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What’s Wrong If Women Just Want To Have Sex For Their Own Pleasure?

Too many men see a woman’s sexual agency through the lens of how it impacts them and not as what a woman wants

#MeToo stories have been dominating the news for the past year, and many men are exploring their own behavior toward women and — all necessary discussions. Women, men are finally beginning to understand, have sexual agency. But based on a discussion I had with a 52-year-old man I had just met, it’s clear more men need to get that memo.

The 40- and 50-something divorced women in your town are just interested in sex, not relationships, he told me.

They are? I had no idea my town was so randy. I suddenly felt incredibly proud.

Yes, he continued. They’re just interested in hookups and then they’re done with the guy. It’s happened quite a bit to him and a number of his male friends, who are all interested in settling down.

In truth, that wasn’t too different from how I acted in my newly divorced days, although I preferred to have a regular friend with benefits. Who wants to get back into a relationship so quickly? I sure didn’t; I needed to focus on my kids, my career, my finances, navigating my new life. But I was very interested in having some — ahem — needs met.

He didn’t quite see it that way. Instead, he explained to me why he thinks it’s happening. The divorcees are looking to “get back” at all the men who have treated them that way — casually, dismissively.

Ah, yes. Spoken like a man who doesn’t understand that women sometimes just want to have sex. Not a relationship, not a partner, not a spouse, not even a friend with benefits. Just sex — for themselves, for their own pleasure. No complications, no entanglements, no regrets. Why do men continue to see a woman’s sexual agency through the lens of how it impacts men?

Owning our desires

As Pamela Madsen, author of Shameless: How I Ditched the Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure … and Somehow Got Home in Time To Cook Dinner,

We are still living in a world where young girls are pledging away their sexual agency to their fathers, in a world where a woman has no sexual agency inside her own culture, religion or family. Where women are still making sexual choices based on the needs of their partners outside of their own desires. Where a woman’s sexuality and desires are still judged and shamed. And taking it deeper still, there is this underlying misogynistic behavior, where society tends to characterize women in emotional states as “crazy.” You know, “She doesn’t know her own mind.” This is used as a way of deflecting a woman’s true expression of her feelings and desires. It’s a misuse of the term, and it’s a way of dismissing a woman’s feelings, creating distrust in a woman’s authentic experience, and point of views. And it’s a covert way of diminishing a woman’s power of her own sexual agency.

No one is talking about this more right now than Wednesday Martin, whose new book, , delves into the fascinating science, history, literature, philosophy and pop culture of lustful women who are unapologetic about their desires. Of course, it will be mostly women who will read her book. And it’s great that women will — we’ve been that we can’t enjoy sex without romantic love and that we’re not good at casual sex, and then we internalize it and then — no surprise — we believe it, even if our authentic selves feel differently. We need to hear her message.

The 40- and 50-something divorced women of my town seem to understand that.

Go, gals!

But the people who really need to hear that message is men, and now is a perfect time to be discussing it.

Guys, who’s going to start that conversation?

Want to learn how to talk about monogamy? (Of course you do!) Then read (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore or order it on .

Originally published at

Written by

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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