First, the other day I came across a tiny little survey piece in the October 2011 issue of Redbook, debating whether it was ever okay to trade sex for favors:
IS TRADING SEX FOR FAVORS EVER OKAY?I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I do agree that women should be having sex because they want to, not out of some obligation. But on the other hand, I support sex workers' rights and find nothing "morally" wrong with trading sex for money or favors. (Readers: I'd love to hear your opinions on the subject.)
In a recent poll, 68 percent of REDBOOK readers said they've offered the goodies in return for a good deed from him. The rest of you said it's wrong. Both sides sound off:
"Sometimes I want sex and I want ice cream, and sex is a good incentive. Either way, we both win!" -- Danielle Blue, Kalamazoo, MI
"I once lifted up my shirt and said, 'Do you ever want to see them again?' so he would vacuum for me. He said he'd do anything I wanted!" -- Anne Travis, Manchester, TN
"That's off-limits for us. Otherwise, you can expect your husband to demand sex in return for doing nice things. No, thank you!" -- Diana Brown, Houston
"Sexual favors are a special treat - I don't want to change, and he should know that I'm doing something for him because I want to." -- Carolyn Canales, Arlington, TX
Mostly, I feel like it isn't right for anyone else to tell you how to handle your own sexual activity.
Also, although they technically gave both "sides" of the debate, even the "Why Not?" side seemed to be strictly within the confines of a relationship - trading sex for ice cream and vacuuming isn't exactly as controversial as some of the other stuff women might trade sex for, so the whole thing came off kind of slut-shamey in a passive-aggressive roundabout way.
In a moment of synchronicity, I received a press releasae today from HealthyWomen.org titled "New Survey Reveals Women Having Sex for Obligation Not Enjoyment". It cited a recent WomenTALK survey done by the National Women's Health Group and EmpowerHER.
From the press release:
Naomi Greenblatt, MD, a board certified psychiatrist specializing in women’s health, said the WomenTALK data aligns with her clinical work in the field.However, upon reading the actual findings of the study, I didn't really come to the conclusion that women were having sex out of obligation. Among the findings:
"There seems to be a growing trend in women having sex for obligation, not enjoyment purposes, "Dr. Greenblatt said. "Women say there are only 24 hours in the day, and they simply are not prioritizing sex."
- 51% of women believe engaging in sexual activity a few times a week is considered "sexually healthy" but only 30% actually engage in sexual activity at this level.
- 76% of women in committed relations are very happy with their relationships but only 33% of women are extremely or very satisfied with their sex life. (39% are "somewhat or not at all" satisfied.)
- 41% of women said they are engaging in sexual activity less often than they would like (citing reasons such as being too tired - 32%; not having a partner - 31%, being too stressed -23%; being insecure about their body - 22%; lack of desire - 20%).
So readers, weigh in on the "sex for favors" debate in the comments but please refrain from slut-shaming if possible. (There's a difference between saying you would never do something and suggesting that it's wrong for someone else to do it.)