So is this what women want?

There seems to be this (mostly) male pre-conception about the subject matter preoccupying the minds of mums (young or old) in those rare moments when they are not wiping noses, doing the laundry, cooking dinner or trying to get through a hectic day at the office.  I’m fairly certain if you were to ask most men they would say that in those quiet moments when women pause and stare out into space they are fantasizing about such things as baking the perfect pavlova, painting a feature wall in the living room, kitting out the baby’s nursery or how little Julia or Tony will one day be prime minister. ….sigh….Really?

How else do you explain mainstream media’s fascination with the record breaking sales of 50 Shades of Grey (aka “mummy porn”?)  NEWS FLASH: married or de-facto women, in  long term relationships (some with children even!) are actually interested in and even fantasize about sex.  This is not a new thing.  What is (relatively new) is the fact that female financial empowerment means women can actually indulge those fantasies.    

And they should….according to research conducted by the National Center for Health Promotion, “About 85% of men report that their partner had an orgasm at the most recent sexual event; this compares to the 64% of women who report having had an orgasm at their most recent sexual event.”  That’s a pretty massive 20%+ gap!!!

So  what do women want?  One of the most contentious issues I have heard raised about the 50 Shades phenomenon is that the female subject “submits” to her partner (though perhaps not in the same way the Australian Anglican church is proposing).    The fact that a book which depicts a woman allowing herself to be dominated (sexually or otherwise) has become so popular is disconcerting to some.  This is in part because of the message it sends to men about how they conduct themselves (and not just in the bedroom).    

Having said that, there is research which suggests that this is not an uncommon female fantasy.  Harold Leitenberg and Kris Henning of the University of Vermont who published a review of research into sexual fantasies (1995) surmised, ” While both men and women can experience similar fantasies, women more often fantasize about taking a passive role or being dominated while men more often fantasize about taking a dominant role, doing something sexual to their partner, or having multiple partners.” (Leitenberg, 1995).

More “mainstream” female fantasies are also explored in the movie Magic Mike which features  muscle bound men strutting their stuff on the stage as Officers and Gentlemen, to Firemen, Policemen and Tool-belt touting tradies.  According to Box Office Mojo, to date Magic Mike has grossed $113 million globally at the box office. 

Beyond movies and books, however there is no doubt that financial empowerment is allowing women to engage more pro-actively in the bedroom.  Pure Romance is an American company established some 18 years ago in (of all places) Loveland, Ohio with the aim of selling sex products directly to women.  Pure Romance employs the internet as well as “Tupperware” style parties (and yes they have their own range of 50 Shades products).  Although I have no official figures for Pure Romance sales, its website claims it is a “multi-million dollar business…in more than 260 markets, making it one of the industry’s foremost in-home direct selling companies and a leading resource for women’s sexual health issues.” 

Look, 50 Shades is no Wuthering Heights or Pride and Prejudice, but its popularity proves that female financial empowerment is finally reaching the bedroom.  I would have thought there are a multitude of men who would applaud even encourage this trend.  Further, given the important role sex plays in keeping couples together, closing the gap on what women want in the bedroom has got to be good thing, whether that means submission, domination, role playing…what difference does it make?

  

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