Skip

What do women want?
January 23, 2009 1:37 PM   Subscribe

What do women want? A post-feminist look at female desire.
posted by desjardins (149 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well judging by the my love life, the answer is obviously: "Not me."
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 1:41 PM on January 23, 2009


Isn't the premise flawed? Women (as a monlithic entity) don't want anything. Individual women probably want a whole range of different things.

The trick, once you have a woman who wants to have anything to do with you, is to figure out what that woman wants.

Right?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:41 PM on January 23, 2009 [28 favorites]


Is it pie? Because I can get you a pie.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:45 PM on January 23, 2009 [27 favorites]


This is behind a registration firewall. Boo.
posted by Justinian at 1:46 PM on January 23, 2009


Well, by the looks of the article, women are turned on by everything. Take that, Freud!
posted by b33j at 1:48 PM on January 23, 2009


So umm...how is this "post-feminist"? Isn't it just science involving women and men? Look up uniformitarianism; the same natural principles that applied in times past...still apply today.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:49 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


post-feminist? Sigh. I'm not even going to bother to type out the whole "in the post-patriarchy" line.

I just want to point out that the first study has a much more obvious answer than the article gives. Who the hell would be surprised that women growing up in this culture would be aroused by pornorgaphic representations of other women? Show me a control group of women who gre up in a society where women's bodies were not used to sell them absolutely everything, where they were not socialized in the ways that these subjects were. All these studies ever show is that sexuality as it is constituted under the current sociocultural conditions, reflects back a certain vision of the conditions themselves. Shocker. News at 11 Of course, this information is often used Larry-Summers-style to "prove" an insight into a biological or neurochemical basis for sexual difference.

The only group more likely than social scientists to fabricate nonsensical justifications of the status quo from inconclusive and obvious data are the journalists who cover them. Next up, post-racial evolutionary psychologists prove that black people really like watermellon and soft shoe.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:51 PM on January 23, 2009 [32 favorites]


Most of the news in this article was covered in the breezy and not particularly funny, yet helpful book Bonk.

Also the answer is easy: Everything.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:58 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read skeptically.

I agree with her here:

physiological arousal reveals little about desire.


Um, exactly. And she lost me here:
One of the things I think about,” she said, “is the dyad formed by men and women. Certainly women are very sexual and have the capacity to be even more sexual than men, but one possibility is that instead of it being a go-out-there-and-get-it kind of sexuality, it’s more of a reactive process. If you have this dyad, and one part is pumped full of testosterone, is more interested in risk taking, is probably more aggressive, you’ve got a very strong motivational force. It wouldn’t make sense to have another similar force. You need something complementary. And I’ve often thought that there is something really powerful for women’s sexuality about being desired. That receptivity element. At some point I’d love to do a study that would look at that.”
It wouldn't "make sense" to have "another similar force?" Sorry, gays and sexually agressive women. You don't "make sense." You must just be freaks - you're crippled by your lack of "that receptivity element."

Yuck!

Rarely do I dispute the findings of these studies. They are just waaayyy overinterpreted, as a general rule, and loaded down with the researchers' biases. This is no exception.
posted by Miko at 1:58 PM on January 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


Isn't the premise flawed? Women (as a monlithic entity) don't want anything. Individual women probably want a whole range of different things.

That is the party line here, yes. There are no commonalities or generalities in what women are attracted to.

Similarly, men are just as likely to be attracted to a 600lb woman with three eyes and chronic halitosis as a 110lb supermodel.

Special, unique snowflakes. Every one of us.
posted by LordSludge at 1:59 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


false choice, Lord Sludge, and it sort of proves the earlier point. There can be a lot of commonality without there being unanimity or even plurality.
posted by Miko at 2:03 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


One odd element in the intro...

Chivers, who favors high boots and fashionable rectangular glasses...

mmm... cooter clock resetting in 3, 2, 1...

But seriously, why the digression on how she looks or dresses? It's so jarringly out of place in the article. Any why so limited? Why not just say she's a attractive blonde? Perhaps we need to measure Bergner's arousal while preparing this piece.
posted by GuyZero at 2:04 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


If you mention high boots and fashionable rectangular glasses in the first act, there'd better be steamy intellectual sex in the third.
posted by fleacircus at 2:05 PM on January 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


what i want is to know what the heck post-feminism is? Is it people who are really feminist but refuse to acknowledge it?

Oh hey.. I like watermelon and soft shoes, course I'm melanin deficient.

Oh and reading through the article the biggest problem I noticed right off the bat was the possibility of a self-selection bias. It would seem to me, perhaps, that women who agree to have an instrument inserted into their vagina to measure arousal are much more likely to be sexually permissive (no, that is not meant pejoratively) and so would be much more likely to be open, at some level, to being sexually stimulated by viewing titillating images of woman as well as men. I don't really know if the same can be said about males irt the penis device. Perhaps she should have done the male group with a probe up their butt, it may have helped self select equally adventuresome males.

It would be a mistake to conclude any universal findings from this one study, I think how it is designed may have a direct effect on the outcome.
posted by edgeways at 2:08 PM on January 23, 2009


Btw, "post-feminist" was taken from the subtitle on the comments page. I'm not offering an opinion on whether or not it's an accurate label.
posted by desjardins at 2:09 PM on January 23, 2009


It would be a mistake to conclude any universal findings from this one study, I think how it is designed may have a direct effect on the outcome.

There are several studies mentioned in the article.
posted by desjardins at 2:10 PM on January 23, 2009


Chivers, who favors high boots and fashionable rectangular glasses..

I'd Hipster it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:11 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Similarly, men are just as likely to be attracted to a 600lb woman with three eyes and chronic halitosis as a 110lb supermodel.

