A slew of celebrities and public figures have had their salacious cell phone content leaked over the past few years -- everyone from (former) House seat holder Anthony Weiner to girl-next-door Jessica Alba. Their exhibitionism had us wondering -- what were they thinking? Turns out, it's not about thinking at all. According to science, sexting may simply be a primal inevitability when you put awesome cell phone technology in the hands of human sexuality.
Wired researched the sexting phenomenon in a piece titled The Urge to Sext Naked Self-Portraits Is Primal. They point out that research has found that when it comes to human sexuality, women yearn to be desired, whereas men just want to show off their packages. Apparently, sexting is just a convenient way to facilitate this behavior.
According to Wired:
"'Being desired is very arousing to women,' observes clinical psychologist Marta Meana, president of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research. 'An increasing body of data is indicating that the way women feel about themselves may be very important to their experience of sexual desire and subjective arousal, possibly even outweighing the impact of their partners' view of them.'"
This might explain Girls Gone Wild, where women feel the urge to show off their racks in exchange for nothing but a lousy T-shirt. According to Dr. Meana, beyond the exploitation and cheesy techno music are a bunch of gals just responding to their primal urge for sexual desirability.
Back to sexting. The argument is that women are also responding to that primal urge to be desired when they sext. Wired cites "one academic survey" in which 47 percent of women reported the fantasy of seeing themselves as a striptease dancer, harem girl, or other performer. Fifty percent fantasized about pleasuring more than one man.
But this research seems to contradict a recent study that showed women are actually more focused on pleasuring themselves than their men during sex.
The University of California at Santa Cruz surveyed 85 men and 75 women ages 21 to 45 and found that more than two-thirds of the men said they fantasized about pleasing their partners. Meanwhile, more than half of the women fantasized about their own pleasure.
Obviously, there's more to women's eroticism than just being desired. Dr. Meana admits this:
"The little data we have indicate that eroticism just will not be told what to do," she said. "Consequently, research and clinical forays into eroticism may go a long way toward...considering the diversity and full range of women's sexual desires."
As for men, Wired makes the argument that men sext just to show off, likening the behavior to the courting rituals of bonobo monkeys. They argue:
"Men do not share women's desire to be desired. Instead, they emulate their bonobo brethren: The internet is saturated with penis self-portraits from every nation on Earth."
But there's a problem. Human females aren't that into it:
"Though hordes of men pay to peruse amateur photography depicting the anatomy of ladies, not a single website collects cash from ladies interested in surveying amateur photography of phalluses."
Thus, they conclude that the male urge to sext phallic photos (a la Weinergate) is simply an outdated byproduct of evolution.
Whether it's primal or not, people are sexting. Some argue that adult sexting is on the rise. Just remember, sexters -- once you put it out there, it stays out there.
Photo: Dylan Ellis/Getty Images