Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why Women Have Sex

Cindy Meston, a so-called psychologist from Texas (where else, people?), apppeared today on the show of Dr. Phil, another so-called psychologist, to promote the silly rubbish that apparently goes for research in Texas. This pseudo-scientist's new book is . I kid you not, my friends. There is actually a woman in the world whose own sexuality is so miserable that she needs to conduct research to look for the "reasons" behind female sexuality. Burning calories, boredom and revenge are some of the "reasons" that Cindy Meston lists for female sexuality. It never occurs to her, of course, that these are not actual reasons for women to have sex. These are simply justifications women often have to look for because their sexuality is constantly otherized, marginalized and persecuted.

Male desire is seen as a given. men want sex, what can be more natural and obvious? When women want sex, however, it is seen is something so weird and incomprehensible that it has to be analyzed to death.

"Women need to have reasons to have sex while men just need a place" was the piece of chauvinistic idiocy that Dr. Phil came up with to introduce the topic. This is precisely the kind of attitude that makes women feel apologetic for pursuing sexual pleasure. One of the segments of the show was dedicated to a woman who actually desires sex because it gives her pleasure. Of course, the woman who was chosen for this segment is nothing short of freaky. She dresses in an extremely weird way, has humonguous breast implants and behaves in a way that borders on scary. After depicting a sexual woman in this way, Dr. Phil doesn't need to say anything else to ridicule female sexuality. The only conclusion people can draw from this presentation of female desire is that a woman who likes sex for its own sake is weird.

Predictably, the show then degenerated into promoting the "sex-as-an-aid-to-relationship" approach that is the hallmark of puritanical patriarchy. In answer to a question of what should a couple do when one of them isn't interested in having sex with the partner, Dr. Phil started pontificating about sex needing to be "negotiated as part of a relationship." This approach is precisely what causes so much sexual misery in this sexless society. People are schooled to think of their relationship first and of sexuality second. However, you can't force your body to serve your ideological and social goals indefinitely. As much as you might want to subjugate your sexuality to the needs of the all-important relationship, it isn't going to work. Sexual desire can't be cheated into thinking that you want somebody you don't (at least not for long).

23 comments:

42ndWF said...

[eye roll]

One of the things I am most thankful for with regards to modern, sex positive feminism, is coming to the realization that the fact that I like sex A LOT isn't freaky or weird or wrong or something to be ashamed of. I'm not abnormal. I do not need to apologize for my sexual desires.

These kinds of portrayals of female sexuality are helpful to nobody. If straight men really wanted more sex (and I'm speaking from my own hetero perspective here), they'd stop trying to make us ashamed of wanting it and encourage us to enjoy it.

Honestly, though, I expect nothing better from Dr. Phil.

raymond said...

I don't think of myself as a feminist; but I feel a really strong agreement with something you said --- something that has astounded me and "floored me" (no pun intended) for years and years.

This idea of guys castigating and belittling wonderful women, even some wonderful women who were kind and loving enough to share themselves with the guys, drives me utterly NUTS. It is despicable, unconscionable, cruel and hard-hardhearted beyond my capacity to accept it. Some guys, I guess, don't deserve love.

those stinkers.

betcha Jesus (who is often known for morality) wouldn't abide that.

Clarissa said...

42ndWF: you are absolutely not freaky or weird! It's sad that our society often wants us to believe that. And you are right in that this behavior on the part of men is very self-defeating. They might want more sex but their fear of free female sexuality seems to be bigger than even their desire for sex.

raymond: I totally agree with you about Jesus and everything else you said.

Penelope said...

Did any of you actually read the book? It sounds like not. The number one reason women gave for having sex was that it feels good - for the pleasure! The media has made a lot of the more obscure reasons that some women gave, but that is the fault of the media, and has little bearing on the vast majority of the content of the book. Also, by the way, Dr. Meston is Canadian, and the UT Psychology program is considered one of the top in the nation. Those of us who hail from Austin don't appreciate being bashed by closed minded idiots who seem to know little of the diversity we have in Texas. For sure we have ignorant bigots here, but listening to some of your comments, it would seem that some of you are a bit ignorant yourselves.

Penelope said...

Before you go blowing your top next time, bother to do the research. Here are a few quotes from Meston regarding the book:

“The No. 1 reason women gave was because it’s fun.”

“What was surprising to me is that physical gratification came before love and emotional commitment. There were no significant gender differences about why men and why women have sex.”

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Penelope. Your quotes prooved my point for me and further convinced me that I don't need to waste my time reading this junk.

I mean, it was surprising to her that normal women (unlike this freaky author) don't have sex for the purposes of "emotional commitment"?? It was actually surprising? Try to imagine the sex act done for this insane purpose. That isn't weird to you?

The very title of the book, as I explained in my post, is sexist and it turns women into a freaky Other. And that is disturbing to me.

Whether or not "The media has made a lot of the more obscure reasons", the very fact that somebody would look for those "reasons" and call this search science is wrong and sexist. As I also explained in my post, the author in question is so uneducated that she doesn't even see that these aren't reasons. these are JUSTIFICATIONS.

A little question for you: what makes you so passionate about this book?

V said...

Clarissa,
I actually went to the bookstore and flipped through the book in question. And it actually does contain the chapter on sexual reasons for having sex. :) Thus, I would suggest not to take Dr. Phil's interpretation of some book as a gospel... That said, the rest of the book is indeed devoted to non-sexual reasons to have sex. Still, why not entertain the possibility that a lot of women do have sex for non-sexual reasons (it certainly feels so anyway based on just observing the society) and, therefore, the book may depict statistically relevant reality, however unenlightened that reality might be or seem?

