How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘Promiscuity’

Female Sexuality: Vanquishing Virginity

There was a young girl from a mission
Who was seized by a dreadful suspicion,
That “original sin”
Doesn’t matter a pin
In this era of nuclear fission.
—Rev. J. A. Davidson

In the not too distant past, a good girl—the kind fathers and mothers wanted for a daughter—was chaste and pure. If she did not marry, she remained virginal as her status slowly changed from nubile maid to simply old maid. The good girl modeled her virginity on such celebrated celibates as the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I. Whatever Good Queen Bess did or did not do with Leicester or her other courtiers, the official story was that she remained unsullied. To suggest otherwise was treasonous; to suggest the defloration of any good girl was libelous.

If the good girl did marry, then she became a good wife, which meant, most of all, a faithful one. She might be unloving and unlovable, an unpleasant companion and an incompetent helpmate; but if she was sexually monogamous, she was, by definition, good.

Cover of "Sex and the Single Girl"

The counterculture revolution of the sixties and the widespread use of the pill changed such definitions for many people. Helen Gurley Brown dared to talk about Sex and the Single Girl. Instead of being pilloried, she became famous and went on to expound the same ideas in the very successful magazine Cosmopolitan. Premarital sexual involvement became an open secret. It was no longer considered of great consequence as long as there was no pregnancy and as long as the girl in question permitted sexual encounters only with one man with whom she was in love and whom she planned or, at least, hoped to marry.

The Clairol company, which manufactures hair coloring, was immensely successful with an advertising campaign focused around a provocative question with a double entendre: “Does she or doesn’t she?” The world has changed,
and the question has become less provocative. Most of the time, we assume that she does or has or might.

Now, a more relevant question is, “Will she or won’t she?” As it is realized that an affair—or even more than one affair—is not necessarily beyond the pale, the open secret of premarital sexuality has become simply open. California psychologist Irene Kassorla affirmed that “nice girls do” and no one has to ask, “Do what?”

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Discovering Female Sexuality

The man’s desire is for the woman; but the woman’s desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
Specimens of the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Victorian times and, indeed, well into the twentieth century, the dominant view of sexuality in the Western world was the Puritan Christian view. Sex was considered to be evil, albeit a necessary evil. Sex was evil not only in and of itself but also because it caused other evils. It was a sinister force to be denied, sublimated, and suppressed as much as possible. It was an impulse to be controlled through both the law and the moral codes associated with Christian marriage. The drive for sexual expression was believed to be a masculine trait, and the problem in controlling sexuality was viewed mostly as a problem of repressing the lust and lasciviousness of men.

The History of Sexuality

The History of Sexuality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most men in the Victorian era believed that most women did not have sexual feelings. More amazing than that, most women seem to have believed it as well. Sexual involvement for women was not supposed to be intrinsically enjoyable, at least not for respectable women. Good women were believed to be sexually motivated only by the desire to please their husbands, or at least to appease them, and by the desire for children alongside a sense of Victorian duty. We now laugh at those by-gone days when mothers advised their soon-to-be-deflowered daughters to “lie back and think of England.” Thinking of England wasn’t a ruse to get the virgin to dissociate from what was happening to her; it was a strong reminder of her duty to populate England and, particularly within the aristocracy, to provide “an heir and a spare” so that the land holdings remained in the family and increased its prestige and wealth. Bad women, who were whores or fallen women or women of the demimonde, were motivated by money or other kinds of exchange for their sexual favors.

The tradition of sexual repression began to be modified by major thinkers writing at the turn of the twentieth century. Havelock Ellis had a major impact with his seminal work Studies in the Psychology of Sex. The writings of Sigmund Freud placed the libido at the center of human experience and interpreted a wide range of behavior in terms of sexual impulses. Bertrand Russell expounded a philosophy of sexual expression and challenged Christian tradition with the publication of his controversial Marriage and Morals. By the time the Roaring Twenties started to roar, the secret was out. Men were sexual creatures but so were women. Sex was not all that bad; in fact, sex was a creative force. Rather than acceptance of an ideology of sexual repression, there arose an intensive quest for an ideology of appropriate sexual expression. Rather than being viewed as an evil, sex came to be seen as a positive force valuable not only as an end in itself but also as a means of contributing to personal growth and development.

Sadly, even with all the positive changes, the freedom of sexual expression continues to face strong opposition as we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century—as witnessed by the impassioned crusade of Evangelical Christians to ban premarital sex and demonize same-gender relationships

Beware of the Casanova Complex

Hunters of women burn to show their skill,
Yet when the panting quarry has been caught
Mere force of habit drives them to the kill:
The soft flesh is less savory than their sport.
—John Press, “Womanizers”

For some men, the most thrilling and most important aspect of sexuality is the ability to persuade a new woman to have sex with them. Some psychiatrists refer to this syndrome as the Casanova complex after the legendary Giacomo Casanova who seduced hundreds of women and detailed his exploits in his memoirs.

English: Alessandro Longhi (1733-1813) portrai...

Casanova via Wikipedia

Casanovas, who are also sometimes called Don Juans, after another historical figure with extensive seductions under his belt, are usually very attractive to women because they have made a careful study of the components of masculine appeal, and they work diligently at being attractive. They have an excellent and persuasive line or, rather, a series of lines, one for all possibleoccasions with all possible kinds of women. In some places, they are called scalp hunters. Sometimes, they are said to be concerned with making notches on their gun, like old-time gunmen of the West who were reputed to carve a notch for every man they killed. Casanovas are obsessed with the idea that they can entice any woman into their net. The more unlikely you are as a sex partner, the more of a challenge you present to their supposedly irresistible charms, and the more diligently they will work at wooing you effectively.

The Casanova has a wide repertoire of seductive tricks. He talks a good game, he has practiced hands, he looks at you with melting eyes, and he simply does not take no for an answer. He declares his undying love or his overwhelming passion or whatever other hyperbolic state of affairs he thinks might please you. Heady stuff.

When you finally succumb to the blandishments of a Casanova and let him take you to bed, you are likely to experience a profound sense of anticlimax. For him, the fun of seducing a woman is all in the chase; and in establishing that, his personality and will are dominant over yours. Once you have submitted to his will, you are no longer very interesting.

The Casanova is often an indifferent lover. He is almost never interested in following up a conquest with an encore and certainly not with a relationship. An encounter with a Casanova, should you have been unfortunate enough to have actually believed his line, is a profound disappointment

How can you recognize a Casanova in advance? Like misogynists, Casanovas do not necessarily wear identity badges, but there are several clues. Usually, their reputation precedes them, especially since they are proud of their conquests rather than ashamed; many may even brag about them. They certainly do not try to conceal their numerous involvements. Scott Fitzgerald
described such a man about town as “one of those men who come in a door and make any woman with them look guilty.” The Casanova tends to come on too strong too soon, declaring a passion far and above what would be reasonable and predictable in a given situation.

Finally, although a Casanova may have had many women, his is unlikely to have had any one woman for any length of time. When he is thirty-five, and the longest he has ever been involved with one woman is five weeks, beware.

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