Friday, March 16, 2007

I'd rather eat chocolate, too...

... but I won't deny that other women prefer 'exercise'.
Joan Sewell has just written a book. But not just any book, oh no. This book is about how any woman who is not like her must be delusional.

The idea that women’s sex drive can match men’s is politically correct piffle, says Sewell, who is 45. Her memoir, I’d Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido, recounts one frustration after another in a buildup to an anticlimactic conclusion: she’s just not that into sex. Such a pronouncement may not be titillating, but it’s groundbreaking, says Sandra Tsing Loh in the March issue of the Atlantic.

Libidinous ladies parade across our television screens—in Sex and the City, for example, or Desperate Housewives—but Sewell thinks they’re faking it. Like many real women, they are conforming to an image of supposed sexual liberation as they throw down their men and play rough. Poor Sewell, then, is the deviant.

The ensuing interview basically draws out her views: she doesn't like sex, and actresses and porn stars are faking it because that's their job, therefore all women are faking it because they are incapable of doing anything other than imitate the imitators. Or something.
I'm a bit like Sewell, in the fact that I have a very low to non-existent sex drive (and I'm not even married or over 40, something she feels factors into it) and think that the current raunch culture encourages girls and women to put on the display of lust where there is in fact none. However, our views diverge there. Whist Sewell decides that women all have low libidos and fake it all the time even when not in the public eye, I feel that women have different libidos and some fake it due to social pressure; but even then, many have the confidence to say 'no' if they aren't in the mood. Certainly, there's a problem with some feeling obliged to put out when they don't want to, feeling they must be something wrong with that - this is something to be remedied. But to go as far as saying that women are almost all sexless is like saying that women are almost all gagging for it - it's not progressive, ground breaking or subversive, it's just another way to make people feel that there's something wrong with them.
She also implies (if not yells, in your ear, with a megaphone) that all men are sex fiends who are only being monogamous to keep the little lady happy. Wow, what a way to box the men in AND make their partners feel guilty. This woman is clearly a beacon of truth and light to us all.

Update: I think this quote sums up the interview.

It’s all an act, then, and the truth is that men are fundamentally lustful and women are not?

Men are far more interested in sex, and if they can get as much sex as they want, they’re going to try. They do tailor their sex drive, at least the gentlemen do, to women. Sometimes they have to, just to get them into bed, and sometimes they genuinely want to. But men had harems in the past. Women’s lib has made monogamy more of a standard, but if it were left up to men, would that be a standard? You know, I don’t think so. I think they like having a main squeeze, a woman they can be emotional with, but they also like the idea of having sex on the side. Are women completely monogamous? No. But it tends to go the other way far more.

You talk about evolutionary influences on libido, and I wonder how real you think they are, how acutely you think we feel them.

Well, across so many cultures, men are more promiscuous, men want more variety, men want more women. And for women, security overrides the sexual urge. That happens because, well, the woman’s sexual urge is weaker. Maybe it is because of biology.

This argument ignores socialisation, for a start. Let's take Islamic culture, for example, where men can take up to 4 wives. Is this because they are inherently more lustful? Well, the reason given in the Koran is that men have a duty to protect women, so taking in more than one wife was a way of looking after those such as war-widows or older women who were more dependant and needed shelter and support. It isn't encouraged in the scriptures to take more than one wife simply because you want them, and if you are incapable of treating them all equally then you should remain monogamous. (How closely this is followed in some areas is a different story.) Before Islam, in some Eastern countries it was fine for women to have several husbands as well, though this was outlawed by the new religion. I'm going to look this up and get back to you (I can't find mah book!) but there is also a community out there (in the great beyond!) which actively encourages women to take multiple partners. Here in the West, however, women's sexual desires have up until comparatively recently been ignored or even denied - sexual desire of any description was seen as a disease in women in the 19th century and a variety of treatments, including clitoridectomy, were used to 'cure' them of their lustful ways. Now, having no desire may be seen as a bit odd at the very least, and asexuality is recognised to be the least common sexuality out there. While Sewell isn't going as far as to say 'women have no desires at all', she is putting 'low libido' as the norm for the vast majority, largely based upon her own experiences and assumptions from data which can be interpreted in a number of ways.


  1. I actually don't know what to say. I'm quite shocked.

    How can she make such a sweeping statement as to say no woman can ever match men in the sex-drive stakes? That's just total crazy talk. Everyone's different, so surely everyone's sex drive is different.

    Is what she's saying that women that do have a high libido are all just faking it, even if they don't realise it? Gosh, what shite that woman doth talk. Also, as you mentioned at the end (about men being "sex fieeeends") it's quite funny that she only makes the statement about women. There are a number of men who's sex drives are lower than that of their partners (haha check me reading the women's magazines roflrofl) but she doesn't say that when men act all up for it, they're just copying what they've seen on TV, does she?

    No, cause she's crazy. Obv.

    I haven't read the ensuing interview yet, so I don't really want to go on about this when I haven't studied "all da factz" (I don't know why I put quotations), but I am definitely in agreement with you on this one, this lady does appear to be spouting her very own "piffle".

  2. You should direct her towards your Biology post.