Monday, April 29, 2019

No direct link between sugary drinks and caloric intake or BMI in children

European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK (28 April-1 May), abstract CP2.06: Should the soft drinks industry levy (“the sugar tax”) be framed as a childhood obesity intervention? Anabtawi, O.; Townsend, T.; Strathearn, L.; Swift, J. A. School of Biosciences, Nottingham Univ.

Introduction: The Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) came into effect on the 6th of April 2018 and it is designed to tackle Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs); the largest contributor of sugar in children’s diets. It has been mandated as part of the Childhood Obesity Plan and is projected to result in an8.55% reduction in the rates of children and adolescents who are obese (Briggs et al., 2016). To understand more about the potential impacts of action on SSBs, this study aimed to consider the characteristics of children in the UK who drink, and do not drink, SSBs and the impact of overall energy intake.

Methodology: Data from 4-day estimated food diaries of 1298 children aged 4-10 years from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling program from 2008 to 2016 were analysed using SPSS version 24. Based upon their consumption or not, children were categorised as “drinkers”and “non-drinkers” of SSBs. Other variables included child age, gender, weight classification (IOTF cut-offs calculated from weight (kgs) and height (cm) (Cole et al. 2007)), total energy requirements for age, total energy intake (<90% of energy requirement met by intake taken as lower than recommended energy intake, 90-100% as met recommended energy intake, >110% above recommended energy intake), and Non-Milk Extrinsic Sugar (NMES) intake (<5% of total energy requirement as low NMES intake, 5–10% as medium NMES intake, >10% as high NMES intakes) (WHO, 2015).

Results: The consumption of NMES from food and drink within the total population was higher than recommended in 78.4% (n = 1017) children and significantly higher among the 790 (60.86%) of children classified as drinkers of SSBs (67.6%, n = 688) compared to non-drinkers(32.2%, n = 329). However, 78.1% (n = 617) children who were drinkers of SSBs did note xceed their total energy requirements and there was no significant difference between the two groups of drinkers and non-drinkers in terms of age, gender or body weight classification.

Conclusion: In this representative sample of UK children, high intake of NMEs was not directly correlated with high energy consumption, therefore, depending on a single-nutrient approach in tackling childhood obesity might not be the most effective. Furthermore, SSB drinking is not a behaviour particular to children with a higher body weight, on the contrary, framing sugar reduction in tackling obesity might reinforce negative stereotypes around “unhealthy dieting”. More equitably, policies should focus on those children whose consumption of SSBs significantly increases their total NMEs.

Reference: Briggs, A. D. M., et al, (2016) Health impact assessment of the UK soft drinks industry levy: a comparative risk assessment modelling study. The Lancet Public Health, 2, e15–e22.

That rapid eye movements (REM) are quasi absent in blind individuals despite preserved visual dream content does not support the visual scanning of dreams hypothesis

Rapid eye movements are reduced in blind individuals. Julie A. E. Christensen, Sébrina Aubin, Tore Nielsen, Maurice Ptito, Ron Kupers, Poul Jennum. Journal of Sleep Research, April 26 2019.

Abstract: There is ongoing controversy regarding the role of rapid eye movements (EMs) during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. One prevailing hypothesis is that EMs during REM sleep are indicative of the presence of visual imagery in dreams. We tested the validity of this hypothesis by measuring EMs in blind subjects and correlating these with visual dream content. Eleven blind subjects, of whom five were congenitally blind (CB) and six late blind (LB), and 11 matched sighted control (SC) subjects participated in this study. All participants underwent full‐night polysomnography (PSG) recordings that were staged manually following American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) criteria. Nocturnal EMs were detected automatically using a validated EM detector, and EM activity was represented as “EM coverage” computed as percentage of time with EM in each sleep stage. Frequency of sensory dream elements was measured in dream recall questionnaires over a 30‐day period. Both blind groups showed less EM coverage during wakefulness, N1, N2 and REM sleep than did controls. CB and LB subjects did not differ in EM activity. Validation of the detector applied to blind subjects revealed an overall accuracy of 95.6 ± 3.6%. Analysis of dream reports revealed that LB subjects reported significantly more visual dream elements than did CB. Although no specific mechanisms can be revealed in the current study, the quasi absence of nocturnal EMs in LB subjects despite preserved visual dream content does not support the visual scanning of dreams hypothesis. Specifically, results suggest a dissociation between EMs and visual dream content in blind individuals.

Polygenic scores mediate the Jewish phenotypic advantage in educational attainment and cognitive ability compared with Catholics and Lutherans

Dunkel, C. S., Woodley of Menie, M. A., Pallesen, J., & Kirkegaard, E. O. W. (2019). Polygenic scores mediate the Jewish phenotypic advantage in educational attainment and cognitive ability compared with Catholics and Lutherans. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences,

Abstract: A newly released multivariate polygenic score for educational attainment, cognitive ability, and self-rated mathematical ability in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study was examined as a mediator of the group difference between Jews (n = 53) and 2 Christian denominations, Catholics (n = 2,603) and Lutherans (n = 2,027), with respect to educational attainment, IQ, and performance on a similarities measure. It was found that the Jewish performance advantage over both Catholics and Lutherans with respect to all 3 measures was partially and significantly mediated by group differences in the polygenic score. This result is consistent with the prediction that the high average cognitive ability of Jews may have been shaped, in part, by polygenic selection acting on this population over the course of several millennia.

