Saturday, 23 June 2007

Women's Libido

xposted from my LJ, with a special think-fu addition for this blog, cuz we're all thinksome like that :)

I've been thinking about discussions of libido. They generally go, from what I see, like this:

Random Wanker: Women have lower libidos than men.
Random Woman: I have a really high libido! Maybe I'm rare for a woman, but I prove some of us do.

Mulling this over in my find, I thought about just how many women I know who say this, including myself. And it got me wondering: exactly what is a high libido? Exactly what is a low libido? Do they differ for men and for women? Is low libido in men the same kind of half-secret secret as high libido in women?

So I thought I'd ask you, my fine feathered friends, or at least those who don't mind oversharing: what is your libido like (if you've got one; feel free to also answer if you don't/are asexual/etc.)? How important is sex/sexual play/sexy stuff to you? How often do you want it? Do you think this makes your libido high, low, or middlin'?

As far as me: I can't imagine my libido isn't high. But the interesting thing about it is that the more I do, the more I want. I don't know if this is a common woman thing (though I suspect so) but I never really have peaks and go down from there. I have orgasms, sure, but the energy just builds usually and I just want more.

That's part of what I absolutely love about SM. It lets me experience excess. Too much, overflow of emotion and sensation. I get to flood other people with so much sensation they don't know what the hell is happening other than that they like it. And I get to flood myself with this massive influx of power that makes me feel like I might well bust at the seams too.

It's about a lot of things for me, but one of the basic experiences is MORE. It's like letting the ocean crash over you again and again.

ADDITION FOR THE COOL KIDS ;) :

I think that's actually part of why a certain brand of radfem rhetoric worked well to shut my libido down. A lot of discussion of class struggle is based on the idea that one class has privilege that allows them luxury. Indulgence. Overflow. Greedy consumption of more than they need, and this more could go to the underprivileged.

And would, in a just world.

You can probably see where this is going. My lavish fantasies of too much -- having too much power, feeling too much passion, giving too much sensation to a straining and gasping and sweating bottom in the process of being completely wrung out... well, wasn't that just the indulgence of the unjust ruling class?

And this thought just shut me down, y'all.

Because part of what I want from SM is precisely that delight in excess. That feeling of skating as close to total overwhelmed overload as I can.

Now I don't feel ashamed any more. Because I'm delighting in bodies and emotions -- not in having more actual resources than someone else. I'm not stealing from the poor to fatten my own coffers... I'm creating gushing wild overload for everyone involved, ideally.

And I find that when I really want that, when I'm not afraid of wanting that... it works.

And all of life for those brief moments becomes so vivid and so awesome (in the "this word is derived from 'awe'" sense)... it's like living in the center of the storm, becoming the rolling thunder and the crashing lightning.

It's amazing, amazing stuff. I can't really live without it.

(why yes I did have the best time ever last night, why do you ask? ;)

36 comments:

ellefromtheeast said...

This reminds me of that old Woody Allen joke:

A straight couple are sitting in a therapist's office. The therapist asks, "How often do you have sex?"

The woman says, "All the time! Like two or three times a week."

The man says, "Hardly ever! Like two or three times a week."

Anyway...

I would say I have a strong libido. My life is good when I'm having sex (read broadly) about six times a week.

More than that, sex is really really important to my relationship. When my husband and I aren't having enough sex, we bicker. It's not that we necessarily blame each other; it's just that without enough sex all that yummy loviness doesn't automatically smooth over the little day-to-day stuff. (Honestly, I have no idea how people have roommates they're not schtupping.)

It has taken me years to learn to hear my libido. In the same way that so many women get really messed up about reading their own hunger signals because our culture is so screwed up about food, I've had a hard time understanding sensations as desire before sex. During foreplay or even flirtation, sure, no problem, but recognizing the independent impulses of my own body wasn't something I could hear.

I think that's why more sex leads to more sexual desire for me as well - it keeps me in touch with my own libido.

Anonymous said...

I think it also has to do with the "men only want one thing" when women hear that i think some women think "i must not like sex as much as men otherwise i wont be seen as feminine"
And repress themselves.

Renegade Evolution said...

Um, I have a high libido. No question.

Trinity said...

