Chapter 5: Old cows like tender grass

老牛吃嫩草
lăo niú chī nèn căo

Whoever strolls in a major city’s hip locations at night will notice the number of May-December couples, i.e., pairs where one mate (usually the male) is significantly older than the other. This proverb fiddles with this phenomenon and is based on the observation that older men seek younger women (as wives, but also as mistresses, girlfriends, one-night stands, etc.), and that older women sometimes like to date younger men (most pro­bably as toy boys only) – if, of course, the financial situation and physical attractiveness of each part­ner respec­tively, allow for such a match. Yet this apposition is not highlighted for any rea­son. As shall be seen in the following, economical or material considerations indeed often play a major role in such relationships.[1]

According to statistics available for Europe, most men marry women who are about three years younger than them on average.[2] This fact can easily be explained by biological and social consi­derations: From a survival perspective, it makes sense for women to choose a better half that can protect them and their offspring. Given that people’s wealth normally increases with age, an old man is likely to have a higher status, greater resources, a larger network, and therefore a better ability to provide for her. The reason why the age difference is not much higher than three years is equally perspicuous: If a man is too old, he is expected to die earlier, mea­ning that his (or the couple’s common) resources will dry out or will be reduced in the wake of the inheritance division. In this regard, the genuine love story bet­ween Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall, an oil business mogul 62 years her senior, should certainly be remembered as a historical exception.

Furthermore, mature men display comparatively lower testosterone level, which makes them more stable emotionally, more reliable, and thus more credible with regard to long-term commitment. They are also recognised as being more generous in bed, more under control of their own desires, and more understanding, respectively knowledgeable about what women want – all qualities that should not be underestimated when it comes to (short and long term) heterosexual relationships. On a similar note, studies show that the sex drive of a man in his forties, for example, is more compatible with a woman in her early twenties (that is, in terms of interest and need, not physical performance).

Likewise, the existence of “cougars” (a slang term referring to a women who date and sleep with much younger men) can be justified with analogous arguments: While human males’ libido peaks at age 19, the sexual functioning of females tends to reach its highest point when they are around 36 to 38.[3],[4] Hence, from a purely biological and lust-technical stand­point, it is apparently this combina­tion, a Mrs. Robinson in her late thirties with a 19-year-old Benjamin Braddock, that pro­mises the most action in bedrooms worldwide. This has not only to do with the fact that only younger men have the appetite, potency and the physical ability an older woman yearn for. Other aspects, such as hormonal changes within a woman’s system, life experience, self-confidence, comfort with one’s own body, play an equally crucial role in explaining such unions that make no sense from an evolutionary perspective, as women have virtually lost their reproductive value at that age. Other than true romance or momentary lecherousness, the only plausible reasons a stripling would go for this kind of arrangement are power, connections, reputation, celebrity, or money. That being said, the key insight here is not that “coupling between an older woman and a younger man can’t last”, but as Alan and Barbara Pease point out in their 2009 book Why Men Want Sex and Women Need Love: “[S]ome do – but most don’t.”[5]


Notes

[1]    A deeper discussion about the importance of age in mate selection is held in chapter 14 “Fair lady is what gentleman seeks”.

[2]    Cited in: Wardrop (2009)

[3]    Pease / Pease (1999), p. 222

[4]    Pines (2005), p. 101

[5]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 62

Chapter 4: Beauty is the troubled water that brings disasters – Part 3

Singling out Christianity for further illustration purposes, the strictness of some value sys­tems becomes apparent when one contemplates the amount and extent of principles regu­lating sexuality. Carried by the white doctrine that the first sin was intercourse, both Catho­lic and Protestant hardliners prohibit activities like fornication (pre-marital sex), adultery (extramarital sex), contraception (a deed that counteracts God’s will and design of human sexuality), homosexuality (deemed as contrary to natural law as it goes against the precept of the complementarity of the sexes), or masturbation. Since “the body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body”[1], sexual abstinence must be the preferred state for both men and women. For Roman Catholics, intercourse is reserved for marriage (the only instance in which it can be considered as chaste) and may be perfor­med for procreation and unification purposes only. As an offence against the state of chastity and a violation of the duty of self-abnegation, any sexual act practised with the sole intent of fun or recreation is decried as a sin. If God represents the embodiment of love, then sex has to be a sin, because it can also occur in the absence of love.

Confessedly, the assimilation of sexual abstinence with purity does make sense from seve­ral, including medical, hygiene, material or psychological, points of views. Indeed, chastity, as the virtue that moderates sexual appetite, may contribute to achieving mastery over one’s passions, desires, will, and reason. This ability, in turn, is crucial in view of morality because it helps to restrain negative impulses, such as vanity, jealousy or anger. In this con­text, the connection between sex and violence is undeniable. Bearing in mind that genetic sur­vival and reproduction remain a main preoccupation for all living creatures, it is not sur­prising that males would regard the mating opportunities as the reward and goal of power and wealth. As such, sexual competition or selection could well be one of the key agents of crime and havoc, including murder, rape, warfare, etc. – a link that has since been establi­shed statistically after a series of experiments in China.[2] The abduction of Helen of Troy as the starting point of a lengthy and ferocious confrontation between the Greeks and the Tro­jans exemplifies this causality only too well.

