Sexuality is about a sexual relationship, which involves a combination of social, emotional and sexual aspects. Long-term committed relationships are vital to supporting families over the decades needed to raise children.
From a purely biological perspective (ignoring modern contraception) intercourse results in the satisfaction of ejaculating for a man but pregnancy for a woman. Inevitably there are not nearly as many women willing to have a child as there are men able to ejaculate. So men are typically chasing women for sex rather than the other way around.
Kinsey noted that women are often willing to engage in sexual activity just to please men. There is a sense that women subjugate themselves to men. Men are just as motivated to please women by providing and supporting. This is the male role. Just as it is the female role to keep men happy in bed.
Men need women for sex. Women need men to support their family goals. Cynically we could call both behaviours exploitative. But relationships are fundamentally about an exchange. Consequently, we have to constantly review the balance between who is giving and who is receiving.
When a cat wants to be fed, it ingratiates itself by putting on an affectionate display. Men do the same to get sex. Women also ingratiate themselves to men by offering sex to get what they want. These behaviours are not necessarily manipulative as such. They involve intelligent animals negotiating to get what they want from a relationship with another person.
Women are not aroused by the prospect of sexual activity. So they do not approach sex with a focus on their own sex organ. They do not initiate stimulation of their own sex organ because they are not aroused with a lover. Intercourse provides very little sensation for a woman. The vagina is an organ without any sensitivity so intercourse equates to hugging. Women view intercourse as an opportunity for affection and caressing.
When a woman thinks about having intercourse with a new lover, she thinks about contraception and the risk of pregnancy. Instead of sexual pleasure, she looks forward to the non-sexual intimacy that goes with sex. A woman enjoys the novelty and fun of a new sexual relationship. A woman accepts a man’s desire for physical intimacy as his sign of devotion to her. A woman provides a man with sexual pleasure by facilitating male orgasm. By appreciating his love-making, she thereby helps create the emotional intimacy that motivates him to support a family. Men have no difficulty having an orgasm from intercourse every time with their wives. Many men need emotional reassurance from a lover to enjoy sex.
There is a tendency in marriage and long-term relationships for a couple to take each other for granted. Men and women expect their partners to ‘put up with’ or accept behaviour that they would not expect from someone else. This is wrong. We need to consider what we expect from our lovers in the context of what we expect from others. Naturally we hope for support but we should respect those we love. We should treat our lover better than others because we love them.
Relationships are a challenge because we all have different personalities and interests. Any couple, but especially heterosexual couples, may struggle with mismatched sex drives. Women do want sex sometimes; just not as frequently as men do. For women, sex is a simple pleasure when there is a romantic context.
Intercourse does not make a woman feel loved because it focuses on male orgasm. A man doesn’t appreciate that a woman needs to feel loved in other ways. Women need the words ‘love’ and ‘intimacy’ to soften the impact of the word ‘sex’. Sex is associated with pornography where women appear to be merely objects men want to ejaculate their semen into. Sex makes her feel used and that her body is dirty.
A woman is embarrassed but she also feels guilty because she assumes that she is supposed to enjoy sex. She realises that a man expects her to make effort but she doesn’t see why she should. A woman accepts intercourse because of the inherent authority that comes with men’s sex drive. Male sex drive provides some reassurance of a man’s commitment. Women don’t need men to perform but they come to expect it. A woman worries (if a man no longer wants her) that he loves another.
We feel loved when a partner takes an interest in the concerns that are important to us. Men assume that women obtain the same erotic rewards from sex that they do. They forget that women approach sex through romance not through eroticism. A woman’s sexual willingness depends on a man’s willingness to invest in the wider relationship. Intercourse is foremost an expression of love between a man and a woman. After all, if sex was purely about two people reaching orgasm, then we would more naturally engage in activities that involve more direct genital stimulation.
Overall, men were more likely than women to be sexually active, report a good quality sex life, and be interested in sex. (Lindau & Gavrilova 2010)