Fantasies and Preferences

Fetishes: Why unusual things turn some people on.

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Dr. Debra Soh has interviewed several hundred people with unusual sexual interests as part of her research.

While it's still not clear what leads to various sexual preferences, interviews such as those conducted by Dr. Soh provide some clues.

In this piece, she discusses six fetishes and why they can be a turn-on for some people.

From Men's Health:

1 In 6 People Has a Sex Fetish. A Neuroscientist Explains Why
This sex researcher has interviewed hundreds of people with peculiar erotic tastes. Here’s what she’s learned
By Debra W. Soh
You might think that fantasizing about being swallowed by a large animal sounds weird. 
But a new study in the Journal of Sex Research finds that paraphilias—unusual sexual interests—are actually common: One in three people have experimented with one at some point in their lives.
Paraphilias range from kinks you’ve heard of before, like stiletto fetishes, to more rare interests, like the fantasy about being swallowed.
Why would someone be into that? Why are some people turned on by golden showers, or wearing diapers? The subject is so riveting that I’ve made a career out of studying it.
As a neuroscientist, I’m interested in what it is about the brain that makes people like the kinds of sex that they like. When guys come in to do my fMRI study, we spend a few minutes scanning their brain. Afterwards, I ask them lots of questions about their sex lives.
Needless to say, my work never gets boring. At last count, sex researchers estimated that about 549 different paraphilias exist.
So, for starters, here are six fascinating fetishes worth learning about.

Read the rest here: link.

Objectum sexuality.

Objectum sexuality is characterized by a strong romantic and sexual attraction to inanimate objects. Objectum sexuals develop relationships with the objects that they love.

The best known objectum sexual is a woman named Erika Eiffel. She's appeared on several American talk-shows, and is the central character in the documentary Married to the Eiffel Tower (it looks like it's a dead link, but click play):

Vice published a piece early last year discussing objectum sexuality that describes the struggles and judgment that Erika Eiffel has experienced. It also discussed the nature of objectum sexuality.

From Vice:

Breaking Up with the Eiffel Tower: Heartbreak Is No Less Real for Objectum Sexuals
By Nell Frizzell
Loss, grief, heartache: Breakups are no less painful when you're doing it with a bridge. Or a pylon. Or a wooden fence. Or the Eiffel Tower.
So argues Erika Eiffel, the tower crane operator and former award-winning archer made famous by the documentary Married to the Eiffel Tower. Erika is one of the few public objectum sexuals—people with a love orientation toward objects—and, in addition to holding a commitment ceremony with the 186-year-old French iron tower, has fallen for fighter jets, fencing, and is currently in a relationship with a crane. She also runs the support website Object Sexuality Internationale.
We don't know how many objectum sexuals there are in the world—not enough data has been gathered and people are, understandably, reluctant to identify their orientation in such a climate of distrust and misinformation. We do, however, know that objectum sexuality is found in both men and women across the world. In 2010, the clinical sexologist Dr. Amy Marsh wrote in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality that, while it is often assumed that OS is "a pathology" or related to "a history of sexual trauma," there is, in fact, no data to support such a claim and that "OS appears to be a genuine—though rare—sexual orientation."

Read the rest here: link.

 

 

What it's like to be a romance novels cover model.

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Curious about what it takes to be a romance novels cover model?

The romance novel industry is growing at a rapid rate. In 2013, it was worth almost 1.1 billion dollars and the expectations are that it's going to be worth even more as new reading platforms continue to develop.

Consumers are no longer satisfied with paintings of Fabio gracing the covers. They're demanding photos of men, and variety. While the demand is there, the money for models isn't.

From the New York Times:

With Romance Novels Booming, Beefcake Sells, but It Doesn’t Pay
This corner of the book world is red hot and among the most innovative, with
e-books and apps, and it needs a steady stream of fresh-faced cover models.
By Laura M. Holson
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Jason Aaron Baca is good-looking, not handsome like the Ryans (Gosling and Reynolds) or rugged like Daniel Craig, who is fetching in a tailored Tom Ford suit. But when Mr. Baca, 42, slipped on a pair of dark aviator glasses recently, he looked remarkably like Tom Cruise in “Top Gun.”
He was dressed for work in a khaki military jumpsuit. And even though it was barely noon, he had already stopped by the gym to make sure his biceps and legs looked combat-strong. His assignment: To be a military helicopter pilot saved in a crash by a female rescuer with whom he once had a torrid affair. Now that they’re reunited, their passions have flared.
Mr. Baca is a cover model for romance novels. He has been on nearly 500 book covers, by his own account — one of scores of men like him vying to be heroic heartthrobs. Not since the flaxen-haired Fabio Lanzoni dominated drugstore book racks in the 1980s and 1990s, with his lion’s mane and bulging biceps, have cover models been in such demand.