These points show that the religiously motivated synonymy of sex and sin rests upon the fact that the former may, in reality, lead to trouble, thus proving the accuracy of the present pro­verb. What the previous argument fails to demonstrate, however, is the inherent sinful­ness, wickedness or unrighteousness of sex itself.[3] While the classification of chastity as a capital virtue may appear justifiable, the negation of this relation, i.e., that lust is a deadly sin, clearly looks like a bit of a stretch. Truly, the fun stops when one has to feel ashamed or guilty for his or her sexual desires and when hungriness or the mere con­sumption of a for­bidden fruit can bring damnation upon one’s soul. After all, not everyone is made for great­ness or virtue; but is this a reason to curse or condemn everyone else? Where would huma­nity stand without aphrodisia anyway? Unconditional sexual bigotry can no longer lead to uncon­ditional chastity. It can no longer serve to condemn dissolutes. It can no longer be of concern to great worth alone. For a demographic disaster, spread by words and writs and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncom­mitted alike. Mankind must put an end to bigotry or bigotry will put an end to man­kind.

If people do not want to fall into a Fahrenheit 6:18ean dystopia, a dogmatic shift has to occur. Thus, the solution proposed here is as simple as controversial: Let’s free ourselves from the sin of luxuria by not considering it as a sin anymore. And for those who have sinned and fear to sin again, here are a few words that could sound like a remedy: Two thou­sand years ago the proudest boast was “Castus ego sum”. Today, in the world of free­dom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein philanderer”.

 

Related proverbs and citations:

沉鱼落雁

Chén yú luò yàn

A woman beautiful enough to sink a fish and down a goose for shame.

 

红颜薄命

hóng yán bó mìng

An idiom that describes the ill-fatedness of beautiful women.

 


Notes

[1]    Bible – New Testament (New International Version), Corinthians, 6:13

[2]    Chang / Lu / Li / Li (2011)

[3]    Ridley (1993), p. 202

Chapter 4: Beauty is the troubled water that brings disasters – Part 2

The truism that the love for sex and the love for power go hand in hand is quite well established. Yet the real reason behind males’ horniness is not social, legal, or political power, but simply the deluge of testosterone to which they are permanently exposed. As men principally use their eyes to evaluate women as potential mates, they see creatures and images that turn them on all the time. When the stimulus is strong enough, their brain is flushed with this hormone, which, in turn, can give rise to overwhelming feelings, such as physical attraction to someone, penile erection, an urgent push for corporal gratification, or the restless desire to “have” a particular person. In times of extreme arousal, a man’s craving may override his brain, the emotional response to the testosterone superseding any rational thought. Intoxi­cated with the chemical, he can become crazy or uncontrollably stirred up, both in the sense of sexual excitement and the loss of physical self-restraint. Notice that not only diagnosed sex addicts but rather any average male may experience this phenomenon. In the case of hypersexuality (or satyriasis, satyromania, gynecomania for men sufferers, and nyphomania for females), the desire is even more compelling. The hunger is so strong that it results in a pattern of “excessive sexual drive”, that is, the extremely frequent or sudden increase of sexual itch up to the point of failure to resist impulses to engage in sexual acts (coitus or mas­turbation).[1] Estimates indicate that approximately 3 to 6 percent of the population is subjected to this psychological condition.[2] Hence, what is important to remember here is that men’s regular (as opposed to persistent, inordi­nate or violent) preoccu­pation with and longing for sex is not pathological, but rather normal. For them, horniness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.

What makes the situation all the more unbearable for many men is that they cannot freely express their libido. The unavailability of a quick shag (mainly due to the fact that women as their prime partners are not as readily receptive), as well as the current social ethics, force them to hold back their urges. Unable to release all that sexual pressure, they become pri­soners of their own lust, falling under the thumb of the woman they want sexually. If she is clever enough to seize the moment, she can gain unlimited power over him, which is preci­sely what happens during these infamous femme fatale incidents. This impotence (pun inten­ded) establishes female sexuality not only as the male Achilles’ heel par excellence but also as one of the most powerful forces in the world. Unfortunately, this force is sometimes so powerful that it can indeed lead to earthly disasters. What disturbs conservatives even more is that the seductress “expresses woman’s ancient and eternal control of the sexual realm”[3]. Many men do not like the idea of being dominated, even if the image itself holds enough erotic potential to compensate for this loss of authority. Furthermore, it allows men to conveniently designate women as scape­goats for their own weak­nesses. Some also see in her “an example of female independence and a threat to traditional female gender roles”, a much more scary prospect for the typical macho or misogynist.

The one factor that has arguably had the biggest impact on the association of beauty (in the sense of sex) with cataclysms, misfortune and filthiness is religion. Most cults of the world have established laws, norms and rules governing sexual morality. These are guidelines that pro­mote rather inhibitory views of sexuality and tend to prevent or otherwise condemn free inter­course. With the help of all kinds of teachings and techniques (for example virgi­nity pledges, the seeking of commit­ments, etc.), each faith has its own ways to demonise sex and stigmatise the people who indulge in carnal knowledge or give in to other forms of luxuria. Here are few examples from five world religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, respectively:

 

If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die

Torah, Bible – Old Testament (New International Version), Deuteronomy 22

 

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body

Bible – New Testament (New International Version), Corinthians, 6:18

 

The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with a hundred stripes

Qur’an, Surat an-Nur, 24:2

 

I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct.

Third of the Five Precepts (basic Buddhist code of ethics)

 

Conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.

Bhagavad-Gita, 3.36–43

 


Notes

[1]    Notice that hypersexuality and sex addiction encompass several other symptoms and aspects, which will not be covered here.

