Do successful women have sex?

May 20, 2013

(Yes, it's one of those corny 'unhappy couple' photographs)

According to my next guest, sexuality counselor, midwife, and author Evelyn Resh, many of them do not. Or at least not enough to sustain a healthy relationship. 

The next episode of The Broad Experience will cover ground that is hardly ever discusssed, at least openly. How many really successful women have healthy marriages or relationships? Lately I've been reading a lot of articles about female entrepreneurs as well as autobiographies of highly successful women. I admire these women's commitment to their jobs, and feel exhausted as I read about some of their schedules, tearing around the world doing good work, or helping run a corporation and sustaining a family life at the same time, which usually seems to involve having dinner with the kids, and, after putting them to bed, getting back online till you fall into bed yourself (then getting up at 5a.m. to start the whole thing over again). I've come away from more than one of these books or articles wondering: do these women ever manage to have sex? Frankly, with the schedules they describe, I don't know how they'd fit it in. Maybe at the weekend?

Resh, who practices in Massachusetts, says she's seeing an epidemic of extremely busy professional women with non-existent sex lives. These women tell her that between work and, usually, kids, they just don't feel like having sex. Here's a quote from our interview:

"The fact is, more liberal thinking, well educated, scholarly professional women who are in marriages are not having sex in large part. And they see sexuality within the context of that relationship as a chore, an obligation, one more thing to do on their to-do list, and actually an imposition that’s brought into the marriage by unthinking, uncaring, demanding men."

In case you're thinking this comes from someone who's extremely conservative in her views, you'd be wrong. Resh has been a working mother herself, and her life doesn't fit everyone's idea of conventional. But she is a big advocate for healthy sex lives as a vital part of relationships and overall good health. She says too many professional women are ignoring sex altogether. What women need to do to get their sex drives back, she says, is begin to cultivate a new attitude to pleasure - to actively pursue pleasure, whether that is a strong cup of coffee, savored rather than drunk on the run, or a pedicure, or simply reading a novel instead of only reading stuff for work. Pleasure, she says, begets pleasure. The other part of this problem is women's tendency to feel we *have* to do everything for everyone - prove ourselves as stars at work and prove ourselves to be stellar mothers as well. By the time we've taken care of all those obligations, the last thing we want to do is leap into bed - except to sleep.

Tune in next week to hear much more on women, work, success and sex. You can check out Evelyn Resh's book, Women, Sex, Power & Pleasure here.