Category Archives: sex
A pill that boosts female desire might work too well?
Scientists developing Lybrido (due in 2016) fear the pill may create orgasm-hungry, sex-craved nymphomaniacs who cheat on their husbands and splinter society.
Or at least they are afraid the FDA might reject the drug for that reason. Andrew Goldstein, who’s conducting the research says, “There’s a bias against — a fear of creating the sexually aggressive woman.”
The female libido has been oppressed and repressed for millennia by means of slut-shaming, chastity belts, genital mutilation (in which the clitoris, along with the inner and outer labia are removed), honor killings (killing daughters who may have been unchaperoned, had sex outside marriage, been raped or chosen their own husbands), and more. Even vibrators have been outlawed!
Just jealous of our multiple O’s?
A desire to feel powerful and in control by controlling women’s bodies?
Or maybe men just don’t want to support kids who aren’t their own, as evolutionary psych claims? (So why do so many of these same dudes want to keep women out of the workforce and unable to support children, themselves?)
If the FDA worries that women – and their partners – will have too much fun and freedom, well, that’s just stupid.
But if they’re worried about cheating and social instability then “female Viagra” might actually help.
First, a big reason men seek divorce is a partner’s low sex drive (which likely stems from repression). So if women desired sex more, there’d be less divorce from that cause.
Meanwhile, even as repression depresses a woman’s natural desire and ability to enjoy pure sexual sensation, we also fetishize women’s bodies and not men’s. All this leads to a convoluted way of getting aroused that could encourage cheating:
Many women get turned on by sensing a man’s lust for her, and from feeling chosen because she’s so attractive. She kind of makes love to herself, vicariously through his eyes… his desire for her. But if she’s been with one man for a long time she may sense less lust as he grows used to her. And if it’s a committed relationship, she may feel like he simply has no choice but her. That’s no turn-on. And then there’s the “everydayness” of seeing the same guy all the time, morning and night. She cherishes him, she’s bonded to him, but the sexual magic is gone. UNLV psych professor, Marta Meana, says men don’t seem to experience this problem so much because they have a stronger sex drive – one that is less repressed.
If a woman had another option – a pill that boosts desire – she would feel less need for a series of new, lustful guys to make her feel desired and chosen, and the “everydayness” wouldn’t be the same problem.
The truth is, most women stay true to their partners even when their sexual desire for them drops. But for those who are bored and stay, or for those who might otherwise stray to recapture that spark, this little pill could boost monogamous relationships.
And should a woman’s sex drive grow so strong that it wears her husband out, well, there are vibrators.
We can debate whether monogamy is preferable or not, but as New York Times writer, Daniel Bergner put it,
Perhaps the fantasy that so many of us harbor, consciously or not, in the early days of our relationships, that we have found a soul mate who will offer us both security and passion, till death do us part, will soon be available with the aid of a pill.
I’d rather women enjoy sex because our culture stopped repressing their desire, but if a pill works in the interim, that’s a-okay by me. So long as she is empowered in having this option, and not pressured by her partners or society.
Popular Posts on BroadBlogs
Surprises in Indiana University Sex Survey
Sexual Desire & Sexism
Vibrators and Women’s Sexuality: Out of the Closet?
College students were surveyed on over 100 different behaviors, each of which are thought to be either feminine or masculine. Half the students were also hooked up to a polygraph machine (which didn’t work, but they thought it did).
Many men said they liked to cook, write poetry and pet kittens. A number of women had changed a tire or driven 90 mph. Lie detector or not, the answers were the same. People told the truth about behavior that didn’t fit gender norms.
Until it came to sex. Then, men exaggerated the number of partners they’d had, while women subtracted.
Researchers aren’t sure why.
I can speculate.
First, we have a long history of men repressing women’s sexuality so that men will know who daddy is. Among other things, “impure” women have been shamed and shunned. Evolutionary psychologists say men don’t want to squander resources on kids who aren’t their own. I have some other ideas on “why,” which I’ll discuss later. Regardless, today in the western world women still face plenty of slut-shaming.
