This narrow conception of the application of scientific method found passionate adherence among sexual researchers for the obvious reason that it provided protection and legitimacy. The language of science, its postures, even its costumes, became the conceptual rubber gloves that allowed for the examination of what the larger social world predominantly viewed as “dirty business”. Sexual activity could be described in a cool, unexcited language wondrously remote from passionate emotional conflicts or heavy breathing. It also created the illusion of distance that protected researchers from accusations of self-interest beyond the admirable quest for truth and the facilitation of individual and social health. The definition of what constituted health was often unspecified, except as the apparent absence of what conventional wisdom held to be ill-health. By describing subjects in language through which they rarely could recognize themselves, sex researchers also shrouded themselves in a protective suggestion of little direct involvement. Sex researchers, themselves, were to be seen as being beyond sexual failure and anxiety, beyond being moved by sexual fantasies involving the improbable, the unattractive, or the unacceptable. Such objectivity muted concerns about questions of motivation for initiating research and about the possible consequences of a preoccupation with so suspect a topic.

Beyond the work of Stoller (1979, 1985a) and relatively few others, the question of what creates sexual excitement, how it is rooted not in our bodies but in our lives, has only been considered in the most superficial ways. In other words, we have been encouraged to avert our attention from the creation of the erotic, the creation of sexual meanings, sexual motives, and sexual priorities. The naturalization of sex rendered such concerns unnecessary: as an expression of the natural it was alleged to be there at the very beginning—that it came as standard equipment with the body. Postures associated with reproduction, though they might also be little more than shared metaphors capable of many different uses, became a psychobiological bedrock that need be examined only when they appeared in unattractive or undesirable guises.

The functionalism often implicit in the language of the natural sciences unreflexively granted a legitimating utility to these attractive, desirable and generative sexual postures which required scrutiny only when suspicions of taint or failure were raised. The discourses of sexual normality appeared predominantly within the empty spaces of the discourses of sexual abnormality— tapping sources of sexual excitement, sources safely insulated by silence.