how to tell it's going well

I’ve done several lectures so far this semester: Introduction, Anatomy, Physiology, Reproduction…. and it’s going well. In addition to teaching the basic information, I’m also trying to reinforce a couple of key concepts, like (1) the evolution of human sexuality is vastly more complex than you’ll generally read about in mainstream media; (2) what’s true about a population isn’t necessarily true about any individual in the population; and © “normal” is a completely useless construct in relation to women’s sexuality, since women vary both from each other and within their own lifespan. Women vary and change, and all of it is equally “normal.”

Yes, it’s going well.

How can I tell?

The quality of the questions my students are asking is STUNNING. It is SPECTACULAR. It is AWE-INSPIRING.

In the 12 months since I last taught, I had allowed my appreciation for these students’ intense intelligence to wane, but the thing is: I TEACH GENIUSES. I can FEEL their brains working to integrate new information into their existing knowledge base, find places of conflict and places where the new information creates gaps, and then I see their hands go up.

Not to tell me how much they know, but to ask questions, which happen to show me how thoroughly they’re understanding what I’ve taught them. Like:

Wouldn’t orgasm be an important adaptation if it motivates females to have more sex?

(Answer: GREAT QUESTION, and maybe it would be, but it turns out that frequency of intercourse is not associated with increased reproduction)

If depression kills sex drive in 90% of women AND 90% of men, why are you saying that depression doesn’t predict women’s lack of sexual interest?

(ANSWER: It’s not that we don’t know at the population level what proportion of women are likely to have their sex drive killed by depression, it’s that we can’t predict who’ll be in the 10%. We have at least one way of predicting which men will be in the 10% – the ones with lower SIS.)

If orgasm were an adaptive trait for women, wouldn’t it have been selected for orgasm with intercourse?

(ANSWER: EXXXACTLLLLYYYYYY!!!)

On that slide where you show average time to orgasm, is that orgasm from intercourse or masturbation?

(ANSWER: That is exactly the right question to ask!! Intercourse!! And it turns out women’s time to orgasm via masturbation doesn’t necessarily vary that much from men’s, except insofar as there is greater variability among women.)

If a person comes really quickly from watching porn, will that person become addicted to porn because it takes so much longer without it?

(ANSWER: Actually sexual compulsivity is best predicted by sexual inhibition and excitation proneness, in combination with using sex as a strategy to manage negative affect. You’re more likely to get complacent than compulsive.)

Yes, it’s going well. I can tell because every time I get home from teaching, I feel like my brain has been wrung out and hung up to dry.

In a good way.