Too Tired For Sex? Why "Just Do It" Is Not The Answer

A recent study claims that 80% of Brits would rather get extra sleep than have sex, and the Daily Mail's Jackie Clune wonders if we should just wake our tired asses up and "Do It."

Clune trots out the old chestnut that women are too tired to bone after working, grocery shopping, and taking care of the kids. She also complains that, "these days women are expected not only to be the perfect wife, mother and career woman but also a naughty nymph at bedtime." But the only solution she offers is one already espoused at length by Caitlin Flanagan: "Just Do It." Though she jokingly blames her triplets on "Just Doing It," Clune seems to agree that "sex is just like jogging - you don't always fancy the idea of it, but once you start you wonder why you don't do it more often." True enough — but why do the legion of columns about busy women's low sex drive offer lying back and thinking of England as the only real fix for the problem?

Clune does name-check the recession ("money worries, redundancy and falling house prices aren't the best aphrodisiacs") — but she doesn't make the obvious connection that people's work lives are ruining both sex and sleep. Other writers on this issue — Ayelet Waldman among them — have suggested that men should shoulder more of the housework to get their wives in the mood. Equality in the home is a great idea, and, which really practiced, has probably sexed up many a celibate marriage. But individual men doing more laundry is no substitute for an examination of capitalism's demands on families. We live in a world where both parents must often work to support their kids, where maternity and paternity leave are substandard, where child care is expensive, and where women and men both suffer in the workplace when they put their families first. And the recession has not changed the mentality that the best employee — single, childless, partnered, or parenting — is one who always puts his or her personal life second. Until these things change, people will always have to make the sad choice between sex and sleep.

At least, though, the Brits surveyed had a choice. A new Australian film, My Year Without Sex, tells the story of Natalie, who suffers a brain aneurysm and is told to forgo sex or a year to avoid triggering another one. The movie shows not just how Natalie and Ross navigate Natalie's sexless year, but also how they raise their two children and interact with a richer family "who spend their time making money, arguing and shopping." Reviewer Paul Byrnes says My Year Without Sex gives viewers "a strong sense that raising a family now comes with unforeseen difficulties" and "a year without sex is actually one of the lesser challenges that [the director] tackles." Nonetheless, Natalie's plight should serve as a reminder to people prevented from screwing by the more common libido-killers of long hours and housework — sex, and a fulfilling personal life in general, is worth fighting for.

8 out of 10 Brits prefer sleep to sex [GMTV]
Is sleep the new sex? Yes! Yes! Yezzzzzz [Daily Mail]
My Year Without Sex [Sydney Morning Herald]
"Year Without Sex" proves to be time well spent [Reuters]