But women don’t enjoy sex

Why don’t we see more women on TV who have a lot of sex because they really like it?

When TV women sleep around, it’s almost invariably in order to get something (money, power, revenge on his wife, etc.) or because she has psychological problems that cause her to chase after men. When TV men sleep around, it’s usually because they’re horny.

Why can’t we see more women who have sex for fun? Because it might encourage women to think sex ought to be fun, and maybe if a guy doesn’t make it fun he needs to be replaced? Or because male writers just don’t grasp that women can enjoy sex because no woman who’s been with them ever did?

Or because we have this Madonna-Whore complex, and the only way for a woman to be both is to put out, but only for someone else’s benefit?

Maybe the target demographic audience of young men is just jaw-droppingly insecure, and the very thought of being expected to please a woman in bed gives them cold sweats.

Despite all the porn and stuff out there, which clouds the issue of human sexuality more than clarifies it, there’s still a lot of mystery about female enjoyment of sex – even for the women. For boys, it’s fairly obvious what’s going on down there. For girls, it isn’t always. And we don’t talk about it. I literally fell off the couch one time in 2000 when CNN reported, right out loud in the middle of the afternoon withour parental warnings, that “women can have two types of orgasms: clitoral or vaginal”. I didn’t know CNN knew that. Really.

I mean, CNN knows all about Viagra and erectile dysfunction. Those aren’t filthy, dirty, taboo subjects. But when’s the last time you heard a report on women who suffer from an inability to achieve vaginal lubrication? Either that’s just not important to us as a nation (but erections are), or it’s naughty to discuss (while erections aren’t).

Some cultures have historically been so freaked out by the idea of women enjoying sex that they invented female genital mutilation (more euphemistically known as female circumsicion) many centuries ago to make sure that wouldn’t happen, and still practice it in some Islamic countries. Interestingly, this is more of a cultural thing than a religious thing, as Islam tends to recognize that, you know, maybe if the creator gave women an organ that has no purpose other than sexual pleasure, He intended her to experience sexual pleasure.

You know when your culture falls behind a fairly fundamentalist religion, you’re deep in the dark.

If the target young male demographic really is in denial about healthy-minded women liking sex and pursuing it for fun or sport, maybe it’s that they regard sex like they regard football, beer, or farting: fun reserved for guys. You let a girl in on your football, beer and farting party, and it’s a toss-up which will be worse: whether she starts decorating with flowers and pink stuff, or jumps on the couch with you to cheer at the game, drink beer and fart herself. It’s just not how we want to see women, is it? It’s not… dainty, and clean, and cute.

Come to think of it, those are three words you will never see applied to sex, either.

Comments

  1. Glaivester says

    Four thoughts:
    First: Actually, I think that men are more worried that women DON’T enjoy sex. I think that that is the primary impetus behind girl-on-girl porn; if Lesbians have sex with each other, at least one of them must want sex, so girls must enjoy sex. I have written on this theory before.I am the reader Steve Sailer is referring to toward the end of this post.
    Second: Don’t the Sex and the City girls have sex because they enjoy it? Of course, this could be just one example, but it seems to be a pretty prominent one.
    Third: I thought that the “vaginal orgasm” didn’t actually exist. I was under the impression that the vaginal walls were not particularly sensitive that way, and that sensation came mostly from the external organs (clitoris, labia) and perhaps internally fomr the cervix.
    Fourth: I don’t like the term “female circumcision.” It is a euphemistic, inaccurate description of what is usually being discussed, which is labectomy/clitorectomy, not simply the removal of the clitoral prepuce. It is far more comparable to cutting off a man’s penis (or at least the glans penis, i.e. the head) and using surgery to make his scrotum painfully tight than to removing his foreskin.

  2. Mecha says

    Three thoughts, dunno if they spark anything.

    1) Don’t guys who pursue sex to a high degree seem dsyfunctional to you? Are there ever any healthy guys who don’t totally objectify women who also want to have lots of sex in the media? They usually seem incredibly dysfunctional to me. Maybe that’s just me and the writers still think that’s normal.

