Monday, November 8, 2010

Women's Sexuality Makes People Believe Peculiar Things

Stephen Fry
Maybe you followed the kerfuffle prompted by Stephen's Fry's saying recently that women don't like sex.  Excerpt from the Guardian story:
"I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want," he said. "Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, 'Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!' But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?"
I try to ignore stuff like this because it's stupid, and because it's annoying, and because if you think long enough about what set of mental attitudes prompt people to say it, you just get annoyed and depressed.

Keith Richards

But I was amusingly reminded of his saying that when I read the recent discussion of Keith Richard's memoir in The New Yorker. Keith, discussing girls at his show:
"They nearly killed me.  I was never more in fear for my life than I was from teenage girls.  The ones that choked me, tore me to shreds, if you got caught in a frenzied crowd of them -- it's hard to express how frightening they could be.  You'd rather be in a trench fighting the enemy than be faced with this unstoppable, killer wave of lust and desire, or whatever it is -- it's unknown even to them."
Keith also claims he's never "put the make on a girl" in his life.  They just come to him.  Not just girls but women in general.

Certainly Fry's view is not so idiosyncratic.  Lots of people think women don't want or like sex.

On the other hand, I hope we can all agree on one thing:  no one, of any age, is seeking out sex with Keith Richards because they're hoping for happily ever after.  Actually, you could write a whole blog post just on the issue of why, exactly, Keith Richards is attractive -- cause obviously he is, but the reasons are somewhat mysterious.  It seem evident no evolutionary biology explanation is going to be forthcoming.  But let's leave that aside for another day.  As I say, the point here is just, if you're throwing yourself at Keith Richards you're not hoping for When Harry Met Sally.  You're looking to have sex with Keith Richards.  And evidently, wanting that can make you crazy.

So which is it, kids?  Are women sexless or oversexed?  Bored or out of their minds with lust? 

Probable there's a respectable and intelligent conclusion to draw about this, like women-are-different and you-can't-overgeneralize -- obviously true.  And yet, I feel a more interesting and more disturbing explanation lurks in here somewhere.

The disturbing explanation is that what women are interested in isn't always what the guys in their lives have to offer; what they are interested in is something more along the lines of ... well ... Keith.  Or Mick -- Mick would surely do just as well. 

Then the image of women as not-really-wanting-or-enjoying-sex would then be the sort of thing people come to believe not because it's true, but because what women want isn't always what every guy is offering, and people just draw the wrong conclusions from that.  I remember reading Simone de Beauvoir a couple of years ago, and how she said that one thing about sexism is the way men have constructed an idea of women that is what they want women to be.  I thought it was interesting and apt.

Indeed, part of what's so annoying about the whole evolutionary biology thing is how often the "explanations" it comes up with fit the image of women that's just what would suit men best: oh, gee, women are naturally sort of monogomous! men are naturally really not! hm, interesting!

Anyway, as I've probably mentioned in this space before, Richard Russo pretty much gave the final answer about women in Straight Man.  What do women want?  "Everything," just like men do.   The interesting thing is what they'll settle for.

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