I read Stylist. I got angry.

Three weeks ago, Alissa Nutting challenged the myth of female sexual passivity in Stylist. Reader Ben England was livid. Here’s what he had to say…

Stylist is a women’s magazine so it’s no surprise that many of our features focus on just that; women. Alissa Nutting’s recent article on libido and women’s appetite for sex (31 July, Issue 184) was certainly no different. So we were prepared when reader Ben England wrote in with palpable (but well-worded) indignation about Nutting’s portrayal of men. He argued that all men are not Neanderthal creatures and actually are very well aware that women like sex. ‘A good point, well made,’ we thought. So we decided to share his views.

The author’s main argument, that men are the ones pulling all the strings in the bedroom (and society – but mainly the bedroom) and women are subordinate to this appears to take as its main piece of evidence Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines – now I’m no scholar but I don’t think you should be basing a good part of your argument on a bit of throwaway pop music – equally I could cite any number of Rihanna’s songs as counter argument to this.

I think the majority of men are a little more complex than those portrayed by Nutting and Thicke, ‘It (patriarchal society) says that female sexuality depends on men for activation, that women need men to show them how to express their sexuality and that the best way for women to gain sexual satisfaction is by doing what men want them to do’. I’m not sure it does, and I don’t believe the majority of men would go along with this – I’ve never felt that way at any rate.

If you read a men’s magazine – even the less salubrious ones – there are plenty of men asking for tips on how to pleasure their current squeeze. I’d say it’s 50/50 on the sexual expression front (we need women to feel sexy – my missus certainly makes me feel sexy), plus the real turn-on is learning what your partner likes in the bedroom. Equally Nutting ignores the physiological and psychological difference in the male and female orgasm.

I’d argue against Nutting’s simplistic view that little girls are fed the princess myth; told to wait for prince charming and marriage – I think somewhere along that line things go a bit askew. The sexualisation of culture, especially youth culture, as exemplified by Rihanna among others and fed to girls, teenagers and young women, is in fact more of an issue than Nutting’s fight for sexual equality. Nutting might also not have seen one of our provincial high streets on a Saturday night – I’d say there were plenty of women getting what they want out there! And if she thinks that women have to sexually repress themselves then a book like Fifty Shades of Grey (abhorrent in every way – more damage done to female sexuality than any ‘patriarchal society’) is not really helping matters much.

Nutting fails to see that perhaps it isn’t just society, but women’s genetic make-up that is telling them that motherhood is their ‘highest calling’. I hate to break it to you but as animals it is wired into us to procreate, bring up and nurture children – there is no getting around that. Equally I don’t think anyone is asking women to ‘sit around and twiddle their thumbs’. Dare I say it, there may even be some women out there who want to get married and want to have children.

Lastly I’d also say that the majority of men do not want to play away or have affairs – I for one would love to get married. Painting us all as misogynists is base and pathetic and just cements gender stereotypes.

Don’t get me wrong; of course gender inequality exists, but I don’t know anyone who genuinely thinks that women can’t express their sexuality without a man helping them along. Female sexual passivity is a myth I’ve never encountered; like every other man, I am fully aware women like sex and are in control of their sexuality. I never doubted it. Moreover, I’m very glad of it. Neither men nor women are innately gifted with knowing precisely what the other ‘wants’ in the bedroom – the trick is to find out together. And surely that’s half the fun?”

Ben works in marketing and occasionally writes on his blog at

Do you agree with Ben or do you think Alissa’s argument still stands? Share your thoughts below or on Twitter

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