May 26, 2009

Mary Roach says a lot of surprising things about orgasms.



Via Andrew Sullivan, who focuses on the sonogram of a fetus masturbating and says "Just a small effort to get K-Lo's head to explode." Odd. I would have thought that the fact that fetuses masturbate supports the pro-life side of the abortion debate.

46 comments:

former law student said...

I hope our own roach chimes in.

Bissage said...

Hey, don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.

-- Woody Allen

traditionalguy said...

Makes you think about JFK who they say needed sexual intercourse amounting to masturbating with a new woman every few hours to feel good enough to function as Joe's personal President.Camelot came alot.

SteveR said...

That Andrew Sullivan is a real grown up.

EDH said...

Odd. I would have thought that the fact that fetuses masturbate supports the pro-life side of the abortion debate.

Excellent observation.

Notice it's not KLo's position on abortion that looms largest for Sullivan, rather it's the meme that everything "Christianists" believe, from abstinence to torture, is the result of their sexual hang-ups and, as a result, must be irrational and hypocritical at its core.

Diamondhead said...

I wonder if Sullivan evers views sex as anything other than a political statements. Even the wonders of human nature - the self-pleasuring fetus! - are merely vehicles for his childish resentments.

Ron said...

Now I know why I come here!

Jen said...

Guys even masturbate in utero?

figures.

David said...

Jen said...
"Guys even masturbate in utero?

figures."

Jen, you are a bigot.

holdfast said...

For Excitable Andy, sex has nothing to do with life or procreation, so it is not surprising he thinks that all Christians oppose it. Of course, he also does not understand the human gestation period either.

Michael McNeil said...

As discussed in another thread here, behaviors of any sort by a developing fetus depend on its having transitioned to the point of possessing a brain, which first begins to occur at around the beginning of the second month of gestation. This is an enormous qualitative change from the embryo's former, totally brainless existence.

Jen said...

David:

Interesting and incorrect use of the pejorative.

rhhardin said...

I question whether fetal mastrubation happens when an opposite sex twin is available.

MadisonMan said...

I see the screen-grab, with the big red TED, and I wonder: What the heck does a cheap airline have to do with Mary Roach and orgasm?

Kensington said...

If a male fetus masturbates inside his mother, is that incest? I'm going to need to get back in therapy.

dbp said...

I noticed that Mary Roach described "eyebrow sex". It gives a whole new flavor to lubing up one's eyebrows...

Aaron said...

Ann

didn't you see the sign outside of Sullivan's house the other day?

"Don't feed the troll."

Sullivan used to be interesting, now he is just tragic. who cares what he writes?

Revenant said...

I realize that Sullivan is only marginally more Catholic than I am, but I would have thought he had a better understanding of theology than this. Any Christian would expect a child who has not (yet) been taught Christian values to behave in a manner God wouldn't approve of. Is Sullivan really dippy enough not to realize that?

TigerHawk said...

I have not read Mary Roach's book about sex, but her book "Stiff" -- about human cadavers and their uses in history -- is spectacular. I'd love to hear her talk about that.

AnotherGuy said...

Jen said...
"Guys even masturbate in utero?

figures."


"Jen, you poor, ignorant slut..."

SMGalbraith said...

Male fetuses masturbate in the uterus?

But what's their mental picture? I mean, it's the visual imagery that does it.

What are they "seeing" or imagining?

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

SMGalbraith: I guess they can't really be masturbating, since they don't see any visual picture. That's also why blind people can't masturbate. Poor blind people.

George said...

The force of life expressed in the womb.... Its not a mass of tissue, he or she is our fellow beloved.

"""Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you"""

kentuckyliz said...

OMG I so want to share that on facebook but I think some people would get mad at me for being a bad influence on the children.

The pig farming vid is hysterical.

Anything that helps prove the necessity of female orgasm is a good thing.

Evolutionary biologists still contend that the female orgasm is for fertility purposes.

Viktor Nehring said...

Do the little guys pee in the shower too?

EDH said...

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

I guess they can't really be masturbating, since they don't see any visual picture. That's also why blind people can't masturbate. Poor blind people.

Unless, of course, that's how they went blind.

Michael McNeil said...

George says:
The force of life expressed in the womb….

Rather, the force of a human brain as well as body — after the former has developed in the womb. You'll never see any behaviors from an embryo (however “alive”) lacking same.

