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Sex: Should women be more like men?
December 9th, 2010
09:21 AM ET

Sex: Should women be more like men?

In the very first episode of "Sex and the City," Carrie poses the question,  “In an age where women enjoy the same successes as men, why shouldn’t they also be able enjoy sex like men?” She was, of course, referring to the male ability to indulge in sex casually, freely, and without a sense of emotional attachment: sex for the sake of sex. And clearly, the phenomenon of the TV series itself, as well as the culture of hooking up of which it was part and parcel, has answered its own question: Yes, a woman can have sex like a man—and then some!

But maybe the real question isn’t whether a woman can have sex like a man, but if she should. At Good in Bed, our experts are debating this topic and we don’t always agree.

Many years before Candace Bushnell put pen to paper, Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing wrote, on the subject of sexual freedom, "Men get erections when they're with a woman they don't give a damn about, but we don't have an orgasm unless we love him. What's free about that?" Or as Carrie’s gal-pal, Charlotte, puts it after hooking up with a guy, "Did the last four-and-a-half hours mean nothing to you?"

Sometimes we treat sex lightly, but sex doesn’t always treat us lightly in return. In biological terms, the female orgasm releases a burst of oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone. Oxytocin helps facilitate a sense of attachment. But if there's nothing to attach to, if there's no deeper emotional content or meaningfulness, orgasm could become a regretful reminder of the hollowness of the sex that preceded it. Some sexolgists call this phenomenon post-orgasm regret, and it typically manifests itself in the form of sadness or anger.

This was brought home to me in a recent editorial in the New York Times titled “Sex and Depression.” in which Richard A. Friedman, M.D., writes of a female patient, “She was a 32-year-old woman who experienced a four- to six-hour period of intense depression and irritability after an orgasm, either alone or with a partner. It was so unpleasant that she was starting to avoid sex.” And in her book, "The Good in Bed Guide to Female Orgasms," sex educator Emily Nagoski explains, “A woman is less likely to have orgasms early in a relationship. Her body needs time to adapt to the new partner, to learn to trust him or her, and to relax into the knowledge that her partner accepts and appreciates her body.” But is this period of adaptation just that—a period—or does it point to a more fundamental difference between male and female sexuality?

In 1966, Masters and Johnson published their classic book, “Human Sexual Response,” and proposed a linear model of sexual response for both men and women that included four stages: arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution (the time where many men roll over and start snoring). But over the years experts have questioned this model, as it assumes that men and women are more similar than different. More recently, sex researcher Rosemarie Basson has proposed a new framework for thinking about female sexual response, one that places the importance of emotional intimacy and relationship satisfaction at its center. Basson’s framework contends that female sexual arousal is more complex than a male’s and depends more intensely on factors such as relationship satisfaction, self-esteem and previous sexual experiences—pretty important stuff in maintaining a long-term committed relationship, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman.

So let’s rephrase that question one more time, shall we? It’s not a question of can, or even should, a woman have sex like a man. The real question is, Should a man have sex like a woman?

And remember, if you’d like more help navigating this life-change years, check out our free download of the Good in Bed Guide to Sex and the Baby Years.

Ian Kerner is a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website,GoodInBed.


soundoff (255 Responses)
  1. LouWho

    Looking for good woman who can cook, wash, iron, clean fish, and owns a boat for fishing. Send pic of boat and motor.

    December 11, 2010 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. KGG

    You all disgust me

    December 11, 2010 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Barazinho

    You all should read the book S3x at Dawn – it talks about our s3xual history as a species. It's a lot more informative that this article.

    December 11, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. spikette

    it is a jocking for power in the relationship frank. when a couple does not have need to be powerful over another then feminism or partiarchy is not an issue. then, finally, one can find peace in a relationship. and it is very very good. and rather easy.

    December 11, 2010 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. spikette

    david, i have to chuckle at the old man that likes to pretend he is all that. when i was young, i would watch the old men (30 was old man then) who would primp and strut and such an eeeew factor. as each gender ages, there are always those that dont look in the mirror and can tell themselves stories. the rest of the world gets the joke.

