Why Women Have Sex, By Cindy Meston and David Buss

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Cindy Meston is a clinical psychologist, David Buss an evolutionary psychologist; together, they interviewed more than 1,000 women to discover why they have sex. Interviewees comprised women of varying ages and of heterosexual, bisexual and what the authors call "lesbian/gay" orientation.

Surely, one might think, the range of reasons why women have sex is pretty predictable. For pleasure, obviously, and for excitement, to have babies, to express love, as a barter for gifts, to seek higher status, as a duty, out of sympathy, and so on?

Well, yes. The authors claim to have discovered 237 different motivations, but they're all variations on familiar themes. Statements of the bleeding obvious abound: "Women seeking casual sex partners are more likely to sexualise their appearance." No, really? Occasionally an interesting question is posed: "Do women have sex for pleasure less than men?" The answer is unilluminating: "Not according to the women interviewed in this chapter." The banality of the insights is matched by that of the prose: "Although half these attempts failed, half..." (wait for it) "...succeeded." Let me offer reason 238 for having sex: it's more fun than reading this book.