    2) Maybe the ‘whore’ complex is so strong because the (typically insecure) male writers have no idea how to make a sexual female who doesn’t come off dysfunctional? I have to admit that your explaination of it being some sort of ‘puritan’ reflex in regards to women is one I find very likely, but maybe this thought adds to it.

    3) Putting these together… does rampant high sexuality ever really turn out well for ANYONE, whether it be comedy or drama? For women, can this possibly tie back to your theory that writers might think ‘you can’t let bad things happen to women’ (which you talk about in regards to Sam in Stargate?)

    A final non-sequitor of a thought on this: Shows that are more likely to treat female sexuality in a reasonable manner (AKA: Dramas) are also more likely to have highly damaged characters, and that damage leading into their sexuality/relationships is common. (I am reminded of numerous Whedon characters, from Buffy to Wesley and Lilah to Mal from Firefly’s failure to commit/relate.)

    -Mecha

  3. scarlett says

    I never understood why Sex and the City was considered so unfeminist. Sure, it had it flaws (the four main protaginists were all very attractive women, and they all ended up with a man in the end, no matte HOW many shortcuts in the stroyline it took) but here you had a show where the women rooled the roost and men were boyfriends and the occasional gay friend. And they were unapologetic in their pursuit of sex – and sometimes, shock horror, sex was all they wanted. I found Sam so refreshing, in that you had a succesfull fortysomething woman who had no intention of settling down, was happy to have her friends for companionship and sex for fun, she didn’t need the security of a boyfriend – in fact, the idea mostly bored the crap out of her. I thought it raised a lot of interesting points about women’s sexuality and their need for security (or at least the stereotype of that need).

    As far as female circumsision goes, I absolutely refused to call it by that name, because ot’s so vanilla, like it’s just the female equivilant of snipping the end of the penis off (I believe there’s actually health benefits for a male circumsision, too, but I could be wrong). It’s female genital mutilation, and it’s designed to rid a woman of any oppurtunity to enjoy sex, ever, regardless of the cost to her health or well-being.

    And maybe it’s the guys I’ve been with, but it’s been my experience that guys are actually fairly concerned about a woman’s sexual pleasure; they don’t want to be known as a bad lay (and yes, women gossip amongst themselves, as much as men, I’m sure). I think that men tending to get more pleasure out of sex is caused by a) ignorance, which is linked to b)that it seems more difficult for a woman to climax then a man. (I don’t actually know this, never having been a man. I’m just guessing.) Given how easy it seems to be for a man to climax and how comparitively difficult it is for a man, maybe I’d give up after a few goes too. I’m not excusing them, but maybe they’re entitled to a little slack.

    Phew! I think I’ve ranted longer then Beta’s post :p

  4. Nialla says

    There’s not a significant health benefit for male circumcision. This section of an article on the subject talks about how it became a common procedure in the late 1800s, based on the idea that it would prevent the buildup of smegma, which naturally occurs in both men and women, but the foreskin of an uncirmcised male makes a natural space for it to collect and it was thought to be unhygienic (keep in mind this was around the time that the germ theory of disease was becoming widespread, so hygiene was a big issue).

    But the main reason for male circumcision, beyond religious ones, is that it was thought that it would reduce male masturbation because it would lessen the sensitivity of the head of the penis.

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    First: Actually, I think that men are more worried that women DON’T enjoy sex.

    I think many are. In my experience, it’s somewhat regional. In the Southeast, where the culture was rather religion-based, I heard many stories about men who went into marriage (or their first sexual experience) and were stunned to learn women enjoyed sex. I also, sadly, talked to a lot of women who had no idea they could enjoy it. Most times, I think both partners embraced it, and all was well.

    Out here in L.A., it’s very different. Lack of awareness is not, generally, one of the problems people have with sex here.

    But my point, as always, is not so much what’s really happening as what Hollywood thinks we want to see, and where they get the idea that they should show this, but not that, and so on.