Clarissa said...

What upsets me is the title of the book. "Why WOMEN have sex?" As if there were other reasons for men to do it.

Just as many men have sex for non-sexual reasons as women. But only women are studied, analyzed, discussed, atc. as if we were soome weird insect. Such books are aimed at creating and perpetuating the gender divide, setting men and women apart. This is one of the foremost tools of the patriarchal system.

Val said...

Excellent post Clarissa - I won't waste my time w/this book after the profound disappointment/disillusionment after reading "I'd Rather Eat Chocolate"; she was SO CLOSE to full realization, but then she caved - you guessed it, "for the sake of her marriage"...

Clarissa said...

I know! I'm so sick of how this "women don't need sex that much except to save their relationships" propaganda keeps being advertised everywhere.

Heather said...

I actually did read the book and it was good. Given that the author runs the female sexuality lab- one of a few- I think she is aware the mnay reasons women have sex. It's unfortunate, but not everyone in the world has figured that out yet.

Good for her for spreading the word. By the way, Texas is actually one of the top 10 psychology research departments in the country.

Clarissa said...

Well, I guess that explains the sad state of psychology in this country.

"A female sexuality lab" sounds hilarious. As a woman, Heather, doesn't it upset you to be otherized in this way? Doesn't it bother you at all that male sexuality is accepted as a norm that doesn't need to be questioned while female sexuality is treated as something alien and weird?

Clarissa said...

And another question for thosse who want to defend this snakeoil vendor. This so-called researcher and psychologist went on Dr. Phil's Show, of all places, to try to sell her book. Does she think that Dr. Phil is a psychologist? Does she endorse him as such?

Or have you lived in Texas for so long that your sense of reality is completely skewed?

Anonymous said...

I have thought he was a chauvinist for a long time, and he mistreated his first wife according to several people.

He's just gotten worse as time has gone on, always taking the men's side and justifying everything they do.

V said...

Clarissa to Heather:
---Doesn't it bother you at all that male sexuality is accepted as a norm that doesn't need to be questioned while female sexuality is treated as something alien and weird?

I am not sure male sexuality is not questioned or "otherized" by feminist researchers... Sometimes it is even patologized...

Suppose I say that "female sexuality lab" is not hilarious, but fantasy-provoking?.. :) I wonder what would be the first knee-jerk reaction of the female readers to this kind of perception... :)

V said...

Clarissa,
----I'm so sick of how this "women don't need sex that much except to save their relationships" propaganda keeps being advertised everywhere.

First: I do agree with you on this one. : :) Second, I have a lot of experience with discussions about propaganda... It is interesting that both you and my wife tend to perceive what is shown on TV, written in the books, or otherwise depicted in the media as "propaganda", meaning something deliberately done by somebody to manipulate the society in the certain direction. I, on the other hand, see that media just portrays the reality (if we like this reality or not - is another question), and the more accurately it portrays the reality, the more people identify with it. Yes, taken this way it still serves for preservation of the traditional attitudes. But I believe that this preservation is a side-effect, not the purpose of the creators of the media, their purpose is to engage through identification.

Clarissa said...

I don't think that there is one single reality for everybody, especially not of the kind that can be portrayed on television. To make a TV show you need to come up with a plot, engage in a lot of editing, and - want it or not - you will have to manipulate information to make it fit the format of the show.

I do not subscribe to the belief that ideology is something that a group of people or a person do to everybody else. It is much more complex than that. Theory of ideology is actually one of my central research interests. In my view (that almost got me expelled from grad school), any form of collective identification is, in itself, a certain kind of ideology (or, put in more reductive terms, propaganda.) Consequently, if your purpose is, as you say, "to engage through identification", then you are engaged in propaganda or ideology-making by definition.

Clarissa said...

"Suppose I say that "female sexuality lab" is not hilarious, but fantasy-provoking?.. :) I wonder what would be the first knee-jerk reaction of the female readers to this kind of perception... :)"

-Mine was "Huh??" :-) But I am very accepting of any kind of sexual fantasies (mostly), so it's all good. :-)

V said...

:) The particular kind of the fantasy does not matter in this case, the question is - how many of the readers will have the thought like "oh, these men, they see something to fantasize about everywhere, even in the highly respectably-scientific female sexuality lab". :)

Clarissa said...

I guess the ones who need all those 273 reasons to have sex might think exactly that. :-)

V said...

You may be right, but still: can you estimate, based on your experiences of talking to other women, which of the 273 reasons are statistically the most important?
If your distribution does not have a large narrow peak where you have the main reason - then maybe the author of the book is right? And the problem becomes not the book per se, but what people actually do with it. Do they take it as information about the current state of affairs, do they use "many people do xyz so there is nothing wrong in doing xyz for pqr reasons", do they do something else?

Clarissa said...

As I said before, if the author called her book "why PEOPLE have sex", I wouldn't have a problem with it.

Creating a feminine mystique and otherizing female sexuality have always been among the central resources of patriarchy.

Anonymous said...

It's so obvious that Clarissa is right: the book is sexist from the inception. Why is it so difficult for some people to understand what she's saying? Like she says, the very title of this book is sickening and I am so sick and tired of all the sexist junk with equally sickening titles (eg.Why Men Want Sex and Women Want Love) bombarded in our faces on and on and on~~~ It's simply incredible how incredibly sexist society still is in this day and age.