Enticing a Woman’s Libido

Romantic-Couple-in-Bed-CardsThis matter of women liking sex less than men is confusing. I enjoy sexuality very much as a man and am disheartened by the seemingly in-your-face fact that women don’t enjoy sex as much as we men do. To me sex is a total experience (heart, soul, mind and body) and it seems that if women don’t enjoy this important part of healthy relationships, then they aren’t as attracted to men in all those ways. I don’t know, it would be nice to actually feel very attractive to the opposite sex. The whole thing makes me very sad, i dunno.

That’s one man’s reaction to a blog post I wrote asking, DO Women Like Sex Less Than Men?” I wrote the post because statistics suggest that, on average, women do typically like it less.

That’s because women’s sexuality has been repressed by a culture that calls us sluts and ho’s and describes men getting sex with women in unappetizing ways: screw, f-, bang, nail, ram, smash, smack that, beat those… Or, women may get distracted with worry about not looking good enough. And if they do think they look good, they may focus on looking hot for the guy. Who can be in touch with sensual feelings with all that going on? Not to mention, women who have been raped often don’t enjoy sex at all.

Women in egalitarian, sex-positive cultures love sex and are easily and multiply orgasmic. They don’t even need a vibrator.

The problem is sexism, not biology.

The question remains: What to do?

As a society we need to heal. Women, their sexuality, and their bodies — in all their many forms — must be respected and celebrated. And we must put an end to a rape culture that so often blames the victim and fails to punish rapists.

Over time, both sexism and sexual repression have diminished, so there is hope. But cultural change takes time. What can we do right now?

If sexual abuse and trauma are part of a woman’s past, she likely needs therapy and a great deal of understanding from her partner. Too many couples try to struggle through the problem alone when they need help.

Meanwhile, the beauty ideal has narrowed to impossible standards, leaving many women feeling sexually undesirable – and that dampens libido. So women need to become more loving and accepting of their bodies, and men need to appreciate and communicate the unique beauty their partners hold.

Also, let go of how you look and get in tune with how you feel. Focusing on looks is a huge distraction. Instead, center on small sensations that grow larger as you submerge yourself in them.

Deep connection may also help partners to merge and emerge into a transcendent experience. As one woman describes it:

There is a form of sexual ecstasy that mimics the union of God and man, recreation of the world. I can’t really describe this experience… But pure joy and connection with another person I feel is becoming closer to the cycles of life and the underlying palpable energy to the world… in essence, God.

And finally I’ll repeat some advice to men from earlier posts:

If you want your partner to desire sex then romance her, show appreciation, stop shaming women for being sexual, or for not fitting ridiculous “ideals,” desire her and let your lady know she’s beautiful.

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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 April 15, 2013, in body image, feminism, objectification, psychology, rape and sexual assault, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. It has always been interesting to me to see how differently society shapes how men and women feel about sex. As early as middle school I knew I had to start finding ways to be appealing to the opposite sex and I knew where to look to find ideas of what I should look like if men were going to find me attractive. Based on societies projection of what women are supposed to be, I interpreted it as I needed to look good for men so that they would want to have sex with me which would ultimately get them to like me. Sex wasn’t something I enjoyed when I first started doing it. It was uncomfortable, I wasn’t educated about how many body would react and I felt ashamed talking about it because although I was a female and therefore made for the enjoyment of men, I couldn’t be too sexual because then I would be a “slut.” It wasn’t until my most recent relationship that I felt safe enough to start getting in touch with my needs and desires because my partner gives me a safe space for that and supports me. In the beginning it was an uphill better because it has so repressed inside of me that it hurt to even talk about it. It was uncomfortable, foreign, and talking about sex made me feel embarrassed and guilty. I have come a long way since those first conversations with my partner. When I reflect on my experiences as a teenager it makes me wonder how social media will impact the sexuality of future generations. There are images of women in underwear and bikinis splattered all over instagram with thousands of followers, many of them young women and teenagers. I can imagine the girls wishing they had bodies like them, and the adoration of thousands of followers. There is even a photographer who photographs women and sells hats with a phrase he has coined, “snapchat me that pussy,” i.e. send me a photo of your vagina on social media. As if because he photographs women who are “beautiful” he should have access to all “aspiring beautiful women’s” bodies. I am curious to see how social media shapes society in the future, so far it feels like it is just making us slip farther behind.

