Do women even like sex? A little bit?
For those who haven't read it, I'd like to point out a great post by Lynn at Noli Irritare Leones about men and women and whether or not they have equal sex drives. This is critical to the "all women are whores", I mean, "women are the product and men the consumers of sex" theory that is so captivating to so many people.
Under the market view of sex, women have to not like sex at all, or at least significantly less, for the theory to work. There's no way around it. We can't be selling our sexuality for money if we want nothing more than men's sex for it. So the purveyors of the women=whores theory spend some effort trying to demonstrate that we're just faking it for the cash. We masturbate less. (Ignore the huge vibrator market.) We don't look at porn. (Ignore romance novels, they screw up the theory.) We are less interested in sleeping with strangers. (Pretend that fear of rape or getting tarred as a slut aren't issues for women.) We brag less. (Again, women can't get their reputations spoiled, so eliminate that as a cause.)
I notice that the biological fact that women are physically insatiable is roundly ignored as well. Guys pop off and are done. Women are up for round 2,3,12, whatever within seconds sometimes. But we gotta make the facts fit the theory.
So what we are left with is a general sense that women like sex less. As Lynn points out, different adolescent experiences are probably the strongest evidence for the "men are hornier" case.
And this is consistent with my experience, where men sure seem to claim a stronger sex drive than women. In fact, it's hard for me to imagine having as strong a sex drive as men are reported as claiming. I can't think why I'd want to masturbate every day, or put a lot of energy into assembling a large collection of, um, material to enhance my masturbation experience; I don't remember being as obsessively controlled by my hormones during my teenage years as some men I know tell me they were during theirs, etc.
But, as Avedon so rightly points out, part of the problem is that men's sexual feelings are named as such, so they have a better understanding of their bodies. Women's sexual feelings are routed into other avenues, especially as adolescents:
It reminds me of a remark Avedon Carol once made about how when she was younger she thought she didn't think much about sex, and then she came to realize that she simply wasn't seeing her thoughts about sex - she was seeing them as being about the relationship, some particular person, or whatever, even though they did, after all, involve sex.
Indeed. When I was in high school, I remember quite vividly that boys were pretty much encouraged to label their sexual feelings as such. Boys were downright darling in the way that they offered emotional support to each other during our teenage years, bragging about masturbating and labeling this girl or that girl "hot". I also remember a girl asking me earnestly if it's true that girls masturbate, and I told her not really, though frankly I wasn't so sure. Girls have trouble sometimes even knowing, because there is no one to talk to about how to masturbate or what an orgasm feels like and frankly, because there's not any "evidence" that they've gotten there.
The biggest problem is shame. Being attracted to boys was something that was only discussed amongst the girls I knew as an ethereal thing, really. Oh, we talked about sex, but only in the culturally approved terms where sex was something done to us or something we held back from in order to get respect. Speaking of yourself as a sexual agent was the verboten subject. I remember reading a magazine aimed at teenage girls where someone wrote into an advice column wondering if something was wrong with her because she made out with her boyfriend and her panties got damp. I have no idea if the question was made up, but my friends and I were appalled. This, we said, never happened to us. We were probably all lying; I know I was.
With all this shame and embarrassment, is it any wonder that women routinely report well into adulthood that they really, well, don't have those feelings? Even nowadays, young women don't often know the language to name their feelings. Of course they can't express them. And practice makes perfect. Women are behind the sexual curve much of their lives, especially if they live in subcultures where sexual experimentation is discouraged throughout their lives, which is probably most subcultures still in America.
And we think that when women report having less sexual feelings, it must be biology.
I sincerely doubt that teenage girls are less awash in hormones than teenage boys. Ever seen video footage of a bunch of girls screaming and carrying on for a teen pop star. S-U-B-L-I-M-A-T-I-O-N.
When men and women have their sexuality treated with equal respect, then we can start saying that we have authentic measures of natural-born differences between men and women's sex drives.