I don’t feel like humping! Call 911!

17 Nov

We knew it was coming. The industry that has brought us a drug to treat weak stream, three different boner pills, fifteen or so baldness drugs, Latisse, and Botox (and so on ad nauseum/infinitum) has finally developed a pill to cure the world of the plague that is female sexuality.

Apparently, we didn’t already have a wide enough variety of anti-depressants (pshaw, as if) and someone was trying to develop yet another one. While the new drug, fibanserin, turned out to be bunk as an anti-depressant, it had a strange side effect: it caused an increase in libido. The researchers, suspecting they’d accidentally come across the holy grail of pharmaceuticals, started trials of the drug as a libido enhancer right away. The trials, led by Professor John Thorp of the University of North Carolina, included 2,000 women. Those women who took the largest dose reported that they experienced “more frequent and more satisfying sex and greater desire. They were also less distressed about their previous sexual problems.” Thorp, pleased with the results, described the drug as “essentially a Viagra-like drug for women in that diminished desire or libido is the most common feminine sexual problem, like erectile sexual dysfunction is in men.” I’ve got a few problems with this story.

First of all, how is not wanting to hump a medical problem? Why are women required to take medicine in order to make sure that their desire to get busy matches that of men? There are several seriously problematic assumptions sitting right underneath the idea that we need a drug to enhance women’s libidos. The first of these is that human sexuality is male sexuality, and that female sexuality is thus a variation on “human” sexuality. The line of thinking is that men are easily aroused, and women are not, so women need to get with the program even if that requires taking medicines that might (really, definitely will — it was supposed to be an anti-depressant, and how many of those don’t have fucked up side effects?) have side effects that are yet to be discovered. There is also the assumption that when women are involved in sexual relationships with men (I suppose this study could have included lesbians, but no mention was made and I seriously doubt it), they ought to be sexually available whenever their male partners should happen to have the urge. Our culture, media, and social norms tell us that when women don’t make themselves sexually available, they are failing as partners, they’re “frigid,” they deserve to be cheated on.

Why is male sexuality the yardstick by which female sexuality is measured? Why is female sexuality that does not conform to men’s desires pathologized? Let’s pretend we live on another planet for a minute, a planet on which male sexuality as it commonly manifests in modern American culture is not normative, but rather open to analysis and judgement. Men are overstimulated. The world presents them with a ceaseless parade of images of objectified and sexualized women intended to excite and arouse, from Hennessey billboards to the cover of Stuff to Manswers to the wide world of internet porn. A constant state of arousal has to be disruptive. Maybe it’s male sexuality that’s dysfunctional, no?

But let’s be serious here, male sexuality is not a monolith, nor is female sexuality, and it’s absurd that we’re pretending either exists as an identifiable entity outside of the socially constructed gender and sexual roles thrust upon us. There is no such thing as a “normal” libido. There is no threshold above which we are having too much sex and below which we are blowing it as human beings. Not humping much, just like humping a lot, ought not elicit opprobrium or constitute a source of shame. If a woman doesn’t feel like getting bizzical, she doesn’t need medicine, she needs to have her wishes and bodily sovereignty respected. If a woman isn’t interested in getting naked, she doesn’t need to go to her doctor, she needs to know that it’s OK that she feels that way and not be bullied into risking her health by taking a pill to counteract something that isn’t dysfunctional.

I think men might be surprised at the “improvement” we’d likely see in women’s libidos in the absence of slut shaming, accusations of frigidity, the virgin/whore complex, and emotional blackmail, an “improvement” that wouldn’t require dangerous medication that disrupts the way our bodies operate. You see — and I know this will sound crazy — my libido seems to be connected to the behavior of my partner. If he respects my humanity, if he allows me to make decisions regarding sex freely and without passive-aggressive bullshit, if I feel like sex is a means to express affection rather than a bargaining chip, if I feel an intellectual and emotional connection with him, my libido miraculously increases. If he were to act like an entitled asshole and pressure me for sex, if he were to display piggish attitudes about women’s sexuality, if he were to treat my sexual needs or desires as if they were of secondary concern, or if I just were to happen to not be that into him (not that I’d hang out with anyone these hypotheticals apply to), I imagine that I’d suddenly transform into Morrissey.  Bizarre, I know. Should I be taking a pill?

Who knows how hosey women would be if it weren’t for the aggressive and hostile sexual objectification of women and the concomitant slut-shaming so rampant in our society? If women’s sexuality were to go unrestricted and were even encouraged the way men’s is, if women were allowed to develop their own sexual preferences without being forced to conform their desires to men’s, things might be a lot different and we might not be looking for pills to artificially increase women’s libidos, because women’s libidos wouldn’t be suppressed by a society that sublimates their sexuality. I’m just saying, dude.

* Word up to the Esquire for the link.

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232 Responses to “I don’t feel like humping! Call 911!”

  1. Jenn November 17, 2009 at 9:34 PM #

    The pathologizing of female desire bugs the hell out of me. Does anyone stop and think for a moment that perhaps women who express guilt that they are not horny enough are responding more to cultural pressure than to a concrete brain disorder? I mean, that’s the conclusion I go to, since no concrete brain disorder has been found. It’s like the doctors producing this pill automatically ruled out any externals that are, frankly, more compelling, then an imbalance that needs chemical correctives. This shit is about as medical and scientific as blood-letting. It’s about equivalent to throwing shit at a wall to see if it sticks.

    Frankly, using chemicals to “correct” feelings in the brain scares the shit out of me. It’s Stepfordization. Unless a legitimate medical reason exists for correction, why the hell would anyone think it’s a good idea to preempt the normal processes of the brain? I interpret pills like this as the attitude that the free will of women isn’t consequential for enjoyable sex or life in general.

    This, like you said, goes back to the “it’s always those frigid bitches” idea that is ever so popular. I mean, if sex causes you pain or your lover is just plain bad, or you’d rather do what you want to do than respond only to the sexual whims of your partner, there’s something wrong with you and your brain. Take a pill to get rid of your free will.

    I am reminded of a woman I knew. She was a close friend of my mother’s before she died, too early, at the age of 45. She finally succumbed to massive internal bleeding and organ failure when her totally undiagnosed uterine cancer went septic. She had been complaining of pain at intercourse and a lack of menstruation for years. Her doctor diagnosed her with menopause and being a frigid bitch, and put her on hormones (accelerating the growth of the tumor) and partner sex therapy. After years of blaming herself for not enjoying sex, her husband cheated and they got a divorce. Then she died two years later, from cancer that everyone else thought was just a symptom of her silly lady brain malfunctioning by not suppressing her will to conform to the sexual desire of men.

    Attitudes behind the development of this stupid pill contributed to the death of my mother’s friend. I don’t doubt that they’ve killed and hurt thousands of others as well.

    • Imaginary November 20, 2009 at 11:01 AM #

      I’m terribly sorry for your loss. That prick doctor should be wounded. And then put on pills that make him feel like it’s his fault that he’s in pain. What a dick.

  2. isme November 17, 2009 at 11:57 PM #

    Ok, that’s scary. And, assuming it actually works, how many inventive men do you think will find ways to give it to women without their knowledge?

    • Nine Deuce November 18, 2009 at 12:15 AM #

      Yeah, it’s like a version of that Sex-activator shit that works.

      • winter_lights November 18, 2009 at 5:28 AM #

        I’m not sure, but it kind of sounds like it has an effect over a prolonged period of use, not a fast effect like… well, Viagra from what I know of it. So one-time dosing probably isn’t likely.

        On the other hand, someone who sneaks it into a partner’s food or something every day… Sounds like an episode of CSI waiting to happen.

        • karinova November 19, 2009 at 7:54 AM #

          You know how complaining that one’s wife/long-term girlfriend was a “nympho” when you met her, but has “mysteriously” lost interest in sex over the years is practically a rite of passage? (Especially for those men who, once the courting period is over, hound women for sex, act like entitled jerks, don’t do housework/childcare, watch The International Ladies’ Show, tell rape jokes, etc., etc.)? Well, I guarantee that a secret long-term dosing program is the first thing that’s coming to mind for a lot of those doodz when they hear about this. No doubt “jokes” in that vein are already being made.

          I have a real problem with infidelity, but if this stupid pill has to come out, and some stupid bastard manages to get a doc to supply him with it to slip into his “frigid” lover’s food, I pray it works, and she gets raging hot for someone else.

          • winter_lights November 20, 2009 at 5:43 AM #

            Not familiar with that, actually. (The only man I actually spend much time around is my dad, really.)

            I suppose I didn’t come out and say that I thought long-term dosing was a real possibility. I do. It still sounds like the plot of a CSI episode.

            Poetic justice? I like it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how it would actually work in a situation like that. (But then I think of the next way it could end up like a CSI episode and… sigh.)

            • isme November 20, 2009 at 7:05 AM #

              Yeah, it’d be so awesome if the drug made a woman have sex with a man she wouldn’t have if she wasn’t under its influence, but it wasn’t the man she belonged to.

              Oh, wait…

              • Faith November 20, 2009 at 12:58 PM #

                “Yeah, it’d be so awesome if the drug made a woman have sex with a man she wouldn’t have if she wasn’t under its influence, but it wasn’t the man she belonged to.”

                While I take issue with the “belonged to” part, I can see what you’re saying. However, I must say that if I ended up in such a situation, I hope like hell that I screwed someone other than the asshole who drugged me. It would serve him right.

              • winter_lights November 20, 2009 at 7:01 PM #

                Okay, my appreciation for irony should not be taken as liking the situation as a whole. I’m also not sure from the described effects of this that it would lead to sex with anyone who they wouldn’t already be inclined to have sex with. It just changes *when*.

                Also, there’s no guarantee the other person will be a man, but that doesn’t really make the situation less wrong. It just increases the irony.

                Faith said…
                “While I take issue with the “belonged to” part, I can see what you’re saying.”

                Isn’t that kind of the point? For someone to consider doing something like this, they’d have to have that sort of view, which I think we’re all agreeing is pretty bad.

          • Gowan October 22, 2014 at 12:43 PM #

            “I pray it works, and she gets raging hot for someone else”

            Or, being overwhelmed by the need to have sex, finds out that she can masturbate and that her right hand is a more considerate lover than the male asshole she is with. And does more of the housework, too.
            And maybe then she’ll realize that one asshole is really enough for a woman, and get rid of the one that is not attached to her body.

  3. veganprimate November 18, 2009 at 1:11 AM #

    You see — and I know this will sound crazy — my libido over the course of my lifetime seems to have been connected to the behavior of my partner.

    Word.

  4. Andrew November 18, 2009 at 2:54 AM #

    I have to be honest Nine Deuce, I think your reading something into this that is not there. I did not read the story you linked to, but unless it was loaded with all sorts of “Now she’ll be hot for you” bullshit I don’t see where women will start having pills forced on them by their partners for not being horny enough.

    I’m going to assume for a second, and your readers will probably agree, that I’m a typical piggish male. This being the case, it has honestly never crossed my mind that a woman’s lack of libido towards me was a biological defect in need of medical cure.

    As for sexual shaming, you might be right if you put substitute the word “man” for “woman”. I’m not going all MRA on you or anything, but men who can’t perform either for want of talent or libido are the objects of shame and ridicule much more than women. This has its own anti-feminist implications, but that does mean that men who have libido issues do not feel the sting of being emasculated. This was in the back of my mind while I read this, and I have to say that I don’t think this is the kind of thing men will force on women when they don’t want to have sex, I think it is the kind of thing women will look into for the benefit of their own sex lives. Men have done it, and I don’t see why a woman who feels like she should be more sexual but isn’t wouldn’t look into it. (That being said, I’m against taking pills with random side effects for stupid shit like this)

    In short, I don’t think the piggish men of the world are licking their chops for this sort of thing. As you mentioned, when the going gets rough we will just manipulate or cheat to get sex if we’d like. I think it is women, probably married with children, who are most eager to try this out for the sake of their own happiness and love life.

    Furthermore, if you want to do a piece on society and sexual shame, talk to men who don’t consider themselves the walking fuck machines society expects them to be.

    Lastly, if it turns out that I am just blind to this, being a privileged middle class male or whatever, then I apologize. But speaking for most douchey/moderately handsome men in their 20′s, I don’t think we expect women with less sex drive to go to the doctor to fix it.

    P.S./Off-Topic – I read the Immanuel Wallerstein essay. It was good, but he raised more questions than he answered. I generally agree that Universalism and Racism/Sexism are mutually sustaining rather than negatively correlated, but like him I am not sure why as the opposite would seem to be more logical.

    • Nine Deuce November 18, 2009 at 3:08 AM #

      You have no clue what kinds of pressures women face, apparently. Think about this for a second: if you didn’t feel like having sex, why would you think you needed medicine? It’s not that men will consciously urge their partners to take these pills (though I think many would), it’s that we live in the kind of society that pathologizes women’s sexuality without thinking about where the purported “dysfunction” comes from. Read Jenn’s comment.

      For the record, I don’t think impotence drugs are all that cool, either. I’m not saying no one should take them or this drug, just that the shaming of people who aren’t constantly sex-ready is a problem.

      • Andrew November 18, 2009 at 3:33 AM #

        For clarities sake I don’t think a sexuality is being pathologized. When you say that your assuming the women using this drug will have a normal sexuality that seems inadequate compared to their partners. I think the women who use it will be women who have perceived themselves to be unsatisfied with their libido. These have different implications.

        As for it not being a blog about men, that is true, but it is hard to claim something is a women’s issue when men have a much harder time of it.

        • Nine Deuce November 18, 2009 at 3:34 AM #

          No, men do not have a harder time of it. These are two different issues: men taking medicine to be able to have sex when they want to, women taking medicine to force themselves to want to have sex when they do not want to.

        • winter_lights November 18, 2009 at 5:24 AM #

          Normally I think comparisons to situations men have get dismissed too easily, but I’ve got to agree with ND here. It really is different. Sure, there may be social pressure saying that men should want sex all the time, but is anyone seriously suggesting that men need a pill if they aren’t wanting sex enough?

          That being said, I’m not sure the idea of wanting one’s sex drive to be different from what it is is totally unbelievable. I know that sometimes my mind and my body don’t always agree on how interested I am, and I don’t have to deal with anyone’s desires but my own. But I think I’d rather solve that problem with erotic fiction than with chemicals.

    • Nine Deuce November 18, 2009 at 3:26 AM #

      Also, this is not a “what about the men” blog.

      • Laurelin November 19, 2009 at 1:40 PM #

        Hey! How about I make one and supply Andrew and others with the password?

    • isme November 18, 2009 at 3:41 AM #

      “diminished desire or libido is the most common feminine sexual problem”

      That is a line from that story, and it has obvious implications. Who gets to say what people should desire?

      Ok, to be fair, most of the comments on this blog seem to be about criticising people’s desires, but generally existing ones, not the lack of desires.

      Yes, men are ridiculed for lack of performance/desire…though the first isn’t particularly relevant to this, or indeed the second. The second is only tangentally relevant…yes, men are supposed to massively desire sex, which is bad, but that hardly means the same expectation of women stops being bad.

      • Andrew November 18, 2009 at 3:21 PM #

        Well the reason I think it is relevant is because I believe what we have here, at its worst, is not an attempt to denigrate women. I think, at its worst, we have the pharmaceutical industry trying to recreate its success with viagra/cialis on the 50% of the population it previously couldn’t reach.

        Since men have already undergone this impotence onslaught, and now women are beginning to, I don’t see how the experiences of men being told their sexual drive doesn’t conform to a normal standard is different from women being told the same.

        The real problem I am having with conceptualizing this is the fact that even if Nine Deuce’s analysis is correct and there is a lot of anti-feminist subtext here, what about the women who actually want this pill? The reason I am having this problem is because I don’t know if a possible anti-feminist subtext here is enough to outweigh the potential benefit.

        The best example I can think of is the condom industry. As far as marketing goes, they go to the end of the earth to convince the world that if we have unprotected sex, even once, we will catch an STD or end up pregnant. They even take the next step of stigmatizing STD’s to such an extent that if one finds out they have caught one, they’d almost rather shoot themselves than get treatment. While I disagree with all of this, condoms as condoms are hugely beneficial to society.

        I talked with my girlfriend about the drug issue and she said that it was problematic because women were previously prescribed things like this “off-label” and that drugs like this are not new. She inferred from this that since women always had this option, the increased marketing would create more pathologizing of sex rather than actually help women get the drug. I disagreed, saying that most women probably weren’t aware they could get these things off-label.

        Again, I also just want to make clear the women I am talking about aren’t women who just think they aren’t having enough sex. The women I am talking about are women who really really want to be intimate, but for whatever reason can not make the mind-body connection in themselves to make it work.

        • Hoyahead November 19, 2009 at 4:36 AM #

          Andrew, your condom analogy fails because the real physical damage caused by STDs (and prevented by condoms) in no way corresponds to a physically-harmless, relatively low sex drive (prevented by this pill).

          It also fails because sex is physically riskier for women than it is for men (women are particularly vulnerable to secondary STD infections, women are at greater risk for PID and infertility as a result of STDs, and pregnancy carries a whole truckload of health risks), so encouraging women to have more sex (say, by suggesting they take a pill that induces them to want more sex than they naturally would) actually puts them in more physical danger, while using condoms puts people in less physical danger.

          I can’t imagine what you mean by “women who really really want to be intimate, but for whatever reason can not make the mind-body connection in themselves to make it work,” (Isn’t that what the million-and-one different varieties of drugstore lubricant are for?) and I’m pretty sure this pill will be, in fact, marketed precisely to women who “just think they aren’t having enough sex.”

          I also know that I’ve seen countless “men’s advice” message boards in which husbands/boyfriends complain about how their wives/girlfriends only want to have sex (X) times per year/month/day. There’s usually one “sensitive” guy who suggests the woman in question be sent to a doctor, and the rest of the advice is either cheat on or divorce/dump her. (Here’s a fun example, from Men’s Health: http://forums.menshealth.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/230100665/m/9811022565)

          I have never, ever, ever seen the following advice: “If she thinks she’s having enough sex, she is. You’re just going to have to deal with it because she should be allowed to decide how much sex to have–without you (or society) telling her there’s something wrong with her.”

          And that’s why this whole thing is, in the end, bad for women: since there’s now a pill to “fix” women’s libido, it will be even harder for an individual woman to explain to her husbands/partners/boyfriends that there isn’t anything wrong with her if she wants less sex than he does. The advice on the message boards will now be, “tell her to take the pill or you want a divorce.” We’re getting further away from recognizing that women should be allowed to decide how much sex is normal for their individual bodies and selves, and that those decisions should be respected.

          • Andrew November 19, 2009 at 6:17 PM #

            Well if it is unworkable at the macro level then it is unworkable, but for me at least, and what I would recommend others, is that women are the arbiters in this situation.

            If they are not content with their sex lives, then they are the ones who get to decide if they take the pill. Not the men who might like the results despite how the woman feels. It is nuanced, and for this reason I don’t think we can damn this pill or accept it universally.

            • lmarley November 19, 2009 at 7:08 PM #

              Sorry to butt in, but…

              “for me at least, and what I would recommend others, is that women are the arbiters in this situation.”

              So why are you arguing with all the women who say they don’t like this pill, or the idea of this pill, or the things this pill implies about female sexuality? And why aren’t you taking those arguments in the serious nature in which they are intended?

              Or are you saying that there are women who would totally agree with you, you’re just speaking up for those women, who don’t have voices here to speak up for themselves?

              • Nine Deuce November 19, 2009 at 7:31 PM #

                Exactly. I’d like Andrew and Aray to explain whom they are speaking for and why they think they are qualified to do so, especially given that they are arguing with actual women about a pill for women.

                • aray November 20, 2009 at 5:58 PM #

                  I’m not speaking for anyone. And I’m not really arguing with much either…I just said that you took a kind of flat view of male sexuality and that the issue is much broader than you suggest. Culturally speaking, men respond to what they believe women want the same way women respond to what they believe men want. Therefore, I don’t think it is accurate to say that men simply impose what is normative for female sexuality. For example, the development of medicines to regulate the bodies’ sex drive is in some ways directly related to 1960′s era radical gender politics. So if I’m arguing anything, it’s that there is a much broader social context to this.

