Intellectual Turing Test Questionnaire

I have decided to do another Intellectual Turing Test, by popular demand, and because observably I am really bad at keeping this blog updated and I think other people should produce some content for it for a change.

The Intellectual Turing Test is an idea invented by Bryan Caplan. The regular Turing test is a test for programmers: can you write a computer program which a human being cannot tell apart from another human being? The Intellectual Turing Test is a test for people who believe things: can you explain your opponent’s viewpoints in such a way that your opponent cannot tell it apart from someone who legitimately believes the opinion? If you can, it shows you understand your opponent’s positions on a deep level.

How it’s going to work: once the final topic is chosen, I will write one to three questions and leave registration for the ITT open for a week. I will give everyone (on both sides) two weeks to write answers to the questions from both the pro side and the anti side. I will run first the pro submissions and then the anti submissions, and the audience will vote on whether they think it’s real or a fake. At the end, I’ll reveal who wrote what and give special recognition to the people who did the best job of impersonating the other side. You may read previous ITTs in this blog here.

Unfortunately, in the past there has been difficulty finding a topic where half the participants are on one side and half of them are on the other. Therefore, I have decided to do a questionnaire first.

The questionnaire contains a series of statements and the option to say whether you are on the “pro” or “anti” side, or wouldn’t participate. (If you have a complex special-snowflake opinion that doesn’t fall neatly into pro or anti, please check “wouldn’t participate.” If you find the topic boring and would not want to participate, please check “wouldn’t participate.”) There are a variety of topics, so even if you find the first couple suggestions unappealing, please keep going.

There is also an option to give me your email, so I can email you when I have chosen the final topic.

Please share as widely as you can! The more diverse a set of participants we have, the more interesting the Intellectual Turing Test is for everyone.

Letter #26: Pedophiliac Attractions to Children

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[I have posted this letter from my advice column over here, because Medium doesn’t let me hold new commenters’ comments for moderation, and I would rather not subject the letter writer to the unfiltered vitriol of the entire Internet on this subject. Comments will be moderated closely and misbehavior will be particularly likely to result in a ban. Please be compassionate to the real person who is in a very bad situation.]
[content warning for description of attraction to children]

I’m a trans woman and started HRT three months ago. For the most part the experience has been immensely positive, and has rescued me from bad depression, but there’s one (possible) big downside: it might be causing me to be (non-exclusively) sexually attracted to pre-teen girls; the feelings seem to correlate in intensity with level of estrogenisation. I expect this to go away and not stay (it’s only been a couple of weeks I’ve been fully feeling it), but I’m still anxious about the possibility.

What should I do if this turns out to be real? Is it responsible for me to continue HRT knowing it has this effect? Should I seek out therapy for this, and if so how? Do you know any healthy ways of managing such desires, or deal with stigma? How will I be able to find adult partners who won’t hate me? I am very anti-contact/anti-csem and don’t think I’m at serious risk of offending; I have been badly hurt multiple times by previous interactions with the mental health profession as a child and as an adult, which makes me nervous about seeing a therapist for this, but am open to the idea.

(Also, to forestall the question: I don’t think this is pOCD. I do have other distressing intrusive thoughts, but I don’t feel panicky now at the thought I might commit/have committed/be committing sexual violation, and I don’t think pOCD makes you moan and roll your eyes back in ecstasy at the thought of making out with a kid.)

This is definitely not an effect I’ve ever heard of anyone having with estrogen, and it seems unusual. However, it doesn’t seem implausible to me that this is an effect for you: testosterone and estrogen both typically lead to changes in people’s experience of their sexuality, and you drew the worst fucking hand. 

I am not a doctor and am not qualified to diagnose anyone with POCD, especially through a letter; I encourage you to consider the possibility that you have it carefully, but will proceed under the assumption that you are attracted to preteen girls.

You mention that you don’t think you’re at risk of harming a child. In fact, the same thing is true of many people in your situation! The research suggests that pedophilia and child molestation are, while linked, distinct. (Wikipedia has a good summary.) Somewhere between a quarter and half of all child molesters are pedophiliac. It is difficult to know how many pedophiles molest children, because non-offending pedophiles are typically closeted, but most experts believe a large proportion of pedophiles never hurt a child. 

You mention seeking out therapy, and that’s a lot of people’s first piece of advice for people struggling with pedophilia. Unfortunately, despite years of research, no one has to my knowledge come up with a reliable way of treating paraphilias. In fact, sex offender treatment programs sometimes increase recidivism rates. Our best treatment strategy is medication that reduces libido.

What is worse, seeking therapy is going to be very difficult. All therapists are mandated reporters, which means that if they suspect you are abusing a child they must report it to the authorities. Therapists typically vary wildly in their interpretation of these rules, and it’s difficult to know how a therapist will interpret it until you open up to them — and potentially face serious consequences. I don’t mean this to discourage you from seeking therapy, but simply as a note of caution. 

However, you don’t actually need a therapist. You will need someone who can listen to you, a source of nonjudgmental support, affirmation, and acceptance and of advice and even criticism when necessary. A therapist can provide that, but so can a friend or family member or (if you’re religious) a religious leader. (You can check the list of mandated reporters in your state here.)

I would suggest talking to at most two or three people: you don’t want your secret getting out any further than you need for support. Choose people who are trustworthy and keep secrets. Select someone you feel comfortable around. Find someone who is calm, doesn’t freak out, and is willing to hear you out about things. 

Unfortunately, many people do not have a friend that trustworthy and have to seek other options. I don’t know anyone with experience in these groups, but this website seems to link to a lot of support groups for non-offending minor-attracted people; perhaps one of them will help you?

Seeking support is an important first step for anyone in your shoes. The other steps you should take depend a lot on your personal experience of your attraction to preteens. Whether or not to continue taking estrogen is a personal decision. You can continue to take estrogen and manage your feelings on your own. You can choose to go off estrogen (and explain to those who ask that you can’t take estrogen for medical reasons), if you find yourself struggling with temptation or if the costs of experiencing this attraction aren’t worth it for you. 

You can also choose to remain on estrogen and add a libido-lowering medication: the easiest ones to obtain, which have the fewest side effects, are SSRIs. You can get SSRIs by telling your primary care physician that you have depression; the screening is usually minimal, although it may help to look up the symptoms of depression ahead of time. The website Roman sells sertraline (an SSRI) legally, online, and with minimal fuss as a treatment for premature ejaculation, if making a doctor’s visit is too difficult. Even if your first choice of SSRI doesn’t work, you can keep trying. Different SSRIs have different effects, and an increased dose or a different SSRI may be exactly what you need to make your sexuality more manageable. (As a second-line option for people assigned male at birth, the research suggests antiandrogens, but presumably you are already on those.)  

