“There’s someone out there who’s perfect for you.”
“Does he or she turn you on or off?”
“You’ll know when you’ve met the one.”
“When it’s right, sex just works.”
The SCAM™–or the Sexual Chemistry Attraction Myth–is all around us. The SCAM™ is the acronym I’ve given to the collection of historically and socially reinforced beliefs that brainwash women into worshipping a false idol in their search for erotic vitality. It’s so pervasive we don’t see it, but there are hints of it everywhere: in perfume advertisements and on magazine covers, in advice columns and song lyrics. It’s sold as the winning lottery ticket of romantic love. One day, when you least expect it, you’ll turn around at Starbucks just as an attractive stranger raises their eyes and it will happen: you’ll feel a subtle current of sensation running through your body. It will be him or her: the One. Or one of very few potential Ones.
If you’re already dating or partnered with someone, the SCAM™ takes a different form: when your beloved gets a new job, when you move in together, when you go on vacation, the chemistry will consistently ignite. Or maybe it will be on your wedding day or honeymoon, or when your toddler’s in daycare and you have time to focus on yourself for an hour and go to the gym.
Get Lucky, Get Thin, Get Famous, Get Botox
The SCAM™ projects the chimera of sexual chemistry onto a future that never arrives. It drains the power and the will from women’s willpower, and also from men’s. Over time, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, breeding sexual learned helplessness and conditioning people who believe it to think their erotic awakening rests in the hands of another. It saps a woman’s energy from her actual, here-and-now relationships. What a scammed woman believes is that to experience passionate, sustained desire, it’s important to be able to sit tight, wait and look pretty. I know, because I’ve been one of the scammed myself. A scammed woman must either get lucky or get thin or get famous or get Botox to attract love. She must pour effort and energy into maintaining her attractiveness against all odds. She must strive for perfection.
What exactly is the Sexual Chemistry Attraction Myth? At its core, it’s the commonly held belief that attraction is an alchemical miracle outside of our conscious control. We’ve all felt moments of attraction, and they can sometimes feel like that: as if they’re being imported into our bodies from somewhere outside of us. The Sexual Chemistry Attraction Myth capitalizes on that universal experience. It also goes one step further, magnifying it into an ideology. The media, educational systems, institutions, families, religions, and communities are all channels for this myth, conditioning us to become SCAM™ believers. One important facet of attraction—the experience of effortless desire—morphs into a commonly held expectation with the power to shape how we experience gender, power, attraction and desire.
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