As a culture we are slowly working to unravel this patriarchy. To do this, we must shed light upon our societal perspective on women’s desire.
Notes about this post:
Much of the language here engages the gender binary and heteronormative culture. I write about this topic from this perspective, because it still is the dominant culture, and as such, a significant source of the oppression of women.
These are my interpretations and reflections on a book called UNTRUE: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Adultery is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, by Wednesday Martin. It is an incredibly illuminating read that breaks down many myths and misconceptions about women’s desire. Can be found on Audible and Kindle.
In the next sections, the information is based upon my own insights and reflections, as well as studies I read about in Wednesday Martin’s book. She cites many studies from a variety of reputable sources. Some of the information might be relatable or triggering, especially for male born folks. If you feel triggered, I invite you to dig a little deeper. What is the source of your discomfort. Is there a place where you would have to let go of a privilege to embrace the reality of some of these findings and perspectives?
Here is “new” information about Women’s Desire:
- Clitoris: only structure of the body that serves no other purpose besides pleasure. Seems like a fair exchange for the great gift and responsibility of uterus bearing humans to make and birth people.
- Women, at least as much as men, claim they do not require emotional intimacy to have gratifying sex.
- Many women who otherwise consider their primary relationships happy and healthy, still fantasize about having sex with other men. Many who act on it do NOT wish to end their primary partnerships. Quite the contrary. Many women “cheat” to keep themselves happy in marriages that either lack sex or lack sex that is gratifying. Or perhaps they have gratifying sex, but still desire more variety and diversity.
- It is often thought that women are not as driven as men to be with partners to whom they find sexually or physically attractive. This is untrue. Women are at least as driven to want sex with partners they find physically attractive as are men.
- Many women desire more frequent sex than men. It is typical for a woman’s sexual drive to pique in her late 30s through 40s. A societal norm is that women tend to marry older men. Men’s sex drive often declines in their late 40s and 50s. If you do the math, it indicates that many women receive less sex with their primary partners right as they are reaching the pique of their sexual expression and desire.
- Women, more than men, are refreshed and invigorated by having sexual experiences with new people.
- Women whose husbands cheat are more likely to stay with their husbands and work it out. Men whose wives cheat are more likely to leave their wives. The implications of this are great, considering that when men leave their wives due to adultery, women often suffer poverty, while men remain comfortable.
- In a study comparing heterosexual men’s and women’s arousal, men became aroused by watching sexuality between women with men and women with women. Women became aroused by watching men with men, women with men, women with women, and bonobos. Yes. Bonobos. Women are highly arousable, sensitive, erotic creatures.
What makes Women’s Desire unsafe for women:
- As a species, humans evolved as polyamorous beings. When we delve into the time before agriculture, we were tribal, nomadic beings. Back then, it was normal and adaptive for women to have children with different men. The tribe cared for all of the children. With the advent of agriculture and land ownership, we have adapted to be monogamous. The simplified version is that men were allowed to own land and women were not. So in essence, men owned land AND men owned women. Men could therefore cheat on their wives without repercussions. They had nothing to lose. On the other hand, women’s basic survival depended upon their loyalty to their husbands. If women were not loyal, they lost their stability.
- Though times are changing, many men still earn more than their female counterparts in the workforce. Therefore if a woman chooses to leave her husband for any reason, or he chooses to leave her because she cheats, the outlook for the woman is historically and contemporarily, not good. In court, the men “win” in terms of finances, leaving a woman with children stuck fending for herself in the poverty range. Many women who get divorced find themselves living below the poverty level, while their male ex-spouses are financially comfortable.
- Given that men are more likely to leave women who cheat on them than vice versa, this supports the old notion that men cheating is forgivable, normal even. Men being men. Boys being boys. It is acceptable for men to meet their needs and desires and demonized for women to do the same.
- Women’s desires and “transgressions” are vilified and shamed. If a woman cheats, she is judged harshly by our culture, even by other women. The social implications of this are great. They are considered sluts by men and threats by other women.
How do we create space and safety for Women’s Desires?
- Listen to her desires.
- Do not shame her desires. Women have been acculturated not to ask for what we want, sexually and otherwise, and to quietly acquiesce to and accept what we are given. Speaking our desires is often a challenge to overcome. When we gather the courage to do so, please make it a safe space for us to express ourselves authentically. Replace defensiveness with curiosity.
- If you are a man in a heteronormative and monogamous OR polyamorous relationship with a woman, who is “comfortable” with his partner exploring her sexuality with other women, but not other men, unpack that. Is there a perceived threat to your masculinity here?
- If you are a man separating from his female partner and you are the “breadwinner”, make a fair and equitable financial separation agreement that allows you to have comparable quality of life, especially if you have children together. Do not allow her to live in poverty while you live in comfort.
- If you are a man and know men who are perpetuating lack of equality in these areas, please illuminate your male friends. Data shows that men are much more likely to listen to other men than they are to women.
Thank you for reading. My hope is to engage in a thoughtful productive dialogue about how to support all of our full sexual expression, while dismantling the patriarchy with love and tenderness. If you have questions or wish to dialogue with me further, I do one on one and couples work around supporting connection to our sexual expression.