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Rush’s War on Women is No Fluke

Women’s right to contraception has been challenged by Catholic Bishops and members of Congress who voted on a “Blunt Amendment” allowing employers to deny healthcare, like contraception, that they deem immoral. (The amendment was defeated in the U.S. Senate by a mere three votes!)

When Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke told Congress that contraception should be covered by insurance, Rush Limbaugh called her a whore:

What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex… she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope.

If Rush is so vexed at supporting other people’s sex lives, why doesn’t he tackle insurance-covered Viagra too?

By attacking Ms. Fluke as a slut, Limbaugh reveals that he – and other right-wingers — are not concerned with shielding Catholic Bishops’ conscience. No. They seek to control women’s sexuality.

But if Rush can’t limit it, at least he wants to watch (another sort of control). Even as he claims to uphold “conservative values,” he rants:

If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.

Since when were “traditional family values” pro-porn?

Rush is all about silencing women: Be afraid of slut-shaming. Be very afraid!

Men can speak out. And Viagra-infused men can enjoy sexuality. But women must not.

Bishops, and employers more generally, must be free to follow their conscience. But women must follow the conscience of Bishops and their employers.

Conservatives claim to guard individual freedom.

Apparently, women aren’t actual people. They don’t count.

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Why Do Right-Wingers Hate Sex?

Why do right-wingers hate sex? And why don’t they want the rest of us to get any? Okay, not all of them. Newt Gingrich, for instance, seems to be a fan. But what he likes isn’t something he’d necessarily want anyone else to do.

Rick Santorum is the reigning sex-hating champ – unless it leads to procreation, of course. He once warned that Satan was using sensuality to attack America and he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision to allow birth control. As columnist Maureen Dowd explains,

(Santorum) believes that America’s soul wounds include men and women having sex for reasons other than procreation, people involved in same-sex relationships, women using contraception… (He feels) contraception is “not O.K. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Actually, those who lack contraception but don’t want pregnancy could still do anal and oral. Or, men could simply ejaculate on woman’s faces. So a lack of contraception may only encourage sodomy and other “perversities.”

And then there’s Santorum spokesperson, Foster Friess, who insists:

Back in my day, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees.

Or, conservative columnist Ross Douthat helpfully explains, “Monogamy, not chemicals or latex, is the main line of defense against unwanted pregnancies.”

So if a married couple only want two kids, how often should they have sex sans chemicals or latex?

Or how about this guy who responded to a post I wrote saying women should be able to follow their conscience on birth control, and not be bullied by Catholic Bishops:

Where’s the discussion of men’s responsibility to do what they can to control their own passions? Are men just dogs who cannot control themselves?

And does all this repression make the right-wing sex drive reemerge in creepy ways? One bill sought to force women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasounds via vaginal probe. Democratic Delegate Lionell Spruill says this is tantamount to rape: inserting objects into vaginas without consent. Women’s advocates say the procedure is meant to shame women, which is similar to a motive of rapists: degrade the victim.

But why so anti-sex?

Are these just church-going folk who’ve been warned against sexuality their whole lives?

Some worry uncontrolled passions will harm the social fabric: children bearing children… unwanted babies. But that’s what contraception is for. As conservative columnist David Brooks admits, despite more sexually liberal attitudes, teen pregnancy rates are down, abortion is down, and crime is down. “There are problems with the social fabric,” he says, “but they no longer have to do with the sexual revolution.”

Others think right-wingers simply cling to clarity and order, and crave control (a common bent among extreme conservatives). And indeed, some may feel a sense of power in controlling women’s bodies. They may gain a sense of control by reigning in the flesh and wild sexuality of themselves and others. And, they can gain a sense of clarity and structure by seeing women and men as different, each in their separate spheres with men on top and women below, barefoot, pregnant, and obeying men.

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Women’s Sexuality in Islam

By Dania Jafar

Islam represses women’s sexuality, right? Think again.

