What if women’s low libido is partly a self-fulfilling prophecy?
What happens when women are told: “If your husband is typical, he has a need you don’t have?”, as Love & Respect put it. Over and over again, in our evangelical resources, we’re told that women need affection while men need sex, and women don’t actually need that much.
If you hear that your whole life, and you’re a woman, well, should it be a surprise if we grow up believing that sex is not for us?
Today on the podcast we’re exploring self-fulfilling prophecies! And we share some brand new stats from The Great Sex Rescue, AND from our men’s survey which haven’t even been published yet. So you get a sneak peek behind the curtain!
Or, as always, you can watch it on YouTube!
Timeline of the Podcast
0:55 “Men want sex, and women don’t!”
6:32 We’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy!
8:40 Research: Do husbands prioritize their wives’ sexual pleasure?
15:00 Your pleasure isn’t selfish!
18:00 Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin shares the Orthodox Jewish way of seeing this topic differently
29:20 History presents women as sexual creatures too
30:20 Twitter thread on Ravi Zacharais
32:20 No, you’re NOT one misstep from sex-trafficing
37:38 The importance of cognitive dissonance with the Holy Spirit
41:25 RQ: “We didn’t even touch before our wedding day, and I’m having struggles seeing sex positively!”
49:00 Positive stories/book reviews
Main Segment: What does teaching that women don’t need or want sex do to marriages?
Rebecca and I read a TON of quotes from different books, and then look at the data on how this is affecting our expectations and our libido.
Guest: Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin gives the Jewish view of female libido
I invited Shlomo Slatkin, who runs The Marriage Restoration Project, to share the Jewish view of female libido, to show that even those who use the same Bible that we do do not automatically believe that her libido will be low, or that she won’t want sex.
Comment: Twitter Thread and men expecting to sin?
Last weekend I had a Twitter thread go viral, and in it I was exploring how the way that Christians talk about sex contributes to the evangelical sex scandals and abuse scandals that are hitting the news. The evangelical conversation about sex is one that dehumanizes women and demeans men by implying that all men can’t help it. Or, as Every Heart Restored put it, “Men don’t naturally have that Christian view of sex.”
We're all bemoaning the celebrity Christian culture that led to the Ravi Zacharias & Carl Lentz (& so many more) sex & sexual abuse scandals.— Sheila Gregoire--The Great Sex Rescue comes 03/02! (@sheilagregoire) February 13, 2021
But what if the problem is not just--or even mostly--celebrity culture?
What if it's the evangelical view of sex?
Rebecca and I discussed how, when we make it sound normal that men will sin, then we create a situation where men don’t see sexual sin as strange.
We used the example of this tweet by Owen Strachan, who speaks a lot about Christian manhood and womanhood:
An unbeliever reads about an awful scandal and thinks, “That person is so awful! I hate people like that.”— Owen Strachan (@ostrachan) February 12, 2021
A Christian reads about an awful scandal and thinks, “That could EASILY be me. God be merciful to me.”
The sin-levelling here is amazing. Yes, everyone sins. Yes, everyone falls short. But not everyone abuses and rapes. Jesus even distinguishes between different types of sin. If you hear about someone raping someone, and then you say, “that could be me,” then quite frankly–I don’t want to be anywhere near you. You have just told me that you are not a safe person.
Seriously, Christians need to stop saying stuff like this. It enables predatory behaviour.
Reader Question: My Background Makes it Hard to Enjoy Sex
Finally, we used this reader question to show a whole bunch of different self-fulfilling prophecies going on here and affecting sex. And, no, you’re not failing if you don’t reach orgasm simultaneously:
My husband and I just discovered your podcast and blog. We can’t get enough of your material…so thank you for your help!
I was molested as a young child by another female which brought about a lot of issues with sexuality and gender confusion. God has done a tremendous healing work in my heart and mind and I am much closer to the beautiful woman he has created me to be…there is still more work to be done in embracing my womanhood, sexuality, and body.
