I attended the International Society for the study of Women’s Sexual Health this past week. This is one of the greatest meetings I go to during the year, and this one in particular was phenomenal. One of the lectures was about sexual desire and women. The lecture touched on many different components to female sexual desire, the awareness that sexual desire alone does not lead to sex for women. When men have sexual desire they seek out sex because it is a positive experience. This sounds obvious and rational, but the presenter went on to discuss “disincentives to sex in married women” (Sims & Meana 2010). Dr. Meana has a PhD from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and she was the presenter. The first of three most likely disincentives to sex for married women is Fatigue and Energy Consumption. The women surveyed felt like the amount of energy it would take to make love wasn’t worth their time or effort. The second factor was boredom. Basically, this was when the woman felt that her partner knew what worked and went to that technique quickly and finished quickly. It was thought of as “animalistic”, and the women in the study reported that despite having opposable thumbs they didn’t feel made love to, but more likely a physical recipient for their partner. Thirdly and most prevalent was a negative body image. Women worried about whether their partner was looking at their cellulite, seeing their fat roll, or fantasizing about larger breasts than they actually had.
Glamour magazine recently reported on a survey in which more than 300 women of all shapes and sizes reported on what they say to themselves each day. The average was 13 brutal thoughts about their body each day. That wasn’t all; many reported more than 100 each day. Can you imagine what you would feel like if you told yourself all day each hour how ugly, fat, stupid, or skinny you are? Anne Kearney-Cooke PhD, who has done expansive research in this area, says it is not surprising. More and more we are conditioning young girls to worry about how they look, compare themselves to friends, and to look like the celebrities they see on TV and read about in teen magazines. If women now in their 30s, 40’s and 50’s feel the pressure of not looking good enough, or being valued for their beautiful curves and body shape, can you imagine what the next generation will feel like? Face Book, MTV, Reality TV as well as most magazines tell girls and women what they are supposed to look like. There is a correlation between how we feel about our bodies at the age of 9 and 10 and when we are adults. That correlation is going to influence whether or not women can enjoy having someone love them, and be sexually healthy as adults.
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