“A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships” by Ogi Ogas & Sai Gaddam explores the differences in male and female sexuality, human desire and attraction through extensive research into mountains of data provided by online searches.
The last great sex study was done in the 1950s and looked at about 18,000 people and found shocking results. In this book, neuroscientists Ogas and Gaddam examined over 400 million different searches and the search history of more than 650,000 people, providing a vastly more detailed and improved answer to the question, what do men and women really desire?
Here are a few lessons this book teaches readers:
What really turns men and women on
Why men love large breasts and butts
What makes the set up to a romantic evening so important for a woman
Why women’s desires are so hard to predict
And much, much more.
Ogi Ogas studies computational models of memory, learning, and vision. He was a Department of Homeland Security Fellow. Ogi Ogas, Ph.D. He is the project head of the Dark Horse Project in the Laboratory for the Science of Individuality at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Sai Gaddam studies large-scale data analysis and serves as a data mining consultant in India. Sai conducted his doctoral research at Boston University on biologically inspired models of machine learning.
1) Why men like large breasts and butts
What cues do men specifically desire?
Breasts, hips and butts are the main cues, along with feet and feminine facial features.
The authors write that across many species (humans included), more attractive female parts are associated with greater health, fertility, and offspring survival. These body parts also signal to a man how many years of healthy childbearing remain in a woman’s lifetime.
Interestingly, all of the things men are attracted to are influenced by the same molecule: Estrogen.
“Unhealthy and underfed women produce less estrogen and therefore may not be able to bear children, or may bear unhealthy children” (pg 56). It also indicates if she is getting enough to eat and how much stress she is experiencing.
In addition to estrogen, women need a specific kind of female-only fat called gynoid fat that supports the energy demands of pregnancy and lactation. This fat is also only used during childbearing.
And where is the gynoid fat stored?
In the breasts, hips, butts and thighs.
Usually the larger these parts are, the more gynoid fat they have. For instance, levels of gynoid fat in breast positively predict all aspects of female lifetime reproductive capacity, including conception probability, probability of successful pregnancy and offspring quality.
Since these body parts are the best indicators of a woman’s long-term reproduction value, it’s no surprise that these ornaments have evolved to become the most potent visual cues for men.
2) Women experience sexual arousal differently from men
In a study by one of the world’s leading researchers on the neuropsychology of female desire, researchers measured how aroused women were while looking at different images (straight sex, gay sex, lesbian sex, etc).
Researchers measured how psychologically aroused women were by asking them, and also how physically aroused they were by measuring their blood flow to their sexual organs. The same experiment was performed on men.
If a man was physically turned on, he was also psychologically turned on. However, that was not the case for women.
Women were physically turned on by all of the images (even ones of monkey porn), but were only psychologically turned on by specific images (images of heterosexual sex generated the greatest arousal, monkey porn generated zero arousal).
Thus, it’s clear that there is a dissociation between the conscious arousal of the mind and the unconscious arousal of the body for females. This is why some women even report having an orgasm during unwanted or coercive sex.
Why the mind body split?
It’s because women have to consider the long term consequences of sexual intercourse.
Sex for a woman can result in pregnancy, nursing and more than a decade of child raising. These commitments require enormous amounts of time, resources and energy. Sex with the wrong guy can lead to single motherhood, an abusive spouse or a weak father that can’t protect his offspring.
Females are like detectives, they look for clues and information about mates before committing to one.
Women want a man that is financially stable, nice to children, self-confident, physically and mentally healthy, and makes her feel safe.
While a man only needs one cue to become aroused (she has a thick behind), a woman needs several cues such as personality, commitment, kindness, status and many more pieces of information.
3) Why women love vampires and werewolves
Why do women love Edward the vampire or Jacob the werewolf from “Twilight” which has sold over 100 million copies worldwide?
It’s because these paranormal heroes are supernatural males, alphas among alphas.
They are exceptionally strong, often immortal, know how to fight off evil beings, can protect the ones they love, are often rich, and live in a mansion or castle. Essentially all the traits that females desire, but to the max.