We all see Muslim women draped in head-to-toe burqas, or read about 10-year-olds being married off to 50-year-old men, or cringe at women being stoned for adultery or knifed to death by family members in “honor killings” for such crimes as fornication or being with a man without a chaperone – or for being raped. (The stain of sexual impurity must be removed from the family, it is thought.) In some parts of North Africa and the Middle East women’s genitals are ritually cut or removed in the name of Islam.

In such a world, whose sexuality wouldn’t be repressed?

But nothing you just read has anything to do with Islam. All of the above are cultural practices that are not approved in the Quran.

Unfortunately, a lack of understanding has created mistaken beliefs about women and sexuality in Islam, says scholar and feminist Pınar İlkkaracan. And the confusion exists among Muslim and non-Muslim, alike. As she explains (paraphrased):

The classical figh texts of early Islam’s legal jurisprudence kept with their patriarchal societies and ignored the gender equality of the Quran. Today, many on the religious right claim that customary practices that subjugate women are Islamic, and use them to control women and their sexuality. This has led to an incorrect portrayal of scripture both in Muslim societies and in the West.

What does the Quran say? Women have the right to consent to marriage. But ten-year-old girls are not old enough to understand and give consent, so they should not be given to older men. Holy Scripture says that adulterers (male and female) should be lashed, not stoned. But there must be four witnesses, otherwise a woman’s word must be accepted. And genital cutting was practiced long before Islam arose. There’s nothing about it in the Quran.

Even veiling is largely misunderstood. The scripture declares, “Say to the believing women that they guard their private parts, and reveal not their outward adornment and let them cast their veils over their bosoms (24:30-31).”

This scripture simply advises modesty. But what is considered modest varies from place to place. That is cultural. There is nothing in the Quran about full body covering. Or even about veiling your hair.

And covering can be viewed as a good thing with women seen as precious gems, shielded from the unpleasant stares of strangers. Covering can also be experienced as a positive affirmation of devotion to God.

Additionally, Islam stresses the equal status of a man and woman and by no means deems one less than the other. The attitude of the Quran and Muslim scholars bear witness to “the fact that woman is, at least, as vital to life as man himself, and that she is not inferior to him nor is she one of the lower species,” according to Hammuda Abdul-Ati, PH.D. This is also demonstrated in the first word of the Quran, “Iqra,” which commands all humans to search for, and equip themselves with knowledge. God doesn’t differentiate between man and woman and tells us that both are of equal importance.

In contradiction to popular belief, Islam takes a positive approach to women’s sexuality. It affirms their sexual desire and right to its fulfillment in a responsible way, after marriage.

Consider these quotes from the great mufti ‘Sheikh Ahmad Kutty’:

Now coming to mutual obligations of spouses, it is lucidly and beautifully expressed in the following verses: And cohabit with them on terms of utmost decency and fairness (An-Nisa’ 4: 19); And they (women) have rights similar to those of men in fairness (Al-Baqarah 2: 228).

According to the Qur’an, the purpose of marriage is to attain sukun (tranquility and peace; see for instance verses 30:21; 7:189), which can never be achieved through impulsive sexual fulfillment unless it is accompanied by mutual love, affection, caring, and sharing, which are all part and parcel of a fulfilling and productive marriage relationship.

In Islam, man and woman in general, as well as husband and wife in particular, are equal partners; just as a husband has needs to which a wife is expected to be responsive, a wife also has needs to which a husband should be responsive. To be successful, marriage must be based on mutual reciprocity and consensual relationship.

Yes, Islam sees women’s sexuality as beautiful, natural, and fulfilling.

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Orgasm: It’s All in the Mind

Thirty to forty percent of women have trouble reaching orgasm, thanks to a culture that represses women’s sexuality.

Others can climax via thought alone.

What we’ve learned from the mind-only technique could help women experiencing sexual difficulty.