Some people suggest that pedophiles avoid all contact with children or being alone with children. Again, I think this is a personal decision. It is important to remain scrupulously nonsexual in your interactions with preteen girls, and if you can’t do this you must avoid them. But people attracted to adults are often attracted to people that they must remain scrupulously nonsexual with, and most of the time we do not implement the Pence Rule. You will have to talk with your support people and figure out what a reasonable set of boundaries is for you.  

However, if you have a crush on a preteen girl — and particularly if you’re starting to think she has a crush on you, or she’s flirting with you — it is important to distance yourself. Avoid being alone together, giving gifts, cuddling, and other “plausibly deniable” flirtatious or romantic behavior. Make a list of the many reasons to avoid feeding your crush (suitably redacted if you’re afraid of snoops). Consider drawing your attention to the flaws of your crush and making a deliberate effort to notice all the things that would be bad about it. 

Because you can’t distance yourself from your own child, I would advise against having children if you have not already; if you do have children, this is a strong point in favor of SSRIs or going off estrogen. 

Think carefully about whether you use written or drawn pornography involving preteen girls. (Of course, you should not use child porn created through raping actual children.) For some people, porn is an outlet for desires they cannot ethically put into practice. For others, it reinforces and strengthens their paraphilia. Reflect on which of these is truest for you. Similarly, consider whether ageplay is a satisfying expression of your fantasies for you, strengthens them, or simply does nothing. 

Finding a romantic partner may be difficult. You do not have to disclose your attractions and, in a more casual/secondary relationship, I wouldn’t; the stigma is too harsh. When looking for a primary partner, you might consider bringing up the topic of pedophilia early on in the relationship, perhaps on the third or fourth date (or equivalent). You can ask in a sort of general way how they feel about sex offender registries, treatment for pedophiles, or lolicon; you can also discuss how they feel about keeping secrets. If there’s a positive result, you can come out to them. This will be risky, particularly if they decide to tell your friends! But it’s best not to have a long relationship with someone who, while personally tolerant, does not want to commit to someone with attractions like yours — that way just leads to heartbreak.

In having pedophiliac attractions, you are in one of the unluckiest positions a person can be in. It seems like you’re taking a good approach to it: you need to accept your sexuality as it is — unchangeable — while taking steps to avoid harming children. I want to say that this is an unfair burden which has been placed on you, and that it is a brave and admirable thing to exist with this stigmatized trait without harming others. 

Good luck!

On Banning Things From RPGs

I’ve recently gotten into tabletop RPGs, and as such I’ve been reading more GMing blogs. One thing I noticed is that a lot of GMing blogs are very eager to suggest that various tropes and character types have no place at the table.

Evil PCs. Chaotic neutral PCs. Mixed-alignment parties. Gnomes. Kender. Bards. Comic relief characters in general. Characters who are blatantly a ripoff of the player’s favorite book series. Player vs. player combat. Intraparty conflict in general. Sex and romance. Total party kills. Tomb of Horrors. Even, in some cases, homophobia, racism, and oppression.

Of course, when you list out all of the tropes that someone somewhere thinks should be banned from tabletop, you realize that that sharply limits the stories you can tell. Star Wars: Han’s chaotic neutral at the beginning, Han and Leia fall in love, the Empire is suspiciously fascist, and isn’t this all a little reminiscent of Kurosawa? Lord of the Rings: Boromir literally stabs another party member and Gollum is evil. You can’t even draw on your favorite D&D comics for inspiration: Order of the Stick has an evil party member, a bard, and themes of anti-goblin oppression.

And I think “all of this is banned” is actually extreme overkill for the problem that it’s trying to solve.

There are basically two issues that come up with these sort of problem tropes.

First, there are characters run by problem players. The comic relief character whose player is… just… not funny. The chaotic neutral character who’s as likely to jump off a bridge as cross it. The mentally ill character who randomly slaps people in the face with fish. The evil character played by someone who thinks “evil” means “Mason Verger without the subtlety.” The player whose oppressed minority character is played like an after-school special.

And, unfortunately, there are more serious problem players. The sexual harasser, for example. The player who brings out-of-character conflict into the game. The racist or homophobe who uses “I’m just playing my character” as an excuse for vile bigotry.

But I am concerned that a one-size-fits-all “ban the evil PCs and everything will be fine” approach is inappropriate. It unfairly punishes the non-problem players for what the problem players are doing. If I have an interesting idea for a thoughtful portrayal of a neurodivergent character, it is not fair to not let me play it just because that guy keeps slapping people in the face with fish. I have no control over whether he slaps people in the face with fish, if I could I would get him to stop, but whether some random other person can handle a neurodivergent character responsibly has no bearing on whether I can.

Of course, in some situations like pick-up play with strangers, you’re not going to have a better option for dealing with problem players than the blunt instrument of banning tropes and characters that tend to create problems. But when you’re playing with friends, often you can have an open conversation with the player. Think about their track record with similar characters in the past. Ask them questions about how they intend to play the character. Listen to their description. Bring up your concerns. It’s usually pretty easy to tell apart someone who has thought through why their Lawful Evil character would go on heroic adventures from someone who thinks “evil” means “steals things from party members for no reason.” If you still have concerns, you can approve the character provisionally (making it clear to the player that you will replace the character if there are problems) or play through a one shot with the character.

I am also concerned that “ban the things problem players misuse” often winds up a Band-Aid solution for deeper problems. Sometimes players act out to express boredom or dissatisfaction with the game: for example, a lolrandom chaotic neutral character who shoots the king in the head might be the player’s way of expressing frustration that they are being carried from plot hook to plot hook and they don’t feel like they get to make meaningful choices within the game. If you simply ban chaotic neutral characters, you’re going to miss that the player isn’t having a good time.

More seriously, some problem players can’t be fixed by banning the things they use to make trouble. Think about the serious problem players I listed above: do you really think the homophobe is going to stop being homophobic if you declare that your game world treats gay and straight couples the same? That the sexual harasser is going to stop sexually harassing people if you ban romance? That the person who brings out-of-character conflict into the game is going to magically stop doing that if you say you can’t attack other party members?

Look, I’ve been there too. It’s easy to think that your serious problem player will be fine if you create enough rules about their behavior– especially if they’re a talented writer or a close friend or otherwise someone you really want in your game. But it doesn’t work. If someone is a serious problem player, they do not belong in your game. This is a matter of basic emotional safety and comfort for everyone at the table.

