A mate less ordinary

Because I personally find it reassuring to hear someone else say what I’m thinking, I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure all the single women over 30 who genuinely, seriously, honestly, deeply are neither panicked nor desperate about being single: we definitely exist, even if Lori Gottlieb has never met any of us – and there might be a reason why none of us have bothered to introduce ourselves. Presumably though, I and those like me are not the “pretty ordinary” women she apparently represents. Including all women whose self-worth is defined by something other than their ability to

what are you looking at?

So my friend Nate asked me on Facebook what the hell I’m looking at in that picture there. Here’s what I told him: I don’t know whether to feel proud or embarrassed about this. The photographer said, “Look that way, and sort of up,” and when I looked that way there was a pink and white orchid hanging in a basket. Then she said, “And smile!” so I thought about the millions of years of selection pressure that gave rise to that flower, this amazingly specific advertisement of sexual receptivity. And she took the picture. This was considerably more effective

sperm, actually.

I hate to cook. I staved off malnutrition during grad school mostly by living with other people who enjoyed cooking. (Thanks Patrick.) These days, preferring to live on my own until there’s someone I want to live with for reasons other than their ability in the kitchen, I depend on NPR to keep me sane as I boil water, defrost vegetables, toast bread, or perform whatever absolutely minimal task is required to keep body and soul together. These days I’ve been “cooking” to Radiolab, the WNYC sciencey type show. “On a curiosity bender,” they say. I fuckin’ love it. If

what’s wrong with you?

Last week’s This American Life episode is the classic 81 Words (this week you can download the MP3 at the link), about the removal of the homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the bible of clinical diagnosis of mental health disorders in America. Diagnosis. Sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual dysfunction, we are bound and determined to codify what is normal and what is not. Which triggers in me such an avalanche of reaction that my brain bottlenecks and the thoughts get clogged up as they all race to my tongue, so all I can do

scientists can be dumb too.

Dude, people keep sending me stuff and then I feel impelled to blog about it and pretty soon all I’ll do it sit at home the whole day, eating Honey Nut Cheerios and bitching about other people’s science. Two things about this fMRI study of waist to hip ratio. First , there’s important evidence that a .7 WHR indicates fertility and stuff in women. There’s also good evidence that men prefer that ratio when they’re shown images of women with that WHR. What’s NOT clear is what relationship those images have to real women’s bodies. Suppose there are two women

what women want (2)

We’re looking at What Women Want Wednesday again. This is the second in the I-don’t-know-how-many-parts series. This week women want… … to be wanted. I mean waaaaaanted. Without that feeling of being wanted… well, it’s awful to feel that your partner is only interested in sex generically and that you’re just the most readily available, adequate source of this high-demand, low-supply commodity. “I want to get laid, and you’re here,” she can hear you think as you inattentively huff your way toward the inevitable sweaty disappointment that is post-coitus with you. I mean. She wants you to be obsessed by

irony in bed

I love when this happens. At the same time that I write about self-monitoring (spectatoring) and its effect on women’s orgasms, the NYT does me a favor and writes about self-monitoring (ironic monitoring) on sleep. Notice: different behavior, same dynamic. When you are trying to do something that would otherwise be a natural reaction of your body to internal and external stimuli, you actually make it less likely that your body will do it. I saw Dan Wegner give a talk way back in 1997, when he presented data on people’s ability to hold a pendulum still. Goes like this:

orgasm 4: performance anxiety

“Spectatoring” is the art of worrying about sex while you’re having it. Rather than paying attention to the pleasant and tingly things your body is experiencing, it’s like you’re floating above the bed watching, noticing how your breasts fall or the squish of cottage cheese on the back of your thigh or the roll at your belly or…. you’re worried about the sex you’re having, instead of enjoying the sex you’re having. And worry is the opposite of arousal. It is the anti-arousal. Because anxiety slams on the brakes of your sexual inhibition system. Turning off anxiety eases off the