Is Cleaning your Carpets Killing Your Sex Drive?
A couple of months ago, I heard a conversation about a carpet cleaner. Yes, a random way to open a blog, but hear me out. One of the men who was part of the conversation stated, “I already have a carpet cleaner and her name is…” And he completed the sentence with his wife’s name. The other man, added to the objectifying dialogue and proceed to also announce he too had a carpet cleaner only her name was…and inserted his wife’s name.
I can probably accurately assume a lot of things about these two men, but one thing I knew in that instant was both men likely complain about the lack of sex in their marriages.
We are regularly bombarded with the message that women have lower sex drives than men. It is an implied message in our high school sex-ed classes, regardless of if it was abstinent-only or a broader agenda. In our teens and 20s, it was a regular headline on the cover of Cosmo magazine. I am sure it is still a regular topic on social media platforms. I say this one with less confidence because being a sex therapist, my social media algorithms are A LOT different than most people’s.
Women consistently report low sexual desire as an issue more frequently than men, and yet, research has shown biologically, there is no difference in sex drive between men and women. Over 15 years ago, Meredith Chivers, Michael Seto and Ray Blanchard published the results of their study looking into if indeed women had a lower sex drive. For their study, the researchers measured the genital sexual arousal of the study participants and the results showed women, particularly heterosexual women, became more aroused than the male participants while viewing a variety a visual stimuli, from people exercising in the nude, to various types of porn, to bonobos (a type of primate) having sex.
So why do we continue the narrative that women have a lower sex drive? One of the factors is arousal non-concordance. Arousal non-concordance is the scientific term for when our brains and our bodies do not agree. For example, our bodies may become aroused by sexual stimuli, but our brains are not on board, or vice versa.
In recent years, there has been a focus on researching events/phenomena/behaviors that play into arousal non-concordance for women. In 2022, two studies out of Canada were published looking at sexual desire and household labor in women partnered with men. One of the authors of the article had previously outlined a theory called “the heteronormativity theory of low sexual desire” which includes four key factors:
- Inequitable division of household labor
- A blurring of mother and partner roles
- The objectification of women
- Gender roles related to sexual initiation
The studies focused on the first two factors. The researchers found that women who were partnered with men and performed a large proportion of the household labor reported lower sexual desire. I don’t think this fact would surprise any woman, but what I found interesting was the reasons why. Simply doing household labor isn’t what is stressing women out to the point of lowering their sexual desire, because single women (who presumably do 100% of the household chores) don’t report this. Doing a large proportion of the household labor made women more likely to perceive the division of labor as unfair and their partners as dependent on them. Women don’t want to have sex with people they view as dependent on them.
I think that sentence alone is the perfect TL:TR summary: Women do not want to have sex with people they view as dependent on them. Or, we probably could safely assume, people who equate them to inanimate objects, like carpet cleaners.
What are your thoughts on these studies? Do you see this play out in your own relationship or with your own sex drive?
Any information provided about medical matters is purely educational and the author is not a medical professional and is not recommending any specific intervention for any specific person or giving medical advice. Please consult your own medical provider for information about your own situation
This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not create any type of therapeutic relationship. For specific assistance, please consult your own medical and/or mental health provider.