Rebecca Kamm

Poking a stick at ladies' issues, pop culture, and other cutting-edge curiosities.

Rebecca Kamm: Why are women bored of monogamy?

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New studies show that women lose interest faster than men. Photo / Thinkstock
New studies show that women lose interest faster than men. Photo / Thinkstock

Question: How do you know if he'll cheat?

Answer: He's a man.

Oh, ha ha hzzzzzz. So much zzzzz.

Not only are the sweeping gender-alisations around monogamy and fidelity just too tired, they're also exaggerated. Men might be more likely to cheat, for example, but only at a pinch.

Studies show the (perceivably) wide margin is not only getting thinner by the day, but is actually nearing on nonexistent. Another "shocking" poll even found it was women who were more likely to be unfaithful.

Studies should be taken with a grain of salt, possibly. But at the very least, as psychologist Christopher Ryan said in a TED talk on human sexuality recently:

"We need to move beyond 'men are from Mars and women are from Venus'. The truth is that men are from Africa and women are from Africa."

Which flies in the face of everything women have had to gradually and miserably accept as "fact": that all men are "hard-wired" to sleep with as many women as possible, and die of sexual boredom with just one.

And that women, inversely, are hard-wired to cling to their mate forever.

Basically everything depressing and unfair you were ever told that ended up with "biological drive" as its explanation.

Now, however - as first pointed out by blogger Amanda Marcotte - experts appear to be exploring the idea that it's actually women who tire of monogamy sooner.

Referring to a recent story in The New York Times by Daniel Bergner, in which he looks at libido-enhancing medication for women, Marcotte writes:

...women are far more likely to lose interest in sex with their partners. This doesn't necessarily translate into infidelity-a choice many reject because it's so hurtful-but, Bergner reports, spouse-weary women often just avoid sex altogether.

Bergner also cites a study that found women are more turned on by fantasies about sex with strangers than they are by fantasies about sex with friends. In another, he notes, it was found that women responded positively to novelty in porn.

The inference seems to be that wives are losing their desire for their husbands because they need the 'new'. Historically, this is a desire that's almost exclusively been associated with men.

Yet female loss of interest in sex within marriage is a well-documented phenomenon, as Bergner notes. "There's something that's stopping me from wanting it," one woman tells the New York Times writer. "I don't know what it is. I can't tell you what it is."

Hence the huge amount of money being spent on the development of a drug called "Lybrido" - which could be on the market as soon as 2016. A combination of testosterone as well as viagra, which targets the pleasure centres of the brain, it's this dual focus on the psychological and the physiological that's got the drug closer to success than any other female libido enhancer.

The Dutch firm behind the drug, Emotional Brain, hope it will restore women's lust when it wanes.

It's worth mentioning at this point that male boredom with monogamy has never been held up as a dilemma requiring specific repair. It's always just been "one of those things". Yet as soon it comes to the fore as a problem for women - or "as a female trait for men to endure" as Marcotte so succinctly puts it - there's a push for resolution. In this case, medical.

But that has a positive side. The likes of Lybrido could be hugely liberating for women, giving them the choice to simply "switch on" desire. Just as they were able to "switch off" their fertility when the pill arrived - prompting an iconic shift in female sexual freedom. As Bergner writes:

It played a part, as the '60s got under way, in propelling a host of profound changes, cultural as well as reproductive, societal as well as intimate - in how women saw themselves and lived their lives, starting with the notion of women being above all baby makers and mothers.

At the very least, it's food-for-thought for the "hard-wired" crowd.

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