DO Women Like Sex Less Than Men?

Responses to my post asking why women like sex less than men included:

  • Says who?
  • I think it’s the opposite – I think women like it more
  • I don’t think anyone can know who likes sex better

Or as one man put it, “The overwhelming majority of men and women get their attitudes and desires for sex primarily through the natural, healthy desire to have sex… Women are equal to men and thus capable of every form of behavior that men engage in.”

To which I respond: no and yes.

Women are certainly capable of enjoying sex immensely. As much as men. Given their ability for multiple orgasm, possibly more. In some societies women are highly orgasmic and inclined to engage in sex with great frequency, as with Tahitians and American Indians before contact with Europeans.

But highly orgasmic women in America? Not so much – at least not by comparison. 30-40% suffer sexual dysfunction. That is very different from sex-positive cultures.

Of course women are capable of having great sex. But the extent to which they actually do depends on factors other than just what nature brings them. Repression plays a role, and so do sexual objectification and male dominance (all will be explored later).

Do women like sex less? Consider this research on sexuality in America:

On the orgasm front three-quarters of men say they “always” have an orgasm, but just 30% of women do. One quarter of women don’t usually have orgasms. In the casual sex of hook-ups the rate is lower, especially for women. Sociologist Michael Kimmel (Guyland) surveyed college students on their most recent hookup. Only 44% of the men reported having an orgasm, and only 19% of the women did.

The more orgasmic a person is, the more they report enjoying sex. Not surprisingly, women report liking sex less than men do. A Chicago University study found that men have more interest in sex at all ages. And an ABC News Primetime Live survey found that 83% of men “enjoy sex a great deal,” while only 59% of women do. That same study found that while 70% of men think about sex every day, only 34% of women do (and they do so less often during the day).  

Women also experience weaker sexual drive, compared with men, with more than one quarter of young women feeling weak desire according to the Archives of Internal Medicine. Research at the University of Chicago found that 32% of women (but only 15 -17% of men) have low libidos. Added to difficulties with orgasm, women experience more sexual dysfunction than men. 

Not surprisingly, 40% of men say they would like to have more sex than they do now, but only 28% of women feel the same way.

For more evidence of gender difference in sexual interest that arises in broad patterns of social behavior, see my post: Sex Research: It Doesn’t Fit Me, It Must Be Wrong

I wonder if men ever sit around confiding to friends that sex ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve listened to these kinds of conversations with many groups of women, yet it’s hard to imagine men doing the same thing.

The difference in the male and female experience is due mostly to cultural forces. The difference in the female experience between modern Americans and ancient Tahitians is entirely due to culture.

Yet many people think our society has no negative effects on women’s sexuality.

Maybe that’s why we don’t do anything to create change.

Georgia Platts

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 27, 2010, in feminism, gender, men, race/ethnicity, sex, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. hi dear how are you
    Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.
    thanks

  2. Hi,

    It was a very interesting blog and was not surprised by the out come.

    I want to say one thing, for the men I know they don’t sit around and talk about how it’s not cracking or not enough, even if it is. I remember many things that my ex girl friends would tell me after she hung out with her girls and have “girl talk.” I was surprise at the stories because they talked about everything and sometimes I wish I didn’t hear about it.

  3. Interesting topic because the question is a pretty sure yes.
    Women do enjoy it less then men.
    There are many articles that state that a man thinks about sex every 5 seconds, some say every 3 minutes while women only once every hour or once every 2 to 3 days.
    Either way the male still has those thoughts more often than the female, most likely because women dont have orgasm as much as guys as this blog states, causing them not to look forward to the next time.

  4. Hi. I find your argument very persuasive. I do think men are the same as women but at the same time I do agree and say that men like sex more than women. I’m still a teenager, so this is from what I’ve seen these past few years. All the guys at my school had one thing on their mind, and it was sex. While there are those females who like sex as much as males, I have to agree that Males just like sex more.

  5. I agree with every point you have made. Personally, I have had a hard time with orgasms. I enjoy the act of sex immensely, but when you already have the thought in your head that you are probably not going to achieve an orgasm, the desire to have sex lessens. It is hard to put in so much work, have a great time doing that work, and have the final payoff be just beyond your reach. I also see the lessened sex drive being a cultural issue. Girls have been taught for centuries that good girls don’t… bad girls do. And the girls that do have sex are supposed to be married. For centuries, women who enjoyed sex and were active were again considered whores. Though men and women are more open about their sexual activities and desires, some people, men and women alike, still judge women by the number of partners they have; while for men, that number doesn’t matter. Some believe the higher the number, the more of a man he is.

  6. I think it has everything to do with the common sexual technique. What is the most common form of sex? My guess is penile/vaginal intercourse. Men get off on that style easier than women. What best stimulates a woman? In my experience it’s clitoral stimulation–something that isn’t a part of penile-vaginal sex alone. So of course men enjoy sex more, and orgasm more often, because they are doing the act in a way specifically tailored to THEM. I would be willing to bet those women who did like sex more and orgasmed every time had some sort of clitoral sex. . .

