I still don't know what women want

The NY Times ran an interesting article on sexology a short while ago, focusing on the differences in arousal between men and women. Like any guy, I read it hoping to discover the magic switch that turns women on, but as expected, the message is that female arousal is very, very complicated. This was not a surprise. One of the curious results, though, was that not only do men and women differ in the specificity of stimuli that induce arousal, but women's brains (measured by self-reporting) and women's bodies (measured by plethysmograph) don't agree — vaginal arousal was measured when subjects saw video clips of mating bonobos and a variety of different sexual situations, while at the same time they reported a lack of interest.

It's fascinating stuff, but I have to raise an objection. They try to use evolution to explain what's going on.

Besides the bonobos, a body of evidence involving rape has influenced her construction of separate systems. She has confronted clinical research reporting not only genital arousal but also the occasional occurrence of orgasm during sexual assault. And she has recalled her own experience as a therapist with victims who recounted these physical responses. She is familiar, as well, with the preliminary results of a laboratory study showing surges of vaginal blood flow as subjects listen to descriptions of rape scenes. So, in an attempt to understand arousal in the context of unwanted sex, Chivers, like a handful of other sexologists, has arrived at an evolutionary hypothesis that stresses the difference between reflexive sexual readiness and desire. Genital lubrication, she writes in her upcoming paper in Archives of Sexual Behavior, is necessary "to reduce discomfort, and the possibility of injury, during vaginal penetration. . . . Ancestral women who did not show an automatic vaginal response to sexual cues may have been more likely to experience injuries during unwanted vaginal penetration that resulted in illness, infertility or even death, and thus would be less likely to have passed on this trait to their offspring."

Evolution's legacy, according to this theory, is that women are prone to lubricate, if only protectively, to hints of sex in their surroundings. Thinking of her own data, Chivers speculated that bonobo coupling, or perhaps simply the sight of a male ape's erection, stimulated this reaction because apes bear a resemblance to humans -- she joked about including, for comparison, a movie of mating chickens in a future study.

That all sounds very plausible, but plausibility isn't enough — this is a perfect example of a just-so story. I'd want to see comparative data, but our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, are so different from us in sexual behavior that it would be difficult to generate an appropriate comparison. I'd want to see the causal and molecular basis for this behavior in women, but again, it's going to be so complex that I doubt we'll find simple relationships, let alone molecular evidence of selection. I'd want to see historical evidence that women who lacked a lubricity response to the prospect of unwanted sexual activity were more prone to injury that affected childbearing, but that doesn't exist.

While not doubting the physiological relevance of the research, this too-willing cooption of evolutionary explanations just bugs me.

As an antidote, I have to recommend a book I've mentioned before, an excellent survey of evolutionary explanations for female sexuality, The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), by Elisabeth Lloyd. It steps through various proposed scenarios and shows the lack of legitimate evidence or, in quite a few cases, neglect of evidence that contradicts the hypotheses. It's one of the best books around for demonstrating how rigorous evolutionary logic should be applied.

Unfortunately, that book doesn't tell me what women want, either. The conclusion is that the female orgasm is probably an evolutionary byproduct, and that adaptive explanations are inappropriate and unjustified. I suspect the same answer applies to the work on female arousal.

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It's not a just-so story, it's a hypothesis. That is to say, it is a speculative explanation of a natural phenomenon. If evidence is found contradicting the hypothesis, we discard it. If evidence accumulates in favor of the hypothesis, we accept it with increasing degrees of confidence. That's how we do science.

Yeah, i saw this a while ago and it struck me as wierd that they never took reporting bias into account.

Seems to me that we kinda have a culture that tells women that they are not supposed to be aroused for the most part. (You know the classic "only whores/bad girls like that")

I suspect that societal influence might account for that disparity more than biological influence.

Just my 2 cents of course.

By Cat of Many Faces (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Except that there are no tests of the hypothesis proposed, and it seems untestable to me. I could be wrong, but to convince me of that, you'd have to show me a proposal for an experiment or observation that would distinguish between their claim and some other.

Another example of how the universe doesn't owe us nice tight answers for everything.

What do women want?

To never be asked that fucking question again.

Seriously, what do "men" want? What? Are you saying that each men want different things? Aww, look at that; women are the same way.

The lack of ethical experimentation in humans means that evolutionary psychology is not likely to move beyond "just-so" stories (or hypotheses--there's little difference if you lack the means to test hypotheses) any time soon.

This is where "the controversy" really should be told when reporting goes on. Because there is a very real controversy over evolutionary psychology, not because it lacks explanatory power in the theoretical sense (presumably, not certainly), but because it lacks explanatory power in the practical sense.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

Unfortunately, that book doesn't tell me what women want, either.

Perhaps you should try to remember that your trophy wife is more than just a trophy and is instead the person most in a position to tell you what the only woman who should concern you (in that respect, anyway!) wants. ;-)

Even well-founded generalisations wouldn't help you with the specific case that matters.

Okay, which woman (or man, for that matter) is going to raise her hand when the "were you aroused by the chimp rape?" question comes up? lol.

I vaguely remember someone actually doing a different study on physical vs. mental arousal which suggested that the dissonance is less the more comfortable a woman is with her sexuality (I think they correlated it with attitudes towards masturbation, but I'm not sure).

anyway, I wonder if, since bonobos fucking isn't supposed to be sexy, the women didn't mentally perceive it as sexy, or didn't want to admit that animal-porn made them horny...

and I wonder if there's a sister study seeing whether the same images had the same physical reactions for men. if they have the same response as the women, that would be a good clue that the hardware functions pretty much the same, while the software makes all the difference.

Hold on here: the testability criterion doesn't work very well for any form of evolution. How many evolutionary questions are resolved by the discovery of a single fossil? That doesn't constitute much of a test, but we accept it so long as it fits into the broader scheme of things. And when we come to hypotheses regarding behavior, we accept a great many hypotheses based on a complete lack of direct evidence. For example, let us consider one of the simplest of hypotheses: that males in most species are more promiscuous than females because their metabolic cost for descendants is lower than the metabolic costs paid by females. We have mountains of data showing that males are indeed more promiscuous. But do we have one iota of data showing WHY this is the case? Perhaps somebody, somewhere, did a controlled study in which they compared more promiscuous male fruit flies with less promiscuous males fruit flies -- it certainly wouldn't be hard to do. But isn't there something almost tautological about claiming that males who copulate more end up with more descendants?

I agree that there's plenty of hokum in pop evo-psych. But there's also lots of really solid science being done.

Just to clarify #6, of course I know there's ethical experimentation done on humans, but certainly not of the kind done on animals. It is difficult to account for human variables, and even animal experiments are often subject to unknowns.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

@Jadehawk read the article, it talks about those studies.

and I wonder if there's a sister study seeing whether the same images had the same physical reactions for men.

Men were part of the same study, apparently. They did not have the same physical reaction, and their mental responses mapped more directly to their physical ones. From the article:

The men, on average, responded genitally in what Chivers terms “category specific” ways. Males who identified themselves as straight swelled while gazing at heterosexual or lesbian sex and while watching the masturbating and exercising women. They were mostly unmoved when the screen displayed only men. Gay males were aroused in the opposite categorical pattern. Any expectation that the animal sex would speak to something primitive within the men seemed to be mistaken; neither straights nor gays were stirred by the bonobos. And for the male participants, the subjective ratings on the keypad matched the readings of the plethysmograph. The men’s minds and genitals were in agreement.

By Anton Mates (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

People don't generalize well, "What do women want?" has as many answers as there are women. For now, Ray Bradbury may have more to say about "Heart's desire" than science.

Hey PZ. Now I'm kinda talking out of my ass a bit because I haven't seen any actual footage (and I'm certainly not a zoologist or anything), but I do recall watching a TED video on bonobos and recall the speaker saying that bonobo sex is very similar to human sex. Whether that's true or not I encourage anyone to watch that very fascinating video. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/susan_savage_rumbaugh_on_apes_that_w…

I read that Times story, too. Interesting data, but trying to interpret it is an unholy mess. The question of "why are men's physiological and self- reported mental responses to sex more likely to be in alignment than women's" could have about sixty different answers: from the evolutionary ones the authors propose...

to a sociological explanation that women are taught from birth to be disconnected from our sexuality, so we don't find it as easy to identify our genital sexual responses...

to a different sociological explanation that, again, women are taught from birth that being sexual is dirty and bad and so aren't as comfortable speaking frankly about it...

to a psychological explanation that women's sexuality is just more complex and multi-factorial than men's, with a stronger purely mental component...

I could do this all day.

What PZ said. This data is interesting, but not by itself enough to support the authors' conclusion.

As to what women want: I suggest you ask the one you're in bed with. (Or that you have bent over the kitchen table. I'm not particular.)

Yay, more fuel for the "Women secretly want to be raped" fire. The author of the study certainly does not seem to support that misogynist nonsense, but she doesn't get to choose the oversimplified headlines that her study yields.

The disconnect between what arouses women and what we admit arouses us seems pretty simple to explain. We're trained to believe that a woman desiring any sex (consensual, in-species sex or otherwise) is naughty, unfeminine, and an invitation to get raped. My enlightened male colleagues who don't treat women like property might not appreciate the extent to which women are psychologically bullied into hating their own sexuality.

By Rebecca C. (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Yay, more fuel for the "Women secretly want to be raped" fire.
Careful. Science must be allowed to go where-ever it takes us. If we start allowing our own desires to intrude, how are we different from those who use their belief in a god to deny evolution?

@Jadehawk read the article, it talks about those studies.

can't, no NYT account. hence the idle speculation.

thanks for the quote anton, that of course blows my little speculations to smithereens, hehe

This seems odd. I remember doing little thought experiments back in the late 70s as a teenager when I came up with some explanations for some female behavior I had seen. It seemed logical that there had been a lot of rape in humanity's past and it was probably around long enough to have influenced our evolution.

(Later, I read that sperm is specialized, and penises are shaped to maximize the chances of reproducing in an environment of gang rape. This didn't surprise me.)

I think about that and decide that if a woman's body must endure that sort of thing, there must be a means of ameliorating the danger. So, I decide that there's probably at least a physical response. Later, I find out there is.

Today, I read that someone has published a paper on the subject, and is now being ridiculed.

Maybe it isn't science. I'm no scientist, and barely graduated high school, but I have to think there's some value in just noodling around with an idea until you've seen some sense in it. Of course, someone else has to test it in order to call it a truth, but some of these things seem inherently untestable.

How do you people feel about Desmond Morris? I've read a couple of his books, and they seem chock full of such conclusions.

By Nangleator (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

I read that same article and my first thought was tell my son, that when taking a potential mate to the zoo, always make sure he takes her to see the bonobos.

By mayhempix (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

I read that same article and my first thought was tell my son, that when taking a potential mate to the zoo, always make sure he takes her to see the bonobos.

I can just see the news article from a couple of weeks in the future: 'Zoo attendance skyrockets; numbers of teenage couples visiting zoos with Bonobo exhibits have increased tenfold. Experts baffled as to why.'

Cue The Bad Touch by The Bloodhound Gang...

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

What women want?

A better plethysmograph?

Super O.T., however...

"Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life", a BBC program, hosted by David Attenborough.

I got it off a private BitTorrent tracker in the U.K., however, it should hit the public trackers shortly.

An outstanding hour of David Atonborough explaining how Charles Darwin showed how we got the great diversity of life on our planet.

Also, an hour that will generate even MORE death threats and hate mail against Attenborough.

Why? Because he doesn't give credit to god for life on Earth.

All you BT junkies The Pirate Bay and MiniNova have this program NOW. It's well worth the time and effort to grab.

//I still don't know what women want//

Obviously they want a fuzzy-faced, cuddly, astute biology professor who uses his razor-sharp wit to tear down fundies, woo, and irrationality on a daily basis.

At least, that's MY hypothesis.

By Benny the Icepick (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

ChrisC, I hope you were speaking sarcastically. Otherwise, it just looks like you didn't bother to read the post you were responding to. Rebecca distinctly separates the science from the headlines.

By CatBallou (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Oh, c'mon.

I've been very fortunate to have had sexual relations with enough attractive women to notice a similarity in their sexual motivations. First sexual encounters with each other are always hot, lustful, and plenty of lubrication. As the relationship might progress, they still get hot, lubricated and lustful. But there are times when they are not so into it. But guess what works EVERY fucking time? Whispering in their ear some mild fantasy that incorporates not knowing each other... BAM! Orgasm.

I agree with Cat of Many Faces... except I'll go further and suggest it is 100% societal factoring that causes women to shut down.... but give them a fantasy where THEY are not responsible for their lust, and suddenly they are good to go.

And yes, like others here, I too am completely bored with the entire "what do women want" notion, phrase, meme, whatever. It's a stupid question, even when used jokingly. It's just hackneyed.

Really, PZ? Like "any guy," you're looking for the magic switch? Good luck with that, and my condolences to your wife!

By CatBallou (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

There is some serious problems with ev psych amounting to just so stories, and that's what it amounts to at its worst.
I do think that ev psych is a useful alternative to postmodernism or behavioralism that have dominated research into human behavior. It allows for scientists studying human beings to acknowledge that our minds (and the cultures that spring therefrom) are the subject of evolutionary processes.

