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What Do Emotions Have to do With Sex?

November 21, 2009

The typical stereotype is that women have a hard time separating their emotions from sex, as opposed to men who seems to have the innate ability to simply follow their biological urges. How much of this is true, I don’t know and does it really matter? Even if you engage in sexual activity for the sheer physicality of the act, the resulting pleasure is a “feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment” and I don’t know about you, but for me emotions and feelings are all part of the same bag of tricks. 

I guess it all comes down to what you associate sex with and what it means to you. If you view it as an expression of love, then it’s normal that you would have those loving feelings after engaging in that type of activity with someone. Sexual attraction can be a powerful thing, but sometimes people engage in sex just to get off and with no real desire for the person they are with and in some instances that can be a disheartening affair. That’s where the stereotype lies, right? One extreme is given feminine attributes and the other is distinctively masculine in tone and in action. I don’t even have to tell you which, because you were taught to know this. 

Personally, I don’t buy the whole biological theory of a sexual divide between genders. As far as I’m concerned the whole “men want to sow their seed” and “women want love and babies” is a social construct and nothing more. That being said, we are part of this social construct from the moment we are born, so like it or not we find ourselves somewhat engrained with the notions of appropriate gender roles, which were fabricated to benefit a small segment of society. 

Look, I’m not denying the biological imperative to procreate, but I really don’t see what that has to do with these arbitrary gender classifications when it comes to sex and emotions. Gender roles as assigned by our society are in fact quite damaging, as it pertains to those who don’t fit into their given classification or to those who find issue with the reality of their lives and the contradictions that ensue when the reality and the ideal are compared against each other. 

The damage is deep and is sometimes so subtle that we take it as par for the course. L. commented on my previous post “Saying Yes, or Something Close enough”, asking: “Is it odd that I never want to just have sex with someone? I’m terrible at it. I get way too attached. Even to people I don’t want to be in a relationship with. Why do I see that as an achilles heel somehow?” What I see in that comment is the dichotomy that has emerged between feeling one way and the way in which you are told you are supposed to feel. 

Society has told women, for a long time, that it is impossible for us to engage in emotionally detached sexual activity. Not only is that a confining definition, but it is also seen as a weakness, since we all know that being emotional is akin to being weak, right? Then came a sexual revolution where we were told that we could all have sex just for the hell of it. Good times were had all around! I don’t fall on either side of the question. I figure whatever works for you is fine by me, but what bugs me is that if you are a women and you do feel an emotional attachment to your sexual partners, you are made to feel like that is a weakness, not only by the people who enforce gender stereotypes, but by the people who fight against them as well.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2009 8:41 am

    I suspect that sex causes a kind of chemical based emotional bonding; psychological and physiological. One can become addicted to a single person. Makes breaking up a kind of detox. Yeah, some women get emotional. But how many men have you seen who just can’t move on, months after a relationship is over?

  2. wakingpersephone permalink
    November 23, 2009 5:21 am

    “Society has told women, for a long time, that it is impossible for us to engage in emotionally detached sexual activity. Not only is that a confining definition, but it is also seen as a weakness, since we all know that being emotional is akin to being weak, right?”

    A lover of mine expressed this very thing to me not long ago. He felt…it sounded like he felt almost a little bit embarassed that he couldn’t have sex with someone more than a couple of times and not start to develop feelings for them. It works both ways like you said, the gender stereotype and it isn’t right.

    I can’t enjoy sex with a man that I don’t feel *some* kind of connection with. There has to be something there. It doesn’t have to be love but there has to be something–otherwise it’s just friction and I might as well masturbate. I figured out that cold one night stands didn’t work for me when I was 18 and re-confirmed it when I was about 25 (I don’t know why I bothered with that evening..gah)

    But I do admit that even though I see nothing wrong with a woman having sex with someone she feels absolutely nothing for if that’s what makes her happy and fulfilled, I sometimes make the effort to explain that I have to have some kind of connection with a man in order to engage in sex because I know other people will see me differently. I hate that I do that. I hate it. It’s automatic and when I realize I’m about to do it I stop myself but sometimes I’m in the middle of the explanation by the time I realize it…and then I feel guilty.

    It’s like you can’t win. argh.

  3. November 23, 2009 4:31 pm

    Same here, like you said, I need come kind of “connection”, but what that means or how we each define it is hard to pinpoint and frankly can differ from one situation to another. It’s totally normal, yet aggravating, to find yourself in that catch-22 kind of circle of self-justification to adjust the ways others might look at us. it’s annoying as hell, but being aware of it, is the first step I think. The first step to what? I don’t know exactly, but it’s got to be something better.

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