Ren: REALLY? I never would have thought :)

Trinity said...

"I would say I have a strong libido. My life is good when I'm having sex (read broadly) about six times a week."

same... actually probably higher.

with occasional Marathon Sex Weekends. Gotta have those.

flavia said...

Hi everyone! I'm Flavia and I've been lurking here since y'all began this blog.

I find an interesting process at work with regard to my libido, and I think Trinity kind of alluded to this by saying "The more I do the more I want." When I am having sex regularly, I want more of it. Not only that, the regular sex feels necesary. When I'm having it rarely or not at all (because I'm in a relationship that's hit a low point or not in a relationship), my body and mind adjust fairly readily to the situation and I don't feel a huge need or desire for sex. In fact, sometimes it worries me that it's so "easy" for me to become disconnected from my own sexuality. But heck, maybe it's a survival thing: when food is scarce, life's a whole lot easier if you're not really hungry anyway.

Trinity said...

"When I am having sex regularly, I want more of it. Not only that, the regular sex feels necesary. When I'm having it rarely or not at all (because I'm in a relationship that's hit a low point or not in a relationship), my body and mind adjust fairly readily to the situation and I don't feel a huge need or desire for sex."

Yes about the necessary thing! :)

I'm similar, and I don't like it. I like to feel sexual. That's part of the reason I like pornography and other erotic material. Sometimes it can help me not to slide into "oh, sex/SM, yeah I know that's fun, but never mind..."

Going to the local BDSM group weekly helps with that too. I wish I could get to the club on a very regular basis, as if I did that I'd actually be playing steadily and I'm sure my libido wouldn't wane then! :)

When I'm in that mode I feel rather dead and unhappy.

(Which leads me to wonder, actually, if this ever happens to men. Maybe some men's very frequent porn use, or reckless porn use, is a defense mechanism to stave off similar drops in libido?)

Kat said...

I always felt slightly freakish just because I want more sex, and am more interested in porn, than any man I've been with/have been in a relationship with. I like to masturbate ~a lot~, as in once to several times a day usually, in addition to any sex I am having, and I like lots of visual stimulation. No matter how in love I am, I also have an incorrigibly roving eye and vivid extracurricular fantasy life.

I do wonder how much my apparently anomalous libido is due to the fact that since I was about 5 or 6 I've known how to bring myself to orgasm, and that it only takes me about a minute or so to do so (in fact, I always wonder if the women who take much longer to come are having the orgasm equivalent of a cordon bleu meal, whereas I'm having a Big Mac...)

Most of the women I know seem pretty interested in sex anyway, and I know a few men with fairly low libidos. I do wonder how much of the perception of women as basically less sexual derives from how female desire may be more cyclical than male desire, with greater fluctuations from day to day.

Trinity said...

"I like to masturbate ~a lot~, as in once to several times a day usually"

Is that a lot? I always thought it was too, but any time I'd say "My libido is high, I masturbate daily or at least near-daily" some guy would jump in saying "Four times a day if I'm not at work or something"

so... eh. What's a normal amount of times to masturbate weekly? I've no idea.

flavia said...

Trinity, that's an interesting question about men using porn to keep their libidos "in shape," as it were.

You know, I have a number of male friends who are quite a bit older than I am (I'm in my mid-30s) who are dealing with wives/partners who are going through menopause, and they (the men) complain bitterly about the women's low libidos. I understand their needs and am sympathetic to them. But it really cheeses me off that they assume women don't mind having no sex drive, that not wanting sex is just as bad as wanting it and not getting it. I have suffered clinical depression in the past which resulted my having almost no libido. I hated it. I felt disconnected from myself, my humanity, my partner. Men just want to make it all about them, don't they? Harumph!

Anonymous said...

Thomas said...

Trinity and Kat, I always considered my libido high, and I'm a 2x daily masturbator since childhood (3x or 4x when I was an adolescent and even into my twenties at some points) unless I'm abstaining for play reasons; and that's in addition to partnered sex and play, which due to small children in the house has suffered badly.

My spouse and I also get cranky with each other when we're not having partnered sex, and I really need a real scene once a month or so no matter what else we do. I'd rather that be twice a week or so, but ... small children. Several of them.

Richard said...

