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Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations--From Adventure to Revenge (and Everything in Between)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  967 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Do women have sex simply to reproduce or display their affection? When Cindy M. Meston, a clinical psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, and evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss joined forces to investigate the underlying sexual motivations of women, what they found astonished them.Through the voices of real women, Meston and Buss reveal the motivations tha ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Times Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  967 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sexuality
Apparently two of my coworkers were wondering why I was reading this book. Why would you wonder that? Human sexuality is a fascinating subject, touching on biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, culture, history, religion, ethics, and several other disciplines that I am no doubt forgetting. So, of course I'd read this book.

First off, the title is apt. The core of the book is a survey of 1,006 women who shared their own sexual experiences. Quotes from these responses, giving the ages and o
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book more. It's a good book. I'm just a little disappointed that I didn't learn anything new. So....... I guess I already knew why women have sex? haha.
Sep 16, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have read many bad books about sex and manage to say something good about them, but not this one. This book found its way into my book shelf after I heard it mentioned in several professional lectures. It interprets the views of women in an online survey using evolutional psychology. The views are from a single point of time in the lives of these women, many of whom are barely in their teens, without contextual information. The interpretation is not evidence based and comparisons are loosely m ...more
Chris Webber
Dec 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Having just read Bonk, it was hard not to compare the two books. Why Women Have Sex is loaded with some very interesting statistics and I appreciated getting something less anecdote and trivia, although the informational data appeared to be less focused or within a general thesis. A lot of the book drives back to the core evolutionary advantages for a woman to have sex and it was interesting to see the bottom line exposed in such a way. The writers had an effective way of dressing down the sex e ...more
Sep 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Turns out, there are 237 reasons to read this book.
I thought I would find new ideas, but I was wrong. In fact, the first half of the book is more of a collection of anecdotal evidence and anonymous fantasies that cannot serve as an empiric base. The second part of the book is better, thus instead of two stars, I upgraded my review to three.

The book seems to me a kind of click-bate or a kind of Women are from Venus and men from Mars bullshit. The conclusions made in the book are often laughable - for example, 45 women out of 50 asked consider the
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sex-therapy
Read it for a sex therapy group. A member of Meston's research team came and talked to us... Why Women Have Sex a big research paper on a huge survey. Like most sex research, they utilized a sample of convience--young 18-22 year old white girls. This book does not give an adequate view of women's need/desires. It felt like reading an undergraduate psychology primer. Not very insightful. The authors would say that it was written to help people make better mating choices, but this book fails to de ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bookclub, non-fiction
This book is a pretty half-assed attempt at pigeonholing women's sexuality. I expected more critical analysis from the authors—one clinical psychologist and one evolutionary psychologist—on the social conditioning that drives sexual behaviour. No such luck. It's full of un-analyzed stats, context-less anecdotes, and an extra helping of heteronormativity. Hard pass.
PS. 3000 college women in their late teens/early twenties does not make for a reflective or inclusive sample group.
Dec 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Might have been a good read but not a good reader on the audio version.
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems like a very simple question, and probably obvious to some people, but questions like that in my experience tend to go unanswered because nobody wants to be the first to offer an explanation and thus become subject to scrutiny or mediocrity. That's a fancy way of saying, nobody wants to be laughed at when they ask why do women have sex.

Having grown up in a very religious territory, but also having been raised by parents who taught me to be curious and to always feel free to ask questions
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book makes two important contributions. First, is the title. Dr Meston does not confuse love and sex, although emotional reasons (love and commitment) ranked high in the original study. Second, a man can identify with many of the same reasons!

With the evolutionary psychology input, the book stays within the procreation/pleasure paradigm, yet includes reasons like, "wanting to get close to God": a small percentage.The Sacred Female

Had this book been written by Dr. Buss alone, I would have
Feb 19, 2010 rated it liked it
My wife checked this out from the library. I started reading it and found it interesting enough to complete. Much of the more interesting claims seemed a little flimsy on the evidence. In addition, biases in all the social sciences are difficult to overcome, and the section on ethnic differences made me cringe because of its political correctness. They conveniently avoided controversy by not stating what everyone with even a modicum of understanding about the subject already knows based on a boa ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Not a book that you can afford to ignore by my opinion. It is different from many books sharing the subject in having a scientific (evolutionary and physiology) methodology by a well know author citing his lab's many experiments in the book.

Using personal anecdotes and quotes by many women about the subject made it more alive to me. I finished the book in just two days and I love to read the book (listen to audiobook) again.