LordSludge: I honest to god swear I am not making this up: I just read a letter in a sex advice column which came from someone who had a flatulence fetish, asking where he may find particularly gassy women.

Being aware that there is a guy out there that is by his own admission looking for a woman who "farts every five minutes during sex on average," I don't find it too surprising to assume that there are also guys out there who actually are into chronic halitosis.

As for 600lb women, I've seen clips of porn catering to the obese and pregnant fetish. So there you go there.

Three eyes: I'd have to get back to you with a judges' ruling on whether the fetish for the "third eye" bindi mark on the forehead of some Hindu practitioners counts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:14 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, they showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women and women with men.

GREEDY.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:14 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think Mel Gibson tackled this subject well with his fine performance in the film version.
posted by anoirmarie at 2:14 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


In other words, and in conclusion, Lord Sludge -- y'all are more unique than you're assuming you are.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:14 PM on January 23, 2009


I'm no life scientist, but isn't sticking electrodes on or up your bits and taking any arousal thereof post-porn-viewing working off certain assumptions already?
posted by Abiezer at 2:20 PM on January 23, 2009


plethysmographs plethysmographs plethysmographs plethysmographs plethysmographs

The word has lost all meaning.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:21 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Awaits "twenty dollars..." remarks.
posted by Abiezer at 2:22 PM on January 23, 2009


Isn't post-feminism a term used for and by a small coterie of elite-class women who a) believe they have won enough of the battles they were personally interested in to justify the term to themselves and b) who really seriously couldn't give a fuck whether or not non-elite-class women are better or worse off than non-elite-class men.

It's so amazingly previous a term as to be very honest somehow.
posted by motty at 2:26 PM on January 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


A "post-feminist" is someone who still thinks women should be treated like human beings in spite of the fact that some people mistakenly think "feminist" means someone who hates men.
posted by straight at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


New shoes. My winter boots are already getting trashed and there's gonna be, oh, four more months of winter. I'd really like another pair, but I can't afford it and by the time I can, my boots will be totally destroyed, my feet will have frozen off, and winter might just be over - though that last part is wishful thinking. Winter is never over.

Wait, what? There was an article? Oh.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:29 PM on January 23, 2009


Is this about body-positive post-feminists?
posted by gman at 2:30 PM on January 23, 2009


I'll be a post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:35 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


There is an assumption here that increased blood flow to the vagina indicates heightened desire. What if the blood flow actually indicates something else, like a the body preparing itself for a (possibly unwelcome) penetration?
posted by sid at 2:37 PM on January 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


This thread will be a study in showing how, if people believe that the correlation between two things is not a perfect 1.0, it must be 0.
posted by adipocere at 2:37 PM on January 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


Respect, comfortable living conditions, some decent conversations, good footwear and the occasional orgasm. Details vary.

Thanks, everyone. Thread's closed, move along.
posted by mhoye at 2:39 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can has girlfriend?
posted by Curry at 2:42 PM on January 23, 2009


what i want is to know what the heck post-feminism is?

It's a breakfast cereal. With a little bit of everything thrown in. Kind of like Frosted Mini-Wheats, only more so. Part natural, part artificial flavoring. "Post Feminism: We'll Eat Whatever the Hell We Want!"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:44 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


What if the blood flow actually indicates something else...

This is an interesting point which, oddly enough, is covered in the article itself.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:47 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shoes. Lots of 'em.
posted by trii at 2:52 PM on January 23, 2009


Chivers has tried to eliminate this explanation by including male-to-female transsexuals as subjects in one of her series of experiments (one that showed only human sex). These trans women, both those who were heterosexual and those who were homosexual, responded genitally and subjectively in categorical ways. They responded like men. This seemed to point to an inborn system of arousal. Yet it wasn’t hard to argue that cultural lessons had taken permanent hold within these subjects long before their emergence as females could have altered the culture’s influence.

What in the world?? MtFs respond like men? This wouldn't suggest "an inborn system of arousal". This would suggest socialization in most every sense!! Why didn't Chivers also include FtMs in her research??

Perhaps researchers would be better off if they quit trying to polarize human sexuality and instead defaulted to a model of diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks--it'd be much easier than attempting to categorize sexuality into a predictable formulaic thing. The human mind is probably shaped more by current cultural and personal beliefs than anything else, and her research would be more relevant if she focused on that angle. Male bonobos engage in male-to-male sex, and humans are quite close to bonobos. Why don't male humans engage in m-t-m sex? Human sexuality probably has a lot more to do with power dynamics and social standing than Chivers thinks--she does investigate the arousal women encounter when being overpowered, but fails to take that idea any further. Boo.

On that note, I'm getting sort of aroused by Chivers herself. Damn. What's a woman like that doing with a PhD? With a face like that, she could have been a part-time model.
posted by vas deference at 2:58 PM on January 23, 2009


Most of the news in this article was covered in the breezy and not particularly funny, yet helpful book Bonk.

I am hating that book so much currently that it's on my "unfinished" list for 2008.

I'm on page 4 of this NY Times article and I have to ask, is it all about sex? Because, similar to allen.spaulding's comments above, maybe I don't think about what I want in terms of sex because hey I'm female which means getting laid is less a problem for me than being safe from harassment, discrimination and the constant onslaught of media scrutiny on every aspect of female interactions with the rest of the world.

This article shows a bunch of porn-ish imagery and talks about what women want as if someone could pinpoint a woman's sexual preferences, desires and longings and suddenly she'd want to make babies and start a household with you. The reason this topic is so maddening is that you can be a really good lay and you're still a crappy partner. I'm sure, pretty much, that this is somewhat true for both genders but reducing the "what the hell is WITH you people?" question about women and their desires to...

