A Billion Wicked Thoughts (2011) analyzes human sexual desires through a unique big-data analysis of 400 million online Internet searches.
The authors don’t stop at the searches though but provide an overarching theory of human sexuality drawing also from romance novels analyses, evolutionary psychology theories and research, and everyday observations of dating strategies.
About The Author
Ogi Ogas holds a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience and is a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University School of Education.
There is less information on Sai Gaddam, but he seems to have a math/number crunching background.
- Methods of Research
- Popularity by Categories
- The Diversity is Misleading: 80/20 Rule
- Male Erotic Cues
- Women’s Psychological Cues
- Female Visual Cues
- Cultural Influences on Sexual Attraction
- Cued (Imprint) VS Uncued (Kinks) Interests
- Men / Women Differences
- The Encouraging Reality of The Sexual Market Place
- More Wisdom
Methods of Research
The authors collected 400 million Dogpile searches from July 2009 to July 2010.
Of the 400 million searches, about 55 million (roughly 13 percent) were searches for some kind of erotic content.
These sexual searches represent the desires of roughly 2 million people. Two-thirds are from the United States, some from India, Nigeria, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The authors then categorized the searches.
For example, they categorized “hot Latino ass,” “bootylicious babes,” and “sexy guys with bubble butts” as examples of “butts interest”.
For additional help in categorizing the searches and understanding who was behind the different search queries, the authors integrated their data with AOL.
AOL released search histories for 657,426 different people.
They also looked up Alexa and came up with a shortlist of “adult most popular websites” to measure the popularity of different genres.
Alexa publishes a list of the million most popular Web sites in the world. According to the authors’ analysis, 42,337 were adult websites.
Popularity by Categories
The top 7 categories are:
- Cheating Wives
Many of the popular searches are actually “squicks”.
For example, transsexuals (#17) are more popular than celebrities (#23) or Asians
The Diversity is Misleading: 80/20 Rule
Say the authors:
Just twenty different interests account for 80 percent of all searches. With less than two dozen interests, you can satisfy the desires of almost everyone who uses a search engine to find erotic content. Most people’s desires are clustered together into a relatively small set of common interests.
The thirty-five top interests account for 90 percent of all searches. This doesn’t even include cheerleaders (#79), massage (#51), or virgins (#61). When it comes to our kinks, we all have a lot more in common than you might think.
In brief, we might say that the commonalities of what’s sexually exciting cover the 80%.
The remaining 20% are more uncommon kinks.
Male Erotic Cues
The anatomy that men find attractive—breasts, hips, butts, feet, as well as feminine facial features—are all influenced by the same molecule: estrogen. Estrogen is sensitive to a woman’s energy and health.
Terms describing age are the most frequent type of adjective in sexual searches, appearing in one out of every six sexual searches. When the male desire software evaluates a woman’s visual appearance, one of the most prominent criteria is age—and not just youth, either.
Teens and twenty-something are the most popular, but there is a surprising quantity of searches for older women as well:
There is a rather shocking number of searches for underage women, but you may be equally surprised to discover there is significant erotic interest in sixty-and seventy-year-olds.
- Grannies are popular: searches are 8% of total youth, which might seem little, but there is more searches for grannies than for spanking. There are 313 are granny sites in the list of most popular adult Alexa websites
- Many men find both young and adult women to be appealing: 1/4 people who search MILF also search teens
- Many men who search for teens also search for GILF: 1/4 GILF searcher also searched for teens
Breasts, no matter what size, are the most popular body part in sexual searches in every country we looked at
Men in general prefer larger breasts albeit even here, there is a small subset that prefers small or even flat-chested.
Butts are almost as popular as breasts in sexual searches, and there are almost as many porn sites dedicated to butts as breasts, hinting that men may also have an innate sensitivity to buttocks cues.
Smaller are better.
Surprised to see this one here.
Well, here’s the shocker: men are more interested in penises than women are.
Say the authors:
The fact of the matter is that men are more interested in penises than women are—and men are much more interested in large penises than women are.
And it’s not just their penis that men are interested about:
An eye-tracking study recorded what men and women looked at as they viewed different (nonerotic) images. They found that men consistently direct their gaze to the male crotch, though women rarely do so.