Add to that, pressures on young men to prove manhood through sexual prowess with women.
For young men — especially those in fraternities and sports teams — having lots of sex with lots of women is a huge measuring stick. Men aren’t measured so much by whether they might like to pet a kitten or write poetry. And neither of these things are obsessed over and ritualized.
But men often use sex to see who’s on top. It’s a major game. There is even a “how to” book on nailing women that is entitled, The Game. In this, men compete by conquering women — meaning, who can get more women to “submit” to having sex with him? As they succeed they “score.” Men are congratulated and high-fived all around. They earn the proverbial (or literal) notch on the belt, or headboard.
This game may explain why it’s so important for women to bring their numbers down. Even as women increasingly gain equality in sexual behavior, there is not yet an even playing field. Men discussing “the game” of hookup culture say that women lose a bit of status when they “give it up.”
Between this game culture and a long and strong history of keeping women chaste so that men know who dad is, sexually adventurous women have routinely been demeaned as “easy,” or worse: slut, whore, ho’, tramp, skank, nympho, hussy… the list goes on. What positive word labels a woman who enjoys having sex with lots of men? Even here, today, men may still take the walk of fame as women take the walk of shame after a casual romp.
In a society that has not quite overcome shaming and faming it is no surprise that women and men cling to gender expectations that have such big effects.
In one study — consistent with many others — women claimed they’d had about six partners while men said they’d had about 12. So mathematicians tried to figure out how that could work.
Let’s see… prostitutes don’t do surveys and some guys may be having sex outside the US.
But the math still won’t work.
And really, how can men be polygamous if women are monogamous?
Other researchers hooked people up to a lie detector and asked the same question. The polygraph didn’t work but respondents thought it did. Result: both men and women claimed four partners.
A new study of college students also found that men exaggerate and women minimize. Compared with participants who were hooked up to (non-working) lie detectors, men typically added one fake partner and women subtracted a real one.
And, women had more partners than men, among the polygraph group. So are women more polygamous? (Perhaps women were more likely to be having sex with older men while men were less likely to be having sex with younger women?)
One of the study researchers suggested we should question the veracity of sex research, given people’s tendency to lie about their sex lives — more so than about other things, according to “lie detection.”
Important, because we often judge ourselves in light of survey findings.
Maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about fitting in with how we’re “supposed to be,” and focus instead on what most of us say we want from sex: pleasure and connection.
But how do pregnancy fears heighten romance?
Back when birth control was illegal, men were told to “sleep on the roof” if they didn’t want more kids.
Yeah, that really helps romance.
Sleeping on the roof didn’t work for many couples. And then too many women died from self-induced abortions because they couldn’t afford more kids.
I suppose being dead enhances romance, too.
Meanwhile, despite a drop in hormone levels, some women are more interested in sex after menopause — because they have fewer children underfoot and fewer worries over pregnancy.
Is Polanski mourning a lack of romance? Or a lack of power over women?
Some abusive men destroy their lovers’ contraception, hoping to make their partners dependent — and stuck with them. (How romantic.)
As it happens, Polanski is an abuser. Years ago he was accused of child sex abuse of a 13-year-old girl. Facing imprisonment, he fled to France.
Of course, it would have been more romantic had the girl gotten pregnant.
It’s interesting that Polanski would add, “Trying to level the genders is purely idiotic.”
If by “masculine” Polanski means “empowered,” then by all means, I do hope the pill has made women more masculine.
This man’s comments wouldn’t matter except that some conservatives are trying to make contraception illegal and some are using these sorts of arguments to dissuade women from using birth control: you wouldn’t want to be “masculine” or lose romance! Don’t know how persuasive they will be. But some in the W. Bush Administration and some states have worked or been working to end contraception as we know it.
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Sex Objects Who Don’t Enjoy Sex
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Guys, Girls Swap Roles at a Bar
Everyone’s happier when touching, kissing, hugging, and sex fill our lives. Surprisingly, hugging and kissing are more important to men’s happiness. Men who snuggled were three times happier than non-snuggling husbands. So much for the stereotype that men don’t cuddle.
