No one objected to the book’s account of human sexual diversity. What brought a deluge of criticism was the author’s claim of an underlying order to men’s and women’s sexual tastes.
Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam’s new book A Billion Wicked Thoughts got a fair amount of media attention in the spring of 2011. The book was an innovative attempt to use the internet to see what kinds of sexual material people were actually searching for. It found that humans’ sexual tastes online were quite diverse, but that there seemed to be some underlying order in all this diversity.
The book had a rough birth. No one objected to the book’s account of human sexual diversity. It was the underlying order — the authors claimed their data showed a clear difference between men’s and women’s sexual tastes — that brought a deluge of criticism. The book was mercilessly flamed on Amazon. The New York Times Book Review assigned it not to a sex researcher, but instead to culture critic Wesley Yang, who pronounced the book “a farrago.”
I didn’t know exactly what farrago meant, but I looked it up. It means a contrived mish-mash of things that don’t really fit together meaningfully.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Karen Robertson, writing for Cosmopolitan South Africa, asked to interview me about A Billion Wicked Thoughts. I’d written a series of articles online, in which I described how the book’s findings were actually quite helpful for sex therapy.
I felt it was useful to know, for instance, that a man who looks at images of she-males online is not necessarily gay (gay men don’t generally like such images), and not that unusual (lots of men like to look at she-males). Or that a woman who keeps falling for married men is not necessarily neurotic, but may be just responding to something that A Billion Wicked Thoughts calls a “popularity cue”: seeing a wedding ring as evidence that some other woman has researched this man and found him worthy.
Here’s the article in full:
“Is Kinky the New Normal?”
And with Ms. Robertson’s kind permission, here are some excerprts from our original interview:
The Cosmo Interview: Contemporary Sexuality and A Billion Wicked Thoughts