(Note: I'm a man, talking about women. As a result, It's quite possible I'll get some things wrong. As there are quite a few vocal women reading my journal, I'm sure I'll get a few comments. If they disagree with me, listen to them: chances are they're in the right. If they disagree with each other... well, no one said all women think alike, did they?)
There's this idea out there that men have, that women aren't all that interested in sex. They think that men are the ones who are interested in sex, and that women are somewhat indifferent to it, or that what they actually want is these things called relationships and that giving this strange currency called sex in exchange is the easiest way to get them.
If you're one of these men who believe that, you are absolutely wrong.
If your body of sexual experience tells you that women don't like sex much... well, in all your past couplings, the one common element has been you.
If one were to be charitable, one could guess that you tend to subconsciously choose women who are less interested in sex because the ones who really like it scare you. Do you refer to sexually "overactive" women as "sluts," or with other such harsh words? If you do, chances are you're one of these scared men. Of course, if one were to be less charitable, one could guess that you think none of the women you've taken to bed liked having sex (with you), not because they don't like sex, but because you're terrible in bed.
Heh heh, sorry. Cheap shot.
Unfortunately, it's not just these guys who help spread that idea. A lot of men with little to no experience at all with women share this belief, and at times, even women will say things that support it. Some gay men, for instance, think that if women truly liked sex as much as men did, they'd be picking up guys with abandon at truck stops, women would be hollering lewd things back at men at construction sites, no public restroom would be left unscrewed in... need I go on? (In fact, it was a very clever (but in some ways absolutely clueless) gay man who prompted me to type this up a while back. I just found it again because I'm going through the salvage heap I was able to pull off my old computer's hard drive.)
There are very good reasons women aren't picking up men all the time, and they all boil down to risks. Lots of them. And the more sexually active a woman is, the bigger the risks get.
Firstly, men tend to be quite a bit bigger than women. We tend to be a little stronger in the lower body, and quite a bit stronger in the upper body, and being on average taller, we usually have a big advantage when it comes to running speed as well. (I'll thank you not to point out a hypothetical pairing between, say, Nikki Fuller
and Pee-wee Herman
as if that proves anything -- I'm speaking generally here.) This makes us potentially dangerous to women. Sure, most of us aren't going to force ourselves on a woman, but a few would, and do -- and a woman is usually at a physical disadvantage when that happens. In the few minutes after she first approaches a man, but before sex happens, she may decide (as is her right) that this particular man was a mistake... and there's a risk that this particular man may not care what she's decided.
Yes, I know. You're
not a rapist. The thing is, some men are, these men don't have the word "rapist" tattooed on their foreheads, and women aren't psychic.
Yes, I know. If a woman gets raped, she could press charges and get that rapist locked up. Er... not so much. There's a widespread belief that women can't get justice in rape cases, and that prosecuting a rapist will only net an acquittal after she's been mercilessly interrogated about how she was dressed at the time and whether she's had sex before, or whether she had sex willingly and later came down with "buyer's remorse. And all too often, this widespread belief
to be right
. According to RAINN, rapists get off 94% of the time
. Even if I could wave a magic wand and fix the system overnight, that belief would persist for probably at least one full generation afterward, if not longer.
So every time a woman decides to pick up a guy, she's taking a risk that he might rape her, and then she'll have to choose between letting it go... or taking another risk that she'll be blamed in court for having been raped and he'll walk away with a slap on the wrist, if that.
These risks, by themselves, would be enough for some women, but there are more. Condoms fail. Birth control pills fail. All of our current contraceptive methods fail. Pregnancy is another risk of pick-ups, and most of the social risks fall on women. All of the potential health
risks that come with pregnancy fall on women. (I'm fully aware that healthy women give birth to babies all the time. Women die in childbirth all the time, too, and the US has some of the worst statistics for that in the developed world.) If a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy, she's the one who has to make the arrangements for it, and hope that there aren't a bunch of assholes protesting the clinic that day, and hope that certain assholes in Congress haven't yet passed yet more laws based on the premise that the little clump of cells in her uterus is more important than her life. If she decides to keep the baby, she's likely going to get stuck with most of the responsibilities for the baby as well. (Yeah, the man can be ordered to pay child support. That doesn't make it happen. I personally know at least one guy who doesn't, who has made a point of working where he can be compensated in barter or services that can't be garnished... and he's hardly alone.)
Then, there's the social risk. Our culture generally treats sexually active men positively, so there's little social risk for a man picking someone up. Not so with women. If a guy brags about having nailed three girls in a week, his male peers will no doubt envy the hell out of him. If a women says she's had three guys in a week, she'll be slut-shamed to hell and back, and her peers will speculate openly as to her complete lack of self-respect and how many diseases she's picked up. That one statement of having had multiple partners in a short period will forever change the perceptions of people around her, in all kinds of negative ways.
Nearly all of these risks are created by men.
You know, those people that (straight) women could be picking up in truck stops, but generally aren't? (Lesbians also like sex, and also take risks for it, but I'll leave discussing those risks to people better qualified. If one of you cares to tackle that subject, I'll link to it from here.) You, as a man, may not personally create any of these risks, but again, any given woman has no way of knowing that. Again, women aren't psychic.
"But!" I hear some of you say. "Women themselves don't act like they like sex that much -- some of them say it outright! And some of them denigrate sexually active women, too!" Yes, they do. Some of them do it as protective camouflage. Some of them do it so that men won't think they enjoy sex "too much." And some of them do it because their partners are terrible in bed, either for fear of pissing off the man in their bed or hurting his feelings. In their own ways, they are all mitigating risks as well.
Some women genuinely aren't all that interested in sex, and really, that's okay. It shouldn't be any more controversial for a woman not to like sex than for me not to like bacon...
...okay, bad example. Where was I? Oh, yes: despite all these risks, many women do like sex. Some women cope with these risks by choosing one man, getting to know him very well, and forming a sexual relationship with him and him alone. Some women choose not to take these risks, but instead own several high-quality toys. Some women mitigate these risks by being a part of a social network that includes other women they can talk to about potential partners. (This comes up a lot in poly circles -- I've heard terms like "vetting" and phrases like "checking references" used to refer to this.) And some women who like sex a lot accept these risks, and go for pick-ups anyway.
If you find yourself approached by a woman trying to pick you up, be aware that she's taking a hell of a lot of risks in approaching you. Be aware, and be worthy. If you say yes, make her glad she chose you. If you say no (as is your right), do it with kindness and grace.