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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. Joe in Colorado

    Who are these women? I've never been with a woman who didn't orgasm, and you can ALWAYS tell. I think if a woman is having trouble, she's with the wrong guy.

    December 9, 2010 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Moimoimoi

      Partially right, partially wrong. I don't orgasm every time and it's actually a challenge and a process to go through. Sometimes I just don't want to waste time and want a quickie.
      So Joe, how can you tell?

      December 9, 2010 at 18:38 | Report abuse |
    • George

      Joe I've run into plenty of women that have not had orgasms, a lot of men do not know how to love a woman, the three rules are, 1. you gotta know how to love a woman, 2. you gotta know how to make love to a woman, and 3. you gotta know what it means to be in love with a woman.

      December 11, 2010 at 10:59 | Report abuse |
  2. Bradley

    This article is ridiculous. PLENTY of women DO enjoy casual flings.

    December 9, 2010 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • really?

      The article isn't saying that women DON'T enjoy casual flings its saying that women are effected by them differently and respond to them differently. Like the post O depression for example.

      December 13, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
  3. GrammarGnatsie

    I admit it, Dave: I'm jealous. I wish I were a teenager in the 80's.

    For the record, a post like yours shouldn't be expected to be taken seriously. Rather, you come off as a jerk compensating for something that puts us off further. Please be more nonchalant next time.

    December 9, 2010 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Name*

    LOL!!!

    December 9, 2010 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Joesph

    Hey Jorge, no one cares.

    December 9, 2010 at 19:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Joesph

    You sure like yourself. I don't know how you even fit through doorways with that big stupid ego on your shoulders.

    December 9, 2010 at 19:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Joesph

    Hi, I'm grammar, we've never met. You type like you probably sound – uneducated and from the ghetto.

    December 9, 2010 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. anectodal_evidence

    the article is moronic. it appeals to emotion with no science on it. quoting someones OPINION from a book in 1966 women this or that does not a factual presentation make. Nor a critical one for people who can think past their knee-jerk emotions.
    In the famous words of D. Parker, this is not an article to be tossed aside lightly... It should be thrown with GREAT FORCE.

    December 9, 2010 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. FYI

    Regis – Welcome to the more sane way of living/loving life. Gotcha beat – but only by a year but counting doesn't count. What does count is a total commitment to transparent loving relationship and sharing a common goal in life with or without kids. Ours are grown on on their own and supporting themselves and not mooching off us or welfare. Lucky to have passed on the teachings of our parents and with great success. Everything is "OURS" like you say and not his or hers except for the monogramed hand towels in the bathroom.

    December 9, 2010 at 19:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. 'Etoile

    Agreed!

    December 9, 2010 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. mike

    A pretty strong argument for abstinence. A tug in the shower every morning will save a guy a lot of drama (and money).

    December 9, 2010 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Cleo

    You're insecurity is overwhelming.

    December 9, 2010 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. slupdawg

    Amen to that......

    December 9, 2010 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Oak

    This article completely missed the most important factors of female arousal... the apparent wealth of the man involved, and the potential payoff. Ever heard of a female CEO marrying the janitor? Me either.

    December 9, 2010 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KC

      As a matter of fact, I know a number of couples where the woman has higher earning capacity and works and the man is a "house husband" or "Mr. Mom". With the right two people, it can work out just fine. But if the man is going to get all uppity about how "cleaning is women's work" or "I don't do poopy diapers", it doesn't work, because the wife is not going to be happy coming home from carrying the full financial load and then being expected to do all the household work as well.

      And, going back to the point I made above, a woman with the financial resources to support herself is not stuck in a bad relationship as her grandmother would've been. She's free to walk out any time she's not happy, and many do.

      December 9, 2010 at 22:59 | Report abuse |
  15. KC

    You're right, Mark, it's not a good marriage when you HAVE to have separate checking accounts because your partner is so irresponsible that the rent check keeps bouncing because he spent more than was in the account, and so untrustworthy that he lied about it.

    He kept telling me he "forgot" to write checks in the register, so I got him duplicate checks that make a copy when you write them, and found out that the real reason he wasn't writing them down was because he'd promised not to spend more than $50 without discussing it, and he was regularly spending $200 without permission. I paid more bounced check charges in the four months we shared an account than in the whole rest of the 40 years I've had a checking account in my own name.

    When a spender marries a saver, it's either separate accounts or divorce. Or, in our case, both.

