Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Women's horniness and the worm-in-mouth paradigm.

I am horny. Oh my god am I horny. I was horny driving home from work this morning to the point where I could barely hold it until I got home. Of course, I was horny at work this morning. I was horny before work last night, come to think of it. Then again, maybe it's just the time of the month. I've got my period now and that always makes me horny. Although right before my period I get kinda randy. And right after my period I'm so ready for sex. And in between periods of course there's a surge in my sex drive.

I think you get the picture. Everyone I've ever dated has really gotten the picture. I think I've said "no, not tonight, honey" about a tenth as often as I've said "oh alright, not tonight, honey."

Why does this matter? Because it gives me visceral proof that women can be horny. I know I'm off to one side of the bell curve, but I also know I'm not alone, and my experience of being a woman is one of being physically and emotionally ravenous for sex. Not dates, not cuddlewuddles (those are awesome, but they're separate desires), fucking.

It seems like a fact of life to me, but it puts a big ol' hole in a creepily common worldview, paraphrased thusly:
Women don't have any innate sex drive. Sex for them is kind of undignified and gross, like holding a worm in your mouth. Now, unless you're particularly squeamish, you can be convinced to hold a worm in your mouth. You'll do it for money or gifts. You'll do it if someone special says "darling, it would mean the world to me if you'd put this worm in your mouth... for me." You'll do it if you're insecure and all the cool kids have worms in their mouths. You'll do it if you're convinced that no man will ever love a woman who doesn't mouth worms. Hell, sometimes you'll do it just because you're not sure what you want out of life and putting a worm in your mouth seems like it's worth a shot.

But you will never, ever, in any of these situations, like the taste of the worm.

The implications of the worm-in-mouth paradigm range from the annoying:
Porn is for men; romance novels are for women.

To the horrifying:
If a woman doesn't want to have sex, that's no big deal, because women never actually want to have sex and they're used to coping with that. She's just holding out for better compensation.

How lesbians have sex is a mystery for the ages. (Usually it's resolved by either declaring them honorary men, or by conjecturing that they all suffer "lesbian bed death" and just "lie around and hug.")

There's this entire mess of social phenomena, from my ninth-grade health teacher telling me to "respect yourself more than that," to PUAs trying not to arouse women but to appeal to their insecurities, to "women need a reason to have sex; men just need a place," to the freaking bazillion people buying into the "being a rich man is like being a beautiful women" thing, that can be punctured with one simple and ridiculous phrase.

"I love worms."



***



The inspiration for all this (besides certain third-grade incidents) was being forwarded this article, from "Time" magazine: He Wants Sex, She Doesn't. Are Beads the Answer? I'm not doing a full fisk because some days I just don't have the energy for an extended session of Logical Fallacy Whack-A-Mole, but I'll hit the highlights. Such as "what the hell? BEADS?"

A fortieth birthday is a big deal that calls for a big present. How about 40 straight days of sex? That's the gift that Carolyn Evans bestowed upon her husband, Ray, in January 2009. Immediately, she regretted it.
“I woke up the next morning and thought, I will not survive this,” says Evans, 40, who ostensibly did not receive an identical gift on her milestone birthday.

I'm not sure what the "ostensibly" is doing there, because if this is her attitude toward sex, her husband better not pull that shit. That's like getting himself a present for her birthday.

But the "I will not survive this" is really bugging me. And it's not explored in the article; it's treated like a normal thing, like having sex every day would naturally be a hardship on a woman (and not on a man). I'm curious what she means by it, though. Is the sex physically painful for her? Is she too tired at the end of the day? Does she not experience pleasure during sex? Does she feel embarrassed or uncomfortable having sex? Does she not like her husband, or not desire him sexually? Is she ashamed of her body or her performance? Is her husband just really, really, really bad at it?

Because "ugh, sex, am I right, ladies?" isn't a normal thing. It's a sign of a specific problem, and I wish they'd dig into what that is. Or at least acknowledge that it could be a problem, instead of the inevitable, semi-humorous way of the world.

(From the author's mostly unenlightening blog: I became painfully aware of the fact that I don’t have the emotional stamina or bodily constitution [to] survive that much sex. I saw myself laid up in a hospital bed accepting antibiotics intravenously.
Holy crap, just how bad is her husband?)

“I was at a friend's shop and I complained to him. He said maybe a token system will work better.”
Reaching under the counter, her pal pulled out a dusty Mason jar housing a collection of Venetian glass beads. Forty beads, to be precise.
That's the title of Evans' new book, due out Tuesday. Part memoir, part treatise on why men like sex more than women, part instructional manual in her proprietary method that she credits with transforming a marriage on the rocks into a happily-ever-after, Forty Beads is relayed in a straight-up, slightly raunchy tone reminiscent of a giddy gathering of too-tipsy girlfriends.
The premise behind “beading” is simple: The woman keeps a bowl, a.k.a. beadcatcher, by her bedside. When her husband (or lover) is in the mood, he drops a bead into the beadcatcher. The woman has to be ready to slide between the sheets within 24 hours.

