Thursday, June 17, 2010


Fox News: Reasons Women Withhold Sex.

I think I'm about done with the phrase "withhold sex." In fact, I'd be okay not using any more phrasing about how sex is given or taken. Sex isn't an object, it's an activity, and it can only be had or not had. So let's talk about "Reasons Women Don't Have Sex."

Which is like "Reasons Women Don't Have Lunch," isn't it? Sometimes women simply aren't hungry or have no food available, but other times they may find the food choices unpalatable, or not have time to eat, or wish to avoid others in the dining area! Fascinatingly complex creatures.

Some women make a habit of withholding sex from their partners, while some only do it under very specific circumstances. To men, this seems like cruel and unusual punishment.
Some women have sex very often, while others prefer to have sex less often. To men who think everything is about them, this seems like it's all about them.

Of course, there is a difference between a woman simply not wanting to have sex and purposefully withholding it.
This sentence stands alone, with no attached "ways to tell" discussion, so I assume the rule of thumb is "if she doesn't want sex and this makes you feel bad, she's purposefully withholding it."

I'm not trying to deny that women sometimes don't-have-sex because of their feelings about their partner, or to manipulate their partner. But that's not every time. Personally, I've never withheld sex in a relationship, because I couldn't withhold it from myself, but I've turned down sex, um, ones of times! For reasons that had to do with both my partner and myself. And most importantly, reasons that I wanted respected at the time, not "solved." If I'm not fucking you because I'm unhappy, the main problem is the unhappiness; the fucking problem is only a symptom.

She’s pissed
This is probably the most common reason that women withhold sex. If you’ve done something that made her furious, she may not be above punishing you by keeping the one thing you really, really want out of your reach.

It's not about how bad you want it. It's about how I don't really like to fuck people I'm not fond of at the moment. I'd have to smell their breath and do stuff for them and everything. When I'm angry at you, I don't want to have you inside my body. This is not some ultimate cruelty that I'm "not above."

Sometimes simply acknowledging that you’ve done something wrong is enough to make her calm down. Other times, the only way to get out of the doghouse is to participate in one of those long, heartfelt conversations in which you share feelings.
Oh what a chore. Definitely not something any man would ever want to do, sharing emotions with someone he has a supposedly emotional relationship with.

She’s asserting herself
If she’s keeping the good loving from you, it may be an attempt to assert her power over you and the relationship. If there’s one area of a relationship women think they have control over, it’s sex. She may just be doing it to show you who’s boss in bed or she may be compensating for feeling powerless in some other aspect of her life. Maybe she has a cruel boss, a domineering best friend or an overprotective mother.

No, no, an overprotective mother makes me fuck more; you've got it so backwards. But yes, women do have control over sex, in the sense that they can say no to it. Wow, what amazing power. It's like saying that because I can refuse to take a job, I have total power over where I work; there's two separate misconceptions in there. Veto power is a very limited sort of power, and few people really enjoy just vetoing everything.

She’s manipulating you
Another reason women withhold sex is to get something out of you. When no other methods of getting what she wants are working, she might resort to revoking your sex privileges until you agree to what she’s after.

This isn't going to be a mystery, though, is it? Generally you either flat-out say "We're not having sex until X", or you at least make your requests for X very obviously coincident with the non-fucking, right? So this isn't something that has to be subtly puzzled out. Unless she's crazy and wants you to read her mind, but in that case--are you sure you want to fuck this person?

Again, ugh, "sex privileges." It's not like I can just hand you the key. I have to be there the whole time and everything.

Playing games
Women withhold sex because men let them get away with it.

Oh Jesus. I don't have to explain why this is extremely fucked up, right?

It’s pretty clear it’s the one thing that most guys can’t live without and that they’ll do pretty much anything to keep it coming on a regular basis.
It's pretty clear that most guys can live without it, considering how many single men won't hire a prostitute or even have casual sex that isn't quite right. Partnered sex isn't like oxygen for men; it's just nice. Very nice, certainly, but you won't wither and die. A unilaterally-decided lack of sex is a relationship problem, not a torture method.

