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. asian food near me

    Good blog you have here.. Itís hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    June 24, 2021 at 02:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Digital Marketing Firms

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes that make the most important changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 24, 2021 at 04:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Plumbing Repair Near Me

    Hello there! This blog post could not be written much better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I will send this post to him. Fairly certain he's going to have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 24, 2021 at 06:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Mobile Repair Service Near Me

    That is a really good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate informationÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 24, 2021 at 06:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Content Marketing Companies


    June 24, 2021 at 07:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Digital Marketing Specialist

    This excellent website definitely has all the information I wanted about this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 24, 2021 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not disappoint me just as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, however I genuinely believed you would probably have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you can fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    June 24, 2021 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repairs Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. oc appliance man

    Everyone loves it when folks get together and share views. Great website, stick with it!


    June 24, 2021 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Sales And Repair Near Me

    You've made some really good points there. I checked on the web for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.


    June 25, 2021 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. trailer repair orange county

    Saved as a favorite, I love your blog!


    June 25, 2021 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Camper Repair Shop Near Me

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Spending some time and actual effort to generate a great articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I hesitate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.


    June 25, 2021 at 05:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Repair Places Near Me

    I quite like looking through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!


    June 25, 2021 at 05:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Repair Near Here


    June 25, 2021 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Repair Seal Beach


    June 25, 2021 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Repair Seal Beach


    June 25, 2021 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Repair Shop Near My Location

    Very good post. I will be facing a few of these issues as well..


    June 25, 2021 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be useful to read through articles from other writers and use something from their sites.


    June 25, 2021 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Service And Repair Near Me

    I blog frequently and I really appreciate your information. This article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.


    June 25, 2021 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Elke Amat

    Having read this I thought it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 25, 2021 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Ac Repair Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Furnace Repair Near Me

    Itís hard to find experienced people for this topic, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 25, 2021 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Air Conditioner Repair Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Repair Orange County California


    June 26, 2021 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Carri Mashore


    June 26, 2021 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Water Repair Man Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RV Collision Repair Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 05:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Repair Around Me

    I really love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you create this web site yourself? Please reply back as Iím trying to create my own site and want to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Many thanks!


    June 26, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Repair Shop Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Camper Repair Places Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Stacie Gresl


    June 26, 2021 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Spot on with this write-up, I really think this site needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!


    June 26, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Shops Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. podcast merch


    June 26, 2021 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Bad Leadership Qualities


    June 26, 2021 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. wrestling soup podcast

    After going over a few of the articles on your site, I seriously appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my website as well and let me know what you think.


    June 26, 2021 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. michael steele podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. reason podcast

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful post. Thanks for providing this info.


    June 27, 2021 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Instructional Leadership

    Very nice blog post. I definitely appreciate this site. Stick with it!


    June 27, 2021 at 02:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. harmontown podcast

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anybody having identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 27, 2021 at 02:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Nursing Leadership

    Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is very useful. Thank you for sharing!


    June 27, 2021 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. the clearing podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Best Books On Leadership


    June 27, 2021 at 04:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. National Youth Leadership Forum

    This is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate infoÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 27, 2021 at 07:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. the dig podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Jeff Bezos Leadership Style


    June 27, 2021 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Another Word For Leadership


    June 27, 2021 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It's the little changes which will make the largest changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 27, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Camper Repair Places Near Me


    June 27, 2021 at 16:06 | 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.