  2. A lot of the times I notice other women shaming women for wanting sex, or for dressing a bit provocative. This shame has made sex seem like a treasure only to be found by prince charming, yet when that prince charming doesn’t come along women start to hurt each other to make themselves feel better. Calling another girl a ho, or slut can make a woman feel better about her sexual life at the moment, but it can also limit women. Constantly having to worry about being a slut, or ho definitely can make a woman second guess her partner. When girls have sex with a lot of average guys they are considered a slut, and she might even think of herself as a slut, but when a girl has sex with a lot hot men she has no shame or embarrassment. This ties into what you said about the ideal of beauty that has made women feel undesirable because there is also a beauty ideal of men that has made women feel shamed if they date men who seem more average which provides some background into the topic of women desiring sex less than men.

    • And the slut-shaming comes from women and men alike — so interestingly, More often from women, who may be jealous. And many times she is called a slut even if the guys are hot — again, reflecting the motive of jealousy.

  3. Elizabeth Wright

    I’m not surprised that women (on average) desire sex less than men. We have it so ingrained that being sexual is a bad thing, we are taught that we shouldn’t want to be physically intimate with anyone (besides our husband), and we are taught that our pleasure is not important.
    Sadly, we have memories and fears of being sexually assaulted. Sex is not a pleasurable, loving, and healthy act, when sex has become a source of pain and terror. For women who have been abused/assaulted, it can be impossible or extremely difficult to be physical with another person. In these instances, as stated above, therapy is needed in order to cope with one’s past and to be able to have healthy relationships.
    Even when a woman has had no past traumatic event happen to deter her from wanting to have sex, sex can still be a topic of fear. In hook-ups or new relationships, she can be worried about being slut shamed, getting pregnant, getting a STD, or that she’s being used. While men can (and probably do) have fears/worries incorporated with having sex, their fears tend to be less about shame and violence, and more about health issues and performance (possible embarrassment).
    If we lived in a society where women were treated as equals, meaning that women were not abused, killed, shamed, or objectified, then the gap between men and women’s sexual desire would surely diminish.

  4. I personally feel that on average both men and women both want sex just as much as the opposite gender does. The only thing that can truly be justified is who physically expresses it more when it comes to a public setting. The winner in this game would yes, be in fact the man. But, that doesn’t mean just because a man shows he wants to engage in sexual relations in a more physical manner than the women does, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t “want” it any more or any less. Women in general tend to be a lot cleverer and even sneakier about how they express themselves sexually when it comes to a public setting. But when you put two sexually attracted individuals together in a private and comfortable environment the freaks come out at night and you can’t tell the difference.

    • You seriously think repression has no effect on women? It does. Big time.

      If repression had no effect then women today would easily orgasm (without vibrators) and multiply orgasm, as their sisters do in cultures that are egalitarian and sex-positive for women.

      In our culture about 40% of women have problems with sexual desire and orgasim.

      You need to read the comment I wrote above to Eric.

  5. Sex is the ultimate example of a double standard. On the one hand, men are ‘supposed’ to be constantly searching for it, are encouraged to have it, and are praised for how often they have it. Women on the other hand must live up to countless standards (as the entry touched on) which are deeply rooted in puritanical history. That being said, many men do not seem to comprehend all that comes with being a sexually active western woman, and often get frustrated by lack of pleasure from their partners. There is an increasing trend in society of the cool sexy men being the ones who claim to enjoy ‘getting a woman off’, yet few have actually achieved this goal despite believing that they have. So my question is, what does it mean when so many men can’t even tell that their beloved female orgasms are fake? Perhaps if they looked at the behaviors they perpetuate and worry less about their performance they would be able to catch a false O.

  6. I totally agree with this article. Women has been the sex object in our society for many years, and has not been respected enough, which can clearly depress their confidence and mood for sex. Words such as ‘slut’, ‘ho’, etc, have been said towards them. Whereas women are a lot more emotional and men are more rational, it is clear that women need to be romanced to turn their libido on. A lot of men can’t understand women’s feeling and view sex as pure lust, which makes the sex only being enjoyed by the male side. If men starts respecting women more and starts getting romantic and emotional in a good way to their women, women will start to enjoy sex just as much as men do.

