It was once widely assumed that the demise of relationships in deference to sex without commitment was driven by men, erroneously labeled as more sexual than women, and that women complied with men's desires reluctantly. In my long career as a relationship counselor, I've argued that women are much more sexual than men. As a result, I've always been hesitant to blame our "hookup culture" solely on out-of-control men and my doubts were confirmed when I read "Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too" by Kate Taylor in the New York Times this week. Apparently, women on campus, increasingly interested in their careers, feel that meaningful relationships are too big an investment of time and pursue sex without strings as a result.
Taylor's piece also confirmed my fears about the growing culture of misogyny in America. In my 2005 book Hating Women: America's Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex, I wrote about the growth of misogyny and women's complicity in their own degradation. I cited, for example, women in the recording industry who become famous more for their bodies than for their talent. But the growing disdain of young men on campus for women is even more troubling than I thought. Taylor's focus in the article is not just that women are equal partners in fueling the hookup culture, but that men's respect for women is declining as well. In one instance, Taylor writes about a young woman who had a drunken night of fun with a fellow student when his roommate peeked his head in and asked "Yo, did you score?" She also writes of how many College men feel that a woman that makes out with them, even slightly, owes them sex. For a lot of college students women are seen as little more than playthings.
To be sure, I don't accept the Victorian notion that men are overly sexual, whereas women are sheepish, innocent, and simply want to be taken care of. The idea is based on the flawed evolutionary argument that men seek the widest distribution possible for their gene pool and women seek stability through monogamy.
The consensus of evolutionary biology is that women are mostly monogamous, subordinating sex to security, and their beauty is a tool to ensnare men to eventually take are of their offspring. Men, on the other hand, are deemed to be genetically predisposed to inseminating anything that walks. This view is now being challenged in science. There's a growing contention, like Daniel Bergner's argument in his new book What Do Women Want?, that women are not naturally monogamous and can be just as faithless as men.
In my books on sexuality I have shown that Judaism sees women as being more sexual than men. Unlike other languages, in Hebrew there's no word for "wife." The word for woman and wife is the same. A wife is always a woman, the same before and after she's married. A man must engender his wife's commitment at all times. Jewish law also mandates that a husband fulfill his wife sexually rather than the reverse.
Having said that, the phenomenon uncovered in the New York Times seems to be great for everyone; women want sex, as much as, or more than men, and are getting plenty of it.
So why was it such a discouraging story that sat atop the New York Times most popular list for a week?
The one thing women always understood was that the greatest form of sexual pleasure was experienced within the framework of an intimate relationship because it affords couples the freedom to express their sexuality without the fear of a breakup, being hurt, getting too close and then being discarded. Sex is a powerful tool, a motion that bring forth emotions. Women are different to men biologically in the straightforward sense that, with their genitalia on the inside, they experience sex as a more intimate, internal occurrence, where men, with their sexual organs on the outside, can more easily compartmentalize the body from the emotions and often treat sex as something a man does to a woman. Women may biologically be like men in their carnal desire. But historically they have been more mature in linking sex with love. The modern dissociation of the two is troubling, will lead to much heartbreak, and a lot of bad sex.
Shmuley Boteach, "America's Rabbi," is author of "Kosher Sex," "The Kosher Sutra," and many other international best-selling books. He is currently completing "Kosher Lust." Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.