[2]    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypersexuality

[3]    Cited in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femme_fatale

Chapter 4: Beauty is the troubled water that brings disasters

红颜祸水
hóng yán huò shuĭ 

Many men may probably confirm how strong of a force certain traits of femininity exerts on them. According to the proverb introduced in this chapter, beauty and, by exten­sion, sex are responsible for great trouble, and can even cause the downfall of men. Regar­ding women as sexual objects for male enjoyment is apparently not enough. Woman­hood itself is often blamed for misfortune striking the fate of men. In particular, it is com­monly regarded as her fault if a man overindulges himself in carnal pleasures, thus resulting in the failure of his career or duty. The purpose of this section is not only to present such indict­ments as both wrong and wrongful but also to salvage sex from its inauspicious image. The main argument herein will be that such censure of free love is exag­ge­rated and that it indirectly contributes to (pretty) women being unfairly picked on and accused of being res­ponsible for various forms of tragedies and shame. Such practices are counter-productive and undermine female eman­cipation. On the contrary, they slow down women’s escape from narrow gender roles and their liberation from legal, econo­mic, and sexual oppression. Hence the message to be conveyed here: If prudery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

History, literature and mythologies across the world abound with stories of beauties placing their male counterparts into compromising, perilous, desperate or mortal situations. Unlike, the archetypal evil woman[1], however, the mysterious femme fatale uses her phy­sical advantages and seductive powers to mesmerise and deceive her victims. These assets may include a striking appearance (like for the succubus Lillith and the Chinese fox spirit Daji[2]), long hair (as in the case of the Japanese Yuki-onna or the German Lorelei), a dulcet voice and singing (the Lorelei or the Greek Sirens) or dancing skills (Salome in the New Tes­tament). Once the victim is under her spell, he finds himself locked in bonds of irresis­ti­ble desire, losing his own will. The poor devil’s fate remains at the discretion of the enchant­ress, and may range from being murdered (which is what happened to Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, who was killed by his wife Clytemnestra), sucked dry (the form of exe­cution the Japa­nese Hone-onna is famous for), eaten (by Bai Gu Jing[3]), betrayed (like Samson whose secret that his strength lay in his long hair was revealed by his lover Delilah), or induced to kill someone else (José Lizarrabengoa in Prosper Mérimée’s novella Carmen, or Xīmén Qìng, 西门庆, influenced by Pān Jīnlián, 潘金莲, in The Plum in the Golden Vase, 金瓶梅, Jīn Píng Méi).

Contemporary representations of most pernicious women appear harmless compared to these classical villains. Although modern time plots involving such deadly females may not end as fatally as in the stories above, the leitmotif remains the same: A beautiful temptress sedu­ces one or more naïve men, enticing him or them to act in her interest. This may include the exercise of violence on other people (as in the case of ice skater Tonya Harding who allegedly led her then-husband to plan an attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan), the trade of sensitive military information against sexual favours (which North Korean spy WON Jeong-hwa apparently succeeded in doing), or otherwise disclosing state secrets to the enemy (e.g., the famous story of Mata Hari, a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was accused of espio­nage for Germany during the First World War).

The latest notable scandals are relatively benign, merely featuring the debauchery of gover­nment officials or corporate executives. Prominent examples in this regard include the outrage following US President Bill Clinton’s improper relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s patronage of a prosti­tution ser­vice, Hewlett-Packard Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd’s inappropriate conduct, or Inter­natio­nal Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s intimate encoun­ter with a hotel maid. Although it seems that males in powerful positions are parti­cularly prone to profligacy, the political post or the place within a company or other groups of people is not the only pertinent point to explain the problem of adultery or promiscuous behaviour. Even in lower levels of our society, or among commoners, sexual affairs, ending in nasty divorces or harass­ment lawsuits, regu­larly destroy personal and professional lives.


Notes

[1]    See chapter 7 “The most vicious is a woman’s heart”.

[2]    Chinese original: 妲己, Dájǐ. Fox spirits, or 狐狸精 (húli jīng), also appear in Japanese and Korean folklore, in the person of Kitsune and Kumiho respectively.

[3]    Bai Gu Jing (白骨精, bái gú jīng, literally: white bone demon) is an evil spirit from wú Chéng’ēn’s (吴承恩) Journey to the West (西遊記, xī yóu jì), one of the Four Great Classical Novels (see also chapter 1 “Men are like mud, women are like water”).

Chapter 3: Men like, women love – Part 3

One direct consequence of men’s susceptibility to visual materials and faculty to diffe­rentiate love and sex is their inclination or hope to have as many sexual partners as pos­sible. While women prefer sex within an emotional, stable, monogamous relationships, men effectively have the disposition to seek a variety of mates, just for the sake of variety. In a survey conducted among unmarried American men and women between the ages of eighteen and thirty, for instance, it was established that males wanted to have eighteen part­ners over their entire lifetime, while women were satisfied with only four partners, i.e., more than four times less. Within the next three years, men stated that ten would be good, ver­sus two for women. And for the next year, men wanted six partners – that’s one every two months – whereas women only desired one.[1] Other researchers found out that men fan­tasise not less than twice as often as women during sex, and that 88 percent of men admitted mentally switching partners or imagining multiple partners during the course of a single fan­tasy session (compared to 57 percent for women)[2].

