I just stumbled over a fascinating series of blog essays entitled “Why Your Wife Won’t Have Sex With You.” If this is a topic of interest to you, as it was to me during a six-and-a-half-year doomed relationship, you’ll want to set aside a couple of hours and read through the whole series.

G’wan, do that now, before I poison it for you with my opinion.

Back already? Gosh you read fast.

Anyway, it’s a very thoughtful series, clearly written by a woman with a level head, an introspective disposition, and a lot of good will. Her observations are useful and interesting and I wish I’d had a chance to read them before my girlfriend, who I loved quite a lot but who had serious sexual issues, got rid of me and picked another man not to have sex with.

That was supposed to be funny.

Moving rapidly along. So I’m reading this excellent series of essays, nodding and agreeing and going “Hmm, that explains a lot” and generally getting myself edified, when suddenly it struck me. There’s a unifying theme to the whole essay series, and it’s this: “Your wife won’t have sex with you because you’re doing something wrong or failing to do something right.”

Yup, it’s all about you, buster.

And I suppose, in a weird definitional way, that has to be true. If getting it right as a man is defined as doing whatever it takes to get laid by your chosen woman, then by definition if she’s not willing to be intimate you need to get your act together.

Still, I’m concerned by the way this approach utterly disposes of the concept of an intimate partnership between two responsible adult humans. If it’s never about the woman, if there’s never any concept that by cleaving unto a partnership relationship she undertook some responsibility for maintaining the intimate part of the relationship, then there’s no partnership. There’s just another pea hen watching from the sidelines, waiting to see whether any of those strutting peacocks ever manage to wave their tail feathers just the right way to make her tingle.

Maybe that’s the way the world is. But I was raised to afford women a bit more humanity than that. I’m concerned that this essay series dehumanizes women by, effectively, absolving them from any responsibility for intimacy.

Go read the essays. If nothing else, you’ll learn to be a better peacock.

2012 Link Update: The original Salon.com link went 404 in 2009. I’ve replaced it with an archives.org version. The author also moved much of her Salon material to an archive blog, possibly with some curatorial changes: Why Your Wife Won’t Have Sex With You.