Read the rest here: link.

 

How unusual are unusual sexual interests and behaviours?

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When people think of unusual sexual interests (i.e., kinks, fetishes, etc.), they usually assume that they're uncommon and perhaps even rare.

The corollary to this is that people with unusual sexual interests may feel that they need to keep their sexual interests and desires secret because others will not understand them and will be judgemental. For some people with unusual sexual interests, this can lead to feelings of shame, anxiety, and/or guilt.

In the clinical world, unusual sexual interests are thought of in three ways:

  1. paraphilic sexual interest - a sexual interest in something that is anomalous (i.e., unusual)
  2. paraphilia - a persistent and intense sexual interest in something that is anomalous (i.e., unusual)
  3. paraphilic disorder - a persistent and intense sexual interest in something that is anomalous (i.e., unusual), and that causes the person distress or problems in their lives

A recently published study from Quebec asked people about their experiences with unusual sexual interests and behaviours. While the study is by no means perfect (self-report bias, how well the sample matched the more general public, etc.), it does provide a rough snapshot of how common unusual sexual interests and behaviours may be. Here are the categories of sexual interests explained:

  • voyeurism: watching a stranger, who was unaware of your presence, while they were nude, undressing, or engaged in sex
  • fetishism: inanimate objects
  • exhibitionism: showing your genitals to an unsuspecting stranger
  • frotteurism: touching or rubbing oneself against an unsuspecting stranger
  • masochism: being made to suffer, or being dominated or humiliated
  • sadism: making someone suffer, or dominating, or physically or psychologically humiliating someone
  • transvestism: wearing clothes of the opposite sex
  • pedophilia: sex with a child aged 13 old or less, when you were an adult

This table shows the main results. The numbers are the percentages of people responding in the affirmative.

paraphilias kinks fetishes

Needless to say, interest in and desire for unusual sexual behaviours is not all that unusual. Keep in mind that other studies have reported a range of prevalences, with some reporting lower rates. You can find this study here: link.

Marty Klein with a fresh take on sexuality and pornography.

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Dr. Marty Klein, one North America's best know sex therapists, recently published a piece on pornography and sexuality. It's a much more nuanced view than you would normally encounter. He reinforces the idea of personal choice and acceptance. Check it out:

Rule 34: What It Says About Your Sexuality
Rule 34: If it exists, or you can imagine it, there is porn of it. No exceptions.
[...]
Rule 34 reminds us exactly what pornography is: a library of human eroticism. Pornography is a celebration of how humans can stretch their erotic imagination—sometimes in ways that disturb you or me. Nevertheless, pornography celebrates the erotic imagination BEYOND specific content. Like the ability to imagine the future, and the knowledge that we’re going to die, the enormous range of pornography is uniquely human.
Rule 34 also reminds us that people don’t necessarily want to do what they fantasize about. Sex with Kramer, George, & Jerry at the same time? Sex with a dolphin? Sex with someone about to be guillotined for stealing a loaf of bread? Sex with your grandmother at high noon on Times Square? A threesome with Batman & Robin?
[...]
Rule 34 helps us understand that about sexuality. Your porn isn’t right, it’s just your porn. That goes for No Porn, and Gentle Porn, too: it isn’t right, it’s just your way. And that goes for our sexuality in general—our way isn’t the right way, it’s just our way. A good sexual relationship involves people whose respective ways mesh: one person expands their vocabulary, or both do, or one narrows theirs, or both do. As long as people can fit together with dignity and celebration (um, there’s MY values again), it doesn’t matter what they do.

Go read the whole piece here: link.

Vice doc: Polyamorous unicorns.

Another post on the theme of not-to-everybody's-taste. But a poignant example of sexual and identity diversity.

From the description:

When a charismatic former alcoholic named Shaft had his life changed by Burning Man, he realized that he actually identifies as a unicorn. No longer able to face the monotony of work and life in the real world, he decided to form a polyamorous and hedonistic movement with other like-minded unicorns.
Donning glittery horns and galloping through London's streets, Shaft's unicorns set about trying to create a free-love utopia.
But as the unicorn revolution begins to clash with the realities of life and love, some of the "glampede" became disillusioned, and Shaft's reasons for starting this whole thing came into question.
Is this the hedonistic, free love revolution we were promised in the 60s? Or is it as fake as the unicorn horns they wear, a desperate and clever ploy by Shaft to escape his own inner loneliness by starting a cult?