Yet evolutionary psychology and the natural urge to procreate justifies much more than intrinsic promiscuity of males[3]. They both play an eminent role and provide particularly persuasive arguments in the explanation of mating behaviour and of gender differences in human sexuality. For a man, sex usually carries an extremely high priority, as it represents his only alternative for reproduction. In order to achieve this innate goal of passing down his chromosomes to the next generation, he chooses to have sex with a large number of women. Although he might not carry through on this instinct, he certainly has the drive to attempt to inseminate legions of females. For him, having twenty partners means that he can poten­tially yield at least as many babies per year. Therefore, he has a lot to gain by being easily aroused and by attempting to procreate. For a woman, on the other hand, it makes no evo­lutionary sense to have 20 lovers, as she can only bear one child every nine months. For her, more sex does not necessarily mean a higher fertility.

Powerful sex drive, easy arousal, quick on the draw, visual stimulation, ability to separate love from sex, preference for partner diversity, capacity to breed at practically any time, any place, and under almost any circumstances, etc. – all these facets of apparent male promiscuity often lead women to think and openly deplore that men are “dick driven”. The late comedian Robin Williams (a man) recognised and circumscribed this problem in a rather humorous way, declaring that God gave men a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to run one at a time… And that’s not too far from the truth. In many occasions, sex does actually supersede male brain activity. This explains why sometimes a man can find his rational thought overwhelmed instantly when he is strongly attracted to a woman. This phenomenon does not occur by accident but can be proven scientifically. According to neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, the space allo­cated to sexual drive in male brains is two and a half times larger than in female brains.[4]

Considering that a man’s body produces about ten times more testosterone than a woman’s body on average, it should not come as a surprise that the male sex drive is so powerful and urgent, at least from a female perspective. This hormone does not only make men hairier (yet paradoxically provoking baldness), bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than women but also much hornier. In this regard, it may be interesting to notice that testosterone levels in single males (who have not yet succeeded in passing on their genes and are therefore still on the chase) are significantly higher than in married men and fathers (who have moved onto a more nurturing, less aggressive, role).[5] Similarly, human ethnicities with males showing relatively lower testosterone readings (e.g., Asians) have less sex than others (Cau­casians, black men), but are also less prone to violent crimes and rape. Reciprocally, the only women who have sex drives resembling men’s – i.e., frequent sexual arousal; sparked off by visual stimuli like pictures or the sight of strangers; in certain cases leading to a pres­sing need to masturbate; recurring desire; to have casual intercourse; with random people; for bodily gratification – are those with abnormally high blood levels of male sex hormones. This phenomenon, however, applies to less than 20 percent of all women.[6]

What is more, men also have a larger hypothalamus, the portion of the brain that controls functions like blood pressure or heart rate, as well as primordial drives such as thirst and hunger. Together with the amygdala, which is in charge of processing and memory of emotional reactions, they constitute the lust centres in our brain. During arousal, both parts become active, initiating the secretion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter[7] responsible for the feeling of well-being. This, in turn, triggers the release of a cocktail of hormones[8], including oestrogen and testosterone. The latter is the chemical fuel that sets the brain’s sexual engine in motion, and as such is a key catalyst in the induction of sex drive. When there is enough juice, the hypothalamus gives the signal to fire up the rocket, igniting red-hot feelings, physical excitement and sensual friction fantasies. At that very moment, the whole system is just a few moments away from lift off, and the thruster ready to be drained.

 

Related proverbs and citations:

谁动心谁先死

shuí dòng xīn shuí xiān sĭ

He who is touched dies first.

In love, there is no equal. The person who loves more will always be the one to suffer.



Notes

[1]    Buss (2003), p. 77

[2]    Ellis / Symons (1990)

[3]    See chapter 35 “No cat can resist snatching fish”.

[4]    Brizendine (2006), p. 5

[5]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 14

[6]    Ibid.

[7]    A neurotransmitter is a chemical that is released from a nerve cell which thereby transmits an impulse from a nerve cell to another nerve, muscle, organ, or other tissue. A neurotransmitter is a messenger of neurologic information from one cell to another. (Source: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=9973)

[8]    A hormone is a chemical messenger that carries a signal from one cell (or group of cells) to another. Hormones are essential for every activity of daily living, including the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control. (Source: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=3783)

Chapter 3: Men like, women love – Part 2

One of the reasons men get turned on so frequently as compared to women is that they are more readily excited by a broader variety of stimuli, in particular, visual ones. For many males, the mere sight of a prospective sexual partner (including explicit depictions of nudity, genitalia, and sexual intercourse) is enough to make them want sex. Both written materials and pictorial media such as films or photographs, but also memories or the anti­cipation of new types of experiences may prompt their arousal up to the point of erection. In other words, men are largely visual and susceptible to psychological stimulation when assessing the potential of women, at any rate for short-term relationships. Like it or not, this is also why good looks very often rank top of the list of men’s most desired attributes of women as casual mates (for example, as friends with benefits, sex buddies, or in the context of a one-night stand). What men notice first when they see a woman is their face and body, focusing on various elements of the female anatomy features such as breasts, thighs, but­tocks, hips, pubic area (crotch), lips, etc. and fantasising about making love to these body parts. As men are easily captivated by visual cues such as curves, shapes or leg length, any woman with the right overall appearance, structure, proportions will catch their eye and therefore raise their attention. However, this does not mean that males are generally unable to consider a woman as a true person, i.e., with a mind, a personality, and a history of her own. It is just that a man’s sexual desire does not depend on these characteristics and that his lust can be triggered by the sheer fact that someone in the room, on his mind, on the street or on television has one particular anatomical feature that he desires at that very moment – nothing more, nothing less.

