Turning on the Sex Goddess

Naomi Wolf wants women to have better sex lives, and more empowered lives generally. Vagina: A New Biography seeks to light the way.

Wolf began researching this book after she regained her sexual desire, creativity and passion for life — much to her surprise — when her spinal cord was repaired.

I’ll discuss the larger life issues later. For now, let’s look at how her somewhat controversial book might benefit women with low libido, and the partners who love them.  

Something she calls “the Goddess Array” consists of “a set of behaviors that activate the autonomic nervous system in women” and turns them on. She describes these as “the-things-that-women-need-that-men-don’t-need,” quoting sex educator Liz Topp, who coined the obese phrase.

So, women need certain things to spark desire that men don’t. And these behaviors actually have biological effects.

As she explained to the Huffington Post, women need to be relaxed and free from bad stress so that heart rate and respiration can increase, engorging what needs to be engorged and lubricating what needs to be lubricated. These processes are heightened when women lie in their lover’s arms and when they are romanced. In fact, dancing is actually seductive, she says.

On the other hand, these arousing physical processes can be interrupted if her lover snaps at her or flirts with someone else.

So foreplay begins way before bed. But we all know that, right?

True, she says, but what’s new is that science actually backs this up.

Plus, she points out that porn — so prevalent today — leads us away from this knowledge. Porn is a sex educator (a poor one) — even if neither men nor pornographers look at it that way. Men go there to get turned on, but then believe what they see: women see a huge penis, quickly get aroused and climax after a very few minutes of friction. Context doesn’t matter.

Even Masters and Johnson can throw us off. Wolf adds,

We’ve got this model from Masters and Johnson that male and female sexual response is kind of the same — there’s arousal, plateau, climax and resolution — and the Cosmo model is that everyone should be racing to the goal together, trying to get there together. This as a model of sexual response (for women) is not true.

And for women and men who do know better, we too often forget or don’t take the time to nurture the good energy that women need for arousal.

This is especially important in long-term relationships. When love is new, “feel-good” oxytocin levels skyrocket. But then they drop. Women also get turned on by feeling chosen, but after being married awhile a woman may feel less like she’s chosen and more like her partner simply has no other choice but her. Wolf continues:

Once you’re in a relationship, you don’t have to woo her, you don’t have to bring her flowers, you don’t have to take her dancing, you don’t have to tell her she’s beautiful, you just cut to the chase. That is a killer for passion for women in long-term relationships, and it’s not a psychological thing, it’s physiological, and a mind-body connection.

Marta Meana, a UNLV psychology professor, would seem to agree. She says women have a lower sex drive (culturally influenced) and need a bigger jolt to spark their libido. As she told a New York Times reporter,

If I don’t love cake as much as you, my cake better be kick-butt to get me excited to eat it.

Turning on the sex goddess, the gospel according to Naomi Wolf. It may be worth a read.

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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 October 15, 2012, in feminism, gender, psychology, relationships, sex, sexism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. She gets down to the fact that men cannot know how women feel, but maybe if men can learn they can have a happy life.

  2. You have to keep that spark alive. Telling her she’s the most beautiful woman in the world and that no one could ever take her place is a start. Keeping bringing her flowers just because it’s Wednesday. Keep going on spontaneous dates. You both have to work at the relationship in order for it to work. Keep courting her and taking her dancing. She’ll thank you and appreciate you for it and will be happy to reciprocate. A killer of passion is not doing the things you once did to show her how much she means to you. Let her know she’s all you think about.

  3. Matthew Hideki Mason

    I feel that this article is right in the terms that both parties of a couple should be there for each other. To turn someone on can be fun not just sexually but by doing activities like bowling can be foreplay for me because I can barely wait to see if the night can last until the morning eating breakfast after making passionate sex is a wonderful feeling.

  4. I think for most women, the most important aspect of sex is intimacy; feeling emotionally close to your partner or having that emotional connection really helps create a stronger desire for sex. This is why, for women, foreplay starts way before the bed with the man treating his partner well and being open to communication. If you think about it, it can be difficult to separate foreplay from the lifestyle of the couple. A lot of women bring the emotions they feel on a daily basis towards their partners to the act of sex. So if there is a unhealthy relationship where the man mistreats his partner (even if it’s not all the time) it makes the experience less pleasurable. Therefore decreasing the want for it.

  5. I agree that there are many more things that spark desire and arousal in women as opposed to men. It is interesting to read Naomi’s thoughts on women reducing their oxytocin levels when being in a relationship. What I am a little confused about is, Is Naomi suggesting that marriage then is bad for women in that sense?

  6. I like this post. It is very nice.sex is life. sex meaning enjoy. you can enjoy strongly sex.
    thank for admin.

  7. I really like this post and can’t agree more. I’ve tried explaining these things to my boyfriend before but he never got it until I had him read this post. It really is unfair how porn teaches men that women become equally as aroused as men do at the drop of a hat. This leads to allowing the men to believe they don’t need to put much effort into initiating sex and that women will want sex all over the place or in public like men fantasize. I do believe that sex is better when its with someone you really care about and are comfortable with and that’s what helps me to achieve orgasm.

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