Men, masturbation and women's shoes

A new study shows that men find all kinds of things attractive when they are aroused.

Published November 22, 2005 2:47PM (EST)

Did you know that pornography takes in more money each year in the United States than the three largest professional sports -- football, basketball and baseball -- combined? Broadsheet sure didn't. But that's only the least of what's revealed in the Guardian's report today about a UC-Berkeley study on men and masturbation.

Two American scientists set out to determine how distracted a man gets while masturbating. They asked college students to sign up for the study (who better?!); each of the 35 participants was enticed with a small sum of money, of course. They were then asked to answer a survey on a laptop "designed to be operated easily using only the non-dominant hand."

For purposes of control, only some of the students were asked to answer the survey while aroused. They "were first asked to self-stimulate themselves, and were presented with the same questions [as the others, in a 'natural' state] only after they had achieved a high but sub-orgasmic level of arousal."

The survey questions were all sex-oriented; the Guardian notes that they asked about "the attractiveness of different sexual activities, items and opportunities. Among them: women's shoes; a 12-year-old girl; an animal; a 50-year-old woman; a man; and an extremely fat person."

The study pretty much confirms what most people believe about young men as a group: When already aroused, men might find all kinds of things attractive. (But shoes and animals? That's a bit of a surprise!) Broadsheet wonders what would happen if they tried this experiment with women? Would we suddenly lust for loafers?

By Hillary Frey

Hillary Frey is the Books editor at Salon.

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