I wish I knew what artist made this cool cover for a recording by a Japanese band called Scheherazade. I hit upon it while looking for images of the ballet Scheherazade, based on Rimsky-Korsakov’s music. The choreographer was Michel Fokine. The ballet’s first performance starred Ida Rubinstein and Vaslav Nijinsky.
“There has been a transition for women in direction towards a stereotypically ‘male’ personality profile, but not at the expense of traditionally socially important female traits. Comparisons in psychological profile subscales showed an increase in dominance, exhibition, aggression and achievement.“
“Using … data from a high-fertility polygynous human population of Senegal, we first show that extraversion, a personality dimension predicting men’s mating behavior in this population, is associated with inter-individual differences in testosterone profiles, with men in the top quartile of extraversion distribution having 29% higher testosterone levels.“
“This study conducts an exploratory investigation of various post-coital behaviors that the authors propose may reflect the divergent adaptive reproductive strategies of each sex as understood from an evolutionary perspective.“
“A recent study suggests that daily masturbation and ejaculation can reduce the amount of accumulated DNA damage in sperm by 12%. Therefore wasting sperm into a sock can actually improve the mobility of sperm and increase fertility.” Here’s the study
Some history of masturbation: “Freud famously concluded a 1912 symposium on masturbation for the Psychoanalytical Society in Vienna by saying, ‘I think the time has come to break off. For we are all agreed on one thing–that the subject of masturbation is quite inexhaustible.’“
Mind Hacks posted on erotic asphyxia. Here’s a review of the literature on autoerotic deaths between 1954 and 2004. Here’s a pdf of the first paper that I could find on this topic (in the British Medical Journal, 1960). After a gruesome description of the circumstances in which four men had died, the authors venture a Freudian hypothesis — somehow, the men wrapped themselves in plastic in order to simulate a return to the womb. (!) Then the authors make a more sensible claim: “A much less elegant and more superficial explanation is that these people were trying to achieve some undifferentiated thrill or excitement from partial suffocation or anoxia. This factor may have existed but it does not explain the transvestism, sexual arousal, or complete enclosure of the body. It is an interesting reflection that the sexual impulse in man is so protean in its manifestations that a technical advance resulting in a new packaging material can result in a new perverse manifestation.”
Here are some more recent (but equally sad) cases involving less typical autoerotic causes of death: “These modalities include ligature around the thorax or abdomen, plastic bags covering the face, electrical current, inhalation of a toxic gas or chemicals, or partial or total submersion, known as aquaerotic asphyxiation. This study highlights 11 cases of atypical autoerotic death, including asphyxia with a plastic bag, electrocution, and inhalation of butane and nitrous oxide (N2O).” Two more atypical cases: “We here report the case of a 34-year-old man who died due to asphyxia, secondary to body wrapping in the largest and most complex plastic bag ever involved in a published case of autoerotic death“; and “Unusual death of a 24-year-old man, involving propane inhalation and plastic bag suffocation, is described.“
Back to a less depressing topic: You get a sense of the erotic nature of Scheherazade from this review of a perfomance by Anna Kisselgoff in the NY Times (Jan. 18, 1981). Kisselgoff summarizes part of the narrative as follows: “The wives bribe the chief eunuch to release the slaves who spring out to make love to the women. The leader of the orgy is Zobeide’s ‘golden slave’ …. It is common to think of ‘Scheherazade,’ with its frank acknowledgement of sexual passions, as an early expression of Freud’s century. To most Anglo-Saxon audiences at the time, it was inconceivable that a powerful queen would bother with a black slave. Russians brought up on tales of Tartar harems and white princesses had no trouble with the idea.” Here’s Yvonne de Carlo as she appeared in a 1947 movie called Song of Scheherazade.
“Based on the results of my study, there is a percentage of women (just over 30 percent) who feel powerful when performing fellatio. Apparently some women find it empowering and believe that it can wield a lot of power.“
Sir Henry Head’s self-experimentation: “We then discovered that the glans penis responded to cutaneous stimuli in that peculiar manner with which we were already familiar from our study of the first stage of recovery after nerve division. … When … [the tip] was dipped into water at 40° C, no sensation of heat was produced, but [Head] experienced an unusually disagreeable sensation of pain. … But, as soon as the water covered the corona without reaching the foreskin, both cold and pain disappeared, giving place to an exquisitely pleasant sensation of heat.“
“Women with higher estradiol levels in the peri-ovulatory and luteal phase of the menstrual cycle were correlated with higher senses of desirability and a lower relationship commitment in women.” But SciCurious has objections.
“In a study of 443 women, a pair of British researchers discovered that women were more likely to make impulsive purchases during the weeks between ovulation and menstruation, known as the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.” Here’s the study
Alexander Lee’s ‘Short History of Desire‘
“Depicting the harem as a home rather than as a sexual prison, books written by women from the progressive elite of late Ottoman society challenged the prevailing stereotype of harem women as ignorant, indolent odalisques whiling away their days awaiting their lord and master.“
“The male [chimpanzee] will pluck a leaf, or a set of leaves, and sit so the female can see him. He spreads his legs so the female sees the erection, and he tears the leaf bit by bit … dropping the pieces as he detaches them. Sometimes he’ll do half a dozen leaves until she notices. … [S]he sees the erection and puts two and two together, and if she’s interested, she’ll typically approach and present her back side, and then they’ll mate.“
Female boa constrictors can reproduce without mating: “Large litters of all-female babies produced by the “super mom” boa constrictor show absolutely no male influence — no genetic fingerprint that a male was involved in the reproductive process.“