I’ve been mostly writing about this from the GM side, but I think problem GMs are actually a more serious concern. Banning sex/romance, oppression, and total party kills (for example) are often all attempts to control the behavior of a problem GM: one who sexually harasses their players, has an offensively inaccurate understanding of how racism works, or views tabletop as a competitive game they win by making their players suffer.

The problem is that GMs have a lot of power over the game world, and it’s difficult to create a set of rules that will prevent a bad GM from abusing it. A GM who takes gleeful delight in slaughtering an entire party will continue to be a bad GM even if you ban total party kills. A GM who sexually harasses their players can simply ignore your limits about romance. And even a GM who incorrectly thinks they’re funny can fill their world with puns to a degree Piers Anthony would find excessive. The ultimate solution is not to ban certain content but to avoid games with shitty GMs.

Second, there is disagreement about expectations and what players want out of the game. Everything I listed above– antisocial PCs, intraparty conflict, comic relief, sex/romance, total party kills, oppression– is a totally reasonable thing to ban from some games. The key word there is some.

As a player and as a GM, combat bores me. I am willing to tolerate up to three or four dice rolls of it to advance the story, but much beyond that and I’ll be playing solitaire and waiting for it to be over. I typically don’t play systems which allow for much combat. When I do, I set expectations that this will be a combat-light game; I would strongly consider banning character builds designed primarily for fighting.

That isn’t because combat is inherently bad or because people who like combat are problem players. It is just that I personally do not like combat.

If you don’t like romance in your games, or want to feel like a team with your fellow party members, or don’t want your PC to die without your say-so, that is a completely okay way to play tabletop. No game is for everyone. People like different things in their games. But by the same token people who like romance or intraparty conflict or kill-em-all games are also okay. They are not trying to play the games you want to play and then mysteriously failing because they’re just terrible at RPGs. That’s like reading Pride and Prejudice and going “this book is a terrible sequel to the Hunger Games! We should just ban the Regency setting from novels. It makes problem authors write entire books where no poor people get murdered in a reality show to appease the jaded and decadent elite.”

I see people say “you shouldn’t put homophobia or sexism or racism in your tabletop games because they’re supposed to be fun escapism.” If that’s what you want out of games, that’s perfectly okay. But for some people (including people oppressed on various axes!) settings with homophobia and sexism and racism are how they have fun escapism. It can be validating of the suffering you face; it can feel empowering to have your characters overcome oppression in a way that you can’t; it can be a way to process and work through the shit that happens to you over the course of a day; it can be comforting to experience bad things in a safe environment where you can always call red and the bad things get put away at the end of the session; and there’s always that immortal and popular reason I Don’t Know Why I Like It I Just Do.

Some people, when they’ve had a bad day, relax with a Disney movie or a romance novel; some people relax with a Stephen King book or true crime; some people like both. It’s a natural axis of human variation.

I think the big problems happen when people don’t communicate their desires and expectations ahead of time and wind up in a game that isn’t suited for them. Much of the time, the solution is for the GM to be firm: while there’s no need to ban comic relief characters from every table, it’s going to be tonally wrong for your horror game, and the GM should make that clear to the player who has this great idea for a Malkavian.

But often it is hard to articulate what the problem is before it shows up. I myself was a problem player in a couple of games before I realized that I hated combat. Most people don’t think to themselves “it’s important to me in an RPG to feel like my character is part of a team all working together for a common cause without a lot of conflict” or “I really like arguing with other players about hard moral dilemmas” before the paladin and the rogue start arguing about whether to give the treasure away or keep it for themselves. It can take a couple of failed games before you learn what your preferences are.

As a GM, I think it makes sense to keep an extra eye on the much-banned content. Things people think don’t belong in RPGs are on the list for a reason: they’re preferences people very often have, but might have trouble articulating to themselves. If you’re starting a new game, you might want to treat it as a checklist: make sure all your players are on the same page about romance/sex, party morality, party unity, oppression and other content potentially upsetting to many people, character death, and the tone of the game. If you’re running a game and some of that content comes up unexpectedly, pause and make sure everyone at the table (not just the direct participants) is okay with it before proceeding. Through making intentional choices about the genre and tone of your game, you can have a fun experience whatever your preferences are about gnomes.

(One final note: if your players want to play someone who is Obviously Just Tyrion Lannister or Obviously Just Han Solo or whatever, who cares. Let them. Originality is overrated and it’s often easier for people to play a character they already understand than to make up a character from scratch. Chill.)

April Fools Post #5

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I am not, I see, the first dimensional traveler to exist in this body. But how can I make you understand the strangeness of your world to me?

Imagine, if you will, a world where everyone is illiterate. There are no books to read; TV shows do not have subtitles; if you want people to know the rules at your local pool, you have to hire a person to stand near the door and explain it to each of them individually. There are a few simple signs– a red octagon means STOP, a yellow triangle means YIELD– but it has never progressed beyond that stage.

But it is not that this world has not invented literacy. Indeed, there are many written languages. However, these are essentially only known by the mute, and those who work with them. Perhaps a child will learn to spell a few words as part of the disability acceptance unit at their school: their name, maybe “mother” and “father,” maybe their favorite color. But if you have the capacity to use speech, in this world, you do not read.

I speak, of course, of the fact that your world does not have sign.

“But we don’t need sign,” you might say. “We can speak.” Certainly! As long as you never go to a concert. Or want to talk during a movie. Or have dinner at a crowded restaurant. Or take care of a newborn who sleeps lightly and wakes up often. Or want to send a message to someone without other people overhearing. Or want to talk at the same time that another person is talking. Or have a migraine, or autism, or any of dozens of conditions that lead to a sensitivity to sound.

Since none of those things are true, in fact, you would benefit a good deal from sign. But inexplicably instead of learning it you all choose to yell at each other at bars. Why.

I can’t believe how rude people in this world are in public spaces. In my world, if you’re in a restaurant or coffeeshop or on a train or an airplane, you automatically switch to signing. That way, everyone can understand what other people are saying, and no one has to overhear random scraps of other people’s conversations, and if you prefer to focus on your book you can.

In my world, half of all people are deaf. There is an pandemic childhood disease– unfortunately, we have had no luck in developing a vaccine– that nearly everyone catches. It is quite harmless and mostly just gives you a few days off school, but a little more than half of all sufferers wind up losing their hearing.

We would never consider the deaf to be disabled. Deafness is an advantage in so many ways. You’d never hire a hearing person to work construction, or in a factory, or at a stadium in any position other than sound engineer: hearing people can’t focus when there are loud noises, and it can lead to hearing damage such as unpleasant ringing sounds. Deaf people have a huge advantage in focusing: they can simply turn off their cochlear implants and zone out. And deaf people can live in cities, where you can hear sounds of construction and cars and your neighbors upstairs. Hearing people find cities very stressful.