When men engaged in intercourse with women they knew were in a committed relationship, thrusting was quicker, deeper, & more vigorous; also reported more intense orgasms & attempted to prolong intercourse

Burch, R. L., & Gallup, G. G., Jr. (2019). The other man: Knowledge of sexual rivals and changes in sexual behavior. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.

Abstract: In a sample of college couples, we examined the frequency of extrapair copulations, how these differ from intercourse with committed partners, and how knowledge of the other person’s relationship status affects sexual behavior. More than 25% of both men and women reported engaging in 1 or more extrapair copulations. Those who cheated reported greater arousal, but the duration of intercourse was not affected. Both sexes achieved greater sexual satisfaction from extrapair copulations. When men engaged in intercourse with women they knew were in a committed relationship, thrusting was quicker, deeper, and more vigorous. Men also reported more intense orgasms and attempted to prolong intercourse for as long as possible when having sex with someone who was in another relationship. Women did not. Differences in various parameters of extrapair orgasmic experiences (latency to orgasm, frequency of orgasm, intensity of orgasm, and orgasm duration) were consistent with a priori predictions based on sex differences in fitness maximization (Gallup, Burch, & Petricone, 2012; Gallup, Towne, & Stolz, 2018).

Effect of Being Religious on Wellbeing in a Predominantly Atheist Country: Found a negative correlation between religiosity & physical & mental health

Kopecky, Robin, Silvia Boschetti, and Jaroslav Flegr. 2019. “Effect of Being Religious on Wellbeing in a Predominantly Atheist Country: Explorative Study on Wellbeing, Fitness, Physical and Mental Health.” PsyArXiv. April 29. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Despite a large volume of research on the impact of religion on different aspects of life, there is still a lack of studies from post-communist countries.  In the current study, we aimed to fill this gap by investigating the relationship between religion and wellbeing, physical and mental health, education, sexual behavior and biological fitness among the Czech population. We managed to collect responses from 31633 participants and divided the sample into seven categories based on the type of religious belief and denomination (nonbelievers, believers without denomination, Catholics, Evangelicals, Hussites, Buddhists, Jews). We focused on the wellbeing as our main factor, which we define as composed of a number of sub-variables: physical and mental health, economic situation, self-attractiveness and the quality of the romantic relationship. In contrast to previous studies, we found a negative correlation between religiosity and physical and mental health. On the other hand, religiosity was connected to higher fitness, higher self-rated honesty and altruism, and lower sexual activity, which is in accord with the data from the western countries. Our findings suggest that even though Czechs had experienced years of oppression during the Communist regime, religion and religious beliefs still have considerable impact on their quality of life.

fitness: current number of biological children, preferred total number of children, number of biological siblings, total number of biological aunts and uncles

Intergenerational transmission of the positive effects of physical exercise on brain and cognition

Intergenerational transmission of the positive effects of physical exercise on brain and cognition. Kerry R. McGreevy, Patricia Tezanos, Iria Ferreiro-Villar, Anna Pallé, Marta Moreno-Serrano, Anna Esteve-Codina, Ismael Lamas-Toranzo, Pablo Bermejo-Álvarez, Julia Fernández-Punzano, Alejandro Martín-Montalvo, Raquel Montalbán, Sacri R. Ferrón, Elizabeth J. Radford, Ángela Fontán-Lozano, and José Luis Trejo. PNAS April 22, 2019.

Significance: Physical exercise is well known for its positive effects on general health (specifically, on brain function and health), and some mediating mechanisms are also known. A few reports have addressed intergenerational inheritance of some of these positive effects from exercised mothers or fathers to the progeny, but with scarce results in cognition. We report here the inheritance of moderate exercise-induced paternal traits in offspring’s cognition, neurogenesis, and enhanced mitochondrial activity. These changes were accompanied by specific gene expression changes, including gene sets regulated by microRNAs, as potential mediating mechanisms. We have also demonstrated a direct transmission of the exercise-induced effects through the fathers’ sperm, thus showing that paternal physical activity is a direct factor driving offspring’s brain physiology and cognitive behavior.

Abstract: Physical exercise has positive effects on cognition, but very little is known about the inheritance of these effects to sedentary offspring and the mechanisms involved. Here, we use a patrilineal design in mice to test the transmission of effects from the same father (before or after training) and from different fathers to compare sedentary- and runner-father progenies. Behavioral, stereological, and whole-genome sequence analyses reveal that paternal cognition improvement is inherited by the offspring, along with increased adult neurogenesis, greater mitochondrial citrate synthase activity, and modulation of the adult hippocampal gene expression profile. These results demonstrate the inheritance of exercise-induced cognition enhancement through the germline, pointing to paternal physical activity as a direct factor driving offspring’s brain physiology and cognitive behavior.

