Review of “What Do Women Want?” by Daniel Bergner

There are facts that were once known, sometimes generally known, that are now known to but a few.

Greg Cochran

We embraced science that soothed us, the science we wanted to hear.

The presumption that while male lust belongs to the animal realm, female sexuality tends naturally toward the civilized; the belief that in women’s brains the more advanced regions, the domains of forethought and self-control, are built by heredity to ably quiet the libido; the premise that emotional bonding is, for women, a potent and ancestrally prepared aphrodisiac; the idea that female eros makes women the preordained if imperfect guardians of monogamy—what nascent truths will come into view, floating forward if these faiths continue to be cut apart?

– Daniel Bergner

We live in an era plagued by pretty lies. One of the most beautiful and the least true is the lie of female sexuality. Under this lie, females carefully guard their reproductive facilities from men, who wish to spread their seed as widely as possible. What if things work the other way around? What if everything we’re taught about female sexuality is wrong? What if by totally freeing female sexuality from any moral constraints, we’ve opened up Pandora’s Box (pun intended)?

The manosphere, pick-up artists, or whatever you want to the burgeoning online group, owes its existence not to men’s desires to get laid, the increasing femininity of our culture or anything else that’s been popularly suggested. This movement owes its existence to the fact that the mainstream theory of female sexuality is a lie.

As long as people are taught that females are not promiscuous, that they love being romanced, that they should be treated with kindness if you want to impress them, they’ll be a market for the wisdom of this particular red pill.

Daniel Bergner rounds up some of the scientific research on this topic. Pretty lies perished. Feminists wept. A select few bloggers and readers nodded and took another drink.

The book is short, at times the writing is distinctly mediocre, but the science is fascinating (though it may not be surprising, if you’ve been paying attention). And, for a guy that’s been married 8+ years, the entire subject is rather depressing.

In sum, the scientific research indicates:

that one of our most comforting assumptions, soothing perhaps above all to men but clung to by both sexes, that female eros is much better made for monogamy than the male libido, is scarcely more than a fairy tale.

The picture that emerges is one that shows that, the female libido – “the female libido looked omnivorous” – appears to crave novelty. This point was brought home by studies on monkeys’ sexual behave in a particularly illuminating manner – female monkeys will move from partner to partner almost immediately upon finishing the act itself.

All this research falls:

within an area of science that is fiercely debated, mostly because of its signs that there are certain differences in intelligence between women and men due not to culture but to genes.

Uh oh. We appear to have actual believers in evolution here. Sound the PC alarms.

Once you move a ways down this unacceptable road, the pretty lies fall quickly. Some of the findings might as well have been scripted by PUA sites. For example, here’s a woman talking about her husband: “I’m not even thirty-five,’ she said to me. ‘That tingling—I don’t get to feel that anymore?'”

Consistently, studies find that women’s self-reported levels of arousal differ wildly from their actually measured levels (the latter are measured by blood flow to the relevant areas). More specifically,

Genital blood throbbed when the tapes described X-rated episodes with female friends—but the throbbing for female strangers was twice as powerful [this test was done on straight women, btw]. The broad-chested male friends were deadening; with them, vaginal pulse almost flatlined. The male strangers stirred eight times more blood.

The “friend zone” is indeed a scientific fact. You’re better being a female stranger than a male friend if you want to get some. Behold, female sexuality.

Other inconvenient findings include:

Women who thought they were being polygraphed not only reported more partners than the rest of the female subjects, they also—unlike their female counterparts—gave numbers [of sexual partners] a good deal higher than the men.

The bottomline is that:

To be desired was at the heart of women’s desiring. Narcissism, she [i.e. the researcher] stressed—and she used the word not in damning judgment but in description—was at the core of women’s sexual psyches. . . . The wish to be the object of primal need.

And perhaps the deathblow:

She warned against the expectation or even the hope of reaching popular romantic dreams: of “merging” with a partner, of being able to say “you complete me.” This was the wrong standard for love. This kind of bond, or just the striving for it, could suffocate [female] eros. Melding left no separation to span, no distance for a lover’s drive to cross, no end point where the full force of that drive could be felt. . . .

