Saturday, October 29, 2005

Shocking the menfolk

Hei Lun at Begging to Differ, well, begs to differ:

At the risk of being mislabeled a conservative, I'm going to go out on a limb and make this bold statement:

Men like sex more than women do.

Now I know you womenfolk out there must be shocked, shocked at this, but I can testify that this is indeed true. Ask any man around you. Ask your local gentry. Even ask your father. It's true....


....What I really want to do is disagree with Phoebe Maltz's contention that "women enjoy it as much as men". († Amy Lamboley) Now this is obviously false to me and every other man in all of the known universe, but apparently it's not even to intelligent, college-educated women.

I like the fact that my BA from Chicago somehow comes into the equation, as if it were in the male libido and not French literature. Oh well.

After pointing out that women have an easier time getting men into bed than vice versa, he writes:

I could go on, but this is either just as obvious to you, or not as much. But I think that men like me would be more receptive to the points on the bigger issue of sex and marriage made by women like Maltz if they weren't based on premises that are so disagreeable.

What is "disagreeable" about my premises? "Disagreeable" doesn't mean something one disagrees with, it means unpleasant. He may think I'm wrong, but what in my argument was unpleasant? Again, oh well.

The comments to this post say what I was trying to say, but far more succinctly:

Kriston writes: Neither gender roles nor sexual relations are fixed constants. Maybe you've never met a feminist, Hei Lun, but probably the whole lot of them will tell you that the social expectations and demands placed on women are intended to curb their desire for sex.

Women are surely enjoying sex more now that contraception is a realistic option and men are expected to share the burdens of pregnancy, planned or not. And feminists have blazed the trail to a frontier in which women can have casual sex without being labeled as sluts.

As a purely scientific question, you have to get to a natural state of equilibrium before you can say one way or another. So long is power is involved, it's hard to say what's natural, isn't it?

How in the world has increased sexual freedom not led to increased sexual happiness? For men, maybe, the pickin's have become less easy; but for women, the increase in sexual freedom has come in the form of both legal rights and orgasms.


And Catherine writes:

"What I really want to do is disagree with Phoebe Maltz's contention that 'women enjoy it as much as men'. († Amy Lamboley) Now this is obviously false to me and every other man in all of the known universe."

i mean, just, have you ever thought that the fact you think this way is, like, YOUR FAULT?


Precisely. We are not in a state in which cultural expectations play no role, in which biology "punishes" men and women equally for promiscuity, and may never be in one. While birth control somewhat evened out the degree to which men and women are "punished" for sex, HIV has, with its asymmetric transmission rate, been a step backwards. And the threat of unplanned pregnancy has not disappeared, and remains a threat to women and not to men, so while gay men put themselves at risk when they are promiscuous, when straight women are promiscuous, they potentially involve another, entirely dependent human being as well (as not all can or will have abortions when faced with an unplanned pregnancy). The dangers for women simply remain greater than the dangers for men. So when a woman who enters a bar or a party and sees, say, 10 guys she'd like to sleep with, she will not try to sleep with all of these men because the aftermath would be worse for her than for them. To say a woman "wants sex" means two things: that she has the urge, and that she thinks it's a reasonably safe thing to do. Women with no fear whatsoever of being shamed by society or being forgotten in the morning (a small, perhaps, but increasing percentage) will nevertheless be more reticent than men. So does this mean women want sex less, and are less likely to seek out sex with many partners? Sure, but if nature could be better conquered, if the physical dangers of sex were more equal, then some of the things men like Hei Lun or Leon Kass "know" to be true about women's desire to settle down with just one guy would no longer be the case. That is where I disagree with Kass, Hei Lun, Ross Douthat, and the others: women do not simply want one man for the sake of having only one man, and out of a lack of a desire for sex with other men. That is nothing but male fantasy, and the only reason it seems like "just how it is" is that factors that have nothing to do with sexual desire are nevertheless very powerful in female decision-making.

2 comments:

petey said...

"While birth control somewhat evened out the degree to which men and women are "punished" for sex, HIV has, with its asymmetric transmission rate, been a step backwards."

You are indeed correct that HIV is in large part responsible for the gender role regression, but I think you miss the main mechanism.

Asymmetric transmission doesn't seem as relevant to me as HIV's promotion of the cult of purity.

The 90's brought fear of heterosexual transmission of HIV, and the 90's also brought Barely Legal magazine and a mainstream fetish for shaved genitalia. In an HIV world, purity equals cleanliness.

And once purity begins to gain value, it hooks into all the pre-sexual revolution paradigms of purity specifically in women. Neither in pre or post sexual revolution paradigms do we have a model for valuing purity in men.

Rachel said...

As a young woman who all-too-often finds herself in liasons with men in their mid-to-late 30s I can say that often a man's desire for sex is extremely mental, he may want it but at 37 or 38 he probably can only pull it together once a day, even for the loveliest girl, whereas a woman may hate a guy, may find him totally awful and she still can be physically aroused the entire waking day by him. I think the way arousal feels to men and women is so different that it is like comparing apples and oranges.
And I want that guy to inform my boyfriend that men want sex more, because he must have missed that class at Manly school.