What We Get Wrong About Female Sexuality

Ann Friedman read Daniel Bergner’s new book, What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire. Among her takeaways:

Women want sex, and in particular, they want sex with people who really want them. But socially, many straight men still find it a turnoff when women are sexual aggressors. Which means that, for women, aggressively pursuing the thing they want actually leads to them not getting it. I suspect this is the source of much sexual dissatisfaction of the modern single lady, who’s so horny she’s running across the street to Walgreens to buy more batteries twice a week, but is unable to pick up men despite social conventions that men are “easy” to bed and women have to be coaxed into casual sex. The thing women are told they can access any time is, maddeningly, often just out of reach.

Amanda Hess’s perspective :

Lately, whenever I write about social stigma against women who sleep around—from social media shaming in the wake of Steubenville to the science on the social barriers that hold women back from pursuing casual sex—I hear from men who tell me, “Men don’t slut-shame women. We’d love for women to have more casual sex with us.” But liking the fact that a woman wants to have sex doesn’t translate to actually liking the woman herself—especially if she’s mostly interested in doing it with another guy …

In an interview, Bergner addresses other aspects of his book on female desire:

For a long time, we have as a society told ourselves a kind of fairytale about male and female desire, that males are programmed for spreading cheap seed around, for promiscuity, and females desire relationships, with some exceptions. We’re speaking in generalities here, but on average, we’re told that women are sexually programmed to seek out one good man and thus more suited to monogamy. That seems so convenient and comforting to men and so soothing to society, that we can rely on women as a kind of social glue.

That is one of many things we need to look beyond because the evidence for that is thin at best.

Relatedly, Ronnie Koenig, a former Playgirl editor, talks about female desire:

Whether it’s Daniel Craig emerging from the ocean in a cock-revealing bathing suit, Brad Pitt in Fight Club or Adam from Girls with his shirt off (yes, please) women desire visual stimulation just as much as the next guy. Women may not be turned on by a full-page picture of a penis the way men might like to look at close-ups of vaginas in porn, but what we’re discovering is that male and female sexual desire is more alike than different.