Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book Review: Self-Made Man

So last night in my infinite boredom I decided to go to my local library for something to do. Yes, that's right. I went to the library to hang out. 

Not to knock it, because I love my local library. Though I prefer to hang out at Barnes & Noble because of the newness of the books and bigger selection, I can't walk into the place without dropping $100+ on books I really don't need. Since my husband isn't here to moderate my spending, I decided to go where the books are free. 

I found a title that I have been eyeing for awhile on amazon.com: Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent.
I immediately jumped in upon returning home and ended up finishing it in a single sitting. I am now pleased to recommend this book to all of you who are interested in issues of gender, but who would prefer to stay away from the scientific (or not-so-scientific) side of things. 

Norah Vincent is a journalist who decided to spend a year and a half living the life of a man. She is not transgender or transexual. She is a lesbian, which gave her a unique point of view for telling this story because she was able to truly get inside the life of a heterosexual male. 

I say get inside the "life" rather than get inside the "head" of men, because most of her story deals with how other people treat men. It would have been impossible for her to truly think and feel as a man does without the social cues around her. In other words, when she came home at night she was still a woman. (For the most part, but I'll get to that.)

Her journey was not as simple as taking on a male persona in her own daily life. She divided her experiment into several parts with the purpose of experiencing male culture as much as possible. She joined an all-male bowling league, frequented strip clubs, dated women, got a job in testosterone-fueled hardcore sales, spent some time living in a Catholic monastery, and even joined a men's support group and joined them on one of their retreats. The chapters of the book are split up according to each phase she experienced. 

I'd like to share some quotes with you from this book - ones that I thought were interesting, thought-provoking, and that I thought you would feel the same way about.

This first one is particularly relevant for the discussion that has been going on over at several blogs on the topic of the male gaze - see PhysioProf, DrugMonkey, SciCurious and others if you don't know what I'm talking about. 

Talking about the first night she ever dressed in drag (on a dare) and the night she conceived of the idea for this book, she writes:

"I had lived in this neighborhood for years, walking its streets where men lurk outside of bodegas, on stoops, and in doorways much of the day. As a woman, you couldn't walk down the streets invisibly. You were an object of desire or at least semiprurient interest to the men who waited there, even if you weren't pretty - that, or you were just another pussy to be put in its place. Either way, their eyes followed you all the way up and down the street, never wavering, asserting their dominance as a matter of course. If you were female and you lived there, you got used to being stared down because it happened every day and there wasn't anything you could do about it.

But that night in drag, we walked by those same stoops and doorways and bodegas. We walked by those same groups of men. Only this time they didn't stare. On the contrary, when they met my eyes they looked away immediately and concertedly and never looked back. It was astounding, the difference, the respect they showed me by not looking at me, by purposely not staring. 

That was it. That was what had annoyed me so much about meeting their gaze as a woman, not the desire, if that was ever there, but the disrespect, the entitlement. It was rude, and it was meant to be rude, and seeing those guys look away deferentially when they thought I was male, I could validate in retrospect the true hostility of their former stares. 

But that wasn't quite all there was to it. There was something more than respect being communicated in their averted gaze, something subtler, less direct. It was more like a disinclination to show disrespect. For them, to look away was to decline a challenge, to adhere to a code of behavior that kept the peace among human males just as surely as it kept the peace and the pecking order among male animals. To look another male in the eye and hold his gaze is to invite conflict, either that or a homosexual encounter. To look away is to accept the status quo, to leave each man to his tiny sphere of influence, the small buffer of pride and poise that surrounds and keeps him" (p. 3).

This passage is a great illustration of both the tone and the content of this book. 

Here is another great one that deals with the issue of Norah dating as a heterosexual man (Ned was her name when in costume):

"Yet as much as these women wanted a take-control man, at the same time, they wanted a man who was vulnerable to them, a man who would show his colors and open his doors, someone expressive, intuitive, attuned. This I was in spades, and I always got points for it, but feeling the pressure to be that other world-bestriding colossus at the same time made me feel very sympathetic toward the heterosexual men, not only because living up Caesar is an immensely heavy burden to bear, but because trying to be a sensitive new age guy at the same time is pretty well impossible. If women are trapped by the whore/Madonna complex, men are equally trapped by this warrior/minstrel complex. What's more, while a man is expected to be modern, that is, to support feminism in all its particulars, to see and treat women as equals in every respect, he is on the other hand often still expected to be traditional at the same time, to treat a lady like a lady, to lead the way and pick up the check" (p. 112). 

Vincent writes with incredible sensitivity, clarity, and insight into how men and women differ. She is not a scientist and this was not a scientific experiment, but her observations are in line with what current gender research tells us about gender orientation. 

I urge all of you to read this book. Women will gain insight into how the men in their lives think and operate in the world around them, and how that world operates on them. Men may find validation in the things they experience but have never verbalized. I would think that, as a man, it would be very interesting to find out how women see them from the inside out. 

Norah Vincent experienced what can only be described as a nervous breakdown from this project due to the incredible amount of cognitive dissonance she experienced. She describes it as "holding two mutually exclusive thoughts in my head while trying to ride a bike and juggle at the same time." The implications of what she experienced, I think, may be incredibly important for understanding transgender and gender dissonant conditions. I would love to see this book more widely circulated so it can get the attention from the scientific community that it deserves.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Still Hate Sundays

It's official, I think. I'm depressed. I miss my husband so much that it feels like I can't breathe sometimes. I miss not being able to talk to him about what's going through my head. Instead, I have to lay it on all of you folks. 

At times I think I fucked up. I certainly fucked up things in my marriage last summer. I'll spend the rest of my life making up for them. But beyond that, I was supposed to provide a certain measure of life for my husband and I and our eventual family. My drive to do well came from him. I thought that if I could do what I was supposed to do and do it well, that it would secure our future and also secure his own opportunities to advance. Not to mention our children's. 

