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How BDSM Sex Leads to More Sex; A Lot More

by Terra Bloom

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I am visiting a friend, and her husband is watching TV in the den and laughing. It catches my attention, a rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond, because poor Ray is desperate to get laid but can’t get his wife to agree to sex. He feels angry and resentful, she feels pushed and resentful ... Of course, I can’t help but think they’d both be soooo much happier if she’d just submit to her horny husband already. My wonderfully horny husband is never desperate to get laid. And we are never angry and resentful toward each other. We are in a BDSM power exchange relationship; he commands, I submit.

The next morning, I stumble across an article in the New York Times that announces, “Americans are having less sex.” It tells me that in the last twenty years, sexual frequency of sex has declined for all Americans, but especially married couples, from an average of 67 times per year in 1989, to average of 56 times per year in 2014. Meanwhile, young people are not getting it on as much as older generations did at the same age. Millennials, says the article, “are having less sex than any other generation previously.” (Other studies will continue to confirm this, with a government-sponsored General Social Survey finding that “a whopping 23 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds were celibate in 2018 ... up from 8 percent in 2008, and far more than the 13 percent of Americans in their 50s who said they spent 2018 sexless.”)

The authors of the NYT article say they don’t know why sexual frequency has declined, but they surmise it could have something to do with technology intruding into our lives and stealing our attention away from each other. However, sex researchers Marianne Brandon and James Simon, the authors of a February 2020 article in Psychology Today entitled, “The End of Sex,” believes the urge to blame technology and other modern distractions misses the core problem. “There is something even more fundamentally awry,” they write. And that something is the change in how men and women are sexually relating to each other since the advent of feminism. They continue:

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The empowering of women and the culturally valued softening of men has suddenly created a new way of engaging in the bedroom as much as in the boardroom, and our evolutionary psychology has not caught up. This is a serious social problem because intimacy is not an expendable aspect of humanity. Our insistence that men and women are more alike than different is true in almost all aspects of living, except for sex. Human sexuality—the sexuality of all mammals in general and primates in particular—has primal, biological roots. And when people work with, rather than against, these instincts, their sex gets better. Gender equality does not imply gender equivalence—at least, not in the bedroom.

Brandon and Simon continue making a compelling case for how the sexual revolution has taught men to tamp down on their sexual assertiveness, and how women have been left cold by the change. While men are learning “to avoid at all costs any behavior in the bedroom that may be regarded as aggressive or dominant,” they write, women are at the same time discovering that respectful “polite sex holds little interest for them—they’d rather do the dishes.”

I absolutely agree, having experienced the chill of boredom in my sexual relationships again and again. But I also think the sex drought is not only about the neutered sexual style of men, paramount as that is, but also the fact that women are now conditioned to view a frequent “no” to sex as empowering.

Indeed, women are now taught they are all but obligated to say no if they don’t feel like doing it, or else they could be guilty of tolerating toxic masculinity and male privilege. I’ve even read an essay that suggested sex that happens without our full arousal is basically a traumatic event. Girls are encouraged to focus on their own desires, as well as resist any pressure to satisfy male desires that do not match their own.

A 20-something friend once confided to me that she was worried that her boyfriend would leave her because she hadn’t wanted sex in months. I suggested that if she wanted to keep the relationship she might want to “just go ahead and do it anyway.”

She was horrified at the idea, and said her boyfriend would never agree to it. “He’d never want me to have sex with him if I wasn’t really into it.”

It is important to point out—repeatedly and tirelessly point out—that women have the right to determine what happens to their own bodies. But it is vital to look beyond that. We need to ask what happens to our relationships when we listen only to our own moods, only satisfy only our own needs? Are women really happier when they have sex only when they feel like it, regardless of their partner’s desires? My 20-something friend didn’t seem happy; rather, she felt her entire relationship in jeopardy. She felt something was wrong with her that she didn’t want sex often enough.

I find a story on CNN, about a study that examined couples who buck the trend of less sex and are actually having more sex. What is it, the study asked, that determines how often a couple has sex? The authors concluded that it is the personality of the woman, and whether she is “agreeable.” The authors noted that because men want, and initiate, sex more often than their female partners, women are by default “the ‘gatekeepers’ of sex within relationships.” The higher a wife’s level of openness to experience or agreeableness (my translation: sexual submissiveness), the more often the couple had sex. The husband’s personality, on the other hand, was not a predictor of sexual frequency.

My experience tells me that a woman who says “yes” to her husband’s sexual wants, despite her own level of desire, is going to have a more peaceful and satisfying relationship. Of course, I’m not the only one who’s figured this out. A quick Google search confirms that in the past few years, more articles are questioning our feminist-slanted cultural brainwashing and suggesting that women might want to consider sex with our partners whether we’re in the mood or not. In Prevention Magazine, there is “Why You Should Have Sex Even When You’re Not Feeling It.” At YourTango, there is “For a Good Marriage, Have Sex Even if You Aren’t in the Mood.” And CafeMom came up with “11 Reasons to Have Sex When You’re Not in the Mood.”

Sometimes these articles point out that merely by saying yes and moving in the direction of sex, we are likely to find ourselves in the mood after all. This view is echoed in the bestselling book, Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. The author, sex educator Emily Nagoski, notes the difference between “spontaneous” sexual desire that arises of its own volition, and “reactive” sexual desire that begins flowing only after sex is initiated. I can think of a hundred examples in my own sexual past, even before BDSM, where I wasn’t necessarily in the mood in the beginning, but fully turned on as sex proceeded.

Nagoski also describes a “dual control model” of desire, which understands that we all have a sexual desire system that, like a car, employs both an accelerator (excitor) and a brake (inhibitor). Our accelerator is what says yes, I am turned on, let’s have sex now. Meanwhile, the brake is what tells us no, the kids are in the next room, better not do it now. Some people have more sensitive accelerators and can find themselves wanting sex all the time no matter the circumstances. Others have more sensitive brakes and can find themselves being pushed out of a sexual mood due to less-than-ideal circumstances, or even less-than-ideal thoughts (my usual: I feel unattractive today).

The book includes a test to help one evaluate the sensitivity of one’s accelerators and brakes, which I immediately take. While I score high on a good healthy accelerator, I also score high on a sensitive brake. A lightbulb turns on above my head. This could at least partly explain why submission works so well for me. It removes me from the control of my overly sensitive brake system. In turning sexual choice over to my husband, my inhibitors can no longer stop the sex from flowing.

I love this theory, and the idea that D/s is a brilliant workaround to obstacles to sex. It could be why, since we discovered D/s, my Daddy Husband and I have gone from having sex three or four times a week (already more than the one to two times a week typical of married couple), to now doing it three or four times a day.

Then again, maybe it has less to do with brakes and more to do with accelerators. Maybe it’s simply that saying “yes” to sex, no matter what, is just plain hot.

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Excerpted from the book, Ravish Me: A BDSM Memoir of Submission, by Terra Bloom.

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