Seriously, what do "men" want?

In rough order of priority:

1) Sex.

2) See 1.

3) Food. But only when too hungry for sex. See Maslow's hierarchy (revisited).

4) Beer's good, too, I guess. Often goes nice with the food.

5) Oh, and wine, if the food calls for it.

6) Stimulating discussion*. But only when not too hungry/horny.

7) Shelter, warmth.

8) ... But mostly sex.

... That's about it. Shiny toys, easily liquidated precious metals may also be slipped in there somewhere--probably around 6/7. There some individual variation, there, I'm told.

*Bad standup comedy/bad sketch comedy may also be an acceptable substitute, here.

/Yes, I write for Cosmo.

Beer and good health care.

By Janine, Queen … (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

The idea that that female orgasm is an evolutionary byproduct without adaptive significance just doesn't sit right with me.

1) Orgasms likely motivate sexual desire (as evidenced by "sex because it feels good" and masturbation) Females that don't enjoy sex, likely have less sex and lower fitness.

2) Orgasms cause the cervix to dip into a pool of semen possible enhancing semen transport.

I haven't yet read the book you mention but intuitively it seems that female orgasms are adaptive. I'll try to check out the book. It would be nice if someone could summarize the argument against the adaptive orgasm.

If you want to know what women want, read romance novels (seriously - and they actually gibe with some of the points in the NYT article). Or, as a shortcut, watch the version of Jane Eyre with Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester, and do exactly what he does (except for the part where he locks his deranged wife in the attic and lies about it. :-))

it is a mystery why men don't know what women want, because the information is out there and readily accessible. gifts (not necessarily expensive ones, but romantic ones) will take you far; so will appreciation and understanding and support and helping her feel attractive. (and do men want anything different?) the real mystery is why men don't DO what women want, and I mean that only semi-facetiously. I can think of a couple of reasons right off the bat, including psychology and patriarchy.

While this indeed does seem to be a just-so story, I think we ought to be careful not to dismiss all, or even much, of evolutionary psychology as such. Pinker in the Blank Slate persuaded me that such criticisms are generally lacking in evidence, and are often dogmatically driven (eg. Lewontin, Steven Rose)

I was wondering as I read this what "arousal" really meant. I know that in many "flight or fight" situations, men often get erections-a definite sign of arousal, but is it erotic or a sign of adrenalin.

If women have the sociological training not to like sex, or admit to it, to separate their sexual feelings from their conscious self, couldn't some of these plethysmograph readings not be measuring erotic arousal all of the time but signs of "flight or fight?" Just because certain scenarios might be erotic for men, some may be threatening to certain women. If there are feelings of anxiety, couldn't this also bring on a state of arousal not necessarily erotic?

Just throwing that out there. My other thought was how randomized these groups were, or were they somewhat homogenous? These studies might provide interesting avenues of study, but wow. I couldn't make any kind of conclusion from it.

to number 33

Seriously I'm kinda sick of the whole men just want sex crap.

I sometimes seriously wonder if I'm broken, or need to hand in my penis to some overarching Man-thority as sex to me is about number 8 on things I want.

oh well.

By Cat of Many Faces (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Easy. Women want three men at a time. One doing the dishes, one doing the laundry, and one to play with. Oh, and perhaps one to go to work, to pay for the other three...

@36: NOOOO!!!!! I'm about half way through reading Jane Eyre right now. Please tell me the book and the movie have nothing in common.

By Guy Incognito (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

The other donna has it almost right, just not quite enough men. It takes five.

What women really want are the Cartwrights. Little Joe to have fun with, Hoss for when we just want to be held and comforted, Adam for hot steamy sex, Ben for wisdom and to pay for all, Hop Sing to run the household and keep everyone in line.

donna beat me to it. My wife wants the house to be cleaner when she gets home than when she left it, and for the dishes to be washed. On my days off she also expects dinner.

I'm working on it.

The just so about the injury reducing response to rape would probably require rape to have been an important aspect of the environment in the past. Injury reduction makes sense, but perhaps its appearance in rape is just an evolutionary byproduct too. Given women's status as near chattel in marriage in the past, there may have been a lot of insistence on or accomodation to sex when the woman wasn't interested and perhaps was never interested in the partner. The response may have been adaptive in this more frequent aspect of their environment. There wouldn't seem to be an evolutionary advantage to turning it off during rape.

By Africangenesis (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

My girlfriend says I'm a female orgasm denialist.

Isn't there a division between physical arousal and emotional arousal? Am I being naive? I don't want to get too personal here, but I never saw the two things as related. How else, and you men are included in this, could you have sex with some one you don't even like or find attractive.

Most of us can (and, sadly, have)...

I'm amazed by the number of commenters who seem to think of men and women as separate species.
If you start by recognising that both phenotypes share a common genome, things like orgasm or arousal responses will easily be seen as vastly more similar than different.

I can't speak for all women, but I sure know the magic switches to turn Libbie on. In any order:

1. Magic tricks.
2. Chocolate.
3. Head.

I guess what I mean is that it seems like it could be a difference in the way men and women answer the question.

For instance, if I were asked if I was aroused by the monkeys I would probably say no even if I had physical signs of arousal because of the way that I would interpret the word "aroused". It would carry an implication that I intend to have sex.

My negative answer wouldn't be because I'm guilty about EVER wanting to have sex, but because it wouldn't be accurate given the implication of the word. Perhaps this is because admission of arousal = sexual consent for most women. I don't think this is about women feeling guilty about that, but rather attempting to be accurate when the declaration of arousal possibly has a different outcome and therefore the definition of arousal is different.

Then again, if I were asked very specifically if I had physical symptoms of arousal such as wetness etc. I would probably say yes.

That seems to me more or less a difference in the way that men and women learn to define arousal due to differences in the implied outcome of arousal, rather than a physical disconnect on the part of the women.

Dear God, male scientists can't figure out why they don't seem to get much sex, so they start hooking women up to machines and do the hypothesis thing?

It would be a lot cheaper to just ask the women and the successful men.

Then again, the mostly clueless get tenure by reporting the obvious to the completely clueless in some fields.

When it comes to men, the Sweet Potato Queens are quite emphatic about what they want. To wit: "The basic five men each woman should have in her life are (1) a man who can fix things, (2) a man you can dance with, (3) a man who can pay for things, (4) a man you can talk to and (5) a man to have great sex with. The great news is that four out of the five can be gay."

And guys, if you've never heard of the Sweet Potato Queens, watch out!

By William Gulvin (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Eddie, in case you missed it, PZ did recently have a thread about a godbot who does think that males and females are different species.

By Janine, Queen … (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Haven't read any of the previous comments (sorry, don't have the time), so maybe somebody has posted this link to mind hacks already: http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2009/01/corseting_female_sex.html

Excerpted from the above link: Neuroanthropology uses a great analogy that demonstrates why this is just bad spin:

One can imagine an article with the title, ‘What do diners want?’, which bemoaned the fickleness and impenetrable complexity of culinary preferences: Sometimes they want steak, and sometimes just a salad. Sometimes they put extra salt on the meal, and sometimes they ask for ketchup. One orders fish, another chicken, another ham and eggs.

One day a guy ordered tuna fish salad on rye, and the next, the same guy ordered a tandoori chicken wrap, hold the onions! My God, man, they’re insane! Who can ever come up with a unified theory of food preferences?! Food preferences are a giant forest, too complex for comprehension. What do diners want?!

You get my drift. The line of questioning is rhetorically time-tested (can we say clichéd even?) but objectively and empirically nonsensical. So many of these experiments seem to be testing a series of different, related, but ultimately distinct questions.

Can they all be glossed as, ‘What do women want?’ Yeah, sort of, but you’re going to get a hopeless answer.

And here's the neuroanthropology link: http://neuroanthropology.net/2009/01/24/what-do-these-enigmati-women-wa…

I haven't yet read the book you mention but intuitively it seems that female orgasms are adaptive. I'll try to check out the book. It would be nice if someone could summarize the argument against the adaptive orgasm.

Mike (#35): Haven't read the book yet (clearly need to) but based on reviews and interviews that I've read, her argument against the adaptive orgasm is pretty straightforward:

There is no evidence that women who have orgasms are more likely to reproduce, with more or healthier offspring, than women who do.

Lots of women don't have orgasms, or don't have them reliably. Lots of women don't learn to have orgasms (at all or reliably) until they're older: past their reproductive prime. Lots and LOTS of women don't have orgasms through intercourse alone: something other than the reproductive act is usually required for female orgasm to happen. And lots of women don't have orgasms without -- how shall we put this? -- technology that wasn't available until the late 19th/ early 20th century.

And there is no evidence that any of this confers a selective disadvantage.

Bonobo sex? Chicks on a plethysmograph watching bonobo sex? Oh my....
Rebecca @ 18,

Yay, more fuel for the "Women secretly want to be raped" fire. The author of the study certainly does not seem to support that misogynist nonsense,

I hate to tell you,but some women do.They love the thought,makes them totally crazy.Some take it further.

This whole "what do women want" thing is tiresome,and Im very glad in a way that they dont all want the same,half the fun is finding out what your present partner wants and doesnt want...:-)

And yes,I doubt a lot of females would raise their hand when asked "were you aroused by those bonobos fucking?"

PZ:

Unfortunately, that book doesn't tell me what women want, either. The conclusion is that the female orgasm is probably an evolutionary byproduct, and that adaptive explanations are inappropriate and unjustified. I suspect the same answer applies to the work on female arousal.

I hope you mean only this particular study on female arousal, not female arousal in general?? I also think it is more likely that arousal during unwanted sex is a byproduct of adaptive arousal during wanted sex.

Greta Christina:

Mike (#35): Haven't read the book yet (clearly need to) but based on reviews and interviews that I've read, her argument against the adaptive orgasm is pretty straightforward:
There is no evidence that women who have orgasms are more likely to reproduce, with more or healthier offspring, than women who do.

That's not really conclusive, since orgasms might have been adaptive in the past. For example, people with relatively large brains don't currently have a greater fitness AFAIK, but it seems very likely that they did at some point in the past.

It's also worth noting that Dr Lloyd has said that "there was no doubt in her mind that the clitoris was an evolutionary adaptation". I don't doubt it either, but do we actually have an experimental demonstration of clitorises increasing fitness in the present day? Lloyd seems to be using an inconsistent standard of evidence here.

windy @

It's also worth noting that Dr Lloyd has said that "there was no doubt in her mind that the clitoris was an evolutionary adaptation"

The clitoris and penis are essentially the same organ and evolve from the same genital tubercle under hormonal influence,if i remember correctly.

I think the female orgasm is not an evolutionary product at all,but a product of the advancing of human society,Neanderthal didnt give a flying fuck about his cavewomen having an orgasm,but in today's world,it might actually be an evolutionary advantage,and make a male more likely to reproduce,if he can keep a female interested by caring about her having an orgasm.

30% of females today are anorgasmic,if there was evolutionary pressure here,I doubt that would be the case.

What do women want?

To keep men so confused and at sea they can't get organized enough to mount an effective coup and take over. (The two things women do best is run the world, and let men think they run the world.)

Posted by: Rob Davidson | February 2, 2009 10:52 PM

While this indeed does seem to be a just-so story, I think we ought to be careful not to dismiss all, or even much, of evolutionary psychology as such. Pinker in the Blank Slate persuaded me that such criticisms are generally lacking in evidence, and are often dogmatically driven (eg. Lewontin, Steven Rose).

I disagree. I've read some of Steven Rose's writings and he *has* a point. I do not dismiss evolutionary psychology but the disagreement lies on how much of what we observe is evolutionary and how much due to environment. The same nature vs nurture.

From what I remember, he has two main objections: first is lack of strong evidence, i.e., arguments that come from small-scale studies on undergrads in some university. Second, the underlying assumption that natural selection is all-powerful and it can create any beneficial adaptation.

By the way, I am not too impressed by Pinker. He has some fairly good points but he has lots of sloppy arguments too.

By Lotharloo (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

I've found that the best way to find out what *ANY GIVEN* woman wants is to talk to her. If she was able to shed the societal notion that sex is bad, if she was able to find out just what pushes her buttons and if she also is uninhibited enough to talk to you about it, that's really the best way. If she's still stuck in the "good girls don't get aroused" mindset, all bets are off, of course.

This only applies to individuals, of course, but the idea that there is a single overarching thing that "women want" (or, for that matter, that "men want") is silly. :P

(Myself, though, I'm gay (and male), and sometimes, I'm glad I don't have to deal with this. ;))

clineas#58,

At the risk of betraying a poor memory after 4 decades, it is my recollection that the clitoris corresponds to the glans penis, the shaft to the labia minora and the scrotum to the labia majora.

By Africangenesis (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Posted by: Cat of Many Faces | February 2, 2009 11:20 PM

to number 33

Seriously I'm kinda sick of the whole men just want sex crap.

I sometimes seriously wonder if I'm broken, or need to hand in my penis to some overarching Man-thority as sex to me is about number 8 on things I want.

oh well.

