The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality

SSSS 2017 Annual Meeting and 60th Year Anniversary

November 9-12, 2017


Atlanta Marriott Marquis ~ Atlanta, Georgia




SSSS Annual Meeting Plenary Speakers







Sexuality: We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!


Thursday, November 9, 2017 6:15 pm to 8:00 pm

1.5 CE Hours


SSSS Public Service Award Winner



M. Joycelyn Elders, MD is the 15th Surgeon General of the United States.  She is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS), Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.  She is a Distinguished Professor of The School of Public Health at UAMS.  There is a chair in her name in “Sexuality Education in Medical Schools” at the University of Minnesota. A native of Schaal, Arkansas, Dr. Elders is the oldest of eight children. At the age of 15 she received a scholarship from the United Methodist Church to attend Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR.  Upon graduation at age 18, she entered the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant and received training as a physical therapist. Dr. Elders attended the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS) on the G.I. Bill.  After graduation in 1960, she intern at the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis and did a pediatric residency and an endedocrinology fellowship at the University of Arkansas Medical Center in Little Rock.  She received the position of full professorship after her fellowship and board certification in 1976.  She also holds a Master of Science degree in biochemistry. Dr. Elders joined the faculty at UAMS as a professor of pediatrics and received board certification as a pediatric endocrinologist in 1978.  Based on her studies of growth in children and the treatment of hormone-related illnesses, she has written many articles for medical research publications.  She was appointed Director of the Arkansas Department of Health in October of 1987.  While serving as director, she was elected President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers. Dr. Elders was nominated as Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service by President Clinton on July 1,1993, confirmed by the Senate September 7, and sworn in on September 8.  Dr. Elders served in this post until January 1995 and subsequently returned to teaching until her retirement on June 30, 1998. ArkansasPersonalities of the South and Distinguished Women in America.  She is the recipient of awards such as the Arkansas Democrat’s Woman of the Year, the National Governor’s Association Distinguished Service Award, the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Award, the De Lee Humanitarian Award, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Candace Award for Health Science.  Dr. Elders has also received multiple honorary doctorate of medical sciences degrees and honorary doctorate of letters degrees. As an author and coauthor of hundreds of professional publications in the areas of pediatrics, endocrinology and public health and as a national and international speaker, Dr. Elders is a strong advocate for children’s health, quality patient care and health safety. Dr. Elders is married to Oliver Elders and they have two sons, Eric and Kevin.


ABSTRACT: We could not escape it even if we wanted:  We are sexual beings from birth to death.  Given this, we want to have a healthy sexuality, with all associated disease prevented.  We want excellent contraception so that we can have a pregnancy when we choose.  Sex is for procreation, prevention of disease, and pleasure. We want to encourage teens to have a healthy sexuality and responsible, positive and respectful sexual activity. The mean onset of sexual activity is 17 years, while the mean age of marriage is 26 years. Sexual and reproductive health problems account for 18 percent of the total global burden of disease and 32 percent of the burden among women of reproductive age.  Yet, we spend very little time in professional schools educating professionals about sexual health.  How can we educate our society when we haven’t educated our professionals? America is not a sexually health nation as manifested by barriers to sexuality education, lack of comprehensive sexuality programs, values that violate our most vulnerable, child sexual abuse, date rape and intimate partner violence, college sexual assault, LBGT sexual assault, and transgender victims of abuse. If you can’t control your reproduction, you can’t control your life.  Sixty percent of children are unplanned, 40 percent are born to unmarried women and 13 percent are born to teens. We also have a long way to go to prevent disease.  There are more than one billion acts of unprotected sex among single adults. Single, sexually active Americans ages 18-54 use condoms approximately only 25 percent of the time. There are more than 21 million STIs, one-half of which are in people who are less than 24 years of age.  We have 1.4 million living with HIV/AIDS, 17 percent of whom are less than 20 years old. There are 33,000 new cases of HIV diagnosed each year. Multiple strategies must be addressed to move forward. We have made much progress with the improvement of contraception, and treatment of HIV and STIs, communication within relationships, and aids for our aging population. However, we have a long way to go, Baby!