I was supposed to go to Yale, Princeton, or Cornell (SFRSHS schools 1, 2, &3). I was supposed to be not only the first person in my family to earn a college degree, but also the first one to earn a PhD, particularly from an Ivy league school. I was supposed to be the one to secure upward mobility. I busted my ass to earn straight A's in college, to get research experience, and to get good GRE scores. I thought I did everything I was supposed to do. Yet I did not get accepted by a single R1 school, let alone the Ivies. 

And the most fucked up thing? I wasn't applying to them because of what they were - if that was the case I would've also applied to Stanford and Harvard. I really wanted to apply to Oxford but could not for the life of me make heads or tails of their admissions process. I always dreamed of going to Oxford, moving to England, bringing up children with British accents. Good thing I didn't apply - it would've meant just one more major disappointment. 

So now I sit here with a tentative acceptance to an R2, a school that I will visit in just a couple of weeks. My husband is really excited at the prospect of moving there, but I don't know if it's because he thinks a move is inevitable or because he really does want to get out of New England for awhile. Even if we do go, chances are we would have to move again for me to complete a post-doc in order to be competitive in the job market. 

But is this what I really want?

I changed my mind when applying to grad school countless times. At first I was just looking for faculty who were researching gender - regardless of whether it was a social, clinical, or counseling program. I removed the clinical programs because I didn't want to add an extra year of internship, and then the counseling programs followed suit. Then I started looking for schools that would allow me to also research psychology and law - something that I thought could give my research a more practical focus. 

And that's how I think I fucked up. There are not many psych and law programs in this country. If I had stuck to my interest in gender I would have had a wider pool of programs to apply to. Granted, the rockstars of gender are all retiring and no longer taking grad students, but there were certainly up-and-comings that would have been great to work with. 

But it's all irrelevant. It's my turn to sacrifice for my marriage and my family. If my husband really wants to move to R2 city and I don't hate it when I visit, I will go and I will do the best work I possibly can. And if I visit and hate it, then I will stay here, try to find a new job, and become a mom with the possibility of revisiting my doctoral aspirations in the future. 

I sat here tonight watching House, and wondering if I should've just gone to medical school. Besides the fact that I don't have the stomach for it, I also can't afford it. But my thoughts have somehow turned from trying to figure out ways to do what I love to figuring out what exactly it is that I love. I used to want to be in the FBI. Now that I'm old enough and have the degree, I hate the idea that I can be moved anywhere in the country that they want to put me. Right now I feel like I just want to make more money than I make right now at a job that's more interesting than the one I have. 

I've thought about everything from PR to book editing. I'm tired of struggling to get into my field. It's getting to the point where I'm not sure I really care anymore. Psychology would be much better with me in it, but fuck 'em if they don't want me and don't see that. 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Shouldn't Be This Difficult

New England is the Higher Education Capital of the World. I can't even count the number of colleges and universities within a 1 hour drive from my house. There are Ivies, Little Ivies, WannaBe Ivies, state universities and colleges, etc., etc. Lots of R1s around here. 

So why the FUCK is it so difficult to find a summer research opportunity? 

I spent most of my morning and early afternoon today trying to find internships, fellowships, etc that I could engage in during the summer in order to gain more research experience before heading off to grad school. 

The NIH gave me nothing. The NSF basically said "Fuck you and your psychology." A more general google search brought up lots and lots and lots of biomed internships, but diddly-shit for psychology. 

Now as far as I know, it would be fruitless to start emailing professors from the Us and Cs nearby, because they generally do not take RAs that do not attend the school. That leaves me with my former MRU, which I really, really want to avoid. I had a hard enough time getting an RA slot when I was a student there. 

There are also no graduate courses being offered this summer. I don't even have that option. 

I don't need to be paid. I don't need co-authorship. What I want is some hardcore methods and stats training so I can go into my grad program with a killer skillset under my belt. Because at this point, it's the R2 U or bust. If I can go in ahead of the game, I am more likely to graduate ahead of the game. 

So I'm asking for ideas and advice. I would love to do a research project of my own this summer - I may be able to do that at my former MRU, but I'm not sure. Unless I finish it and get it published or presented, there would be no official record whatsoever of what I accomplished because I am no longer enrolled there. I don't think I could do it on my own without an institutional affiliation. 

I would really prefer to work under a researcher from another college or university or get an internship/fellowship. But all of my searching so far has been fruitless. 

Any thoughts?

Friday, March 27, 2009

I Am Cursed

Okay, so I am not one of those helpless female types. Have I ever changed a tire? No, but not because I don't know how. I even know how to change the oil in my car, I'd just rather not risk fucking it up. 

But see, I have this husband who reminds me of Tim the ToolMan Taylor. Anyone remember Home Improvement? Anyway, so he likes to jimmy-rig shit around the house and can somehow figure out a way to fix just about any problem that comes up. I don't have to deal with it. 

There's a really long background story here, but I won't get into it. Suffice it to say that we HATE our condo association. When I was renting my apartment 3 miles away, I received a million times more respect from the property management than we do here - where we OWN our condo. Our cars have been towed across state lines 4 times at our expense - and for no reason. But I digress.

So the basement of our condo shares a wall with the communal laundry room of our building that we never use because we have our own washer/dryer. My husband figured out a way to run an outlet off the electricity in the laundry room so that he could power the lights and heater for his reptile cage in the basement. Shady, I know. I tried to talk him out of it but he wouldn't listen. 

The first day he left, after getting my lecture about taking care of his somewhat-dangerous pet, I ventured into the basement to find that the light was off. This is not good - the temp needs to be at least 80 degrees in there at all times, and it was 50. At first I thought the bulb went out - no big deal I can get one from Petco. But then I realized the heater wasn't on either, and I freaked out thinking that they figured out what he was doing and disconnected the outlet. 