Ah on page seven we're finally going to talk about rape fantasies for ... oh a whole page, excellent...

acting like answering the "what do women desire sexually?" question will help you get at the "what do women want?" question is the flawed premise that this article never recovers from. Plus what mr crash davis ii electric boogaloo said, above.
posted by jessamyn at 3:01 PM on January 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


The Wife of Bath's Tale is about a convicted rapist sent on a quest to find out What Women Want. This was all settled in the fourteenth century, though I'm thinking his methodology might have been flawed.
posted by woodway at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2009


It’s important to distinguish, Julia Heiman, the Kinsey Institute’s current director

eponysterical
posted by rxrfrx at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sid's right. Women lubricate at all these things as a precaution against the possibility they may soon be having sex whether or not they want to.

If a woman is penetrated without being lubricated, her genitals may well be injured-- and that could severely compromise her fertility.

That constitutes an immensely powerful selective force, and that force has resulted in women getting lubricated in all kinds of circumstances their unconscious mind tells their body could be associated with sex.

This is what's so sad to me about the 'betrayal by the body' stuff that comes up in so many discussions about rape. Far from being betrayed by their bodies, their bodies are calvary riding to the rescue.

Maybe once all this becomes a little more established, another set of victims will be able to stop blaming themselves a little more easily.
posted by jamjam at 3:03 PM on January 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Interesting article. I found the theories proposed by UNLV prof. Marta Meana particularly insightful.

I am someone who thinks that there are very few psychological differences between men and women, but my sexual experiences definitely concur with some of the things she discusses.

For women, “being desired is the orgasm,” Meana said somewhat metaphorically

A concise and often accurate (imo) answer to the question of this post. It would at least partially explain the seemingly increased fluidity of female sexuality as well as their lack of arousal by unaroused yet attractive men (in the first study).
posted by mrgrimm at 3:05 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, of course, evolutionarily speaking, the majority of women "want" babies. I think that's one of the big missing factors here: how do (heterosexual) women's views on reproduction and pregnancy affect their sexuality?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:07 PM on January 23, 2009


Calvary or cavalry, it works either way, I guess.
posted by jamjam at 3:08 PM on January 23, 2009


I'm on page 4 of this NY Times article and I have to ask, is it all about sex?

Yes, it is. A more accurate title would have been "What do women want sexually?" but it doesn't sing quite as well.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:09 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


The idea that "correlation doesn't equal causation" has a lot more to do with sources of confounding and bias than the numerical result.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:12 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's a woman like that doing with a PhD? With a face like that, she could have been a part-time model.

Dude. Seriously. That's not very post-feminist. or feminist. Or even reasonably polite. As crappy as academia is, it's better than modeling and she is, you know, kinda smart if you read the article. Some people just draw a good hand when their genes get dealt.
posted by GuyZero at 3:14 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]



"What does 52% of the world's population want?"
posted by aquafortis at 3:28 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


>Most of the news in this article was covered in the breezy and not particularly funny, yet helpful book Bonk.

>>I am hating that book so much currently that it's on my "unfinished" list for 2008.


Is this the place where they're hosting the Six O'Clock Free Mary Roach Backlash? Man, I'm really happy this isn't just me. I read Spook and most of Stiff after hearing her praises sung hither and yon, and while both books had some really cool information in them, her style...oh lordy. I've known thirteen-year-old boys who didn't find fart jokes as funny as Mary Roach appears to.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:30 PM on January 23, 2009


I am woman, and right now I want:

1. An excellent-sounding tube phono preamp for under $1000 and a pair of Gallo Ref 3.1 speakers.

2. A fluffernutter.

3. A handful of sinus headache medication that actually works.

4. A lovely evening sprawling in a chair watching Disc 3 of The Wire final season.

5. Self-cleaning dogs.

6. Pez.

Well, you asked.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:36 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


"What does 52% of the world's population want?"

Food and potable water.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:36 PM on January 23, 2009 [21 favorites]


Plus what mr crash davis ii electric boogaloo said, above.

ohnoes. wasn't one of them bad enough?

2. A fluffernutter.

oh noes. don't eat the fluffernutters!

and The Wire is totally overrated. *ducks*
posted by mrgrimm at 3:43 PM on January 23, 2009


I don't know if I'm more disappointed by the article or the comments here.

Female sexual desire is a subject that's relatively understudied, but each of the researchers seem to have fairly bizarre conclusions drawn from obviously fraught data.

Then there's the moronic argument over what "post-feminist" means (hey, guys, try thinking about it like "post-modernism" where "post" is chronological, not positional), and the general Beavis-ry about whether or not you'd fuck a sex researcher. Of all the academic fields women are in, I'd bet that's the one that they have the least amount of interest in hearing again whether or not you would fuck them.
posted by klangklangston at 3:44 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


What do women want?

I just phoned my wife, she indicated that she would like some Chicago style pizza. I then asked a co-worker and she confirmed that would be pretty good.

I guess it wasn't all that complicated after all. Women want pizza.
posted by quin at 3:45 PM on January 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


Beau Breedlove.
posted by Artw at 3:47 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is it a penis? Because I could probably hook that up.
I don’t bake or anything though. And I don’t know any apes.

(Hey baby, this guy boring you? Why don’t you come with me, I’ve got *wink* potable water)

Problem with this study is the whole ‘images’ and body response thing. Plenty of other para-verbal, non-visual cues, interactions, receptiveness, etc. etc. not to mention what’s going on consciously.

Basically I’ve found people tend to be turned on by people who are turned on by them. Actually turned on.
(given there’s no ‘ick’ factor, like they peek in your windows at night or something)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:49 PM on January 23, 2009


Chivers is measuring blood flow to the vagina, and that means more than simple lubrication.

