Iggy Pop, the rat nucleus accumbens, and your excellent sex life

You guys, chapter 3 is my nemesis. Chapter 3 is about the role of context in sexual desire and arousal, and it requires an awful lot of stuff about stress, attachment, and the mesolimbic cortex. I’m trying to write it so that it’s interesting in itself and also obviously relevant to Your Sex Life, and there’s this one study in particular that I just find SO IMPORTANT and also it made me laugh out loud. But I can’t tell if I’m making it clear. So here, can you read it and tell me what you think? Think of the rat

the reality is much quieter

(trigger warning) So first of all, go read this Slate article about how drowning doesn’t look like drowning. Then join me back here. Got it? Okay. I couldn’t read this article without thinking, “We make the same mistake with sexual violence, and we make it for the same reasons.” The media teaches us that sexual violence is a noisy event. It happens in a dark and empty street to a woman of culturally sanctioned beauty, by an evil man. The woman screams and fights and runs, but the man overpowers her with physical force. The reality is much quieter. The

are anger and sexual arousal exactly the same?

The short answer is no, but the long answer includes why anyone would think they might be. So this was on Twitter today: Fear & anger produce the exact physiological response as sexual arousal. Thats why all the ‘fight & fuck’ stories. – ow.ly/lyB3q — Susie Bright (@susiebright) June 2, 2013 To which I responded: @susiebright @learnpleasure Oh that’s SO not true. Arousal is arousal, but dude, motivational system MATTERS. It… I’ll write a blog post. — Emily Nagoski, PhD (@enagoski) June 2, 2013 Here is that blog post. Arousal is arousal. Arousal, to biological psychologists, refers to activation. “GO”

don’t just talk about it (trauma, I mean)

I worry about people This article about trauma in journalists makes me worry. Because it makes it sound like the secret to preventing or overcoming PTSD is talking about it. And talking about it is not the point. It’s one of those thing where there’s a difference between WHAT YOU DO and HOW IT FEELS. It’s very possible that simply “talking about it” will reinforce the trauma, digging the paths deeper and deeper into the brain. BUT. Talking works when talking is your path to MOVING THROUGH THE TRAUMA. The stress response, as I’ve described several times now, is CYCLE,

trauma informed sex positivity

[trigger warning, discussion of trauma] This is an issue that’s been on my mind since I bumped into a conversation about anti sex positive feminism. Is there a way to build a sex positive space that at least has the potential to feel welcoming and safe for survivors of trauma? I’ve heard many survivors talk about feeling excluded, at best, and retraumatized, at worst, by events or spaces that bill themselves as sex positive, despite the fact that, in principle, sex positivity intentionally carves out space for survivorship. So I got to thinking about the relationship between sex positivity and

Why is Lloyd Dobler shaking?

I just saw “Say Anything…” for the first time. The scene everyone knows is John Cusack with the boombox over his head, playing “In Your Eyes.” I actually decided to watch the movie because I was writing a blog post that said reading Sex at Dawn made me feel like John Cusack in that moment; the girl I love is evolutionary science, and “In Your Eyes” was the research and the scientists who had turned my brain inside out, right? It’s an analogy, kids. So I watched the movie, and the moment that actually fascinated me was the scene right

sex post-partum

Coupla questions over the last few months about sex after childbirth – mostly from the male partners of the folks having the babies. Lower desire, more pain, and mental noise about body image stuff is endemic among post-partum women; it’s all norma, but that doesn’t always make it easier for iether person in the relationship. So what can you do? Figured I might as well let ya’ll know what I told folks: Ian Kerner wrote a book called Love in the Time of Colic (best title ever), which may have some answers. I’ve actually found that the best advice for

should you stimulate the genitals to create desire?

It’s been amazing recently to see other sex educators talk about non-concordant arousal, responsive desire, and non-penetrative orgasms – the three big issues I address in the book. I’m so glad people are getting the same message from lots of sources, because that’s how a culture shift begins! Unfortunately, it’s often been most helpful to me as a lesson in how NOT to teach about it, or else how people might misunderstand the research. Take Dodson and Ross’s video about responsive desire: With due worshipfulness to goddess Betty Dodson, they’ve got this wrong. Yes, arousal precedes desire! But “arousal” in