“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” — Walt Disney
I wonder if Mr. Disney imagined that his insight would appear in a Girl Boner post. You’re welcome, WD! Actually, I should thank him. The fact is, we can’t embrace something we don’t believe in. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate quote to introduce a post on female sex drive.
The other day a young woman phoned into sex expert Dr. Drew’s radio show, Loveline, concerned because her sex drive seemed excessive and surpassed her boyfriend’s. The following chat went essentially like this:
Dr. Drew: How often do you want to have sex?
Woman: About once per day, sometimes more.
Dr. Drew: And you’re how old?
Dr. Drew: That sounds pretty normal. There’s nothing wrong with you.
Me: WAHOO! *cheers loudly and wishes to hug Dr. Drew*
That woman could have been me around that age. Not only did I desire sex as often as she expressed, but my libido surpassed that of numerous boyfriends. I, too, wondered if there was something wrong with that equation. I’ve since learned otherwise, but seldom hear such issues discussed publicly.
We’re told repeatedly that men desire sex far more than women do—so much so, it’s considered common knowledge. I can’t tell you how elated I am that researchers, educators and activists are beginning to explore and debunk these myths (though, sheesh! We have a ways to go…). Myths about female sexual desire can be damaging on multiple levels. They teach girls and women that their desires are wrong, prevent those desires from thriving, dissuade women from recognizing or embracing their sexuality, encourage limits on sexual pleasure and damage relationships. Learning more about sex drive myths can go a long way toward minimizing these complications. Today, I’ll highlight some of the biggies.
Myths About Sex Drive
Myth #1: Women peak in their 30s.
Facts: This notion is based on one study, published in 1953, in which researcher Alfred Kinsey found that female participants in their 30s experienced more orgasms than participants in other age groups. In reality, women tend to gain confidence over the years. As a result, we experience greater orgasm strength and frequency as we age. For many women, our twenties are particularly stressful and insecurity-ridden times. As we’ve discussed here previously, stress and insecurity damage libido. We’re also far less encouraged than males to explore sexually during young adulthood.
Myth #2: Guys think about sex every seven seconds.
Facts: There was never a study to back this up. Research published in the Journal of Sex Research in 2011 showed that college-age men think about sex about 19 times per day, compared to 10 times per day for college-age women. Women are less likely to admit to sexual thoughts, however, and women who have positive body image, masturbate and read sex-positive publications, such as Cosmo, think about and engage more in sex than women who don’t. In other words, gender averages are pretty darn close and variable.
Myth #3: Women want fewer sexual partners than men do.
Facts: Large-scale research published in Current Directions in Psychological Science showed that, with use of statistical controls, males and females desire the same amount of partners. One of the controls involved determining the truth in the participants’ responses. Men are more likely to exaggerate their sexual partner total, the study found, while women tend to round the number down.
Myth #4: Casual sex appeals less to women than men.
Facts: Numerous recent studies show that men and women desire casual sex equally, but that women are more likely to experience shame and depressive moods afterward. Sexually active women, particularly with multiple partners, have long been considered “sluts,” by societal standards, whereas men are either considered studly or normal—the “Boys will be boys” mentality. Those popular notions aside, desire for sex with strangers and acquaintances comes out equal. Both genders are also prone to experiencing desire for greater intimacy within and following such encounters over time.
Myth #5: Emotional intimacy guarantees high sex drive and great sex.
Facts: Feeling like we’re best pals with a partner is a great thing, but it doesn’t necessarily boost libido. Other crucial factors? Feeling desired and sexual play. “We’ve all been brainwashed to think emotional intimacy is the best thing,” says Kathryn Hall, author of Reclaiming Your Sexual Self. “But lots of couples get really emotionally intimate and their sex life tanks anyway.” Hall recommends forgetting about what we consider normal, and instead embracing whatever makes us feel sexy. Everyone’s “normal” is different, and we can all have gratifying sex lives. What matters is cultivating a sexual lifestyle that suits us and our partners.
For more on female sexual desire and related myths, check out this New York Times magazine article, What Do Women Want?
Have you ever worried that your sex drive is excessive? Are you surprised by any of these myths? How have they affected you? You know I love hearing from you! All respectful thoughts are welcome. For more between-post fun, please join me and the #GirlBoner community on Facebook and Twitter. ♥