The Psychology of Sex
To be a boy is to be macho, to have weapons, to have fights, and to kill, at first in play, then maybe later in war. To be a boy is also to be powerful with a penis and to do things with it unmentionable to adults. Then at adolescence, in boys’ talk only, to be a boy is to brag about penis conquests and then to settle for a desultory sex life in adulthood, but to keep bragging about what a stud one is, modeling oneself on the image of a bull, a ram, or a stallion, servicing a herd. At home, to be a man is to wrest sex from an apathetic wife distracted by the proximity of the children. Or else it is forcibly to coerce sex upon an unwilling wife whose duty is to obey instructions and do what she is told, in return for favors rendered by the checkbook.
To be a girl is to be sweet, to be a sugar or a honey, to have dolls, to play house and be the mother. To be a girl is not to fight, but to wheedle and cajole, to manipulate behind the scenes and deviously control by being pretty and coquettish. To be a girl is to not know about having a vulva, but to know about kissing and cuddling, being modest and winsome, and winning a man, and then to discover at puberty that the vagina is the source of “the curse.” It is to be confronted with the claim that men want women only for their bodies, and that women have to give in, because men have the power, and that there is no escape – for where can one escape when there are children?
[Money later quotes from the fourth edition (1971) of Obstretrics and Gynecology, written by two men, J. R. Willson and C. T. Beecham, and one woman, E. R. Carrington, as examples of anachronism.]
The woman falls in love with the idea of being loved, whereas the man loves an object for the pleasure it will give. The woman receives gratification from the idea of being loved and bases an increased sense of her own value on her image of the person who loves her. She says, I am valuable, important, etc. because he loves me. This type of narcissism finds expression in many aspects of a woman’s life, the most obvious being her interest in clothes, personal appearance, and beauty. Such interest is normal and entirely feminine if its main object is to have someone admire and love her. It is subverted when it becomes an end in itself. Every phase of a woman’s life is influenced by narcissism. To an adolescent and young woman it gives impetus to her efforts to attract a man. As a wife it allows her to be gratified by the success and achievements of her husband. In pregnancy and labor it expands her conception of herself in that she is going to reproduce and give her husband a gift of a child.
The authors regard ordinary feminine masochism as not being neurotic. In a woman’s life, they say, the idea of suffering is an essential part,
since every woman has to face the fear of childbirth and the fear of the pain that is attached to this. Pain is not an integral part of the male’s concept of his role. He can fantasy a life without physical pain that does not produce a conflict in his sexual identity. The woman cannot do this. Every aspect of a woman’s life is colored by her ability to accept the masochism that is a part of her feminine role. As a young girl being courted she must allow herself to be won by the man she chooses. In the role of a wife she often must submit her own needs to build up the personality and strivings of her husband and family. Sexually there is always an element of rape in that the male organ penetrates. As a mother she sacrifices her own needs to those of her children. Finally, she must accept her children’s marriage and separation from her.
[Feminine passivity allows a young woman] to put great efforts into making herself attractive, so that the male will pursue her while she seemingly waits. As a wife she must show interest in the home and in the well-being of its occupants. She must accept the idea that she is given things by her husband and even by her children, rather than assuming an active and aggressive role in attaining these things for herself. Sexually she must be passive and receptive to the male.
A balance between narcissism, masochism, and passivity is the mark of maturity:
Too much feminine narcissism without masochism and passivity produces a self-centered woman interested only in attaining love and admiration from those around her. There is no element of giving. Too much feminine masochism without the protective narcissism produces a woman who sacrifices herself without idea of rewards. The overly passive woman is continually waiting to receive without any willingness to give of herself in a masochistic or narcissistic manner.
John Money, Love and Love Sickness: The Science of Sex, Gender Difference and Pair-bonding, pp. 161-164. John Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, London) 1980.