Who Am I?

Here’s an email I received from a female reader:

I’ve read your blog and find that some of what you write really resonates with me. I am curious, though, as to who you are. I hope I’m not being nosy or pushy but I’ve looked through this blog and few others of your for any information on who you are, what your credentials might be, what you do, your back ground etc…

Are you just a regular gal?

Yep, just a regular gal, what I call a Professional Nobody. Although I’m a writer, I usually work under pseudonyms, a practice I find even more imperative now that I’m talking about my own sex life.

That said, I’ve also done a lot of research on this subject, both for some projects I’ve been paid to write and because of my own experience and concerns. As a result of writing about this and related subjects in various venues, I’ve also heard from a lot of women (and a surprising number of men). I figure that makes me something of an expert in the EXPERIENCE of married female sexuality, so that I can speak somewhat authoritatively about the way it FEELS from this end of the equation.

The thing is, I have printed some of your writings to show my hubby and I know he will want to know why he should take advice from you.

Why should he pay any attention to anything I say? Not because I’m any kind of scientific guru, certainly (although I do consult with scientists). No, the only reason he should take me seriously is because YOU do.


No, the only real reason he should take me seriously is because YOU do.I assume this is a glibness error. I make them, too. There are problems with four of the words above: only, should, because and YOU.

You’re savvy, WYW, but I think this take –especially offered in conclusion — is slapdash.

Lou Quillio • 4/12/03; 8:19:03 PM
It would help if you’d be a little less cryptic, Lou. I’m obviously not as savvy as you think I am.

Julia Grey • 4/12/03; 8:40:24 PM

Got me. Like I said, glibness error.(Btw, I found WYW via Scott Rosenberg and identified quickly with many of your views, Julia. Your reference to [Arthur C.] Clarke [in the title of another blog] was eerily pleasant.)

No, the only real reason he should take me seriously is because YOU do.

This one landed with a thud. There isn’t only one reason for a given person to take another seriously and, if there were, it’s certainly not that a third person thinks they should.

Natch we hope that our friends and consorts value our tastes, even copy them, but I fear you’re giving the quoted female reader permission to erect a test. If he doesn’t think that her recommendation is reason enough, he fails. Does this apply to movies, too?

Or maybe their relationship tends to stall at points like these. Perhaps it’s not that he doesn’t respect her views, that he would never model his own after them, just that how they’re introduced affects their chances. Your reader telegraphs that pattern by anticipating his objection. If so, “read this because I think you should, honey” is a direct path to loggerheads. Once a “No” is out there it has to be overcome. I think the trick is to line-up potential “Yeses” in such an order that even if they don’t come immediately the “No” is never issued. Live to persuade another day.

The best way to persuade, imo, is to make a case so compellingly that it can’t be dismissed; your reader would do best to weave what she takes from WYW into her own views and bypass the credentials/credibility dodge. It’s slower, and takes more skill, but offers far better traction.

And the goods are here, at WYW. A bright light is turned on sturdy, traditional bits of cognitive dissonance, flushing them away so that a decent fellah must make the connections he might’ve been institutionally denying. Words can’t crush role assumptions, but they can oxbow around them — deny them the presumptive weight they depend on — and let erosion do the rest.

In any case, meeting phony barriers head-on rarely works, because they’re bogus and will morph. He should consider Julia’s views because she says so stands a good chance of making this point, and quickly. It’s a good way to win an argument and prove he’s intractible. But then what?

Or maybe I’m drunk. It’s so hard to tell any more.

Best, of course,


Lou Quillio • 4/13/03; 7:01:09 AM
Hey, Lou, that’s great stuff. I didn’t understand what I said to mean that she should set up a “test” at all, or to insist that he see things her way whether or not they had any “real” validity in his mind. But now I see what you’re saying.

your reader would do best to weave what she takes from WYW into her own views and bypass the credentials/credibility dodge. It’s slower, and takes more skill, but offers far better traction.

See, I thought that “bypassing the credentials/credibility dodge” was what I was trying to encourage with my glib phrasing. This is a very subjective subject to start with, so to my mind my credentials should have very little to do with whether or not a given expression of feelings or possibilities has meaning or worth to any given reader.

If something has meaning or worth to my husband, whether or not I like it or buy it personally, it behooves me to consider it. If he goes so far as to point something out to me in the newspaper, say, and it has something to do with crucial, subjective, interpersonal issues, I have to ask myself, why does he think this is important? That is a question we, male and female, too often neglect to ask ourselves about each other.

I agree that handing spouse a paper or a book and saying, “Here, read this” is not nearly as effective as integrating the material in that paper or book into personal expressions of the same concepts, but sometimes, especially in anxious and emotional circumstances, Someone Else’s words on paper can say what we aren’t able to say ourselves.

