Q & A: What Do Women Want?

A revealing new website seeks to answer that eternal question.

Sexy legs edge of bed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

"The Desire Project," a fascinating new online video series, features women in their 20s and 30s dishing about desire—in bed and in life. Journalists Victoria Floethe and Kate Rose, producers of the series, share what they've learned.

Marie Claire: Why did you examine desire from the POV of real women?

Victoria Floethe: Asking for what you want is crucial in a relationship. My 20s were rough because I was still trying to sort out what my passions were. And there was a gap between what turned me on and what I would express to men.

Kate Rose: It's hard because women often want things to conflict with what they're told to want. We wanted women to identify what they desire without guilt.

MC: So tell us, what do women desire?

KR: What don't women desire? Desire means different things to each woman. It's anything that makes you yearn. One woman told us desire is about pleasure, like food and sex. Another tied desire to jealousy—what someone else is doing or what they look like. Some women are up in a cost-benefit analysis, weighing the consequences—while others love the drama of longing for something untouchable. One woman told us about a guy she was desperately in love with, but one she started talking about him, the feelings quickly faded.

MC: Do female and male desire differ?

VF: Male desire is more straightforward. In one famous study, men and women had their blood flow measured while they watched sexy films—a man and a woman having sex, two men having sex, a man masturbating, a naked woman exercising, even two bonobos going at it. Results showed that all the films turned the women on. But the men only felt desire by predictable scenarios—the man and woman having sex and the naked woman exercising. Turns out men are pickier than women!

MC: Tell us one thing you learned about desire from this project.

KR: That to get what you want, you have to start knowing what you want.

VF: That we are all facing the same struggles. And to achieve your desires, you have to risk humiliation and express them. If you do that, the world is yours.