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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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211 Responses

  1. Charley
    Charley April 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm |

    Listen, I’m all for outrage, sure. But sex? I don’t get the appeal. Sure at first it’s all sexy and exciting. But after 6 months… it takes some work.

    I’d chalk this up to “that’s just me” but I don’t get the impression that “that’s just me.”

    I will never tire of backrubs or candy. But sex? meh.

  2. Nikita
    Nikita April 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

    It really pisses me off every time someone writes an article or makes a comment that infers the factual likelihood of most women tiring of sex at some point in their lives – if not implying that women simply lack a sex drive to begin with! Dammit. I LOVE sex, and I’m not a confused “slut” who needs it to create self esteem. I’m also not using it to reel in a husband or for any other reason than the fact that it is fun and awesome. And I know women who are twice my age who ALSO love sex! What is the deal with this kind of sex-bashing?
    BTW – I *am* a slut… I’m just not confused.

  3. Quiet Riot Girl
    Quiet Riot Girl April 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm |

    ‘If sex was fun once, but now it’s not fun anymore and you don’t really crave it or think about it, what is going on that has taken such a fundamental, great pleasure and moved it into the category of “meh, don’t need it”? ‘

    That’s a good question worth asking. I believe that as Charley says quite a lot of women (and some men too) are in that position. Especially ones in relationships/marriages.

    The simplest answer is monogamy. That’s my answer!

  4. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin April 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

    I have noticed that sex is often most exciting when in the process of first getting to know someone. When my partner and I first met, we had to limit intimate time only to Fridays. This was because there wasn’t much privacy at my place and her then-roommate was an extremely prudish sort of person who pitched fits if we dared have sex in her bedroom with the door closed. The horror!

    This meant that the build up to that day was intense, and so we would make love the whole of it. A few months after that, when we moved in together, we had sex several times a week. Now, two years later, I admit that the frequency has declined. But I’m not bored with sex. I’m at times frustrated that our repertoire is a bit limited due to health concerns and simple proportion (the name for that is “flooding”), but never once do I think I’d be better doing something else.

  5. Helen
    Helen April 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm |

    Fucking (i.e. sexual reproduction) has been going strong for a couple of billion years (roughly. No pun intended). I’m not worried about humanity screeching to a halt because some hipsters think touching each other is passe. But hey, this Meg Wolitzer has got to pad out pointless articles and books with something…

  6. prefer not to say
    prefer not to say April 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm |

    I find the pressure to maximize my pleasure in sex to be just as oppressive as the pressure to always be thin, clear of complexion, and fabulously dressed. I work a stressful job and I deal with mental health issues. I try to be a good friend and an engaged citizen. I don’t object to participating in sex because it gives my partner pleasure. And he is a supportive, intelligent, amazing guy.

    But seriously, the idea that I need to examine my sexual exhaustion, unearth its roots in structural oppression, and then work on recapturing the glory of sex at its finest — it makes me hostile. Can’t I just let one damn thing slide?

  7. Natalia
    Natalia April 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm |

    Trend pieces are Satan.

  8. Archie
    Archie April 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm |

    My wife stopped giving sex about 3 years ago. We have 2 kids and a loving and caring relationship, and she never seemed to like it as much a me (or so she would say although the look on her face told another story.) Anyway despite the love and warmth of my family life, it is a kind of hell for me. I mean it could be much worse, but if we don’t solve the problem it will end in divorce.

  9. alynn
    alynn April 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    @Quiet Riot Girl That might be your answer for your situation/experience or simply your opinion, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that all people who experience a “sex isn’t fun anymore” situation can automatically chalk it up to monogamy.

    I’ve been sexually exclusive for 8 years. We have our ups and downs, rough patches and patches of sheer sexual bliss. My bestie, on the other hand, went through a super “sex isn’t fun anymore” situation a few years ago when she had been casually seeing two different guys. My point is that it’s obviously a lot more complex than monogamy=bad.

    I get kind of railed up when monogamy becomes this big villain in feminist circles. I can agree that monogamy isn’t natural for humans, and it’s not right for everyone, but I don’t think anyone’s relationship structure should be judged, including mine.

  10. A.L.
    A.L. April 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    Sometimes I’d rather have a good back massage than a romp in the sack. Does that make me asexual? Not really. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to do it all the time. I’m young, married, am happy with my sex life. I certainly don’t want to sleep with other people. My S.O. and I had sex more frequently before we were married (more like before we had a home of our own; or maybe we had more time on our hands), but would I want to go back to those slightly-more-sex-filled-days? Hells no.

  11. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    Hmmm, women hate sex. That’ll be why lesbians (whatever they might be) just recite Sapphic poetry, drink herbal infusions, and tie-dye their dungarees instead of shagging then?

    Bollocks to anything that says “[thing] is sooo last [time]“. I’m (only) bloody 33 and know that everything old will soon be new again, then old, then new… &c. Same goes for any fad/statement/lifestyle that is alleged to sum up the lived experiences of any group of humans.

  12. Quiet Riot Girl
    Quiet Riot Girl April 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm |

    I find sometimes feminism is not so great with certain types of sex that certain ‘types’ of women have.

    For example porn actors, sex workers, S and M practitioners, pro-dommes, swingers, and also I rarely hear much about gay/bi men’s issues around sex from feminism.

    I mean if sex is so great why is it so judged when people do it ‘wrong’ according to mainstream feminist dogma, and especially anti-porn, anti-sex work feminism?

  13. Athenia
    Athenia April 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm |

    I think there’s this just big social anxiety that, in fact, there are other things other there that are more enjoyable than sex. And that goes against the foundation of all society.

    That doesn’t mean sex isn’t enjoyable, that just means our ancestors didn’t have that many options.

  14. Quiet Riot Girl
    Quiet Riot Girl April 16, 2011 at 3:29 pm |

    Hi alynn. well I do have a problem with monogamy as it is presented in our culture as the ‘ideal’ and proper form of relationship.

    That’s a political viewpoint not a judgement on your particular relationship.

  15. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm |

    QRG – I’m with Alynn and A.L. on this one, thoroughly steeped in monogamy and having bloody good fun with it.

    My take on it may be skewed by my status as a WSW, and one who actually thinks that womancentric, matriarchal systems (which are much neglected and scorned) could benefit society, or it may just be that I’m a natural monogamist who really isn’t given to multi-partner relationships.

    Whatever the reason for my happy monogamy, or anybody else’s is, it’s a positive experience for us. I’m sure there are polyamorous women who also find their desire for sex dwindles, and may even be a bit pissed off at the expectation/implication that they’re basically hopping around and fucking like bunnies, and that there’s no deeper meaning to their relationships, and have no desire to sometimes engage in basic intimacy rather than sex.

  16. Erin
    Erin April 16, 2011 at 3:37 pm |

    THANKS! I’m tired of hearing that I, as a woman, am “disinterested in”or “don’t want” sex. Women who want and enjoy sex are not deviant.

  17. tree
    tree April 16, 2011 at 3:45 pm |

    Archie:
    My wife stopped giving sex about 3 years ago. We have 2 kids and a loving and caring relationship, and she never seemed to like it as much a me (or so she would say although the look on her face told another story.)Anyway despite the love and warmth of my family life, it is a kind of hell for me. I mean it could be much worse, but if we don’t solve the problem it will end in divorce.

    your wife stopped giving sex? what, sex is like donating blood or something? i’m asexual, so admittedly i’m not an authority or anything, but i’ve always thought that sex was something people did/made/had together, not something that one person gave to another.

  18. Mercutia
    Mercutia April 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm |

    …cultural mores that see women’s lack of sexual interest as (1) inevitable, (2) individual and (3) not problematic for women, but a pain in the ass for men.

    That would be the part that drives me craziest.

  19. Queen Maeve
    Queen Maeve April 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    As long as there are guys like Archie, sex is going to be a chore taken on grudgingly for a lot of women even if they really, really WANT to enjoy it.

  20. alynn
    alynn April 16, 2011 at 4:07 pm |

    @Quiet Riot Girl And it’s a totally legit political viewpoint, but not the automatic answer for every person’s problem.

  21. A.L.
    A.L. April 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm |

    I do appreciate the fact that you don’t want to shame women who have supposedly lost an interest in sex. But there’s still an implied assumption in this critique that “sexual” women behave in a certain way or share a similar set of desires. “Low” sex drive (however that’s defined) is typically understood to be a negative thing. Something with which “those women” might struggle. And there are plenty of women (young and old) who are rushing to the pharmacy to buy “Female Viagra” because they’re convinced that their ‘lack of interest’ is abnormal.

    Jill: Of course. But that’s not an argument anyone actually made.

  22. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm |

    anecdotes and culturally-acceptable stereotypes, and also on cultural mores that see women’s lack of sexual interest as (1) inevitable, (2) individual and (3) not problematic for women, but a pain in the ass for men.

    THIS. Now, I’m not married (thus, have not lost interest in sex, *smile*), but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the following are possible reasons for the supposed falling female libido:

    1. exhaustion. too much to do, too little time to do it in.
    2. resentment toward a husband that isn’t doing his share of the household and/or childrearing chores (see #1 above).
    3. lack of foreplay (which is related to #1—trying to cram sex in the schedule means cutting back on foreplay).
    4. routinized sex. same position, same tired play-by-play commentary, same time, same bed.
    5. body insecurity, heightened by advertising industry and running commentary from insensitive husband.
    6. undiagnosed medical conditions, and/or side effect of medication.
    7. young children + small living quarters + waiting for the kids to go to sleep so you can have some uninterrupted sex = being too tired to fuck.
    8. husband has unexamined madonna/whore syndrome, heightened after the couple has kids (“where’d you learn that?” or “who’d you do that with before me?!” or acting weird after nonmainstream sex because OMG I did that with the mother of my children!!)
    9. husband too tired to accommodate the kind of sex that actually gives his wife an orgasm; expecting her to “take one for the team” one too many times

    Occasionally, you’ll get a magazine article about #6, and occasionally there will be a “helpful” article about taking a mini-vacation or breaking the routine one’s sex life has fallen into, but there aren’t articles about how Even Not-So-Perfect people like to fuck, or shorter working weeks to accommodate more pleasurable activities (like fucking!), or Guess What Guys, Women Like Sex (so stop freaking out about her freakiness, and do the dishes so you have more time for foreplay, and by-the-way it wouldn’t killya to brush up on those foreplay skills either).

  23. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm |

    Just so there isn’t any misunderstanding about what I mean by “foreplay”….I’m not thinking of penetrative sex as being “the main event” as opposed to nonpenetrative sex, I’m thinking of all the things one does before sex to rev up the mood.

  24. Macha
    Macha April 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    I agree that it’s sad if somebody “gives up” simply because they don’t find sex satisfying, for whatever reason (lack of understanding of their own body, their partner’s lack of understanding or desire to please, what have you). However, I know that it is also genuinely possible for some people, as they age, to lose interest in sex naturally, not because of some external circumstance that could be altered to increase interest in sex. You mention asexual people and fluctuations, and sometimes that fluctuation is just downward, and it doesn’t go back up. The important thing is whether or not a person is truly happy with how they feel about sex, how often they have it, etc. I say, if somebody isn’t bothered by a diminished sexual desire, and they’re still happy, there’s no problem.

    It all depends on the circumstances, and whether or not the person in question is disturbed or happy with their situation. Sexuality is so complex … I’m still sort of baffled at the idea of not wanting sex anymore, that I could ever tire of it so much that I’d pay somebody else to “take care” of my husband … but that doesn’t mean that a woman who does feel that way has a problem. It’s if they’re making broad generalizations and saying all women to lose all interest after a while that really makes no sense.

  25. Archie
    Archie April 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm |

    @ tree

    tree: your wife stopped giving sex? what, sex is like donating blood or something? i’m asexual, so admittedly i’m not an authority or anything, but i’ve always thought that sex was something people did/made/had together, not something that one person gave to another.

    In sex, you give yourself to your partner. It is the most personal gift one person can give to another.

  26. Nahida
    Nahida April 16, 2011 at 4:58 pm |

    Jill’s commentary makes me laugh into orgasms.

  27. tree
    tree April 16, 2011 at 4:59 pm |

    Archie:
    @ tree

    In sex, you give yourself to your partner. It is the most personal gift one person can give to another.

    so according to you i, as an asexual who has no interest in sex, can’t give someone the most personal gift? and no one can give it to me because i don’t want it? sorry, Archie. i call fallacy. not to mention that’s really damn insulting.

  28. Nahida
    Nahida April 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    Archie: In sex, you give yourself to your partner. It is the most personal gift one person can give to another.

    …Sex isn’t given or taken. It’s done. This is the weird mentality that made virginity so valuable and led to women being discarded if they were victims of rape.

  29. mad the swine
    mad the swine April 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm |

    If I had a farm, I would bet it on the proposition that most women like sex (I would make that bet because sex is fun, and there are a lot of babies running around and I hear that’s how they’re typically made).

    Most women do not enjoy sex with men. But when women are told over and over again that they must be sexually accessible to men, and they must like it, and that they are “sick” or “crazy” if they don’t, they learn very quickly to fake being “normal.” When the false consciousness is well enough established, some women may even come to believe that they do enjoy it.

    Many “sex-positive” feminists claim to genuinely enjoy heterosexual behavior, and if this is the case for you, more power to you… but own your privilege. You are not typical. Most women endure.

  30. Archie
    Archie April 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm |

    @ tree no offense. Many feel their lives are completed by sex. That was true for me and my wife at one time. Now, not the case. It’s why I delurked to comment.

    I’d say there’s some truth in la luba’s list. Small children have had a much bigger impact than either of us imagined

  31. Archie
    Archie April 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm |

    @ nahida that may be true for your sexual experience but in the society where I grew up, there was no particular value placed on virginity.

  32. Queen Maeve
    Queen Maeve April 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm |

    Oh do tell, Archie, where DID you grow up where there was no particular value placed on virginity?

  33. Archie
    Archie April 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm |

    DC suburbs in the free to be you and me 70’s

  34. LaScaramouche
    LaScaramouche April 16, 2011 at 6:33 pm |

    mad the swine: Most women do not enjoy sex with men.But when women are told over and over again that they must be sexually accessible to men, and they must like it, and that they are “sick” or “crazy” if they don’t, they learn very quickly to fake being “normal.”When the false consciousness is well enough established, some women may even come to believe that they do enjoy it.

    Many “sex-positive” feminists claim to genuinely enjoy heterosexual behavior, and if this is the case for you, more power to you… but own your privilege.You are not typical.Most women endure.

    And your evidence for this is…?
    Or, rather: What?!

  35. So...
    So... April 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm |

    tree: so according to you i, as an asexual who has no interest in sex, can’t give someone the most personal gift? and no one can give it to me because i don’t want it? sorry, Archie. i call fallacy. not to mention that’s really damn insulting.

    Jesus.

    Look, I happen to think that sex is at least one of the most important things that FOR ME differentiates a friendship from a relationship. So FOR ME sex is probably the most important thing I can DO with a partner. I feel like it’s SUPER SPECIAL and yes I feel like it’s SUPER PRECIOUS and yes I feel like it’s SUPER IMPORTANT.

    Plenty of women are being told that “sex isn’t important” and they shouldn’t advocate for their own sexual needs without being sluts without other feminists jumping in to try and undermine us. Dammit, if I want to think that sex is the most important thing in my relationship then I can do that if I want to! What exactly does it have to do with you? You don’t get to define other people’s experiences of sex. You don’t get to set priorities for people or tell them how they do or do not feel. FFS.

  36. Ruth Spalding
    Ruth Spalding April 16, 2011 at 7:27 pm |

    So, there’s science to back up these women’s disinterest (assuming a lot of factors, such as no biological reason for loss of disinterest, just the long-term relationship). It’s called the Basson model of sexual responsiveness in women, and the fact that it changes once the “lustier” stage subsides (which happens for both men and women to a certain extent after a period of time, in 98% of people, the butterfly feeling goes away after about 18 months). There’s tons of research on it, so we don’t have to wonder why women may become disinterested or what we can do about it, cos sex therapists have been working on this problem for y’know, awhile. It’s interesting and worth reading. Sandra Lieblum is the author of a book (actually a couple) that deal with this.

  37. Raja
    Raja April 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm |

    Not that I personally take offense to your post Archie and can understand what you were trying to say when you said it but perhaps a better way to phrase that sentence would have been “My wife and I stopped having sex three years ago” As for Mad the swine’s post that would imply that either all women are asexual or lesbian which I don’t believe is the case.

  38. mztress
    mztress April 16, 2011 at 7:40 pm |

    Maybe the problem is simply that these womyn’s husbands are a terrible lay?

  39. Ens
    Ens April 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm |

    So…, you’re making this about you, and it isn’t.

    Archie said that sex “is the most personal gift one person can give to another” — that’s an unequivocal everybody statement, and it was made specifically to tree, after tree mentioned that tree is asexual. It absolutely follows that tree cannot give or receive the most personal gift by tree’s standards. Archie later apologized.

  40. April
    April April 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm |

    mad the swine: Most women do not enjoy sex with men. But when women are told over and over again that they must be sexually accessible to men, and they must like it, and that they are “sick” or “crazy” if they don’t, they learn very quickly to fake being “normal.” When the false consciousness is well enough established, some women may even come to believe that they do enjoy it.

    You can’t say something as sweeping and generalized as “Most women don’t enjoy sex with men” without some kind of citation. That’s really a pretty ridiculous thing to claim about the majority of women, isn’t it?

