When Women Wanted Sex Much More Than Men

April 3rd, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A fascinating article on Alter Net by Alyssa Goldstein:

In the 1600s, a man named James Mattock was expelled from the First Church of Boston. His crime? It wasn’t using lewd language or smiling on the sabbath or anything else that we might think the Puritans had disapproved of. Rather, James Mattock had refused to have sex with his wife for two years. Though Mattock’s community clearly saw his self-deprivation as improper, it is quite possible that they had his wife’s suffering in mind when they decided to shun him. The Puritans believed that sexual desire was a normal and natural part of human life for both men and (as long as it was heterosexual and confined to marriage), but that wanted and needed sex more than men. A man could choose to give up sex with relatively little trouble, but for a woman to be so deprived would be much more difficult for her. …
The idea that men are naturally more interested in sex than women is ubiquitous that it’s difficult to imagine that people ever believed differently. And yet for most of Western history, from ancient Greece to beginning of the nineteenth century, women were assumed to be the sex-crazed porn fiends of their day. In one ancient Greek myth, Zeus and Hera argue about whether men or women enjoy sex more. They ask the prophet Tiresias, whom Hera had once transformed into a woman, to settle the debate. He answers, “if sexual pleasure were divided into ten parts, only one part would go to the man, and and nine parts to the woman.”
I recall growing up, an old joke about sex being the price women must pay for marriage, and marriage being the price men must pay for sex. Certainly it was the norm that women were expected to not be as keen on sex as men, and this article suggests that this is in fact a comparatively modern belief.
I’d note it a belief, that is less prevalent today, compared to even 20 years ago.

The story of how this stereotype became reversed is not a simple one to trace, nor did it happen evenly and all at once. Historian Nancy Cott points to the rise of evangelical Protestantism as the catalyst of this change, at least in New England. Protestant ministers whose congregations were increasingly made up mainly of middle-class white women probably saw the wisdom in portraying their congregants as moral beings who were especially suited to answering the call of religion, rather than as besmirched seductresses whose fate was sealed in Eden. Women both welcomed this portrayal and helped to construct it. It was their avenue to a certain level of equality with men, and even superiority. Through the gospel, Christian women were “exalted above human nature, raised to that of angels,” as the 1809 book The Female Friend, or The Duties of Christian Virgins put it. The emphasis on sexual purity in the book’s title is telling. If women were to be the new symbols of Protestant religious devotion, they would have to sacrifice the acknowledgement of their sexual desires. Though even the Puritans had believed that it was perfectly acceptable for both men and women to desire sexual pleasure within the confines of marriage, women could now admit to desiring sex in order to bond with their husbands or fulfill their “maternal urges.” As Cott put it, “Passionlessness was on the other side of the coin which paid, so to speak, for women’s admission to moral equality.”

By positioning themselves as naturally chaste and virtuous, Protestant women could make the case for themselves as worthy moral and intellectual equals.

I sometimes wonder how people in 100 years time will look back on our society today?

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39 Responses to “When Women Wanted Sex Much More Than Men”

  1. jawnbc (44 comments) says:

    This isn’t entirely surprising. In Judaism, for example, the husband is expected to ensure his wife’s pleasure during sex. The ancients probably understood that a woman’s orgasm is the best insurance for conception. For this woman, however, it might have been the pressure to procreate that drover her “complaint”. Had she not brought it to the congregation’s attention that he was refusing her, she would quite possibly been held culpable.

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  2. Michael (894 comments) says:

    In Genesis – as punishment for eating the forbidden fruit – Eve and all women are cursed with pain during childbirth and also excessive sexual desire that will lead them to pregnancy.

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  3. Andrei (2,499 comments) says:

    I sometimes wonder how people in 100 years time will look back on our society today?

    With contempt, richly deserved

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  4. stigie (894 comments) says:

    Help ! Where is Johnboy when you need him ?

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  5. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    I argued this on another blog site recently. The predominant female archetypes in NZ mediaa are bland over botoxed newsreaders and cardigan wearing socialist tyrants.