And even if there’s not a specific advantage to being deaf, deafness is just… normal. Sure, deaf people have to go to different concerts than hearing people. (At deaf concerts, the music is loud enough to make a hearing person go deaf, because they usually like the vibrations.) Sure, they have to buy TTY devices if they want to use the phone. I have to spend ten minutes looking for my glasses every morning and you wouldn’t call me disabled about it. Some things are genuinely disabling, like chronic pain or using a wheelchair. But you people take an ordinary part of human variation– one that, as many variations do, has both advantages and disadvantages– refuse to accommodate it, and consider it a disability.

In your world, deaf children are often deprived of language in their critical period, because their parents don’t sign. In my world, this never happens. Is the problem deafness, or is the problem the fact that no one uses sign for no reason I can understand?

It’s a petty example, but think about video games. In my world, many first-person shooters include extra information through sound, but also include loud, distracting or unpleasant noises. (You know, the way that it actually happens during wars?) That way, the experience is fair for both deaf and hearing gamers. Your world refuses to make games that deaf players can play on an even field, and then claims that it’s their fault for not being able to hear!

Or think about movies. You CAN put subtitles in movie theaters. I have seen it. Why don’t you put subtitles routinely? Or cars honking. Why do cars honk? You can hear! It is unpleasant for you too! Replacing it with a flashing bright light, as we do, minimizes the effect on innocent bystanders.

Of course, not everything in our society accommodates deaf and hearing people equally. For example, our world’s musicals are traditionally signed and sung at the same time: the singing is what the characters are saying to each other, while the sign conveys their underlying emotions and thoughts. Of course all musicals have subtitles, but the experience is not at all the same.

In general, dance for us is much closer to song than to the abstract artform of your world. The distinction between dance and poetry, in particular, is often not clear: much poetry is intended to be signed, as poetry in your world is often intended to be read aloud. And this reminds me of the complexities of written sign! The way even fiction in written speech uses written sign to talk about what gestures people make, the various ways people have come up with to indicate a shaky hand or an abortive movement, the meaning of whether you use written sign or written speech or switching between them…

This is a tangent and I intend primarily to complain about your universe’s poor design. I have complained about subtitles and video game design, but above all you need to learn sign. I propose an intensive program of education in the nation’s elementary schools: full immersion in ASL from the moment they step into kindergarten. After a generation’s investment, all hearing people will be able to use both speech and sign, and your world will be tremendously improved.

Please ask me any questions you have and I’ll be sure to answer them over the course of today! I hope I will be able to convince you all of the necessity of learning sign and depathologizing deafness.

Sex-Positive, Porn-Critical?

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In the past, I have had a bunch of pretty positive things to say about porn.

Mea culpa.

To be clear, I have pretty positive things to say about some porn. I have nothing but positive feelings about AO3, pictures of hot naked people, the Best Women’s Erotica series, the Erogamer, porn comics, caption porn Tumblrs (RIP), the work produced by many independent camgirls, and the noble person who put every sex scene from Call Me By Your Name on Pornhub. But man, guys, mainstream video porn– the thing you get if you open up the tube sites and start scrolling– that stuff is actually pretty bad!

Now, in my defense, everyone else is entirely wrong about why it is bad. Criticism of mainstream video porn usually involves listing a bunch of sex acts I’ve done and then explaining that no real human being would ever do them. It is then explained that these acts are inherently degrading and objectifying and it is impossible to do them in a way that is respectful of other people’s personhood. The statistic that 88% of porn films include violence against women is thrown around, along with the fact that the women typically respond with pleasure. Finally, the explanation is wrapped up by explaining that all of this will lead to an epidemic of violence against women and porn-induced erectile dysfunction.

Taking it from last to first: It is difficult to know how common erectile dysfunction is. One review suggests a prevalence of somewhere between 3% and 76.5%. Therefore, it is very difficult to know whether erectile dysfunction is increasing beyond the expected rate of increase due to aging. More young men may be going to their doctors complaining of erectile dysfunction, but this might simply be because the treatment for ED now is a pill instead of months of therapy. Of course, there have been some positive anecdotes of people who stopped using pornography and their erectile dysfunction went away; if you struggle with ED and want to try it, there doesn’t seem to be any harm. But it is very far from certain that there is any link between erectile dysfunction and porn use in the general population.

If porn causes an epidemic of sexual violence, it is difficult to explain why rates of sexual violence continue to fall during the largest expansion of porn use in history. Of course, it is possible that some other cause, such as a decline in the acceptability of rape, is making rape rates fall, and they would have fallen even faster without porn. More careful work should be done. (It’s a pity no one convinced PornHub to roll out to a random selection of US counties for a few years first.) But I think this does put a hard cap on how large the problem could possibly be, and suggests that we should not come to overly firm conclusions from short-term laboratory studies of exactly the sort that have been falling victim to the replication crisis.

If the woman enjoys and consents to the violence against her, that is not violence, it is BDSM. Most porn videos depicting BDSM is an interesting fact but not in and of itself a sign that anything has gone wrong.

Sex acts are not inherently degrading or objectifying. Degradation and objectification are attitudes that people have to other people, and you cannot ward them off by sticking exclusively to PIV and oral. If you can’t understand how someone could facefuck someone they like, the problem is your failure of imagination, not the pornography.

I assure you that people who are not porn stars have deepthroated dick, taken it up the ass, had various body parts come on, been double-penetrated, been fisted, and nearly everything else you think real people don’t do. (I must admit, however, that as far as I can tell you are right about double anal. I too am suspicious that this sex act has only ever been performed with a camera in the room.)

So I feel I had a very reasonable conclusion here that mainstream video porn was probably fine, because all the arguments against it are terrible.

But I think, having watched more of it, actually I was quite wrong, and there are legitimate concerns I have about it.

Contrast mainstream video porn with, say, fanfiction. We make fun of Horrifying Fanfiction Lube, but the average fanfiction sex scene, in an ordinary ship, where everyone involved is human beings and not space aliens or elves or omegas, is a reasonably accurate depiction of 95th percentile sexy sex. The sex is somewhat kinkier than most sex is; communication is more seamless; no one ever farts or loses their erection at an inopportune time; people instinctively know the best ways to touch each other and no one has to figure out how to gently redirect someone else away from slobbering on their neck. And of course the sex usually has far more of a role in the narrative arc than sex in real life ever does. But overall, the acts people perform, the kinds of feelings they have, the relationships they have with other people, all seem like things real people would do.

