How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘men as sexual objects’

The New Courtship

The pleasure of love is in loving. We are happier with the passion we feel than in that we arouse.
—François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims

For decades, for centuries, for a millennium, men have had the right and privilege of choosing as sex partners women who turned them on. If they wanted a partner who was young or mature, short or tall, blonde or dark, quiet or bold, curved or slender, they could pursue the women most pleasing to them.

Of course, not all men were successful in winning the kind of women they most preferred. And of course, some men didn’t allow themselves such indulgences but made pragmatic choices of wives who were heiresses or the daughters of bosses or women who were otherwise useful for disparate ends. Such marriages did not necessarily preclude their simultaneous quest for other women who would be mistresses. In most instances, the women selected as sex objects or as love objects were selected because they were judged to be sexy or lovable.

In contrast to this pattern, women for a millennium have selected men for practical considerations. A woman needed a provider for herself and a provider and father for her children. In most instances, the most valuable commodity a woman had, to negotiate with in the world, was her body. She used this marketable asset to her best advantage, offering virginity and then fidelity in exchange for protection and security.

It wasn’t so much that men had to be attractive as that they had to have attractive compensating features, such as money or power. For the good wife, sex was business, and sexual intercourse was work. Many good wives were happy in their work, but it was work all the same. If she refused her husband, she could be out of a job. In fact, she couldn’t refuse him. He provided for her, so he had a right to her body. She had been, in effect, sold to him and couldn’t be used by anyone else without his permission.

Supposedly, North America has experienced a social and sexual revolution over the past thirty years. Supposedly, there are now different options for women – compared to our grandmothers and mothers –  who are liberated in many new ways and who have given up old stereotypes. If this is indeed the case, then, shouldn’t we now think about sexual encounters from a new perspective.

sexual revolution

Photo credit: cdrummbks

Let’s assume for a start that the new woman is enough in tune with her body and its erotic potential to really like sex. Touching feels good, arousal feels good, and orgasms are nonproblematic. Sex for her is or can be joyous. Fun. Wonderful. At a minimum, nice.

Let’s further assume that the “new woman” is enough in charge of her life and destiny that she can make her own way. If she has enough resources to support herself and her children at a level she considers to be adequate, she can then afford the indulgence of evaluating men as sex objects in the same way that women have been evaluated over the centuries. Whether she works as an executive secretary or is herself an executive, she has a living wage which comes to her in some other way than trading her body for favors or protection.

Such a woman can afford to pick a lover because he’s sexy or lovable, not because he owns three apartment buildings in prime locations. She can try to find the kind of man most to her liking, using intrinsic rather than extrinsic criteria. She’ll have to pay her own bills, but in return, she has control of her own body and a wide range of opportunity for personal and erotic development.

The woman who is not physically or psychologically forced to have sex when she doesn’t want to has a new kind of freedom. She can opt for celibacy if she wants, but she can also opt to have sex for purely sexual reasons. For many that is a revolutionary idea. It’s an idea that is long overdue. It’s an idea whose time has come. It’s an idea that needs to be openly acknowledged.

I will explore this paradigm shift in female sexuality in future posts in greater detail.

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The Wanton Factor: On Lust and Womanhood

 

The great question . . . which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is: “What does a woman want?
Sigmund Freud,
The Life and Works of Sigmund Freud

Poor old Freud never figured it out. Neither did lots of women who, several generations later, are still having trouble with the same question.

Over the past few pivotal decades, women have both wanted to learn and learned to want. One thing they have learned to want is to explore and to savor their full erotic potential. And what they want to learn is just what that potential is and how to seize the opportunity to experience it. As women begin to realize the possibilities inherent in sexuality, they feel increasingly entitled to partake of this important element of life. They feel entitled not only to be sexually active but to be sexually active in the ways which are most rewarding to them.

WWW - What Women Want poster

Photo credit: Jonathas Scott

If you asked men why they want to have a mistress, they would reply almost to a man, “To get laid, of course!” They might phrase it more delicately and might hasten to add that that was not the only thing they wanted; but it would be obvious that a prime motivator, if not the prime motivator, was to expand their erotic experience. For many men, especially young men, the desire for sexual expression is a constant urge needing little, if any, prompting from outside stimuli. The desire seems to come directly from the hormones, and it is not only constant but relatively urgent.

It should no longer be very shocking to discover that spontaneous sexual urges may also be a prime mover for a number of women, some married and some not, some happy and some not. The erotic poet Irving Layton makes this point when he opines, “A woman who is attractive, well educated, and sensible has only one thing on her mind—to get laid.” Layton is given to hyperbole and so overstates his point. One can be forgiven for suspecting him of optimistically projecting his own feelings. Even adolescent boys occasionally have their minds on football, hamburgers, motorcycles, and cold beer.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember what should be an obvious point: in many cases, if not most, the erotic component is one factor, and an important one, in what contemporary women want.

 

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