This friend and his charmingly rustic, handily planted jar (with the exact right number of beads!!!) are fictional. Let's get that out of the way right now. I'd feel more respected as a reader if she said aliens gave her the method.

So, hey, why do men like sex more than women? I'm kind of intrigued if there's a substance to that, if it goes beyond "well, duh, they totally just do." (Perhaps it's evolution--like how I evolved to get a mate and get my eggs fertilized--or anatomy--like how I can have more orgasms in a half hour than most men can have all week.)

But the really disturbing part, of course, is "has to be ready [...] within 24 hours." Has to. Ouch. Apparently the way to address an imbalance in sexual desire is to just go with whatever the man wants, and soften the blow by at least providing some advance warning.

Hey... when I want to fuck the ever-loving shit out of him, where's my little bead bowl?

Looking out for the best interests of its female readers, Healthland asked Evans whether a woman has any recourse should her man act like a total jerk; thankfully, Evans has a clause for bad behavior. “If a bead has been dropped and the husband exhibits real a—hole behavior — not just run-of-the-mill irritating behavior — he can get turtled,” says Evans, referring to a maneuver in which the disgruntled wife turns the beadcatcher over so beads roll off. “My husband got turtled once in a year."
I didn't check Urban Dictionary on this one, but I think my boyfriend got turtled last Saturday.

But why is it a matter of being an asshole or not? What about a matter of "darling, you're my schmoopy-boo and you've done nothing wrong, but Little Holly just ain't feelin' it?"

Well, continuing to say "but I put my token in the vending machine, and you better give me a good reason why I don't deserve sex or I'll lean you forward and shake your Skittles off the coil you'll be breaking the ruuuuules" after I explained this would be real asshole behavior. So I guess that's a self-correcting issue.



To be honest, I don't have a great solution for couples with mismatched libidos. (Well, I do, but "hey, you don't have to fuck just me" isn't the solution for everybody.) But I'm absolutely positive that "women just need to work out a cute little system for doing their wifely duty" isn't it.

66 comments:

  1. My girlfriend and I (I'm also a girl) have mismatched libidos. I'm much more like you in terms of horniness level. We have regular old fuckin' with fingers and dildo's when we're both feeling it, but when she's not, a convenient work around we've sort of naturally developed is for her to get me very, very worked up with words, and then deny me. There's some power exchange, in case that wasn't clear :P. It means that I'm perfectly delighted and denied, but still feeling like I'm getting something sexually, while she is able to delight in tormenting me, without having to do something she just doesn't want to do. She's always ready to smack me on my bits a little, but not necessarily for full on sex. It works well.

    Also: 4th paragraph: 'ceeepily' should probably be 'creepily'.

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  2. I would like the concept if it was being used as "Hey honey, just so you know, I'm super horny and would really like to fuck you later," and there was a jar for each partner. I find that sort of information to be a big turn-on.

    But... *has to be ready*?

    Gosh, if they've been to all those marriage counselors, why didn't any of them help her figure out why she didn't *want* more sex with her husband?

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  3. Off topic, I'm rather disturbed to share a last name with this woman.

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  4. I wouldn't want to have sex every day for forty days, because my sex drive is just not that high and it would eventually start to feel like an obligation. But it wouldn't be torture.

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  5. I've never commented before, but I have to say that I love your blog! I would not have the patience to even read all of the bullshit that you are tirelessly critiquing.

    I hate for my first comment here to be kinda negative, but I felt like I should say something about your repetition of the "something is wrong if you don't want sex" meme. I know for a fact you have some asexual readers, and that sort of thing is part of some pretty nasty narratives that they're constantly dealing with. Some people just legitimately don't want sex.

    That doesn't diminish your main point that it's total bullshit to make it a gendered thing, and that the BEADS solution is creepy as fuck. o.O

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  6. Semiel - It's true, asexual people exist and they don't have a "problem," as do merely low-libido women, and I'm not sure how to make that more clear in the post.

    (Dropping "well, now you gotta" beads seems like it would be even worse for an asexual woman.)

    Still, I think women at large--women on average--however I can say "women" without meaning "all women"--have a lot more sexual desire than we're given credit for.

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  7. So sad, to assume that your own libido mismatch is true for all. Nor do I think the "beads" are a solution even then. I was married in a mismatch and would have recoiled at the beads. The idea that I had to deposit a coin and then wait 24 hours for the bed to vibrate... I'd say "fuck you" meaning "I won't fuck you" and do it myself.

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  8. I was pretty much just worried about this paragraph, actually:

    "Because "ugh, sex, am I right, ladies?" isn't a normal thing. It's a sign of a specific problem, and I wish they'd dig into what that is. Or at least acknowledge that it could be a problem, instead of the inevitable, semi-humorous way of the world."

