What Do Women Want?
“What Do Women Want? Adventures in Female Desire,” by Daniel Bergner supports the emerging understanding that women are equally driven by sexual desire for variety and have a range of sexual appetites that are equal to men’s lust for many partners and experiences.
Through the lens of the latest in research findings by many scientists in the emerging field of sexology, the author debunks the myth that women are more oriented toward monogamy and require more emotional intimacy or safety than their male counterparts. He explains that monogamy is a societal overlay that holds our culture together, but is not our natural or innate proclivity.
Throughout the book, Bergner proffers studies of rats, monkeys and the animal instincts that show desire for sexual pleasure untethered from the drive to reproduce as equal in females to males. Female rats would grab the sleeve of one scientist and get the scientist to stroke her clitoris with a paintbrush over and over again. Female rats who had a cage built such that the female rat could control the amount and number of partners would choose to mount multiple male rats in sequence, as would female monkeys. The monkeys would mate with multiple males in a row when they were in natural circumstances.
One of the neuro-scientists, Jim Pfaus from Concordia University, gave men a few words of advice, “men had better perform; they’d better learn, they’d better deliver, and they’d better keep on delivering.”
Pfaus speculated a future where women will act more like men, “we’re going to see more supposedly male-like behavior, more women picking up men, more women getting laid and leaving, having sex without waiting to bond, more girls up in their rooms at their computers clicking on porn and masturbating before they get started on their homework.”
Neilsen, the media consumption tracking company said in the last four years porn consumption by females has risen from one in four to one in three viewers. Women are purchasing sex toys and erotica in record numbers. The 50 Shades of Gray trilogy is coming out as a movie in 2014. And even 30% of our initial sales for the Personal Life Media Limited Collection of Steamy Sex Ed DVD’s was purchased by women from a predominantly (90%) male list of members.
The interesting twist however, is that the more economically equal women become and the more they are on equal footing with men in the workplace, the more they will want their partners to “take over” in the bedroom. The need for polarity, or masculine/feminine magnetism to exist is rising in our culture. Women don’t want to be raped or overpowered, but they do want to be led on an erotic adventure. They do want to be ravished, to be found irresistibly sexy by their lover.
Dr. Helen Fisher, one of my favorite neuroscientists says,
“American women are twice as likely as men to fantasize about passive sex – being “done to” as opposed to “doing.” They see themselves as the objects of a partner’s sexual desire, unlike men, who tend to see others as recipients of their sexual attentions. This gender difference also exists in Japan and the UK.”
When women confide in me, they admit they want a man who can lead them sexually, make them offers and options, bring a game plan to the bedroom. They express their boredom with the monogamous sex in the marriage. And many women are dying to “bust out” and honor and cultivate their sexuality instead of being “good girls” and “people pleasers.” More women today want to have erotic sexual experiences than ever before. And when I speak frankly with men who have been in a relationship for a while, they reveal their frustration about having to “always initiate.”
Everyone wants novelty, variety, excitement in their sexual experiences, which brings us to one of your four main neurotransmitters, Dopamine. This bio-chemical is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands and enters the brain through your bloodstream. Bergner calls Dopamine, “the molecular embodiment of desire.” Pfaus calls Dopamine “a lust-pleasure.” Interestingly, it must balance with other neurotransmitters, including Serotonin, which makes you feel satisfied. Female rats on anti-depressants have less desire because Seratonin “reduces urgent need and impulses.” If you’re heavy on Seratonin and lacking in Dopamine, your erotic energy is stifled. If you’re checking your “to-do lists” while making love, your Seratonin might be over riding your Dopamine. Or, you might just be bored in the bedroom.
In the animal world, females mate with many males. Women are societally obliged, by the rules of monogamy, to have sex with only their spouse and vice versa.
What Dr. Fisher says is actually happening is “serial monogamy” with bouts of infidelity on the part of men and women. Sara Blaffer Hrdy, a primatologist and anthropology profession at University of California, Davis says that female promiscuity in langur monkeys masks paternity such that her babies will not be killed because the father cannot tell if the baby is his offspring or not. Further, the fact that it takes a female longer to orgasm but that she’s multi-orgasmic means she can mate with a number of partners who ejaculate more quickly. When multiple partners ejaculate inside her, she gets both genetic variety and protection against infanticide. Prairie dogs, primates, rats, sparrows, scorpions, spiders and more and more species are being added to the list of females who mate with many males for various positive procreative needs and for pleasure.
Though men have been labeled the more promiscuous of our species, scientists are finding, both in the study of human sexuality and in the research of instinctual animal mating, that females unencumbered by societal mores are just as likely to want to have multiple partners as are men. Monogamy is slowly evolving to marriages that begin later and later in life — late 20’s to late 40’s instead of late teens to late 20’s. Serial marriages and multiple divorces occur in the “average” person’s lifetime with more frequency. The polyamory or “open” marriage movement is gaining ground in pockets around the globe. Teens are dating younger, having sex younger and hooking up with more partners earlier due to increased access via smartphones, social media like Facebook and Snapchat. As women’s financial equality aligns with men’s, their sexual appetites are increasing. Pornography is available with the click of a mouse. Women are watching more of it. Women (and men) are staying attractive and more sexually desirable longer with plastic surgery. Fashion is more sexualized. Men have Viagra and want to have sex longer. Women are staying on Estrogen to keep their vulvas from atrophying. Anti-aging and longevity bio-medical innovations extend our sex lives. Online dating gives us access to more partners. Information about how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases is available and partners are fluid-bonding while still having “light sex” with friends. Cuddle parties and speed dating are available in most major metro areas.
In “What Do Women Want,” two research psychologists set up a speed-dating experiment where, instead of the men getting up and moving to the next potential partner, the women were given the role of approaching the men who stayed seated. “When the women moved, they said yes as often, as indiscriminately, as the men. Their ratings of desire became just as lustful.”
Our sexual conventions are evolving at a rapid pace.
What does this mean for you?
It means that if you choose to be a sexually active human being, you owe it to yourself to learn both the communication skills and the sexual techniques that will allow you to be a confident lover. And you cannot get those skills from fiction, Hollywood or pornography. It’s increasingly imperative to give yourself a solid sexual education. And that’s what we here at Personal Life Media hope in part to provide for you: The knowledge to become proficient and satisfied in your lovemaking with other people. We are all fragile, precious human beings. And in our sexual intimacy we have the opportunity to feel that connection to “other.” If you bring your heart full of love and your head full of skills, you can co-create a life filled with beautiful, shame-free sexual experiences.