I agree. Funny that if you are male and you're interested in say science more than sex then you are called other names. Maybe it's part of anti-intellectual air of US.

By Lotharloo (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Gosh, I'm having trouble quoting. Parts of what I posted are quotes.

By Lotharloo (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

AG @ 62,

and your point being?

Ssome of my blockquotes were fucked as well,flaw in the system??Probably just me....Thank you XXXX !

I'm not a woman, but I wager that there are plenty of women who want to have the ability to eat an infinite amount of chocolate and/or ice cream and not gain an ounce of weight.

@ 66,

I'm not a woman, but I wager that there are plenty of women who want to have the ability to eat an infinite amount of chocolate and/or ice cream and not gain an ounce of weight.

Yes,thats what gives the world shows like "The biggest loser".

There's a long-standing blockquote bug at Sb - which breaks the quote out of the box if it contains more than one notional paragraph (ie contains CR-LF). Eg:

Pretend quote para 1.

Pretend quote para 2.

Real end of blockquote.

What I've been doing for years here is to reduce whatever I need to quote to one paragraph - by including an ellipsis even for mere CR-LF situations. However, let's try fully functional paragraphs for a change:

Para 1 using explicit P tag.Para 2 using explicit P tag and no CR-LF.

Real end of P test.

Well that latter one worked on preview at any rate ...

What about culture? Did this study take into account culture? I don't think so, culture is hard to measure, but I would expect this result in a study conducted in the USA. The culture in the US is too hash on sex there.

What do I mean? Women that say that she likes sex she will be looked down as a "slut", the same is true for men that are not as sexual as their peers expect in witch case they would be labels as "sissy" or something. And this is true even here in Rio de Janeiro where we take sex much more naturally then in the US.

So I was not a bit surprised by this result, in fact was what I expected, I believe that both woman and men have the same level of sexual desire, but their cultural roles make them hide or overstate them.

By Victor Bogado (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Speaking of bugs, it turns out that archive navigation via means of categories is also broken. It can't go back beyond page 3 of a given category. To see the problem for yourself, either click the Category subject link at the top of any post directly or go into Archives (top menu) and look below "By Date" for "By Category" for one. Then try using previous links from the bottom of those summary pages and even faking a page=4 URL (it will wrap back to page 1's contents).

SEF @68, or, you could just use the <br> tag.

By John Morales (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

clineas#65,

I actually didn't have a point. I guess a more detailed exposition of the correspondence between the tissues of the sexes might lead to more mutual understanding. As someone else already mentioned, they are two phenotypes of the same genome.

By Africangenesis (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

clinteas at 03:11:
I hate to tell you,but some women do[want to be raped].They love the thought,makes them totally crazy.Some take it further.

Bullshit. No one can want to be raped by definition, since rape is an unwanted sexual assault. What some women want is a fantasy of rape and/or domination, but not rape.

Cuttlefish,

I was going to steal your Valentines poem and give it to my girl friend, unfortunately she is one of those rare females that really doesn't care for chocolate cake ;-)

To my despair she prefers "WHITE" cake, oh the sacrifices men must make to keep their women happy, I've had to learn to fake my pleasure in eating it.

By Fernando Magyar (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

I may be being stupid, because I don't know anything about biology at the level of detail that's necessary here; hoever, going on No.62's helpful taxonomy, surely this study wasn't measuring like for like?

We know that the inside of the vagina doesn't correspond exactly to sexual pleasure, and that in fact he vast majority of women do no achieve orgasm if only the vaginal wall is stimulated. This is in sharp contrast to men, in whom the glans and penal shaft are more or less the be all and end all of orgasm.

So how can the study claim to have taken similar measures of "arousal" for the male and female participants? I mean, even if I'm wrong about the male penile taxonomy, it's a fact that the clitoris is only the tip of a pretty big iceberg of underlying nerve tissue, stretching back beyond the anus and sideways almost down to the inside thigh. Why would taking blood flow measurements from one of the least sensitive parts of this array be definitive? Surely a more reliable measure of physical arousal would be to look at the system as a whole, as well as measuring heart rate, adrenalin and other hormonal flow etc. It would make for a more complicated experiment (and I'm not sure how sexy one would feel with quite that many electrodes poking out of one!), but would yield more reliable data, I should think.

Of course one has to take on board the cultural implications of how female desire is socialised and portraiyed, but the reality is you can't really separate that out of your data in any reliable way so it's tricky to draw conclusions based on it. It seems to me that the so called "split" that the author of the article talks about is just a sciency sounding cover for an underlying attitude that is at best "womena re too stupid to know what they want" and at worst "women want to be raped so that's ok".

The reality is that lots of us - men and women both - fantasise about doing things that in reality would be A Very Bad Idea(tm), be it pour a pot full of hor spaghetti bolognese over our boss or slash the tires of the guy who's just cut us off in traffic.

We even live out many of our more dangerous fantasies in controlled, safe environments: bungy jumping, BDSM sex, go-cart racing and swingers parties... Mixing physical and sexual dangers is a time honoured human pastime, so it's stupid to isolate one instance of it (female fantasies about rape) and run around making wide ranging conclusions.

As to what women want, I don't know; but this particular woman really wants people to stop generalising about women. Just doing this one seemingly little thing - try it, it's harder than you think - could change the world to a better place, instantly.

What do women want?

Everything.

@Libbie

I can make chocolate disappear with my head.

By mayhempix (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

if you want a book about "what women want"(strictly sexually) thats based on experimental evidence and not vague poetry or vague evopschycology check out a book I saw recommended on (a blog you used to link a lot) Feministe.

Its called "She Comes First". Good practical read.

But clearly reciting a little poetry or evolutionary psychology could help seal the deal.

It looks to me like vaginal lubrication and female orgasm are being used synomynously in this story. They are not the same thing, not even close. One does not mean the other is imminent either.

TheLady#75,

You make a valid point. I don't know if there is a male correlate to vaginal lubrication that would shed light on this. I'm pretty sure male prostate secretions are increased, but I don't think that is a correlate tissue to that involved in vaginal secretions at all. I see no reason to assume these secretions are "arousal", in any sense of "enjoying it".

By Africangenesis (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

At the probable risk of appearing even more crass and depraved than I already do,
a certain infamously catchy tune immediately started pounding in my brain.
But in my defense, I only changed a handful of words so any and all innuendo is purely the result of the reader's immoral craven imagination...

Instead of looking at evolution for the answer to what women want
try looking at devolution:

Lick It

Crack that lip
Give the lip the slip
Slip on a crack
Hold your momma's back

When the moment comes along
You must lick it
Before the cream sits out too long
You must lick it
When something's going strong
You must lick it

now lick it
into shape
shape it up
get straight
go forward
move ahead
try to detect it
it's not too late
to lick it
lick it good

When it's time to turn around
You must lick it
You will never live it down
Unless you lick it
You'll never get your way
Until you lick it

I say lick it
Lick it good

By mayhempix (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

@TheLady

Thank you for pointing out one (potentially) major flaw in this particular study that hardly anyone seems to address. I'm so tired of the women can't/won't report on their sexual desires. In the general population, maybe so. But this was a study with instruments placed in the vagina. I think anyone who would volunteer for that is probably pretty comfortable with her sexuality. I'm disappointed that the woman who conducted the study never mentioned that just maybe her instrument wasn't measuring what she thought it was measuring. Then again, maybe it just didn't get into the article.

"Bullshit. No one can want to be raped by definition, since rape is an unwanted sexual assault. What some women want is a fantasy of rape and/or domination, but not rape."

Thank you. I can't believe there are still people peddling these misogynistic rape-apologetics. One would think that people would immediately recognize the oxymoron that is "rape fantasy", but apparently justifying and excusing rape is a higher priority.

Men and women are clearly different species, for a start men are warm blooded, nobody whose feet are THAT cold can possibly be warm blooded.

By Peter Ashby (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

@83: I don't think you can argue that "rape fantasy" is an oxymoron; the important thing is for people to understand that the keyword is _fantasy_. It's OK to fantasise about stuff that you don't actually want to happen in reality.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

This is just a badly designed study. They equate lubrication with erections, and as equaling arousal. They implant a device *inside* their vaginas and then wonder why there is lubrication which the women are reporting is *not* arousal? (gee, could it be reaction/irritation to the device?) And conclude women must not know when they're aroused. *headdesk*

It reminds me of the first chimp facial recognition studies in which researches were so blinkered by their own biases they tested chimps ability to recognize *human* faces (not very good), it not occurring to them to test recognition of *chimp* faces, because *they* didn't recognize chimp faces.

That even intelligent men believe in the magic switch is very discouraging.

There are men that women find hot. Do these men get women aroused by finding a woman's magic switch and then turning on? No, they turn women on by being desirable - looking good, behaving sweetly. Until men in this culture learn how to see themselves as objects of desire for women, the way women have been trained to see themselves as objects of desire for men, this stupid idea will persist - that women are passive creatures, or like cars with dead batteries waiting to be jump-started - to be acted on rather than to act.

But right now it is consider an insult to masculine dignity for a man to just BE sexually attractive. To do so is to hand over agency to a woman. And every man is raised with the idea that a woman is your reward for DOING something, whether it's killing enemies or being clever enough to find just the right female horniness switch. And a reward can't have its own preferences and desires. So don't seriously ask women what they want - you might not approve of the answer - instead, look for the switch!

The whole "what do women" want question is entirely distorted by living in a patriarchal culture. So we shouldn't be surprised if evolutionary psychology just-so theories sound entirely plausible to most people.

It's OK to fantasise about stuff that you don't actually want to happen in reality.

I can see that some poeple here have a problem with women fancying rape play.
Now,the reality is,there are women out there that do,and play this out.Sorry if that is inconvenient for some in terms of their worldview,but its a reality.
Im actually going to the beach with one tomorrow.
Get over it.
Doesnt make them bad persons.

@88: I hope you didn't take my comment as a negative on any kind of sexual _play_; I was disagreeing with the claim @83 that "rape fantasy" is oxymoronic, which clearly it isn't. Surely we agree that a person (of either gender) can engage in fantasy or play-acting as they wish; and your friend at the beach can play however she wants to.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

"I don't think you can argue that "rape fantasy" is an oxymoron"

Rape, as was pointed out, by its very definition is an unwanted act. How then can one who is completely in control of what is happening in a fantasy have something happen that isn't wanted? That makes no sense.

Regardless of the content of the fantasy, the person enjoying it controls what happens. not so in actual rape, obviously.

There is no such thing as a "rape fantasy". Spend a little time around MRA rape-apologists and it becomes clear why this distinction is needed - they use such things to define rape right out of existence, which is both dishonest and dangerous.
___

"Doesnt make them bad persons."

Where did this come from? Where did *anyone* say that fantasies make someone a "bad person"?

I don't understand why this is so hard to grasp. No one fantasies anything that they don't want to happen in the fantasy. No one said this means it isn't "okay" to have such a fantasy, ffs.

Guy41 - ummm, what can I say but I'm really sorry. I assumed people reading this had already read/seen Jane Eyre. I don't think I've ever done a spoiler before, but it appears I've done the grandmother of all spoilers. :-( But don't worry, it's only one of the major plot twists in world literature...

@90: I think you may have misunderstood the meaning of "fantasy". You are effectively arguing that, because when someone dies on stage they aren't really being killed, that there is no such thing as a "death scene" in theatre. What exactly do you want to call "a fantasy of events which, if they occurred in reality rather than fantasy, would constitute rape?"

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

"Surely we agree that a person (of either gender) can engage in fantasy or play-acting as they wish; and your friend at the beach can play however she wants to."

No one said otherwise. The fantasies are not the problem, the oxymoron is. Amanda Marcotte brought up an interesting thought about such fantasies - that they might exist as a way for women, who spend their lives being conditioned to believe their sexuality is bad and wrong, to experience guilt-free sex.

This doesn't translate into "some women want to be raped", because, once again, rape requires the denial of the target's wishes.

Endor @ 90,

now this is an area that I would not normally discuss here,but if you insist...
Im of the opinion that anything goes between consenting adults within the boundaries of the law,and if you move away from the protecting veil of "fantasy" for a moment,let me tell you that there are people out there that live those fantasies,like it or not.

How then can one who is completely in control of what is happening in a fantasy have something happen that isn't wanted? That makes no sense.

Well,there are those out there that like to not be in control....

That even intelligent men believe in the magic switch is very discouraging.

Oh, don't be silly. No one actually believes in "the magic switch". We wish for there to be a magic switch, but everyone knows it doesn't exist. Sort of like 5- and 6- year olds with Santa Claus.

The whole "what do women" want question is entirely distorted by living in a patriarchal culture.

Again, don't be silly. Women's magazines delve into "what men want" all the time. That both men and women ask the question about the opposite sex has nothing to do with it being a patriarchal culture.

Sorry, didn't mean to pick on you, Nancy -- I thought those quotes were in two different posts. Nevertheless, I do find them both a bit silly.

By CtrypticLife (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

"I think you may have misunderstood the meaning of "fantasy"."

Personally, I think that some fail to grasp the gravity of the word rape, so they apply it where it doesn't belong.

"What exactly do you want to call "a fantasy of events which, if they occurred in reality rather than fantasy, would constitute rape?"