    December 11, 2010 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. knower

    Women, (and men tapping the female market) have destroyed society with their wanna-have-it-all idiocy. Misguided selfish "takers" have torpedoed the foundation of strong society by thinking they should assume the male role and the female role and then jump between the two as their fickle whims dictate... it's a foolish path that has debilitated the family and even physical health of the perpetrators. Go ahead and eat the whole cake and supplant men with pets. You deserve it.

    December 11, 2010 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. diana

    Key words here being "as far as I can tell". Laughing.

    December 11, 2010 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jenny

    multiple orgasms? riiiight... fake fake and more fake. Jokes on you. That part in the movie "When Harry Met Sally" is not a lie.

    December 11, 2010 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. cs

    KC- looks like you settled way to early. theyre plenty of decent or "nice guys" out there.

    December 11, 2010 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. jers

    Y'all think maybe he (David in Corpus) could be engaging in satire?

    December 11, 2010 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. spikette

    knower, it is truly amazing the hatred for women now that men do not have the ability to control and oppress. to shift all blame on the women when from begining of time men abused. a little of the blame eve for the downfall of all of us, when it was weak adam that could not stand up in integrity and will. there are responsible, mature, good people of both gender. if you cannot create a life you are looking for, it has everything to do with you. not women.

    December 11, 2010 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ric

    if men are dogs for being able to sleep around with a conscience, then why would women want to be like that? For women that would be taking a step down.

    December 11, 2010 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Art

    Marriage is for men that need to trade in too much s

    Marriage is for men that need to trade too much s-x for nightly headaches.

    December 11, 2010 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Austin

    Men and women think different and are wired different. There is a slim chance that we will ever get along.

    December 11, 2010 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. ApeHanger

    Mimi: ....That's disturbing information i didn't want to see. I don't see how women could get aroused by an old geezer...

    I don't see how guys could get aroused by a brainless bimbo.

    December 11, 2010 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Edward

      Because their brain isn't what they were interested in in the first place. Brains are only good for relationships, if he's looking for a one night stand or a fling then the less brains the better.

      December 11, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
  16. ApeHanger

    This is mostly an article about a lot of nothing. Women drag around huge amounts of s*xual baggage, which they acquire from their uptight mothers, and by reading articles like this. Also, to a man, s*x is about s*x. To women, s*x is about "what can I get in return for a few minutes of pleasant friction."

    December 11, 2010 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. TJ

    So wait... men want women to think like men... well then why not just have sx with men?

    December 11, 2010 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. drinky

    yeah you're some liberated genius KC...tell me...how many times did you suck his dick before you smartened up?

    December 11, 2010 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. davidpur

    I have a woman friend who I have known for 20 years. We are each others "go to" person. We know what each others needs and wants are, sometimes on the strange side, and we will see each other 4 or 5 times a year and spend the next 24 hours making each other happy. Neither of us is married nor do we want to be. Both of us are very successful but we agree 24 hours is enough of each other.

    December 11, 2010 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Joe Cool

    I agree with ya 100% Frank

    December 11, 2010 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. wow

    wow... reading all these comments are not really hitting something. peoples brains are different also. what goes in a guys brain isn't always what goes through girls. Not all girls share the same brain making as well as guys. Everyone is different. The article doesn't prove anything and the comments are just proving that everyone is different. Guys and girls all need to remember that people are not the same and cannot expect what they did with one will be the same for all.

    December 11, 2010 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sam

    This is whAt the aliens think of your troubles...

    http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=/&gl=US#/watch?xl=xl_blazer&v=arzRcVE4MuA

    December 12, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Number 6

    Evolution...

    December 12, 2010 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Bald-headed baby

    most of us are not NATURALLY monogamous. Why can't society accept this?

    December 12, 2010 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. King George

    Oh Dave, Dave, Dave...the innocence of youth. Buddy, I'm twenty-nine never married. At this age in my life my friends fall into two categories: they are either "recently married," or "recently divorced." I assume the "recently married," crowd by the time I hit forty will also fall into the category of, "recently divorced." However, I will remain the same–"never married."

