The Sexist

Does Bonobo Porn Turn You On, Ladies?


Mmm hmm, yeah, are you hot yet, ladies?

Quick quiz! Does the sight of bonobos fornicating, paired with the sounds of chimpanzees fornicating, turn you on?

- If you answered "NO," you are a man.

- If you answered "NO," but are secretly lying, you are a woman.

Yesterday on Slate's "XX Factor," Susannah Breslin penned a short post on the implications of Daniel Bergner's "What Do Women Want?" on the feminist critique of the porn industry (read my take on Bergner's piece here). In an aside, Breslin asks, "Is not one among us going to confess to being turned on by bonobo porn?"

Bergner's query raises an interesting question about the research quoted in Bergner's piece. As Bergner reports, Queen’s University psychologist Meredith Chivers found that women are physically aroused by bonobo porn, but report not being aroused by said bonobo porn. What accounts for the disconnect? Do women truly register no mental arousal from the bonobo porn despite a clear physical interest? Or are they simply ashamed of getting turned on by bonobos doing it?

Fortunately, most women are able to answer Breslin's question with an honest answer, which is: "What the fuck—how am I supposed to know if I'm turned on by bonobo porn?"

Whatever the implications of Chivers' study on female sexuality, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on how thankful I am to not have "forced bonobo porn viewing with electrical arousal indicator inserted in my vagina" in my sexual repertoire. I disagreed with Bergner's conclusion in the piece, in which he described female sexuality as "unanswerable." The question of whether or not I am a closet bonobo porn enthusiast, however, I'm pretty comfortable remaining unanswered.

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