Psychologist, Aline Zoldbrod, talks of the importance of touch.
Touch from a person you love and trust is a major emotional resource and a way that people can regulate their emotions when they are upset. Couples who use touch to comfort, to compliment, and yes, to seduce and arouse, are bound to be happier.
Surprisingly, cuddling has less impact on women’s contentment, perhaps because culturally, women have a greater range of emotional outlets than men.
Instead, sexual satisfaction had a bigger impact on women’s happiness, and typically, the sex got better the longer a couple stayed together. Yet, as TIME put it, “a man’s happiness rose 17% with each additional point he rated the importance of his partner’s orgasm.” Caring husband, happy wife? Happy wife, happy husband?
Why would sex so often get better for women over time? Women often talk of the importance of love and connection to sexual enjoyment. With time, the couple can become deeply bonded. But they can also become more skilled. Safety and relaxation are important to a woman’s orgasm and long-term relationships can enhance both. Finally, over time the messages of a sex-negative culture for women can slip away in the security of marriage, where all agree that sex is virtuous.
Co-author and clinical sexologist, Michael Sand, said the study is important in showing that long-term relationships can be filled with “healthy, vibrant sexuality.”
In another reversal of stereotype, men were happier, overall, in their relationships
than women. Maybe it’s not so surprising. In modern marriages, men still have more
power and more say. Women are more likely to nurture and care for their spouses.
But both men and women felt greater relationship satisfaction the longer they stayed together. Are happier couples simply more likely to stay together? Or do the deep bonds that form over long-term relationships create the contentment? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.
Interesting, all. And hopeful.
These findings are based on a survey from the Kinsey Institute of 1,009 heterosexual couples from five countries who were middle-aged or older, and in long-term relationships.
Check out the Diet Coke ad above.
Do you react like these women?
- Aaaah, awesome
- I was like :O when i saw this commercial
- ooh la la! like like like, all I need, no sugar, no calories!
And Coke’s personal favorite:
- Hot damn I need a Coke.
Or like these men?
- Bad commercial, kinda degrading for women…
- kinda sexist, no? Imagine a group of guys rolling the coke can to a hot girl, that then gets splattered with coke on her top and takes it off while they stare… yeah … id wanna see that commercial!
- I feel very violated as a man to be viewed as a slave laboring, sex toy meant for the amusement of females. It’s almost to hard to bear watching this demonstrable evidence of female oppression in our society. I don’t think women would be laughing if this video was the contrary. Women are nothing but misandristic swines. We have to unite my brothers and break this new established misandry system. Wahh
Oh no, do I have to start competing with guys who look like THAT?! (We ladies can relate having had to compete with Brooklyn Decker-types for years.)
I don’t like how he’s demeaned before he’s ogled. (On being demeaned — or being demeaned and ogled — the ladies can relate and commiserate.)
An alternative translation:
Women aren’t the only ones who are objectified! And women like to objectify, too, so quit yer whining!
If so, these guys think this ad is equivalent to what women are pelted with every day. It’s not.
First, sexiness is a part of the human experience. So if either men or women are portrayed as sexy some of the time, no big deal. Our sexuality is a part of our humanity.
The problem comes, in part, from bombardment by an impossible beauty ideal, leaving plenty of women feeling bad about themselves. Guys increasingly face this problem, but not at nearly the same level.
Also, women are almost ALWAYS the sexy ones, and that is the PRIMARY way they are portrayed. The imbalance communicates that women exist to sexually please men. That’s their main purpose, and without reciprocation.
And then women are hurt by men who learn — however unconsciously – to think of women as sexual-pleasure objects. So women may be treated as things and not people. Some men will use and abuse them. Their lovers may only care about their own pleasure and not make emotional connection. Their lovers may treat them like interchangeable objects. They may rudely ogle others while ignoring their partner. Taken to extreme, some men kidnap women for sex slavery, or go to prostitutes who have been kidnapped and enslaved.
