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Chocolate City

March 15, 2007

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Joe Newton

What to do about differing libidos? We're a straight couple together 20 years. No weight gain, no radical changes in appearance. We are loving, and I am cognizant of her needs and feelings. Yesterday, I read an interview with Joan Sewell, author of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido, and handed it to my wife. This is the new ideal? Women laughing at their male partners about women's general lack of desire? My spouse can now point at this book and say, "I'm normal, live with it..." While I want sex daily, I get it maybe 5 to 20 times a year—and I am lucky compared to some men! Where are the women who want sex constantly?

Not Giving Up

I haven't had a chance to read Ms. Sewell's book, NGU, but I devoured Sandra Tsing Loh's review of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate in the current Atlantic Monthly. And I'm saddened to report that, according to Sewell and Loh, there's no such thing as a woman who wants sex constantly. They don't exist—never did.

All that yammering about women with voracious sexual appetites during Sex and the City's reign of terror? A cruel hoax. A figment of the straight-male imagination, a Big Lie picked up on and promoted by self-serving female "sexperts" eager to tell straight men what they wanted to hear. Women have naturally lower sex drives, Sewell writes. It's a hormonal thing. Testosterone makes humans horny, men have way more than women, so men are hornier—and all the Sex and the City repeats in the world aren't going to change that.

So if straight women don't want sex—or as much sex—what do they want? Chocolate, says Sewell, or a good book. Massive amounts of carbs, says Loh, who approvingly writes of a lesbian couple she knows. With no men around demanding sex, Loh's lesbian friends are livin' the dream: "Teri and Pat have had a special Monday-night ritual. They order an extra-large cheese pizza," writes Loh, "[and] settle in on the couch with large twin bags of Doritos. Each chip is dipped first in cream cheese and then in salsa. Cream cheese, salsa. Cream cheese, salsa.... The Doritos are finished to the last crumb, and then, upon arrival, the pizza as well." (No dessert is mentioned—I imagine it's just one wafer-thin mint.) Teri and Pat are 50 pounds overweight and suffer from "lesbian bed death," but for them, pizza-and-Doritos night is "better than sex." Loh, who has a sex-starved husband at home, is green with envy.

So the jig is up, NGU. For a while, women with high libidos were normal and women with low libidos were freakish. Now women with low libidos can hand their husbands Sewell's book and rip open a bag of Doritos.

But there's a silver lining, NGU. Back when women with low libidos were regarded as abnormal—way back at the beginning of the month—it was fashionable to blame the man in a woman's life for her lack of desire. For years, whenever I printed a letter from a guy who wasn't getting any, or wasn't getting much, mail would pour in from women insisting that he had to be doing something wrong.

I called them the "if only" letters: If only she didn't have to do all the housework, she would want to have sex. If only he would talk with her about her day, she would want to have sex. If only she weren't so exhausted from taking care of the kids, she would want to have sex. If only he didn't ask for sex, she would want to have sex. Well now, thanks to Sewell, straight guys everywhere know that it doesn't matter how much housework you do, or how sincerely interested you are in her day, or how much of the child care you take on: She still won't want to fuck you.

Sewell's book is also going to restore straight men's dignity. I was recently shown a new sex-toy collection for straight couples, a basket of erotic goodies—"lotions and potions!"—clearly designed for women who would rather eat chocolate. Edible strawberry lubricant, vanilla body powder, chocolate genital sprinkles. Lotions and potions? Try frosting.

And, my God, chocolate sprinkles for your cock? Here's the message these tins of frosting send to men: She would put your dick in her mouth if only it tasted less like cock and more like cupcakes. Well, no more, guys. Toss the lotions and potions.

One thing that hasn't changed in the wake of Sewell's book is my advice to women with low libidos: You can have strict monogamy or you can have a low libido, ladies, but you can't have both. If monogamy is a priority, you're gonna have to put out, i.e., regular vaginal intercourse and the occasional tide-him-over handjob and/or blowjob, cheerfully given. If all you wanna do is sit there and eat chocolate, you're gonna have to turn a blind eye to lap dances and mistresses and happy endings and the return of trade, i.e., gay guys giving NSA head to straight guys.

Sewell herself is following my advice: "Because Sewell loves her husband," writes Loh, "they eventually worked out a contract both can live with. It involves handjobs, lubejobs, and—when she doesn't feel like being touched—her dressing up... and letting him watch... so he can finish himself off by himself."

Oh, and guys? You need to accept those tide-you-over blowjobs and handjobs just as cheerfully as she gives them. The one thing besides hormones that contributes to female reluctance to consent to sex is the expectation, on the part of the male, that consent always means vaginal intercourse—except when it means anal intercourse. If your hole were getting pounded every time you said yes to sex, guys, you would say yes less often. So broaden your definition of sex to include handjobs, blowjobs, lubejobs, and masturbation in her presence or on her person—these things count, guys, they're not consolation prizes.

