‘Sex-Positivity’ leads to depression

March 20, 2008

This is small study with 107 (presumable heterosexual) women showing that women who are being sexed more often are more depressed than women who are being sexed less often.

Depressed women have more sex than those who are happier, regardless of whether they are in a relationship or not, a study of Australians has found.

A survey of Melbourne women presented at an international mental health conference has concluded that females who suffer from mild to moderate depression have a third more sexual activity than those who are not.

They also had more sexually liberated attitudes, a bigger variety of sexual experiences and, if single, were more likely to partake in casual sex, Dr Sabura Allen, a clinical psychologist at Monash University, said.

“It was more sex and more of everything from kissing to petting, foreplay and intercourse,” said Dr Allen, who studied the recent sexual experiences of 107 depressed and non-depressed women who were in relationships.


I found this interesting. So us ‘anti-sex’ prudes are happier than the women with ‘sexually liberated’ attitudes and behaviours. So much for ‘sex-positivity’.


  1. Oh yes, but that is only 100 women, and I’m sure that if thousands of women came onto your blog and told you they were ‘sex-positive’ and happy then that would completely disprove every word you’ve ever written. Sheesh.

  2. “Being sexed.” I like that. It really puts it into the perspective that I’ve always had: that we as wymmyn aren’t participants in “sex” as defined by Patriarchy, but rather are victims of it. i.e., it’s something done TO us.

    Only when wymmyn rise up and redefine sex as something we want and can participate in freely (without men) only then can we free ourselves from the endless series of rapes that all wymmyn everywhere have experienced since the beginning of time.

  3. Is your headline sarcastic? I also find the study interesting, but there’s no actual proof of which way the causation goes. My gut guess would be the opposite of your headline, actually, that depression and the attendant feelings of low personal worth lead some women to have more sex in an attempt to feel wanted/sexy/empowerfulled. But I could certainly see where having a lot of sex with men could make a woman feel like trash, since that’s what so many men consider us.

  4. Dissenter, all of my opinions can be disproved because I am a lesbian who hates men and sex yadayadayada. So therefore I am a raving looney. Nothing I say can be trusted. And I probably need to be locked up!!!

    Hi Hecate and welcome, Yep I agree we women need to redefine sex so it is no longer something done to us. And until we do I will continue believe that women are sexed and fucked rather than loved, especially when this so-called sex appears to make us depressed.

    Yes, JadeWolf I was being a bit cheeky with the title. I actually think that this goes both ways. Women are taught to make sexual objects of themselves and are told to go out and get fucked in order to be liberated and self-actualised. When we do so we get screwed up even more. But women who ‘allow’ themselves to be fucked would likely be facing self-esteem problems to begin with. Likely brought on by the pornifying, objectifying culture that we live in though, so I still think the headline works. Even though it is a cyclical thing.

  5. I agree 100%, Allecto. This has very much been my experience. The more I went along with the sex-pos thing, the more depressed I got because the angrier I felt at the world.

  6. I think that it has always been that “casual” sex makes women depressed. Like so many studies, it is stating the obvious.
    I think many women and girls are trained to believe that they are just sexual objects. To believe the only way to be close with a man is through sex.
    What can bring about depression is that sex can bring no closeness, only lead to a slow silencing. Casual sex can make many women lose their sense of their selves.
    In the worse scenarios, it can make women believe that all they are worth is to be a sex object.
    Many girls or women that have a lot of casual sex have experences of sexual violence in their lives. For them, having a lot of sex is a way to deadened the past.
    This will never work for the long-term.
    Most women who are having casual sex wil say it is their “choice”, most will say how liberated it make them.
    They are liberated to become a male fantasy, of sex without consequences or even knowing the woman or girl.
    It not a surpise that women get depressed. But, I am amazed it has been published.

  7. “What can bring about depression is that sex can bring no closeness, only lead to a slow silencing.”

    That is brilliant, Rebecca – that is exactly it. Sex can be so dehumanising for women, and definitely something done to them, rather than which they participate in.

  8. Frankly, I’ve never understood the whole sex thing.

    Pregnancy? How much more disempowerered can one possibly be rendered?

  9. Eich: Brilliant. It’s always been a science-fiction fantasy of mine to perfect artificial wombs and cloned male reproductive organs. This would satisfy both the ideal of doing away with the male sex and the disempowerment of pregnancy and answer their argument that they’re still needed for reproduction.

  10. I think JadeWolf makes a great point about causation. Depression can lead to increased sexual activity. When someone is depressed they look for things to make them feel better, and turn to activities that are viewed as enjoyable: sex, eating tasty food, buying cool shit, drinking alcohol. But often times what is actually needed is examination of life choices or balancing chemicals in your body. I can see a women using a cute guy to pleasure her when what she REALLY needs is to talk to a psychiatrist.

    Also, Hecate: YES! I have though of this before, and people look at me like I’m crazy, but I am with you 100% on the artificial wombs! Being pregnant takes control of your life for 9 months, and then permanently damages you body and health. Not to mention the possible complications. But I need to keep my guy around to help take care of the kid once it comes out of the incubator…

  11. “Only when wymmyn rise up and redefine sex as something we want and can participate in freely (without men) only then can we free ourselves from the endless series of rapes that all wymmyn everywhere have experienced since the beginning of time.”

    Quotes like this give me some sympathy for the pomos, etc who charge radfems with “essentialism”–I would like to ask a couple questions to contextualise what you said before I pass judgement.
    -Do you place to without men in parentheses to imply that being involved with men or not would be a choice for women–that men can be, although currently often not, honourable, feminist, etc and suitable partners for women? Or that it would have to be without men, even in this future without forced or unwanted sex, with sex being defined as feminist/women/clitoris-centred?
    -I don’t think it’s fair to say women have been subject to rape evenly. Certainly, all women are vulnterable to rape, but not to the same degree and kind in any sense. What happens to women when rape is a tool of genocide is different than a woman being gang-raped for money (which is rather what prostitution is, if one includes unwanted sex to be rape, as i do) which is different for a girl being sexually abused by her father which is different for a teenaged girl giving in to her boyfriend’s pressure to have intercourse, anal sex, or another sex act that isn’t wanted by her. Not to mention that race and class, along with others, are very salient features in rape, rape mythology, etc. A woman of color is more likely to be raped than a white woman, for example.

  12. Eich and Hecate, how are pregnancy so disempowering? Male control of women’s reproduction is what’s disempowering–whether it’s forced abortion, denied birth control–including the morning after pill, denied abortion, forced sterilisation, forced or unwanted sex which can result in pregnancy, taboos around menstruation and vulvas as “dirty” or “gross” and something to keep women ashamed of and men and women mystified about, the way women are kept out of decision-making by male doctors in nutrition, carrying the pregnancy, giving birth, slicing women’s perineums under the viscious lie that it prevents tearing, having women lay down in stirrups, sometimes tied up, etc, etc, etc. These things are not inherent in our reproductive systems, being pregnant, or in giving birth, but they are tools for keeping women under male control.

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