Keywords: intergenerational inheritancecognition traitsmoderate physical exerciseadult hippocampal neurogenesismitochondria

The De-Scent of Sexuality: Did Loss of a Pheromone Signaling Protein Permit the Evolution of Same-Sex Sexual Behavior in Primates?

The De-Scent of Sexuality: Did Loss of a Pheromone Signaling Protein Permit the Evolution of Same-Sex Sexual Behavior in Primates? Daniel Pfau, Cynthia L. Jordan, S. Marc Breedlove. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Apr 23 2019.

Abstract: Primate same-sex sexual behavior (SSSB) is rarely observed in strepsirrhine species, and only somewhat more common in platyrrhines, but is observed in nearly all catarrhine species, including humans, suggesting the common catarrhine ancestor as the origin of routine SSSB. In mice, disruption of the transient receptor potential cation channel 2 (TRPC2) gene, which is crucial for transducing chemosensory signals from pheromones in the vomeronasal organ, greatly increased the likelihood of SSSB. We note that catarrhine primates share a common deleterious mutation in this gene, indicating that the protein was dysfunctional in the common catarrhine ancestral primate approximately 25 mya (million years ago). We hypothesize that the loss of this protein for processing pheromonal signals in males and females made SSSB more likely in a primate ancestral species by effectively lifting a pheromonally mediated barrier to SSSB and that this was an important precursor to the evolution of such behavior in humans. Additional comparisons between SSSB and the functional status of the TRPC2 gene or related proteins across primate species could lend support to or falsify this hypothesis. Our current research indicates that loss of TRPC2 function in developing mice leads to the loss or attenuation of sexually dimorphisms in the adult brain, which may help us to understand the biological underpinnings of SSSB. Our hypothesis offers an ultimate evolutionary explanation for SSSB in humans.

Keywords: TRPC2 Same-sex sexual behavior Primates Sexual orientation Pheromone

How to Ruin Sex Research: Hysterical attacks on what is perceived as an opponent

How to Ruin Sex Research. J. Michael Bailey. Archives of Sexual Behavior, May 2019, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 1007–1011.

On November 10, 2018, my graduate student, Kevin Hsu, gave an invited presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) in Montreal. The occasion was his receipt of the society’s annual “Ira and Harriet Reiss Theory Award” for “the best social science article, chapter, or book published in the previous year in which theoretical explanations of human sexual attitudes and behaviors are developed.” His paper was on gynandromorphophilic men, or men attracted to transwomen who have not had vaginoplasty but have penises (Hsu, Rosenthal, Miller, & Bailey, 2016).

According to numerous sources, the talk was interesting and the audience was interested. However, an attendee repeatedly and aggressively interrupted the presentation. This person, the psychologist Christine Milrod, is closely associated with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and with the position that more and younger persons should more easily obtain medical treatment to change their sexes (Milrod, 2014; Milrod & Karasic, 2017; 4thWaveNow, 2017). Milrod also strongly objects to the scientifically well-studied idea that gender dysphoria that begins after puberty in natal males is caused by autogynephilia, or a male’s sexual arousal by the fantasy of being a woman. Milrod was asked repeatedly by the audience and the moderator to let the presenter continue. Milrod failed to ask any questions during the period reserved for them.
SSSS officials and membership discussed the incident. On November 15, 2018 the SSSS Executive Committee sent a mass e-mail entitled “Important Message to SSSS Members & Annual Meeting Attendees.” The message expressed concern, not about Milrod’s behavior, but about Hsu’s presentation:

    The SSSS Executive Committee is aware of past and more recent incidents of language and behavior that has [sic] made transgender persons and other attendees feel unwelcome, unsupported, marginalized, or attacked at our Annual Meetings. We apologize. We want to assure all Members and attendees that we fully support you and stand with you. We are trans-allies.

Although I was shocked by the SSSS statement, I should not have been. It is emblematic of recent trends (Akresh & Villasenor, 2018). I believe it is also a terrible statement: poorly reasoned, cowardly, and exactly opposite of what it should have been. To the extent that the SSSS statement reflects the direction of that organization, SSSS is headed toward ruin, or at least ruin as an organization ostensibly supportive of scientific sex research.

In this Guest Editorial, I adopt the (hopefully) rhetorical assumption that the SSSS wants to ruin sex research, and offer advice—most of which the statement appears well on its way to enacting—about how to do so. Do not assume, however, that SSSS is uniquely swayed by the forces I identify and decry. They are also present, for example, in the International Academy of Sex Research, the organization associated with the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Indeed, they are ascendant in academia generally. I focus here on sex research, because that is what I know, and also because sex research is uniquely vulnerable right now.

