It's a brand, new year and we're super excited to be featuring one of our Sex Blogging Superheroes as Sex Blogger of the Month for January. Dr. Justin Lehmiller won out for top blogs by/for men for his fascinating blog about the science of sex. If you want to geek out, head on over to Sex & Psychology for posts about everything from our sexual evolution to research and insight into sexual and relationship behaviors. Dr. Lehmiller is a social psychologist, sex researcher and a faculty affiliate at the Kinsey Institute, and his insights are absolutely fascinating. Here are Dr. Lehmiller's answers to Kinkly's 10 questions.
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Kinkly: Give us three words that describe your blog.
Dr. Justin Lehmiller: Science, science, science.
Kinkly: What inspired you to start the blog?
JL: There are a ton of websites out there where you can go to learn about sex; however, very few of them contain scientifically-based information. Instead, most of them are based on people’s personal opinions. While there can certainly be value in learning about one person's unique views and experiences, this can potentially mislead us in terms of understanding how the world works. Also, unfortunately, the few websites that do talk about the science of sex tend to sensationalize it and dramatically oversimplify the story.
I came to realize that there was this huge void online with respect to learning about scientific research on sex. This led me to starting thinking about ways that I might address this. That’s why I started my blog. My goal was to create a place where people could go to get information about sex that is based in science and is reported the way it should be: accurately and free of sensationalism.
Kinkly: What's behind the name?
JL: I toyed with a lot of names before launching my blog. First, I went with “The Psychology of Human Sexuality.” I felt this title was very descriptive of the approach I planned to take, which was all about understanding sexuality through the lens of scientific psychology. However, I soon came to realize that my blog would benefit from a title that was a little more concise - something that conveys the same idea, but rolls off the tongue a little easier. After two years, I re-titled it to “Sex and Psychology,” which is the name I wish I would have gone with from the start.
Kinkly: Who's your target reader?
JL: I strive to make my blog a resource for a very diverse readership - I don’t target just one narrow segment of the population. This is because there are so many people in this world who want to learn more about the science of sex and who have the potential to benefit from the knowledge that I have to share. In fact, I have people who email me sex questions every day from all over the world, and these folks represent a very diverse set of cultures, ages and backgrounds. I want to help as many of them as I can through my blog. As you might imagine, that’s a tall order! The way I try to accomplish this is by using a very accessible, conversational writing style that doesn’t get overly technical, as well as covering a diverse set of topics. Having so much diversity in content doesn’t just make my blog relevant to a wider audience; it also benefits all of my readers by challenging them to think about things they may never have thought about before. For example, I think it’s important for younger readers to learn about how sexuality changes as we age, as well as for able-bodied readers to learn about sexuality and disability.
Kinkly: What's unique about your blog?
JL: The thing that separates my blog from most other sex blogs is the focus and emphasis on scientific research. I usually consult several journal articles or books before writing a blog post, and I include citations or links to those sources within the posts. I want my readers to know where I’m getting my information from and where they can go to learn more. I try to keep my personal opinions to a minimum. When I offer an opinion, I make sure to label it as such so that readers can separate fact from opinion.
Kinkly: What is the topic you find yourself covering most often and why?
JL: Looking at the most popular keywords I use to tag my posts, the single most common one is “orgasm.” This makes sense when I think about it because orgasm is one of the most common topics I get asked questions about, from men who claim to have premature orgasms, to women who have difficulties reaching orgasm, to people who want to learn how to have multiple orgasms. In addition to answering these questions, I’ve also written about fake orgasms, theories of orgasm, how orgasms affect our health, what happens in the brain during an orgasm, and much, much more. I think I write about orgasms so much because orgasms are such a central part of the sexual experience for so many people, but also because this is an area where many people perceive that they have problems. Although I’ve written a lot of posts that try to help people better understand the science of orgasm, I’ve also cautioned readers against falling prey to the orgasmic imperative, or the idea that sex isn’t really sex unless there’s an orgasm, which isn’t a healthy way to approach sex and can potentially cause sexual difficulties.
Kinkly: What was your most popular post ever? Why do you think it drew so many readers?
JL: I have a couple of posts that are in a virtual tie for the most popular ever, both of which involve answers to reader questions that were published a few years ago. One focused on a sexual interest known as cuckolding, which involves finding it arousing to watch your partner have sex with someone else. The other focused on men’s attraction to trans-women and what that says about their sexuality. Both posts had modest readership when they were first published, but have since been read hundreds of thousands of times (almost all through search traffic). I think these posts became so popular precisely because they answer questions that real people have about sexual interests that just aren’t discussed anywhere else. I also think that these particular interests are much more common than most people suspect - and I have some data to back that up that I’ll be presenting in a new book I’m writing on the science of sexual fantasy, which I hope will be out in 2017!
Kinkly: What is the best thing about writing a sex blog?
JL: That’s such a tough question because there are so many great things about it! For one thing, this is one of the most fun jobs you can have. However, another reason I love running the blog is because I learn a lot from it. Sometimes people ask me questions that I don’t know the answer to, which forces me to go out and find new research I wasn’t previously familiar with (and if there isn’t any science on that topic, sometimes I’ll go out and run my own study!). I’ve learned a lot from blogging that I’m not sure I would know otherwise.I should also mention that, by day, I am a university professor. Honestly, I find that running this blog makes me better at my university work. It has helped me to keep up with the scientific literature, to generate new research ideas, and to become a better communicator. Running my blog has undoubtedly made me a better researcher and teacher.
Kinkly: What's the worst thing about it?
JL: Blogging takes a lot of time, especially if - like me - you’re researching and fact-checking everything you write. I’ve been blogging three times per week for five years now and it’s tough, especially when it’s something you do on the side. I do take time off here and there, but I always make sure to bank extra blog posts in advance of vacations and holidays so that the blog is always running. Writing blog posts is really only half of the work, though. I also put a lot of effort into keeping up multiple social media accounts that support the blog, reading and responding to blog-related emails, and managing the blog as a business. When you add all of that together, it takes up a lot of my spare time.
Kinkly: OK, now for the good stuff: Give us your best tip for great sex.
JL: One of the biggest barriers to good sex is this tendency a lot of people have to assume that their partner can read their mind. For example, they might assume that their partner will be able to tell when they’re in the mood for sex and when they aren’t, as well as what they like and don’t like in bed. This is a problematic way to approach sex. Instead of assuming that your partner can read your mind, communicate. Share your desires with your partner and tell them what you like and don’t like - and be sure to ask the same of them! Great sex is about information sharing, not mind-reading.