So I switched everything over to an outlet on our circuit, and all was fine. Great, crisis averted. 
During a very brief conversation with my husband while he was at the airport, he explained that the circuit breaker in the laundry room probably flipped. I'm not dealing with that. I'll just pay my own electricity, thank you very much. 

Day 2 - I go down to the basement to check on dangerous pet, the fucking light is off again. This time the heater is working. The bulb burned out. Went to Petco, replaced the bulb. 

Today - I go down to the basement to do laundry. Something smells funny - moldy almost. It didn't smell that way yesterday. I turn around and hear a "drip, drip, drip." The ceiling of the basement is soaking wet, right underneath the stairs of the upstairs unit. There is no pipe there - it's the actual ceiling that's soaked. I have a bucket underneath it right now. 

My upstairs neighbor is first and foremost a douchebag. I've called the cops on him several times for beating up various women who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in his apartment. He is a nasty, nasty drunk and I hate him. He scares me. 

I haven't heard him walking around all day, which means he's probably still sleeping. If I knock on the door, I risk several things:

#1 Pissing him off by waking him up. 
#2 Pissing him off by pointing out that something in his stairwell is leaking into my basement and he needs to fix it. 
#3 Letting him know unintentionally that my husband is not living here at the moment and therefore I am alone every single night in the unit right below his. 

It's the last one that really fucking bothers me. 

The alternative, of course, is to keep letting the water come down until the ceiling rots and he falls through his stairwell into my basement when he comes stomping out to go to work. 

It has been 3 days since my husband left. WTF else am I going to have to deal with??? 


I did not get into Holy Grail school. Fuck the Ivies, seriously. They can kiss my hardworking, 1st generation college-grad ASS. I was a perfect fit for that program. PERFECT. It sucks for them that they didn't see it. 

I hate them. I hate them all. And just as much, I hate the students who managed to get accepted. Fuck them too. 

So now my only option is an R2, or nothing at all. Not a single professor in the social department there has published in one of the major journals. Not one article in JPSP. Not even ONE. 

I'm trying to figure out what this means. Am I not supposed to be on an R1 career track, and that's why this is happening to me? Or am I not supposed to do this at all right now, possibly ever? I guess I have to wait until I fly out to visit R2 to find out. 

But here's the real kicker - I don't have an official acceptance from THEM yet, either! They want to make sure I share interests with at least 2 faculty members before it becomes official. And I'll be honest with you - it's going to be a little bit of a stretch. And with no fucking access to non-major journals right now, I'm a bit screwed for doing background research on these folks before I go. 

I'm not getting my hopes up this time. It's possible that I might go out there and absolutely love the department, the students, the city, etc. It's also possible that I might go out there and hate it. It's also possible that I'll like it out there, but when August comes around and I have to pack up all my shit and move to the other side of the country I'll chicken out and decide to stay right here. 

There is something about knowing that I wasn't good enough for a SINGLE R1 that is really, really fucking pissing me off right now. And I think once I make my final decision I'm going to call them all out on the carpet here for a shit-slinging session. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and The Like

I've had a post brewing in my head for a little while now on this very topic, and a journey over to Candid Engineer inspired me to just write the damn thing already. 

I love my blogger pals. As a commenter over at CE echoed, I have more online friends than I do in real life. Yes, it's sad. But most of my offline circle of folks either never went to or never graduated from college. My husband, brilliant as he is, never finished his chemistry degree. Now he's being trained in the military to be a bio-environmental engineer, which is totally awesome. He's very into alternative energy sources and what not, and he knows a LOT about it - but when he tries to talk to me about it, my eyes glaze over. "You want to build a what to do what? Why?" He feels the same way when I talk about psychology - I get "That's cool" as the most frequent response, with no follow-up whatsoever. But it's totally fine with me, because if he was into psych we would probably argue about theory and method all the time. 

Now I'm not saying that my offline friends aren't smart. Quite the contrary, actually. But they don't have the same passion for learning things as I do. I guess you could say that I'm a "knower" and they're all "doers." 

So when PhizzleDizzle and I met up for some margaritas and had 2+ hours of intellectually stimulating conversation, it was like a wonderfully intoxicating drug to me. I feel that way when I read the blogs of everyone here. I am officially addicted to critical thinking - my own and that of others.

This is what led me to lament on the lack of blogger-types at the grad school where I interviewed. Perhaps if I had never ventured into the blogging community, I would not have had the expectations of what people in academia would be like that led to the disappointment. 

But, as CE pointed out, we don't really know each other. We blog under fake names or variations thereof, going to great lengths to protect who we are, lest the wrong people match us to our candid discourse online. 

But I think that, at least to some extent, many of us wish that we were known. We also want to know our blogger friends. Because in certain ways, some of them are like the best friends we have ever had. 

When I was applying for the RA job at SFRSHS school, I sent my very personal CV and personal statement to several bloggers who offered to take a look at it and swore to keep my identity secret. These folks now know literally everything about me - it was a big risk. But I wanted to get REAl feedback from the folks who know, and it was my only option.

In a late-evening Gchat with Dr. Isis, I confessed to her the names of all the grad programs I applied to. She offered some insight into the nature of those schools, and I was grateful. 

Regardless of the purpose, it feels good sometimes to take that risk. I have a couple of friends who know about this blog, as does my husband, and I enjoy knowing that there are a few people who read it who know who I am. I like that PhizzleDizzle has a face to attach to the name. I like that a select group of bloggers know exactly which school SFRSHS is. 

Oftentimes I consider just blogging under my real name, with my real info. It would hold me accountable for the things that I say, and who's to say that it couldn't possibly help me professionally in some way? 

But I already hold myself accountable for what I write, and once you give up your anonymity, you can't ever really get it back. Though it's hard to say that you trust someone's advice if you don't trust them to know your name or location. 

