…The issue, we’ve long thought, is that women just aren’t interested; female desire is simply weaker, and stoked by intimacy and familiarity. But scientists are now wondering whether commitment itself might be the problem. In other words, it’s not a libido deficit, it’s monogamy—an unspoken two-year itch. As Bergner puts it, the female drug we’re really seeking is “monogamy’s cure.”
…Psychologist Lori Brotto of the University of British Columbia cuts to the chase: “Sometimes I wonder whether [low female desire] isn’t so much about libido as it is about boredom,” she says. Ken Wallen, a psychologist and neuroendrocrinologist whose work at Emerson University outside Atlanta has revealed that female rhesus monkeys are the sexual aggressors, echoes the sentiment: “The idea that monogamy serves the natural sexuality of women may not be accurate,” he says. Bergner also cites an Australian study of women over age 40 that correlated low female desire to the length of time a woman had been with her partner, not hormonal changes. Once those women were with new partners, libido returned.
American psychologist Marta Meana routinely sees women whose white-hot lust for their partner has turned to ash. She theorizes that, within monogamy, women’s narcissistic need to feel desired is not being met: they feel their partners are trapped and that “a choice—the lust-propelled selection of her—was no longer being made.” One of the women interviewed in In What Do Woman Want?, Sophie, reveals how she compensates to summon lust for her husband: by fantasizing about being ravaged by Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.
The “you complete me,” best-friends model held as the marital ideal and routinely joked about as a turn-off for men may actually be even more so for women, says Meana: “There has to be an ‘other’ for there to be sexiness.”
The idea that women might be ill-suited for monogamy flies in the face of entrenched thinking that women use sex to bond while men use intimacy for sex, as enshrined in the “intimacy-based sex-response cycle” pioneered by Rosemary Basson, a professor of psychiatry at UBC. It also upends the “parental investment theory,” the notion that men’s seemingly limitless reproductive capacity is why they fling seed far and wide, while women maximize limited reproductive resources by being choosy. Societies have long used the low-libido explanation to maintain order: it discourages female infidelity and has freed women’s energy to focus on home and children.
-Anne Kingston, “The female libido and the two-year itch”
Holler to research that genuinely interrogates sexist evolutionary psych theories and autonomously recognises women’s sexual desire. Good things will come from this.