Advocate for Marginalized Groups

Sex researchers often feel sympathy for marginalized groups, especially when the groups have been marginalized due to irrational intolerance of sexuality. I have sympathized with various marginalized groups throughout my career, starting with homosexual people (back when they were marginalized), then transsexuals, and recently pedophiles, among others.1
Members of sexually marginalized groups are human. This means that they will sometimes be tempted to make unreasonable demands on scientists and accusations against scientists who resist those demands. I have occasionally angered members of sexually marginalized groups. For example, during the 1990s some gay men disliked the idea that there is an association between homosexuality and gender nonconformity. I have devoted considerable effort to studying this association, which I now consider beyond reasonable doubt. I have written about autogynephilia—also beyond reasonable doubt and a common reason why Western natal males become transsexual (Lawrence, )—despite the livid reactions of some transsexuals. I have angered bisexual men by publishing research suggesting that some do not have bisexual arousal patterns (Rieger, Chivers, & Bailey, ), while conceding bisexual identity and behavior clearly exist.
I have offended sexually marginalized group by prioritizing the goals of sex research—putting forward plausible hypotheses, collecting and publishing data, drawing conclusions from data rather than my preferences, and making clear and correct arguments to the best of my abilities—over advocating for anyone, including marginalized groups. I have done so even when some groups insisted that my sex research harmed them. If I had prioritized advocacy, I likely would have refrained from conducting, or at least publishing, the offending research. That would have harmed sex research and would not have benefited the offended groups in any defensible way.
Thinking about groups can mislead one into ignoring important variation within groups. Many gay men embrace gender nonconformity—witness the success (twice) of the U.S. television show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” And some—we do not know what proportion—of males who fantasize about being female not only admit their autogynephilia, they embrace it and express relief that they are not alone (Lawrence, ; Saotome-Westlake, ). Supporting transgender persons who oppose autogynephilia theory is failing to support (or more accurately silencing) those who support the theory. What to do? An advocate would go with the majority, I suppose, although it would be difficult to get an accurate survey count. A scientific sex researcher would open discussion, weigh in with knowledge and data, and feel no compunction. To the extent that some members of a marginalized group require that plausible or even factual ideas not be discussed, they need therapy more than advocacy.


Full text at the link above.

Attack on capitalism in the defense of the equality/Nordic model of decriminalization of prostitution; no mention of male prostitution

Challenging the “Prostitution Problem”: Dissenting Voices, Sex Buyers, and the Myth of Neutrality in Prostitution Research. Maddy Coy, Cherry Smiley, Meagan Tyler. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Mar 26 2019.

This Commentary refers to the article available at ("The Prostitution Problem”: Claims, Evidence, and Policy Outcomes. Cecilia Benoit et al. Nov 29 2019)

All research and policymaking on the prostitution system is deliberated and decided in the shadows of fundamentally incompatible positions. We recognize these positions along broadly similar lines as Benoit, Smith, Jansson, Healey, and Magnuson (2018) (although, as we shall discuss, with crucial differences): to legitimate prostitution as a form of labor, or recognize it as a form of male violence against women and girls. Over the past decade, the latter approach has gained significant momentum. The Equality (or Nordic) Model, pioneered in Sweden in 1999, is now in place (with localized variations), in Norway and Iceland (2009), Canada (2014),1 Northern Ireland (2015), France (2016), and the Republic of Ireland (2017) (Bindel, 2017; Tyler et al., 2017). The decriminalization of selling sex, combined with provision of exiting support, criminalization of buying sex, and public education, is rooted in recognition not only that prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation are related systems of male violence against women, but that their very existence reflects and reproduces women’s inequality. Patriarchy, racism, and capitalism require a hierarchy of human value. Feminists who advocate for the abolition of prostitution do so from a position that seeks to end these hierarchies, to challenge male entitlement to profit from women’s bodies and Indigenous lands, and create a world where women and girls can live free from male violence or threat of male violence.

In contrast to the Equality/Nordic Model, older systems of legalization (as found in the Netherlands, Germany, and the Australian states of Queensland and Victoria) and total decriminalization (as found in New Zealand) are based around principles of harm reduction, rather than harm abolition. This leads us to ask: How much harm is acceptable for women to live with if harm reduction is the goal? And who decides this? (Graham, 2014). The underlying ideology of sex-as-work does not allow for a challenge to male entitlement or systems of patriarchy and racism, choosing instead to monetize them.

We start our response to Benoit et al. (2018) against this background. One of our concerns is their problematic conflation, and therefore obfuscation, of the Equality/Nordic Model with total criminalization (which largely emanates from archaic “decency,” public nuisance or “law and order” approaches that punish prostituted persons). These different approaches, with different philosophical underpinnings, are both categorized by Benoit et al. as “repressive.” There are deep divisions in academic and policy debates about prostitution, but to ignore or misrepresent the basis of differing positions generates more heat than light. Here, we suggest that Benoit et al. do not fully engage the ideological underpinnings of work that promotes total decriminalization and thus tend to overstate the claims of empirical support, while underestimating the possibility of transformational social change to challenge the sex industry on a more fundamental level. We also argue that the separation of gender and sex from “social inequalities” is misleading and confusing. Finally, we note key elements of research on systems of prostitution, in particular the racism inherent in prostitution and men’s entitlement to sex on demand that need to be engaged with further by those promoting total decriminalization.