If you and your girlfriend can openly communicate, you should be able to talk through these issues as they come up instead of getting to the point where she’s closing her legs while you’re begging for it.
Articles like this always seem to end with an admonishment to communicate and be respectful and all those things that the rest of the article told you not to do. Just to prove that they really do support responsible behavior, despite what you might think from reading the entire rest of the article.


  1. Well. Then.

    What does one even SAY to this?


  2. Of course, there is a difference between a woman simply not wanting to have sex and purposefully withholding it.

    ...Which means that the women who "withhold" sex do want it. They're horny, there's a willing partner right there, but they're not taking advantage of it. Um, who does this punish, again? I'm confused.

    Brilliant rebuttals, Holly. Especially the part about veto power not being all that comprehensive and awesome.

    And can I just point out that even though women are "complicated" and men are troglodytes who just want to fuck all the damn time, my ex husband used to hold out on me for months at a stretch. By which I mean no intercourse, no orgasms, no prolonged making out even. And it's not like I was being too subtle in my requests: I would put on goddamned lingerie, straddle him, and start kissing him and he would gently-but-firmly push me off him and start watching tv. Even though he had an erection.

    I'm not suggesting that he was "withholding" sex from me; I think very few people purposely do that. But he had resentments toward me that he wouldn't and couldn't discuss and these resentments made him not want to be intimate with me. My recently divorced friend went through the same thing - her longest dry spell with her husband was two years (during which he jerked off to porn regularly). So all things considered, I'm a bit sick of the stereotype that men all sit around with their tongues hanging out dying for a taste of that sweet, sweet pussy while women sit there dispassionately trying to decide whether he deserves it.

  3. "Women withhold sex because men let them get away with it."

    That's right bitch better let me have my marital congress. Don't make me grab a stick slightly smaller around than my thumb.

  4. I never thought a reference to the "rule of thumb" would ever make me giggle. Thanks for that. :)

  5. "Women withhold sex because men let them get away with it. "

    *boggles quietly*

    Really? REALLY?

  6. I understand why it happens, but I'm frankly sick of reading and hearing about the things that "Women" do, as if women all operate under the same rules and motivations. We really don't. Neither do men.

    I think using sex to control someone is tacky, but it doesn't account for every time one partner wants sex and the other doesn't. Sometimes you have to put some actual effort into talking about what's going on and trying to address the sex drive/emotional/attraction/whatever issues rather than just saying "I see through your evil woman tricks and they won't work! Now mount me!"

    Oh, and guys are also fully capable of perceiving the power of sexual desire and using it to control their partners.

  7. I'm not sure talking is always the solution.

    Open communication is a nice, healthy thing, but it requires -starting- from a position of trust - if you can't trust somebody you've been with for long enough that this could be an issue, I don't think you're going to resolve it by talking.

    That is, if the guy genuinely believes his girlfriend/wife is manipulating him in this way, I don't think any amount of supposedly open communication will make him trust her; it'd require a leap of faith on his part that, if he was capable of making, would allow him to trust her to begin with.

    If it's just a suspicion, talking might help. It also might help if she is genuinely manipulating him - she might not be doing it intentionally, or it might be part of what makes a relationship "work" for her. Maybe that's something the guy can work with, maybe not. (As some people genuinely enjoy playing power games against each other - if you're open about it, it could be quite fulfilling.)

  8. If I'm refusing to have sex because I'm pissed off about something, whining at me that you're sooooo horny and I'm soooooo mean because I'm not in the mood to fuck is really not going to advance the cause, you know?

    Trying to fix the issue might. And it would have the side effect of us not being pissed off at each other, which is always nice.

  9. Did you know Twisty covered this article as well?

  10. Adirian - I'd say it's talk or dump--and in that case, really it's talk or talk and then dump. I really don't believe a relationship without honest talking is worth anything.