    • Sure, technique is an important part of it.

      But if you do cross-cultural studies, you find that women in sex-positive cultures are much more orgasmic than Western women who are sexually repressed, often sexually violated — which can dampen interest, and sexually objectified, which as I’ve discussed, and will discuss more, can dampen women’s sexuality. For just one example see: “Sex Objects Who Don’t Enjoy Sex” http://broadblogs.com/2011/03/02/sex-objects-who-don%e2%80%99t-enjoy-sex/

      • Sure, I think repression also plays a part on the technique itself. Men brought up to view female genitalia as “disgusting” are certainly less likely to engage in oral sex. Women who are in sex-positive cultures are probably more communicative about the types of sexual behaviors that are most pleasing for them. These factors don’t, however, show that women are somehow less capable of desiring, enjoying, and climaxing from sex than men as your post suggests. If people are culturally trained to “do” sex in a certain way–a way in which women get less enjoyment I don’t think it speaks for differences between men and women at all. The same 70% (?) of women who don’t orgasm during every sexual encounter, just might cum if the sex itself involved clitoral pleasure. But maybe we are both saying the same thing here. . .

      • I agree that women are no less capable of enjoying sexuality. It’s all the factors I note above that create problems. And you make an interesting and important addition with your comment. If your reading of my post suggests that women are less capable of climax/enjoying sex, I’ll need to rewrite it. That’s not my point. Looking at myself, I was way more interested in sexuality as a preteen than I was in my 20s. I’m very personally aware of the effects of all the factors I’ve described above. A lot of orgasm for women is in their heads. See post: Orgasm: “It’s All in the Mind” http://broadblogs.com/2010/12/06/orgasm-it%e2%80%99s-all-in-the-mind/

      • Ok. I added some text to clarify that I think women are no less capable of enjoying sex than men, but that cultural forces negatively affect women’s sexuality in the modern Western world.

  7. Thanks for adding to your post. I now agree completely :-)

  8. Part of it is probably a squeamishness about sex, and the idea that sex is a chore that women have to do to please men. That definitely is changing, though, there’s more literature about how to have good sex aimed at women than ever.

  9. this is a very confusing topic to me. I enjoy sexuality very much as a man and am very disheartened by the seemingly in-your-face face that women don’t enjoy sex as much as we men do. To me sex is a total experience (heart, soul, mind and body) and it seems that if women don’t enjoy this important part of healthy relationships, then they aren’t as attracted to men in all those ways. I don’t know, it would be nice to actually feel very attactive to the opposite sex. The whole thing makes me very sad, i dunno.
    From a more intellectual approach, since statistics report that women are many times more likely to be sexually abused, do you think that could play a big part in the off balance of sexual desires?

    • Sexism is behind women typically enjoying sex less than men. For a number of reasons, including the one you cite.

      See this post: Sexual Desire & Sexism http://broadblogs.com/2012/05/07/sexual-desire-sexism/

      I write about this to encourage a healthier and more egalitarian society because sexism harms both men and women.

      Your question and the way you discuss it reminds me that I need to write more about the spiritual part of sexuality, which may help women with a lot of the distracting issues I cite in the post above.

      Thanks.

  10. I think we both enjoy sex the same but women tend to think of sex as a tool. This could be, not to have it to keep the guy interested or to have it to keep the guy around. In my opinion both of this have nothing to do with enjoyment but control. Man on the other hand want to have sex because of a challenge and ego, again both wrong. In my experience I learn to enjoy sex by learning what my needs are, emotionally and physically. As a woman I believe that I need to chose the partner who is going to take care of my physical needs and if he doesn’t then he emotional part of me does not respond. In general I would say that mature women enjoy sex more than man because we are more selective and don’t care of prejudgement from any one. I don’t know if I am the exception to the rule but I am in control of my sexual life.

    • Some women enjoy sex more than some men. You may be high on the continuum of sexual enjoyment. But overall women report enjoying it less than men report they do. And that’s probably because of sexism. And women in our culture really seem to enjoy sex less than women from sex positive/feminist cultures, where women are easily and multiply orgasmic.

      Take a look at this post on why women tend to enjoy sex less:

      Sexual Desire & Sexism

      http://broadblogs.com/2012/05/07/sexual-desire-sexism/

  11. Hi!
    So I think woman do indeed enjoy sex less then men do. Men are always wanting to have sex and I think woman would to if they had great expiernces. Personally myself I like sex and think it’s great but sometimes I’m just not in the mood for it while my boyfriend thinks differently. But I think all this has to do with the orgasms. I asked all my friends about thier orgasm experiences and they could not really answer my question because they have never really had one. I think it’s because woman are usually to busy satisfying the men and the woman don’t get satisfaction. So maybe if the men gave better orgasms maybe woman would enjoy sex more?

    • I’m sure that would help. But sometimes women are unconsciously repressed and their bodies won’t respond regardless of what he does. And it seems to be a widespread problem because women in our culture have much more problems enjoying sex then women in sex-positive cultures.

      We need to change the culture to value women’s sexuality.

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