The Pursuit of Sexual Happiness

Darwin, Freud & women's sexual desire

Physical pleasure and attraction are the most common reasons women have sex for. Note that I wrote « Most common ». That is because they are far from being the only ones. Indeed, while the motivations of men's sexual appetite seem obvious to many scientists, why women have sex is a mystery that Sigmund Freud went as far as calling «The great question». Why? Well women are much more complex creatures than men as it appears. Contrary to the latter, their sexual desire is just as much conditioned by their emotions as it is by their physical condition.

Some researchers say they do it for love and commitment while others assert they do it for pleasure just like men. University of Texas psychologists, Cindy Meston and David Buss, stray from that scientific theorizing manic, stop trying to speculate about women's sexual incentives and choose to bluntly ask women, in their new book, why they have sex.

Needless to say that the results came up to be, to the least, surprising (or the book wouldn't be worth publishing). Out of a 1000 women participating in a five years survey, it is staggering to see that 31 percent had sex with a certain person to bring about jealousy in the heart of their beloved, while a stunning 84 percent declared having sex to « keep peace at home ». A hefty 53 percent report stealing a friend's lover.

Darwinism may have something to say about these unusual sexual determinants. If we analyze things from an evolutionist point of view, the survival of the fittest theory infers that the women, who made it until today, are those who, over the course of history and evolution, succeeded in tempting the fittest men, the ones with the best genes. Those women who have sex to keep their household stable are « mate-guarding ». Evoking jealousy in one's mate aims at indicating a problem in the couple. One that needs to be fixed in order to pursue the relation.

Women's sexual desire can be confidence-seeking, boredom-driven or excitement-led. However it is not solely the result of an inner momentum since it is also carved by social constraints. Media often pictures women using sex as a means to their ends. If Basic Instincts isn’t enough of an example, maybe Basic Instinct 2 is. Furthermore, in several societies women's sexual desire is subject to vast prejudice, when it isn't classified as a taboo issue. In many developing countries’ societies, women’s sexual desire, if not accessory in a relationship, is irrelevant since they are perceived as a mere increment to the sexual pleasure of men.

However, the difficult comprehension of women’s sexual desire doesn’t mean that men's is a piece of cake. It's just ... different. A 2007 survey conducted by Meston and Buss identified 237 distinct reasons for which humans have sex. Comparing the top 20 of each gender, the reader can see that women have different sexual impulses than men. While I wanted to express my love for the person ranks fifth in a woman's perception, it is 8th in a man's. And while I realized I was in love is 9th for a woman, it is 17th for a man.

Women tend to dissect the act much more than men. This reflects in the reasons the survey, reliable as it can be, ranks. The mental approach plays a much bigger part in women's case. In this ranking, as in a woman's life, the brain takes the forefront and plain physical desire simply occupies the background. Put apart the anatomical differences, women sexuality is a distinct field in a psychologist's world with a different set of analysis tools, a different approach and a different logic.