Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Women Have Sex: A Book Review

The sexual motivations of women have consumed men since the Middle Ages (and probably earlier than that). We have created laws, religious restrictions and fairy tales in an attempt to define it and control female sexual expression. But we haven’t done very much to understand it. Buss and Meston try to shed some light on this enigma in their 2010 book “Why Women Have Sex”. Using a combination of anonymous surveys, lab experiments and multi-discipline research the two psychologists break down sexual motivation from a variety of different angles.
So why do women have sex? The answer is…complicated.
According to Buss and Meston, there are nineteen major motivations for female sexual expression including:
  1. Sensual attractors
  2. Physical pleasure
  3. Social status
  4. Emotional/ spiritual connection
  5. Mate capture/ Mate retention
  6. Mate poaching
  7. Responsibility in relationships
  8. Guilt in relationships
  9. Curiosity
  10. Variety
  11. Mate Evaluation
  12. Barter
  13. Trade
  14. Ego Boost
  15. Deception
  16. Punishment
  17. Abuse
  18. Health benefits
  19. Procreation
In addition to this list, the authors point out that several motivations could be present at the same time in any woman’s sexual choices even if those motivations are in conflict. Another complicating factor is that the motivations could be subconscious and fluid over the course of a sexual act. Finally, the choice of each woman has to be understood in the context of her age, peer group, religion, upbringing and previous sexual history. In other words a person may have no idea why a woman might decide to have sex and the woman herself may not be cognizant of the factors underlying her choices.

I originally decided to read this book to put more authenticity into the sexual motivations of the female characters in my books. For the sake of clarity in my work (and my own sanity) I won’t try and definitively nail down the sexual motivation of any character. But reading this book will add more variety and resonance to their sexual expression and hopefully improve the quality of my writing.
Have fun.

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