Is it possible to be a feminist and like rough sex?

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The feminist movement, in its various forms, has fought long and hard against gender power inequality and the oppression of women by men (intentional and unintentional).

When it comes to sex, power is almost always at play. And in the context of consensual sexual experiences, playing with power dynamics can be hot and a fun part of sexual experiences. Rough sex is an extension of power.

For opposite sex couples, it might seem that feminism and male dominance in the bedroom are incompatible. But that's not necessarily the case, as explained in this article.

From Mashable:

Can you be a feminist and like rough sex?
By Yana Tallon-Hicks
Slapping, choking, spitting — if a woman gets off on a little consensual degradation in the bedroom, does that make her less of a feminist?
Many women who demand equal pay by day and harder spanks by night wake up feeling conflicted (and a little bruised) about their two favorite F-words: feminism and fucking.
Almost every version of feminism has been hell-bent on equalizing power structures and fighting gender-based oppression. But those feminists who are also hell-bent on bending over in the bedroom — using those very same power structures to get off — may be faced with questions about whether or not their political walk matches their pillow talk.
“I love being spat on during sex,” says Zoe, a 28-year-old graduate student I’m sipping espressos with. “The nastier the spit, the better. Does that make me a bad feminist? Do I need to burn all of my Audre Lorde books? Give back my Smith College degree?” She tosses aside a lock of hair as she laughs at the ridiculousness of her own rhetorical questions. I wonder how many times she’s caught a loogie.
Of the 1,500+ self-described “kinky” women Jennifer Eve Rehor studied in 2011, the majority were found to have participated in “at least one of the following activities for their own sensual or erotic pleasure: physical humiliation, deprivation, punishment (physical), breath play, obedience/training, verbal abuse/humiliation, other forced activities and service-oriented submission/domestic service.” They did so in the role of the receptive or submissive partner.

Read the rest here, including the ways in which kink, rough sex, and feminism can work in harmony: link.

 

 

Pornhub's 2015 review: Porn, porn, and more porn.

For those unfamiliar with Pornhub, it is a pornography sharing website. It's the biggest porn site on the web.

Pornhub has its own data analytics team, and they regularly publish findings from the piles of data that they collect. You can check out their blog, Pornhub Insights, here: link . I've posted from the blog before (I love stuff like this).

pornhub insights 2015

Every year, Pornhub Insights publishes its annual review. It's long, and chock full of super interesting data. Here are some of the key, or most interesting, findings of 2015:

  • 4,392,486,580 hours of porn were watched
  • there were 21.2 billion visits
  • the highest page views per capita belonged to the USA at 191 (Canada was 3rd with 165)
  • average length of visit was 9 minutes and 16 seconds
  • most searched term worldwide was lesbian; teen and stepmom were almost tied for second
  • teen and milf were searched almost equally frequently worldwide (although teen still more)
  • largest gain in proportion of searches was giantess (giant women), with a 1091% gain
  • top searched porn stars worldwide were: Kim Kardashian, Mia Khalifa, and Lisa Ann - these three were far more popular than the all others
  • 24% of viewers were women
  • the average age of viewers was 35.3, but 60% were millennials (a skewed distribution)

Below is the first of many interesting infographics. Go check out the whole review here: link.

pornhubinsights5

Turtlenecking.

Passed along by Alex (thanks!).

Turtlenecking is a fetish, or paraphilia. It's related to wool fetish (i.e., woolies). The images in this post are from a tumblr featuring turtlenecking: link (You can also check out a dedicated wool and bondage website with photos here: link)

The tumblr site includes a good description of turtlenecking and why it's such a turn-on for some people:

Turtlenecking or facewank is a fetish about rubbing face with collar of turtleneck sweater. It is a game when head plays a role of dick and turtleneck plays role of foreskin.  “Condom” can be used - nylon stocking or pantyhose over ther head to make frictions easyer and protect face. During frictions wool is producing smell which is important part of play. Also there are analog of cum - if turtlenecked person asked to keep liquid in mouth during wanking or if ballgag used which produces saliva drooling. Originaly fetish appeared at website  woolbondage.com. At the “students party”  ordinary turtleneck sweaters are in use. In advanced fetish games players can use special collars with rubber bands under armpits for moving collar down. There are self-turtlenecking and turtlenecking by partner. Practicers believe that stimulating of head which has many erogenous zones can have as a result sensitive emotions up to orgasm.

