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

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Lose Virginity, Lose Self-Esteem?
Sex Objects Who Don’t Enjoy Sex
Men: Erotic Objects of Women’s Gaze

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 May 20, 2011, in feminism, gender, objectification, pornography, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sex and sexuality, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. This is definitely a huge problem we see today in society. Woman being scared or intimidated by men to express their sexuality. In most cases people focus more on the mans sexuality and the woman’s is being pushed off to the side. I hear my friends talk about how the went on a date with a girl once, slept with her and then they didn’t talk again. This happens all the time and no one ever seems to have a problem with it but if a woman was to do the same exact thing she would be immediately judged and thought of as dirty. They thruth is your right woman aren’t as inclined to sleep with a stranger as men are because in my opinion most woman have more feelings or emotions behind sex they want to imagine a future with that because or no things about them and some men just don’t care about that part. That’s where I think the lines between consent and rape are blurred. I think that some men don’t understand that woman want more then just sex. Some men think that woman like the mystery or the thrill, and once it’s gotten past a certain point some woman feel like they can’t speak up and say no. In the case talked about above maybe in was consensual but in my opinion when it seems like is more of a power intimidation, meaning he was a guest of the hotel and the maid might have been scared or intimidated by his athority.

  2. I truly think this is quite true it seems as if it’s harder for a woman to prove that they been raped because of slut shaming. i’m not saying that she didn’t get raped but at the same token we don’t know what happened because we weren’t there is two sides to every story there could be a motives behind why she revealed that he raped her or who knows but for her to come out and even come out in sales allegations she must’ve felt some type away about the situation I do think that it’s true that as a female or more aroused by naked women the naked man for me it’s weird it’s not that you’re sexually attracted to the woman I think it’s more that you’re attracted to the body image and usually UMB that woman that you’re looking at like I don’t like male strippers but I don’t mind a woman stripper and I’m comfortable with my sexuality I feel that most of the time you’re right I don’t like watching porn but I will do like romantic love stories and neurotic tales I think we have a better vivid imagination and we like more ofof text and foreplay than men do they just want to cut straight to the chase and we want more of that connectionas a woman I’m more attracted to the thought that emotional physical and mental relationship than just sex but at the same time if you have one monogamous relationship of course you’re going to want it a lot but at the same time I think it’s hard for women to unleash the beast meaning that inner freak I think it’s okay with one person but a lot of men like to talk about their sexual encounter so women tend to not want to release that because I don’t want to be in barest or ridiculed or talked about in that manner

  3. Also see:

    Maureen Dowd: “When a Predator Collides With a Fabricator”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/03/opinion/sunday/03dowd.html?_r=1

    What happens in a he said-she said case, when he’s known to be a predator and she’s revealed to be a liar? Law enforcement officials say privately that they still think DSK sexually assaulted the maid. But the case relied on her credibility, and that’s gone.

    And:

    “What DKS Teaches Us”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eve-ensler/dominique-strauss-kahn-so_b_891643.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=070711&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief
    How do you fight a rape case if you have lied in your past? How do you fight a rape case if you have been sexually active? How do you fight a rape case as a woman who wants a future in journalism, politics, banking, international affairs? How do you fight a rape case and ever hope to be taken seriously again or be perceived as anything other than a raped victim?

  4. Jessica Ayala

    I think when it comes to rape it is always a “he said she said” kind of situation. No man will accept the fact that he did rape someone, they believe that the indented yes was there so I was ok for them to do what they wanted. Also as far as porn is concerned you are 100% correct men want to believe that the mere sight of them naked will bring any woman to her knees with desire for them. I don’t many women who would lie about something like and as a woman that has been raped before I know some women lie and it disgusts me that anyone would lie about something so serious, but you can tell when someone is lies about something like this. It is a very traumatic thing to go through so reporting it isn’t easy either.

