Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I should write more about sex. Sex sells. Sex with sea shells. Sex.

I actually am curious about women's sexuality, but not in a titillating sense, sadly. When I read anything that smacks of real research into this topic I always shake my head, because researching sexual desires is so very hard to do. The best we get are some simple laboratory tests of the effect of watching something sexual on the study subjects, and this is so very removed of what sex really is like and what turns us on or doesn't turn us on at all. And asking people questions about their sexuality is extremely unlikely to produce truthful results for people lie, to sound more like whatever they think is expected from them. Some studies have shown that if the infidelity figures people report are correct then there are some invisible women out there, because men give too many infidelity experiences compared to the ones women in the same society give. This is all about heterosexuals, of course.

There are generalizations out there, of course. We hear that men are more visual about sex and that women are more likely to want sex in a loving relationship than men do, and that men are about sex for the penis and women want it for the whole body and on and on. I'm skeptical about much of this because having sex is like eating in many ways, and the customs about food definitely affect what and how we eat. The same thing applies to sexual desires, too. If we have sexual desires that are not in accordance with what the society appears to expect, are we going to tell about them in these studies? Surely it depends on the society in which the studies are done, but also surely this is more of a problem for women than for men in societies where women don't have as much power in general.

Even arguments such as men's greater dependency on visual arousal are fraught with similar problems. How do we know that this is true in a society which has more visual arousal cues for men than for women? It could be that these cues exist because men are more visual in the first place, but it could also be that men get more of these cues because men have traditionally had more power to determine what is displayed.

Then move from desires to actual behavior and things get even more complicated. There is the pregnancy angle for women, for one thing. You can still get killed for becoming pregnant outside the marriage in some parts of this world and in many others you will be subjected to a lot of societal shunning and disapproval, and everywhere you will be stuck with the consequences of having the baby or aborting the pregnancy. As men don't get pregnant this alone might have a differentially dampening effect on the joys of one-night sexual encounters for the two sexes.

Add to this the fear of violence from going to have sex with someone you don't know. This fear is more realistic for women than for men, and if you don't believe me just read the rape and sexual violence statistics.

Given all this, I'd be very surprised if women acted just like men in actual sexual encounters, even if they had identical sexual desires, and therefore I don't believe that we can deduce women's sexual daydreams from their actual behavior when it comes to sex.