I have no idea. There's no consensus among feminists on what they should be called, though we do tend to agree that "rape fantasy" is just incorrect. And, like I said, the oxymoron is used against women as often as possible by those with ulterior motives (that's not an accusation against anyone here, that is representative of what I've encountered on feminist forums).

Endor, for the love of all that's merciful, will you please explain what people are supposed to call "a fantasy of events that, if they occurred in reality, would constitute rape", if it can't be called a "rape fantasy"? Did you process or grasp my analogy of "death scene" in theatre? Nobody actually dies there. Clearly we must purify the language by rewriting every reference to "scenes containing events which, if they occurred in reality rather than on stage, would involve somebody dying".

You seem to have taken the valid point that people don't _actually want to be really raped_ and concluded that _the phrase "rape fantasy" cannot exist_. The latter does not follow from the former.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

@96: who's "we"? Are you claiming to speak for _all feminists_?

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

"let me tell you that there are people out there that live those fantasies,like it or not"

First, I didn't say I didn't "like it". Second, I never denied that you are right - obviously there are people who like and live out these *FANTASIES*. Who cares? Adults can do whatever they like. Please don't think I'm arguing that they need to be stopped, or something equally silly.

I'm saying, this does not translate to "women want to be raped". It doesn't even translate to THOSE women want to be raped. They arrange it, they select the participants, whatever. This still does not equal rape.

"let me tell you that there are people out there that live those fantasies,like it or not"

First, I didn't say I didn't "like it". Second, I never denied that you are right - obviously there are people who like and live out these *FANTASIES*. Who cares? Adults can do whatever they like. Please don't think I'm arguing that they need to be stopped, or something equally silly.

I'm saying, this does not translate to "women want to be raped". It doesn't even translate to THOSE women want to be raped. They arrange it, they select the participants, whatever. This still does not equal rape.

@99: yes, in acting out a "rape fantasy" no actual rape occurs. Well spotted. Nobody dies in a "death scene". The problem is not the phrase "rape fantasy", it is people who think the existence of "rape fantasies" justifies actual rape, which it doesn't.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

"who's "we"? Are you claiming to speak for _all feminists_?"

*sighs* *headdesk* Bad faith baloney, table for one.

Cryptic95 - it is not "silly" at all to say that women's fantasies, and other aspects of women's and men's lives, are largely defined by patriarchy. As a dominant ideology, patriarchy, like capitalism, is an ocean in which we all swim, and it defines us in big and small, and often subconsciously.

btw, you would be hard-pressed to find a more obvious tool of patriarchy than the so-called "women's magazines" you mention to support your point.

"The problem is not the phrase "rape fantasy", it is people who think the existence of "rape fantasies" justifies actual rape, which it doesn't."

And people justifying actual rape via the existence of such fantasies are enabled by the oxymoron "rape fantasy". It's an imprecise term that is too easily used incorrectly.

@102: consider your words: `There's no consensus among feminists on what they should be called, though we do tend to agree that "rape fantasy" is just incorrect'. Your claim: that "we" (feminists) tend to agree that the phrase "rape fantasy" is incorrect.

I don't believe this claim. Citation?

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

Uh, Hillary Rettig? As a woman, if any man tried to reat me as many man has in a Jane Austin novel, I'd laugh hysterically and drop him, stat. I'm not a fucking character in a book.

"If you want to know what women want, read romance novels"

God I hope you're joking.

How 'bout this? "TREAT WOMEN LIKE PEOPLE."

There. That's it. Not hard.

Holy shit, I can't type today.

Just don't treat me like a fucking romance novel character. Please. That's just awful.

"I don't believe this claim."

I wasn't claiming anything on behalf of all feminists. I said feminists tend to agree - based on what I've witnessed personally - that "rape fantasy" is a clumsy, incorrect term. I thought that was clear, but since it apparently wasn't, apologies. I hope that clarified.

For source, try The Curvature, Shakesville, IBTP, and, iirc, Pandagon.

"Just don't treat me like a fucking romance novel character. Please. That's just awful."

Too right. Those novels speak of the deeply screwed up issues society creates around female sexuality. They're not a freaking how-to guide.

I read this, and thought it was strange that they measured female arousal by lubrication. I bet if they measured it by swelling of the clitoris they would have results that better matched the reporting.

Given women's status as near chattel in marriage in the past, there may have been a lot of insistence on or accomodation to sex when the woman wasn't interested and perhaps was never interested in the partner. - africangenesis

The big problem with evo-psych is that we actually know very, very little about social arrangements, and specifically gender relations, further back than a few thousand years; and what we can see from what we do know is that they can vary enormously - just compare contemporary Denmark and Saudi Arabia. In current and recent gatherer-hunter societies, there is/has been some gender role differentiation, but women are/were certainly not chattels in most such societies; and social norms often dictate(d) long periods post-birth when sex did not occur.

The lack of real information leads to the "just-so" stories, "explaining" (i.e. justifying) current stereotypes.

By Knockgoats (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

clinteas, a space goes after comas.

"clinteas at 03:11:
I hate to tell you,but some women do[want to be raped].They love the thought,makes them totally crazy.Some take it further."

NO. NO NO NO NO. Jesus fucking christ, NO. Do you go and rape women and then say, "YOU LIKE IT! YOU KNOW YOU DO!" NO NO NO NO. Don't be a fucking idiot.

Rape is UNWANTED SEX. Fantasy is NOT UNWANTED SEX. Jesus fucking christ, dude, think.

@108: that's clearer, but I think you might find "those feminists with whom I have discussed this issue, on these online fora, tend to agree..." would be even clearer. I suspect the majority of feminists have no particular view on the phrase. Citation would be needed if I claimed that as fact.

My position, just to clarify, is that:

Rape is horrible. "Rape fantasy" as a phrase is not any more objectionable than "death scene" in theatre, because neither implies that the event involved is supposed to really take place. The kind of idiot who would use the phrase "rape fantasy" to justify actual rape is the kind of asshole who will find some justification no matter _what_ you do to the language. I think that treating the phrase as the problem is simply ceding ground to said idiots. It's the idiots, not the phrase, that need to be confronted.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

@113: the bit you filled in in square brackets is not what clinteas said or implied; check again.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

Posted by: clinteas | February 3, 2009 9:49 AM

It's OK to fantasise about stuff that you don't actually want to happen in reality.
I can see that some poeple here have a problem with women fancying rape play.
Now,the reality is,there are women out there that do,and play this out.Sorry if that is inconvenient for some in terms of their worldview,but its a reality.
Im actually going to the beach with one tomorrow.
Get over it.
Doesnt make them bad persons.

---

Uuuh, FYI? If it's CONCENSUAL it's not rape. Fantasy play, including BSDM and "rape fantasy" is NOT RAPE. It's concensual fantasy sex. No one has said anyone has a problem with what women FANTASIZE about or what they choose to do in their own sex life. But FANTASY rape is not really rape because it is CONCENSUAL. Period, end of discussion.

A women who fantasizes about rape or engages in rape PLAY (notice these words, here? Fantasy, play?) does not want some strange man walking up to her in a dark alley and raping her, and that is what you seem to be implying here. That women who like FANTASY rape or fantasy PLAY actually want to get raped in real life.

No.

No.

NO.

I can't quote today. Or type.

95

Posted by: CtrypticLife | February 3, 2009 10:15 AM

That even intelligent men believe in the magic switch is very discouraging.
Oh, don't be silly. No one actually believes in "the magic switch". We wish for there to be a magic switch, but everyone knows it doesn't exist. Sort of like 5- and 6- year olds with Santa Claus.

The whole "what do women" want question is entirely distorted by living in a patriarchal culture.
Again, don't be silly. Women's magazines delve into "what men want" all the time. That both men and women ask the question about the opposite sex has nothing to do with it being a patriarchal culture.

Sorry, didn't mean to pick on you, Nancy -- I thought those quotes were in two different posts. Nevertheless, I do find them both a bit silly.

Uh. CtypticLife? Society makes women out to be The Other, or Secondary, all the time. Men is default. Women is secondary. This is kind of how the patriarchal society works.

clinteas,

Well, there are those out there that like to not be in control....

You're playing semantic games in a dangerous area, and simply inviting misunderstanding. Consensual submission is a form of control, and is clearly distinct from non-consensual submission.

Endor, it strikes me that you're equally guilty of semantic argumentation, even if unwittingly. You cannot argue against the use of mere words, whilst refusing to offer a viable alternative. If you wish to remove some percieved ambiguity then you have to move beyond simply dismissing a phrase which, for all that you find it distasteful, carries common currency. The fact is that any reasonable adult can make the distinction.

Anybody who cannot understand that rape fantasies exist is probably allowing themselves to be blinded by the weight of implications that first word carriers. However, anybody who cannot understand that rape play is entirely different to submission during rape is a very dangerous individual indeed.

Given that some formalisation of rape play language exists largely within a community for whom the establishment of consent is paramount and equally formal (i.e. the BDSM community), then it is odd that you might imagine that there are any genuinely negative consequences.

(Also, you also seem to be making the assumption that all rape play requires a female victim, and necessarily involves violent sex.)

Accepting that rape play can be utterly benign, even in its name, is important. It is also important to understand that such terms are not only the weapons of those who might seek to disempower women. If you allow them this, then you're helping them to muddy the waters of the debate.

Also, by undermining the legitimacy of a common term, you risk creating an alternative mechanism to generate exactly the kind of stigma around female sexuality which you earlier discussed.

Anybody who seeks to be an apologist for rape, or to justify the act, is clearly not going to be stopped by the invention of new language. It is, presumably, the notion of the act of rape play which they seek to subvert. Call it what you will, their argument will be identical, and identically wrong.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

Let's not use "rape fantasy" anymore. Let's just use BDSM, because it implies consent. Or "control fantasy" or perhaps "rough sex".

As a woman, the idea of not being in control is hot (so is the idea of being 100% IN control). But I don't want to be raped. There is a difference.

Then again, if I were asked very specifically if I had physical symptoms of arousal such as wetness etc. I would probably say yes.

I have no direct experience with this, but I'm wondering - for the female commenters, how easy is it to tell, without reaching down to check, that you're lubricating? It's certainly plausible that it might be less obvious than the male experience of one's pants becoming acutely too tight, so, especially if women are discouraged from being in touch with their sexuality, it might be considerably easier to miss the signs of physical arousal. Input?

It's less obvious than with men, obviously, Azkyroth, and I'd imagine for those women not in touch with their sexuality they may not always know the signs in the beginning stages of arrousal. However, it's not just about wetness. There are other signs. I'm trying to come up with words, but am having a difficult time. It's not that you feel wetness, exactly, but rather ... you're way more aware of yourself, if that makes sense.

"What exactly do you want to call "a fantasy of events which, if they occurred in reality rather than fantasy, would constitute rape?"

I have no idea. There's no consensus among feminists on what they should be called, though we do tend to agree that "rape fantasy" is just incorrect. And, like I said, the oxymoron is used against women as often as possible by those with ulterior motives (that's not an accusation against anyone here, that is representative of what I've encountered on feminist forums).

I understand the term "ravishment fantasy" is used in some circles to emphasize the difference. I suppose something like "disguised consent" would technically work, but that language lends itself to misinterpretation by apologists even more than "rape fantasy." "Illusion of nonconsent?"

However, anybody who cannot understand that rape play is entirely different to submission during rape is a very dangerous individual indeed.

That is a very comforting, and very dangerous thought. It's in line with the earlier "example" of rape consisting of "a strange man raping you in an alley".

Rape is not perpetrated only by strangers with clearly diagnosable boundary issues. Nor is the physical violation the central problem with rape - although of course in a culture that still draws so heavily on ideologies that view women as property the physical tends to be accentuated (think of the first thing they do to a woman who complains that she has been raped - check her body for evidence).

I'm usually on the fense as to the political use of language, and I'm not entirely sure that I agree with the idea that we need to expunge the phrase "rape fantasy" from the language. However I do agree that it is a problematic term, because what feminists comprehend by rape is the denial of will, agency, choice and consent to teh victim, whereas what is popularly understood by the term is, like I said, a less nebulous "thing" that is seen to need corporeal manifestation.

What this dichotomy means is that while the physical, corporeal kind of "rape" obviously cannot intrude into a fantasy session, BDSM, sexual role playing etc., what I would think of as "real" rape still can. And you don't have to be a crazed sex maniac to get the distinction wrong, just (to rather smugly round off the topic back to the original discussion) the sort of sex partner who longs for a magic switch, who wishes for a magical solution to the mystery of what a woman wants, one that is less messy and labour intensive than actually talking to her...

"That is a very comforting, and very dangerous thought. It's in line with the earlier "example" of rape consisting of "a strange man raping you in an alley".

Rape is not perpetrated only by strangers with clearly diagnosable boundary issues. "

I am the one who brought up that example. I'm aware that most rape victims are raped by people they know. I was just using an easy example -- ie, just because a woman FANTASIZES about some stranger coming up to them and raping them, it does not actually mean they want to be raped, nor does it mean they want some strange man coming up to them and taking control.

Just to clarify.

