I was hanging out over at Feminist Sex Nerd Dr. Emily Nagoski's blog, The Dirty Normal today, and I came across this post about how to make responsive desire (which most women possess most of the time) "awesome".
Problem is, Emily's answer to it falls somewhat short of "awesome". But she does invite her readers to tell how "spontaneous desire" people (i.e. most men, most of the time) deal with "responsive desire" people (i.e. most women, most of the time).
The responses that followed tended to be straight-up Blue Pill methodology, i.e. the "responsive desire" spouse still maintains the sexual control in the relationship and the "spontaneous desire" spouse is advised to "self regulate" (i.e. masturbate).
While I'm all for a good wank, the plain fact of the matter is that men don't get married so that they can masturbate. Our desire for sex is paramount to most other considerations. Open, honest communication, which Dr. Emily suggests is the winning strategy, tends to flow out of our mouths as "I'm horny and I'm bitterly disappointed that you rejected me again", to which the RD spouse usually says "deal with it."
So . . . no win for Emily, there.
Most of the following (my comment, too long not to turn into a post and in danger of being deleted in moderation) will not be a big surprise to most of you, but might be instructive to those who are new to the Red Pill. Here is, in a nutshell, how I got here and why:
My partner (wife of 23 years), like most women, falls into the standard 70%/30% responsive/spontaneous category, dependent primarily on her place in her menstrual cycle. I'm about 80% spontaneous, 20% responsive. For the first eighteen or nineteen years of our relationship we followed the Standard Model of post-feminist marriage, with hit-or-miss sexual encounters involving a large number of initiations on my part and a large number of rejections on hers. Once we matured as a couple, things got a little better, but we were still largely depending on random variables and crappy timing. Attraction was high, arousal was not. That's mostly because we didn't truly understand the functioning male/female cishetero dynamic, until I started studying the potential for Female Viagra, which (among other areas) led me to this blog and Emily.
Emily's work has led me to conclude that the Standard Model used by most married couples post-1965, depending on the ideal of presumed equality of sexual experiences and outcomes between the genders, is highly flawed and works in a minority of cases at best. It ignores the essential gender differences between cishet men and women, and depends on a range of low-return strategies that lead, eventually, to divorce. It discourages, rather than encourages, pairbonding and long-term relationship survival, and encourages infidelity, socio-sexual polygamy, divorce, and the dissolution of families. As sexuality is the root of marriage in every human culture, and as "married sex" is highly denigrated by both popular mainstream culture and feminist subculture, using the Standard Model as a workable theory is a recipe for failure.
In breaking down a workable replacement for the Standard Model, Emily suggested to me the SIS/SES mode, which makes far more sense and fits with the observable reality of cishet LTRs. And when examining the Context Dependence elements of the SES, it became clear that no amount of chemical monkeying around with female sexuality is going to increase a given woman's over-all sex drive and satisfaction. Pink Viagra doesn't exist. Female sexuality is, as Emily has explained, just far too complex and sophisticated to respond to cheap neurochemical theatrics.
So . . . what's a standard model, spontaneous desire-driven husband to do?
Current literature on the subject includes lots of "helpful" advice which falls into two categories: Treat Your Wife Like A Princess (let's call it Mode A), essentially using your resources to decrease her SIS until she's just so darned relaxed that she has no real reason to say no to sex; and then there is the much-smaller Mode B, which, among other things, does not advocate treating your wife like a princess.
The problem is, Mode A doesn't work. Oh, it can have a few short-term positive effects, but if the goal is to increase your sex life (as it is with most husbands with strong spontaneous desire) then Mode A involves expending a lot of resources for very little return. It will make your wife feel good, no doubt, but . . . well, anecdotal evidence demonstrates that subservient, attentive husbands just are not having the crazy amounts of sex with their wives suggested by the Treat Your Wife Like A Princess model. Quite the contrary. There are so man Very Good Men who are doing everything under the sun for their wives, and their wives are still divorcing them for no particularly good reason. It's a big enough deal that major news outlets are writing about it.
So, just how does your standard cishet married couple learn to deal with such issues? For one thing, I educated myself about the difference between arousal and attraction. Mode A emphasizes trying to build desire by fueling attraction - being supportive, communicative, and other stuff to work on the SIS. All well and good . . . but it does jack to build desire. As studies have shown repeatedly, doing laundry and housework does not actually lead to more sex for a married couple, despite two generations of feminist rhetoric to the contrary. It might make the wife happier, but it actually decreases the amount of sex. So Mode A is a fail, for this purpose. Waiting around for her to ovulate so that you can take advantage of her brief spontaneous desire window is not the kind of sex life most husbands signed up for. Indeed, once-a-month sex is the clinical definition of a "sexless marriage".
If Mode A builds attraction but not arousal, then . . . what? Emily has little to say about stimulating the SES, in any helpful fashion. And there's a reason for that. Because the one thing that DOES consistently (and scientifically) tend to build arousal in women, as opposed to attraction, is dominant male behavior. That's Mode B. That's the mode that Emily and the rest of the current crop of sex educators doesn't want to delve into, for two reasons. One, it's dangerously close (ideologically speaking) to nasty ol' patriarchy, denies women's agency, encourages male sexual "entitlement" (because men wanting to have sex is "entitlement") and otherwise contradicts the feminist narrative about How Sex SHOULD Work. All that consent stuff Emily wrote about, after this post, for instance.
