Op-Ed: What the #sexspreadsheet and backlash tells us about society

Posted Jul 24, 2014 by Kris Coombes
Another month, another weird and wonderful trend to report on. This time, the item in question involves a rather different use of Microsoft Excel.
Yes, as reported on Digital Journal recently, a story about a man who created a "sex spreadsheet" containing reasons why his wife didn't want to have sex with him has made the rounds on the internet recently. The man, 26, attempted to solicit sex from his wife, also 26, a total of 28 times, achieving success a total of 3 times. The wife had allegedly taken on more work at her job and as a result had become increasingly tired and busy, leading to the reasons. He emailed this spreadsheet to her and she was so offended by it she posted it on Reddit for the world to gawp at.
Shortly after, a "sex diary" popped up, detailing a wife's attempts at getting sex from her husband, and she was even less successful than the spreadsheet guy. She filed for divorce as a result.
I would like to start by saying that all views are my own. There is a disclaimer at the bottom that states this, but I want people to know this now.
Personally, I view the spreadsheet as a fairly lame attempt to show her his sexual frustration. I don't know these two people but he clearly felt he couldn't talk to her face-to-face about it, so resorted to this childish spreadsheet, which he also refused to show in person. Can't say I condone his exploits but like I said, he may have felt like he couldn't talk to her about it. It can't be a shaming exercise, or he would have posted it on Reddit himself. The diary seems like a more personal log not originally intended for anyone's eyes, but what it does prove is that sexual frustration is present in both genders.
What these cases do tell us is that gender stereotyping is a waste of time. Labeling all men as sexually driven and all women as emotionally driven is just plain incorrect. Clearly, it's more a case of personal preference based on individual ideals, not ridiculous gender stereotypes.
These sex logs have brought up the touchy subject of sexual inequality somehow. My case study is this article written by Elizabeth Plank, a women's advocate. She takes a very one sided stance, and utilises a flow chart to describe exactly how she feels about the matter. First of all, a note on the author. Her articles are normally on point, such as this great picture-based piece, but this one has just the subtlest hint of bias surrounding it. It's not on the level of this shocker on Father's Day, but it's still laced with the stuff. It feels more like a senseless jab at men, when in reality feminism should be about striving for equality. There is no mention of men in a positive light at all.
That isn't what has brought me to write this article, though. It's the comments section. It's, to put it eloquently, a mosaic of clashing opinions with no one willing to move away from their ideals. Bluntly, it's divisive. There is a lot of people who seem to have the right ideas, but also many without their heads screwed on. I'm now going to analyse a few of these comments.
This is fair, but ladies just remember we don't owe you a conversation or emotional bonding either by that same logic.
A lot of these comment relate to the idea of not owing your partner anything. Why is it that the word owe is used, like being married is some kind of tasking chore. If you love someone, just give them what they need, when they need it. By the logic shown, if the wife requires emotional support, a husband doesn't owe it to them to help, and therefore won't. What kind of relationships are these people in? Likewise, if a husband wants sex, the wife doesn't have to owe it to them, but it just isn't right to deprive them of it like spreadsheet lady. If it was right, lack of sex wouldn't be such a big factor in the millions of divorces that occur every year. Moving on to a response to a comment.
Jules, you get it. Women are like children. Exactly. So treat them as such. If every man did, as it once was, we wouldn't be having these issues today. Anything else is pure madness.
Seriously, women (read: all women) should be treated like children and we should revert to the days where men controlled literally every aspect of life. REALLY. Society has progressed so much, but it seems there are still a few men out there intent on keeping women beneath them. I am in no way an advocate for feminism, but I am a massive advocate for all forms of equality and fair chance. Women are human, men are human, we are all human. I know of so many incredibly intelligent women who have way more to offer to the world than this backwards-operating guy, but he is insisting that we demote women to the levels of infantile children, because that's what they all act like. Man or woman, who cares, you have rights to live your way regardless of gender.
Ever heard of an asexual? We don't have sexual urges, so should we not get married?
Of course asexual people can marry. But if they are marrying a partner with a high sex drive, you do owe it to them to talk it through. Divorces are caused largely by not knowing what you're investing your life in when you actually get married, it's there from the start. Yes, get married, but be honest with your partner about your feelings beforehand and find out if they has a problem with your asexuality or whether they just love you for who you are and want to marry you regardless. Don't make mistakes, it'll hurt you in the long run.
One user posted this article with regards to a case of sexual damages in France, where a man was charged £8,500 for withholding sex from his wife. This was one of the responses.
We are busy being outraged at the millions of women being beaten and killed by their husbands and real issues that millions of women face everyday. One case like this an uncommon outlier.
And that's reason not to care is it? That's just plain spiteful. This person, clearly a feminist, states that she is too preoccupied with cases with females as the victim to care about this case with a male victim. Why? That isn't feminism for equality at all. If the cases of beatings and issues were eradicated and all that was left was cases with male victims, I doubt she'd care. Check this video out if you get a chance. Women have way more issues than men, and the Everyday Sexism project is a great way of publicising these issues, but that doesn't mean that men don't face gender issues either. "We" implies a sense of togetherness for women, so she's also separating women from men, which also is not equality. A lot of men don't take radical feminism seriously, and it's easy to see why when the issues facing men are disregarded in this manner. Granted, I would never tar feminists with the same brush, and there are numerous examples in the comments of the article which restore my faith in feminism for equality. Some people won't draw these conclusions, though. The same commenter had this to say too.
Because talking about it to his wife was too much of an effort. Making up a spreadsheet and then sending it to her is a good way to deal with distance in a relationship. Stop trying to justify that ****heads actions.
Any need for the name calling? It was sent in private, and can't have been a move made with bad intentions at all, hence why he didn't post it on Reddit. Women saying things like this about men sets us further back from the equality we really strive for. Sure, there are better ways to deal with this issue, but diagnosing an relationship or what people are like without knowing anything about them? Good one.
One commenter, by the name of A. T., hits every nail on the head with everything she says though.
Maybe what he means is that people in the relationship have obligations to each other, willingly taken on?
Why are we attacking anyone?
One person does not a trend make.
I thank this person for being alive and brave enough to voice an opinion an equality-striving person can get behind.
Overall then, the comments section gives me reason to think that society is no closer to seeing equality than it ever was. Certain individuals seems too immature and headstrong to see the flaws in what they are saying. Unfortunately, their rights to freedom of speech means I can't condone them from saying what they say, nor can anyone. That doesn't stop me thinking it's wrong though. On marriage, I'm young and have no intention to get married soon, but when I do I want to make sure it's a decision I won't regret, unlike a lot of these couples of divorce over a lack of sex or emotional support. On feminism, there are a lot of people who need to follow the example of A. T. and show that you care about the problems of everyone, not just your own gender. Same goes for men; don't just laugh off the problems of women, citing as them being emotional messes who get antsy once a month. That's no way to show respect.
If I've learned anything writing this piece, it turns out that there is one thing everyone should owe everyone regardless of gender, or whether they're married, or whatever: respect.
Do you have any views on the sex spreadsheet or sexual equality? Can we ever achieve true equality? Feel free to leave a comment below.