The Myth of Neutrality in Prostitution Research

Indigenous, decolonizing, and feminist researchers have long claimed that no research is value-free. When Benoit et al. (2018) argue that “researchers ideological biases also weaken much of the scholarship on prostitution,” their argument assumes that viewing prostitution as harmful is a problematic value perspective, and that research that begins from a perspective of sex work-as-work does not have this “problem.” Indeed, the lopsided example provided does not account for the ways in which a sex work perspective diminishes or discounts the violent material realities and analyses of prostitution as shared by women who have survived it, an issue we return to below. As Boyle (2012) argued writing in response to Weitzer’s appraisal of feminist research on pornography: “Feminist researchers have long argued that ‘the appearance of objectivity’ is precisely that: an appearance… [t]o declare oneself ‘neutral’ on this issue is a politicized position in itself” (p. 507). It is impossible, even disingenuous, to claim that an epistemological starting point (even if unacknowledged) does not influence research design, sampling strategies, construction of interview guides, coding frameworks for analysis, and how data are presented in terms of the language used to describe the prostitution system and people involved in it (e.g., prostitution/sex work, prostituted women/sex workers, pimps/managers).

Gender and Social Inequalities: An Incoherent Conceptual Categorization

Benoit et al. (2018) argued that an analytic lens of gender as a hierarchy prevents comparison of the specific experiences of “men and trans people in prostitution studies.” Yet a gender analysis does not preclude exploring how gendered norms and practices are relevant here. It also holds in sight both sides of the prostitution system: that the overwhelming majority of those selling sex in prostitution are women and that men are overwhelmingly the purchasers of sex from all prostituted persons. The prostitution system is a “market for men” (O’Neill, 2001, p. 155), and it is misleading, at best, to ignore this fundamental structure. “Gender” is not synonymous with “women”; it involves engaging with practices of masculinity (rather than an essentialist biological sexual drive) in the motivations of men that pay for sex. As Waltman (2011) has noted in his important work on the Equality/Nordic Model in the context of Sweden: “the gender disparity in using and being used in prostitution is not complex and should be theoretically addressed—not evaded” (p. 455). We return to this point again later.

Furthermore, separating gender inequality from social inequalities is impossible. Gender only exists within the social: Gender is a set of practices that create a hierarchical social division between women and men based on embodied sex difference (Connell & Pearse, 2015). Oppression based on sex and enacted through gender is changed and deepened by intersections with race/ethnicity and class. That women’s lived experience varies by location within these social structures of inequality does not diminish a sex-based analysis that is particularly relevant to the commodification of (predominantly) female bodies in prostitution. As a conceptual framework then, it makes little sense to separate sex and gender from the category of “social inequalities.” Such a distinction serves to take gender out of the social and into the realm of individual morality. If Benoit et al.’s (2018) intention is to criticize perspectives that focus solely on “gender,” this is an important argument.

Women of color and Indigenous women have written and spoken powerfully about how sex industries are built on racism and histories of colonialism. For example, Carter (2004) has made critical connections between the prostitution of black women and slavery (see also Carter & Giobbe, 1999; Nelson, 1993); Butler (2015) has applied a critical race feminist perspective to prostitution and its impacts on women of color; Stark (2014), Smiley (2016), Farley, Lynne, and Cotton (2005), and Farley et al., (2011), among others, have examined the ways that the prostitution of Indigenous women and girls is also connected to ideologies and processes of colonization. Numerous individual women and feminist women’s groups outside of academia have also developed important analyses in regard to the foundational roles that racism and colonization play in the prostitution of women of color and Indigenous women.2 Intersecting with patriarchy and racism are the ways in which poverty funnels women into prostitution (e.g., Marttilla, 2008; Monroe, 2005). These are all crucial social contexts that are central to feminist analyses of the prostitution system.

So, framing analyses of prostitution as either about gender and sex, or about social inequalities, create a false separation that make it impossible to analyze gender as a social structure of inequality within white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.3 This ripples through Benoit et al.’s (2018) policy typology, where policy regimes that criminalize the purchase of sex on the grounds that prostitution is incompatible with women’s equality (Sweden) are conflated as “repressive” with locations where all or most aspects of prostitution are criminalized in a social nuisance/morality framework (the U.S.).

Dissenting Voices

Too often, women who have survived prostitution, and those currently in prostitution, are used to advocate for politicized positions. Here, questions of voice and perceived legitimacy become central: claims that only “sex workers” can speak frequently slides into only “current sex workers” and/or only those with a specific perspective. Benoit et al. (2018) fail to adequately address the material realities and analyses of those who are in prostitution or have survived prostitution that do not view prostitution as sex work and, instead, analyze their experiences as part of a continuum of male violence against women (e.g., Grootboom, 2018; Moran, 2013; Norma & Tankard-Reist, 2016; Sahu, Mondol, Khatoon, Chettry, & Khatoon, 2017; Stark, 2006). Just as there are women in prostitution who claim that sex work is work, there are women in, and exited from, prostitution who advocate for the Equality/Nordic Model. Given the centrality of “listening to sex workers” for arguments in support of total decriminalization, we must also consider how and why certain analyses are marginalized (Bindel, 2017; Tyler, 2016).

Further, stating that we must “listen to [only certain] sex workers” is problematic in that this way of working with women not only reinforces what Boyle terms “the myth of objectivity,” as if researchers are gathering information and analyzing it outside of their biases and positions. It also pressures women who may be involved in prostitution or who have exited prostitution to speak publicly about experiences they may not want to revisit in order to be deemed “legitimate” in discourses regarding prostitution. The realities of prostitution research are that there are many women who will not share their experiences or analyses because they choose not to and, in some cases, because they are no longer alive.