    Second: Don’t the Sex and the City girls have sex because they enjoy it? Of course, this could be just one example, but it seems to be a pretty prominent one.

    To you and me, maybe – but it’s still niche, according to the industry. The very fact that it’s pay-TV shows that it’s not what the majority of Americans are ready to see.

    Third: I thought that the “vaginal orgasm” didn’t actually exist. I was under the impression that the vaginal walls were not particularly sensitive that way, and that sensation came mostly from the external organs (clitoris, labia) and perhaps internally fomr the cervix.

    There is definitely a G-spot, which is what CNN was referring to, perhaps inaccurately, as “vaginal”. CNN also reported that a woman couldn’t have both types of orgasm at once, which is false, but I assume everyone knows not to trust pop news 100%. ;)

    I did a little Googling to doublecheck the terminology, and found this :

    It is now known women can experience two kinds of orgasm. But they are not clitoral vs. vaginal as some have reported.1.The most common (some times called clitoral) also involves the vagina since the clitoral stimulation also produces contractions of the pubococcygeal (PC) muscle supporting the pelvic floor which is where “vaginal” contractions are felt.

    2. G-spot and Uterine. G-spot stimulation results in orgasmic contractions around the uterus, which is several inches above the pelvic floor.

    Later research has shown that women who can orgasm both ways have even deeper, more powerful blended orgasm, resulting from contractions in both areas at once.

    Fourth: I don’t like the term “female circumcision.” It is a euphemistic, inaccurate description

    I never thought of the term as euphemistic – it never made the concept “go down easier” for me. But good point – I’ve edited the post.

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think that men tending to get more pleasure out of sex is caused by a) ignorance, which is linked to b)that it seems more difficult for a woman to climax then a man.

    That’s the first hurdle. Even women are confused about how their bodies work, and how they can work better in a sexual context. The second hurdle is culture: if you repress sexuality, or start labeling certain acts as “perverted”, you introduce some (IMO) unecessary guilt and shame into the picture, and it becomes more difficult for people to relax, experiment and discuss what’s working, because they’re not even sure they should be having a good time.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    But the main reason for male circumcision, beyond religious ones, is that it was thought that it would reduce male masturbation because it would lessen the sensitivity of the head of the penis.

    Now, that’s interesting. I find circumcision a very troubling practice in general.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    1) Don’t guys who pursue sex to a high degree seem dsyfunctional to you? Are there ever any healthy guys who don’t totally objectify women who also want to have lots of sex in the media? They usually seem incredibly dysfunctional to me. Maybe that’s just me and the writers still think that’s normal.

    What you’re describing does sound dysfunctional to me, but unfortunately TV does present this as “boys will be boys”. Sam Malone on Cheers is one of the few characters I can think of who got his sexual obsessions examined once in a while for psychological issues.

    There are plenty of unrealistic male stereotypes on TV, too. For example: that guy who hits on every woman he meets. I’m a huge people watcher, and yet I’ve seen maybe one of these guys in my life. I think it casts men in a bad light.

    2) Maybe the ‘whore’ complex is so strong because the (typically insecure) male writers have no idea how to make a sexual female who doesn’t come off dysfunctional?

    Definite possibility. I certainly don’t know the answer – my goal with the post was to generate thought, not prove one point or another. Could be a lot of different answers on different shows. :)

    3) Putting these together… does rampant high sexuality ever really turn out well for ANYONE, whether it be comedy or drama? For women, can this possibly tie back to your theory that writers might think ‘you can’t let bad things happen to women’ (which you talk about in regards to Sam in Stargate?)

    Depends what you mean by “rampant”. To me, the issue is not how many partners or how long you keep them: it’s whether you feel compelled to be having sex, or you just like having it. I’ve known women who pursue sex because they do indeed have a psychological compulsion, like seeking validation through sex or something. I’ve also known women who genuinely enjoy flings – brief, non-committed relationships with men who are not total strangers – and aren’t looking for some solution to what ills them. They’re just enjoying a nice time, and a feeling of temporary intimacy.