Perhaps even more important, putting your head down and reading something can give you time to think and consider and count to ten before you react to unpleasant or threatening ideas, instead of saying and hearing them in the sturm und drang of an angry or confrontational moment. So many women I’ve talked to say that when they attempt to talk to their husbands about these things, they start out trying to be calm and reasonable, but their husbands invariably (and, let’s face it, understandably) defend themselves and the status quo with violent outrage (“fight”).

In my experience and that of hundreds of other women I’ve talked to, our husbands’ displays of violent outrage always work to shut us up tout de suite, because it usually gives us the idea that we have only two choices: back down and steam in resentment (“flight”) or keep talking (“fight”) and lose our husbands’ Love.

So most husbands don’t have to threaten their wives with fisticuffs to enforce silence on issues they don’t want to talk about. Temper tantrums — or merely the threat of them — are unpleasant enough to most women to keep them from pushing forward with threatening conversations. And in some cases, like that of my female reader who brought up this subject, not even a threat of emotional explosion is necessary. Simply “questioning the source” is power-play enough to keep uncomfortable stuff off the field.

That’s why I say that she shouldn’t let him use such questions as a “dodge.” She is authority enough on her own feelings, even if she has to use my written words in an attempt to express them to him.

Thanks for the dialogue, Lou. You’re sharpening me up.



7 Responses to “Who Am I?”

  1. Reid Says:

    Ok, It’s April 7 2010 and today I’m going to change my life. Hilarious.

    But, in all seriousness, what I have read so far (intro and Disgust) is EXACTLY what I have been thinking of late. You are a genius and any man dares disagree is either a fool or a fool in denial (and keep in mind my opinion of you may differ as I tread this long and lonely road).

    I know that my wife’s lack of interest in me for the past four years of marriage is nothing short of my own issue. What you say of men’s rage is so correct. In the beginning of the end of our sex lives I understood, in a very small way, that there must be something wrong with me, because she USED to want me, but didn’t anymore (or rarely). And it infuriated me because I didn’t know what to do. But I’m happy to say that a few months ago I really began to understand that she was not being given what she needed, and knowing a woman’s sexual desire is rooted in CHOICE as opposed to Men’s (rooted in reflex) I needed to change her mind. So I began to change my appearance to something more desireable… a small response. I feel that now, after stumbling on this site, I have fit the pieces together.
    My appearance is a part, albeit small, for the issue. My behaviour is the largest part. So from today forward I will systematically pick off all things on the list she has for me to do and all things on the list you provide beginning with disgusting her no more.

    this is an incredible ramble, you would never believe I hold a degree in journalism, however, it is more catharsis than communication at this early stage.

    thank you for articulating the female side of this. I bookmarked your blog and in a year or so, when things perhaps begin to see a more pronounced shift to sexual healing (I love that I was able to just use that term), I will show my wife your site and she will undoubtedly nominate you for a blogging pulitzer. (If such a thing exists by then)

  2. Half-frozen Honey Says:

    As a wife of 17 years with very little interest in sex any more, I want to give you kudos for trying to find a solution.

    I have spent years of trying to figure out why I rarely respond to my husband with enthusiasm (he still gets it about once a week but I cry during and after 1/3 of the time because of feeling like just a vagina). I have read this whole site and have found A LOT of what Julia has to say is logical to the female frame of mind (right or wrong). It helps me identify what I am going through and why I am reacting the way I am reacting. I have to identify what is wrong before I can ever hope to fix it.

    I know I want to make my husband happy and do not withhold sex on purpose as a tool for getting my way, but if I do not feel safe, valued and loved, I just cannot get my body to respond. If I override that response so he gets his needs met, I just end up either crying and making him feel like a jerk, or I have more resentment to add to the mountain I’ve already accumulated.

    After years of this cycle, I feel any kind of pressure from my hubby sends my body into defensive mode instantaneously, because I felt that I have “given it” to him for YEARS without my emotional needs being met (which is crucial for a female to be able to willingly open her body to another person), and I have a negative “pavlovian” response to his overtures, that it will take quite a while for me to back out of that reaction.

    What I am trying to say to you is that it might take quite a while before you see results, depending on how long things have gone sideways. Women tend to have LONG memories.

    As a female I can get over the soft body and physical imperfections (I have them too). What I really need from a husband is unconditional love, respect, and understanding if my body is just having an “off” day. I’m guessing that if your wife feels pressure or resentment from you, it will take longer to heal both of your wounds.