Not only did monogamy not enhance female sexuality, but it was likely worse for women than men.

There is an interesting section on rape fantasies, which are “really fantasies of submission:”

Depending on the study, between around 30 and 60 percent of women acknowledged that they took pleasure in this kind of imagining. The true numbers, the authors argue, were probably higher.

A few of the researchers were delightfully blunt:

“One lesson,” he said, “is that you don’t want a woman to form her first impression of you when she’s in the wrong menstrual phase. You’ll never recover.

Again this is hardly surprising to anyone not fully propagandized by feminism:

Amassing evidence that, all over the globe, male randiness and female modesty are celebrated. The widespread, in his view, proves the predetermined, the genetically encoded.

Before ending, it’s worth reflecting on how terrible the modern state of affairs is for people that actually love each other. It’s appears, after a while, that female lust dies out. The mainstream “solutions” for this problem are the root cause of the problem in the first place. At a certain point, it’s just depressing to read more stories about about a woman who loves her husband, but just doesn’t get excited by him. Or a husband who can’t figure out why his wife doesn’t get excited for him.

Anyway, this is the essence of the force that feminism has unleashed. We don’t understand it (we did, but we don’t any longer, although it’s really not that difficult to understand). We should fear it. We unleashed it because, reasoning from the wrong premises, it made perfect sense to do so, despite the wisdom we’d inherited from our ancestors. Hold your asses, while we reap what we’ve sown.

22 Responses to Review of “What Do Women Want?” by Daniel Bergner

  1. Handle says:

    I’m amazed people can still enjoy Shakespeare (The WWI-era Cuba-themed version of Much Ado About Nothing was a fun show) and not internalize everything he wrote about women, which Bergner and everyone else just reiterates 415 years later.

    But, as we all know, everyone in History was wrong about everything prior to the 1960’s.

    • Foseti says:

      Don’t forget “The Taming of the Shrew”

    • Salem says:

      Much Ado About Nothing is actually highly contradictory to the ideas in this post. Of the two women, one is absolutely virtuous and chaste, and the other marries the guy she’s known for years.

      Better examples would be As You Like It, Merchant of Venice and (yes!) Twelfth Night. Plus, of course, Taming of the Shrew, as Foseti points out.

  2. Porphy's Attorney says:

    I saw Satan (Roissy) laughing with delight
    the day the romance died.

    We were singing bye bye, Ms American Pie. . .

    • Anonymous says:

      Before ending, it’s worth reflecting on how terrible the modern state of affairs is for people.

      • Porphy's Attorney says:


        Also I should clarify: I don’t mean that Roissy = Satan, before anyone gets that impression. But I’m sure he’s laughing a sardonic laugh.

  3. asdf says:

    By far the most depressing thing in life is finding out Roissy is right. There are probably people who, when they first come across it, think its cool that they might get more women. Only after using game to get women are you confronted with the problem of how your supposed to love a creature that would respond to such things.

  4. VXXC says:

    Until you learn that all B’s follow A…(action) you’re going to wallow in misery and frankly increasing toxicity.

    You are already dying a thousand deaths since we’re referencing Shakespeare.

    So adieu …..

  5. @Foseti – Yes, political correctness is a lie, but ‘manosphere’ female psychology is (scientifically speaking, and speaking as one of the pioneer UK evolutionary psychologists) utter garbage – since it is based on generalizing from the current situation to ‘female psychology’ in general.

    But the current situation is (surely we can agree?) the most warped, distorted, unnatural and psychotic in the history of the planet.

    Modern women (like modern men) are near continuously strung out on drugs (prescribed and recreational) and bombarded by and addicted to a promiscuity-promoting mass media 24/7 – living in the first thoroughly secular society ever.

    (And the women who are NOT part of this secular/ media society, do NOT behave in the way described by the manosphere, do they?)

    Really, this is so basic and obvious it is a bit embarrassing to have to point it out.

