Hermes Solenzol Ph.D., here’s an excerpt from a book called Untrue that is relevant. It quotes from Helen Fisher but seems to say the opposite of what you said about her above. Can you comment?

“As primatologist Sarah Hrdy observed, “To Darwin, elusiveness was as integral to female sexual identity as ardor was to that of their male pursuers.” And the stakes of this distinction between male and female, ardent and elusive, active and passive, coy and eager, selfish and tender, were high. Indeed, all of civilization, Darwin and his contemporaries suggested, hung in the balance.

The English gynecologist William Acton, author of the ambitious and influential The Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs in Childhood, Youth, Adult Age, and Advanced Life, Considered in the Physiological, Social, and Moral Relations (1857), may have influenced Darwin’s thinking and was another voice contributing to the culture’s discourse about “inherent” female sexual restraint and even aversion to sex. Women with sex drives, asserted this well-respected thought leader of his time (who also believed that masturbation depleted life energies and contributed to illness), were exceptional: …the majority of women (happily for them) are not very much troubled with sexual feeling of any kind. What men are habitually, women are only exceptionally…There are many females who never feel any sexual excitement whatever. Others, again, immediately after each period do become, to a limited degree, capable of experiencing it; but this capacity is often temporary, and will cease entirely till the next menstrual period. The best mothers, wives, and managers of households know little or nothing of sexual indulgences. Love of home, children, and domestic duties are the only passions they feel.

In Acton’s characterization, women are at once chaste, lauded, and sentimentalized supra-sexual beings; and creatures driven by biology (their menstrual periods). But in no instance do they exercise agency in matters of their sexuality, which, after all, they do not “have,” their “passion” having been rerouted into “love” of the domestic sphere. In many ways, Darwin’s view of sexual selection and Acton’s take on female sexuality culminated in Krafft-Ebing’s apocalyptic vision of what would happen if we undid such an order of things, which he offered up in 1886: “If a woman is normally developed mentally, and well-bred, her sexual desire is small. If this were not so, the whole world would become a brothel and marriage and family impossible.” Female passivity and sexlessness is the homeostasis that keeps the world in balance.”

Martin, Wednesday. Untrue (p. 126). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Then, there’s also this from the same book:

“Long-term physical separation of spouses is a fact of Himba life. So is infidelity, which Scelza, like many anthropologists and sex researchers, prefers to call “extra-pair partnership,” “multiple mating,” or “extra-dyadic sexuality.” It is not uncommon for a married Himba man to take one of his several wives with him to the cattle stations or to have a girlfriend there (unmarried men spend time at the cattle stations as well). And many of the Himba wives who stay behind in the main camp take lovers while their husbands are away. This should come as no surprise given that infidelity is a cultural universal — anthropologist Helen Fisher, who began studying it in the 1980s, told the New York Times in 1998, “There exists no culture in which adultery is unknown, no cultural device or code that extinguishes philandering.”

Martin, Wednesday. Untrue (p. 121). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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