                  Sophocles: “Peace, most gladly have I escaped from the thing of which you speak; I feel as if I had escaped from a mad and furious master”

                  • Andrew November 20, 2009 at 6:23 PM #

                    I want to agree with you, and I think I might if we fleshed this out a little more, but this is the tension:

                    While “men” as men might not be behind this, there exists a huge pressure to conform oneself to the stereotype that any human with a hard dick or wet vagina should be using it. It is no secret that America is oversexed and has been for some time. This is problematic, and not the problem is being exacerbated because, with the existence of these pills, nobody has an excuse not to be sexually active. As I said, while men are not doing this in their capacity as men, corporations, which are largely dominated by men, are. This then falls under the issue of patriarchy.

                    That being said, I think this issue is more than a woman’s issue, because rich men, aside from not giving a fuck about women, also don’t give a fuck about anyone but themselves. They have undertaken to exploit the sexual insecurities of both men and women for profit. This exploitation is the reason this is an issue.

                    It is my position that although we are being exploited, we are hopefully still free enough to make important choices for ourselves. With that in mind, I believe women who truly want these pills should have them. I also believe people should be more open about their sexuality though, so that society is aware that not everyone has the sexual libido of a stand-in on TruTv’s “Rehab”. (Shout out to ND on this reference, I saw your post on it in the archives and thought it was hilarious)

                    • aray November 20, 2009 at 7:12 PM #

                      Pretty much every social issue that deals even obliquely with gender or sex is a patriarchy issue in some sense. At the same time, it isn’t enough to blame the corporations. Of course you’re right in calling them exploitative, but they exploit what the people desire. Corporations are about money. They only reinforce patriarchy to the extent that it is profitable. I’m wondering if there is a tension between sexuality conceived as “what I have a right to do” and sexuality conceived of as a moral issue, or “what is good for *us* to do”. America subordinates the concerns of the public to the private. Perhaps this inherently encourages a greedy, libidinous culture. If this is true, then the sexual dysfunction of this country cannot be overcome by dialogue or reform. The political structure would have to be re-evaluated at the root. The question then would be: is it possible to think of sexuality in terms of the moral good and still foster equality between the sexes? Christianity has largely failed to do this.

              • Andrew November 19, 2009 at 7:49 PM #

                I think that the tone of the initial post was very black and white, that this pill was a uniformly bad idea in the sense that it would only give men another reason to blame women for intimacy issues and do nothing to remedy to “true”cause of those issues, which males share responsibility for.

                As far as thats the message, I disagree. I think there are women who could find a very legitimate purpose for this pill. I believe women exist who did not “choose” the low libido they have and would like a greater one, one that they can not achieve through “intimacy training”. I think this makes the issue more nuanced, which would mean the black and white criticism of this pill misses the mark.

                That being said, I do agree that it has inherent anti-feminist implications, which is why I believe only women should be making these kinds of choices.

                • Nine Deuce November 19, 2009 at 9:12 PM #

                  There is no black and white criticism, but this pill certainly treats things as black and white. Instead of confronting the fact that our sexual culture is dysfunctional, we have a pill that will allow it to become even more so. Instead of looking at the myriad reasons why a woman might not want to have sex, it sends the message that she’s the problem, and that she needs to get with it.

                  If you believe only women should be making these choices, why are you here speaking on behalf of some chimerical group of women who supposedly need this pill?

                  • Andrew November 19, 2009 at 10:41 PM #

                    First, just because I think women should be the ones making these choices, does not mean that women are the only ones justified in making choices about the choices. It’s clearly a public issue and the public should discuss it.

                    I think your having a hard time seeing a diference between women wanting sex and not being able to have it, and women notesnting sex and being pathologized for it. As far as the pill helps the former, I support it. I don’t think it should be used as a weapon against the latter. As much as it is, I oppose it. This is why the issue is nuanced.

                    • Nine Deuce November 19, 2009 at 10:44 PM #

                      I’m not having a hard time seeing anything. I’m aware that there are women who might want this pill. The problem is that there are a lot of women who don’t, and that their completely natural sexuality is being pathologized so that pharma can make money and men can have easier sexual access.

                      Why are you qualified to speak on behalf of women? Let them come and make that argument.

                      Then go look up your vs. you’re. It’s really driving me nuts.

                    • Andrew November 19, 2009 at 10:55 PM #

                      Then we are at the point that I was trying to get across earlier. There is a policy judgement to be made.

                      If the harm these pills entail is too great, does it justify denying some women access to them in order to mitigate that harm?

                      As for me, I don’t think it is justified. A reasonable person may, but I don’t.

                      As for the issue of whom is speaking for whom, I don’t feel like I am speaking for anyone but myself. It is not an issue that I could never have a vested interest in. Many, many men, find themselves in these situations all of the time and should have a grasp on the varied considerations entailed before deciding how to react. For that reason alone I feel like I am entitled to have an opinion on the subject, just like literally *everyone* else who comments here.

                      As for the your vs. you’re issue, I apologize. My there and theirs and to’s and too’s are often very bad as well.

                    • Nine Deuce November 19, 2009 at 11:02 PM #

                      I’m not a lawyer, Andrew, nor am I making government policy decisions. This blog exists as a way for me to attempt to convince people to think a certain way. The goal here is a cultural attitude adjustment, not urging legislation per se.

                    • Andrew November 19, 2009 at 11:16 PM #

                      Agreed. As far as cultural attitude’s go I think the proper one to have in this regards is one that recognizes that women, content with their libido’s, or discontent for non-medical reasons, should not be pressured to take this drug. For the small group of women who may have a medical reason for using this pill, and who want to use it, I think the choice should be there.

                      I think this strikes a balance between mitigating the harmful cultural attitudes towards women the drug might promote, and recognizing that women should have a choice.

                    • winter_lights November 20, 2009 at 6:07 AM #

                      The question is, is there any way to actually reach that goal?

                      As things stand, it’s likely that this will be pushed at far more people than would have any real use/desire for it, both by marketers and more direct (and skeevy) methods. It’s looking to me like another “Who are you willing to sacrifice?” question, and it doesn’t sound like there’s any way right now for this to help enough to outweigh the harms.

                    • aray November 20, 2009 at 7:18 PM #

                      Yes! This is exactly the problem. There is no way for our society to judge what the public moral effect of a product may be. The best we can do, it seems, is to put “parental advisory” stickers on CDs…as usual our culture has everything ass backwards.

                • lmarley November 19, 2009 at 10:04 PM #

                  It has “inherent anti-feminist implications,” which should of course not be called out or questioned, because all women are fully aware of the anti-feminist (or, shall we say, patriarchal?) environment that gave birth to the mindset required for something like this pill to be envisioned and then brought to life.

                  No. That’s not how it works. Someone points out that something has skeevy underpinnings, and you don’t, actually, tell them that the issue is “more nuanced,” because someone has already pointed out the nuance. The nuance is the reality that this pill comes from the idea that there is something wrong with some women’s naturally occurring sexuality, and that a barely-tested antidepressant with as yet unknown side-effects is going to treat that.

          • Adam November 19, 2009 at 9:30 PM #

            I know this is of off topic but after reading this blog for a couple of months a question has been burning in my mind (The message board link really brought it to the forefront). If women should be allowed to decide how much sex is normal for their bodies (And rightly so), then men should too, right? Equality and all that. So at what point can a man say he is not happy with his sex life in a relationship and end it? Sex is an important part of an intimate relationship. Yes, I understand that it’s not the only part, not by far, but it’s still important. A man can be completely respectful of a woman and still never have sex because she doesn’t want to, doesn’t feel well enough, etc. So where can the line in the sand be drawn without the man being a complete asshole for ending a sexually frustrating relationship?

            • Nine Deuce November 19, 2009 at 9:41 PM #

              He can leave the relationship. It’s pretty simple. If there is a sexual mismatch that’s that big of a deal, then the couple doesn’t need to stay together and do shitty things to each other (cheat, coerce sex, use porn, etc.), they need to break up and find someone they’re a match with sexually and otherwise.

            • polly styrene November 19, 2009 at 10:03 PM #

              So at what point can a man say he is not happy with his sex life in a relationship and end it?

              When he feels the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Doh!

            • winter_lights November 20, 2009 at 5:56 AM #

              I don’t see it as being much different from other sorts of issues. If you can’t find a solution that works for everyone, then you either live with the situation as it stands or you leave. I’ve read about working relationships between sexuals and asexuals, so I’d expect people who just have differing levels of sexual interest could work something out. Just, as ND says, no doing shitty things to each other. (Though we might disagree on what that involves.)

              Actually, shouldn’t “no doing shitty things to each other” be pretty self-evident? Since once you get to that point, you’re basically destroying whatever it is that’s making you want to preserve the relationship in the first place. “Pyrrhic victory” isn’t something I’d want used to describe anything in any relationship of mine.

            • Faith November 20, 2009 at 12:53 PM #

              “So at what point can a man say he is not happy with his sex life in a relationship and end it?”

              At whatever point he feels it necessary for his happiness. Just the same as any woman who is unhappy with her sexual relationship.

              That one is a no-brainer.

        • karinova November 19, 2009 at 7:57 AM #

          These women aren’t impotent; they’re uninterested. There’s a significant difference.

  5. veganprimate November 18, 2009 at 4:17 PM #

    I think the women who use it will be women who have perceived themselves to be unsatisfied with their libido.

    Where do you think they got that perception…hmm?
    Women don’t grow up in a vacuum.

    These are two different issues: men taking medicine to be able to have sex when they want to, women taking medicine to force themselves to want to have sex when they do not want to.

    Exactly. There’s a difference between wanting to have sex, but not being able to b/c of blood flow issues, although I have had sex with a man with diabetes who was impotent. I didn’t have intercourse, obviously, but he was still able to orgasm. It is a bit harder (no pun intended) to stimulate a flaccid penis, but it can be done.

    But being aroused and flaccid due to blood flow problems is different than not being aroused at all or not wanting to have sex at all.

    When people engage in an activity repeatedly, it’s because it’s enjoyable. They are drawing on past experience of engaging in said activity to decide if they want to engage in it again. I’ve ridden a horse twice; I’ve donated blood twice. I will not do either of those again.

    If sex with a particular partner is not enjoyable, or if the negative experiences outweigh the positive ones, then I’m not going to want to do it with that partner. Drugging me up so that I am so horny that I don’t care WHOM I’m doing it with is wrong.

    Most men (I’m not saying “all men”, so don’t derail by harping on this*) seem to not give a shit about who, what, when, where, and how. But most women do (again, I didn’t say “all women”). This pill seems to be about making women’s sexuality into men’s.

    Plus, it’s so much easier for the man to have his partner take a pill than it is for him to respect her, treat her well, learn what arouses her and what doesn’t, and communicate well.

    * Someone will, anyway.

    Actually, although I think male sexuality has become a caricature due to patriarchy, I think there is an evolutionary payoff for a species that reproduces sexually for one sex to not care about who, what, when, where, how. If both partners were discriminating, then there’d be way fewer offspring.

    • Faith November 18, 2009 at 8:10 PM #

      “Plus, it’s so much easier for the man to have his partner take a pill than it is for him to respect her, treat her well, learn what arouses her and what doesn’t, and communicate well.”

      Bingo.

      • Jmeezington November 20, 2009 at 12:47 AM #

        Here’s a question which could be helpful and seems to underlie this discussion. Do you think this pill would override any emotional, and communication failures in the relationship?

        If so, ecstasy has been available for quite some time now.

        And although the above is a joke, if this drug is able to overwhelm the voluntary decision to have sex, then everyone has a big problem.

        But if not, then the same pressures on women to have sex will exist. Will they not?

        • lmarley November 20, 2009 at 8:04 PM #

          They will! And that in and of itself is a vicious thing. First, you have societal pressure, then you a have a cure so that you can give into that pressure gracefully–no, so that you’ll want it instead of just wanting to want it, and you’ll be paying to submit to an ideal of female sexuality that is still railed against in many quarters (virgin/whore again!), so you’re still not fitting into society perfectly, you’re still under pressure, and you’re paying even more money to do so. Creating unhappiness to market “happiness” in a tangible form, again and again and again.

    • Rian November 19, 2009 at 12:10 AM #

      Where do you think they got that perception…hmm?

      And that’s the connection between men and women. Women are supposed to want sex all the time because men are supposed to want sex all the time (and women exist to service men).

      This pill seems to be about making women’s sexuality into men’s.

      Without changing any of the social stigma surrounding women’s sexuality, which might threaten men’s ability to define women. It’s an extension of consumerist sex. Men are consumers, women are consumables, and this pill is just to bring the product up to the current specs.

  6. polly styrene November 18, 2009 at 6:44 PM #

    I imagine that I’d suddenly transform into Morrissey. Bizarre, I know. Should I be taking a pill?

    No you must tell me straight away if you turn into Morrissey (Oh and FWIW, he’s not really celibate, just a big fibber)

  7. polly styrene November 18, 2009 at 6:52 PM #

    have to be honest Nine Deuce, I think your reading something into this that is not there. I did not read the story you linked to, but unless it was loaded with all sorts of “Now she’ll be hot for you” bullshit I don’t see where women will start having pills forced on them by their partners for not being horny enough.

    I’m going to assume for a second, and your readers will probably agree, that I’m a typical piggish male. This being the case, it has honestly never crossed my mind that a woman’s lack of libido towards me was a biological defect in need of medical cure.

    As for sexual shaming, you might be right if you put substitute the word “man” for “woman”. I’m not going all MRA on you or anything, but men who can’t perform either for want of talent or libido are the objects of shame and ridicule much more than women. This has its own anti-feminist implications, but that does mean that men who have libido issues do not feel the sting of being emasculated. This was in the back of my mind while I read this, and I have to say that I don’t think this is the kind of thing men will force on women when they don’t want to have sex, I think it is the kind of thing women will look into for the benefit of their own sex lives.

    Well yes Andrew, but the story says this.

    Irwin Nazareth, from the Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, said sexual dysfunction needs to be redefined.

    In a survey of 1,000 women in north London six years ago, he found that while 40 per cent reported a lack of or loss of sexual desire, only a quarter regarded it as a problem. “For many people, reduced sexual interest or response may be a normal adaptation,” he said.

    Now in the world that brought you cosmopolitan magazine, women aren’t allowed to go off sex and just like gardening or crochet instead. We have to be hot horny sex beasts or there’s something ‘wrong’ with us. The use of the word ‘dysfunction’ for lack of desire tells us everything we need to know.

    BTW the article also has this totally cringe worthy bit.

    However, fibanserin is different in that it works on the brain rather than on the genitals, according to John Thorp, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of North Carolina. Doctors have long known that in women, the brain is the most important sex organ.

    FFS…….

    • Rian November 19, 2009 at 12:13 AM #

      Doctors have long known that in women, the brain is the most important sex organ.

      FFS…….

      Exactly. Women “need” relationships and chocolate and candles and never ever want a romp with a hottie right now. But men are so “simple” that they “need” porn and “variety” and constant reassurance that yes, those 19 year old babes would totally want them except they’re restraining themselves.

  8. owleyed November 18, 2009 at 11:23 PM #

    Thank you so much for this post. I always felt this way, why do we need to declare a lack of sex a medical issue!

    I am going to share this link, amazing as always.

  9. Aine November 19, 2009 at 2:57 AM #

    I can’t help thinking of the contrast with the medieval view, which was that women were always trying to get it daily and nightly and ever so rightly and the poor poor men had to do all they could to resist this temptation to sin and concentrate on their careers.

    I wonder if women subconsciously lived up to that back then? I wouldn’t be shocked if we did- “I can’t help it!” she’d cry “Look at Eve- we’ve always been this way!”

    Plus ca change.

  10. Hoyahead November 19, 2009 at 3:57 AM #

    Nine Deuce hit the nail right on the head (as usual) when she asked why it is that male sexuality (whether socially constructed or not) is the yardstick by which “normal” is measured. After all, no one is suggesting that men should alter their libidos to correspond to women’s; I’d be willing to bet every penny in my bank account right now that no scientist anywhere is working on a pill that depresses men’s libidos so that oversexed men stop bugging or guilt-tripping or pressuring (or worse) their female partners for sex.

    This pill is designed for the woman who worries that because she doesn’t want sex as often as her partner does, she’s not giving her partner enough of it. And, statistically speaking, such a disparity might have something to do with her being busy with or tired from taking care of the couple’s house, social lives, children, extended families, and her own professional responsibilities.

    Sadly, instead of sending the message, “Hey, men: stop being so sex crazed. The next time you want to hump and your lady doesn’t, how about instead you use that excess energy to scrub out the bathtub, dust the baseboards, write your parents a thank you note, meet with your kid’s teacher, do the grocery shopping and cook dinner, pick up the dry cleaning, etc? Then maybe your wife/partner/girlfriend might actually WANT to do it with you,” our society instead sends the message, “Hey, women: if your man wants sex more frequently than you do, there’s something wrong with you, you’re not having enough sex, and lucky for you we have just the thing to fix you right up. Call your doctor if you have thoughts of suicide or signs of psychosis, preferably before you actually kill somebody.”

    Nobody thinks there’s something wrong with their libido unless someone else is telling them there is; as veganprimate put it, women don’t grow up in a vacuum.

  11. Lindsay November 19, 2009 at 4:13 AM #

    Good post, 9-2!

    Neuroskeptic has a good post explaining what this pill actually does, and discussing the side effects, of which the most common ones are dizziness, nausea, fatigue and somnolence. (About 15% of the people taking the highest dosage, which was the only dosage determined to be even a little bit effective, had to stop taking it because the side effects were so bad).

    Flibanserin also seems to be a sedative, from what I can tell of a) its function — it boosts the activity of serotonin receptor 1-A, which is mostly inhibitory, and blocks serotonin receptor 2-A, which is mostly excitatory, and b) other experiments — it’s also been investigated, at least in mice and rats, as a potential antianxiety drug.

  12. aray November 19, 2009 at 6:38 AM #

    People desire to desire. Medicine designed to be “anti depressant” often has the same effect on men (increased libido). Female and male sexuality are both deeply psychological. Impotence drugs are meant to cure a circulatory issue which is the result of ill health. I suspect they are often used to “cure” low libido. While I agree with pretty much everything you’ve written here, I think you may be underestimating the invisible power of female sexuality on men.

    Rousseau, no feminist, but always a shrewd analyst of human sexuality: “For nature has endowed woman with a power of stimulating man’s passions in excess of man’s power of satisfying those passions, and has thus made him dependent on her goodwill, and compelled him in his turn to endeavour to please her, so that she may be willing to yield to his superior strength… Woman reigns, not by the will of
    man, but by the decrees of nature herself; she had the power long before she showed it. That same Hercules who proposed to violate all the fifty daughters of Thespis was compelled to spin at the feet of Omphale, and Samson, the strong man, was less strong than Delilah. This power cannot be taken from woman; it is hers by right; she would have lost it long ago, were it possible.”

    This observation is not intended to “shift the blame”, but rather suggest that female and male sexuality can’t rightly be considered independent of the other. I think there may be a broader problem here than men forcing female desire to conform to their own.

    • KelS November 19, 2009 at 5:12 PM #

      Really? You know what I desire?

      I desire to not be made to feel guilty and negligent–or ill and in need of medicine–if I don’t want to let someone cross the boundaries of my body as often as they want to, despite any wondrous-magical-woman-sex powers I might possess.

      P.S. If “female and male sexuality can’t rightly be considered independent of the other,” what on earth do you make of homosexuality? If you’re suggesting that men’s anxiety over not being able to get erections on demand well into their 80′s has something to do with their desire to please women, I might remind you that women can be perfectly and completely sexually satisfied without a penis in sight.

      • aray November 19, 2009 at 11:47 PM #

        I didn’t imply that people want to be neglected or violated…?

        Homosexuality is a complicated issue, and the original blog post was primarily addressing heterosexuality. A couple observations… homosexuality doesn’t necessarily negate Rousseau’s argument regarding complementarity. In any kind of penetrative sex, there is a differentiation of roles. Sexual satisfaction isn’t the same as physical release.