And finally, a word about a book I have read: In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins tears into the intelligent design idjits. I feel bad about piling on—almost. Hey, intelligent design idjits? If God really wants us to have heterosexual sex only, and then only within the bounds of holy matrimony, and if adultery offends Him so much—it's a stoning offense, right up there with gay sex—how come He designed men and women to be sexually incompatible?

Well, I should say that He designed straight men and straight women to be sexually incompatible. Lesbian couples, with their bags of Doritos, and gay couples, with our mutually insatiable sexual appetites, seem pretty intelligently designed. Thank you, Jesus!

My position on beating off to historically important images of Anna Nicole Smith, or getting your ex-fundie ass laid, didn't go over so well. Angry letters—most of them from Wolf Blitzer—at www.thestranger.com/savage/annanicole.

mail@savagelove.net

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1
It IS possible, DS, for a woman to have a high sex drive. It's just not as common. You make it sound like not one of us is out there, when you are indeed very wrong.
Posted by yakityyak on October 11, 2008 at 6:43 AM · Report this
2
I took it that he was making a tongue-in-cheek commentary of the BS discussed in that book. Dan knows better. He probably gets letters every day from women who AREN'T like the women in that book.
Posted by Woman without a low sex drive on December 10, 2008 at 3:02 PM · Report this
3
If your hole were getting pounded every time you said yes to sex, guys, you would say yes less often.

This made me smile. So true.
Posted by SK on January 6, 2009 at 9:59 PM · Report this
4
I'm a twenty-two-year old female and I've wanted sex practically every day since I lost my virginity when I was 16. Of course I HAVEN'T unless I've been in a monogamous relationship, save for one or two times, but I find that I often want sex more often than my boyfriends. I know I'm still young, but I can't imagine a time where I wouldn't want to have sex. If I wasn't running late, I'd have sex before work, after work and before bed.

My advice for the husband would be to start by giving her a massage or something to relax her or get her in the mood to be touched instead of just dropping your drawers. Go slow if you have to and when she smiles, lick her pussy, do what she likes sexually and maybe she'll want to have sex. If either of you is dirty or she's self conscious, take a shower and then do whatever she likes that makes her want sex and then have sex with her. I don't know. Make an effort. Compromise. I guess I shouldn't be giving advice on this topic considering that knowing that the right guy wants it is all it takes to make me want it.
Posted by Mary on February 20, 2009 at 6:42 PM · Report this
5
#1, I think he's mainly talking about *married* women. Marriage is one step from celibacy, kids.
#2, Unmarried ones.
#3, If our holes were getting pounded every time we said yes to sex, then chances are our partners would be men. To say yes, an offer has to be made, sister.
#4, Have fun while it lasts.
Posted by Yep married why do you ask on June 5, 2009 at 7:24 AM · Report this
6
I'm catching up on old columns, so no one will likely read this, but on the off chance that someone does...

I'm almost 50 and married. I've wanted sex every day since I was a teenager. Still do. Can't imagine the day when that stops. I only wish my husband wanted it as much.

