Casual Sex or Not, Women Want Loving Sex

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In a fairly robust survey of 24,000 students over five years, done by Paula England at New York University, results showed that 74 percent of women had an orgasm the last time they had sex in a committed relationship, versus only 40 percent during their last casual ‘hook up’. In contrast, 80 percent of men had an orgasm in their last casual hook up.

This study spawned a wide number of recent media articles. You can read one of them, from the Globe and Mail, here.

Some of the ‘speculations’ from this study were:

  • Women are not free in a casual context to say what they need.
  • Guys care more in a relationship.
  • Practice with a partner yields better success.
  • Women’s path to orgasm is widely varied, not just derived from intercourse.
  • Women are still stigmatized for wanting casual sex.
  • We’ve been sold a bill of goods that the sexes can participate equally in hook up culture.
  • Maybe women are just as satisfied from the hook up, despite no orgasm.
  • Women may feel the quality of the sex is “weirdly irrelevant”.
  • Women are more focused on giving pleasure, than receiving.

While there is likely truth in all the statements above, the study, and the tenor of the interpretations, left me feeling uncomfortable. It seems to ramp up a debate that shouldn’t be a debate.

In a world where a huge percentage of young people are conditioned by the narrow spectrum sex of porn, there is a lot of distracting debate about the wants of men and women.

One of the women quoted in the Globe and Mail article, Vanessa Martini, says this: “You have to balance a lot of things in your brain, like what’s more important to me – just getting off, or do I actually want to have a connection with this person?”

Most porn is about just getting off. And if we believe what the endless videos portray, there is a lot of pleasurable ‘just getting off’ happening. I think, however, that Martini’s inner debate about connection is significant.

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Women intuit far more easily than men about connection. Just look at the bonobos, or the characteristics of matriarchal societies. There is no more intimate connection between a man and a woman than the physical union of penis in vagina, with the divine, generative power of sexual energy flowing between the partners, whether they acknowledge the divinity of it or not. There IS connection. Period.

Women get this, much easier than men, on a deep level. And when this connection is not acknowledged, there is dissonance. So for both women and men, it is not a question of do I want the connection or not, it is do I want to ignore the connection or not.

Women want to have sex at least as much as men. Perhaps more overall, since their sexual engines can keep going... and going... once at full throttle. But here, for me, is the important point. Women, whether they are having casual, hook up sex or not, want loving, honoring sex. They want to embrace the connection, even if it is only in passing, whether they will see their sexual partner again, or not.

Loving sexual energy is in all of us, male and female. Men, despite the cultural influences that bury their honoring desire even deeper than women, intrinsically want to express their sexuality in a full spectrum, loving way as well. Making a connection with another human being is not something we need to be afraid of. It is natural. It is divine. And we can embrace it.

The Bonobo Factor: Sex and Food

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Read the introduction to this series of posts here.

Bonobo Love Secret 07 - Sex and food go together better than love and marriage—at least for bonobos.

“Sex At Dawn” co-author Christopher Ryan writes:

Nothing gets a bonobo orgy started faster than a feast. Give a group of bonobos a bunch of food and they’ll all have some quick sex before very politely sharing the food. No need to fight over scraps like a bunch of uncouth chimps!

What does this mean for us?

Of all of Christopher Ryan’s points, this made me chuckle the most. Can you envision it? At the next gathering of your friends for dinner or backyard barbecue? Everyone gets naked and stirs up the senses with some heated, loving sexual energy before eating. Like the bonobos, the group is not concerned about who touches who. Everyone joins in the sensual flow. Everyone’s senses get revved up, “egos” get shut down and the group floats on a cloud of mellow, satisfied, uncompetitive bliss as the food is served up. The meal is characterized by playful food sharing.

There has always been a connection between food and sex in human culture. Some of the most memorable erotic movie scenes show lovers feeding each other or playing with the texture and tastes of food.

9 1/2 Weeks 

Tom Jones  

Like Water For Chocolate 

Tampopo  

We often describe a delectable meal as being “orgasmic”. Whether it is the physical activity and energy required for love-making, or the activation of the senses, people often feel hungry after making love. Nothing like a tasty snack to prepare for the next round.