        • Nine Deuce November 19, 2009 at 11:59 PM #

          Rousseau? It’s 2009. Flowery pronouncements by dead Europeans about the “natural order of things” are a bit passe, trite, and irritating at this point. Really, the only point in talking about Rousseau or any other Enlightenment thinker would be to get a grip on the cultural context of a given era by analyzing the effects of those ideas on the intellectual scene of that era. So, for example, we could discuss the ways in which Rousseau’s ideas have filtered down to present-day America, but then we’d have to ask ourselves whether there aren’t other intellectual and cultural forces that have more explanatory power for current ideas about sex and gender roles. In any case, using some fruity philosophical pronouncement from the eighteenth century to attempt to legitimize your views in 2009 is absurd. Advances in thinking on the subject have indeed been made in the course of the last two centuries.

          • isme November 20, 2009 at 12:43 AM #

            But ND, Rousseau proved the point by using examples of fictional characters invented by men in a different society millenia ago. That makes the observation seem much more valid.

            Or was it much less valid? It does something to the apparent validity of the argument, anyway.

        • KelS November 20, 2009 at 6:26 PM #

          One of the points I was making here is that there is a whole world of sexuality that has nothing to do with “penetrative sex,” especially for women, and that indeed male and female sexuality CAN (or even SHOULD) rightly be considered independent of each other.

          In fact, that’s kind of the whole point here: why should women’s sexuality be dependent on and measured by men’s? Why is the amount and kind of sex men are thought to want considered “normative,” and anything that varies from that is considered a problem in need of fixing?

          Your idea that people “desire to desire” is fine, except when a society starts telling people that the desire they desire (either by kind or degree) is a medical problem.

          • aray November 21, 2009 at 2:19 AM #

            Well first of all male sexuality shouldn’t be “normative”. Rousseau the fruitcake essentially says the opposite.

            I don’t think sexuality is a medical issue except where it is a health issue.

            Yes, sexuality is not limited to “penis meets vagina, babies are made.” However, there is also no denying that this kind of sex is very important (not to say exclusively important) for the vast majority of people. This being the case, sexuality has a whole lot to do with the relationship between male and female, and the tension between the two.

            As long as men and women desire mutual pleasure, they will be at odds with the nature of their bodies, because male and female bodies are different. Unfortunately, we live in an impatient culture and we think pills are the solution to everything.

            • polly styrene November 21, 2009 at 11:28 AM #

              However, there is also no denying that this kind of sex is very important (not to say exclusively important) for the vast majority of people.

              People = straight men then? Since it seems a whole lot of women aren’t interested?

              Oh stupid me.

              • aray November 23, 2009 at 12:07 AM #

                It sustains the population, and is the primary form of sexual intercourse for straight couples. Most people consider themselves “straight” and most people will reproduce.

                • Nine Deuce November 23, 2009 at 12:13 AM #

                  We aren’t talking about sex for reproduction, and this idea that activities other than heterosexual intercourse don’t count as “sex” is part of the problem being discussed here. You’re beginning to bore me, Aray. You’re proving to be yet another half-informed pedantic dude who thinks he’s got something to teach a bunch of women who are more educated on the subject at hand than he is.

                  • aray November 23, 2009 at 1:17 AM #

                    NineDeuce:

                    Don’t mean to bore, but it seems I have to repeat a lot of the things I write. For example, I never said other kinds of sex are “less than” in any way. Furthermore, I wasn’t speaking about sex as a means to reproduction. I am simply noting that for the vast majority of people (that is, straight men and women), sex, family life, and “PIV” intercourse are very important and interrelated things. I don’t think that is an unreasonable observation. And yes, I am aware that I am less informed than you. I’m not trying to pick fights here, with you or anyone else. Most of the “disagreements” people are having with me are about things that aren’t even in my posts to begin with (see above). This is sort of an offtopic/personal post, so I don’t expect you to publish it but I just felt the need to clarify myself. Anyway, I’ve seen a couple of your readers request that I be banned. There’s no need for that, I won’t post on your blog again. I can see I am not making much of a positive contribution to your discussions. So, my last word on it is this: I don’t agree with everything you write, but you have given me some food for thought and made me see things differently. Happy blogging.

                    • Nine Deuce November 23, 2009 at 1:28 AM #

                      You don’t need to repeat yourself, you need to be clear in the first place. And it isn’t that people aren’t getting what you’re saying, it’s that you’re raising arguments that we have seen many, many times before as a part of a general set of propositions men put forth in an attempt to avoid dealing with their own privilege. You can comment here, but I’d like to see a little more reflection on that privilege.

                    • Nine Deuce November 23, 2009 at 1:45 AM #

                      Also, read this. While you’re at it, have a look around the FAQ over there.

          • winter_lights November 22, 2009 at 2:40 AM #

            I’m not really sure you can consider the sexuality of any two people independently when the people in question are having sex with each other.

            • polly styrene November 22, 2009 at 12:35 PM #

              You assume winter lights that the two people are both equally engaged in and gaining satisfaction from the act of PIV intercourse. Yet 10% of women have never had an orgasm, and only 25% report regular orgasm from intercourse alone.

              http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/17/science/17orga.html

              • Faith November 22, 2009 at 7:07 PM #

                “Yet 10% of women have never had an orgasm, and only 25% report regular orgasm from intercourse alone. ”

                I was actually under the impression that closer to 40% of women have never had an orgasm. I would suspect that number has dropped in recent years, however.

                Regardless, just because two people are having sex together doesn’t mean that their sexuality is one and the same. Saying that you can’t consider two people’s sexuality as being individual is really quite absurd. Not only are people individuals, but even if we are having sex with each other, it does not mean that we have the same desires, motivations, intentions, etc. It doesn’t even mean that our experiences are the same. My experience of sex is obviously going to be different than a hetero. man’s experience, even if I’m having sex with another woman….

            • winter_lights November 23, 2009 at 5:55 AM #

              I didn’t think I was even talking about any individual act. (Or saying anything that applies exclusively to heterosexuals for that matter.) If two people are going to have sex, then I’d hope that their sexuality isn’t totally selfish and they would thus have an interest in the desires of the other person, even if it’s not something that interests themselves a great deal. That seems like it ought to work as well for PIV intercourse as, say, dressing up as Touhou Project characters.

              Faith said…
              “Saying that you can’t consider two people’s sexuality as being individual is really quite absurd.”

              That’s why I said “independently”, not “individually”. It’s not that they’ll be the same, it’s that they’ll influence each other.

              But I thought this whole thing was more about the desire to have any sex at all, not the desire for any *particular* act. I haven’t seen anything suggesting this pill increases anyone’s liking for “penile buffeting of the cervix” or whatever. (That might actually worry me a great deal more than this.)

  13. Ren November 19, 2009 at 6:41 AM #

    smirk. I might actually buy this stuff.

  14. Ben November 19, 2009 at 8:52 PM #

    Treating women as a monolithic group seems to be the main problem here. When this happens, inherent contradictions arise. On one side there is, “why do the drug comapnies only focus on male sexuality” and then on the other side there is “drug treatments for women = some kind of disfunction in women that are quite normal.” Neither explanation says nothing of individual women’s choices.

    • Nine Deuce November 19, 2009 at 8:55 PM #

      I already stated in the post that female sexuality is not be conceived of as a monolith. I have a problem with this drug because it does exactly that. It presents a normative female sexuality that is subservient to a normative male sexuality, and adds to the cultural shaming of women whose sexuality does not match up.

      • Ben November 19, 2009 at 9:58 PM #

        Perhaps I’m wrong, but I thought that normative female sexuality meant that women aren’t supposed to want sex as much while the normative male sexuality meant wanting sex all the time and being the aggressor. I thought that drugs like this for women were anti-normative. They certainly would not have been available during my mother’s generation, and certainly not during my grandmother’s generation, so I kinda see it as progressive.

        • Nine Deuce November 19, 2009 at 10:40 PM #

          No, normative female sexuality for now at least means women’s sexuality is defined by men/a male-supremacist society. The role is either virgin or whore, depending on male needs/desires.

        • polly styrene November 21, 2009 at 11:29 AM #

          The problem is that saying ‘doesn’t want to have sex’ = dysfunction.

          • Ben November 21, 2009 at 3:54 PM #

            How would you know that? I could see that being true if the person self identified as asexual or something, but how would you know that?

            • lmarley November 21, 2009 at 10:09 PM #

              How would you know that? How would the marketers of a pill know that? How would anyone but your doctor, after you clue her/him in, know about that? If someone is worried about not acting “normally” in regards to sex, that someone would go to a doctor. So the person would first have to know, right?

              And by telling people across the board that they are supposed to want this much sex, without regard to what those people actually individually want, is a problem that CREATES problems for tons of people who don’t fit into what you think is “normal.”

            • polly styrene November 22, 2009 at 12:42 PM #

              How would you know what Ben? If you are replying to my comment, the problem is generalising. Assuming that if someone doesn’t want sex it’s not only a problem for them, but something that needs medical treatment. Yes it MAY be a problem but it may not. However the medical profession describe ALL lack of interest in sex as ‘dysfunction’ no matter whether or not it’s a problem for the individuals themselves. That’s the issue: geddit?

        • polly styrene November 22, 2009 at 12:30 PM #

          Perhaps I’m wrong, but I thought that normative female sexuality meant that women aren’t supposed to want sex as much

          This was true circa 1900 Ben, however we now have Cosmopolitan magazine.

  15. sneeky bunny November 19, 2009 at 9:51 PM #

    Feel a need to come to Andrew’s aid here. I am a perfect example of the sort of person he is talking about. I am facing surgery and treatment that may very well tank my sex drive and that scares me to death. I don’t want a low libido. I like having two boyfriends. I want to want to have sex with them. To that end, if it comes to it, I will scream blue murder to get what ever help available, be it chemical, be it vibrating, be it fancy underwear (on either party) or what have you. In addition, if I am incapacitated for however long, I will not require that my lovers die of blueballs. Telling them that their needs come second to mine is no more fair than if reversed.

    • lmarley November 19, 2009 at 10:57 PM #

      First, I’m wishing you the best of everything with your upcoming surgery and treatment.

      As to the pill, the problem with a pill like this is that it takes away that need for communication and support and replaces it with, well, a barely-tested pill originally intended as an anti-depressant that may have unknown side-effects.

      I know someone who stopped taking anti-depressants because they were depressing her libido. It’s an awful thing to have to choose between two physical/mental states that you want very much. But by marketing this pill as a cure-all for all women who have low libidos, some naturally-occurring, instead of having people appreciate and work with their natural states, you’ve got people changing their natural states in quite possibly an unsafe manner, without offering the caveat that, hey, some of us naturally have low libidos and that’s cool! That’s the problem with this pill.

      • sneeky bunny November 20, 2009 at 5:19 AM #

        Thank you for your good wishes! I will know more next week, and will hopefully have something truly to be thankful for come that Thursday. Besides pie.
        I agree that caution is called for whenever a drug or treatment is trumpeted as a panacea or a shortcut, particularly if it masks real problems. We saw this in the 60s with “Mother’s Little Helper’, and later, with the willy nilly prescription of antidepressants. Long ago, when Prozac was the drug du jour, it was suggested by my doctor that I go on it to get through an abusive break up. I told them that my depression was situational, not chemical, and that the side effects were not for me. “I mean really, go on Prozac, get fat, and never have another orgasm?” I said, “Then I really would be depressed!” A flip answer, yes, but that’s how I deal with crap. That, and pie.

        • lmarley November 20, 2009 at 5:54 AM #

          Pie is true excellence. Especially of the pumpkin variety. Also, flip answers are best when you’ve made your decision and don’t want anyone to waste your time in trying to change that (or so my experience suggests).

    • polly styrene November 21, 2009 at 11:31 AM #

      I will not require that my lovers die of blueballs.

      Men can die from not having sex? News to me…..however think of the possibilities.

      • Nine Deuce November 21, 2009 at 6:24 PM #

        I have it on good authority that blue balls is a myth. One of their kind defected and clued me in on the conspiracy.

        • Andrew November 21, 2009 at 6:37 PM #

          Not a complete myth as I’ve experienced it once or twice, but definitely not used in that sense most of the time. I think guys just say it when an opportunity to orgasm is rebuffed, regardless of any physiological impact.

      • sneeky bunny November 23, 2009 at 7:35 AM #

        I tend toward hyperbole. :) To be more specific, if I am to be incapacitated sexually due to this possible procedure I will not expect them to remain chaste for the duration. That’s how I roll. If my libido tanks completely, then, as I said, I will do all in my power to restore it. Including considering this pill or medication like it. Or recreating the mating dance of the Great Horn Bill. Or pie. God, I hope it turns out to be pie.

      • Laurelin November 23, 2009 at 11:49 AM #

        Yeah. Don’t you know that’s what all monks die from?

        Oh wait….

  16. Taybeh Chaser November 20, 2009 at 7:59 PM #

    Have to echo Nine Deuce and anyone else who said this–the behavior and attitude of my partner is seriously important. I am sure this is new to no one, but harmful ideas originating in the larger culture can get into the darnedest places. And can kill pleasure even with a decent-enough (not overtly misogynist?) partner. It’s not just all the cultural background noise that seeps into your own brain (hard to feel horny when you’re worried about the shape of your labia or whether it’s normal not to reward his manly efforts with theatrical moaning), many guys, even if not obvious asshats, do and say subtle things that indicate entrenched misconceptions about women and sexuality. Again, not news.

    TMI: I have had physical problems with PIV because of nervousness. Even if I was enjoying other parts of the encounter, attracted to and relatively comfortable with the person, a part of me would be worried about whether I was looking or acting “right”, according to some outside standard. Often little things, not specifically relevant to me, which he said and did outside the bedroom contributed to this. Of course, I thought my pain meant there was something wrong with me, that I was deformed inside or something.

    In grad school, I started seeing a guy who, upon reflection, had an unusually healthy attitude toward sex and relationships. Don’t know where he came by that, but glad he did. There was no undercurrent of shame or contempt, nor was he obsessed. And he cared deeply about my pleasure. He’d do things he knew turned me on, wear underwear I liked, and never pushed when I said I wasn’t into something. He knew I was more experienced, but didn’t seem bothered. Thus, wonder of wonders, I had a frequent and strong desire to screw him and did not feel uncomfortable–indeed, felt eager–once I got down to indulging the PIV aspect of that desire. Not to say that’s the most important kind of sex–just that it’s the one I had trouble with and actually wished I could enjoy.

    For me, it took an especially un-asshat-y (still not perfectly un-asshat-y–no one is, and I’m not here to say “not my ex-Nigel”) partner and a lot of growing up before I was able to relax during sex. I am now more alert to subtle signs in a partner’s words and attitude and less “understanding” about things I should find problematic. “Not overtly misogynist” is not good enough.

  17. polly styrene November 21, 2009 at 12:53 PM #

    Oh and anyone who doesn’t think medicalising normal variations in human physiology is a problem, read this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/nov/20/cosmetic-vulva-surgery

  18. polly styrene November 23, 2009 at 7:07 PM #

    I was actually under the impression that closer to 40% of women have never had an orgasm. I would suspect that number has dropped in recent years, however.

    That was the best set of made up on the spot statistics I could come up with Faith. I like to link, (rather than just spout crap off the top of my head) and they were collated from a large number of surveys, so they may even be slightly accurate. I think 40% is probably the figure who have never had an orgasm during intercourse.

  19. polly styrene November 23, 2009 at 7:12 PM #

    It sustains the population, and is the primary form of sexual intercourse for straight couples. Most people consider themselves “straight” and most people will reproduce

    And more or less everyone, everywhere farts. It doesn’t make it ‘very important’ or ‘exclusively important’ to people though. The widespread practice of an activity does not indicate significance.

    Also I thought all straight dudes were into anal these days?

  20. polly styrene November 23, 2009 at 7:18 PM #

    People desire to desire. Medicine designed to be “anti depressant” often has the same effect on men (increased libido).

    You’re talking pure bollocks here Aray. Most anti depressant drugs lower libido drastically, it’s a very often complained of side effect.

  21. sneeky bunny November 23, 2009 at 8:31 PM #

    @Laurelin: Ah yes the silent epidemic!

  22. sneeky bunny November 23, 2009 at 9:43 PM #

    @polly styrene: Indeed! As I said earlier that was one of the reasons I rejected going on Prozac years ago. That, and I thought it would just mask the issues at hand. Which is not to say that anti depressants don’t have their place of course.

  23. polly styrene November 23, 2009 at 9:49 PM #

    The monks are all having gay sex. Like the lesbian nuns.

    http://www.outsmartmagazine.com/issue/i04-01/charlotte.html

  24. sneeky bunny November 23, 2009 at 11:10 PM #

    This was certainly not mentioned on Career Day when I was coming up as a young Catholic girl! Why was I not informed?

  25. m Andrea November 24, 2009 at 2:24 AM #

    No. That’s not how it works. Someone points out that something has skeevy underpinnings, and you don’t, actually, tell them that the issue is “more nuanced,” because someone has already pointed out the nuance.

    Lmarley, that is a most excellent point. It’s an avoidance tactic, to delay focusing on the criticism. Doesn’t actually address the criticism, but it does buy them time to develope a better excuse. Sad that some anti-feminists groups can’t find a rebuttal, no matter how much time they have.

    But what I want to know is if the insurance companies are going to pay for this? (Stupid question, of course they will, the master’s fucktoy must always be available.)

  26. polly styrene November 24, 2009 at 8:55 AM #

    If two people are going to have sex, then I’d hope that their sexuality isn’t totally selfish and they would thus have an interest in the desires of the other person, even if it’s not something that interests themselves a great deal. That seems like it ought to work as well for PIV intercourse as, say, dressing up as Touhou Project characters

    Hmm yes that would be nice, but from what I hear of heterosexual ‘sex’ that frequently isn’t how it works.

  27. Jason November 25, 2009 at 2:04 AM #

    Isn’t this the same for men who feel compelled to use Viagra and related? I can’t see how this is any different, someone feels like they aren’t able to meet the sexual appetite of their partner, so they think that medication to increase their libido will help. From my point of view, it’s the same issue on both sides.

    • Nine Deuce November 25, 2009 at 2:13 AM #

      Viagra is for men who want to have sex and can’t. This pill is aimed at making women who don’t want to have sex want to. It isn’t about meeting someone else’s sexual appetite.

  28. Bill November 25, 2009 at 9:13 AM #

    Impotence is empowering! I am free to deal with human beings as human beings without filtering the relationship through my poor little penis.

    Of course the penis pill companies hate me for not enriching them, and the big pricks of the world feel free to castigate me for not waving around a stiff summer sausage, but they can all jump on a corncob and bounce till they smile!

    Stand up for your right to think with your brain and feel with your heart, and to hell with the busybodies who want to make you slaves to their disco stick!

  29. lola November 25, 2009 at 5:49 PM #

    Gah! Delete my comment. Haha! Looking forward to reading, as always.

  30. Alina November 26, 2009 at 12:22 PM #

    You guys can bite my head of but I disagree with ND.

    I dont see nothing wrong with viagra for women,its only fair that men have a pill that stimulates their libido and so should women.I found myself interested in such pills if there werent all the side effects,and it certainly isnt cuz my partner wants me to have more sex but because I would just like to see how it would stimulate me maybe it would be a great sexuall experience who knows.

    Also I dont think that men will force those pills onto women ,cuz if they would be able to do such a horrid thing then lets be honest they dont need their partner to be horny to satisfy them ,they r the kind of ppl that take what they want.

    • Nine Deuce November 26, 2009 at 6:27 PM #

      Viagra doesn’t increase the libido, it increases the flow of blood to the penis for men who want to have sex and can’t. It’s a different deal altogether.

  31. James November 27, 2009 at 1:49 AM #

    Seems to me there’s a shift towards women’s sexuality being treated as you wish it to be – the mainsteaming of vibrators, etc, & “Raunch Culture” are improving the degree to which females are accepted as sexual beings in their own right.

    • Nine Deuce November 27, 2009 at 2:29 AM #

      Raunch culture is not my idea of a positive development.

  32. James November 27, 2009 at 3:08 AM #

    Oh well.

