Smells are everywhere. They pervade every aspect of our lives. Take, for instance, the irresistible smell of bread baking. It has a distinctive smell. We readily accept the role that smell plays in our enjoyment of food. Yet, we generally shy away from the notion that smell could play an important role in our sexual choices. We have not fully recognized the importance of olfaction to sexual attraction, patterns of sexual performance, or identity.
Most of us fail to recognize the nose as vital to our sexuality. And in terms of evolution, this is important to bonding and social organization. Our sense of smell is explained why we enjoy kissing and oral sex. And whether we prefer members of the opposite, or same sex. These sexual practices and our sexual identity are heavily inﬂuenced by sexual or pheromonal odor communication.
Pheromones are hormones and they transmit our sexual interest to others in a process that is largely subconscious. These chemical messengers are borne by our body hair and our skin as we shed millions of skin cells daily. In that regard, our hair is not only an adornment. It’s a wick that helps to transmit the odors of our sexual identity and arousal.
We produce pheromones by glands on our skin and body hair. As you walk out into the world — voila— you have the capacity to both transmit and detect these chemical messengers. What’s amazing about this process is that it is powerful and instinctual. It’s part of our subconscious and remains a controversy within the scientiﬁc community. We will examine this scientiﬁc debate and provide data to support our belief that despite our pride in being cast in God’s image, humans may be more like other animals created by God than previously believed.
Pheromones Influence Scent and Behavior
One must recognize that “good” smells are chemoattractive: they draw us to its source. “Bad” smells are the opposite, they repel us! A horrible smell can be attractive, too strong an odor and we move away from it. One-celled organisms are no different from us in that chemicals in their environment, attract or repel, depending on concentration. And this leads to ﬂight or attraction. Attraction results in feeding or conjugation, which in unicellular organisms is the mechanism of sexual exchange. We consider ourselves to be a “higher organism” distinct from others.
Are we that different?
Odors provide the environment that frequently, more dramatically than vision and touch, lead us to food, warmth, or to sexual excitation. Alternately, it helps us to face our enemies and for us to seek out a friendly environment. We salivate at the smell of food with striking anticipation that governs our behavior.
This ensures our survival and the quality of our life. Without food we die; without sex, our species dies. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us that we may be pre-conditioned by pheromones to respond to them.
Never having tasted chocolate, its smell produces the desire to taste. And once you taste it, you” desire and anticipation for more chocolate. Life without anticipation is full of dangerous surprises or boredom. Odor provides the pathway for excitement and governs our genetic survival. And the bonding to those we love results in familial structure. It should not surprise us that odor, like our other senses, bring us together in sexual contact. And desire, pleasure, and release, strengthen our resolve to return to it time and again.
Why Are We Afraid to Smell?
We often fear the natural smells our bodies are capable of creating. Yet, we’re also less inclined to admit to enjoying the smells of ourselves or others.
However, the detection of these smells provides us with an instinctual way of sense who might be a suitable lover. In many ways, we have been conditioned by social factors related to how the other group “smelled.”
Culturally, Americans have a fastidious standard of hygiene. It requires we bathe, shower daily, brush our teeth, removing all traces of natural body odors.
And we wear only clean clothing every day. In other parts of the world, one’s daily toilette is considerably less thorough.
A thriving cosmetic and deodorant industry capitalizes on this fear of our natural odors, and we spend up to $1. 4 billion annually to mask these smells using manufactured scents that are deemed more socially acceptable. Our vocabulary to describe odors, as contrasted to vision, is much more limited. It was Carolus Linnaeus who compiled an exhaustive survey of natural history in Systema Naturae. He applied the same meticulous detail in identifying and classifying smells in Odores medicamentorum.