Sex: From Casual Pleasures to Deep Connection. Readers Discuss

Below are comments on how women and men experience themselves, and how they think sex is best, based on earlier posts: “Are Women Naturally Monogamous?” and “Are Women Culturally Monogamous?” They’re edited for brevity and clarity. I’ve organized comments and added my own in italics. The comments typically revolve around the advantages of casual pleasures versus deep connection.

Polygamous women

  • Divorced at age 33, I experienced a natural heightening of sexual interest and there were a number of men with whom I had sex during the next 7-8 years. I enjoyed it all tremendously and learned a lot about men and about myself. During that time, I met only one man I would have considered as a life partner. Now I realize that the relationship was great because the sex was great.
  • If women were paid equally and had equal opportunity in the job market, I think that monogamy would be weakened.  When I earned more than my husband, and could survive financially on my own, my sexual behavior changed as well.
  • I seem to be different than the study (enjoying a variety of partners), but then so are most males I know (more monogamous).

Polygamous men

  • Sex is so pleasurable. Why limit yourself from pleasure so long as everyone knows the ground rules – that this is about pleasure and not about commitment or love.
  • Sex is magical. I would like to have sex with as many women as possible. But I always thought women experienced sex the same as I do.  It hadn’t occurred to me that they might not.

Research suggests that women, on average, don’t enjoy sex as much as men do. U.S. women enjoy sex less than women in some cultures, but more than women in others. I’ll explore why later. The difference in enjoyment is not based on biology, but culture.

Jealousy and not loving equally

Women who are interested in polygamous sex can discover difficulties:

  • As a lesbian I have a perspective that is completely woman oriented.  I personally have had more than one lover at a time and found it difficult since I was always trying to explain why I was leaving to visit someone else.  One always seems to love one more than the other.

Having sex because you’re expected to

  • Here is my confession – two or three times I allowed myself to be picked up at a party or a bar. I am still so ashamed of those incidents. Remembering them makes me feel so dirty! I thought it was expected.  You know – times were changing.  Everybody did it. I now believe I let myself be used by men who were only after a little fun and had no serious intentions.
  • I let myself be used by men who were only looking for fun… then I felt ashamed! Many women were brainwashed into believing they would enjoy it as much as men only to realize they were no more than a toilet bowl or conquest.  I am sorry to disappoint but sex ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Many may hide the shame and humiliation they feel by saying they liked it.

Women are punished for sex
Some women may feel pressured to have sex, but women are also punished when they have it, labeled “sluts”:

  • The stigma attached to women likely keeps the number (of lovers they report) low
  • (At least men) seem to have each others’ backs. Women don’t. They’re often quick to stab each other in the back.

Meeting social expectations: Men

  • Men might be lying too since the cultural expectation for them seems to be quantity rather than quality.
  • Men also have cultural expectations to live up to: amass notches on their belts.
  • I wanted to have threesomes for the longest time. Then I realized it was largely about feeling left out of something I thought everyone else was doing.

Agreed. There are plenty of pressures on men, too. Women claim 5 lovers and men claim 12. Women must be underestimating and men exaggerating. The real number for both is likely in between: 8 or 9. Men also watch porn, think it’s an accurate portrayal of womens sexuality, and end up thinking they are missing out on a lot of action (that no one else is getting, either).

Meeting social expectations: Women and men

  • I think you hit the nail on the head when you stated “Western women are much more monogamous than our Tahitian or American Indian sisters were before European contact.” I don’t think any of us are pre-wired to remain with one person all 80 plus years that we walk this earth. Man or woman. As humans we make that CHOICE to do so. What it comes down to is one having their own mind. Neither man nor woman should continue to be concerned with what current society dictates.

