“The myth that men prefer sex more than women will continually be popularised in the media due to each genders stereotyped sexual status; women are romantic and men are just plain horny ... I do think these studies give the message women are disinterested in sex, but I think this is portrayed by how the study is represented,” Stuff.co.nz quoted Amanda Robb as saying.
According to Robb, stereotypes like women seeking an emotional connection through sex and men wanting just sex are each as damaging as the other.
“We also know that the notion men are ‘always up for it’ is one of the biggest misconceptions of all. ... I believe the desire for sexual frequency, for sex to have an emotional connection, and for ones libido to be low is interchangeable between both genders,” she said.
Robb says that the problem with media’s interest in surveys that conclude that women don’t really like sex, is two-fold.
For one, there is the problematic word slut - a word that has been both the insult of choice by misogynistic shock jocks and reclaimed in slut walks around the world - but, two, that there is something ‘naughty’, giggle worthy and shocking about a couple of birds admitting that they like sex.
This attitude is depicted in movies where sex becomes a bargaining chip in a worn-in marriage in Bettina Arndt’s ‘The Sex Diaries’ in which dozens of men said they didn’t get enough sex and in jokes among women about not wanting to have sex with their partners
Sex then becomes either something for the footloose and fancy free or a chore for the partnered up woman.
As silly as these surveys may be, the danger lies in the stereotypes that underpin them. Sex is a normal, fun and an important part of many romantic relationships, and indeed life.
It’s not always straightforward though, and intimacy issues that may arise in a partnership go far beyond any ‘would you prefer chocolate to sex’ survey.
As sex therapist Amanda Robb points out, issues such as you or your partner losing interest in sex requires much “talking it out” to find out the real problems.
“Personally I don’t think anyone should have sex when they do not desire it to please another person. I think this idea has the potential to remove sex from being an intimate experience shared between loved ones, to seeming like a ‘chore’ or ‘responsibility’ in a marriage or relationship, and sex should never be a ‘task’ ... The healthiest way to trouble shoot this is by talking it out. Tip: Find out what impacts each other’s libido in order to understand why each partner needs to fuel a healthy libido,” Robb said.
If you pinpoint the trouble, says Robb, you can start working through to a solution.
“Once you understand the issues that may be affecting the desire to have sex you can support each other to alleviate them. Reclaiming a happy sex life together can be as simple as changing a relationship routine i.e.: switching the time of day you have sex from night to morning, spending more time on foreplay, creating a relaxed environment and eliminating daily distractions from the bedroom,” Robb said.
“Relationship habits or ‘norms’ can be the unrecognised barriers impacting your partner''s libido. Once they are identified they can be changed to accommodate a more satisfying sex life for the two of you,” she added.