I wish sometimes that we had this secret society - like the Freemasons or something. Or the Illuminati. IDFK. You know what I mean - like we have meetings where we all know each other and have to swear sacred oaths and stuff, but when we see each other outside of that context we have to pretend we don't know each other and share a secret smile about how much cooler we are than everyone else. 

Anyway, my point is that I think many of us wish that we didn't have to be pseudonymous, and it's nice to know that some of those folks out there know who you really are. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Alone Again: Day One

Well, here goes. Life without my husband for 6 months. Life without hearing his voice for 9 weeks. In the 8 years we've been together, we've never been apart for longer than 10 days (separation excluded). I've had a couple of people say to me, "Well, you guys were separated for 4 months over the summer and thought you were going to get a divorce - what the fuck's the big deal about THIS situation?"

And sometimes I feel like they're right - how can I complain that I'm sad because my husband is gone when I voluntarily left him back in July?

But there are a couple of major differences between then and now. First and foremost, we are happier now than we have ever been in our entire lives. We relish every second we get to spend together, we've stopped sweating the small stuff - we've been actively IN LOVE with each other every minute of every day. When we were having difficulty getting along and not taking each other for granted, the maximum time we had ever spent apart was 5 days. Which brings me to the second difference.....

When we were separated and every other time in the past that we have not shared a roof for the night, we have always been separated by a simple phone call. At the time I moved out I only moved 3 miles away. We could reach each other. This time I don't have that option. No phone calls. No e-mails. No car rides. Not even plane rides. If I have an emergency (life-threatening only), I need to go through the Red Cross. That's right - even if I get in a car accident and find myself on my deathbed, I cannot call my husband directly. 

It's fucking scary. 

But while it's going to be very difficult for me, there are many families out there (way too many) who have it much, much worse. My husband is not going into a war zone. He's not being shipped out to Iraq or Afghanistan. And my heart breaks for those people and even more so for those who have lost a family member or friend under those circumstances. I can't even imagine the pain. 

I will likely continue to lament my situation on this blog throughout the next 6 months, but this is a personal journey for me. I do not and will not in any way compare my circumstances to those people who have real concerns and fears for their loved ones. I am very lucky that his safety is not in question. I will just miss him terribly. 

In the meantime and in hopes of lightening the tone I have set with this post, here is the list of things I hope to do in order to occupy my time:

- Play Tiger Woods Golf for Wii until my arm falls off or I can hit a 450yd drive (whichever comes first). Right now my record is 323yds and I'm averaging 292.
- Become ambidextrous so that I can use the still-attached arm to play TopSpin 3 Tennis for Wii - until THAT one falls off (or I beat Federer).
- Write 3 good, quality research proposals that I can use for graduate school based on existing ideas I have.
- Read the first 3 Proust novels that have been sitting on my bookshelf mocking me for 2 years now.
- Learn to play golf for Realz. (I made fun of golf my whole life until I got the damn wii.)
- Learn to play tennis for Realz. (And learn to keep the ball INside the fence.)
- Create at least 3 new variations of my Impeccable Risotto. 
- Finish blog series on gender and the Top 25 cited articles in social psych.

And last, but most certainly not least:


(or don't, and figure out New Plan)

Monday, March 23, 2009

T - 17 Hours

My husband leaves for the military very early tomorrow morning. He will be gone for 6 months. I will not be able to speak to him at all for the first 9 weeks. 

This is going to be one of the most difficult things ever. 

In the meantime, I still have not heard from Holy Grail school. Unless I hear today, my husband will not know where his home will be when he comes back until I make the decision on my own and put it in a letter. I will then have to move our entire life somewhere else, without him. He will be returning to a home he has never seen. 

I am about to embark on a personal experience that will involve a lot of reading and blogging, and a fuckton of Tiger Woods Golf for Wii. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

In A Bit of a Pickle

The school that has accepted me to their program wants me to come out for a visit, which is great. 

BUT, the only timeframe that they're giving me that will work within the schedule for my job is in mid-April. The deadline for official acceptances nationwide in psychology PhD programs is 4/15. I will be visiting in the days preceding that deadline. 

You will recall that I am still waiting to hear from one last school - my Holy Grail, if you will. 

This means that I can book travel for those dates, but if I get accepted to Holy Grail school my travel will be non-refundable, and this is a $$$$ trip. 

My preference would be to wait to book the flights until after I hear from Holy Grail school, but how do I tell the school that accepted me that I'm doing so? CAN I tell them that?

I may not hear from Holy Grail school for another week or two. And I probably won't get accepted anyway. 

One thing I do know (kinda like buying snow boots and then the next day getting accepted to a school where I won't really need them), is that if I book the trip I WILL get accepted to Holy Grail school and it will cost me another like $500. 

I'm not sure how to handle this situation. Any advice out there?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gender Differences in Sex Drive: Top 25 Part 1

Many of us would probably agree that it is considered common knowledge that men have a stronger sex drive than women. But what kind of science exists to back that up? This is the question that Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Catanese, and Kathleen Vohs set out to answer using a meta-analysis of the literature on sex drive: 

Baumeister, R. F., Catanese, K. R., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Is there a gender difference in strength of sex drive? Theoretical views, conceptual distinctions, and a review of relevant evidence. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5(3), 242-273.

Differences in sex drive can lead to problems in relationships. If one person wants it all the time, while the other partner is willing to do without for long periods of time, friction results. (Pun intended.) The authors consider this an important implication of studying sex drive - if we can figure out what's going on, we may be able to improve romantic relationships in that area, leaving couples to focus on other things. Other issues they list include the reliance on norms and societal expectations in self-evaluation, and deepening our understanding of social exchange and interaction in relationships. 

For the purpose of this study, the authors defined sex drive as the motivation for sex, more precisely defined as desire. They write, "A person with higher sex drive would be one more intense or more frequent desires, or both, for sex." They caution that they are not using the term "drive" to refer to instinct or an innate mechanism, writing "Any findings of gender differences in sex drive (motivation) should not automatically be interpreted as reflecting innate differences and especially not immutable differences."