    You're totally right on the substantive points, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. The "women don't like sex" meme is both ridiculously, obviously untrue and very destructive, and the beads solution is about as bad a way of dealing with mismatched libidos as I can think of. :P

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  9. RE: Semiel

    I can sympathize with you, being sorta asexual myself. Then again, I'm a guy, which is apparently against the Tao because man, give someone a male identity and they'll want to bone EVERYTHING, am I right, guys? *shudder*

    And I have to say, being on the asexual side... that beads "solution" SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF ME. What the fuck, people. If you're going to pay me for sex, I want the cash up front, like a professional.

    We've managed various work-arounds for sexual differences. I have yet to be "paid" for my services.

    If only I had my LJ, so I could be using my D: face icon right now. Alas, I can't, so I'll just have to borrow Kratos's face instead.

    --Rogan

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  10. O_O

    Here are some things I love doing: reading; writing computer programs; napping; going for long, strenuous walks.

    Here are some things I routinely have trouble doing: finishing assigned readings for school, writing code for school, getting to sleep at a regular bedtime when I know I have to wake up early the next day, exercising regularly.

    Anyone notice the pattern here? Obligation and deadlines can suck all the fun out of things you love doing.

    I like having sex. The thought of having to have sex every day for 40 days fills me with dread. That may be the problem in and of itself.

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  11. I'm sorta like you Holly. Hell, forty days of sex sounds like a lot of fun... but I think it's a big case of my eyes being bigger than my stomach. (Cock. Whatever.)

    But I don't like the compulsory aspect. I mean, hell, I love sex, but I have other things to do! I have to sleep sometime!

    --Mac

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  12. i had to ask myself "but how would anal beads help that situation?" when i saw the title of the "Time" article, but i guess the actual "solution" makes a little bit more sense...i mean, not that said solution is a great idea, obviously, but that's already been discussed.

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  13. @Andy: My thoughts exactly. Well said.

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  14. I'm going to defend Holly on the "low libido = problem" thing. Low libido, especially in a person that used to have a much higher libido is one of the first signs of numerous illnesses, some quite serious. unfortunately, in our culture "fucks only for food, er, love " is so accepted that women dint even consider medical intervention. (and try talking to doctors about it. they get all squarely and assume your husband is the one requesting the help. good times. )

    are some people simply asexual? absolutely, but that's not terribly common, and certainly not representative of women as a whole.

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  15. okay, that's don't and squirrely. stupid apple autocorrect.

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  16. It's a good thing sex ISN'T only traded for desirable things, because beads are the definition of a sucker's deal.

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  17. "i had to ask myself "but how would anal beads help that situation?""

    Glad i wasn't the only one who thought that. ;)

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  18. Few things. One, I once licked a worm in grade school. Wasn't that bad. Whoo boy, but try telling my peers that!

    Second, yeah, beads for sex is pretty strange. Y'know, this, Cosmo, that psychology shit you were reviewing...it seems like all these people are kids who still can't hear things like cock, or pussy, or fucking, without snickering and covering their ears and blushing while kicking the dirt. And so these people who can't even think about sex like it's just a thing, want to give other people advice. What the hell? I mean, I'm a badass cyborg who doesn't have sex organ anymore, and even -I'M- appalled by this!

    Also, Rogan, KRATOS! YESSSS! He's the best atheist, ever.

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  19. sex organs anymore*

    Sorry, a weird black cricket thing is terrorizing me while I type, it's hard to spell correctly and scream while running away at the same time.

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  20. He Wants Sex, She Doesn't. Are Beads the Answer?

    Am I the only one who assumed at first that this was going to be talking about sex toys?

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  21. Ah, I guess not.

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  22. I will never understand this "women hate sex" shit. Like, are there really people who don't know ANY women who like sex? I guess people are not really vocal about these things, which helps perpetuate the stereotype.

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  23. I've been on both sides of the mismatched libido divide (in a single relationship, no less: add contraceptive pill = remove libido. *$%#@&!!) and while it sucks, I never felt it to be quite as awful as that. The heteronormative framework does mess you up: when I was the low-libido partner I had sex simply out of a sense of guilt because if he gets an erection, obviously that's something *I* did to *him*, so I better not leave it at that. And while occasionally I wouldn't get much out of it, that wasn't enough to make it *disgusting* (and I am very easily disgusted by all the sticky fluids, even when horny!), so I think there is probably something more going on here. (As an aside, the "antibiotics" comment makes me think that maybe she is one of those people that easily get urinary tract infections from sex? It would explain the "painful" part, at least.)

    Being female and the high-libido partner in a heteronormative relationship is its own bag of fun: men are supposed to be always up for it, so if he doesn't want to have sex with me, that is a serious hit on my femininity - and if I then wind up masturbating, his masculinity can't take it. That was about the point where I started reading a lot of feminist blogs :)

    And yeah, not exactly rocket science, but it bears mentioning : if you don't want to go the poly route, masturbation can make up some of the libido gap.

    (I'm having trouble posting. Is the red dot appearing underneath the comment field supposed to mean something? Anyway, apologies if this results in double-posts.)