Its not a mass of tissue, he or she is our fellow beloved.

After a brain has come into existence in the fetus.

George said...

-----The force of life expressed in the womb….

Rather, the force of a human brain as well as body -----

So your saying its not a live brain...???

Your point is incoherent as is the "thought leadership" of the entire pro-choice movement.

elHombre said...

Rather, the force of a human brain as well as body — after the former has developed in the womb. You'll never see any behaviors from an embryo (however “alive”) lacking same.

You're more than a little obsessive and intransigent about this, aren't you, Michael?

Has it occurred to you that you and George are not talking about the same thing?

Michael McNeil said...

George sez:
So your saying its not a live brain…???

You obviously can't read much less think. Of course the embryo/fetus is alive — it just is completely unable to engage in any behaviors (such as this thread is all about) before a brain and central nervous system come into existence.

Your point is incoherent as is the “thought leadership” of the entire pro-choice movement.

Dream on, thoughtless one.

Way beyond that, the bulk of the “pro-choice” movement rejects my brain-centric viewpoint out of hand — since they refuse to admit that there are severe ethical problems (aka infanticide) with abortion during the latter portions of pregnancy, when an advanced human brain indubitably inhabits the developing baby.

But of course neither the “pro-choice” nor the “pro-life” movements are interested in any kind of compromise (like accepting what science informs us is the seat of human existence — the brain) in this endless dispute.

Michael McNeil said...

elHombre says:
You're more than a little obsessive and intransigent about this, aren't you, Michael?

I'm “obsessive and intransigent”? I'm taking a middle course between the two extremes, whilst focusing in on the science which shows very clearly that the human brain is the seat of every significant quality separating us from the purely animal.

Has it occurred to you that you and George are not talking about the same thing?

Sure it has. But as George said:

The force of life expressed in the womb…. Its not a mass of tissue, he or she is our fellow beloved.

In such instances, I think it's worthwhile and (perhaps) thought-provoking pointing out that the behaviors that astonish him (along with the rest of us) rely on the presence of the human brain in the fetus, which doesn't exist in the early embryo, and thus neither do those behaviors. At such an early stage, the embryo pretty much is a wholly brainless “mass of cells.”

Brad said...

it just is completely unable to engage in any behaviors (such as this thread is all about) before a brain and central nervous system come into existence.Evidently, you're wrong. See video.

elHombre said...

At such an early stage, the embryo pretty much is a wholly brainless “mass of cells.”

Nevertheless: "The force of life expressed in the womb…. Its not a mass of tissue, he or she is our fellow beloved."

George didn't mention any "behaviors." So, since you do not argue that the absence of a brain renders a fetus any less a "force of life," your comment in response to his was simply a non sequitur.

That was my point, Michael. Sorry if I made it badly.

Brad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad said...

In such instances, I think it's worthwhile and (perhaps) thought-provoking pointing out that the behaviors that astonish him (along with the rest of us) rely on the presence of the human brain in the fetus, which doesn't exist in the early embryo, and thus neither do those behaviors.
Nope. Reflex action covers huge swaths of behavior. No brain (by definition) necessary. At all. All you need are nerves, muscles, and a feedback loop. That covers lots of behavior from kissing to walking to sports to sex and so on.

Anyways, with a central nervous system, I'm sure you'll agree, you can definitely exhibit behavior. So, going by your learned well-thought-out argumentation, I'm also sure you'll agree that killing such a creature that exhibits human behavior is wrong. Right?

Brent Michael Krupp said...

Viktor Nehring asked "Do the little guys pee in the shower too?"

I hate to break it to you Vik (and anyone else who didn't know) but amniotic fluid IS fetus pee. No, really, that's where it comes from. The content may ultimately come from mom's bloodstream but it passes through the bloodstream of the fetus and then its kidneys and bladders and on out!

Michael McNeil said...

Brad sez:
Evidently, you're wrong. See video.

This is absurd. The video doesn't appear to state the exact term that that pregnancy is at, but the fetus clearly has hands and a penis, and thus must be near or beyond the last trimester.

As I've stated a number of times in these threads, the brain and central nervous system begin their long development no later than the beginning of the third week of gestation. The first neurons (constituting the wiring of the brain and central nervous system) come into existence about a week later around the start of the second month. Thus, by the last trimester, both brain and CNS are highly advanced.

Michael McNeil said...

