Smells are everywhere. They pervade every aspect of our lives. Take, for instance, the irresistible smell of bread baking, the sweet, powdery scent of a baby’s head, or the sharp tang of an onion being chopped. Each of these has a distinctive smell. Yet, while we readily accept the role that smell plays in our enjoyment of food, we generally shy away from the notion that smell could play an important role in our sexual choices, behavior, and relationships. We have not fully recognized the importance of olfaction to sexual attraction, patterns of sexual performance, or identity.
Our thesis throughout this site is that although we are aware that the nose is a dominant feature of our face, most of us fail to recognize it as an organ vital to our sexuality, and in terms of evolution, this is important to bonding and social organization. We will explain how the role of olfaction — our sense of smell — is directly linked to 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 is 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, but a wick that helps to transmit the odors of our sexual identity and arousal.
Pheromones are manufactured when secretions by various glands all over our body and face interacts with the bacteria that live 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, instinctual and a part of our subconscious that is not entirely understood, so it remains a controversy within the scientiﬁc and medical communities.
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.
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 are forced to move away from it. Bacteria and protozoa, 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.
Although we consider ourselves to be a “higher organism.” distinct from others because of our complex, three—pound brain, we bear evolutionary allegiance to the lowly one-celled ciliated pararnecium which with the right chemical concentration in its watery environment, surrenders or is attracted to thrust itself against its neighbor to fuse and exchange micronuclei in sexual conjugation. 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. Altemately, it helps us to face our enemies and for us to seek out a friendly environment. We have been likened to Pavlovian dogs: we salivate to 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 should not surprise us that we may be pre-conditioned by certain odors (such as pheromones) to respond positively to them.
Never having tasted chocolate, its smell produces the desire to taste, and once having tasted, desire and anticipation for tasting more chocolate is enhanced. 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 that results in familial structure. It should not surprise us that odor, like vision, voice, and touch, bring us together in sexual contact, where desire, pleasure, and release, like chocolate to our sweet cravings, strengthens our resolve to return to it time and again.
Why we are afraid to smell — or to be smelled?
In as much as we often fear the natural smells our bodies are capable of creating —- we are also less inclined to admit to noticing and enjoying the smells of ourselves or others. What we will soon discover, however, is that the detection and recognition of these smells also provides us with an instinctual way of literally sensing who might be a suitable lover, business ally, or friend. In many ways, we have been conditioned by social factors including racial and national prejudice that is related to how the other group “smelled.”
Culturally, Americans have been known to have a fastidious standard of hygiene that 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, whether in deference to different cultural norms or because of economic or environmental limitations, 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.
Unlike our ability to describe what we see, our vocabulary to describe odors, as contrasted to vision, is much more limited. It was Carolus Linnaeus (1703 — 78) 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 (1752).