What women REALLY want

I was sorting through my books the other day.  I confess to being one of those terrible people who has a collection of high brow books on display in my living room.  I buy them because the covers look nice, the topic is intellectual or the author is well regarded.  Sometimes, I even read them, but more often, I am ashamed to say, I do not.

Whilst sorting through my books I discovered the book ‘What do Women Want? : Adventures in the science of female desire’ by Daniel Bergner.  Now, I am not lying when I say that I have actually read this book from cover to cover.

The main thrust (please excuse the pun) of Daniel Bergner’s argument is that women are in fact biologically and naturally the less monogamous sex.  Women are ‘animals’.  Women’s natural state is hidden and controlled by societal norms.  According to Daniel Bergner, we women are conditioned to want monogamous, emotionally secure and stable relationships to enable us to bring up our offspring. We are conditioned to crave closeness and commitment. 

Daniel Bergner describes experiments in which women are shown various images whilst hooked up to M.R.I scanners and have tubes inserted into their vaginas to measure vaginal blood flow.  He is seeking to measure female arousal.  What women really want.  

My more squeamish readers might want to stop reading now…

what women REALLY want

The images include images of heterosexual sex, a naked man walking along a beach, two women kissing, a man mouthing another man’s penis, a man masturbating and a pair of bonobos (a type of non-human primate) copulating in a forest. 

Bergner states that all of the women were turned on immediately, by all of it. Based on this research, he argues that women’s sexuality is an animalistic force, constrained by culture. 

The complicating factor, the factor that Bergner seems to ignore, is that arousal does not always equal desire. 

I met up with some friends the other night.  Unsurprisingly, after a bottle or two of Prosecco between the four of us the conversation progressed to sex (not masturbation I’m afraid, this is, as I outlined in my previous blog post still very much a taboo subject).

One of my friends married quite recently having been single for a about eight years.  Not to put to fine a point on it, but she slept with quite few men during that eight year time period.  She confessed that her husband was not that great in bed.  He certainly wouldn’t make the top third were she to rank a lifetime of sexual partners.  But, she is happy.  In fact I would say she is blissfully happy with her husband and their life together.

Another friend likened the satisfaction of having sex with her husband to the satisfaction of returning overdue library books.  A damning indictment of a sex life if ever there were one, but she is also very happy.  Trust me, I know, I have seen her sad.

So, it struck me that, contrary to Bergner’s argument, what women REALLY want, isn’t all about sex.  Our desires and our turn-ons can be random…sometimes very random.

The list of things that my group of female heterosexual friends and I were turned-on by included:

A man with muscly and veiny forearms

This was me. I have a weird thing for veiny forearms.  I can’t really explain why.  It does mean that I really enjoy watching car adverts on television in which a man with a veiny forearm is driving a car and reaches out to change gear.  These are confessions that you can only make on an anonymous blog!

A man in chinos

Chinos are my pet hate, but one of my friends loves a man in chinos. She said there was something about the slightly smarter than jeans, but still casual look that really appealed. I was a little baffled.

A man wearing a pair of thick rimmed glassesWhat women really want

Now I really get this. I fancy arty and creative men and my image of a creative man is a man who wears quirky, thick rimmed glasses.  My friend also quite liked it when a man in a pair of thick rimmed glasses peered at her over the top of his glasses frame. 

A man who carries a pen knife

To my mind a pen knife is a potentially lethal weapon and a man who carries one is therefore potentially dangerous.  My friend, however, felt that the corkscrew, the tin opener and the screw driver functions on a pen knife were incredibly useful and that any man carrying one was therefore incredibly sexy.  Again, I was baffled, totally baffled.

So, Daniel Bergner, if you want to know what women REALLY want, I suggest that you analyse the above list of turn-ons produced by me and my friends.

Suffice to say Daniel Bergner’s What Do Women Want? has not made it to the book shelf in the sitting room but has rather been confined to the cardboard box in the wardrobe. 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy my post on female masturbation and my post on the men of Tinder.  



Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Reflections From Me


  1. April 22, 2016 / 10:32 pm

    Isn’t it ironical that “What Do Women Want?” is written by a man? I agree with you that physiological arousal does not equate to desire. He forgets that women are more emotional and hence, what we desire must have emotional meaning as well. Sex is not just a physical act. Great post, a real indicative post of what women REALLY want. #fabfridaypost
    Agent Spitback recently posted…Pass the Sauce Week 2My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      April 23, 2016 / 9:47 pm

      Thanks. I am glad you enjoyed it. I don’t think that a woman would ever write a book on what women want because we know that it cannot be summarised in so few pages. There are as many different wants as there are women. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      April 23, 2016 / 9:45 pm

      Ah yes, indeed, who doesn’t like a nice rippled stomach on a man. Pen x

  2. April 23, 2016 / 7:24 am

    Now i see why my 18 year old son is obsessed with the gym and improving the muscles in his forearms! #FabFridayPost

    • thesingleswan
      April 23, 2016 / 9:42 pm

      Ha ha, I promise that I do not know your 18 year old son. He’s a little young for me (like 18 years too young ;-)). Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      April 23, 2016 / 9:42 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it. Pen x

  3. April 23, 2016 / 9:53 pm

    This is fascinating. I had heard of the Daniel Bergner theory before, about how women must be after everything because, like, we are EVEN TURNED ON BY BONOBOS! As you say, not very convincing or scientific, but an interesting theory. I also like the thick rimmed glasses. Very flattering, I think, and yes the stereotype is that they must be intelligent, but then I think the most attractive people on TV are the ones presenting documentaries on BBC4. Attraction is a fascinating science. Thanks for linking up to #StayClassy
    Min recently posted…#StayClassyMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      April 24, 2016 / 8:14 pm

      I agree with you about the BBC4 documentary presenters. I also have a bit of a crush on Simon Reeve. I’ve googled, he’s married with kids. Oh well. Pen xx

    • thesingleswan
      April 24, 2016 / 8:13 pm

      I hate pink shirts, particularly when worn with pale chinos….yuk. I too prefer dark chocolate to sex and wine is even better. Loads of love. Pen x

  4. April 24, 2016 / 2:07 am

    Any man who claims he has even the slightest idea of what women really want is either a fool, a liar, or both.

      • thesingleswan
        April 24, 2016 / 8:10 pm

        Thanks ! Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      April 24, 2016 / 8:11 pm

      Second week in a row as the most amusing comment in the stack. Hats off to you and thanks for making me laugh again. Pen

  5. April 24, 2016 / 8:44 am

    another fab post from you! I love clicking on your posts when I see them – so real and so raw – I would have been interested to see what Bergner had showed the same film to men. I love the fact that we are a sexy bunch but feel a little sad for women in marriages where it seems a little like a returned library book – but I don’t think she is the only one, sadly #KCACOL

    • thesingleswan
      April 24, 2016 / 8:10 pm

      Ah, thanks for your lovely comment. I am really glad you love clicking on my posts. I will try to write more of them. I have just figured out how to add an email sign up form to my blog – it has only taken a year! Please sign up! Loads of love Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      April 24, 2016 / 8:08 pm

      Yes indeed. I can’t say I would necessarily recommend the book, but it is good for a laugh. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      April 24, 2016 / 8:08 pm

      Thanks ! Pen

  6. April 24, 2016 / 3:19 pm

    That list of turn ons is hilarious! The thought of veins popping out on any part of the body makes me feel a bit sick 🙂 That book though – how very typical that a man could take the results of an experiment like that and claim that it has any bearing whatsoever on what women actually ‘want’. Also, how does that experiment show that women are naturally less monogamous than men?? I don’t get it.
    Sam recently posted…Being human…My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      April 24, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      Hi Sam,

      Apparently, because the experiment showed that we women are turned on by EVERYTHING, even BONOBOS COPULATING, we must be sex crazed animals. Bonkers. Absolutely bonkers. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  7. April 24, 2016 / 11:17 pm

    This is a great post. I read about that study as part of ‘The sex myths: Why everything we’re told is wrong’. It’s an interesting book with all sorts of fun studies like that one including tracking where people look when watching porn!

    The list of ‘turn-ons you can only post in an anonymous blog’ was illuminating stuff!