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  24. Greta Christina has somewhere on her blog advice for the mismatched-libido relationship; she recommends, among other things, scheduling time for sex.

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  25. How sad. Can't help but wonder if women like the lady with the beads has ever experienced an orgasm with an enthusiastic partner. I can't speak for all women but for me it was a matter of finding the right person who enjoys making me feel good. I love sex, but Obligatory 40 Day Sex? Sounds depressing and bureaucratic as hell :(

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  26. You know what a better solution for mismatched libidos would be?
    Not promising 40 days of sex you don't want.
    Communicating honestly.
    Oral sex.
    Watching porn together.
    Masturbation (together or apart).
    Sexual favors in exchange for sensual favors.
    Massage, bubble baths, back scratching, naked TV time.
    Having sex with other people.
    Using sex toys, trying new things.
    NOT HAVING SEX.

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  27. Anon:

    "so if he doesn't want to have sex with me, that is a serious hit on my femininity - and if I then wind up masturbating, his masculinity can't take it."

    Holy shit, really?

    40 Days of Sex sounds like it would be depressing...unless it involved genies, skeleton pirates and other magical adventures. Someone write a children's book, STAT!

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  28. I feel like my penis would fall off if I had fourty days straight of sex.

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  29. Huh. I didn't realize the consensus would be against having 40 solid nights of sex (if you generally enjoyed sex with your partner). I mean, somewhat depending what I had to do in the daytime, I would totally go for that.

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  30. I'm in a mis-matched libido relationship (het, my drive is the lower one) and we've got a bimodal effect in which the sex is much better when we're having frequent sex. I can actually see a gimmick like the beads working, as a way to get out of the infrequent sex situation. (It would come at too high a price, though.) I think it would work by discouraging him from having a whiny and unattractive pity party for himself.

    (A less unsavory way of getting out of it seems to be to agree to take penetration off the menu, and negotiate some very limited play, to lift my feeling of obligation/inadequacy.)

    The underlying problem seems to be that he has a "starvation economy" view of sex whenever he is in the midst of a dry spell. I do not know how to fix this in any lasting way.

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  31. So if the woman gets to say no by throwing all the beads on the floor, this seems like basically just saying that you want to have sex (or not), only in the most passive aggressive way possible.

    I like that she notes that they're Venetian glass beads, if they were ugly, less fancy beads the whole exercise would be tacky.

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  32. I wonder if it isn't so much the physical act of sex itself (even for 40 nights) so much as it is the -obligation- of having sex for 40 nights, with no way to opt out.

    I could probably quite happily end up having sex 40 days in a row at any given point, but it would be because on each of those days I actively decided "Y'know, sex sounds -awesome- today. Let's do it." Compare with "Today is day 10 of 40. 30 more days, then I can finally take a break."

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  33. It's not totally on topic with this post, but this video made me think of your blog.
    http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6478389/girls-watch-porn-too
    I'm depressed that it's presented as a comedy sketch - but I'm not sure if it's supposed to be funny because women DO watch porn or because they DON'T.
    Regarding your post, the whole sex beads, sex-as-obligation thing freaks me right the hell out. That whole attitude toward married-woman sex really bothers me and makes me not want to get married. Of course I can't explain to my parents "I don't want to get married because apparently married people fuck for beads" but it's definitely something in the back of my mind.
    Also I've always associated the whole token economy "put a bead in a jar" thing with training young children. Like, toddlers to eight year olds. The idea of turning it into a sex...thing...(I was going to say sex game, but that makes it sound fun) oogs me out.

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  34. Oh, God.

    I think the best part of this is the cutesy way she capitalizes "Bead" and "Beadcatcher" like they're the names of deities.

    The second best part is how the only problem solved by this gimmick is being too immature to just say that you want to fuck. Any other problem, you're on your own. "Dear Carolyn: We're unable to have sex because my wife has pelvic inflammatory disease / my husband is deployed in Iraq. Can The Forty Beads Method help us?"

    She has an amazing talent for self-promotion (notice how all the reviews of her book are positive, but as maddeningly vague about The Method as her website?*) and for spouting Gnostic woo-woo gibberish about transcendental meditation and organic arugula and how The Forty Beads Method washes the negative energy right out of your relationship, like a cold shower.** And since I hate self-promotion and Gnosticism even more than I hate pickup artists, I'm not inclined to be even remotely fair to her. But dammit, I tried. I read the last six months it--it's all body loathing, gushing about how "magical" the stupid Beads are, and tittering about how much fun it is doing book tours and workshops*** and how she just can't resist bringing The Forty Beads Method into every conversation. This is what happens when a Cosmo girl turns 50 and discovers that Revlon doesn't sell a product to actually make her 25 again.


    * Which seems to be designed to keep anyone from figuring out what complete catshit this is before buying the book.

