Why do we always want the things that we can’t have? And why do we always want to do the things we’re told not to?
We’ve all asked ourselves these questions before — usually when someone brings cake to work on the same day you decided to started your diet, or whenever there’s a ‘DO NOT TOUCH’ sign in the immediate vicinity.
But when it comes to sex, we immediately go to a new level.
The questions of fantasy and taboo are basis of the most recent episode of Better In Bed — the podcast hosted by Sara Tang and Jye Smith — in which they enlist the help of Jayde Lovell to ‘explore the forbidden’.
Lovell is an award-winning Neuroscientist and Science Marketer and self proclaimed science nerd. She also hosts the popular TYT (The Young Turks news network) science series ‘ScIQ’ on YouTube.
The discussion began by focusing on cultural norms and abstinence-only sex education, raising the issue of social conditioning. The way that we talk about sex — or perhaps, don’t talk about it — is a driver of guilt or shame about our sexual desires or fantasies and stops us from having opening or meaningful conversations about them.
‘We teach the biology of sex, not the psychology of sex.’
Lovell pointed out that science shows us the brain is susceptible to the risk and excitement of forbidden sexual acts. Sex with a stranger, for instance, might seem more exciting and risky than sex with a long term partner, even if the act itself is mostly the same. Dopamine and adrenaline provide the sense of rush that comes from riskier behavior. Oxytocin, in comparison, is the “cuddle” hormone that is released during sex with your long term partner.
As a podcast that discusses the undiscussable, it was of course important to get beyond the purely scientific, too.
We liked Tang’s perspective on fantasy and role play as ways of, ‘manipulating your brain chemistry to make sex more fun’ by reintroducing that element of risk and unpredictability that makes the forbidden so desirable.
What we are seeing across the entire sextech category is a growing library of pornographic content online that appeals to a wide variety of desires, kinks, and fetishes. This content is being supported by an increasing number of platforms for people with the proclivities to express them, as well as meet others who share those choices — connecting content and people, experience and desire.
With such resources available at the click of a mouse or the swipe of a screen, the opportunities for fantasy are burgeoning. But will a sex-positive future free us from judgement on discussions of topics around sex and sexuality?
It’s worth listening to this podcast (or subscribing here) — it might just be a first great step to such a future.