real life

The female libido fairy

Every time a man lies in bed pretending not to hear a crying child, a female libido fairy dies,” wrote father-of-two Jack Ellis last year in his entry for a competition to find Australia’s Mentally Sexiest Dad. “And you can’t bring her back by tapping together your red dancing shoes and saying, “I believe in fairies”.  I know.  I’ve tried.”

Were truer words ever spoken? Whenever I recount them to women they laugh. And nod. And then they keep nodding until their head falls off.

The reaction from men is different. They laugh too but nervously. One man responded by turning pale. “You mean every time I’ve pretended to be asleep is one less time in the future my wife will sleep with me?” He paused as the full horror sunk in. “Oh God, I’m never going to have sex again, am I?”

Possibly not. Confoundingly though, it doesn’t work in reverse. Ok yes, like many women, I’ve done my fair share of faking sleep when a child cries or a dog needs to be let out and funnily enough, this seems to have no detrimental effect on the male libido fairy at all. Who knew? Oh wait, EVERYONE.

Generally, female libido fairies have little in common with male libido fairies. This is probably because male libido fairies are not fairies, they are warriors. Almighty superhero warriors, who wear full body armour, wield light sabres and have magic powers of resilience capable of withstanding virtually any threat. Fatigue, anger, weight gain, hangovers, heartbreak, homelessness, Ebola, low self-esteem…they are immune even to kryptonite and gastro. Stress? Illness? Solitary confinement? Pah. Male libido warriors laugh in the face of such assailants and flick them off like lint.

Female libido fairies however, can be fragile creatures. Really, they should live in a bubble. Possibly bubble wrap. Or at the very least, a carefully controlled ecosystem where they can be protected from the infinite number of seemingly innocuous things that can kill them. Like resentment.

I visited a butterfly farm once and you have to walk slowly and carefully around the enclosure. It’s temperature-controlled so it’s very hot and humid because butterflies need warmth to survive their very short lives. There were still little pretty carcasses dotted around the place because they are so fragile. In another part of the farm, they were breeding butterflies by the hundreds to introduce to the enclosure so the supply never diminished to unsustainable levels.

Perhaps in your household, female libido fairies are an endangered species? Deserving of protection? In need of a breeding program of their own? Because there is no Australian Conservation Foundation equivalent for the female sex drive, I’ve recently been pondering the ideal breeding conditions for female libido fairies.


Tell me, what do you think would encourage them to go forth and multiply? Because surely this is a cause we can all enthusiastically embrace as a community (gay men might be a little harder to convince since they will not see any direct benefits other than the women and straight men in their lives being a whole lot happier but I’m convinced they’ll be theoretically supportive of the idea).

I think the perfect breeding conditions for the female libido fairy would go something like this:

You have a room. And just to turbo charge this a little bit, we’re going to put 100 men in there. Yes, it’s a large room.  Natural light. Polished floorboards. Lots of windows. Wait, where were we?

Right. So in this big, light and bright room, all the men are sitting in chairs and listening. Just listening. Not solving. Not arguing. Not even making suggestions. Or even talking. Just listening but actively. There’s a lot of empathetic nodding. And understanding noises like “Mmmmm” at appropriate points.

Then, as one, all the men will get up and say, “Why don’t you go and have some time to yourself. I’ll deal with the kids/dog/plant/house/dinner/mess/your boss/my mother. Have a sleep. Watch the True Hollywood Story about Elizabeth Taylor on E!, or one of those documentaries about people who have 19 children. I’ll give you a massage and I promise it will stay G-rated. Read a book. I’ll bring you some cake. Oh, and I bought you this Vanity Fair with Rob Lowe on the cover. ”

Hear that? It’s the sound of brand new female libido fairies being born by the thousand, multiplying faster than you can say, “Let me make you a cup of tea.”

The tea bit is very important. In one of her most popular magazine columns ever, my friend Zoe Foster argued that All Women Want Is A Bloody Cup Of Tea. Female libido fairies like tea very much. They need it to survive.

A guy once asked me, “Does the female libido fairy understand the concept of ‘taking one for the team?’” Not really, no she doesn’t. As much as Bettina Arndt argued that the female libido fairy could effectively be made redundant if women simply “threw the canoe into the water and started paddling”, it was a tricky message to sell. A bit like work choices for sex. And we know how that turned out.

How fragile is your libido fairy? What kills it? And what makes it, you know, breed?