It means engorgement too, and engorgement is the key to a strategy among human females to choose the father of your children even when you can't choose not to have sex with individuals you don't want to have sex with in the first place.

That's because engorgement affects the cervix as well as the walls of the vagina, and in the cervix engorgement tends to pinch the opening shut, which impedes fertilization.

Engorgement can last for quite a while, often hours, as I recall, allowing more than enough time for an unwanted partner's semen to leak away.

So arousal not only helps avoid being injured by rape, it helps to forestall the possibility a woman will be made pregnant by a rapist.

Female orgasm tends to resolve engorgement rapidly, and I think it's therefore reasonable to interpret it as saying 'I choose you' in some circumstances.
posted by jamjam at 3:50 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Beau Breedlove.

and never be able to give blood with the Red Cross again? Not likely.
posted by jessamyn at 3:50 PM on January 23, 2009


Being aware that there is a guy out there that is by his own admission looking for a woman who "farts every five minutes during sex on average," I don't find it too surprising to assume that there are also guys out there who actually are into chronic halitosis.

Granted. Now are these mainstream tastes? Or rare exceptions to the rule? (statistical outliers, even "fetishes") If you had $1000 to bet on which one a random group of 10 guys would be more attracted to, would you choose the supermodel or the 600lb-er?

I think there's value is determining what women (and men) *tend* to be attracted to. It's not an absolute thing, but a bell curve of sorts. Clearly, we can say what men tend to find sexy in women with some certainty -- trillions of dollars, in industries ranging from advertising to fashion to porn, depend on it. Similarly, there are indeed particular traits that women tend to be attracted to in men; it's naive and counterproductive to suggest that there aren't. (I personally think it comes down to behavior more than appearance, but that's a whole 'nother can of beans.) I don't understand the indignation that arises when attempts are made to codify them.

Well... I sorta do. Everybody wants to feel they have an equal opportunity to be attractive to their desired sex, and conversely that their own lizard brain is under wraps. Maybe someday evolution will bless us with this "attraction equity", as it's just irrelevant to propagation of genes in modern society, but we've got a few hundred thousand years of programming to undo.

Human sexuality, attraction, and social interaction are incredibly powerful and important forces in our day to day lives -- more so, for most people, than calculus, physics, history, and the arts. (And I say this as an engineer and a musician and a lover and a fighter and also I can ride my bike real fast...) We really should understand these things as well as possible.
posted by LordSludge at 3:51 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know if I'm more disappointed by the article or the comments here.

The comments. Definitely the comments. I don't think 5% of the commenters even read the whole article, and the majority would respond "it was so stupid i didn't have to read it."

I didn't think it was "oh wow" groundbreaking or anything, but I did think there was some interesting research and analysis by both Shivers and Meana.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:51 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Basically I’ve found people tend to be turned on by people who are turned on by them. Actually turned on.

That's what Meana was suggesting! But that that notion applies more to women than to men. I think I agree! Shoutily!
posted by mrgrimm at 3:52 PM on January 23, 2009


Of all the academic fields women are in, I'd bet that's the one that they have the least amount of interest in hearing again whether or not you would fuck them.

Oh, I dunno. As long as you're willing to fill out a 23-page survey on it and have wires attached to your genitals, she might be interested.
posted by GuyZero at 3:54 PM on January 23, 2009


...depending on which way the current was running...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:06 PM on January 23, 2009


That's what Meana was suggesting! But that that notion applies more to women than to men. I think I agree! Shoutily!

That "more" is what bothers me about her argument. You can agree or disagree that women are, on average, more aroused by being desired than men, but I don't think you can argue that men aren't aroused by being desired. Meana argues that women are aroused by looking at naked women because the naked women are desired. If this is the case, why wouldn't men also be aroused by looking at (or sensing in whatever way) that which is desired by women?
posted by ssg at 4:06 PM on January 23, 2009


Oh, by the way, understanding that unresolved arousal actually allows a woman to avoid pregnancy from a given act of intercourse gives an easy explanation for the social utility of female circumcision.

By reducing the possibility a woman will be able to be aroused at all, it reduces her ability to choose the father of her children, or more to the point perhaps from the point of view of the patriarchy, it reduces her ability to deny fatherhood to any man who has purchased or otherwise been granted the right to have sex with her.
posted by jamjam at 4:08 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is it pie? Because I can get you a pie.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:45 PM on January 23 [13 favorites +] [!]


Everyone loves pie.
posted by jb at 4:09 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like how almost nobody even read the article.

What Do Women Want?

For me to make lame jokes right now, I am sure.

Reminds me of this commercial.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:14 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I sure like this phrase "deficient desire" . . . women who report "deficient desire." We can call it DD for short. [cut to couple walking into sunset exchanging knowing leers. Voiceover: He has ED; I have DD. But with Viagra, we just have XTC!"]

So you don't want to have sex or not as much as somebody else does. But you want to want to have sex. As in, I really do not want a big plate of calf brains, and yet, I can't help wishing I did. Uh huh.

Sounds a lot more like "I think I should want calf brains" or "Somebody told me I'm supposed to want calf brains." Because of course, everybody needs to have lots and lots of steamy calf brains, on account of they're so healthy and all.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:15 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, no, there do happen to be plenty of women who would like to have more sex, but find their libidos lacking.
posted by klangklangston at 4:24 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't know why so many people are hating on this. She's applying the scientific method to something that's under-studied and effects most of the human race. How can you possibly fault her on this?
posted by Afroblanco at 4:24 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Like mrgrimm, Meana's research correlates very closely with my own experiences. I found the article actually pretty enlightening and validating. It explains why I want what I want.
posted by desjardins at 4:26 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


what women like.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:27 PM on January 23, 2009


How can you possibly fault her on this?