  5. Tonya (Facundo) Kamaloni

    Bob, in the previous post, brings up an interesting quote. Dominique Strauss-Khan said that it was, “great sex.” I would like to find a sound bite of this comment because I am reading it thinking that it carries a tone of dominance and arrogance. He doesn’t let the facts of the case be front and center but his boastful ungentlemanly like conduct as he tells of the event. If he did not rape this woman, then I hope that he will have justice, but his behavior and the details of the incident point toward him being guilty of indeed, raping this woman.

  6. I agree with you in the fact that it is very rare for a woman (especially on the clock) to want to risk everything to have sex with coworker or client. It is very sad that some rape cases have let rapists go when such big factors are overlooked. I work as an EMT in the 911 system and I can’t tell you how many intoxicated women try to hit on firefighters or EMS personnel on either a call or when were on some downtime, me along with everyone else in this profession cannot fathom the idea of taking one of these women on their offers. This is coming from a male frame of mind, the fact that he admitted to it and stated it was “great sex” throws a red flag for me.

  7. In our society women are objectified as sexual objects. Carl’s Jr. even admits to it in their latest commercial when they state “We use hot models in our commercials cause ugly ones don’t sell hamburgers.” Women are conquests that are to be fought over, earned and in the case of rape and domestic violence dominated and controlled by force. When one looks at a society where rape is virtually if not completely non-existent (and there are such communities) the difference between these societies and most is how women are viewed. Women in these societies are not only viewed as equals but truly are equals.

  8. I agree with the part that talks about how women don’t want to have sex with a stranger and they like in-depth character development instead of plain short porn. I have talked about topics of such kind with some of my female friends and they all agree that they do not find porn interesting or sexual arousing. Instead, they view it as “two big pieces of human meat banging each other again and again.” It’s like they see it as watching something like animal planet or things like that. I am a male and I admit that I find porn sexually arousing, however, taking a step back and looking again, it is true that there isn’t anything more than “two big pieces of human meat” if you are not the main characters in the porn.

  9. Tricia Sanders

    While there may be a low percentage of women who cry rape, some still do and we should not diminish that from the possibilities of what could have happened. Yes, I do agree from the outside looking in, it does look like rape, but for all we could no the reports of her running and allegedly, “trying to get away” could have been apart of a role play or sex fantasy being acted out, but then again what’s her motive for accusing him of rape if they really were strangers who had sex?

    I feel that with a stranger a women may be more willing to act on certain sex fantasies or be more out going if she knows the chance of sex with that stranger may never happen again. She can feel pleasure without having to worry about judgement the next day. And maybe in ten years as women continue to abolish sex stereotypes in the United States more women would be as willing to have sex with a stranger as men are.

  10. This is irrelevant. First informal, I came up with a foolish idea to end sexism in language. I propose that the dictionary should change the word “men” or “man” into “foman” or “koman” or something that has a prefix in it to end some (if not all) of the unnecessary allegations of sexism in language.

    From the hyper link given by one of the comments, I read this article articulating the rape phenomenon.

    From the article it says
    – What now passes for anti-rape programming is often commonly called “consent training.” It is a lot like dog training, in which women are taught to send very clear signals. –

    – The difference between consent training and dog training is that in the latter case dogs receive treats when they listen and respond to commands (here’s an idea: women could carry cans of beer, and when they say no to sex and men agree not to rape them, the guy gets a can of beer.) –

    I find that the author of this article is very smart to be able to gather his/her point of view in a humorous and fictitious fashion. Perhaps guys are just one can of beer away from stop raping…. and we’re no different from dogs, thanks to the writer’s comparison.

    Although I find the article entertaining and interesting, I can only agree with half of the writer’s view. In the writer’s perspective, the raping of men by women and the raping women by other women are “pointless and unproven”.

    I find that agreeable, or, perhaps, true; however, I’d like to point out that there are actually disadvantages towards men, as well, among phenomenon of rape. (Aren’t we all surprised?) The term “crying rape” explains an action where a woman accuses a man as a rapist after a consensual intercourse. In my opinion, men tend not to get exonerated, and some would even go to jail in the name of injustice by the false accusation from the women.

    However, I suppose the low percentage of “crying rape” has already diminished its significance, so it’s not worth caring.