Most of the time, to the extent that it is inaccurate, it’s inaccurate in a direction where, all things considered, you’d prefer it to be inaccurate. For example, fanfiction has an unrealistically high percentage of married gay couples who use condoms and typically depicts significantly more prep for anal sex than people usually do. But normalizing condom use is a good thing. And it’s good for people who are trying anal for the first time to be very cautious and go very slow; they can switch to a more reasonable amount of prep once they have more experience.

(One thing fanfiction is definitely inaccurate about, much to my eternal disappointment, is the percentage of men who are gay.)

And the things that are inaccurate are more clearly marked as inaccurate. No one is surprised when it turns out that human males do not typically go into heat or have self-lubricating asses. And it’s very rare to look in the Spike/Buffy ship tag for a depiction of loving, consensual sex in a healthy relationship. I know people who have gotten themselves in trouble because they’ve been misled by fanfiction, but you do have to work at it.

Mainstream video porn, on the other hand…

Most obviously, sex acts are often depicted in a way that is actively unsafe. The most obvious example is not using condoms, obviously, and I don’t need to belabor that. But think about the way mainstream porn depicts anal. Horrifying Fanfiction Lube is one thing, but at least they’re aware that you need lube. In mainstream video porn, you get guys with enormous dicks just banging away immediately without any sort of preparation or working up to it or even starting off slowly so she can relax. In real life, this is a recipe not just for painful, unpleasant sex but for anal fissures.

But even that criticism– as well as the criticisms I discussed above– miss the most important problem with mainstream video porn, which is that all of the films are apparently shot, directed, and starred in by bizarre sex aliens.

As far as I can tell, there’s very little foreplay, particularly if you require that your foreplay involve touching and caressing and exclude oral sex. There’s strikingly little kissing, and very little talking. Surprisingly often, sex begins by a woman stripping naked without a man touching her, dropping to her knees, and giving him a blowjob, without any sort of preliminaries. No one uses condoms or discusses birth control or testing. Strange and acrobatic sexual positions are depicted. At the end, he either pulls out and comes on her face, or comes inside her and then she squeezes the come out in a very unusual fashion. No one cuddles.

Now, I don’t mean to say that people don’t do those things. Obviously, people have unprotected sex without talking or kissing or touching, or where they strip naked instead of taking each other’s clothes off, engage in almost no non-genital sexual activities, use uncomfortable sex positions, and then end with a facial or the squeezy come thing and no cuddles. Some people even do all of those things. But I think the combination of all of those things is actually very very rare, while in porn it is a plurality of the videos available. It is not that any individual thing depicted is that strange, but collectively they give the impression that no one involved in creating porn has ever actually had sex with a human being.

What is worse, I think, is the absence of feelings or relationships. As far as I can tell, in video porn, sex typically consists solely of genitals being combined in various ways with orifices. It is quite difficult to work out what anyone’s opinion of the situation is, although you can extrapolate that presumably people think orgasms are nice. No one is unhappy and being comforted, or ecstatic about getting to have sex with someone so hot, or hopelessly in love, or trusting that their partner won’t hurt them when they try something new, or any of the other things that people sometimes feel about sex. In particular, it is quite hard to figure out what the people involved seem to think of each other. Rarely do the people involved seem to like each other, or dislike each other, or really have any sort of opinion of each other at all. In Bizarre Sex Alien Land, people typically have sex with people they’re completely neutral about.

This is even more appalling, in my opinion, than the first thing. Uncomfortable sex positions are a thing some people like, but it is actually extraordinarily rare to have sex where you have no emotions about the sex or the person whatsoever. Mainstream video porn leaves out a lot of what makes sex different from– and better than– masturbation. It’s a systematically inaccurate depiction of what sex is like.

Now, you might say that porn is intended as a masturbatory aid, not sex education, and sex education should be in schools. This is true as far as it goes. But I think proponents of this idea have failed to consider the sheer awkwardness of having education in middle-school health class about how most people typically kiss and touch each other extensively before they begin oral sex. This is really not the sort of lesson you want to have from your gym teacher. And while perhaps many people should read a good sex advice book before they begin having sex, most people won’t.

And, even setting that aside, I do think that watching a lot of mainstream video pornography is going to have an effect on your sexual script. How could it not? You have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours watching people do a thing. You may have few other sources of information of how it is done; you may never have done it yourself. Even if you know porn is inaccurate, where are you going to learn what sex is really like?

Of course, many people are sophisticated consumers of media, capable of separating reality from fiction. But mainstream video porn does not present itself as a ludicrous fantasy. It presents itself as a documentary of normal people having sex. And while viewers may be able to recognize that penises are not normally that large and women have pubic hair and you should use condoms, are they going to be able to recognize literally every way that porn is inaccurate?

I do not have hard data that suggests problems related to this. The generation that grew up with unlimited streaming video porn is still quite young. But I do not think it is at all unreasonable for sex-positive feminists to be concerned, and I wish that porn-critical discussions would move away from inaccurate statistics and slut-shaming and towards a more real discussion of the problems with pornography.

Don’t Goodhart Yourself

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[content warning: some non-explicit discussion of self-harm]

Goodhart’s Law is a concept used in data science which goes like this:

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Goodhart’s Law is usually applied to the behavior of other people. For example, attendance is a good way of measuring how diligent your employees are, but if you start firing people for missing days then you’ll get people coming in with colds, infecting everyone, and playing Candy Crush all day because they’re too tired to get any work done. How many papers a scientist publishes is a good way of measuring how much they work, but if you make tenure dependent on how many papers a scientist publishes they’ll start breaking everything up into the smallest units of paper possible. How many nails a factory produces is a good way of measuring its success as a factory, but if you are a Soviet planner who requires the factory to produce as many nails as possible it will make tiny nails that aren’t useful for anything.

(There are other ways that Goodhart’s Law can end up working– for example, ice cream sales are a good way of measuring how hot it is, but setting a goal of selling a large amount of ice cream each day will not make the weather nicer– but these are not relevant for my post.)

However, Goodhart’s Law can also be applied to yourself.

People often set self-improvement goals, and when they do they often think of some way to measure what they care about. For example, if you want to exercise more, you might set a goal to go to the gym three days a week. If you want to finish a novel, you might set a goal to write five hundred words a day. If you want to have a better relationship with your husband, you might set a goal to have less than four fights per month.

Sometimes, the thing you’re measuring is directly the thing you care about. For example, if you are chronically sleep-deprived and decide to track how tired you feel in the morning, you aren’t going to encounter Goodhart’s Law problems, because tiredness is actually the thing you care about.

