On male bisexuality — the Elle interview

On male bisexuality — the Elle interview

“I will dance with anybody. I’ve chased men and women. I like men and women both.”  —Boxer Emile Griffith, quoted in Sports Illustrated, 2005.   I’m not usually one to linger on obituaries, but this one held my attention all the way to the end:  The New York Times’ July 24, 2013 obituary of the 1960’s prizefighter Emile Griffith, during whose distinguished boxing career rumors apparently circulated that he was gay. Now at the time of his death a half century later, he is most remembered for having killed one of his opponents in the ring — a fellow boxer who had teased him about his sexuality. At the weigh-in before their 1962 match, his opponent Bennie “Kid” Paret had used a derogatory Spanish term to accuse Griffith of being homosexual.  In the 12th round, Griffith got even.  With his right fist pounding Paret’s head “like a baseball bat demolishing a pumpkin” according to ringside witness Norman Mailer, Griffith knocked his accuser unconscious.  Paret died 10 days later in the hospital from intracranial bleeding. Griffith maintained that he was bisexual — equally attracted to both men and women. But male bisexuality is a difficult label to make stick.  Even now when it’s reasonably safe in at least some parts of the developed world to be openly gay, and when female bisexuality is well recognized, there remains a great deal of skepticism about whether male bisexuality exists.   Many writers on the subject have wondered whether most self-identified male bisexuals are simply homosexual men trying to “have it both ways” — having sex with men while holding on to heterosexual privilege....
On staying faithful in Hollywood and elsewhere

On staying faithful in Hollywood and elsewhere

    July 27, 2012 After news of the Kristen Stewart mini-scandal broke this week, I was contacted by IBTimes writer Justine Ashley Costanza about infidelity amongst the famous and not-so-famous.   With her permission, I’m reprinting the conversation we had in preparation for her IBTimes article that appeared July 25th. Dr Snyder, you’ve said you’re sympathetic to Stewart? Absolutely.   She’s 22.  How many of us would like all the mistakes we made in our 20’s to be recorded on videotape? Why would a 22-year-old woman cheat on her boyfriend of three years with a 41 year old married man? Fidelity has lots of advantages, but absolute fidelity doesn’t come naturally.  It takes commitment. At 22, one is still learning from one’s mistakes.  It takes longer than that to know who you really are, what you really need, and how to resolve your conflicts. Could it have anything to do with the fact that he’s her director? The undivided attention an actress gets from her director can be very erotic.   As I mentioned in Twilight and the Art of Foreplay, that kind of attention can be very attractive to a woman. Look at all the Hollywood actresses who’ve ended up marrying or involved with their directors.  It’s staggering. Can a couple ever get over this kind of thing? Maybe not get over it, but get through it.   If there’s sincerity and real regret over what happened. Do you recommend anything to read for couples struggling with the fallout from infidelity? I like Janice Spring’s After the Affair.  It’s no-nonsense, and it captures the feeling of total disorientation...
Where the Magic Gets Made

Where the Magic Gets Made

    After many years of trying, an experienced rock and roll groupie finally managed to sleep with Mick Jagger. When her friends asked her how the legendary rocker had been as a sexual partner, she replied,  “He was good — but he was no Mick Jagger.” That sweet coo I couldn’t help recalling this story as I read The New York Times recent profile of Kuk Harrell, Justin Bieber’s vocal producer — who also produces sound tracks for Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna. I’d thought that vocal production meant fancy echo chambers and audio air-brushing.    But no, that’s not it. As I learned in the article, being a vocal producer involves making singers “sound as engaged and alive as possible  . . . making them sound even more like themselves.” In order to do this, it’s the vocal producer’s job “to preserve and highlight what’s distinctive about each voice:   Ms. Lopez’s blend of husk and flirt, Rihanna’s petulant purr, Mr Bieber’s sweet coo.” Ah, that sweat coo.   The one that makes the magic happen.   That sweet coo that  can launch a very young woman’s dreams.  That one.   The sound studio of the erotic Vocal producer.   Magic maker.   Hmm.   You know, that pretty much nails Eros. His eyes.  Her breasts.   The haunting details that launch dreams.  It’s all magic, isn’t it? Husk and flirt, petulant purr, or sweet coo.   Just your inner vocal producer, sprinkling magic dust. Freud marveled at it.   He was amazed at how Eros established erogenous zones in parts of the body which ordinarily serve much...
Mass Erotic Choice as a Social Organizer —   from Beatlemania to Fifty Shades of Grey

Mass Erotic Choice as a Social Organizer — from Beatlemania to Fifty Shades of Grey

Photo credit:  Pedrosimoes7,  via Creative Commons.    The Questions Never Change Working as a sex therapist, I have more than a passing interest in what the culture happens to be serving up about eros. Part of it is simply curiosity about what my clients are reading.  But the greater part involves a search for conceptual tools with which to understand the erotic mind. Fact is, sexuality remains a mystery in many ways. Are humans inherently monogamous, or not? To what extent are men’s and women’s sexual natures the same or different? What’s the connection between sexuality and spirituality? What do women want? These questions forever haunt us. Last year, I endeavored to review a new book, written not by sex experts but  by computer scientists, that nonetheless purported to offer insights about human sexual nature based on such things as Google porn searches and word choice in online erotic fiction. The idea was and is a compelling one:  If you want to understand human sexuality, look at people’s actual choices.   On the internet, those choices are measurable. By year’s end, my review of A Billion Wicked Thoughts had stretched to eleven articles, with no end in sight.  Wary of tiring my readers, I put a stop to it.   Mass Erotic Decision-Making But now with Fifty Shades of Grey it seems we’re back in the territory of mass erotic choice. Can we learn anything about sexuality from the success of FiftyShades?   Yes, I think so. Since the book is erotic fantasy rather than actual sex, though, we have to be careful.   We shouldn’t, for example, after reading the book presume...
Lessons from the World’s Largest Sex Experiment

Lessons from the World’s Largest Sex Experiment

Photo credit:  Pedrosimoes7,  via Creative Commons.   Mapping the Erotic Mind This year saw the publication of A Billion Wicked Thoughts, a book that among other things discusses its author’s independent analysis of 55 million sex-related Google searches. Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, the two computational neuroscientists who wrote A Billion Wicked Thoughts, appear to have had enough data to produce a decade or two of scholarly publications in the sexuality field — but instead decided to try to write a best-seller.   This so far has distracted people from the book’s rather new and interesting theory of human sexual motivation. I agree with the book’s critics who say the project is quite flawed.   But I believe it would be foolish to ignore the authors’ ambitious theory of sexual motivation, or their huge and unique set of data that supports it. I’ve attempted on these pages to place the work in cultural and scientific context, and to show its applicability to the practice of sex therapy.    It’s turned out to be a larger project than anticipated, and I still haven’t completed it.   But for anyone with the time and interest, here are the links so far: Part 1:  The Strange New Science Behind A Billion Wicked Thoughts “Heterosexual men generally suppress the impulse to stare at other men’s penises.   But on the internet — where no one but Google is watching — penises get looked at.   According to A Billion Wicked Thoughts, these men are simply responding to an ordinary male desire — to check out and admire the sexual anatomy of a man who is perceived as dominant or...