Originally published March 5, 2007:
What to do about differing libidos? We're a straight couple together 20 years. No weight gain, no radical changes in appearance. We are loving, and I am cognizant of her needs and feelings. Yesterday, I read an interview with Joan Sewell, author of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido, and handed it to my wife. This is the new ideal? Women laughing at their male partners about women's general lack of desire? My spouse can now point at this book and say, "I'm normal, live with it..." While I want sex daily, I get it maybe 5 to 20 times a year—and I am lucky compared to some men! Where are the women who want sex constantly?
Not Giving Up
My response after the jump...
I haven't had a chance to read Ms. Sewell's book, NGU, but I devoured Sandra Tsing Loh's review of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate in the current Atlantic Monthly. And I'm saddened to report that, according to Sewell and Loh, there's no such thing as a woman who wants sex constantly. They don't exist—never did.
All that yammering about women with voracious sexual appetites during Sex and the City's reign of terror? A cruel hoax. A figment of the straight-male imagination, a Big Lie picked up on and promoted by self-serving female "sexperts" eager to tell straight men what they wanted to hear. Women have naturally lower sex drives, Sewell writes. It's a hormonal thing. Testosterone makes humans horny, men have way more than women, so men are hornier—and all the Sex and the City repeats in the world aren't going to change that.
So if straight women don't want sex—or as much sex—what do they want? Chocolate, says Sewell, or a good book. Massive amounts of carbs, says Loh, who approvingly writes of a lesbian couple she knows. With no men around demanding sex, Loh's lesbian friends are livin' the dream: "Teri and Pat have had a special Monday-night ritual. They order an extra-large cheese pizza," writes Loh, "[and] settle in on the couch with large twin bags of Doritos. Each chip is dipped first in cream cheese and then in salsa. Cream cheese, salsa. Cream cheese, salsa.... The Doritos are finished to the last crumb, and then, upon arrival, the pizza as well." (No dessert is mentioned—I imagine it's just one wafer-thin mint.) Teri and Pat are 50 pounds overweight and suffer from "lesbian bed death," but for them, pizza-and-Doritos night is "better than sex." Loh, who has a sex-starved husband at home, is green with envy.
So the jig is up, NGU. For a while, women with high libidos were normal and women with low libidos were freakish. Now women with low libidos can hand their husbands Sewell's book and rip open a bag of Doritos.
But there's a silver lining, NGU. Back when women with low libidos were regarded as abnormal—way back at the beginning of the month—it was fashionable to blame the man in a woman's life for her lack of desire. For years, whenever I printed a letter from a guy who wasn't getting any, or wasn't getting much, mail would pour in from women insisting that he had to be doing something wrong.
I called them the "if only" letters: If only she didn't have to do all the housework, she would want to have sex. If only he would talk with her about her day, she would want to have sex. If only she weren't so exhausted from taking care of the kids, she would want to have sex. If only he didn't ask for sex, she would want to have sex. Well now, thanks to Sewell, straight guys everywhere know that it doesn't matter how much housework you do, or how sincerely interested you are in her day, or how much of the child care you take on: She still won't want to fuck you.
Sewell's book is also going to restore straight men's dignity. I was recently shown a new sex-toy collection for straight couples, a basket of erotic goodies—"lotions and potions!"—clearly designed for women who would rather eat chocolate. Edible strawberry lubricant, vanilla body powder, chocolate genital sprinkles. Lotions and potions? Try frosting.
And, my God, chocolate sprinkles for your cock? Here's the message these tins of frosting send to men: She would put your dick in her mouth if only it tasted less like cock and more like cupcakes. Well, no more, guys. Toss the lotions and potions.
One thing that hasn't changed in the wake of Sewell's book is my advice to women with low libidos: You can have strict monogamy or you can have a low libido, ladies, but you can't have both. If monogamy is a priority, you're gonna have to put out, i.e., regular vaginal intercourse and the occasional tide-him-over handjob and/or blowjob, cheerfully given. If all you wanna do is sit there and eat chocolate, you're gonna have to turn a blind eye to lap dances and mistresses and happy endings and the return of trade, i.e., gay guys giving NSA head to straight guys.
Sewell herself is following my advice: "Because Sewell loves her husband," writes Loh, "they eventually worked out a contract both can live with. It involves handjobs, lubejobs, and—when she doesn't feel like being touched—her dressing up... and letting him watch... so he can finish himself off by himself."
Oh, and guys? You need to accept those tide-you-over blowjobs and handjobs just as cheerfully as she gives them. The one thing besides hormones that contributes to female reluctance to consent to sex is the expectation, on the part of the male, that consent always means vaginal intercourse—except when it means anal intercourse. If your hole were getting pounded every time you said yes to sex, guys, you would say yes less often. So broaden your definition of sex to include handjobs, blowjobs, lubejobs, and masturbation in her presence or on her person—these things count, guys, they're not consolation prizes.
And finally, a word about a book I have read: In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins tears into the intelligent design idjits. I feel bad about piling on—almost. Hey, intelligent design idjits? If God really wants us to have heterosexual sex only, and then only within the bounds of holy matrimony, and if adultery offends Him so much—it's a stoning offense, right up there with gay sex—how come He designed men and women to be sexually incompatible?
Well, I should say that He designed straight men and straight women to be sexually incompatible. Lesbian couples, with their bags of Doritos, and gay couples, with our mutually insatiable sexual appetites, seem pretty intelligently designed. Thank you, Jesus!
My position on beating off to historically important images of Anna Nicole Smith, or getting your ex-fundie ass laid, didn't go over so well. Angry letters—most of them from Wolf Blitzer—at www.thestranger.com/savage/annanicole.