Women have sex for the same reasons men do. Because they can. And then some. Here's a sneaky cure for the 'headache' epidemic.
Basic instincts are anything but basic. If the book Why Women Have Sex by clinical psychologist Cindy Meston and evolutionary psychologist David Buss is to be believed, women and sex have almost nothing to do with love. They have, however, found 237 other reasons. If you thought women were complicated earlier, good luck stroking this one.
After over a thousand interviews, Meston and Buss have managed to fashion a nuanced portrait of female sexuality. Sexual motivations for women are wide ranging — using sex as a defensive tactic against a mate's infidelity (protection); a ploy to boost self-confidence (status); a barter for gifts or household chores (resource acquisition); a cure for a migraine (medication). Somewhere, love finds a mention.
So the question is what makes women tick? Why are Clooney and Saif (for us) and Dilip Kumar (for our mothers) still our mental go-to guys?
Like it or not, it has little to do with your tailored suit and suave haircut and more to do with your genetic disposition and complimentary MHC (Major histo-compatibility) gene complex. In man-speak, that means, she wants you because you're loaded with what biologists call "genetic benefits" and "resource benefits." Genetically speaking, you're the bees knees and any kids produced out of this union will be prime quality. As for resource benefits, let's just say, she married you for the house, the car, the club membership and your ability to protect the aforementioned healthy offspring.
This also explains why certain balding, potbellied men find takers sooner than their well-bodied, charming counterparts. Women are known to give brownie points to loyalty and his ability to provide for the family and not just his ability to spread quality spawn.
According to studies conducted by International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, how women select their mate finds merit in the Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest. It can be annoying, but the study states that picky women are actually the key to survival and biodiversity. For example, if all women universally liked tall men, short men would be headed for extinction, or men with small feet would find no place in the world.
As for women in 'love', it can be translated into — security, I won't find anyone like him, good father material, apt provider, self confidence. Carnal sexual motivation however, has more options — Revenge, envy, jealousy, money, barter, guilt, punishment, duty, loyalty, a lesson on loyalty, power and domination, to sometimes, pure evil. In effect, they use sex to express love, and to get it, and to try and keep it.
What good sex means to women in Mumbai
Shobha De, in one of her observations about sex years ago, had said that earlier women just hitched up their sarees, closed their eyes and thought about Dilip Kumar. Has the scenario changed in urban India as increasingly more women find themselves freed from the shackles of guilt as far as getting some good, therapeutic action goes?
We spoke to women between the ages of 20-40 and found that while love was a high priority for women, there were several other interesting reasons that prompted them to sleep with men who may not be their knight-in-shining armour. Here are some of the factors that motivate Mumbai's feisty ladies for that spontaneous quickie or a roll in the hay...
A 26-year-old young entrepreneur giggled as she confessed that it was the best birthday gift she had given... herself. "I was 23 and probably the oldest virgin in the world. At least, that's what it felt like then," she says. "I really wanted to know what I was missing out on." Young women feel the peer pressure if they are the last to be clutching on to their hymens in their group, even if unwillingly. Virginity is finally losing its spot on the pedestal as the greatest gift you can give to someone you love.
A large number of the women surveyed also described sex as a tool for 'dog training'. Train the tool, and the man will follow, seemed to be the general philosophy.
A 30-year-old banker said she withheld sex in her marriage when she was displeased, and used it when she was in a pliant mood. "It helps to have owned dogs all your life," she jokes.
Women who want to keep the power in the relationship learn to excel at this very quickly.
A 27-year-old entrepreneur said that her first marriage wasn't promising in terms of sex, but her husband had the right credentials. But in her second marriage, she is crazy about her man even if she earns more than him and he won't fit the bracket of the 'provider'. Other women felt that sex wasn't as important in the larger scheme of things. A good home and status was enough to keep a good marriage going.
Because it's there
When we asked a 27-year-old stylist about her motivations for sex, she asked if it was a rhetorical question. She had a couple of encounters, because, well, they presented themselves. Obviously. "It's like, why the f... not?" she shrugs. What a revolutionary idea. Have sex simply because it's available. It is gaining popularity as a recreational tool, especially when women are between relationships or just plain bored.
The mood lifter
Women in high-stress jobs or those feeling low sang praises for the therapeutic properties of sex. "It destresses me," said a 32-year-old advertising professional. Another attractive furniture designer said there was nothing like sex to lift up her mood when she was bummed out.
Sex releases the feel-good hormones and what better way to unwind? And you sleep soundly!
To get it over with
A 31-year-old HR professional says, "Sometimes you just want to get it over with and move on to the list of chores that you need to finish." Women sometimes find it easier to tick it off the to-do list than launch into elaborate measures that involve feigning headaches, or making excuses and then feeling guilty when the partner sulks wearing a permanent hurt puppy look.
The United Colors of Benetton experience
Sometimes sex has been a great tool for cultural assimilation, women have found. A young media professional who did a stint in an American university discovered just that. Another banker, a frequent traveler, said that she was always curious. "I'd heard that once you go black, you can't go back. So I wanted to see if that was true," she admits. Curiosity can be a prime motivator for women to experiment sexually. And on holiday, the normal rules don't always apply and the anonymity bolsters confidence for women.
A young IT professional said that she had cheated briefly in her marriage only once. "But that's only because things were not good in our relationship," she says. Another hairdresser said that she felt betrayed when she found out that her husband had cheated on her. She slept with a close friend and felt vindicated. For the moment.
Fear of losing a man
A PR professional candidly said that once she had sex for fear of losing her boyfriend in the initial stages of her relationship. She thought that he might lose interest and move on to someone who "was going to give him some." The smart men can be cunning and play on a woman's insecurities. Younger or naive women tend to fall for this guilt-trap.
Women have needs too
More and more women are cognisant of their needs and refuse to feel guilty about wanting good sex. A whopping 50 per cent of the women said that "they just wanted some" and cited "hormonal reasons". "Hormones have feelings too," said one media professional with a straight face. Two women said they had a friend with benefits. It was convenient and a better than ending up in an arid, sex desert landscape.
Rejection and self-esteem
A media professional found herself in relationships with two 'losers' back to back. When she started dating a nice guy, she had planned to 'hold back and make it special'. "The idea seemed overrated very soon," she says. "I needed to break the jinx!'
A good session that ends on a high note seems to work like a balm for bruised self-esteem. Another young marketing professional, said that when she realised she had dated a loser, she felt such self-loathing that the only cure was to be found in the arms of a man she was wildly attracted to, even if she was not in a relationship with him.
Sex with a new partner also balances off rejection. Women who've been dumped or ended relationships for practical rather than emotional reasons, may find solace without the emotional investment they may not be ready for. As the marketing professional confessed, it makes you feel 'like you're still wanted'.
By Namrata Bhawnani and Divashri Sinha , Mumbai Mirror