An evidence-based approach to researching sexuality

An evidence-based approach to researching sexuality

I am documenting my research approach, which is different to that taken by other researchers. I have not had a budget, colleagues or the support of an academic institution to engage in the kind of research that has been done in the past. My sex research is based on a much more basic assumption.

I set out on a quest to find evidence for the orgasms, women are presumed to have with a lover. As a woman who has never experienced even one of these, I decided to approach other women in the population (face-to-face or via the internet) and ask them to explain how they achieve orgasm. So I ask women to explain the erotic turn-ons that cause their mental arousal. I also ask them to describe the stimulation technique they use to orgasm.

This is my research. Some people might say that this approach is unscientific because it does not involve wearing a lab coat or having qualifications in sexology. I am asking why these credentials matter. If women were truly having orgasms, they would know these basic facts. Surely, at least some of them would be able to explain the anomalies and contradictions in the popular beliefs that I am highlighting? Equally, if women enjoyed sexual pleasuring, they would be willing to talk about it. That is my science.

Understanding sexual response involves challenging popular beliefs as well as comparing and contrasting male and female sexuality. I have organised my search for answers into the following three categories:

  • Identifying the misconceptions and erroneous assumptions
  • Explaining similarities between male and female responsiveness
  • Establishing the differences between male and female responses

I spent years trying to understand my sexuality in the light of the apparent evidence from erotic fiction. Luckily, I love the intellectual challenge of unchartered territory. Kinsey and Hite’s findings were the only hint that my experiences were not unique. I questioned everything I assumed to be true. I invited others via the internet to suggest how women enjoy sexual pleasure. Few people have had anything significant to say. I wondered about all the silence and I have even drawn my own conclusions from it.

In any scientific endeavour, however, evidence is vital. [i] So I present the biological precedents for sexuality. I provide an interpretation of the research findings. I compare men and women’s behaviours in sexual scenarios. I discuss sexual response in sufficient detail to help others appreciate the issues. I cite other researchers and women in the general population.

[i] The only way to understand how nature works is to look at it and then use logic and reason to understand and explain what you see. Newton was one of the first to interrogate Nature using the principles of what we now call the ‘scientific method’. In other words he observed the world, came up with theories to explain what he saw, then tested them with experiments to see if he was right. The power of this approach is that it aims to remove preconceived ideas and in doing so deliver a more accurate description of the natural world. (Professor Brian Cox)

Excerpt from Understanding Sexual Response (ISBN 978-0956-894762)