At least one married woman still wants sex (often!), loves to give blow jobs, loves to rim her husband, and loves anal sex.
Posted by married woman, loves sex on November 17, 2009 at 4:25 PM · Report this
7
I appreciate this article. I am that woman. My husband has a high sex drive. He constantly makes me feel like there is something wrong with me because I don't want to have sex everyday. Hell I agree to it 2 to 3 times per week. I'm exhausted! I would happily agree to a "slightly open" marriage if he would be less sexually demanding. He refuses that option. I'm frustrated!
Posted by bettie on November 20, 2009 at 12:39 PM · Report this
8
Well I'm confused by this article! Every girlfriend I've ever had has been bang up for it all the time, infact too much, it has kind of led me to believe in my own mind that females have a higher sex drive! I know this isn't supposed to be true but speaking purely from my perspective it is. I like to have sex 3 or 4 times a week. I have had 8 relationships which lasted long enough to call girl friends and they all seemed to want it all the time which is often off putting and then the questions about don't you find them attractive etc How is this possible? I'm meant to be the one with the testosterone! I simply can't belive Im alone on this? Or am I?
Posted by Confused on March 9, 2010 at 2:29 PM · Report this
9
Well I'm confused by this article! Every girlfriend I've ever had has been bang up for it all the time, infact too much, it has kind of led me to believe in my own mind that females have a higher sex drive! I know this isn't supposed to be true but speaking purely from my perspective it is. I like to have sex 3 or 4 times a week. I have had 8 relationships which lasted long enough to call girl friends and they all seemed to want it all the time which is often off putting and then the questions about don't you find them attractive etc How is this possible? I'm meant to be the one with the testosterone! I simply can't belive Im alone on this? Or am I?
Posted by Confused on March 9, 2010 at 2:30 PM · Report this
10
Well I'm confused by this article! Every girlfriend I've ever had has been bang up for it all the time, infact too much, it has kind of led me to believe in my own mind that females have a higher sex drive! I know this isn't supposed to be true but speaking purely from my perspective it is. I like to have sex 3 or 4 times a week. I have had 8 relationships which lasted long enough to call girl friends and they all seemed to want it all the time which is often off putting and then the questions about don't you find them attractive etc How is this possible? I'm meant to be the one with the testosterone! I simply can't belive Im alone on this? Or am I?
Posted by Confused on March 9, 2010 at 2:30 PM · Report this
11
Well I'm confused by this article! Every girlfriend I've ever had has been bang up for it all the time, infact too much, it has kind of led me to believe in my own mind that females have a higher sex drive! I know this isn't supposed to be true but speaking purely from my perspective it is. I like to have sex 3 or 4 times a week. I have had 8 relationships which lasted long enough to call girl friends and they all seemed to want it all the time which is often off putting and then the questions about don't you find them attractive etc How is this possible? I'm meant to be the one with the testosterone! I simply can't belive Im alone on this? Or am I?
Posted by Confused on March 9, 2010 at 2:30 PM · Report this
12
i am one of the women that loves sex, wants sex, and needs sex all the time!!! It's typically my boyfriends that complain about me. i agree with #4 ~three times a day, be clean, be nice, and Dan's GGG is the way into our pants guys =)
Posted by pearl on March 9, 2010 at 5:23 PM · Report this
13
He really was kidding, guys. Otherwise I'd have to go kill myself at my apparent abnormality of wanting sex all the time!
Posted by Sarah in Olympia on March 9, 2010 at 11:01 PM · Report this
14
Seriously, why can't we expand away from the binary sex drive idea, like someone either has a low libido or a high libido. We moved beyond this with sexuality a long time ago, and I propose it's time to do the same here. As a lesbian woman who enjoys sex a lot I've heard men and women spout this belief that women have naturally low libidos, and men high libidos; but I've heard, seen and experienced evidence to the contrary. So libido is fluid, isn't constant throughout our lives, and may be many things all at once, hm sounds pretty rational.
Posted by LezzieInTheRye on March 10, 2010 at 2:21 PM · Report this
15
You know, I usually adore Savagelove and find the column not only entertaining, but often quite insightful. I have to say that as a woman with a very active libido, however, I'm disappointed in this article.

I've recently been forced to learn more about the way testosterone is produced and operates within the female body, and it's not a simple matter. I happen to have a higher than average testosterone levels (though, it's not like I'm becoming a man) and I’m randy enough to have sex every day. I'm actually often disappointed because my male partner is much less interested in sex than I am. He's a good sport, and "rises" to the sexual challenge pretty well, but there's no question that it's me who's pushing for it.

I think that this article makes sexuality and hormone levels seem black and white—men have testosterone and will therefore hump any post if it stands still long enough, while women would rather get it on with a bag of Doritos. But this is severely simplifying the situation. I humbly request that you read up more on hormones before making such bold statements!
Posted by Lusa Naturae on March 12, 2010 at 8:09 PM · Report this
16
If the prominence of ED drugs are to be any guide, it seems like men are the ones disappointing women all the time. It makes it seem that there are large swaths of the population's men who are approached by women and then unable to comply with their demanding libidos. Is this a ploy to get men to buy the product? Possibly. But I wouldn't be surprised if this low libido/high libido schtick is bull shit and every one of us needs to embrace the sex we love.

Sure, sometimes you put on a show because you aren't in the mood. It's what you do.
Posted by Extuno on December 5, 2010 at 7:59 PM · Report this
BedlamBabe 17
Wow, people... I know there's no official font for sarcasm, but that was unmistakeably tongue in cheek. How could you miss it?
Posted by BedlamBabe on March 11, 2011 at 5:18 AM · Report this
18
@2 & 17:

I absolutely agree! It surprises me that Dan's readers wouldn't be able to pick up on his tone at this point..
Posted by muchaspecas on April 16, 2011 at 11:16 AM · Report this
SlimJimPoisson 19
I assume that most people posted while reviewing archives in chronological order. SPOILER ALERT: If you agree with 1, 4, 6, 8, 9 (10 and 11 too since they are duplicates), and 12 then you need to read the next column and the Savage Love Extra that is attached to it.
Posted by SlimJimPoisson on November 9, 2011 at 10:43 PM · Report this
20
My life is the mismatched libido game. I've spent a lonely, misunderstood evening collecting the all-too-frequent questions to Dan on the topic. Besides the empathy, I'm going to ask my wife if she wants to talk about these columns. We have the argument 3X a week, anyway, and this might focus it.

@19 - I found next week's column first ... this makes a lot more sense now.
Posted by Steeeeverino on November 28, 2011 at 6:35 PM · Report this
21
"where are the women who want sex constantly?"
Hello, I'm here! X
Posted by Maryln on July 8, 2012 at 5:21 PM · Report this
Cynara 22
@17 - Like you care about a sarcastic font!

But there is one, like italics but slanted the other way.

www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/p…
Posted by Cynara on August 28, 2013 at 9:30 PM · Report this

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