When it comes to sex, women are given a lot of terrible advice. From being deemed bad people if we do anything sexual to being told never to have sex excitedly, we aren’t exactly supplied with a ton of wonderful tips. My least favorite as of late, however, is from this Wall Street Journal piece on why women are destroying their relationships by not banging their partners. Titled “How Often Should Married Couples Have Sex?: What Happens When He Says ‘More’ and She Says ‘No,’” the article pretty much declares females failures, responsible for the downfall of their husbands and boyfriends should they decide not to have unwanted sex.
It starts off with the somber tale of Chris and Afton Mower, high school sweethearts who were married as adults. Six months later, they realized their dream…
Was about to become a nightmare. Why? Because Afton decided to exercise her human right: to decline sex with somebody when she doesn’t want to have it. Yes, including her husband. The nerve! The horror.
Despite Chris whispering in her ear, begging and doing housework (entirely because he thought it would turn her on, since all women really need for sexual excitement is apparently a clean floor, according to the most clueless Lothario ever), he just couldn’t get Afton to bang him. Everything about his entire life was basically over as a result.
Months stretched into years. Mr. Mower tracked their sex life in a notebook he kept in his nightstand. He drew a chart and filled in different-shaped dots to represent various scenarios: He initiated sex but was declined. They planned on sex but didn’t follow through. They actually had sex. Mr. Mower says he was rebuffed 95% of the time; his wife says his memory is highly subjective. He became grumpy, gained weight and stopped wanting to come home at night. “For me to feel good about myself, I needed her to have sex with me,” he says. “Otherwise I thought she didn’t love me.”
Naturally, he didn’t question his personality, attitude or actions because obviously, it was up to her to make him feel good. It couldn’t possibly be his own responsibility to deal with his emotional issues. After all, sex in a relationship is generally supposed to revolve entirely around the man’s needs.
WSJ sided with Mr. Mower, apparently upset at the idea that a woman could choose not to have sex with her husband. They subsequently fed into stereotypes regarding female sex drive.
Remember the scene in “Annie Hall” where Woody Allen’s and Diane Keaton’s characters each answer their therapists’ questions about how often they have sex? Mr. Allen’s Alvy Singer laments, “Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.” Annie Hall’s complaint? “Constantly. I’d say three times a week.” Sure, it’s funny. Just maybe a little less so if you’re a man.
Oh ladies, you think it’s so funny that men aren’t getting all the sex they need to produce happy feelings, but it’s a problem, dammit! These guys are clearly drowning in pain — the pain of not getting what they want, when they want it. It’s obvious that these guys are positively in the right to assume their spouses should sleep with them in order to cure their emotional frustrations. And their “experts” agree: men are incapable of communicating without having their dicks hard!
No wonder [men] miss sex when it disappears. It’s a way for them to be aggressive and manly but also tender and vulnerable. “For some men, sex may be their primary way of communicating and expressing intimacy,” says Justin Lehmiller, a Harvard University social psychologist who studies sexuality. Taking away sex “takes away their primary emotional outlet.”
I imagine the writer of this piece also empathized with Veruca Salt.
Okay, despite my sarcastic tone, I am serious on this note: you should never have sex unless you want to. You just shouldn’t. Nobody who loves you will make you feel guilty or frustrated for not having sex with them. And it’s a stupid, sexist myth that men are unable to communicate any way besides sex; women and men are equally capable of doing so. Having a penis doesn’t make you a caveman who can merely grunt and ejaculate in order to gain intimacy.
Sex is not a duty, nor a responsibility, nor an obligation. And it shouldn’t be viewed as any of those, lest one partner feels unhappy or reluctant during the act. How can sex possibly be remotely pleasant, let alone meaningful, if one person is unwilling?