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Liberty, Justice, And Abstinence For All
To anybody who doesn't think it's such a big deal, having a fundamentalist and his religious fanatic cronies running the country, check out how they're trying to stop funding for sex-related research:

Last December, a $147,000 grant for a Northwestern University study of women's sexual arousal was called "disgusting" by Rep. Dave Weldon, Florida Republican. Women were paid as much as $75 to "watch a series of commercially available film clips, some of which will be sexually explicit, while we monitor your body's sexual arousal," according to a flyer seeking volunteers for the study led by psychology professor J. Michael Bailey.

Disgusting? Kind of like women whose arousal problems go unnecessarily untreated -- who, in turn, develop a lifelong "headache" -- unnecessarily leading to the breakup of their marriages and relationships.

Posted by aalkon at September 10, 2003 8:36 AM


So Kinsey wants to find out what turns women on? Good for him! I had heard on the radio that during heterosexual encounters, women attain orgasm far less frequently than do their male partners. It's little wonder that these same men describe their partners as "bitchy?" I wonder how bitchy they'd be if they were so sexually frustrated. More power to Kinsey. His information could be quite useful to women and helpful to marriages.

Until the up-tight fundy-mentalists realize that sex is a huge -- even vital and indispensible --part of marriage and that sexual problems merit research, we are going to continue to have high divorce rates and unfulfilling marriages.

Posted by: Patrick at September 10, 2003 9:40 AM

I don't know what I'd do without your anger to keep me on point, Amy. That really is an outrage. And $147,000 is NOTHING for a research grant. We should commend them for keeping the budget so low.

Posted by: Lena Cuisina at September 10, 2003 11:04 AM

$147k LESS of my tax dollars spent on something that's hardly a matter of life or death or freedom? Good for the religious fundamentalists!

Posted by: Cathy Seipp at September 10, 2003 11:15 AM

Cathy, aren't religious fundamentalists supposed to be PRO-family? (Never mind that they seem to suffer the lion's share of broken marriages.) I think a research grant into sexual arousal for women would be money well spent. Consider the cost to society of broken marriages and single parented families on the welfare roles.

Posted by: Patrick at September 10, 2003 11:23 AM

This kind of research is "life or death," because it's about quality of life. I want research grants awarded based on what medically experienced people think needs study, not based on what some politician or some politician's priest thinks is a good or bad idea.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 10, 2003 11:48 AM

Cathy -- $147k of "my" tax dollars? Not even "our" tax dollars? Don't take it so personally. Lena

Posted by: Lena Cuisina at September 10, 2003 12:13 PM

But this is some boon-doogle phony study. How much can renting porn and sniffing undies cost, anyway? I don't care if it cost $1.35 of my tax money, it's a stupid study. If they want the data so badly, they can go get funded by some lubricant manufacturer or Jane Fonda.

And the fact that the "researchers" are using "commerically available" movie clips make it even more hilarious! This sounds like an SNL skit. What did they learn--that women don't get wet while watching Adam Sandler?

Posted by: Rachel at September 10, 2003 10:09 PM

But this is some boon-doogle phony study. -- Rachel.

And you know this how?

Posted by: Patrick at September 11, 2003 1:36 AM

The thing is, studies that seem to be "boondoggles" to the average person can actually be studies that lead to really important discoveries, and make a substantive difference in a lot of people's lives. A female arousal study - for reasons I pointed out above - is actually no laughing matter (even if you find great hilarity in their methods). Lena Cuisina can speak better than I (or the rest of us) on this topic.

Posted by: (Amy Alkon) at September 11, 2003 2:14 AM

Seekers, seriously: What is the probability that this collection of Chicago weasel schoolboys is going to come up with some new appreciation of the Girly Quiver? Given the shabby performance of government is so many realms, it's a surprise that you seem so eager for them to get into your britches.

Labwork is fine, but trust me: Progress continues apace out here in the field... Perhaps more slowly than we'd like, but infinitely quicker than you'll get at the intersection of government and academic technocracies. And with much more, um, moving results than those from academe. One is reminded of the word brought to us by Welch some months ago: "Fucktards."

PS- My momma worked at Kinsey.

Posted by: Cridland at September 11, 2003 7:24 AM

Tell us more about your mom, Cridland. I bet she's a cool lady.

Posted by: Lena Cuisina at September 11, 2003 7:28 AM

Lena, if I tolja ya wudden believe.

Another big point here: comments like the ones here seem composed against a bloodless, cartoon version of conservative America (and I mean sexually conservative, not just fiscally). There are hundreds of millions of decent, kind Americans who think sexuality is an inherently private matter. Maybe they're a little carried away with that, but maybe not, and in any case they HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE WRONG. And when they read that tax dollars, taken from them at gunpoint (that's how it's done, folks), are used at the Yoon-verse-tee to tie cute co-eds girls into those chairs with the little tables on them and show them dirty movies, their blood starts to boil.

I think they're right. They're at least right that these scholars are probably looking to the wrong mechanisms for insight. If you *must* pursue erotic enlightenment through the academy, the Paglia method is preferred: Be equal parts brilliant and pugnacious in socially punishing times. Spend your childhood ostracized as a misfit in the most personal and hurtful possible terms. Spend a quarter-century getting your teeth kicked in while struggling in your chosen field. Come out, WAY out, pre-Stonewall. Study until your eyes bleed, and learn beyond doubt that truth is uncomfortable and unflattering. When you're done with all that, you'll be able to talk to everyone in the process respectfully (the coed tied to the chair with the electrodes wired up her skirt; the grad student with the clipboard watching her through trifocals; the ninny congressman; and the working taxpayer, who for whatever reason doesn't think that funding this sort of behavior is what his or life is about).

Or disrespectfully, if need be.

People who prefer government be a little more bashful and modest about these matters are not necessarily simpletons. They may well be erotically superior.

Posted by: Cridland at September 11, 2003 8:10 AM

I'm all for all sorts of sex research. You have no idea the vast volume of husbands who write to me wondering how they can manage to live without having an affair when their wives no longer have any interest in sex. Just because America is a largely puritannical country doesn't mean sex issues -- arousal, erectile disfunction, whatever -- aren't valid medical issues for research -- any less than diabetes and cancer. We need to care about quality of life as much as preventing death - and, actually, the two are often linked. Arousal issues are a huge problem, making many people miserable. Studies like this are building blocks in solving larger issues.

Posted by: (Amy Alkon) at September 11, 2003 7:35 PM

There's enormous demand for treatment of medical problems that affect quality of life (depression, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, etc). That's why those meds cost so much and insurance companies don't want to cover them.

Posted by: Lena Cuisina at September 11, 2003 11:05 PM