    Anon - Oh, how embarrassing. But I'm coming at it from the unique angle where some men also think this article is fucked up because men are capable of independent nonrapey thought like that.

  11. Can I be categorized in the "think this article is fucked up because [I'm one of those] men [that] are capable of independent nonrapey thought like that" category?

    Or would that somehow diminish the sad, acridly-chafing-masturbatory theories of the Hole-ys of the world that all females are evil and all guys should adopt that kind of hateful, paranoid, best-defense-is-a-good-offense mentality?

    And yes, I deliberately juxtaposed 'females' and 'guys' in that sentence, just to be a bastard. Now go ahead and try to take my clown suit away.

  12. I'm not surprised by the manipulation and playing games sections or the whole PUA-influenced-all-women-are-the-same feeling that the whole article had; the article's from an writer. They put out headwall-inducing things.

    I also thought it was interesting that they recommended running bubble baths and just cutting back on requesting sex if she's tired. She's tired for a reason - how about helping out around the house instead? She'll have a lot more energy for sex if she's not the only one making and cleaning up dinner, taking care of the kids, or taking the garbage out (which they scoffed at earlier in the article). Really, studies have shown that couples have better sex lives when they have more egalitarian housework distribution. Somehow I never see these kinds of articles giving that kind of advice...

  13. What's somewhat amazing, is that the original article was written by a woman... I'm not sure what to think about that..

  14. Playing games
    Women withhold sex because men let them get away with it.

    What. The. FUCK!!!???!!!

    Holy hell, that is incredibly rape-y.

  15. Some women are happy to score points by throwing other women under the bus. I imagine that writer knows how to cater to her audience and get page views.

  16. "If there’s one area of a relationship women think they have control over, it’s sex."

    good fucking god.

    If these are her genuine beliefs, I feel very sorry for her therapist.

  17. Ugly article, good criticism.

    One disagreement; I don't think "Reasons Women Don't Have Lunch" is a good analogy, because two people are involved, and one person is feeling a refusal or rejection. Part of some relationships is an explicit promise of sex; that includes biblical marriage. From a biblical point of view, perversecowgirl's then-husband was committing a sin by that kind of persistent refusal (1 Cor 7:3-5); there are lots of things serious enough to justify persistent refusal, but they all call for divorce not marriage-minus-sex. My first wife treated me badly and I had sex with her whenever she indicated desire (about weekly) anyway; I did not feel like it, but I still loved her and wanted to make the marriage work, so I overrode feelings of annoyance and resentment with conscious love. That way she could feel welcome to express desire, and we could have good sex. I'm as proud of that as anything I've ever done.

    Note, that is NOT a reason to stay with a spouse who is abusive. Any relationship with an actual human that lasts longer than a few years is going to produce buckets of annoyances and resentments that should be overcome with love; that's a totally different thing than, say, hitting or emotional abuse. You should love your enemies from much farther away than the same bed.

  18. Mousieoo

    - There's a distinguishing factor between the two scenarios, though - one is a persistent refusal to have sex, and the other is an irregular refusal to have sex.

    That is, there's a difference between refusing every time, and the parallel drawn to "Reasons Women Don't Have Lunch," in which the refusal is situational.

    Suggestion: In the future you may want to leave out the biblical references, as they're distracting from the argument you make, which didn't need them anyways. (The reference just makes atheists and deists of other flavours wonder how your argument pertains to them.)

  19. Oh my god, Adirian, get out of your own ass already. Suggestion: in the future you may want to not tell everyone else how to talk and think.

  20. Holly:

    It was a suggestion - if you think I'm wrong about the suggestion, if you think the one-off biblical reference doesn't weaken the argument, say that. If you agree with me in believing that it unnecessarily distracts from his/her argument - well, what's the risk in letting the person know?

    Is it a small thing? Yes, absolutely. Rather like walking around with your zipper undone - no big deal. Personally, even though it is unimportant, I'd still prefer somebody let me know.