Women desiring depth, connection

  • Women prefer depth, romance, quality in a relationship. They know that the closer one is in spirituality, emotions, the better the sex. Women need that depth to be fulfilled.
  • A purely physical relationship requires little work. You don’t have to concern yourself with messy thoughts or feelings beyond the immediate moment. It’s shallow and one dimensional. Real relationship takes depth: looking at someone’s worth beyond pretty eyes, nice butt, and teeth.
  • I have heard some women say they enjoy casual sex – but in 62 years I have heard far more say they haven’t enjoyed any sex let alone casual – meaningless sex. It’s intimacy we want!  But I am still waiting for the rush of women who can honestly tell us about all the hot meaningless sex we have been missing! I’m all ears?

Men desiring depth, connection

     A woman’s perspective

  • I met both kinds of guys when I was dating. I met guys who seemed downright anxious to connect on a deeper level and guys who would lie in a NY minute if they thought it would get them into my pants faster.

     A man’s perspective

  • Our sexuality and the expression of it before and during (and after) marriage is, I am convinced, one of the more complicated aspects of what it means to be human. One could argue that God created men and women different sexually (in all the ways!) because to come together in meaningful intimacy (erotic or sexual) requires the development and expression of our deepest and highest virtues—sacrifice, humility, and kindness (even long-suffering at times!), and especially love. It is among the most meaningful and challenging dances we do.

And, don’t forget the men in men’s studies.  Both Michael Kimmel and John Stoltenberg recommend men do sex from a place of love and commitment, and they say that is where they come from, themselves.

SOURCES: Comments from:
Blogs: BroadBlogs, BroadBlogs, and FreeMeNow
My Facebook site
Various lists responded either to the list, or to me via email
Student discussions

A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2010 as “Readers Discuss: Are Women Polygamous?”

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 April 1, 2011, in feminism, gender, men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. The experiences women and men have with sex are complicated and diverse. The topic addresses various perspectives from divorced women, depth-seeking men, to the shamed individual who participated in sex because of a social expectations. Its important to understand the individual’s experience in sex with others to understand their best sex. Those women or men who seek polygamous enjoy their best sex with multiple individuals. For example, “…I realize that the relationship was great because the sex was great.” This individual’s perspective of their relationship is based on sex, so the relationship was great due to great sex. This was their experience and preference. And the individuals who seek depth and meaning in sex get those connections in their sexual relationships. For example this individual describes their experience, “…to come together in meaningful intimacy…requires the development and expression of our deepest and highest virtues…” For this man, his best sex comes with and from creating meaningfulness and allowing challenges to create depth. The post “Sex: From Casual Pleasures to Deep Connection. Readers Discuss”, explored comments and perspectives from women and men’s best sex.

  2. Michelle Staufenbiel

    I have felt the same way that one person in the article felt. I know what it’s like to feel like a “toilet boil or conquest” after a sexual encounter. But I do disagree to an extent on what that individual said after word. I believe that sex can feel amazing and be a truly beautiful experience. If it is with the right person. I am not saying you have to be in love and living the fairy tale dream. But if you are comfortable and both you and your partner warm up beforehand then the experience can truly be all it’s “cracked up” to be. But I do understand why person feels that like sex is not worth it. Imagine a few bad sexual experiences in a row when one feels like their sex partner used them and they did not benefit at all. It may harden that individual and lead them to the realization that casual sex in particular is nothing but a duty.

  3. I used to feel that way.. But experience brought me to the conclusion regardless of how sexually enlightened you feel, seeking extraneous relationships may damage the one you are in… and it’s just not worth the risk. Assuming that you actually value the one you are with.

  4. I personally think that it is up to each person to decide whether they want to have a long term relationship, or to have different partners. I also do believe that there are some times in every one’s life where you feel like you need to have someone next to you (long term relationship). Whereas there are some times where you just need to feel dependent, and live your life the way you want it to be. I do agree that when a woman is more confident, and very indepedent in her life, she would be more likely to enjoy having different partners.

  5. I feel that sex depends on the individual and the key to it meaning something depends on the person. Just becuase you have a one night stand doesn’t make it any more casual then you waiting six months to having sex with someone. It all depends on the two people involved. Those that have more of a stigmaof being called loose do tend to expolore more and are curious while you have the tahitians on the other hand that don’t feel that sex is a big thing becuase they have no stigmas against it.

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