these L.A. creeps. Network executives really do say things like “I don’t know, I don’t want to fuck anybody on this show.” They really do say that stuff.”

The solution to this problem? More women becoming network executives and creating shows for women the L.A. creeps don’t want to fuck.

Which, totally. Right on.

Until then, can we spend a minute talking about regular women in their every day lives being “sexually adjudicated” (which is a phrase that I am now going to incorporate into my everyday vocabulary)?

This, to me, hearkens back to Mr Ironwood’s comments vis a vis the perceived potential sexual availability of women. Actually his post was more about whether or not a woman might ever even theoretically want to fuck him, not whether or not he wanted to fuck her, but it still feels immediately relevant.

I’ve been thinking about this a great deal for a variety of reasons, not least because I have recently posted a profile on an online dating site. Yeah. I know. And I have pictures posted. And most of the messages I’ve received so far have been about the pictures. “Nice pics.”

I’m a girl with a PhD, gainful employment at a job I enjoy, and a list of interests that provide more than enough possible targets for comment from people who want to send me a message. And yet what do they begin with? “You’re cute.”

Really??

There will probably be people who read this and feel that it’s perfectly natural that a user on a dating website’s first and biggest reaction will be in response to the images – especially, I know some will say, if that user is a man.

I have, in the past, believed that men’s response to me as a potential source of sex was caused by my job. Now I’m learning that it’s caused by my appearance – my face, my body, and the putative vagina that go with them. I’m being sexually adjudicated before I’m being personality/intelligence/emotional-fuckwittage adjudicated.

Probably I should get over it. I’m sure there are lots of people who would enjoy the feeling or at least forgive it on the grounds that it’s inevitable, that on some level ALL men (even the good ones) are like the L.A. creeps.

But I don’t enjoy that feeling. I don’t enjoy the sense that men perceive my body as existing in the public domain, accessible to their senses for their consideration and judgment. Like their judgment has anything to do with me. I can’t be invisible, in order to avoid the judgments, so as a next best alternative, just keep your opinions, which you probably can’t help having, to yourself.

Let me add for the record, because I think some people might wonder, that I do not sexually adjudicate first. I have examined my reaction to profiles and I learned that what I judge first is a sort of social class/intelligence factor. Does this person’s brain seem to work like mine? Sexual adjudication – “Can I imagine ever being naked together with this person?” – is somewhere down the list, maybe between 5th and 10th.

I guess this boils down to a tip for people who want to impress girls:

Even if the first thing you THINK about a woman is sexual adjudication, don’t let it be the first thing you say.