Monday, December 7, 2009

Married Sex--Overcoming Bias

This is an answer to a blog post that got me very heated this morning. If you click that link you can see the whole discussion I got into with him. Sorry I have been lagging in blog posts--I'm developing a new construction/structure for my blog, which should be rolling out by the end of the week!

I have just been lurking at this blog for about 3 months now, and am truly shocked by this article. It SO poorly argued and presented, it strikes one as a complete joke. Overcoming Bias? Are you kidding me? And are you serious with saying “people express strikingly little sympathy for sex-starved men.”? Basically, as I understand it, Robin is trying to argue that the reason most marriages are sexless is because women withhold sex in order to gain power over men. He argues this by stating that women are “allowed to be confused” about sex, but this really just masks the fact that they withhold sex to gain power over men in marriage.

“This complexity allows women to be honestly confused about what they want, but it can also hide motivated differences between what women say or think they want, and what really drives their choices.
THUS: For example, reduced sex might come from wives respecting husbands less than before, from seeing overly willing wives as lower in status, or from withholding sex to gain bargaining power on other issues.”

He then takes selected comments from Weil’s deeply nuanced story and extremely long chronicle of marriage improvement to demonstrate the power dynamic he outlines. I have read this entire article, and his interpretation of their overall dynamic is strained at best, completely irresponsible at worst.

I’ll start my critique of this argument with it’s first premise—women are ‘confused’ about sex, but this is just a cover for the fact that they use sex to gain power in relationships. Is it possible that women are “confused” about what they want when it comes to sex because they are told by their culture from a very young age that they are not to desire sex? When sex is constantly being forced upon them as their only value and worth in society, their only bargaining chip, instead of an act that will bring them pleasure or strengthen their love relationships? Models for girls who desire to have a healthy sexual relationship are basically non existent.

It is a huge taboo in our culture to allow any images of women pleasuring themselves, while boys and men masturbate constantly and without much societal rebuke. Only women who are exceptionally beautiful engage in the sex they want in our television shows, movies, magazines and novels, while average and even ugly men (RE:Knocked Up) engage in all kinds of sexual escapades without anyone batting an eye.

Could this possibly be contributing to the fact that most women are not sexually satisfied–that upwards of 10% of women report never experiencing an orgasm, and anywhere from 33%-50% have trouble experiencing one when they want to? Are you really going to say “people express strikingly little sympathy for sex-starved men.“? Do you have any clue how ridiculous that sounds? You can masturbate for god sake! A lot of women can’t even find this sort of pleasure on their own, let alone with a partner. Are you really still buying into the idea that these 50% of women don’t have orgasms when they want to because they physically can’t? How rational does that sound, could there be any biases involved in that?

Sure, there are biological differences between men and women’s sexual desire. But these biological differences do not need to be “recognized” as Eric puts it. Eric’s insistence that “For example, that it will never work, speaking in general, for women to be chasers and be sexually pressing/forward, its just not sexy for people on average. And that men have to be able to stand up to and deal with other people very assertively, and be self-confident, in order to be attractive, whereas this is significantly less true for women,” as if this is some forgone biological conclusion, is so utterly ridiculous. It is just one man’s insecure hope, as he feels intimidated by women who are willing to take a stand and say what they want when the want it. Why don’t we try to increase women’s sexual education and make it okay for women to want and enjoy sex from a young age? Perhaps then men can stop feeling insecure about this and instead understand the pleasures of being chased and captured, as women have for many years now. Sure, there are traditional tropes and reasons that they existed. But if the gay/transgender/bi movement has had any effect on culture in general, it has been to soften the stark contours of what it means to be a MAN or a WOMAN and instead blur the lines, increasing equality for both.

I’m very young–22. I know that I am idealistic and extremely naive when it comes to the amorphous pending blob that is marriage. But I don’t see how ensuring men get the amount of sex they want when they want is even a slightly interesting or enlightening way to approach the myriad of issues that surround gender, sex and marriage in 2009.