Because I am in the last, super-busy weeks of the semester, I thought I could use a little diversion, so I was thrilled when Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex arrived for me at the local public library. Bonk is Mary Roach’s (Stiff, Spook) latest investigative science book. As its title suggests, it explores the history as well as current focus of sex research. Chapters deal with whether Kinsey was really a voyeur, what an orgasm is, clitoral research as well as whether orgasm impacts fertility (using pigs!!!) and various machines, tools and strategies for research through the years.
First of all, it is amusing, yet sad the lengths and obfuscations to which scientists have to go to obtain funding for research that even tangetially touches sex. As a culture, we are obsessed with sex (having more of it, having it better), yet we remain so squeamish about it. Roach’s latest book tackles the topic with sensitivity, appreciation and also humor because let’s face it, a lot of the lengths researchers had to go to to research sex as well as their hypothoses and experiments are flat-out funny. I’m thinking in particular of the experiments to see how sperm gets into the uterus. Good stuff. And God bless the people who inseminate pigs and other large animals. Oh, and let’s not forget the sex toy manufacturer she visits (reminded me of an HBO show I watched years ago–nothing like little old ladies adding hair to a dildo to make you do a doubletake) or the man who implants penis pumps.
I’m not sure if I enjoyed this book as much as I did Roach’s other two books, but it was very interesting. If anything, I felt like its structure was a bit harder to follow (seemed a bit meandering at times) and that she seemed to explore the same few topics from various angles. Roach provides numerous footnotes, which are sometimes irritating in sheer volume but are always relevant and humorous. Roach is a funny writer, and her approach to the topic is perfect.