Using brain scans, Dr. Barry Komisaruk found that some women can climax from “a combination of breathing exercises and fantasy, while others use their imagination and pelvic floor exercises.” He explained, “Some imagined erotic scenarios, but others imagined very romantic scenes such as a lover whispering to them. Others pictured more abstract sensual experiences, such as walking along a beach or imagining waves of energy moving through their body.

“There’s been a lot of focus on the body and our physical responses,” Komisaruk continued, “but for many people, and women in particular, the mind plays an even more important role.”

Physical stimulation seems to be more vital for men than for women, who require the right ambience, mood and relaxation.

As women move toward orgasm the parts of the brain responsible for fear, anxiety and emotion relax and lower in activity. (Men’s emotional centers also deactivate, but less intensely.) At orgasm the emotion centers effectively close down and women move into an almost trance-like state.

That emotion shuts down at the critical point is interesting, since so many women say they need to feel emotionally connected to enjoy sex. Contradictory? Maybe not. Sex therapist Paula Hall points out that “women in particular need to feel relaxed and safe in order to let go and enjoy sex fully,” and feeling emotionally connected and safe might get them there.

Relaxation is helpful for both men and women. Perhaps that is why orgasm comes more easily when they keep their socks on. In experiments, cold feet kept orgasm rate down to 50 percent. Add socks, and the rate went to 80 percent. Cold is not relaxing.

All of this resonates with techniques suggested by sex therapist, Lonnie Barbach. In one recommendation, she tells non-orgasmic women to touch themselves just to discover how their bodies feel, but making sure not to come to orgasm.

Two things happen here. Unworried about meeting a goal, stress is minimized. And as bodily sensation becomes the focus the women cease to be distracted by other things, including worries about coming.

Which suggests some advice to men: If you constantly ask a woman if she’s coming, do you really think she will? Not a good technique for avoiding anxiety.

Jill Morrison discovered her ability the for mind-only climax one day as she lay with her husband before making love. “He wasn’t even touching me, but I felt very relaxed and I found my mind slipping into a wonderful and relaxed sexual ‘zone’ where I could see myself lying in a sexually abandoned position, naked, having let go of all the stresses in my normal life,” she related. “To my absolute amazement, I had an orgasm there and then, without any kind of stimulation beyond my mental concentration. 

“In my view,” she says, “sex for women is 90 percent in the mind. It’s about concentrating purely on the physical pleasure and removing myself from all the complications of relationships. It’s very liberating!” She adds, “The more you do it, the better you become.”

Interesting advice.

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Do Women Like Sex Less Than Men?

9-Treatments-for-Sexual-Dysfunction-in-Women_full_article_verticalResponses 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. Given their capacity for multiple orgasm, perhaps more. In some societies women are highly orgasmic and take pleasure in engaging in sex with great frequency, as did Tahitian and American Indian women before contact with Europeans.

But highly orgasmic American women? Not so much. Forty-three percent suffer from sexual dysfunction.

While the experience of orgasm is similar for women and men, women are less likely to have one. Sociologist Michael Kimmel surveyed college students on their most recent hookup (where actual sex may or may not have occurred). Only 44% of the men reported having an orgasm. Bad enough. But only 19% of the women did.

Expanding beyond hookups, an Indiana University survey found that 91% of men had an orgasm the last time they had sex but only 64% of women did. And only 58% of women in their 20s had an orgasm in their last encounter.

And orgasm seems to correlate with sexual enjoyment with 66% of women saying they enjoyed sex “extremely” or “quite a bit” while 83% of men did.

Modern American women also have a weaker sex drive, compared with men, with more than one quarter of young women feeling only 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.

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.

Men don’t want to believe that women are less likely than them to enjoy sex. And women feel insulted if anyone suggests as much.

As I said, women are certainly 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 as women get labeled sluts and ho’s for indulging. Sexual objectification can leave women more focused on how they look than how they feel. And male dominance takes a toll when it takes the form of rape, incest and child sexual abuse. I’ll explore all this is greater depth in future posts.

Women and men must both deal with a prudish society. But women must also contend with sexism. Still, many think our society has no negative effect. Maybe that’s why we don’t do anything to create change.