Another aspect where human males and females differ significantly concerns their ability to keep love and sex apart. Some women reading this will be disappointed or scared to have their deepest fear confirmed, but it is true: Men are able to have uncommitted sex, or to want “only” sex (i.e., without sharing of emotions, conversation, foreplay, cuddling, or the hope for a long-term relationship). Readers may believe whatever they want, but here is the crux: Men are literally programmed to find a bunny’s hole and to see how deep it goes – the blue pill only making things worse… Men, some of them without any hesitation, will have it off just for the fun of it, or for the purpose of corporeal release. Adding insult to injury, they can even do it with a person who is neither their girlfriend nor their wife, or with a girl they feel no affection for, something completely inconceivable for most women. All it takes for a man to want to roll in the hay is a physically attractive woman (to him) – and a convenient location. A deeper meaning or factors such as fondness, commitment, devotion (which are important for most females when they decide to sleep with someone) are not nece­ssarily part of the equation. On the contrary, men find it extremely easy to make out, take a shower and then go home, just as they would do after a tennis match. For many, sex is nothing more than a strictly physical act, in which love, romance or passion are not involved.

The reason for this aptitude can be found in the compartmentalisation of the male brain. Lust and love are located in different parts of the central nervous system, which are appa­rently not so well connected with one another. So in man’s brain, sex will occupy one section, a trivial activity such as washing hands a different one, and love yet another one. When a man’s beard has grown too long, he will just shave it. And when he feels a sexual desire, he will seek release (alone or with a partner). It’s as simple as that. Moreover, men are usually not as good at multitasking as women are. They are at their best when taking a one-thing-at-a-time approach, which allows them to concentrate much more intensively on one specific task – in this case, either sex or love. Even so, readers should not misinterpret my words: Men are definitely not unable to combine love and sex. Now and then, they do happen together. But they don’t have to, that’s all.[1],[2]


Notes

[1]    Pease / Pease (1999), pp. 264-265

[2]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 181

Chapter 3: Men like, women love

男欢女爱
nán huān nǚ ài

This tetrasyllabic phrase is generally employed to describe the love or passion between men and women.[1] In the context of this blog, however, it shall be used as all-purpose sentence recapitulating how human males think and how they are programmed when it comes to sexuality. Another chapter is dedicated to the same topic but viewed from a female stand­point.[2] Understanding the differences between both genders on this very issue is criti­cal if one wishes to figure out what creates sexual desire and what drives us to sleep with another.

When describing male sex drive, many people will tend to sketch it in rather simple fashion – for example like an on/off switch. Female sex drive, on the contrary, will be described as a complex ma­chine, involving several buttons, controllers, commutators, which all need to be monitored and co­ordinated in order to carefully ramp up and later on to maintain the mood.

Similarly, in their seminal book Why Men Don’t Listen And Women Can’t Read Maps, Allen and Barbara Pease liken men to microwaves and women to electric ovens. Indeed, males can be ignited immediately and may reach peak capacity within a matter of a few seconds, but are just as quickly and easily turned off once the meal is cooked. With females, conversely, one has to wait until top temperature has been reached, which can be quite a lengthy process, while it may also take a while for them to cool down as well.,[3],[4]

The difference in speed between men and women cannot only be observed in terms of how quickly both genders can get aroused sexually, but also how fast they decide to sleep with each other. In general, men have much lower thresholds for seeking sex, many of them expressing the desire and willingness to engage in intercourse with a total stranger. Accor­ding to a study carried out on an American college campus[5], 75 percent of men would res­pond positively when confronted with the following offer from an attractive female: “Hi, I’ve been noticing you around town lately, and I find you very attractive. Would you go to bed with me?” On the other hand, 0 percent of the women answered “yes” to the same question uttered by an attractive man. While the vast majority of women are likely to feel baf­fled, displeased or downrightly insulted by such an odd request coming out of the blue, many men would be flattered by it. Thus, time or familiarity do not seem to make any dif­ference to men when it comes to the question of whether or not to have casual sex with a woman – they are always ready to go, no matter if they have known the woman for ten minutes or ten years.

This “easiness” of males is also reflected in the frequency of thinking about carnal plea­sures. In a seemingly rather cautious study, the Kinsey Institute at the Indiana Univer­sity found that more than half (54 percent) of men think about sex at least every day, while 43 percent have it on their mind a few times a week or month, and only 4 percent said once a month or less.[6] Other reports depict an even hornier image of men. In her book The Female Brain, for example, Louann Brizendine mentions that for 85 percent of twenty- to thirty-year-old males, sexual thoughts wander through their brains several times every day. Females, by contrast, “only” think about it once a day, or up to three or four times on their hottest (i.e., most fertile) days. Yet another study goes one step further, calculating that men think about sex about six times per hour on average (not including dreams), or about 750 times per week![7] Bearing in mind a regular couple copulates one and a half times per week, it is not difficult to understand the frustrations of men complaining about not getting enough sex. Unfortunately, the problem of quick arousal is not limited to fantasies and wishful thin­king about the quantity of nookie they can get. Legions of men, especially younger ones, feel the urge to let their “member of congress” ejaculate many times a week or even several times a day. Whoever has heard that call knows that it can be quite an uncomfortable and dis­turbing sensation. In that case, the best way out is not to debate or deliberate, but to inten­sify the proceedings, reach a climax, and to finish it. Notice at this point that there is nothing corporal forcing men to come in(to) a vagina. As pointed out in The Hite Report, even if a male has a strong physical desire for orgasm (for instance, undergone through an erection) the excitement he feels is not linked to any craving for intercourse as such, but only for the need of sexual release. Thus, the animal “itch” a man feels is not a desire to penetrate a woman’s genital organ but a yearning for further stimulation of the penis, and ultimately for orgasm.[8]


