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 (844 Responses)
  1. Evonne Chimes


    June 10, 2021 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Ronald Gafford


    June 10, 2021 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Clarence Mail

    This is a good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate informationÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!

    June 10, 2021 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Arlena Smedick


    June 11, 2021 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. rv repair shops near me


    June 11, 2021 at 04:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ariana Viets


    June 11, 2021 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Maryam Melber

    Iím amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog thatís equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I stumbled across this during my search for something regarding this.

    June 11, 2021 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lynette Giang


    June 11, 2021 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jeffrey Elgar

    I really love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you make this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím hoping to create my very own website and want to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Many thanks!


    June 11, 2021 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. near me


    June 11, 2021 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. socal upholstery

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this web site needs much more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!


    June 11, 2021 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Technician Orange County

    Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 11, 2021 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Custom Paint Shop Near Me


    June 11, 2021 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. South Haven Michigan Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.


    June 11, 2021 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. 2500 Sprinter Van Repair


    June 11, 2021 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. painting horse trailers

    I blog frequently and I really thank you for your information. Your article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.


    June 11, 2021 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. oc body shop


    June 12, 2021 at 05:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Repair Near Me

    May I simply just say what a relief to discover somebody that actually understands what they're discussing on the net. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people really need to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you're not more popular given that you definitely possess the gift.


    June 12, 2021 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Business Van Repair Shop


    June 12, 2021 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Best Tucker Sprinter Repair


    June 12, 2021 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Service Locations


    June 12, 2021 at 06:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Cole Fugua


    June 12, 2021 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Everett Pineda

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest websites on the web. I'm going to highly recommend this website!

    June 12, 2021 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. escorts near me

    Great article. I am experiencing some of these issues as well..


    June 12, 2021 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. butcher near me

    Good blog you have got here.. Itís difficult to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    June 12, 2021 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. gyms near me

    Iím amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that too few people are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.


    June 12, 2021 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. metropcs near me


    June 12, 2021 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. shoe store near me

    Can I just say what a comfort to discover someone who truly knows what they are talking about online. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people ought to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you aren't more popular because you surely possess the gift.


    June 12, 2021 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. walmart pharmacy near me

    This is a great tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate informationÖ Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 12, 2021 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. bank of america atm near me


    June 13, 2021 at 02:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. bitcoin atm near me


    June 13, 2021 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. atm near me


    June 13, 2021 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. domino's near me

    This excellent website certainly has all of the info I needed about this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 13, 2021 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. malls near me


    June 13, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. car dealers near me


    June 13, 2021 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. sandwiches near me


    June 13, 2021 at 19:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. national parks near me


    June 13, 2021 at 21:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. church's chicken near me


    June 13, 2021 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. used cars near me

    Everyone loves it when people come together and share opinions. Great blog, continue the good work!


    June 14, 2021 at 01:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. mexican restaurant near me

    I absolutely love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you develop this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím hoping to create my very own site and want to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Appreciate it!


    June 14, 2021 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. guns for sale near me


    June 14, 2021 at 05:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. bars open near me


    June 14, 2021 at 07:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. chicken wings near me

    I like it whenever people get together and share ideas. Great blog, stick with it!


    June 14, 2021 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. best food near me

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am experiencing troubles with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 14, 2021 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me


    June 14, 2021 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Repair San Clemente California


    June 14, 2021 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repair Seal Beach


    June 14, 2021 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair Shops Near My Location


    June 15, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It's the little changes that produce the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 15, 2021 at 02:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    This is a very good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate infoÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 15, 2021 at 04:57 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.