    December 9, 2010 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Maggie

    ..hmmm...they probably fake it too..!! just a guess since that seem to be the case for most women!! but I guess you take what you can get...LMAO...

    December 9, 2010 at 22:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. KC

    "take a less paying job if it makes you happy" Why would a lower-paying job make me happier than the career I love? The issue in our marriage was not that I earned more than he did, but that he spent more than he earned and lied about it.

    The original financial agreement had to be amended when I realized he had absolutely no intention of doing what he'd promised me before marriage. He saw it, he bought it, and if that caused the rent check to bounce, that was my problem. A couple months of this game-playing and the savings account was empty; much as I hated to do it, I had to take a cash advance on the credit card to pay the rent (and the extra fees for the bounced check and late payment). He flatly refused to stick to a budget even when I showed him that the various fees added up to 1/3 of the rent, not counting the interest we were going to pay for the cash advance.

    Since I wasn't going to emasculate him by taking ALL the money away from him, I let him keep the money he earned, and I paid the biggest bills from my paycheck, to make sure that those checks didn't bounce.

    As I said, he thought he was paying "his fair share" because we each wrote 3 checks a month, and it was not till after I kicked him to the curb that he discovered that rent alone cost more than the total of the bills he had been paying. It's not the number of checks you write, but the numbers on them. Without me to bail out his frivolous spending, he wound up going bankrupt twice, and I'm getting calls from bill collectors looking for him which sound like he's in that position again.

    December 9, 2010 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. KC

    But this brings us back to my original point, that in the olden days, when women were lucky to get a job that paid "pin money", I would've been stuck in lifelong poverty with this clod because I couldn't have supported myself, and therefore wouldn't have been able to divorce him.

    Because I had an education and a career of my own, I could dump him and know that I was not going to starve.

    And when the financial truth hit him, HE was the one trying to get alimony from me, because it was easier to get someone else to bail him out of his bad decisions than to get a better-paying job that could keep up with his spending habits. Thankfully, the laws in this state say that someone with a college degree should be self-supporting, and since he couldn't demonstrate either that he's disabled or primary caregiver for young children, he was not eligible for alimony, no matter how many attempts he made to convince judges that I should continue to pay his bills, rather than him looking for a better job.

    December 9, 2010 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mimi

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

    December 9, 2010 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Leah

    Why can't it be a mix of both? I love the fact that as a 22 year old female, I can decide whether or not I'm looking for something long term or not. I can feel completely comfortable being alone, but can appreciate how the RIGHT person can enhance your happiness. I refuse to waste my time with those who aren't right just so I have someone, yet a cute guy with a nice butt can be a lot of fun for a few hours. And the most important part? I know that if I decide that there is someone I want to be with forever that means I must give up the "fun with randoms" and have fun with my partner alone. That's where (many) men should be more like (many) women.

    December 9, 2010 at 23:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JJ

      @ Leah – And why is it that for a woman (and perhaps a man) in a committed relationship multiple partners are taboo even with mutual consent? Could it be that we have been programmed over centuries to generate feelings of fear of loss when love is shared with more than one? Or is it that love can be multiplied only when it is not divided?

      December 12, 2010 at 21:57 | Report abuse |
  21. Wow

    after reading the article itself and reading almost all the comments above. i can only think of three names that stands out the most. freaky toney who by the name itself is a total freak almost reminds me of my cousin good job, KC who talks about paychecks and earnings and how she was paying more than her ex and her ex was paying less and how he thought he could support himself until he realized she was paying most of it and blah blah blah sorry thats all i read haha no offense! and Sara who is a kind of woman i would like to meet. no strings attached count me in, im still in the playful stage of my life ha. and o yeah how could i forget David in Corpus who based from the comments above can last a whole day of $EX without blowing a load, has the perfect BODY for a middle aged man and will just make any woman out there scream OMGD (D for david)! you are an inspiration david and i admire you. sad to say 10 mins of bed exercises (continuous no stopping) is my career high i know i suck but that just means i need more practice, ok alot more practice. i dont know how the hell you hold it that long but man that is freakn AWESOME!

    December 10, 2010 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sara

      LOL some one is saying i'm a man. if i am i make a lousy man!

      December 10, 2010 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
  22. Sara

    ... gotcha, all!!!! 'Sara' is a MAN. OOPS!

