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If Women Do Have Lower Libidos, It Would Make Sense

The word slut describes women, not men. We still live in a world where Good Girls Don't. No wonder many women have trouble being sexual.

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Add to that the well-known housework and child care gap.  A recent Parenting Magazine survey found a lot of women suffer a great deal of resentment towards their male partners, who they view as refusing to take on their fair share of child care and housework responsibilities.  Add it all together -- the stigma against desire, the overwork, the feeling of being underappreciated, and the lack of provocation -- and the mystery is not that women watch their libidos sink under the waters, but why anyone wants to chalk this up to inherent biological sex differences first. 

Not that having a low libido necessarily means trouble for the woman supposedly suffering from it. Only 12% of the women diagnosed with sexual dysfunction like low libido were bothered by it, which makes you wonder how they were defined as having a problem in the first place.  (Short answer: because men decide what's a problem in our culture.)  This study surprised a lot of people, but it shouldn't have.  When you live in a culture where Good Girls Don't, sexual desire is rarely experienced as an unalloyed good, but often brings fears of moral turpitude for women, and they may feel relieved to have desire abate.  That, and less sex, means more time for housework and paid employment, not insignificant issues in our economic times.  Considering how many women suffer body image issues, too, it's probably a relief not to feel like you have to get naked and expose yourself to judgment for many women.   

It's an indicator of how male-dominated our society is that the fact that women have diminishing libidos and don't seem to care that much about it is treated as the problem, when in fact it's merely the symptom of a larger problem -- that women feel overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, understimulated, and shamed about their bodies.  If we treated the actual problems that women face, higher libidos would be the happy result, I'm sure.  But in order to do that, we'd have to treat male domination like a problem to be solved, and since few people really want to do that, instead we're left with articles that note women's lack of libido, but carefully resist asking why.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the popular blog Pandagon. She is the author of It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments .

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