Necessarily in love?
The seriousness of female adultery, for centuries without the pill, lay primarily in the possibility of pregnancy. But if the reality of the alcoves changes and the statistics evolve, “the collective representations are surprisingly fixed,” notes Nathalie Bajos. The sexuality of women is always inscribed in conjugality and affectivity. Moreover, when we ask them the number of partners they have known, they only speak of those who have counted, while the men declare all of their sexual partners. They are encouraged to do so because, according to collective beliefs, male sexuality must be active and diversified. We continue to think that men have greater physical needs. "
These received ideas find their roots in individual and collective psychology. "The sex of the man is seen, measured, compared, underlines the psychoanalyst J.-D. Nasio, author of Mon corps et ses images (Payot). From childhood, boys develop a relationship with sexuality based on action and competition. They are predators, and they are in the performance. This is why they can be more easily represented in a strategy of conquest. Women have a whole different trajectory. "They are the ones who are penetrated, so they need to be confident to open up," points out psychologist Alexandra Choukroun, author of If you love me, deceive me ?!(The Archipelago). Hence the importance of the emotional in their sexuality. They are driven to do so by their education, which values the expression of feelings and emotion. "
A freedom that worries
In conclusion, men are more unfaithful than their companions because physical pleasure is their engine. Too bad for those who would also like to have a heart ... It's a question of impulses. Hormones. Mainly testosterone. "It is secreted in greater quantity in humans, and it pushes to action," explains Sylvain Mimoun, co-author with Rica Étienne de Sexe et Sentiments(Albin Michel), andrologist and gynecologist. A man would therefore be more easily active in his sexuality. His desire is more immediate and more frequent because it is spatial: it is visual elements that trigger it. Women need more time: that of creating an atmosphere, of letting their imaginations take hold. Be careful, that said: biology plays its role, but it does not overdetermine us either. "
The animals that we are are above all endowed with a psyche, and socially inserted. Our beliefs, our fantasies and our taboos guide us much more surely than flows of hormones. And what is played around infidelity weighs more and more on women. “They already have the power to give life,” jokes Laura Beltran. If in addition they had access to unhindered sexuality, they would become all-powerful. It would be worrying. It is in the representations of sexuality that the differences persist, even if they tend to diminish. Today, women can cheat like men. Socially, legally, technically. They no longer have the prerogative of feeling and men are no longer condemned to bestiality. This is undoubtedly the essential point.
23.9% of women against 34.4% of men confided to having had "two sexual relations in parallel".
18.5% of women report at least one experience with someone "unimportant", compared to 41.2% of men.
4.4 partners on average during the life of a woman, 11.6 for a man.
Adultery in women: centuries of infamy
“You shall not commit adultery. The biblical commandment is valid for everyone. In fact, since ancient times, and all over the world, adulterous women have always been punished much more severely than men. "Quite simply for reasons of filiation: men did not want to have to raise bastards," recalls sociologist Janine Mossuz-Lavau (author of La Vie Sexuelle en France (Seuil, "Points")).
The Napoleon Code (1804) provides for a prison sentence for unfaithful women. Men simply do not have the right to maintain their mistresses in the matrimonial home under penalty of a fine. In 1975, the divorce reform established equal treatment for men and women. In addition, adultery is no longer considered a criminal offense: in turn, therefore, women can no longer be prosecuted. It was also the era of the pill and the legalization of abortion. "Procreation and sexuality are then dissociated," continues the sociologist. Women have a right to pleasure, and claim it. But we do not cross centuries of collective history in thirty years. Today, we allow women to cheat, but we ask them at least to be in love to justify their differences. "