  11. Some males who force females to have sex have not really thought about females’ sexuality, which are different from men. Although there are men who can think about females that they also must be emotionally excited before having sex by enjoying the foreplay together. However, now that media has advertised females as sex objects more radically than before, there has increased such men who try to have sex with female strangers without any hesitation. While females want to be emotionally and mutually close to the partner, some males tend to think that females can always satisfy their untamed sexual desire as long as they want, no matter what situation is. In order for us to stop the prevalence STDs and rapes, it is important that such selfish males who only try to fulfill their own untamed libido learn the importance of the good relationship.

  12. Taddshana Kelly

    This was a very interesting topic! I’ve never been raped or touched in any way that I didn’t agree with but I do have family members who have experienced this. When you hear stories about rape victims most of them began with saying that the rapist was either a close friend or someone they may have showed interest in. A lot of times they can even be a complete stranger. Some men just don’t understand the word NO. There are so many men who get off on rape charges do to the fact that they can easily lie and say “it’s what the woman wanted” or “she said NO while we were in the middle of sex“. These are all sorry excuses that rapist use in there defense. I feel as though the court system is to lenient on rapist and they should consider even bringing in lie detector test when charging someone with rape. This is a very serious matter that destroys woman who have been a victim of it. It changes your whole state of mind. It changes the way you feel about men, it causes you to loose trust, and you then become scared and always worried that it may happen again. When a man forces a woman to have sex it takes away her dignity and pride. If the court system demanded harsher punishment for rapist I do believe that there would be less woman in the world being raped.

  13. Elizabeth Wright

    I’ve always known that female sexuality (on average) is different than men’s, but I never realized to what extent. I wonder if there is a large amount of people who think the same way as I have. Maybe this is why men rarely ever go to jail for rape. Maybe judges and juries have given into the patriarchal mentality that what men want is what women want. It’s interesting that women are taught that they are weak and frail compared to men, yet they should have the same aggressive and impulsive sexuality as men. I suppose that the expectations men have for women (generally speaking) is subject to change to their every whim.

  14. Shelbie Dixon

    Men are more acceptable to a strangers wish to have sex with them. Women don’t accept to have sex with someone they know or don’t know and I think that shows a lot of the stereotypes that they give men as being pigs. Men have more of a high sexual urge then women do and they tend to brag about it more to. Men are more likely to watch porn more than girls because of their urges to have sex with women. I think that a lot more people would feel comfortable with others if they didn’t care about having sex or looking good.

  15. Corrie Townsend

    I found many sources talking about Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged rape of the hotel maid. According to the New York Post, not only did Dominique chase her down hallways and attempt to lock her into his room, he also allegedly sodomized her. I have a really hard time seeing this as any woman’s idea of hot sex, let alone when it’s sex with a complete stranger. And why the need to chase her? Or lock her into his room? If the sex were truly consensual I would imagine she would be more than willing to remain in his room. So often women who have had sex are looked upon as men who have had sex; even in the simplest of things. Men enjoy the catcalling and heavy teasing they get if they are found out having sex. Many times women are given this exact treatment, much to their mortification. The sex drives of men and women are so very different, as you have pointed out in many articles, that to look at them as the same is to negate the facts about how women work biologically, emotionally, and mentally.

  16. I thought this (the rape convo stuff, not the Beyonce part so much) was an insightful response to every discourse about rape:

    http://tenured-radical.blogspot.com/2011/05/do-girls-rule-world-response-to-beyonce.html

  17. I had the same reaction to the news reports of this event as you did! My first thought was, why on earth would a young woman voluntarily have spontaneous sex with this old guy while on duty at work? There is nothing about that scenario that rings true to me as a woman for all of the reasons you outlined in your post. My next thought on his allegations that it was consentual, was that he was going to say that he paid her (or that someone else paid her) to do it. To me, that would be the only rationale that would explain why a woman would have voluntary sex in this scenario.

    I don’t know either if he did rape her or not. It is possible that it was a set up. However, if it was, you must wonder about his judgment. If she was indeed approaching him to have sex in that manner, wouldn’t he question her motives?! But I guess as you point out, most men see this differently.

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