Often, however, the thing you’re measuring is different from the thing you care about. If you want to exercise more, you don’t want to fuck around at the gym on your phone, you want to take a class or use the treadmill or lift up heavy things and put them down.

Some of the ways Goodhart’s Law operates with people’s goals can be really obvious. For example, some people finishing NaNoWriMo will name their characters things like “Lady Mary von Grackle the Fourth” and then use the entire thing every time she comes up, or include the entire lyrics of every song their character is listening to, or edit every line of dialogue to include “X said” even if it is perfectly obvious who’s talking. If you are doing this stuff, it’s pretty obvious that you’re Goodharting your goal of writing a 50,000-word novel.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s not obvious at all, and that’s where you run into real trouble. You might be really proud of yourself for not getting into fights with your husband anymore– but instead you’re walking on eggshells avoiding every topic that might upset him and failing to bring up topics which you really ought to bring up, which actually makes your relationship worse.

And sometimes things can be Goodharting for some people and not for others. Let’s say your goal is to stop self-harming. For some people, the goal is actually to stop self-harming: maybe they’re tired of getting scars or it frightens other people. For other people, the goal is to avoid getting into situations where you’re so emotionally fucked up that self-harming seems like a good idea. If your goal is that second thing, white-knuckling through your self-harm urges by drawing red lines on yourself is actually useless– it achieves your target but does nothing about your goal.

Similarly, let’s say you set a target to do three things off your to do list each day. For many people– perhaps most– the real goal would be to accomplish things, and the worries about Goodharting would mostly be related to putting unnecessary things on your to do list so you can check them off. But if you have depression, your goal might be to recover from depression. You might drag your brain over metaphorical rocks getting yourself to do some dishes and cook dinner and achieve your target, but you’re still depressed.

Goodharting can get you into trouble in two ways. First, as in the arguments case, your target might be so poorly specified that it gets you to do things that are actively counterproductive to your goal– like not bringing up problems in your relationship.

Second, as in the self-harm, depression, and NaNoWriMo cases, reaching your target won’t directly harm your goal. You can search-and-replace “Lady Mary von Grackle the Fourth” with “Mary” and get a readable book. Doing more things off your to do list might even make you less depressed, if you’re the sort of person who tends to get less depressed if you’re more active. (Or more depressed, if you’re drawing on emotional reserves that you really shouldn’t be drawing on. It can go either way.)

The problem is that Goodharting misleads you about whether you’ve met your goal. You think you’ve written a novel, but when you cut out all the padding it’s a novelette at best. You think you’ve fixed your depression, but actually you’re just willpowering your way through doing the dishes. You think you’ve learned how to regulate your emotions better, but actually you’ve learned that if you self-harm by holding ice instead of by cutting you can pass it off to your therapists as a healthy coping mechanism. You’re putting a lot of work in– but you’re not going to have the outcomes you want.

How do you avoid Goodharting? It can help to explicitly distinguish “goal” and “target”: your goal isn’t to go to the gym three times a week unless you’d be just as happy if you spent the entire time at the gym reading a nice novel. That way, you can notice when you’re meeting your targets but not your goals. If your relationship with your husband is getting worse, you can step back and reassess.

It can also help to deliberately avoid doing things that help you reach your targets but not your goals. This is one way that single-person Goodharting is much easier to solve than multi-person Goodharting: you can just decide that you’re not going to Goodhart, once you’re aware that this is an issue. For example, if you’re depressed, you might commit to never using willpower to get yourself to do things. If you’re writing a novel, you might decide not to use cheap tricks to pad your word count.

In other cases, that isn’t realistic. For example, you might not want to commit to self-harming every time you feel like self-harming, and if you’re depressed you might ever need to force yourself to do the dishes so you have something clean to eat off of. In those cases, you might want to count Goodharted things separately. For example, as a depressed person, you might want to separately track things you did without willpower and things you did with willpower; if you’re trying to recover from self-harming, you might want to track both self-harm instances and strong urges to self-harm.

Polyamory Survey: The Results, Part One

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I collected 498 responses to my polyamory survey. Of these, 19 (3.8%) were deleted for being monogamous, leaving me with 479 respondents. The survey was promoted primarily on my blog, Thing of Things, and Slate Star Codex. For this reason, it is primarily representative of the rationalist community. 81% of respondents identified as rationalists.

Limitations

Due to a miscommunication with Scott Alexander, the polyamory survey as posted on Slate Star Codex failed to clarify that single people who would be nonmonogamous if they were dating anyone should take the survey. This may lead to underrepresentation of single respondents.

Mid-survey, I added some clarifications, which included defining “assigned gender at birth” and informing people who don’t know what a rationalist is

At least one person failed to follow instructions and included platonic primary partners; I do not expect the number of people who both have platonic primary partners and are bad at following directions to be high enough to distort the data. While I attempted to create categories that would encompass many different ways of doing polyamory, some forms may not be accommodated; for example, one participant complained that he slept with dozens of new people every year but, as he does not have many relationships, was recorded in the survey as having no partners. I do not expect people this unusual to distort the results much.

Several people refused to take the survey because they felt uncomfortable classifying their gender, sexual orientation, or romantic orientation within the boxes given. This survey may underrepresent queer people with unusual genders or orientations. Some participants felt that “transgender” is a term which only includes binary-gendered people; thus, nonbinary people may either have been underrepresented or incorrectly included as cisgender.

The definition of “sex” was confusing to several respondents. In particular, some respondents included cybersex as sex, while some did not. Depending on whether you consider cybersex to be sex, my survey may either undercount or overcount how much sex people are having.

Do Cis Straight Poly People Exist?

Before we can determine whether polyamory works well for cisgender heterosexual people, it is first necessary to determine whether cis straight poly people exist at all.

The answer appears to be “yes”. The gender, sexual orientation, and romantic orientation breakdown of respondents is as follows:

7.1% asexual
42.7% bisexual
42.9% heterosexual
7.3% homosexual

1.5% aromantic*
45.5% biromantic
44.7% heteroromantic
8.4% homoromantic

54.4% cisgender male
24.9% cisgender female
7.5% transgender person assigned female at birth
13.2% transgender person assigned male at birth

(There was a high overlap between “heteroromantic” and “heterosexual”, “biromantic” and “bisexual”, etc.)

However, I live in Berkeley, so I am aware that cisgender straight poly people often do things that many monogamous people would not consider to be very heterosexual or cisgender. For this reason, I included two additional questions to test whether someone is paradigmatically cisgender and heterosexual.