    December 10, 2010 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Rich

    Lmao @ Jules

    December 10, 2010 at 06:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jesus

    As women age they begin to start looking like men or lose any signs of femininity. How many have seen those 200 lb. helmet headed craggy face types in a moo moo? They are ubiquitous. What are they? Women or have they morphed into men?

    December 10, 2010 at 07:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Darcy

      As women age there is a drop in 'female' hormones after menopause and for men there is a drop in testosterone. Often, elderly men look like women- they gain weight differently, lose excessive masculine looks, thinning hair in beard....the women just move in the other direction. I wonder if that is one component of why people observe elderly couples as looking like each other.

      December 11, 2010 at 07:26 | Report abuse |
    • Fuyuko

      elderly women aren't meant to look appealing to the younger set they are biologically entering winter so they just are who they are.. Please realize that there is more to a woman than how she looks .Labeling them and deriding them for their physical appearence shows a distinct lack of empathy.

      December 11, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
    • Anna

      Besides, everybody will get older. If you don't like older people, you won't like yourself when you get older. That means you will have to spend the last 2-3 decades of your life hating yourself.

      December 11, 2010 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
  25. Kate

    S e x appeal comes from the brain not the body. You don't have what it takes.

    December 10, 2010 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 666

    any body wanna #$%^?

    December 11, 2010 at 04:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Johnson

    KC – $40 electric bill? Dude, where do you live? I want to move there.

    December 11, 2010 at 05:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Ned Ullrich

    KC – Do you enjoy telling your entire life story to a bunch of strangers?

    December 11, 2010 at 05:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Edward

    I think that if women try to act like men ultimately they will end up on the losing end. I say this because from an early age most men learn to separate intercourse from everything, even from themselves. I read somewhere that when men look at their penis's they think "wow, look what it can do" rather than "wow, look what I can do" and that's probably true.

    Many men look at some women in the same light, they separate their bodies parts from who they actually are and judge each individually and in doing so can separate the act of intercourse from both themselves and the person they are having intercourse with. Another reason that I think women will lose out is that even though men act as though they are looking for women that like to have intercourse, they are actually hoping deep down that the woman that they really like will make them wait. Men look at woman in two ways, is she marriage material or is she just a good time. The sooner a woman is willing to engage in intercourse the less likely it is that that man will engage in a long term relationship with her.

    A man can tell a woman, "I've had 30 parters" and she will probably still date him, if a woman says that to a man he'll probably leave her. The reason is because for men a large portion of a woman's value is based on how easy they are to have intercourse with and once a woman decides to sleep with a man after barely knowing him all of her value in terms of relationship potential is practically gone. He'll keep you around to sleep with you some more but he's probably thinking to himself, "she was this easy with me so if I have a relationship with her why wouldn't she be just as easy for someone else, what makes me so special?" I know some may think the guy was easy too so it goes both ways, well that's true, sometimes life isn't fair. I personally don't engage in intercourse with every woman I find attractive that may be willing to sleep with me.

    December 11, 2010 at 06:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • spikette

      ah, a little bet of honesty here. prior to the net, i really didnt not realize the males need to create manhood as his all empowering sxuality. the boys and men i have known in a lifetime look for the same thing, if not more, than the females. they just talk a different story for ego, because a society tells them that is who they are. just as they tell women they cannot enjoy a one niter, per this article. i dont find any of these stereotypes to be true in reality. i know members of both genders, a very small minority that want to go life alone. the vast majority, of both genders are looking for a connection and acceptance. respect. and love. sx for the sake of sx has its place. sx with a partner of respect and caring consistently comes out on the high end, both genders.

      December 11, 2010 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
    • Betty

      I like spikette. Good sense.

      December 13, 2010 at 08:32 | Report abuse |
  30. Edward

    I think that if women try to act like men ultimately they will end up on the losing end. I say this because from an early age most men learn to separate intercourse from everything, even from themselves. I read somewhere that when men look at their private parts they think "wow, look what it can do" rather than "wow, look what I can do" and that's probably true.

    Many men look at some women in the same light, they separate their bodies parts from who they actually are and judge each individually and in doing so can separate the act of intercourse from both themselves and the person they are having intercourse with. Another reason that I think women will lose out is that even though men act as though they are looking for women that like to have intercourse, they are actually hoping deep down that the woman that they really like will make them wait. Men look at woman in two ways, is she marriage material or is she just a good time. The sooner a woman is willing to engage in intercourse the less likely it is that that man will engage in a long term relationship with her.

