A Theoretical Model
Humans think about sex all constantly, and yet it’s very poorly understood. Sure, we know about evolution and the role reproduction plays in adapting and perpetuating our species. For example visual cues like large breasts signal fertility, and facial symmetry (beauty) is a sign of genetic health. But if we dig down a level there are basic questions with no answers, or even a half-decent prevailing theory. For example:
- Why are some people gay?
- Why are some people bisexual?
- Why are people especially attracted to certain types of people over others?
Answer: We don’t know. And it’s fine not to know, hell, we don’t even know why we’re floating through space on a watery marble. But the issue is that some people have replaced the unknowns in life with their own shitty, bigoted explanations. Specifically, some people believe that non-normative sexualities are an UNNATURAL defect, an evolutionary mistake. And for that reason, right now at this moment, across the world people are tortured and killed simply for being attracted to the same gender.
So there’s an urgency to finding the real answer. Just like discovering evolution became a buttress against religion, a strong scientific framework for sexuality could potentially knock the knees out of the “unnatural” viewpoint.
So I’m going to give it a shot. Because I have a theory.
First though, please bear in mind that this is not a scientific paper. I have not executed any experiments or actual scientific research here. This is just a theory, meaning it could be true, false, or anywhere in between. Nevertheless, all science begins with a hypothesis, and my hypothesis begins with one of the most mysterious aspects of sexual behavior:
Part 1. Power Dynamics
“Everything in the world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.”
From a power standpoint, the archetypal human sexual relationship features a dominant male and submissive female. And those power dynamics are reflected on many levels, not the least of which being the penis thrusting into the accepting vagina/anus/mouth. Biological genitalia is not the whole story though, because power roles are evident in homosexual relationships as well. In gay culture people are generally classified as either tops or bottoms (with a percentage doing a bit of both).
Point being, it’s generally accepted that power plays a role in our sexual behaviors. So let’s examine that specific aspect more closely by looking at a couple bell curves charting power distributions. Bell curves are interesting because they represent normal distributions along any variable in a population, meaning most people are average, with some more, some less, and so on. Normal distributions hold true for height, weight, intelligence, you name it.
Here is a bell curve:
Note that the further you get from the average, the units away are called standard deviations. Most people are in the center, which is why it’s the average, and why the graph goes up highest there. More than a couple deviations from the middle and you are quite a bit different from everyone else on whatever is being measured, and there are less of you in the population.
So now let’s measure power in males.
As you can see, the more powerful males are to the left, and the more effeminate males are to the right. Now let’s look at the ladies:
Bear in mind that we are not just charting some theoretical concept here, but rather a very real and measurable set of behavioral traits that have a neurological basis. For example, it’s there are measurable differences between male and female brains within specific regions of white matter. Further, a recent study found that the brains of female-to-male transsexual people are masculinized. But let’s stay focused. First let’s look at the relationship between the male and female distribution. Based on traditional stereotypes we can assume that the male distribution will be to the left of the female, meaning they exhibit more dominant behaviors. But how far? Well, something interesting happens when we put these next to each other…
What’s interesting is that from a strictly empirical perspective, the more dominant female is at least as dominant as the submissive male, which suggests that the graphs need to be overlaid much more than one might have originally assumed.
So now we’re getting somewhere. But before I continue, I want to issue two important disclaimers.
First, this theory is about the roles people play in their sexual relationships, and does not necessarily speak to their roles in non-sexual settings, such as at work or with friends. Some people read this theory and think I am saying submissives are less valuable as people, but that is not what I’m saying. Being sexually submissive or dominant has nothing to do with your value as a person, nor your ability to contribute and lead in society. Again, these are sexual roles and preferences, similar to how different people like different foods. So there’s no reason a sexually dominant person can’t be a good employee, or that a sexually submissive person can’t be a good boss, for the same reason we would never say that a Vegetarian can’t be president.
Second, I would be remiss not to clarify that these pictures I’m using are only for the purpose of helping explain this theory. The fact is, you can’t always judge peoples level of power/control based on how they look. Take these two gentleman for example:
What is the power breakdown here? The answer is that we don’t know because you just can’t tell based on how someone looks. The pictures I’m using on these graphs are simply to help illustrate my theory.
Part 2: The theory
It’s a pretty simple theory actually:
Sexual Attraction between two people is strongest at approximately 3 standards deviations away on a normalized power distribution.
