I spent much of last week talking about the Ashley Madison hacking scandal. Midst the salacious reporting, there was one particularly startling revelation. Contrary to the site’s claims about plenty of female as well as male users, it turned out there were about 28 million men and 5 million women in the account list.
“The Ashley Madison hack proves men are dogs. But the Ashley Madison service itself proves men are suckers,” gloated Naomi Schaefer Riley in the New York Post.
Perhaps it proves something very different. For all the male blaming that has been going on over the hacking scandal, there’s been remarkably little attention paid to what drives these huge numbers of men to seek sexual relief outside their marriages.
The missing part of the puzzle is strong evidence that many men are facing an increasing problem in achieving sexually fulfilling marriages or long-term relationships. With swelling numbers of sexual disinterested women determining the sexual frequency in their relationships, men face a male sex deficit which shows every sign of growing stronger.
Surveys from across the world are now reporting dropping sexual frequencies, more celibate marriages and an increasing gap between male and female sexual desire with even young women reporting loss of sexual interest.
In Britain earlier this month, sociologist Catherine Hakim produced a report, Supply and Desire: Sexuality and the Sex Industry in the 21st Century which argued for decriminalization of prostitution. In the paper, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, Hakim summed up a series of international sex surveys which show male sexual desire is manifested as least twice as often as female desire. “The gap is growing over time so the sexual deficit among men is growing steadily,” she wrote, spelling out the many reasons why this situation is likely to get worse for men.
“Male demand for sexual entertainments of all kinds is thus growing and ineradicable,” Hakim concluded. Her most recent book, The New Rules, examined internet sex sites and found a sexless or low-sex marriage to be the most common cause for people choosing to use such sites.
The current head of The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Finish sociologist Osmo Kontula is now preparing his presidential address to be delivered at their November conference. He’s pondering the starting results of recent sex surveys he’s been conducting showing more women, particularly young women, having trouble reaching orgasm as well as the growing gap in desire and increase in celibate marriages.
It’s hardly surprising that this month saw another sex news story making a splash – approval by the US Food and Drug Administration of Flibanserin, the low-libido drug for women.
It’s over fifty years since the arrival of the contraceptive pill was celebrated by the women’s movement as launching the liberation of female sexuality. In an article I wrote recently for The Weekend Australian, I examined why it is that this progress has now derailed. Why the sudden drop in female desire and response?