The war between the sexes has turned into a war over sex, and feminists are on the front lines calling for a revolution before the midterms. They want women to stop having “service sex” with their husbands to teach them a lesson about women’s power in elections and incite social change.
Service sex is when a woman has sex with her husband or long-term partner even though she’s not in the mood. She does it, not because she gets particular pleasure from it, but because she thinks it’s what she should do to be a good wife.
Most people who have been married more than a couple of years can relate to this. The husband comes home from work tired, drained from a day of endless meetings, frustrating assignments, or just the monotony of existing among the gray cubicles of “Joe Versus the Volcano.”
The wife has been working too. She’s tired. All she wants is a bath and a pillow, but her husband gets that twinkle in his eye. He needs reconnection and the calming balm of his wife’s physical presence after a lonely day in his work zone.
Wanting her husband to be happy because she loves him, she complies. The husband is grateful even if he doesn’t say so. After all, he loves her too, and having sex is his love language, as it is with many men.
Sometimes the wife fantasizes of more exciting moments—she’d like to be ravished once in a while like that girl in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books—but the daily grind of life saps energy for such novelties. She’s a little sad about that, but she has sex anyway.
Their marriage isn’t unusual. This doesn’t mean sex couldn’t be better. But they still love each other very much. The husband shows it by looking to the woman he trusts for connection and release. She shows it by giving him what he needs.
Feminists want this deeply personal, sacrificial moment between married people who love each other to stop. They think a woman sacrificing her own desires and putting a man’s pleasure first is a form of female subjugation that translates into political and cultural oppression.
Men Want Sex, So Don’t Give It to Them
The patriarchy, they say, is winning in society because it’s winning in the bedroom. For this male-centric behavior to stop, women must revolt. No more service sex. No more giving, sacrificing, or serving. It’s time for women first—female-centric sex and female-centric politics.
In her article “What if women went on a sex strike before the midterms,” cultural critic Wednesday Martin complains that service sex is contributing to the degradation of women in society. Never mind that many women want to love their husbands in this way—feminists have cast service sex as chains binding a woman to a man’s will; therefore, it must be so.
Martin tries to motivate women to the cause by echoing Margaret Atwoodian fear-mongering—painting men who want to make love to their wives as sexually entitled and uninterested women as somehow being denied sexual autonomy. These terms create a very rapey caricature of typical male-female marriage dynamics.
Martin then superimposes this dominate-submissive power dynamic onto society, nonsensically making sex political, claiming that this sexual interplay contributes or at least reflects sexual inequality in business and politics—an assertion that is patently false, considering the equality and freedom women enjoy in America.
Being Kind to Men Is Actually Evil
The primary “inequality” Martin cites is the disparity in pay, though even she seems to agree that this disparity isn’t the result of discrimination against women but of women’s choices, such as choosing to stay home with their kids.
This free choice, evidently, is similar to “service sex,” and Martin wants women to make different choices—ones she would make. She claims that women continuing to put themselves in sacrificial roles has grave political consequences, such as legitimizing the Trump administration, which she says “has amped up the notion that women are mere extensions of male will and pleasure, there to serve at every turn.”
What is the rollback of reproductive rights but an assertion that not only female reproduction but female sexuality itself belong to what science writer Natalie Angier calls the ‘Greater Male Coalition’? What are the President’s insults to Stormy Daniels other than assertions that the woman who enjoys sex or profits from it in any way — emotionally, financially, or physically — is unnatural, immoral, and unattractive? In this world order, female sexual autonomy is not only dangerous and destabilizing; it is increasingly hard to imagine. And female pleasure is irrelevant, even pathological, if it exists at all.
Some women under the current administration may be fine with this paradigm, but they are fundamentally yoked to male desires and agendas, never to exist outside or without them. This basic and deeply personal form of degradation, in which even women’s desires aren’t our own, both reinforces and reflects a hierarchy where men matter more.
So, Trump dissing a woman who broke a contract with him is an attack on the sexual freedom of all women? That’s simply illogical. And no one in this society is seriously promoting the notion that women who enjoy sex are pathological. What’s pathological is the idea that women serving men of their own free will is destructive to female autonomy. A wife choosing to love her husband even when she doesn’t feel like it is the essence of autonomy and love—she’s choosing to put another’s needs over her own.
But Martin doesn’t see this, and like a good feminist, she wants to tell other women what they should do. All she sees is the dreaded patriarchy, a boogeyman in the minds of American feminists. To defeat it, she wants to make sex “female-focused and female-pleasure-centric.” This, she claims, will “begin to force other shifts in thinking in important ways.”