    Anyway, about the article, does the word “monogamy” really not enter into anyone’s mind when discussing a decline in sex for married couples? This seems incredibly obvious to me… especially as a woman in a monogamous marriage. Also, this is another one of those articles that makes me think “READ SEX AT DAWN FFS.”

  41. Miguel Bloomfontosis
    Miguel Bloomfontosis April 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    Who the hell would blithely announce “I would pay someone to have sex with my husband”? Imagine a *man* cracking wise about “paying someone to have sex” with his unattractive wife and his buddies guffawing at it! To me, that little anecdote speaks to a pretty sad lack of affection, covered up with junior high level snark. And hey, maybe the lack of affection is mutual. Probably is. Still pretty sad, no?

  42. McSnarkster
    McSnarkster April 16, 2011 at 8:33 pm |

    I actually agree with the article’s conclusion–there are so many other things to do, plenty of which are equally enjoyable (and, bonus, usually don’t come with the risk of pregnancy or STDs). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to take a nap or watch a really good movie or have a thorough discussion about something you’ve read/watched or go for a bike ride or whatever instead. There’s only so many hours in a day, and sex isn’t the be-all and end-all of life. I mean, I guess you could make the argument that biologically it is, but I thought humans were supposed to be capable of more than that.

    Yes, SOME women do want sex all the time. SOME of them. Those of that don’t, that could really give less of a, well, fuck, there’s nothing wrong with us either. Sex is great, sure, but so is hearing an excellent piece of music or eating perfectly-made alfredo. It seems like it’s only okay to feel this way if I label myself “asexual” which just isn’t true. I have a sexuality, it’s just only one facet of my life. I feel like a lot of sex-positive runs dangerously close to the wider cultural message that women should be having sex and be sexually available at all times. I get enough pressure to have sex from our hypersexualized culture. I don’t fucking need it from feminism, too.

  43. McSnarkster
    McSnarkster April 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm |

    Er, sex-positive feminism, that is. Remembering to type words is hard.

  44. Archie
    Archie April 16, 2011 at 8:44 pm |

    @raja. If I said it the way you want me to say it, it wouldn’t be an accurate description of what happened. It was one sided. Not the result of a mutual desire.

  45. tree
    tree April 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm |

    So…: Jesus.

    Look, I happen to think that sex is at least one of the most important things that FOR ME differentiates a friendship from a relationship. So FOR ME sex is probably the most important thing I can DO with a partner. I feel like it’s SUPER SPECIAL and yes I feel like it’s SUPER PRECIOUS and yes I feel like it’s SUPER IMPORTANT.

    Plenty of women are being told that “sex isn’t important” and they shouldn’t advocate for their own sexual needs without being sluts without other feminists jumping in to try and undermine us. Dammit, if I want to think that sex is the most important thing in my relationship then I can do that if I want to! What exactly does it have to do with you? You don’t get to define other people’s experiences of sex. You don’t get to set priorities for people or tell them how they do or do not feel. FFS.

    nowhere in either of my comments did i say anything about defining other people’s experiences of sex. i specifically made I statements and referenced my own sexuality. Archie made sweeping generalisations that i took issue with as an asexual person. i didn’t claim to be speaking for all asexual people everywhere, much less any sexual people at all. please don’t put words in my mouth.

    your experience of sex is important. that’s great. but i resent being told absolutely that sex is the most important gift one person can give to another. that tells me that because of my sexuality, i can’t give or receive the most important gift. it’s just another reinforcement amongst a myriad of others that people like me are broken, or wrong. and i refute that absolutely.

    and since you brought it up, why is your experience, your sexuality, more valid than mine? because sexual people are the majority? asexual people are repeatedly told that they’re mentally ill, that they should be raped, that they simply don’t exist. i refuse to be erased, by you or by anyone.

  46. willa
    willa April 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm |

    All I’m getting from your post, Jill, is that women who aren’t interested in sex need to suck it up and get interested in it pronto so the rest of the women out there can provide a united, FALSE front that we all love sex. And apparently you feel really sorry for me because I’m not interested in sex and don’t really enjoy it. Not cool. Really offensive. Stop throwing me under your goddamn bus. And I don’t want your pity, either.

  47. timberwraith
    timberwraith April 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm |

    Queen Maeve said:

    Oh do tell, Archie, where DID you grow up where there was no particular value placed on virginity?

    Archie said:

    DC suburbs in the free to be you and me 70′s

    Archie, I’m not sure who you were spending time with in the 70s, but in my Maryland suburb, guys spoke of women and girls in ways that were pretty awful and they often implied that it was fine (and expected) for men to play the field, but “nice” women were supposed to be far more chaste. I grew up thirty or forty miles away in the suburbs of Baltimore during the 70s and 80s (born in the late 60s), and the madonna/whore dichotomy was alive and well—especially when you listened to the way guys talked about girls/women when they were out of earshot. Although optional, virginity in women (and not in guys) was still valued. Nevertheless, if a girl/woman expressed the same degree of sexual freedom that was taken for granted in boys and men, she would have been readily labeled as a “slut.”

    Also, the guys I knew spoke of sex with girls/women in ways that implied that they were taking something valuable from girls and women. Sex was viewed as an avenue of expressing male power via the physical domination of women. Virginity in males was viewed as a sign of weakness and inferiority.

    Consequently, when you complained that your wife stopped “giving sex”, I cringed in a big way—similar to others on this thread. Regardless of your intentions, your wording sounded a little too close to the attitudes that I delineated in my previous paragraphs. I’ll meet you in the middle and assume that it was a simple slip of the tongue. Just be aware that a different choice of language might be in order when discussing these issues in the future.

    Also, I tend to agree with tree: sex isn’t the highest plane of giving in all relationships, regardless of whether people are sexual, asexual, or somewhere in between. There are all kinds of intimate/romantic relationships in the world, which vary in countless ways. Physical intimacy is but on possible dimension. To place universal primacy upon sex, above all other dimensions, is far too limiting in my opinion. Physical intimacy represents the highest dimension of sharing for you, but certainly not for all.

  48. Anon for this one
    Anon for this one April 16, 2011 at 10:17 pm |

    I’m currently dating a man, and I’m getting tired of sex. Largely because I’m tired of having to remind him about foreplay, and also having to remind him that perhaps I want to get off, too.

    Yes, we could Learn Together, but frankly, I would like once in my life to sleep with someone who already gets it, and doesn’t need me to train them. I’ve been considering only dating women in the future, largely because of this. (I’m bi.)

  49. Kristen J. & Husband
    Kristen J. & Husband April 16, 2011 at 10:31 pm |

    For the rare couple comment!

    Sex is extraordinarily person specific and dynamic. While we both have a preference for monogamy our sex drives shift pretty wildly depending on…life. For us the key has been that we talk about sex, desire, fantasies all the time and we both feel comfortable saying “eh…not so much” or “what if we…” without any fear of rejection.

    As for boredom, well, its happened from time to time. Part of what is good about being able to talk without fear of rejection means that we’ve each been able to explore our sexuality as our own sexuality has evolved.

  50. Azkyroth
    Azkyroth April 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm |

    Most women do not enjoy sex with men.

    Citation needed.

    And assuming it’s true, aren’t you even slightly interested in WHY?

  51. Archie
    Archie April 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm |

    Interesting @timberwraith. I knew a pretty broad cross section of people in my teen years. There were all kinds -but even though I knew people who were racists, sexists, homophobes, and Republicans, I never identified with those groups. I was also not really an outsider.

    I also agree that sex isn’t the highest plane of giving in all relationships. It might be in some relationships. In our marriage we gave ourselves to one another in many ways for many years. Our shared sexual experience was ours alone, and distinguished the love we had (and still have) for one another from the love we had for our parents siblings., children and friends. Maybe for some of you the idea of sex is objectionable, but in our case the gift was mutual and the word accurately reflects our relationship

  52. notemily
    notemily April 16, 2011 at 10:44 pm |

    La Lubu:
    1. exhaustion. too much to do, too little time to do it in.
    2. resentment toward a husband that isn’t doing his share of the household and/or childrearing chores (see #1 above).
    3. lack of foreplay (which is related to #1—trying to cram sex in the schedule means cutting back on foreplay).
    4. routinized sex. same position, same tired play-by-play commentary, same time, same bed.
    5. body insecurity, heightened by advertising industry and running commentary from insensitive husband.
    6. undiagnosed medical conditions, and/or side effect of medication.
    7. young children + small living quarters + waiting for the kids to go to sleep so you can have some uninterrupted sex = being too tired to fuck.
    8. husband has unexamined madonna/whore syndrome, heightened after the couple has kids (“where’d you learn that?” or “who’d you do that with before me?!” or acting weird after nonmainstream sex because OMG I did that with the mother of my children!!)
    9. husband too tired to accommodate the kind of sex that actually gives his wife an orgasm; expecting her to “take one for the team” one too many times

    Thanks for this comment, La Lubu. I used to be enthusiastic about sex, but in the past few years several things have changed. I’ve had a lot of awful sexual experiences, many of them related to #5–not that I thought my body was awful, but that I got the impression I was being objectified in bed instead of being treated like a person. And then I got sick, and I’ve been dealing with #6 ever since, and without the drive to have sex as much as (I assume) (most) guys want, it just doesn’t seem worth the effort to try and deal with #5.

    I get that people think sex is an important part of life and an enjoyable thing, but I think not being horribly depressed and anxious all the time is also an enjoyable thing, and right now that’s more important to me than having sex. I don’t know when it wouldn’t be more important.

  53. Queen Maeve
    Queen Maeve April 16, 2011 at 11:07 pm |

    @willa yeah I’m getting that impression too.

    I also don’t think this is as simple as “some men are crappy lovers” or “some husbands are insensitive and make women feel self-conscious.” You can have a partner who is absolutely sensitive, caring, giving, considerate, and who genuinely adores you and STILL have to plow through EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD telling you that your fat/ugly/disabled/fill in the blank body isn’t good enough, is something you should be ashamed of, should be hidden and deprived. You could have the best lover in the world in bed with you and still have to do a lot of shitwork undoing the damage and taping over the words of rapists, abusers, and insensitive jerks who came before this moment. It’s a lot more work than what men typically (note that I am not saying ALWAYS) have to do to prepare to even relax enough to enjoy intimacy, and it’s not fun work either. It can be upsetting and miserable work, frequently. It’s like if I want brownies, but to get them I have to not only make them, not only clean the whole kitchen, not only go out and buy some more flour and sugar because I’m running low, but also make it on a campfire that I have to keep stoking by hand…at which point you don’t have to be THAT tired or sick to say fuck it I’ll just watch Star Trek and go to bed. Nothing against brownies, if they were ready and on the counter most of us would be game. But with all that work between now and the reward moment? No thanks.

  54. saurus
    saurus April 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm |

    This piece makes me very uncomfortable.

    I see a contradiction here between:

    I don’t want to problematize lack of sexual interest entirely, because there are people who are genuinely not interested in sex at all, and that’s fine. To each their own, the world is a big and diverse and interesting place, etc.

    and

    That is so beyond my experience that I can’t fully understand it and I admittedly feel sorry for people who take that position. [...] If sex was fun once, but now it’s not fun anymore and you don’t really crave it or think about it, what is going on that has taken such a fundamental, great pleasure and moved it into the category of “meh, don’t need it”?

    I feel like you’re saying, “To be politically correct, there’s nothing wrong with you…but let’s be honest, I feel sorry for you.”

    …but if in fact there are a lot of us who are eating Pepperidge Farm cookies and trolling Wikipedia instead of boning, we should figure out why that is and do something about it.

    Um, I genuinely fail to see why you’ve given sex an objectively higher ranking on the pleasure/importance scale than eating Pepperidge Farm cookies and trolling Wikipedia? Seriously, who are you to judge which is objectively, universally better? Because I’d rather have a back massage than sex, and that’s not because my sex life is crap, it’s because back massages are just so much awesomer to me.

    Why is it so important to you that women have sex? Shouldn’t it be more important that women have the sex lives they’re comfortable with, whether that’s asexual or hypersexual or somewhere in between or who knows what? Shouldn’t that be the key takeaway here, not that “sex is great”?

    I, for one, am tired of having sex, and that’s because my partner and I are generally too lazy to “spice up” our love life now that the novelty has worn off. Sex is just not that important to me, but it’s more important to my partner, so having sex isn’t particularly glorious for me, and like many other things I don’t care deeply about, I’m OK that it’s not particularly glorious. If you’re going to give me a back massage, that had better be glorious – but sex? Meh.

    And this idea that because it can be amazing and fundamental for you it’s “sad” that it’s not amazing and fundamental for us is really frustrating. Save your pity. You are apparently determining how sad our sex lives are by your ruler instead of our own, which is messed up. I am NOT missing out, because it’s not something that I value highly to begin with. My life has plenty of other sources for intense pleasure, thanks.

    There’s certainly something to be said for how social constructions cause problems in heterosexual sex lives, but this piece is just plain old pathologizing.

    It’s silly, to me, to namedrop asexuality and then say something sweeping like “Sex is great!”. Uh, for whom?

  55. Jo
    Jo April 16, 2011 at 11:53 pm |

    willa:
    All I’m getting from your post, Jill, is that women who aren’t interested in sex need to suck it up and get interested in it pronto so the rest of the women out there can provide a united, FALSE front that we all love sex. And apparently you feel really sorry for me because I’m not interested in sex and don’t really enjoy it. Not cool. Really offensive. Stop throwing me under your goddamn bus. And I don’t want your pity, either.

    For the most part I have to agree with Willa’s sentiment. Perhaps the Times article did not get it right, but at the same time I think that this post misses the mark too. It’s a perfect example of the misplaced scale that is placed on sex. In the past I’ve thought I was asexual because I didn’t fit the caricature of a woman who enjoys sex (has sex at least four times a week! would drop anything else for sex because sex is the greatest thing ever!). I’m currently in a sexual monogamous relationship, the only relationship I’ve had so far that has been truly sexually satisfying (or even really enticing in the long term). At first it was eye opening in that I realized my desire to have sex can —at times—be stronger than my desire to go on a bike ride. But I’ve also found that my sex drive isn’t always there. And perhaps one day it will diminish, and I will probably be okay with that when it happens, because while I do enjoy it when I enjoy it, I also enjoy a lot of other things about relationships and life in general.

  56. Queen Maeve
    Queen Maeve April 16, 2011 at 11:58 pm |

    I have quite the sweet tooth. My late grandmother, on the other hand, while she enjoyed desserts honestly could not care a whole lot less about them one way or another. She always said, when people would remark on her restraint (and she was not otherwise known to “diet” or deprive herself) “the first bite of cake was delicious. All the other bites are going to taste the same. Now that I know what it’s like, why eat the rest?” I always, as a child, thought that was just preposterous because surely EVERYONE wants more cake, right? Well I was a child. As adults, surely, we can see that some people just aren’t motivated by cake. They see what it’s like and that’s more than enough for them. Right?

  57. notemily
    notemily April 17, 2011 at 12:08 am |

    @Queen Maeve, thank you for your brownies comment.

  58. So...
    So... April 17, 2011 at 12:20 am |

    tree:
    your experience of sex is important. that’s great. but i resent being told absolutely that sex is the most important gift one person can give to another. that tells me that because of my sexuality, i can’t give or receive the most important gift.

    You are making a judgment call that sex is unimportant. That is your call. Lots of people disagree. That is their call. Some people even think it is the most important gift one person can give another. That is still their call. Not sure what the substantive difference is in using lots of I words when saying it. Honestly, I don’t really understand your argument. Even if I think sex is sprinkles and cupcakes and should rule the world and everyone else is missing out, that’s a personal highly subjective judgment which does not have to conform to your viewpoint. From what I’ve seen, these are instinctual judgments in both asexual and “sexual” (I guess that’s me) people that aren’t really intelligible to the other side. On the last round up of posts which discussed asexuality, there was a lot of chastising over the refusal of feminists/POC to ally and educate themselves. So like a good little feminist, I went over to the posts linked and I think, AVEN. Yeah, many of the threads had the whiff of the “most sexuals are savages and that’s why can’t they separate sex from love” and “biological urges are gross” type attitude. Well, that’s actually their right to feel that and it’s my right to think that sex is The Most Important Thing Eva.

    asexual people are repeatedly told that they’re mentally ill, that they should be raped, that they simply don’t exist. i refuse to be erased, by you or by anyone.

    Yes, I called for all of this in this thread and in many others.

    I just don’t understand why it’s no longer ok to say that many women like or want sex because it’s mean to asexuals. Yes, some women don’t want sex. But lots do. I thought the whole point of the statistics which are trotted out ALL THE TIME is that an absolutely tiny percentage of the population is asexual and lots of women, by a process of deduction, are sexual. And they are still slut shamed and still are made to feel bad about it. And sexuality is still constructed around male needs and the male gaze. But instead of engaging with it, we now all have to pretend otherwise. Look at this thread. There is such a smug superiority in the “I’m too tired for sex cos it’s boring” crowd. oh, I go to museums and make pasta and it’s all just so much more interesting than sex, you know. Our culture is so hypersexualized. Blah blah blah. It’s hypersexualized – so what? There are tons of crappy movies and I still find ones I like. There is shit food everywhere and I still love my food.