Because it cuts right to core of people's self-esteem.
posted by LordSludge at 4:27 PM on January 23, 2009


Well, no, there do happen to be plenty of women who would like to have more sex, but find their libidos lacking.

at least, that's what they tell you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:28 PM on January 23, 2009


Afroblanco, it's because they didn't click on the link.
posted by desjardins at 4:28 PM on January 23, 2009


What would Sarah Palin want?
posted by Postroad at 4:31 PM on January 23, 2009


Jessamyn: Bonk does get more interesting and less OMG LOL SECKS about halfway through. In the end it's a much needed survey of the history and possibility of sex research and methods with a whole lot of wannabe comedy writing and pointless memoirism piled on top.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:35 PM on January 23, 2009


AV - oh, crap. that was an aussie ad. you'd hope it was way tongue in cheek.

anyway, i'll see your cringeworthy ad & raise you one.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:36 PM on January 23, 2009


The generally accepted therapeutic notion that, for women, incubating intimacy leads to better sex is, Meana told me, often misguided. “Really,” she said, “women’s desire is not relational, it’s narcissistic” — it is dominated by the yearnings of “self-love,” by the wish to be the object of erotic admiration and sexual need.

I was recently exposed to this theory in a Lacanian mirror-phase framework. To condense it, the notion was that women's identity formation is contingent on their conception of the primal other, initially, the mother, as like as well as unlike the self, and so women develop an ego ideal that has a component of similarity to their selves, identities which both have desire for an other as well as a desire to be desired.

It really does make a lot of sense of the global fear of female sexuality set loose.

Rang my freaking bell, I can tell you. *goes and kisses the mirror a bit more*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:39 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ubu, they're running it here, too, with an American voice actor.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:40 PM on January 23, 2009


Damned international advertising agencies. I can't tell you how many Singaporean ads we get for shampoo; all featuring ambiguous indo-euro-asian models, all dubbed over with "Maaaite, when aai wanna reeaal good haaire wash, I alwaaise choose Paailmolaive!:
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:45 PM on January 23, 2009


Well, no, there do happen to be plenty of women who would like to have more sex, but find their libidos lacking.

Yeah, I know I glibly oversimplified something multi-dimensional, and people have every right to determine what's enough, too little, or too much by their own standards. But so much painful dissatisfaction and self-loathing could be assuaged if we collectively managed not to label every friggin' miniscule variation from some illusory norm as a "deficiency" or "dysfunction."
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:45 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Plus what mr crash davis ii electric boogaloo said, above.

ohnoes. wasn't one of them bad enough?"


No relation.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:48 PM on January 23, 2009


Skipping the article, I can say definitively that all women want air, water, and food. Do I win?
posted by not_on_display at 4:56 PM on January 23, 2009


"The generally accepted therapeutic notion that, for women, incubating intimacy leads to better sex is, Meana told me, often misguided."

Not to overgeneralize, but this point, along with Chivers' findings about the "fluidity" of orientation/attraction would get total head-nodding anecdotal endorsement and "well, yeah, of course" reactions from many of the women in my circle of acquaintances.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:59 PM on January 23, 2009


The generally accepted therapeutic notion that, for women, incubating intimacy leads to better sex is, Meana told me, often misguided.

See, this is why I think this research is valuable. It could help women who have lost their desire for sex in long-term relationships and don't know why. It can also help their partners understand them.
posted by desjardins at 5:05 PM on January 23, 2009


Well, no, there do happen to be plenty of women who would like to have more sex, but find their libidos lacking.

Wha....?

"I'd like to have more sex, but I just don't want to have more sex."

Okayyyy...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:09 PM on January 23, 2009


"I really wish I wanted to have more sex, but unfortunately I don't"
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:12 PM on January 23, 2009


Did you realize we can enjoy having sex without pursuing orgasm, and even without physical arousal? Well, we can. Such versatility!

I dare you to make fun of low libido paired with a desire to have sex to my FACE when I can't get off and I've been trying at it. I turn into a fucking crazy hellbeast. It's terribly frustrating. If I can tell it's not gonna happen for me, getting it on becomes terribly unappealing. Is that so unique to women? I thought you menfolk had a phrase for it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:28 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It could help women who have lost their desire for sex in long-term relationships and don't know why.

Well, one explanation could be that women are just naturally non-monogamous, and that their desires for any male partner have an expiry date. Therefore, women should be socially encouraged to accumulate multiple husbands, and these husbands should work very hard to make sure that the woman in question doesn't lose interest. [/makes just as much sense as many ideas posited in this article]

I'm actually glad I toughed it out to the final page though, so that I could read this:
What more could sexologists ever provide than intriguing hints and fragmented insights and contradictory conclusions? Could any conclusion encompass the erotic drives of even one woman? ... [S]ometimes Chivers talked as if the actual forest wasn’t visible at all, as if its complexities were an indication less of inherent intricacy than of societal efforts to regulate female eros, of cultural constraints that have left women’s lust dampened, distorted, inaccessible to understanding. “So many cultures have quite strict codes governing female sexuality,” she said. “If that sexuality is relatively passive, then why so many rules to control it? Why is it so frightening?” ... There was the intimation that, at its core, women’s sexuality might not be passive at all. There was the chance that the long history of fear might have buried the nature of women’s lust too deeply to unearth, to view.
I wish the article had started at this point, really; it might have made it really worth reading if so.
posted by jokeefe at 5:31 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I'd like to have more sex, but I just don't want to have more sex."

Haven't you ever felt like you don't have any appetite? Like if you're sick, or depressed? You wish you were hungry, but you don't feel like eating. Sort of the same thing, except lack of libido affects your relationship with your partner, whereas your lack of appetite (for food) doesn't affect anyone else.
posted by desjardins at 5:31 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Skipping the article, I can say definitively that all women want air, water, and food. Do I win?

