Preferences for sexual motor patterns

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Having got rid of the useless term 'homosexual behavior' and limited the term 'sexual dimorphism' to the rather insignificant cases where a real dimorphism exists, we can now start to concentrate on the subject of this chapter, sexual preferences. The expression could, in principle, refer both to the sex of the partner we choose for our sexual activities and to the specific choice of motor pattern. We will begin this section with a brief discussion of the latter choice.

Someone may choose penile-vaginal intercourse with the woman in supine position whenever a choice is available, while someone else may choose fellatio as soon as the partner accepts it. The choice of a specific motor pattern for the execution of sexual acts should, in principle depend on the individual's history of reinforcement and reward. The pattern most likely leading to the obtention of sexual reinforcement and/or to the most intense sexual reward should be selected, according to behavior theory. However, other factors may also influence the choice.

For example, some prostitutes charge more for fellatio than for penile-vaginal intercourse. Thus, although a client might have multiple experiences telling him that fellatio provides a larger reward than penile-vaginal intercourse, he may choose the latter for economical reasons. Likewise, a woman may have experiences telling her that cunnilingus is the activity that most likely leads to orgasm and, although she would happily choose that behavior pattern, she engaged in anal intercourse because her partner insisted on that. Another woman, attending a tea party with her female friends, watched a pornographic movie depicting a woman being penetrated simultaneously by two men in different orifices. At the earliest subsequent occasion, she tried to organize a similar situation for herself because of social learning. In addition to personal experience, social and moral norms regarding sexual behaviors may also exert profound influences on the choice of sexual motor pattern. Thus, although the basic mechanism determining choice of sexual activity should be the history of reinforcement, the immediate choice is constantly modified by other factors. Some, but far from all, of these factors were illustrated in the preceding vulgar examples.

I did not use the word preference in the preceding paragraph. However, whenever we choose one sexual motor pattern over another one, we show a preference. It could be posed that the motor pattern we most frequently choose among all available patterns is the preferred one. Absent from the preceding paragraph was also any mention of non-human mammals. This is a consequence of the fact that the number of possible sexual motor patterns is most limited among these mammals. In a male rat, for example, the choices are limited to perform a mount or a lordosis. It can even be questioned whether there is any choice at all, since both mount and lordosis are motor patterns reflexively activated by external stimuli, essentially tactile as I have insisted upon already. The lack of choice of which sexual motor patterns to display is not limited to rats. It is only in some primate species that we can find any real variability in sexual motor patterns. This means that the choice of or preference for a particular sexual motor pattern is a question of little concern for those studying sexual behavior in non-human mammals. More surprising is that we have very little reliable information on preferences in the human. Curiously enough, a question of no scientific importance seems to occupy most of those studying the choice of sexual motor patterns in the human: whether the chosen activity includes the use of a condom or not. This scientifically uninteresting matter may be fundamental to condom producers and perhaps also to those trying to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. In the present context, though, this kind of research is not very illuminating. We must conclude that empirical studies of preferences for the many possible and available sexual motor patterns are almost non-existent in the human. The many surveys giving us data on the proportion of people engaging in anal sex, oral sex, animal sex, etc, do not offer any data making it possible to estimate preferences for any of these motor patterns. I will not enter into any discussion of the methods that might allow us to determine which is an individual's preferred sexual motor pattern. I simply end this discussion by writing that we do not know.

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