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Women Want Emotionally Connected Sex. Why?

105464-103886Women want emotionally connected sex.

Not all women, all the time, but University of Texas psychologists, Cindy Meston and David Buss interviewed over 1,000 women around the world for their book, Why Women Have Sex, and what did they find? Both women and men have sex because they are physically attracted, for pleasure, because they are in love, or just because they’re horny… the list goes on. But most women want emotionally bonded sex.

Why?

Conventional wisdom looks to evolutionary psychology which says that women are genetically driven to be more monogamous so that fathers will stick around and provide resources, helping children to survive. So perhaps women pass up casual sex with whomever in favor of the connected sex that would provide those good-for-baby resources.

Yet not all women are terribly monogamous. And in some cultures, none are. Women who belong to tightly-knit, interdependent tribal groups often have sex with many men, often outside their marriages or partnerships. In these places the entire tribe raises children so paternity is unimportant and women’s sexuality is not guarded. These sex-positive cultures produce women who are highly orgasmic and who greatly enjoy sex.

But when these societies are destroyed (as with the Cherokee and Iroquois) immersion into a sex-negative culture (for women) can quickly turn their sexuality around.

Today in the U.S. a sexually interested and active woman may be called a slut, whore, ho’, tramp, skank, nympho, hussy, tart, loose, bitch, promiscuous, and perhaps most tellingly, freak or super freak.

Women leaving the frat house Sunday morning may be chided for taking the “Walk of Shame” as frat boys returning from the dorms stroll the Walk of Fame.

Slang for our privates? “Cock” versus “down there.” Put another way, cocky versus unspeakable.

And who gets screwed, f’d, banged, nailed and rammed?

Meanwhile, women are the sex objects in our culture, with busts and butts ogled in word, picture, and x-ray vision, offering men a trove of sexual stimulus. What do women have to look at? Not much.

But as sex objects, women may also become more focused on how they look in bed (whether good or bad) than enjoying anything erotic.

Add to this the sexual violence that so frequently ends in lost sexual interest.

All of this leaves women less responsive, with a University of Chicago study finding 43% of women experiencing dysfunction.

Any wonder men are more interested in random acts of sex, while women are more inclined toward emotional bonding? In the arms of someone she loves a woman may feel free from slut-shaming. She may focus on intimacy and not how fat or thin she is. She is freed from worry about being screwed. And if she has difficulty achieving orgasm, she can still revel in her man’s love-filled attentions.

On top of this, women are more often taught that “sex is okay if you love him.”

Of course, women have varieties of social experiences and personalities, so despite the culture, some will certainly be up for sex with anonymous others.

The longing for bonded sex emerges from sources other than the horrors listed above. And certainly, many men want loving, connected relations, too. Justin Garcia, an evolutionary biologist at Binghamton University, observes that, “Having deep relationship with someone can be really magical and people all over the world experience that… (it) can really change someone’s life.” But for all the reasons listed above, sex-for-fun may not be so fun for a lot of women, which can leave other options out.

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Virtually Attack Women, But No Nudity

A gamer creates an avatar resembling himself and plots to kill a three-dimensional, lifelike woman. The avatar grasps an axe and raises it to strike. He hears the thud as the axe slices her head. He hears her cry out in pain. He sees her split skull and feels the sensation of blood on his hands and face.

I’ve just paraphrased one part of Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito’s opinion on whether video games of this sort should be protected as free speech in sales to minors. Yes, he uncomfortably concludes.

In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer wonders why Playboy is off-limits to thirteen-year-olds, yet interactive games that allow those same boys to actively, if virtually, bind, torture and kill a woman are perfectly fine – so long as she’s not topless.

Justice Antonin Scalia counters that violent scenes have long been part of the American tradition.

True enough. One Super Bowl Sunday America went ballistic over Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple. Justin Timberlake’s choreographed battering beforehand went unremarked. No nudity on the national networks, but Law & Order: Special Victims Unit weekly dwells on the rape, battering and torture of sex victims.