    A man can tell a woman, "I've had 30 parters" and she will probably still date him, if a woman says that to a man he'll probably leave her. The reason is because for men a large portion of a woman's value is based on how easy they are to have intercourse with and once a woman decides to sleep with a man after barely knowing him all of her value in terms of relationship potential is practically gone. He'll keep you around to sleep with you some more but he's probably thinking to himself, "she was this easy with me so if I have a relationship with her why wouldn't she be just as easy for someone else, what makes me so special?" I know some may think the guy was easy too so it goes both ways, well that's true, sometimes life isn't fair. I personally don't engage in intercourse with every woman I find attractive that may be willing to sleep with me.

    December 11, 2010 at 06:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. me

    Most of the women I know who've tried to be more like men end up broken-hearted and feeling used.

    December 11, 2010 at 06:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. TruthofGod

    Agreed Frank. Your very right mannnnn.

    December 11, 2010 at 06:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. cutthegrass

    All i know is that when I unleash my load... It's like the sweetish joy, best feeling ever in the universe. That is one reason why us men have such a huge s3x drive. The feeling is too good. But women orgasms probably doesn't feel nearly as good as a mans orgasm.

    December 11, 2010 at 07:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • really?

      are you retarded? or just plain stupid? this is for scientific research ... this comment does nothing for the species of men and yes they are an entirely different species.

      December 13, 2010 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
  34. Ken

    Every species has a dominant gender except for humans. That's why marriages no longer work.

    December 11, 2010 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. SD

    As a man I like the way things are for me, if I'm in love with my partner it's about s_x and intamacy, if not I can can have guilt free pleasure just enjoying s_x. Of course because women usually want a relationship before sleeping with someone it's harder to find a woman that's okay with non-commited s_x, but when you do it's very enjoyable to share pleasure without the emotional baggage.

    December 11, 2010 at 07:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. BlueNorange

    Im a 22 yr old male and since my mid teenage years i have been shootn loads and the girls my age were more than happy... w8n in line and if my line was too long she would get her treatment by one of my friends lol... and EVERYBODY was happy! NO STRINGS ATTACHED. So this "cuddling effect" in women could be same one to break their lil hearts lmfao

    December 11, 2010 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. AC

    KC....you need to move on with your miserable life....you can find someone just like you and since you'll be similar, you'll be "happy".

    December 11, 2010 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. AC

    Book Clubs and Discussion Groups to find a woman? !!!!! The Fat and Uglies.

    December 11, 2010 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. AC

    KC sounds like the local church and community bimbo....

    December 11, 2010 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. kevin cassidy

    no

    December 11, 2010 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Larry

    I found the article very interesting. I never realized that loving and making love was such a cerebral (sic) task. I thank my parents for teaching me to respect the difference between love and lust. I would be lost without me wife.

    December 11, 2010 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. AC

    KC....You pay $40 monthly Utilities and think you are a high earner!!
    What side of what tracks do you live in?

    December 11, 2010 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. nigel

    couldn't agree more!!!!!!!!

    December 11, 2010 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. g

    Sophie, I couldn't agree more.

    December 11, 2010 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Eric

    IF you are married and have separate accounts you ar NOT married, that's insanity. I can't comprehend that some people here post that since it's 2010 this is normal.....yea, normal for self-absorbed idiots that will be divorced in 5 years, good luck with that kiddies. Grow up and behave like adults, separate account? Get real.

    December 11, 2010 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Grey Lance

      Get real huh? Well, my first marriage – we had joint accounts. When my husband decided to leave me, he cleaned our OUR joint account and left me with nothing – and three kids. Yeah – get real alright.

      Next marriage – separate accounts and gee, we are still together after 15 years. Grow up and get your head out of your simplistic ass.

      December 13, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
  46. Force

    KC, I was reading that you wrote, but it is really interesting about how the married couples in the business relationship is breaking for several reasons. The love, passion, respect, and support with our partner should be the first part of relationship, communication and motivation during this life.

    December 11, 2010 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Karu

    Looks like most people here have forgotten the history of western civilization. Debauchery started and was perfected during the Roman civilization and it is just continuing in the west. So why lament NOW ?? Idiots...

    December 11, 2010 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Force

    Tee, we can find really good peoples in any time in any place, (man,woman)

    December 11, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Lisa

    The simple answer is no. Evolution is the reason, stupid psychological mumbo jumbo.

    December 11, 2010 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Ronno

    Promoting your own little blog page on someone else's article, razzlea? Not cool.

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