  33. isme November 27, 2009 at 5:03 AM #

    “Viagra doesn’t increase the libido, it increases the flow of blood to the penis for men who want to have sex and can’t. It’s a different deal altogether.”

    What, really? Why has nobody mentioned this before?!

    • Nine Deuce November 27, 2009 at 5:09 AM #

      A commenter was saying that it the two drugs were the same.

  34. polly styrene November 27, 2009 at 10:03 AM #

    Seems to me there’s a shift towards women’s sexuality being treated as you wish it to be – the mainsteaming of vibrators, etc, & “Raunch Culture” are improving the degree to which females are accepted as sexual beings in their own right.

    Don’t you mean ‘having their own sexuality distorted and sold back to them as a marketing opportunity James? As in it is perfectly possible to masturbate without a vibrator believe it or not? And *raunch culture* enables women being sexual objects to please men which is fuck all to do with women’s sexuality (particularly lesbians, who are women believe it or not). Hint, James, you can probably find a copy of ‘female chauvinist pigs’ in your local library, it’s very accessible and an easy read.

    Sorry James I don’t think the radical feminist outreach program is going well. Maybe you should try something else. Like getting a job.

  35. Alina November 27, 2009 at 1:12 PM #

    @ isme ND was reffering to me.

    I wish I could take a pill that would make me feel more aroused and as horny like the first times I slept with my bf,it would be awesome as unfortunetaly even tho I love him sex is not like it used to be wich is crap but understandable.

  36. James November 27, 2009 at 4:24 PM #

    It was sweet of you to actually give some arguments before you began with the ad hominems, polly. I may get a job during the forthcoming Christmas holidays, but we are forbidden them in termtime due to the intensiveness of our courses. Thank you for your concern, but I’d note that you seem to comment on this type of a blog a great deal more than I do.

    As for women being able to pleasure themselves with or without vibrators…Well, yes, obviously. I never said otherwise. According to some women, though, an aid can enhance the expereince.

    Additionally, their appearance upon the high street seems to demonstrate to me a maturing of our culture. We’re moving away well away from the idea of women enjoying sex being a disgusting notion, which used to be very much dominant. That’s a very healthy shift, would you not agree?

    I also don’t really see how a woman using a vibrator on herself is her acting as a “sexual object”, seeing that that device is designed to pleasure her.

  37. James November 27, 2009 at 4:32 PM #

    *intensity

  38. Andrew November 27, 2009 at 6:15 PM #

    I think the dialogue between James, ND, and Polly begs the question of what kind of sexual expression is appropriate for the modern feminist woman? It seems that if you are too chaste, you are imposing a male standard of righteousness on yourself, and thus participating in patriarchy. If you are too unchaste, you are allowing men to commodify/exploit you and are accused of “being sexual objects to please men which is fuck all to do with women’s sexuality.” This seems like the wrong paradigm to view this issue through, tobe honest.

    Who is qualified to determine that digital masturbation is acceptable but the vibrating “egg” is not? Or that role-play is acceptable but porn as a sexual aid is not, or that women can only supplement their sexuality with increased intimacy, but not fuck around with the biochemistry in their own heads?

    If I may, I also want to address Polly’s point regarding women’s sexuality. It seems as if you want a distinct barrier between female and male sexuality. This might be easier if you’re a lesbian, but even then you will have a distinct sexuality from that of your partner. Your insistence on separating men from female sexuality actually makes me think that this dichotomy, like the chastity dichotomy above, is bunk and all we can evaluate with any certainty is people’s individual sexuality.

    The downside though is that we really can’t go beyond the individual in addressing issues like sexuality and debates like these about what is appropriate for people as a whole to do/think in their sex lives becomes moot. I can’t help but think this is correct when James says something positive in respect to sexual liberalization, then gets hammered by Polly for not incorporating homosexuality into his paradigm, and then gets repudiated by ND for acting like sexual expression is inherently feminist.

    It seems that there is simply no platform on these issues beyond what the individual stands on to evaluate the sex lives of others through the lens of his or her own fetishes, kinks, and mores.

    • Nine Deuce November 27, 2009 at 6:55 PM #

      There are more than two options. I kind of like the third one, not deriving our sexual identity from male ideas of what it should be.

  39. Andrew November 27, 2009 at 7:05 PM #

    Well this is exactly what I am trying to figure out. Like I said, if women are too chaste, they are imposing male views of purity on themselves. If they are too sexual, they are imposing male views of sexuality on themselves. If they are in-between, I am sure that whatever sexual behavior they are exhibiting has been criticized by someone as serving the interest of men more than women.

    I guess what I am getting at is (1) is there a purely feminist list, guide, or discussion of sexual behavior that does not derive from men and (2) if so, does it speak for all women, or at a minimum at least the ones who are not “female chauvinist pigs”? I think the feat would be almost impossible*, if not on the first count then probably the second, and if that is the case I just don’t know how we can speak on this in a really intelligent way unless we are really only speaking for ourselves.

    *If it is not and has been done then I stand corrected, I just have not heard of anything like that.

    • Nine Deuce November 27, 2009 at 11:52 PM #

      The point isn’t to figure out what kind of sex isn’t patriarchal, it’s to dismantle patriarchy so we don’t have to worry about it.

  40. James November 27, 2009 at 8:20 PM #

    There are more than two options. I kind of like the third one, not deriving our sexual identity from male ideas of what it should be.

    Idk if it’s helpful to talk of “male” & “female” conceptions. There is obviously a great deal of diversity within people who possess each sex (as well as those of neither, I suppose). Just the other day a report was released demonstrating that a great proportion of the Irish Catholic Church were of the view that sex with children is not alright (or at least something not worth getting arrested over). Meanwhile there were female nuns running Magdalene houses in Ireland during the exact same era of the view that having been raped was somehow sinful, & valid pretext to subject someone to systematic abuse.

    Basically, views vary.

    Personally I don’t base my viewpoint around my being male (or at least I try not to?) but rather utilitarianism: I think that people should act according to what their best estimation of the maximum possible pleasure generated should be. So I obviously see the popularisation aforementioned of devices previously deemed taboo to be a positive development. I think that in that respect things have improved & more women are in command of that part of their life.

    • Nine Deuce November 27, 2009 at 11:53 PM #

      Fine, let me rephrase that. I like the third one, not deriving our sexual identity from cultural prescriptions that tend to serve heterosexual men’s desires.

  41. Andrew November 28, 2009 at 12:13 AM #

    I have to ask though, how does one dismantle patriarchy when they receive conflicting notions regarding what it entails?

    For example, suppose my girlfriend wanted to keep sex from me as a form of punishment. It might seem that she was acting in an anti-patriarchal way, but beneath the surface she is actually acting in furtherance of patriarchy because she would be conforming to patriarchal notions regarding men’s desires (sex) and female duties to placate them (giving sex). If she is to be recognized as acting defiantly to make whatever point she is making, her defiance rests on the premise that it would be her duty to give me sex if I had been acting correctly. Otherwise there would be no point to not having sex with me.

    I am not trying to beat a dead horse, but how can one dismantle patriarchy in the sexual realm without any idea of what constitutes it? There are clear rules and bright lines at the core, but the discussion between James and the blog demonstrates that even people with smart intentions might be confused as to their effects.

    • Nine Deuce November 28, 2009 at 12:18 AM #

      How about we don’t use sex as a bargaining tool? How about if she chose to have sex with you if and when she wanted to, and for no other reason? I’m pretty sure that’s where the anti-patriarchal sweet spot is.

  42. winter_lights November 28, 2009 at 5:52 AM #

    polly styrene said…
    “Don’t you mean ‘having their own sexuality distorted and sold back to them as a marketing opportunity James?”

    It doesn’t seem like it’s being sold back to women for the most part though…

    I’m not really sure what to think about this, since I’m also familiar with cases of distorted forms of (mostly homosexual) men’s sexuality being sold to women, and it seems to create issues sometimes. But I’m not quite sure it’s the material that’s the problem.

  43. James November 29, 2009 at 1:28 AM #

    I’m not really sure what to think about this, since I’m also familiar with cases of distorted forms of (mostly homosexual) men’s sexuality being sold to women, and it seems to create issues sometimes.

    Please do elaborate.

  44. anewpairofeyes December 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM #

    Hey Nine Deuce,

    I have so far expressed some disagreements that I have with you, but even disagreeing I enjoy hearing your perspective because gender relations are something that interest me as a masculinist and I appreciate anyone who can express whatever it is that they believe well.

    I’ve been saddened that for whatever reason some girls who feel strongly about their feminist beliefs refuse to face my conflicting beliefs; it is my strong opinion that a civil dialectic in which conflicting ideas refine one another is the way forward on all sides of most conflicts.

    Even within a relationship, there is a back and forth; compromise if you will.

    It is the case that there is a variety of libidos out there; strong and weak and eveything in between.

    When a pair is mismatched, such that one wants to have sex way more often than the other, it either wont work out, or a compromise must be made.

    This may involve the man or woman spending a lot of their time wanting to have sex but not being able to, or it may involve a man or woman needing to somehow bolster their sex drive in order to keep up with the other.

    Either scenario, I think you might agree, doesn’t exactly sound ideal.

    So how would you respond to the case of a man saying, “I love you, and I love your personality and everything about you, but I am not getting laid as much as I’d like, so lets be friends so I can go out and find someone with a higher libido?”

    Would that be a reasonable and adult way to handle the imbalance?

    Or would you say that the breaking of the commitment points to a further flaw in the male way of thinking?

    What if it were a woman who said she was not getting the sex she wanted from a man? Would it be better for her to say “hit the road hon!” or would buying Viagra possibly be a reasonable compromise?

  45. Michelle December 1, 2009 at 5:55 PM #

    “I love you, and I love your personality and everything about you, but I am not getting laid as much as I’d like, so lets be friends so I can go out and find someone with a higher libido?”

    What if a woman said the same thing to a man? What if I dumped my boyfriend because he can’t keep up with me? Or what if women started dumping men because they wanted sex too often? You don’t think that would emasculate men or shame them? It’s sort of like how if a woman wants sex more often than their partners – they are immediately called nymphos… but if women want sex less than men – they are immediately called rigid. Why are women shamed on both ends of the spectrum but men aren’t?

    How many guys ask why? How many guys try to correct those whys? how many guys actually give a shit about the perspective of their girlfriends and/or wives? How many guys jerk off to porn and then expect their partners to feel secure, ready and willing to have sex with them afterwords?
    How many guys openly ogle and describe how hot some other woman is – without ever describing or wanting their own partners in that same way? But then expect women to feel like their partners are actually attracted to them after?

    The problem is guys are so sucked into their entitlement and privilege that many don’t even stop to consider WHY their girlfriends might not be in the mood. I’m willing to bet that most of the time it’s that their partners aren’t feeling the connection. I see men acting inconsiderate to women they date all the time. Ogling openly (I dated a guy who almost got us into an accident ogling – do you know how humiliating that is for a woman?), going on and on about how hot that waitress was right in front of their girlfriend. I get that men are going to think other women are hot (just like women think about other men sexually), I’m not deluded – I just think there is a level of disrespect that men think they are entitled to show women but still get what they want from them (another great message sent from yours’ truly – the porn industry and popular media).
    And with the way women are sexually objectified constantly in our culture and how men openly and gladly support it – is it any surprise that women feel sexually repressed? Like what is the point in trying to feel sexual when their partners are always feeling sexual about every other woman but her (especially as women get older and have to deal with men ogling at 15 yr olds). Even if our male partners AREN’T objectifying women – our culture constantly sends that message and the only real way that men can prove that message wrong is to work at it (like proving to their partners that they are valued – not just sexually by showing them respect and considering their feelings) – rather than just run away to find another pussy. Some guys will leave the partner but a lot also will just turn to things like porn – rather than taking the time to correct their pitfalls.

    I hate to get graphic but I’ve dated guys who after a while, would just start fondling my crotch – without any other action. That is how they would start sex. And that is just heart breaking. Even I, with a fairly high libido, started not wanting sex with him anymore.
    It’s a mistake to assume that if women don’t want sex with their partners, that they don’t want sex. It just might be that some men aren’t providing the kind of sex their partners dream about – even when women are open and honest about it.
    I’ve only dated like one guy who didn’t try to minimize my concerns.

  46. Andrew December 1, 2009 at 9:59 PM #

    Here is an article discussing the issues surrounding the treatment of women who believe they have low libido, it is a little lengthly, but seems to be on point.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/magazine/29sex-t.html?pagewanted=6&em

  47. anewpairofeyes December 2, 2009 at 1:21 AM #

    Michelle;

    I definitely get the sense that my post agitated you. And I mean no offense. Its just that I’ve dated girls with both higher and lower sex drives then me, and found that my girlfriends tend to be more happy when their libidos are comparable to mine, rather than feeling pressure to stretch and fit.

    It may hurt to end a relationship because one partner doesn’t match the others needs/expectations, but I feel it is better to pull the bandaid off quickly and be done with it, rather than draw it out and resent being stuck with someone who is TOO MUCH/NOT ENOUGH.

    As for men not caring about how women feel, I think that is patently false.

    I hope you don’t imagine me typing this with an angry tone in your mind (its easy to do on the internet) but if it helps you can imagine me saying this with a calm demeanor and a pleasant expression on my face.

    It does happen to be the case that there are men who care a great deal about keeping their lady friends satisfied.

    Maybe rather than all or nothing, we can think in percents. What percent of male decisions to buy Viagra IN SOME WAY took their female partner’s desires into account?

    It seems to be taken AS GRANTED in this post that it is 0%, but i think you would need to ASK men, and their partners, about what led up to such a decision.

    Its not exactly easy for men know what women want. It could be for any number of reasons; whether biological or cultural, whether an inability of the male OR of the female.

    Whichever way, I find that in order to pair up with a partner who can clearly express her preferences and desires to me I must shoot for people significantly older than myself.

    It could very well be that I am dense, and must find women who have learned the arcane art of “speaking to men” only after years of practice.

    In human biology; there was a division of labor that came about in our hunter/gatherer tribes; women needed to nurture, and men needed to kill.

    We became killers, because out of all mammals human females have the MOST blood lost during their ovulation, and as such need an abundant source of iron. The result of men differentiating to be hunters (murderers of animals) and women differentiating to be nurturers is such that women have a biologically ordained predisposition towards empathy.

    And men; our gift to do what women needed us to do is to develop a capacity pack muscles on and to turn empathy off.

    And you best believe that those killers were VERY popular. I think to some degree, for whatever weird reason, they still are today. For instance I have long been a pacifist and a vegetarian with a very slight build. I often get passed up for the more brutish soldier types. Even by feminists!

    I don’t think we need to resort to culture and media to explain why men have a harder time “getting it” when women express their needs in bed. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that what we think and what we are exposed to does play a huge role.

    But I think that by and large, the fact that men have grown muscles and built armies and fought and died to insure a place where women can freely express their displeasure of them without fear of execution serves as an example that even if misguided, the roughest grittiest of dudes (with exception of a very small percentage of the population that happens to be made up of sociopaths) DO care about women and their feelings and their wellbeing. Even if in a silly and sometimes unhelpful way.

  48. James December 2, 2009 at 1:52 AM #

    The result of men differentiating to be hunters (murderers of animals) and women differentiating to be nurturers is such that women have a biologically ordained predisposition towards empathy.

    Provide evidence for this.

  49. James December 2, 2009 at 2:04 AM #

    As far as I’m concerned “biological” is becoming the new shorthand for “natural”, which has long been shorthand for “I’m right, I’m right! Now won’t you please shut UP?”

    Not that I lack respect for the genuine field of biology, mind you, just how layfolk of a scientistic bent tend to toss it into arguments…

  50. anewpairofeyes December 2, 2009 at 6:42 AM #

    James,

    Don’t get me wrong; I am not into scientism, nor do I think that biology is destiny.

    I only feel that to understand our current situation, one must take it as a snap shot that is but a moment in a much longer process. IOW our current realities have origins that cannot be overlooked.

    Here’s just one study to get started, it is neurological and although I understand there is such a thing as neuroplasticty and that there are variations from averages such that there may be some men who are more empathetic than women I think it still deserves careful consideration.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T0F-4TTMJYG-D&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1118356314&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=0dbce7ff16dde0121796a61a44fddc6e

  51. James December 2, 2009 at 1:09 PM #

    I only feel that to understand our current situation, one must take it as a snap shot that is but a moment in a much longer process. IOW our current realities have origins that cannot be overlooked.

    The problem is that the biological determinists (a far more crude breed than the actual determinists) are effectively writers of just-so stories: they make a non-falsifiable claim via an appeal to pre-history. When of course pre-history is an era we know next to nothing about.

    As for your study, I asked you not for a demonstration of difference, but of the biologically based innateness of difference. This is what you need to do to support the claim made, & I look forward to seeing it.

  52. Andrew December 2, 2009 at 3:33 PM #

    James

    How about the fact that men are much more likely than women to be violent crime offenders? How about the criticism leveled against masculinity in general, that it is a catalyst for violent behavior? Or how about the fact that men are much more likely to abandon their newborn children or their sick wives?

    Men and women are different, for biological and social reasons, but that does not mean that the social reasons do not have a biological basis. If men and women aren’t different in regards to empathy, violence, etc, how do you explain those statistics, or even the broader principle advocated by feminists to do away with masculinity as a whole? I can only imagine it would be replaced with something euphemistically named and based in femininity. All this would be a waste though unless the feminine was actually different than the masculine, otherwise there would be no point in the exercise would there?

  53. James December 2, 2009 at 4:04 PM #

    How about the fact that men are much more likely than women to be violent crime offenders?

    Now what did I just say? Demonstrating difference is not the same as demonstrating biologically based innateness. Those are two different things, you are doing the former, rather than the latter.

  54. Andrew December 2, 2009 at 4:37 PM #

    Children, as well as animals, exhibit tratiditional masculine and feminine behavior, are not socialized and so must have a biological grounding for their tendencies. I’ll ignore this point for now though to respond to yours.

    I have to ask what can be proven? The differences I demonstrate are much of the evidence used to determine that masculine oriented behavior is harmful, violent, and out-moded. But if it can’t be proven that these differences are not largely biologically or socially driven, does that mean that arguments regarding the validity of masculine behavior are invalid as well, since the ultimate root of such behavior is indeterminable?

    • Nine Deuce December 2, 2009 at 4:41 PM #

      How can you claim that children aren’t socialized? That’s absurd.

      If you can’t prove that the differences are biologically innate, then you can’t make the claim that they are immutable. I can, because I do not tend to go in for biological essentialism, argue that behaviors are socially inculcated and that they are thus amenable to change. “Masculine” behaviors, more often than not, are harmful. “Feminine” behaviors usually are not, except maybe to the one exhibiting the behavior (high-heel wearing, for example, which I’m pretty sure isn’t innate).

  55. James December 2, 2009 at 4:50 PM #

    Children, as well as animals, exhibit tratiditional masculine and feminine behavior, are not socialized and so must have a biological grounding for their tendencies.

    Both children & animals are socialised beings.

    I have to ask what can be proven? The differences I demonstrate are much of the evidence used to determine that masculine oriented behavior is harmful, violent, and out-moded. But if it can’t be proven that these differences are not largely biologically or socially driven, does that mean that arguments regarding the validity of masculine behavior are invalid as well, since the ultimate root of such behavior is indeterminable?

    I’m not talking about anything other than the claim, made above, that masculine/feminism is an innate dichotomy, right now.

