4 things to know about what women want
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The Feminine Mystique1 of 5
Researchers are finally considering what we've long suspected: Women's desires are far more complicated than has been assumed for decades. In Daniel Bergner's attention-getting new book What Do Women Want?, the author talks to leading experts and chips away at some of the more common myths about women and sex. ELLE gave us a peek into Bergner's interviews and helped us uncover the most striking findings from his book.
Sexy Strangers2 of 5
Bergner spoke to sexologist Meredith Chivers, Ph.D., who has studied women's arousal, using physiological measures like vaginal blood flow. Her findings? Imagining having sexual encounters with strangers was more titillating than imagining sexual encounters with romantic partners or friends. Interestingly, when the subjects gave a self-report, their answers contradicted Chivers's findings, suggesting that women may be disconnected from what they're really feeling, or reluctant to own up to their desires for fear of judgment.
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On the Prowl3 of 5
To show that women aren't necessarily wired for monogamy, Bergner offers up a speed-dating study from psychologists Eli Finkel at Northwestern University and Paul Eastwick at the University of Texas at Austin. The researchers asked a test group of 350 speed daters to rate their sexual feelings for every partner. They discovered that when women were the ones moving from man to man (as opposed to staying in one place and waiting for the men to come to them), their responses were as lustful as men's were.
X-Rated Secrets4 of 5
When it comes to masturbation and porn, women enjoy watching as much as men, but they're less likely to admit it. In a study from Ohio State University, female students who thought their answers to a questionnaire would be read by fellow students denied ever having masturbated or watched anything X-rated. Women who were told their answers would be kept anonymous or who believed they were attached to a lie detector test, responded far differently, with answers that matched up almost exactly to their male counterparts.
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Highs & Lows5 of 5
In long-term monogamous relationships, desire may fade faster for women than it does for men, says Bergner, citing a German survey of committed relationships. The secret to staying excited? Novelty. Even the hormonal changes that come with menopause can actually be overridden if a woman has a new romantic interest, according to Australian psychiatrist Lorraine Dennerstein.
To read more about what women really want, check out ELLE's full story.