Zero Sum Sexuality

“Did you see his new wife?  She is young and always dresses like, well, lets just say she leaves little to the imagination.”

“Yeah, if he is after what I think he’s after, he should have married some sweet Midwest girl who dresses modestly and has enough left over for her husband when its just the two of them.”

I heard this conversation as a young child and unfortunately never forgot it.  Since ‘Midwest girl’ is an American phrase so it was either Focus on the Family or one of our American travelling preachers.  

The message was clear- a girl only has so much sexuality.  If she uses it up in display, she won’t have any left for the bedroom.  Therefore all women who dress provocatively are only compensating for a lack of real sexual desire.  Like men who drive big trucks.  People who don’t seem interested in sex really are more sexual than anyone else.

Well, I got that sexual desire was a good thing for married people.  I sure didn’t want to use it up early and not have anything left over for when it was good.  (How many testimonies did I hear of people who had sex before marriage and after marriage sex sucked but not in a good way?)

Yep, the way to be an everlasting spring of delight (in marriage) was to resist using up sexuality in frivolous things like make-up, flirting, or clothes that emphasized non-masculine curves.  I really did look at my female classmates who displayed their sexuality as asexual.  They’d used it all up.

The male equivalent of this was to not watch porn.  They would use up all of their sexual energy watching someone else and then not have anything left over for their future wife.  

But did those years of avoiding sexuality really bring up anyone’s sex drive?  Dressing in unflattering clothes out of fear (as opposed to out of comfort) wasn’t really putting money in the marriage bank, was it?  Do all those couples who like to watch porn together do it because they like to have less sexual desire for each other afterwards?

These are the same people that believe power is a zero sum game.  In order for women to have more power, men have to give up theirs (and that is unacceptable).   Don’t date until you’re ready to marry because if you give away your love to someone you won’t have as much left over for someone else. There is only so much marriage going around too, so if we give some of it to homosexuals then heterosexuals will lose some. 


5 thoughts on “Zero Sum Sexuality

  1. “Zero sum sexuality” is a good name for that attitude. It seems to me there is also a belief among many of the same people that, if a man and woman have sex before marriage, the man is in some sense a predator, and the woman is in some sense a victim. And, in turn, that is seen as one of them winning and the other losing. The only thing that can redeem the situation is marriage.

  2. D'Ma says:

    An old boss of mine had a saying, “You can’t miss what you can’t measure”. He was saying it in a work context, but it applies to other things. How do you measure sexuality? Or love? Or marriage? You can’t really quantify those things, thus it takes nothing away from later. You can’t really ever use them up except to the degree that you, yourself, limit them. So dressing provocatively does nothing to diminish sexual pleasure. Maybe some men enjoy having an attractive, confident woman on their arm. Maybe some women enjoy being attractive and confident. It really should be no one else’ concern.

    • prairienymph says:

      Exactly. I don’t think my parents loved me less because they also loved my brothers.
      From what I’ve seen, those people who are confident in their sexuality enjoy their sex lives more. People who are terrified and ashamed of it don’t even have the freedom to relax.
      I think it was such a big concern to the men in the conversation because they were secretly jealous and assured themselves that their sex life was actually better. Or they were really controlling and felt that any expression of their wives’ sexuality belonged exclusively to them and not to the wives or anyone who might see them.

  3. Ahab says:

    It’s as if these people conceive of sexuality as a commodity that gets used up (or damaged), rather than an aspect of our humanity that we should celebrate.

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