Because if women are just objects, no feelings to worry over.
If women and men were BOTH portrayed in multidimensional ways, with one part being “sexy” — and outside of impossible body ideals (variety is the spice of life!) then “sexy” images needn’t be a problem for either gender.
What is virginity? Might seem obvious, but there in no clear answer.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says sex is “an act performed with another for sexual gratification.” Sounds pretty broad, yet a lot of us think it’s penis-to-vagina penetration that ends virginity.
What about gays and lesbians? What about young women and men who take virginity oaths but do oral and anal? What if a woman’s one and only lover were a man with E.D.? (That can happen!)
I spent about a week (at Harvard’s medical school library) looking through everything I could – medical dictionaries, encyclopedias, anatomies – trying to find some sort of diagnostic standard for virginity… I am not finding anything close to a medical definition for virginity.
Feminist author and blogger, Jessica Valenti, points all this out in her book, The Virginity Myth. And when she asked people to define “sex” she got no consistent answer. Indeed, America once had a great debate over whether Bill Clinton “had sex” with “that woman, Monica Lewinsky.” He said oral didn’t count. Others said it did.
Odd that there’s no clear meaning when we’ve talked of virgins since ancient times, when so many keep promoting it, and when virginity becomes a synonym for girls who are “good,” as in, “She’s a good girl.”
Even if she is both mean and virginal, she’s a good girl, Valenti points out.
But if she’s kind and non-virginal, she may be punished for her supposed badness — even when she has no control.
In some parts of the world girls and women are murdered in honor killings because they were raped or because they did not bleed on the marriage bed — and hymens may be broken from things that don’t even resemble sex, like exercise.
Even when girls aren’t being killed they may feel shamed for their lost virginity. Elizabeth Smart has explained that she “felt so dirty and so filthy” when her captor raped her that she understands why someone wouldn’t run away “because of that alone.”
As a young girl one of Elizabeth’s teachers had compared sex to chewing gum:
I thought, “Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.” And that’s how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value… Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.
And then there are sexually naive but slut-shamed 11-year-olds who have no idea what “ate me out” means even as they’re accused of having been thusly eaten.
So women are shamed and killed and feel so dirty that there’s no point in escaping a ruthless captor – all because of virginity, or the lack thereof — even when “virginity” is unclear!
Virginity: a myth that can kill and cripple, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
One of my students wrote this and gave permission to post.
Miss Universe can pose for Playboy, but she’d better not have sex with an actual playboy.
Sexual girls may be “sluts” and “ho’s” but all girls are bombarded by sexy-women images — that tell them what they’re supposed to look like. Combined with a high school hierarchy based on looks, the message gets thru that a woman’s worth rests largely upon her ability to attract.
Some seek confirmation that they are, indeed sexy, and therefore, “worthy” by drawing the male gaze.
Walking down the street a young woman meets male approval. Or, she may try sexting. All for his pleasure and her self-esteem.
Some have sex with men, hoping to feel beautiful. But a young woman who tries that is back to being a bad girl because now she’s sexual. Except that she’s not. She’s being sexy for someone else’s pleasure — a sex object who doesn’t enjoy sex – even as she enjoys looking good.
Kerry Cohen, psychotherapist and author of Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity says,
The problem is not necessarily that girls are victims of predatory males. It’s that they are victims of very narrow definitions of sexual desirability. And in the course of confirming their desirability – and hence their worthiness – they end up completely removed from their own sexuality and experience of sexual desire.
So how can young women get in touch with their sexuality on their own terms? Dr. Cohen has some suggestions:
1. Talk about Desire. When girls ask parents how they will know they are ready to have sex, desire rarely comes up:
We tell them that sex will get in the way of their happiness and growth. We tell them they must be in love. We tell them that good sex happens only when you are in love… (We must acknowledge) that girls have sexual desire, and everything can change.
2. Talk about Outercourse. Think second and third base, she says, or phone sex, so that young women can explore and test intimacy and communicate with their partners. Plus, women get more orgasms through outercourse than intercourse, anyway.