"The kind of idiot who would use the phrase "rape fantasy" to justify actual rape is the kind of asshole who will find some justification no matter _what_ you do to the language."

You're right. however, I see no need to aid and abet them. As you can see, I'm not alone in this respect.

+++

"Let's not use "rape fantasy" anymore. Let's just use BDSM, because it implies consent. Or "control fantasy" or perhaps "rough sex"."

BDSM fantasy is the most accurate, I think. While BDSM consists of much more than just "rape fantasies", it does seem that such would fit under that definition.

++

"You cannot argue against the use of mere words, whilst refusing to offer a viable alternative."

I see your point. The reason I didn't offer an alternative is because, at that point, i couldn't think of one any "better". That said, BDSM fantasy is far more accurate than "rape fantasy".

"If you wish to remove some percieved ambiguity then you have to move beyond simply dismissing a phrase which, for all that you find it distasteful, carries common currency. The fact is that any reasonable adult can make the distinction."

I think you seriously overestimate "any reasonable adult". Rape culture directly refutes the notion that "any reasonable adult" *can* tell the difference. If a woman is know to have such fantasies and then is actually raped, it will be immediately dismissed as "she wanted it", ensuring that the rapist goes free (of course, this doesn't differ from any other rape case because there's always some excuse to blame the victim, rather than punish the criminal). And this is why I consider the phrase dangerous - it will be used against such a person, at every opportunity.

A more accurate phrase might help reduce the immediate victim-blaming.

This is more than a single woman finding the phrase "distasteful", and I definitely do no appreciate such a serious issue being reduced to that. There are much larger issues at play here, than mere "PC word policing".

marilove, I hitched a ride on your example precisely because it is "easy", and oh-so-prevalent; I didn't in any way assume that your personal understanding of rape is limited to those circumstances.

The difference here is that the measurement methods were too different between men and women. The women had something inserted to measure increased blood flow, which could easily be the result of anger or fear. The test for men's physical arousal was much, much less sensitive. It's very possible that men also had minorly increased blood flow in response to the same things s women.

If men do have better agreement between the physical and mental sides of arousal, it's probably not because they can see what's going on, but because everyone else can so they must learn to control the physical side of it.

Stephen Wells:

@113: the bit you filled in in square brackets is not what clinteas said or implied; check again.

He kind of did imply that, check what Rebecca says in #18. I agree with you about the phrase "rape fantasy" but I think it's important not to conflate that with "wanting to be raped".

Rape culture directly refutes the notion that "any reasonable adult" *can* tell the difference. If a woman is know to have such fantasies and then is actually raped, it will be immediately dismissed as "she wanted it", ensuring that the rapist goes free (of course, this doesn't differ from any other rape case because there's always some excuse to blame the victim, rather than punish the criminal). And this is why I consider the phrase dangerous - it will be used against such a person, at every opportunity.

Here, you've identified the real problem, and yet you want to address a serious matter of societal ignorance via a fairly trivial piece of language. However you seek to neutralise the language of BDSM roleplaying, it will not actually address the very real deficiencies of the criminal justice system and society at large.

A more accurate phrase might help reduce the immediate victim-blaming.

I don't know about that, because I think that any confusion is more ingrained than simply being the caustic affect of a clumsy phrase. A much better thing to do would be to try to reduce the number of victims by better educating people in how to seek, give, and understand consent.

Violent sexual predators will always exist, and can only be addressed via effective policing and prosecution. In that case, there are problems to be addressed, but they run much deeper than any particular piece of language. There should be no reason for a judge or jury to seek out excuses for rapists.

On the other hand, a large number of rapes occur because consent is assumed, or because a person is unwilling to accept that consent was withdrawn or witheld. In those cases, by better educating people in how to approach sexual relationships - for instance by encouraging people to seek proper, positive confirmation of consent - it may actually be possible to prevent acts of rape. People need to be taught that consent is a contract, which must be willingly given, never assumed, and always inviolate.

Equally, better understanding of consent may well lead to better informed juries and judges.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

I thought as much, TheLady, but wasn't sure. :) For the record, I agree with you completely!

And Endor, too, regarding "rape culture" and why "rape fantasy" can be a problem.

It's ironic, isn't it? We, as women, aren't supposed to want sex. We're not supposed to get horny. We'll be labled as sluts, if we do and are. But as soon as we're raped, we were askin' for it and of course we want it!

That's how "rape culture" and the patriarchy works.

@Catgirl

If men do have better agreement between the physical and mental sides of arousal, it's probably not because they can see what's going on, but because everyone else can so they must learn to control the physical side of it.

That is a good point. Part of what it is to be a 14 yo boy is learning to stop physically reacting every 5 minutes. I can vividly remember sitting in some class at school and willing my hard on to go down before the lesson ended and I had to get up from my desk. That it was there was not voluntary, my mind simply wandered (must have been maths).

By Peter Ashby (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

PZ, nice of you to give the answer on February 3, to
"What Do Women Want?", posted February 2.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, though, and admit that if I had the choice between a country with free health care and great beer, and one that had neither of those things but that claimed to possess an imaginary, invisible, intangible ghost, I'd go with the ghostless one with health care and beer.

Thanks.

By ThirtyFiveUp (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

a) Men can be victims of sexual crimes, and be further victimised via the same process of innuendo and injustice.
b) Women can hold equally damaging views about the sexuality of other women.
c) Blaming this on a notional patriarchy does very little, other than to suggest that this is a problem of and caused by men, rather than a wider societal and institutional problem. (That the historical roots of apologism for rape might lie in sexism and misogyny, doesn't change the fact that many women have become equally indoctrinated to those views.)

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

catgirl @#128

If men do have better agreement between the physical and mental sides of arousal, it's probably not because they can see what's going on, but because everyone else can so they must learn to control the physical side of it.

It has a mind of its own.

Oh the poor menz, Bernard! *eye roll* I was waiting for that.

Noticing and discussing our obviously patriarchal society does not mean that we are ignoring the fact that women can be sexist too ... because of our patriarchal society.

Whenever we discuss this stuff, do we have to put a disclaimer?

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am aware that men can be raped too, and yes I am aware that women can be sexist too, and yes I am aware that sexism can hurt men.

There, feel better now?

gifts (not necessarily expensive ones, but romantic ones) will take you far; so will appreciation and understanding and support and helping her feel attractive

Please don't speak for all women. We're not all like you. I'd always choose an attractive poor man over some guy who gives me 'romantic' gifts but lacks basic hygiene, is twice my age, or has too much hair on his body and not enough on his head.

And I really wish men would focus more on making themselves attractive, instead of helping me to feel attractive. I don't want a man that I only care about my own appearance and not about his so he can just let himself go.

You can like a man for whatever reason you want, but don't assume that all women like the same things that you do. Over-generalization is the problem in the first place.

Let's not use "rape fantasy" anymore. Let's just use BDSM, because it implies consent. Or "control fantasy" or perhaps "rough sex".

As a woman, the idea of not being in control is hot (so is the idea of being 100% IN control). But I don't want to be raped. There is a difference.

I see your point. The reason I didn't offer an alternative is because, at that point, i couldn't think of one any "better". That said, BDSM fantasy is far more accurate than "rape fantasy".

I would consider this a misleading and overbroad use of "BDSM" personally, given that to most people familiar with the concept it has limited correspondance to mental imagery or roleplays simulating (an idealized, eroticized version of) the (stereotypical) experience of being "raped." Really, the only common element is the (voluntary) surrender of control.

The reason I didn't offer an alternative is because, at that point, i couldn't think of one any "better". That said, BDSM fantasy is far more accurate than "rape fantasy".

No, it's much less accurate to use for actual rape fantasies, since BDSM fantasies are a much broader category of mostly consensual interactions.

Noticing and discussing our obviously patriarchal society

Nor does it mean the patriarchal society causes the fantasies. I don't think you've established cause and effect.

Moreover, my initial response to Nancy was in response to her claim that the patriarchal society distorts the issue of "what women want". If that's the case, it also distorts the issue of "what men want". Men tend to have far less room for variation in US culture than women do, and less room to acceptably want different things.

By CrypticLife (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

Oh the poor menz, Bernard! *eye roll* I was waiting for that... DISCLAIMER... There, feel better now?

How very patronising and pissy of you.

In the context of talking about the accuracy of language, I would have thought it was a rather important point to make. It is rather arguable that any of us live in what might be classically called a patriarchy any more. Using the term simply serves to minimise the collective responsibility of modern society (and the male and female members thereof) by introducing an archaic and not altogether appropriate concept.

Actually, moving beyond the term patriarchal might be helpful to work out why very personally empowered women can still spout the same kind of misogynistic gibberish about rape victims as can misogynistic men. Unless, of course, you simply want to argue that such women have become masculinized (as though masculinity necessarily equates to sexism).

Actually, the dividing lines on attitude to rape are as much generational, political, or socio-economical, as by gender. Patriarchy doesn't begin to capture that nuance.

You can't possibly fail to notice the inherent contradiction of discussing institutional sexism and misogyny, whilst continuing to bandy terms like patriarchy and refering to all victims of rape as female, and perpetrators as male. On the one hand, you give undeserved gravity to a trivially understood term, on the other, dismiss a not dissimilar (but I would argue, more important) concern from somebody else.

It takes but a little care to use the much more appropriate gender neutral terms in a discussion such as this. Lest anybody misunderstand.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

Actually, this is feminism 101, CrypticLife.

" It is rather arguable that any of us live in what might be classically called a patriarchy any more."

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, oh that's rich.

Just wach the superbowl commercials, please! Thanks.

"No, it's much less accurate to use for actual rape fantasies, since BDSM fantasies are a much broader category of mostly consensual interactions."

It can't be "mostly consensual" -- it either is consensual or it's rape.

Rape fantasies, I think, go under BDSM because it's basically a "control fantasy" -- but it's always consensual. If it's not consensual, it's rape. Period.

"You can't possibly fail to notice the inherent contradiction of discussing institutional sexism and misogyny, whilst continuing to bandy terms like patriarchy and refering to all victims of rape as female, and perpetrators as male. "

Also, you do get that we're talking about women in this post, right? That this post is about women? I mean, I thought that was obvious.

"No, it's much less accurate to use for actual rape fantasies, since BDSM fantasies are a much broader category of mostly consensual interactions."

It can't be "mostly consensual" -- it either is consensual or it's rape.

Rape fantasies, I think, go under BDSM because it's basically a "control fantasy" -- but it's always consensual. If it's not consensual, it's rape. Period.

I assume what windy meant was that most BDSM fantasies do not engage suspension of disbelief in order to create the appearance of non-consensuality for one or more of the participants, as rape fantasies do.

This is somewhere in the gray area between splitting hairs and advanced particle physics research.

Actually, this is feminism 101, CrypticLife.

marilove, there's not a lot I can do with that statement -- I don't know whether you're agreeing with me, or disagreeing, or on what basis. Since "feminism" can likely have multiple definitions (including a politicized agenda), I'm not sure if you're talking about an actual finding or a rhetorical stance.

By CrypticLife (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

"Blaming this on a notional patriarchy does very little, other than to suggest that this is a problem of and caused by men"

WRONG. Apparently, we need an additional disclaimer:

PATRIARCHY IS A SYSTEM. NOT A GENDER.

Repeat as many times as necessary for it to sink in. To blame patriarchy is not to blame *men*, patriarchy hurts *everyone* (see VH1's "Tool Academy").

A woman wants one man who can anticipate and fulfill her many needs and desires.

A man wants many women who can anticipate and fulfill his one need and desire.

Thank you, thank, don't forget to tip your waitress.

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

"It is rather arguable that any of us live in what might be classically called a patriarchy any more."

Its only arguable if you're privileged enough to not have to notice how incredibly tone-deaf that sentence is.

It would be great if we could walk some miles in other people's shoes. That would go a long way toward dispelling privileged notions on what the world is like to other groups.

"A woman wants one man who can anticipate and fulfill her many needs and desires.

A man wants many women who can anticipate and fulfill his one need and desire."

That's for illustrating what I mean when I say patriarchy hurts everyone. (yeah, I get it, it's a "joke").

how is it that feminists got the rep for hating men, when its clear who really thinks so little of them?

"It is rather arguable that any of us live in what might be classically called a patriarchy any more."

It is true that the society in which most Westerners live has become substantially less overtly patriarchal other the last couple of generations.

Mayhempix@81

Or Communism?

What socialist nation lights up at night?
This country of Communist delight.
Degrade me in Belgrade, ohhhhh!
I love ya.
Tie me up, in Yu go-
-slavia.

This country's a bitch when the lights go down;
There's a socialist disease that's going around.
I lick my lips, cause I'm American genes;
Oh you tease me so, you hot Slovenes!

(Tell 'em girls!)

I go, we go, Yu go slavia.
It's so sweet...ohhhh!
Remember Tito?
Yu go slavia!
I go, we go, Yu go slavia.

When I see your roadblocks, I get high.
Restrain me, with your pounding thighs, ohhhh!
Hold me, in your repessive regime!
You're the dictatorship of my dreams.

