What is the SCAM (the Sexual Chemistry Attraction Myth)?

What is the SCAM (the Sexual Chemistry Attraction Myth)?

When so many women reach adulthood confused about their low libidos or unable to sustain sexual interest, it’s time to shift the focus and open the lens to include the societal and cultural context in which this so-called disorder develops. In a culture saturated with narrow and distorted ideas about what makes women desirable, it’s nearly impossible for any of us who emerge from our mothers as female babies to grow up free of crippling misconceptions about ourselves, our bodies, and our eroticism. Some lucky women may manage to stay intuitively connected to their erotic essence throughout childhood and adolescence, despite the social, relational and societal risks involved, perhaps even making it into adulthood relishing their sexuality on their own terms. A great number of women, however, wouldn’t have survived psychically or even physically without compromising or shutting themselves down erotically. Usually, this isn’t a conscious choice. It’s something girls learn to do within the context of their relationships as a way of maintaining caregiver’s love and approval. Even if you grew up in an open-minded family, fitting in with peer groups or feeling socially rooted can cost girls their connection to aspects of their sexuality. Girls may grow up lacking erotically vibrant, powerful female role models. Sometimes, their families and circumstances don’t allow them the luxury of a strong, healthy, intact relationship with their bodies. When girls suppress aspects of their deepest erotic impulses and experiences, layers of judgment and shame encase their core sexuality. Like a seed trapped in amber, a woman’s erotic potential can remain untapped as she develops and grows in other areas. It waits for the right circumstances to safely emerge. Women who carry this amber-trapped seed within them may not even know it’s there. The time and the circumstances need to be right for a woman to turn inward to face this aspect of herself. Society trains women in particular to look outside of themselves for situations and people to turn them on. Often, women enter into long term-committed relationships hoping the sexual aspect of their marriages will fall into place relatively effortlessly. It’s not unusual for women to discover at some point not too long after the honeymoon, the baby, the mortgage payments, the visits from in-laws, when there’s no more novelty to jumpstart desire, no cat-and-mouse dynamic to keep the prize elusive, that desire disappears: poof, just like that. Many women believe this is the end of their marriage. It's actually the beginning. When desire vanishes, or is never fully ignited with your husband, it can be a good thing. Truly. When sexual desire doesn’t follow the cultural script, the Sexual Chemistry Attraction Myth - the SCAM - can be seen clearly for what it is and exposed. For the first time in their lives, women who find themselves with no sexual interest in their partners or spouses have the opportunity to recognize that they’re out of alignment with an essential aspect of who they are. The fantasies they’ve gambled so much of their romantic hopes and dreams on have fallen short. For a woman with low sexual interest who desperately wants to want the man she has married—the man who is right for her in every way perhaps except sexually—for a woman, this can be the beginning of reconnecting with her true sexual power. This is the beginning of excavating the erotic treasure that has always been hers to claim, buried in her own back yard, dependent on no one and nothing but her own willingness to unearth it and cultivate it.The myth of sexual chemistry—the belief that a woman's desire is passive, receptive, unconscious, subject to changing events or circumstances or otherwise outside of her control—can be replaced with direct access to her own erotic power. The SCAM is an acronym for what I call the Sexual Chemistry Attraction Myth. I define the Myth of Sexual Chemistry as a complex of cultural beliefs and messages that insidiously shape and influence how women think about their bodies, their sexuality, and their sense of personal erotic agency or sexual soverignty. If you’re a woman, remaining cut off from your own personal erotic agency has far reaching costs and consequences: we’ll explore these in more depth later. For now, we’ll focus on how the myth of sexual chemistry limits women’s access to power, desire and pleasure. A scam is a dishonest scheme. It’s a fraud, a swindle, a racket, a trick, a con, a hustle. To scam someone means to cheat, deceive, trick, dupe, hoodwink, double-cross, gull, rip off, con, fleece, shaft, hose, sting, bilk, diddle, rook, finagle, bamboozle, sucker, stiff, shake down, and hornswoggle. Despite the fact that women and men are on far more equal footing than they've ever been historically, a newer version of an older scam established to perpetuate the status quo of women-as-subjects continues in new and insidious ways. Intelligent, autonomous, financially independent, sexually free, creative, outspoken women of all ages, across cultures and ethnicities, and from all walks of life are being openly, blatantly, consistently, regularly, shamelessly duped, hoodwinked, double-crossed, ripped off, hoodwinked, tricked, bamboozled, and hornswoggled when it comes to their sexuality and erotic power. If you’re a woman who suffers from a lack of sexual interest, you may already intuit the truth of this claim. You’ve been cheated, even if you can’t quite put your finger on how it has been done. Once you understand the SCAMP. and how it operates, it’s easier to assess the degree to which it has been interfering with your lack of sexual desire. From there, you can untangle yourself from the scam and make more conscious choices about how you view yourself and your desire. Later, I’ll provide you with a three-phase process for developing a successful desire discipline that will organize and operationalize approaches, methods, and techniques I’ve found helpful with empowering women to ignore the sexual chemistry myth and create a sustainable desire discipline to help them move toward sexual sovereignty. But for now, you’re right where you need to be. You’re perfectly positioned to crack the amber prison, reconnect with your erotic potential, and begin transforming your sex life.