3. Talk about Masturbation. Women need to get in touch with their own bodily pleasure. It’s hard to know what you like, or communicate what you like, unless you get know your body and how it responds.
4. Talk about Emotions. Sex and sexual feelings are too often removed from emotions in our society, says Cohen, even though they are entwined. Young people need to think about various types of sexual acts and whether they are interested in them, or even prepared for them.
It’s about time more women enjoyed sexual pleasure instead of just being sexy for someone else’s.
At age eleven Emily Lindin was declared a slut and “harassed incessantly at school, after school, and online,” she says.
A diary entry:
Aaron said he had heard that Zach “ate me out.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I said it wasn’t true, just to be on the safe side.
Fifteen years later she recalls:
I have a very painful memory of watching an instant message window pop up from an account called DieEmilyLindin and reading the message: “Why haven’t you killed yourself yet, you stupid slut?”
I’ve been thinking about this amidst an onslaught of tragedies like these:
- Fifteen-year-old Felicia Garcia of Stanton Island had sex with four football players, which was recorded and shared around her school. Two players began tormenting her and others joined in. Felicia jumped in front of a Staten Island train.
- Four boys assaulted seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons of Nova Scotia, labeled her a “slut” and shared a photo online. Then, the whole school started harassing her. Rehtaeh hung herself.
- Fourteen-year-old Samantha Kelly also hung herself, unable to withstand the taunting and harassment that followed a police report of her rape.
I’ve often wished that an “It Gets Better” project could help girls like them make it through and go on to live fulfilling lives.
Others’ opinions can have a big impact on how we see ourselves. Our personal identities can seem merely “subjective,” but when many others agree that we are “X” — for good or for ill — it can seem “objective.”
Still, each of us has more knowledge about ourselves than anyone else. And we can consider the motives behind the labeling. Kids who bully are trying to raise themselves up by putting others down. If they really thought they were so great, they wouldn’t have to make so much effort.
Luckily, it does get better because people grow up, mature and become more secure.
And, the ex-bullied may become stronger, more empathetic and deepened.
In the meantime, maybe Emily’s blog will help others to know that they’ve got support… and that it gets better.
What’s the appeal?
The best-known guess comes from Katie Roiphe who believes women crave submission in the bedroom as relief from their newfound burden of equality, power and free will, as though they just can’t handle it:
In “Girls,” Lena Dunham’s character finds herself for a moment lying on a gynecologist’s table perversely fantasizing about having AIDS because it would free her from ambition, from responsibility, from the daunting need to make something of her life… which raises the question: is there something exhausting about the relentless responsibility of a contemporary woman’s life… about all that strength and independence and desire and going out into the world?
Roiphe’s theory has been thoroughly panned. After all, plenty of powerful men like a little dominatrix sex play to gain relief from their relentless responsibilities, too. So some men and some women may want both power and a break from it.
They came to see me as a brief escape when no one was looking at them for direction or leadership. The time with me is when they were told what to do, what to feel and how to act … and all the weight of their careers, families, lives, is lifted from them for a cherished few hours.
Lena Dunham’s hard-driven “Girls” character also seems to want both power and relief.
On the other hand, dominatrices also talk of clients who fetishize their disempowerment, whether it comes from a history of child abuse, racism or poverty. That goes directly against Roiphe’s theory. There are plenty of powerless women out there who could be doing that, too.
Regardless, Tracy Clark-Flory, over at Salon points out that this fetish needn’t mean a woman wants to be disempowered in real life. Surely, a black man who eroticizes racism doesn’t want a return to the pre-Civil Rights era. What we want in fantasy is not necessarily what we crave in the real world.
As a child, I got told off for hitting a man in the crotch with my stuffed penguin and now I love hurting balls. Go figure.
Humans are complex and varied, but whether submission fantasies are motivated by relief from power or from fetishized disempowerment or from some other source, it is Anastasia who is disempowered here, not the reader.
Next time I’ll look at how socialization may spark the allure of Fifty Shades of Grey. Later, I’ll have thoughts on what to make of it all.