Is Male or Female Sexuality Better?
Dunham points out that numerous cultural cues press women to take on non-emotional, non-connected, “empowered” sexuality.
Yet she can’t manage to do it, herself. And she is not sure it’s empowering.
“There’s a biological reason why women feel about sex the way they do and men feel about sex the way they do,” she adds. “It’s not as simple as divesting yourself of your gender roles.”
Evolutionary psychology says women are genetically programmed for monogamy so fathers will stick around and provide resources for their children, while men are promiscuous so that they can widely “spread their seed.”
Modernity seems to breed a monogamous ideal (meaning lifetime marriage after a few years of “sewing your wild oats”) among both women and men, perhaps because these societies are complex and children aren’t raised by the entire community (as they are in small tribes) making single parenthood difficult.
And even while casual, male-stereotypic hookup sex has overtaken college campuses (at least in theory), a recent study of hookup culture found that both men and women prefer close, connected relationships.
Still, study after study shows most women preferring sex in a context of love and connection, while men are more open to casual encounters.
So which is better? Casual or connected?
I’ve asked my students what they think. They see positives and negatives in each approach.
The variety offered in non-connected sex can be fun, and if you really do it “man-style,” guilt-free. There are no ruts! But STDs and unwanted pregnancies are bigger risks. And it’s possible that one partner will end up wanting more, which can create hurt and complications. Emotional connection adds depth and dimension, and many can’t enjoy sex without it.
The problem, my students think, lies in feeling pressured to behave in ways that are inauthentic – which isn’t pleasurable, either!
And is non-emotional, non-connected sex more “empowered”? Or do some just think so because it’s the “male” way in a culture that values masculine over feminine? Or that sees men and “their ways” as more powerful, by definition. Sure, you’re less vulnerable and dependent, but there is great power in relationship.
Likely the “best” and “most empowered” sex is that which is most fulfilling, and which best expresses who you are and what you want, and which is acted out most responsibly.