    ** Perhaps not the best metaphor to use, but being a Gnostic, she's probably very much in favor of cold showers.

    *** That's right, because the operation of "put bead into bowl" really has to be seen to be understood. She compares what she does to the Montessori Method. As it happens, I went to Montessori school, and my entire class of four-year-olds learned to read, write, add, multiply, do basic algebra, recognize shapes and colors and types of trees, care for animals, do pushups and situps and climb a vertical rope, grow our own food, and talk about our wants, needs, and feelings in a non-Bead-based language.

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  35. I've also been baffled by that stereotypes for a long time-- and I get the reasons that men might think that, but it really makes me sad to see women buying into it.

    And, referring to the objections upthread, maybe this woman is asexual for all we know-- but if she was, she will never declare herself as such and do anything about it if she is convinced that her situation is the fate of all hetero married couples. Similarly, there are a few women I know who identify as lesbian, and spent a long time with males partners because they felt that their lot as a woman was not be be as turned on by their boyfriend as their boyfriend was for them. When they acted on their attraction to women, they actually discovered they loved sex as well.

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  36. Y'know what I just realized? I read a concept very similar to this, many years ago...on literotica. In the rape section. A story about how some dude found out that his wife blah blah blah divorce or something, and punished her blah blah blah legally, and had a 'blowjob jar', or a sex jar, or something, I forget which. But anyway, he would put in a bead, and I think that day or something, she'd have to put out.

    Seeing any parallels?

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  37. My contribution to the Stupidest Comment contest, altrough said totally sincerely and happily: yay, we have syncronized periods! Cool!

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  38. @Holly The key phrase is "I mean, somewhat depending what I had to do in the daytime, I would totally go for that."

    Within any 40 day period, it's pretty much guranteed that I will pull an almost or total all-nighter for school and that I will have 1-2 days laid up with terrible period cramps. Factor in an unexpected cold (on either mine or the partner in question's behalf), maybe wanting to spend a night out with friends, a minor injury (pulled muscle, etc.) and 40 days in a row just seems unlikely. I don't think I've ever even masturbated for 40 days in a row.

    Plus, there's the fact that--at least for me--partner-sex can get pretty intense and labour-intensive. I'm pretty fond of planning scenes out in advance AND I often need time to debrief from them afterwards. I like to discuss what worked and what didn't. So that means that, on each of those 40 days, not only do I have to have sex, but once the sex if finished, I have to drastically speed up my mental recovery process AND plan the next day's scene. Too much pressure! Yeah, I guess I could find time to just do plain in-and-out sex every day but that would be boring for me. And if by some chance it WASN'T boring, I'd end up breaking the streak by wanting to take a night off to relive it and discuss it!

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  39. Okay, when she said she would fuck her boyfriend every day for 40 days *I* thought (before I read it) that that would be torture, BUT that's because my boyfriend has a giant wang, and if we have sex too many days in a row I get really sore. It doesn't matter how much I want it...it just hurts. And that's what I assumed she meant.

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  40. correction: her husband.

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  41. My mom sex-eded me by leaving around a copy of "The Best Sex I Ever Had" when I was eight...made for some interesting reading, and my young age meant I got sex positive messages before I got the sex-negative ones. YAY.
    Anyway, one of the stories I remember from that was a woman and her husband who got too tired and stressed with kids and whatnot that they never seemed to have time for sex, SO: they got a jar. Whenever they had a strong sexual fantasy but didn't have time, they wrote it down, and put it in the jar. When the jar was full, it was time to call Grandma and unload the kids for a weekend, which was spent going through as many fantasies in the jar as they had time/energy for. That always seemed like a neat solution to me, and the frequency issue would be easily solved by carefully choosing what SIZE jar...

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  42. Totally not defending the weird beads thing, just wanted to address your question:
    "I'm curious what she means by it, though. Is the sex physically painful for her? Is she too tired at the end of the day? Does she not experience pleasure during sex? Does she feel embarrassed or uncomfortable having sex? Does she not like her husband, or not desire him sexually? Is she ashamed of her body or her performance? Is her husband just really, really, really bad at it?"


    None of those things are true for me. I have a good sex drive, and we have awesome sex quite often. However, there are certainly days where I just don't feel like it, and same thing is true for my partner. So, when we feel obligated to have sex daily when we don't feel like it (fertility reasons), it really sucks. It becomes a chore, and issues with getting wet or hard (or being sore from the previous day) are much more likely. I usually do end up enjoying it at least a little, but the daily obligation just sucks so much pleasure out of it, so I understand where she is coming from.

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  43. Wow, that whole beads-for-sex thing is so fucking creepy. (And I thought people like that were supposed to use diamonds.)

    I would LOVE it if my boyfriend gave me 40 nights of sex as a present! He's happy with once or twice a week. I make up for it with self-amuse* and, when I can manage it logistically, polyamorous adventures.

    *I know that's not grammatical; I was trying for a pun on "self-abuse."

    flightless

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  44. Even good took a break on the 7th day. =P

    But 40 days of sex would be cool, provided we can define sex as "doing stuff together we both enjoy and are in the mood for" as opposed to going through some obligatory generic "sex" scenario over and over again. I suspect "sex" means the latter for a lot of people.