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  6. Judith (7,501 comments) says:

    Surely DPF isn’t suggesting his posters are sexually active?

    I sometimes wonder how people in 100 years time will look back on our society today?

    I doubt they will look back in 100 years with the same pride that we do for our grandfathers, when we consider 98 years and 344 days ago so many of them proved themselves to be brave beyond any contemporary example – and it was just the beginning – they had yet to experience Passchendaele.

    In 100 years time will there be any heroes to aspire to, or will there just be examples to avoid?

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  7. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    Andrei (2,002) Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 4:24 pm
    I sometimes wonder how people in 100 years time will look back on our society today?

    With contempt, richly deserved

    Looking back on people like you, no doubt.

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  8. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    The bible actually says that you should service each other regularly.

    “Honey, it’s time for your service”

    Just like cars, you gotta service them properly to keep them running right! pistons don’t work well without proper lubing and that goes for the car too :P

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  9. GK (97 comments) says:

    They’ll most likely look back the same way as we look back. If the present is any indication, no previous generation knew anything except us.

    We therefore head for the same end as the Greeks and Romans but somehow thinking we’re different and wiser.

    How about if the generation of a century back could see us? Where politicians would promote men marrying each other.

    I doubt even Oscar Wilde imagined this world.

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  10. Pete George (22,773 comments) says:

    “In 100 years time will there be any heroes to aspire to, or will there just be examples to avoid?”

    I won’t mind if we don’t have many more heroes like those who served in WW I and W II (and it should not be forgotten the extra done by the hometown heroes who filled the labour void – especially women, many of whom still had families to care for).

    I don’t know if the current state will continue, but for now the mostly temporary “heroes” are entertainers of the musical, acting or sporting varieties, with a few faux celebrity appointed “celebrities” trying to throw themselves in the mix.

    The big difference now is that for every hero (and even they are on a much more modest scale) there are many numpties or numpty actions in the spotlight – the media idiocracy give most attention to stupidest or worst of things done by both the well known and the masses.

    But how can we find true heroes without doing large scale war? And even then technology often replaces heroic actions.

    Will next century’s heroes be the best whitebait fritter cooks and the dumbest customs or police bust?

    How many real New Zealand heroes have their been in the first thirteen years of this millenium? Can you think of any?

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  11. Akaroa (535 comments) says:

    David mused: “I sometimes wonder how people in 100 years time will look back on our society today?”

    Do you David? Well I’ll tell you.

    They’ll look back on our society with head-shaking disbelieving mirth. saying to each other, “How could those dumb people have been so f—-ed up? They were so far up themselves they couldn’t see what d–ks they really were!”

    Look at our society and its oh-so-pressing ‘Issues”. And compare it with the oh-so-pressing “issues” of 1903 – long gone and forgotten.

    See what I mean? Our ‘burning issues”: political, social and personal, are but as a leaf on the falling tide – to be swept away and forgotten as time sweeps on.

    The only persisting feature is the flawed nature of our approach to life and its issues!!.

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  12. JC (906 comments) says:

    “I doubt they will look back in 100 years with the same pride that we do for our grandfathers,”

    Then again they might admire more the fact that recent generations have avoided the persistent wars and terrible bloodletting of those earlier years. Over the last 100 years the rate of casualties has declined enormously.

    JC

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  13. coge (176 comments) says:

    This article is true. Women are pure sex machines :)

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  14. nasska (10,623 comments) says:

    ….”How many real New Zealand heroes have their been in the first thirteen years of this millenium? Can you think of any?”….

    Willie Apiata.

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  15. Judith (7,501 comments) says:

    Pete George (16,999) Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 5:01 pm
    ————————-
    I don’t know the answer PG.

    But I can’t help feeling that where I say “thank you Grandad, because of you I have so much”, my grandchildren will be saying ‘gee thanks Grandma, because of you we have so little’.

    I guess it is hard to produce heroes when there are no mountains that haven’t been climbed.

