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'Til Lesbian Bed Death Do We Part

Comments (3)
Thursday, May 03, 2012

Apparently, the first thing you have to do when you're initiated into the secret lesbian society, after cutting your hair into a faux-hawk, attending a Tegan & Sara concert and applying to Smith, is make funeral arrangements for your bed.

Popular rumor and flawed "social science" will tell you: any bed owned by a lesbian couple is doomed to die. For those severely out of the loop, Lesbian Bed Death (LBD) is a "condition" that was "discovered" in the '80s by Pepper Schwartz who, clearly, was neither gay nor sexually satisfied.

After asking straight, gay male and lesbian couples the vague question "How many times did you have sex last year?" Dr. Pepper declared in her book American Couples that the longer us lezzies are together in a romantic relationship, the less and less we knock the Doc Martens. Lo and behold, the lesbian bed was sentenced to imminent death!

Let's not be dramatic. LBD is simply a fatalistic and sometimes homophobic catchphrase for what is really just a natural ebb in the regular ebb and flow all couples (straight or gay) experience in their respective sacks. Affairs, climbing divorce rates, Viagra and the dreaded premature ejaculation all tell me that the lesbian bed isn't the only one with a short lifespan. So why has our bed death taken on such a "reality" that even lesbian and queer women themselves buy it?

The only thing that makes the lesbian bed different than the straight one is that there are two ladies screwing in it (well, unless it's your birthday). Though this difference won't murder our bed on our 20th anniversary, it does make our sex lives look different than heterosexual ones.

With two women in the mix, we've got double the hormone fluctuations that can lead to low sex drive; two periods or two menopauses; and a longer average amount of time to get us both to climax. The absence of a biological penis means that his stamina and (on average higher) sex drive isn't dictating the sexual interaction. Though penile/vaginal penetration is a convenient sexual act that can work toward getting both partners off simultaneously, this also means that without an average 8-minute male ejaculation, our sexy time easily clocks in at an average of 30-60 minutes. Throw in strap-ons, vibrators and "taking turns" getting off and the lesbian sexual interaction can be a lot more daunting after work, dinner, dishes and bills.

Though this may result in a smaller number of sex times to report to Dr. Pepper, it also means that lesbian couples, in comparison to their heterosexual counterparts, are more focused on quality of sexual interaction, not quantity.

In fact, a 1979 Masters and Johnson study on lesbian sexual practices found just this, reporting that lesbian sex featured more full-body sexual contact rather than genital-focused contact, less orgasm anxiety, more sexual assertiveness and communication about sexual needs, longer-lasting sexual encounters and greater satisfaction with the overall quality of one's sexual life.

Hush, now, hetero couples. I know that you, too, can have long-lasting, satisfying sex lives that don't simply focus on making babies for us to adopt. I'm simply defending the lesbian bed, whose death can also create and perpetuate harmful stereotypes that can lead the loving, long-term, lesbian couple to think that a normal dry spell equals an unavoidable sex-life doom that they had coming simply for being gay.

From the get-go, the LBD myth was flawed as Dr. Pepper failed to consider that in 1983, "sex" was largely defined as penis-vagina and therefore more likely to be misreported by her lesbian subjects. Since then, LBD has been regularly peddled as an insult, stemming from stereotypes like "How do lesbians have sex?" and "Without a steaming hunk of manhood involved, they can only possibly entertain themselves for so long, anyway."

Well, if two drunk, gay-for-pay girls making out topless in Cancun for their boyfriends is considered "lesbian" or "wild," then, yes, I will get a headstone made for my bed. Until then, I'd recommend renting a Crash Pad porn to see the real reasons why lesbian beds die. Those Ikea bed frames can just be so flimsy!

Comments (3)
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This article raises some important points, however it seems many lesbians struggle with the loss of passion in their relationships. Whether this is attributed to hormone fluctuations or relationships issues, it is an issue that destoys many lesbian relationships. I've seen it over and over again with my coaching clients. It is a real and painful problem that many lesbian couples struggle with and it often leads to disfunction and relationship break up.

Posted by Christine Dunn on 5.2.12 at 4:33

I agree with Christine Dunn's comment--this is a painful problem for many lesbian couples, and to them it really doesn't matter if we critique Phillip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz's study (which was actually really well done, methodologically) or how we compare to heterosexual couples--it just feels bad and they're asking for real help with this. And there is help, starting with re-thinking what we believe about female sexual desire. It's much more intentional than hormonal. I wrote a book about this (Sexual Intimacy for Women: A Guide for Same Sex Couples) or you can look up the work by Rosemary Basson, MD of the University of British Columbia. When you understand how female desire really works it's easier to figure out how to revitalize a long-term relationship.

Posted by Glenda Corwin, Ph.D. on 5.2.12 at 17:50

I would like to add that I think that the LBD and the reasons behind it (hormones ect.) can also apply and effect heterosexual couples as well. While it is true that in a typical hetero relationship there is only one woman she is still under the influence of the same hormones and cycles that lesbians are. No matter how much the guy may want sex if the woman is not in the mood or doesn't want sex for whatever reason chances are they won't be having sex. I personally had never heard of LBD as a strictly lesbian problem even though the vast majority of my friends are lesbians ( I'm a straight male), however I have heard the old adage that the sex stops once you get married. Seems like it might be a similar. I feel like in any relationship gay or straight that it is up to the people involved to keep the relationship fresh feeling and to try new ways to induce intimacy and desire. Like anything else in life you get what you put in. If you make an effort to keep feelings fresh after NREs wear off then your relationship will continue to blossom but if you just put it on cruise control you run the risk of your bed dying a slow death from lack of effort.

Posted by F.Landry on 6.7.12 at 9:55
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