The author only lists the above cues as the main ones, but then adds a few more:
- Body Shape / Weight
Super skinny girls appeal to women more than men.
In general though, men prefer skinnier than the current average weight in the West.
However, as per age, there is a subset of men who likes bigger women.
- Female orgasms
Men are wired to pay attention to whether their partner is engaged and responsive during sex. If a woman seems apathetic or distant, that triggers suspicions. The private investigator starts asking questions. If I’m not turning her on, then who is?
The authors also say that men want to be “good” because of female gossip in short-term sex.
- Novelty cues
- Sexual dominance/submission
Both men and women can be aroused by either dominance, submission, or even degradation.
Women’s Psychological Cues
Women want a hero.
The romantic hero is constructed from female psychological cues, in the same way that young, busty porn stars are built from male visual cues.
1. Alpha Males at The Top of Hierarchies
Women are attracted to the men near the top. The man at the very top is known as the alpha male.
However notice, again, that there have been exceptions or, at least, tentative ways of proposing a different “hero”, including a “beta male” hero:
They’ve experimented with softer, more deferent protagonists, often called betas. “What makes the beta hero so great: an unshakable core of pure and stalwart good, so constant and abiding it’s damn near alpha in its strength,” explain Wendell and Tan. The most famous beta hero in romance (and perhaps the first) was Freddy Standen, from Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion.
Finally, the authors say that the new popular genre of “paranormal romance” is designed to stimulate women with an unnatural excess of female attractive cues in the same vein that mangas are designed to stimulate as many erotic cues for men.
Werewolves and vampires are supposedly the “ultimate alpha males“.
Study after study has demonstrated the erotic appeal of male dominance. Women prefer the voices of dominant men, the scent of dominant men, the movement and gait of dominant men, and the facial features of dominant men.
Also read “how to use dominance in seduction“.
And how about “mega heroes”:
“Omega” heroes—comedians, art thieves, and nerdy geniuses—rarely show up in romances though, as with Beta heroes, they have their own devoted following. Alpha heroes who are dominant in the society of men and desired by the society of women are far more common, and far more appreciated by Miss Marple.
All hero’s professions are associated with status, confidence, and power.
As Henry Kissinger famously said, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” Power is a reflection of a man’s rank in the dominance hierarchy, and women are attracted to the men near the top. The man at the very top is known as the alpha male.
Here are the 10 most common professions of the hero:
Conspicuously absent from the list of romance heroes are blue-collar workers (no janitors or welders), bureaucrats (no claims adjusters or associate marketing managers), and traditionally feminine professions (no hairdressers, secretaries, or kindergarten teachers).
3. Nice to Her
Kindness and understanding are attractive to women.
However, to “maximize” the hero effect, kindness is mixed with power:
Women want their romance heroes to be like coconuts: hard and tough on the outside, but soft and sweet on the inside.
And there is a third twist for the ideal man: it’s only HER who gets to see that super-sweet and devoted side of him:
But the hero’s sweet interior can’t be available to just anyone. Only the heroine gets to crack him open. The hero is granted free reign to be a badass with everyone else, as long as he’s tender and attentive with the heroine.
To make that possible, romances sometimes end up with male characters that seem fake for a male audience.
The same way that porn actresses feel fake to a female audience.
Being wealthy is not strictly necessary, but it helps a lot:
Though a man can be an alpha without attaining financial success—a sheriff, for example, or a soldier—the possession of enormous amounts of cash is a sure way to seal one’s social dominance.
As it’s shown in romance novels, heroes are almost never poor, and often quite loaded:
In the romance titles on Amazon, there are 415 millionaires, 286 billionaires, and 263 sheiks, including The Millionaire’s Secretary, The Billionaire’s Virgin Bride, and The Sheik’s Secret Harem Girl.
If the hero is poor, a possible plot is for the tough man to “save the heroine from herself”.
Note: in the romance example, the man wasn’t that “poor”, he was a police officer lieutenant. And the description of the man sounded a lot like a white knight of endless devotion, male-equivalent of “women who love too much“.
And those dynamics haven’t changed as women acquired more power and resources:
If a heroine is rich, then the hero is even richer.
The hero is always competent. Usually, he’s the best at what he does
Interestingly enough, men don’t care nearly as much about female competence.
Which is one of the reasons why successful women can often struggle at dating.
Men who don’t know what to do with their life, who are midlevel bureaucrats, or who sit around the house watching TV are never heroes.
Intelligence is a “special kind of competence” that, say the authors, is also essential in romance heroes.
And the opposite of intelligence is often a major strike against hero-hood:
“Stupidity is never heroic,” assert Wendell and Tan
8. Visually Appealing
While visuals do matter—heroes are handsome, tall, strong, with beautiful gray eyes and a crooked grin
8.2 But Penises Matter Little
Little attention is paid to the details of male genitalia.
In stark contrast to novels for men, of course.
9. Popular / Famous / Preselected
Also called “preselection” in pick-up and seduction literature:
If a man is already taken by a woman, then by definition, he’s the best man—or certainly a more desirable man. If the exact same man is not taken, then his value is questionable—he’s certainly not as desirable as a man who has already received the stamp of approval from another woman’s Detective Agency.
The authors say that preselection snowballs with fame and money and often, it’s a “case of the rich man getting richer”.
And it works the other way around as well, with the poor getting poorer
Men who are awkward loners or social rejects have a major strike against them in the view of the Detective Agency, unless they offer compensating cues.
10. Emotionally Available (to Her)
Commitaphobes and avoidants do not need to apply.
Or at least, not if there has to be a happy ending:
In romance, the happy ending (known as an HEA or Happily-Ever-After) is always a long-term monogamous relationship, usually marriage. Orgasm is important in modern romances, but it’s never the final scene. The moments in bed after the orgasm are just as important as the feelings experienced during the orgasm itself.
Physical whoring on the part of the man might also be OK -especially for some types of lovers-, as long as he’s not an emotional whore.
More Psychological Cues
Being desired is very arousing to women.
In romances the “irresistibility” cue is often used to ensnare and keep the man beside her through what the author refers to as “Magic Hoo Hoo”.
The cue of irresistibility, says the author, explains young women’s exhibitionism.
Albeit, frankly, this feels a lot like personal speculation and I’m not fully convinced.
Later he even says it might explain rape fantasies, for which I’m even less convinced.
Similar to “irresistibility”, but more about love and affection.
is about a woman’s specialness as a human being. The hero must demonstrate that his love is steady, irrational, and everlasting.
Of course, as we’ve seen, men must find her adorable, and not all other women.
Female Visual Cues
Porn and erotic websites dedicated to women lack the “anatomical specificity” of men.
There is no anatomical category catering for women. There is no specific porn or website for specific sizes and shapes of penises, abs, muscles, etc.
The most common male body parts in romance novels were:
And the most common adjectives:
Also women pay attention to:
Also height is important, with women preferring dating men who are taller than they are.
The main reason for preferring taller is “to feel secure”.
As always, exceptions almos always apply.
And there are women who also search and watch pornography (I once dated a woman who used YouPorn, while I never recurrently logged in to any porn websites).
- Dominance / submission
Both social and sexual dominance which are interrelated, say the authors.
Some women also have a kind for men who may be, appear, or act submissive.
Says one woman:
[In my fantasies] my ‘hero’ is shorter than everyone else, darker, and therefore highly desirable, but as he is totally vulnerable and powerless he is sexually abused
Cultural Influences on Sexual Attraction
Breast, butts and feet dominate male interest everywhere.
Yet, some other sexual interests are cultural:
The interest in the absolute territory is almost exclusive to Japanese men. In India, the belly is a common male obsession. In Victorian times, ankles were considered highly erotic. Salvador Dalí claimed to be aroused by a woman’s earlobe. Thus, culture does seem to play some role in determining what part of a body the male brain targets.
What causes the cultural differences?
Say the authors:
Men’s desire software is also designed to adapt to variable visual cues. (…) men appear to imprint upon the specific female body parts that are available in a young man’s environment. Men aren’t born with a “visual template” for the ideal breast. The male brain flexibly responds to a wide range of stimuli that contain a visual cue of “breastness”. Thus, early exposure to anatomical stimuli that match a man’s innate visual cues can result in a wide variety of anatomical preferences.
Cued (Imprint) VS Uncued (Kinks) Interests
To explain the difference between the innate and most sexual preferences and the cultural diversification and kinks, the authors differentiate betwen “cued” and “uncued interests”.
Personally, I found this differentiation unclear and somewhat lacking in its explanatory power.
They describe cued interests largely through animals’ imprinting and using non-human examples.
And then they quickly move to human in what felt like a major cognitive jump:
A cued interest develops when the brain’s natural responsiveness to a particular kind of cue causes the brain to sexually imprint upon a target that exhibits that cue.
The cued interest overlaps with “inborn preferences”.
Uncued interests instead are the “stranger kinks” that develop usually later on in life, when a combination of circumstances and erotic arousal cues something in the person’s mind:
Cued interests don’t always have a distinct moment when they form (…) though almost always forming during adolescence or their early twenties.
But we are more into the speculation territory with uncued interests:
In our opinion, an uncued interest forms when an unexpected event interferes with the natural sexual imprinting process. Often, uncued interests involve the senses of touch or smell, like the doctor pressing the ultrasound paddle into Billy Chou’s testicles. There may be another factor that strongly influences the formation of uncued interests in men: ejaculation.
Men / Women Differences
Skip “Men Are From Mars” and learn data-backed differences here:
Men prefer erotic images & videos, women prefer erotic stories & relationship novels
And men prefer graphic sex, women prefer relationships and romance.
Men are also more likely to develop sexual fetishes, while women are more likely to develop emotional fetishes.
Mind & Body Arousal: Disconnected for Women, Together for Men
Chivers reviewed the literature on male and female arousal and concluded that:
Men experienced a strong correlation between the arousal of mind and body. Women did not. In fact, the correlation between physical and psychological arousal in women was so low that it’s safe to say a woman’s vaginal lubrication is a poor predictor of what she is actually feeling. (…) In contrast, if a man is erect, you can make a very reasonable guess about what’s going on in his mind.
Why is there such a distinction between physical and psychological in women?
Because a woman has to consider the long-term, and be careful of who she has sex with. It’s not just about her arousal, or even about how attractive he might be in the moment.
She must also consider a slew of other variables.
Say the authors:
From an evolutionary point of view, her children would have a harder time surviving than the children of a woman who limited the expression of her sexual urges to a strong and decent man willing to invest in a stable, long-term, child-rearing relationship.
All modern women are the fruit of feminine caution. The result of this whittling away of the impulsive branches of our ancestral maternal tree is a female brain equipped with the most sophisticated neural software on Earth. A system designed to uncover, scrutinize, and evaluate a dazzling range of informative clues.
Interestingly, men and women process visual cues equally fast, and the same areas linked to arousal fire up.
But in women, the unconscious reaction is intercepted before it gets converted into sex-seeking desire.
Women Have Higher Need to Assess Character
A man’s true character cannot be evaluated as swiftly or as easily as a woman’s bust size.
Since the inner life of a man is so elusive, the Detective Agency developed sophisticated instruments for appraising his personality.
Is he honest? Sincere? Considerate? Loyal? Generous? Does he love his mama? She must also evaluate her own feelings. Do I feel appreciated and adored? Do I feel attractive? Am I nervous? Embarrassed? Guilty?
Then the author goes on to list how women are better equipped at remembering people-related details.
They also seem to be more socially skilled, with some skills that also seem to better predispose towards effective manipulation:
Though women are more emotionally expressive than men, they also possess greater ability to control their facial and body expressions of emotions. Similarly, even though women ruminate more than men, some studies show that they are better at suppressing unwanted thoughts.
Women’s Attraction (& Behavior) Is More Socially-Contextual & Socially-Dependent
Social psychologist Roy Baumeister suggests that women’s greater sensitivity to cultural influences is rooted in brain mechanisms. “Women’s sexuality appears to be more plastic than men’s, relying on social framing and cultural conditions when making decisions regarding relationships. Men’s sexuality seems far more driven by simple physiological mechanisms.”
Keenly attuned to cultural values and social rules, the Detective Agency asks: Which behaviors and relationships are celebrated—and which are frowned upon? What values should I endorse when it comes to sex and relationships? Women are sensitive to messages on magazines and television shows, even indirect messages, such as a model’s body weight, the car a politician is driving, or a celebrity’s views on mental health—subjects that elicit more online comments from women than men.
Ultimately, social-related cues are used to decide what behavior to adopt, and even what to find attractive:
Who does society value more, doctors or software programmers? Can I get away with wearing a tattoo on my back or will people think it’s a “tramp stamp”? Can I post photos on Facebook of me in my bathing suit or will guys think I look fat? Since women must always consider the long-term consequences of their sexual decisions, a woman’s brain is designed to evaluate the particular cultural conditions in which she finds herself.
In brief, say the authors, “for a woman, context is everything”.
Women Also Care More & Tend More to Their Social Circles
A woman’s social environment is also crucial. Does a woman have a network of family and friends who can help provide emotional support and assist with child care? Does this social network approve of her partner? Is a woman in a position in her career where she can take time out for a relationship and to possibly raise children? Are there any other decent men available?
Women Also Gather More Intel From Social Circles
When it comes to desiring a man, women have a love/hate relationship with other women. Miss Marple simply cannot gather enough evidence about a potential partner by working on her own. She always benefits from making a few calls—or a few dozen—to the Detectives at other Agencies.
Women Play It Safer, Men Must Risk More
Why is the female brain designed to play it safe? Because historically, the odds of a woman reproducing are very good.
For women, the optimal thing to do is go along with the crowd, be nice, play it safe. The odds are good that men will come along and offer sex and you’ll be able to have babies. All that matters is choosing the best offer. We’re descended from women who played it safe.
Women’s Sexuality Is More Plastic
Men are more “either this or that”, and get aroused by one cue or another.
Women instead have more cues to look at, and are more about “this and that”.
This means that men are less flexible in their sexuality and get aroused more easily.
Women get aroused less easily, but are more plastic in their sexuality -including when it comes to which gender they prefer-.
Men Can Be Attractive in Many Different Ways
While female attractiveness is somewhat more constrained by male limited sexual cues, men’s attractiveness has more “room for maneuver”:
Women need to experience enough simultaneous cues to cross an ever-varying threshold. Sometimes, just a few overwhelming cues can take a woman there. Other times, it takes a very large number of moderate cues. For a man, a single cue is often sufficient, and sometimes necessary. For women, no single cue is either necessary or sufficient.
The Encouraging Reality of The Sexual Market Place
if you are a woman, then no matter what your attributes—big or skinny, A-cup or double-E, mother or grandmother—you are the sexual ideal and greatest erotic fantasy for an abundance of men.
And for men:
no matter what your character—aggressive or pacifist, witty or stoic, rich or penniless, scarred or delicate—there are plenty of women who can fall in love with you, and if their love is reciprocated, feel an intense desire for you
Also read more on exceptionAL dating:
- The MILF appeal might rest on psychological cues:
The terms “aggressive” and “seduction” appear on the vast majority of MILF sites
- Men might be designed to prefer long-term relationships?
If male desire software was designed to prefer one-night stands, men should prefer sex with adult women over adolescents, since adolescents have relatively low fertility. (Most women don’t attain regular ovulation until many years after menarche; over the past century, the age of first menstruation is happening earlier and the onset of regular ovulation is happening later.) Indeed, in most primate species, including chimpanzees, males do prefer fertility cues over youth cues.
However, humans are inherently more complex, and a dual, co-existing strategy seems to be the norm:
Though men exhibit a general preference for youth and long-term relationships, the male brain is designed to flexibly pursue both long-term and short-term relationships—what psychologist David Buss calls mixed mating strategies. This might be one of the main reasons for the appeal of MILFs. As we saw in the previous chapter, most fans of MILFs emphasize older women’s wishes to avoid romantic complications. MILF fans fantasize about getting seduced by a MILF for a one-night stand rather than wooing her as a girlfriend.
- Humans owe high-intelligent to females’ (relative) chastity
Men may owe their intelligence in part to women’s relative chastity. The brain and the testicles both require large amounts of energy. In species where females are promiscuous, males tend to develop large testicles but smaller brains. The silver-tipped myotis bat has gargantuan testicles that make up 8.4 percent of his body mass, compared to 1 percent in men.
Interesting theory, albeit more speculative. But there might be something there.
- Women also have a dual-sexual strategy
Women want both attractive men and alphas, and men who are kind, giving, and willing to provide and commit.
Sometimes the two come together, but other times, they won’t.
The preferences is somewhat more pronounced during what’ called the “ovulatory shift”.
Read more at:
You can learn more on diverging sexual interests in “sexual conflict“.
- Women are more risk-averse when they’re most likely to conceive
The authors say that “ovulating women seek out conventional sex with alpha males“.
- Testosterone levels do not impact fertility and can lead to poor long-term health
It is correlated with dominance, though.
Albeit Sapolsky says that it’s more collected with status-seeking behavior, and the behavior that ensues depends on what awards status.
- Men are more likely to be moralists and morality-enforcers than women
The authors speculate it might be to “make sure that men keep their libido towards reproductive-age women only”.
But that felt somewhat random to me and I’m unconvinced.
- Cuckold porn leverages the “need for paternity”
Cuckold porn is the second most popular heterosexual interest on English-language search engines.
The authors say that men have stronger libido and ejaculate more when they suspect cheating because they enter into (sperm) competition mode. And that can be arousing for some men.
- Many people (wrongly) feel that others “must be like us”
Men tend to believe that women like raunchy sex with random men as much as men do.
Women believe that men have been “socialized” to enjoy sex with random women.
And gay men believe that, deep down, all men want to have sex with other men.
In truth, at the end of the day, the reality is that we’re just different.
On the plasticity of sexual market value for men:
When I was a teenager, girls were just utterly out of my reach. They wouldn’t even let me draw them.” Crumb leans back in his chair and laughs. “Yeah. All that changed after I got famous.”
On the limitation of research studies (WEIRD):
Geneticists use fruit flies, endocrinologists use guinea pigs, molecular biologists use mice. For behavioral scientists, it’s the college freshman. It’s easy to understand why: they’re cheap, in plentiful supply, easy to motivate through course requirements, and willing to endure even the most unusual experimental methods.
On the difficulties of collecting good scientific research on sexual preferences before the advent of the Internet:
Nothing beats watching a subject in action. But scientists have an easier time gazing at intergalactic quasars than peeking into someone’s bedroom. Quasars don’t close the curtains out of modesty or suspicion.
On the wide variety of sexual preferences:
“The Web brings people together,” offered comedian Richard Jeni, “because no matter what kind of a twisted sexual mutant you happen to be, you’ve got millions of pals out there. Type in ‘Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire’ and the computer will say, ‘Specify type of goat.’ ”
On the senior NSF (National Science Foundation) executive who helped young poor women:
One senior executive spent 331 days viewing naked girls on his office computer, though he insisted his activities were a charitable contribution: “These young women are from poor countries and need to make money to help their parents.”
On a 16-YO writing to his “serial killer crush” Richard Ramirez:
he was nice, told me to get an education and that I’m sweet and should sort my life out and not end up in prison lol. I really liked him. I told him I wanted to chop his wifes feet off and he was cool about it. he’s a nice guy :-).
On women seeking love, and men seeking (unsuccessfully) greatness:
Perhaps nature designed women to be lovable, whereas men were designed to strive, mostly unsuccessfully, for greatness
On the tragedy of male sexuality (albeit this is a generalization and more applicable to the psychology of womanizer):
In a very real sense, there is something tragic about male sexuality. It is never satisfied. Tomorrow is another day for the hunt—whether a single guy cruising for a one-night stand, or a married guy searching a tube site for something new. The novelty cue ensures that whatever is delicious today is bland tomorrow—and male desire is frequently a solitary affair.
On the ironic nonsense of paranormal novels:
Though vampires turbocharge cues of masculinity, the erotical illusions are only complete when these invincible heroes are brought to their knees by the irresistibility of an ordinary woman and her ability to unlock his secret heart.
The data analysis is fantastic, and the main pitfalls emerge when the authors either seek to connect the dots with non-data-driven sources or when venturing out on their own opinions and interpretations.
Sometimes overstates the case for differences
Obviously there are differences between men and women.
Yet, one can either overstate, or downplay those differences.
I feel that “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” sometimes overstates the case for differences.
For example, the authors first list the “most popular erotic websites for men”, which are all video websites.
Then, it lists the “most popular erotic websites for women”, which are all novel fiction websites.
Only much later it also says that YouPorn’s CTO estimates that 1/3 of websites users are actually women.
So those initial tables were misleading, since it’s not like all users of porn websites were only men.
As another example, in a passage that seemed to overstate how difficult it is for women to get aroused, they say:
a sixty-second PornHub clip of a woman unbuttoning her shirt can compel a man to masturbate to ejaculation. But the single most popular artifact used by women to generate arousal takes the form of a 250-page book that requires hours to digest.
Apparently, the authors must not have experienced pulling off wet panties.
Or been in a relationship when the man loses interest, and the woman’s sex drive and lust start outstripping his.
In a third example, the authors cite a popular 1989 experiment of random men and women approaching random men and women and asking for sex.
And they say that most men say yes, and most women say no.
That is true.
However, it should be put into context.
As Viram Swami notes, the differences drop if the asker is very attractive and seem to disappear if the asker is famous.
That is NOT to say that women are equally open to random sex: the differences are real and confirmed. However, there are situations and variables that decrease or even cancel the differences.
I’d have preferred if speculations were clearly labeled “speculation”
Much of the authors’ own opinions seemed legit to me.
A few times, they seemed far more speculative.
What I wished is that they were more clear in stating “this is our speculation”, and “this is the data”.
For example, they say that granny erotica is big in UK and Nigeria because in those countries older women are in contact with young men.
They that in the UK older women in boarding schools “spanked or pinched” the students.
Personally, I’m not aware of a modern country where teachers are allowed to spank pupils.
And even if that was the case, I’d be wary in jumping to conclusions -albeit it might seem like a good possible cause-.
Conflates fame with serial-killing (“serial killer myth”)
Albeit I don’t doubt that some women are indeed attracted to murderers and serial killers, the authors fail to realize that:
- All famous men receive female attention, and the only serial killers who receive significant attention are the famous ones
- The type of women are after serial killers:
- The quality of women: the general quality and level of attractiveness of the women who fall for serial killers should also be better investigated. And I suspected that you won’t find many high-quality women
“Irresistibility cues” apply to men as well
The author implies that “irresistibility” is important to women, but not so much to men.
To back-up his claim, he says that a skin-whitening cream was marketed to women under the “irresistibility” cue, but was marketed to men with a “career-climbing” strategy:
the identical product for men, Fair and Handsome, is sometimes marketed with the promise that it will help its male customers rise the corporate ladder.
The author forgets about “Axe”, the deodorant marketed to make men irresistible to women:
Also, “climbing the corporate ladder” is an indirect way of being attractive/irresistible.
So albeit I agree that “irresistible” might be (somewhat) more important to women, I don’t think it’s as unique to women as the authors imply.
- Great overview of attraction
Probably one of the best overviews of sexual attraction, intersexual dynamics available on the market (and good for sex power dynamics as well).
- Very well researched
A very unique text that mixes lots of wisdom from the most disparate resources.
From popular female dating advice such as “He’s Just Not That Into You“, to male dating advice with the pick-up community and “The Game” and the older classics such as Casanova’s “History of My Life“.
Passing by solid evolutionary psychology literature such as Buss and Miller.
Plus, of big data mining, to research, to anime forums, to erotic literature for women.
And not only the authors read a lot, but they were also able to put it all together into a coherent and logical narrative that makes sense.
“A Billion Wicked Thoughts” is a treasure trove of data-based information on sexual preferences.
What I liked most is that it offers a data-based perspective based on search engine queries that you can’t get anywhere else.
As minor cons, the authors do add their own personal speculations without clearly labeling it “speculation”. And sometimes it might feel like they overstate the differences between the “male ready to fill any hole” and the “risk-averse female who rarely gets horny”.
However, as a whole, the narrative and theoretical framework they develop around data and available research is solid and on point, making it a wonderful book to understand human sexuality.
One great advantage over some other data-based books on dating and sexuality, is that Ogas develops around the data a solid narrative that helps the readers get the “big picture” of sexuality and attraction.
Finally, I quoted “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” to improve this website’s articles and products, and that’s the best compliment I can make to any resource.