The science of sex

People literally build their careers around studying sex…so what is it that they do?!

By Emma Markezic
donna and feet

If you’re a regular reader of the Iced Vovo-pink delight that is Cosmo, you’ll know that every month I share with you some tantalising titbit or another – whether it’s that 84 percent of women get turned on by ear nibbling, 45 percent of men are sick for cut-out cossies, or 0.1 percent of all sex goes on in space (all completely made up, but you catch my drift).

Not only was there a time when such salacious stats weren’t tolerated, sex wasn’t talked about at all. Not even by people having it! Couples could go their whole married life without seeing each other in the nuddy. No foolin’.

Back in those sexual dark ages (which were only 100-odd years ago), sex was predominantly thought of as a necessary evil. Case in point: a quote from a book titled Sex Tips for Husbandsand Wives from 1894: “While sex is at best revolting and at worst painful, it has to be endured … when it cannot be prevented, it should be practiced only in total darkness. Lie perfectly still and never under any circumstances grunt or groan while the act is in progress.”

Yeeeah. So you can see we have come a long way. And it was William Masters and Virginia Johnson who started the revolution.

Busting the myths

Before the original sex researchers, Masters and Johnson, came along, hanky-panky was a hush-hush affair. People did it, but with what must be only very rare exceptions, they were certainly not studying it.

So groundbreaking was the pioneering pair’s research that TV network Showtime has whipped their story up into a series, Masters of Sex, which you can catch here on SBS (and I highly recommend you do – it’s one of those shows that’s more addictive than salt and vinegar chips).

Among other things, Masters and Johnson were first to “discover” women were capable of multiple orgasms. I say “discover” because one can only assume some women were already well aware of it. This was quite the revelation to the mostly male scientific and medical community, though. Imagine that.

They also ascertained that most men masturbate (92 percent, actually – which, in related news, leads me to believe that eight percent of men are chronic liars). Also, that a woman’s sexual peak is in her thirties, and that homosexuality is <not>a mental illness, as was previously believed.

The duo also observed that men need a breather between sexy sessions, unlike women, who are basically like Energiser Bunnies when it comes to orgasmic energy; capable of climaxing again and again without a break.

But they didn’t stop at the very young and nubile – no sir. They also discovered people aged 70 and beyond were fully able to hit the hot spot; that there was in fact no age at which sexual function disappeared. It may take our elders a little longer to get aroused, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I dare you not to picture your grandpa and grandma pounding privates right now… Ahem. Moving on.

So if you’re thinking of changing careers… well, don’t dismiss the idea of furthering human knowledge of the best activity ever invented. Because, if you ask me, it’s a pretty sweet way to earn a paycheck.