When we look at a lovely spread—think perhaps of a Christmas or Thanksgiving feast—it has a stimulating effect. The smells activate our senses. We can almost taste the food. Or eyes drink in the colors and textures. We enter a heightened state of anticipation. Bonobos seem to use this heightening of the senses—the excitement and anticipation of sharing a feast—to spur them into sexual interaction, almost like a natural progression. They ‘feed’ on each other’s sexual energy as an appetizer, raising their pleasure bar higher, and then enjoy the sharing of the food.

Type “sex and food” into Google and it returns 1.56 billion results. You would think “sex and love” would yield more, but in fact it comes up short, with only just over 1.4 billion results. “Love and marriage” finishes a far distant third, with just over 600 million results.

The bonobos aren’t the only great apes who think sex and food go together better than love and marriage.

The Bonobo Factor: Promiscuity

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Read the introduction to this series of posts here.

Bonobo Love Secret 05 - There’s Promise in Promiscuity

“Sex At Dawn” co-author Christopher Ryan writes:

All the casual sex among bonobos is arguably a big part of what has made them among the smartest of all primates. Until human beings came along and messed things up for them, bonobos enjoyed very high quality of life, low stress, and plenty of social interaction in hammocks. In fact, of the many species of social primates living in multi-male social groups, not a single species is sexually monogamous. Each of the arguably smartest mammals—humans, chimps, bonobos, and dolphins—is promiscuous.

What does this mean for us?

Whether said tongue in cheek or not, what Ryan is suggesting is that the bonobos show us that we can potentially enhance our ‘intelligence’ as a species by embracing a healthy multi-partner approach to sexuality. If that’s true, we have a long way to go. Most modern cultures consider women who openly sleep with multiple partners as “sluts”, or worse. And men, who seem to ‘get away with it’ more easily, do it mostly in secret, dishonoring their partners. Perhaps we humans are getting ‘dumber’ as a result.

Interestingly, Naomi Wolf, in her recent book “Vagina”, describes research that shows that women have a highly complex pelvic neural network that works with their brain to affect their consciousness, confidence, risk-taking and autonomy.

Clearly the female neural network is far more diffuse than the male and has a lot more going on: in women, there is a tangle of neural activity at the top of the uterus, at the sides of the vagina, at the top of the rectum, at the top of the bladder, at the clitoris, and along the perineum. ... [The female neural network] looks like the tangled skein of a hundred thousand golden threads that has been drawn upward.

What a beautiful description. She also notes how male pelvic neural networks are quite similar from man to man, but that “no two women are alike”. The pelvic neural network varies greatly from woman to woman. That is why each woman’s path to orgasm, and the type of orgasm she has, is so variable. It will be as unique as her wiring is.

The evidence shows that both male and female pelvic neural networks are strongly wired into our consciousness, and therefore affect our ‘intelligence’—the way we think about ourselves, about others and about our world. To have this wiring stimulated in different ways by different people, who each bring a different ‘energy’ and ‘resonance’, can only benefit us. While men can grow and learn from intimate interactions with a variety of partners, I believe women, with their far more profound and varied wiring, can benefit even more greatly from multiple, honoring, intimate interactions.

So perhaps, like the behavior of the bonobos suggests, we humans need to openly embrace the idea of healthy male and female promiscuity to continue to evolve as a “smart” species.

Neither male nor female promiscuity are currently conceived as a healthy practice, however. While male promiscuity is quietly tolerated, female promiscuity faces massive cultural barriers.  Research published this year by Zhana Vrangalova, at Cornell University, shows there is still virtually no tolerance for female promiscuity. Not even by females, who swim, like all of us, in the waters of patriarchy.

Perhaps this goes back to Ryan’s previous “sisterhood is powerful” point. The bonobos suggest that women need to rediscover the way they are naturally wired, to embrace desires they have been made to feel shameful for, to fully embrace the power of loving sexual energy, and join together to embolden a renewed, rich femininity. Change will not come by one woman acting in the face of the inevitable tidal wave of patriarchal judgment.

And enlightened men need to reassess their possessive tendencies. They need to see benefits to setting their female partners free, while still loving them deeply. And they also need to elevate their own promiscuous predispositions to a place of openness and honesty; honoring each woman they have the beautiful grace to be intimate with.