    And guess what, sex is objectively MORE IMPORTANT TO WOMEN AS A CLASS than back rubs and cake and talking or whatever crap you think because BACK RUBS HAVE NOT BEEN THE MAIN OPPRESSIVE TOOL OF T

  59. So...
    So... April 17, 2011 at 12:23 am |

    .. HE PATRIARCHY SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME

    stop making this about middle class women – again – and academic discourse and wake up. Women everywhere are hurt by madonna/whore complexes. Raped because of it, denied opportunities because of it. Sex is important whether you want it or not and making society so that women feel free to enjoy sex is important too. God, you all just sound miserable.

  60. So...
    So... April 17, 2011 at 12:24 am |

    HE PATRIARCHY SINCE WHENEVER

  61. McSnarkster
    McSnarkster April 17, 2011 at 12:59 am |

    Uh, because sex isn’t the most important thing in my life, I’ve got a “smug superiority” and “miserable”? Jeez, why not just call us uptight and frigid while you’re at it? Saying sex isn’t the most important thing isn’t the same damn thing as saying I don’t enjoy it. Like the excellent cake analogy, people can enjoy things without wanting them all the time.

    Also, you seem to be confusing the societal and political importance of sex with whether or not it’s personally important for individuals. Women should be free to have whatever sex lives they want, even if that’s a very minimal or nonexistent sex life. Your judgment is uncalled for, and telling women there’s something wrong with them for not wanting sex all the time is the exact same thing the patriarchy does.

    You can say sex is the most important thing ever to YOU, but that doesn’t give you the right to shout down those who don’t feel that way. That’s the whole fucking point. There’s whole damn spectrum of sexual desire out there, and this blog post seems to think there’s something wrong if you’re at the shallow end of it. There isn’t. There’s also nothing wrong with being at the deep end.

    And I have no idea what being middle class has anything to do with it. Honestly, most of the women I’ve encountered who want to tell me how sex is the most empowering thing ever have been from pretty high up the economic ladder. (Maybe if I had a nice white-collar office job instead of the foodservice job that requires me to be on my feet for hours and be polite to everyone no matter how they treat me, maybe then I’d have the energy to give more of a rat’s ass about having lots of sex.)

  62. tree
    tree April 17, 2011 at 1:18 am |

    Queen Maeve:
    I have quite the sweet tooth. My late grandmother, on the other hand, while she enjoyed desserts honestly could not care a whole lot less about them one way or another. She always said, when people would remark on her restraint (and she was not otherwise known to “diet” or deprive herself) “the first bite of cake was delicious. All the other bites are going to taste the same. Now that I know what it’s like, why eat the rest?” I always, as a child, thought that was just preposterous because surely EVERYONE wants more cake, right? Well I was a child. As adults, surely, we can see that some people just aren’t motivated by cake. They see what it’s like and that’s more than enough for them. Right?

    there’s a kind of joke in the asexual community about preferring cake to sex. i am totally motivated by cake. :)

  63. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla April 17, 2011 at 1:19 am |

    I’m asexual.

    I guess that means I’m unable to have relationships.

    *sighs*

  64. nico
    nico April 17, 2011 at 1:21 am |

    I really have to take issue with this post.

    Maybe it’s because I’m still a fairly young woman, but I feel A LOT of pressure to be hungry for sex all the time. I feel like there’s something wrong with me because I’d often prefer to read a book, watch a movie, have a good conversation, go for a walk.
    None of my friends would ever admit that they get bored with sex, don’t like it, or would sometimes just rather do something else. I wish they WOULD talk about it – I’d feel kind of relieved. I’m not asexual, I just don’t want sex very often. Isn’t that okay?

    I think a lot of sex-positive feminists go too far in the other direction and put way too much emphasis on sex as the be all and end all of everything. Feminism to me is about women having the sexuality they want, and not being shamed for being a “slut” OR “frigid”.

  65. nico
    nico April 17, 2011 at 1:22 am |

    Or basically yes to what McSnakster @ 43 said.

  66. Anon for this one
    Anon for this one April 17, 2011 at 1:37 am |

    What does conern me is the group of people who used to be interested in sex, but are no longer interested. That, to me, is analogous to a group of people who used to be interested in food but no longer care and just eat to survive.

    I’m entertained by the analogy, because it is exceedingly rare that I have ever enjoyed eating food.  And this part in your OP:

    It’s kind of like food — food can be really really awesome, and as someone who really enjoys food, it breaks my heart a little bit whenever I meet people who are just like, “Food is fuel, I eat it to stay alive, I don’t take any pleasure in it and I wouldn’t eat if I didn’t have to” or people who are like, “I only eat things that are white.”

    Why, sincerely, does this break your heart?  Speaking to food or to sex?  I don’t enjoy eating food, nearly all of the time; why does this affect you even at all, unless I have been forced into the dinner party host role by losing a bet?

  67. lovepeaceohana
    lovepeaceohana April 17, 2011 at 3:11 am |

    @saurus: thank you. you have basically said what I wanted to say, except more coherently.

    Shouldn’t it be more important that women have the sex lives they’re comfortable with, whether that’s asexual or hypersexual or somewhere in between or who knows what? Shouldn’t that be the key takeaway here, not that “sex is great”?

    YES. Also, that it’s okay to move between levels of desiring sexual activity, because that happens too!

  68. tricia
    tricia April 17, 2011 at 3:13 am |

    Many “sex-positive” feminists claim to genuinely enjoy heterosexual behavior, and if this is the case for you, more power to you… but own your privilege. You are not typical. Most women endure.

    I make it a point never to own my privilege while engaging in (loud, sweaty, wildly enthusiastic) heterosexual behavior.

    Acknowledging that I’m having an orgasm on the (figurative!) backs of ~200,000 years of oppressed women who apparently all lay back and thought of evolution kills the mood.

  69. Raja
    Raja April 17, 2011 at 3:37 am |

    pretty much people should be able to enjoy as much sex or as little sex as they want.

  70. Medea
    Medea April 17, 2011 at 4:21 am |

    McSnarkster: (Maybe if I had a nice white-collar office job instead of the foodservice job that requires me to be on my feet for hours and be polite to everyone no matter how they treat me, maybe then I’d have the energy to give more of a rat’s ass about having lots of sex.)

    That’s Jill’s point–that reasons for not enjoying sex, particularly for people who once did, should be explored instead the “huh, middle-aged women just don’t like sex much these days” attitude that the article takes.

  71. Iany
    Iany April 17, 2011 at 4:22 am |

    I’m glad you give kudos to assexual people but even sexual people get bored or disinterested during periods in their lives. I have married friends who mention this (and this is affected by the fact that they’re busy and often have kids in the house). Sometimes people, men and women, decide that after they’ve been together a while sex isn’t always the biggest thing on the agenda and they don’t always want to do it. I don’t like that they focused on women so much, men feel that way too sometimes! It’s just treated like a bad thing for them, when it’s not.

    Of course, hating the act so much you’d rather pay someone else to do it with your loved one is either incredibly honest or a death knell.

  72. L
    L April 17, 2011 at 4:25 am |

    Ugh I keep trying to write a comment but am having trouble finding the words.

    I am just really not liking the whole message of “if sex is on the backburner, there is something seriously wrong with you or your relationship!”…Um no. For my partner and I, sex is on the backburner a bit because of stress related to school, work, family issues, etc etc. I don’t need your pity because I’m having a longer than usual dry spell, which I’m pretty sure happens to everyone. Life happens sometimes and there are things that are more important than sex.

    And honestly, I’ve had a lower sex drive than all the people I’ve dated, and have had a really hard time getting rid of the shame surrounding that. I have had more than enough pressure from society my whole life, telling me I have to be ready to perform sexually at the drop of a hat, without having to hear it from the feminist community too thanks. Thank god my current partner understands and doesn’t think there’s something wrong with me.

    Some of the comments here are just really condescending and smug. So you have a high sex drive that never dips or wavers, congrats on that. I do NOT need you patting my head and saying “I feel so sorry for you” when there is nothing wrong with me or my relationship.

  73. April
    April April 17, 2011 at 5:40 am |

    “All women don’t like sex anymore” is what the cited article essentially says. Jill basically says, “I think that is a problematic overall conclusion for the following reasons, while taking into consideration the experiences of other marginalized individuals:” Everyone gets that we’re discussing large social trends and not disparaging individual asexual and bored married people somehow. We all agree that the NYT article was ridiculous.

    That’s how this all would have gone in a perfect internet world, anyway. Too bad that never happens.

  74. Anonplease
    Anonplease April 17, 2011 at 5:49 am |

    I’m quite relieved that McSnarkster & Nico & L (& probably some others I’ve missed) have spoken out.

    I consider myself a feminist, in a loving, long-term, heterosexual relationship. Much as I really appreciate why you wrote this article, it is yet another one that makes me feel pressurised that to be a properly autonomous woman in harmony with my body I need to have a strong sex drive.
    Mine has also fluctuated, up and down, as I’m sure some other women’s may do. I don’t see that as a problem.

    Still, saying all that, I do also hate the kind of sweeping generalisation that triggered this article. I just think that a slightly more sensitive response might have been to note that everyone has very variable libidos for a wide variety of reasons and unless they &/or their partner(s) see it as a problem, then it’s really not, either way.

  75. timberwraith
    timberwraith April 17, 2011 at 6:19 am |

    Jill said:

    Enjoying things like food and sex and art and literature and on and on is valuable. You may not believe that, and that’s fine. But I do. And yes, it makes me sad when I hear that there are people who don’t enjoy the same pleasures that I believe are fundamental. It doesn’t impact me directly, but it does help to shape a broader culture. That’s important. I mean, that’s why we all do this feminism thing, right?

    Hmmm. Jill, I was mostly OK with your OP, but your most recent comment is making me more than a little uncomfortable. What if someone made this statement about women whose sexual interest in men diminished and was replaced with an interest in women? Let’s shift a few words around:

    Enjoying things like food and men and art and literature and on and on is valuable. You may not believe that, and that’s fine. But I do. And yes, it makes me sad when I hear that there are women who don’t enjoy the same pleasures that I believe are fundamental. It doesn’t impact me directly, but it does help to shape a broader culture. That’s important. I mean, that’s why we all do this feminism thing, right?

    This statement clearly becomes toxic when the subject in question deals with the promotion of heterosexuality in women. With that particular word substitution, do you see how your phrasing sounds questionable? The problematic phrasing inadvertently calls up two issues: a) society places heavy judgement upon forms of sexuality (in this case, a lack thereof) that it considers as being deviant or of lesser value and b) women’s identities and the oppression we face are deeply intertwined with society’s notion of “proper” sexuality.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s quite valid to address diminished libido in women who feel that their lives would be improved if their interest in sexual intimacy grew stronger. However, one should do this without universalizing the primacy one personally places upon one’s own form of sexuality. I’m sure you are aware that there is an annoying degree of judgement placed upon people who have low libidos or no libidos. There’s a definite tendency to dismiss asexual people and people with low libidos as defective and pitiable. This is done as much through implied meaning as it is through direct language—as is the case with any normative judgement being made against those who lie outside of the mainstream.

    Unfortunately, for women, this winds up being a no-win situation. If you show too much interest in sex, folks dismiss you as some kind of slut-monster and if you show too little interest, folks dismiss you as a pitiable, frigid prude.

  76. Lori
    Lori April 17, 2011 at 7:10 am |

    To me the article was flimsy, as it touched upon lack of energy, but didn’t go deep enough, and hinted that there might be a boredom issue, but again, didn’t explore monogamy and its long-term implications on a married person’s interest in sex. So if the critique is about the article, then I agree with you, Jill. But –and I don’t mean to sound patronizing here, because I admire your site, and your writing — I don’t think you can fully understand the role of sex in a marriage until you are actually married. So many things change when people get married, many of them positive. And yet marriage breeds complacency, as well as comfort and security, and complacency can wreak havoc on the sex aspect of a relationship. And the more time you are together, you become closer friends, and in some cases (not all — I’m not speaking for all married women here; I’m speaking anecdotally), the increase in the roommate/friendship aspect of the relationship can negatively impact the sex aspect of the relationship. Add in young children, stressful jobs, and I’m sure you can imagine, I’m sure, how sex can become less important, and dare I say, even a chore sometimes. Also, some married women, as time passes (and many men, too, but I’m speaking as a woman here), develop a renewed interest in sexual variety (or, in fucking other people), and you can see how sex with one’s spouse becomes less important, less exciting and, well, just “meh.” So yes, sex is good, can be great, but as my friends and I approach middle age, it’s become much less great, much less important. Sad? Maybe. Maybe not. (But my advice: don’t rush or idealize marriage. My almost-40 friends would no doubt agree with this advice!)

  77. Lori
    Lori April 17, 2011 at 7:12 am |

    nico:
    I really have to take issue with this post.

    Maybe it’s because I’m still a fairly young woman, but I feel A LOT of pressure to be hungry for sex all the time.I feel like there’s something wrong with me because I’d often prefer to read a book, watch a movie, have a good conversation, go for a walk. None of my friends would ever admit that they get bored with sex, don’t like it, or would sometimes just rather do something else.I wish they WOULD talk about it – I’d feel kind of relieved.I’m not asexual, I just don’t want sex very often.Isn’t that okay?

    I think a lot of sex-positive feminists go too far in the other direction and put way too much emphasis on sex as the be all and end all of everything.Feminism to me is about women having the sexuality they want, and not being shamed for being a “slut” OR “frigid”.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Nico here.

  78. prefer not to say
    prefer not to say April 17, 2011 at 8:01 am |

    Look, the article obviously sucked and was a piece of bad journalism. I think everyone who’s posted here agrees on that. But it seems like a significant chunk of posters have also expressed honest disagreement with the conclusions Jill has tried to draw about the article:

    “If I had a farm, I would bet it on the proposition that most women like sex [. . .] So the article is wrong-headed from the get-go. But the reality, of course, is that while loss of sexual interest isn’t a trend, it is something that some women experience. And I would like it if women felt as entitled to sexual pleasure as men seem to, and didn’t feel that loss of sexual interest was a personal problem or an inevitable outcome of wedded bliss. My point, I guess, is: Sex is great. Sex is great. And I’m not sure there is some widespread phenomenon of women being bored of it, but if in fact there are a lot of us who are eating Pepperidge Farm cookies and trolling Wikipedia instead of boning, we should figure out why that is and do something about it. Because sex is great. It is greater than Wikipedia”

    It seems like a lot of women read this conclusion as both trying to make a broad blanket statement that doesn’t reflect their experience with sex (ie, there are some women who just aren’t that excited about sex, and it’s not some false consciousness imposed by the patriarchy) and as carrying an implicit command — you MUST enjoy sex! true feminists MUST agree that sex is great! If you’d rather browse Wikipedia there is something wrong that needs fixing!

    As a long-time reader of Feministe, I’m guessing that Jill didn’t post in the SPIRIT of trying to silence women’s varied experiences with sex. But it is interesting that in this thread it seems like there’s only been two kinds of answers — one is, well, um, actually, I don’t find sex that great all the time, and I don’t think that’s unnatural. The second is, NO! I LOVE SEX! IT’S A TOTAL MYTH THAT WOMEN DON’T LIKE SEX! IF YOU DON’T LIKE SEX IT”S BECAUSE YOUR PARTNER IS A BABY! YOU NEED TO FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOUR BODY! GET THERAPY!

    What would our feminism look like if we acknowledged that some women actually experience apathy about sex, even though plenty of women have libidinal enthusiasms that last a lifetime? I realize that Jill’s original point was that the NY Times piece didn’t acknowledge the libidinally enthusiastic women, but there have been plenty of comments in this thread that have steam-rollered over the idea that a woman could just be not interested in sex, because that’s where they are at and who they are.

  79. anna
    anna April 17, 2011 at 8:29 am |

    I have heard (though unfortunately I can’t get you a cite at the moment) that quite a few straight women are literally physically unable to orgasm through PIV sex, no matter how amazing their partner is. So when popular culture defines sex as something that begins when he sticks his dick in and ends with his orgasm (if she had one too, that’s great, but if not, sorry honey, sex is over now) that leaves a lot of women in the cold. NOT that this is The Answer for everyone, but I think it does contribute to a lot of female dissatisfaction. Men feel like they must be shitty lovers if they can’t give her pleasure with their almighty dick, and women feel like they must be frigid and don’t enjoy sex, because they’ve been told that PIV is the only kind that counts; you might do other things for foreplay or variety, but the definition of sex is PIV. Which is bullshit.

  80. anna
    anna April 17, 2011 at 8:30 am |

    Maybe that is what Mad Swine meant, by the way?

  81. Marissa123
    Marissa123 April 17, 2011 at 9:02 am |

    I want to see the article about hetero wives/etc no longer enjoying sex so therefor the male partner must be doing something wrong, be it sexually or emotionally. I don’t know about anyone else but I certainly don’t want to have sex anymore when things are not okay with my partner. I’ve been in situations where I have lost (or never had) trust and an emotional connection, on top of poor communication, and I have emotionally and physically myself closed off to partners. This of course isn’t something wrong with me, but wrong with the situation and wrong with the way partners were treating me. I’d love to see something in the mainstream media just once that doesn’t just blame women for everything under the sun. This only contributes to senses of sexual entitlement, which I have experienced from male partners, (quite traumatically,) and I am just going to go ahead and openly link that to rape culture.

  82. saurus
    saurus April 17, 2011 at 9:31 am |

    Jill:
    It doesn’t affect me. But at the same time, I do like pleasure! I am a big fan of joy.

