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237 Reasons Why Women Have Sex

Drugs, money, revenge, because it's fun -- those are just a few of the reasons women have sex, according to a new book that interviewed 1,006 women from around the world.

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And so to the main reason women have sex. The idol of "women do it for love, and men for joy" lies broken on the rug like a mutilated sex toy: it's orgasm, orgasm, orgasm. "A lot of women in our studies said they just wanted sex for the pure physical pleasure," Meston says. Meston and Buss garnish this revelation with so much amazing detail that I am distracted. I can't concentrate. Did you know that the World Health Organisation has a Women's Orgasm Committee? That "the G-spot" is named after the German physician Ernst Gräfenberg? That there are 26 definitions of orgasm?

And so, to the second most important reason why women have sex – love. "Romantic love," Meston and Buss write, "is the topic of more than 1,000 songs sold on iTunes." And, if people don't have love, terrible things can happen, in literature and life: "Cleopatra poisoned herself with a snake and Ophelia went mad and drowned." Women say they use sex to express love and to get it, and to try to keep it.

Love: an insurance policy

And what is love? Love is apparently a form of "long-term commitment insurance" that ensures your mate is less likely to leave you, should your legs fall off or your ovaries fall out. Take that, Danielle Steele – you may think you live in 2009 but your genes are still in the stone age, with only chest hair between you and a bloody death. We also get data which confirms that, due to the chemicals your brain produces – dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine – you are, when you are in love, technically what I have always suspected you to be – mad as Stalin.

And is the world mad? According to surveys, which Meston and Buss helpfully whip out from their inexhaustible box of every survey ever surveyed, 73% of Russian women are in love, and 63% of Japanese women are in love. What percentage of women in north London are in love, they know not. But not as many men are in love. Only 61% of Russian men are in love and only 41% of Japanese men are in love. Which means that 12% of Russian women and 22% of Japanese women are totally wasting their time.

And then there is sex as man-theft. "Sometimes men who are high in mate value are in relationships or many of them simply pursue a short-term sexual strategy and don't want commitment," Buss explains. "There isn't this huge pool of highly desirable men just sitting out there waiting for women." It's true. So how do we liberate desirable men from other women? We "mate poach". And how do we do that? We "compete to embody what men want" – high heels to show off our pelvises, lip-gloss to make men think about vaginas, and we see off our rivals with slander. We spread gossip – "She's easy!" – because that makes the slandered woman less inviting to men as a long-term partner. She may get short-term genetic benefits but she can sing all night for the resource benefits, like a cat sitting out in the rain. Then – then! – the gossiper mates with the man herself.

We also use sex to "mate guard". I love this phrase. It is so evocative an image – I can see a man in a cage, and a woman with a spear and a bottle of baby oil. Women regularly have sex with their mates to stop them seeking it elsewhere. Mate guarding is closely related to "a sense of duty", a popular reason for sex, best expressed by the Meston and Buss interviewee who says: "Most of the time I just lie there and make lists in my head. I grunt once in a while so he knows I'm awake, and then I tell him how great it was when it's over. We are happily married."

 
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