    If the individual in question already knew, and chose to do so consciously? Well, egg on my face, and maybe they'll be offended and write me something nasty. It's my experience this doesn't happen too frequently, however; people are generally pretty gracious. Maybe they'll explain why it was included, and -I- will learn something.

    If they -didn't- already know, however, because nobody ever commented on it? Well, maybe I offended them, maybe I reminded them of something.

    Me, I'm sure as hell glad every time somebody takes the time out of their day to point out something I'm doing which is detracting from my effectiveness in social situations. Means I'm more effective in the future.

  21. I get that you're not very much for the whole "talking to humans" thing, and in a way I sympathize, but your attempts are coming off as abrasive and arrogant rather than merely incompetent.

  22. Holly:

    Come off as? Hell, I probably -am- abrasive and arrogant, at least as you mean the words. I've never found this to be a social handicap, however.

    I expect you're more abrasive here than you are in real life - you're about as abrasive as I am, to be certain, and quite confident of yourself (which you'd likely call arrogant elsewhere), because this blog is unreservedly and incontestably yours. Do you think your readers are offended by it, or is it a reason they, like me, read it to begin with?

    Maybe you are undervaluing these attributes.

  23. Adirian, your zipper is undone. In fact, your pants have fallen down and your ass is showing.


  24. I think I'm about done with the phrase "withhold sex." In fact, I'd be okay not using any more phrasing about how sex is given or taken.
    In that context I don't even like the word "refuse." Both make the partner who is declining -- almost invariably the woman in heterosexual contexts -- seem willful and capricious, even hostile. My relationships tend to be cooperative endeavors, though.

    I'm not trying to deny that women sometimes don't-have-sex because of their feelings about their partner, or to manipulate their partner. But that's not every time.
    I'm reminded of the belief held (or at least asserted) by some men that a man doing housework is a turn-on for women. If a woman is generally inclined to fuck a man, she may not be specifically inclined to fuck him is she's annoyed that housework is undone or tired because she's been doing it; it's an easy mistake to make if you don't think women are people.

    Sometimes simply acknowledging that you’ve done something wrong is enough to make her calm down
    Is it me or are they a little off the mark about what the goal is here? If I do something wrong, trying to get her to not be mad at me anymore is a BP-type response. I should want to make it right because I have warm feelings towards her, no?
    I understand why it happens, but I'm frankly sick of reading and hearing about the things that "Women" do, as if women all operate under the same rules and motivations. We really don't. Neither do men.
    In addition and conversely, women and men certainly don't operate under different sets of rules, at least, not nearly as different as pieces like the one being fisked like to pretend.

  25. Sometimes simply acknowledging that you’ve done something wrong is enough to make her calm down

    Is it me or are they a little off the mark about what the goal is here?

    I was thinking that, too. I can tell if someone is just trying to shut me up vs. actually caring that they've hurt me. A fake "damage control" apology sure as hell doesn't put me in the mood for lovin'.

  26. Ahhhh I love your blog. I could so easily get crazily angry and frustrated with the rampant sexism and stupidity in articles such as the one you linked to but your rational voice, frankness and humour always put me in a good mood.

  27. This kind of bullshit always clarifies things for me. It's so apparent that the assumptions behind this text aren't true, at least in any meaningful way, at least to me. They are but stereotypes.

    You take it down so gracefully.

    As Hugo Schwyzer writes in about the myth of male weakness and the frigid/slut dichotomies it's all just a way to keep women under control. There's no room for fluidity of any kind in the house of stereotypes. It's not just about putting women down (those bitching bitches, put out already!) but putting down men, as well, for not having any social smarts or affections at all.

    What is sex if not something shared? I'm finding it hard to believe that the guys who are addressed here would really be okay with fucking away a girlfriend, spouse or a friend even if they didn't feel like it, over and over again. What would that say about their manliness if they couldn't even satisfy their women and make them want them?