    Yes, but what makes you think that we all get the same pleasure and joy from the exact same sources? If I get immense pleasure and joy from reading a book in the evening, why should you care that I don’t get it from sex? Why is it so important to you that sex is a source of pleasure for me? I also get an inordinate amount of pleasure from writing advertising copy – should I feel sorry for you if you don’t?

    Sources of pleasure are subjective. As long as there is pleasure in our lives and we can access the kinds of pleasure we want, that’s a good thing – don’t tell me you feel sorry for me because I don’t want to access a kind of pleasure that you apparently think my life – which you don’t live, btw – isn’t quite as good without.

    Enjoying things like food and sex and art and literature and on and on is valuable. You may not believe that, and that’s fine. But I do. And yes, it makes me sad when I hear that there are people who don’t enjoy the same pleasures that I believe are fundamental.

    Wow. Well, thank you for being the arbiter of the fundamental sources of pleasure in human life. Please do tell me how asexuals factor in this – I’m curious to know. It makes you sad to know that asexuals exist?

    You know, I feel like I have a complete, actualized, healthy sexuality. For you to tell me that it’s “sad” is such Sex-Positive(TM) hooey.

  83. anna
    anna April 17, 2011 at 9:35 am |

    Also, as long as women are expected to do the majority of housework and childcare, and men are encouraged to act like particularly inconsiderate children, a lot of women are going to lose interest in sex. And frankly, I’m not going to feel sorry for their partners in that case.

  84. Sebastian
    Sebastian April 17, 2011 at 9:48 am |

    I think people tire of sex because they think it is the in and out thing.

    But sex is more complex.

    A kiss behind the neck, a caress of the arm when walking down a street, a hand upon your girlfriends back when opening a door for her. Not because she cannot open the door and do her own thing but to let her know she is the one. Of course I am the cliche “Hopeless romantic.”

    I think some people think sex is just a function of life not a passionate endeavor that begins with a look in the eye.

  85. thesadness
    thesadness April 17, 2011 at 10:28 am |

    As a married woman, I can say for sure that my sex drive would go up if I was in the tingly new LTR stage. My interest in sex has not gone down, just my interest in sex with my husband. Some of that is a mismatch in priorities–sex is like eating comfort food for him; something that should be easy and kind of mindless, and for me it’s like playing the violin: something rewarding that should always be practiced and improved upon.
    I resent how lazy he’s become; how little he knows my body after so many years (it almost seems like he knows it less well now then when we first started dating).
    I have lots of male friends, so the difference between them and my husband is sex. It’s important to me. I’m unhappy with my low sex drive towards him, but he doesn’t want to take the effort to fix it because he isn’t very horny and he views sex as something that should be effortless.

    At the same time, a lot of the sex drive wane does seem to be chemical.

    Every single relationship I’ve been in has started with a sex-crazed beginning, followed by a long-slow decline in interest.

    I’d be very surprised if most women would not have renewed interested in sex again with a new partner (assuming issues of trust, body issues, and shitty lay-ness were not there). The problem is that our biology may suggest this course; maybe thousands of years ago we were designed to stick with a partner for four years and then move on. Now, however, society is not set up to accommodate partner swapping every few years. People make the logical decision to stay with their loved ones because in aggregate, it makes them happier. But hot sex definitely gets lost in the shuffle.

  86. Joe
    Joe April 17, 2011 at 10:41 am |

    La Lubu:
    anecdotes and culturally-acceptable stereotypes, and also on cultural mores that see women’s lack of sexual interest as (1) inevitable, (2) individual and (3) not problematic for women, but a pain in the ass for men.

    THIS. Now, I’m not married (thus, have not lost interest in sex, *smile*), but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the following are possible reasons for the supposed falling female libido:

    1. exhaustion. too much to do, too little time to do it in.
    2. resentment toward a husband that isn’t doing his share of the household and/or childrearing chores (see #1 above).
    3. lack of foreplay (which is related to #1—trying to cram sex in the schedule means cutting back on foreplay).
    4. routinized sex. same position, same tired play-by-play commentary, same time, same bed.
    5. body insecurity, heightened by advertising industry and running commentary from insensitive husband.
    6. undiagnosed medical conditions, and/or side effect of medication.
    7. young children + small living quarters + waiting for the kids to go to sleep so you can have some uninterrupted sex = being too tired to fuck.
    8. husband has unexamined madonna/whore syndrome, heightened after the couple has kids (“where’d you learn that?” or “who’d you do that with before me?!” or acting weird after nonmainstream sex because OMG I did that with the mother of my children!!)
    9. husband too tired to accommodate the kind of sex that actually gives his wife an orgasm; expecting her to “take one for the team” one too many times

    Just in case you missed it, every hypothesis you put forward (aside from #6) placed the blame/responsibility for a woman’s lack of sex drive on the husband or on something else outside herself. Perhaps the problem is the woman and she needs to adjust her own wrong-headed attitudes.

  87. Archie
    Archie April 17, 2011 at 10:55 am |

    I’d say that this is nothing if not a problem that develops in the 40’s. And it goes to show that people do change and evolve.

  88. timberwraith
    timberwraith April 17, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    Hey there, Archie. Which comment are you responding to?

  89. Kelsey
    Kelsey April 17, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    I don’t really have a whole lot to add because other commenters have already summed up my position so articulately. I just wanted to chime in as another person that feels a dual pressure from both mainstream society and sex-pozzers to be sexual on a level that does not come naturally to me. It’s pervasive enough that it has turned me off (no pun intended) to most current feminist publications/blogs. While I am a fan of orgasms, I don’t find them particularly empowering, and no, I’m not interested in “reclaiming” slut as a phrase or a concept. (I am also puzzled by the idea of reclaiming something that was never yours, but I digress.) Although I don’t think that prude-shaming was Jill’s intention, it kind of came off that way. saurus put it pretty succinctly:

    You know, I feel like I have a complete, actualized, healthy sexuality. For you to tell me that it’s “sad” is such Sex-Positive(TM) hooey.

  90. bekabot
    bekabot April 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm |

    If married 30-something women come to be uninterested in sex (I’m not saying they do; this is a what-if) I wonder if that might not be because the identity a woman assumes in marriage is a non-sexual identity. The role a which a wife (as opposed to a wench) is supposed to play is not a sexual but a maternal role. The woman who marries takes on the job of being a mother, and she is expected to be a mother not only to her children but to her husband. (One of the mainstays of psychoanalytic theory is the idea that men, in the long run, do in fact win, because men alone are able to conquer in the Oedipal battle: they are able, if effect, to marry their mothers, since women are interchangeable where men are discrete.)

    Please note that I’m citing this not as a natural law but as a belief, though it’s a fairly widespread belief and one which is still with us. One sees its widest application in the works of people like Kay Hymowitz and Caitlin Flanagan–who, being female themselves, garner the privilege of being able to state more or less plainly the thesis that women owe men the exact experiences which are most likely to get men to turn into Real Guys, with mortgages (or time-shares) and lawn-mowers, and everything. (The corollary being that if a woman provides a man with the kind of non-kid-tested experiences which can lead to unsanctioned results, the woman has failed in her charge.) According to this view of The Way Things Ought To Work, it’s not a married woman’s job to be a sexual partner, it’s her job to be a Mom, and her task is to bring her husband up to be a Dad the way she’d bring her little boy up to be the same thing.

    This is an expectation which has got to place a damper on a woman’s ardor, even if it’s an expectation in which she doesn’t personally invest.

  91. Midas
    Midas April 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm |

    Well, I liked this artice (Jill’s, that is, not the Wolizer original).

    Sure, sex drives vary in individuals, but on the whole I think the crucial distinction here is probably just between hot sex (or even just nice sex) and genuinely boring/bad sex. The latter is a waste of time – no wonder those women are not interested.

  92. Archie
    Archie April 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm |

    Archie:
    I’d say that this is nothing if not a problem that develops in the 40′s. And it goes to show that people do change and evolve.

    The phenomenon of married women losing interest in sex = it.

  93. timberwraith
    timberwraith April 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm |

    Ha! I thought you were referencing events of the 1940s.

  94. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    Ummm….I dislike the suggestion that a waning marital sex drive is biological or somehow “natural” or that monogamy is somehow unnatural. People are more complex. Criticize the kyriarchy for making people arrange their sex lives in ways that don’t work for them, but don’t project your or even typical feelings on to the whole species. Some of us do prefer monogamy and still have hot, ridiculous fun sex even after that first decade. In fact some of us find the partnership aspects of our relationship erotic because it means you have a trusted friend to explore your sexuality with.

    If it doesn’t work for you or many others okay! Let’s dismantle the social constructs putting people in a position where they think they should be monogamous and those constructs imposing external values on sexuality. I’m there. But can we do that without saying that some people are unnatural?

  95. Becky
    Becky April 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm |

    If sex was fun once, but now it’s not fun anymore and you don’t really crave it or think about it, what is going on that has taken such a fundamental, great pleasure and moved it into the category of “meh, don’t need it”?

    Well, I think you’re making an assumption that sex ever was a “fundamental, great pleasure” for every sexual woman. I don’t think interest in sex is a binary – it’s not like, asexual people aren’t interested, everyone else considers it amazing and fundamental. Individuals have different levels of interest in sex. To me, sex has always been something that is fun, but it’s never been something on the very top of my priority list. So the more other things I have going on, the less interest I have in sex.

    I agree that we need to talk about women’s sexual desire in a context other than how it affects men. But I think a starting point to that discussion has to be that even among sexual people, not everyone has a strong desire for sex and considers it fundamental and great. And that’s normal for them and ok.

  96. L
    L April 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm |

    anna: I have heard (though unfortunately I can’t get you a cite at the moment) that quite a few straight women are literally physically unable to orgasm through PIV sex, no matter how amazing their partner is. So when popular culture defines sex as something that begins when he sticks his dick in and ends with his orgasm (if she had one too, that’s great, but if not, sorry honey, sex is over now) that leaves a lot of women in the cold. NOT that this is The Answer for everyone, but I think it does contribute to a lot of female dissatisfaction. Men feel like they must be shitty lovers if they can’t give her pleasure with their almighty dick, and women feel like they must be frigid and don’t enjoy sex, because they’ve been told that PIV is the only kind that counts; you might do other things for foreplay or variety, but the definition of sex is PIV. Which is bullshit.

    I feel like this is definitely part of the problem also.

  97. rain
    rain April 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    La Lubu’s list @ 24:

    1. exhaustion. too much to do, too little time to do it in.
    2. resentment toward a husband that isn’t doing his share of the household and/or childrearing chores (see #1 above).

    There’s been a popularization in the mainstream media of the study that showed that husbands who do more housework “get” more sex from their wives. And I get the sense that, even when it’s not explicitly stated, that men interpret this to mean, “if I do the dishes tonight, she’ll be up for sex.” From my experience and that of female friends I’ve talked to, that’s not how it works. It wears on your self-worth and undermines the strength of the relationship when you know that your partner believes that you are the kind of person who is born to do this work and he is not. It’s a low background hum of “I think you are lesser than me” that’s there regardless of how much he helps out. Sure, she might put out a bit more, grateful for even a hint of respect, but for guys that want to really fix the problem, I’d recommend that they learn to honestly and truly believe that they are equally responsible for raising their kids and maintaining their home (and that includes the management function which is so often overlooked in division of household labour studies).

  98. Natalia
    Natalia April 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm |

    Doesn’t anyone remember “The Breakfast Club”? Basic truth in there that applies in many societies: If you do it, you’re a whore. If you don’t, you’re a prude. And forget about claiming to be a human being who’s just trying to, like, enjoy herself in whatever capacity possible. Ha ha – what were you thinking?

    If someone can’t relate to your experiences, and says so, in a blog post – that’s fine. If you identify as asexual, chances are, I’m not going to relate to your views of sex. I wouldn’t expect you to relate to me on that level either. Perhaps you even have sympathy for me – because I’ll be getting on when I could be doing something else (such as writing a script and earning money, goddamit, it SUCKS to be pregnant and broke…). That’s fine. I don’t think we owe each other validation. Respect is a whole other matter.

    And yes, it’s ridiculous to say something like “most women don’t like sex with men.” How do you go about proving something like that? Or even attempting to prove it? People’s sex lives do fluctuate wildly – especially in more traditional societies, where people marry early, and many come to discover themselves sexually when they’re already in their 40’s and 50’s, just to give one example.

    And Jill is right – there are valid reasons to explore why someone’s lost interest in sex after having enjoyed it. Some of those reasons are incredible private, and for those that know a thing or two about losing interest in sex or having less sex or whatever, having our situation pathologized can be really insulting. But these things should still be explored among people who are willing to explore them.

    Some of those reasons are very much structural – when people are forced to work two or more jobs, many of them don’t have time or energy for a fun sex life, even though they’d like to have that time and energy. I’ve been there myself, it SUCKED (Incidentally, I wish that woman, who was praised by George W. Bush for having three jobs had slapped him). It’s different from choosing to commit yourself to several projects and knowing that you’ll have to cut down on personal time. I feel that in the US sacrificing pleasure is seen as not just acceptable but as something that’s often required. I have a massive problem with that requirement when it comes up.

    Prefer a good book to sex? Well, I remember being a freshman and people rolling their eyes at me because I “still chose to pleasure-read” (this was usually followed by a self-righteous lecture on how for the individual in question, pleasure-reading seemed incredibly irresponsible). Shit, I mean, I had a real vacation for the first time in 3 years last summer – and I freaked out on my first day of sitting on a Crimean beach, because I wasn’t constantly checking my e-mail, and I wasn’t editing articles. I had already developed a number of medical conditions due to the high-stress lifestyle I’d been living, but it still took me a while to understand that I needed rest.

    I think that most people deserve some rest and some fun, in whatever capacity, and having to wait years for it, or never getting it at all – there’s something wrong with that. That’s what I got from Jill’s post overall, anyway.

    Also,

    Many “sex-positive” feminists claim to genuinely enjoy heterosexual behavior, and if this is the case for you, more power to you… but own your privilege. You are not typical. Most women endure.

    Because of the past violence in my life, it took me a long time to enjoy sex. In some ways, I am still learning. Having said that, I don’t go around telling people who hadn’t gone through what I had to “own their privilege.” Because that’s like trying to make them feel guilty – for something that only the perpetrators of said violence should feel guilt for. It’s stupid, OK? And it doesn’t solve social issues at all.

    In other words, kiss mah lily-white ass.

  99. willa
    willa April 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    Oh, I see, you think it’s sad. How condescending of you, Jill. Apparently you are indeed the arbiter of what is normal and good and abnormal and bad. And what you like and think is fundamental to the human experience IS what everyone else should like and find fundamental to the human experience. How convenient for you.

    If you are, in fact, responding to the notion that whole droves of women are turning from sex and this has never happened before in the history of the world, and you want to figure out what’s going on, then that’s one thing.

    But what you’re really saying is that you think there’s something wrong with women who don’t feel, think, or act the same way you do about things, and therefore there is something wrong with them. That ain’t feminism.

  100. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm |

    Joe @ #90: Actually, four items on the list could be construed as blaming the husband—numbers 2, 4, 8 & 9. The rest of the items are circumstantial (thus, not easy to correct). Long daily schedules combined with parental duties and nosy kids (“ma? Dad? Whatcha doin’ in there? *knock knock* let me in! Sis hit me! I’m tellin’! The cat puked again! *knock knock*) mean less time for sex. Most women require some time spent getting in the mood after all that, and may also require more time spent in actual lovemaking to get off—more time than the husband is willing to (or even can) give. So—oppressive schedules have a more deleterious effect on female sexual response than male sexual response. Perfunctory sex can be anywhere from irritating to painful. There is such a thing as bad sex.

  101. Nobody
    Nobody April 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm |

    We can all agree that Jill hates people who don’t want to have multi-orgasmic sex 19 times a day, ok? Great.

    It’s attitudes like this that make life tough for us 15 times a day’ers. We feel like we don’t measure up.

  102. willa
    willa April 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    Double post probably, but Jill, person who wrote this post: someone, probably you yourself, remarked on how every single post on this site gets comments about what wasn’t right about the post or how this or that got neglected or just wasn’t done perfectly. And now, it looks like it’s my turn to be the one pointing that out, what you didn’t do right, etc. So, I am going to walk away from this. I’m sure you worked hard on your post and it’s not worth my time to get upset about the same old shit.

    I will note that this site tries, more or less, to be inclusive. Thinking that there’s something wrong with part of your readership, no matter how kindly intended, impedes that.

  103. willa
    willa April 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Aagh, couldn’t resist that closing remark! Ignore it. Got to let this gooooooo.

  104. L
    L April 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm |

    Jill: …no. Look, I’ve made it clear that I’m not talking about every single person. I’ve made it clear, in the post and in the comments, that there are plenty of people who are asexual or have varying interests in sex, and that’s fine! I am talking about women who enjoyed sex at one point, and no longer enjoy it for some reason. It’s condescending to say “It’s sad that something you once found pleasurable in a really unique way is no longer pleasurable”? Why?

    Because I feel enough shame when my sex drive dips, without shame having to come from you too. Sex drives waver and it’s completely normal and I’m tired of feeling like there’s something wrong with me when I go through a period where sex isn’t the number 1 priority in my life.