Notes

[1]   Although the origins of this proverb remain unclear, it may be attributed to Féng Mènglóng (冯梦龙), a Chinese poet and vernacular writer of the late Ming dynasty (which itself lasted from 1368 to 1644 AD). In his short story Prefect Kuang Solves the Case of the Dead Baby (况太守断死孩儿, kuàng tài shǒu duàn sǐ hái ér, published in the 1624 compilation Stories to Caution the World, 警世通言, jǐng shì tōng yán), he refers to a particular “kind of rendezvous, where a woman loves and a man (only) likes” as “a great mistake made in a moment of weakness” (这般会合,那些个男欢女爱,是偶然一念之差”, zhè bān huì hé, nà xiē gè nán huān nǚ ài, shì ǒu rán yī niàn zhī chā).

[2]    See chapter 9 “The path to a woman’s heart passes through her vagina”.

[3]    Pease / Pease (1999), pp. 221-223

[4]    See chapter 30 “You can’t help shoots grow by pulling them up higher”.

[5]    Cited in: Pines (2005), p. 91

[6]    Ellis / Symons (1990)

[7]    Cited in: Kramer / Dunaway (1990), p. 19

[8]    Hite (1981), p. 256

Chapter 2: A good woman doesn’t go with a second man – Part 3

But even in cultures where the use of such extreme methods was not common, the mental conditioning of women to remain chaste and faithful seems to have worked out in favour of men as well. Alas, female sexuality is still subject to restrictive, mostly unwritten, social norms that impede its development. Ladies should be ashamed of their desires. Many socie­ties around the world have a lot of tolerance for those women who choose to live out their sexuality freely, without restriction. Although one could argue that the situ­ation has improved over the last fifty years, it is very hard to find females who have com­pletely shaken off all these constraints. Instead, they prefer to hold them­selves back as a way to signal purity, honour and worth. Thus, females’ own sexual repu­tation remains a key preoc­cu­pation for them, as they try to preserve an image of virtue.

Generation after generation, parents have raised their daughters to be “good girls”, barely telling them about sexuality. If at all, they bring up the topic of menstruation, reproductive organs or contraception, but seldom cover other important sensitive parts of the body (for instance, the clitoris) or issues such as orgasm. Instead, they caution their children about the dangers of the dark path of indulgence, call upon their vigilance against “dirty” beha­viour, or implore them to ascertain that their names are not stained by rumours of looseness. One immediate risk of such education is that the needs and urges of young girls become bottled up for many years, which they release in an exaggerated and emotionally unhealthy way later on. Another arguably negative conse­quence is that even the most well-intentioned women have to cope with a dilemma when it comes to the decision to whether or not to allow intimacy with a man they have a strong affective connection with. The subject is diffi­cult, and good women do not agree. Worried about their reputation, women will experience feelings of embarrassment and guilt if she has the impression that she “sold herself under price” or “gave herself to someone too easily”, for example by having inter­course with a man she did not really love. A woman who just slept with a man for the first time might be concerned about what he thinks about her, what she means to him, how strong his fondness for her is, etc. She could also be speculating on how the guy will treat her in the future, won­dering “whether sex was all he was after”.[1] Any doubts about his sincerity or heartiness are likely to demean her and spark off the suspicion that he exploited her, a feeling that most women hate. Then, if she beds someone without any senti­ments of affec­tion, her distress is likely to be even worse. Such an experience will lead her to lose her self-respect, leaving behind a bitter taste of degradation and cheapness.

This explains why women are likely to reject or at least demurely resist the sexual advances of a prospective mate if he fails to convince her about his good intentions (as, for instance, expressed through sympathy, caring, investment of resources, etc.). If he treats her as a one-night stand (and provided that she is herself not interested in a casual liaison), she will con­sider his moves as a violation of her desire for emotional involvement, shutting down to him, and losing her attraction for him. Furthermore, men should not be surprised to see women make it difficult to “get” them. Even if they “want too”, their inner code forbids them to surrender to their lust. Rather, they restrain themselves and wait until a male has demon­­strated enough engagement and devotion towards her. This strategy follows three main purposes: First, to make herself believe that she did her best to resist her carnal cra­vings; second, to allow enough time for the inception of amorous feelings within her heart; and third, to signal to her social surroundings that she is not an “easy girl”.

Thus, whenever passion befalls a “good” woman, she faces a Catch-22 with her eros. Let’s consider the following case: A traditionalist bachelorette falls in love with a conser­vative man. At some stage, she will want to consummate her love towards him. However, if she does have such desires, she must know, or at least her intuition probably tells her that coitus produces posi­tive sensations. If she is aware of the stimulating effects of sex, she cannot be fully innocent (i.e., she has been exposed). Prudish and prudent as she is, she will not take the gamble to open up to her target, fearing that any hint of impurity will repel him. In turn, this (imaginary) thought of potential rejection from the man she loves could potentially cause disappointment in her heart, disturbing her emotionally and destroying her feelings for him. Her love will fade away and eventually vanish… Although not impeccable, the argumentation developed here shows: Sexual puritanism may lead to emotional deadlock and, in the worst case, to a lose-lose situation. This cannot be the purpose of human devotion. Instead, let us liberate ourselves from the chains of sexual conservatism and carry through our passion: Lovers of the World, Unite!

