«I’m going to show you a couple of pictures of a very funny article from the medical Ultrasound journal. I’m going to venture into saying it’s the most fun article ever published in the medical Ultrasound journal. The title is ‘ masturbation remarks in utero ‘.
And then Mary Roach projects on the stage wall an ultrasound that clearly sees a fetus with his hand clinging to the penis.
Let’s not forget that this is an ultrasound, so «the images would have been seen in motion,» clarifies the scientific journalist with clear skills of comedian to the audience, which is not clear even if you should laugh at laughter or take the issue seriously.
It’s been ten years since Roach presented this talk in the TED conference room in California, USA.
However, with 27.005.952 visualizations at the time of writing this note, the Conference is still one of the most popular in the history of the organization.
«It’s because it’s about orgasm and everyone is curious about the issue. I don’t think there’s anything deeper than that, «Roach humbly tells BBC World.
And, that curiosity, was the one that led her to investigate in depth information little known and curious about orgasm, as the fact that because it is a reflection of the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that deals with things that we do not control Consciously as digestion, heart rate or sexual arousal), the reflection of orgasm can be triggered by a surprisingly wide range of stimuli.
Stimuli as varied as for example a caress on the eyebrow or knee, or, in the case of a woman whose example Roach quoted in the TED talk, the simple act of brushing the teeth.
Roach believes that the talk continues to arouse interest because sex and orgasm are issues that always provoke people’s curiosity.
«Something in the complex sensory-motor action of brushing teeth provoked an orgasm,» Roach explains in the talk.
The woman went to a neurologist who investigated whether the cause was hiding in some toothpaste ingredient — something she ruled out by testing with other brands — and also tried to stimulate her gums with a toothpick, with no positive results.
The key, evident, was in motion.
«What surprised me most is that you would think that this woman would have excellent oral hygiene,» Roach jokes.
Unfortunately — this is what the study said — ‘ The woman believed she was possessed by demons and began using a mouthwash to clean her teeth, ‘ says a Risueña audience, already more comfortable with the tone of the talk
Talk About sex
For Roach, the conference itself was a rather odd experience.
«My talk was pretty unusual for TED talks at the time,» he explains. «These usually talk about great ideas, ideas to change the world. I didn’t fit in the mold (although it’s not exactly a mold), he adds.
The journalist says that people at first did not know how to react, because their conference is not the typical one that you can hear at TED.
Roach’s purpose was another. «For me it was an entertaining exploration of the study of the physiology of human sexuality. I also wanted to pay tribute to the people who had done research and how strange it had been for many of them. »
The idea, in short, was «to encourage people to talk openly about sex.»
One of the most hilarious moments of the talk occurred when the journalist and author explained how the so-called pro-suction theory (which states that the contractions of the uterus during orgasm help the sperm to reach the egg), although it was refuted for the beings Humans, is still taken as certain by some for the animal world.
«In Denmark, the Danish National Committee for Pig production found that if one sexually stimulates the sow while it is artificially inseminated, the number of piglets resulting increases by 6%,» Roach explains.
And, to illustrate his point, the author shows the astonished spectators a video of the committee where he sees a breeder mounted on a sow while inseminated, while trying to stimulate mechanically with the help of his hands and feet.
Later Roach found out that American actor and comedian Robin Williams, who was listening to the talk from a private room, had set out to make the farmer’s voices, joking about what he would be saying while stimulating the sow, something that Roach regrets not being able to hear from the stage.
Other topics to discuss about sex
Although a decade has passed since TED’s talk and Roach has written and talked publicly about other issues that have nothing to do with sex — his latest book «Grunt,» for example, addresses the science behind the most difficult experiences that soldiers undergo in War — the journalist still remembers the impact she had on her life.
His idea of sharing dark and curious data was to encourage people to talk about sex openly.
«I remember there was a time when I was reading ‘ human Sexual response ‘ from Masters and Johnson, a very thorough compendium of the cycle of sexual response, from excitement to orgasm, and there were things that I didn’t know,» he says.
One of them is that «the earlobes can expand during the excitation phase,» he explains.
«When you read something like that, of course you stay with that and then you become something like a researcher in your own room.»
«That kills you a little bit, and, for a time, it was something that bothered me,» he says.
When I ask him what would change or what other data would add if he had to repeat his lecture, Roach says that nothing, that would leave it as it is.
«So it is, I think it’s fine like that, but there are certainly many other topics around sexuality that are more important and deserve to be discussed,» says Roach and mentions sexual abuse of children and the issue of transgender people, among others.
For now, she’s focused on her new book, which she doesn’t want to give a lot of details yet.
The only thing that Roach regrets about the 2009 conference is that his was almost at the end of it all.
«I would have liked to talk the first or second night, because I spent the whole time before the talk walking back and forth in my hotel room, rehearsing what I was going to say and missed many of the other people’s talks» , he confesses to BBC Mundo.