Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Mary Roach (2009)

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
2009, Mary Roach
(Read 2012, Reviewed 2015/2017)($10-14, link)

“All good research—whether for science or for a book—is a form of obsession.”

This was a good book on sex… but it was not a great book on sex. Perhaps I am too biased with the books I’ve read before and the information I’ve read online, but Roach’s Gulp impressed me far more.  I’d also have liked more scientific references.

That’s why I include the general writer’s quote above – it’s illuminating on both how to be a good writer as much as it is about Roach and her own writing style. Just because it’s written doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true.

There are a few good nuggets to review, as it’s a short file, so it’s worth simply letting the highlights speak for themselves.

The best part – at least as my biased highlights on my old, clunky Kindle suggest, are from the end chapter. They describe how to have good sex. In three words: take your time.  I’m just going to include all those highlights here:

The best sex going on in Masters and Johnson’s lab was the sex being had by the committed gay and lesbian couples. Not because they were practicing special secret homosexual sex techniques, but because they “took their time.” They lost themselves—in each other, and in sex. They “tended to move slowly…and to linger at…[each] stage of stimulative response, making each step in tension increment something to be appreciated….” They teased each other “in an obvious effort to prolong the stimulatee’s high levels of sexual excitation.”

Another difference was that the lesbians were almost as aroused by what they were doing to their partner as was the partner herself. Not just because, say, fondling a breast turned them on, but because their partners’ reactions did. Masters and Johnson’s heterosexuals failed to grasp that if you lost yourself in the tease—in the pleasure and power of turning someone on—that that could be as arousing as being teased and turned on oneself. “Not only were committed lesbians more effective in satisfying their partners, they usually involved themselves without restraint…far more than husbands approaching their wives.” The straight man, in most cases, “became so involved in his own sexual tensions that he seemed relatively unaware of the degree of his partner’s sexual involvement. There were only a few instances when the husband seemed fully aware of his wife’s levels of sexual excitation and helped her to expand her pleasure…rather than attempting to force her rapidly to higher levels of sexual involvement.”

The same criticisms applied to straight women: “This sense of goal orientation, of trying to get something done…was exhibited almost as frequently by the heterosexual women as by their male partners.” They ignored their husband’s nipples and just about everything else other than his penis. Meanwhile, the homosexual men lavished attention on their partners’ entire bodies. And the gay men, like the gay women, were adept at the tease. Unlike the wives: “Rarely did a wife identify her husband’s preorgasmic stage…and suspend him at this high level of sexual excitation….”


Posted May 2017