Desire / Fantasy / Gender / Sex in the news

Who Can Be a Nympho?

Hey kittens! It’s #TBT and this classic column originally appeared at the barbershop notebooks back in 2007.

Question to the Sexpert: “A girlfriend and I got into a tiny debate over whether a guy can be a nymphomaniac. I told her I was one and she told me its impossible for a guy to be a nympho. She’s wrong of course but maybe you can help me further my argument by letting me know what thy scientific terms or requirements to be a nympho are.”

You’re completely right that men can be nymphomaniacs and it’s a serious problem sweeping our land, affecting even our former X Files stars. I’ve compiled some of the most prevalent symptoms. If you find more than 3 apply to you, consider yourself positively diagnosed:
1. Do you frequently fantasize or think about sex?
2. Are you attracted to phone sex?
3. Do you find yourself making irrational decisions in pursuit of sexual activity?
4. Do you find it difficult to turn down free dessert?
5. Is masturbation a frequent activity for you?
6. Are you more likely to buy a product if it’s on sale?
7. Do you ever think to yourself, “it’s a little chilly in here, maybe I should have grabbed my jacket?”
8. Have you ever suddenly realized you forgot to call someone back even though you had promised to do so?

Yes, I am completely fucking with you… part of my obsessive, compulsive need to fuck with people.

The problem is neither you nor this girlfriend are right. The real question is: does sexual addiction even exist? Nymphomania, the colloquial term for a person who is insatiably hungry for sex, is not a scientific concept or diagnostic category. There are those professionals who ardently insist that sexual addiction (an obsessive, compulsive, uncontrollable drive for sexual activity and stimulation) is real. Some of those people wrote a self-test quiz from which I stole questions 1, 2 and 5.

Some professionals insist this is a very real problem: plaguing lives, as any other addiction might. They argue that addicts spend increasing amounts of time, money and energy trying to reach sexual “highs,” and risking their families, jobs, freedom and safety to indulge in their uncontrollable compunctions. For examples, search: Craig, Senator Larry.

But not everyone agrees. Other sex educators, counselors and therapists point out that a lot of the language of sex addiction diagnosis (a la the questions I stole above) are vague, moralistic and based on subjective ideas about how much sex a ‘normal’ person should want and have. “Sex addicts,” the saying goes, “are people who want more sex than you do.” Just as sluttiness is in the eye of the beholder and subject to different thresholds in different eras and places.

There used to be psychiatrists who would diagnosis women with “frigidity” and “hysteria” for wanting sexual activity too little and too frequently, respectively. These mental diseases are now recognized for what they really are: obtuse, sexist reactions to women who did not conform to prescribed expectations for sexual desire. Women in this time were expected to accept their husbands’ sexual advances but not really desire the dick on their own. Ironically, the treatment for hysteria was to have the poor dears masturbated to orgasm by a physician. Doctors grew tired of having to perform this task manually, hence the invention of the vibrator.

We now know that “frigidity,” or low sexual desire, is usually more likely the case of relationship strife, stress or hormones- causing a person to want sex less than they used to. We also know that sex drives exist on a bell curve, so some people want more than average, others less.  The statistical average, however, is not to be confused for “healthy.”

Let me be clear, though: if any person finds their life has become unmanageable because they are obsessed with obtaining any stimulus (be it pussy, crack or gambling) and feel incapable of stopping on their own, they ought to seek professional help. Anything can become a crutch for a person seeking an escape from existential dilemmas.

So, to answer your question directly, she’s right in that men are allowed a much greater leeway in their sexual desires and behaviors, so they are far less likely to have their sexual proclivities labeled as “excessive” or problematic. And you’re right in that women are totally capable of engaging in compulsive acts of sexual activity. Yet somehow you’re also both wrong. So it’s win/win all around!

Questions? Comments? Violent reactions? Email sexwithtimaree@gmail.com or tweet @timaree_leigh See more at http://www.facebook.com/sexwithtimaree and http://tinyurl.com/swtpod

4 thoughts on “Who Can Be a Nympho?

  1. There are people who say the only addiction is substance addiction; but if we consider gambling; most would say there are addicts who will continue until they wreck their lives completely; all money and relationships. It can be the same with sexual thoughts and behaviours – it is so out of their control even as they see that it is ruining their lives – and incidentally gives them little real pleasure. I think this can be called sexual addiction. I write as a psychotheraist who also teaches tantra and works as a Daka.

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