What's up with the spate of sex-related articles on today's "most e-mailed" list from the New York Times? A brief rundown:
Natalie Angier writes a five-page article in the Science section called "Seeking the Keys to Sexual Desire" in which she expounds on what sexual desire actually is.
"Sexual desire," begins her Lolita-esque lead. "The phrase alone holds such loaded, voluptuous power that the mere expression of it sounds like a come-on -- a little pungent, a little smutty, a little comical and possibly indictable." Light of my life, fire of my loins, indeed.
Nabokov aside, she then goes on to dissect what sexual desire actually is, asserting that "the definitions of sexual desire can be as quirky and personalized as the very chromosomal combinations that sexual reproduction will yield." And she details some interesting studies examining how sexual desire comes about (is it before or after arousal?), theories about the control of sexual desire, and differences between male and female sexual responses.
Next up, in the Health section, Nicholas Wade asserts that the "Pas de Deux of Sexuality Is Written in the Genes." Instead of focusing on sexual desire itself, Wade examines the genetics behind human sexual behavior and asserts that the brain is a "full-fledged sexual organ, in that the two sexes have profoundly different versions of it." He then goes on to describe studies that examine what, exactly, these differences are -- including possible theories about male and female homosexuality.
And then, last but not least, John Tierney writes "Romantic Revulsion in the 21st Century: Flaw-O-Matic 2.0," in which he revises his 1995 Flaw-O-Matic theory about picky daters (i.e., "a mechanism in the brain that instantly finds fault with any potential mate") to include something he calls "the Sally Field effect" -- the desire to find someone just as picky as you are. Talk about procrastination material -- you can click through a link to learn more about how much money a man needs to make to compensate for how tall he is (or isn't): A man who's 5-foot-8, for example, presumably needs to make $146,000 more a year than a man who's 6 feet tall if he wants to have the same chance at getting a date. This isn't the most, um, scientific of the articles -- but it sure beats reading work e-mails.