We Don’t Fix Male Domination with Female Domination
Martin’s strategy to use something as intimate and personal as sex to incite broader cultural change corrupts something sacred. She unwittingly falls into the very mindset she’s criticizing: using sex as a tool to achieve a self-interested purpose. In her case, it’s the political transformation of America. This aim, when applied to sex, is fundamentally selfish, and in its elevation of women over men, it is also inherently sexist.
“Women don’t owe men a thing,” Martin says. “If anything the statistics show, we are owed. It’s time to make sex and sexual pleasure female-centric. . . . The idea of a sex strike suggests exciting possibilities beyond the bedroom. What would not just sex but the world look like if we prioritized what women want in every sex act?”
I’ll tell you what that world would look like—a complete nightmare. First, making politics female-centric is instituting a matriarchy. How do you think the male population would respond to putting femaleness first in all aspects of life? They’d respond the way women reacted when men did the same: revolution. So instead of social progress, we’d merely enter an ongoing Marxist struggle with one revolution countering another as society devolves into dystopia.
Second, using sex as a weapon for any reason disrupts relationships, and strong relationships are fundamental to a free society. Withholding sex to try to manipulate men builds resentment. It doesn’t incite change. It transforms sex from an act of love into an agent of power and control. It transforms the bedroom into a battlefield of warring factions who are only concerned about their own interests. It obliterates trust.
The heart of love is “other-centered,” not “me-centered.” Good sex is when you desire and give to the other. Sex should not be male-centric or female-centric, any more than society should be one or the other. A me-focused mentality in any sphere is always destructive. To serve and even to sacrifice is what makes us strong as individuals, couples, and a society. This is true for women and men, wives and husbands.
Selfishness Ultimately Feeds Resentment
If a woman is in a relationship in which she no longer feels desire for her husband, then something is wrong in the relationship that goes deeper than sex. Instead of using sex as a weapon, the woman should explore why she doesn’t love her husband as much any longer. The answers will be different for every couple. She might even find that she’s part of the problem.
When a person is only thinking of herself, her needs, her desires, then she will grow to resent the other person. Through giving and sacrifice, love is fostered. By showing desire, you inflame desire in the one you love. If this reciprocity is not happening, then the problem is not, as Martin says, something amiss in culture, but an already broken relationship that needs to be mended.
Martin argues that the problem with service sex is that it “equates female goodness with sacrificing one’s sexual pleasure for someone else’s.” For one thing, there’s no such thing as “female goodness.” There’s only goodness. Also, this is a completely wrong way to look at the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. We’re not talking about hookups or abusive relationships, but two people who have promised to love each other in all circumstances.
If you love someone, then you want to give. In giving, you’re not sacrificing your pleasure for someone else’s; the pleasure is in the act of sex itself—the intimacy and love between two people. Men tend to express their love more directly through sex than women tend to, which is why they typically want it more often and why women more often give even when they’re not in the mood. This is part of being a grown-up in a trusting relationship. You give.
Working to Reduce Service Sex Is a Worthy Goal
It’s true that many women (although not all) want a more quality sex life, as do men. A man should be attuned to giving to his wife, meeting her needs, and treating her like the incredible sexual creature she is. If he doesn’t, she’ll be tempted to stray, just like a man is tempted when his needs aren’t met.
Therefore, they both should work together as a team to build intimacy, desire, and excitement in their sexual relationship. This isn’t accomplished through threats or withholding the very thing that tightens their bond. It is accomplished by having even more sex, communicating about sexual needs, exploring sex together. The goal is oneness—relationship-centric—not me-ness and female-centric.
A society in which individuals sacrifice, give, serve, and love is a strong and free society. It was this spirit of sacrifice by women—and men as they toiled and shed blood for their families—that made our nation great even back before women had all the rights of men. It wasn’t through selfishness that they paved the way for liberty for all, but through service to their husbands, families, work, and nation; and it is this spirit of selflessness that will preserve our liberty today.
Alexis de Tocqueville in his analysis of democracy in America in the early 1800s observed that American women who sacrificed much for their families and were treated with respect by their husbands were the backbone of the United States.
“If I were asked,” he wrote, “now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in which I have spoken of so many important things done by the Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply—to the superiority of their women.”
Instead of striving to be superior to men, as Martin suggests with her female-centric rhetoric, women need to focus on the superiority of their character. By becoming better women, our nation will be better. Yes, sacrifice and service is part of that.