  56. Michelle December 2, 2009 at 6:17 PM #

    anewpairofeyes: I wasn’t intending to come off as angry either!!! Don’t worry. I intend for this to just be a discussion or debate and that’s the only way I see it.
    Even in your comment – you seemed to gloss over the points that I made – which basically proves my point about men minimizing the concerns of women; using the biology ticket is really just a way of saying “it’s normal” but there is a difference between normal and normalized. Like meat is normalized as a food but not really all that normal for the biology of human beings (at least in the excess it’s used). So you have to wonder how “normal” hunting is for men to do in the first place.
    The problem is, we are silenced constantly about our concerns. I’m not saying ALL men are like this. I don’t mean to imply that. But most of the guys I’ve dated have been like this.
    Here’s an example – if I’m at a restaurant with a guy and the entire time he’s busy checking out the waitress and I notice his eyes following her around (huge difference between a glance and staring), even while I’m talking – I consider it blatent disrespect (especially if she’s proportionally getting the majority of his attention). When I confront a guy on this – one of a few different silencing techniques are used…
    1. Lie and deny. If they say they weren’t – it totally silences my concern and the guy is basically calling me stupid or paranoid (another convenient stereotype about women). It’s insulting and if anything – there is less resentment if he just mans up and admits it. Otherwise, I just walk away thinking,”he’s so full of shit.”
    2. He’ll say that I’m babysitting him and checking up on him to make sure he isn’t looking at other women – IOW – trying to control him. Me being the type of person that uses a lot of eye contact when I’m conversing with someone – I notice when they are distracted and it’s almost an instinct to look and see what is distracting the person. Even if he hears what I’m saying – it’s hard for me to keep my train of thought when people are looking distracted.
    3. They’ll whip out the ole jealousy ticket because jealousy is totally stigmatized in our culture (and it perpetuates another convenient stereotype about women), mostly because of the people who act irrationally when they feel jealousy. The reality is that, YES, there is some element of jealousy (god forbid) in it but more importantly – when you have it in your head that you are going to have a romantic dinner with your bf (not to sound cliche) – you aren’t expecting to have to compete for his attention with other women whom he isn’t involved with. It’s disrespectful and it shows how unwilling the guy is to consider the woman’s feelings for his own sense of entitlement.

    And really – I don’t think this has anything to do with empathy. And I think it has a lot more to do with media and pornography than you are willing to admit (and how certain things are normalized and how people are willing to excuse it on that basis alone). Ex: “boys will be boys” argument, or “it’s ‘natural’ for men to look (never mind the difference between looking and ogling in front of the woman you claim to love). Our cultures send messages EVERYWHERE to men about how women exist for their own viewing pleasure (or use). What sets some men apart from others is whether they are willing to think for themselves or follow the script industries/patriarchy conveniently lay out for them.
    Clearly – men who avoid TV, hollywood movies and pornography are going to have a less indoctrinated view of women (as with women). But it’s a mistake for men to claim that media doesn’t affect their views on women or influence their behaviors towards women. Media affects how women feel about themselves, it’s obvious because if it didn’t – women wouldn’t wear make-up, they wouldn’t dress extremely uncomfortable to look “sexy”, they wouldn’t starve themselves or diet to look a certain way, they wouldn’t put big bags of whatever in their chests. They wouldn’t be walking a quarter of a mile to the bar, in the dead of winter, wearing mini-skirts and highhells.
    I don’t want to make assumptions but if you identify as a hetero man – do you ever consider wearing dresses in public? If not – than society has influenced you more than you are willing to admit… Even hetero men I know – whom like putting on dresses, are unwilling to walk around in public in them – I wonder why that is? hmmmmmm.
    Even with everything I know about feminism and how it’s broken down so many of my old perceptions – it STILL affects me. The only thing that prevents me from reaching for those fake beauty things, is my awareness. If men are unwilling to admit that they are being influenced by the general attitude of society – how can they ever have a chance to change it?
    Even people who avoid media (as I do) have to deal with people who have internalized misogyny (both men and women) on a daily basis. I still have to deal with women who think they are sexier than me (thus better, in their minds), simply because they have big boobs and cater to the “sexy” look found in magazines and TV (and I’m willing to bet most guys would agree with that – at least the guys like Brett Michaels, haha). Intellectually, I know it ain’t true but it still affects me. People who think they are above it – are in total denial.

  57. anewpairofeyes December 2, 2009 at 6:38 PM #

    James;

    A simple way to shoot holes through the idea that there is no INNATE differences between genders is to look at male and female athletes.

    Why is it that, biologically, men are able to bulk up way more quickly and effectively than females? Testosterone.

    Where is most of the testosterone in America concentrated? Prison inmates and Wall Street.

    It seems that the same hormone responsible for male sexual attraction ALSO happens to be the one largely responsible for aggressive impulses.

    Ken Wilber would refer to it as the “Fuck it or Kill it” hormone, and as crass as that sounds I find it to be largely accurate.

    I don’t think you can “socialize” women to be muscular goliaths, just as much as it would be difficult to “socialize” a male to have their body compete with females in the production of Oxytocin and Estrogen.

    Men and Women have different organs and produce different hormones.

    The CONTENTS of a gender schema is different for all cultures, but it seems to be innate THAT children are predisposed towards developing them based off of observations of their environment.

    MEN have no biological adaptations for nursing young, nor do they ever have to share their nervous system with another life internally.

    I think that the burden is not on ME to prove that men and women are innately different.

    I think that the burden would rather be on those who are proposing the more radical claim, which is that you could make any man just as empathetic as any women, and make his brain grow to exactly the proportions that a womans can in their mirror neuron system.

    That seems to be contraindicated by the evidence, so I feel that you have some work to do to show that its PURELY a matter of socialization.

    Mind you, I am not arguing a PURELY biological perspective; I am merely stating the common sense notion that in addition to socialization, biology is ANOTHER factor in the puzzle that is essential for full understanding of differences in behaviors between the genders throughout time and across cultures.

  58. Hoyahead December 2, 2009 at 6:42 PM #

    “Children, as well as animals, exhibit tratiditional masculine and feminine behavior, are not socialized and so must have a biological grounding for their tendencies.”

    Andrew, have you ever heard of the Baby X experiments?

    In the 1970′s, a researcher named Dr. Phyllis A. Katz conducted an experiment involving adult perceptions of the gendered behavior of an infant. From the New York Times: “At a psychology laboratory, adults were introduced to a 3-month-old infant wearing a yellow jump suit. Some were told that the child’s name was Mary, while others were told that it was Johnny. There were three toys in the room: a doll, a small football and a sex-neutral toy. The adults who thought they were with a girl tended to offer the baby the doll. Those who thought they were with a boy were more likely to use the football.”

    Dr. Katz repeated the experiment in the mid-1980′s and got the same results, which she interpreted to mean that “adults, often without thinking about it, use toys to convey sex-specific expectations, even to very young children.”

    The point of these experiments is that a)socialization begins earlier than you might expect it to (how about at the moment the doctor says”It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl”), and b) adults who exist in a culture that expects a difference in behavior based on gender can’t ever be objective observers of behavior. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle: you reinforce the behavior you expect to see (or interpret neutral or contrary behaviors in ways favorable to your expectation), which makes the behavior seem innate.

  59. Andrew December 2, 2009 at 7:33 PM #

    ND: While it may be possible to attack pre-historical behavior that supports an innate biological trait as un-falsifiable, it does not necessarily prove that all behavior is social inculcation, and thus, amenable to change. Often times, quotes like these are dropped just as frequently without any supporting citation:

    “The belief that violence is manly is not a trait carried on any chromosome. It is not soldered into the wiring of the right or left hemisphere. It is not juiced by testosterone (half of all boys don’t fight, most don’t carry weapons, and very few actually kill). It is, unfortunately, taught to our boys.

    It is taught by their fathers, nearly half of whom own a gun. It is taught by a media that glorifies it, by sports heroes who commit felonies and get big contracts, by a culture saturated in images of heroic and redemptive violence. It is taught and reinforced by their peers.”

    (http://www.nomas.org/node/106)

    Maybe the jury is actually out on this, but unless you want to argue that chimpanzees are susceptible to the same “cradle to grave” socialization, evidence that these sort of biological traits exist among our closest ancestors is widespread. (http://www.kent.ac.uk/sac/department/research/biological/nnf_aggression.html)

    It could even be argued that chimpanzees represent the “pre-history” environment which James argues no proof can be derived from.

    The point is that, at a minimum, neither a strict biological or social approach can be proven. But there is a lot of evidence that supports an innate biological trait of aggression, sexual and otherwise, in the male form of our species. This can either be evinced from chimps, or the fact that across all cultures and history men being aggressive seems to be the norm. The evidence in the other direction, that all masculinity is socially constructed, is scant. Moreover, instead of arguing that society constructs an illusion of biological aggression in males, the more proper approach would probably be to argue that biological aggression in males creates the social construct which maintains it. That would go a much longer way, at least, towards explaining why women seem to be so universally and historically disadvantaged in the realms of power, or alternatively, where males derive their privilege from.

  60. anewpairofeyes December 2, 2009 at 7:39 PM #

    Michelle,

    I did addressed SOME of your points, but not all. Its not out of disrespect though.

    Notice that it goes both ways.

    One point of mine that I would like to here your opinion on, as well as some of the other folk here in this discussiion, which is actually on topic with the OP, and that I have stated in 2 different posts now, is this:

    “What if it were a woman who said she was not getting the sex she wanted from a man? Would it be better for her to say “hit the road hon!” or would buying Viagra possibly be a reasonable compromise?”

    A question to consider; What is the difference between me assuming that you are glossing over it because you don’t give a hoot about me VS. if I were to assume that you didn’t get to all of my points because you were addressing other ones and it just so happens that I have quite a bit to say?

    SHOULD I take it as evidence of your sense of entitlement to my full attention? Or as proof that women are trained to disregard my concerns?

    I don’t think that would be fair of me.

    As for dresses, you bring up an interesting conundrum; in a country in which women are alleged to be more repressed than males, why is it that I have NO female friends that have ever been suspended for wearing pants to school, whereas in 3 different schools I have been kicked out of class and sent to the principals office for wearing a dress? I even tried to reassure the principals that it was a man dress, after all!

    Men seem to push themselves to extremes to bulk up for the sake of matching what females find to be attractive too, though I would really like to make an effort to try as I might to move the tangent back towards Nine Deuce’s original topic of choice.

  61. James December 2, 2009 at 8:15 PM #

    A simple way to shoot holes through the idea that there is no INNATE differences between genders is to look at male and female athletes.

    Why is it that, biologically, men are able to bulk up way more quickly and effectively than females? Testosterone.

    Where is most of the testosterone in America concentrated? Prison inmates and Wall Street.

    This is absolute nonsense. The relationship between hormones and behaviour is far more complicated than generally presented, as demonstrated by the fact that people who eat a diet heavy on soya (packed full of estrogen!) don’t end up acting more “effiminate” than those who eat meat.

    You can give women “testosterone” packs filled with nothing & observe more masculine behaviour.

    It seems that the same hormone responsible for male sexual attraction ALSO happens to be the one largely responsible for aggressive impulses.

    Ken Wilber would refer to it as the “Fuck it or Kill it” hormone, and as crass as that sounds I find it to be largely accurate.

    I think you have a highly warped view of males.

    I don’t think you can “socialize” women to be muscular goliaths, just as much as it would be difficult to “socialize” a male to have their body compete with females in the production of Oxytocin and Estrogen.

    Men and Women have different organs and produce different hormones.

    You are taking that & running with it, though, to places unsupported by genuine scientific fact.

    The CONTENTS of a gender schema is different for all cultures, but it seems to be innate THAT children are predisposed towards developing them based off of observations of their environment.

    MEN have no biological adaptations for nursing young, nor do they ever have to share their nervous system with another life internally.

    No. So?

    I think that the burden is not on ME to prove that men and women are innately different.

    Yes, it is. You’ve made a claim, you must support it. As always.

    I think that the burden would rather be on those who are proposing the more radical claim, which is that you could make any man just as empathetic as any women, and make his brain grow to exactly the proportions that a womans can in their mirror neuron system.

    Are you perhaps at this point confusing “man” & “male”?

    That seems to be contraindicated by the evidence, so I feel that you have some work to do to show that its PURELY a matter of socialization.

    All I’ve asked you to do is support your claim. Thus far, you’ve failed. Self-righteously demanding I support my claim (especially when I don’t believe I’ve yet made any…) isn’t going to cut it. Evidence, please.

  62. anewpairofeyes December 2, 2009 at 9:23 PM #

    James,

    First of all, I don’t know how you use Italics, but I feel that it makes your posts easy to follow. How do you do that? I suppose I’ll use “” to separate your statements from mine.

    “This is absolute nonsense. The relationship between hormones and behaviour is far more complicated than generally presented, as demonstrated by the fact that people who eat a diet heavy on soya (packed full of estrogen!) don’t end up acting more “effiminate” than those who eat meat.

    You can give women “testosterone” packs filled with nothing & observe more masculine behaviour.”

    There are also studies where they’ve given people non-alcoholic beverages and told them they were consuming alcohol, and the people ended up acting more drunk. That does not mean that alcohol doesn’t get you drunk.

    Castration studies show an overwhelming mountains of evidence that when a male of a species has his testes removed, his body produces less testosterone, and also that incidences of territorial aggression decrease.

    The fact that eating estrogen in food doesn’t increase effeminate behavior does not overshadow the research that supplementation of oxytocin DOES increase the prevalence of maternal behaviors.

    I would start listing links, but there are so many studies from all over the animal kingdom that I feel you could just as easily find them on your own.

    You could also look up instances of females animals and humans receiving testosterone supplements and having their levels of aggression increase.

    “You are taking that & running with it, though, to places unsupported by genuine scientific fact.”

    This may be so; the basic point I wish to emphasize is this; biology is necessary to the understanding of gender differences in behavior.

    I may be making exaggerations; but if anything this point is what I wish to emphasize. Past that, its more a matter of specificity and precision.

    The bottom line is that biology effects behavior. Mind you, I also believe that socialization affects behavior.

    Back to a previous point of mine;

    MEN have no biological adaptations for nursing young, nor do they ever have to share their nervous system with another life internally.

    “No. So?”

    So the point is that child rearing requires intense attunement. The fact that studies show women have more grey matter in the areas linked with mirror neurons and empathy serves as empirical evidence to demonstrate that women have PHYSICAL adaptations in their bodies that predispose them towards empathy in greater degrees than males.

    Or do you think you can BETTER explain why women have a more developed mirror neuron system in terms of socialization alone?

  63. Faith December 2, 2009 at 11:30 PM #

    “This may be so; the basic point I wish to emphasize is this; biology is necessary to the understanding of gender differences in behavior.”

    Rather than getting into the back and forth “Yes, it is biological. No, it isn’t biological” debate that I have engaged in countless times, I’ll just offer a couple of books that Andrew and anewpairofeyes can check out if they are interested in expanding their horizons beyond their patriarchal “men are naturally violent beasts” horizon…

    Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes (Hardcover): amazon.com/Between-XX-XY-Intersexuality-Sexes/dp/1556527853/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I1TY6VHVACIE1V&colid=FABY3V3K1HCF

    Myths Of Gender: Biological Theories About Women And Men, Revised Edition (Paperback): amazon.com/Myths-Gender-Biological-Theories-Revised/dp/0465047920/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259796250&sr=1-1

    Both of these books address many of the issues that are being discussed. Perhaps needless to say, I am not of the evolutionary psychology rule of thinking that declares men and women just behave the way they do because of biology. I believe it’s quite a great deal more complicated than that. One example of how genders are socialized: My son has, since the ripe old age of 5, had a strong aversion to anything pink. Why? Because his friends – and even teachers – at school taught him that pink was a girl color. By listening to his male friends – and adult male peers who have also begun brainwashing him with this nonsense – he has learned that anything related to girls is just ewwwwwwwww. The socialization of children into gender roles starts shockingly young.

  64. Faith December 2, 2009 at 11:33 PM #

    “Or do you think you can BETTER explain why women have a more developed mirror neuron system in terms of socialization alone?”

    The brain develops in response to socialization. For instance, victims of severe abuse have different brain structures than those who are not abused. The brain is extremely malleable. Given the malleability of the brain, differences in brain structure are not evidence of a biological difference in men and women.

    • Nine Deuce December 2, 2009 at 11:36 PM #

      Faith is right. Adult English speakers who study French or Chinese (languages in which context is the only way to tell the difference between various words that sound identical but are written differently) show changes in brain structure over time.

  65. anewpairofeyes December 2, 2009 at 11:50 PM #

    Faith,

    One extreme is to suggest that gender differences are biological and immutable.

    The opposite extreme is to suggest that it is purely the result of socialization.

    I can appreciate your desire to sidestep such an argument.

    You can see that I am presenting plenty of evidence to the case that there is a biological component to behavior.

    If I were in a forum that was full of strict biological determinists, you would see me emphasizing the point that cultural influence plays a huge role in shaping behavior.

    Its not EITHER/OR, but rather BOTH/AND.

    When I worked with children, I would often wear a blouse with brightly colored flowers.

    At first, the kids (boys and girls alike) would say, “eww, the boy is wearing a girls shirt!”

    I would tell them, “but I am a male” and they would agree. Then I would tell them that I owned the shirt. And they would agree. Then I would tell them that that makes it a boys shirt! They would be very confused, but eventually agree.

    Finally, one of the students said, “Hey, it must be a Hawaii shirt!” and from that point on it was no longer a contention.

    Like I said in a previous post, I fully agree that the CONTENTS of gender schemes is different. In this particular classroom, pink was commonly accepted as being a gender neutral color.

    The structure of the scheme, and the tendency for children to look for things that are masculine or feminine appears, as far as I can tell, to be something hardwired.

    That being said, hormonal differences DO seem to show up across all cultures following certain patterns.

    And hormones DO seem to influence behavior.

    As such, I feel that the extreme pole of saying that gender differences are socialized and ONLY socialized falls flat of the evidence.

  66. James December 2, 2009 at 11:57 PM #

    James,

    First of all, I don’t know how you use Italics, but I feel that it makes your posts easy to follow. How do you do that? I suppose I’ll use “” to separate your statements from mine.

    The mechanism on this blog is , without the spaces. Some blogs use [ i ] instead.

    There are also studies where they’ve given people non-alcoholic beverages and told them they were consuming alcohol, and the people ended up acting more drunk. That does not mean that alcohol doesn’t get you drunk.

    Castration studies show an overwhelming mountains of evidence that when a male of a species has his testes removed, his body produces less testosterone, and also that incidences of territorial aggression decrease.

    However you are attributing it to that decrease, whereas it could simply be that their social conditioning has suggested they are now less “manly”, courtesy of being far from the normative ideal of the masculine (in that they lack testicles).

    The fact that eating estrogen in food doesn’t increase effeminate behavior does not overshadow the research that supplementation of oxytocin DOES increase the prevalence of maternal behaviors.

    Which, as aforementioned, could be a simple placebo.

    I would start listing links, but there are so many studies from all over the animal kingdom that I feel you could just as easily find them on your own.

    You could also look up instances of females animals and humans receiving testosterone supplements and having their levels of aggression increase.

    Once again, you’ve made the claim thus it is your job to support it.

    This may be so; the basic point I wish to emphasize is this; biology is necessary to the understanding of gender differences in behavior.

    I may be making exaggerations; but if anything this point is what I wish to emphasize. Past that, its more a matter of specificity and precision.

    The bottom line is that biology effects behavior. Mind you, I also believe that socialization affects behavior.

    I still haven’t been provided with enough evidence to agree with you, here.

    Back to a previous point of mine;

    MEN have no biological adaptations for nursing young, nor do they ever have to share their nervous system with another life internally.

    “No. So?”

    So the point is that child rearing requires intense attunement. The fact that studies show women have more grey matter in the areas linked with mirror neurons and empathy serves as empirical evidence to demonstrate that women have PHYSICAL adaptations in their bodies that predispose them towards empathy in greater degrees than males.

    Or do you think you can BETTER explain why women have a more developed mirror neuron system in terms of socialization alone?

    You have now shifted your claim from “innate”, to “physical”. Women also often have pierced ears, thus their physical forms are likely to be altered with regards to their gender state. Does this mean that women are born with holes through their lobes?

  67. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 12:05 AM #

    Nine Deuce,

    I am familiar with neuroplasticity. Being exposed to music at an early age seems to lead to growth in brain regions related to discerning pitches.

    I do not have a contention with the fact that social context has a push on the structure of the brain.

    What I do wish to establish though, is the idea that hormones ALSO cause a push from the inside on the structure of the brain.

    You would agree, I am assuming, that pregnancy (something men can’t do) causes hormone changes in women.

    Would it really be so out there to suggest that these hormone changes lead to brain changes?

