An Ordinary Man

Or, Men 101

Month: November, 2014

Male Sexuality: It’s NOT Complicated

Yesterday I ran a quote from An Ordinary Man wherein Professor Wilson was lecturing to his evolutionary biology class about the importance of the male orgasm in driving successful reproduction, while noting that female sexual satisfaction was something different, an idea not at odds with a recent study.

By coincidence, CBSNews.com ran a story that same day about how zoologists had seen – and videotaped – elephant seals knocking down and raping emperor penguins on an isolated island near Antarctica; not just once, but on several occasions. Ick. But Prof. Wilson is right, the sex drive is very strong and elephant seals, who either control a harem of females or have none at all, are NOT going to just sit there and say, “I guess I don’t get to have sex this season.” They’ve found a port in the storm, and they’re taking it.

What is interesting to me, raised on Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will, is what marine biologist William Haddad said when asked  whether they do it for pleasure, as opposed to some other purpose: “In my opinion, I think yes, probably. The expression that seal had on its face — it seemed like it was for fun.”

If we do not recognize the central role sex plays in male fulfillment, there are a lot of problems we’re not going to solve.

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Female Sexuality: It’s Complicated

  “Classical thought has it that the function of the orgasm for both sexes is to make reproduction worthwhile. It’s easy to see where this could be true with the males, whether you’re talking about head-butting ungulates such as buffalo, big horn rams, or African antelope; territorial males like lions and wolves who guard their fiefdoms and the mating rights that go with it with tooth and claw; or harem masters like elk and elephant seals who exhaust themselves covering as many females as possible while driving off rivals.” He played short, silent videos of each as he spoke and considered the irony of telling his female students about the strength of the male sex drive; were there any of them who had not been subjected to its relentlessness by now? “Obviously, something, it would seem, makes this all worthwhile and it’s reasonable to assume it’s the male orgasm.” Very reasonable, in fact.

    “So what about the females? Reproduction kind of seems like the ultimate bad deal for them because it’s usually up to her to more or less submit to the male’s advances, exposing herself to rough treatment from him, the fatigue of pregnancy, the danger of childbirth, and the demands of motherhood, all while he sort of just ambles off, looking for another conquest. What makes the female go there? It’s not the desire to have offspring, or the satisfaction of raising a family because although I do not doubt the special bond between mothers and their babies, animals wouldn’t be able to make a connection between sex and birth weeks or months later. Indeed, some humans don’t seem able to make that connection.

    “But yet, we can be pretty sure it’s not pleasure, at least not in most cases.” He paused, aware that he was about to venture into dangerous territory. “Much of the mating out there is coercive in nature, with the males using harassment, intimidation, and physical force to accomplish it. Copulation in many species is quick, brutish, and even painful for the female, who frequently seeks to avoid it as much as possible. The use of the term ‘rape’ would not be entirely unjustified in several cases. On the other hand, making sex as pleasant for females as it is for males wouldn’t work very well; we would literally have bad moms running all through the animal kingdom, throwing themselves at the guys, with no one watching out for the babies she might already have at home.

    “At the end of the day, it seems clear that many, if not most, females mate because if they didn’t, their species would cease to exist and not for any other reason. Females who completely reject any interaction with males are unable to reproduce themselves and would be selected out.”

That’s Professor Richard Wilson addressing his evolutionary biology class at Aeolian College, grappling with the issue of female sexuality as his own marriage falls apart because of bedroom incompatibility.  Dr. John Randolph, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology for the University of Michigan Health System and an author of a study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, had this to say: “[w]omen’s interest in sex is extremely complicated,” with “[m]ood and an overall sense of health and well-being [being] key for women.”

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/21/health/womens-sexual-appetite/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

The Myth of the Sexual Peak

He would never apologize for needing her physically and he would never risk being scorned on account of that need.

The flip side of forsaking all others is that you do not forsake me. I do not pursue other opportunities because you are my opportunity, not because I have lost interest in those opportunities. I give up the thrill of the chase and the excitement of new skin because you know my desires and have promised to accommodate them. … Liz was wrong; it was in fact a quid pro quo, a contract, and if you breach your end of it, why wouldn’t I breach mine? This may come as a shock, honey, but I am as much a slave to my libido as you are to it, even more so. It’s not a switch I can simply turn on and off. I get hungry and tired at inconvenient times, too, and there’s not much I can do about that, either. How many times do you get to say no, and why do you even want to say no in the first place? You didn’t have to accept the ring.

Tough talk, but he felt his blood freezing in his coronary arteries as he considered his newly-understood future. He was celibate and possibly having a heart attack. At forty-two. Reaching for his phone, he waited to see if any other symptoms appeared that would warrant calling an ambulance.

According to an article in the New York Daily News, it is a myth that men enjoy their sexual peak at an early age. The article quotes Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, as saying “If you are looking for great sex, then ages 35-45 would be the best time [for a man].”  But by that age, a lot of men seem to find themselves trapped in increasingly sexless marriages, just like Richard Wilson, in An Ordinary Man.

Love, Marriage, and Other Bad Stuff

Life in the Boomer Lane

lawyer-ad-life-is-short-get-a-divorce-van-ad

Since 1990, the divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50 has doubled, and more-than-doubled for those over the age of 65.  Over half of all grey divorces are to people in their first marriages, who have been married at least twenty years.  This can either be interpreted as an attempt to avoid costly, and completely unnecessary,  50th wedding anniversary parties, or it can be something else.

Part of the rise in grey divorce is due to there being so many darn boomers.  They are everywhere.  It’s impossible to go through one’s day without seeing at least on of them out in public.  And those infomercials that sell music from the 60’s and 70’s are mind-numbing.  Just thinking about all those people calling in to order Sly and the Family Stone CDs is enough to give one the willies. But the bottom line is, more boomers means more of…

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OK, I’ll Buy This One …

Today Health ran a story about a husband and wife who have separate rooms because of sleep incompatibility, but on Friday night they sleep together in one of the rooms, and on Saturday night, the other. Since they don’t work weekends, it doesn’t matter as much that they don’t sleep as well on those nights. The take-home quote would be:

I just think it’s important for people to remember that sleeping together doesn’t always save a marriage any more than sleeping apart ruins a marriage. It’s sleep, and sleep is really important to everyone.

I’d be willing to give it a shot, I suppose, but I don’t know – I might need Wednesday night together, too.

I’m Missing Something

If this picture doesn’t shame him:

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why would this picture shame her?

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Two healthy bodies, nicely photographed.  Why do I feel the need to put black strips over her nipples, but not his? Actually, I do sort of feel that need – raw physical beauty can make those of us without it uncomfortable and should be celebrated in more private settings, but that should be regardless of gender. But you’re both gorgeous and I certainly don’t mind gazing at either of you for a moment or two.