It's good stuff, don't get me wrong . . . but it ignores (as much of Emily's writing on the subject does) the ugly reality that regardless of what genderless pronoun constructions you try to use to describe it, generally cishet men and cishet women are very different in generalizable ways, when it comes to their approach to sexuality. And while those generalizations do not describe every situation adequately, the do so well enough for most folks to be of use. The fact is, if a man wants to learn how to invoke reactive desire in his wife consistently, then the only certain way to do that is to cultivate a male-dominant attitude and approach to both his sex life and his personal life.
And that really damages the whole "equal partner" construct that modern marriage is supposed to reflect. Problem is, modern marriage is coughing up blood trying to swallow that particular pill. That's not an issue for folks who view marriage as a temporary thing, as most modern women often do, but for men who value their commitment and wish to establish a permanent relationship, being an "equal partner" in a marriage seems about the surest way to kill it beyond criminal charges or an unemployed live-in brother-in-law. The "equal partner" dynamic insisted upon by Mode A does not encourage female arousal. It discourages it. Husbands working under the "equal partners" mode do not initiate often, they do not persist after an initial rejection, and they are so mindful of their partners mental-emotional state that they will fail to initiate even when circumstances present themselves, leading to frustration on the part of both parties.
Mode A "equal partnerships" do not encourage male-dominant behavior, they discourage it. And in doing so, they discourage the arousal triggers that allows a man and a woman to properly function as a sexually-fulfilled cishet monogamous couple. In short, the wife grows less and less aroused by her husband, even if her attraction for him waxes, and eventually an opportunity or a growing sexual dissatisfaction encourages her to seek for sexual novelty outside of the relationship to make up the lack. Equal partnerships lead far more frequently to infidelity than male-dominated marriages.
That's the uncomfortable truth that Emily, and the other feminist-oriented sex researchers (and that's the vast majority, these days) don't want you to really understand. There is no Pink Viagra, because women's sexual psychology is too complex to respond to a drug. The drug it craves is psycho-sexual stimulation brought on by the context or observation of male-dominant social behavior. Every time a wife exercises her "independence" at the expense of her husband, socially, she is sabotaging her own arousal for him, and her own possible sexual fulfillment as a result. Every time a husband defers to his wife’s judgment, presenting a submissive side to her, he squashes his own hopes of a fulfilling sexual experience.
You want “concordant desire”? You want “enthusiastic consent”? You want “joyful succumbing”? Feminist sexuality has no practical route to that for cishetero couples. Not one based in reality and demonstrating any kind of success. While bashing the shaming nature of our culture when it comes to sex – and quite rightly – the feminist-led sex education and research establishment in our culture has done little to rectify that. Indeed, instead of decreasing the amount of shame, feminism has encouraged the wholesale shaming of male sexuality and male social dominance to the point where it has had a profound and widely-observed deleterious effect on men in our culture. Men being socially dominant at work are told to “check their privilege’ by well-meaning feminists. Men being socially dominant at home are told to beware of patriarchy creeping into their lives (without any explanation about why patriarchy might, in fact, be a good thing).
The feminist sex education industry has done some remarkable things when it comes to improving the understanding and sex lives of women. But when it comes to improving and understanding the sex lives of men, or the practical functioning of an actual cishetero relationship, the political ideology of equality runs smack into the hard, cold science of sexuality. Women dig dominant men, and are aroused by them.
Feminism discourages men from becoming dominant, and actively struggles against a culture that encourages men to be dominant. Once Emily convinced me that feminism was just the wrong way to run my marriage, things got a LOT better.
By establishing a regime of socially-dominant and traditionally-masculine behaviors, the kind of stuff that leads directly to female arousal, not female attraction, I’ve managed to work with Mrs. Ironwood’s responsive desire and escalate the number of sexual encounters while reducing the number of rejections. We went from once every 2 weeks or so under Mode A to five or six times a week, sometimes more, under Mode B. Male social dominance, confidence (which is more than just knowledge and understanding of your body) and applied charisma did more to increase reactive desire and improve sexual joy than any amount of dishes, backrubs, and flattery.
Nor am I alone. Thanks in part to Emily’s work, thousands of couples are now taking a second look at male dominance in their marriage, and end up saving and improving their marriages as a result. Without, I might add, recourse to marriage counseling and other crutches. While this is by no means a silver bullet, it is a far, far more productive strategy when dealing with a woman with strong reactive desire than anything I’ve seen come out of Emily’s work, yet.
That may be in part due to her feminist identification, which precludes advocating masculine dominance in any setting, no matter how effective. Or, she might surprise me and propose a workable and practical way to make the Mode A “equal partners” approach work in a way that invites the happy fulfillment of both parties, not just the woman, and a way that doesn’t encourage infidelity or presuppose the temporary nature of “commitment”, when it comes to marriage.
But the science is there. The practical application is there. The peer-reviewed exchange of information is happening. Techniques are being refined. And the current surge of suspicion of feminism that’s surfacing in the popular culture is indicating that there is fertile ground for this approach to fall on.
I’m not tempted to believe Emily will respond to this comment, or even read it – she doesn’t, usually, considering our opposition on several points, and her unwillingness to read comments longer than her original posts. But I leave this here to help inform any other poor husband desperately searching for a way to make his marriage work again. You won’t find the answers here. You will find some good information, but Emily won’t tell you how to make your wife aroused for you again, she’ll only be able to convince your wife that there isn’t anything wrong with her lack of desire for you.
If you want the real answers, you’ll have to seek them elsewhere. But that’s how one spontaneous desire husband dealt with his reactive desire wife. He rediscovered his masculinity, honed it into a helpful tool, and applied it wholeheartedly to his marriage. Now he’s getting laid like a teenager and his union has never been stronger. Hold that up to a 50% divorce rate and declining marriage rates, and see if you can find anything in feminism that promises better.