When I read of women having less libido than men I think of a young woman I saw in my used bookshop once. She could not keep her hands off the guy she was with. I half expected her to drag him to a back corner of the store and start screwing him there.

Of my very limited population of women that I’ve been friends or more with there’s never been any sign they wanted sex less than the guys I knew. But it is a self-selected group.

Generally the more I experience the more I want to experience. Be it repeating or incrementing intensity.

Recently I did suffer from libido loss. Most likely due to insufficient supplemental thyroid. That left me wanting much less than her. It was awful. It robbed me of my masochism and really cut into my having a good time with the one I love.

Trinity said...

"I think of a young woman I saw in my used bookshop once. She could not keep her hands off the guy she was with."

Ha! I tend to do that myself. Not the actual screwing, but well... when I want to kiss someone or be affectionate in public, things don't really stop me.

It seems to me like that actually embarrasses men far more often than it does women, but I could just have an odd sampling thing going on.

Richard Evans Lee said...

During my younger years which were strictly same-sex I used to deep tongue kiss guys in public, even on buses. I wasn't trying to startle the yokels, just couldn't see any reason for them to stop me from having a good time.

queer dwed formerly known as be elle said...

count me in as someone who has a strong libido. as Trin says, i actually masturbate more when i'm getting a lot of sex. go figure, but when you're away from each other and the setting permits, i can't help but think about this or that and next thing you know...

the other thing i've been thinking a lot lately, especially after reading Longing to Tell is that somewhere, in our effort to say that all women are alike, we've done a disservice to the idea that we might not be -- and i mean in terms of "naturally".

I have orgasms really easily. For a long time, I thought it was just that women who had a hard time were psychologically blocked up. But that was when I was young. Now that I'm older and have talked to a lot more women, and read a lot more about women and sex, I really think some of us are just built differently. Which would make sense in terms of some of the evolutionary discussions about the clitoris and orgasms.

But seriously? I've scared some people I've been with because they don't believe it. Both men and women have responded with fear. The notion that _a woman_ is highly orgasmic just terrified them. For men, it was probably the madonna whore complex. for women -- I've never understood why they flipped out on me.

anyway...

Trinity said...

"I wasn't trying to startle the yokels, just couldn't see any reason for them to stop me from having a good time."

Right on.

My first (and only to date) girlfriend was much more okay with this ( was actually the startled one, never having been gawked at in quite that manner for kissing men) than the men I've been with, who always seemed to think it unseemly.

Trinity said...

"as Trin says, i actually masturbate more when i'm getting a lot of sex. "

actuallyt hat's not it. I don't masturbate much when I'm with someone. I prefer sex with them and rarely bother. But ohhhhh boyo do I have a lot of said sex. :)

Trinity said...

"But seriously? I've scared some people I've been with because they don't believe it. Both men and women have responded with fear."

I had a lover who was rather famous in the local BDSM scene for his "sluttiness" (term used affectionately) both in play and sex.

I freaked him out a bit, because we'd fuck in one way or another, cuddle a bit, and I'd be ready for another go.

He seemed amused by this, which I expected, but also somewhat *scared* of the idea that I'd want more than him. That I never understood -- especially since he definitely had me beat in number of sexual partners and probably also in number of play partners as well/

Renegade Evolution said...

Two popular quotes around the evolution household...

1: What? You think we're done?

2: You better call in back up!

Trinity said...

"What? You think we're done?"

I know the feeling.

I often suspect some of men's fear of women's sexuality comes from exactly that, honestly.

thene said...

*raises hand* Low libido here, at least by comparison. As others have said, having sex makes you want more sex; for me that's always seemed like a matter of habit rather than a bodily need, possibly just because my libido isn't that high. I don't feel my life is lacking if I haven't had an orgasm for a couple of weeks, or months. I'll still think about sex at such times, even write about it, but I won't be wanting any. When I am having a more orgasmic phase (which is more often than not), I never want to come more than, at most, twice a day - after that, I just go totally off the boil for a while.

Perhaps it's just an impression I've got because a lot of women don't talk about this kind of thing, but I've never thought my low libido is particularly unusual.

KH said...

Happily, sex isn’t like an order of French fries. Done properly, it’s not a zero-sum game, where every quantum of pleasure I experience leaves less pleasure for you.

