Skip to comments.The female libido and ‘the two-year itch’
Posted on 06/23/2013 10:56:25 AM PDT by rickmichaels
Isabel, a New York City lawyer, has a fiancé who appears a perfect catch. Eric is sensitive, smart, kind and handsome. Hes an attentive lover, the sort of man who, on Valentines Day, draws her a bath surrounded by candles and arranges rose petals into a heart shape on the bed. Isabel loves Eric, even though her passion for him dwindled months after they became involved. She misses her erotically charged relationship with her ex-boyfriend who, though not marriage material, made her feel desired, his possession. Still, Isabel tries to rev up her low libido for sex with Eric, buying massage oil and a blindfoldwhich also lets her pretend shes with someone else.
Isabels story may read like an outline for the next wannabe 50 Shades of Grey franchise, but its actually one of several personal accounts punctuating journalist Daniel Bergners bold new book, What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire. Bergners account of myth-shattering research into female sexuality arrives amid a publishing landslide on the topic, joining Bella Ellwood-Claytons Sex Drive: In Pursuit of Sexual Desire and Katherine Angels Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell. Together they offer startling revelations about female desireor rather its absence, a fevered debate of our time.
Low female libidohypoactive sexual desire disorder as its been medicalizedhas been the subject of hand-wringing for decades. Its the Wheres Waldo? of scientific research, as drug companies desperately seek a female Viagra. Theres big money to be made: a 2005 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal claimed between 35 and 40 per cent of women have low libidowhich suggests low is in fact closer to average. Ellwood-Clayton spells out the problem in Sex Drive:Once in a secure relationship, womens sex drive begins to plummet, she writes. The Canadian-born sexual anthropologist cites a German study that found that four years into a relationship, less than half of 30-year-old women wanted regular sex with their partners. After 20 years of marriage only 20 per cent of women did. Mens libidos, on the other hand, remained pretty constant.
The issue, weve long thought, is that women just arent interested; female desire is simply weaker, and stoked by intimacy and familiarity. But scientists are now wondering whether commitment itself might be the problem. In other words, its not a libido deficit, its monogamyan unspoken two-year itch. As Bergner puts it, the female drug were really seeking is monogamys cure.
Female desire is a relatively new field of research. Until the late 1970s, the male-dominated field of sexology focused on documenting male behaviour and performance. The more complex, discrete mechanisms of female lust were inconsequential. Anatomical drawings of female rats didnt bother to include the clitoris, Bergner reports. Even today, a peep-show stigma remains attached to sexology in academe, particularly in the U.S., which is why many of the scientists he interviews are Canadian.
Psychologist Lori Brotto of the University of British Columbia cuts to the chase: Sometimes I wonder whether [low female desire] isnt so much about libido as it is about boredom, she says. Ken Wallen, a psychologist and neuroendrocrinologist whose work at Emerson University outside Atlanta has revealed that female rhesus monkeys are the sexual aggressors, echoes the sentiment: The idea that monogamy serves the natural sexuality of women may not be accurate, he says. Bergner also cites an Australian study of women over age 40 that correlated low female desire to the length of time a woman had been with her partner, not hormonal changes. Once those women were with new partners, libido returned.
American psychologist Marta Meana routinely sees women whose white-hot lust for their partner has turned to ash. She theorizes that, within monogamy, womens narcissistic need to feel desired is not being met: they feel their partners are trapped and that a choicethe lust-propelled selection of herwas no longer being made. One of the women interviewed in In What Do Woman Want?, Sophie, reveals how she compensates to summon lust for her husband: by fantasizing about being ravaged by Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.
The you complete me, best-friends model held as the marital ideal and routinely joked about as a turn-off for men may actually be even more so for women, says Meana: There has to be an other for there to be sexiness.
The idea that women might be ill-suited for monogamy flies in the face of entrenched thinking that women use sex to bond while men use intimacy for sex, as enshrined in the intimacy-based sex-response cycle pioneered by Rosemary Basson, a professor of psychiatry at UBC. It also upends the parental investment theory, the notion that mens seemingly limitless reproductive capacity is why they fling seed far and wide, while women maximize limited reproductive resources by being choosy. Societies have long used the low-libido explanation to maintain order: it discourages female infidelity and has freed womens energy to focus on home and children.
But that doesnt jibe with the new thinking that a big part of what triggers female desire is to be desired. Some of this is conditioned: the idea that womenor good womenmust be pursued and coaxed into sex. But women also expend a lot of energy on the hunt, Elwood-Clayton points outmuch of that also focused on being desired. The stakes are even higher for women in the current hypersexualized culture, she writes: Our desire to appear desirable exceeds desire itself. Jim Pfaus, a Concordia University psychologist and neurobiologist, sees the double standard surrounding female sexuality rooted in fear: We men are afraid that if we open the box, open her control, were opening ourselves to being cuckolded. Were afraid of whats inside. A glimpse of the boxs contents was provided by Natalie Angiers 1999 book Woman: An Intimate Geography, which describes the clitoris as the only organ designed purely for pleasure; it has 8,000 nerve fibrestwice the number in the penis. Who needs a handgun when youve got a semiautomatic? Angier writes.
