What, if anything, do men and women see eye to eye on?

Whether or not statistics back it up, conventional thinking holds that men want sex more than women. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I see sex as cyclic to men, like eating when hungry. Women, untroubled by semen accumulating in their testes (or whatever it is that drives us), could arguably be categorized as a-cyclic. To them sex isn’t a reflexive response, but a choice that’s the product of a series of events on any given day that make them feel especially valued and attractive. Unfortunately, it’s tough to reproduce those circumstances — or get men to — in the workaday world.

In an article in last Sunday’s New York Times magazine, Women Who Want to Want, Daniel Bergner explored low libido in women. Men operating at the level of lowest common denominator find this condition puzzling, because to them, women are the repository of all things sexual. All women have to do, we assume, is look at themselves naked in the mirror to be turned on. Alas, body image is as capable of casting a pall over sex as any other factor.

The article chronicles the work of psychologist Lori Brotto, one of the world’s leading specialists in what is known as hypoactive (the opposite of hyperactive) sexual desire disorder in women. She’s in charge of creating a new definition of the condition for the American Psychiatric Association’s next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

What’s her suggestion for women who shy away from sex? To act, in so many words, “as if.” (Not the dismissive way teenage girls use the phrase, but as support groups traditionally have — that is, behave like you’re sober even when you want a drink.) In other words, proceed with sex even when unmotivated and see if you become aroused. Yes, that’s all she’s got. If that came from a man it would sound like the bloodcurdling “relax and enjoy it” response to women’s concerns about rape.

Sex is scarcely the only area where men and women have different priorities. The need for sex to produce something tangible, also known as children, might be another. In fact, when attempting to list what men and women like equally — besides the obvious such as, should said children manifest themselves, their happiness — all I came up with is:

    1. Coffee. I couldn’t find a study that broke down consumption by sexes. But anecdotal evidence — in other words, my not entirely unprejudiced eye — makes me think women treasure coffee more highly, but men drink it in larger quantities. Let’s call it even.
    2. Cell phones. I found a couple of old studies that suggest male usage slightly exceeds women’s. But anecdotal evidence doesn’t bear this out. That is, the streets of Manhattan are full of women (young women, anyway) speaking on cell phones. Again, for the sake of argument — even.

It’s at this point, we turn to our readers for help. True, you may be forced to resort to sweeping generalizations. But, for the sake of harmony between the sexes, kindly use the comments section below to list activities, objects, or qualities that you’ve observed men and women value in equal proportions.

Categories: Sex

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8 replies »

  1. I think JS has a good one, and my anecdotal evidence for it is both broad and deep enough to qualify as nearly scientific. The differences in his example mostly amount to what the sexes like to grow. Men like trees and vegetables; women like those too, but are more likely than men to care about flowers.


  2. Nope. I do, however, have a headache right now. Three quickies, though: Brotto is right-er than you probably want to know, Russ asked for “value in equal proportions,” not “in the exact same ways,” and I can only speak for myself (and my girlfriends after a drink or five).

    More later.

  3. Gardening — how can I have missed that? Bargains makes sense, too. But sex? Possibly only on the technicality that Ann singled out.

  4. It’s a brain/body thing. I promise you, most of the healthy forty-something women I know are quite appreciative of a daily orgasm or three minus any complicated pre- or post-coital negotiation, reassurance or fact-finding. Get off, get up, get on with the day.

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