My husband and I met in an (very fundamentalist denomination), which we left almost a year ago. We did the iconic courtship where we were barely ever alone and we touched for the first time on our wedding rehearsal night when we held hands. Oh, if we could go back and do some things differently! So in a 24 hour period we went from not touching at all to having sex. And the resource we used for educating ourselves was the book, The Act of Marriage…Face Palm! With my history and that book…I have been wrecked pretty much our entire marriage.
I have felt like sex has been a duty and primarily for him to get his rocks off….which I know in my head is not the truth…for my sweet husband it is how he feels the closest to me and wants to express his deep love for me. But because I don’t feel much during sex and I can’t orgasm simultaneously, I have felt broken…like there is something wrong with me.
I have a super hard time just letting go and being fully present…I have trust and control issues 🙂 But mostly I feel pretty numb except for clitoris stimulation…. and it takes sooo much time to reach orgasm which really isn’t practical because I have kids and I am tired enough as it is 😉 And another thing I am insecure about is the female ejaculation thing. Do you know much about this? It has happened for me numerous times, it’s messy ( which adds to the impracticality and inability to relax problems), and I don’t understand it…My husband doesn’t seem to mind and kind of seems impressed…but it grosses me out and I am always afraid it’s going to happen…and if I feel it coming I shut it down instinctually. Sorry, this might be too much information.
I really want us to have all that God has for us in our marriage because I want to be one of those super cute old couples 🙂 But it seems like there is so much to overcome. Any light you can shed on these things will be greatly appreciated!
We ended with a bunch of happy stories, and some wonderful emails that have come in about how the blog and podcast have helped people! I know it’s been heavy for a couple of weeks, but the feedback I’ve been getting is amazing.
And I want to share with you one of the reviews that has come in for The Great Sex Rescue (you can read it early, too, if you preorder and send in your receipt! When you join the launch team, you get early access):
I have never heard sex in the context of a Christian marriage spoken about like this before. In pre-marriage counseling and couples small groups, I heard that sex is most important to your husband; it is your duty to be there for him. I felt like my pleasure was an after thought; that if I didn’t climax, it was okay because he needed that from me. I was afraid to refuse sex, for fear that he would cheat or view porn. All of this pressure really killed my libido. The Great Sex Rescue brings such a wave of needed validation: that my pleasure is just as important as his. Also hearing that my potential lack of attention is never an excuse for infidelity. The authors do a fantastic job affirming that sex is about mutually connecting with your spouse physically, emotionally, and spiritually; it is not a one way street for the husband’s pleasure. TGSR is a wonderful resource for husbands and wives to read separately or together. I love the periodic check ins that encourage the reader to pause and reflect on what they’ve just read. 10/10 for offering hope, healing, and encouragment to those who read it. Seriously, if the typical evangelical approach to sex and marriage doesn’t sit well with you, grab this book. You won’t regret it.
Things Mentioned in This Podcast
The Great Sex Rescue
Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.
What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the things that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these messages?
Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.
What do you think? Have we got self-fulfilling prophecies wrecking sex for couples? Which ones have affected you? Let’s talk in the comments!
The Healthy Sexuality Series
Leading up to the release of The Great Sex Rescue on March 2, we'll be looking at one harmful teaching a week, and point to how we can talk about this better.
And we'll launch each new teaching in our podcasts! So these are the topics coming up:
- The Gatekeeping Message: Boys will want to push your sexual boundaries, so girls are responsible for stopping boys from going too far
- The All Men Struggle with Lust message: Why Every Man's Battle Backfires (January 28)
- Have Sex So He Won't Lust/Watch Porn: Why Women Aren't Methadone (February 4)
- The Obligation Sex Message: Turning Sex from a Knowing to an Owing Makes it Ugly (February 11)
- "He Has a Need You Don't Have": Why Talking about sex like it's only a man's need becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (February 18)
- The Entitlement Message around Sex: Can't we just be nice? (February 25)
And don't forget to pre-order The Great Sex Rescue! Send us your receipt and we'll send you pre-order bonuses!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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