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Archive for June 12th, 2013

man on mountaintopAt menopause, my wife’s libido went to zero, but she won’t take hormone replacement therapy due to fear of cancer.  She has refused sex for well over 3 years, and though she says she understands the stress I experience when denied sex, she doesn’t want it so I can’t have it.  And though she’s ultra-responsible in other aspects of her life, this is an exception.  We’ve been seeing a marriage counselor for years, and just 2 months ago she told me, “You know, it is never going to get better.”  I believe my wife when she says she loves me, but it’s a strangely limited love; we can cuddle but not caress.  When I hold her, I have the sensation of being high on a mountaintop, breathing the rarefied air.  So, how does a responsible, caring, active, intelligent woman reconcile her decision to terminate all sexual activity with a man she still professes to love?  How can someone who is so expert at understanding the consequences of her actions on others ignore something that she knows is incredibly important to me?

The problem is manifold but it has three main components.  First, modern Western women are taught a somewhat-milder version of Robin Morgan’s definition of rape:  “I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman, out of her own genuine affection and desire.”  Now, most women don’t go nearly as far as Morgan, and in fact a large fraction don’t like initiating at all.  However, they do believe the part which says that the only valid reason for a woman to have sex is “her own genuine affection and desire”; they might not go so far as to call other sex “rape”, but they do believe there’s something wrong with it, that it’s somehow deficient, defective, disgusting or at least déclassé.  This is part of neo-Victorianism; Victorian women were taught that good women only had sex to please their husbands and have babies, while women now are taught that good women only have sex to please themselves or have babies.  In both cases, a large spectrum of female sexual behavior is branded as “wrong”, and modern women have just as much difficulty rejecting that repressive dogma as their great-grandmothers did.

Next, American Protestant Christianity has long taught that sexual needs are actually not needs at all, but only desires; by and large, Americans dependably (out loud, at least) reject the fact that sexual deprivation has deleterious physical and psychological effects, despite the fact that most people have either experienced them or observed them firsthand.  This has been enshrined as a tenet of faith by neofeminists; they not only insist that men don’t need sex, but teach that anyone who acknowledges the facts is a “rape apologist” who believes that any given individual man is somehow entitled to free sex from any given individual woman.  Because of American anti-sex culture nobody has the gonads to stand up to them and pronounce their beliefs utterly bat-shit crazy, and so even though most American women aren’t neofeminists the idea that sex is more akin to watching TV than to eating is a popular one.

emasculatedLastly, you must remember that the catechism of androgyny is extremely widespread; many people truly believe that all differences between men and women are the result of “socialization”.  They ignore primate studies, deny differences in brain architecture, and pretend sex hormones have no effect on behavior despite the fact that it’s incontrovertible that they do.  And once a person buys into this myth, it’s easy to deny (as many do) that men typically need more sex than women and suffer worse effects from sexual deprivation.  Though “social construction” dogmatists pretend belief in neutral norms, the fact of the matter is that they overwhelmingly believe that female norms are standard, and that typical male behavior is a pathological deviation from those norms.

What this boils down to is that your wife doesn’t know how important sex is to you, or else she unconsciously denies it.  Her behavior tells me she subscribes to all three of these beliefs to one degree or another:  You don’t really need sex no matter how much you say otherwise; she doesn’t need it, therefore you don’t either since men and women are the same…and if you really loved her you wouldn’t push, because duty sex is perverted.  You’re right when you say she didn’t choose to be this way; she was taught it just as we’re all taught bigoted attitudes and propaganda useful to maintaining the status quo.  I’m sure she really does love you, but she honestly believes giving you sex is as unnecessary and undesirable as acquiescing to your suggestions she learn to water-ski despite being afraid of the water.  She has told you point-blank that she will not provide you with any more sex; it would therefore be best for all involved if you make your own discreet arrangements and leave off trying to get it from her, since the effort merely creates conflict and produces no positive results.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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