    And would it also be ridiculous to propose that evolution would have selective pressure in favor of females who had a greater ability to attune to the needs of their infants?

  68. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 12:40 AM #

    James, it didn’t seem like your instructions got through, I suppose I’ll look it up later. Thank you though.

    “However you are attributing it to that decrease, whereas it could simply be that their social conditioning has suggested they are now less “manly”, courtesy of being far from the normative ideal of the masculine (in that they lack testicles).”

    When I was referring to castration studies, I thought it would be obvious that I was talking about animals, especially since I mentioned “all throughout the animal kingdom”

    Perhaps rats DO experience a placebo effect! But I am pretty sure that they have not been exposed to nearly as much TV as I have, so I am not sure where laboratory bred rats would have the time to recieve a social conditioning that would lead them to expect to be ‘emasculinated.’

    “You have now shifted your claim from “innate”, to “physical”. Women also often have pierced ears, thus their physical forms are likely to be altered with regards to their gender state. Does this mean that women are born with holes through their lobes?”

    James, if you go back and read my post, you will see that I said, “biologically predisposed” Innate was your terminology, and I think using that word has some loaded implications. I said, “biologically predisposed” meaning that there are physical factors that lead to an inclination towards one thing or another.

    Women are not born pregnant, but their biological predisposition towards pregnancy DOES also give them at least a slight tendency over males towards developing behaviors that we may recognize as “motherly.”

  69. James December 3, 2009 at 1:14 AM #

    Women are not born pregnant, but their biological predisposition towards pregnancy DOES also give them at least a slight tendency over males towards developing behaviors that we may recognize as “motherly.”

    & lo, you’ve still given supportive evidence, so we’ve come full circle…

    I give up!

  70. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 1:26 AM #

    James, Yes, I am glad you agree that I’ve given supportive evidence :)

    Cheers.

    However, if you would like to provide evidence for the case that females have NO maternal instincts, that would be interesting to see!

  71. James December 3, 2009 at 1:55 AM #

    I of course meant to type “no supportive evidence.” Thank you for discreetly mocking my SPD.

    As for providing evidence for a negative, I’ll give that a pass due to the obvious impossibility, thanks.

    • Nine Deuce December 3, 2009 at 2:01 AM #

      I rarely agree with ol’ James here ANPE, but your tone is annoying me. You’re being passive aggressive and manipulative, and you’ve yet to provide evidence for your claims. Do so or take it on the road.

  72. Saurs December 3, 2009 at 2:06 AM #

    Define “maternal instinct,” anewpairofeyes.

  73. Faith December 3, 2009 at 2:30 AM #

    “What I do wish to establish though, is the idea that hormones ALSO cause a push from the inside on the structure of the brain.”

    So, let me ask you this:

    If men really are just naturally designed to be violent and aggressive, why should we allow them to just walk around unsupervised and unrestrained? If men really are just naturally violent, sexist beasts, why shouldn’t we just put all of you on house arrest? Or perhaps make all men wear chastity belts to prevent rape? Or chain you all up in the basement? Or, hell, kill every man on the planet?

    Why, if men are biologically programmed to be so aggressive – as you are claiming – should men have any freedom at all? It seems to me that if men really are as you say they are that the rest of us – women, children, and animals – have a right to be defended from all you raging, violent animals.

    “James, Yes, I am glad you agree that I’ve given supportive evidence :)”

    You haven’t provided a shred of evidence. You’ve provided opinions. Opinions which have been repeatedly found to be flawed by people far smarter than me or anyone else here.

    “Women are not born pregnant, but their biological predisposition towards pregnancy DOES also give them at least a slight tendency over males towards developing behaviors that we may recognize as “motherly.””

    But there is no solid reason to believe that is hormonal. There are loads of women who are absolutely terrible mothers. They are just as bad at being a parent as many men are, worse in some cases. As a mother of two children, I can tell you that I have no belief that my ability to be a better parent than my children’s father has anything to do with hormones. It has to do with the fact that I was saddled with the -responsibility- of being the nurturing parent. Someone had to do it. Their father sure as hell wasn’t. He couldn’t even take care of himself much less anyone else. I didn’t just come equipped with the ability to take care of my children, however. They didn’t just pop out of my vagina and I suddenly morphed into Mary Poppins due to being bathed in a flood of Oxycontin. I -learned- how to be a nurturing parent through many days and nights of trial and error. Not to mention frustration, exhaustion, and many nights spent crying myself to sleep due to being overwhelmed with the insane job that is parenthood.

  74. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 2:47 AM #

    I apologize. It seems I am wearing out my welcome. I did not want to do that. Perhaps I am getting carried away.

    James, I don’t know what SPD is. I looked it up, but that seems to be a pretty popular acronym.

    ND, before I come back with a response, there are a couple of claims that I have made and I want to make sure that i have them all in order so that I can keep my response organized. And so I can make sure we are on the same page as to exactly what claims it is that are being disputed.

    1) There are hormonal factors that play a role in the development of empathy and maternal behaviors in females.

    2) There are hormonal factors that play a role in the development of aggressive behaviors in males.

    3) These differences can be explained in part by a differentiation of labor in the early development of the human species.

    4) These biological sex differences appear abundantly in the animal kingdom

    5) These biological sex differences also appear abundantly in the world of humans.

    6) Because of this, it is reasonable to assume that part of human behavior is influenced by factors that precede social conditioning.

    7) Thus if we want to affect a change in the conflicts that involve a difference of behaviors in gender, a truly effective paradigm would be able to incorporate these biological factors.

    Are we all in agreement that this is the ground that I am defending?

  75. James December 3, 2009 at 3:07 AM #

    That was another typo. I meant SLD, which stands for “Specific Learning Difficulty”. Which, ironically, is a pretty vague term, in this instance most probably referring to residual dyspraxia.

    I’m done trying to extract evidence from you, btw.

  76. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 9:48 AM #

    Faith, have you heard of the national sex offender registry?

    What percentage of people being monitored by the government out of fear that they may harm people are male?

    A vast majority.

    What percentage of people on death row are male?

    A vast majority.

    What percentage of sociopaths are male?

    A vast majority.

    Is this socialized? I imagine that if it was, then rather than penalizing it we would rather be rewarding it.

    We do reward aggression.

    What kind of aggression do we reward the most?

    At the current moment in history, we reward iraqi soldiers.

    What are the iraqi soldiers doing?

    They are killing men that do honor killings because girls aren’t virgin enough.

    Women are entitled to protection.

    Who protects them?

    People who are able to suppress empathy for people who are willing to rape/torture/own women.

  77. Alina December 3, 2009 at 12:29 PM #

    I agree with Faith

    @anewpairofeyes
    Here a link with a few examples of how the human brain and therefor behaviour changes.

    http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/did/116939/2

    I totally diasgree with your theory and more then that, what you are saying sounds to me like the good old ,´men are hunters they are programmed to fuck around and look around and the rest of the crap´ excuse/propaganda.When will men stop pretending that for christs sake it doesnt WORK!!!

  78. Faith December 3, 2009 at 12:47 PM #

    “2) There are hormonal factors that play a role in the development of aggressive behaviors in males.”

    You didn’t answer my question. If aggressive behavior in males is biological, why shouldn’t we take steps to limit their freedom in order to protect those around them?

    “1) There are hormonal factors that play a role in the development of empathy and maternal behaviors in females.”

    Yet you conveniently ignored the woman who patiently explained what led to her “maternal behavior”. I also must mention the number of books and websites I devoured in preparation of becoming a mother so that I would have some understanding of what the fuck to do once I gave birth. Without the parenthood education I had, along with the on-the-job training, I wouldn’t have been any better at parenting than their practically worthless father. It wasn’t Oxytocin that made me a better parent. It was the fact that I knew that I -had- to take on the responsibility of being the better parent. My children were relying on me to care for them. Again: Someone has to bloody do it.

  79. James December 3, 2009 at 4:44 PM #

    When will men stop pretending that for christs sake it doesnt WORK!!!

    Well…I’ve been arguing against him for half of this thread, so please don’t generalise. There are plenty of women who believe in the gender binary, & plenty of men that don’t. It’s pretty ironic for you to attack pro-binarism in such a normative fashion, really

    At the current moment in history, we reward iraqi soldiers.

    Yeah, being in the military is hugely popular right now.

    What are the iraqi soldiers doing?

    They are killing men that do honor killings because girls aren’t virgin enough.

    They’re also raping plenty of girls.

    Women are entitled to protection.

    Who protects them?

    I would ask you to consult the following songs:

    Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

    Bikini Kill – Don’t Need You

    Then kindly get back to me. :)

    People who are able to suppress empathy for people who are willing to rape/torture/own women.

    I…yes?

  80. Faith December 3, 2009 at 5:02 PM #

    “Faith, have you heard of the national sex offender registry?

    What percentage of people being monitored by the government out of fear that they may harm people are male?”

    You’re not surprisingly missing the point.

    You are arguing that men are an innate threat by virtue of being biologically designed to be aggressive/violent. The men who are on the sex offender registry, in jail, etc. are men who have already committed crimes. What I am saying is this: If all men are biologically designed to be violent, why shouldn’t ALL men be monitored? Since they all pose a biological threat (according to YOU), why shouldn’t we take away all men’s freedom in order to protect other living creatures?

    Do you have an answer to -that- question?

    “Who protects them?”

    Who hurts them in the first place, ANPE? Gosh, I do believe that would be men.

  81. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 5:19 PM #

    Faith;

    I understand that I am on thin ice and I am trying my best to be respectful; primarily to ND as this is her domain but also to you and other users here.

    I happen to find your tone a little intimidating, because you would not be the only one who is expressing displeasure at my ability to address every element of your post.

    I am talking with a good number of other users at this same time who are also asking me questions that I would like to address, so I am hoping that people can have patience with me and recognize that it is hard for one person to keep up in a conversation when they are expressing an unpopular opinion in a large group.

    I am trying to do what ND asked me to, which is defend my position or leave, but I’d like to consolidate it into one train of discussion so that I can address everyone at once. To do that, I was hoping we could come to a consensus on what exactly it is that I am defending, rather than having people GUESS that I am arguing a traditional view that they have heard before. and demand that I answer them all on an individual basis.

    I thought I did answer this question of yours;
    “If aggressive behavior in males is biological, why shouldn’t we take steps to limit their freedom in order to protect those around them?”

    We DO take steps to control males and limit their freedom. That is what LAW is. Of course, it limits the freedoms of women too; violence is not strictly a male phenomenon. It just happens to be PRIMARILY male, and that even happens to be the case in cultures that are socialized differently than ours.

    I have no problem enforcing severe consequence against those who harm women. It just generally happens to be people who are able to dampen their empathy and put a check on it who are responsible for using the force necessary to uphold those laws.

    This is kind of a crude joke, I hope I’m not out of line for sharing it, but I’ve heard it said that many girls keep boyfriends for the same reason that they keep hand guns. Protection is important, and for that reason aggression is a double edged sword,.

    In other words, what is a flaw in some scenarios can be sublimated to serve a helpful function; its when aggression is misplaced that we tend to disfavor it.

    Women ARE starting to pick up the burden of becoming soldiers and police officers, but this is a modern development; it is the result of culture, not a resistance to it.

    SAURS, you asked me to define maternal instinct, and this will also apply to FAITHs comment on motherhood, that I apologize for glossing over.

    I am not using instinct in the most strict scientific sense of the word, I am being a little bit loose in my usage of it.

    If I understand correctly, in animals an instinct is a preset pattern of behaviors that is immutable.

    I think that human impulses are very much akin to this notion of instinct, but with one major caveat. We do have preset tendencies and dispositions towards certain types of behavior, but as our developmental window is longer than most animals, these tendencies towards behaviors are more malleable and able to be trained and refined by learning.

    So I use instinct in the sense that we have a little help from inside (genes/hormones) that make it easier for some to pick up certain sets of behavior than if they were just cold learning something that they are not predisposed to.

    I wouldn’t say that a maternal instinct involves knowing how to change a diaper/mix formula/put a baby to bed or anything nearly as sophisticated as that. I’m more talking about a tendency towards bonding, and towards attuning with an infant.

    FAITH
    I find it weird that you don’t believe that there is anything natural about you WANTING to learn to do what is necessary for your baby, which is a trait that your male partner seemed to seriously lack.

    The fact that in animals, oxytocin stimulates bonding behaviors in addition to creating physiological changes (such as milk production) would suggest to me that there was something that prompted you to care in the first place.

  82. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 5:43 PM #

    I am trying to do what ND asked me to do.

    I am VERY familiar with post-modern philosophy and the notion of behavior as a purely social construct. My thinking is highly influenced by it. That being said, I don’t subscribe to dogma, and as such leave my self open to be influenced by evidence.

    The very notion that the human mind is a completely blank slate, a Tabula Rasa, or as Steven Pinker jokingly puts it, “Silly Putty” is not consistent with the findings of science.

    I have a request; if it is in any way possible can people confirm whether or not my list of 7 points would adequately cover the ground that I am defending?

    I can add to it if it really doesn’t satisfy the range of topics that people feel I am in grievous error on, but I personally think that it will get to the main root of what it is that people find contentious about my perspective if I back those points up with evidence.

    Until that happens, I am going to have to refrain from responding to every individual.

  83. Faith December 3, 2009 at 6:13 PM #

    “I happen to find your tone a little intimidating, because you would not be the only one who is expressing displeasure at my ability to address every element of your post.”

    I can appreciate feeling intimidated, ANPE. But you have to realize that if you are going to make an assertion on a blog with heavy traffic, you’re going to have to be prepared to deal with the responses. I’m actually not being that intimidating. This is actually me being fairly mild. You just happen to be saying things that have been used to justify oppression against me and all women for thousands of years. That tends to make me a little cranky.

    “We DO take steps to control males and limit their freedom. That is what LAW is. ”

    You are still missing the point, ANPE. You are talking about restricting the behavior of men who have already engaged in violent behavior. That is not what I am saying.

    You have declared that men, by virtue of biology, are naturally violent/aggressive. Now, I don’t agree with you, but let’s pretend for a minute that I think you are correct.

    If we know that ALL men pose a threat to women/children/animals by virtue of biology, then why not take measures -before- they commit a crime to ensure they do not hurt someone? Why wait until after the fact? Why not restrict ALL men to ensure that they do not cause harm?

    “This is kind of a crude joke, I hope I’m not out of line for sharing it, but I’ve heard it said that many girls keep boyfriends for the same reason that they keep hand guns. Protection is important, and for that reason aggression is a double edged sword,.”

    That plan (although I’ve never heard of a single woman doing such) would backfire the moment the boyfriend assaulted her. And a woman’s lover/boyfriend/husband is the most likely candidate to assault her.

    “Women ARE starting to pick up the burden of becoming soldiers and police officers, but this is a modern development; it is the result of culture, not a resistance to it.”

    Women are starting to become soldiers and police officers because they are finally being -allowed- to do so. They didn’t do so before not because they lacked the aggression that would lead a person to such an occupation, but because they lacked the opportunity.

    “I find it weird that you don’t believe that there is anything natural about you WANTING to learn to do what is necessary for your baby, which is a trait that your male partner seemed to seriously lack.”

    And I find it weird – and extremely disrespectful – that you keep ignoring what I have been saying. What makes you so sure that I cared in the first place? I had to -learn- to care. I had to -teach- myself to care. Hormones did not do that job for me. I did that job because I -had- to do so. There have been plenty of days when the last thing I wanted to be was a mother. There have been plenty of days that I have considered saying to hell with it, let someone else do it. Do you know how many other women have those same feelings? Do you know how many other women actually do give up their children? If women are biologically designed to bond with their children, then why do so many women fail to bond with their children?

  84. Andrew December 3, 2009 at 6:22 PM #

    It can be argued, I suppose, that aggression is socialized in men, and that socialization occurs because this kind of behavior is rewarded. The real question is, who is doing the rewarding. Most of the time the answer is women through sexual selection.

    I agree with ANPE that this is probably more biological than social. Handing a child a barbie, or dressing her in pink, does not send a message that she should reward aggressive behavior. She just does. Since this has been going on for a very, very long time, it is not implausible that over time, the baseline male would have a high propensity for aggression, as well, as his sexual viability has depended on this trait for millennia. (Probably because men just rape women against their will and children are born as a result) This could arguably create the atmosphere feminism seeks to eradicate, which is patriarchy fueled by “female chauvinist pigs” (a.k.a. women who reward aggression).

    This isn’t about women being great at math, or driving, or fashion, or whatever. It also isn’t a justification for every male indulgence. Rejecting biological roots for behavior isn’t based in any hard science, rather it is driven by a purpose to eliminate gender myths and justifications for certain behavior that exist. Here, we aren’t discussing gender myths (like women are bad at math) or creating justifications for anti-social behavior.

    It would be just as impermissible to let a wife-beater off the hook because his victim still loves him (probably against her conscious will) as it would be to let a rapist off the hook because it’s within his natural propensity. Living in a society means suppressing traits that would otherwise help us survive in a state of nature, but it does not mean that those traits aren’t encoded in our DNA.

    Moreover, it is more than disingenuous to claim that socialization is this all powerful influence when the outcome is in conformity with the socialization, but that it has no effect when the outcome isn’t. For example, you might argue that a boy who is given dark blue pajamas, watches G.I. Joe and plays with toy guns, swords and tonka trucks is going to be very masculine, and when he comes out this way you’d say it is the result of socialization and conformity to expected gender roles. But why wouldn’t this be the outcome when the boy is born gay, or has a transexual mind-state? The truth is that when society and biology are in conflict, biology will win every time. This is why the pain of being closeted, for homosexuals and transgendered (among other groups), is such an issue, and the impetus behind a lot of gay rights movements.

    This is not biological essentialism, that is, nothing at the individual level is “essential” or “necessary”. But I believe we aren’t as far removed from the animal kingdom as we’d like to think. Our first world luxuries also go a long way in suppressing many of our otherwise natural instincts. The closer to the third world one gets, the more violence, rape, and murder you will see. You will also see larger families and more men and women in “traditional” roles.

    The argument can easily be made that society should progress, that these harmful instincts would be better repressed, if not shed. However this type of coercion and punishment, at least in western thought, can not be justified if the behavior is not intentional. The biological aspects of our behavior which can not be reasonably suppressed are, by definition, unintentional, and punishing them is punishing conduct that one can not be culpable for, much like punishing someone for being homosexual (Africa) or a woman (China). It does not make a difference if we pretend it is “choice” or “socialization” when it isn’t.

    • Nine Deuce December 3, 2009 at 7:06 PM #

      Andrew, do you mean to say that when little boys behave aggressively, they get laid? Little girls pick up on what kind of male behavior gets rewarded and is valued just like they pick up what they’ll be rewarded for. When the male adults around them display “masculine” behaviors, they come to expect that that’s what men will act like and seek those kinds of partners. It’s really simple. My dad is 6’4″. All of the men in my family are really tall. When I grew up, I subconsciously expected that the men around me would be tall, not because of some irresistible biological drive, but because it was what I was used to (and because the idea that men should be tall has been reinforced by a normative idealized male body type in the media). Had my dad been 5’4″, I might have ended up dating short dudes more often than I have. All of the men in my family are jokers. My husband is a joker. Not a big shock. Try to at least consider explanations other than biology, even though you are already convinced that you are right.

      By the way, you don’t understand what biological essentialism means. Go look it up. It doesn’t mean essential as in “necessary,” it means essential as in “essence.”

  85. Hoyahead December 3, 2009 at 6:27 PM #

    For the love of God, anewpairofeyes, there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that you’re going to be able to convince any feminist here that biology trumps socialization.

    It’s Feminism 101 (from http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/): “Biological determinism is one form of essentialism which has been used to argue for male superiority for all of recorded history: that men are naturally stronger, smarter, more rational and more trustworthy and thus are entitled to rule both politically and domestically. The more science discovers about biology the more this male biological superiority is shown to be utterly without foundation: for any quality measured there is far more variation among the group of all men and among the group of all women than there is on average between individuals of opposite sex.”

    That’s worth thinking about: scientific research reveals that there is far more variation in a given behavior or tendency among the genders than between the genders.

