Sunday, February 23, 2014

On discovering that one's boyfriend used to date Ms. Soda Stream

-Lena Dunham's boyfriend used to date Scarlett Johansson. Why is this fascinating? Oh, but it is. It asks us all to wonder how we'd feel if we learned that our significant others used to date noted heartthrobs. Or, I suppose, how we'd feel if our high school significant others went on to date super-successful writer-actor-etc. sorts, but honestly, there's no way I could identify with Johansson rather than Dunham in this scenario. So would it be a badge of honor, or a source of anxiety?

-Parental overshare isn't going anywhere. This is, meanwhile, a writer who once held forth on a popular podcast about how one of her sons is better-looking than the other(s?). Why, people, why?

-Curious what Rachel Hills thinks of this article. Me personally? It made me think that attempts to figure out Female Desire - or, for that matter, male - stumble when people want to believe that their experience is universal, and that those who don't experience the same are in denial. Like when gay men from places without much openness about that topic sometimes apparently assume that all men experience same-sex attraction, but generally repress it.


Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman said...

Am on major deadline, so don't have time to read the whole piece closely, but my response to the header is that I don't think there is any lack of women writing about sex at all. If anything, women write about sex constantly.

See this piece from a few years back:

Londoner said...

Re: Atlantic article.

Sexual desire in both men and women appears to be related to circulating androgen levels, along with androgen-receptor sensitivity. Young women with higher testosterone levels might experience greater sexual desire than their high-estrogen sisters, but this is mostly in their teens and twenties, before progesterone has had its say (progesterone is negatively associated with sexual desire in both sexes). When women are in their late twenties, progesterone begins its climb to its lifespan peak while androgen levels plummet across the board. This combo means that female sexual desire is basically extinct by the time women get to their 30s.

So you're right that among women there is no universal experience of sexual desire, but this is only true in the teens and twenties. After that, sexual desire is pretty much gone for the entire female population. The combination of high progesterone and falling testosterone reliably kills it off.

Furthermore, the author of the Atlantic article is right. Women's sexual desire is minuscule when compared to that of men. You would have to be steeped in ten times your teenage androgen levels to have any idea of what it's like.

Londoner said...

Re: Lena Dunham article.

There was some struggling actress who Brad Pitt dated in the 80s (as in, he actually told the story and mentioned her by name). He'd gone to Eastern Europe where she was shooting on location and planned to propose, he had a wedding ring and everything. He got there and found she'd started a relationship her sleazy, no-name director, so they agreed to separate.

I'm guessing the next 20 years were pretty rough on her.

I want my exes to be happy, but not too happy if you know what I mean.

Phoebe said...


Thanks for responding - I'll take a look at that!


"This combo means that female sexual desire is basically extinct by the time women get to their 30s."

Duly noted. Also, hilarious.