  7. I feel That, sex is looked down on with women from a young age. To me growing up you always hear people in schools, saying this girl is a slut or a whore for having sex with someone. In the Musical, “Spring Awakening” it takes a look at Germany in the 1800’s and how these kids(14,15,16) are just coming into their sexuality. Discovering themselves, they live in a repressed society where they are stifled for exploring their humanistic sexuality traits. It really demonstrates how after the two lead teens have sex they are out cast from their social groups. And the girl gets called horrible names… so my thought is it’s wrong to have sexual relations, right? It must be considering peoples moral stand points, how ever it seems so hypocritical to me because the very people who are using these terms and calling names out to others (ie mainly females) are having sex and reproducing themselves.

  8. I agree that the reason a lot of woman don’t like sex as much as men is due to our society. Woman who enjoy sex are labeled “sluts” where as men who do are considered “studs.” It is sad and demeaning that sex is considered a positive thing for men to enjoy, though it is a negative thing for woman to do so. No one likes being labeled with a negative term, so over time our society has suppressed a lot of women’s desire to like/enjoy sex. If it was not such a double standard and our society was ok with woman enjoying sex as much as men, then I think a lot more woman would like sex or admit to even enjoying it.

  9. Wow I really like what the last paragraph said, that men need to romance women and to let your lady know that she is beautiful. I think that men sometimes don’t spend enough time seducing their women. Men need to take more time caressing kissing loving women so that they can be satisfied and feel loved and wanted by their guy. Women can also make things better by telling the guy about what she wants not stay quiet

  10. Recently I met a guys who loves sexuality A LOT. Every time when I talk to him, he could not leave the topics without sex. He talked about how he has sex with his ex or other booty calls. How other women like to have sex with him , how he enjoy to film those sex process and how does he like the porn…bla bla bla. Even when you indicate that you felt uncomfortable, he thinks you just pretend not to like it but actually you like it. He is very proud of himself actually. I guess being a guy like him who is rich and good looking, he does not care about others’ feeling that much. Only thing he cares is someone can solve his sexual needs. And not so surprise, there are still many girls will like to be with him. I guess everyone has different needs. That is the only explanation that I can give to those girls with him.

    • Amy (Hojung) Park

      I wondered while I was reading this comment, are women socially repressed to verbally express their thoughts about sex? I also become embarrassed when guys around me do sex-talk. I wonder if this is an example of women’s being repressed in sex or not. If so, women can enjoy more orgasms when they can talk openly about sex, can’t they? What do you think about this? I’ve always thought that men are typically better at talking openly about their sex experiences than women…

      It is so interesting that in egalitarian cultures women enjoy much more orgasms. I’ve always thought that women have much more difficulty in having orgasms due to biological differences.

      • A lot of women are repressed and find it uncomfortable to talk about sex. That’s not uncommon. If women were less repressed it would be more comfortable to talk about sex and they would also be more likely to have orgasms, both because they are less repressed and because it’s easier to communicate what they want and what they enjoy.

  11. Rohan 7 Things

    Great post as always. I especially like this: “The problem is sexism, not biology.”

    Many women’s experience of sex very short, physical and limited in scope. Women adore GOOD sex, sex that lasts and is sensual and interested and that involves the entire body and even the mind. And men, with a little practice and patience, can enjoy this kind of sex much more than the instant gratification, race to the orgasm, sex that is so prevalent.

    And yes, everything you said about female sexual repression!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Rohan.

  12. Vacuum the living room, pick up your undies and fix us a salad for dinner. I feel sexier already. 😉 (I loved your pic of “porn for women” that showed a man vacuuming.)

  13. Do you think that the sexuality of all women in mainstream American culture is repressed? I like to think of myself as an exception, but I don’t know if I am just being naive. I’m actually abstinent (religious and personal reasons) and I feel like it has sort of removed me from being subject to certain sexual norms and ideals and has given me a very strong sense of ownership over my sexuality. But, like I said, maybe I am just being naive. What do you think?

    • In egalitarian, sex positive cultures women are easily orgasmic and easily multi-orgasmic, and they don’t need vibrators. If you are like that you are not repressed. otherwise, you are probably experiencing some level of repression.