    “Masculine and feminine traits have been culturally placed in opposition to each other, and claimed to thus complement each other and result in harmony when men and women are constrained within the accepted sex roles. Masculine roles differ across societies, but are always portrayed as not only different from but also superior to the feminine. Women and men who transgress the boundaries of the accepted sex roles are considered “not real” men/women, and usually denigrated and sometimes abused and punished by outraged defenders of normative sex roles. It is this rigid ghettoising of masculine and feminine, and the assigning of superiority always to the masculine, that feminism challenges.”

  86. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 7:20 PM #

    Faith,

    I am being as respectful as I know how to be.

    If I miss out on nuances of what you are saying, you can chalk it up to me being stupid, not ignorant. I’ll try to slow down a little bit and make sure that I don’t miss as many of your points, just keep in mind that its hard to slow down and do that in such a high traffic environment.

    I will extend the same forgiveness towards you if you for some reason fall short of examining the nuance of my position.

    We are covering a lot of ground, and some points may be dropped, but I assure you there is no disrespect that is intended by the fact that I am merely a limited human being doing the best that I can.

    “You are still missing the point, ANPE. You are talking about restricting the behavior of men who have already engaged in violent behavior. That is not what I am saying.”

    You have declared that men, by virtue of biology, are naturally violent/aggressive. Now, I don’t agree with you, but let’s pretend for a minute that I think you are correct.

    If we know that ALL men pose a threat to women/children/animals by virtue of biology, then why not take measures -before- they commit a crime to ensure they do not hurt someone? Why wait until after the fact? Why not restrict ALL men to ensure that they do not cause harm?”

    You happen to be missing some nuance to what I am saying here.

    I never said that “Men are NATURALLY violent.” I said that when examining violence, in addition to social/cultural factors one gets a clearer picture when one also includes biological factors that are present in both humans and animals.

    This is not a justification for violence, it is actually an attempt at an explanation of it. I figure that if we can accurately identify WHY it happens, we’ve got a better shot at curbing it.

    As for why we don’t lock men up before hand, its simple really.

    Like i said, humans are susceptible to learning in a way that is unprecedented as far as animals go.

    So the reason we don’t just abort all male fetuses save for a few sperm donors is the fact that TENDENCIES do not equal DESTINTY. Because culturally, we train people away from their violent impulses and give them tools to cognitively control their behavior, many can successfully find healthier ways of expressing/quelling impulses.

    And besides, it would take an aggressive person to do the locking up.

    If you had a son, and you taught him impulse control, that WOULD be taking action on males BEFORE they end up committing a crime.

    “Women are starting to become soldiers and police officers because they are finally being -allowed- to do so. They didn’t do so before not because they lacked the aggression that would lead a person to such an occupation, but because they lacked the opportunity.”

    Let us assume that sex differences are PURELY social, and not biological (hormones, sex organs, size differences and muscle mass, aside)

    What explains the rise of male dominance? Did prehistoric women fail to take up weapons and to enforce laws purely for the reason that nobody “allowed” them to do it? If that is the case, it sounds like a concession of authority to males.

    If women would have made equals to men in terms of aggression, couldn’t they have established that trend from the get go?

    Amazons are the exception, not the rule.

    “What makes you so sure that I cared in the first place? I had to -learn- to care. I had to -teach- myself to care. Hormones did not do that job for me. I did that job because I -had- to do so. There have been plenty of days when the last thing I wanted to be was a mother. There have been plenty of days that I have considered saying to hell with it, let someone else do it. Do you know how many other women have those same feelings? Do you know how many other women actually do give up their children? If women are biologically designed to bond with their children, then why do so many women fail to bond with their children?”

    The majority of women DO stick around and take care of their children.

    The ones who don’t, I can’t propose any simple answers to that because the factors involved in that are quite complex.

    Many abandoned children have to do with poverty, drug abuse, mental conditions that are caused by a poor environment, etc.

    Just as animals have instincts to care for their children, it still happens to be the case that animals are abandoned in nature in relation to environmental forces.

    You didn’t have to keep your child. It was fully possible for you to give it up for adoption.

    There are many affluent people who can’t bear children who would LOVE to adopt a kid that was not born addicted to crack, or with alcohol induced brain damage.

    But you stuck around, despite the strain. I don’t deny that there was some learning involved, and I commend you for doing such a difficult task.

    I don’t deny that there are environmental forces that put pressure on you to do the right thing.

    But I think your sense of obligation to that child might be more embodied than you are admitting, because you did have other viable options and you chose the one that resonated the best with you, the one that “felt right.”

  87. Saurs December 3, 2009 at 7:22 PM #

    Thank you for the response, anewpairofeyes.

    I wouldn’t say that a maternal instinct involves knowing how to change a diaper/mix formula/put a baby to bed or anything nearly as sophisticated as that. I’m more talking about a tendency towards bonding, and towards attuning with an infant.

    Well, I agree that anyone can learn how to care for a child, and most men and women do understand whatever the current fads and underlying principles of childcare are (even if they don’t actually practice childcare), whether it’s from book-learnin’ or the hard work of first-hand experience. It’s fairly obvious that men and women are equally adept at changing a diaper if they care to indulge themselves. Of course, changing a diaper does not child-rearing make, nor is it a particularly fulfilling or endearing task, unless it’s framed in such a way that it becomes a matter of instinct rather than disgusting but vital labor. Probably why, like most “maternal” duties, cleaning up poopy is limited to women; women dig that sort of thing because they’re socialized to believe they’re fulfilling a genetic destiny. Little wonder why fatherhood is limited to big, manly tasks — Breadwinning, sport, highballs at the end of a long day, pats on the head or rump for junior — which aren’t so infantilizing and are a lot more fun. Can you explain why you think men are incapable or less capable of “attuning” with a baby when they biologically share one-half of the responsibility for its existence?

    Anyway, you wrote above to Faith that the biological tendency towards pregnancy makes a woman a more naturally nurturing human. This is rather like saying that a woman perpetually exists in a state of pre-, present, or post-motherhood, and that her “maternal instincts” lay in a state of hibernation until her womb gets a ring, whereupon she begins to develop empathy (a feeling apparently already inherent in women). That’s patriarchy talking, I reckon.

    Can you explain why you think a biologically-derived tendency towards bonding with other humans, particularly cute and cuddly ones, is limited to women? Wouldn’t you rather agree that protecting, nurturing, and engaging with smaller, cute things is a universal (non-gendered, anyway) expression independent from whether or not those small, cute creatures came out of our bodies?

    For that matter, the procreative impulse, independent of any nurturing instinct, is likewise nearly universal. I’ve never heard of any comparable “paternal instinct” that kicks it when a man conceives a child, but obviously no one is ignorant of the male role in conception.

    Although you define it above as bonding, the term “maternal instinct” as it is generally used describes a culturally-constructed set of responsibilities held exclusively by women, who are expected at some point in their lives to bear and care for their biological offspring, even to the detriment of their own well-being. It’s the icky, diaper-changing, unpaid, low-status, all-round unattractive set of tasks that are somehow magically transformed into fulfillment of one’s genes and one’s purpose on earth. It’s a great fantasy, it’s very convenient for men who are then free from the domestic sphere so they can rule the world, but it’s patently false. That you’ve argued above that men are the aggressive, physically-domineering sex, and that their genes make them predisposed both to hurting other humans and protecting other humans from being hurt, I don’t see why you think a protective instinct is limited to women, even if your assumptions are faulty (and I think they are). I mean, aren’t women little ‘n’ cuddly compared to big, strong he-men, kings of the jungle? Aren’t men being “maternal” when they protect women from their own evil, raping, murdering brothers?

    We do have preset tendencies and dispositions towards certain types of behavior, but as our developmental window is longer than most animals, these tendencies towards behaviors are more malleable and able to be trained and refined by learning.

    Then any man can possess maternal instinct, and we need to look for a new, non-gendered term to describe protective feelings towards little cute things (animals) and especially those of mothers and fathers towards their own children. Parental instinct, perhaps?

  88. James December 3, 2009 at 7:25 PM #

    The majority of women DO stick around and take care of their children.

    The ones who don’t, I can’t propose any simple answers to that because the factors involved in that are quite complex.

    You honestly thought you were going to get away with that? You just went: “Well, actually that contradicts what I said completely, but I can’t explain why because it’s too hard.”

    I suggest you take a step back & consider whether or not you’re sprouting nonsense to make yourself sound moderate. Up-thread you came across as quite the Golden Mean Man (not to much of bigology, not too much of culture…), & that Aristotelean clap-trap is a habit I’d take note of & try to quit, if I were you.

  89. Saurs December 3, 2009 at 7:29 PM #

    I don’t even know how you can discuss reproduction, much less child-bearing and -rearing, as though any one of them exists in a vacuum, anewpairofeyes. The very means of reproduction are socialized and controlled through male sexuality, which is not some pure expression of genes, hormones, or biology.

  90. Saurs December 3, 2009 at 7:38 PM #

    Sorry for the triple post (again), but:

    What explains the rise of male dominance? Did prehistoric women fail to take up weapons and to enforce laws purely for the reason that nobody “allowed” them to do it? If that is the case, it sounds like a concession of authority to males.

    Fuck’s sake, do you know which weblog this is?

    Amazons are the exception, not the rule.

    Amazons are a myth, a male fantasy, and a literary device.

  91. Andrew December 3, 2009 at 7:45 PM #

    ND: Again, I have to reiterate that here your biological and social interests would be in alignment. Your personal example would be more persuasive if your dad was short and you chose short men or your dad/men in your family where all terribly unfunny and you preferred the same.

    Your argument has terrible implications anyway. I suppose the children (male) of rapists, child molesters, and murderers should be shot on sight, as the socialization which they have received would mold them in their father’s image? It seems that your argument is just as fatally deterministic as the other extreme, which would allow for no societal input.

    It’s a matter of degree, I think both are at work and that they largely feed off of each other.

    The truth is that socialization is a great whipping boy when a biological justification cut’s against you, as it does if you’re a radical feminist. However, many other disadvantaged groups would like to use a biological justification to advance their interests, such as homosexuals or transexuals. How socialization can be so pervasive in one instance (as in the example of Faith’s son hating pink) but not in another (realizing you’re gay at 7 and being in the closet since) without taking into account biology remains unexplainable. If socialization is as pervasive and omnipotent as you claim it is, this should not be the case.

    Again, I think the problem feminists have with biological essentialism isn’t a recognition that men are likely to be aggressive or that women are likely to be nurturers. It is the attenuated inferences and justifications that flow from it, which I am not arguing.

    • Nine Deuce December 3, 2009 at 7:50 PM #

      How about the fact that I am nauseated by men who exhibit “masculine” behaviors because that isn’t how the men in my family behaved? My example is not all that terrifying. I have the capability to realize the social conditioning I’ve been subjected to isn’t necessarily rational.

      Stop speaking for feminists, homosexuals, and trans people.

      Note: I will no longer discuss biological essentialism with men who are not feminist allies. Everyone else is welcome to do so, but it’s clear that these dudes aren’t going to listen to anything that doesn’t fit their narrow, privileged, sophomoric, self-serving view of things, and I’ve got things to do.

  92. Faith December 3, 2009 at 7:47 PM #

    “I never said that “Men are NATURALLY violent.””

    Actually, that’s exactly what you said. Apparently you just don’t realize it.

    “Like i said, humans are susceptible to learning in a way that is unprecedented as far as animals go.”

    Yes, but if they are -biologically- designed to be more aggressive, that teaching will only work to such an extent. Given that we couldn’t know which men that it would work on or wouldn’t work on, why take the chance that they would harm someone by allowing them their freedom? Why should I and other women have to deal with that threat everyday?

    “If you had a son, and you taught him impulse control, that WOULD be taking action on males BEFORE they end up committing a crime.”

    But if my son (I already have one of those, fyi) is biologically designed to behave a certain way, how do I know that his instincts won’t overcome his teachings? What’s to stop those masculine hormones from taking over his brain and rational mind?

    “What explains the rise of male dominance?”

    That would be patriarchy, ANPE. The social programming that almost all people receive nearly from birth that teaches people that men are biologically designed to dominate and women are designed to submit. This teaching comes from all different sources including parents, religion, porn, and media.

    “Did prehistoric women fail to take up weapons and to enforce laws purely for the reason that nobody “allowed” them to do it? If that is the case, it sounds like a concession of authority to males.”

    I haven’t got a farking clue what prehistoric women did, to be perfectly blunt. I don’t believe that you know either, to also be perfectly blunt. I also am not sure that it matters whether women defended themselves at first or not. Either way, if men -forced- them into a position of submission against their will – which is the likely case – it still means that men and women are ultimately trained to accept gender roles.

    “If women would have made equals to men in terms of aggression, couldn’t they have established that trend from the get go?”

    There is actually evidence to support the idea that male dominance did not exist -at first- if you care to look into ancient matriarchal societies.

    “Amazons are the exception, not the rule.”

    If there are exceptions to anything then it isn’t a rule.

    “The majority of women DO stick around and take care of their children.”

    Wrong. Many women have abortions. Many women give their children up for adoption. Many women willfully abuse and neglect their children. How do you explain this fact?

    “Many abandoned children have to do with poverty, drug abuse, mental conditions that are caused by a poor environment, etc.”

    And you believe all of these factors would trump something as powerful as biology? Someone’s innate programming is just going to go out the window because they are broke, addicted, or suffering from mental illness? Because, you know, I know many women who fall into those categories. Many into all three of those categories. Yet they still have their kids.

    “You didn’t have to keep your child. It was fully possible for you to give it up for adoption.”

    No shit. Surprisingly enough, I -chose- using my -rational- mind to do otherwise.

    “There are many affluent people who can’t bear children who would LOVE to adopt a kid that was not born addicted to crack, or with alcohol induced brain damage.”

    Your point?

    “But you stuck around, despite the strain. I don’t deny that there was some learning involved, and I commend you for doing such a difficult task.”

    Aw, thanks ANPE. I totally needed you to give me a cookie for actually being responsible enough to take care of my responsibilities. Thanks so much.

    “But I think your sense of obligation to that child might be more embodied than you are admitting, because you did have other viable options and you chose the one that resonated the best with you, the one that “felt right.””

    You know, for someone who claims to care about listening to women, you sure do a lot of the opposite.

  93. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 7:54 PM #

    Hoyahead;

    I have to give you props, because I am trying my hardest to be respectful and so far I would have to say that you have responded in a way that I do not find condescending.

    I like that, and wish that more people in this community would show me the same degree of respectfulness.

    I have stated multiple times that biology does not equal destiny.

    It is my position that socialization needs to trump biology, and to do so, it needs to understand what biology IS in the first place so that it can do the perpetual work of either integrating it into our social systems, or otherwise developing better techniques of nipping it in the bud.

    This link is to a picture, it will only take a second to examine I’m hoping everyone checks it out.

    In the lower left hand quadrant, the WE quadrant, this is where I would place the perspective that behavior is a social construct. I agree that behavior is a social construct. I do not believe that it is ONLY a social construct. That is a common type of reductionism that post-modern thinkers get stuck in.

    In the upper right hand quadrant, the “it” quadrant, this is where I would place the position of biological determinism, which I CLEARLY reject as an absolute.

    My basic argument is that if you overlook either of those quadrants (or really ANY of the four) you are arguing for a version of feminism that will inevitably fail.

    It is hard though, because very few people on this board allow for the possibility that I do not fit a 2 dimensional stereotype that they have of some absolutist who is justifying violence with the upper right hand quadrant.

    I am not against feminism. I just don’t think that feminism can afford to spit on biology and say it doesn’t matter.

    Failure to account for biological gender differences in the 2nd wave led to laws that hurt, rather than helped things. Giving the same work-leave considerations to both genders, regardless of needs related to pregnancy, is but one example of why ignoring biological differences is hubris.

  94. James December 3, 2009 at 7:57 PM #

    Oh Jesus. He’s got his own “World’s Shortest Political Test” for us. Next we’ll all be convinced that we’re a bunch of libertarians (anything else is a Nazi, right?)

    & he’s claiming that the 3rd wave are in some way less culturalist than the 2nd…Um…Oh my…

  95. Saurs December 3, 2009 at 8:16 PM #

    Paid paternal leave has nothing to do with pregnancy or biology, but with child-rearin’. If anything is wrong with it, it’s that it’s not available in most places and is woefully inadequate everywhere.

  96. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 8:48 PM #

    Hoyahead, I tried to follow the link that you posted but it is broken.

    James,

    I am ultimately vulnerable here. Everyone can attack me all they like, with as harsh of terms as they like, and I have no option other than to take it.

    I hear people say that feminism has the goals of ensuring that all people, male and female, are treated with dignity.

    As a person who is interested enough to at least participate in discussions and be open to new information, can you imagine from my perspective what it might be like to consider whether or not it is an ideology that I would like to ally with and support.

    I would like to see demonstrated behaviorally the equality that feminism is purported to engender.

    As open minded as you express yourself to be, it is clear that you completely dismissed the diagram that I presented.

    Thats fine, I just hope you understand what that says to me about your character.

    • Nine Deuce December 3, 2009 at 8:57 PM #

      You are really pissing me off. It isn’t our job as feminists to convince you that we deserve to be treated like humans, it’s your job to realize that it’s wrong to do otherwise. All of your “I’m such a civilized, rational, nice guy and these feminist are being mean to me because they won’t spend all their time convincing me of something I have no intention of considering” nonsense is unoriginal, boring, manipulative, and just gross.

      Biological essentialism has been used from time immemorial to justify oppression, and I’m frankly tired of it. Biology may have some effect or other on people’s behavior, but we are capable of moving beyond it and we should already have done so. We know right and wrong, and hence biology does not make one bit of difference, even if it does influence behavior. We don’t need to write hundreds of 500+ word circular comments to understand that aggression sucks, nurturing is cool, and that both women and men are capable of both.

  97. Faith December 3, 2009 at 8:55 PM #

    “I have stated multiple times that biology does not equal destiny.”

    But biology IS destiny. You can’t get around biology. Biology is. Biology does not change. There is no getting around biology.

    “I have to give you props, because I am trying my hardest to be respectful and so far I would have to say that you have responded in a way that I do not find condescending.”

    How is refusing to believe me when I tell you my own personal experience respectful? How is also refusing to answer questions that go against what you are claiming respectful? Have you stopped to consider that maybe -your- the one being condescending?

  98. Faith December 3, 2009 at 8:56 PM #

    Make that “you’re”

  99. James December 3, 2009 at 8:57 PM #

    If you use a diagram to divide & colour-code humanity then that is sufficient to let me know that I don’t need to worry about what your opinion is of me. There are lots of people with lots of different diagrams, the only correlative is that they’re a collective pack of morons who don’t understand how people work.

    If that makes me a light mauve at 70 degrees, then so be it.

    If you intend to stick around here (or any part of the radfeminist blogosphere) I’d suggest that you get use to people being treated in a fashion devoid of dignity. That’s what comes from admitting to having a penis. That may not seem fair to you, but lots of radical feminists are rape victims, so deal.

    • Nine Deuce December 4, 2009 at 6:39 AM #

      James – He isn’t suffering because we aren’t affording him dignity. He’s pretending that we’re not treating him with dignity because we refuse to agree with him that his simplistic model makes more sense than the entirety of what we’ve been working on and thinking about for years. It’s insulting. And it has nothing to do with his having a penis, it has to do with the fact that he’s manipulative and disingenuous. I don’t particularly like that rape victim thing, either. It sounds like a sneaky way to insinuate that rape victims are incapable of rational discussion.

  100. Faith December 3, 2009 at 8:58 PM #

    “Thats fine, I just hope you understand what that says to me about your character.”

    Yea, not a bit of condescension there. Nope, none at all.

  101. Rian December 3, 2009 at 9:20 PM #

    In the upper right hand quadrant, the “it” quadrant, this is where I would place the position of biological determinism, which I CLEARLY reject as an absolute.

    Funny that the names in the upper right hand quadrant are Skinner and Watson (behaviorists) and Locke (proponent of the tabula rasa philosophy of mind).

    It is hard though, because very few people on this board allow for the possibility that I do not fit a 2 dimensional stereotype that they have of some absolutist who is justifying violence with the upper right hand quadrant.