That being said, men who wish to seduce or woo a lady should still be careful to observe her desires as well as her ethical standards. Every woman wants to be respected and to feel valued. In a “post-first-sex” situation, this requirement can be easily translated into slushy or over­charged questions such as “does he see me as wife material or simply as a mistress?” in a female’s mind. She fears that if she has been too fast, she might be put into the “mis­tress”, or worse, the “slut” category. She is well aware that any clue of profligacy or promis­cuity may ruin her reputation and therefore jeopardise her chances to find a husband. Social norms and warning signs such as “you just cannot jump in the sack with a guy so quickly” are deeply incised in her mind. On the other hand, human females are known to be highly sexual in nature: They love sex, they want sex, even if they do not admit it openly. Instead, they will argue that they do not just want sex, or that they want to make love.

Once men see through this line of reasoning, it becomes quite effortless to lure a woman into temptation. In many instances, all he needs to do is to join forces with her and help her find a way to outfox society and circumvent the cultural norms working against sexual free­dom. In reality, it is the male’s role to provide an alibi to women to be naughty and let nature take its course. Sometimes, nice words or a simple “I really like you”[2] will do the trick. Other females prefer to drink alcohol so that they can blame its dis-inhibiting proper­ties for their failure to control themselves. Or both partners construct a scenario in which intercourse “just happened”. Billy Crystal, the American comedian, once declared: “Women need a reason to have sex; men just need a place”. Based on what has just been said in this paragraph, however, it seems that what women are looking for is not a “reason”, but rather an “excuse”.

 

Related proverbs and citations:

男女授受不亲

nán nǚ shòu shòu bù qīn

It is improper for men and women to touch each other’s hand in passing objects (even more so to hold hands, kiss, possibly to communicate).

 

路边的野花别乱采

lù biān de yě huā bié luàn căi

Don’t pick up wild flowers on the roadside.

 

此地无银三百两

cǐ dì wú yín sān bǎi liǎng

“No 300 taels of silver buried here”.

A guilty person gives himself away by conspicuously protesting his innocence. A clumsy denial resulting in self-exposure.

 


Notes

[1]    Townsend (1998), p. 52

[2]    Notice the usage of the word “like” rather than “love”. Although many women claim that they first need to love a man before having sex with him, liking or actually being liked, is enough for most of them. How to express “liking” or what feelings it encompasses for a woman is elaborated in chapter 9 “The path to a woman’s heart passes through her vagina”.

Chapter 2: A good woman doesn’t go with a second man – Part 2

Yet the tight corset of mores did not only impede widows. In Victorian England, couples in general, were also imposed various forms of abstinence. Seeing their sexual needs denied by the power and social norms in place, women had no right to bodily pleasures. Popular and pres­crip­tive literature promoted fashions and standards of female innocence and tempe­rance, reasoning that sexual desire was now out and that ladies had naturally a greater capacity than men to keep their ardour under control. Older images of femininity as sensual and fervid were replaced by the new exemplar of a fundamentally “passionless” woman. Consequently, intercourse between a husband and his wife was transformed into a mere obligation within the scope of duties of the union, that of consummating the marriage. If men had passion or other feelings to express or to share, they were welcome to live these in the company of prostitutes. Women themselves had no such right though.

Such a philosophy advocating abstinence gave birth to various anxiety disorders or attitu­des. Victims, which can be individuals as well as entire cultures, will be prone to erotopho­bia (i.e., the fear of nudity, pornography, sex education, sexual discourse), homo­phobia (the aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people), asexuality (the lack of inte­rest in sex or, in the broadest sense, lack of sexual attraction), or antisexualism (the oppo­sition or hostility towards sexual behaviour and sexuality). The latter is quite easy to spot, especially when a suspect utters opinions such as that sex is addictive, complicates or des­troys relation­ships, discriminates against unattractive people, is the cause or the root of many problems in the world, is a means of oppression, may induce a person to lie or cheat in the pursuit of sexual gratification, and so forth. Some antisexuals even reject the idea of roman­tic love, as it represents a form of addiction to a person. As opposed to antinatalists (who assign a nega­tive value to birth, like the members of the Club of Rome do), however, they do not necessarily disapprove sex for reproduction purposes. Despite the fundamental dif­ferences in ideology of both groups, sex is the only real (common) enemy they have. Remove sex from the scene, and the root cause of hunger (for antisexuals) and over­popu­lation (for antinatalists) is abolished forever.

It was in the coming of this kind of value system that the marriage institution turned into a fierce subjection of women and that the cult of feminine chastity became an obsession with men. In such societies, the virginity of unmarried women and loyalty of married women remains the standard for women’s morality. Females are not allowed to explore their femi­ninity or sexuality but are rather encouraged to repress their sexual needs and desires. They are supposed to stay shy and coy at all times, in particular in the presence of men. Women who disobey these principles are quickly labelled as lose or downright immoral. In old times (in some countries, still today), those who got caught in actual promiscuity or in other forms of transgressions could be put to death, for instance by stoning. Likewise, “nympho­ma­niacs” unable to resist impure feelings, or women deemed at risk of being troubled by such drives, became subject to severe public criticism, or were put in prison, where they could cleanse their filthy conduct.

