“Bonk” If You Love Rats

A smidgen of the hoopla surrounding Mary Roach's new book on academics and The Act -- "Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex" - concerns an Egyptian surgeon, Ahmed Shafik, and his pioneering 1993 work on rats, leisure suits and getting some.

To save our readers the $24.95 (plus tax) that "Bonk" would set them back, let's cut right to the book's good stuff. And rest assured, only in this blog would the stuff about rats be considered the good stuff in a book about sex.

Dr. Shafik, a member of the Department of Surgery and Experimental Research at Cairo University's Faculty of Medicine took a look at how wearing different textiles affected sexual activity. He kitted out 75 rats into five groups, one group scampering around au naturel and four wearing pants of various cloth - 100 percent polyester, a nice 50/50 cotton/ply blend, all cotton and all wool. The rats' sexual activity was tested after six months and a year of trouser-dom, and after six months of freedom.

In findings that could have revolutionized the disco era, the poly-clad critters saw reduced sexual activity compared to the control group, while the natural fabric rats had more. The reduced activity, he hypothesized, had less to do with the scorn or tasteful female rats and more to do with the "electrostatic fields" the petrochemical pants produced on the rats' gentials.

Dr. Shafik also studied different fabrics' effects on the sperm production of both dogs and men (insert joke here), and three years later recast his rat study with 50 men (insert follow-up joke here). His conclusion: "Thus, polyester underpants could have an injurious effect on human sexual activity."