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  45. >> provided we can define sex as "doing stuff together we both enjoy and are in the mood for"

    No! You have to do what the BEADS tell you to do!

    (Seriously, though, I think 40 days in a row could lead to some wondrous new variations... wouldn't even the vanilla-est couple find themselves improvising after a while?)

    :-)

    flightless

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  46. Yeah, 40 days of intercourse would be pretty rough for me I think. I have what I thought was a pretty high drive--I tend to masturbate at least twice a day and still want partnered sex ~4 times a week--but after three consecutive days, my cock feels all mashed up.

    That said... I think the beads thing actually sounds pretty hot, "has to" and all--as a power exchange game. Like, if my girlfriend didn't *actually* have to, but we sort of pretended she *had* to except when she didn't want to...

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  47. I think most women who feel this way about sex bought into the idea that they must be *perfect* early on and they, being too young to know any better, never learned to really question this.

    I mean, if I felt like I had to be a great cook, an excellent housekeeper, an uncomplaining caretaker, a stellar mom, and a nurturing friend to everyone, all the time--because that's the myth we're sold--then having to get naked and share my most intimate self and last refuge for someone else's amusement would sound like a goddamn insult. I wouldn't want to do it, either.

    But if you tweak to the fact, sooner or later, that you can put your bodily (and emotional, mental, and spiritual) needs first, and that having the cutest purse/house/kids/wardrobe needn't be the most important thing about you, and that you don't have to constantly compete with everybody else to the spun-sugar princess on top of the cake...well, then you can figure out what kind of sex you like and whether or not it's worth the trouble to you. Even if you say "nah", at least it's from an honest place and not just pure distaste and exhaustion.

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  48. I am the high-libido in my relationship, and masturbate most nights if I don't fall asleep first. Still, I doubt I would have sex every day for reasons of soreness and tendency to UTI's (though I do have a good way to keep a handle on that if anyone wants to know), but mostly lack of time/energy. I wish he were up to quickies, but he claims not.

    I could definitely get on a "do something sexual, not necessarily PIV, every night, but if nothing happens that's cool too" kinda plan. (The more I learn, the more convinced I am that the "sex=PIV" assumption causes a lot of problems in long term relationships. Deleted long side-rant on that subject.)

    I have heard from so many sources that Just Do It is way out of sex rut that works for a lot of people, even when they didn't expect it to. This magical bead story is her hook, but the idea is far from original. The presentation, the "have to" and the "ugh, sex" is pretty annoying.

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  49. Hershele OstropolerApril 27, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    Positive reinforcement is only going to encourage me to do it again.

    I would like the concept if it was being used as "Hey honey, just so you know, I'm super horny and would really like to fuck you later," and there was a jar for each partner. I find that sort of information to be a big turn-on.

    It's all right, if a little cutesy, if done reciprocally like that (though that assumes that there's ever a time she wants to have sex with him), provided that putting a bead in the jar isn't the trigger for sex, and is neithe necessary nor sufficient. And even then the whole thing seems unnecessarily complicated as compared to using your words, unless the couple is going for a Cosmo thing and this is the closest they can come to Just Knowing. What bothers me about it, and a lot of other people, is, on the one hand, the idea that sex is for special occasions* and on the other hand that you can require your partner to put out that night.

    *Not to be confused with "sex is special" but possibly similar to "whenever we have sex is a special occasion."

    I wouldn't want to have sex every day for forty days, because my sex drive is just not that high and it would eventually start to feel like an obligation. But it wouldn't be torture.

    As I understood it, it wasn't 40 straight days, it was "happy birthday, honey, for your present I promise to have sex with you exactly 40 times over the 25 or more years remaining in our marriage!" Because that's much better than a Kindle.

    That said, I have had sex for several hundred consecutive days. Not as tiring (for me) as it seems to be for a lot of people, and at no point did I feel or my partner report a sense of obligation.

    "Because "ugh, sex, am I right, ladies?" isn't a normal thing. It's a sign of a specific problem, and I wish they'd dig into what that is. Or at least acknowledge that it could be a problem, instead of the inevitable, semi-humorous way of the world."

    Yeah, I see where you're getting that, but I don't think Holly meant it that way. I've been reading for a while and on the rare occasions she calls something "normal" I always assume she means "... for people for whom it's normal"; in this case I think she meant not that low/no libido isn't normal for anyone, but that it being normal for women isn't the way of the world -- it's an illness or asexuality or whatever, not "well, women are like that."

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  50. Ah yes, the low libido/high libido thing. I have very complicated feelings about this, so please forgive me if I ramble!

    We live in a culture that views a certain stereotyped version of straight, cis male sexuality as standard, and measures all sexual variation in terms of that standard. And that makes it really, really hard to have a nuanced conversation about sex. I think this is especially true in our conversations about sexual desire. There's a tendency, in mainstream conversations about sex, to conflate enjoying or being comfortable sex with wanting to have lots and lots and lots of it.