At Queens University in Kingston, Ont., psychologist Meredith Chivers is working to expose the animal truth of female desire. Her research, which uses a plethysmograph, a miniature bulb and light sensor placed in the vagina, suggests womens desire is as omnivorous as mens; theyre equally aroused by a range of pornography and are far more responsive to stories involving strangers than long-time lovers. Yet when asked to rate their arousal, women downplay it, particularly when the stimuli arent socially acceptable.
Chiverss findings suggest that women buy into the zipped-up model of their own sexuality. Yet as Katherine Angel makes clear in her sexual memoir, Unmastered, female desire is a tangle of complex, often contradictory impulses fed by the mind, the heart, the images we see, things weve read and been told. Angel, a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for the History of Medicine at Warwick University, writes of processing her first erotic impulses: The words I would have put this into, had I felt the urgethe words I still put this intoare these: I feel like a man. She understood, even then, that as a woman she had to tamp those impulses down.
Fittingly, Angels lyrical, explicit meditation on her own desire, a ferocious and vulnerable thing, defies traditional narrative structure. She weaves trenchant social observation throughout the book, exploring seeming contradictions like being a feminist who enjoys sexual submission. She calls porn misogynistic, coercive, tacky, but, like Chiverss subjects, can be turned on by it: I imagine sex with heror is it me?through his eyes. I see myself as he might. I allow myself desire for her through my desire for him. Awareness of her capacity for pleasure feeds her desire, she writes.
Pfaus believes the new spotlight on female sexuality will make way for a revolution among women in the next generation: Were going to see more supposedly male-like behaviour, more women picking up men, more women getting laid and leaving, having sex without wanting to bond, more girls up in their rooms clicking on their computer and masturbating before they get started on their homework. Its a tableaux destined to horrify many. But, paradoxically, it could also pave the way to more aware, realistic marital expectationsand that includes new ways of scratching the two-year itch.
Do guys really do this?
Just saying... I dunno.
Sounds like yet another woman, seeking yet another unconventional spin.
Couldn’t swear to it, but I dunno.
Apparently if he wants to get some he has to.
That whole first paragraph makes me ill. I have the distinct impression that I wouldn’t much care for any of those people; that Isabel is a shrewish high-maintenance bitch, and that Eric is a pansy. And that the un-named ex-boyfriend is a jerk and probably a criminal.
If guys would just realize that sex starts hours before “doing it” and that women don’t want to just “hit it” and they hate it if the men expect them to act like porn stars, things would get better.
The jaded, the unhappy, the perpetually seeking stimulus, now has quantified themselves as a disease state. Sort of like the new disease obesity. It is all about who pays for the therapy. For lots of folks under the current stressors, sleep is the new sex.
Subject covered without so much drivel by “therapists” in song by the real deal Atlanta Rhythm Section. Played the old way, on a turntable. Enjoy:
Thanks for the post.
Too true, otherwise he aint gettin’ “nun” LOL.
Semper Fidelis. Always Faithful.
That counts for a lot, Marine!
All this new age psycho babble BS is why we are at this place in society...many men are pansy, wussified girly boys. Women are rude, crude and overbearing. Not all women but I think its leaning toward the majority.
The changes to our culture brought about by cell phones, Hollywood, Facebook and the myriad of liberal political causes have been devastating.
Is there a difference? Apple and an orange... Weapon and its firing mechanism.
How about NOT ‘$&’$@?&/!@/!ing at all? How about holding it until you marry?
Idiocracy is already here, I already wrote it here today. Yet another thread!
It’s been my observation that guys will do whatever it takes, or rather some will.
Still, it seems like the dick head approach seems to garner the best results. You know playing games -— as sophomoric as that sounds.
Though I’m not predisposed to being a prick, I have observed that if I’m in a foul mood, not interested in sex, or brooding, (which has been often since Obama has assumed office), that she will jump right into the role of a pleaser and will try to turn my attitude around by whatever means available.
Contrast that with sweet guy mode, and I’m like a gerbil running on the wheel trying to get some affection.
Sucks for a guy who is not predisposed to being a cheater!
I know it’s nice they are praying, and honoring the tradition of not seeing the dress until the wedding, but I hope they honored the very important tradition of not screwing before marriage like the low-class in this article.
Why so complicated.... ????? Sheeeesh!
Nothing is saved for marriage anymore, and you see that in the marriage numbers....why buy the cow, when the milk is free?
Of course, the rise in faggot/dyke activity is related to the "what else is left?" after destruction of any intimate bonding between sexes, NATURALLY.
I think I agree — there's this video which, I think, explains a lot of how women are essentially unpleasable.
Because they cannot find one who matches these contradictory attributes, the one that society says that they
deserve, they become less and less grateful for even those men around them that do have good traits.
Did anyone ever tell you that you have a very elegant way with words? ;-)
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