2010.10.27 Can I use the word "bonk"?

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Today I would like to tell you about a book I just read. I write that sentence as a challenge to myself, to see if I can actually  do it.

Can I write a column about human sexuality in a family newspaper in America? Maybe in some other culture where sex is spoken of more openly, but what about here?

The name of the book is “Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex” by Mary Roach. Roach is a very good science writer. What sets her apart from others is that she also has a great sense of humor.

She’s also willing to insert herself into her research to obtain first-hand knowledge. I won’t tell you what she convinced her husband to do inside an MRI chamber. I’ll just leave that to your imagination.

Many books begin with the heading “Forward.” Not Mary Roach’s. She starts off with “Foreplay.”

Roach explains that she came across a study while hanging out in a medical school library that opened her eyes to sex research. Before that moment, it never occurred to her that human sexual response—like sleep or digestion or any other bodily function—had been so thoroughly studied in the laboratory.

Then she thought about the difficulties of that research: the raised eyebrows, the suspicious wives, the difficulty in obtaining funding.

So what do I want to tell you about this book? Not much. I want you to go to the library yourself and ask to borrow by interloan a book about sex and science. Some of you will be pleased that you did; others will be shocked or disgusted or embarrassed.

Overall, it’s just amazing to learn what’s been studied over the last hundred years or so. Probably the bulk of the research took place since the 1940s (Alfred Kinsey, Masters and Johnson), but there are surprises from earlier decades.

Before humans were studied, other mammals found themselves before the prying eyes of scientists. Much of what was understood—incorrectly, it turns out—came from transferring knowledge gained by watching monkeys, mice and even porcupines.

Roach takes readers to a pig farm in Denmark where research continues on how to produce the most piglets via artificial insemination.

If a sow is stimulated during the process, a six percent increase in fertility is realized. There are five steps to the process, starting with boar slobber. There used to be a sixth step, when the farm worker lay on the sow’s back and.…

I’m going too far here. Let’s change the topic to rats. Dr. Ahmed Shafik of Cairo dressed 75 lab rats in polyester pants for a year. He was interested in the effect of polyester on bonking and learned that those dressed in polyester bonked less frequently. Roach wonders if it was just harder for them to get dates.

There’s so much in this book that I can’t discuss, but I will say this: in a study of odors that women found stimulating, at the top of the list was a mixture of cucumber and Good ‘n’ Plenty candy.

Roach closes the book with a little information about amazing bonking. When she started writing, she had a “naïve fantasy” that she would find a lab somewhere in the world that was working on finding the secret to the greatest of bonk.

With time running short before publishing her book, Roach finally found that lab. It was described in a book written in 1979 by the famous Masters and Johnson team.

There was the usual display of tables and graphs, along with comparisons of “functional efficiency” and “failure incidence,” but this time the researchers stepped aside from the standard science and looked at the quality of the act.

Oh, I didn’t mention the name of the book: “Homosexuality in Perspective.” It was the committed gay and lesbian couples who, shall we say, were really going bonkers.

Why? Simply put, they took their time.

Roach gives her appreciation to all the researchers who over many decades have pursued an undertaking that has been unappreciated, difficult and heavily criticized. But overall, it’s taken us to a happier place, she said, and in her typically humorous way, she closed the book by saying, “Hats and pants off to you all.”

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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