Fighting with the Sky

Why Women Have Sex

Posted on: October 7, 2009

women_sex_book_01So the other day at work I discovered a book titled Why Women Have Sex.  Everyone seemed to be pretty amused by the title and were having a good laught about it.  But it made me a little uneasy.  After doing some further research, I determined that the full title is Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge (and Everything in Between) by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss.

Now I haven’t read this book and all I really did was thumb through it, but it still bothers me.  Apparenlty the book contains a list of over 200 reasons why women have sex.

Apparently women can never have sex because they want to, there has to be a deeper reason behind it.  And I’m offended that “revenge” is one of the reasons that even made the title!

I hate that women’s sexuality has to be explained away and have a reason behind it.  Where is the book Why Men Have Sex, too?  Society thinks that men can sex at the drop of a button, they want sex all the time…but women have to have a logical reason.

I don’t want to comment on the book too much because I haven’t read it.  But I have the feeling I don’t want to read it either.


8 Responses to "Why Women Have Sex"

It sounds like an extremely stupid and chauvinistic book. It’s shocking that such books still appear and there are people who want to read them. I’m so disgusted by this!

As a researcher, I just want to say that this book is not a chauvinistic attempt by a non-scientist to talk about women’s sex lives, and neither is it a self-help book, it is the results of a study with over 3000 subjects conducted by a laboratory by two prominent researchers whose journal articles I have read in school and whose work I respect (but don’t always agree with!). This is an academic text about women’s psychology, specifically, sex. I have not read this book, but after reading this introduction on Google Books, I am very sure that this book was not written with chauvinistic or misogynistic intent. No research is perfect, and I will admit the title and byline are not great, as well as that the exclusion of non-heterosexual women is problematic, but it is research nonetheless, by professionals who have devoted 20 years to studying sexuality and mate choice. The point that I gleaned from reading the introduction is that wanting sex is not always about simply wanting sex. Sexual desire does not exist in a vacuum; there are many more factors that go into sexual desire and behavior besides wanting it, and I think that this is part of what this research is trying to explore. I want to caution people who read about this in the popular press that the press has a really bad track record of reporting the actual results of studies with accuracy. I really feel that this is a case where you can’t judge a book by its cover, and one must carefully consider the research process and methods, the source of the research, and what is actually being said in the book before drawing conclusions.

From my reading of teh internetz, it would appear that the researchers previously looked at motivation for sexual activities in couples – or something to that effect.
@ Lauren.. I don’t believe that the fact that this is social research deproblematises the marketing of this. The cover and associated press that the release of this has used has very much pushed the notion that sex is something women use for a variety of motivations. Whether or not the study itself attempts to demonstrate this, or is in fact fair, I do not know. But at the end of the day, the researchers are pushing the notion of women as sexually manipulative as a way to sell their book – which, I might add is rather ironic – considering they are attempting to contribute to the scientific understanding of women’s sexuality.

Why men have sex:

1) Boredom
2) Horniness
3) Exert control
4) Power trip
5) Procreation
6) Revenge
7) Grief (sex = life)
9) Fun (my husband’s contribution)
10) Endorphin high
11) Empowerment/confidence
12) Love/sharing
13) Trade (get what he wants)
14) Money
15) Get out of a sticky situation
16) To say sorry/make amends
17) To get a bed for the night
18) Drunk/high
19) Conquest
20) Feel younger (if fucking a younger thing)

And these are just off the top of my head.

Anybody feel like writing a book about it?

“I hate that women’s sexuality has to be explained away and have a reason behind it.”

Are we getting emotional about this? Science has been demystifying human behavior for some time (as something that cannot be explained). An example? Several mental illnesses can be treated nowadays, and this was not possible in the past. It’s a long way until human behavior can be explained in its totality, however.

“Apparently women can never have sex because they want to, there has to be a deeper reason behind it.”

There’s still a lot of speculation regarding the origin of our species, and we can only make educated guesses regarding the time before recorded history. Men and women are different, and there are biological reasons for this (if you’re not anti-science I can tell you a few of them that might shake a bit the notion that men and women are equal -no one is superior or inferior, just different). There are romantic notions about mating that play into female stereotypes of emotional dependency, love and commitment, and then there are serious attempts to explain human behavior. No one can provide a comprehensive explanation of human behavior (yet), but I’ll take whatever evidence we have now instead of unsubstantiated opinions. It might not be as easily explained as “because a woman wants to”.

“…it made me a little uneasy…I haven’t read this book and all I really did was thumb through it, but it still bothers me…I’m offended…I hate…I have the feeling…”

This comes across as someone who doesn’t want to look at this topic from a detached perspective. Remember, emotions can cloud our judgement.

“Where is the book Why Men Have Sex, too?”

Since the days of Freud, take your pick. For example, back in those days the male interest in breasts was explained by men being reminded of their mother (an infantile attraction, so to speak). Today, to make a long story short, that viewpoint is difficult to sustain. An by the way, until relatively recently, this whole subject has been rather male-centric, with female orgasm, female ejaculation or female pleasure having been consistently devalued or ignored. There are still many mysteries about sexual activity, though.

Lauren: thank you for bringing a cooler, calmed statement into this discussion. In my opinion, we need more women like you.

You concede judging a book by its cover, fair enough (I’m planning on getting it; this is interesting research).

As far as emotions are concerned, yes, they can be a problem. Decisions should be the result of analysis, of weighing the pros and cons, of calculating risks and gains, and cutting your losses. Decisions should not be driven by emotions. This doesn’t really apply to love encounters since there are other factors at work, but every other aspect of my life (work, learning) benefits from being methodical.

And by the way, we can also use sex as revenge.

On a lighter note, could I upload a different avatar? Say my photograph? The one next to my first post is rather…cute.

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