Nope. You lose for being the (n+1)th person to make a dumb joke about what women want without reading the article.
posted by ssg at 5:39 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


“Women want to be thrown up against a wall but not truly endangered. Women want a caveman and caring. If I had to pick an actor who embodies all the qualities, all the contradictions, it would be Denzel Washington."

My wife vigorously agrees.


I can say definitively that all women want air, water, and food. Do I win?

The anorexics say no.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


hey, guys, try thinking about it like "post-modernism" where "post" is chronological, not positional

I would just like to point out that the post in postmodernism is both chronological (it came after modernism) and positional (it rejected modernism).

As such, the term post-feminism would seem to imply the assertion that feminism is outmoded. And, indeed, that is precisely the point of post-feminism.

Thus concludes another exciting episode of Prefixes: Post-Comment OR Preview?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:44 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


A good spanking. (Based on personal experience.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:48 PM on January 23, 2009


I would just like to state for the record that I have no interest in either being thrown up against a wall or Denzel Washington. And ain't I a woman?

I have even less interest in reductive "Hey baby, you say you don't want it, but your engorgement level says otherwise" boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom verbiage in the NYT Style Section, which I sometimes believe exists only to drive thinking people mad.
posted by jokeefe at 5:51 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


No offense to Denzel Washington. We could still be friends and stuff.
posted by jokeefe at 5:52 PM on January 23, 2009


I am not now nor have I ever been interested in throwing up on Denzel Washington.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:53 PM on January 23, 2009


I could be interested in Denzel Washington if he was into coming over and re-drywalling my bathroom. For free.
posted by jokeefe at 6:00 PM on January 23, 2009


I could be interested in Denzel Washington if he was into coming over and re-drywalling my bathroom. For free.

My, that's awfully Pre-Abolitionist of you, jokeefe.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:03 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sort of the same thing, except lack of libido affects your relationship with your partner, whereas your lack of appetite (for food) doesn't affect anyone else.

I'm making more of a comment on the semantics of the comment, rather than the content. Clearly, there are people who wish they had more sex in their lives but suffer from arousal issues that prevent them from getting more sex into their lives.

It's just funny to structure that as "I wish I had more desire, but I just don't have any desire."

Or, "I wish I had an appetite to want to eat all that food in front of me, but I just don't have the appetite to want to eat all that food in front of me."

That's different than saying, "People are aware that food tastes good, but can't develop an appetite for it that would drive and enhance their enjoyment of it."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:05 PM on January 23, 2009


I could be interested in Denzel Washington if he was into coming over and re-drywalling my bathroom. For free.

My, that's awfully Pre-Abolitionist of you, jokeefe.


Now, now. I need my bathroom walls done, and have no budget with which to hire somebody. This conclusion, what with walls already on my mind and then all this talk of Denzel Washington was somehow logical. In my crazy, polymorphous perverse woman's mind.

Seriously, that was something that never crossed my mind. Would I have been more inhibited about making that totally offhand comment if I were American, I wonder? This is all idle speculation, of course.
posted by jokeefe at 6:13 PM on January 23, 2009


We must be constantly alert for things to take offense at.
posted by Artw at 6:22 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I could be interested in Denzel Washington if he was into coming over and re-drywalling my bathroom. For free.

When these sorts of chatty what-do-women-want conversations come up with my real life friends, or if I'm trying to see if someone I'm idly flirting with might be get-to-know-you-better material, asking "can you sheetrock?" has always been one of my lines.

The funny joke part of this -- besides the fact that I'm dating someone with, as near as I can tell, no sheetrocking ability whatsoever -- is that my friends assumed this was some sort of innuendo, you know "rocking the sheets" or whatever. I assured them that no, someone cheerily fixing the crappy mildewy spot on the ceiling from the last roof leak with good humor and decent ability would be more attractive than George Clooney (or whoever your hunk-of-choice is here) in a hot tub (or whatever your hot location of choice is) with a pitcher of mojitos (etc, drink of choice) begging me to join him. I can even do my own sheetrocking, I just don't want to. I knew exactly what jokeefe was talking about.
posted by jessamyn at 6:22 PM on January 23, 2009


I would just like to state for the record that I have no interest in either being thrown up against a wall or Denzel Washington

To be clear, I was joking about the wife liking Denzel Washington as opposed to the other stuff.

'nother interesting article (with some repetition of this one):
Birds Do It. Bees Do It. People Seek the Keys to It.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:22 PM on January 23, 2009


If I can tell it's not gonna happen for me, getting it on becomes terribly unappealing. Is that so unique to women? I thought you menfolk had a phrase for it.

"better get a few more drinks in"
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:23 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I'm making more of a comment on the semantics of the comment, rather than the content. Clearly, there are people who wish they had more sex in their lives but suffer from arousal issues that prevent them from getting more sex into their lives."

Yeah, but all the other ways I tried to rephrase it in the space of a sentence were still awkward and had that same anti-tautology thing going.
posted by klangklangston at 7:14 PM on January 23, 2009


males desire to sow seed
females desire to be desired as the best piece of land for seed to be sown

its called evolution.
posted by Glibpaxman at 7:36 PM on January 23, 2009


what
posted by klangklangston at 7:53 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


something to do with The Gaze, I think.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:55 PM on January 23, 2009


Maybe the women just really liked the La-Z-Boy chair.
posted by zippy at 7:58 PM on January 23, 2009


females desire to be desired as the best piece of land for seed to be sown

um, dude, don't.
posted by desjardins at 7:59 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Glibpaxman: males desire to sow seed
females desire to be desired as the best piece of land for seed to be sown


If to be desired was what women wanted, then the teenager would be the most popular kind of male, instead of the attraction equivalent of a product you can't even give away. Also, note the attraction potential of the gay male and the taken male, who are both less likely to have random desire for any given woman.

