Sextion: Sex & the human race: Is there a normal?

Brown students often throw around accusatory labels. Heteronormative, relativist, dogmatic and sexist — the list goes on and on. But perhaps no epithet stings more than the label ethnocentric, an accusation that you evaluate the world based on your own biased cultural values.

As a Brown student, Heather HotPants also reflects on her biases from time to time. And today, Heather has something to admit: she’s been a little ethnocentric.

Writing a sex column can be hard. No two individuals are exactly alike, which is why a lot of us run around for so many years trying to find another mate whose sexual and emotional preferences match our own. With people’s wide range of tastes and desires, it’s tempting for a sex columnist to make the occasional generalization about our species. I’ve tried to avoid making blanket statements like “women are bitches” or “men cheat,” but, nevertheless, the temptation exists.

All I can do is write what I know. Any wisdom I’ve imparted has been shaped by my experiences as a white, privileged, heterosexual female. I’ve talked a lot about being heterosexual and being female, but I haven’t spent much time talking about how the white and privileged parts shape my views of sex and sexuality.

I recently came across a shocking article in Psychology Today, which explains that most of what we know in psychology is based on a very small, special population (hint: you’re a member). This special population, which one review in Cambridge’s Behavior and Brain Sciences calls “WEIRD,” is made up of “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic” societies. This group makes up a paltry “12% of the world’s population” but can account for “96% of the subjects whose behavior has been reported in top psychological journals,” according to the article. Continue Reading