They also delineate sexual capacity as the maximum amount of sex a person is capable of having, and sexual enjoyment (which on the face appears self-explanatory, but how does one measure this? More on this later). 

The authors performed a massive search of all articles published on the above concepts since 1965. They excluded studies on nonhumans, unpublished dissertations, case studies, narrowly-defined populations, and most studies that included only one gender. 

So, what did they find? Originally I wrote this post with a summary of every sub-topic they looked at, but then I decided it was not only BORING and predictable, but it was way too freakin' long. Therefore, I will summarize more succinctly (without the proper use of semicolons, I know).

The authors examined the following areas: Thoughts, Fantasies & Spontaneous Arousal; Desired Frequency of Sex; Desired Number of Sex Partners; Masturbation; Willingness to Forego Sex; Emergence of Sexual Desire; Seeking Versus Avoiding, Initiating versus Refusing; Liking for Various Sexual Practices; Sacrificing Resources to Get Sex; Favorable Attitudes Toward Sex; Prevalence of Low Sexual Desire; and Self-Rated Sex Drive. 

Across all of these areas, evidence strongly supported that men have higher sex drives than women. If you want specifics, ask me, but it was a 33 page article and summarizing it just got way too cumbersome. 

Some of the data cited in this paper that I find interesting:

  • Women tend to report that they are satisfied with the amount of sex in their marriage. Men, on the other hand, on average wish for a 50% increase. 
  • Gay men report a much higher frequency of sex than lesbians, regardless of length of relationship or other variables, eliminating risk of pregnancy as a possible confounding variable. (Theoretically.)
  • When college students were asked how many partners they would like to have in their lifetime if disease, legal implications, or anything else were not a factor, women on average said 2.7, while men said 64. 64!!!! Outliers were not deleted for this study, and the median for both groups was 1, but that still means that the "promiscuously-inclined minority" of men was still significantly different from that of the women. 
  • When asked to report actual numbers of partners, men consistently report higher numbers than women. Some believe this is due to men tending to overestimate to obtain higher numbers, where as women may undercount in an attempt to keep numbers low. 
  • 47% of women report that they have NEVER masturbated, compared to 16% of men.
  • 20% of men report orgasm as the most important part of the sexual experience, compared to only 2% of women.
  • 8th grade boys, on average, report having twice as many sexual experiences as 8th grade girls.
  • When men and women were approached by a moderately attractive confederate who invited them to have sex later that evening, 100% of the women refused, compared to only 25% of the men. 
  • 80% of men report having gone beyond kissing and hugging with a person they met the same day, compared to 59% of women.
  • 72% of men report having sexual intercourse with a person they met the same day, compared to 49% of women.
  • 45% of men, but only 29% of women said that they find receiving oral sex "very appealing."
  • 34% of men, compared to 17% of women, said that giving oral sex was appealing.
  • Men rate their penises and partners' vaginas more favorably than women rate their own sex organs and their partners.
  • Men report being slightly more eager than women to have to a baby, regardless of whether they are single, in a relationship, or married. 
  • The authors did not find a single study that found women to have a higher sex drive than men. Not one. 

So, WTF Ladies? 

The first thing that strikes me about some of the data included in this study is that numbers don't add up/make sense logically. For example, 80% of men are going beyond first base with someone they just met, but only 59% of women are. Either someone's lying, or there are some very busy women out there. Same thing with the 8th grade boys. 

The authors contend that societal standards are harsher against boys masturbating than girls, etc. They eliminate fear of pregnancy as a possible explanation by studying lesbians and gay men. 

No matter which way you slice their data, it looks like men have a higher sex drive than women. 

The question is, WHY? 

I want to open this up for discussion. My thought is, if evolutionary forces have anything to do with it (which they likely do), it doesn't matter if you're a lesbian or not. Evolution has reduced a woman's sex drive due to pregnancy investment. What I wonder is when the advent of birth control is going to affect evolution - will the Pill stop being as effective? Will women get super-duper sexual to counteract the effects of using birth control?

But I don't think it's that simple. Why aren't women masturbating? Sure, you could use the same evolutionary argument and say that it's to keep a woman's sex drive in check, but that's the simple explanation. 

And here's the kicker - women are capable of having sex more often, for longer, and experiencing multiple orgasms without a refractory period. Why would we have this ability if it wasn't meant to be used? 

AND - you can only get pregnant ONCE at a time - WTF would it matter how many times or with how many different partners you had sex? 

The authors talk about prostitution, the porn industry, the sex toy industry, and magazines when referring to sacrificing resources to get sex. One thing I noted - most magazines talking about sex to women have headlines including lines like "How to Please Your Man" and the like. 

I THINK (as the social psychologist that I am) that women are socialized to believe that sex is something we do for men, not ourselves. I think that's why there are so many who don't masturbate (or don't admit to it), why we report not liking oral sex as much, why most of us don't watch porn, etc. If you watch movies that are considered "sexy" or even pornography, most things that women would do for pleasure are done for the benefit of men. Think of "Girls Gone Wild" - all these college girls getting it on with other girls for the cameras - rather than enjoying it as sexual experimentation, they do these things to get attention from the guys. 

I think many of us are stopped by the idea of being a "whore" and don't engage in things that we might enjoy because of this label. But I do believe that it is very likely a combination of biology and socialization - not one or the other. 

What do you guys think?

New Blog Series: The Top 25 Most Cited of JPSP

I am embarking on a new blog post series that will examine the Top 25 Most Cited articles from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Personality and Social Psychology Review - THE major journals of my field. 

Some of them will be related to topics I have already posted about, such as gender. 

I am not going in order of where they fell on the top 25, because, well, I don't want to. Knowing me, they will end up in the order of which they interested me. 

