Inherent Sexual Difference - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Inherent Sexual Difference

Inherent Sexual Difference

Published September 2, 2005

On websites concerning women’s bodies, women’s sex lives or women’s issues in general, an ongoing theme can easily be detected. This is true even for our very own Icelandic www.femin.is website. The theme in question is women’s worries about their interest in sex being lower than their male partners’. At a glance, the Q&A section of the abovementioned websites are full of emails from frustrated women about how their partner wants more sex than they do themselves, and how they fear something is wrong with them as a result. Why do millions of women worldwide harbour this fear? One theory is that in today’s day and age, men and women are taught that they’re basically the same when it comes to sexual needs and desires. If it were only that simple.
Human beings and chimpanzees differ by roughly 300 pieces of DNA, while men differ from women by an entire chromosome. The Y-chromosome, which makes a male a male, contains only a small amount of genetic information, as stated by American doctor and relationship expert Dr. Drew Pinsky. “Hence, all men tend to be similar in the qualities that make them male.” However, the X-chromosome contains far more genetic information, and since women are lacking the Y and have an extra X-chromosome, their genetic information is doubled. This creates tremendous diversity in what it is to be female, including sex drive, sexual preferences, what is sexually stimulating and what leads to an orgasm. (More on Pinsky’s findings can be read at the Discovery Health channel’s website.)
A recent study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, further underlines the difference between the genders. The research concluded that men are more interested in and respond more strongly to erotic pictures than women do. Male and female college students were asked to look at arousing photographs while their brain activity was being monitored. Certain brain areas called the hypothalamus and the amygdala were more activated in men than in women during the study. Those same areas of the brain are activated in male rats when exposed to sexually stimulating smells and visuals. In fact, the women who took part in the research showed no significant activation in these regions, even when they reported greater arousal than the men.
Moreover, men produce more male sex hormones (androgens) than women, which tends to make men more sexually motivated. With all these biological differences leading to different needs and desires, why are women still comparing their bodies and basic needs to those of men? Millions of guilt-ridden women are rushing to buy the testosterone patch, hoping that it’ll help them reach the equivalent of their partner’s sex drive. Others write anxious emails to seek out help and answers. To meet the demand, eight articles in the femin.is sex-article archive pertain directly to women’s lack of interest in sex. One of these articles quotes Boston Globe columnist Diane White. White claims that the message from today’s women’s magazines is simple: If you’re not constantly having sex, something has got to be wrong with you. The modern definition of a healthy sex drive is based on men’s interest in sex, not women’s. Therefore, women are constantly questioning their own bodies and desires because they don’t function like men’s do. Wouldn’t it be curious if women’s interest in sex became the norm, and as a result, we started questioning men’s excessive sex drive instead? The bottom line is that men and women are inherently different. Hence, if you’re in a heterosexual relationship and your partner has different sexual needs and expectations than you do, don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that something is wrong with either one of you. According to countless studies and basic biology, it’s completely natural.


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