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idiothole ([personal profile] idiothole) wrote2010-10-31 02:51 pm

Why hetero women might not like sex as much as hetero men, or: fuck you, Stephen Fry.

So I come home late last night after a night out in my non-slutty Halloween costume (poor princess - just a tiara with pretty unglam clothes!) and happen upon this article about Stephen Fry talking about how bad straight men have got it because women are prudes don't like sex as much as men. I was pretty drunk but still angry, and had a 140-character rage and decided to go to bed.

This morning I wake up and decide to re-read the article, thinking perhaps I misjudged it.

No, still as douchey as last night. According to Fry (who I quite like in general and love on QI, despite unfollowing his dull Twitter account), straight women are grossed out by men and so they don't want sex and so straight men will never reach the dizzying heights of sexual pleasure as enjoyed by gay men, who all like sex a lot and get to enjoy it together, unoppressed by the constraints of straight female desire (or lack thereof).

"I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want. Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, 'Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!' But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?"
Okay, let me take a deep breath and dissect this.

Let's for a moment accept the premise that women don't require or want sex as much as men. Anecdotal evidence might support this, men needing the sexual release of an orgasm and therefore masturbating much more than women do, on average. Who knows, maybe biological evidence also supports this claim - I honestly don't know, and don't care to investigate right now.

But the causes of that are, I believe, very different from what Fry or the straight men he derives his conclusions from are suggesting. You would think that Fry or anybody with an intelligent, thoughtful brain could examine the ideas surrounding female sexuality in culture - or in most cultures.

Yes, I am talking about slut-shaming - the simple idea that female sexuality needs to fit into a very narrow box in order to be the "good kind" of sexuality. Women cannot have sex too much, too often, with too many people and only in certain kinds of situations, in order for them to be "good women". Men, for the most part, do not suffer from these constraints. We might say 'manslut' but it has very little power.

A woman also has to be desirable (to men) but not too desirable, because if she is too sexual and desirable, she has lessened her human worth by entering the area of bad sexuality. Of course, some will tell you men love sexually promiscuous women - well enough, but do they respect them, too?

Another thing that in my mind contributes to women's sexual behaviour is the visual media's models of the ideal female beauty and desirability. Body size, hair (especially body hair), shape, make-up, virtually everything is more or less policed by both the media women consume and their own self-perception. I think most people, be their gender whatever, would confess to having some self-esteem issues with regards to their looks. It's hard to be confident in your own body and feel beautiful as you are.

It doesn't really get easier when there's so much porn out there that some people view as ideal sexual engagement. When you feel like you need to start worrying about looking good when climaxing or whether the visual appeal of your genitalia is being judged by your sexual partner, who has learned anatomy from the photoshopped images of a porn website, then it might become a little difficult to enjoy sex to the fullest of your abilities.

Of course, this is all very exaggerated. Not all women feel terrified at the prospect of their labia size being judged every time they have sex. Not all straight men only desire women who look like they could be on the cover of Cosmo. I'm just saying, these worries exist, too. And they contribute to the amount of sex straight women enjoy. (And to point out the obvious; men too have worries about looks, performance etc.)

I suppose in a perfect world, where everybody was happy with the way they looked and utterly unconstrained by society's ideas on good sexuality v bad sexuality, straight women would shag in the bushes, as would gay/bi/pan women, as would straight/gay/bi/pan men.

As for the notion that women trade sex for partnership, I'm afraid I'm running a bit out of steam to get deep enough into this. Suffice to say, it once again completely fails to analyse the potential cultural causes of why women might be more inclined to desire long-term relationships and of course, as with the sexual desire notion, utterly refuses to accept anything but the generalised, clich├ęd idea that straight women want commitment and straight men just want sex.

Women work full time despite having kids, women run companies and lead countries and yet in some ways, women are brought up to be home-makers. This is utterly anecdotal but how come at 15 years old I knew how to cook myself all kinds of meals and my male friend put flour in the fridge after unpacking the groceries once? And this in a country where everybody is forced to take Home Economics as a part of obligatory education.

So if women are brought up to be home-makers and mothers, in some ways, and men are brought up to rely on somebody to clean up the house for them alongside with the biologically essentialist notion that they're supposed to spread seed (even though humans are not animals in the same way that a group of apes in the jungle are, and even those apes have a culture that structures the "spreading of the seed" so that nothing is really just animal acting upon primal urges), it's really no wonder stereotypical notions of gender roles exist to this day. That male sexuality runs free, as it should, but women ought to consider how they present themselves, and how and when and how much they allow others to take of the special preserve of their sexuality. (And the answer is never simply whenever they would like so, because they're also taught to limit on how they much they would want it in the first place.)

It doesn't take much to question these stereotypes, which ought to be the first step in changing them, but apparently this is too much to ask from Stephen Fry.

So in a nutshell: I am disappoint. :|

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