Frances Cohen Praver Ph.D.

Love Doc

What women want

Women want a man with sex on his mind and love in his heart.

Posted Sep 29, 2009

"What do women want?" Freud puzzled in the buttoned-up nineteenth century. In the 21st century we still remain unclear about what women desire and need from their partners.

For clues, let's start with our consumer culture. Despite the economic crisis, the cosmetic and plastic surgery business─ that promise beauty, youth, sexiness ─ is booming. Clearly women want to feel attractive and desirable; it boosts their self image.

Compliments ─even from the heart─ help a women feel attractive and desirable. But there's much more. At the top of the list is emotional attunement. So, if a man and women are emotionally attuned to one another, their internal states ─ wishes, desires, intentions, feelings, aspirations─ are shared experience. They are into one another. A man attuned to his women's internal life recognizes that she is feeling unattractive, even if she does not tell him. He truly understands her. That's intimacy and that's one thing that women want.

Part of feeling attractive and desirable is that women need to care for, to nurture and to devote themselves to their loved ones, similar to women in the nineteenth century. Women then and now need to express their feminine sides. But unlike nineteenth century women, modern women also want also to express their masculine sides─ autonomy, independence, and assertiveness.

In the nineteenth century men were chivalrous, and protected their wives form the vicissitudes of life. To some degree modern women still want men to open doors for them, to stand up for them, and to protect them. But they want more, they also want to open doors for themselves, to stand up for themselves, and to face the realities of life. Modern women want equal power relationships.

No longer is June Cleaver─ whose sole function was to please her husband and family─ the role model for women. She along with other fifties female role models were self- less objects to others. No longer are women there solely for their men; they want their own desires and needs to be met. That's not to say that women do not want to please their men. They do, however, they also want their men to please them. Rather than a one-way street women today want reciprocity and mutuality on a two-way street.

What about women's sexual desires then and now?

Back in Freud's time, women were painted as pillars of purity and they were flattered to be elevated in this way. A demure, delicate wife shuddered at the thought of sex. Influenced by societal dictates, women believed they were undersexed and the sex act was disgusting. By suppressing their sexual desires, they were left dependent, listless and wilting with severe distress symptoms that Freud called ‘conversion hysteria.'

The roaring twenties ─with loose clothing and loose morals─ moved women's sexuality forward. A pull back was seen in the post war culture of the fifties. Crinolines, circle skirts, and perfectly coifed pageboys hid a woman's sexuality. Along came the sixties, the pill, and feminism that spawned in a sexual revolution. Casual sex was in and the prudish fifties were out. The AIDS epidemic in the eighties ushered in an era of restraint and a pull back to women's sexuality.

In the next two decades, increasingly, women have expressed their sexuality, not like the swinging sixties, but in a new way. In our post 9/11 time, women want security and attachment along with spontaneity and red hot sex. Women want a man with passionate sex on his mind and love and tenderness in his heart. She wants him to be into her, not just sexually, but emotionally as well. Do modern women want too much? I think not.


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