Developmental psychologist James Prescott looks to America’s preference for sexual violence over sexual pleasure with wonder. “Apparently, sex with pleasure is immoral and unacceptable, but sex with violence and pain is moral and acceptable,” he reflects.

But why?

New York Times columnist, Timothy Egan sees prudery at base. “Ultimately, the back-and-forth by the high court reinforced the notion of a nation that will always be a little skittish about sex, while viewing violence as American as apple pie,” he writes.

Naomi Wolfe’s The Beauty Myth adds insight. In the 1960s pornography portrayed beautiful women playfully and joyfully enjoying sex. By the 70s this sort of imagery suggestively seeped into popular culture.

As Wolf described it, mainstream beauty pornography looked like this:

The woman lies prone, pressing down her pelvis. Her back arches, her mouth is open, her eyes shut, her nipples erect. The state of arousal, the plateau phase just preceding orgasm… for Triton showers, a naked woman, back arched, flings her arms upward… for Opium perfume, a naked woman, back and buttocks bare, falls face down from the edge of the bed… The reader understands that she will have to look like that if she wants to feel like that.

But later, something shifted as beauty pornography was replaced by a glorification of violence against women. Again Wolf highlights the imagery in advertisements, which sound very much like those we see today:

In an ad for Obsession perfume a well-muscled man drapes the naked, lifeless body of a woman over his shoulder… In an ad for Hermès perfume, a blonde woman trussed in black leather is hanging upside down, screaming, her wrists looped in chains, mouth bound.

By the 80s violent sexual imagery centering on abused females had surged. Film titles like Dressed to Kill, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and 9½ Weeks filled movie theaters while female corpses, in sexy bras and panties, piled up in thrillers. By ‘89 The New York Times was discussing sadomasochism in kids’ comics.

Why the shift? Wolf maintains that sexual imagery follows politics. As women gained power as a result of the feminist movement, male anger and female guilt about taking power created a backlash. Something “needed” to be done, like socialize and eroticize male dominance.

On the one hand, depictions of women’s freely given and enjoyed sexuality was restrained. On the other, men were reassured that women weren’t so powerful. And everyone got the message that women were most attractive when they were dominated and powerless.

Wolf points out that court rulings have enforced these values from the top-down. Women taking pleasure in sex has been named obscene, while sexualized violence against them has not – so long as they are clothed.

Wolf makes an interesting argument.

Oddly, even as more and more women and men today have taken on values that support women’s equality, this way of seeing has become such a taken-for-granted part of American life that it has come to seem natural and normal to most of us, including many feminists.

Something to think about.

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Women Want Good Sex, Men Want Cuddling

What makes happy long-term relationships?

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.

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Sex and the Walk of Shame

“After I’ve just gotten laid, the first thing I think about is that I can’t wait to tell my crew who I just did. Omigod, they’re not going to believe I just did Kristy. They’ll all be high-fiving me.”

Guys routinely celebrate having sex. The messages they give each other pretty much translate to, “Sex is great! And more is better!”

But what do women hear?

After anticipating “high-fives” for his sexual success, the young man above adds: “And Kristy? She’ll probably ask me not to tell anyone, to protect her reputation.”

Men and women receive very different messages about sex.

In fact, the term “hookup” is deliberately ambiguous. It can mean anything from kissing to intercourse. So if a guy says he hooked up, he’s hoping other guys think he went “all the way.” But if a girl hooks up, she hopes her friends hear, “I kissed him.”

At one northeastern college, men returning to the fraternities after a night at the dorms are said to be strolling the Walk of Fame. But women returning to the dorms from a frat are taking the Walk of Shame.

A few years back a fraternity at Dartmouth published the names of all of the women the brothers had had sex with, making disparaging comments about them.

Is sex something to avoid? Something dirty? Or something to pursue with a vengeance? It all depends on whether you’re male of female.

When it comes to sex, men are celebrated but women risk punishment.