The first post in this series, which I hope to get up in the next couple of days, is on gender differences in sex drive. Here is the citation if you'd like to read it for yourself beforehand:

Baumeister, R. F., Catanese, K. R., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Is there a gender difference in strength of sex drive? Theoretical views, conceptual distinctions, and a review of relevant evidence. Personality and Social Psychology Review,  5(3), 242-273.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

PiT's Cuteness Contest

Professor in Training challenged the blogosphere to out-do the cuteness of her baby photos. DuWayne's entry is up, and here is mine.

For your viewing pleasure,  I present Little JLK:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's About Bloody Time!

Woo-hoo! I just got my FIRST ACCEPTANCE after finding out about another rejection earlier today!

I'm not a total reject after all!

It came from my last-choice program in Very Warm Climate, but fuck, I'll take what I can get right now. 

My First Conference

Was pretty damn awesome, I have to say. I was only there for a couple of hours rather than for the entire weekend (long story about why I didn't plan to go for the whole thing and then regretted it after arriving), but still it was very cool. 

I was a co-presenter with my grad student mentor and RockStar MRU professor. It made me very excited for the day when I get to present my own work at one of these conferences. 

Last year, I was going to go to the APA conference in Boston. I figured I really had no excuse since I could drive there. But the conference was held fairly shortly after I separated from my husband so money was tight and I wasn't too keen on the idea of showing up at this HUGE convention by myself, not knowing anyone. It would have been overwhelming and intimidating. I ended up not going, and I regret that decision to this day. 

The main reason I regret it is that it would have been a prime opportunity for networking. EVERYONE in all fields of psych go to the APA conference. It's like the Oscars of psychology. I'm willing to bet that had I not been a chicken shit and found the cojones to show up and boldly introduce myself to people, my grad school applications would have taken a completely different turn in terms of outcomes. 

My advice to other grad applicants in psych - GO TO APA. You're spending a shitload of money on applications as it is, what's another few hundred bucks to actually meet and greet your potential advisors? Then when you email them prior to applying, you'll be able to say that you've met them before (and hope that they remember). 

But back to the conference this weekend. It was a smaller conference - the perfect size for a n00b like me. I found myself eagerly glancing at name tags, looking for names I recognized, wanting to introduce myself and speak to anyone and everyone who was willing to give me the time of day. It was a very casual atmosphere - everyone was very laid-back and friendly. There were people there from all over the country, and many of them were presenting some very Hot Science. I made a new friend who's a grad student from NYC studying the effects of exotic dance classes on positive self-image. I plan on reviewing her paper on here once I get her permission to do so. It was very cool stuff. 

So now I'm going to be a conference junkie, especially since my husband is going to be gone for so long. I'm going to go to every single one I can make it to without spending a ton of $$$ on travel. 

And dammit, I'm going to APA this year if it kills me. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Where I Stand

In the message informing me that I have been waitlisted, I was asked to let Potential Advisor know where I stand. I did not respond at 1am when I saw this message, because I could not trust myself to type anything more substantial than a blog post. 

What I wanted to say....

Variation #1:

Where I stand is on a stack of rejection letters from schools whose programs I spent the last 3 years of my life pursuing, and I have just been told by the one program I really believed I would be accepted by that I have been waitlisted. 

Variation #2:

I stand in a position of knowing that if my remaining 3 (2?) programs reject me and by magic I am accepted into your program, that I will forever know that I was not your first or even second choice when it came down to the wire. I will always wonder why I wasn't good enough, and I will always know that I wasn't the grad student you really wanted and believed could succeed. 

Variation #3:

Where I stand is wondering what my next step in life is. I did everything I was told to do, I did it well, and now I sit here suppressing the urge to act like a spurned lover and beg you to tell me what they have that I don't have. 

Variation #4:

I stand wondering what the fuck I'm supposed to do with a 4yr degree in psychology that will pay the bills that isn't goddamn sales. I walked away from a management opportunity with a great company because I was in school and that was more important to me. I'm tired of throwing all of my weight and effort into pushing against what turns out to be a concrete wall. 

So you can see why I waited to respond. What I ended up saying was something along the lines of "this is disappointing news, blah blah blah, no other offers right now, blah blah blah, I will let you know if anything changes, blah blah blah."

This is Bullshit

I've been waitlisted at program #4 where I interviewed. Fucking waitlisted. 

All I want to know is, WTF about my application isn't good enough? WTF about ME isn't good enough?

I really just want some answers so that I can figure out what my next move should be. I don't think I have it in me to keep working my ass off just to get to that next step. I've worked so hard just to get HERE. I was really, really looking forward to my life finally moving ahead on a different path than it's been on.

I don't know what I'm going to do if this doesn't happen for me. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Want One

Of these as a pet....

The cotton-topped tamarin. They are so freaking cute and remind me of Gizmo from The Gremlins. Remember this?

Can any of you out there working with monkeys hook me up or what? Do you think it'd get along with 2 cats?

I Did It.

I applied for the job last night. Thank you to all of you who read through my cover letter and CV, providing excellent suggestions to improve them. 

Hopefully they look at my application, say "Holy shit this chick is awesome!" 

Of course, that's the reaction I was hoping for with my grad school apps, and that doesn't seem to be turning out so well. I guess I just have to wait and see what happens. 

In the meantime, I have lots of hot posts brewing in my head for you, but seeing as I am trying to only spend time in the blogosphere when Soon To Be Leaving Husband isn't around, I may not get around to putting them together until after D-Day on 3/24. 

At which point, I'll probably be posting so much for the next 6 months that y'all will start blocking my RSS feed. ;)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Any Takers?

I need someone I can trust to keep my personal info secret, preferably someone in psychology or the behavioral sciences (but I'll take what I can get) who is willing and able to review my CV and cover letter for the RA position hopefully within the next few hours so I can get this submitted tonight. 