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  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  52. And...I mean...those are two completely different things! I love sex. I'm incredibly attracted to my girlfriend. I'm capable of experiencing mindblowing sexual pleasure. But frankly, I can't imagine having sex more than about three times a week. I don't think I'd like that at all!

    So yes, I guess you could say I have a low libido. And yes, if I were in a relationship with someone who expected nookie every single day, I would start to feel bitter and resentful about sex. But that doesn't mean I don't like it, or that I'm not sexual!

    Basically, our culture doesn't seem to acknowledge that there are many different ways to like and enjoy sex. It's like there's no acknowledgement that you can be the sexual equivalent of a gourmet unless you're ALSO the sexual equivalent of someone who wins pie-eating contests at the county fair.

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  53. Hershele OstropolerApril 27, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    I posted this earlier but it vanished.

    I would like the concept if it was being used as "Hey honey, just so you know, I'm super horny and would really like to fuck you later," and there was a jar for each partner. I find that sort of information to be a big turn-on.

    It's all right, if a little cutesy, if done reciprocally like that (though that assumes that there's ever a time she wants to have sex with him), provided that putting a bead in the jar isn't the trigger for sex, and is neithe necessary nor sufficient. And even then the whole thing seems unnecessarily complicated as compared to using your words, unless the couple is going for a Cosmo thing and this is the closest they can come to Just Knowing. What bothers me about it, and a lot of other people, is, on the one hand, the idea that sex is for special occasions* and on the other hand that you can require your partner to put out that night.

    *Not to be confused with "sex is special" but possibly similar to "whenever we have sex is a special occasion."

    I wouldn't want to have sex every day for forty days, because my sex drive is just not that high and it would eventually start to feel like an obligation. But it wouldn't be torture.

    It wasn't 40 straight days, it was "happy birthday, honey, for your present I promise to have sex with you at least 40 times over the 25 or more years remaining in our marriage!" Because that's much better than a Kindle.

    That said, I have had sex for several hundred consecutive days. Not as tiring (for me) as it seems to be for a lot of people, and at no point did I feel or my partner report a sense of obligation.

    "Because "ugh, sex, am I right, ladies?" isn't a normal thing. It's a sign of a specific problem, and I wish they'd dig into what that is. Or at least acknowledge that it could be a problem, instead of the inevitable, semi-humorous way of the world."

    Yeah, I see where you're getting that, but I don't think Holly meant it that way. I've been reading for a while and on the rare occasions she calls something "normal" I always assume she means "... for people for whom it's normal"; in this case I think she meant not that low/no libido isn't normal for anyone, but that it being normal for women isn't the way of the world -- it's an illness or asexuality or whatever, not "well, women are like that."

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  54. <3 <3 <3 Simone Lovelace!

    I hadn't consciously realized before how bothered I am that women with low sex drives are usually considered prudish. Sex drive isn't dictated solely by one's thoughts about sex or one's capacity to enjoy sex, there's also a mysterious other element (maybe hormones?) in there.

    To make a sloppy analogy: if a human body is a machine, and that machine performs a battery-powered function sometimes called "orgasming", you need not only to insert the battery the right way around but also to make sure the battery has lots of juice in it.

    Lately my sex drive has been a little meh because stress is using up the battery-juice that would normally go toward sex. But I have positive feelings about sex in general, still love watching/helping my boyfriend get off in non-p-in-v ways, and when I do have orgasms there are usually at least two in a row and they leave me giggly and stupified and shaking.

    I will admit that a woman dreading having a lot of sex and saying "I won't survive this" does kinda seem like she has some kind of sexual issues beyond just "Nah, twice a week is optimal for me, thanks." But there are lots of other people who just, y'know, have a different internal timetable than others.

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  55. "Porn is for men; romance novels are for women."

    Not only do I like both, but the romance novels I prefer tend to double as porn. Guess that makes me a horrible, horrible deviant. :P

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  56. The key sentence in this article is:

    “He drops the bead in a bowl and all of a sudden he's scooping up the baby with the stinking butt instead of walking right past because he is so stinking happy with the promise of all this sex in his future.”

    Many, many married women lose their libido after having kids, not because they don't like sex but because they're tired. And they're tired because they're working the "second shift", because the husband is not doing anything close to a 50/50 share of the demanding work of childrearing and keeping house, and so he's got way more energy than the wife plus she resents him for having more free time. The solution, obviously, is for the husband to step up and be a responsible dad, thus allowing the wife to get some sleep. My experience is that nothing screws up your libido more than sustained lack of sleep.

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  57. See, 40 Days of Sex would not be at all "obligatory" or "scary" for me, because WITH my contraception-pill reduced libido, I still want sex pretty much at least once a day. I can handle having it less (again, only with the artificially lowered libido) but I am totally, easily up for it every day.