    If a woman has a lower sex drive than she used to and that actually concerns her, by all means let’s investigate it. It’s just kind of insulting to assume that everyone whose sex drive has had a bit of a dive are devastated by it and want your pity.

    And no, you haven’t made it clear that you’re not talking about every single person. You explicitly said that you feel sad for people who don’t like the same things you do, like sex and food. Misplaced pity is condescending.

  105. Azalea
    Azalea April 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm |

    Queen Maeve: As long as there are guys like Archie, sex is going to be a chore taken on grudgingly for a lot of women even if they really, really WANT to enjoy it.

    I admit the way he worded it was a bit crass but I’m a sexual being and I have ZERO interest in ever being in a ASEXUAL relationship. That isn;t what I signed up for when I got married and I wont be forced into one either. I don’t think sexual beings should ever feel pressured into being with asexual beings just for the sake of being romantic. I wouldnt advocate having sex you dont want to have to be with someone you’re no longer sedxually compatible with either. It’s a delabreaker,break the deal and be happier with like-sexual people.

  106. timberwraith
    timberwraith April 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm |

    Willa said:

    I will note that this site tries, more or less, to be inclusive. Thinking that there’s something wrong with part of your readership, no matter how kindly intended, impedes that.

    Oddly, there is a twofold irony here. First, because this blog tends to be inclusive, the environment here is more conducive to people being open about being slighted by comments and OPs. Second, it takes painful exchanges like the ones on this thread to move the blog forward in becoming more inclusive. It kind of sucks, but at least it’s taking place in some shape or form.

  107. Azalea
    Azalea April 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm |

    timberwraith: Queen Maeve said:Archie said:Archie, I’m not sure who you were spending time with in the 70s, but in my Maryland suburb, guys spoke of women and girls in ways that were pretty awful and they often implied that it was fine (and expected) for men to play the field, but “nice” women were supposed to be far more chaste. I grew up thirty or forty miles away in the suburbs of Baltimore during the 70s and 80s (born in the late 60s), and the madonna/whore dichotomy was alive and well—especially when you listened to the way guys talked about girls/women when they were out of earshot. Although optional, virginity in women (and not in guys) was still valued. Nevertheless, if a girl/woman expressed the same degree of sexual freedom that was taken for granted in boys and men, she would have been readily labeled as a “slut.”

    Baltimore and DC are very much so culturally different. VERY different from the music (house vs go-go) to the way sexuality is viewed. Chastity is only acceptable if you’re a child, the mentality in DC is “Grown and Sexy” and being a virgin isn’t sexy.

  108. timberwraith
    timberwraith April 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm |

    Azalea said:

    Baltimore and DC are very much so culturally different.

    I’ve spent my fair share of time in DC, too. Actually, DC is a very diverse city that literally changes from block to block and the northern suburbs of Baltimore are quite different from the eastern suburbs that I grew up in. For example, Towson and is quite different from Essex. There’s also quite a difference between PG county and Northern Virgina, both suburbs of DC. There’s quite a bit of cultural range all around.

    Nevertheless, I was trying to explain to Archie why some people responded to his comment the way they did. Besides, I witnessed some of the same belief systems in folks in college in the 80s. We examined those very same beliefs in my sociology and Women’s Studies classes. It wasn’t exactly controversial at the time.

  109. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz April 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    Because I feel enough shame when my sex drive dips, without shame having to come from you too. Sex drives waver and it’s completely normal and I’m tired of feeling like there’s something wrong with me when I go through a period where sex isn’t the number 1 priority in my life.

    Direct quote from the original post: “It’s one thing if we’re talking about fluctuations in sexual interest — that happens, obviously, to basically everyone. But this piece seems to suggest that women are just done with the whole sex thing…”

    The argument here isn’t that people don’t normally have shifting priorities and interests, be they sexual or otherwise. It’s that the author of the NYT article is claiming that women as a group have universally decided that they’re no longer interested in sex and that’s just how it is. That’s ludicrous. If you have a very large group of people who are suddenly totally uninterested in something that previously they enjoyed and got a lot out of, that’s worthy of examination.

    If a woman has a lower sex drive than she used to and that actually concerns her, by all means let’s investigate it. It’s just kind of insulting to assume that everyone whose sex drive has had a bit of a dive are devastated by it and want your pity.

    Again, the piece isn’t about individual women: it’s about the original author claiming that women, writ large, are suddenly tired of sex. It’s not insulting or pitying to wonder about that sort of endemic change, if it exists at all. (Which I doubt.)

  110. timberwraith
    timberwraith April 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    Oops, I forgot to mention that I went to a college near DC.

  111. Megan
    Megan April 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm |

    Azalea: I admit the way he worded it was a bit crass but I’m a sexual being and I have ZERO interest in ever being in a ASEXUAL relationship. That isn;t what I signed up for when I got married and I wont be forced into one either. I don’t think sexual beings should ever feel pressured into being with asexual beings just for the sake of being romantic. I wouldnt advocate having sex you dont want to have to be with someone you’re no longer sedxually compatible with either. It’s a delabreaker,break the deal and be happier with like-sexual people.

    I’m an asexual in a sexual relationship. And I kind of take offense to the way it SEEMS like what you’re saying is that asexuals shouldn’t date sexuals (although that would be really hard for asexuals to date each other, considering only 1% of the population is).

    I don’t particularly want or like sex, but I don’t fault him that he does. And the times when I’ve felt insecure – worried that one day I might just get tired of having sex, and that he would leave me or cheat – he’s been indignant. He told me that sex wasn’t what our relationship was about. And I know that, I just needed reassurance. So if I’m wrong about what you meant, I apologize. I just don’t like the assumption that ALL asexuals try and force all sexuals not to have sex when they’re in relationships. I love him very much, and the happiness he brings me is enough for me to have sex with him, even if it isn’t what I want. And I know I make him happy in other ways too.

  112. lovepeaceohana
    lovepeaceohana April 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm |

    Jill: Right. Kind of how I said that exact same thing in the post?

    Except, then you go on to talk about how saaaaad it is that some women are not enjoying something they used to enjoy.

    I get that the original article sucked, and did not explore fully – or even offer the opportunity to explore fully – the many various ways in which kyriarchial pressures may make it more difficult for some women to continue to enjoy sex. Someone upthread mentioned the ways in which the maternal role is constructed as a nonsexual one and I found that to be really illuminating. Others have also spoken to the interest in exploring how, if it is indeed a trend for middle-aged women to lose interest in sex, that trend came about, and to delve deeply into ways it may be possible to reverse whatever exists of the trend for women who want it reversed.

    But I’ve also seen several people – myself included – saying that the part of the piece in which you, Jill, have expressed sadness for others’ lack of sexual energy/desire/etc. to be very off-putting and/or offensive, and your responses to us have been dismissive and defensive.

    For me personally, this just makes me feel even more alienated from mainstream sex-positivity :\

  113. L
    L April 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    ….Okay. Feel free to not address the rest of my comment or anything.

  114. Lyn
    Lyn April 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm |

    My feeling is that there are contradictory pressures on women that are actually from patriarchal structures: women should both enjoy sex and not enjoy sex. Patriarchy is what has insisted that sex is about what men want and have given men the tools to shame women for either wanting too much sex or not enough. (Patriarchy also places pressure on men to want sex all the time and to invest no emotions in the process…part of the problem methinks). This leaves us in a *wonderful* place where NO WOMAN can at any stage be completely comfortable with her sexual feelings. She is either a slut or a prude. This is actually something ably demonstrated by this thread where many cite that they feel pressure to want sex (and I don’t think this is wholly the fault of sex-positive feminism, fyi) while others argue that they do think sex is great and are over being shamed or ignored.

    I think sex is great…thanks to a really great and sensitive lover who suits me and meets my needs which are specific to me and my body (not all my lovers have suited). I wish everyone could be in the kind of relationship(s) where their needs are met (regardless of what those needs are…within reason) and that they don’t feel ashamed of their needs or feel they have to conform to a particular norm.

    And the article we’re dealing with is all about pressuring people into feeling certain ways. This is bad.

  115. Azalea
    Azalea April 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm |

    timberwraith: Azalea said:I’ve spent my fair share of time in DC, too. Actually, DC is a very diverse city that literally changes from block to block and the northern suburbs of Baltimore are quite different from the eastern suburbs that I grew up in. For example, Towson and is quite different from Essex. There’s also quite a difference between PG county and Northern Virgina, both suburbs of DC. There’s quite a bit of cultural range all around.Nevertheless, I was trying to explain to Archie why some people responded to his comment the way they did. Besides, I witnessed some of the same belief systems in folks in college in the 80s. We examined those very same beliefs in my sociology and Women’s Studies classes. It wasn’t exactly controversial at the time.

    Native DC here, or DMV as we tend to call ourselves (DC Maryland Virginia) and parts of PG County (the wealthiest county in the US for blacks) mimick parts of Northern Virginia (which has one or two of the wealthiest counties in the country as a whole) but as far as the attitudes and mindsets go Archie was right. Virginity isn’t some sacred thing, it hasn’t been for a long time. The DC area isn’t the place you want to be to socialize and date if one of your most valuable characteristics is virginity. People tend to think its more valuable to be more sexual, sexy, “sexperienced”.

    I have no doubts that a huge chunk if not the rest of the country tends to place a high value on virginity but the culture and society of DC just doesn’t.

  116. Victoria
    Victoria April 17, 2011 at 8:13 pm |

    I feel compelled to say something to L, willa, and mad the swine just for the record. Where I live I am a completely anathema to the other heterosexual young women in that I find great pleasure in sex, either with men or by myself. I’ve been called a freak, a whore, a slut, and a number of other ugly slut-shaming words because I need sexual outlets like I need food and sleep.

    “Sex is great” is a really liberating statement to hear and lets me know this is a safe space for sex positive ideas. I am sorry that the same phrase brings you offense and hurt. I think different desires and joys should be celebrated, not called perversion or deviance. When I read “many women” or “most women” don’t enjoy sex I feel hurt. You think I’m a freak or that I’m a liar and that offends me and my experience.
    Jill probably could of phrased her ideas to be more inclusive, but I doubt she meant to write off experiences that were not her own.

  117. Allison
    Allison April 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    Megan:

    Agh. That sounds terrible. Why would I want to be in a sexual relationship with someone who isn’t as into sex as I am?

  118. Megan
    Megan April 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm |

    Allison: Agh.That sounds terrible.Why would I want to be in a sexual relationship with someone who isn’t as into sex as I am?

    ….because you love them?

    I didn’t mean for that to sound belligerent but I think of it another way. I really really enjoy having someone run fingers through my hair and rubbing my scalp. I know my boyfriend doesn’t really get anything out of doing this for me, except knowing that I enjoy it. So for me, having sex with him is the same way. I enjoy knowing he enjoys it. And if he suddenly stopped wanting to rub my head, I would probably dislike it – so I want to treat him with the same respect.

    (If I’ve interpreted your comment incorrectly, I apologize!)

  119. Azalea
    Azalea April 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm |

    Megan: I’m an asexual in a sexual relationship. And I kind of take offense to the way it SEEMS like what you’re saying is that asexuals shouldn’t date sexuals (although that would be really hard for asexuals to date each other, considering only 1% of the population is). I don’t particularly want or like sex, but I don’t fault him that he does. And the times when I’ve felt insecure – worried that one day I might just get tired of having sex, and that he would leave me or cheat – he’s been indignant. He told me that sex wasn’t what our relationship was about. And I know that, I just needed reassurance. So if I’m wrong about what you meant, I apologize. I just don’t like the assumption that ALL asexuals try and force all sexuals not to have sex when they’re in relationships. I love him very much, and the happiness he brings me is enough for me to have sex with him, even if it isn’t what I want. And I know I make him happy in other ways too.

    If your mate honestly thinks he will be happy never having sex with you again, he doesn’t value sex that highly in the first place, he can take it or leave it. Most sexual people dont STOP being sexual because someone close to them isn’t. His sexual urges and desire don’t go away because yours has, he has just made a decision to be celibate. I think that is GREAT for you. However if YOU were sexual, LOVED sex and your mate decided he never wanted to have sex with you again that would be your loss and it would probably hurt your feelings something you’d feel compelled to hide because you didn’t want to come off as entitlled to his body or being mean. I think if a sexual person CHOOSES to BEGIN a relationship with someone who is asexual that is their choice but to be blindsided by asexuality after enjoying a sexual relationship can hurt and is unfair.

  120. Megan
    Megan April 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm |

    Azalea: If your mate honestly thinks he will be happy never having sex with you again, he doesn’t value sex that highly in the first place, he can take it or leave it. Most sexual people dont STOP being sexual because someone close to them isn’t. His sexual urges and desire don’t go away because yours has, he has just made a decision to be celibate. I think that is GREAT for you. However if YOU were sexual, LOVED sex and your mate decided he never wanted to have sex with you again that would be your loss and it would probably hurt your feelings something you’d feel compelled to hide because you didn’t want to come off as entitlled to his body or being mean. I think if a sexual person CHOOSES to BEGIN a relationship with someone who is asexual that is their choice but to be blindsided by asexuality after enjoying a sexual relationship can hurt and is unfair.

    We’re in a sexual relationship….I think you may have been confused.

    Also, some people don’t really know they are asexual…I only discovered it recently. I’ve actually spent a long time thinking something was wrong with me, because of course “everyone wants sex!” (so we started having sex before I knew of asexuality thus telling him, so no, he didn’t know I was asexual before starting the relationship at all).

    You seem to think that we aren’t having sex? I think. We are. I just don’t have the need or desire to like sexual people do. We are NOT celibate and I will never force that choice on him. He might just have to do some extra work to seduce me sometimes…

  121. Azalea
    Azalea April 17, 2011 at 9:40 pm |

    Megan: We’re in a sexual relationship….I think you may have been confused. Also, some people don’t really know they are asexual…I only discovered it recently. I’ve actually spent a long time thinking something was wrong with me, because of course “everyone wants sex!” (so we started having sex before I knew of asexuality thus telling him, so no, he didn’t know I was asexual before starting the relationship at all).You seem to think that we aren’t having sex? I think. We are. I just don’t have the need or desire to like sexual people do. We are NOT celibate and I will never force that choice on him. He might just have to do some extra work to seduce me sometimes…

    Please accept my apology for completely going right over the first line in your comment (that you were asexual but in a SEXUAL relationship) that changes things. I still think in the long run it will ultimately be unfair to one of you because maybe his sex drive will go up or you’re going to get reallly tired of having sex *just* for him. The stronger the emotional attachment is to the one you’re with the more compelled people tend to feel to ensure their partner’s sexual needs are satisfied (whether that means having far more, far less, or no sex at all ever) at the sacrifice of their own. That isn’t fair.

  122. Queen Maeve
    Queen Maeve April 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm |

    Azalea, don’t you feel at all out of place concern-trolling the sexual aspect of someone else’s intimate personal relationship?

  123. Natalia
    Natalia April 18, 2011 at 1:21 am |

    Azalea, I *really* don’t think it’s anyone’s place to comment on Megan’s relationship in the manner in which you are commenting here. Megan has decided to share something very personal, and that doesn’t mean we get to stomp all over that. If she says it’s working out for her – it’s probably a good idea to believe her, assuming we respect her and treat her like an adult. Happy sexual/asexual relationships do exist, even though they’re rare – as most happy relationships are kinda rare (Russian literature taught me that).

  124. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 18, 2011 at 1:31 am |

    @Megan,

    Thank you for sharing.

  125. zuzu
    zuzu April 18, 2011 at 1:31 am |

    Jill, you hussy.

  126. Mandolin
    Mandolin April 18, 2011 at 5:11 am |

    I get kind of sick of the Dan-Savage-esque insistence that couples must have matching sex drives. This strikes me as at the worst impossible, and at the best difficult given that, as we’ve all said, sex drives waver.

    I wish people spent a bit more time talking about how people can exist, sexually, in mismatched relationships, instead of just saying THAT CAN NEVER WORK. I mean, no one’s obligated to deal with that circumstance or any other circumstance. No one’s obligated to deal with a partner who doesn’t share their interests if they want one who does; I certainly do want one who does, but I know people in married couples who have very little in common, and I have no reason to doubt them when they tell me they’re happy.

    If Savage, for instance, believes that it’s possible (or even admirable) for someone with a vanilla sexuality to be in a relationship with–as the example he often uses puts it–an “honest foot fetishist,” then why can’t one be in a relationship with someone with a higher or lower sex drive? Compensations exist, especially if both partners agree that the other’s sex drive is fine and cool and the problem isn’t that they need to be “fixed” but to find a way for them both to have the fun they want.

    Also, as someone with a sex drive that’s swung wildly through my life, I can absolutely testify that there exist pressures on women to be both more sexual than they want to be, and less. When I wasn’t interested in sex, I had older female relatives tell me I should submit to physically painful sex with my husband and pretend to enjoy it. When I was constantly horny as a teenager, I remember having the (rather bizarre and, in retrospect, also terribly cissexist) thought that maybe I had been born hermaphroditic and surgically made female, like the twin in the Money case, because otherwise why would I want to have so much sex?

    There seems to be a really difficult discursive space that exists when the same group is penalized for making opposite choices… I think it’s at the heart of the weird debates over whether childless women or mothers are discriminated against. The answer in both situations, IMO, isn’t “one or the other” but “both,” in different ways, at different times, and as a result of different aspects of the same sexist structure. (That doesn’t mean the groups are oppressed “equally”–for instance, as a childless woman, I’m fairly sure that mothers suffer a great deal more material and systemic oppression that I do–but there is shit to deal with, certainly, on both sides.)