    The view of sex in this text is as pathetic as the view of humankind.

    Also, I'm appalled by the use of the word "withhold". The only way someone can "withhold" something from someone else, is if that other one is entitled to it.

  28. Right in one pasthurt!
    That whole entitled thing.

    Plus talk to me of the Patriarchy...
    Blacks were forced to mine diamonds for the whites.
    Men are forced to work in different mines to buy diamonds for women. Nowhere in history has there been a ruling class forced to buy diamonds to give to the oppressed so the oppressed would love them more.

    In 1920 men lived one year less than women.
    In 1990 men live six years less than women.

    Who's the oppressed sex here?

    I'd sure love to live six years longer and be naturally multiorgasmic....

  29. Oh, bite me, John B, you consistently creepy and obtuse motherfucker.

    Blacks were (in fact, are!) forced to mine diamonds or they'd die. This is a somewhat different situation than having to buy a diamond in order to be engaged to a certain subset of traditional-minded women, most of whom can frankly be talked into a quality ruby or sapphire.

    And drawing that comparison is a seriously creepy and obtuse thing to do.

  30. I am reminded of a friend whose engagement ring was some sort of manmade gemstone.

    She would go around showing it to people and proclaiming "THIS WAS MADE IN A LAB. ISN'T THAT AWESOME?" Sometimes she would add, "This is why geek girls are better."

  31. Holly,

    I hope it was clear that when I said "bullshit" and "text" I meant the original which you were commenting. I just read my comment through (to try to grasp what it was John B so graciously thought we agreed upon... I think) and saw it could be understood either way.

    Awesome commentary as always!

    Ps. Diamonds have nothing to do with "withholding" anything, but if something does, it's those mean fucking skillz. :D

  32. Adirian - I talked about biblical marriage and provided a reference for a couple of reasons. One is to distinguish biblical marriage, because many or most marriages do not come with an explicit promise of sex; they come with implications that stereotypically include "witholding" as in "you're sleeping on the couch tonight". Another is that a lot of people, Christians included, tend to think less sex is holier somehow; but what the Bible actually says is that spouses are not to deny each other. Another is that a command that spouses are not to deny each other seems very relevant to the topic of withholding.

    As for whether including Biblical references cause people to close their minds to the argument, well, it's not going to stop me. I don't think most people are that close-minded, and if they are, they aren't going to listen to me anyway.

    P.S. Sorry for the late relies, I went to the shore and forgot this thread.

  33. >>Again, ugh, "sex privileges." It's not like I can just hand you the key. I have to be there the whole time and everything.

    Seriously! Thank you.

    So well put. It was all seeming really obvious to me, except that there was an actual article [and commenters] you were responding to. Brrr.


  34. Mousie00 --

    It's not that Biblical references cause people to close their minds to the argument, but that to some people they have about as much relevance as you'd find someone quoting, say, the Tao Te Ching or the Pyramid Texts.

    It's all, "Okay, that's nice and all, but why should I care?"

    If you want to make your points relevant to everyone in your audience, you have to be really careful about stuff like religious content; limiting its scope to oneself or people-who-follow-this-sect will help with that.

    Meanwhile, around here "Sleeping on the couch" means "Someone should sleep on the couch so they get some sleep because the baby is being a complete pill."

  35. Dw3t-Hthr - I would find significant relevance in someone quoting the Tao Te Ching or the Pyramid Texts. I think that the Bible is correct where it disagrees with other moral systems, but they mostly agree; and sometimes another source expresses something better. For example, "I have not stopped the waters in their flood" might illuminate a water management issue more specifically than "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", if it comes with an understanding of Nile delta farming and how it differs from say reservoir-based irrigation in India.

    In this case I was limited by only knowing one example of a relationship that has an explicit promise of sex, so I talked solely about that one. I'm sure there are other relationships that come with that promise, and talking about them would have strengthened my point about perversecowgirl's ex-husband's behavior, but I don't know about them.