I asked heterosexual people whether they had had sex with a person of the same gender, or with any transgender person. (After some consideration, I chose to include all transgender people, on the grounds that cis people seem to consider sex with any of us to be kinda gay.) I clarified that “sex” includes any activity two or more people are doing, at the same time, which is primarily intended to cause sexual arousal or orgasm in one or more participants, and that it still counts if a person of your preferred gender was also involved, you didn’t touch their genitals, one or both of you didn’t get naked, it was BDSM, it was exclusively over the Internet, etc. 40.5% of heterosexual respondents have had sex with a person of the same gender, or with any transgender person.

I asked cisgender people whether they have taken any steps conventionally considered to be part of a gender transition process, such as taking cross-sex hormones; asking people to refer to them with different pronouns or a name not associated with their assigned gender; binding, tucking, or wearing clothing or makeup conventionally associated with the other primary gender on a regular basis; or deliberately altering their presentation to cause people to read them as the gender they weren’t assigned at birth. 13.6% of cisgender respondents have taken a step conventionally considered to be part of a gender transition process.

It is now possible to calculate what percentage of poly people are paradigmatically straight and cisgender. 21.5% of poly people in my sample were paradigmatically cis and straight. Rationalists were more likely to be paradigmatically cis and straight than nonrationalists: 36% of rationalists were paradigmatically cis and straight. 33% of cisgender men were paradigmatically cis and straight, while only 8% of cisgender women were paradigmatically cis and straight. This reflects the common polyamorous wisdom that cisgender, heterosexual poly women are very rare.

*I used a narrow definition of aromantic, in which a person is uninterested in having any relationships described as “girlfriend,” “boyfriend,” or “partner”, rather than a broader definition in which one might have partners that one is not romantically attracted to.

Are Poly People Cucks?

Many people accuse polyamorous people, particularly men, of being cucks: that is, they are sexually aroused by the idea of their partners having sex with other people. Unaccountably, no one has ever collected data on this claim.

At first blush, this generalization seems accurate: 78.7% of respondents reported that they found the prospect of a partner having sex with someone else arousing, even if only a little bit or only in particular situations. However, only 15.2% of respondents found it arousing in a submissive way, as implied by the word “cuck” (e.g. you are aroused by your partner having sex with other people because you find it humiliating). 29.4% found it arousing in a dominant way (e.g. the idea that you might “force” your partner to have sex with someone else). The majority of respondents, 76.8%, found it arousing in a non-kinky fashion (e.g. because it is hot when your partner has orgasms).

Further, this arousal is not a significant driver of people’s interest in polyamory: only 4.8% of respondents reported that this was a major reason for them to be poly.

I will now look at cisgender male respondents specifically, as this is a subject of particular interest. 79.3% of cisgender men found the prospect of a partner having sex with someone else arousing; 15.7% were aroused in a submissive way, 35.7% in a dominant way, and 73.4% in a non-kinky way. 7.2% said that this was a major reason for them to be polyamorous. Cisgender men appear to have approximately the same pattern as everyone else, although they are perhaps slightly more likely to be interested in a dominant fashion and less likely to be interested in a nonkinky fashion; cis men may also be more likely to have this as a primary reason for them to be poly.

Therefore, I have concluded that, while poly men are typically aroused by their partners having sex with other people, poly men are not in fact cucks, nor is this a major reason for them to be poly. I am unclear on whether it is a good idea to raise awareness of these results, however. If you must humiliate someone for their partner having sex with other people, you should at least humiliate the people who get off on it.

Tune in next post for answers to a variety of other exciting questions such as:

  • Are poly people satisfied in their relationships?
  • How many people are poly people dating?
  • Are poly cis men lonelier than poly trans people or poly cis women?
  • How much sex are poly people having really?
  • Are poly people more attracted to their primaries or their secondaries?
  • And more!

Autogynephilia Survey

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Methods

I have 784 respondents; twenty respondents were deleted for skipping an excessive number of questions, leaving me with 764 respondents. The respondents were mostly taken from my blog, Thing of Things; therefore, they may not be representative of the general population.

To assess autogynephilia, I used a 22-item scale which is commonly used in the literature on autogynephilia. Unlike in previous studies, I did not alter the language for cisgender respondents. To assess autoandrophilia, I genderswapped the items on the scale. Certain items were easily genderswapped: for example, “fantasies in which I have a vagina/vulva” became “fantasies in which I have a penis”. Others required more of a judgment call, as when I decided that erections and ejaculation are physical male functions analogous to pregnancy. As my autoandrophilia scale has never been validated, the results are unreliable and should be considered preliminary. Further, this scale would not capture any ways that autoandrophilia manifests differently than autogynephilia. (For example, one might expect autogynephiles to be more interested in wearing women’s clothing, as there is more sexy clothing which is only for women than sexy clothing which is only for men.)

To assess gender, I presented two questions. The first asked people to identify as cisgender or transgender. The second asked people to identify as transgender, definitely cisgender, or uncertain whether the terms “cisgender” or “transgender” best describes them.

To assess sexual orientation, I asked whether a person was attracted to both men and women, men but not women, women but not men, exclusively nonbinary people, or no one at all.

Demographics

A gender and sexuality breakdown follows. Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

53% cisgender men
19% cisgender women
10% transgender people assigned female at birth
18% transgender people assigned male at birth

24% definitely cisgender men
9% definitely cisgender women
8% AFAB transgender
16% AMAB transgender
14% neither cisgender nor transgender AFAB
30% neither cisgender nor transgender AMAB

18% bisexual cisgender men
32% heterosexual cisgender men
2% homosexual cisgender men
1% asexual cisgender women
12% bisexual cisgender women
4% heterosexual cisgender women
1% homosexual cisgender women
2% asexual AFAB trans people
6% bisexual AFAB trans people
2% homosexual AFAB trans people
2% asexual AMAB trans people
8% bisexual AMAB trans people
1% heterosexual AMAB trans people
6% homosexual AMAB trans people
1% miscellaneous

Autogynephilia and Autoandrophilia Scores

(For these numbers, a score of zero indicates that none of the fantasies are arousing, while a score of 88 indicates that all of the fantasies are very arousing. Please behold the quarter-assed bar charts.)