What makes these customs all the more reprehensible is that women are sequestrated, disciplined, mutilated or otherwise violated without even being “guilty” (in the sense of horny or lusty). While clitoridectomy (the partial or complete ablation of a girl or woman’s clitoris to reduce or eliminate her sexual pleasure) and infibulation (the excision of the labia and the sewing together the vulva’s edges to prevent penetration) presumably constitute the most abomi­nable experiences of all, other traditional practices (such as foot binding, chastity belts[1] or claustra­tion) cause only slightly less trauma­tising physical or emotional wounds. And let’s do not forget various forms of female seclusion that exist in different cul­tures, such as the harem (i.e., the living quarters reserved for wives and concubines and female relatives in a Muslim house­hold), the purdah (the obligation to conceal women from men by having the former live in a separate room or behind a curtain, cover parts of their heads or faces with a veil, or, in some extreme cases, wear all-enveloping clothes), which also represent a kind of sexual imprisonment. Although unjustifiable, such victimi­sation of women have a simple, biologically explai­nable, purpose: To restrict wives oppor­tunities for sex with men other than their husbands, and therefore to ensure, or otherwise to boost the lat­ter’s confidence in their own paternity. No matter how one looks at these instances of mis­treatments, it is always about controlling females’ seductiveness, keeping them out of the sight of strangers, reducing their interest in initiating sex, deterring them from straying, or guarding them against sexual infidelity.


Notes

[1]    A chastity belt is an anti-temptation garment or device designed to prevent sexual intercourse or masturbation. Its origins date back to the Crusades when men had to join lengthy campaigns in the Holy Land. During the absence of a knight, his Lady would wear a chastity belt to uphold her faithfulness to him.

Chapter 2: A good woman doesn’t go with a second man

好女不侍二夫
hăo nǚ bù shì èr fū

Building on what has been articulated previously, the following chapter will discuss other aspects of female sexual morality, as well as its consequences for women’s education and lifestyle choices. As a society renowned for its traditions, China presents itself as a perfect case study to illustrate sexual conservatism.[1] Still today, the official attitude to sex is very puritan. In many regions of the country, the subject remains taboo, people retaining an extremely cautious stance on the matter. As an indecent, bestial and shame­ful act, the close association of intercourse with feelings of obscenity, sin and filth persists. Although young people in the country’s first-tier cities become increasingly open-minded, the bulk of the population considers sexuality as a negative, even bad, thing.[2] Sex is rarely discussed, even in private, and nobody ever dares to talk about it in public. Sexual education in schools is virtually non-existent, as a majority of teachers feel embar­rassed and refuse to explain the topic to their pupils. When facing the question of where babies come from, many mothers are likely to avoid providing a clear answer, even when their daughters are getting close to their first period.

Notice, however, that the proverb chosen here epitomises the rigid code of sexual conduct for wives only. Matrimony, widowhood and women’s role in the family has always constituted a key part in the defini­tion of “feminine ethics”, at least in China. For instance, women who were bold enough to re­marry have been frowned upon for a long time. This so-called “vidual chastity” forbade widows to commit to a second man, even if they had lost their husband at a relatively young age. For the sake of ci­vility and in order to preserve the reputation of their families (i.e., their own but also that of the deceased), they had to relinquish the possibility of finding happiness in a new mén­age and were doomed to stay single. For the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD) philo­sopher Chéng Yí (程颐), dying of star­vation was a morally better outcome for a widow than to marry and obey another man, thus betraying her dead husband and losing her virtue. Consequently, the easiest way a widow could uphold a position of honour was to stay as the elderly mother in her in-laws’ home. Alternatively, she could choose a life under the guardianship of her eldest son. Yet not many would go for this op­tion and move back with their birth families because they had already “married out” and were considered to belong to her husband’s family. New lovers, even stable ones, were also prohibited or, at any rate, not recommended for these “chaste widows”. Any kind of sexual contact with somebody else would provide evid­ence that she was impure, offering an excuse for in-laws to expel her from the family and reclaim the pro­perty (which she was not allowed to take into a remarriage) and the custody of the children she had had with her husband before he died.[3] In return, the families of early widowed women who had resisted fleshly temptation and had remained unmarried until the age of fifty received tax exemp­tions, while the “Confucian martyrs”[4] themselves were awarded chastity memorial arches (贞节牌坊, zhēn jié pái fáng) for their effort and misery.[5]


Notes

[1]    That this has not always been the case can be testified by the existence of ancient pieces of literature exhibiting quite a variety of salacious elements, which sometimes even include graphically explicit depictions of sexuality. The most notable works in this category are probably the Biography of Yingying (莺莺传, yīng yīng zhuán) by Yuán Zhěn (元稹) or The Plum in the Golden Vase (also called The Golden Lotus, Chinese original: 金瓶梅, jīn píng méi) by Lán Líng Xiào Xiào Shēng (兰陵笑笑生, a pseudonym).

[2]    In this context, it is worth noticing that the Chinese word for vagina, when decomposed, can be interpreted as “the path to darkness” (阴道, yīn dào). While 阴 (yīn, literally: shade, cloudy, hidden, sinister, as well as female, has a rather negative connotation, the logogram 道 (dào) stands for constructive ideas, such as road, way, or path, but also method, morals, principle, and doctrine. By the way, it is precisely this character that confers the Taoist (or Daoist) philosophy its name and substance.

[3]    Notice that similar, although less strict, rules applied in Europe. In his manual of Christian devotion The Rules and Exercises of Holy Living, Jeremy Taylor, clergyman in the Church of England, asks widows to abstain from marrying while she is with the children she had with her late husband and within the year of mourning.

[4]    http://www.patheos.com/Library/Confucianism/Ethics-Morality-Community/Gender-and-Sexuality

[5]    See chapter 21 “You can’t lead the life of a whore and expect a chastity monument”.