The class thing comes in 2 flavors. There’s a theft claim & an egalitarian claim, & they can easily come into conflict. The egalitarian claim focuses on how much you’ve got relative to others, irrespective of how you got it. The theft claim can tolerate any level of inequality, excess & poverty, just so long as nobody stole her excessive stuff from somebody else. (Marxist value theory is a version of the theft claim. Owners of capital extract the surplus value produced by workers, so the story goes. If surplus value weren’t being extracted, Marxism would have no reason to complain about even extreme inequality.)

Trinity said...

"The egalitarian claim focuses on how much you’ve got relative to others, irrespective of how you got it. The theft claim can tolerate any level of inequality, excess & poverty, just so long as nobody stole her excessive stuff from somebody else."

THANK YOU for actually addressing the second half of the post. I was beginning to think no one would.

KH said...

2nd half was very interesting. I don’t think you were wrong to read some radfems as claiming that sex is inherently something like a zero sum game - what I gain, you lose - at least in this world. It’s just that they’re profoundly wrong. I mention Marxist value theory partly because certain people, e.g. MacKinnon, built a whole theory by crude mechanical analogy to Marx. They were mostly faking it, just bullshitting, didn’t understand Marx at all, & the theory they produced turns out to be so shoddy as to be a scandal. It’s not good that it did a number on you, but I’m not surprised you didn’t stay thwarted. People figure things out. What you do to feel most alive takes no food from anyone’s mouth. It can produce pleasure for others. In this way it’s better than some other ways of pursuing limit experiences. You’re entitled to your projects, & it’s okay to feel alive. Yes?

Trinity said...

"certain people, e.g. MacKinnon, built a whole theory by crude mechanical analogy to Marx. They were mostly faking it, just bullshitting, didn’t understand Marx at all, & the theory they produced turns out to be so shoddy as to be a scandal."

*nods* It's been a long time since I actually read Marx. What exactly WAS he saying? I don't remember gathering from what I read that he could be OK with massive inequalities, but I also don't remember discussion focused around resource distribution either. Much more about labor being personal and being taken from people.

And I don't think it's all radfem theorists' take on Marxism that did this. There are silly people floating around the internet that have what are, to me, very odd interpretations of:

egalitarianism
hierarchy
"power"
(sometimes this gets broken into
power-over
power-with
but sometimes people aren't even that specific)

that lead to some VERY simplistic "we should try as hard as we can to reduce power-over in our lives" type formulations

which are actually NOT useful at all because: what is power-over? Teachers, mentors, experts, parents, and friends often use it to help someone develop. And that's not sinister.

And I think that when the power/hierarchies in SM *are* more than play (which is actually fairly rarer than a lot of radfems suppose, IMO) this is the kind of thing a dominant partner is attempting. "How can I help you to grow?"

But if "hierarchy" or "power" is always on par with nonconsensual enslavement, always brutal and vicious, there's no room for enjoying dominance or submission.

Dominance just becomes wanting too much. Forcing someone into a lower position.

So I think what did a number on me was the combination of "anti-power" style theories and the crude egalitarianism I saw some people endorsing (or at least implying.)

Trinity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trinity said...

Well I shouldn't say it like "that's what this is always about in SM." Clearly there are dominant folks who are not interested in anything more than their own interests and lots of BJs from someone who performs on cue.

And yeah, BAD POWER-OVER.

But good power-over gets lost in these discussions, I find. If I try to talk about it, people just stare at me as if I'd said "there is a zebra in this room"

because it doesn't fit into their understanding of "power" and what it is.

I actually know an LJ-feminist who has something to the rough effect of

"Where power is, there love is not
Where love is, there power is not"

TATTOOED ON HER BACK

(it's not quite that, but I don't know the actual quote.)

and... I understand what it's supposed to mean and why she has it and I think she's a cool person and all

but seeing that tattoo just makes me want to bang my head against something. No, no, no! You mean "where exploitation is" or something

and even there, there are definite possibilities for strained yet loving dynamics. so... not even.

Headdeskopoly.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

THANK YOU for actually addressing the second half of the post. I was beginning to think no one would.