Autogynephilia

Cisgender man: 44
Cisgender woman: 22
AFAB trans: 13
AMAB trans: 35

 

Definitely cisgender man: 36
Definitely cisgender woman: 25
AFAB trans: 11
AMAB trans: 40
Neither cisgender nor transgender, AFAB: 22
Neither cisgender nor transgender, AMAB: 48

Asexual cisgender man: 41
Bisexual cisgender man: 52
Straight cisgender man: 40
Gay cisgender man: 40

Asexual cisgender woman: 6
Bisexual cisgender woman: 36
Straight cisgender woman: 17
Gay cisgender woman: 21

Asexual AFAB trans: 2
Bisexual AFAB trans: 17
Straight AFAB trans: 15
Gay AFAB trans: 7

Asexual AMAB trans: 31
Bisexual AMAB trans: 39
Straight AMAB trans: 17
Gay AMAB trans: 36

[Note that sample sizes for asexual cisgender men and heterosexual AFAB trans people are particularly small.]

Autoandrophilia

Cisgender man: 20
Cisgender woman: 25
AFAB trans: 30
AMAB trans: 6

Definitely cisgender man: 23
Definitely cisgender woman: 18
AFAB trans: 30
AMAB trans: 7
Neither cisgender nor transgender, AFAB: 29
Neither cisgender nor transgender, AMAB: 17

Asexual cisgender man: 18
Bisexual cisgender man: 23
Straight cisgender man: 18
Gay cisgender man: 26

Asexual cisgender woman: 8
Bisexual cisgender woman: 28
Straight cisgender woman: 23
Gay cisgender woman: 24

Asexual AFAB trans: 19
Bisexual AFAB trans: 33
Straight AFAB trans: 19
Gay AFAB trans: 34

Asexual AMAB trans: 7
Bisexual AMAB trans: 8
Straight AMAB trans: 3
Gay AMAB trans: 2

[Note that sample sizes for asexual cisgender men and heterosexual AFAB trans people are particularly small.]

Discussion

Confusingly, cis men are the group most likely to experience autogynephilia, and cis women are also more likely than average to experience autoandrophilia. However, when broken out into more specific categories, we discover that this is mostly driven by people who identify as neither cisgender nor transgender– that is, the potentially gender dysphoric.

People are much less likely to experience autoandrophilia than autogynephilia. It is unclear why this might be. It is possible that my measure failed to capture autoandrophiliac sexuality; I suggest performing qualitative research on transgender men to construct an appropriate measure. It is also possible that autoandrophilia is legitimately less common than autogynephilia for some reason: for example, perhaps because female bodies are hypersexualized in the media while male bodies are not, or because people with testosterone-dominant systems have kinkier sexual fantasies.

It has been occasionally claimed that women do not experience autogynephilia. My study suggests that this is false. While cisgender women do not experience autogynephiliac fantasies as commonly as AMAB transgender people do, they do seem to sometimes experience autogynephilia. However, it is also occasionally claimed that autogynephilia is ordinary female sexuality. It does not appear that my survey supports this hypothesis; cis women are far less likely than trans women to be autogynephiles. Autogynephilia seems more characteristic of definitely cis male sexuality than definitely cis female.

Some trans advocates argue that trans women overreport autogynephilia, because if one has a penis it is marked and unusual to have sexual fantasies in which you have a vagina, while if one has a vagina it is not at all marked or unusual to have sexual fantasies in which you have a vagina. It is unclear how this hypothesis can be tested; as such, my survey does not provide evidence for or against it.

It has been occasionally claimed that trans men do not experience autoandrophilia. My survey suggests that this is false; trans men have a notably higher rate of autoandrophilia than other groups. The alternate construct of “autohomoeroticism” is not supported: autoandrophilia is detected in a survey which does not ask about any specifically homosexual male behaviors, but merely about sexual arousal when imagining having a physically male body and adopting a male social role.

Autogynephiliac fantasies tend to be about having a woman’s body, wearing women’s clothing, or being admired or having sex while a woman. Very few people were interested in more outré forms of sexuality, such as menstruation, urinating while sitting down, sitting in a feminine way, or being seen as a woman by strangers. Trans women are more likely than cis women to be aroused by these unusual fantasies: cis women’s average is typically between 0 and 0.5 on a scale where 0 means not at all arousing, and trans women’s is typically around 1. However, most trans women have no interest in these fantasies; attempts to depict them as typical of trans female sexuality are inaccurate. 

Similarly, autoandrophiliac fantasies tend to be about having a man’s body (particularly a penis) or being admired or having sex while a man, and not about adopting a male-typical social role outside of a sexual context. 

Bisexual cis women experience a rate of autogynephilia comparable to transgender women’s. I believe this is problematic for claims that no real woman would experience autogynephilia; it implies that either bisexual cis women are not real women or that they are lying about their sexual fantasies in a far less socially desirable direction. It is possible that something unusual about bisexual cis women causes them to fetishize womanhood. It is also possible that autogynephilia is associated with same-gender attraction; certainly, it seems like being attracted to breasts might cause you to be attracted to your own breasts. However, if that is the case, it is unclear why lesbians show such low rates of autogynephilia. My sample size of lesbians was quite small and it is possible this is just noise. I suggest interested people study autogynephilia specifically in a queer cisgender female population.

Gay and bisexual men show elevated rates of autoandrophilia compared to heterosexual men. However, their rates are not comparable to trans men’s. It is possible that while autogynephilia similar to trans women’s is typical of (bisexual) female sexuality, autoandrophilia similar to trans men’s is not typical of any sort of male sexuality. It may also reflect the inadequacy of my measure of autoandrophilia.

Definitely cisgender men are both more autogynephiliac and more autoandrophiliac than definitely cisgender women. This may be due to social desirability bias, poor awareness of one’s sexual fantasies, lower sex drives due to estrogen-dominant hormone systems, or a legitimate difference in sexual interests between definitely cisgender men and definitely cisgender women.

Polyamory Survey

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I have some questions about polyamory I’d like to have answered! Click here for invasive questions about your relationship satisfaction, sexual interests, and sad feelings. You will be rewarded with animal and plant pictures.

This survey is for non-monogamous people only. That means that, if you wanted to, you and/or your partner(s) could date and/or have sex with more than one person, without violating the rules of your relationship. If you do not have any partners but expect that you would be nonmonogamous if you did, you are nonmonogamous. If you and your partner are both dating only each other, but could date other people if you chose, you are nonmonogamous.

If you are monogamous and take this survey you will not get to answer any questions. You will merely be redirected to the following image of a sad puppy:

 

Ozy Working For ACE

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve recently started a job as a research associate at Animal Charity Evaluators.

As such, my blog and advice column will update less often than they previously did, I’ve shut down my Patreon, and my time will not be available to buy. However, I hope to continue to write here at least occasionally. When I post, while I may occasionally comment on animal and effective altruism issues, my posts should not be taken as speaking for my employer.

Thank you for your support over the years– you’re a great audience and I could not have done it without you.