147. Author Interview - Dr. Van Anders - The Heteronormativity Theory of Low Sexual Desire


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Desire is Shaped by our Lived Experiences – The Heteronormative Theory Paper

Dr. Sari van Anders is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Social Neuroendocrinology, Sexuality, and Gender/Sex, and Professor of Psychology, Gender Studies, and Neuroscience, at Queen's University.

Dr. van Anders has published over 80 papers with research that sets out new ways to conceptualize, understand, and map gender/sex, sexual diversity, and sexuality, and also provides unique tools and theories for feminist and queer bioscience, especially within social neuroendocrinology and studies of testosterone.

Can we talk about Gendered behavior for a fast minute – a lot of people – majority people – might not know or believe that they are “socially gendered” – she explains this to us.

How does being gendered as a female affect our desire?

how some aspects of sexuality widely assumed to be hormonal, might actually be better understood with or alongside a sociocultural lens.

Okay – on to the mind blowing paper on “the heteronormativity theory of low sexual desire in women partnered with men” – Archives of Sexual behavior 2021.

- Why did you write this?

- You propose the heteronormativity theory of low sexual desire in women partnered with men, arguing that heteronormative gender inequities are contributing factors.

- Four Hypothesis

o Inequitable divisions of household labor

Women have less free time

o Blurring of partner and mother roles – its not that mothers aren’t sexual – it is that the relationship between mothers and those they mother is not a sexual one.

Nurturant experiences decrease testosterone and increase peptides like oxytocin and vasopressin.

Thinking sexual thoughts can change testosterone levels

How Cortisol affects our sexual response

o Objectification of women

Proximity to the norm matters for their desire

Women’s focus on appearance and being sexy instead of sexual

Ignorance about the vulva and clitoris negatively impacts desire in women partnered with men

o Gender norms surrounding sexual initiation.

Discomfort initiating sex contributes to low desire.

If women have to say yes everytime a man wants sex – this contributes to low desire.

“women’s sexual pleasure within heteronormative framings is fraught.”

Women’s duty for sex or inability to say no.

- What do we do now that we know this?

- Orgasm coercion is her future research

The Heteronormativity Theory of Low Sexual Desire in Women Partnered with Men



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