Note: This post is not at all explicit, but it does concern a sexual topic.

Don't tell anyone I'm watching Oprah today. :-) The show today is a sex therapist saying that, for women, being desired means more than the actual sex. In fact, she says, the feeling of being desired is the orgasm. The first thing that came to mind for me was mixed orientation marriage: Besides intimacy itself, straight wives often miss out on this feeling of being desired--which is the reason behind many things women do. As Oprah's guest pointed out, women spend a lot of time and money doing things designed to increase desire (e.g., makeup).

Another topic was the fascinating interplay between evolution and attraction: men and women are unwittingly most attracted to each other when their bodies are most fertile. Beauty and appeal ultimately comes down to the highest chances of reproduction, which makes homosexuality an odd case as mating that has zero chance of passing on the genes.

? ? ?


Scott said...

It might be generally true that women want to be desired above all else, but I don't think that statement can be applied universally, at least not as I'm understanding your explanation of what was said on Oprah...

As I understand it, we're talking about sexual desire, and unless I'm absolutely missing something, I don't think Sarah (my wife) needs to be desired sexually above all else. She does need to feel wanted, but on more of an emotional level and less of a physical one--though that distinction is something we hadn't really pinpointed until after I came out.

Prior to my coming to terms with being gay, there was some frustration on her part with the fact that I never initiated sex. This made her feel unwanted/undesired, and this was hard on our relationship. So far this fits with the theory that was posited on Oprah...

But since I came out (and we realized that there's a very real reason I've not been initiating sex) she's discovered that she's not greatly bothered by the idea that I'm not absolutely smitten by her from a physical/sexual standpoint, because she trusts absolutely that I love her (and need her) on a different, emotional level.

Perhaps she's just unusual that way, and perhaps that's why our marriage continues to be successful where so many mixed-orientation marriages fail.

As for the evolution question... The only problem with the idea that "beauty" increases the chance of reproduction is that the idea of what's beautiful changes across cultures and over time. From a purely evolutionary standpoint, traits that will contribute to the likelihood of successful birth of healthy children (and to the ability to raise those children) might increase a woman's "desirability", which is why a shapely body (larger hips means easier passage through the birth canal, large breasts indicate better ability to nurse) is almost universally considered attractive. But many of the things that we think make a woman "beautiful" have more to do with fads and fashion than with evolution and reproduction.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Thanks for responding, Scott. As far as the Oprah topic, I see what you mean. I should clarify one little point, though: I don't think the therapist was saying that women want to be desired "above all else". I think she was saying that, in most cases, the feeling of being desired is a larger component of sexual pleasure than the sex itself. Of course, I can't really know that this is true (not being a woman), and as you explain, there are exceptions. Thanks for pointing that out!

Regarding the evolution bit, you're right--perhaps "beauty" was not the most accurate term. Beauty, as you say, is an ever-changing concept (e.g., the act of a woman exposing her heel was scandalously risque centuries ago in Spain), but attractiveness--I think that's a better word--is different because of natural selection. For instance, men, though they may not (and don't) realize it, are most attracted to a woman's scent when she is ovulating. If humankind is biologically wired--by evolution--to be most attracted to the opposite sex when there is the greatest chance for reproduction, how do these subliminal factors apply to homosexual people? I guess that's really what I was meaning to get at.