Monday, June 24, 2013

The Problem of Female Libido

Chris Rock
Dr. Freud

Erica Jung
Inspector Libidinous

Here are some random musings on an under analyzed conundrum in today's world: The mystery of female libido.

Chris Rock, who, along with Bill Russell and George Carlin  ranks high on the Phantom's  list of trenchant observers, has noted that women are different from men. One difference, which affects behavior is men, for the most part, cannot have sex whenever they want it, whereas women, for the most part, can. For women, it's simply a matter of who, when and where--demand is never an issue in the supply/demand equation. For men, supply is the big issue.

"The Fall," a British TV series has a scene in which the newly arrived chief inspector is being driven along the road and spots a good looking male on the road, a police officer, and she stops the car, and walks over to the male cop and tells him she is in the Hilton Hotel in room 203, and follows up by pulling him into bed, when he arrives. 

"The Wire" has a political consultant who likes to bed men on short notice.

These are not women most men recognize: Women who forthrightly solicit sex for no other reason than libidinous urge. No money is involved. No power trip. No social advantage. The woman looks at a man as men are accustomed to looking at women and says, "Let's have sex."

In medical practice, women occasionally consult physicians because they have lost all interest in sex. This is, for the physician, usually a very frustrating experience. Nothing works. 

One woman presented saying she had great sex with her partner, until he got her to move into his apartment with her, and that night, she lost all interest in having sex with him.  The diagnosis there was no mystery: As Gloria Steinem once remarked, "I cannot mate in captivity."

A Harvard gynecologist, speaking at a conference on the hormonal basis of sex drive, said her group had tested a group of women who had sought advice for loss of libido and they had tested all  they could think of which might possibly be relevant: testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, cortisol, prolactin. No differences were found among the women with low or no libido and the control population who had normal libido. "Then we tried every known pharmaceutical--from Viagra to estrogen--and nothing worked," she said. "In fact, the only thing which was reliably effective in restoring sexual drive, satisfaction and libido was a new partner."

The laughter in the room was resounding and emanated mostly from the women in the audience. Knowing laughter.

The idea that women might have strong sexual desire which is unconnected to a desire for a cuddling relationship with a man,  unconnected to desire for protection, for an improved lifestyle, for creature comforts, for bragging rights, for a connection to fame, power or glory,  has been thought to be threatening to social stability, to men, especially in certain cultures,  where women are literally kept under cover. One wonders about those cultures, where women are considered so tempting and explosively disruptive you literally must hide them under a black tent of cloth.

One striking difference between the sexes, for people who are involved with trying to help women regain libido, is the answer to this question:  What are your fantasies about sex? 

With women, this is often met with a deer in the headlights look.  What fantasies?  

Men fantasize about sex, if not constantly, then frequently, and they do it from puberty until death.  Women, if they are reporting accurately, do not. Or may not.  Or if they do, they do not feel comfortable sharing those fantasizes, whereas with men, you cannot get them to shut up about it, ad nauseum.

In that difference, the Phantom believes, may be an important clue.


  1. Mad Dog,
    Hmm, I guess on this one I'll have to plead the Fifth...

  2. Maud,

    Clearly, Mad Dog is not responsible for this posting. His Alter Ego, The Phantom, of The Phantom Speaks blog, posted this as a guest blogger.
    Or, put another way, this is a misplaced blog posting, unless you consider "gender politics" or the politics of gender a useful construct.
    "Mad Dog Democrat" is a blog about politics and "The Phantom Speaks" addresses issues of philosophy, culture, science, the arts and other areas about which Mad Dog knows next to nothing and about which The Phantom is only marginally more qualified to speak.

    Mad Dog

  3. Mad Dog,
    as a fan of both I figured this got accidentally posted at the wrong site...