I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido
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by Joan Sewell
Joan Sewell is not in the mood. In fact, she is never—or hardly ever—in the mood. And it’s not that she hasn’t tried.
She slathers her husband, Kip, in chocolate frosting. She whispers naughty nothings in his ear. She lights candles, dons a bustier and fishnets, and massages him with scented oil. Ho-hum. She would still prefer a brownie, a book—anything to sex. And she says most women, unless they’re fooling themselves, consider the deed a chore.
The idea that women’s sex drive can match men’s is politically correct piffle, says Sewell, who is 45. Her memoir, I’d Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido, recounts one frustration after another in a buildup to an anticlimactic conclusion: she’s just not that into sex. Such a pronouncement may not be titillating, but it’s groundbreaking, says Sandra Tsing Loh in the March issue of the Atlantic.
Libidinous ladies parade across our television screens—in Sex and the City, for example, or Desperate Housewives—but Sewell thinks they’re faking it. Like many real women, they are conforming to an image of supposed sexual liberation as they throw down their men and play rough. Poor Sewell, then, is the deviant. She is pathologized and pitied and subjected to various futile therapies:
I will be treated with drugs, psychoanalysis, spa-based encounter groups, warm rocks placed on my back, thong therapy, sex-toy parties, empowerment rituals, aromatherapy.... As I end up in a straitjacket in a psych ward hopping about madly, I simply can’t help noting the obvious. No one is trying to lower men’s sex drives.
Our brave heroine has had enough. She imagines a talk show on the “problem of male sexual overdrive” in which Oprah and Dr. Phil counsel a revved-up man, Rod. Six months later he returns to the show cured. “I can’t believe that I used to cuddle with my wife and think it was not enough,” he mumbles, misty-eyed. Sewell’s husband, Kip, does not suffer quite the same fate, but the two work out a compromise, a sort of sexual contract that involves stripteases, masturbation, and, on occasion, sex. They are both satisfied. Well, sort of. Mostly they are relieved.