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  16. Reid (15,917 comments) says:

    Then again they might admire more the fact that recent generations have avoided the persistent wars and terrible bloodletting of those earlier years. Over the last 100 years the rate of casualties has declined enormously.

    Notwithstanding the 20th century was the bloodiest ever?

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  17. kowtow (7,590 comments) says:

    In a hundred years the imams will be telling their flocks in mosques that were former cathedrals “We won because Allah is on our side.”

    The oppressed Christians and Jews will be saying “That human rights and equality shit really let us down”

    Atheists won’t say anything in case they get the chop chop.

    And there won’t be too many same sex marriages about either.

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  18. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Hopefully they’ll see the Briscoes woman as iconic.

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  19. Andrei (2,499 comments) says:

    Then again they might admire more the fact that recent generations have avoided the persistent wars and terrible bloodletting of those earlier years. Over the last 100 years the rate of casualties has declined enormously.

    Funnily enough in January 1914 people thought the same and that European wars were a thing of the past and that they had this peace thing sussed – and then…..

    Well it all turned to custard

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  20. kowtow (7,590 comments) says:

    JC

    You’ve heard of Congo or haven’t you. Where the UN has overseen 6 million dead.

    Oh wait that’s Africa so it doesn’t count.

    A sad fact is civilian casualties have been a larger per centage in modern conflicts than in the good old days where generally armies met in the field ,did their bit and went home……notwithstanding the odd ugly seige here and there whrere the civvies didn’t fare well.

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  21. pq (728 comments) says:

    absolutely wonderful Farrar, the thing about you Farrar, is this consistent relevance that you have , even when you are ort of your depth. and we like you. there is more much more

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  22. dime (9,391 comments) says:

    “The ancients probably understood that a woman’s orgasm is the best insurance for conception. ”

    is that why i have no kids?

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  23. gump (1,474 comments) says:

    @DPF

    “I sometimes wonder how people in 100 years time will look back on our society today?”

    ———————–

    The same way we look back on our move to grant Women’s Suffrage in the 19th century.

    i.e. with satisfaction.

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  24. BlairM (2,286 comments) says:

    I heard a sermon recently where the pastor pointed out that the first thing God commanded in the Bible was to have sex. I thought that was fair enough.

    The Apostle Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians also says “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” So yes, not having sex with your wife is a sin!

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  25. Fletch (6,010 comments) says:

    They will look back and see the female “slut walks” and wonder….

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  26. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    Over the last 100 years the rate of casualties has declined enormously.

    Bwaaa! Ha ha ha! ha ha haarrrr!!!

    That’s a good one :)

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  27. Northland Wahine (647 comments) says:

    They will look back and see the female “slut walks” and wonder….

    Why the fuck did their men folk let them get away with that shit?

    Yeah right!

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  28. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    dime (5,834) Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    “The ancients probably understood that a woman’s orgasm is the best insurance for conception. ”

    is that why i have no kids?

    What, you firing blanks?

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  29. Steve (North Shore) (4,491 comments) says:

    Some Women want sex more than men so they can have a lifestyle that someone else pays for.
    How much of my tax dollar is going to career mothers – 10 kids and no partner – all the kids with different fathers.
    No male stays with her more than 18 months.
    Hey, make money and no work – vote Labour

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  30. Nostalgia-NZ (4,899 comments) says:

    Things are getting really tough when men don’t like ‘passionate’ women.
    Even ones that talk a little dirty.

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  31. frankdb (150 comments) says:

    JOHN KEY IS RUNNING AROUND WITH HIS PANTS AROUND HIS ANKLES ON FIRE and DPF says “move on. nothing to see here”

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  32. JC (906 comments) says:

    To those who scoff when I said the rate of casualties has gone down massively.. note I use the word *rate*, so when you look at WW1 and WW2 you are looking at the percentage killed over damn near the “whole” world.. thats what world war means.

    In WW2 Germany lost something like 6 million people, or less than 10% of its population, but in the 30 Years War of a couple of centuries earlier it lost 30% of its population.. throughout history its been slaughter on that sort of scale.