    When I'm NOT on the pill? I want it twice a day on the regular, and 3 times a day is super and dandy when I can get it. (The most I've had is 6 times a day, and yes I initiated it and was fully enthused throughout.)

    MY problem is finding a GUY who can keep up.

    --Jill

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  58. Thinking on this more, it seems that what I'm dealing with is some amount of plain old bad behavior from my partner, when he's feeling starved for sex.

    Such things as jumping between his fantasy scenes without regard to me having a consistent role to play, prolonging the encounter longer than what's enjoyable for me, and attempting to get specific kinks satisfied without necessary negotiation.

    There's clearly a point where I need to "no stop" and bring the encounter to a crashing halt to make my point, but it's very tempting on a day to day basis to try to mitigate his sense of starvation and hope for better sex once he feels more secure.

    (I agree that I should be able to communicate "don't do that," either at the time or later, but I'm having trouble with the specifics of it. I tend to get backed into being the gatekeeper, and to end up reinforcing his "women don't want sex" shortage mentality or just being blamed for not being interested enough.)

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  59. @Camilla, sounds to me like you both need more discussion/negotiating/processing at a time when sex is completely off the table (e.g. out to dinner or something). Maybe it would help to emphasize the things you DO like, so that he's not continuing with things you don't like? (Obviously I don't know the specifics, but if he views you as just not interested in sex, then maybe he doesn't realize there are things he does that you're really not into, and other things that might get a better response from you?)

    best,
    flightless

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  60. Yeah, you're likely right, although simply having more time and privacy together (our children are toddlers) might well solve multiple issues. (I also suspect that I will be in a happier hormonal state once the youngest weans.)

    There's a pacing problem that's underlying some of our angst; I reliably have a very quick fuse once I find my turn on, and talking about what I like will put me well ahead of him. (Just talking about it is often enough that I get off with conversation and a hand job - not a bad problem to have on balance.)

    We may have a solution involving non-reciprocated encounters, which is worth considering.

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  61. hey, Holly, this seems like a good time to ask;


    do you know of any websites that are geared toward disabled people accommodating said disability in sex? i've been trying to find some, but i keep getting mostly fetish porn and rants about the poster's partner's disability. not too much on the positive end.

    [my life would be SOOOOOOOOOO much easier if i didn't happen to have a partner who HAS to be one of the ONLY men on the planet who doesn't like blowjobs. sigh]

    any suggestions as to sites, or even better key words, would be VERY appreciated!

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  62. @Chi: if you come back to this post, I'd LOVE to hear your UTI help! I'm severely prone and it's awful.

    +1 more for the boat of the women who typically want sex more than the men!!

    Although, since being in a long-term relationship with me, my boyfriend's voiced desires and acting upon sexual urges has increased A LOT, once he realized that sex wasn't an obligation for the woman or a bad thing to want as a man (I shudder to think what his previous relationships were like).

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  63. I treat my UTI tendencies with celery seed tea. Which tastes awful.

    For what that's worth.

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  64. I'm way late on this, but I wanted to say that I kindof like the bead thing and tried it out.
    My thing is that when my SO spontaneously initiates, I'm usually too tired because I arranged the day differently and I'm thinking about work or something. With the 24-hour warning, I can get all excited and make sure I'm not worn out in the evening. In ordinary circumstances I can go an indefinite amount of time without getting turned on, but when I decide to do stuff I enjoy it a lot.
    Morning doesn't work so well for spontaneity either because I am too hungry when I wake up.
    Also we haven't stuck to hard and fast "have to." If it seems like it won't work out for whatever reason, I say so, and he takes the bead out.

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  65. Wouldn't Yes/No pillows just be easier? (Yes for sex, no for no.) I know I've never had a boyfriend whose libido matched mine (it's why I'm still a horny virgin), but I don't force others to bend to my will and be ready within 24 hours.

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  66. I'm about three years late on this but I HAD to comment. BRAVO. I will never understand this whole "oh you know, she's a woman so she can't possibly get horny for anything other than shoes." This attitude is not only annoying but it causes women who are experiencing problems in the bedroom with their man to assume it's them because hey, "I'm a woman; this is how sex is for me." NO. I understand that some people really do have a lower libido but their are others who are just not as sexually attracted to their partner. I have a friend whose been with her boyfriend for five years now and they hardly ever have sex. Once a month MAYBE. She doesn't think anything of it stating, "The mood has to be right and I don't always have time and-blah, blah." I know this friend isn't any sort of sexual deviant (at least I think?) but I also know her sexual desires never used to be this subdued. It's like she accepts that she's a woman and women just don't like to have that much sex when it is beyond clear that the lacking sex is a result of her dying relationship. Doesn't she realize she could move on and have some really amazing times? Yet she insists that sex doesn't matter that much but I think she, like many other woman, have given into this false idea that a woman's sex drive is naturally lower and that no matter WHO they are with it won't rise to the occasion. It's not taken into consideration that perhaps boredom and fighting has killed all desire.

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