Dinosaur erotica.

Link posted in the comments section this week (thanks!).

When it comes to kinks, fetishes, and sexual interests in general, the rule goes - if you can imagine it, there's someone somewhere who gets turned on by it.

From IFLScience

Dinosaur Erotica Novels Are A Real Thing
by Tom Hale
As well-read as you may be, you’ve probably never heard of this obscure subgenre before. Yes, “dinosaur erotica” is dedicated to the niche world of dinosaur fetishes and mythical beast penchants, with some of its titles including “Mating with the Raptor,” "Taken at the Dinosaur Museum,” and “Ravished by the Triceratops“.
[...]
The Huffington Post asked Alara Branwen, coauthor of several dinosaur erotica books, about what she felt the appeal of fantasy dino-sex was. “I think it’s because dinosaur erotica appeals to our more base, carnal natures,” she said. “Some people also probably like the idea of a big, powerful, massive male roughly having sex with a smaller female. It’s like the ultimate sexual experience with an alpha male, which is something that we are all inherently wired to enjoy.”

Read the rest here: link.

New research on gynandromorphophilia, or sexual attraction to 'shemales' (pejorative).

Bailey Jay

Bailey Jay

It appears that a growing number of heterosexual-identifying men are seeking out pornography featuring performers who were born male, retain their penises, but otherwise are female. These trans women performers and sex workers are often called shemales or tgirls, although many consider both terms pejorative. Typically, their transitions include the use of feminizing (i.e., female) sex hormones and breast enhancement surgery.

Many heterosexual men with this sexual preference are understandably confused and question their sexual identities. I've worked with several of them in my clinical practice. The objective of our work together is to increase understanding, acceptance, and integration of their sexual interest within the context of their heterosexual identities (much like any other unusual sexual interest).

As for the exact nature and origins of this sexual interest, nobody is entirely sure. Some, such as Dan Savage of Savage Love, have suggested that what drives these men is a sexual interest in penises, but not men. Framed this way, trans women with penises are a man-free and safe way to satisfy a sexual interest in penises.

Another theory suggests that a sexual interest in trans women with penises is related to, or a manifestation of, autogynephilia. Autogynephilia is a paraphilia (an unusual sexual interest) seen in heterosexual men, and characterized by sexual fantasies of having a woman's body.

A study recently published in the journal Psychological Medicine is the first to shed some light on this topic.

The main findings were that men with gynandromorphophilia really are heterosexual (and not homosexual or bisexual), but exhibit a unique pattern of sexual responding to stimuli featuring trans women with penises.

You can read the full academic journal article here: link.

Abstract

Background
Gynandromorphophilia (GAMP) is sexual interest in gynandromorphs (GAMs; colloquially, shemales). GAMs possess a combination of male and female physical characteristics. Thus, GAMP presents a challenge to conventional understandings of sexual orientation as sexual attraction to the male v. female form. Speculation about GAMP men has included the ideas that they are homosexual, heterosexual, or especially, bisexual.

Method
We compared genital and subjective sexual arousal patterns of GAMP men with those of heterosexual and homosexual men. We also compared these groups on their self-ratings of sexual orientation and sexual interests.

Results
GAMP men had arousal patterns similar to those of heterosexual men and different from those of homosexual men. However, compared to heterosexual men, GAMP men were relatively more aroused by GAM erotic stimuli than by female erotic stimuli. GAMP men also scored higher than both heterosexual and homosexual men on a measure of autogynephilia.

Conclusions
Results provide clear evidence that GAMP men are not homosexual. They also indicate that GAMP men are especially likely to eroticize the idea of being a woman.

Art show at the Belkin: Maria Eichhorn's Film Lexicon of Sexual Practices.

Passed along by Franz (thanks!).

Running this fall at UBC's Belkin gallery is a retrospective of German artist Maria Eichhorn. One of the pieces is a series of films that she began almost 20 years ago. Here's the description from the Belkin's webpage:

Film Lexicon of Sexual Practices, begun in 1999, consists of 20 three-minute long (the length of a roll) 16 mm films. Each film depicts in a single shoot a close-up of the sexual activity named in the respective title – Anal coitus, Mouth, French Kissing, for example. Every time the work is exhibited, new films are produced. This is the fifth time the work has been shown and the Belkin has commissioned three new films for the exhibition: Japanese bondage, Wax play and Needle Play. Visitors to the exhibition can choose films from the titles listed on the wall and request the films to be screened by the attending projectionist.