    Shoebox of Memories recently posted…Empathy, empathy, they’ve all got it empathyMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      April 25, 2016 / 8:10 pm

      Hi thanks. That sounds like a really interesting book. I will have to check it out. Pen x

  8. April 25, 2016 / 8:45 am

    Its great seeing what our girlfriends find sexy in a man, one of my greatest pleasure, though not sexual, is when I’m with the girls, glass in hand, having these types of conversations. It makes me love them all the more. Men come and go, oh yes, pun intended, girls are for life. Loved your post:)

    mainy – myrealfairy

    mainy – myrealfairy recently posted…Easy Upholstery….the myrealfairy way….My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      April 25, 2016 / 8:08 pm

      Hi Mainy,

      Loving the pun and yes, girls are for life. Pen xx

  9. April 25, 2016 / 5:57 pm

    Anther great post! I am lucky that my Hubby does rank in my top 3, but that isn’t why I love him or why I married him or why I stay in our marriage. That is a nice bonus. And as for turn on’s I love a guy with a bit of hair on his head to play with and grab hold of. And my Hubby shaves his head, often, grrr. #KCACOLS
    Allyson Greene recently posted…Bacon Fontina Arugula Grilled CheeseMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      April 25, 2016 / 8:07 pm

      Hi Allyson,

      I am glad you liked the post. I am also glad that your hubbie is in your top 3 (although I suspect he’d be disappointed not to be your ‘top’ if ever you told him this!) For my friend it wasn’t top three, it was top THIRD. Quite a lot of competition if truth be told. x

  10. April 25, 2016 / 8:42 pm

    Just goes to show some men still know absolutely nothing about women!! All this woman wants is to be able to drink coffee all day and eat chocolate without putting 10lbs on before I’ve even swallowed it, the chocolate that is!

    I loved this post and I have heard about this study before and found it really interesting yet sex is totally different for a woman than man isn’t so I would expect different findings
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
    tracey bowden recently posted…Olivia’s Birthday Outfits Part 3My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      April 26, 2016 / 7:24 pm

      Hi Tracey,

      thanks for your comment. I am really glad you enjoyed the post, and I have no doubt that I will be back on Sunday. Best regards
      Pen x

  11. April 26, 2016 / 8:06 pm

    An interesting read, that book. But you are right, what we want is a different thing altogether.

    • thesingleswan
      May 5, 2016 / 8:04 pm


      thanks for your comment. Pen x

  12. April 26, 2016 / 10:48 pm

    I think it is awesome that we are all turned on by and attracted to different men and things about those men (or women for that matter). I am with your friend and the dark rimmed glasses I even brought my hubby a pair as a joke. I love how you say you can only confess things like ‘this’ on an anonymous blog. Although I began my blog initially hoping to be anonymous (not sure if you read my blog where I confessed that my real name is Kylie) people soon found out, clearly I wasn’t good as clever as you! But I try to still be honest and write from the heart, but I guess there are limits when you know other parents from your children’s school read your blog eeekkkkk! I am attracted to thinner men, don’t know why just always have been, I also love freckles on shoulders I again have no idea why but when I see them on a guy I just think YUM. Oh and tattoos even though hubby has none I just love a really good tattoo #mg
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…getting out and enjoying the sunshineMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 5, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      Interesting. I have never really thought about tatoos. I am not a great fan of tatoos that cannot be hidden, but a secret tatoo that is only discovered in a hot and steamy bedroom could be interesting. thanks for your comment. Pen x

  13. April 27, 2016 / 8:44 am

    I absolutely love this! (can you absolutely love something? haha) Anyway, that book sounds like a load of bull shit. OF COURSE we are going to be turned on by anything that has to do with sex, right?! I laughed at your friend who compared having sex with her husband to the satisfaction of returning overdue library books. It’s not all about the sex, there are many, many other things…..NOT men in Chinos though, that is a terrible, terrible sight. Thanks for sharing with #StayClassy.

    • thesingleswan
      May 5, 2016 / 8:01 pm


      thanks for your comment. I have many overdue library books and the satisfaction of returning them, on time, without a fine which exceeds what I would of paid for them on Amazon would be tremendously satisfying. I would dive into a marriage with sex like that! Pen x

  14. April 28, 2016 / 1:43 am

    Another man trying to explain something he knows nothing about! Lol :p
    Seriously though, why is a man writing a book like this. He can do all the science experiments he wants, but he’s still not going to know REALLY know what women want.
    And seriously?!
    I definitely do not have the time or energy to be running around having sex with everything. I honestly just want a nap. x #KCACOLS
    Savannah recently posted…Teething Tuesday #9My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 5, 2016 / 8:00 pm

      Ah Savannah,

      How your comment made me laugh. Yes, a nap would be lovely. In fact, my fantasies involve 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Pen xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge