I’d characterize intimacy more as safety than the traditional meaning of that word. Yes to the part about wanting to be seen and valued, but it’s a myth that most women want or need to have emotional closeness in order to experience desire. What they really want is for it to be safe for them to be sexual — physically safe, not judged or slut-shamed, seen as a person and not just a sex doll, etc., but a lot of that is in response to societal factors that have not much to do with inherent female sexuality.

Context is everything. If women were told, “Imagine you are propositioned by this guy, and there is no way he will kill you and there is no way he’ll be a jerk and it’s guaranteed that he’ll be skilled enough to give you an orgasm and you won’t get pregnant or get an infection or disease, and your mom will never know and neither will anyone in your dorm or neighborhood. He won’t make disparaging remarks about your body or gossip afterward. He will text you after or not, and want to see you again or not, depending on what you wish he would do. And so on. These are the kinds of conditions we would have to engineer in order to get an accurate sense of what a woman’s sex drive might be like under circumstances conducive to actually feeling entitled to have and admit to having a sex drive. Until such a test exists, we need to consider the likelihood that we are only measuring men’s willingness to admit they are sexual compared to women’s willingness to do the same. Guess who wins that contest?

Martin, Wednesday. Untrue (p. 65). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Nearly as many women as men have extramarital affairs and what most of them want is not an emotional connection but a sexual one. If the men get too clingy, they break it off and go on to the next guy. This pretty much belies the notion that women crave an emotional connection in order to feel desire. It’s just that having one is a good way to get the other things that help them feel safe enough to open up sexually.

A 2017 study showed that among US women aged twenty-five to twenty-nine, group sex and threesome experience equaled that of men the same age, and women were nearly twice as likely to have gone to a dungeon, BDSM, swingers’, or sex party, which challenges the long-held assumption that men are the naturally more sexually adventurous sex or that women primarily want an emotional connection.

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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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