un-Sexy?

Over on Digg an article has surfaced that deals with an interesting issue:

Counselling and sex therapy charity Relate says it has seen a 40 per cent increase in men who simply cannot be bothered to make love to their wives and partners.

The findings are a world away from just ten years ago, when hardly any men contacted them with a loss of libido. The main sufferers who call its helpline with the problem are generally aged between 30 and 50 and are married.

Peter Bell, Relate’s head of practice, said: “Men used to come to us with impotence – now known as erectile insufficiency – but Viagra has sorted some of that problem. What we have is a lot of men who say, as women did in the 1950s: ‘I can have sex but I do not want to. It’s not rewarding’.

The article then briefly discusses some possible explanations, including depression and gender roles’ shifting.

It’s an interesting conundrum, and the brunt of many a joke over on the Digg page. Within the first couple of comments, two other factors were brought up: Lack of physical attraction, and free pornography.

The first is, of course, a bit ridiculous, but also somewhat unsettling. To hear some 19-year olds saying that 40-year old men aren’t having sex because their wives aren’t “hot” anymore is unsurprising and immature. But it also conveys, I think, a sense of the general societal response to aging. It’s a bad thing to get older, and you can’t possibly be physically attractive, even to people within your own age range! I would say that’s utter rubbish, and certainly hope that as I age I’ll appreciate my wife aging along with me, but the more society enforces that perspective, the more it seems to become prevalent even among those who are getting older.

The free porn is an issue in and of itself, which helps to feed the former issue. If you can access free images of 19-year olds and that’s the age range that’s deigned “most sexy”, then it’s hard to argue that men won’t access those images instead of seeking sex with their partner. But I’m not sure if that’s entirely what’s going on here, since the article argues that men aren’t just stopping sex with their wives, they’re going off sex entirely. Does that include porn? Sexual attraction is a portion of sex, even if it’s not sex itself. The article doesn’t make it clear if they’ve lost that, as well.

Gender roles almost certainly played a role in boosting statistics from years past. The fact that almost no men were seen claiming no need for sex is likely because it would have been considered a failure of the man’s abilities if he were to not be sexually capable. But for such a large portion to be turned off suddenly seems to be the other extreme, and not as easily attributed to shifting identities!

I’d like to see more statistics and a more thought-out piece on the information. But it’s food for thought at least! Perhaps the issue will fade into oblivion; but, until the men get back onto the old saw-horse, there’s likely to be some more speculation in the future!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. McSwain
    May 05, 2008 @ 19:58:48

    While I have no research to back it up, I wonder how much of it has to do with the over-sexualization off our culture. We’ve lost track of the emotional/spiritual component to sex. While I realize men think of sex differently than women do, I can’t help but think the loss of the meaning of the act must have something to do with the loss of interest.

    Reply

  2. Random
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:50:12

    Speaking as a middle aged (happily) married man…

    I think your second last paragraph hits the nail on the head – the only thing new here is that men are more likely to be honest about this sort of thing than they were in times past, when any sort of failure to be seen to be “up for it anytime, all the time” was seen as some sort of failure of masculinity.

    After all it was years ago (certainly more than 10) when I first heard a variant of this summarised as – ” if in your first year of married life you put a coin in a jar every time you make love to your wife, and after that you take a coin out every time you make love, there will still be some coins left in the jar when one of you dies of old age.”

    Other than that, I’m honestly surprised that somebody thinks it’s a news story that 50 year old men are less interested in sex than 30 year olds or 20 year olds. Isn’t this “Shock News – Pope is Catholic” territory? Frankly I’m closer to 50 than I am to 20, and I have to say that one of the few undisputed advantages of growing older is that, whereas I still enjoy the sight of a pretty girl in a skimpy summer dress, I’m no longer turned into a hormonal mess by it…

    Reply

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