More information: link.

Possibly another field trip?

Soul mates.

The idea of a soul mate, or one true love, is one of those deceptively lovely myths that we've all been sold (I'm looking at you Disney princess and prince movies).

A study of Americans found that 73% believed in the idea of a soul mate. The problem with this sort of belief is that it can lead to relationship and partner dissatisfaction. The reality, no matter how good, will never live up to the fantasy (i.e., the ideal) of that one perfect person.

This is not to say they aren't lots of fantastic people out there who would be a great fit, but the idea of a single person who is absolutely 100% perfect is a trap.

Someone in the comments section passed along a clip by Tim Minchin, the comedian, and piece by xkcd, the artist and satirist, on the subject (thanks!). Here's the clip:

And an excerpt from the piece by xkcd:

But what if we did have one randomly-assigned perfect soul mate, and we couldn’t be happy with anyone else? Would we find each other?
We’ll assume your soul mate is set at birth. You know nothing about who or where they are, but—as in the romantic cliché—you’ll recognize each other the moment your eyes meet.
Right away, this raises a few questions. For starters, is your soul mate even still alive? A hundred billion or so humans have ever lived, but only seven billion are alive now (which gives the human condition a 93% mortality rate). If we’re all paired up at random, 90% of our soul mates are long dead.

Read the rest, with lots of fun doodles, here: link

Flare magazine gets racy with an article on sex parties.

Passed along by Ola (thanks!):

I mentioned to you in class about the positive porn movement that has been happening in Toronto. I originally heard about it from this article in Flare, a women's fashion magazine (I guess they decided to push some boundaries!)
Here is a link to the article: link.
I found it really interesting! Hard to imagine being in a room with a group of strangers and watching two people have sex without it being "pervy" as the author described. I found it really heartwarming how they handled the man who approached them wanted to perform in their porn if he lost some weight, and they quickly dismissed any notion about him needing to change.

And an excerpt from the article:

I’ve been to many CrushTO parties since that first one. Whenever I mention them, I can see in people’s eyes a vision of naked hedonists stuffing things in every orifice. But they’re less like raunchy orgies than sexy dance parties. Attendees of every size and shape wear as little or as much as they like. Some go wild and topless on the dance floor, while shyer folks can play spin-the-bottle in a quiet corner. You sense that what you look like matters less than your joie de vivre. Dan, a 34-year-old payroll administrator, has been an I’d Tap That regular from the beginning, attending almost every event over the past couple years (and even appearing in two Spit shoots—shocking, given how timid he seems). He likes the fact that there is open communication about what potential partners are looking for: “It’s an accepting atmosphere. I’ve had the confidence to do things that I never would’ve done before—and I don’t even mean the porn shoots, I mean just talking to new people.”
Lucia O’Sullivan, Canada Research Chair in Adolescent Sexual Health Behaviour and a University of New Brunswick psychology professor, says that millennials, despite their wanton gallivanting, have “one of the most conservative sexual health records—definitely in comparison to their parents and grandparents. The research shows there are lower-than-ever rates of pregnancy and abortion.” She does grant that, while use of birth control and condoms has improved, STIs are still on the rise, but that uptick is happening across generational and sexual-preference spectrums, not just among free-wheeling Gen-Yers. “Their attitudes are much more progressive. They’re more open and appreciative of diversity,” she continues. “A lot of people confuse this approach to sexuality with a more permissive sexual life, but young people are still making very healthy decisions.”

 

And more from Ola:

Here is a link to the people who hosted the party and are "leading an anything-goes, everyone-welcome social sex revolution": link. The shoot was specifically for their subset magazine called "Spit".

 

A dominatrix challenges some long-held beliefs.

A very unique perspective on some of our cultural myths and assumptions, from a professional dominatrix.

From the article at the Rumpus:

There’s no such thing as:

  1. Intimacy without vulnerability
  2. An accurate definition of sex 
  3. A typical submissive man
  4. A woman who isn’t someone’s wildest fantasy
  5. A neat cause-and-effect explanation for the nuances of human psychology
  6. “Normal”
  7. A replacement for hard work
  8. A one-sided relationship
  9. Universal taboos
  10. A good age to stop playing

Read the whole thing to get all the details(it's a good read): link.

