With as much as has been written about the sex denial spreadsheet, one aspect I haven’t seen addressed is the issue of power and how the fear of losing power was a core motivating factor for the women involved. This is evident with both the wife who published the spreadsheet and women’s responses as the spreadsheet went viral. The wife who published the spreadsheet was horrified that:
- Her husband had blown through her attempted deception.
- As a result, he declared (and to a degree demonstrated) that she could no longer use fleeting promises of sex to hold power over him.
The original reddit post has been removed, but the text of her posting is copied all over the internet, including at Elle.com (emphasis mine):
Yesterday morning, while in a taxi on the way to the airport, Husband sends a message to my work email which is connected to my phone. He’s never done this, we always communicate in person or by text. I open it up, and it’s a sarcastic diatribe basically saying he won’t miss me for the 10 days I’m gone. Attached is a SPREADSHEET of all the times he has tried to initiate sex since June 1st, with a column for my “excuses”, using verbatim quotes of why I didn’t feel like having sex at that very moment. According to his ‘document’, we’ve only had sex 3 times in the last 7 weeks, out of 27 “attempts” on his part.
The wife was horrified that she had over played her hand in using sex to keep her husband firmly in her orbit. She turned to the internet for soothing reassurance from team woman, but instead of a pure team woman response, solipsism kicked in and the women responding were more interested in distancing themselves from the image of a frigid, powerless wife than they were in punishing the bad man.
Women’s sexuality has always been a primary source of their power, but in our feminist culture this has been taken to the extreme. We openly celebrate the epic power of the vagina:
It isn’t just secular culture chanting Hail to the V. Modern Christians are as enthralled by the awesome power of the vagina as everyone else is. As Dr. Mohler explains:
Put most bluntly, I believe that God means for a man to be civilized, directed, and stimulated toward marital faithfulness by the fact that his wife will freely give herself to him sexually only when he presents himself as worthy of her attention and desire.
This is the culture we live in, where everyone from feminists to the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is in awe of the world changing power between a woman’s legs.
Now imagine being the spreadsheet wife, who has suddenly realized that her V has lost its power through her own misuse. In a fit of terror, hurt, and outrage, she turned to her sisters on the internet. But instead of rallying around her, they were afraid that the disease could be catchy. What if their V suddenly stopped working as well?
Scary Mommy responded to the viral spreadsheet story with an article titled Why You Should Say Yes Tonight:
…before we realize it, the no’s can add up into a long yoga pant drawstring of days and weeks. Months. Suddenly we are counting back on fingers, and toes…and with a sickening sense of worry, we can’t even remember the last time we had said YES to a roll in the hay.
And we worry even more that our husbands remember EXACTLY how long it’s been.
Or that they are keeping a log of our refusals, like this guy did.
While the spreadsheet method almost certainly failed for the frustrated beta who created it, he did manage to explode the denial around not only his own frigid wife’s refusal of sex, but that of frigid wives around the world. The danger of this was immediately and viscerally evident to the women who read it, which is why solipsism kicked in where team woman was expected. Instead of closing ranks to declare in unison that the husband was a bad man and wives don’t owe their husbands sex, the response was a half hearted attempt to shame the man back into submission, with the primary focus being on damage control to prevent the woman’s own V from losing its power.
The Frisky’s Jessica Wakeman opened her piece on the spreadsheet with the obligatory demonstration of team woman solidarity:
Last week, women reading the Internet collectively reached for their wallets to check how much cash they had, because there was a fellow lady out there who needed a drink.
Yet dispite weak efforts to demonstrate solidarity, the subtext of the whole piece is about how horrified now married Wakeman still is about the time when she overplayed her own hand with a boyfriend, causing her V to lose its power:
I have no idea why Ex-Mr. Jessica didn’t bring it up (he just sorted dumped me and washed his hands of our relationship), but looking back, I can see exactly what was happening on, why, and how it all went to shit
With all of the complaining about spreadsheet beta and how he should have communicated better, even more terrifying is the thought of a man who didn’t bother complaining, who simply lost interest in the ever more rationed V.
I did feel genuinely regretful that I didn’t give Ex-Mr. Jessica what he wanted in terms of our sex life because I never got the chance to even try to fix them. But he never brought them up to me until he broke up with me. I wish he had had the courage to talk to me.
The whole episode has been shocking for modern women, because while deep in their minds they always knew there was such a risk, they thought they had banished the risk by banishing the word used to describe it. Yet even though the word frigid is now all but unspeakable, here was a wife who inadvertently warned the internet about the dangers of being frigid. Frigid is such a powerful term, and is so hated by feminists, because it names the risk of losing sexual power by overplaying the control hand.
The problem for women is their sexual power can be difficult to effectively wield, especially now that our culture has abandoned lifelong marriage. Women’s sexual power is fleeting, and only patriarchal marriage allows a woman to leverage her youthful sexual power to the power of a respected wife and mother and ultimately to the power of Yiayia. But the fleeting nature of women’s sexual power is just one problem, it is also fragile. Appearing available and eager for sex is essential for a woman to appear sexy. Yet a woman who appears too eager, or more accurately eager for too many men, risks being labeled as a slut. Sluts still have the power of being desired, but as everyone knows only a foolish man would fall in love with a slut. Sluts are in this narrow (romantic) sense, unlovable. Note how quickly being attractive went to being ugly. On the other end of the spectrum is frigidity. A wife who almost never wants to have sex with her husband is a terrible wife. As with a slut, only a foolish man would (knowingly) fall in love with a frigid woman. However, unlike the slut she isn’t even desirable. A frigid wife is powerless, undesirable, and (romantically) unlovable. This recognition is what so horrified women around the world when the spreadsheet went viral.
Feminists have done an incredible job in temporarily removing words like slut and frigid from our lexicon, but they won’t be able to banish them for good because of the realities behind the terms. What we are seeing with the viral spreadsheet is the concept of frigidity working its way back into our thought process, even though the word itself is still forbidden.