Monday, February 2, 2015

On Sexual Desire

I was reading this thing recently (after being directed thither by a friend), and I wanted to treat author Carsie Blanton's item #2:
2. Women like sex just as much as men. Countless theories have been put forth over the past few centuries about why women don’t like sex. Without going into the tedious details, let me state my own opinion on the matter: they do.
If you don’t buy it, let’s do an experiment. Let’s start a new culture where women, from their girlhood, are told that sexual pleasure is a natural, fun part of being female. They are never told that sex is dangerous, dirty or weird. They are never badgered, shamed, pressured or forced into any sexual experience. When they become interested in sex with other people, they are encouraged to explore it in a consensual, safe, fun way, with whomever they find themselves attracted to. All of their sexual partners are caring, communicative, generous, and happy to take direction.
That will be our control group.
I see this sentiment a lot in the wild, and frequently accompanied by the defining down of what female desire is, or what actually constitutes "sex". For the purposes of this discussion, I define "sex" as "genital contact resulting in orgasm". There are several strong rejoinders to this silliness:
  1. Lesbian bed death. That is, put two women in a sexual relationship, and they will stop having sex altogether, or nearly so. There's a great deal of disagreement over this, but the opposition seems mainly focused on expanding definitions of sexual behavior to avoid things that bring the partners to climax.
  2. Gay couple behavior. This terrific io9 story on sex drive by gender — a go-to survey with lots of great analytic, empirical studies — quotes a survey study by Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Catanese and Kathleen Vohs that's worth repeating at length (emboldening all mine):
    One large investigation that included a sizeable [sic] sample of same-gender relationships was the study by Blumstein and Schwartz. They found that gay men had higher frequencies of sex than lesbians at all stages of relationships. Within the first 2 years of a relationship, for example, two thirds of the gay men but only one third of the lesbians were in the maximum category of having sex three or more times per week (the highest frequency category). After 10 years together, 11% of the gay men but only 1% of the lesbians were still in that category of highly frequent sex.
    At the other extreme, after 10 years nearly half the lesbians, but only a third of the gay men, were having sex less than once a month. Even that difference may be a substantial underestimate of the discrepancy in sexual activity: Blumstein and Schwartz reported that the gay men who had largely ceased having sex after 10 years together were often having sex with other partners, whereas the lesbians who had ceased having sex together had generally not compensated for this deficit by finding other sexual outlets.
  3. Differential masturbation rates. Women masturbate less frequently (or not at all — a significant fraction report having never done so). An interesting sidebar here is the differences in reported masturbation rates between women in the Kinsey era of the 1950's (62% lifetime) versus a modern 2007 British study (71% lifetime), suggestive of the idea that female sexual behavior is socially driven at the margins, and much more variable. (The male numbers, 92% and 95% respectively, were all but unchanged.)
  4. Almost without exception, only men buy sex.
  5.  Transsexual anecdotal behavior. Both the io9 piece above and Scott Alexander cite the experiences of transsexuals who report increased libido after taking testosterone.
    I could hunt down all of the stories of trans men who start taking testosterone, switch to a more male sex drive, and are suddenly like “OH MY GOD I SUDDENLY REALIZE WHAT MALE HORNINESS IS LIKE I THOUGHT I KNEW SEXUAL FRUSTRATION BEFORE BUT I REALLY REALLY DIDN’T HOW DO YOU PEOPLE LIVE WITH THIS?”
    From io9, citing Baumeister:
    A study of 35 female-to-male transsexuals and 15 male-to-female transsexuals also supports the impact of androgens on sex drive. In a longitudinal design that tested patients before and 3 months postoperatively, Van Goozen, Cohen-Kettenis, Gooren, Frijda, & Van de Poll (1995) found a decrease in sexual interest and arousability among the male-to-female transsexuals, who were administered anti-androgens and estrogens. In contrast, the female-to-male transsexuals, who were administered testosterone, reported heightened sexual interest and arousability. These data highlight the importance of testosterone in producing meaningful changes in sexual arousal and interest, even over a relatively short time.
The feminist enterprise has a great deal invested in the false trope that men and women are exactly equal in every way, and that biology has nothing to do with innate differences between the sexes. That's a big, scary word, "biology": it makes changing those things very hard, perhaps impossible. One of my friends has asserted that feminism draws much from the psychology of addiction, with its "I deny reality and substitute my own". You could scarcely find a better example.

No comments:

Post a Comment