So the other day Sci is chatting with some friends, and mentions how INCREDIBLY AMUSED she always is by romance novels. This is for several reasons.
One (1): They have covers like this:
(Seriously, I crack up just looking at these. LOL!!! Ooooh. My new favorite. Look at that bulging codpiece. *snort* HAHAHAHAHAHA.)
Two (2): They are so predictable, particularly the period ones. Sci could write one RIGHT NOW:
“Cerise Everett Longwood, the lovely and rebellious daughter of the Count of (Something-or-Other-which-sounds-terribly-rich-and-important), has never lived life by the rules. Restricted by day by the iron bands of high society, by night she stretches her wings as (a thief/someone who avenges the helpless/an aspiring writer of romance novels/a journalist). But when a (terrible secret/horrible murder/something else mildly chilling) is discovered, she finds the only man who can help her is the man she hates most.
Viscount Feathersly von Rothampton ne Gornesssbaum (or something else complicated and equally offensive to language which is usually shortened to something more romantic that his friends call him, like “Heath”), is not a man to be challenged. Outwardly secure in his position and power, his years in (Her Majesty’s service/the army/the navy/Secret Service/something else military and daring) have marked him in more ways than one.
When the delectable Cerise falls into his path, the Viscount’s honor demands that he assist her, despite his rivalry and hatred for her brother. But great events are afoot , and Cerise is in no mere danger. And in the heat of the moment, passions arise…”
Coming soon to a bookstore near you!!! Unfortunately, “Scicurious” is a terrible romance pen-name…
But yes, they’re all like that. She’s lovely (she never ADMITS that she is, she always thinks she’s TOTALLY ordinary, but she’s of course long and lithe, or short and slim, or short and lushly curvaceous, etc). They never like each other at first. Then they kiss. Then they screw. Shenanigans ensue. It will always end with a marriage and the birth of at least one of their children into a happy, adorable, obscenely rich family.
And Three (3): Sci has always found that these romance novels have the most hilarious representations of female anatomy. The woman is always a virgin at the start (or had an extremely boring sex life before she became an untimely widow at the age of no more than 27), and yet never seems to have a problem with pain or orgasm during the first attempt at intercourse. And what always gets Sci, these women appear to have INSANELY sensitive breasts. Apparently, the guy touches them and the next line always reads something like “bolts of lightning shot through her thighs”.
Seriously? I mean, seriously?! Is this normal?
Sci asked her friends. They all laughed, many of them uncomfortably (this happens a LOT when Sci is around…I wonder why…), and no one could give her a direct answer.
Sci turned to the internet.
And her trusty Pubmed gave her NOTHING!!!! NOTHING?!?! Has my Pubmed-fu failed me?! Is it really possible that no one has done a study on variations in nipple sensitivity in women as a variation of the menstrual cycle?! Is this like when I wanted to know about vaginal sensitivity? Why is no one STUDYING THIS?!
Anyway. Sci did turn up some interesting papers. And it turns out that, while apparently no one cares (and by ‘no one’, I mean no one with scientific funding, because everyone else in the world apparently cares a heck of a lot) how sensitive women’s nipples are and whether they vary as a function of the menstrual cycle (and I’ll bet you a PILE of money they do, in fact, let’s bet some funding and do this study already), a study has been done on MEN. On men’s nipples, and…everywhere else.
Let’s get to it.
Schober et al. “Self-ratings of genital anatomy, sexual sensitivity and function in men using the ‘Self-Assessment of Genital Anatomy and Sexual Function, Male’ questionnaire” British Journal of Urology International, 2008.
There’s some rather hilarious shaded in line drawings below the fold. You were warned.
So now we get down to it. The authors wanted to “assess the perceptions of healthy men of
their genital anatomy and sexual sensitivity”, which they did by a self-rating questionnaire called the Self-Assessment of Genital Anatomy and Sexual Function, Male (SAGASF-M). They took 81 guys between the ages of 22 and 57 (no genital surgery, please), and asked a whole variety of questions relating to pain and touch sensitivity and sensitivity and intensity of orgasm. Apparently all male vertebrates have specific ares of sensitivity, including the penis (obviously), the foreskin,
urethra, scrotum, perineum (known colloquially as the ‘taint’, as in ‘t’ain’t balls, and t’ain’t ass’, thigh and anal area. While some studies have been done on the sensitivity to touch, the sensitivity of the penis compared to other sexually related areas hadn’t been looked at. Until now.
(apparently, men are very sensitive to blue, red, and green colored chalk).
First of all, it turned out that there was very little variation in how sensitive men were in various areas. Most men were most sensitive to touch, sexual stimulation, and orgasm intensity on the ventral side of the penis close to the glans:
You can see there that the glans is the bulge at the tip of the penis. The ventral side would be the bottom. This would be the area colored in the heaviest in the pictures above (though Sci doesn’t think it shows very much). Other areas nearby are slightly less sensitive but still very up there.
But what Sci found really interesting was the ratings of other areas of the body. The authors found the highest sensitivity after the penis in (surprise!) the scrotum. But from there, from highest to lower, sensitivity went as follows:
1) The ear
2) The perineum (skin between the scrotum and anus)
3) The neck
4) The nipples
5) The butt
6) The anus (exterior more than interior)
7) The WRIST
8) and the Axilla (that would be your armpit. Yes really).
Sci is really disappointed that they didn’t do a shaded in diagram of all of these. So she did one for them.
(I tried red the first time around and it looked…awkwardly bloody. Sci would also like to note that, while she was coloring this in, Mr. S noted that one of the things he loved about her is that she’s so MATURE.)
The researchers also noted that ratings of partner stimulation were usually higher than self-stimulation (it feels better if someone else it doing it to you).
So there you have it. But Sci wants to know, where are the LADIES?! Millions upon millions of dollars devoted to Cosmo telling you “how to achieve your best orgasm yet”, not to mention the entire porn industry totally convinced they know what parts of a woman are most sensitive, and there’s no RESEARCH on this?! Scientists, we can do better.
Schober JM, Meyer-Bahlburg HF, & Dolezal C (2009). Self-ratings of genital anatomy, sexual sensitivity and function in men using the ‘Self-Assessment of Genital Anatomy and Sexual Function, Male’ questionnaire. BJU international, 103 (8), 1096-103 PMID: 19245445