Why do Women have Sex? Because People have Sex, and Women are People.
One more stroke has been added to the vast painting of female sexuality as passive, not motivated by the experience of pleasure, and above all STRANGE with the release of the new book "Why Women Have Sex" and the accompanying media coverage
I haven't read the book, but from the coverage, it does appear that the pursuit of pleasure is acknowledged as a motivator. But can you imagine a book coming out with the title "Why Men Have Sex?" It would be the biggest joke. Everyone would laugh HARD at the notion that there is even a question of motivation. The popular conception of manhood is that men have sex because the pursuit of sex is a defining characteristic of manhood. The drive to have sex underlies every other pursuit a man undertakes- whether painting, or physics, or politics, it's really all a scam to get women to go to bed with you. At least according to TV.
Why do women eat? Why do women breathe? Why do women sleep, every night? Why do women put on more clothes when it gets cold? Because being a woman is a subsidiary experience of being human, and human beings eat, sleep, react to temperature changes, and also, we have sex.
You couldn't title a book "Why Men Have Sex" because a man's experience of sex as pleasurable is assumed. Culturally, we are not convinced that sex for women has to do with pleasure. Women have sex to damage themselves, or to rebel, or for money or status, or to express love. In actuality, since sex is an impulse, and since most people have impulse control and make choices about when to act on their desires, people of all genders have complicated reasons for when and with whom they express their sexual urges. Men have sex for money, and have sex to show they love someone, and use sex as a way to hurt themselves. But we don't look for those subsidiary motivations when we talk about men's sexuality. A man has sex because sex feels good. It feels irrationally good, and thus, men act irrationally in pursuit of sex.
Both stories- that women need a secondary reason to want to have sex, and that men don't have secondary reasons for the sex they have- do not describe reality. People's lives and inner motivations are infinitely complex. But I object to this complexity being reserved for women. Especially since it denies our right to the very simplest explanation- "I had sex because I knew it would feel good."
I would like a world where a woman could have sex because she likes sex, and a man could paint because he likes painting. Where we don't assume that our genders make our participation in basic human experiences a mystery.
Contained in that interview was another one of my popular wisdom pet peeves- the explanation that women don't respond to porn the way men do because we are inherently less 'visual.' The idea is that women need the written word to get turned on. This doesn't account for the differences in content between most pornography and erotica. Erotica doesn't rely on themes of degradation and humiliation of women as much as pornography does. Of course, if you go looking for it, there's lots of pornography that doesn't rely on that either, but a girl's first experience with pornography will very likely involve the woman in the scene being talked to or physically treated like a subordinate. And then why would she look hard for pornography that depicts something different? If a woman isn't turned on by a visual representation of degradation, is it that she's not turned on by pictures or she's not turned on by what the pictures show?
And here's where I acknowledge there are many women who are aroused by scenes of degradation, and I don't think that weakens my argument that the "less visual" explanation for why more women aren't into pornography is facile. The "less visual" explanation ignores facts about what pornography generally depicts and doesn't address whether women are aroused by that content communicated in a different way. I think that a woman aroused by scenes of degradation is going to find a lot of visual content out there arousing. And there are probably millions of people who really do prefer the written word over pictures, and I bet half of them are men.
And anyways, what does "less visual" even mean? Women notice visual stimuli less? We attach less importance to it? Our nervous system doesn't respond as strongly to what our eyes take in? How come this "less visual" thing doesn't manifest itself outside of the arena of sexuality? Do we go to movies less? Do we care less about art and interior design? Do we remember faces less?
It bugs me to no end that the very obvious explanation- women don't get turned on by pornography because most pornography shows a woman being treated badly- is jettisoned in favor of a much more complicated explanation- women are inherently different from men. And this isn't a moral judgment on what pornography should depict, or what is okay to be turned on. But it is a moral judgment on rushing to believe there are huge differences between men and women. That's mean. Especially when under the guise of description we are actually prescribing a "normal" experience of sexuality that is less oriented towards pursuing pleasure than the "normal" male experience.
The belief that women are people first still makes you a weirdo, apparently.