Another cue that turns women on is irresistibility. “One of the most fundamental and influential psychological cues for women is irresistibility: the feeling that you are sexually desirable” (pg 109).
This explains why so many women have fallen for Edward Cullen. Not only does he display all of the traits listed above, but he also lusts after Bella’s blood which he can’t let himself give in because he loves her.
As a result, Bella gets to be desired forever by a supernatural being, by a boyfriend who must continuously prove how much he loves her by controlling himself.
Werewolves share some similarities as vampires, but also some differences. Werewolves are known for having monstrous strength and refuse to back down from challenges. Wolf packs have a true designated alpha, a super alpha among alphas. They are also intensely loyal to protecting anyone that is part of the pack, including their human girlfriends.
These superheroes also have tough exterior shells, but inside they are soft and kind, which is something many women desire in a male.
In the end when you combine this huge mix of turbocharged cues of masculinity, few women are able to resist these supernatural beings.
Bonus: Interesting facts from the book
Popular adult pay-sites (i.e. Brazzers) attract an audience that is about 75% male and 25% female.
However, when it comes to actually paying for porn, the gender gap widens to about 98% male and only 2% female.
Indicating that men are much more motivated and are willing to pay for images of the opposite sex than females.
“Teen” and “young” are the most searched sexual keywords by men.
Breasts are the most popular body part in sexual searches in every country the authors looked at (including U.S., Russia, India, Japan and even Saudi Arabia).
Searches for butts are almost as popular as breasts.
Throughout history, about 80% of females reproduced, while only 40% of males have done so. Meaning the majority of men never had any kids. This may explain why men are more willing to task risks.
Sailing off to explore new countries, fighting in wars or starting a business are all risky ventures, but men need to stand out from one another and staying home, although safe, won’t help one reproduce.
For women on the other hand, the optimal thing to do is play it safe because odds are that multiple men will come along and offer sex. The woman simply has to pick the one she likes best.
Romance novels are essentially porn for women.
All hero professions (doctor, king, knight, etc) are associated with status, confidence and competence.
Women want their heroes to be like coconuts: hard and tough on the outside, but soft and sweet on the inside. “The hero is granted free reign to be a badass with everyone else, as long as he’s tender and attentive with the heroine” (pg 99).
Material resources are arousing to females all across the animal kingdom.
Women prefer men who are richer than them, female chimps prefer males with the largest quantity of meat, female pelicans prefer males that give them the most amount of fish.
Women want a man that is competent. When asked if they would date someone that didn’t know how to drive a car, most women answered no, while most men answered yes.
This explains why women mostly go for older men: first, older men have had more time to accumulate wealth and secondly, they have had more time to educate themselves and gather life experiences.
Women find married men attractive because it shows that another woman has vetted the man and approved of him in one form or another.
Women prefer bodies that are muscular, specifically the chest, arms and back, without being overbuilt; these features also indicate testosterone levels. Women prefer men that are taller than them. They also like men in uniform or well-dressed.
Men are wired for sexual jealousy, but women are wired for emotional jealousy.
Men are suspicious of a woman who has slept around many different men, while women are jealous of a man who has loved several women.
They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and in a way, that is true. “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” shines light on the ways men and women are wired and how even though they are part of the same species, heterosexual guys and girls desire and are attracted to vastly different traits.
Although the authors are scientists and probably love big data, they do a surprisingly fantastic job of explaining what they found from the data and combine it with evolutionary psychology to create clear and easy to understand lessons that readers can apply to their daily lives.
I’d highly recommend reading this book to both men and women because it helps people better understand the opposite sex through a scientific lens instead of simply saying “Guys are stupid” or “Girls are weird.”
There’s also a good Google Talk about this book done by one of the authors. You can watch that here.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
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For literally a few dollars and hours, a book will give you an enormous amount of valuable information that can help you in life. It’s practically highway-robbery. So take advantage of this and read as much as you can.
If you want to check out my list of recommended books, you can find that here.