Longtime reader with a vanilla question: What to do about differing libidos? We're a straight couple together 20-plus years, and we've aged well. No weight gain, no radical changes in appearance. We are open and loving, and I am cognizant of her needs and feelings. Yesterday, I read an interview with Joan Sewell, author of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido and observed that this is the new ideal: women shrugging their shoulders about their general lack of desire. My spouse can now point at this book and say, "You see, I'm normal, and so are all of my friends, ha ha ha, live with it …"
While I want sex daily, I get it maybe five to 20 times a year — and I am lucky compared to some straight married men! Where are the women you hear about who want sex constantly?
Not Giving Up
I haven't had a chance to read Ms. Sewell's book, NGU, but I devoured Sandra Tsing Loh's review of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate in the current Atlantic Monthly. (Loh's book reviews are worth the price of a subscription.) And I'm saddened to report that, according to Sewell and Loh, there's no such thing as a woman who wants sex constantly. They don't exist — never did.
All that yammering about women with voracious sexual appetites during Sex and the City's long reign of terror? A cruel hoax. A figment of the straight-male imagination, a Big Lie picked up on and promoted by self-serving female "sexperts" eager to tell straight men what they wanted to hear. Women have naturally lower sex drives, Sewell writes. It's a hormonal thing. Testosterone makes humans horny, men have lots more than women, so men are hornier — and all the Sex and the City repeats in the world aren't going to change that.
So if straight women don't want sex — or as much sex — what do they want? Chocolate, says Sewell, or a good book. Massive amounts of carbs, says Loh, who writes of a lesbian couple she knows: "Teri and Pat have a special Monday-night ritual. They order an extra-large cheese pizza," writes Loh. While they wait for their pizza, "they settle in on the couch with large twin bags of Doritos. … The Doritos are finished to the last crumb, and then, upon arrival, the pizza as well." Teri and Pat are 50 pounds overweight and suffer from "lesbian bed death," but for them, pizza-and-Doritos night is "better than sex." Loh, who has a sex-starved husband at home, is green with envy.
So the jig is up. For a while, women with high libidos were normal and women with low libidos were freakish. Now women with low libidos can hand their husbands Sewell's book and rip open a bag of Doritos.
But there's a silver lining. Back when women with low libidos were regarded as abnormal — way back at the beginning of the month — it was fashionable to blame the man in a woman's life for her lack of desire. For years, whenever I printed a letter from a guy who wasn't getting any, or wasn't getting much, mail would pour in from women insisting that he had to be doing something wrong.
I called them the "if only" letters: If only she didn't have to do all the housework, she would want to have sex. If only he would talk with her about her day, she would want to have sex. If only she weren't so exhausted from taking care of the kids, she would want to have sex. If only he didn't ask for sex, she would want to have sex. Well now, thanks to Sewell, straight guys everywhere know that it doesn't matter how much housework you do, or how sincerely interested you are in her day, or how much of the child care you take on: She still won't want to fuck you. So leave the dishes in the sink, grab a beer and go play a video game, guys. Your "if only" nightmares are over.
One thing that hasn't changed in the wake of Sewell's book is my advice to women with low libidos: You can have strict monogamy or you can have a low libido, ladies, but you can't have both. If monogamy is a priority, you're gonna have to put out, i.e., regular vaginal intercourse and the occasional tide-him-over hand job and/or blow job, cheerfully given. If all you wanna do is sit there and eat chocolate, you're gonna have to turn a blind eye to lap dances and mistresses and happy endings and the return of trade, i.e., gay guys giving NSA head to straight guys.
And while low-libido women everywhere will point to Sewell's book to justify their disregard for their husbands' needs, just as NGU fears, Sewell herself is following my advice: "Because Sewell loves her husband and knows that he, like her, craves physical contact," writes Loh, "they eventually worked out a contract both can live with. It involves hand jobs, lube jobs and — when she doesn't feel like being touched — her dressing up … and letting him watch … so he can finish himself off by himself."
Oh, and guys? You need to accept those tide-you-over blow jobs and hand jobs just as cheerfully as she gives them. The one thing besides hormones that contributes to female reluctance to consent to sex is the expectation, on the part of the male, that consent always means vaginal intercourse — except when it means anal intercourse. If your hole were getting pounded every time you said yes to sex, guys, you would say yes less often. So broaden your definition of sex to include hand jobs, blow jobs, lube jobs and masturbation in her presence or on her person — these things count, guys, they're not consolation prizes — and you'll get laid a lot firstname.lastname@example.org