    Here is why: If it's so good, the relationship I mean, why throw in economic and legal incentives to keep it going? To quote a comedian, "Baby this 's' is so good we have to get the lawyers and judges involved." Maybe it's because I have both a finance and legal background, I know that marriage is only beneficial to women.

    Here is why: suppose you are with your lady for more than ten years, after the tenth year she sleeps around with your best friend, you decide to go to court to get a divorce. Guess what? Regardless, you will owe her alimony for the rest of your life–alimony is giving her part of your income every month. Suppose also after you marry, she had not worked a day in her life. Guess what? Regardless, half of what you made from income and assets are hers anyway. Suppose you have children. Guess what? Not only are you paying child support, but more than likely you will get to see your kids on certain weekends and maybe some holidays.

    I tell this to my married friends who have not yet gotten a divorce and I ask them: a cost benefit analysis clearly shows this thing called marriage is in no way in your favor, hell you probably have better odds in Vegas, why did you get married. All of them say the same thing: I like the idea of having consistent tail. Then I look at their wife after marriage. They are fat. They have cut their hair short like a freakin' Marine. And I honestly look back at them and I say, "you really want to consistently nail that?"

    In my opinion, they're just lazy. I would much rather go out every weekend and hunt for hot chicks, risking the fact I might find none, then consistently trying to cajole an out of shape looking thing to sleep with me hopefully once a week.

    And as for dying old? Please buddy, there has to be more to the meaning of life than getting to old age. Suppose I do get there. I will most likely be suffering from profound Dementia if not Alzheimer: what the hell will I know? I probably won't even recognize myself in the mirror. Much less give an "s" about what some former beauty, now old hag, thinks about me.

    Please, buddy, learn to think rationally.

    December 12, 2010 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • interested but not commited

      agreed

      December 13, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
  26. Glenn

    I was going to make a meaningful response to this article, but seeing the amount of trash in response to it, I won't bother.

    December 12, 2010 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Jeremy Pike

    Journalism: Should CNN publish news, or useless crap?

    December 13, 2010 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Uncynical

    Anyone see the movie "Deception" where there are a lot of hot men and women hooking up via The List?

    Women acting exactly like men, as one hot lady tells the guy.

    December 13, 2010 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RS

    Check put http://www.TheTenQuestionsOfLife.com

    December 13, 2010 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RS

    See what people around the world have to say -

    http://www.thetenquestionsoflife.com/

    December 13, 2010 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Solja

    stupid hoes

    December 13, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Judy Smith

    So many women... so little cooperation...

    December 13, 2010 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Thomas

    Or maybe men and women are actually on a sliding scale where some are more one way and some are more the other, and this obsession with trying to make them the same is the result of intellectual laziness.

    December 13, 2010 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. do be do be doo

    funny. article is true. a LOT of married women out there who like the variety. i'm no Dr. but I did stay at a holiday inn express last night, so I know!!

    December 13, 2010 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. do be do be doo

    A Lot of married women do like the variety, it's not just men. I'm no Dr. but I did stay at a holiday inn express last night, so I know!

    December 13, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. interested but not commited

    I have been in two long term relationships back to back. I feel I have a lot to offer a friend, lover and significant other. I am dating again and just turned 40, I have my hair, I am active, in shape and am looking for a woman to be with long term again. One thing is different about being the age I am is some women are still interested in having fun others arwe looking for a man to be with long term but all of them seem to want to have sx. I really can say I don't push it but the women these days seem too. It seems like knowing what I want from a woman is accomplished by dating more than one woman. I hope one day to find a woman that shares me interests, activitiese and tastes but one that can also allow me to learn about hers if they are differnent. I don't want to date women with issues with Alcohol or drugs...I want a healthy one with a nice tempermant and professional and personal drive.....sx drive is nice too

    December 13, 2010 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Larry 2012

    This is unquestionably the most ridiculous question since Eve asked Adam if he wanted a bit of fruit! Men and women will NEVER be even remotely the same, not now, not never, not no how. This article is a crock.

