"I Hoped He Would Put The Rubbish Out": Why Women (Supposedly) Have SexS

Adding more fuel to the lame notion that women don't actually like sex is a new book claiming females have intercourse with men for basically every reason other than attraction.

According to Tom Kelly of the Daily Mail (and rarely have a book and a newspaper been so well-matched), Why Women Have Sex presents research conducted by psychology professors Cindy Meston and David Buss at the University of Texas. Meston and Buss apparently asked 1,000 women their "reasons for sleeping with a man." Says Kelly, "Romance and passion [...] comes rather low down the list." It's not clear from coverage of the research exactly how far "down the list" it is — or whether Meston and Buss interviewed any gay women. But they did find over 200 reasons "for succumbing to the advances of the opposite sex." These include:

— "to make my sexual skills better"
— to relieve a headache
— to get pregnant from a guy
— "I slept with a couple of guys because I felt sorry for them"
— "because it's the closest thing to God"
"I hoped he would put the rubbish out"
— "to relieve the boredom — because it's easier than fighting. To give me something to do."

This last one actually seems like two different reasons, unless one of your hobbies is fighting. And really, having sex to liven up a dull Tuesday night — or to forestall an unnecessary argument — don't seem like such terrible things. However, it is a little upsetting that the women in the study claimed to fuck for basically every other reason than actually wanting to.

Or is it? First of all, it's not totally clear from the Daily Mail (or corresponding articles in The Sun and News.com.au) how often women were actually boning for rubbish-taking-out-type reasons. Kelly opens the Daily Mail article with the line, "For every woman expecting the earth to move, it would seem there are two with more practical motives," suggesting that "romance and passion" motivate one third of women (or all women, one-third of the time?). But he doesn't give any explicit numbers on this. If women were asked all the reasons they had ever had sex, I'm not surprised that some weird or mercenary ones came up.

But of course, the way the Mail and other papers have chosen to cover the story plays right into the stereotype that women don't actually like sex, and only ever fuck out of ulterior motives. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,...">Commenters on News.com.au chime in with equally simplistic analysis. Perth Boy says, "Women having sex for something in return.....where I come from we call them 'prostitutes'." Ouch! But surely plenty of men have had sex for reasons other than "romance and passion" too (if we're playing stereotypes, what about the one that says dudes like to screw lots of women to brag to their friends about it?). More upsettingly, Jimara says, "Did it ever occur to you women that us guys actually USE you for our own purposes also? We'll do and say anything for a good time." So men are lying to get women in bed, and women are agreeing because they want the garbage taken out. Where do I resign from the human race?

The idea that women never actually want sex is much older than Meston and Buss, and it often provokes responses like Jimara's — and, more upsettingly, the rhetoric of pickup-artists who think their job is to convince women to do something they don't actually want to do. This can become a vicious cycle of ever more reductive and damaging gender roles. But of course, lots of women do like sex. As commenter Emma says, "What a load of crap. I'm sick of so called research studies telling me how I think. I have sex because I like it!" I have to wonder if it's still hard for women to admit this to researchers, if it's somehow more acceptable to say "I hoped he would put the rubbish out" than "I was horny" (a phrase I, for my part, find it almost impossible to utter). And I wonder if the more newspapers tell women "how they think," the more embarrassed they'll be to admit how they really feel.

Why Women Have Sex: To Relieve Boredom, Win Favours ... Or To Stop A Headache [Daily Mail]
Why Women Have Sex [The Sun]
Secret's Out: Why Women Really Have Sex [News.com.au]