I go, we go, Yu go slavia.
It's so sweet...ohhhh!
Remember Tito?
Yu go slavia!
(Let me be your Slav!)
I go, we go, Yu go slavia.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, oh that's rich.

Just wach the superbowl commercials, please! Thanks.

Always good to see someone avoiding the meat of entire post, and slicing out an insignificant quote to ridicule for their own ends.

I don't live in the US, but I will willingly concede that sexism is unfortunately alive and well in the UK. However, none of that really has anything to do with the main body of my post, which you conveniently ingored. I acknowledge sexism - casual and institutional - but I deny the existance of a simplistic patriarchy. It is more complex, and in many ways, worrying than that.

Anyway, all of this leads away from your own casual sexism in the discussion of rape; namely your careless minimization of the role of men as victims of sexual crime, and the role of women as enablers and perpetrators. Feel free to use gender neutral language in future.

-- And just before I hit Post, I see your latest comment:

Also, you do get that we're talking about women in this post, right? That this post is about women? I mean, I thought that was obvious.

And you do realise that only one of those three points that you originally rode roughshod over was actually a specific appeal that men be included as victims of rape, and in response to a specific message of your own making very general statements about the treatment of rape victims? Presumably, you also realise that the other two were specifically addressing the inappropriate use of the term patriarchal? I mean, it is pretty obvious...

PATRIARCHY IS A SYSTEM. NOT A GENDER.

I know! You might notice that I referred to what might be classically called, because I personally find that there term is equally as loaded with implication and prejudice as the thing which it seeks to describe (and on all sides). I very clearly stated that I accept the existance of casual and institutional sexism, and it is very obvious in the various gender gaps we see in society.

Maybe, I wasn't clear enough in my initial rejection of the term - I disagree with its use by some feminist theorists as a description of modern society. I think that the notion of patriarchy is an overstatement of one aspect of a societal structure that is generally resistant to change and designed to preserve the status quo for a privileged hegemon. Societies where gender gaps are a product of antiquity preserved via financial self-interest, but also generational prejudice, anti-liberalism, and social inertia. I see the issue as very similar to institutional and casual racism in the UK, which is preserved as much by economic as by social factors.

I understand what the term seeks to describe, but I think it fails. Feel free to disagree, but I have explained why, and I don't need to be given any more remedial lessons in feminism. Possibly, I'm doing the term a disservice, but to me it carries connotations of anti-masculine cultural feminists, and I don't appreciate it.

Anyway, this preoccupation over my use or abuse of a word has rather successfully derailed this thread...

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

"It is true that the society in which most Westerners live has become substantially less overtly patriarchal other the last couple of generations."

Less overt, how? Because last I checked, PETA thinks it's a-okay to have sexist adds to promote veganism, and the average joe who watches superbowl thinks a GoDaddy commercial is HILARIOUS!

I assume what windy meant was that most BDSM fantasies do not engage suspension of disbelief in order to create the appearance of non-consensuality for one or more of the participants, as rape fantasies do.

yep. I meant that most of the individual fantasies in that category are probably about consensual sex, not that an act can be partly consensual.

Even if it's a bit hard to figure out how "non-consensual" applies to fantasy, I think it's a disservice to pretend there's no difference between a rape fantasy and most BDSM fantasies in this respect. If we only use "BDSM fantasy" out of fear that "rape fantasy" will be misused, that could backfire since many people do want to fulfill their BDSM fantasies in real life, and the rape apologists could use this to argue that women secretly want their rape fantasies to be fulfilled too.

"I acknowledge sexism - casual and institutional - but I deny the existance of a simplistic patriarchy."

Thanks for showing your privilige. Next?

"Possibly, I'm doing the term a disservice, but to me it carries connotations of anti-masculine cultural feminists, and I don't appreciate it."

Aah, I missed that the first time. Now it's all so clear. You think feminism is anti-masculine. Oh boo-ooooh.

As someone in the polyamory community, I can say that I've met just as many women as men who want multiple partners (for themselves *and* their partners). But that's not only anecdotal evidence but obviously involves a self-reporting group as well.

I totally see your point, windy, and to be honest I don't have anything personally wrong with "rape fantasy" but I also see how such a term could be harmful. I think I like "power play" the best. Because in the end, it really is about power and submission, and not really rape.

Endor #90:

Rape, as was pointed out, by its very definition is an unwanted act. How then can one who is completely in control of what is happening in a fantasy have something happen that isn't wanted? That makes no sense.

How can someone fantasize about winning the lottery, since that's by definition something that happens by chance, and in a fantasy the person is in charge of what will happen?

(I am not equating rape to winning the lottery in any other respect...)

#55 --thanks

I'd like to see information about mammals in general and female orgasm. I always figured that the occurrence was widespread and thus if maintained in many species it was most likely adaptive. But I really don't know.

Another point is that females can have less refractory period and multiple orgasms which also plays into the idea of assisting sperm transport since if the hypothesis is true then the orgasm would need to occur post ejaculatory.

Interesting topic...

Less overt, how?

Like, for instance, the withdrawal of the spousal rape defence - entirely created so that men could have dominion over their wives. The introduction of equal opportunity acts which enshrine the ideal of equality in law.

The failure of spousal rape laws to protect people are a product of sexism and prejudice via inforcement agencies. The will of society is reflected in the law, but fails to assert itself because the law is not applied.

The failure of equality in the workplace legislation is more do with the dominance of economic self-interest than male self-interest. Once again, the will is there in many respects, but fails because of minority self-interest coupled to institutionalised prejudice.

Thanks for showing your privilige. Next?... Aah, I missed that the first time. Now it's all so clear. You think feminism is anti-masculine. Oh boo-ooooh.

So, you have nothing better to do than bait people you think are are anti-feminist? Very good.

I was pointing the finger at cultural feminists specifically, radical feminists more generally. Feel free to ignore that also...

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

Digging around in my library for a vaguely-remembered study, I noticed a citation to a 1975 article in Psychology Today (a pop magazine, not a journal) involving an extremely similar study (minus the bonobos), reaching the same extremely vague conclusions.

Apparently sexologists, like most of the rest of us, like to do the same things over and over...

That study I couldn't find involved hooking women up to plethysmographs and related hardware and performing various sorts of stimuli. The part that stuck in my mind was that the instruments regularly indicated clinical indications of climax (vaginal contractions, etc) but the women reported they had not perceived any orgasms.

It is not uncommon for women to demonstrate a marked degree of vaginal vasocongestion and lubrication and yet report no feelings of sexual arousal. ... some women do not easily reach climax or even know when they have.

-- Milton Diamond, The World of Sexual Behavior: Sexwatching, p. 35, 88

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

PZ, I think you're going to find that human sexual behavior is wound very tightly around twisty maze of matter in the homo sapiens neocortex, which as you know is weirder than others. The answer to the question "What do women/men want?" is most likely this: "They want to be happy."

Naturally, the obvious followup question is more difficult to answer.

Good grief, what do women want? Seriously?

As someone said upstairs, the answers are right before your faces.

And it's not Mr. Rochester for most women, sorry to all the Jane Eyre fans. But another Jane points to what the vast majority of women want:

Mr. Darcy.

mandrake, as a slutty mcslutt and damn proud of it, i am a-okay with multiple partners. i'd probably be in the poly community (i have many friends who are) except that i need a lot of alone time and don't even particularly like dating one person half the time and am thus usually single. and slutty. and awesome. ;)

The part that stuck in my mind was that the instruments regularly indicated clinical indications of climax (vaginal contractions, etc) but the women reported they had not perceived any orgasms.

Assuming that they were truthfully self-reporting, then it rather begs the question of how far one can legitimately connect those physiological measurements to any meaningful defintion of orgasm?

Perhaps, if you stuck enough probes in enough places, then such subtle signifiers of male arousal would become evident under similar conditions? Is there a case to wonder whether this is a meaningful effect at all?

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

@91 (Hillary Rettig): Don't worry about it. I figured something like that was going on. Your "spoiler" was only about as bad as telling me the football-shaped package under my Christmas tree is indeed a football.

By Guy Incognito (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

"Like, for instance, the withdrawal of the spousal rape defence - entirely created so that men could have dominion over their wives. "

Uh, yeah, except of course that a large percentages of rapes aren't even reported, and when they are, the woman's intentions are questioned? And what about A police chief telling his students that "women want the dick, even when they say no."

Yeah, less overt my ass.

And what about our military, eh? Do you know how many men rape women, both soldier women and civilians? Do you know how often these rapes are reported? Almost never. Just do a google search for "rape military" and you'll see the stats.

Less overt my fucking ass.

"The failure of equality in the workplace legislation is more do with the dominance of economic self-interest than male self-interest. "

ALSO LOLOLOLOL. Yay for men ignoring their obvious privilege! Yay for a man trying to tell a woman that we are no longer in a patriarchal society any longer! Are you kidding me?

"“In 2003, Congress began requiring the Department of Defense to report the number of sexual assault cases on file. In 2005, military criminal investigators received 2,374 allegations of sexual assault involving members of the armed forces worldwide. “That number is a 40 percent increase from 2004. The ‘04 number is a 25 percent increase from 2003, so that’s a 65 percent increase in two years.”"

As of 2003 they are no required to keep a report of sexual assaults. 2003.

"Ms. Magazine online also has an article about rape statistics in the U.S. military. Lara Friedrich and Anne Decleene write: “In May, Sanchez proposed legislation to replace the military’s antiquated sexual- assault laws — enacted in the 1950s — with the type of civilian laws now in use at the federal level and in 38 states. Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice doesn’t recognize date or acquaintance rape, and it still places undue emphasis on a woman’s behavior rather than on the perpetrator’s, according to Sanchez.”"

SOURCE

Yeah, we totally don't live in a patriarchal society. I mean, you don't just have to look at our own military to see it, right? I mean, it's not obvious or anything...

Come the fuck on man. Stop being an idiot.

Also, please read some stats on rapes and get back to me on this no longer being a "patriarchal society" and stop talking out of your priviliged ass.

Reporting to Police
60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
Reporting has increased by 1/3 since 1993.
Learn more reporting statistics

About Rapists
Approximately 73% of rape victims know their assailants.
Only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.

Yep. Totally not in a patriarchal society any longer, because obviously all rapes are taken seriously, and obviously a woman's motives are never questioned when she reports a rape!

"Yay for men ignoring their obvious privilege! Yay for a man trying to tell a woman that we are no longer in a patriarchal society any longer!"

It's obvious to us, it's clearly not obvious to (some of) them. Which is of course just one more benefit of privilege: you get to both be totally blind to the reality going on around you while at the same time being certain that those that live it all day every day are wrong about their own lives.

+++

"How can someone fantasize about winning the lottery, since that's by definition something that happens by chance, and in a fantasy the person is in charge of what will happen?"

You'll need to dumb this down for me. I don't understand how this relates to what I said.

A rape fantasy, in my experience, focuses on the force-related aspect of rape. It could be as simple as pretending the sub doesn't know the dom during their usual bondage play. As such, it has about as much to do with real rape as Star Trek has to do with the real Navy.

It's mind boggling, Endor.

I mean, Bernard, when was the last time you were walking down the street at 5am, in a coat with a hood, and jeans, hardly sexytime, and got stopped by some dick in a truck? "Sweeetie, hey sweetie, do you need a ride? You shouldn't be out alone in the cold, honey! Come take a ride with me!" Yeah, this was a regular thing when I used to take public transportation.

Hmm, Bernard? When did you ever feel like a piece of meat because you walked on a bus and got gropped by some disgusting asshole sitting next to you, and then the male bus driver just decides to ignore it and kick YOU off when you complain? Hmmm, Bernard?

And and this was just fucking rich: "The failure of equality in the workplace legislation is more do with the dominance of economic self-interest than male self-interest. "

I mean, obviously you think this because it only benefits you, right? Of course! You're not getting paid something like 73 cents on the dollar, right? So who cares, it has nothing to do with the patriarchy. Uh-huh.

Are you gonna tell me that racism doesn't exist, now, because we have a black president?

""How can someone fantasize about winning the lottery, since that's by definition something that happens by chance, and in a fantasy the person is in charge of what will happen?"

You'll need to dumb this down for me. I don't understand how this relates to what I said. "

I don't know if the lottery connection really works, but she (?) was just explaining that it's a fantasy and humans fantasize about things all the time that they can't have or don't necessarily want. Fantasy =/= real desires. Like, group sex is a great thing to fantasize, or watch porn about, but eh, I don't think I'd want to involve myself in such a thing in real life. It'd be more work than it is likely worth, ya dig?

Sexual fantasies very rarely equal real life.

"A rape fantasy, in my experience, focuses on the force-related aspect of rape. "

And this, basically. It's a totally hot fantasy, one that, as a woman, I've had. I've also had the fantasy of being the one in control, and forcing my partner (of any sex) into submission, etc. It's a hot fantasy. But I don't want to rape, nor do I want to be raped.

Also, for full disclosure because whatever, I've fantasized about being the man in the situation, but I don't REALLY want to be a man. I quite like being a woman. But switching gender roles, etc., can be fun. It's just a fantasy!

That said, I don't have the patience for most of BDSM. Too much work, man!