    If she is a logical human being and you feel that she still loves you, you might not want to wait a year to show her this site (it could be a year wasted). She might be receptive and appreciative of seeing some of her feelings being articulated. Hell, if you can’t talk about it, maybe even printing off some of these pages and having each of you highlight things you feel apply to each of you might be less threatening to her, and help open up dialogue. As long as you frame it as the main goal is not necessarily wanting to change her, but acknowledging to her that you realize you BOTH need to change so you as a couple are happier.

    Just my rambling thoughts…

    • Looking4answers Says:

      Well said and thank you, but the one item I’m not feeling I’m taking away is; the understanding that there must be two active participants. Even if, one takes the onus of your implied actions, there still has to be a participant that is capable of receiving change. To except change you might have to leaving those long lasting memories behind. No gender bias except for the last statement for humor.

  3. Aphrodites Chela Says:

    Still wanna know who you are, Julia
    Our marriage changed a lot when I stopped seeking orgasm for myself or my wife….huge.

  4. Michael Says:

    Hi Julia,

    I have no idea how to contact you directly (no email address available on this blog, apparently) but my question is burning enough to leave a post – oh, public exposure!

    I keep reading ‘reigniting the romance’, ‘return to sex life’, ‘remember my libido’, etc. And indeed, I do remember having a healthy sex life and still have a healthy libido, by whatever measure these things are judged, but my long-term girlfriend does not. Nor did she ever. So my situation is a little different, and perhaps more rare, and not necessarily a problem to those that voluntarily enter into such relationships, but to me, a particular concern.

    We’ve had sex twice. Ever. We’ve been together three years. Honestly, I didn’t know it would be like this but I chose to accept the eventual – and appreciate! – long-term status of the relationship on all of its ‘other’ merits. We live together, do fairly well and share not only each other’s strengths, but many well-understood weaknesses as well. However, my frustration is clearly an effect of the apparent sexlessness and, I believe, her growing lethargy and lack of enthusiasm for most activities is, in part, a cause of it. So there are three broad ‘categories’ of problems. I’m becoming a snippy little bastard, she’s boring as hell, and there ain’t no sex or intimacy. Granted, the latter problem seems less a concern to the other party, but I believe that she misses intimacy just as much as I do and I may be guilty of withholding it with my growing anger.

    Lest you think I’m abusive or out-of-control, I want to make it very clear that I take inappropriate outrage particularly seriously and am perhaps overly sensitive to my mood. But don’t believe that my girlfriend isn’t hurt by my ‘chewing her soul’ (apparently it’s a Turkish expression – my girlfriend’s Turkish – but a readily-translatable one at that) or constantly criticizing. And although she acknowledges that her physical and partly mental aversion to sex is medically unusual, she refuses to seek treatment, whether professional or privately at home.

    So I’m at an impasse. As the ‘sex’ problem continues to feed the other two, and as the sex problem itself is enough to break up over, I’ve taken to scouring your wonderfully well-written blog and other sources of information and wondering what to do to improve the situation. She claims a nebulous memory of (obviously unwanted) cunnilingus by an uncle at an extremely young age and so oral sex is out. It’s also not allowed in the reverse sense – apparently blowjobs are ‘unnatural’ (in a non-religious sense, I hope). Handjobs are only ever appeasements which makes me sad as hell and none have ever lasted more than a couple of minutes and clearly none have come to ‘completion’. Sex for her is VERY painful despite buckets of lube and oodles of time and every trick in every book I’ve ever heard of. This is easily treated 80% of the time BUT SHE REFUSES TREATMENT. Even though her pain tolerance is especially low (periods are bloody murder, which is also cause for concern) her discomfort of all things sexual goes well over the top. She needs help. And so do I. Jesus Christ.

    I’ve been faithful and patient and increasingly non-understanding over three years. What to do if we can’t see a doctor about this?

  5. Julia Grey Says:

    I get copies of all comments via email.

    I REALLY don’t want to get back into the advice game, but I’ll just say here that if a woman has a history of sexual trauma, finds sex “VERY painful” despite all your efforts AND has no interest in doing anything about the pain or her other erotic difficulties, you have a decision to make: stay with her and resign yourself to: 1a) a non-sexual relationship with her (there are, as you say, some compensations — it’s often hard to find genuinely compatible companions in this world), or 1b) a non-sexual relationship with her but with sex on the side, secretly (not recommended) or openly, or 2) leave her and find a more sexually compatible partner.

    I would suggest trying to make your dilemma clear to her before the break, however. Seek her advice, if you will, and doing your best not to make it sound like you’re handing down an ultimatum or anything. Avoid poisoning any well from which you might want to continue to drink.

    If she ADAMANTLY doesn’t want to do anything about her difficulties with sex, I don’t see how pressing her on the point is going to do anything but increase the negativity level of the relationship.

    That’s my take. Good luck.

  6. Art B Says:

    The blogger is kidding herself.

    She’s frigid, plain and simple

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