I’m a fan of TED talks. Bite sized videos with the power of encapsulating a single idea in less than 10 minutes. Perfect for a Mum on the go and far more interesting than snatching a round of candy crush on the loo. But recently one of them made me spit in anger.
A therapist who delivered a talk on The Sex Starved marriage, where the advice to hetero-women who wanted their relationships to last was succinctly put in three words. ‘Just Do It’.
What she means by that is that women should intellectually override their low sex drive for their partner and simply get on with the business of fucking whether they desire it or not, because in the middle of it they would probably remember that they liked sex quite a lot and it would bring the couple closer.
In plain terms, she wants you to violate your own consent and invest in the relationship at the expense of yourself. I’m against this (if it wasn’t obvious).
And yet there appears at first glance to be a grain of method in her madness. The female sexual response cycle has been presumed for decades to be linear much like a man’s. Desire precedes arousal, arousal precedes orgasm and post-coital bliss aka. resolution. It has only been recently posited that our sexual response cycle is far more complex than this and doesn’t necessarily include all of the stages (duh). It”s suggested that for many women in a long term relationship desire does not necessarily precede arousal, in fact the two may be reversed – arousal before desire. So just ‘doing it’ means that first the woman is coaxed into arousal (either by herself, external stimuli or her partner) and then presumably desire will follow. Such a simplistic idea deserves to be ridiculed. It ignores a thousand possible reasons. It goes against the very principles of integrity. It’s extremely damaging to the self.
Why don’t I want him?
You’ve changed. Perhaps it is after children because society conditioning forbids mothers to be sexual, perhaps because you have grown and healed; once you sought a rescuer, the white knight who could sweep you off your feet but you have become an adult and you aren’t interested in being rescued anymore. Perhaps your tastes have changed, you long to try a bit of bondage and he’s still seducing you to ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. Perhaps all of the above, or none. One article can’t cover all these aspects and I assume from here on, that you have eradicated these reasons from your list of relationship stuff and are operating out of a relationship where you are both sexually compatible, communicating honestly and growing emotionally.
Because beyond this conditioning is a deeper truth. In all long term relationships sooner or later, you will stop idealizing your partner and will see his faults. We are taught not to accept faults (after all, no faults were accepted in us). We are taught that faults are by definition ‘faulty’. We are taught to try and change or improve these faults. If you are in a long term relationship where you are living with each other, it’s also true that you will see what you define as ‘faults’ day in and day out. Your resentment will build because the man you believed he was, is not the man he is. You feel like you’ve sold yourself out. And as a matter of biology resentment diminishes desire and we are programmed not to respond to what we perceive as a faulty specimen.
We evaluate and rank so-called faults. This is a judgement and occurs in our minds to make us superior and him inferior. Because amidst all the beauty of the feminist ethos, men are also constantly belittled at every turn both implicitly and explicitly.
“As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.”~ John Lennon
“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” ~ Brigham Young
“No matter what dimension you’re in, there’s a big-headed male trying to take over the world.”~ Eoin Colfer
Many women think they are superior to men. And no woman, wants to go to bed with an inferior man ~ the man we have designated inferior to us. We measure men (and women) up to ideals. How they should contribute to a relationship. How they should contribute to a household. How they should be a good parent. Sometimes this belittling becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The very things you believe, even if not true at first, become true. The man is dis-empowered. But the fact of the matter is that all these things are in themselves judgements and conditioned values. And if you are a (somewhat) emotionally mature woman, you will not be attracted to a man you consider inferior (if you are, it’s a sure sign that you are feeding one of your own inner demons).
As a society we have created some gender roles for men and women that are untrue. And if we measure ourselves up to preconceived roles, we will fail.
- Women are weak, men are strong
- Men produce (provide), women receive (consume)
- Men are supposed to take care of women
Needless to say, these are bullshit, but at one time or another you bought into them. Even worse most people treat them as basic truths whilst giving lip service to a more ‘conscious’ position. [Transforming 1 ~ Ron Smothermon]. They lie to themselves and to each other. Rarely does anyone escape unscathed from these ‘truths’ which are bombarded at us from every billboard and every magazine stand. It takes constant work. Additionally changing centuries of society structure which has been created as a consequence of these rules is challenging. As a woman, you know theoretically these rules aren’t true, but your first inclination will be to take the opposite position (women are strong, men are weak etc.). Both positions are false. If you have any remnants of these positions floating in your subconsciousness, your acceptance and respect for your partner will be diminished… as will your desire.
The only thing you can do to escape this is to become aware of it. Step outside the context we have created for relationships. How? Start by asking yourself, what do I want from a man (father/lover)? If you want anything that is predefined by society (as we all do) instead of being based solely on the compatibility of your fundamental needs, you will discover that this is stems from a belief about how men/fathers/lovers ‘should’ be. Or more importantly how your man ‘should’ be. It leaves no room for a man to be how he actually is. Only a huge gap between what you have been taught to expect and reality. (NB. It also works the opposite way round – what men expect women to be. My father for example, started to hate my mother because she was infertile. She wasn’t a ‘real woman’).
So until you accept reality and working with what is, you will be holding your partner up to an ideal that he will never achieve. Men are also trying to live up to this ideal (and failing). It creates fragility in the male ego which in itself can be the source of enormous conflict as they try to bolster their insecurity (usually by trying to obtain more validating sex… you know that sex you don’t want to have with him).
On one hand you have a man trying desperately to live up to an impossible ideal and on the other a woman who believes their man is faulty and inferior. He is rejected for who he is. She is disappointed in how he is.
And desire left the building a long time ago.