Love, Sex, and Singles


Friday, November 10, 2017 9:00 am to 10:30 am

1.5 CE Hours




Helen Fisher, PhD is a Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute, Member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, and Chief Scientific Advisor to She uses brain scanning (fMRI) to study the neural systems associated with the sex drive, romantic love and attachment. She has written six internationally best-selling books on romantic love and future sex, including: WHY WE LOVE; WHY HIM? WHY HER?; and ANATOMY OF LOVE (2ND ed).  Fisher is currently studying the biological basis of personality and the role that neurochemicals play in mate choice and partnership happiness. She presents her data on love and personality at conferences around the world and is a TED All-Star with over 11 million views of her TED talks. She is a recipient of the American Anthropological Association’s Distinguished Service Award for her work at presenting anthropological data to the general public.  Her Curriculum Vita at lists all of her publications and activities.




Justin R. Garcia, PhD is a Ruth Halls Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Associate Director for Research and Education at The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Garcia holds a MS in biomedical anthropology and PhD in evolutionary biology from Binghamton University. His research interests focus on the evolutionary foundations of variation in monogamy, intimacy, and sexual behavior, with a particular emphasis on biocultural approaches to sex, gender, dating, and reproductive strategies. He has published on a variety of topics related to romantic and sexual relationships, and is co-author (with Peter Gray) of Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior and co-editor ofEvolution’s Empress: Darwinian Perspectives on the Nature of Women. Since 2010 he has been Scientific Advisor to the online dating company




The Drive to Love and Who We Choose. Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher will discuss three brain systems that evolved for mating and reproduction: the sex drive; feelings of intense romantic love; and feelings of deep attachment. She then focuses on her fMRI brain scanning research on romantic rejection and love addiction. Using data from large-scale questionnaire and fMRI studies, she will discuss four broad basic styles of thinking and behaving associated with four primary brain systems — dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen systems — to propose an additional aspect of human mate-choice. Fisher concludes with discussion of the brain circuits associated with long-term partnership happiness and her optimism about the future of relationships in the digital age, due to a current trend she calls “slow love.” 


How U.S. Singles are Redefining Courtship and Intimacy. Justin Garcia will discuss the rise of singlehood in America, and how widespread use of technology is changing what we thought we knew about human courtship. Since 2010, Fisher and Garcia have partnered with the online dating company to conduct Singles in America (SIA), an annual survey on romantic and sexual attitudes and behaviors of U.S. singles. Garcia discusses how this research on U.S. singles  including contemporary dating practices, sexual behavior of single parents, romantic and sexual desires of older singles, dating attitudes of LGBT singles, and partner preferences — expands our theoretical and empirical understandings of romantic and sexual life. He then presents some findings from his work on sexual hookup culture and its relationship to singlehood. He concludes that singles are transforming the way we conceptualize intimacy.






Open and Reproducible Sexual Science


Friday, November 10, 2017 4:15 pm to 5:45 pm

1.5 CE Hours



Lorne Campbell, PhD earned his Ph.D. in Social Psychologist at Texas A&M University in 2001. He was an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University before joining the faculty at the University of Western Ontario in 2002, where he is currently a professor of psychology. From 2008-09 Lorne was a Harrington Faculty Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences. Dr. Campbell is a recognized expert in the fields of interpersonal relationships, research design and data analysis. He is also an advocate of open science. 


ABSTRACT: There has been an ongoing discussion of the problems associated with the typical methodological practices of psychological research the past few years. Part of this discussion has included a number of suggested changes to these typical practices, many falling under the banner of open science (e.g., transparency of the research process, data sharing, sharing code, as well as following pre-specified data analytic plans). In this talk I will discuss the benefits of engaging in these open science practices, highlighting the choices that need to be made during the research process. The focus will be not on what can be done to achieve more open science, but what is being done. Lastly, I will discuss how these open science practices can help advance theory by offering more risky tests of hypotheses.