So what does that mean? Well let’s stick the deviation lines back on the graph and label them for males and females:
For starters, note that the most average man will have the most average woman lined up 3 standard deviations away. For example, if we use what’s his name from the notebook as the average male, based on the “distance away” theory he will not be attracted to almost the entire male curve. The red area is the “not-attracted-to-these-people” zone.
And same goes for Rashida Jones, the average woman in my example. I’ve used red gradients because attraction doesn’t completely start and stop at a certain point- it’s a matter of degree, just as we all know people we are sorta attracted to but not strongly.
So now let’s make this a bit tougher and look at someone link Ellen Degeneres, who I think we can all agree is a pretty butch lady. Let’s place her at a -1M (which could also be called 2F), meaning she is approximately 2 standard deviations more powerful than the average woman. Next let’s count 3 standard deviations in either direction.
What we see here is Males must be more than 2m to be in her zone (very uncommon in the population), whereas Women only need to be less than -1F (relatively common). So who does Ellen date? Walking barbie doll Portia De Rossi..
So that checks out. So what about that bear we pictured earlier? What’s his deal? Well let’s take a look.
As you can see, this dude is so dominant that women are not the proper distance away. Rather, a -.5M is right around the sweet spot for him, which captures a significant amount of the male population but basically no females. Society has a very poor understanding of this guy, because even though he’s “gay”, he’s one tough son of a bitch. Certainly the latest rant by the 49ers player is yet another reminder of this.
“No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.” -Chris Culliver, San Francisco 49ers
When all this gets sorted out years from now, I suspect it will be revealed that there are lots of gay people playing in the NFL. Except they’re all tops, because they’re operating within a system that selects only the most physically dominant individuals out of the population. For another example, take a look at the start of this fight. Ask yourself, why do these musclebound dudes kiss each other? According to this theory, it’s a show of dominance and makes a lot of sense why the other kissed back. Neither want to concede that they got kissed. Both insist on being the kisser.
At this point perhaps you are asking yourself, if proximity is unattractive, why 3 deviations and not 4, or 5, getting more attractive the further out you go? Well the answer is a bit complicated, but my thinking here is that there needs to be a proper balance between power levels, such that either too little or too much do not work. Consider boxing weights as an example. Boxers fight in weight classes because if a 250lb dude was to fight a 100lb dude it just wouldn’t be fair. You need an appropriate level of resistance to get the right form of competition.
It’s get complicated though, because most likely the 3 standard deviations away metric is itself an average value, meaning some people prefer a larger power discrepancy (>3 deviations away) and some prefer no power discrepancy at all (< 3 deviations). But for the sake of keeping my explanation a bit easier to understand, I’ll continue using 3 standard deviations as the default distance of attraction.
So now that we have looked at a gay top, let’s examine a gay “bottom”, or the more stereotypically effeminate gay male. These gents are far to the right on the male distribution, and their attraction zone looks like this:
As you can see, there aren’t really any women in his zone, however much of the average male distribution is. This is also what society stereotypically thinks of as “gay” because he’s feminine. And of course religious (mentally challenged) people will tell this person that they’re unnatural, completely misunderstanding how adaptive reproduction works to promote diversity in a population.
Now let’s put it all together:
Remember to count around 3 standard deviations away from any point on the line to see the attraction points. Based on the standard percentages (shown in the first bell curve I attached) 68% of the people are within 1 standard deviation (34% on each side), then 28%, and 4%. With that as a rough guide we can approximate the following:
40% of people are straight (20% male, 20% female)
20% of people are bisexual tops (10% male, 10% female)
20% of people are bisexual bottoms (10% male, 10% female)
10% of people are homosexual tops (5% male, 5% female)
10% of people are homosexual bottoms (5% male, 5% female)
These numbers paint a very different picture of society than one might expect. Certainly the idea that 60% of the population is interested in their own gender (to a varying extent) seems very high. But when you take into account social inhibitions it’s maybe not so surprising. Speaking of which, I suppose it’s also important to note that my theory predicts homosexual behaviors occurring equally across genders, even though real life experience tells us that women are far more likely to engage in a same sex encounter. But this theory explains that as well, because if a girl has sex with another girl, it doesn’t really change the way men perceive the woman’s power level. But if a woman learns a particular guy was fucked by another guy, she will perceive him to be vastly less powerful, and thus less attractive (assuming standard averages). Ultimately our behaviors incorporate a wide range of factors and our “natural” impulses are just one element within a multi-level cognitive process.