The Hanky Code: Signalling sexual preferences in gay culture.

The Hanky Code originated in 1970s San Francisco gay culture, although some have suggested that it goes back to the time of the Gold Rush, when access to women was limited.

It is a way for men looking to have sex with men can communicate the type(s) of sex they like, and what type of role they would like to play (e.g., top versus bottom). It may vary slightly by region to region, but generally the code is pretty consistent.

The Gay Entertainment Directory created the following decoder that captures most combinations. Check it out (click to make larger):

Girls pushing stuck cars.

CarStuckGirls.com caters to those who get turned on by women with stuck cars. While I doubt it's a common sexual interest, one can easily imagine why this might be a turn-on. It plays on the damsel in distress theme, only rather than rescuing the princess from her prison in a castle, it's scantily clad women whose cars are stuck in the mud or snow. Here's the description from the photo set and video from which I selected the photo above. From CarStuckGirls.com:

Leanna and Kaitlin go offroading with daddy's Jeep and have lots of fun! They drive over rough and smooth, up and down and finally also through some mud. Suddenly the wheels start spinning and the Jeep stops. Are the girls stuck? Well, until they find how to switch into 4-wheel-drive. They keep going ... but not far, because now all 4 wheels are stuck in mud. And the mud is thick and gluey! The girls try to get out there driving deliberately forward and backward all over again. But the wheels keep digging deeper into the mud ... Finally Leanna takes her turn in driving and Kaitlin steps out and tries to push the Jeep from the front. On the way there she can hardly move to the mud and keeps getting stuck with her boots! And over more she also falls into the mud when trying to push the Jeep out. Tough luck. The girls are really in a mess ...!!!

Many more photo sets here.

Important science: Rats tell us why men love lingerie.

Why Men Love Lingerie: Rat Study Offers Hints by Tanya Lewis

Just as lingerie turns on human males, tiny jackets do the same for male rats, a new study finds.

In an unusual study, researchers allowed virgin male rats to have sex with females wearing special rodent "jackets." Later, when scientists gave the males a chance to mate again, the animals preferred to mate with jacket-wearing female rats rather than with unclad ones.

The findings suggest that male animals can learn to associate the sight and feel of clothing with sex. [51 Sultry Facts About Sex]

In other words, male rats learn that "each time my partner wears lingerie [a jacket], I'm going to have sex," said study co-author Gonzalo R. Quintana Zunino, a psychologist working in the lab of psychologist Jim Pfaus at Concordia University in Montreal.

In previous studies, Zunino, Pfaus, and their colleagues trained rats to associate a particular odor (almond) with having sex, and male rats preferentially mated with females bearing that scent.

This time, the researchers wanted to know whether rats could learn to associate sex with other contextual cues, such as texture. In one experiment, a dozen virgin male rats were allowed to mate with females wearing jackets. Then, the males were put in a chamber with two sexually receptive female rats, one wearing a jacket and one "au naturel."

In general, when rats do the deed, the male approaches the female from behind and grabs hold of her on both sides, which excites her, Zunino told Live Science. If a human experimenter grabs the female in this way, she does a little wiggling dance, he said. If the female is wearing a jacket, the male will feel it with his whiskers while they are mating.

The trained male rats chose to mate with the jacket-clad females more often than with the unjacketed females, the researchers found. In addition, the males made more mounting attempts and ejaculated more quickly with the jacketed females.

In a second experiment, the researchers exposed virgin male rats first to jacketed females that were sexually receptive, then to unjacketed females that were not sexually receptive. Then they put the rats in a chamber similar to the first experiment, with one female wearing a jacket and one not wearing a jacket.

Again, the trained males preferred to mate with the jacketed females, mounted them more often and ejaculated more quickly, compared to with the unjacketed females.

Zunino and his colleagues also wanted to know how the jacket experience affected activity in the rats' brains. Right after the male rats mated with the jacketed females, the researchers sacrificed the animals and injected a dye into their brains that shows the activity of a gene called c-fos, which is a measure of neural activation. Specifically, they looked at c-fos activity in the pleasure centers of the rats' brains, including regions called the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens.

Males that mated with jacket-wearing females showed more c-fos activity in these brain areas than did males who mated with jacketless females, preliminary results showed.

Taken together, the researchers experiments reveal that rats can learn to associate sex with a variety of contextual cues, including the texture of clothing. While rats are quite different from humans, lingerie may have a similar effect on human males, Zunino said.

The findings were presented Nov. 17 at the 44th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C.