Why Do Psychological Sex Differences Vary in Size Across Cultures? On the Need for Theoretical Pluralism


Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:00 am to 10:30 am

1.5 CE Hours


Ira and Harriet Reiss Theory Award Winner



David Schmitt, PhD earned his Ph.D. in personality psychology from the University of Michigan in 1995, Dr. David Schmitt has authored more than 70 articles on human sexuality, often from evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives. Dr. Schmitt is Founding Director of the International Sexuality Description Project (ISDP), a research collaboration involving 100s of psychologists from around the world seeking to understand how culture, personality, and gender combine to influence sexuality. The ISDP network has collected data from over 50,000 people across more than 60 nations. Dr. Schmitt is currently Professor and Director of the Centre for Culture and Evolution at Brunel University London.


ABSTRACT: Although sexual scientists have found men and women are somewhat different, on average, across several domains (e.g., sexual desires, mate preferences, social interests, occupational choices, mental abilities, mental health indicators, physical features, personality traits), the precise size of these sex differences often varies across cultures. Curiously, the largest differences between men and women are often found in cultures with the most gender egalitarian social and political systems (e.g., Scandinavia). How can this be? Several theoretical and empirical explanations for these counter-intuitive findings are reviewed, with particular reference to new findings from a large international study of human sexual psychology. For instance, previous studies have found men and women differ in Dark Triad personality traits (i.e., Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy) and that people higher in Dark Triad traits tend to pursue more short-term mate poaching, unrestricted sociosexuality, and marital infidelity. New findings from a cross-cultural survey of over 35,000 people across 58 nations confirmed those scoring higher on Dark Triad dimensions do engage in more short-term mating across all cultures, but the sizes of sex differences in Dark Triad traits were variable across cultures (and were largest across Scandinavian samples). Consistent with a life history theory perspective, it appeared in nations with higher levels of ecological stress (e.g., higher pathogen load, lower resource availability), sex differences in the Dark Triad were largely attenuated, primarily because women’s life history strategies appeared more accelerated than men’s in response to ecological stress. A new schematic for integrating these types of findings is presented, with the intention of explaining how evolution may have functionally calibrated the minds of men and women to differ more in some ecologies than others.






Global and Local Implications of Current Policy Changes on Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health


Saturday, November 11, 2017 5:45 pm to 7:00 pm

1.25 CE Hours




Patricia Otón-Olivieri, MPHE, LLM, JD is an Adjunct Professor of the Law School of the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and of the Graduate School of Public Health of the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico. Is the Director of the Academic Support Program of the Faculty of Law of the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. Teaches courses on Legal Research and Writing; Health Law; Public Health Law; Health Policy and Reproductive Health Rights. Has earned the degrees of Master of Laws (LL.M.), Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Canada; Juris Doctor (J.D.) Law School, University of Puerto Rico and Master in Public Health Education (M.P.H.E.), Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico. Is a Member of the Puerto Rico Civil Rights Commission; the Puerto Rico Bar Association and the Latin American Law Professors Network (Red ALAS). Has published law review articles and chapters in books related to health, law, sexual and reproductive rights. Has been a volunteer of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and offers educational activities in the areas of sexual rights, reproductive rights and intersexuality.






Esther Vicente, PhD, LLM, JD is a Professor of Law at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico Law Faculty. She teaches courses on the International Protection of Human Rights, Feminist Jurisprudence, Family Law and Constitutional Law. During the Spring semester of Academic year 2008, she was Visiting Researcher and Fellow at the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights, Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut. In 2014 the Governor of Puerto Rico appointed her and the Senate of Puerto Rico confirmed her appointment for a five-year term as Commissioner of the Civil Rights Commission of Puerto Rico. At present she is the Vice-President of the Civil Rights Commission of Puerto Rico. Dr. Vicente obtained a Ph. D. in Law from the University of London in 2002 and in 1991 was granted an LLM by the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her Juris Doctor and Bachelor in Arts degrees are from the University of Puerto Rico.  She is a member of the Puerto Rico Bar Association and of the American Bar Association. Through her work with governmental and nongovernmental organizations Professor Vicente has been closely involved in the development and defense of women’s rights using litigation, the promotion of legislation and legal education, both in Puerto Rico and internationally. Professor Vicente is President of the Western Hemisphere Region of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and member of Federation’s Governing Council. In that role she has been able to engage in educational and advocacy activities for reproductive rights and sexual rights in regional and international forums. Professor Vicente is the author of the book Más Allá de la Ley Sexo, género y violencia en las relaciones de pareja (Beyond law, Sex, gender and violence in intimate relationships) published in 2017. She is has also co-authored the book Politics, Visions and Voices on Abortion in Puerto Ricoand participated in the compilation of two collections of essays: Derecho Constitucional en el Caribe: Género, Sexualidad Y DerechoINTER-MUJERES, San Juan, 2015 and Derecho Constitucional en el Caribe: Género, Sexualidad y Derecho: Matrimonio Igualitario, INTER-MUJERES, San Juan, 2016. Professor Vicente has also published articles in professional journals and chapters in several books on feminist perspectives and legal theory, human rights, the Inter-American human rights system, reproductive rights, sexual rights, domestic violence and sexual harassment.


