Lots of writers like to do it on Valentine’s Day: They write about sex, but they coyly avoid a direct discussion of coupling among members of Homo sapiens.
Instead they write of long-ago tales of courtship and nudge readers along — when the act itself must be discussed — with rhetorical winks and double-entendre descriptions of animal mating rituals.
According to the Web site Retraction Watch, that’s how Lazar Greenfield started out his editorial in the February issue of Surgery News, the journal of the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. Greenfield, a professor emeritus in the department of surgery at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, offered an anecdote about the Roman Emperor Claudius II’s disdain for soldiers who marry. He wrote of fruit flies and then of rotifers, which can choose between sexual and asexual reproduction.
And then Dr. Greenfield, who was editor of the Elsevier publication, jumped species, veering into sexual signals among humans, heterosexual and lesbian menstrual cycles, and the mood-enhancing ingredients found in semen. Citing a 2002 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, he wrote: “Female college students having unprotected sex were significantly less depressed than were those whose partners used condoms. … The benefits of semen contact also were seen in fewer suicide attempts and better performance on cognition tests.”
He concluded, ”So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.”
The American College of Surgeons pulled the issue offline, and David B. Hoyt, executive director of the organization, told Retraction Watch that the society was in the process of “preparing” it to be reposted.
Dr. Greenfield resigned as editor, and his position as president-elect of the American College of Surgeons is under review, Retraction Watch reported.