  127. Women Are Less Interested in Sex | Sofiastry

    [...] spending time with women of a certain age and at a certain point in their respective relationships. Jill Filipovic over at Feministe attempts to make absurd an article that presents sexual disinterestedness amongst women as a [...]

  128. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 18, 2011 at 11:13 am |

    I get kind of sick of the Dan-Savage-esque insistence that couples must have matching sex drives.

    Seconded.

  129. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 18, 2011 at 11:50 am |

    Savage bugs me because he’s all about negotiation and consent while heaping negative value on the idea of saying “no” in a relationship. The most recent eyeroll for me was the suggestion that saying “no” to receptive anal sex meant that the boyfriend would mourn the absence of that act for the rest of the relationship. While for me, the probability that my relationship means I’ll never be rogered by Roger or pegged by Peg is a relatively minor thing. I can always do for myself.

    It’s a weird contrast and his views on asexual people strike me as similar to his views on bisexual people. Identifying as either is a warning sign that the person is not going to be fully committed to the relationship and, therefore, should only date like-minded individuals.

    My frustration is that I’ve seen this same dance done here and on other spaces before, and I get sick and tired of being told that my 15+ year relationship can’t work, shouldn’t work, and shouldn’t even have been started because we’ve both been asexual at various points in it. This is more a response to Azelia.

  130. Aaron
    Aaron April 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm |

    i’mma go right ahead and say it: anyone who calls them self “asexual” is emotionally defective or something else is wrong. you either experienced sexual trauma at some point in your life which has messed you up, or you’re incapable of being vulnerable and thus cannot have a sustained loving intimate (even without sex) relationship with anyone – probably because you’re majorly, pathologically neurotic for whatever reason, or you simply cannot “get any” and you’re rationalizing it by calling yourself asexual. Be honest now. I will be honest and say I had a dry-spell for maybe a year during university where I wondered if I was asexual, but looking back I was just trying to will my sexual failure (people “would rather will nothingness than not will” – Nietzsche). I have also known other people to react to their sexual failure by calling them selves asexual.

  131. Megan
    Megan April 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm |

    Aaron:
    i’mma go right ahead and say it: anyone who calls them self “asexual” is emotionally defective or something else is wrong. you either experienced sexual trauma at some point in your life which has messed you up, or you’re incapable of being vulnerable and thus cannot have a sustained loving intimate (even without sex) relationship with anyone – probably because you’re majorly, pathologically neurotic for whatever reason, or you simply cannot “get any” and you’re rationalizing it by calling yourself asexual. Be honest now. I will be honest and say I had a dry-spell for maybe a year during university where I wondered if I was asexual, but looking back I was just trying to will my sexual failure (people “would rather will nothingness than not will” – Nietzsche). I have also known other people to react to their sexual failure by calling them selves asexual.

    Wow, insulting much? I have never had any type of sexual trauma in my life EVER, and I do “get some”, so it can’t be either of those. I suppose by what you’ve said I’m “emotionally defective”. Which is a HUGE assumption on your part.

    You know what? Asexual people have been going to therapists and doctors for years to “fix” themselves, yet therapy doesn’t work and taking some pill doesn’t work. Why? Because there isn’t anything wrong with an asexual!

    Also you say an asexual is possibly “incapable of being vulnerable and thus cannot have a sustained loving intimate (even without sex) relationship with anyone”. So even if a couple isn’t having sex – as you said – if one of them is asexual, they can’t possibly have a loving relationship? What about two sexual people who aren’t having sex for whatever reason but are still in a relationship?

  132. Aaron
    Aaron April 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm |

    OK so you must be majorly neurotic then.

    So even if a couple isn’t having sex – as you said – if one of them is asexual, they can’t possibly have a loving relationship?

    no, they can’t. the sexual one is going to be majorly dissatisfied; but that’s not my point. my point is that an asexual person can’t not be emotionally available in the way necessary for a relationship to flourish.

    What about two sexual people who aren’t having sex for whatever reason but are still in a relationship?

    unless those reasons are logistical (long distance or something), there is something wrong. this is very obvious to anyone reading who has experience with relationships. it is a truism.

    but i am waiting to be proven wrong if you have on offer your history of sustained flourishing intimate relationships.

  133. Aaron
    Aaron April 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm |

    i’m seriously not trying to be disrespectful, that’s why i offered my own story of what was an ostensible “asexual” phase. i just want some insight in to the psychology of people who call them selves asexual.

    maybe it could have been written a little friendlier, in which case fine, duly noted.

  134. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm |

    @Aaron, people don’t have to justify their lived experience to you. Seriously, fuck off.

  135. DP
    DP April 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm |

    As I said on the other thread (which one is active?) I think the discomfort on this topic stems from the fact that often (not always), one person’s disinterest in sex means someone else’s desire goes unmet.

    Not always (2 asexual folks for instance), but that’s pretty much what happens. And no one wants to be the cause of someone else’s pain, but you can’t just lie back and think of England. I dunno. ‘Tis awkward.

    I feel for people who just don’t feel up to it anymore, or disinterested – but I feel just as strongly for those in long-term relationships or marriages where the sexual interest has declined on just one side, leaving them high and dry. I mean, what are they to do? Grin and bear it? Or leave and be “that asshole.”

    It’s dicey. I have no idea what the answer is. No one should ever feel obligated to ‘put out’ (where’s the fun in that) but it’d be pretty awful to be forced to choose between being emotionally and sexually fulfilled.

  136. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm |

    DP: It’s dicey. I have no idea what the answer is. No one should ever feel obligated to ‘put out’ (where’s the fun in that) but it’d be pretty awful to be forced to choose between being emotionally and sexually fulfilled.

    Open communication and negotiation leading to either a compromise that works for both partners or an agreement to split?

    Fucking Hel, why does it seem that when it comes to sexual differences in relationships we seem intent on throwing the car in reverse and slamming on the gas pedal?

  137. Aaron
    Aaron April 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm |

    *yikes face*
    I hope this is appropriate, but I just saw my name in the side bar as having recently comment on this post, which was surprising since I haven’t commented on this post.

    After reading the comments by the other person posting as “Aaron” I want to make it very clear that I am not the same person as the person who made the comments on this thread. Just to be clear there are at least two Aaron’s posting on the site and the one who posted on this thread (who has a website linked from his name) is not me (I’m the “Aaron” who has been arguing postmodernism on another thread). I do not want to be associated with the views “Aaron” posted here at all.

    I think after this post I’m going to start using “Aaron W.” to avoid any confusion.

  138. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm |

    For what it’s worth, Aaron is internet buds with QRG and Sofia. Given this, raise your hand if you’re surprised that he has nothing better to do than troll a feminist website. No one? Thought not.

  139. Aaron
    Aaron April 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    @Kristen J.

    tree: so according to you i, as an asexual who has no interest in sex, can’t give someone the most personal gift? and no one can give it to me because i don’t want it? sorry, Archie. i call fallacy. not to mention that’s really damn insulting.

    the discussion this is from being one example of another “asexual” person commenting on someone else’s sex life, i thought it was ok if i did so. especially when this particular individual is so incredulous and offended at someone else describing the joy of sex.

    so no, you can fuck off.

  140. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    Err, Aaron with the whining website Aaron is internet buds with QRG and Sofia, not postmodernism Aaron.

  141. Norah
    Norah April 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm |

    Yeah, next time I “lie back and think of England”, I’ll be thinking of you instead and giving you the finger (all of you imagination-dead people who like to comment on our kind of relationships. You all make me sick. Or no wait, I feel sorry for you. Or maybe you’re really neurotic, be honest, come on).

    I’d say something more violent, but it probably wouldn’t make it through.

    And thanks for deciding for us that either or both of us are unsatisfied and that our desires are going unmet. I guess I should tell my long-term partner he should bugger off before he gets too emotionally scarred. In fact, I’ll go show him these comments and maybe he’ll want to tell you something himself. Or he’d just laugh.

    Oh, and of course there’s only ever two partners who only ever have sex with each other, because if a relationship where sexual desire isn’t a complete match is terrible, how terrible must it be to deviate in any other way!

    If you really wanted insight you’d go to one of the many asexual blogs, wikis or forums. I mean, be honest.
    And I’m really not trying to be disrespectful with this comment. Honestly. Cross my heart. This is a truism.

  142. Aaron
    Aaron April 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm |

    …raise your hand if you’re surprised that he has nothing better to do than troll a feminist website.

    what could be better to do than troll a feminist website!

    but seriously dissent does not necessarily = trolling. people are too quick to label other commenters trolls – everywhere on the net – for expressing disagreement.

  143. Aaron
    Aaron April 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm |

    Other Aaron –

    my real life surname starts with W too. nice, A. W. buddies. does your middle name start with a J?

  144. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla April 18, 2011 at 2:18 pm |

    Aaron:
    i’m seriously not trying to be disrespectful, that’s why i offered my own story of what was an ostensible “asexual” phase. i just want some insight in to the psychology of people who call them selves asexual.

    maybe it could have been written a little friendlier, in which case fine, duly noted.

    I call sockpuppet.

  145. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    … Are you really that ignorant? You told asexual people you know are reading this thread that they must have been sexually traumatized. I don’t really give a fuck if you don’t agree with me when I know I’m better educated than you on the topic at hand. That doesn’t make you a troll. But being an asshole to get a rise out of people – and tag-teaming it up with other losers who also have nothing better to do with their time? (Seriously dude, learn a language. Travel. Build something.) Well kiddo, that does.

  146. Jadey
    Jadey April 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    Aaron: but seriously dissent does not necessarily = trolling. people are too quick to label other commenters trolls – everywhere on the net – for expressing disagreement.

    Yeah, but the company you keep have been pretty explicit about their intentions to troll Feministe and be banned, so I think skepticism is pretty well warranted.

    Not to mention, your attitude on this thread has been crap (pathologizing asexual people is not going to go over well here) and your posts on your own blog are repulsive (fat hatred and ableism also doesn’t go down well with most of us here). There’s disagreement, and then there’s fundamentally oppositional views. You’re welcome to have the latter, but there’s no rule saying anyone else has to listen.

    Hell, take the other Aaron – he hasn’t being agreeing with everyone up in here, but he didn’t earn himself a ban warning in record time either. Not tolerating your brand of dissent doesn’t make this place an echo chamber.

    @ Postmodernism Aaron

    I think you should definitely refer to yourself as “Postmodernism Aaron”. It just sounds catchy. :) Although possibly not the image you’re going for.

  147. DP
    DP April 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Norah:
    Yeah, next time I “lie back and think of England”, I’ll be thinking of you instead and giving you the finger (all of you imagination-dead people who like to comment on our kind of relationships. You all make me sick. Or no wait, I feel sorry for you. Or maybe you’re really neurotic, be honest, come on).

    I’d say something more violent, but it probably wouldn’t make it through.

    And thanks for deciding for us that either or both of us are unsatisfied and that our desires are going unmet. I guess I should tell my long-term partner he should bugger off before he gets too emotionally scarred. In fact, I’ll go show him these comments and maybe he’ll want to tell you something himself. Or he’d just laugh.

    Oh, and of course there’s only ever two partners who only ever have sex with each other, because if a relationship where sexual desire isn’t a complete match is terrible, how terrible must it be to deviate in any other way!

    If you really wanted insight you’d go to one of the many asexual blogs, wikis or forums. I mean, be honest.
    And I’m really not trying to be disrespectful with this comment. Honestly. Cross my heart. This is a truism.

    I’m going to assume this is directed at me, since I used the ‘england’ quip.

    I’m not sure why you’re so angry. Sounds like maybe you’ve worked out something decent between yourself and your partner (asexuals both, or one-and-one? can’t tell). But asexual people aren’t really my concern in these thoughts; I’m talking about formerly sexual relationships where one party trails off in terms of desire, leaving the other frustrated. Are you going to deny that these exist, or that they cause stress on both parties?

    Yeah, you can negotiate something – all I’m saying is it’s fraught, and a lot of people don’t make it. I was also specifically talking about monogamy, although of course polyamory etc. represent one way to manage varying sexual drives.

    Indeed, informal or illicit polyamory is probably the main way that this gets mediated in real life – steppin’ out is a time-honored tradition for the frustrated lady or gentleman. Maybe if it was socially legitimized there’d be less stress.

  148. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    Aaron is internet buds with QRG and Sofia. Given this, raise your hand if you’re surprised that he has nothing better to do than troll a feminist website.

    Well, he compared feminism to a “crazy girlfriend” on his blog. And comes here to hump our legs like hyper dog. So am I surprised he as nothing better to do. . .no.

  149. DP
    DP April 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    CBrachyrhynchos: Open communication and negotiation leading to either a compromise that works for both partners or an agreement to split?

    Fucking Hel, why does it seem that when it comes to sexual differences in relationships we seem intent on throwing the car in reverse and slamming on the gas pedal?

    Well, option 2 is what I meant by sexually but not emotionally fulfilled, i.e. you go get some but perhaps leave someone you had a real connection to.

    Option 1 – I get it, but the idea of negotiating a given frequency of sex feels weird to me. I know there are a billion polymorphous perversions, but I get an awfully marital rape culture vibe from the idea of someone going to their wife and saying, I need you to sleep with 4x a week whether or not you want to, and she counter-offers at 5 times a month, and then you haggle? I guess? I know it’s not that simple, and god knows there are non-mutual sex acts (the Beej/muffdive, anyone?) but I get squicked out by the idea of having sex with someone who is doing it out of obligation – EVEN IF that act comes from a place of deep love and affection.

    i.e. if I was having sex with someone who loved me, and consented not because they wanted to but because they loved me and felt that I would want it, I wouldn’t want to go through with it. The whole idea of continuous and *enthusiastic* consent.

    I’m not saying it can’t be negotiated – but it gives me a weird feeling, and I know I’m not the only one.

  150. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    Jadey: I think you should definitely refer to yourself as “Postmodernism Aaron”. It just sounds catchy. :)

    haha I thought the same thing. Very catchy.

  151. Mandolin
    Mandolin April 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |

    Jill, I did not mean to imply it was your argument. I’m sorry if I came across that way. It does seem to me that it’s essentially Dan Savage’s, by cumulative effect if not explicit wordage.

    Re: “WTF are you supposed to do, just haggle or something like over a chicken at market?” I’ll copy/paste a comment I made on manboobz:

    Some ideas for dealing with libido mismatch:

    open relationships to various degrees
    finding sexual ways of being together that don’t necessarily involve both partners being orgasm-directed (e.g. one partner masturbating in front of the other, cuddling, watching sexy movies)
    integrating masturbation into the relationship in a positive way (which is probably important in every case, but maybe especially so with libido mismatch)

    BTW, at one point a friend of mine linked me to a study saying that couples had sex, on average, once a week. The times in my life when I’ve had sex, on average, once a week, I felt like I was so frigid that someone might as well use me as a refrigerator. I think we have (or at least, I have/had) a hyperinflated idea of how much sex figures into people’s lives, and that can contribute to people feeling abnormal when they’re really not, statistically. It seems sort of like the survey problem w/ penis size where they determine that the statistical average had been skewed by exaggeration to the point where it was inflated by about an inch. That means that a lot of guys who were statistically average thought of their size as below average. & while ideally it would be great to change the culture so that it didn’t matter what “statistically average” meant in terms of either sex drive or penis size, since basically as long as the people involved are having fun it’s all awesome, in the culture we have, skewed self-perceptions can be damaging.

  152. Mandolin
    Mandolin April 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm |

    I should be clearer about what I mean. Not just skewed self-perceptions can be damaging, but these kinds of… culture-wide misrepresentations?… are kind of like the way advertising creates a need for something that was never previously a need. Having sex only [a statistically average number]? Fix it! Have a penis that is [actually average]? Fix it! The misconceptions create a larger group of people who are dissatisfied.

    But I don’t mean that it’s okay for people who are having sex below the average, or whatever analogous situation, to be subject to discrimination/ridicule/stigma. It’s kind of like issues around fat. The definition of fat is, IMO, broad enough that it includes lots of thin people. This pisses me off. It affects the lives of my friends whose figures would have been a dream in the 50s, but who have body loathing now. A lot of arguments against eating disorders rest on this “but really you’re not fat; you’re so pretty!” foundation, and I admit that it’s frustrating when a friend of mine who is not fat and is so pretty has an eating disorder because of her completely fucked body image. But fixing that won’t do anything for me; my fat self would still be in the cold; there is still an inherent implication in the “but you’re so pretty” rhetoric that eating disorders are reasonable for me to engage in (or impossible, because clearly, if you had an eating disorder, you’d already be thin!).

    So anyway. There are multiple fronts and different kinds of crises.

  153. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |

    DP: I’m not sure why you’re so angry.

    Perhaps because you’ve generalized from your own experiences across all relationships in a way that’s dismissive of how other people approach these issues.

    Well, option 2 is what I meant by sexually but not emotionally fulfilled, i.e. you go get some but perhaps leave someone you had a real connection to.

    So, I should walk away from an emotionally fulfilling relationship, built over 15 years, not just with my partner but with people who are now my family, for what exactly? Does the relationship give me everything I want? No. But I get what I need and I don’t know if I could get that from a single life or another relationship.

    I’m not saying it can’t be negotiated – but it gives me a weird feeling, and I know I’m not the only one.

