Kindly monitor the boners, please! For science!
A new mobile app from the Kinsey Institute encourages users to (anonymously) report and share sexual activities that they witness or participate in—aggregate data which will then be logged and analyzed by Kinsey researchers. The goal is to hopefully map geographical trends and cultural phenomena ranging from flirting to birth control, that might enlighten some dimmer corners of human sexuality. It's like sexting your professor! Kind of! If your professor was the entire internet.
In the project's first hours after launch, people from all over the United States and Europe had added tags about sexual activity, ranging from subjects as innocent as "man" and "woman" to more provocative phrases like "increased desire" and "infidelity."
The project doesn't collect identifying information from users, but does store the time and general location of the report. That means if you comment about "man flirting" in Portland, as one subject did, the project will be able to collect both that tag and the city, but won't display a name.
"This new platform will allow us to explore issues that have been challenging to study until now," said Filippo Menczer, director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, in a press release, "such as the prevalence of unreported sexual violence in different parts of the world, or the correlation between various sexual practices like condom use, for example, and the cultural, political, religious or health contexts in particular geographical areas. These were some of our initial motivations for the project."
I'm not sure how accurate a bunch of self-reported, crowd-sourced sex data will be (specifically, the sexual observations of adults affluent and idle enough to have both smartphones and time for this project), but it's a pretty amazing idea. At the very least—not even mentioning the implications for public health and sexual violence research—it just backs up the notion that sex is normal, sex is everywhere, and the radical right-wing idea that people should be (or are—HA!) waiting to have sex is counterproductive bullshit. We do have some very serious sexual problems in this country (see "legitimate rape," etc., ad nauseam), but the solution lies in honesty, not in pretending like we live in sexless Jesus-Narnia. Idiots.
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