ABSTRACT: The panelists will present the legal situation of reproductive rights and sexual rights in Puerto Rico and the factors that affect real and material access to the exercise of those rights. Special attention will be given to the threats and limitations currently being placed upon those rights by conservative and fundamentalist activists and through public policies that limit financial assistance to the providers of sexual and reproductive health services. The policies affecting family planning, access to contraception, abortion, gender identity and comprehensive sexuality education in the public education system will also be addressed. The continued lack of access to sexual rights, reproductive rights and health services required to make these a reality, demonstrates the persistence of women’s inequality and discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. Reproductive and sexual freedom has been converted into an electoral gimmick used by politicians to gain the support of ultra-conservative and fundamentalist sectors. As an example of this tendency, the process of de-legitimation of abortion in Puerto Rico, although it is legal since 1973 and openly practiced in clinics before its legalization, will be analyzed. In addition, the actions of some members of the Puerto Rican Legislative Assembly regarding marriage equality – which is a constitutional right in the country – will be presented as evidence of the difficulties in forging a truly secular and democratic polity. The presenters will offer insights into the community and civil society organizations that are at the frontline of the defense of sexual and reproductive rights in Puerto Rico.






Research Sexual Labor: From the Caribbean to 'Foreign'


Sunday, November 12, 2017 10:15 am to 11:45 am

1.5 CE Hours


Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award Winner



Kamala Kempadoo, PhD is a Professor in the interdisciplinary Department of Social Science at York University, Toronto, Canada.  She teaches in the areas of Sex Work Studies, Critical Antitrafficking Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Black Radical and Feminist Thought, and publishes and speaks widely on sex workers’ rights and anti-trafficking discourses from antiracist and transnational feminist perspectives. Much of her research has developed in collaboration with NGOs and community activists, but she has also conducted policy-oriented research on Caribbean sexual relations for UN and intergovernmental agencies. Her scholarly praxis is to make her academic work intelligible and accessible to a wide audience, especially to working women outside the academy. Her books include Sexing the Caribbean: Gender Race and Sexual Labour (Routledge 2004) and the edited volumes: Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work and Human Rights (Paradigm Publishers 2005/2012); Sun, Sex and Gold: Tourism and Sex Work in the Caribbean (Rowman and Littlefield 1999); and Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance and Redefinition (Routledge 1998). She is currently co-editing a collection on methodologies in Caribbean research on gender and sexuality and is editor of a forthcoming special issue of the journal Social and Economic Studies that critically examines human trafficking in the Caribbean and Latin America. Since 2013 she is the lead organizer of a Caribbean women’s, gender and sexuality studies exchange that involves universities in Canada and the southern Caribbean countries of Guyana and Suriname. Kamala has served as director of the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought at York University and as head of the Centre for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies-Mona, Jamaica. She has held a Rockefeller Fellowship in the US and a Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Bergen in Norway. When not teaching at York University she lives in Barbados, where she is also a Visiting Professor at the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill.


ABSTRACT:  Sexual labour is embedded in a variety of relationships, transactions and living arrangements, and is deeply complicated by factors such as geography, gender, race and culture, placing it well beyond what is commonly referred to as ‘prostitution’ and its more recent incarnation, ‘sex work.’ This presentation brings together past research insights into the entangled character of sexual labour in the Caribbean with current international debates about sex work and ‘sex trafficking,’ and proposes ways to think through the binary that currently stultifies the debates.





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