Feminist scholars who are critical of prostitution recognize that, as a result of many factors, women will have a wide variety of analyses of their experiences, and while it is not possible to critique a woman’s individual experience, it is possible to disagree and debate with a woman’s analysis of her experience. Being willing to challenge women’s analyses presumes that she is intelligent, capable, and articulate as opposed to a patronizing presumption of women as only capable of sharing experiences and/or unable to develop or further develop an analysis through discussion, debate, and disagreement. As we go on to discuss, it is also evident that the “listen to [certain] sex workers” approach ignores the voices of men who buy sex and men who profit from prostitution (Bindel, 2017). These men have much to say about the sex industry and what they think about “sex work” and those who do it.4
Men Who Buy Sex

Important and emerging research on “sex buyers” is not considered by Benoit et al. (2018) in their Target Article. Work on male sex buyers is imperative, not only because it has often been a neglected research area, but also because it breaks with older literature on prostitution which has tended to focus on the potential public health threats of women in prostitution (Farley & Kelly, 2000), and the dominance of more recent work on sexually transmitted infections. Across differing positions in prostitution research, emphasis has been placed on women, obscuring or rendering invisible the role of men who purchase sexual access to women in systems of prostitution. A growing number of studies are addressing this gap from a variety of perspectives (e.g., Bishop & Robinson, 1999; Coy, Horvath, & Kelly, 2007; Earle & Sharp, 2007; Holt & Blevins, 2007; Macleod, Farley, Anderson, & Golding, 2008; Milrod & Weitzer, 2012; Ondrasek, Rimnacova, & Kajanova, 2018; Williams, Lyons, & Ford, 2008; Yonkova & Keegan, 2014), including research that highlights objectification (Coy, 2008), men’s violence against women (Jovanovski & Tyler, 2018; Rosario-Sanchez, 2016; Tyler & Jovanovski, 2018), and the characteristics of men who purchase sex (Farley, Golding, Matthews, Malamuth, & Jarrett, 2017).

One of the most vital findings that research on male “sex buyers” demonstrates, whether or not it is critical of systems of prostitution overall, is that men’s demand for paid sexual access to women is socially constructed. The evidence base reveals that motivations for buying sex rely on notions of masculinity and sexual behavior. In turn, this means that men’s demand is not an immutable given that must be presumed or accepted as a starting point for addressing the harms of prostitution. The normalization of purchasing sexual access to women has especially harmful consequences for particular groups of marginalized women, as well as having broader effects on the status of women as a class. Directly addressing men’s demand in systems of prostitution, and how this affects the status of all women, is another area that requires further engagement from those advocating for the decriminalization of sex buying.

Links Between Prostitution and Trafficking

Finally, Benoit et al. (2018) briefly quote critical feminist analyses that draw parallels between prostitution and trafficking as evidence of conflation, and thus flatten these arguments. As Outshoorn (2004, p. 10) has noted, attempting to distinguish between prostitution and trafficking “is a move that de-genders, as the link to prostitution reminds us who is usually being trafficked, for whom and to what purposes.” Pointing out that the two phenomena are related, even “analogous,” is not the same as saying they are one and the same. While trafficking for sexual exploitation is a specific activity defined in international human rights instruments and translated into domestic law (Madden Dempsey, 2017), women are trafficked into existing prostitution markets. Turner (2012, p. 33) summarizes thus: “[i]f trafficking is the method and the means of delivery, prostitution is the end game… [p]rostitution, it seems, can be tolerated, but the means of delivering women into prostitution cannot.” European and international studies show that where prostitution markets expand in legalized policy regimes, inflows of trafficking are also larger (Cho, Dreher, & Neumayer, 2013; Jakobsson & Kotsadam, 2013). Taking these arguments and findings into account—and they are curiously omitted from Benoit et al.’s review—means thinking differently about the inseparability of prostitution and trafficking. Stating that prostitution and trafficking are two separate and distinct actions poses questions that do not have clear answers. For example, how does one differentiate between a woman who is a sex worker and a woman who is trafficked? Do we rely on her statement that she is there willingly, when we know that there are cases where women do not speak out of fear of retaliation? How, too, would we differentiate between sex buyers who purchase sex workers and those who buy trafficked women so that we make sure to stop the demand for sex trafficking, but not the demand for sex work? Studies show that some sex buyers neither know nor care if women have been coerced or trafficked (e.g., Yonkova & Keegan, 2014). In attempting to offer empirical support for how policy approaches can address women’s safety and the harms of prostitution, it is unhelpful to disregard the multilayered links between prostitution and trafficking.


There can be little doubt that the debates around prostitution research and policy will continue to be fractured for the foreseeable future. There is no hope for moving forward, however, if the aim continues to be a misleading and unattainable “objective” approach. We must acknowledge that there are multiple possible readings of the available evidence and that these occur through a particular lens. That those who argue for the complete decriminalization of the sex trade as a form of a labor—a model the sex industry businesses tend to prefer—come from a particular ideological position as do those researchers, like us, who argue for the Equality/Nordic Model based on the understanding that prostitution is both a cause and consequence of women’s unequal social, economic, and political status in relation to men.