Folks might like to see what the human embryo looks like at the point that the brain and the central nervous system commence their long development — at around the beginning of the fourth week of gestation. At the time the embryo is some 2 millimeters (or about 0.08 inch) in length.

By approximately a week later, at about the start of the second month of fetal development, when the first neurons (the wiring of the brain and nervous system) come into existence, the embryo has grown to some half a centimeter (about 0.2 inch) in size.

Notice any fingers or penis? Compare with the video that this Althouse thread begins with.

cathyf said...

I'm surprised that she didn't mention the role of the hormone oxytocin in pair bonding in mammals. In women, oxytocin is secreted in labor and lactation (it also mediates the smooth muscle contractions of labor and the milk ejection reflex) and in both sexes it is released in copious amounts during orgasm. It facilitates maternal-infant bonding, and increases monogamous behavior in mates, both male and female. There is some fascinating recent research that shows that autistic people have a deficit in oxytocin, and giving them supplements causes a marked decrease in their autistic behaviors.

This has obvious evolutionary advantages -- having regular sex with your mate binds you emotionally to the mate, and to other people in the vicinity. If when spouses have sex they naturally become more emotionally attached to each other and to other members of the family, this gives them a powerful instinct to nurture and protect children. While the oxytocin in labor gives the birth mother that bonding support, and the oxytocin of breastfeeding gives that bonding support to mother or wet nurse, the oxytocin from orgasm reinforces the bonding over decades, and is not limited to women, birth parents, or even heterosexual parents.

Human children require care for decades, unique in the animal kingdom. It is not particularly rare for one parent to die in our evolutionary history. When a widow/er remarries, the sexual relationship between the spouses helps to cause the step-parent to love and bond to the step-children.

Michael McNeil said...

Brad says:
Nope. Reflex action covers huge swaths of behavior. No brain (by definition) necessary. At all. All you need are nerves, muscles, and a feedback loop. That covers lots of behavior from kissing to walking to sports to sex and so on.

I apologize; after so many postings speaking of the “brain and central nervous system,” I get tired of writing it all out, and tend to abbreviate by simply saying “the brain.” Given the vocabulary shorthand I was using, you're right to bring up your qualification.

However, it really doesn't matter, because the time I'm talking about — when both the brain and the central nervous system begin their development — predates (by about a week) the existence of any “neurons” (the cellular wiring of brain and CNS), and thus no such reflexive actions are possible by the embryo at that stage. (Nor do any muscle cells then exist to be stimulated by the [non-existent] nerves either at the time.)

Brad:
Anyways, with a central nervous system, I'm sure you'll agree, you can definitely exhibit behavior. So, going by your learned well-thought-out argumentation, I'm also sure you'll agree that killing such a creature that exhibits human behavior is wrong. Right?

That's precisely my argument — though one could, I think, rightly quibble that brain development really ought to proceed a bit beyond that, past the autonomic nervous system (which merely keeps the heart beating and like automatic functions) stage, before truly human qualities can be said to inhabit the developing fetus.

However, for selecting the precise point where the embryo clearly transitions from a “brainless mass of cells” into a tiny human being with a brain, I don't think a better choice can be found than the specific developmental stage that I've identified.

Michael McNeil said...

I said earlier:
As I've stated a number of times in these threads, the brain and central nervous system begin their long development no later than the beginning of the third week of gestation. The first neurons (constituting the wiring of the brain and central nervous system) come into existence about a week later around the start of the second month. Thus, by the last trimester, both brain and CNS are highly advanced.

Erratum: “no later than the beginning of the third week of gestation” should refer to the beginning of the fourth week instead.

tim maguire said...

Who's K-Lo?

former law student said...

K-lo = Kathryn Jean Lopez, elderly Catholic virgin. She edits National Review Online, and writes for it.

Maggie45 said...

"K-lo = Kathryn Jean Lopez, elderly Catholic virgin. She edits National Review Online, and writes for it."

33 is elderly?

mrmanpower said...

Orgasm while stroking the eyebrows? While brushing the teeth? What kind of proof do they have that they were real orgasms? Nonetheless...very interesting

I wrote blog about orgasms today...let me know what you think

"How to Make a Woman Orgasm through Deeper Penetration; Cul-De-Sac Orgasms"

Denitsa said...

Wow! Isn't it amazing that male mice show the same level of distraction as male humans in intercourse? :) None, that is.
Very entertaining and illuminating lecture. Thanks for posting!