The only downside to the book is too much confidence in association
Joe Robles
Sep 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Good book with some great insights into women's sexual motivations. I'm not a fan of the style of study they did for this book, which is to use self-reports and interviews. I think people have a tendency to rationalize actions they take when they don't fully understand them. But I will say that Meston and Buss do a fairly good job of pairing the interviews they conducted with women to studies that show a similar result, which gives statistical credence to the self-report. I'll be honest, I'm jus ...more
While this book gave a lot of insight into the scientific side of motivations for sex, I think the authors overestimate the role of biology and picking mates for evolutionary advantage. One part I especially liked, though, was the huge amount of unedited anecdotes from real women. Interesting book, not really my jam.
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I was quite young when this study came out...but like most pre-pubescent girls I was on my way to figuring out everything about my body, for all the answers I wouldn't get or couldn't get from my old fashioned Italian Mother, I would read instead in my usual no non-scene know how.
Aug 06, 2010 rated it liked it
I got bored in places, partly because the people interviewed and investigated seemed for the most part to be young to middle-aged, white, educated, affluent, American--and how can we draw conclusions from such a limited group?
William S
shud of bin subtytled "in the hoap that maybe won day, they will be lukky enuff to hav a rawmp in the sheets with parsell"
Molly Octopus
Jun 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
Not that I should have expected much from this title, but the whole thing was recycled pop evolutionary psychology at best.
Rachel Coleman
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is lots to be learned from this book regarding human behaviour in general and even that of yourself.
Ghofran Almosoy
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ample and interesting
Javier Romero
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading this book was like putting on lab goggles and witnessing firsthand the revelations of each sexual experiment alongside the scientists who executed them. Cindy Meston is both a brilliant researcher and clearly dedicated to formalizing the intracacies of sexual psychology.
Aug 22, 2020 added it
Awesome Book with great insights, objectively taken from actual studies!

Give it a Read!
Reda Shokr
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is quite an eye-opener. It is an odd mix of the fascinating & revealing and the mind-fumblingly obvious. Evolutionary psychology is a plain mirror of man inner truth: man and women. A joke holds that women need a reason to have sex, whereas men just need a place. Is it true?! Why Women Have Sex offers a popularized review of the existing evolutionary and developmental literature regarding female sexual motivation and strategies, but it does so by weaving together personal, first-person ...more
Arash Narchi
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, sex
Great overview of the many variables the lead women to engage in sex. From a biological, psychological and modern cultural lens.

My only feedback is I wish they had better data that represented cultures outside the western world. Some of the results may have varied due to religious and social norms and it would have been interesting to see.
Mia Milne
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall, I was not super impressed with this book. Most of the reasons why women have sex are pretty obvious (pleasure, intimacy, to please a partner, coercion, etc.), and the first couple chapters on pleasure and love are boring because of how obvious they are. The later chapters in the book are much more interesting because they deal with the less common reasons such as revenge, prostitution, or as a conquest. Throughout all of these chapters are tidbits on why these reasons could have evolved ...more
Zbyszek Sokolowski
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sexuology, psychology
"Why women have sex" is a pretty interesting book which describes different aspects of women sexual life and motivation. The description takes a few approaches to explain behaviors. Interesting sentence from book that we are product of countless generation of women and their choices. Woman chooses man with several indicators, like gene compatibility which they can asses with smell. Then different men qualities, like height, voice tone, more or less masculine body build. The more guy looks like a ...more
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Even I'm a female myself, I usually doubt my knowledge about women (I'm not heterosexual.) Therefore, this book is quite an eye-opener. I regret I didn't read this book 4 years ago (it would have saved me from doing silly things that are against nature of girls/women.) Now I don't need to feel jealous at why girls/women likes handsome/muscular boys/men anymore. I'm also tolerant of men's desires towards women. In general, because almost our daily choices are being made under our consciousness.

May 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-improvement
I found this book very interesting. Having a particular preference for behavioral and biologic science, I enjoyed the coupling of science and emotion in the female sexual response. I found the stories to be engaging, well articulated, and pertinent. As a Master's in Nursing Education student, nearing graduation, I found the referencing and most of the studies to be concise, plausible, and well documented.

The reader of the audio book was easy to listen to, however I did find her attempts as crea
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
I gave this four stars simply for the fact of daring to address something that I am sure a lot of people are interested in but there isn't really a lot of popular books on.

The title might lead you to think this is some self help manual or pick-up guide, but it's actually a pretty dry and academic treatise. Nevertheless, you could still learn a lot that you might apply in your personal life.

A couple of quick takeaways:

(1) Women's motives for having sex are relatively complex and varied, including
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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
51 likes · 14 comments
“These motives ranged from the mundane (“I was bored”) to the spiritual (“I wanted to get closer to God”), from altruistic (“I wanted my man to feel good about himself”) to vengeful (“I wanted to punish my husband for cheating on me”). Some women have sex to feel powerful, others to debase themselves. Some want to impress their friends; others want to harm their enemies (“I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with her boyfriend”). Some express romantic love (“I wanted to become one with another person”); others express disturbing hate (“I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease”). But none of these reasons conveyed the “why” that hid behind each motive.” 1 likes
“WHY WOMEN HAVE sex is an extraordinarily important but surprisingly little-studied topic. One reason for its neglect is that scientists and everyone else have assumed that the answers are already obvious—to experience pleasure, to express love, or—at the very heart of the biological drive to have sex—to reproduce.” 0 likes
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