  6. James B. Oakes says:


    What is more “warped, distorted, unnatural and psychotic” according to the experience of the majority of humans who have ever lived: barbarism or high civilisation?

    Traditional society enforced civilisation; now that it’s dead, we’re left with barbarians living in the ruins. It was traditional society which channeled female (and male) ideals and behaviors towards a civilisation-building ideal. If modern life is “warped, etc”, so was traditional society, just in different (and better) ways.

    “Manosphere female psychology”, as you call it, is a study of a wild population in the process of reverting to barbarism. Since the civilisation that has been left us has much diminished the difficulty of getting the necessary things for life, it also means that the barbarism we’ll get will be the deepest in all history, for the inevitable reckoning will be delayed.

    It’s ironic that “manosphere female psychology” will give us – and is already giving us – a much better understanding of the reasons behind the norms and taboos of traditional society that those who lived in it could have had themselves. (Fish, water, and all that).

    Yes, moderns are brainwashed to be degenerates, I grant you that, but this only makes the decay quicker, It’s a symptom of the disease, not its cause.

  7. More Anon says:

    The genital monitoring study looks easily challenged: wouldn’t women who consent to have their sexual arousal monitored already be far more exhibitionist than average?

  8. Feminism, the federal government as ‘husband’, the media, and men themselves have all contributed to the degeneracy of female sexuality. However, let’s not forget modern male sexuality, that is just as degenerate. The ‘manosphere of female psychology’–lol–seems to want to place everything at the feet of the female. Both sexes have gone into a tailspin of hedonistic and shallow mating games. The tragedy is when there is another child born into a situation where both parents are too immature and selfish to become parents, much less suitable partners, for anyone. The Baby Boomers opened the floodgates of irresponsible and destructive ideology, both political and sexual. It is up to their children and grandchildren to salvage what is left of civilization and build a new/old ethical movement from the ashes. Or, you people can keep worrying about ‘game’, and blame, while Rome burns…

  9. josh says:

    Another lie of our age is that man is not capable of transcending his biology so that morality is a “pretty lie”. The implication is that their should be a new morality based on the id. The irony is that implicit in denouncing the old morality is the recognition that it is denounced based on universal moral assumptions, though people try to dance their way around this.

    Another lie of our age is that it is liberating for both parties for Portnoy to schtupp the shiksa, for Eldridge Clever to rape the honkey, or for Roissy to seduce the slut. After all, if they didn’t want to submit to a base temptation, they shouldn’t have had the base temptation to begin with.

    You think Roissian “debunking” is counter-revolutionary? He’s just another Reichian sexual messiah come to save us from the shackles of civilization. I know he pays lip service to how fucked up things are, but he still insists we can fuck our way out of it.

    • Bill says:

      Great reply.

    • We can fuck our way or of it. People like Roissy and Rollo have saved more marriages(and lives) than they’ve ruined, I can assure you from personal experience. Life isn’t so black and white, it’s more like 50 shades of grey. So become a Christian and tame the shrew.

      Only a defeatest pussy would want to shoot the messenger. Now grab glass of water and swallow that jagged crimson pill and stop whining.

  10. RS says:

    > By far the most depressing thing in life is finding out Roissy is right. There are probably people who, when they first come across it, think its cool that they might get more women. Only after using game to get women are you confronted with the problem of how your supposed to love a creature that would respond to such things.

    This is a little bit solipsistic. May I humbly suggest a corrective lesson . . .

    1. Observe sexual continence for three days or more.

    2. Obtain a photo or painting of a beautiful woman. This could be a full nude, or, given your aspiration to traditional morality, it might be as little as a copy of Botticelli’s Venus cropped to show only the face, hair, and full neck — and, optionally, collarbones, maybe even the shoulders, –possibly as much as the upper plexus.

    3. Attain a recumbent posture in a chair, fully clothed. Relax and bracket out any vexatious preoccupations. Place your hands at your sides and remain fully motionless. Now contemplate and consider the image in detail — permitting the imagination to operate and extrapolate liberally — for no more than 120 seconds.


  11. […] Daniel Bergner publishes What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire. […]

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