Tuesday, October 3, 2017

She's Found a Sperm Donor

Among the media advice-givers two from the New York Times are always worth reading. Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah writes the Ethicist column… an intellectual cut above the average advice giver. And Philip Galanes writes a valuable etiquette column called Social Q’s.

So far so good. Before formulating my view of the Times and advice giving I had been blissfully unaware of the column called Dear Sugars, apparently a podcast by Cheryl Strayed and Dave Almond. This week the Times has published a transcript of one column. Perhaps they do so every week, but I remain unaware of that, too.

So that we all possess the same information, here is a letter written by a man named Frustrated:

Dear Sugars,

My partner and I have been together for three years. She’s 37, I’m 32 (and male). We’ve had our ups and downs, but the longer we’re together the stronger our relationship becomes. We support one another and share a lot of sweetness.

The problem is sex. Our libidos are mismatched, with me being the high-desire partner. My advances are often met with passivity. On average, we have sex once a month. It’s always good, if not great. We talk about what turns us on and off, we share our fantasies, and we’re open to trying new things. My partner says I’m good at pleasuring her and she often expresses her attraction to me, so I don’t understand why we have sex so seldom. We’ve had numerous conversations about it — almost always because I brought it up. I explain that I want to understand why attraction doesn’t for her translate into desire. She says sex just isn’t “a big part” of our relationship, but my desire for her is unflagging.

We’re talking about moving in together and starting a family. I’m open to that, but also reluctant, knowing that sex will likely become even less frequent once we have kids. I want to believe that we can create a robust, healthy sex life, but I’m at a loss as to what the next step is.


Naturally, the columnists think that this is just about sex. They even think that sex is just about sex. After the usual drool about how he should express his feelings and have a conversation about sexual attraction—is there a bigger turn-off than such discussions—they conclude that the unhappy couple should try some appointment sex. I am agnostic on the issue: if it helps your sex life to schedule amorous encounters go for it.

How this drivel got into the New York Times is beyond me.

As happens with many of these columns we know very little about this couple. We know that she is significantly older than he is—fact that the advice givers ignore—and that he is good at pleasuring his beloved. He does not make it explicit, but I am sure you can guess how he accomplishes this task. 

At this point, one recalls a phrase made famous in our culture. It is: She’s just not that into you. Could that be the solution to the problem? Perhaps she does not love him. Perhaps it’s not about sex anyway. We do not know who does what in the outside world and who supports whom in this relationship, so we do not know who is the breadwinner and who is the dominant partner. Could it be that she is dominant and that she does not feel any desire for him because she does not respect him as a man? How could she respect a man who falls for a woman who is five years older and who deprives him of sex? How could she love a man who says that they share "a lot of sweetness?" Maybe she wants him to man up and find a woman closer to his age.

After all, he is dating a woman who is at an age when fertility declines precipitously. Could it be that she is feeling desperate and has chosen a man she can control and manipulate, a man who will put up with almost anything, because he might make a suitable sperm donor.

Interestingly enough, they only have sex once a month. Of course, it is possible to get pregnant by having sex once. But, given the fact that human females, as the biologists say, do not advertise fertility, the wiser course is to have sex more often. If she wants to get pregnant, once a month is against the odds. Even more so since she is in her late thirties.

Naturally, the connection between sex and procreation escapes our keen-eyed advice givers. Since it escapes them, we are confident that it is the only issue. For the man’s paramour sex is about procreation. His purpose in the relationship is to provide seminal fluid. He might also be a viable Mr. Mom... especially if she has a more powerful career. Again, we do not know because the letter writer does not provide the information.

The man expects as much. When he bemoans the possibility that after they have children they might have even less sex, he is showing a basic understanding of his role in the relationship, his purpose in her life. He is a living, breathing sperm donor. 

Beyond that vital biological function, she’s just not that into him. 

See, the problem was not as difficult as it seemed. Unfortunately, our advice givers have missed it completely.


Sam L. said...

It's the NYT, Stu; there is so much the NYT misses.

James said...

WOMAN, n. An animal usually living in the vicinity of Man, and having a rudimentary susceptibility to domestication. It is credited by many of the elder zo├Âlogists with a certain vestigial docility acquired in a former state of seclusion, but naturalists of the postsusananthony period, having no knowledge of the seclusion, deny the virtue and declare that such as creation's dawn beheld, it roareth now. The species is the most widely distributed of all beasts of prey, infesting all habitable parts of the globe, from Greenland's spicy mountains to India's moral strand. The popular name (wolf-man) is incorrect, for the creature is of the cat kind. The woman is lithe and graceful in its movements, especially the American variety (felis pugnans), is omnivorous and can be taught not to talk.
—Balthasar Pober