Less overt, how? Because last I checked, PETA thinks it's a-okay to have sexist adds to promote veganism, and the average joe who watches superbowl thinks a GoDaddy commercial is HILARIOUS!

Do you deny that the number of institutional and cultural barriers to women's success and full participation in society has been substantially reduced (I realize it has not become zero, and this is a concern but not germane to my argument) in the past two generations?

"I acknowledge sexism - casual and institutional - but I deny the existance of a simplistic patriarchy."

Thanks for showing your privilige. Next?

Perhaps you could define what you mean by "patriarchy," then, because you keep derisively dismissing our focus on institutional oppression of women.

Reduced in some ways but nowhere near zero. Just look at our military, which still has a whole load of problems. And the fact that gender norms are still norms. And the fact that we still have an issue with this whole gay/lesbian thing because it doesn't generally fall into those gender norms. And because I can't turn on the TV without being bombarded with out-right sexism and misogyny. And the fact that only last year I saw an article or two about how women can't really be funny and it was taken seriously.

And the fact that my right to make choices about my body is STILL being debated on to this day. And the fact that a pharmacist can tell me he or she can't dispense birth control because of his or her religious beliefs (ie, patriarchal religious beliefs).

And, the most fucking obvious point and the point I am surprised that regular PZ readers don't notice:

Christianity and other patriarchal religions are still Number One in our society.

That alone is proof that we still live in a patriarchal society! Have you read the bible? Have you listened to the pope? They still have a LOT of clout in this society.

Oh, and this:

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/01/29/a-story-in-pictures/

Look at those pictures and tell me we don't live in a patriarchal society. The fact that a BUNCH OF MEN signed away women's rights, and the fact that in 2009 we still have to make laws regarding equal pay and equal rights in the workforce?

Uh. Yeah. Obvious patriarchal society is FUCKING OBVIOUS.

"Perhaps you could define what you mean by "patriarchy," then, because you keep derisively dismissing our focus on institutional oppression of women."

You hit the nail on the head. The fact that you are saying it's "less overt" is what I had a problem with, considering that, for me, A WOMAN, it is not "less overt" since, you know, I have to deal with this society every day as a woman. Our rape statistics ALONE goes to show how not "less overt" it is. The fact that being a Christian is DEFAULT in our country alone goes to show how not "less overt" it is.

Marilove, whoever it is you're having this argument with, would you mind actually having it with him/them, instead of directing it at us?

Reduced in some ways but nowhere near zero.

I believe that's perfectly consistent with the use of the word "less," yes.

Additionally, people's internalized and (however thinly) veiled prejudices are specifically what I intended to preclude commenting on with the use of the term "overt."

Sexual fantasies very rarely equal real life. ... It's a hot fantasy. But I don't want to rape, nor do I want to be raped.

That's fine. Playing out the fantasy in a controlled setting is what makes it fun, a bit like how playing "Operation" is fun but doing real surgery isn't. (I'm really reaching with my analogies. Sorry.) Real rape is not hot at all.

Too much work, man!

Well, BDSM doesn't have to involve elaborate playacting and gadgets. Those are fun on occasion, but yeah, it'd be a bit much every time.

Marilove106 - I'm sure we agree more than we disagree. The second half of my statement talked about appreciation, support, etc. Obviously people are individuals with individual tastes - and of course romance novels like much else in our society are tainted by patriarchy - but they don't sell in the bazillions for nothing. btw, Pride & Prejudice is all about treating individuals as individuals instead of stereotypes, so you picked a really bad example to illustrate your point...

oops, you didn't mention P&P by name, but the same holds for all Austen novels - and for feminist victorian literature in general: it's all about the individual and her unique rights and needs.

and let me just mention, as perhaps the only Pharynguloid who is also a member of a chapter of Romance Writers of America, that romance novels have evolved with the culture. the power differential (strong alpha man / weak woman) is still present but diminished - greatly diminished in some cases - and whereas in the old days, many novels included "love" scenes we would now define as rape or date rape, no mainstream publisher would publish such scenes now. // romance novels are also now incredibly diverse - we have NASCAR romances, urban ones, supernatural ones, along with traditional historicals - and as a special treat for Pharynguloids, here is an entire series where a nerd is the sexy male love interest:

http://vickilewisthompson.com/nerdnotes.html

btw, those who wish to see some of the real-life effects of patriarchy on (American) men should read the psychologist Terrence Real's books on male depression and isolation. Patriarchy basically labels components of the human experience as "male" and "female" (including many traits that have nothing to do with sex), and severely aggrandises the former and severely deprecates the latter. It's ubiquitous, although we've done good work as a society and, in many cases, individuals.

My own studies on female arousal and orgasm have been inconclusive, despite almost four decades of continuous, intense study and associated experimental protocols. Consequently, I perceive the need to both intensify my experimental schedule and expand my testing methodologies.

I'm sorry, I must go now. Duty Calls.

I get so tired of the "what do women want" question, and I know I'm the same way as lots of other women that get asked that question.

I also get tired of the notion that women's orgasms are evolutionarily unnecessary. They aren't like MEN's orgasms - the REAL orgasms. Bite me. :)

I for one would not be turned on by watching bonobos go at it. Sorry, just not appealing. I'm sure plenty of other women would feel the same way. Also, having been raped, sexual assault and rape ARE NOT sexy. Even children being sexually abused may feel arousal, but that's because they are being manipulated manually. Any manipulation of that sort will get a physical reaction. Doesn't mean it's pleasant.

Women like stimulation, just like men do. Also, different things will turn different women on. Just like men. At the risk of going TMI here, some women like direct clitoral stimulation, and others don't. I am one who sometimes can't take it because it feels too intense. Then there is G-spot stimulation. There's the usual debate as to whether the G-spot actually exists, but plenty of women say they have one. I wrote about it here:

G Marks The Spot!

Then again, if you want to know what turns women OFF, read this:

Things That Turn Women Off

Don't forget how societal mores influence how women react sexually in the U. S. at least. There's still the "Madonna/whore" business going on. Women are criticized for liking sex on one hand, and condemned for being frigid on the other. Then you have teenagers getting mixed messages from nonsense like abstinence only education. No wonder women throw up their hands and say "enough!"

Every woman is different, with different desires and different needs. That translates to different turn-ons. Read Dr. Petra Boynton's articles about sexuality. She's a good resource. I also like Dr. Helen Fisher.

Marilove,

I cannot believe how utterly you've misrepresented my argument. I see sexism, I understand what sexism is. I do not support or condone sexism. Unfortunately, the main actions I can take are in the form of things like ethical consumption, voting, and petitioning. Personally, I have no real power to, for instance, hire employees. I do have the power to personally treat women as equals, and would very much like to think that I do so. In that respect, I may be ineffective in helping, but am certainly not opposed to the feminist movement.

I am very lucky to be a white male, and even more so to have had the opportunity to drag myself out of a relatively poor working class backround to become somewhat middleclass. The only prejudice I've had to face is class prejudice, rather than sexism or racism. I'm also heterosexual, so another quirk of fate which has spared me from having to deal with societal prejudice. I can offer no apology for those coincidences of birth which protect me.

I do, however, see the effects of institutional sexism and racism all around me. For instance, I work in a department with a greater number of female researchers up to and including the same post-doctoral level as myself. However, it is absolutely dominated by male management at the professorial level. This seems to be the case in almost every department I've worked in.

The reason for this seems not to be simple, old-fashioned, open sexism, but rather that career structures favour males on the basis of economics. Firstly, paternity leave is woefully inadequate to allow fathers to take anything like an equal share in raising children. Secondly, contract research massively favours people who are in continuous employment, and places anybody taking a career break - for instance to have children - at a disadvantage. All of this, despite the fact that there is a formal and legal commitment to equal working opportunities for men and women. The discrimination emerges from day to day operating decisions that favour males, not because they have a penis, but because they effectively offer better value money. That being the case only because the system dictates it to be so; a financial Catch-22.

I see what you're describing as patriarchal, and see that it is a real thing; my beef was mainly with the terminology. Anyhow, it is not useful for me to cause you to argue about the existance of sexism - something which is self-evidently true to me also.

I feel that some of the things you describe - birth control and abortion rights - are much more of an issue in the US. In the UK, attempts to assert similar religiously-motivated controls over reproductive rights have largely been publically condemned. The dominant religion in the UK certainly is patriarchal, but is also crudely ineffectual in its attempts to reassert the once-predominant ideals of its doctrine.

In the UK, the major issues are the persistance of the wage gap and the under-reporting and unsuccessful prosecution of rape and spousal abuse. The former is a manifestation of a system which not only favours men, but also whites, heterosexuals, the able-bodied, and children of middle-class parents. (Which is why I dislike the idea of simple patriarchy being to blame; yes, males are dominant as a matter of fact.) The rape and spousal abuse issue also has a number of roots and causes, which range from issues of intimidating legal and police procedure (which should be easily addressed) to moral bigotry.

Honestly, in the examples you give above of sexual assaults on your person, then I would only say that such offenders deserve nothing more than to be prosecuted at placed on the sex-offenders register. I cannot argue with your experience, but can only say that it is different from those of my partner and friends. My hope would be that this reflects some sort of progress, since I know that casual sexual assault was once considered perfectly acceptable in the UK (and not just by those touching, grabbing, and propositioning, but also expected by those on the receiving end).

And, with that, I will bow out of this thread - barring the possibility that I will be unable to resist the call of a partcularly barbed or stimulating reply.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

I also get tired of the notion that women's orgasms are evolutionarily unnecessary. They aren't like MEN's orgasms - the REAL orgasms. Bite me. :)

By "unnecessary" it is meant that they are not biologically necessary for procreation to occur, the way ejaculation (which is technically a separate process from orgasm but almost invariably occurs simultaneously) on the part of the male is. This has lead to a number of speculative "explanations" that consist of some biologists concluding that female orgasms are "clearly useless," yet are present, and therefore decide to invent a "use" for them via contrived just-so stories. If anything, the "they're a pleasant and appreciated side effect of evolution and genital homology" explanation strikes me as less patronizing and dismissive.

You almost said it, Azkyroth. There's no biological reason why male ejaculation has to feel good, either. Urgent, maybe; good, not so much. Of course, once we get into the "biologically necessary" talk, we're already in just-so-storyland. Is there anything biological that's not contingent? I doubt it, and that includes breathing oxygen.

That "focus on the institutional oppression of women"—Funny how that insistence resembles fatwa envy, and rhymes with: "You could have it worse, you know." I suspect that's why you're getting what seems to you a disproportionate reaction.

Bernard B, one thing you have the power to do is listen when women talk. When you want to butt in, listen some more. Seriously.

And PZ: What do women want? Take that tongue out of your cheek, cutie, and git on over here and put it in mine.

That "focus on the institutional oppression of women"—Funny how that insistence resembles fatwa envy, and rhymes with: "You could have it worse, you know."

I know all these words and I still can't parse this sentence intelligibly.

...oh, by "institutional oppression of women" you think I mean "over there" not "here, fifty years ago."

Okay, it now makes linguistic sense, at least.

Oh, I see. What you're saying is that my messages pointing out that a number of barriers, and possibly a majority of the de jure barriers, to women's equality and full participation in Western society, at least, have been overcome, such that if one's semantic understanding of the word "patriarchy" emphasizes the ruling/governing aspect implied by the roots of the "archy" portion, and therefore sees "patriarchy" as a legal state of affairs obliquely analogous to monarchy, one could interpret the elimination of the de jure barriers that have been removed as a substantial erosion of "patriarchy," are being interpreted as an attempt to justify the general state of gender relations in our society today, by comparison with worse states, rather than an attempt to shed some light on a semantic argument that has been turned into a crusade by a person with an apparently well-earned but contextually misapplied chip on her shoulder.

(In other words, my request that marilove address her argument to the people she's actually having it with was spot-on.) Though I'm still unclear as to whether you share her interpretation or are merely attempting to shed some light on it (and, unlike some, am not going to approach that confusion in a fashion lending itself to being succinctly analogized as "FIRE! READY! AIM!")

Moreover, my initial response to Nancy was in response to her claim that the patriarchal society distorts the issue of "what women want". If that's the case, it also distorts the issue of "what men want". Men tend to have far less room for variation in US culture than women do, and less room to acceptably want different things.

I never said otherwise - but since the question in question was "what do women want" I addressed only that directly.

I did indirectly refer to the distortion of male desires when I said "And every man is raised with the idea that a woman is your reward for DOING something, whether it's killing enemies or being clever enough to find just the right female horniness switch"

But I didn't have the time, and this isn't the right forum to go into cultural materialist explanations for why men have historically been trained to see women as rewards for certain behavior and why women have historically been trained to be passive rewards (or currency as in the case of some places on this earth at this very moment in time - little girls are married off to old men in exchange for debt-relief or other financial considerations.)

The point is that what we have here is a set-up in which a media outlet like the NYTimes - which has only two female op-ed columnists compared to eight men - decides to run an article that presents extremely questionable test methods combined with standard evolutionary psychology views as Important New Findings about Human Female Sexuality.

For another example of the pro-male bias of even an allegedly liberal media outlet like the NYTimes, see this post at A Moment of Jen:
http://jenniferweiner.blogspot.com/2009/01/i-was-watching-30-rock-where…

marilove above,

comgratulations on totally twisting and misrepresenting what I said.