    No, the problem is that your arguments are oversimplified and overgeneralized, and you have demonstrated nothing beyond a pop understanding of physiology, psychology and evolution.

    My basic argument is that if you overlook either of those quadrants (or really ANY of the four) you are arguing for a version of feminism that will inevitably fail.

    Except that is not how it’s coming across. It is coming across here as gender essentialism. You need to give more consideration to what Hoyahead quoted earlier before arguing that women are X or men are Y:

    [F]or any quality measured there is far more variation among the group of all men and among the group of all women than there is on average between individuals of opposite sex

  102. makomk December 3, 2009 at 9:49 PM #

    “But being aroused and flaccid due to blood flow problems is different than not being aroused at all or not wanting to have sex at all.”

    Except that doesn’t seem to be quite what Viagra does. For example, one of the big headaches the porn industry used to have was that their male stars couldn’t get it up a lot of the time. They didn’t necessarily have any biological problems, it just didn’t turn them on. Viagra changed all that – now they can get hard and perform even though they’re still not interested.

    So, making it easier for men to have sex when they want to isn’t all it does – it makes it easier for them to have sex when they don’t want to too. Now, I can’t imagine a libido-raising drug for men, but that’s because they’re not supposed to need one. Men are meant to always want sex, and in a sense the little blue pill helps to keep that illusion intact.

    • Nine Deuce December 3, 2009 at 9:56 PM #

      Most men take Viagra because they have physiological problems (caused by age, prostate problems, etc.). The porn example is an outlier. Nice try.

  103. Saurs December 3, 2009 at 10:22 PM #

    I hear people say that feminism has the goals of ensuring that all people, male and female, are treated with dignity.

    As a person who is interested enough to at least participate in discussions and be open to new information, can you imagine from my perspective what it might be like to consider whether or not it is an ideology that I would like to ally with and support.

    I would like to see demonstrated behaviorally the equality that feminism is purported to engender. [emboldened by me]

    Before considering whether or not an ideology is one that may you want to support, you might possibly be expected to know what it actually is. As lovely as “dignity” and “equality” sound, the purpose of feminism is not to explicitly achieve either.

  104. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 10:44 PM #

    Rian,

    I admit that I have a lot to learn.

    To be fair, all along I’ve agreed that men can be empathetic (in some cases more so) than women and also that women are capable of aggression.

    I’ve never said that men are X and women are Y.

    I have simply stated that there are biological factors that tip the scale in the direction of men tending towards X and women tending towards Y.

    I’ve also repeated myself again and again trying to make it clear that these tendencies are NOT justifications. And that they can be overcome through socialization. And that they should be overcome, because I think that we can all generally agree that we want to minimize the amount of harm that people of all genders experience.

    I don’t know how many times I have replied by stating that biology is NOT destiny. Its just something we’ve got to deal with.

    Thinking of humans as if socialization is the ONLY thing that shapes their behavior is IMO oversimplified.

    With that being the case, I may be way off in the data that I am encountering that suggests there is still some animal in people that we haven’t gotten under wraps yet.

    If you can point me to BETTER sources that DO include the proper way to think of a biological input to behavior, I would like to incorporate that into my worldview.

    So far I am really uncertain as to how different schools of feminism deal with the problem of biology, but for the most part I get a strong impression that radical feminism reduces it entirely to social influence.

    I see the point of Hoyaheads that you suggest I should look more into, and I will.

    Nine Deuce,

    I said nothing of the sort that feminists have any obligation to convince me to treat women like human beings.

    I am already sold on THAT idea. I will continue to do what I can to improve my ability to handle ethical conflicts that arise between myself and anyone that I may be harming in some way.

    What I am saying is that men also deserve to be treated like human beings. And if nurturing is cooler than aggression, than I have a strong preference for the nurturing as I am doing what I can to not be aggressive myself.

    I understand that many women have experienced abuse, and so have I. Not to compare wounds, its just that even though I’ve been raped I don’t use it as a justification to hate women. And I don’t get mad at them when they tell me that it is humanly impossible for that to have happened to me.

    I do plan on sticking around the discussions that are going on about gender issues, because I am a conscientious person.

    I am hoping that through back and forth discussion, I may be inspired by insights as to what being a female is like. And as to how I can disturb the world less with my prickly fingers.

  105. anewpairofeyes December 3, 2009 at 10:51 PM #

    Saurs,

    you said,

    “Before considering whether or not an ideology is one that may you want to support, you might possibly be expected to know what it actually is. As lovely as “dignity” and “equality” sound, the purpose of feminism is not to explicitly achieve either.”

    Is this to suggest that there is but one true feminism?

    I’ve encountered quite a few conceptions, some of which even seem to have conflicting objectives.

  106. polly styrene December 3, 2009 at 11:12 PM #

    There probably isn’t one true anything if you want a word such as, for example, ‘feminism’ to have a definitive meaning anewpairofeyes. What with language being a symbolic form of communication and it being perfectly possible to change the meanings associated with symbols.

    However it seemed that Saurs was also suggesting there is ‘one true feminism’ to me. However if you want to support something, it’s generally a good idea to have some concept of what it is first.

  107. Saurs December 3, 2009 at 11:59 PM #

    I’ll clarify.

    I asked a fatuous question above, one that you probably didn’t think it worth answering, anewpairofeyes, but I’ll ask again: what weblog is it that you think you’re visiting?

    If you feel that you’re odd man out here, it’s probably because you’re mostly among radical feminists. Radical feminism isn’t the absolute one true feminism and not all radical feminists think alike; but the “equality” of “the sexes” is not a fundamental end of radical feminism.

    You asked before

    What explains the rise of male dominance?

    Patriarchy explains male dominance, and feminist-led revolution can provide its demise, along with the demise of dominance (sexual, class, ethnic, religious) in general, all hierarchies of power. Equality will be irrelevant.

    Perhaps you don’t feel you’re getting a fair shake in this thread because you don’t have a grasp on the fundamental beliefs that unite many (not all, but many) of the commenters.

  108. Saurs December 4, 2009 at 12:06 AM #

    (It’s probably very necessary to write that I’m not attempting to become arbiter of True Radical Feminism; I’m speaking on behalf of myself only, and how I’ve perceived your comments thus far, anewpairofeyes.)

  109. anewpairofeyes December 4, 2009 at 12:24 AM #

    Saurs and Polystyrene.

    I’ve got a kind of broad and nebulous map for navigating the world of feminism.

    It is true that being able to differentiate between groups of feminists that I agree more with or less with is something that I don’t have a strong handle on.

    Its not the low-fi map that I’m using, and that I’m encountering conflicting beliefs that I have a problem with.

    I have discussions with people who hold radically different beliefs from me about some intense topics on a constant basis.

    The problem I am having is people taking my difference of belief as a justification for being rude.

    Perhaps there are ways that I am being rude that I am not conscious of.

    I’m trying to figure it out; hoyahead linked me to an article on feminism 101 that was a broken link, but I am finding that there are some resources there that might help clue me in on how to participate in discussions and express my differences without getting ganged up on and treated like a social disease.

    The thing is I like women a lot. And I pride myself on trying to do the right thing.

    I can be persistent, but I am finding it particularly difficult to participate in feminist discourse. I don’t like being insulted and sometimes it seems to me like certain groups expect men to be either masochists or yes men in order to partake in an exchange of ideas.

    • Nine Deuce December 4, 2009 at 1:29 AM #

      How about men let women lead their own movement?

  110. anewpairofeyes December 4, 2009 at 1:38 AM #

    Exchanging ideas and leading are somewhat different.

    And besides, gender relations are IMO a species issue.

    But its clear that its time for me to go.

    Good luck in your endeavors.

    • Nine Deuce December 4, 2009 at 1:49 AM #

      The problem is that you seem to think you are raising issues we’ve never considered before, even though we clearly, by your own admission, have spent more time on gender issues and feminism than you have.

  111. anewpairofeyes December 4, 2009 at 7:11 AM #

    Nine Deuce,

    How can you say that I am only pretending to be hurt?

    I think that would involve mind reading skills.

    Whether merely perceived in my mind to be attacked or actually attacked, I have honestly felt discomfort over some of the condescension that I’ve perceived directed towards me.

    Mind you, not from everyone. I feel that hoyahead, polystyrene and saurs to name a few have been very polite and I respect that. Did they agree with me? Not quite.

    But they did point me to some resources for further investigation that might actually help improve my admittedly incomplete perspective.

  112. anewpairofeyes December 4, 2009 at 7:17 AM #

    As for gender issues, feminism doesn’t own gender issues. Its a species thing that I’ve been dealing with my whole life.

    I imagine you are older than me (I’m 24.) so I imagine you’ve been dealing with issues of living and being as a human for longer than I have.

    I recognize that there is value to familiarizing myself with your perspective, and I hope you can see the value in me wanting to do it in an environment in which I feel like I can respectfully submit my own ideas, whether people agree with them or not.

    • Nine Deuce December 4, 2009 at 4:51 PM #

      ANPOE – Feel free to discuss things with others here. I’m very busy and have probably been more easily exasperated than I would be if I had nothing to do. I am tired of having the same conversation over and over, so maybe I just won’t and I’ll let others do so.

  113. polly December 4, 2009 at 10:21 AM #

    The thing is I like women a lot.

    I don’t: there are some women I like a lot, some women I hate and some women I’m indifferent to. That’s because women aren’t a homogenous group. And that’s feminism 101.

    Really. Would you say “I like black people a lot”?

  114. polly December 4, 2009 at 10:26 AM #

    Sorry – I incorrectcly said Saurs had said something above when in fact s/he was quoting it. So, to clarify, I don’t think Saurs is trying to define the one true feminism.

  115. Alina December 4, 2009 at 11:00 AM #

    @ James

    I should of said “some men”

    I am very aware that there are plenty of women that believe in gender binary,some(most as I believe) like men have been brainwashed into believing in it.

    NormativeFashion…..umm….
    I hope that you are here because you are interested in this whole subject and not because you are a wannabe Polemicist.

  116. polly December 4, 2009 at 11:37 AM #

    James and a newpairofeyes. Speaking for myself, I’m rude anyway. Saves time, and it’s also tremendous fun when you have to spend ‘real life’ being nice to people you hate to earn a living. But James – I don’t think you’re being treated with a lack of dignity because you have a penis. You’re being treated like the knob you are. In other words you ARE a penis.

  117. James December 4, 2009 at 12:35 PM #

    They obviously are, it’s just that they’re (seemingly) more likely to hate men. Which is perfectly understandable.

    As for APONE, if he was expecting us to preface our arguments with “Dear APONE, that may be your opinion, but I am afraid that I am going to have to respectfully disagree, upon the following grounds:” he certainly didn’t get that.

    Instead we went into “Tear him a new one” mode, myself most certainly included.

  118. James December 4, 2009 at 4:27 PM #

    Alina – That’s cool, I was being a pedant more than anything. :)

    polly – But James – I don’t think you’re being treated with a lack of dignity because you have a penis. You’re being treated like the knob you are. In other words you ARE a penis.

    There’s nothing wrong with penises.

  119. Faith December 4, 2009 at 5:32 PM #

    “Instead we went into “Tear him a new one” mode, myself most certainly included.”

    I personally wasn’t attempting to “tear him a new one”. I just get really tired of men claiming to care about women and then refusing to listen to women when we tell them our perspective. He keeps talking a great deal about rudeness but he has yet to take any responsibility for his own rudeness. Whether or not he was attempting to be rude is really beside the point. The fact is that he was being quite rude and arrogant by claiming to know more about women than we do ourselves.

  120. James December 4, 2009 at 5:39 PM #

    Well I apologise if I misinterpreted your intentions, Faith, I was merely conveying my perceptions.

  121. anewpairofeyes December 4, 2009 at 7:41 PM #

    Polly,

    I see your point about making statements about broad groups. I suppose I should say that over all, my experience with females is more positive than it is negative.

    Do you think the tendency of developing opinions about perceived groups is brainwashing? Or would it make more sense to suggest that this problematic feature of the mind arises from a need to simplify things in order to deal with information overload?

    I would suggest the latter, that a fundamental property of human neurology is to extract concepts of ‘sameness’ out of fields of ‘difference.’

    Just as there is also the complimentary, more energy intensive process of extracting ‘difference’ out of ‘sameness.’

    I suppose this becomes more problematic when it is living, feeling human beings that get grouped.
    Then they receive a transference of emotions and attitudes that were originally inspired by someone that they share very little in common with.

    Its not as dangerous to look at, say, screwdrivers and say that all phillips head screwdrivers are the same.

    I would suggest this human tendency of lumping is another biological factor (not gender specific, but still biological) that is inborn.

  122. Faith December 4, 2009 at 8:48 PM #

    “Well I apologise if I misinterpreted your intentions, Faith, I was merely conveying my perceptions.”

    Thanks, although I don’t really see any reason to apologize. You didn’t do anything “wrong”.

  123. J.S. December 9, 2009 at 10:30 PM #

    My personal experiences (hurf durf resurrecting a dead thread):
    I’m a woman and my sexuality is all my own. I am one of those women who some of these men upthread seem to be speaking for (FYI, dudes, thanks for the effort, but I can do it myself).
    I used to be extremely sexually voracious/aggressive. In recent years, I’ve seen my libido go down and I have some issues maintaining arousal and reaching orgasm, despite the fact that I’m relatively young (mid 30s). I really, really don’t like this development. It’s unclear why it’s happened, but as of now I’d love to have some kind of potential solution to try because I want my old sex drive back. My current partner, who identifies as male, is very conscientious and works hard at paying attention to my body and touching me how I like to be touched. I’m really tired of hearing how my problems are cultural or psychological, how I need to get my partner to learn to do his part better, and I’m -really- fucking sick of hearing how a strong sex drive is something essentially male or that I’m trying to “model” male supremacist sexuality or some bullshit. I can cognitively want to have a high libido without actually having the low-level urge to have sex. They’re two different things and one does not necessarily imply coercion.

    Thanks for listening,
    J.S.

  124. sneeky bunny December 10, 2009 at 1:12 AM #

    I’m with you J.S. You and I may be considered unusual here, and our experience shouldn’t be used to discount the very real problems discussed up thread, but we’re out there, and our needs are no more “just in our heads” than people who experience the opposite.

  125. anewpairofeyes December 10, 2009 at 1:25 AM #

    I don’t think it should be completely discounted either that sometimes men take viagra not with selfishness, but rather a desire to please others in mind.

    Unless that is to say that all men (and the contents of their head) are the same.

  126. joy July 13, 2010 at 7:51 PM #

    As other people have written, here and elsewhere in your archives, women are “free” to “make” “sexual choices” only if they choose to have sex, and then only if their sexual choices align neatly with patriarchal/pronographic norms.

    Opting out of the whole thing altogether is not a choice.

    Funny how the people who are all about “choice!!!! choice!!!!! CHOICE!!!!!” are the ones on here saying that not having sex is not an option. Not a choice. Speaks for itself, almost.

    Also, for anyone reading at home who made it through the comments here and is still unsure, “a new pair of eyes”, James, and Andrew should toss themselves. Not for being dudes (other-james/syndicalist702 manages to be both a dude and not totally obnoxious), but for being assholes who barge onto feminist spaces and refuse to listen.

    ND, your blog + factcheckme’s essays about PIV = better and more effective than a decade of therapy in helping me feel like I do in fact deserve to be alive and am not crazy.

  127. Mackenzie August 4, 2010 at 4:35 PM #

    Andrew:
    What you keep saying sounds like you are very confused.

    What Viagra is for:
    Dude is aroused but has physical problems (like bloodflow) preventing changes to his male anatomy from occurring.

    What this is for:
    Woman does not want to have sex.

    So, when you say:

    I think your having a hard time seeing a diference between women wanting sex and not being able to have it, and women notesnting sex and being pathologized for it. As far as the pill helps the former, I support it.

    You are exactly missing that this pill is for the latter. The former is fixed by lube.

  128. Mackenzie August 4, 2010 at 4:37 PM #

    Also, I fear this being drug being leveled at asexual women to “prove” to them that they are not asexual—just broken.

  129. Andrew August 5, 2010 at 12:51 PM #

    Mackenzie,

    Your critique seems to assume that a women may not be ambivalent towards sex on one level (physical, for example) but able to desire it on another (like emotional). Women may want sex, but lack any desire for it just as easily as they may desire sex but not want to have it. I myself have wished I could become more easily aroused by my partner (which is different from being aroused but not “getting it up”). I don’t see why a woman couldn’t find herself in this same position.

    This pill is for women who want to raise their level of arousal to a point consistent with how often they are (or would like to be) having sex.

    What this pill doesn’t do is make any claims towards restoring a woman’s ideal level of arousal, probably because a definite one doesn’t exist. This doesn’t mean, however, that no woman is unhappy with what she perceives to be a low level of arousal and wants to change it.

    Those women should not be denied access on the grounds that some other women may feel pressured to take the pill despite being happy with their lower arousal levels. Women being pressured to do anything they don’t want to do is problematic, but that problem lies with the men in their lives, and not medicines that are meeting legitimate needs.

  130. kristina August 7, 2010 at 11:57 AM #

    Andrew, call me dense but I’m still not getting it… I personally always want sex…it is for emotional bonding…as a matter of fact, always for emotional bonding…otherwise I could care less..I have my hand for the physical need…If there are a lot of women out there like me, they have a hand or preferred method for the physical…or even lube if the body is not responding properly (but that would lead me to think it’s the emotional need getting confused with the physical need) so if the assumption is that most women are like me, what would the pill be for? presumably the libido (the emotional desire)…Does viagra increase a man’s desire..possibly but that could be due to the fact that you have a freakin erection that you can obviously see, which may be causing anxiety since a man can easily SEE his physical arousal/response, the only logical assumption left for the man would be that he must have this desire on a deeper level than physical…but that is ignoring the fact that men get erections regularly without having been sexually or chemically stimulated, and without a desire for sex…when a man has been holding his urine for too long, as an example… I have mistaken my husband’s erection for emotional AND/OR physical desire all too often. I think it comes down to people are NOT in tune with their minds and bodies and think everything needs fixing…but under what scale are we assuming anything is “broken”?

  131. Andrew August 7, 2010 at 5:23 PM #

    Kristina,

    I apologize if what I wrote was a little too simplified. I think what I was trying to say when I said that women may want sex but lack the desire for it, is that some women may wish they were more desirous of sex than they find themselves to be.

    There are lots of legitimate reasons a women may want this, for her own emotional reasons, to create a stronger bond with her partner, etc. I think the pill fills this need.

    The crucial part though is that the woman wants it, i.e., she is in charge of making the choice for herself. I think this is different than someone convincing her she should want it when she doesn’t, presumably by telling her she is broken.

    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not a low libido is a medical condition or not. What matters is whether a not a woman wants to change an aspect of her sex life that she couldn’t previously address. This pill allows women who want to make changes to their sex lives to do it, and I think this benefit outweighs the negative ways in which it might be used.

  132. kristina August 7, 2010 at 6:38 PM #

    Ok…well I still only kind of agree… I really don’t see women having any “free” choices at this moment…yes they SHOULD have the option, but where is the decision coming from? I feel like a lot of women crave sex with another person to fulfill an emotional need…otherwise it would make more sense to masturbate, and I also agree with Mackenzie, what if someone who is asexual (labeled as low sex drive…but compared to what?!?) is misled to think she is broken…see what I’m saying? I think you’re saying there isn’t an established scale of healthy sex drive, but if that’s true then what are these women who feel they wish they had a higher drive comparing it to? Their husband’s? significant other? media? friends of theirs? In order to feel like there’s something lacking someone must be in comparison with something, otherwise it is normal.

  133. kristina August 8, 2010 at 8:19 AM #

    I didn’t read js ‘s comment…but I feel if you are comparing it to a previous drive that you had when you were younger it’s not an act of coercion…it’s a matter of preference…the comparison is made within yourself, not that of an outside force.

  134. kristina August 8, 2010 at 8:27 AM #

    a new pair of eyes…the grouping isn’t biological, its a healthy psychological development that happens when you’re a baby… it’s some pretty indepth crazy theorizing…I was totally enthralled by the reading.

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