    Then perhaps you should just say that it wouldn’t work for you. I don’t mind that, I’m fully aware that it wouldn’t work for many people. But it works for me.

  154. Megan
    Megan April 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm |

    Aaron:
    OK so you must be majorly neurotic then.

    So even if a couple isn’t having sex – as you said – if one of them is asexual, they can’t possibly have a loving relationship?

    no, they can’t. the sexual one is going to be majorly dissatisfied; but that’s not my point. my point is that an asexual person can’t not be emotionally available in the way necessary for a relationship to flourish.

    What about two sexual people who aren’t having sex for whatever reason but are still in a relationship?

    unless those reasons are logistical (long distance or something), there is something wrong. this is very obvious to anyone reading who has experience with relationships. it is a truism.

    but i am waiting to be proven wrong if you have on offer your history of sustained flourishing intimate relationships.

    You say a sexual partner would be majorly dissatisfied, but that’s not what I believe at all. My boyfriend has made it very clear that I am never to fake anything – not necessarily just orgasm, but liking certain things or saying I do, dirty talk, etc. And I hold myself to that – he completely trusts me. So I have no reason to believe that he himself is faking when he tells me how amazing the sex we just had was. You know what? In the past week we’ve had sex 7 times; yesterday, twice. I know that doesn’t say anything about the quality, but he also tells me that he loves it, and I believe him.

    You also think I’m not “emotionally available”. What is this garbage? Have you met EVERY SINGLE asexual in the world? I am very open with my emotions with him. We laugh together, cry together, hold each other when we’re afraid, tell each other our worst secrets, give each other confidence. You know nothing about my “emotional availability”, not to mention I don’t think he would still be with me after 1.5 years if I were not.

    I don’t tell sexuals how to live their lives, or that something is wrong with them (mostly because I don’t think there is anything wrong with it…), so please treat me with the same respect. I’ve just been trying to give people a different perspective, and show that relationships with VERY different sexual desires (or none at all) can still work. Yes, maybe it will be a bit harder for us in the long run, but we are good at communicating to each other, and we WANT to make it work.

  155. DP
    DP April 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm |

    CBrachyrhynchos: Perhaps because you’ve generalized from your own experiences across all relationships in a way that’s dismissive of how other people approach these issues.

    So, I should walk away from an emotionally fulfilling relationship, built over 15 years, not just with my partner but with people who are now my family, for what exactly? Does the relationship give me everything I want? No. But I get what I need and I don’t know if I could get that from a single life or another relationship.
    Then perhaps you should just say that it wouldn’t work for you. I don’t mind that, I’m fully aware that it wouldn’t work for many people. But it works for me.

    No – I’m saying you could do that. It’s one option. The other option is to stay and negotiate. That’s why I said, you know – Option 2. Option 1 is negotiate. Option 2 is leave. Both have their shortcomings and advantages.

    Do you see Options 3+? I certainly don’t.

  156. James
    James April 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |

    I think everyone’s sex drive declines as they age, which is fine. I also think that the chances are that the woman quoted in the article pretty much doesn’t find her husband attractive (and is none-too-concerned about letting anyone know, either), if she ever really did. Which is also fine. Sure enough, her husband is probably significantly cooler on her than when they were newly married as well.

    The trouble is the notion of monogamy. With entry into an institution which enacts the expectation that one shall not get freaky outside of it (and, indeed, the legal obligation not to) and which holds the other partner to the same, obligations arise. Such as to be sexually available to the other partner. Sexuality is *very* important for many people (raises hand), and presumably those people wouldn’t agree to never sleep with anyone else if they thought that eventually the one person with whom they would be allowed to was going to eventually take that option off the table – in a long-term sort of sense, of course (months/years as opposed to on specific occasions). As far as that goes, then, if the woman was serious insofar as she wouldn’t mind if someone slept with her husband, then I don’t see any problem. The whole “women have low sex drives compared to men” thing is either factual or not, but is only an issue when someone has a legal claim to control another person’s sexuality (which both partners in marriage in some sense do – at least in my part of the world).

  157. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm |

    DP: No – I’m saying you could do that. It’s one option. The other option is to stay and negotiate. That’s why I said, you know – Option 2. Option 1 is negotiate. Option 2 is leave. Both have their shortcomings and advantages.

    Do you see Options 3+? I certainly don’t.

    I don’t find your description of how we negotiate these things to be remotely credible. See Mandolin’s post for more options.

  158. Nahida
    Nahida April 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm |

    WTF.

  159. Aaron
    Aaron April 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm |

    You know what? In the past week we’ve had sex 7 times; yesterday, twice.

    you can bring yourself to fuck twice in a day without enjoying it?

  160. Tracy Lamas
    Tracy Lamas April 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm |

    I’m not aware of whether or not this has been discussed, but I’d like to add that not all people who identify as asexual have ‘zero interest in sex’. There is a lot of diversity within the asexual community. Some have slight sexual desires, some have sexual desires with romantic partners, and so on. There is also different identities that fall within the asexual category. I’m aware that this article was not about asexuals. But I think people should keep all of this in mind, because not a lot is known about the asexual community.

  161. rae
    rae April 18, 2011 at 9:02 pm |

    I’m with DP. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people who identify as asexual or who simply don’t wish to engage in sex. Of course asexual people should be the final arbiters of what type of relationship works for them, and no one should be pressured into medical treatment for something they do not think is a problem.

    However, there is something deeply disturbing to me about the idea of a partner giving in to sexual activity they don’t want. To me, if I really loved a person, I would never perform sexual acts with them that they did not actively enjoy. It would not be fun for me – it would be like performing my heart out in a dramatic stage play where my costar just mumbles some lines. But worse than that even, there would be a layer of ethical discomfort for me; a partner who is just there for my sake is not giving the type of consent that would make me feel comfortable interacting with them sexually. Because yeah, an asexual person could be genuinely consenting on the basis of full self-awareness…or I they could be doing it because they feeling pressured. The latter possibility is unacceptable to me; sexual coercion is something I do not engage in. So I wouldn’t risk it. Plus it would not be fun, at all, to have a partner who is just waiting for it to be over.

    A romantic-but-not sexual relationship would be far less fraught, I think, but as a sexual person this would not be sustainable for me unless it was okay for me to have sex with other people. And even then I would prefer a romantic-and-sexual relationship, so I’m not sure I could promise the poly idea would work. It would work a helluva lot better than a sexual relationship where the other person “lies back and thinks of England” though. (I think this solution would be especially successful if my long-term partner were with another sexual person, where things had just gotten stale or busy…swinging could spice that up, and rekindle the sexual desire within the original relationship, and it wouldn’t have to be one-sided. But if you haven’t already been happily married for years before the sexual drought and you aren’t poly-oriented as a general rule, I don’t see why it’s worth it to bother with this method.)

    I guess I can begin to understand it if I think about it like consensual BDSM – I guess if the asexual person gets some sort of enjoyment out of not liking it, or out of submission, it has a different vibe to me. Maybe this is the route I should go in thinking about this. I’m not trying to be a jerk, at all. I just have a really hard time reconciling this kind of relationship with affirmative consent.

  162. rae
    rae April 18, 2011 at 9:16 pm |

    Also – I think the kind of negotiation, between one person who is interested in sex and another who is completely uninterested, is different from the type of negotiation that goes on between two generally sexually-inclined people who have different feelings about a particular sexual act. In the latter case, it seems less exploitative to say that you will do something you don’t feel is particularly hot for your partner (provided you do not actually dislike it), because they can do the same for you with regard to a different act that you like, and you both wind up with a hot sexual encounter where you please your partner AND get off. If one person gets sexual pleasure and love, while the other person gets sexual displeasure/endurance and love, that hardly seems like an equitable trade.

  163. I’m tired of having sex. — Feministe « hahayourefunny

    [...] I’m tired of having sex. — Feministe. I LOVE FEMINISTE. so much. with all my heart: Great. So we get another piece reaffirming the stereotype that once you wife a broad she stops putting out, and we get women talking about how they’re tired of sex without the author looking into why maybe 30-something women with children to care for and husbands who need to be cared for like children and jobs to work at and homes to keep Style-section perfect are maybe really tired and a little bit resentful in a way that unfortunately results in a total loss of any potential lady-boners. [...]

  164. zuzu
    zuzu April 18, 2011 at 9:47 pm |

    CBrachyrhynchos: So, I should walk away from an emotionally fulfilling relationship, built over 15 years, not just with my partner but with people who are now my family, for what exactly? Does the relationship give me everything I want? No. But I get what I need and I don’t know if I could get that from a single life or another relationship.

    What’s with the binary take-it-or-leave-it? Why not negotiate a compromise where you get your sexual needs taken care of outside the relationship with your partner’s blessing?

    Also not sure why it’s so hard to understand that libido mismatch or a drastic change in libido can be a problem for some people.

    Also not sure why the whole society-expects-women-to-become-sexless-once-they-marry thing from Jill’s post hasn’t gotten any discussion.

  165. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm |

    I’m not sure why the whole women-lose-interest-in-sex-after-age-40 hasn’t gotten any discussion either.

  166. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 18, 2011 at 10:25 pm |

    rae:
    If one person gets sexual pleasure and love, while the other person gets sexual displeasure/endurance and love, that hardly seems like an equitable trade.

    Why do you assume that this is the case? And seriously here, there’s a shitload of ableist assumptions in this conversation that both partners are capable of experiencing arousal and orgasm in the same way. Am I horribly oppressed for wanting to make love when I can’t experience arousal or orgasm? Is my partner? Are we fated never to experience any part of the complex range of physical intimacy unless both parties are equivalently orgasmic?

    To me, that sounds unreasonably cruel. I thought the point was mutual pleasure and love, not just orgasms.

  167. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm |

    zuzu: What’s with the binary take-it-or-leave-it?Why not negotiate a compromise where you get your sexual needs taken care of outside the relationship with your partner’s blessing?

    I’m reacting to the binary take-it-or-leave-it proposed by rae, DP, and Azelia.

    But sure, non-monogamy is one possibility.
    So is breaking up.
    So is finding forms of sexuality that are mutually satisfying and respectful of limits.

    I’m tired of having the last one treated as pathological or non-consensual.

    Also not sure why it’s so hard to understand that libido mismatch or a drastic change in libido can be a problem for some people.

    Sure, and as I’ve said a half-dozen times in two threads, you can always leave, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all have our deal-breakers.

    But, the fact that it’s a deal-breaker for you isn’t license to insist that other relationships with a difference in libido involve rape or emotional coercion.

  168. rae
    rae April 18, 2011 at 10:59 pm |

    @CBrachyrhynchos

    I don’t have a problem with people doing sex differently from me, or with people enjoy having sex even if they don’t orgasm (in fact, I have had sex I enjoyed that did not end in orgasm before plenty of times, and I expect it will happen again in the future). You are exactly right that the point is mutual pleasure and love – however that works for you, even if that doesn’t fit the standard PIV model. For me, the key is that you said you want to have sex – you, personally, get something out of it other than just making your partner happy.

    What I am uncomfortable with is situations where one person does not like having sex, yet does for the sake of pleasing their partner and maintaining their relationship. I’m talking about the type of relationship that Megan describes – where one person has sex without pleasure for love, while the other party gets both. I could never feel ethically secure or sexually satisfied if my partner was not actively enjoying our activities.

  169. zuzu
    zuzu April 18, 2011 at 11:00 pm |

    La Lubu:
    I’m not sure why the whole women-lose-interest-in-sex-after-age-40 hasn’t gotten any discussion either.

    No shit! Too many people being too busy being butthurt, I guess.

  170. zuzu
    zuzu April 18, 2011 at 11:10 pm |

    CBrachyrhynchos: Why do you assume that this is the case? And seriously here, there’s a shitload of ableist assumptions in this conversation that both partners are capable of experiencing arousal and orgasm in the same way. Am I horribly oppressed for wanting to make love when I can’t experience arousal or orgasm? Is my partner? Are we fated never to experience any part of the complex range of physical intimacy unless both parties are equivalently orgasmic?

    To me, that sounds unreasonably cruel. I thought the point was mutual pleasure and love, not just orgasms.

    Why are you equating “sexual pleasure” and “being orgasmic”? Lots of people enjoy sex even if they don’t get off on it, but rae’s talking about people who — pay attention — EXPERIENCE DISPLEASURE OR HAVE TO GRIT THEIR TEETH TO ENDURE SEXUAL EXPERIENCES FEELING LIKE THEY HAVE TO IN ORDER TO PLEASE THEIR PARTNERS.

    Not having an orgasm or being aroused =/= suffering. You clearly experience pleasure from “making love,” whatever that entails for you, even if you can’t or don’t get aroused or have an orgasm. How does that make you an expert on people who don’t get any pleasure at all from sex, or simply endure it?

    I’m tired of having the last one [finding forms of sexuality that are mutually satisfying and respectful of limits] treated as pathological or non-consensual.

    And as I said above, just because YOU have worked out a mutually satisfying solution isn’t license to insist that other relationships never involve rape or coercion. Or frustration, for that matter.

  171. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 18, 2011 at 11:54 pm |

    zuzu: I’m responding specifically to claims that most or all relationships in which there’s a significant difference in libido involve sexually coercion and/or emotional blackmail. I’ll certainly admit that I’m a bit oversensitive on this and I might have misjudged rae here. In which case, I’m happy to be wrong.

    Of course, there’s the possibility for rape and/or coercion in all relationships, and I’d be lying if I said that my own relationships are never frustrating. I think that the people who do explicitly negotiate these differences are likely the wrong target.

  172. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 19, 2011 at 12:22 am |

    La Lubu:
    I’m not sure why the whole women-lose-interest-in-sex-after-age-40 hasn’t gotten any discussion either.

    I have trouble taking the NYT seriously here. It’s a paint-by-numbers trend piece starting with the cliche of the unsourced anecdote of something someone said at a party, a smattering of pop-culture supporting references, a touch of political relevance, and ending with a blurb for a new book. Next week, we’ll probably get the same treatment of “cougars” or marital infidelity. I’m not convinced that there’s a trend of behavior or belief.

  173. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 19, 2011 at 12:38 am |

    Wait so now the bogey for “enthusiastic” consent is that your partner gets off on each and every sexual act you engage in? So I’m guessing back rubs and scalp rubs as foreplay are out and that sexy perfume – in the rubbish. Seriously? Think about the last time you had sex with an otherwise enthusiastic partner. Was there nothing that you did – no touch, move, shift – that you didn’t get anything out of other than seeing the pleasure experienced by your partner? We’re delving into the ridiculous policing the specifics of *why* people who say they are freely consenting consent.

    If two people say this relationship works for them, fan-fucking-tastic. If it doesn’t work for them, then we have something to critique, discuss, argue about. But why express concern for or disapproval of people when they say, my sex life works for me and my partner(s).

  174. sabrina
    sabrina April 19, 2011 at 3:01 am |

    you know what I get out of this whole thing? That no matter how women feel about sex it’s wrong. I mean the people saying that it’s normal for women in long term relationships to not be attracted to their partner anymore to me is extremely foreign and it makes me feel like a freak, which I get from the rest of society already. However, my best friend is asexual. She says that she feels like a freak because she doesn’t have a sex drive. What that leaves us with is a spectrum where most women feel like they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Am I the only one who has a problem with that?

  175. Megan
    Megan April 19, 2011 at 8:42 am |

    rae:

    What I am uncomfortable with is situations where one person does not like having sex, yet does for the sake of pleasing their partner and maintaining their relationship. I’m talking about the type of relationship that Megan describes – where one person has sex without pleasure for love, while the other party gets both. I could never feel ethically secure or sexually satisfied if my partner was not actively enjoying our activities.

    The thing is, you’re talking about how YOU would feel in MY situation. I know way more about sexual relationships than you do about asexual ones, not that that makes me any better, but please believe me when I say that what we have works.

    The thing is, I get love and pleasure out of other things – I don’t NEED NEED NEED it from sex. This is where it seems most of people’s hangups about this are. If he enjoyed getting a foot massage more than sex, I would still do that for him, even though I am still not getting anything from it other than his enjoyment. How is that really any different?

    You’re saying you don’t feel comfortable talking about a relationship where one person has sex only to please their partner; so you wouldn’t do anything non-sexual only to please your partner? (I’m sure you do, this is just a rhetorical question) To me, sex and non-sexual things are pretty much the same thing.

  176. Megan
    Megan April 19, 2011 at 8:50 am |

    Aaron:
    You know what? In the past week we’ve had sex 7 times; yesterday, twice.

    you can bring yourself to fuck twice in a day without enjoying it?

    Did I stutter?

    Seriously, I have never really wanted sex, but I do love my partner very much, and I know that he loves it. It’s not that I HATE the act! I don’t particularly enjoy it – I’d much rather have him scratch my head for example. That is much more enjoyable for me. Like I said, I never mentioned that I HATE SEX or anything of the sort. I just do not feel the need to do it, desire, etc, and it is not as enjoyable as other things I could do. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to TRY to have fun with it (having fun is different than enjoying in my mind I suppose).

  177. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 19, 2011 at 9:24 am |

    Kristen J.:
    Wait so now the bogey for “enthusiastic” consent is that your partner gets off on each and every sexual act you engage in?So I’m guessing back rubs and scalp rubs as foreplay are out and that sexy perfume – in the rubbish.

