Sunday, September 11, 2016

Book Review: Cultural Suppression of Female Sexuality

Cultural Suppression of Female Sexuality’ by Roy F. Baumeister and Jean M. Twenge is a holistic look at our society's suppression of female sexuality.
The author begins with an overview of the suppression of female sexuality as a pattern of cultural influence by which girls and women are induced to avoid feeling sexual desire and to refrain from sexual-suggestive behavior. At the outset, the author examines the two main theories based on which gender is mainly responsible for the alleged suppression of female sexuality. The first suppression theory puts men as seeking to suppress female sexuality. The second theory, the female control theory, holds that the women, rather than the men, cooperate to stifle female.
The book then considers the null hypothesis that there was no suppression of female sexuality. But the appearance of lesser sexual inclinations among women (as compared with men), which is beyond dispute, is explained as a consequence of social forces. Another hypothesis is that women exert self-control over their sexuality because of the costs and dangers of sex. It seems indisputable that these costs and dangers have always fallen disproportionately on women. Other measures that seek to curtail female sexuality are then examined, like surgical interventions, such as cutting off the clitoris (subincision).
Prostitution and pornography are examined in the light of above theories. Male control theory fails here, as, if men want to suppress female sexuality in general, men would oppose prostitution and pornography. The female control theory meets a similar fate, as, all over human society, women seem consistently more opposed than men to prostitution and pornography.
Author’s main argument, that women would be the main proximal influences in restraining female sexuality, is therefore shown with great credence. The exchange theory is presented by the author as a good reason for women to suppress female sexuality, because, restricting the supply of sex will raise the price (in terms of commitment, attention, and other resources) that women can get for their sexual favors.
This is a short, but thorough study. Though I am not at all in agreement with the author, I would say he has covered the topic quite extensively, except for my comments below.
I think the most significant question in this regard was not asked by the author. ‘Who is the beneficiary?’ ‘In whose interest is this to continue?’ It should be mere common sense.
In whose interest can be, the removal of portions of female anatomy that can sense sexual gratification? Naturally, the beneficiary shall be the one who has to work hard to provide her gratification.
Who will benefit from a suppressed female? Naturally, the one who expects oppression.
Who will expect oppression? In all forms of life, the male is treated harshly by the female immediately on culmination of mating. Perhaps human ancestors too faced it and started suppressing females.