Love & Sex

Does a Higher IQ Lead to Kinkier Sex?

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"My hunch has been confirmed: higher IQ means you're more experimental in bed."

Like many college dorms, mine (which was aptly called “BJ”) had a kid who seemed never to leave his room. In his free time "Kevin" spent hours writing intricate code; he was a true programing genius in a school filled with brilliant programmers. One day our resident misanthrope got a new stair-side room assignment, and we all found out why he'd been reluctant to leave his room very often: the dude loved spanking. I have no idea whether he was the one spanking or getting spanked, but any time you had to take the stairs–day or night–you were sure to hear an audible slap, usually followed by a kind of gender neutral sigh-moan sound.

Now, according to an only slightly dubious study by British sex toy vendor Lovehoney, my hunch has been confirmed: higher IQ means you're more experimental in bed. At least that's how The Telegraph is explaining it; actually, Lovehoney's finding was narrower. Specifically, they found that Brits at elite universities are spending more money on sex toys. Cambridge students spent the most, at £9,793 annually. Oxford students came in at a close second at £9,689, while the fuddy duddies at Manchester U spent a paltry £5,441. Cambridge students also visited the retailer most often–5,995 times compared to Oxford's 5,158 and Manchester's 3,905. Lovehoney got its figures through Google analytics, which allows vendors to track email addresses from internet visitors.

Lovehoney's logic isn't exactly airtight–students at elite universities like Cambridge and Oxford are more likely to have disposable income to spend on items like a $68.25 sex swing set, for example (£44.99 before conversion). Even so, I'm likely to agree: kink is the province of nerds.

If you've ever attended a BDSM student organization you know this to be the case. Things modern-day nerds love: sure, there's the usual spate of video games and sci fi, but also, leather, ball gags, and (of course) vibrators and dildos galore. BDSM student groups are the college-age equivalent of spelling BOOBS on your graphing calculator. See also: the unholy unions of all things nerdy, sci fi themed sex toys. There's also a long history of smarties with fetishes. Bro geniuses Henry and William James, for example, used to write long, gleeful letters to each other about what they'd stuffed up their butts. William to Henry: “I blush to say that detailed bulletins of your bowels…are of the most enthralling interest to me.” Then they shoot the shit about enemas. Yep, kink is as nerdy as it gets.

I don't know if everyone shares this experience. A lot of the shock of college for me related to my realization that critically engaging your world includes critically engaging desire. Sex week, for example, a university-sponsored event at schools all over the U.S., has proven that it's okay to do your reading when it comes to topics like masturbation and female orgasm. In general, marginalization (a title that could be applied to many of the higher IQ'd among us) demands being proactive about finding what makes you happy. If you've ever suffered the indignity of searching for an amicable lunch crowd in high school, you're also probably willing to suffer the indignity privilege of discussing whether you prefer realistic strap-ons to their more imaginative cousins.

At the same time, Rosemary Hopcroft, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, claims that “Intelligence is negatively associated with sex frequency.” She also says it might have to do with the fact that smart people spend more time hitting the books than the sack. That hasn't been my experience in academia, but I can see it. Marginalized smarties might be less promiscuous but more adventurous.