“What is Female Desire?” by Daniel Bergner in the Sunday section of last week’s New York Times (January 5, 2009) intersects with prostate cancer post-treatment challenges in some interesting ways. The author quotes Meredith Chivers, a researcher who notes, “…Certainly women are very sexual…but one possibility is that instead of it being a go-out-there-and-get-it kind of sexuality, it’s more of a reactive process. If you have this dyad and one part is pumped full of testosterone, is more interested in risk taking, is probably more aggressive, you’ve got a very strong motivational force. It wouldn’t make sense to have another similar force. You need something complementary. And I’ve often thought that there is something really powerful for women’s sexuality about being desired. That receptivity element….”
That receptivity element is interesting to reflect on. What happens to the “dyad” when the part which was formerly “pumped full of testosterone” is suddenly passive? Yes, women have to become more aggressive, but what Chivers seems to be observing is that a certain degree of receptivity may be intrinsic to female sexuality; “being desired” can be really important, and a man who has recently had all his testosterone deleted is likely to have his own troubles with the word “desire.”
What prostate cancer treatment protocols, especially hormone treatments may do to a couple is force the dancing partners to change roles, which may not be so simple, depending on how much the individual woman relies on being desired to feel sexual.
Image: “Reclining Nude” (1917) Modigliani