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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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.