Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Myth of the Insidious Marriage Plot

Friday I read this article at The Daily Beast. It's about how Tiger Woods is now seeking treatment for sex addiction after his string of affairs and how sex addiction doesn't really exist. The author, a doctor of psychiatry, says that sex addiction is just society's way of reconciling its uncomfortable feelings about a man's biological imperative to have sex with every woman he possibly can.

To hear this guy tell it, sex addiction is a female conspiracy against men, our attempt to make them into our relationship slaves.

My issue with this article is not that I don't believe in the biological imperative. I know men want to have sex. I know that men look at women and think about sex. I understand that this impulse comes from the need to spread genes. I get all of that. I am also unsure how I feel about the diagnosis of sex addiction and, in this specific Tiger Woods case, can see how he may only be entering sex addiction treatment to cover his tracks and make up with the rest of the world. I don't believe he owes the world that kind of--or any--apology, but the guy does have to make a living. What I take great issue with is the tone of the article, the sweeping generality that every man wants to cheat on his woman, and the fact that even though the author is a doctor, he sure does sound awfully defensive.

Me thinks he doth protest too much.

First of all, explaining sex addiction as another name for the male biological imperative ignores all the women who identify themselves as sex addicts. While I find the diagnosis of sex addiction dubious at best, I think it's ridiculous for a doctor to talk about sex addiction as the male sex drive. I won't go into details as to how I know this, but there are as many women at meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous as there are men. I also watched Celebrity Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, and there were more women there than men. So, what, they're just there husband-hunting? I'm not even going to be-leaguer this point as I think it speaks for itself.

Second, this idea that all men are miserable in their marriages because marriage hems in their ability to have sex with all the other women of the world. "But in between these two extremes reside garden-variety marriages wherein the wife may complain about the husband’s sexual demand, and the man may seek lovers and/or prostitutes." He's supposedly talking about the marriages of sex addicts, but he's already established that sex addiction is the way that women reconcile the normal male sex drive. So you're telling me that all men seek lovers and prostitutes outside of their marriages or, at least, want to? He also refers to the "typical" female complaint about how often husbands want to have sex.

Honestly, at this point I started thinking maybe this guy based his research on the average American sit-com.

I have no doubt, again, that this is true in some cases. I heard about a book a female psychologist wrote in which she implicates wives in their cheating husbands activities. She says that women who figure that once they're married the man should stay faithful out of obligation even if the women don't want to give it up are delusional. She says that women should take one for the team--it's all part of the give-and-take of a relationship. And, honestly, I agree with her on some level. There's never an excuse for cheating. If you're planning on having sex with someone other than your wife, dump your wife first. I do believe, however, that which ever partner has the lower sex drive should sometimes have sex despite his or her lack of desire if he or she is really interested in making the overall relationship work.

I say "he or she" because it's been my general experience that I'm always the one in my relationships who wants to have sex more often than my partner. This is part of my argument against this article. Who says women always complain about their husbands' sexual appetites?

This idea that all men feel oppressed by marriage ignores all the ones who don't. I was talking to a man on Friday night who married his girlfriend of 13 years. He said he loves being married. He said he feels we have an innate need to partner up. He feels that partnering--long-term relationships, marriage, co-habitation--is instinctual. But what about his supposed sex addiction? If he's feeling his wings have been clipped and he wishes he was able to go out and fuck everything that moves, I couldn't find that feeling anywhere in his overabundance of enthusiasm for his marriage.

Marriage isn't a plot perpetrated upon men by women. I never buy the "societal pressures" argument when people are talking about marriage and family. I know there may be perceived societal pressures. If you're that weak that you can't resist the nagging parents, the friends who look at you like a loser or a leper, or the movies and TV shows that show having a family as the norm, than that's your problem. Don't come crying to me about it. Life is about making choices, and there may be no perfect choice, but if a man has decided he really wants to be married and have children for whatever reason, he needs to suck it up and deal with whatever feelings of ambivalence may be left over on any issue within that construct. "I want children, so I'm going to give up having sex with other women."

What really struck me was that this article was written by a psychiatrist. That lends an air of credibility. But the tone of voice is so over-the-top and one-sided that it can't possibly hold water.

Personally, I'm guessing he likes to have sex with prostitutes.


  1. You know, I was kind of following along with his argument and thought maybe there's some credibility to it, even though I do have a lot of issues with his reasoning. But when it came to his answer to a woman who told the forum about how she loves sex and "Why are all these 'wives' complaining about their husbands 'sexual demands'?" He responded with

    "If more women were like you, there would be less extra-marital acting out."

    yeah, bitter much, Karasu? I think we've uncovered the real machinations behind his argument. A misogynist using his doctor status to generate credibility for resenting women. Really sad.

  2. Exactly. I can understand the argument against the validity of the existence of sex addiction. What I cannot understand is how this article in any way supports that argument because of its obvious bias. He sounds like an asshole.