Can we declare a moratorium on the phrase "withholding sex?" For why this is necessary, look no further than AskMen's four "reasons" women won't get down.
We acknowledge that AskMen's lists at this point seem tailor-made to irritate us, but "Reasons Women Withhold Sex" (offered via Fox News, no less) is actually instructive — just not in the way it intends. Let's start with the bad: AskMen's Sarah Stefanson (is AskMen trying to blunt the misogyny of its most obnoxious articles by assigning them to women?) says Reason #1 is "She's pissed." She elaborates,
If you've done something that made her furious, she may not be above punishing you by keeping the one thing you really, really want out of your reach. The last thing a woman wants to do when she's feeling any kind of negative emotion, whether it's mad, sad, frustrated, annoyed, stressed, or worn out, is get busy between the sheets. While many guys can turn off the unpleasant feelings and get down to business, a woman finds it more difficult to push those emotions aside and get aroused. You might be satisfied with angry, violent sex, but she wants to work out her angst before she jumps into bed.
I'm pretty sick of the stereotype that women can't enjoy sex if they're having "negative emotions" — I've always found sex to be great stress relief, and I think angry sex is awesome. But the best/worst thing about this paragraph is the mental image I now have of a woman keeping her vagina (the one thing you really, really want) physically out of reach, possibly by somehow holding it in the air. All that said, it's not so unreasonable to want to work things out before fucking — and things that need to be worked out are not the same as "angst."
It gets worse, however. Reason #2 is "She's asserting herself." Stefanson explains,
If she's keeping the good loving from you, it may be an attempt to assert her power over you and the relationship. If there's one area of a relationship women think they have control over, it's sex. She may just be doing it to show you who's boss in bed or she may be compensating for feeling powerless in some other aspect of her life. Maybe she has a cruel boss, a domineering best friend or an overprotective mother.
Poor little woman, trying to get over her mommy issues by "attempting to assert power" in the one area she thinks she has control over. How to set her straight? Stefanson says, "the easiest way to get the carnal door open again is to compliment her sexual abilities and prowess. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you acknowledge how much you appreciate her in bed she may realize that trying to prove her status is unnecessary." Note to men and women: if your partner's feeling powerless, simply telling her she's good in bed may not solve all her problems. There may possibly be other things she worries about besides her ability to please you.
Amid the obnoxiousness, however, Stefanson offers a grain of truth: "she could be avoiding sex with you because she's not enjoying it." Maybe when a woman doesn't want to have sex, she's not being crazy, manipulative, or bitchy — maybe she just doesn't want to have sex. This simple possibility exposes the problem with the phrase "withholding sex" — it implies that sex is something a woman owes her (male) partner, and something she'll only refuse to pay out if she wants to punish him in some way. But contrary to everything society teaches, sex is not a magic jewel that a lady keeps in her vagina until she lets a guy dig it out with his dick. It's an act in which all participants should be willing and enthusiastic — and if they're not, it's time to talk, not make dumb assumptions about a "domineering best friend."
Image via Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock.com.
Reasons Women Withhold Sex [AskMen, via Fox News]