One of the key, but often unacknowledged, differences between these two positions is that the first tends to accept male demand and the sex trade as inevitable; that there is something natural about its existence and that attempts to alter male demand are simply “repressive,” so the best way forward is to accept a level of harm and to minimize it within a broader system of prostitution. The approach that we share does not accept the inevitability of a sex trade and highlights prostitution as an abusive element of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, rooted in racism and colonization (Bhattacharya, 2016; Butler, 2015). From this vantage point, assuming that the demand for sexual access to women in the sex trade is socially constructed means it can be challenged and changed. As Miriam (2005, p. 2), drawing on Pateman, has noted: “the root question of an abolitionist approach to prostitution is not whether or not women ‘choose’ prostitution, but why men have the right to demand that women’s bodies are sold as commodities in the capitalist market.” The growing momentum of the Nordic/Equality/Nordic model shows that this question is one that policymakers are grappling with, and we contend that it should be considered, indeed centered, in any discussion of claims, evidence, and policy outcomes on prostitution.

Mating Strategies and the Masculinity Paradox: How Relationship Context, Relationship Status, and Sociosexuality Shape Women’s Preferences for Facial Masculinity and Beardedness

Mating Strategies and the Masculinity Paradox: How Relationship Context, Relationship Status, and Sociosexuality Shape Women’s Preferences for Facial Masculinity and Beardedness. Rebecca E. Stower et al. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Apr 23 2019.

Abstract: According to the dual mating strategy model, in short-term mating contexts women should forego paternal investment qualities in favor of mates with well-developed secondary sexual characteristics and dominant behavioral displays. We tested whether this model explains variation in women’s preferences for facial masculinity and beardedness in male faces. Computer-generated composites that had been morphed to appear ± 50% masculine were rated by 671 heterosexual women (M age = 31.72 years, SD = 6.43) for attractiveness when considering them as a short-term partner, long-term partner, a co-parent, or a friend. They then completed the Revised Sociosexual Inventory (SOI-R) to determine their sexual openness on dimensions of desire, behavior, and attitudes. Results showed that women’s preferences were strongest for average facial masculinity, followed by masculinized faces, with feminized faces being least attractive. In contrast to past research, facial masculinity preferences were stronger when judging for co-parenting partners than for short-term mates. Facial masculinity preferences were also positively associated with behavioral SOI, negatively with desire, and were unrelated to global or attitudinal SOI. Women gave higher ratings for full beards than clean-shaven faces. Preferences for beards were higher for co-parenting and long-term relationships than short-term relationships, although these differences were not statistically significant. Preferences for facial hair were positively associated with global and attitudinal SOI, but were unrelated to behavioral SOI and desire. Although further replication is necessary, our findings indicate that sexual openness is associated with women’s preferences for men’s facial hair and suggest variation in the association between sociosexuality and women’s facial masculinity preferences.

Keywords: Facial attractiveness Masculinity Facial hair Sociosexuality

Persons With Severe Mental Illnesses and Sex Offenses: Recidivism After Prison Release

Persons With Severe Mental Illnesses and Sex Offenses: Recidivism After Prison Release. Gary S. Cuddeback et al. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, April 23, 2019.

Abstract: Individuals who have committed sex offenses (ISOs) with severe mental illnesses are a complex population to serve and more research is needed to guide practice and policy, especially around community supervision, enrollment in Medicaid, housing, employment, criminal justice contacts, and reincarceration after prison reentry. To further the literature in this area, we used logistic regression to model recidivism and admissions to violator or prison facilities among 127 ISOs with severe mental illnesses and 2,935 people with severe mental illnesses who were incarcerated in prison for other crimes. Compared to prison releasees with severe mental illnesses who committed crimes other than sex offenses, prison releasees with severe mental illnesses who committed sex offenses were admitted to violator facilities at higher rates, when controlling for substance use, Medicaid enrollment, homelessness, and unemployment. Implications for practice, policy and research are discussed.

Keywords: sex offenders, severe mental illnesses, community supervision, recidivism

Energy drink consumption among German adolescents, and its prevalence, correlates, and predictors of initiation: The association between energy drinks & negative health and lifestyle outcomes and risky behaviors is concerning

Energy drink consumption among German adolescents: Prevalence, correlates, and predictors of initiation. Artur Galimov et al. Appetite, April 29 2019.

Background: Energy drinks (EDs) have become popular worldwide. Despite growing concerns about negative health effects of ED, they are increasingly popular among adolescents, yet little is known about the context and patterns of ED use in adolescents.

Objective: This study examined the prevalence and correlates of ED use as well as initiation rates and predictors among German adolescents over a one-year period.

Design: A school-based longitudinal study of 6902 adolescents ages 9–19 years was conducted in 44 schools in six Federal states of Germany in 2016–2018. Demographics, ED use, drug use behavior, advertising exposure, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and community factors were assessed.

