Schemas, The New Sex Rules, and Women Liking Sex

Taking notes for my basic psychology class has been a good thing for me, especially when I get to learn about and relearn basic concepts. For example, schemas are cognitive structures for perceiving, processing, and organizing information. Scripts are sequential schemas (for example, going to the movies, or going on a traditional straight date: most people understand these scripts and act in accordance with them without needing explicit instruction).

In his most recent blog post, Marty Klein discusses The New Sex Rules, and how even though we (as a society) have worked past old, harmful rules about sex (you shouldn’t tell your partner you masturbate, real women orgasm from intercourse, etc.), we have new ones floating around (everyone should masturbate, you should be able to orgasm from oral sex, etc.). All of these rules introduce scripts for sexual relationships that can provide “easy” ways of going through the motions of having sex, but also mean that sexual relationships may not have explicit communication embedded within them, resulting in sex that is not satisfying or fun for either or both (or more) individuals. 

J also passed along this NPR article about an interview done with Erica Jong, author of Fear of Flying. In the summary about the interview, Jong also introduces her own schematic understandings of sexual relationships, some of which are more progressive than others. Her own ways of structuring sexuality and sexual and romantic relationships, although progressive for when she wrote her book 40 years ago, clearly impact her perception of kinky relationships (ala Fifty Shades of Grey) and “college hook-up culture” (which I place in quotes because I think it is completely overblown).

She says something like “If you look at Fifty Shades of Gray, it’s a very, very retrograde book, because if you’re tied up and aroused, what are you really doing? You’re giving up all responsibility for your sexuality. So, you cannot be a bad girl, because you’re tied up. … You can be a victim.” And with regards to college hook-ups: “I think that [young] women today — particularly in universities and so on — are doing hook-ups… But I don’t think that they’re getting much joy out of it. If you look at Girls, Lena Dunham’s program … in many ways is very dark — these girls are not getting any pleasure. They’re watching the men get pleasure. And so if hook-ups are so wonderful, why are these shows so dark and disappointing?” It’s pretty clear to me that even if you create and act on a new and revolutionary schema for yourself that women can and do enjoy sex, you may get to 2013 and not have a cognitive structure that allows for kinky sex to be enjoyable or for casual sex to be enjoyable. Maybe I am out of bounds here, but that’s what it seems like to me from this interview summary. 

Any other thoughts out there?

2 thoughts on “Schemas, The New Sex Rules, and Women Liking Sex

  1. Nice blog – thanks! I'm disappointed in Jong; she is one person I'd have thought would stay currently engaged. One FAR more progressive and, perhaps, more intuitive is Dossie Easton, author of Ethical Slut. If you (or your readers out there) have NOT read it I urge you to do so. It's a breath of fresh air written in a conversational style full of wit and humor.

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