“What does a woman want?” A host of controversial theories about the nature of female desire are offered up — most notably, that it is “rudderless,” “receptive,” “narcissistic” and “dominated by the yearnings of ‘self-love.'”
Most interesting is a study of men’s and women’s responses to various genres of pornography, including “heterosexual sex, male and female homosexual sex, a man masturbating, a woman masturbating, a chiseled man walking naked on a beach and a well-toned woman doing calisthenics in the nude.”
As for the women? They reacted like total horndogs — everything got their blood flowing:
“No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, they showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women and women with men. They responded objectively much more to the exercising woman than to the strolling man, and their blood flow rose quickly … as they watched the apes.”
In other words, women were physiologically aroused by a far greater range of sexual images; however, they were cognitively clueless to that fact.
The occasional cases of women having an orgasm while being raped and evidence of women’s physical arousal while hearing a description of a rape have supported her thesis. Chivers guesses that the physical response is a way â€œto reduce discomfort, and the possibility of injury, during vaginal penetration. . . . Ancestral women who did not show an automatic vaginal response to sexual cues may have been more likely to experience injuries during unwanted vaginal penetration that resulted in illness, infertility or even death, and thus would be less likely to have passed on this trait to their offspring.”
It’s at this point in our journey into the dark world of women’s sexuality that those politically incorrect ideas arise. Here, the leap is made to also viewing women’s desire, and not just their physiological sexual responses, as reactive — or, as Chivers puts it, “rudderless.” She tells Bergner:
â€œCertainly women are very sexual and have the capacity to be even more sexual than men, but one possibility is that instead of it being a go-out-there-and-get-it kind of sexuality, itâ€™s more of a reactive process. If you have this dyad, and one part is pumped full of testosterone, is more interested in risk taking, is probably more aggressive, youâ€™ve got a very strong motivational force. It wouldnâ€™t make sense to have another similar force. You need something complementary. And Iâ€™ve often thought that there is something really powerful for womenâ€™s sexuality about being desired. That receptivity element.”
In a similar line of thinking to Chivers, Marta Meana, psychology professor at University of Nevada at Las Vegas, argues that female desire is is actually based on being desired.
Meana, a self-described feminist, argues that women’s lust is “narcissistic” and guided by “the wish to be the object of erotic admiration and sexual need.”
The duality makes sense: the body is ready to be taken, and the brain has to plan ahead to see if giving in to that arousal makes sense. A creature designed around receptivity, as Chivers alleges, would need this dual system because it does not originate its thinking around an objective. So then every system it has must check off: Physical? Check. Emotion? Check. Logical? Check.
I found the article mostly interesting for its discussion of narcissism independent of women. Narcissism means focused on the self, so unaware of the world, and therefore receptive more than motivational because it is satisfied with itself. Better metaphors could be masturbation, a coma, sleep-walking or blindness. It explains at least why this society staggers unaware into oblivion.