I really, really want this job and no one I know IRL has any real experience or knowledge of academia that will help me in critically looking at my CV and cover letter. 

Don't worry - I'm getting rid of the red font. But I'm keeping the bullets, goddamit. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Laying Low

I'm still keeping up with all of your wonderful blogs, but I'm not much for commenting or posting my own right now. I'll stop lurking soon, I promise. 

I've been feeling like shit lately. I thought that I was pregnant - fatigue, soreness, crying for no reason, nausea, a much much lower tolerance for alcohol than normal, craving salt - but the home test I bought today only showed one line, not two. 

So that means I still feel like shit, but I don't have a clue as to why. Maybe it's depression. Either way, I don't feel like I have much to say these days. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Why Grad School Applications Suck

Yes, waiting for decisions has been hell and getting rejections has been even worse. And this may be perceived as another of my whining posts (note to self: make separate tag for 'whining'), but dammit this stuff needs to be said. So I'm gonna say it. 

***Please keep in mind that all of my knowledge and experience is related to psychology programs only, and I haven't the slightest clue about the processes and procedures used by other departments and fields.***

#1 - No consistency of format. Some schools have entirely online application systems, others have entirely paper. Still others use a combination, which pisses me off the most. Pick a side, we're at war! Personally, I love the paper application that is downloadable and that you can fill out on your computer. I like that I can put my info in, print it, check it for errors 9,000 times, make sure it's pretty, and then send it off as part of a beautiful packet. In fact, now that I think about it, fuck all you online application using schools - y'all are the ones rejecting me! correlation does not equal causation, JLK.....

#2 - Personal statements. I understand that you want my statement to be tailored to your school. I'm not a moron. But when some schools ask for specific questions to be answered and most others don't, it's kind of annoying. For example, I was told by multiple sources (print, online, person) that talking about how I became interested in psychology in the first place is not only irrelevant but space-wasting. Yet one school specifically asked that I describe this in detail. Do you really give a shit? Because I think you don't. I don't think you want the "real" answer, I think you're testing my ability to bullshit you. No, I did not become interested in the field because my fictional aunt had multiple personalities, nor was it because I met a homeless person with schizophrenia. I'm sorry that my real story is much less interesting - found a textbook from the 60's when I was 12, read it cover to cover, and was hooked on things that weren't even up-to-date. 

And all of us who are applying to grad school know that we're supposed to say we want to do research in academia - at least those of us who do our homework. So why do you even bother asking us to describe our professional goals? Psychologists have 2 options - be a counselor or be a researcher. Anything else we can do with a bachelor's degree. And as a social psychologist, I can't even be a counselor! So why the fuck do you think I want to spend the next 5 years of my life getting paid $10k a year? 

#3 - Application fees. Why did it cost me $100 to apply to SFRSHS program, and $50 to apply to most others? And really, considering that in my interview last weekend we were told to consider it a job interview, why are you charging me to apply at ALL? I have to pay $20 per GRE score report, folks. I think my application fee should be refunded if I get rejected. After all, I didn't have to pay to apply for the job I have now. And you know what? It pays a HELLUVA lot better than your grad student stipend. 

#4 - Graduate School versus Department Applications. Many of you required both. Which is fine, I have no problem with that. But if you're perfectly capable of photocopying letters of recommendation, why can't you also photocopy my GRE scores and transcripts? Why do some of you think that you're entitled to me paying for 2 copies when some (most) of you require only one? And do you have any idea how much extra attention to detail you're asking for? Especially when most of your departments seem to magically "lose" some of my shit? Is this some sort of extra test of my motivation and dedication? And WHY, for the love of god, do some of you ask for 2 copies of that shit PLUS my own photocopies to include with a packet?? That's THREE copies total! 

#5 - Writing samples. NONE of you gave any kind of indication of what type of writing sample you were hoping I would send. I looked it up on the internet and in books, but to no avail. I could have sent you the paper I wrote for my research methods class in which I designed and carried out an experimental study in psychology (along with 4 other people, but I'm the one who actually wrote the paper), an extensive literature review with annotated bibliography that I did for an RA position in my secondary lab, a research paper I wrote for an English class that dealt with my area of interest in psychology, or a paper I wrote for a psychology class in which I detailed my knowledge about the area being tested. I asked people, they said to send the paper from the English class because it showed innovation and insight. I took a leap of faith. But could you please tell me what type of writing you're looking for? A little guidance here would have been fantastic. Why do I have to guess what you want?

#6 - Letters of Recommendation. Some of you had a form that needed to be filled out in addition to the letter. Some of you wanted the letters mailed directly, others submitted electronically, still others returned to me and sent as part of one big packet. You should know how busy my professors are. Do you know how difficult it is to make sure that they understand what they're doing with each letter and making sure that each one gets submitted properly? I was very careful about this, and still one of them managed to fuck it up. 

#7 Program materials. I understand that grad students cost the university lots of $$ and therefore you don't have the same level of vested interest in recruiting them as you do undergrads. But still, actual hardcopy literature and information is a fantastic thing to have as opposed to clicking through myriad pages on a website in order to find out what I need to know. I decided not to apply to certain schools whose websites were too goddamn confusing and vague. Can't you just send a fucking pamphlet or something? Ironically, the schools that sent me actual look-books were SFRSHS programs #1 and #3 in the world. What about the rest of you?

Applying to grad programs while attending classes full-time and working full-time was the most stressful time of my life. I applied to my top-choice programs early, with hopes that maybe my application would be seen ahead of the game. So far, that hasn't made a bit of difference. 

My advice to any future potential grad school applicants in psych - don't waste your time or your $$ on the books that supposedly explain psych grad admissions to you. Get lots of research experience with your name on as many papers as possible, get to know your professors as well as you possibly can even if that means taking longer with your undergrad years than you want to, and make sure you know exactly what you want to research and who can make it happen for you. But even if you do all of that, remember that this grad school game is a crap shoot. 