    Vietnam?.. 1.5 million people in several hundred million protagonists.. its a rounding error like the Korean War.

    Look at the “swamp” wars of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.. around a decade in length and 58000 Yanks killed in Vietnam, then 6000 in the other two.. it (the survival rate) simply got better for the US and the Muslims lost a fraction compared to the Vietnamese.

    There’s other more precise studies out there but this one popped up on Google first:

    http://www.npr.org/2011/12/07/143285836/war-and-violence-on-the-decline-in-modern-times

    JC

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  33. scrubone (3,044 comments) says:

    JC, I remember reading a death rate from wars, and it turned out that modern technology ramped up by a massive factor the daily death rate in war.

    So the bottom line appears to be that medical technology is catching up with weapons technology while weapons technology is getting smarter and more accurate.

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  34. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    To those who scoff when I said the rate of casualties has gone down massively.. note I use the word *rate*, so when you look at WW1 and WW2 you are looking at the percentage killed over damn near the “whole” world.. thats what world war means.

    That is completely meaningless as justification to pat ourselves on the back.

    In WW2 Germany lost something like 6 million people, or less than 10% of its population, but in the 30 Years War of a couple of centuries earlier it lost 30% of its population.. throughout history its been slaughter on that sort of scale.

    WW2 lasted 5 years and the thirty years war lasted…..umm….thirty years? At the same rate over thirty years =36 million.

    Look at the “swamp” wars of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.. around a decade in length and 58000 Yanks killed in Vietnam, then 6000 in the other two.. it (the survival rate) simply got better for the US and the Muslims lost a fraction compared to the Vietnamese.

    That is an utterly ridiculous comparison, one war was fought in the middle of the jungle, with cover everywhere, was a popular revolution, with a world superpower pumping money, men, and military machinery to assist the enemy.

    Iraq was broke, had outdated machinery, military personnel unwilling to fight, vast open spaces, and not a friend in the world.

    The truth is that the 20th century had death and carnage the likes of which the world had never seen before.

    Lets hope the 21st century turns that around somewhat.

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  35. SPC (5,355 comments) says:

    The US Civil War is way up there for death rates.

    The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. The mobilization of civilian factories, mines, shipyards, banks, transportation and food supplies all foreshadowed World War I. It remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 750,000 soldiers[5] and an undetermined number of civilian casualties. Historian John Huddleston estimates the death toll at ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years old, and 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40.[6]

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  36. hmmokrightitis (1,506 comments) says:

    Only on a right wing blog would the irony of men posting about war on a sex thread be lost…

    :)

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  37. Mike Readman (356 comments) says:

    I think things are swinging back.

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  38. Manolo (13,338 comments) says:

    Lets hope the 21st century turns that around somewhat.

    Vain hope, I’m afraid. The humans race continue to be the same destructive animal of past centuries.

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  39. JC (906 comments) says:

    “JC, I remember reading a death rate from wars, and it turned out that modern technology ramped up by a massive factor the daily death rate in war.”

    Only in theory because in practice the enemy developed dispersion techniques that limited the firepower:

    http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/gabrmetz/gabr0022.htm

    “The result, as Figure 1 demonstrates, has been that wars since 1865 have killed fewer soldiers as a percentage of the deployed combat force than was the case in previous wars. Except for the Napoleonic wars which utilized the tactical field formation of the packed marching column, every war since 1600 (Table 1) has resulted in fewer and fewer casualties as a percentage of the committed forces for both the victor and defeated.”

    “The impact of the dispersion of forces on this equation is evident from the data in Table 2. It is clear that as weapons became more and more destructive, armies reacted by adjusting their tactics to increase their dispersion of forces so as to minimize the targets provided to the new weapons. Again, the overall result has been a decline in battle casualties even as the lethality of weapons increased.”

    Dispersal probably helped enormously in the Thirty Years Was as well, the fighting ranged over much of Europe and allowed populations some ability to get out of the way.

    JC

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