Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The blog about sex (6.8.08)


Once again, the theme in our Adult Bible Fellowship is marriage. That’s a very good topic because marriages are under attack by the enemy and it’s good to be on your guard. However, once again the mythology starts flying. Right in the beginning of the class when talking about main sources of attack on marriage and sexual purity, the leaders chimed in about how “men are visually stimulated and women are emotionally stimulated” so sure as the sun rises, the conversation turns to how the men have such a struggle with the media, with pornography, with keeping their eyes from wandering. It’s almost boastful, like you are more “manly” if you can chuckle and nod along with the others. And the women? Pfffff, it gets treated as if women don’t even have a problem in this area. That my friends, is a lie… a lie that women even believe themselves.

I feel that this ridiculous, tenacious grasp to cultural mythology is harmful. It still has men feeling like randy studs and gives them a false sense of security about the temptation factor for their wives in the area of sexual sin. Both sides are hurt.

In the past, if I opened my mouth and say anything, you should see the looks of horror. Me, I am not good at keeping my mouth shut, although my husband is usually kicking my leg under the table. (Perhaps because he, too, has bought into the myth? Or just because he doesn't want other guys thinking his wife is less than chaste? Whatever! If the men can sit there and proclaim struggles with visual stimulation, why shouldn't the women admit it is a danger for them as well?). This time around, however, there are younger women in the class...younger women who are being raised in a time where the tide of cultural conditioning has turned. They are opening their mouths, too.

Since the Victorian era, females have been conditioned that “nice girls don’t think about sex” so they learn to quash the thoughts that pop up or else feel guilty. Even if they don’t squash the thoughts, they sure as heck don’t admit to them! They then spread the mythology. Males are conditioned to believe that “that’s what guys think about” so they feel free to entertain these thoughts. If we go back before that time to the middle ages, women were thought to be the more sexed-up partner – whose lusts were wanton, who, unless controlled couldn’t keep their skirts down. Men were perceived as being the stable, logical sex, able to control the baser instincts.

Aside from the ideal of the chaste, virtuous woman, there also might be the secret instruction for women to be an "angel in the kitchen and a devil in the bedroom" ... but don't ever admit to the bedroom part. That part has to be hush-hush because heaven knows what someone might think!

Looking at the Bible, in Proverbs young men are warned to stay away from seductresses. Israel was likened to harlot because of her tendency to roam. Hosea’s wife, Gomer, wouldn’t stop her bed wandering. No where in Scripture are men built up as the lustier partner, instead they are warned of being seduced. Young widows are instructed to get remarried because their sensual desires could impede their commitment to serving Christ.

Yet come the last couple of centuries, the beliefs on female sexual response have been rewritten. Women have been silenced and confined to a warped sexual double standard. Women are expected to be chaste, not "think such things" or else you're a bad girl. A dirty girl. Unclean. Immoral. Women are the ones to get headaches to avoid sex, who “submit” to their marital “duties," and that recalcitrance regarding sex is considered acceptable! Ridiculous! Men are portrayed as sex robots whose insatiable appetites cause them to think and breathe sex.

This mythology is further fed by the fact that women tend to lie about their sexual thoughts and desires so that they can appear to be “good girls” and not (insert negative gender slander here).

Since the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s, women have been slowly becoming liberated from cultural bondage to this sexual mythology and admitting: they like sex. They think about sex. A lot. Even if they won’t openly admit it, studies have been done to prove that their response is as great as men’s to visual stimulation.

Enter marketing… the advertising geniuses of the last few years are up on recent studies – and it shows in the media. Remember the Diet Coke commercial with the sexy construction worker drinking his soda and the women gathering at the window to watch him? Do you think they were imagining him coming home while they greet him in June Cleaver pearls and heels, or fantasizing about holding hands with him? Not quite! More and more commercials exploit the truth – women like to look at men’s bodies and it turns them on. We all know the marketing truth that Sex Sells.