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When A “Good” Marriage Isn’t Good Enough

When A “Good” Marriage Isn’t Good Enough

It’s ten o’clock at night. You're happily married to a wonderful man you love. You brush your teeth, put on your pajamas, and crawl into a cozy Queen-size bed. Your kids are asleep in the next room. Your husband closes his book, takes off his glasses, and turns off the light, then scootches down under your comforter and drops his head back onto the pillow. You allow your thoughts to wander after a busy day . . . Life is good. And then, suddenly, it isn’t. The movements are subtle, but you feel every shift. The sounds, barely audible, may as well emerge full-volume from a loudspeaker. You're wide-awake. More than awake—you're vigilant. The comforter rustles. The sheet catches on something at the foot of the bed—a toenail? Deep in the mattress, springs compress. Your husband changes position, rolling onto his side. Although your eyes are closed, you know he’s facing you. You can hear him swallow—not a good sign. What will he say? “Are you awake?” He’ll sound casual but there will be nothing casual or relaxed about the moments. It will be packed with combustible emotions: longing, anger, fear, shame. How long has it been, this time? A few days? A week? If someone asked you, you might shrug. “Last weekend.” If someone asked him, he'd respond with a wry half-frown. “Can’t say, my long-term memory doesn’t go back that far.” Maybe it has been longer than a week, but who’s counting? Well, actually, he is. Your normally absent-minded husband knows the precise number of times he’s tried to enlist your sexual cooperation this month. You're beginning to think he uses some kind of primitive mathematical formula to calculate his chances of sexual satisfaction on any given night, a calculus of desire levels, flirtation, and foreplay added to the square root of your humdrum daily routine, multiplied by the glimpses he’s caught of your lingerie air-drying on a rack in the shower. He reaches out and places a hand on your shoulder. Your breath stops. Think fast. What are your options? “Yes” and resent him or “No” and argue. Which will it be? Can you muster up the willingness? Can you stand the contact, the focus on touch, moans, body parts and fluids you’d rather ignore at this point of the day, of your marriage, of your life? Which is the least undesirable of these two choices? His fingers are warm and slightly rough on your upper arm, brushing against the fine hairs, cupping your elbow. How much time do you have before there’s no escape—no way of avoiding, yet again, the frightening reality of your mismatched sexual desire? One of your children coughs in the next room. “Let me check on them.” You bounce out of bed. Your husband exhales, retracts his hand, and rolls onto his back. Saved by the bell. For now. *** In The DSM-V, Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder is characterized by a lack of sexual interest and/or a lack of sexual arousal for at least six months. Whether or not a woman is upset or distressed by this lack of interest or arousal is a crucial criterion for the diagnosis. The disturbance can be moderate, mild or severe, lifelong or acquired, generalized or situational. Estimates on how many women suffer from this disorder vary widely, but according to the National Journal of Sexual Medicine, roughly 1.6 million women suffer from Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder, which means roughly 1 out of 10 need help with low desire in the U.S. alone. What makes a DSM-V disorder so pervasive and systemic? According to the DSM V, “women in relationships of longer duration are more likely to report engaging in sex despite no obvious feelings of sexual desire at the outset of a sexual encounter compared with women in shorter-duration relationships.” If you’re dating and you find yourself consistently uninterested in sex, or not particularly aroused by it, you may be able to chalk up your disinterest to a variety of plausible reasons: you’re not in the mood, the guy or gal isn’t quite right for you, you’re not feeling sexy, it’s wintertime, there’s stress at work, etc. Sometimes, it’s not until you have a consistent partner that you run out of excuses and the stark truth of your low sexual desire are revealed. When your partner consistently complains about your sex life and grows increasingly irritable and withdrawn, you can’t keep pretending the problem is just situational or temporary. You’ll find yourself faced with the couples issue therapists sometimes refer to as “desire discrepancy.” Lack of sexual interest is an issue many women wont openly admit to, even when it’s their daily reality. There’s often a lot at stake. Just as a man’s sexual identity and sense of competence can be tied up with his ability to pleasure his partner to orgasm and/or maintain an erection, a woman’s sense of sexual self-worth can be intricately connected with her ability to both stimulate and quench her partner’s sexual desire. Once she loses the capacity or the drive to engage in sex with her spouse, a woman’s sense of sexual self-confidence may waver. It can feel as if she’s failing at an essential aspect of her being: loving and being loved sexually. It can also inspire terror. Will she lose connection to her spouse? How will this affect her marriage? Is this a prelude to something worse? What changes lie around the corner as a result of her inability to match her partner’s sexual needs with authentic sexual responses and initiatives of her own? When a situation isn’t working, acknowledging that there’s a problem is a key first step. Once you admit to a problem, you can find solutions. This isn’t as easy as it sounds for women who struggle with low sexual interest. Many of them have come to experience their own desire as beyond their control, outside their sphere of personal influence. They may fear they themselves are the problem, outliers on the graph of normative human sexual desire, doomed to disappoint and frustrate the person they love and need the most. At this point, traditional sex therapy can be helpful to many couples. Women can also make it the first order of business to locate their long-forgotten or deeply buried erotic compass. They can dust it off, do the work necessary to allow its magnetic needle to regain it's sensitivity and responsiveness, and begin to pay close attention to where their compasses direct them.

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About us & our mission

The mission of marriedtodesire.com is to debunk common myths related to women, marriage and desire while offering fresh personal insights and guidance on self-authored womanhood, erotic empowerment, and creating a passionate marriage.

Alicia Muñoz is a licensed marriage counselor and desire expert in private practice. She lives with her husband and son in Falls Church, Virginia. She’s also a speaker, author, blogger and a contributor to Counseling Today, GoodTherapy.com, YourTango, PsychCentral and other print and online magazines. For more information or therapy-related questions visit aliciamunoz.com.

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