    NOOOOO [like "KKKhhhhaaann]. Does that mean the Ripe Grapefruit and the Sultry Spoon costumes are going as well? That might be a dealbreaker.

    Feministe – ruining sex and marriage since 2011.

  178. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband April 19, 2011 at 9:26 am |

    Damn, that last comment was me. Joke ruined!

  179. zuzu
    zuzu April 19, 2011 at 9:30 am |

    CBrachyrhynchos: Next week, we’ll probably get the same treatment of “cougars” or marital infidelity. I’m not convinced that there’s a trend of behavior or belief.

    You respond to it because these “trend” pieces reflect patriarchal thinking, and the NYT is an opinion leader. So either they’re describing a widespread attitude about women over 40, or they’re promoting an attitude about women over 40, likely for the benefit of their advertisers, who can then sell these women something to make them less “broken.”

    Either way, it’s a discussion that was worth having before you derailed because you’re butthurt that someone might think your relationship isn’t fabulous.

  180. Megan
    Megan April 19, 2011 at 9:37 am |

    Bleh triple post but this will be my last here (and sorry about hijacking this thread!)

    I originally started posting my experiences on this thread to show that there are people in VERY mismatched sexual states who can still have a happy relationship. However, it seems like most of the people here really reject this idea. I am not saying that no asexuals or people with low libido have ever been raped. That was not my intent at all.

    I am not trying to say if you find yourself in a relationship with an asexual, that you should stay with them even if you never have sex. I am not advocating such a thing. Also I know that there are asexuals who never have sex, unlike me. That’s okay too. I’m not really trying to talk about everyone’s experiences here.

    The thing is – you may thing there is something wrong with my partner for having sex with me without “enthusiastic consent”, but you know nothing about him, or me. You may think there is something wrong with me. You may think we should not be together, that it’s unethical, etc – but I will be happy in my life here knowing that you are all wrong. WRONG.

    Our relationship works for US. It does not need to work for you, for you are all different people with different personalities, desires, wishes, and manners of communicating.

    If you have the time, please read this article, about asexuals from a sexual person (it’s not long either): http://www.asexuality.org/home/node/21

    I hope in your future interactions with people who are different from you, maybe you can try to understand them a little better without jumping down their throat automatically thinking there is something wrong with them. I don’t mean to sound insulting, but it seems like a lot of people commenting here are very close minded when it comes to something like this. If I am straight up telling you that our relationship works, what evidence do you have that it doesn’t? None at all.

    To me, having sex to please my partner is no different than giving a foot massage to please my partner. You may think differently, and that is fine. Please don’t act like all sexual relationships are the same though.

    Not sure if everything came out clear enough for some, but that’s all I’ve got.

  181. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 19, 2011 at 10:46 am |

    zuzu: I’ll agree with what sabrina said, it’s a no-win situation, although I see the mythological territory as:

    sexual predator
    manipulative asexual
    tragically frustrated

    This particular piece seems to lean toward the tragically frustrated.

  182. zuzu
    zuzu April 19, 2011 at 11:50 am |

    Actually, this piece leans toward the idea that it’s normal and expected for women over 40 or married women to lose interest in sex, no matter how much they liked it when they were younger/single. Which just happens to fit into a wider patriarchal cultural narrative that older and married women are sexless, that women don’t really like sex and are just using it to trap men into marriage and get babies. Because all women want is to be married and have babies, of course. They have no desires or needs beyond that, certainly not for hot sex and adult relationships.

    And instead of a discussion questioning why that might be “expected” (like, say, whether there’s a biological cause related to aging, or hormone changes, or if there’s a cultural expectation that sex isn’t important to women and it’s unladylike to be 65, married, a grandmother and enjoy sex), and whether that “expectation” is harmful to women, and why a major newspaper is uncritically promoting this sort of thing, we’ve had a discussion about your completely unrelated butthurt about people’s perception about your relationship. And your fairly disturbing views of consent.

    Woo. Slow clap.

  183. rae
    rae April 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm |

    @Megan

    I ‘m using “I statements” because I’m trying to express why I am having difficulty with the model of sexual negotiation you propose without implying that you that you have to or should feel the same way. Specifically, I am trying to explain what seems problematic to me from the point of view of a sexual person who would feel that I was doing something wrong if I had sex with someone who did not enjoy it (which is, I think, the main issue for those of us who are saying that it would be a problem if our partner either lost interest in sex or wanted to negotiate a form of sex that involved only one enthusiastic participant).

    For you sex is a one-sided activity like giving a backrub. For me sex is a participatory activity, like dancing. You frame it as “doing something only to please your partner.” In my relationship, we do not expect each other to do things we do not enjoy solely for the sake of pleasing one another. The only exception is when there’s a direct tradeoff, such as I go see a movie he wants to see and then we go see a movie I want to see the next weekend. But even then, we’d probably just go to a movie we both want to see, and if I wanted to see a movie he has no interest in, I’d go to that movie with some friends who did want to instead. It’s not that we don’t do nice things for each other…its that we don’t do nice things for each other at the expense of ourselves.

    So if I use your analogy to try to think about the experiences you described, I think about a situation like dragging my partner out to a party he doesn’t want to go to. If he really doesn’t want to go, I don’t want to drag him there. Because he won’t have a good time, and that will spoil my good time. I see sex the same way – if I’m the only one having fun, it deflates my enjoyment to the point of not being worth it.

    I think the situation you pose is important to think through because it has complicated implications for consent. Part of the reason enthusiastic consent was proposed is as a solution to the types of problems highlighted by Jill in her post and by La Labu in the comments. If you want to make sure your partner is not losing interest in sex because you don’t pay attention to what kind of foreplay they need, or because they are exhausted from doing all the housework, or because they quietly resent you for something – you have to pay attention to their sexual responses. If my partner suddenly became uninterested in sex, it would signal that there is a problem, because our sexual desire is no longer mutual. I guess some people don’t consider the lack of mutual desire a problem. But I have a hard time understanding how we draw a line between a situation where a woman just lies there and lets her boyfriend/husband do unenjoyable sexual things to her because she has lost sexual desire because he (doesn’t do foreplay/doesn’t ask her what she wants/leaves all the housework for her to do/etc) which is a problem that needs to be addressed, and a situation where the woman just lies there and lets her boyfriend/husband do unenjoyable sexual things to her because she thinks she has to or she’ll lose his love. And if I put myself in the role of the sexual SO in this instance, I don’t really care which situation it is…if my partner is having sex they don’t want, I’m doing something wrong or we just don’t work together (IMO).

  184. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    zuzu: I apologize for responding to that thread, this was the wrong place for it.

  185. Aydan
    Aydan April 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

    @ zuzu: The way this thread went has nothing to do with CBrachyrhynchos or, for that matter, Megan. Neither of them chimed in until comment 116. The discussion diverged from the article because of contention over whether declining desire for sex is necessarily bad is the people experiencing it aren’t troubled by it.

    And your fairly disturbing views of consent.
    Wait, so if asexuals in monogamous relationships with sexuals don’t have sex they’re dooming their partners to lives of sexual frustration, but if they do have sex they have disturbing views of consent?

    Not all asexuals view sex the same way, as a general FYI. Some are “repulsed” and don’t ever want to have sex; some are “indifferent” and are cool with having sex. Some view sex as a one-way thing; some experience sex as pleasurable (emotionally, sensually, physically, or a combination) and see it as a two-way exchange, like many (but not all) sexuals.

  186. zuzu
    zuzu April 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm |

    No, Aydan, the disturbing part is the response to “enthusiastic consent.”

    And, really, the whole sidetracking about asexuals is a derailment because the article and Jill’s post aren’t actually about asexuals at all.

  187. Aydan
    Aydan April 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm |

    The distinction between “disturbing views of consent” and “the disturbing part is the response to ‘enthusiastic consent'” is not clear to me. I’d be interested in what you perceive as the difference, if you’re willing to explain.

  188. Aaron
    Aaron April 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm |

    Megan –

    are you attracted to your partner? if so, and if you’re having sex more than a lot of couples where neither is asexual, maybe it would be more accurate to say you just have a low libido?

    what about finding random guys hot? like guys walking down the street or on TV or in the workplace or a lecture or something?

    it seems to me strange to call oneself an asexual yet experience attraction. this is the reason i said an asexual is necessarily emotionally unavailable: you might enjoy hanging out and sharing experiences and emotional contagion etc, but the point is that nobody wants to be with a person who is not attracted to them.

    if you are a woman who experiences attraction but isn’t particularly interested in sex and only engages in it perfunctorily, then i can understand that because it’s a pretty common thing. i just never thought of going as far as calling that asexual, it seems like a strong description; it would make a lot of people asexual – far more than the wikipedia (QED) estimated prevalence of 1% of the population. further, the people i know who are like this have emotional and sexual issues. they’re anxious and neurotic and have trouble with intimacy. FURTHER – it’s less obvious to themselves than other people, especially their ex/partners.

  189. zuzu
    zuzu April 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm |

    I’m not. Because I just clarified.

  190. Megan
    Megan April 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm |

    The thing is…I’m really not doing anything “at the expense of myself”. I’m actually very happy to have sex with him. I’m really trying to find words to explain without using words that might be confusing (like enjoy, like, etc). I actually do have fun with sex. I NEVER just lay there and think of something else (except the first time – lots of pain and bleeding!). I am always engaged with him and interacting with him. Why does it really matter if I don’t feel like jumping his bones the minute he walks in the door?

    Here’s an example. I really really enjoy giving him blowjobs. It is fun for me – I pretty much treat it like a game (in a good way!). But in order for this to not be exploitative/abuse of power/etc,, he should also perform oral on me, right? Except I don’t particularly like it…it always feels like I’m holding in pee (even if I’ve just gone). Not fun. So why should I HAVE to enjoy it, if it isn’t that great for me?

    So my conclusion is: maybe I could have worded older posts better, but I obviously will never be able to completely explain my entire relationship to another person so that they will understand. I guess all I want for you to understand is that I do “enjoy” it – just in a different way. I have never felt raped or violated, I don’t feel like I’m “giving something up” or making a sacrifice, I DO interact with him and have fun during sex. I don’t understand why I have to initially physically want it (I may emotionally or psychologically want it for intimacy for example).
    I guess something that annoys me is that when anyone has an experience that is outside the “norm” (even though I feel my relationship is relatively normal), you and the Aarons of the world want us to explain, prove, or justify ourselves to you – even when we have explicitly stated we are happy! And this really is not right.

    And with that, I think I shall let this rest. Hopefully you understand what I am trying to convey, if not, my life is still happy.

  191. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein April 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    Aydan writes, “some [asexuals] experience sex as pleasurable (emotionally, sensually, physically, or a combination) and see it as a two-way exchange, like many (but not all) sexuals.”

    In what sense is a person who generally enjoys partnered sex asexual? Are we talking about people who are generally well-disposed towards sex, but who simply have very low sex drives? As in, sex is something they like, but not something they want on a regular basis?

  192. Megan
    Megan April 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm |

    Am I asexual?
    The definition of asexuality is “someone who does not experience sexual attraction.” However, only you can decide which label best suits you.

    I don’t find random guys on the street hot. I imagine if you asked many teens if they thought about sex (even if they had not had it yet), they would answer yes. Well I never have. The only times I really realize it exists are actually doing it/movies/jokes. I remember one person described their particular feeling as “If I never had sex ever again I would be fine” – could you say that of yourself? Probably not. It’s true for me though.

    It is possible for asexual to enjoy (physically) sex – it just means we don’t experience sexual attraction, and in many cases low or no libido (mine is negligible). Repeat: asexuality doesn’t necessarily mean a person doesn’t enjoy sex. Most likely, that person will never initiate, because they don’t particularly feel the need for sex like so many people. (not that there’s anything wrong with that)

    I find my partner attractive (he is very handsome!), but I don’t think about sex/sexual attractiveness when thinking about/looking at him.

    And zuzu, I was never trying to make this post about me, or asexuals; I expressed my experience and was attacked.

    I don’t feel like I have to prove my asexuality. It is not defined by behavior.

  193. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein April 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm |

    Megan, thanks for the explanation. I’m not disputing your identity or trying to make you “prove” anything.

  194. Aaron
    Aaron April 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    you know your partner is objectively attractive, but are you attracted to him?

  195. Emma Matthews (aka unfinishedscript)
    Emma Matthews (aka unfinishedscript) April 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    YOu know from my perspective, this story (the original one) is really a trend created to sell women perscription drugs aka viagra for women aka medicate it so you won’t have to deal with it aka pharma/Wall Street just needs another trend to make a few dimes off of. The drugs may be something some women find necessary but the reality is (from someone who was married to the type of man you mentioned in the type of situation you mentioned and was way too young to not want to f*ck her delicious looking husband, but felt that way anyway) that sex in a dynamic process for women, period. Lots of things can make a woman not want to have sex and attempting to fix those problems is more productive than drugging women. And we wonder why healthcare is so expensive in this country, the number of return visits for side-effects that cause other problems is like money in the bank for them. It’s always about money. Jeez.

  196. Megan
    Megan April 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    Lindsay Beyerstein:
    Megan, thanks for the explanation. I’m not disputing your identity or trying to make you “prove” anything.

    Oh I wasn’t trying to say you were! And I guess I should have noted that the first 3 sentences of that post were from AVEN, not me.

    So this is probably the last post from me about this – I’m sure everyone is annoyed by now. But this is important.

    I don’t remember when I was told about sex by my mom, but it was before puberty. So I did know about it before then, but never really thought about it. Even after puberty hit, I never thought about it, and didn’t realize others were thinking about it. When I started having sex, I started to feel like something was off. I didn’t seem to have the need, or crave it like my partner or others. This caused me a lot of distress. I thought there was something wrong with me, I was broken, messed up.

    Then I discovered what asexuality was through AVEN. And I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me – I was just different. I was finally at peace with myself. I didn’t stress about sex so much, because I realized that I didn’t have to force myself to feel like others.

    Yet I’m still tormented by people who choose to say there’s something wrong with me, that I can’t/shouldn’t be in a relationship with a sexual person, I don’t understand what I’m talking about, and that the choices I’m making in my life are wrong – even when I’m not hurting anyone!

    The thing that brought me peace of mind and happiness is also what some others choose to insult or act like I’m subhuman. Why would I take this label if it can cause so much distress? Because I truly feel it is how I am.

    I’m sorry that this derailed the thread, but I thought that maybe if I could educate at least one person, that maybe I would have done some good.

  197. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm |

    rae: The standards don’t change that much: talk it out.

    Yes means yes. And if your partner’s reasons for having sex are different from your own, you make a decision about whether to continue the relationship and on what terms.

    zuzu: I think we share the same goals that people must not be sexually coerced and should actively and affirmatively consent. I just don’t think “enthusiastic” with its meanings of fervor, excitement, zeal, and fanaticism is the right adjective to use, at least not in all cases.

  198. transfeminisms
    transfeminisms April 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm |

    ….i’m not personally asexual, but it seems sad to me that women who ARE are being accused of derailing on a post discussing women’s sexuality.not sure how that’s fair.

  199. Aydan
    Aydan April 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm |

    Aaron: If Megan self-identifies as asexual, then it is generally unhelpful and rather offensive to tell her she is something else. Especially coming from you, who has thrown around terms like “neurotic” and “emotionally defective.” You clearly don’t understand asexuality, and even if you did, policing other people’s self-identifications is not cool.

    Lindsay Beyerstein: As a disclaimer, I’m both (non-repulsed) asexual and celibate, so this comes from both my experiences and those of other non-repulsed aces. I admit being kind of perplexed by your question, because in my world, there’s no reason a person who generally enjoys partnered sex wouldn’t be asexual; statistically speaking, it’s less likely, but there’s nothing about enjoying partnered sex that makes you not asexual. Asexuals can have high sex drives or low sex drives, and can experience arousal frequently, infrequently, or never; it’s just not correlated with the desire to find a sexual partner. The analogy frequently used is, if you put 20 heterosexual men on an island they probably won’t be sexually attracted to each other, but they’ll still experience arousal (obviously it’s a simplified analogy). The well-disposed towards sex idea, I guess, falls into “repulsed” (you actively don’t want sex) vs. “indifferent” (anywhere from indifferent to enthusiastic).

    You can like sex without being sexual. You can derive physical pleasure from sex without being sexual– many asexuals masturbate, and clearly enjoy orgasms. You can also derive pleasure from your partner’s pleasure, from the emotional component, from the sensual pleasure of seeing, smelling, feeling your partner, etc.

    As a final note (because, while Megan’s experience as a person who does not have a strong desire for sex, who also happens to be asexual, was relevant to the thread, I think this is getting a bit far afield): I realize that a lot of sexual people have a hard time with the idea of not finding people sexually attractive– a lot of asexual people have an equally hard time understanding the concept of finding people sexually attractive.

    I think there’s the potential for really fruitful conversation somewhere between “I can’t imagine myself ever systematically not wanting sex!” (which is a perfectly valid viewpoint) and “I do all these other things instead of sex and I’m happy!” (which is also a perfectly valid viewpoint), and that potential comes from acknowledging that not everyone feels the same way about sex. Realizing that there’s not one level of sexual desire that more right, more sex-positive, or more feminist than another allows us to sort out when people are being distressed by their lack of sexual desire, and examine the factors that might be contributing.

  200. Raja
    Raja April 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm |

    Meghan’s relationship seems to work for her and that is all really that matters. As long as they are both happy who cares what anyone else thinks.

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