What do women want? I don't know. But I'm also relatively certain that other men also don't know. And I'm pretty sure they don't know themselves.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:01 PM on January 23, 2009


Once again, I'm coming to the conclusion that peer review panels need to have more mefites on them. We're clearly way more qualified to judge scientific theories than so-called "subject-matter experts".
posted by !Jim at 8:06 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll be a post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.

Cute. But if you actually read the article, you can see that "post-feminist" is signifying two things quite different here (and interestingly, two things that are somewhat contradictory in some moments).

First, it is being used as shorthand for "post second-wave feminist." There was (and is) a lot of tremendous value in the second-wave feminists, but their approach leaves many women (not to mention men) feeling extremely alienated and silenced. And analytically, second-wave feminism was limited in a lot of ways, that have been very well articulated in third- and fourth-wave criticisms in subsequent years.

Second, it is referring to how a lot of the research described in the article -- research conducted by self-avowed feminist scholars -- does not come out of foundational feminist conceptions of female desire. Instead, it is informed by very different ideas that are, quite literally, "post-feminist" (but not "post-feminism," if you can see the distinction). My guess is that the researchers would acknowledge the importance of the foundational feminist writings on female desire, acknowledge the continued political importance and role of those writings, and would assert that science has moved on and understandings of female desire need to move on as well.

A lot of highly educated, extremely self-confident fourth-wave feminists (my partner very much among them) have very conflicted relationships with the word "feminist" because of how brutalizing a decade or two of arguing with the second-wave feminists, mostly over questions of sexuality and identity, has been. Many end up shrugging and ceding the term "feminist" to the old guard, and moving on to focus on their own work unencumbered by the baggage of that term.

For all the common interests and shared goals, there often doesn't seem to be a lot of common ground on questions over sex work, pornography, and similarly polarizing sexual topics. Layer on the third-wave critiques from women of color and third-world feminists, and these debates can become tremendously intractable.

In my reading at least, the women interviewed in this article have to be read in the light of more than two decades of harsh internal debates within feminism; they are taking great care to speak as clearly as possible without returning to those debates. If that means that they are forced to use a language of "post-feminism," it's feminism that's the poorer for it.
posted by Forktine at 8:06 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


""something to do with The Gaze, I think."

I think that may have contributed to some of my discomfort with the Narcissist argument as advanced.
posted by klangklangston at 8:10 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


males desire to sow seed
females desire to be desired as the best piece of land for seed to be sown


unfotunately, our lawn is already very tender & plush. should you wish to spill your seed somewhere, could i direct you to youtube or fark?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:11 PM on January 23, 2009


unfotunately, our lawn is already very tender & plush

Which is, of course, why those damn kids need to get off it, right?
posted by Forktine at 8:28 PM on January 23, 2009


actually, i didn't mean to be so rude.

dude's 22. it's not his fault that he presented the most half-assed and least nuanced perspective on gender relations that i've ever read.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:35 PM on January 23, 2009


sometimes it seems like the entire internet exists for the sole purpose of spilling excess seed.

as for what men and women want, and what we have been socially encouraged to desire, it still all comes back to evolution. it may be crude to reduce sex to the act of continuing the gene line but really thats what it is.

obviously there are those who fall outside the bell curve and would be considered "sexual outliers" but that does not place a value judgment on those behaviors. deviance from accepted norms - biologically and culturally - is what spurs evolution forward. sometimes outliers lead to progress and sometimes they do not. but without experimentation we will never know.

evolution for humanity occurs at both the biological and cultural level. when those two themes intersect - sexuality for example - i think the research isn't just interesting, its interesting squared.
posted by Glibpaxman at 8:41 PM on January 23, 2009


sometimes it seems like the entire internet exists for the sole purpose of spilling excess seed.

that's perfect. truce, bro.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:43 PM on January 23, 2009


UbuRoivas: truce. i should have written the entire comment at one time but developed writers block.
posted by Glibpaxman at 9:01 PM on January 23, 2009


Why is no one asking what the bonobos want?
posted by terranova at 9:33 PM on January 23, 2009


Why is no one asking what the bonobos want?

I think they want to fuck.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:30 PM on January 23, 2009


Tracy Clark-Flory of Salon responds, "Narcissism: The Secret to Women's Sexuality!"
posted by Glibpaxman at 11:01 PM on January 23, 2009


You kids - stop sowing seed on my lawn.
posted by caddis at 12:05 AM on January 24, 2009


I am woman, and right now I want:

1. An excellent-sounding tube phono preamp for under $1000 and a pair of Gallo Ref 3.1 speakers.


Swoons
posted by caddis at 12:07 AM on January 24, 2009


Sounds a lot more like "I think I should want calf brains" or "Somebody told me I'm supposed to want calf brains." Because of course, everybody needs to have lots and lots of steamy calf brains, on account of they're so healthy and all.

I'm sold. Sesos tacos for me tomorrow.
posted by benzenedream at 12:13 AM on January 24, 2009


I spent way too much of my adolescence wondering what the hell I wanted, and I still don't know. Guys? Girls? People of indeterminate gender covered in latex? I almost wish people would stop fretting about what women want because I'm tired of trying to figure it out myself.
posted by BabySeven at 10:39 PM on January 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


All day I've been itching to come back here to give a cheer for the women who want - brace yourselves - HOTTIES. I mean, maybe I'm just a booster for my team because I live with the fucking David by Michelangelo, but HOTTIES are also on the list. Land, desire, whatever. Gimme a fucking gorgeous one.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:41 PM on January 24, 2009


What do women want?

