Spreadsheets: No one needs an app to make them better in bed

A new app says that the optimum decibel level for sex is somewhere between a snowmobile and a flute. We say it's time to get over this competitive attitude to getting it on.

Just in case you didn’t think your sex life had been colonised enough by market forces, along comes a new app that purports to tell you how good you are in the sack. Not only that, but the evocative tagline "Data. In Bed." conjures up feelings of such squirmy, throbbing erotic frisson that we’re not sure what to do with ourselves.

Notwithstanding the obvious criticism - which is that, if you suspect yourself of being crap in bed and are inclined to believe that sexual desire and enjoyment can be effectively be measured by an algorhythm, then your suspicions are probably correct – this app raises many, many questions. Such as: why have they named it "Spreadsheets", after the one of the least sexy inventions ever created by man? Spread . . . sheets. Oh, oh . . . wait . . . we see what you’ve done there.

Measuring as it does such performance indicators as duration, noise level and "thrusts per minute", it would perhaps be churlish to suggest that Spreadsheets is a piece of software designed by a man. However, it was probably was designed by a man. As any woman living in a post-Meg Ryan world knows (unless, of course, she is Rhiannon’s neighbour in Manor House, circa 2007), the amount of noise you make has absolutely no bearing on how good a particular shag is – in some cases, it can even be inversely proportional. As for thrusts per minute, well . . . we thought humping madly at your ladyfriend with the speed and enthusiasm of a Jack Russell was something most heterosexual men grew out of in their teens, but apparently not. The sample screenshot shows a shag lasting approximately ninety minutes, with an "impressive", if somewhat enthusiastic, 119 TPM (thrusts per minute) count.

The apps’ users are given points based on the above criteria, which has us wondering whether you can actually lose points if you carry on for long enough for things to start chafing. Judging by the already extant assumptions the app’s creators have made about what constitutes prowess in the bedroom, we’re imagining not.

The point-scoring element gives the whole endeavour a competitive edge, casting female pleasure as a challenge, a mountain to be climbed - as it were. But before all you horny straight lads head off in search of orgasm mountain, a word of warning. The sample decibel level for desirable orgasmic noise given by the app is 102. According to the environmental noise chart we just googled, this level lies somewhere between that of a snowmobile and a flute. However, the maximum level permitted for a UK residential area between 11pm and 7am is 31db, putting it at the level of a "quiet library whisper". Just putting the information out there . . . we wouldn’t want your rapid thrusting to result in you getting fined by the council.

Sadly, the information is never collated and therefore we are unlikely to ever witness a Guardian data blog dedicated to a leader board of "the internet’s biggest thrusters". This app has surely been produced by men who have watched far too much internet porn, and therefore believe that a loud, gutteral moan the minute the tip touches the sides is reflective of enjoyment, regardless of whether the woman present is sporting the same, dead look behind the eyes.

Of course, were a woman to allocate the points then things would be very different ("Ten points for every minute of foreplay"; "twenty for every erogenous zone in the bag"; "Fifty points for not calling me a ‘dirty little whore’"), but not only are there not all that many women making apps (something that clearly needs to change), but the way we rate what constitutes "good" and "bad" in bed is not easily quantifiable, and varies from woman to woman. The fact that the female orgasm is as difficult to put in a box as a limp erection has obviously led to the existence of the app in the first place. Some men must think they need it, but fellas, believe us when we tell you that you don’t, even if you’re insecurities prove true and your moves genuinely are rubbish. Because, as all the best lays know, really all you have to do is telepathically ask the woman what she wants, and then do it.

How long before the Guardian do a data blog of "the internet's biggest thrusters"? Photo: Getty Images.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Holly Baxter are co-founders and editors of online magazine, The Vagenda.

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How Labour risks becoming a party without a country

Without establishing the role of Labour in modern Britain, the party is unlikely ever to govern again.

“In my time of dying, want nobody to mourn

All I want for you to do is take my body home”

- Blind Willie Johnson

The Conservative Party is preparing itself for a bloody civil war. Conservative MPs will tell anyone who wants to know (Labour MPs and journalists included) that there are 100 Conservative MPs sitting on letters calling for a leadership contest. When? Whenever they want to. This impending war has many reasons: ancient feuds, bad blood, personal spite and enmity, thwarted ambition, and of course, the European Union.

Fundamentally, at the heart of the Tory war over the European Union is the vexed question of ‘What is Britain’s place in the World?’ That this question remains unanswered a quarter of a century after it first decimated the Conservative Party is not a sign that the Party is incapable of answering the question, but that it has no settled view on what the correct answer should be.

The war persists because the truth is that there is no compromise solution. The two competing answers are binary opposites: internationalist or insular nationalist, co-habitation is an impossibility.

The Tories, in any event, are prepared to keep on asking this question, seemingly to the point of destruction. For the most part, Labour has answered this question: Britain will succeed as an outward looking, internationalist state. The equally important question facing the Labour Party is ‘What is the place of the Labour Party in modern Britain?’ Without answering this question, Labour is unlikely to govern ever again and in contrast to the Tories, Labour has so far refused to acknowledge that such a question is being asked of it by the people it was founded to serve. At its heart, this is a question about England and the rapidly changing nature of the United Kingdom.

In the wake of the 2016 elections, the approach that Labour needs to take with regard to the ‘English question’ is more important than ever before. With Scotland out of reach for at least a generation (assuming it remains within the United Kingdom) and with Labour’s share of the vote falling back in Wales in the face of strong challenges from Plaid Cymru and UKIP, Labour will need to rely upon winning vast swathes of England if we are to form a government in 2020.

In a new book published this week, Labour’s Identity Crisis, Tristram Hunt has brought together Labour MPs, activists and parliamentary candidates from the 2015 general election to explore the challenges facing Labour in England and how the party should address these, not purely as an electoral device, but as a matter of principle.

My contribution to the book was inspired by Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti. The track list reads like the score for a musical tragedy based upon the Labour Party from 2010 onwards: In My Time of Dying, Trampled Underfoot, Sick Again, Ten Years Gone. 

Continued Labour introspection is increasingly tiresome for the political commentariat – even boring – and Labour’s Identity Crisis is a genuinely exciting attempt to swinge through this inertia. As well as exploring our most recent failure, the book attempts to chart the course towards the next Labour victory: political cartography at its most urgent.

This collection of essays represents an overdue effort to answer the question that the Party has sought to sidestep for too long.  In the run up to 2020, as the United Kingdom continues to atomise, the Labour Party must have an ambitious, compelling vision for England, or else risks becoming a party without a country.

Jamie Reed is Labour MP for Copeland.