    December 13, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. karl Koehler

    Sex in the city? the country? where ever. I, as a older male "still" remember when women appreciated the attention of a man. NOT NOW. THE ATLANTIC (Jul-Aug) "The End of Men" sets the stage for the world I now have to endure my lonely existence. The Material Girl ??? What you position? Kind of Car? Your 401K surviving? ETC!!!!! No, thank you, I don't need a man in my life. I, probably, make more than you do! My JOB is all the stress I can handle. I'm a "CHURCH LADY" GOD is the only MAN I need in my life! I would not have any serious relationship until my Pastor-the Father blesses our union. Your genes do not match up to those I can get at the sperm clinic. I don't need you to have a lovely baby to hold.... Look over half the American women have babies without marrying men. So who needs you tonight, I just got a new vibrator at the Lock Door !!!!!!! Should any sweet hearted LADY, not fitting the above description. wish to argue me out of my angst, I would most welcome you at kkoehler06@gmail.com

    December 13, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jean Clelland-Morin

    Harems had a place. The problem being (as with polygamy), they were composed of groups (women) who had no financial independence and therefore no rights. What are we going to do with all this Testosterone? In (mostly poor) contries where women have few, if any, rights, Testosteroine rules. Babies are being pumped onto this planet that are unwanted, unloved, hungryn and uneducated. This is a basis for genocides, wars and pollution of the planet. Why do we want women to be more like men? Maybe we need to find a way to redirect all this excessive Testosterone. // Jean Clelland-Morin

    December 13, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. 7evenpounds

    Do they want to live with the regrets as well ???? Dont be stupid

    December 13, 2010 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. rico

    Here's the thing: orgasm is like a shot of heroin. Endorphin high. Takes both 2 weeks to re-group; the guy first week more difficult for the woman second week is toughest. Please check out Marnia Robinson's research and wise up:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marnia-robinson/karezza-for-singles_b_714003.html

    yeah, I don't like it either but we are under the influence of forces we have no idea about. But life is a classroom, so take the curriculum.

    December 14, 2010 at 02:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Bill Gatlin

    I say go for it they should learn to pay for stuff as well I want a MILF to support me and I can spend her money Sarah Palin would do

    December 14, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Cynthia

    I think women need to accept our biomechanisms and our emotional makeup. We need to quit being like men because we are not men. Freedom does not have to mean bopping every guy on the planet because we want to fit in and be accepted in the mainstream. Freedom can simply mean accepting who we are and who we are not.

    December 14, 2010 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. TheBeaver

    Gee Wally ... girls are weird!

    December 15, 2010 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Kbo

    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it."

    You have a certain time frame in life to experience the best years you'll ever have before tying the knot. Usually this revolves around the ages of 18-30. For some, they find the person they want to be with early, around 25. For others, they jump in even younger, which seems to usually end up as heartbreak down the road. Studies have shown that high school sweethearts are more likely than other groups at staying married. The thing about that is, if you think those sweethearts never experienced the world before finally committing to each other, you're naive and nuts. It's natural for humans to want to experience many things in life, and s. e x is no different. If we would all realize that yes people make mistakes, but making a commitment means doing just that, we'll all be a ton happier. If you can't commit, get out of a committed relationship.

    December 15, 2010 at 07:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Elmer

    Do feminists ever use data other than fictional TV dramas to support their "research"?

    December 15, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Janel Fulpo

    Thanks for putting this out. Helpful info !!

    December 20, 2010 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. pat

    One important and liberating fact for both men and women is the acceptance that men and women are different... and the next step is to embrace the differences instead of seeing them as faults or deficiencies in your mate.

    January 2, 2011 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Yon Obriant

    Are obtainable on and keep writting your weblog will be much more appealing. To Your Success!

    December 14, 2011 at 03:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Calliste

    I don't see the point in it. When we have sex it should be about pleasing our men, our pleasure is completely irrelevant. That's how I've always done it.

    January 2, 2013 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
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