Results: Lifetime ED use was reported by 61.7% of the participants, while 21.4% reported past 30-day use. In two multilevel models, lifetime and past 30-day ED use were positively associated with male sex, older age, drug use, poor dietary habits, higher BMI, sensation seeking, worse school performance, and more frequent ad exposure (p < .01). One quarter of the non-users initiated ED use in 12 months. ED initiation was positively associated with male sex (AOR, 1.50 [95% CI, 1.11–2.03]), greater sensation seeking traits (AOR, 1.25 [95% CI, 1.08–1.43]), more frequent ED ad exposure (AOR, 1.31 [95% CI, 1.12–1.53]), and curiosity about trying EDs (AOR, 2.31 [95% CI, 1.74–3.07]), while inversely associated with better school performance (AOR, 0.84, [95% CI, 0.73–0.97]) and attending a gymnasium-type school (AOR, 0.69 [95% CI, 0.50–0.96]).

Conclusions: ED consumption is common among German adolescents. The association between EDs and negative health and lifestyle outcomes and risky behaviors is concerning. Parents, school officials, and healthcare providers should be aware of signs and consequences of excessive ED consumption and limit their use by adolescents. Adopting policies that limit the direct marketing to minors under the age of 18 years can be also beneficial in curbing this epidemic.

Null results of oxytocin and vasopressin administration across a range of social cognitive and behavioral paradigms: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial

Null results of oxytocin and vasopressin administration across a range of social cognitive and behavioral paradigms: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Benjamin A. Tabaka et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology, Apr 29 2019.

•    Increasing evidence suggests null main effects for OT but less is known about AVP.
•    We found null main effects of OT and AVP on 18 dependent variables across 6 tasks.
•    We used equivalence and Bayesian testing to assess sensitivity to detect null effects.
•    Results suggest the limited main effects of OT on human social behavior extend to AVP.

Abstract: Research examining oxytocin and vasopressin in humans has the potential to elucidate neurobiological mechanisms underlying human sociality that have been previously unknown or not well characterized. A primary goal of this work is to increase our knowledge about neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders characterized by impairments in social cognition. However, years of research highlighting wide-ranging effects of, in particular, intranasal oxytocin administration have been tempered as the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and other disciplines have been addressing concerns over the reproducibility and validity of research findings. We present a series of behavioral tasks that were conducted using a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, between-subjects design, in which our research group found no main effects of oxytocin and vasopressin on a host of social outcomes. In addition to null hypothesis significance testing, we implemented equivalence testing and Bayesian hypothesis testing to examine the sensitivity of our findings. These analyses indicated that 47-83% of our results (depending on the method of post-hoc analysis) had enough sensitivity to detect the absence of a main effect. Our results add to evidence that intranasal oxytocin may have a more limited direct effect on human social processes than initially assumed and suggest that the direct effects of intranasal vasopressin may be similarly limited. Randomized controlled trial registration: NCT01680718.

How public opinion influences personal flashbulb memory formation

Talarico, J., Bohn, A., & Wessel, I. (2018). How public opinion influences personal flashbulb memory formation. Poster session presented at Autobiographical Memory and the Self, Aarhus, Denmark.

According to Berntsen’s (2009) model, an event’s relevance to one’s social group is a necessary (though not sufficient) criterion for flashbulb memory (FBM) formation. Relevance draws attention to the event, engenders appraisal processes that lead to emotional reactions, and encourages subsequent rehearsal within social groups. Moreover, the congruence of an event with one’s existing beliefs also influences FBM formation.Events that are congruent with current opinions should be more likely to result in FBM than events that are inconsistent with one’s beliefs. Perception of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 11 March 2011 should differ along these dimensions among participants from European countries.

Check also Flashbulb memories. Roger Brown, James Kulik. Cognition, Volume 5, Issue 1, 1977, Pages 73-99.
Flashbulb Memories are memories for the circumstances in which one first learned of a very surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) event. Hearing the news that President John Kennedy had been shot is the prototype case. Almost everyone can remember, with an almost perceptual clarity, where he was when he heard, what he was doing at the time, who told him, what was the immediate aftermath, how he felt about it, and also one or more totally idiosyncratic and often trivial concomitants. The present paper reports a questionnaire inquiry into the determinants of such memories by asking about other assassinations, highly newsworthy events, and personally significant events. It is shown that while the Kennedy assassination created an extraordinarily powerful and widely shared flashbulb memory, it is not the only event that has created such memories. The principal two determinants appear to be a high level of surprise, a high level of consequentiality, or perhaps emotional arousal (assessed by both rating scales and ethnic group membership). If these two variables do not attain sufficiently high levels, no flashbulb memory occurs. If they do attain high levels, they seem, most directly, to affect the frequency of rehearsal, covert and overt, which, in turn, affects the degree of elaboration in the narrative of the memory that can be elicited experimentally. Parallels are made explicit between the behavioral theory and a less elaborated, speculative neuro-physiological theory of which R. B. Livingston (1967) is the proponent Finally, an argument is made that a permanent memory for incidental concomitants of a surprising and consequential (in the sense of biologically significant) event would have high selection value and so could account for the evolution of an innate base for such a memory mechanism.