Television shows know that truth and they use it. For years soap operas have pushed the limits with racy sex scenes and contrary to what men might think, for women it is NOT all about the romance and cuddling. I remember seeing Guiding Light with my mother once, waiting to go somewhere... there was a scene where Blake Marler finally couldn't resist the sexual tension between herself and her husband's brother. WHOA! It's been years and years and I still remember it. It wasn't about him winning her over with this emotional supportiveness or romantic gestures either. It was all about raw, animal passion. And yeah, women like that and the television moguls know it. Shows like “Sex and the City,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Men in Trees” show that women aren’t just all about romance – they can just as easily do it to scratch the itch, too. Dancing with the Stars has a disproportionately female audience and they know how to work it by making sure the hot young male dancers remove as much clothing as possible.

Some interesting info:

According to a study done by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine (as well as many other studies), women are JUST as stimulated by sexual images as men. Researchers in this particular study measured the brain activity of 264 women while they viewed 55 color slides of either sexual or nonsexual images. The erotic images lit up specific parts of the brain about 20% faster than the others did – the SAME RATE found in men. Other studies hooked women up to temperature, pulse and other indicators and found that their temperature rose, their skin flushed, their pulse pounded at the same rate of increase as men for the same type of images. Female sexuality researcher Meredith Chivers, Phd, studies female sexual arousal patterns and discovered women respond to sexual imagery by increased genital blood flow WITHIN SECONDS. (So much for that “women are crock-pots” baloney).

Studies have also shown that men need that emotional bonding just as much as women do. The myth of “women are emotional, men are visual” gets the sex experts really riled up. Dr. Goldstein, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Sexual Medicine says that it is a combination of biological and psychological factors that gets both men and women aroused. Clinical psychologist Patricia Aletky, PhdD reports, “women have said over and over they are turned on by looking at a hot bod.”

Kansas State University researchers discovered that men ACTUALLY like romantic movies, too. So take some advice from a study done in the Journal of Media psychology and rent a good “chick flick” to watch with your guy.

And while I’m on the trend of things to watch – in these Christian relationship books men’s “struggle” with pornography is always covered. But what about women’s addictions to romance novels? Only a fool believes those are all about “romance!” The imagination is a powerful tool – and the words in those books paint some pretty steamy erotic pictures. Soft core porn, definitely – sometimes pretty hard core. In case you didn’t know, the romance novel industry rakes in more than $1.6 BILLION dollars a year. Over half of all paperback novels sold are romance novels. Pick one up sometime – it won’t take long until the swarthy pirate and his throbbing manhood enter the scene.

A poll by Cosmopolitan magazine showed that 39% of female readers had boyfriends/spouses who wanted sex less often than they did. Other studies have shown that sexual desire dysfunction is pretty close to equal in men and women. Recent statistics show that it has been found that around one-third of women suffer with female sexual dysfunction - this compares with 31% percent of the male population suffering male sexual dysfunction. Folks, that’s pretty even.

Recent studies and surveys show that sexual disinterest due to stress and lack of sleep is a problem that BOTH sexes suffer from.

A 2005 Men’s Health survey showed that men wanted foreplay as much as women. Only 3% of men surveyed said they would curtail it to get to the act faster.

A recent study of subliminal exposure to sexual stimuli reported in the Journal of Sex Research showed that women actually responded FASTER than men.

(This last one is just an interesting perspective on the topic).

Just a thought while I’m getting ready to hop off my soap box. I get sick and tired of seeing guys on TV or writing into magazines how their wives have gotten lazy and don’t stay attractive for them. They complain about their women wearing frumpy clothing, getting fat, etc… and then you look at the guys complaining? HELLO! While I do believe that a woman should do her best to be attractive to her husband, I believe he should do the same. And let there be some grace involved here, people! We all grow old, things happen to our bodies. She may not be the a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, but chances are high that he's no Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom or (insert name of hot celebrity).

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