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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Female Sexuality: Complicated (3/3)

"Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance." - Will Durant


Gender Differences in Erotic Plasticity: The Female Sex Drive as Socially Flexible and Responsive

"Lesbians were more likely than males to have tried to relinquish their homosexuality and "go straight"—which is ironic because lesbians expressed fewer regrets about their homosexuality and were less likely to wish for a "magic pill" that would instantly transform them into heterosexuals. Golden (1987) too was struck by inconsistencies between women's thoughts and feelings regarding sexual orientation. Her sample exhibited remarkable incongruences, including women who identified as lesbians (often for political reasons) but whose sexual behavior had been exclusively heterosexual, as well as the reverse pattern of women who identified themselves as heterosexuals but had only had sex with women"

"Women are more likely than men to have submissive and masochistic fantasies... Women are more likely than men to report having such desires and interests, but they are less likely than men to report taking part in such activities... [This data] rule out one further alternative explanation that could apply to the homosexuality data. I have said that men mainly show discrepancies between desire and behavior because of lack of opportunity: Many men want to engage in sex but cannot find a willing female partner... In masochism, however, it is usually opposite-sex partners who are sought, and so women would be seeking men to dominate them. Women ought therefore to enjoy an advantage over men when both are trying to act out then- submissive fantasies, and so this alternative explanation would predict that women would have higher attitude-behavior consistency in this sphere. Instead, women again show more inconsistency, which fits the broad pattern I have hypothesized, namely that women's attitudes and behaviors are less consistent than men's when it comes to sex."

"Some paraphilias seem incontrovertibly learned. Latex, for example, has not existed on the planet long enough to influence evolutionary processes and genetic markers, and so a latex fetish seems most plausibly interpreted as something learned rather than innate (although it is difficult to rule out the possibility that this fetish is a byproduct of some other genetic, innate tendency)"

"[Supposedly] cultural and social factors selectively target their efforts to control sexuality at women... The fact that women report more choice than men regarding sexual orientation (Savin- Williams, 1990; Whisman, 1996; see also Rosenbluth, 1997, on voluntary heterosexuality) runs directly counter to the view that men have all the choices and women are imprisoned by rigid social factors. Likewise, the evidence about women who in midlife start having sex with other women while still enjoying sex with men suggests plasticity rather than coercion"

"The patriarchal oppression theory particularly invokes the so-called double standard, under which certain acts are more permissible for men than for women. This view has difficulty explaining many of the modern findings, however, because the double standard has been difficult to document in modern research and many researchers have concluded that it has disappeared or is disappearing, especially among women (DeLamater & MacCorquodale, 1979; Sprecher, 1989; Sprecher & Hatfield, 1996; cf. Robinson et al., 1991)... For example, T. Smith (1994) reports that national (Roper) polls found only a small minority endorsing a double standard in 1959 (8%) and even 1937 (7%)"

"The greater consensual lesbianism in prison (as compared with consensual homosexuality among imprisoned males) would be interpreted by the selective control explanation as a sign that prison frees women from the compulsive heterosexuality enforced by society. This alternative explanation thus rests on the doubtful assumption that women are more free in prison than out of it. It also suggests that when a woman reverts to heterosexuality after prison, she is simply coming back under the control of patriarchy. These views stretch the bounds of plausibility. Most situational analyses would conclude that people are less free in prison than out of it—especially with regard to sexual choices."

"Someone might argue that religion is a tool of male oppression (which entails suppressing female sexuality) whereas education liberates women and allows them to discover and pursue their own desires. This explanation has difficulty explaining the powerful historical facts that Christianity has long appealed to women more than to men, both during its rise to power in the Roman empire (see Stark, 1996) and during the transition into the modern era (Cott, 1977), and that even today female church attendance and membership rates are higher than male. The selective control explanation seemingly must propose that women wanted to be exploited and sexually stifled by Christian doctrines (and still do), a stance that seems sufficiently questionable as to call for strong supporting evidence before it can be accepted.

Moreover, if religion is a tool of patriarchy that shapes women to serve men, then the highly religious should show the greatest convergence between the genders in practices that serve men, such as fellatio. The evidence indicates the opposite, however"

"Instead of concluding that educational and religious institutions have stronger effects on female than on male sexual behavior, perhaps women's sexual inclinations dictate (more than men's) how much education they pursue and how religious they become. Although such explanations do not seem highly plausible a priori (e.g., why would engaging in anal sex increase a person's likelihood of earning a master's degree?), they cannot be ruled out with available data... Why sexually permissive women would seek and achieve higher levels of education is however a mystery"

"A determined advocate of the ceiling artifact might dismiss the findings about religion by suggesting that religion mainly tries to control female behavior and is relatively indifferent to male sexual behavior. This view is implausible on several counts. As Tannahill (1980) pointed out in her history of sex, early Christianity was more hostile and restrictive toward sex than any of its contemporary religions, and its restrictiveness applied to both genders. The basic Christian view was that "physical pleasure of all kinds is sinful" (DeLamater, 1981, p. 264). This doctrine appears to have had strong appeal to women, and in fact, the early rise in Christian church membership involved a more rapid expansion of female than male members (Stark, 1996). Celibacy was in fact sought and cultivated as a lifestyle by many early Christian women"

"Men fall in love faster than women and hence are likely to feel loving affection and the accompanying sexual desire at an earlier point in the relationship"

"Cowan and Dunn (1994) exposed both male and female participants to pornographic films that were classified into nine different story themes, and participants were asked to rate their arousal levels. One of these themes, labeled "submission" by the researchers, involved a woman who was initially reluctant to have sex but changed her mind during the scene and became an active, willing participant in sexual activity. Women rated this theme by far the most sexually arousing of the nine (see also Fisher & Byrne, 1978). These studies thus suggest that the woman's transition from no to yes, as an idea, increases sexual excitement. A review of the literature on sexual fantasies found that fantasies of being overpowered and forced to have sex were far more common among women than men"

"Modern norms of egalitarianism and equitable relationships suggest that people should compromise and seek joint, mutually satisfying decisions, but the calculation of compromise is rendered more difficult by differential plasticity"

"Homosexual communities, for example, are in a sense oppressed minority groups and ones from which members may be tempted to defect. If people leave such communities and join the heterosexual mainstream, the survival of the communities could be jeopardized. Given the data reviewed here, such defections are likely to be a bigger problem and threat for female than male homosexual groups. Sure enough, lesbian communities have ongoing and sometimes bitter struggles over defectors to heterosexuality, which may be less of a problem for gay male groups"

"Women are less certain than men of what they want in sex and how to get it"

"Feminist analysis has favored the social construction of sexuality, whereas the subsequent rise of evolutionary theories has been dominated by male theorists. If women are indeed more socioculturally malleable than men, then the social constructionist theories would resonate intuitively with women more than men, whereas the reverse would hold for biological and evolutionary theories"

Ed: Balderdash: Female Sexuality: Complicated (1/3)
Balderdash: Female Sexuality: Complicated (2/3)
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