      It’s difficult for most women in America to fit that, and in fact, more than 40% report having or having had sexual dysfunction (lack of interest in sex, difficulty with orgams). In a nonrepressive society that wouldn’t happen.

      Women often take it personally — the notion that they are or may be sexually repressed. But they shouldnt. If we had a society that valued women and their sexuality then women wouldnt be repressed. We need to change society.

      • I can actually have an orgasm just by thinking (I guess this is a rare trait). So based on your description, I’m good. 😀

        I think that women take it personally because they feel like they are being told that society has more control over their body than they do. But we could have a whole separate discussion on the degree to which that statement is true. But you make a good point that they shouldn’t take it personally either way.

      • Great. I’ve written on other women who can, too.

      • Also, I often look at the women around me are either disinterested in sex or have a hard to impossible time trying to get an orgasm and wonder how I got so lucky.

        Young LDS women seem to have an view sex as an obligation and something to either fear or be grossed out by (or both) and I think it is a crying shame.

      • Studies have shown LDS women to least enjoy sex and atheists to most enjoy it. That said, I do know some LDS women who’ve enjoyed sex.

  14. Women like sex just as much as men, perhaps even more so, it’s just not socially acceptable for them to express it openly. If a guy has lots of sexual partners, he’s a “stud”, but if a woman does it she’s labeled a “slut” or a “whore”. A stupid double-standard. Add the beauty ‘standards’ of society to that mix and it’s no wonder women have trouble enjoying sex. And for the ones who love them and find them appealing, it can become a constant uphill battle to reassure women that there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with them and it’s okay for them to really get into and explore their sexuality. The old social attitudes of sexual repression towards women work against everybody, and against society itself.

    • What you say is mixed. How can they be enjoying sex if they’re worrying that they shouldn’t, for example? That worry has unconscious effects, repressing their sexuality. As I’ve mentioned before, more than 40 percent of women report, or have reported, sexual dysfunction. Yet in an egalitarian, sex positive society women just might enjoy sex more than men due to multiple orgasm.

      • We’re actually expressing two sides of the same coin here. Women do enjoy sex, but they don’t always feel free to SAY so. It’s one thing to enjoy it in private, but another to be able to openly say you do.

        (I’d wager a guess that the 40% amount of sexual dysfunction reported would be even higher if women weren’t repressed from discussing sex openly)

        I absolute agree with your article. The sexual repression of women is a social sickness. Sex should not be a taboo subject for women, and to keep it as such only hampers society as a whole.

      • Actually, I know from personal experience that I wasn’t just saying I didn’t enjoy sex yet actually enjoying it. I thought it was totally boring. And then there is my friend who was surprised at how boring sex was. And then a group of feminist friends were discussing sex. We all believe that women should be able to enjoy sex, yet none of us liked it in the first few years, with one exception. And not all of us are fully recovered and able to enjoy it even now. Students have approached me with this problem of not enjoying sex — which they see as a problem. They don’t feel like they shouldn’t enjoy sex.Sex therapists work with women who dont enjoy it. If these women thought they shouldnt enjoy it why would they seek therapy? And then there are men who write on my blog looking for answers as to why their partners arent enjoying sex (their partners both want to enjoy it and feel they should)…

        More than 40% of women have dealt with sexual dysfunction. They are doing the opposite of what you suggest: they don’t enjoy sex but feel they should.

        All this lets me know on a very peronal basis, and otherwise, that I am far from the only woman who has not enjoyed sex due to cultural influences. And we are not just saying we don’t when we do.

        Due to a lot of repression, and work on it, I came to be able to enjoy sex.

        I assure you that when this negative cultural stuff gets internalized it negatively affects the actual experience of sex. And much more for women than men. Women are more repressed and they are also more affected by whatever level of repression they experience.

        I wrote this post hoping to help women and their partners. Given what I’ve experience, and what I teach, I’ve learned a lot and I seek to help others

      • I’m glad you’ve made progress in your own struggle, and it’s great that you’re sharing it and giving people a forum for related issues. Just one small step toward fostering a more positive climate for people in general, and for women specifically. Let’s hope others will continue carrying it forward like you have here. 🙂

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