Research on Sex Just Too Sexy To Fund

As the third season of the Showtime series Masters of Sex kicks off, sex research icons William Masters and Virginia Johnson, portrayed by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, are gearing up to bring their pioneering findings in the world of sexual health out from between the sheets and into the light of day for all the world to consume. In history, as well as the series, they are met with no end of disdain, skepticism and contempt as they want to discuss those taboo trysts. Good thing we’ve matured as a society since the 1960s, right?

Well, not so much. While there is a significant rise in higher education degrees being offered, pursued and earned in sexual health and research a surprising number of studies remain unfunded. Some notable researchers don’t even bother to ask, confident that their requests for grant monies will be summarily rejected solely on the premise that they want to talk about sex. Dr. Debby Hebernick of the Kinsey Institute says this:

“I don’t apply for federal funding for most of the work that I do. There’s very little available for sexuality topics.”

In the end she chooses research topics that don’t necessarily need government funding. Private funding is just as scarce. Most studies focused on sexual health or performance are often packaged as studies on medical conditions. In some cases this is relevant. In other cases it is just stretching the condom to make it fit and this is just about as effective as the metaphor.

Even as dating apps like Tinder give rise to more and more sexual freedom, birth control more effective than ever and sex becoming less and less of a forbidden topic among social circles and individuals, the academic community still prefers it with the lights off. How do we pull the covers back and fund this field in which so many of us would be very willing test subjects? Jury is still out on that.

For more news and information on just how sexy studying can be, contact us at Sultry Dish.

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