****Paging Cognitive Psychologist****

CogPsy, can you email me, please? I have a question for you and have no contact info. fragile12682@gmail.com

New (Related) Question

Using process of elimination, I think I may have figured out who the faculty member is at SFRSHS school that is hiring for a research assistant. 

Is it reasonable to email this professor and ask if it is, in fact, her lab that is hiring? Can I ask this question without somehow getting my hands on and reading all of her recent articles? I assume it would be entirely inappropriate to include my CV as an attachment since that would be going around the requested avenue for the application. 

So you professors out there - can I ask her directly without coming across as stupid? There is nothing about the position on her lab page, but based on the description in the job posting, only her research fits what they're talking about. 

Update & Question

I think I'm over my bullshit. But I'll have to wait and see to find out for sure. 

In the meantime, SFRSHS school is hiring for a research assistant in the psych department, but in a different sub-field. I wasn't sure if I was going to apply, because I don't know how much more rejection from this institution I can take. 

BUT, if I'm not going to end up in grad school in the fall, I figure landing an RA position can't do anything but better my chances in the future. 

So - my question - if there is no name listed on the job listing itself, who do I address the cover letter to? The department? 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Existential Crisis

Depending on which day and at what time you talk to me these days, I will give you a completely different analysis of where my life stands and how I'm feeling. Factors such as length of time that has passed since receiving the most recent rejection letter, how much sleep I've gotten, and whether or not I have consumed any alcohol will impact that analysis. 

Right now it has been one day since the last rejection letter, I'm on about 6 hours of sleep, and I am stone-cold sober (much to my dismay). This is just to let you know what you're dealing with here. 

Today I attended the practice presentation of the talk my grad student mentor and I will be giving at a pretty big conference next weekend. I witnessed her cry in Rockstar Professor's (her advisor) office after said talk. My heart broke for her. I tend to get motivated by criticism - she had to shake it off first, which is totally fine. The question posed to her by a faculty member in the department that upset her the most was basically a variation of "What is the point?"


I'm driving home from the MRU campus (which gives me about an hour of reflection, uninterrupted excepting occasional 'get the fuck out my way' outbursts that I am prone to) and I am asking myself the exact same question. 

What IS the point?

Why do I want to be a social psychologist? So I can change aspects of the world in ways that I believe would be beneficial to society. How do I plan to do that? With research, of course. 

But then I asked myself when the last time was that psychology actually changed something about the world in a positive way? I have not yet come up with an answer to that question. 

We have studies that show the mere presence of an IMAGE of a gun is enough to increase aggression in humans. But guns are still everywhere - in life and on television. We have studies (like Zimbardo's) that show how a breakdown in authority and depersonalization can lead human beings to do horrific things. We still had Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. We have studies that show how objectification of women in the media leads to lower self-esteem and even weight problems in women. Vogue still plasters their pages with these women and we see them all over the tv and in movies. We know that racism can be drastically reduced by using Jigsaw Classroom methodologies and various other techniques that psychologists have come up. But these programs barely have a presence in our culture and education system. Things are being studied and answers obtained - but they're not being put to use. 

So what HAS psychology brought to the world? Well, torture for one thing, aka "interrogation techniques." We know how to fuck with people's heads. Water-boarding is NOT physical torture - it is psychological. We know how to manipulate juries to get the verdict we want through everything from gender of experts, clothing, eye contact, etc. And advertising, referred to as the "dark side" of social psychology, has created a rampant consumerist culture where people have been fooled into believing that advertising doesn't affect them all the while driving off to Wal-Mart to buy some Glade scented oil candles because "dammit, if the house smells like clean linen, THEN I'll find true happiness!"

We have therapies, but many of them don't work. We have drugs for every mental condition you can possibly dream up:

"Don't feel like socializing? You're not an introvert, you're depressed! Here, have some Paxil. Try to ignore the constant dizziness. Oh, and by the way, suicide is a possible side effect so I recommend staying away from tall buildings and train tracks in case you get the urge."

There are a LOT of fantastic researchers out there in all sub-fields of psychology who are doing wonderful research that has value to society and answers hard questions - but it doesn't seem to be affecting positive CHANGE. Social psychologists are basically spending their lives trying to undo everything that Freud did, hoping that (like Freud) one person's influence will be enough to change how the world views humanity. It's no wonder that psychology came about as an extension of philosophy. 

Do I want to spend the rest of my life feeling frustrated because I have answers to some of society's problems but goddammit why won't anyone listen?

Isn't it like perpetually being the parent to a teenager?

I won't be the one to find a cure for cancer or HIV/AIDS, or Alzheimer's. I won't even be the one providing counseling to those patients and their families. No, I will be the one who figures out how to create better work-life balance for families, gender neutral norms for societies, etc., and hoping that someone, somewhere is paying attention. 

If all I wanted was to have my name cited in a textbook, I would be all set. But if I could be the person who directly lead to a federally mandated paid parental leave policy in this country - I would do it anonymously if it was required in order for that to happen. 

I love my field, I really do. I'm just starting to feel as though I'm not worthy to take it where it was meant to go all along. I'm no Freud. I'm not even a Zimbardo, Milgram, Gilligan, or Darley. I'm not even my arch-nemesis David Buss. 

I really believed I might be able to accomplish things that would change society for the better. I believed it was my purpose. Call it delusions of grandeur if you will, but I think we all take this path with the hope that we will do something important and believing that it's possible.

So WTF is my purpose, then? Why was I led to this field just to be turned away at the gates for not having a ticket to get in? And if that wasn't a ticket in my pocket, WTF was it? Lint? An old receipt for a bottle of Bombay Sapphire?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


This is not going well. 

Just got my rejection email from grad school program choice #2. I keep telling myself that if it's meant to be, it will be. But goddamn does this suck. 
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