Read Part Seven HERE

The Bonobo Factor: More Sex

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Read the introduction to this series of posts here.

Bonobo Secret To Love 01 - More Sex = Less Conflict

“Sex At Dawn” co-author Christopher Ryan writes:

As the great primatologist, Frans de Waal put it, “Chimps use violence to get sex, while bonobos use sex to avoid violence.” While chimps victimize each other in many ways—rape, murder, infanticide, warfare between groups—there’s never been a single observed case of any of these forms of aggression among bonobos, who are much sexier than chimps. As James Prescott demonstrated in a meta-analysis of all available anthropological data, the connection between less restrictive sexuality and less conflict generally holds true for human societies as well.

What does this mean for us?

From a personal standpoint, when I think of times that I have been angry, or prone to irrational emotion, I know intuitively that if a woman companion started to insistently touch and flirt with me, and perhaps erotically expose herself (all bonobo tendencies), to the extent that I could not resist engaging in sexual activity with her, my mood would completely change. My potentially conflict-causing emotions would rapidly dissipate.

This is consistent with scientific findings that show that the area of the male and female brain that generates “ego” shuts off during orgasm. This video by AsapScience, called “The Science of Orgasms” presents a good, quick summary of what happens with the mind and body during orgasm.

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I had a partner once, who insistently gave me three successive rounds of orgasmic oral sex, about 15 minutes apart. Each time she assured me she expected nothing in return. Just enjoy. I was surprised, at the time, by the profound effect it had on me. I have no trouble saying that she turned me into male ‘putty’. That is, aggression of any kind was the furthest thing from my mind. I was in a state of very agreeable, euphoric relaxation.

I have no doubt that female-inspired, loving sexual activity of all forms would rapidly diffuse male aggression within a group. Can we imagine a community where open sexual energy is lovingly employed by the wise female ‘community core’ for conflict resolution and bond nurturing? Obviously, we would have to get over our developed predilection for possessive monogamy and feelings of jealousy (more on this in later points), which is easier said than done based on our cultural conditioning, but, as Christopher Ryan alludes to in his closing comment, there have been interesting examples of successful, peaceful, abundant communities with an “open loving sex” dynamic similar to bonobos, past and present (more on this in future posts).

It is sad that we are conditioned to think that more sex equals more guilt and shame, and likely, therefore, more violence. The bonobos show us that exactly the opposite might be true and challenge us to shift our thinking and the way we live.

Read Part Three HERE 

Call For A Vagina-Centric Society?

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So, given this chemical bath, it is fair to say that the vagina is not just a sex organ at all, but a powerful mediator of female confidence, creativity and the sense of the connections between things.

So commented Naomi Woolf as she discussed her recent book “Vagina” in an article in The Guardian. Her book explores the latest scientific discoveries about the brain-vagina connection in women. Among other things she shows:

  • Female orgasm is much more than just pleasure. It produces specific, positive states of mind.
  • Based on the powerful brain-vagina connection, there is no such thing as non-violent rape.
  • The clitoris and g-spot are likely part of the same neural structure.
  • Understanding women’s anatomy and pleasure should lead to more satisfactory sexual experiences for women.
  • Stimulating different parts of a woman’s vagina will activate different brain functions and trigger different emotions.
  • Women have many more “neural termini” in their pelvises than men. Therefore their sexual response is different than men.
  • Beyond the realm of culture and value judgments, experiments show the importance of unfettered female desire in evolutionary process.
  • The vagina powerfully affects female consciousness, confidence, risk-taking and autonomy.

Her book is a needed call to action for women to “rebel” against patriarchy. She concludes that these discoveries make it clear why “female sexuality, and the vagina in particular, have been controlled, abused, targeted, derided and shamed” for centuries.

Rather than focus on the wrongs of the past, as difficult as they may be, I would prefer to look at how they can spur us onward, as men, to honor the amazing capacity of women in a new societal vision. Men, after all, are probably just as ignorant about the benefits of a society where women are fully activated, honored, loved and ‘enlarged’. We need to explore a new model, where the shackles of the past (reflected in the embedded shame and guilt of our modern cultures) are broken, where female desire is fully embraced, where the loving sexual energy men share with their women is seen as a form of divine worship, where we all embrace the power of the vagina to give rise to a more connected and loving world.