Acting out a rape fantasy in consensual play has indeed nothing to do with raping someone in a dark alley.Which is what I said.

Men who are raped sometimes experience orgasm, as well. What's the purely speculative mumbo-jumbo evolutionary explanation for that? Couldn't it just be that certain types of physical stimulation often result in orgasm, whether or not there's any psychological arousal taking place?

The actual results of the study are interesting, though. Are we naturally aroused by a broader range of visual stimulation than men are, regardless of culture? Or is this secret arousal (so secret we aren't even aware of it?) to a broader range of stimulation because we're not supposed to openly express sexuality in our culture?

Maybe somewhat similar to what happens to the pious preacher types who get caught having affairs or gay tweaker prostitute sexual adventures, and "falling" on potatoes that get lodged in the rectum. Repression seems to breed obsession. Or maybe we're all just kinky. More studies needed.

marilove above,

comgratulations on totally twisting and misrepresenting what I said.

Acting out a rape fantasy in consensual play has indeed nothing to do with raping someone in a dark alley.Which is what I said.

To be fair, what you initially said was

Yay, more fuel for the "Women secretly want to be raped" fire. The author of the study certainly does not seem to support that misogynist nonsense,

I hate to tell you,but some women do.They love the thought,makes them totally crazy.Some take it further.

While I inferred that you were attempting to express your experience with women who enjoy rape-themed sexual roleplaying, I don't think you can fault people for taking what you say at face value.

Huh, that's the first time that particular bug has hit my posts in some time...

I assume it's obvious that the "I hate to tell you" paragraph is supposed to be part of the quote, and that someone will ignore this and snark at me for "thinking women want to be raped."

"The patriarchy" or "patriarchal society" is the name feminists have settled on for the dominant Western, Democratic paradigm. It is not an individual accusation leveled at individual males, or even individual institutions. Taking issue with the word itself is counterproductive, but an explanation of the concept may prove useful.

The patriarchy is all around us and, like fish in water, most of the time we are not aware of its presence. It is not a small aspect of our culture that occasionally rears its ugly head. It is our culture. And at the base of it is the belief that "women" and "people" are not fully fungible terms. I'm not being rhetorical: the separation of women from the universal polity of humankind was an explicit tenet held by our ideological forefathers, the philosophers of the Enlightenment from which our political and ethical values are derived.

When Thomas Paine wrote the treatise that went on to inform the two great revolutions of the 18th century, he didn't call it "Rights of Man" because "Rights of Human Being" sounded funny. He was deliberately excluding women from the main thrust of his arguments. When the US Declaration of Independence said that "all men were created equal" it wasn't just being politically incorrect; it really did quite sincerely mean that, self evidently, women were not so created. They were not equal as members of the electorate, and therefore were not offered the suffrage; they were not equal economic agents, and so were not granted property ownership in their own right.

At the same time that the Founding Fathers were unselfconsciously curtailing the reach of the new "universal" Liberties, over the pond in France Rousseau was exhorting women, by definition excluded from the "fraternity" of the Revolution, to cleave to the "natural" sphere ordained to them by Nature (a handy stand-in for God) - motherhood, domesticity, and ignorance. These were among the most swiftly adopted ideas in England, and informed much of what we have come to think of as Victorian belittlement of women; consequently when Parliament was debating "Universal Suffrage", as it did for decades through the mid-eighteen hundreds, women were never considered for inclusion. The very idea was laughable.

I hope you can see that I am not just complaining about "Rights of Man", "Brotherhood of Man" etc. in that postmodern "manhole cover" way of the recent past. These were real ideas, and they meant what they said, and they were backed up with legislation and with action – and the society produced by that legislation and that action is still with us today.

The doctrine of Man as default and woman as other, therefore, is not an ancient, ancestral one, and it was questioned and challenged from the start, in a debate that became more and more acrimonious over the years. That is why, ironically, it is so hard for us to rise above it and see its damaging falsehoods: the ideology that contains the patriarchal imperative is still quite vibrant and vital, and has many other components - liberalism, democracy, human rights etc. - that we definitely aren't done with, and want to keep actively promoting and spreading. Patriarchy is unfortunately the dark side of these good things, and that's what we are fighting.

Due to the challenges to its authority that the patriarchal ideal has faced, many of the explicit and implicit judgments about women underpinning it have gradually had to go underground. It's not longer acceptable to say outright, for example, that women are incapable of the higher faculties, or openly debar them from education; more subtle, "economic", "biological" etc. reasons need to be found, and are. The current vogue for "gender differences" being "hard-wired" and "evolutionary", for the biological clock, the maternal instinct, is just the newest incarnation of the "women's brains would overheat of you taught them math" thinking of the 19th century.

While it's true that we have made some significant material gains over the last 250 years, we’ve nowhere near uprooted this fundamental precept of the default state of humanity as being male. When I, and others, rail against "The Patriarchy", that is usually the unspoken, perhaps even unacknowledged, basis for our frustration.

"Playing out the fantasy in a controlled setting is what makes it fun, a bit like how playing "Operation" is fun but doing real surgery isn't. (I'm really reaching with my analogies. Sorry.) Real rape is not hot at all."

Hence the my main objection to the phrase "rape fantasy". It confuses the issue. It gives justification for things like thi: "I hate to tell you,but some women do.They love the thought,makes them totally crazy.Some take it further."

Which sounds a lot like "women love to be raped", even when what they're actually talking about is a BDSM fantasy or roleplay.

It's stupidly inaccurate and fraught with dangerous implications.

Uh, clinteas, are you an idiot?

Azkyroth quoted the fucking conversation. IN response to: "Yay, more fuel for the "Women secretly want to be raped" fire. The author of the study certainly does not seem to support that misogynist nonsense," You said: Ya"I hate to tell you, but some women do. They love the thought, makes them totally crazy. Some take it further."

Come the fuck on. That was rape apology, right there. If you don't want people to think you're a rape apologist, don't talk like one. And what do you mean by "Some take it further" if you're not a rape apologist, eh? Take it further, how, exactly? Do you mean some women like to be raped? Because that's exactly how it sounded. Again, don't want to sound like a rape apologist? DO NOT TALK LIKE ONE.

And TheLady is correct. The patriarchy is our culture. Period, end of fucking discussion. And until Christianity is no longer the default religion (among other things, but this is a big one in the US), it will remain as such. To say that we are not in a patriarchal society is FUCKING IDIOTIC, and I like how only the men are saying as much. Isn't that convenient?

And the argument that "well, the abortion argument is only a problem in the US..." is fucking laughable. It's obvious you have NO FUCKING IDEA what you're talking about. Go do some research on womens rights and feminism before you start spewing your bullshit.

And that's for all the poor, poor menz complaining about howt he patriarchy doesn't exist anymore. eye fuckikng roll.

Eloquently put, TheLady, and with far more patience than I could have mustered - it's hard to believe that this all still has to be explained to some people.

And that's for all the poor, poor menz complaining about howt he patriarchy doesn't exist anymore. eye fuckikng roll.

It having been made clear that the issue here is Bernard misunderstanding the scope of what you meant by "patriarchy" and me understanding perfectly well what was meant but, being willing as well as able to analyze more than two perspectives (one's own and The Enemy), attempting to bridge the gap in understanding. Neither Bernard nor I denied that what TheLady describes exists - the disconnect was in terms of what label is used. The barest modicum of intellectual honesty demands that you acknowledge this and your subsequent responses reflect that acknowledgement.

Eloquently put, TheLady, and with far more patience than I could have mustered - it's hard to believe that this all still has to be explained to some people.

I can see that. See above.

Seriously. Is it really so hard to envision that a person might be honestly mistaken in their interpretation of what you mean to express by a certain term? I agree that the failure to share your views on gender equality reflects a serious moral failure, I confess I'm having a hard time extending that to the failure to share your position on semantics.

PS:

And the argument that "well, the abortion argument is only a problem in the US..." is fucking laughable. It's obvious you have NO FUCKING IDEA what you're talking about. Go do some research on womens rights and feminism before you start spewing your bullshit.

Um, did anyone actually...bring that argument up in this thread...?

If not, please refer to my previous post about addressing your arguments to the people you're actually arguing against.

Damn, we're in conflict even when we're in agreement with each other. We'll have to get over that if we want to ever make any headway against organized religion. We should adopt the religionists' strategy and aim at a common enemy (such as the religious power structure, or ignorance itself); it shouldn't be that hard.

So women don't fantasize about actual rape; they're really BDSM fantasies. I think we all GET that, and nobody's saying anything different. Back to the peace and tranquility that every thread starts out on?

So women don't fantasize about actual rape; they're really BDSM fantasies. I think we all GET that, and nobody's saying anything different. Back to the peace and tranquility that every thread starts out on?

And Bernard and myself haven't buried our heads in the sand as far as the pervasive misogyny of even Western society goes, he, at least, is less familiar with the broader sense of the term "patriarchy" encompassing all of that, and I was trying to clarify.

I want a fluffy geek, hint hint.

By Flamethorn (not verified) on 04 Feb 2009 #permalink

I want a fluffy geek, hint hint.

Sorry, the Demon Kooshball si spoken foar. :3

(Did I seriously just type that? O.o)

I feel that some of the things you describe - birth control and abortion rights - are much more of an issue in the US.

That's a direct quote from Bernard, Azkyroth. "much more of an issue in the US" my ass.

To clarify, I was mostly talking to him, and not you. Sorry for the confusion. The threading of these blogs tends to get confusion.

The patriarchy still exists, OVERTLY exists, and to say otherwise is pretty ignorant.

What is wrong with patriarchy on a voluntary basis? In a society where females have a choice of mates, and the spectrum of males ranges from extreme matriarchy to extreme patriachy, why can't a women who may be patriarchist herself, choose a mate from the patriarchal side of the spectrum? Is the goal not to eliminate patriarchy or matriarchy but to make them voluntary?

By Africangenesis (not verified) on 05 Feb 2009 #permalink

The patriarchy still exists, OVERTLY exists, and to say otherwise is pretty ignorant.

Just out of curiosity, what would you consider to be a non-"overt" manifestation of patriarchy as you characterize it?

What is wrong with patriarchy on a voluntary basis?

Aside from it being a red herring, you mean?

"Aside from it being a red herring, you mean?"

Hmmm, I see your point. If it is voluntary, it isn't patriarchy is it.

By Africangenesis (not verified) on 07 Feb 2009 #permalink

Hmmm, I see your point. If it is voluntary, it isn't patriarchy is it.

Exactly. The personal decision of a heterosexual couple to establish, by mutual consent, an uneven power dynamic in their relationship is completely orthogonal to the existence and perniciousness of a social order which relegates one sex to second class citizen status.

That's a direct quote from Bernard, Azkyroth. "much more of an issue in the US" my ass.

Without wanting to reignite this, I'll just respond because I didn't see this discussion carrying on in my absence.

I'll leave the pervious argument aside, but I really do see it entirely as a semantic one. I'm not convinced that either of us actually see the end product of discrimination as very different, despite our previous arguments.

Those two issues are, apparently, much more of an issue in the US. In the UK, birth control is widely available, and even emergency contraception can be obtained without prescription (nationally). There is very little exercise of religiously motivated objection to the distribution of those, and almost no public support for such a position. It is my understanding that, in the US, there is much more public sympathy and outright support for people who want to deny women the right to access even birth control.

Equally, in the UK there is very little organised anti-abortion activity, and very little violence or explicit opposition directed towards women seeking abortion, or to the practitioners of abortion healthcare. The only acception - and quite abhorrently so - is Nothern Ireland, where religious institutions continue to interfere in the reproductive rights of individuals.

The UK has a very good recent record of supporting women to obtain the contraceptive measures the require, and abortion where necessary. Unfortunately, we have a much worse record when it comes to teaching young men how and when to use contraception.

There are still issues associated with particular ethnic groups in the UK, and especially where social and public agencies have trouble connecting with women in those groups. THe UK is not perfect, in those cases, or even in the general case; religious and special interest groups are still sometimes allowed too much of a public voice to condemn and shout their demands at women.

However, in practice, the situation seems to largely much better - with regard to those specific issues - than in the US.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 08 Feb 2009 #permalink

Why is there so much mystery and speculation surrounding "what's the point of female orgasm?" but none around "what's the point of male orgasm?"

It seems insane to me to sit around and muse about "why DO women have 'em?" Well, why do men have 'em? It's not like we are separate species!

I appreciate the people who made posts reminding us that as men and women we want the same things, we are not that different. Science seems to be more interested in mental masturbation, intellectualizing, while avoiding "research" that provides meaningful and useful information. There are people like the Welcomed Consensus, EMO (Bodansky's), More, and now One Taste that instead have gotten "down to business" and have hundreds of thousands of hour of "research" with thousands and thousands of people of all backgrounds, and have methods and idealogies about sex and orgasm yet no one in this community takes them seriously because they don't have a PhD, or laugh at them because they do have a PhD in sensuality, so the boat has been missed by many. Open your minds, the answers are already out there, the world is not flat.