Alas, I am to this point inarticulate about it. I've been thinking, but it hasn't been working. ;)

KH said...

Yep, a lot of this stems from confusion over the word “power.” The quotation, which is from Jung (“Where love rules, there is no will to power; & where power predominates, love is lacking.”), does seem either to beg the question of what “power” is, or involve an idiosyncratic sense.

Marx tangent: The rhetoric & animating spirit of Marxism was egalitarian (From each …, To each …, etc), but in his system that impulse was in tension with the view that what’s wrong with capitalism is that (according to his theory of value) workers don’t receive the full product of their labor. As he acknowledged, though, some people are more productive than others, & if there were no exploitation, if everyone received the entire product of her labor, some people would be richer than others. His theory of value & exploitation affords no standpoint from which to criticize that kind of unequal outcome, notwithstanding his underlying distaste for inequality.

It’s a problem we all have to wrestle with. Not all of the world’s misery is caused by exploitation, oppression, bad actors, etc. A lot is just a misfortune. But there are people who, whenever they’re confronted with misery, are always inclined to look for someone to hate, an oppressor, even when no one’s really to blame. Some feminists also do this, & seem more interested in that part of women’s misery that they think they can pin on some bad person or force than they are in the non-negligible misery that stems from misfortunes that no malefactor caused. I think that’s a mistake for more than one reason.

Trinity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hexyhex said...

My libido is high enough to sometimes cause problems. I'm a two-times-a-day girl if I can get it, and that never seems to drop off. Antidepressents, antipsychotics, contraceptive pills and miserable relationships have all done nothing to squash it.

Fortunately my partner is very understanding, and I don't do too badly for myself. *grin* Still... it's rare for me to feel like I'm having "enough" sex, and I've just had to learn to live with that.

I'm also incredibly easy to get off, and super-multi-orgasmic. *shrug*

Hi, by the way. Love the idea of this blog.

belledame222 said...

Hexy! Welcome, good to see you.

Trinity said...

Welcome, hexyhex.

Anna said...

Hey, I just got linked here and I'm a week or two behind the ball on this one, but I figure two cents is two cents, and I may as well throw mine in....

Through all but the very end of highschool, I had no sex drive. I wasn't interested in sex, I wasn't horny... sex wasn't where I was at. I didn't really understand quite what other people were getting at. My boything introduced me to the delightful world of kink, and then I kinked around for a year and a half.

For the first part, I still wasn't into sex, but slowly that showed up in the relationship. For about six months, I was desperately horney and I could not get off. It had never happened. During that time, I could quite literally have had sex all of the time that I was not either collapsed exhausted or eating. Maybe a bath here or there. He, on the other hand, could only go for a few hours before he ran out of energy or had too many orgasms and needed to stop. That sucked. Enormously.

Finally, when I was 19, I figured out how to have an orgasm (well, how to be given an orgasm) and then eventually how to have one for myself. My libido dropped off somewhat there, and my libido was manageably high, not impossible.

My girlfriend of nine months had a much, much lower libido than I - she wanted sex at most twice a week, and stress made her really not very horny. I wanted sex AT LEAST once a week, and stress didn't do anything at all to dampen my libido (we both have very heavy workloads at school, particlarly for the last quarter).

After three months of no sex before school let out and then another couple of weeks after school where her libido "just hadn't recovered yet" (it's not that I don't believe her, it's just that it's really hard to say that to your own libido day after day after day), mine gave up the ghost and hasn't shown its head much since. I still masturbate occasionally, but it's really... disconnected from my everyday life, and it didn't used to be. Now, I decide that I'd like to get off tonight, and then I do. I used to needwant to touch or hurt or be hurt or get off and it wasn't an option it was necessary. And I really don't like this, even though the other option gave me a lot of trouble in both my relationships. I don't feel as in the world as I used to.

Trinity said...

"I don't feel as in the world as I used to."

:( yeah, that's exactly how I was when my libido did the same thing.

it came back eventually -- after something like a year.

a really miserable one. :(

leosevents said...

We all are humans..but the point is are we also not animals....just like hunger...we need the ACTION.Libido is the same for everyone...

its obvious that after marriage you might loose it a bit...i think..but for a bachelor i guess its always high.

Leo