Many think sexual repression is not a problem in our society – that these notions never reach the subconscious. Yet women can come to turn off sexual feeling, whether they realize it or not. Not feeling can be safer.

Sex therapist, Lonnie Barbach, says that highly repressive societies create women who have difficulty climaxing, while women in non-repressive societies have regular and satisfactory orgasms.

In 1972, when women were more penalized than they are today, a Playboy Foundation survey found that more than half of single women under age 25 found their first sexual experience neutral or unpleasant. Only 20% found sex highly pleasurable.

Things may not be as bad today. Indiana University’s recently released sex survey found that 58% of women in their 20s had had an orgasm the last time they had sex. But when that compares with 96% of their male counterparts, we see the tell-tale signs of continuing repression.

But really, should we be surprised?

Men who slut-shame don’t seem too worried that women won’t enjoy sex with them. After watching sex-craved porn stars, and thinking that accurately reflects women’s sexuality, perhaps they assume women can’t help but come back for more. No matter what.

Some will interpret my observation that men are more sex-positive and more promiscuous as prescribing male behavior to everyone. As one reader put it, “But I don’t want to run around like a tart!”

Actually, I want to have a conversation about the positives and negatives of so-called men’s and women’s ways of doing sex. It is certainly not better to treat people like currency – the more you bang the higher your status. But what can women learn from men, and what can men learn from women?

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Rape: As If Female Sexuality Were Male Sexuality

“It’s just he said, she said,” opined one of the ladies of The View, discussing IMF Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Khan’s alleged rape of a hotel maid.

That is true. We don’t know for sure whether Strauss-Khan committed the crime. But sometimes it seems that talk of rape allegations sees female sexuality as if it were male sexuality.

Strauss-Khan admits to having sex with the housekeeper but insists it was consensual. Yet the scenario he asserts hardly matches female sexuality, as it is typically manifested in the Western world.

Just to note a few recent studies, which I have written about in greater detail in other posts:

Women are rarely interested in having sex with a stranger. Men are much more likely to accept a stranger’s proposal. For women, it doesn’t matter whether the offer comes from someone they know and trust or from someone they don’t. Most times they just aren’t interested. Unless the offer comes from Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp. Maybe it’s just me, but Dominique Strauss-Khan seems a bit lacking in Depp/Pitt appeal.

Women and men typically watch different types of porn, too. Men like the sort that matches Strauss-Khan’s version of events. Something to the effect of: “She saw me naked when I came out from the shower and we had amazing sex.” Yet women who watch porn usually like a story line with a little character development.

Women are much more likely to read romantic erotica than to watch porn, anyway. Even more story and character development! Sex is not for its own sake, and not with impersonal strangers. And this matches most women’s interest in the real world, where they unconsciously scrutinize all evidence about their lovers, with sexual arousal igniting only when everything is in place.  

Even when they go to bed with a man, women are likely focused on how they, themselves, look – “So hot!” if they are proud of their appearance, or “Does my butt look too big?” if they aren’t – than great sex.

Why the difference? For one, women don’t learn to objectify men in our culture, leaving us less likely to get hot at the mere sight of a naked male. In fact, one study found women getting more aroused by a nude woman than a nude man, when measuring blood flow to the vagina. Perhaps due to lopsided objectification?  

Meanwhile, women’s sexuality is more repressed. Women are more likely to be labeled sluts for enjoying sex, or seen as “giving it up” while men seem to be gaining something, like status. Products that aid women’s sexual enjoyment are less likely to be advertised, as with Viagra versus vibrators.  

Not surprisingly, women report less sexual interest and enjoyment, on average.

Plus, women need foreplay.

All said I find Strauss-Khan’s version of events unlikely. Of course, not all women are the same. Some enjoy sex with strangers and seek the kind of porn that men enjoy.

But most don’t.

I’m not saying this proves that the hotel maid was raped. But when people think it is just as likely that she made wild love to this unfamiliar man, it feels like male sexuality is being projected onto women.

Georgia Platts

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