Part 3: Implications
A sexual continuum was actually theorized (and popularized) many years ago by a guy named Alfred Kinsey, but in a simplistic and not very helpful way. Here is Kinsey’s chart:
As you can see, Kinsey’s theory was basically linear and not very insightful beyond printing labels. In studies they asked people questions like: “If 0 is completely gay and 10 is completely straight, what is your orientation number?”
I mean, there is relevance to this data, and it should map well to mine, however does it really capture the complex permutations of sexuality we see in the world around us? Does it help us understand how sexuality works? I believe my theory provides a much more accurate picture.
Looking at sexuality as a power relationship explains pretty well why in different sociological contexts homosexuality can suddenly become more prominent. Take prison for example, where men are deprived of females, and begin having sex with each other. Are we to believe that everyone who is sent to prison was “gay” to begin? Obviously that doesn’t make much sense unless we expand our understanding of gay and straight. In the context of my theory then, Male/male sexual behavior in jail simply reflects the expression of power roles taking place within an all male social structure.
In ancient Rome it was commonplace for older men to have sex with young boys. So were the Romans were just really different than modern men? Or could it be that their lack of cultural constraints allowed for a more candid smorgasbord of sexuality? According to power theory, those types of relationships are not unexpected if social norms are shifted.
This theory also speaks to the psychology of being transgender. Specifically, if your power level is too far away from that of your gender, your biology will not match your self perception. For example, a penis is a symbol of power. So if you are a sufficiently submissive person, you may see necessary to remove it in order to find alignment between your physical and mental self.
Many articles are written containing ideas on how to regain the “spark” in a relationship, but often the authors fail to accurately diagnose why the spark disappeared in the first place, and worse, the solutions they proffer aren’t very good. For example, many indicate the problem is that you’re too busy and tired all the time. Do you think that’s actually why? And the solution is to buy some new lingerie. Do you think that actually works?
Personally I think the theory I’ve outlined here more accurately explains the ebbs of attraction in a relationship, and also offers better solutions.
For men the spark goes away because once you’ve dominated something over and over, the thrill of dominating it fades. You own it. It’s yours. And it doesn’t make you feel powerful to conquer it. For women the spark will disappear because as the emotional bond between them and their partner grows, their power over him also grows, so the man may no longer seem as powerful as he did. If the woman starts to gain leverage over the man, for whatever reason, she will no longer feel sufficiently controlled or dominated sexually and the spark will be gone.
To get it back both parties must do things to reinforce their power. For a male this means surprising your wife and fucking her senseless for no apparent reason. Doing this will undermine her feeling of control over you. In particular, the surprise reinforces the idea that there are parts of you that she does not know, and therefore cannot control. For women this means playing hard to get. Wear the lingerie but make him work for it. Talk to another guy in front of him. Flash your ass and run off. Make him hunt you. Undermine the idea that you are controlled.
Child Molestation and Rape
Finally, I’d like to briefly discuss the very sensitive and difficult subjects of rape and child molestation, and how they relate to this theory. But we need to talk about these things precisely because of how awful they are, the fact that these “unthinkable” things keep happening. So let’s be better than our history, let’s not sweep these things under the rug, let’s think about the problem deeper than just calling people “monsters”.
Children are extremely vulnerable. On the power scale above they exist way off to the right, and move left as they make their way to adulthood and assume their adult location. So they are essentially powerless, meaning that in theory nobody should be attracted to them because the only folks 3 standard deviations away from them are almost fully submissive themselves. Further, often the people doing these things aren’t anywhere near their victims, suggesting there is something else going on.
Specifically, what I believe is happening relates to how the attraction distance is itself a normally distributed variable, where 3 is not the rule but merely the average along a curve. From that perspective, the people molesting children are likely the statistically rare portion of the population that prefers an extra wide power discrepancy. And the same can be said for rapes within the adult population as well. When people like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein drug and rape unconscious women, they are pushing roles of power and powerlessness to extremes.
More deserves to be written and researched about all of the above, however my goal with this article has simply been to put forward the theory, in hopes that others across various professional disciplines will become aware of it and execute the type of formal analysis necessary to validate the hypothesis. Perhaps one day even, these concepts will be relatively well known, and we can start treating each and every person on this planet as the individual miracle that they are.