My wife wants me to take out the recycling and wash the dishes.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:15 AM on January 25, 2009


I don't know about women. I'm not one. But I can tell you that I was turned on -- actually, physically aroused -- while looking at pictures of AK47s tonight.
posted by wastelands at 3:20 AM on January 25, 2009


That is the party line here, yes.

I thought the party line on Metafilter was that all women want tentacle sex with a hot octopus?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:44 AM on January 25, 2009


I've been going to the wrong parties.
posted by Grangousier at 5:13 AM on January 25, 2009


last night's party.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:08 AM on January 25, 2009


Who the hell would be surprised that women growing up in this culture would be aroused by pornorgaphic representations of other women? Show me a control group of women who gre up in a society where women's bodies were not used to sell them absolutely everything, where they were not socialized in the ways that these subjects were. All these studies ever show is that sexuality as it is constituted under the current sociocultural conditions, reflects back a certain vision of the conditions themselves. Shocker. News at 11

If socialization really is what is going on here, why were gay men in the study unaroused by pornographic representations of women?
posted by AceRock at 11:37 AM on January 25, 2009


Sid's right. Women lubricate at all these things as a precaution against the possibility they may soon be having sex whether or not they want to.

Ohh, I just love seeing the worst of evpsych pseudosicence on the blue. Until one can develop a way to test whether this just so story is more supported by evidence than other just so stories, it joins Freud's Oedipal Complex as conjectures that are neither psychology or evolutionary biology.

And I always find it interesting that women's sexuality is pretty much automatically given to have subjective elements not necessarily linked to genital response, while men's sexuality is pretty much just what you get from genital response. When those studies find that as many as 20% don't get engorged in predictable ways, that part of the sample is dropped from the analysis.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:46 AM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: as many as 20% don't get engorged in predictable ways.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:20 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can tell you that I was turned on -- actually, physically aroused -- while looking at pictures of AK47s tonight.

*backs slowly out of thread, checking emergency exits all the while*

On the other hand, I've always suspected this.
posted by jokeefe at 1:27 PM on January 25, 2009


Women want everything what men want!
posted by simmzu at 1:38 PM on January 25, 2009


Fascinating article. I was thinking, when reading the part about women wanting to be desired, that this would explain how to choose a better mate out of so many candidates who just want casual sex. Anyway, I doubt that humans will ever fathom the depth of their most complex reason for being, simply because we don't already know it, and/but we want it to make sense too.
posted by Brian B. at 3:17 PM on January 25, 2009


wait; donuts are supposed to make sense?!??
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:12 PM on January 25, 2009


Here is a review of the new book by the author of the piece in the FPP called The Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys Into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing. From the review:

The main characters, all of whom Mr. Bergner interviewed extensively and some of whose identities are disguised, are a man with a foot fetish; a woman called the Baroness, who runs an S&M dungeon and designs latex fetish attire; a man with a fixation on his 12-year-old stepdaughter; and a photographer who is turned on by women with missing limbs.

Apparently, this book grew out of a 2005 Times article he wrote called "The Making of a Molester," about a man who was convicted of propositioning his stepdaughter. One eye-opening sentence:

Until the late 19th century in England, the legal age of sexual consent was 10.
posted by Forktine at 6:36 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


As someone who has spent a likely above-average amount of time watching bonobo sex*, I registered a big WTF at the idea that ANY one would find that arousing. EWW.

But, once I got past that part of the article, there were more interesting anecdotes ahead.

*It was a research job!
posted by NikitaNikita at 11:12 PM on January 25, 2009


If to be desired was what women wanted, then the teenager would be the most popular kind of male, instead of the attraction equivalent of a product you can't even give away.

I think the point was that the women want to be desired above all others, to be so desirable that the man has no interest in anyone else. Like the article says:

"The ravisher is so overcome by a craving focused on this particular woman that he cannot contain himself; he transgresses societal codes in order to seize her, and she, feeling herself to be the unique object of his desire, is electrified by her own reactive charge and surrenders."

This particular woman. The unique object of his desire. Teenage boys who want to f*** anything that moves definitely do NOT fulfill a woman's desire to be desired, at least not according to the criteria in this article.
posted by vytae at 9:16 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Feministe weighs in:

It’s not narcissism. It’s a lifetime of experiencing the world secondarily, and seeing ourselves through male eyes; it’s the lack of agency and power that comes with being an object to be looked upon.

And then there’s the rape fantasy thing. . . . who can blame the girl whose fantasies are peppered with scenarios in which she gets to thoroughly enjoy sex without having to take on any of the baggage that comes with wanting it?

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:39 PM on January 27, 2009


That Feministe post really helps to explain the post-feminist tag (a point that the post's author misses). At the risk of being too reductive, it goes something like this:

"Post-feminist" researchers: Maybe these differences we observe in sexual response between males and females are innate.

Feministe: Nope. I prefer my cultural explanations. Giving any credence at all to these biological explanations is wrong.
posted by ssg at 1:57 PM on January 27, 2009


And then there’s the rape fantasy thing. . . . who can blame the girl whose fantasies are peppered with scenarios in which she gets to thoroughly enjoy sex without having to take on any of the baggage that comes with wanting it?

....Would anyone mind terribly if I went to the Feministe offices and killed someone? Please?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:59 PM on January 27, 2009


Would anyone mind terribly if I went to the Feministe offices and killed someone? Please?

Did you read the rest of it? That sentence is the logical culmination of the paragraph before it.
posted by desjardins at 3:07 PM on January 27, 2009


« Older You have to draw the line somewhere...   |   Too bad Hillary's eyes are closed. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post