  9. Mecha says

    There are plenty of unrealistic male stereotypes on TV, too. For example: that guy who hits on every woman he meets. I’m a huge people watcher, and yet I’ve seen maybe one of these guys in my life. I think it casts men in a bad light.

    And gives us a less than realistic mental picture to live up to in terms of success. How many women does a guy have to hit on to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop? If the shy ones unrealistically get women, and the aggressives are typified stupid/unrealistic…

    Definite possibility. I certainly don’t know the answer – my goal with the post was to generate thought, not prove one point or another. Could be a lot of different answers on different shows. :)

    Well, it certainly did! ;)

    Depends what you mean by “rampant”. To me, the issue is not how many partners or how long you keep them: it’s whether you feel compelled to be having sex, or you just like having it. I’ve known women who pursue sex because they do indeed have a psychological compulsion, like seeking validation through sex or something. I’ve also known women who genuinely enjoy flings – brief, non-committed relationships with men who are not total strangers – and aren’t looking for some solution to what ills them. They’re just enjoying a nice time, and a feeling of temporary intimacy.

    Well, I more meant as applied to media. The only piece of media I can think of right now that sends a message that ‘being a highly sexual being can turn out well’ is the truly… uh, odd, Exit to Eden. In most other cases, it’s porn, or it involves unfaithfulness (which is always either tragic or found out/punished, see discussion on New Monogamy), etc, etc, etc. As per that New Monogomy discussion, it never really seems that anyone, male or female, gets to enter a sexual landscape and not get the everloving hell kicked out of them.

    -Mecha

  10. Nialla says

    The Victorian era was all about sexual repression, to the point of trying to discourage infants from masturbating with male circumcision, swaddling clothes (essentially binding the child where they couldn’t touch themselves), etc. Go here for even more details about the prevailing attitude at the time.

  11. telepresence says

    You let a girl in on your football, beer and farting party, and it’s a toss-up which will be worse: whether she starts decorating with flowers and pink stuff, or jumps on the couch with you to cheer at the game, drink beer and fart herself. It’s just not how we want to see women, is it? It’s not… dainty, and clean, and cute.”

    I’m not sure if this is true, or maybe it’s regional or generational. Among the people I know (keeping in mind that I live in a town with a high percentage of young university students), the idea of a woman who wants to plop down on the couch and drink beer and cheer on the sporting match is highly prized.

    I also want to second the comments made above about sexual enjoyment being pathologized for both genders. In comedies, sex is played for comedy. In dramas, sex is played (very often) for the potential to tie it into angst, again, for both genders. This just isn’t a society that easily allows portrayals of sex without justification other than pleasure.

    I’m reminded of Shane on L-Word, a show written by lesbians, for a predominately lesbian/female target audience, and yet they still feel they need to pathologize the pursuit of simple sexual pleasure.

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m not sure if this is true, or maybe it’s regional or generational.

    It’s a generalization I was tossing out, just to encourage discussion. It’s definitely something I (and a number of women I’ve talked to) have run into enough times to consider an issue. But we’ve all definitely run into a lot of guys like you, too, and I do get the impression it’s improving with each generation. The question is: who are TV programmers considering? Who’s got ratings boxes? An equal amount from both groups? Neilsson uses things like political affiliation to choose families, so who knows?

  13. El says

    Just kmy 2 cents:
    From an article found
    on how the female brain reacts during sex:
    In one sense the findings appear to confirm what is already known, that women cannot enjoy sex unless they are relaxed and free from worries and distractions. Fear and anxiety levels have to go down for orgasm. Everyone knows this but we can see it happening in the brain.

    If women are made to think they shouldn’t enjoy sex, that alone makes it harder for them.

  14. Jennifer Kesler says

    If women are made to think they shouldn’t enjoy sex, that alone makes it harder for them.

    That’s a good point, and it makes sense to me.

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