He has been called ‘the cleverest man in Britain’. But even Stephen Fry’s fans must feel there are limits to his expertise.
And as one of the country’s most famous homosexuals, female sexuality is unlikely to be one of his specialist topics.
Yet 53-year-old Fry has raised eyebrows by claiming that women are unenthusiastic about sex, and see it only as ‘the price they are willing to pay for a relationship’.
Most straight men, he added, fear that ‘they disgust women’ and ‘find it difficult to believe that women are as interested in sex as they are’.
Feminist writer Susie Orbach suggested the remarks said more about Fry than they do about women, and ground-breaking female journalist Rosie Boycott said he was talking ‘rubbish’.
Fry told gay magazine Attitude that men feared that women were less interested in sex than them ‘for good reason’.
‘If women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas in the way there are gay cruising areas,’ he said.
‘Women would go and hang around in churchyards thinking, “God, I’ve got to get my ******* rocks off”, or they’d go to Hampstead Heath and meet strangers to s**g behind a bush.
Toy boy: Fry, pictured alongside My Family star Robert Lindsay, left his partner Daniel Cohen for actor Steven Webb, left, who is 28 years his junior
‘It doesn’t happen. Why? Because the only women you can have sex with like that wish to be paid for it.’
Fry, who hosts BBC quiz QI, added: ‘I feel sorry for straight men.
'The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want.
‘Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, “Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!” But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?’
Screen role: Fry as Oscar Wilde in the 1997 film Wilde with Jennifer Ehle as his wife Constance
Feminist journalist Miss Boycott said the claims were ‘kind of rubbish’, adding: ‘Women are just as capable as men are of enjoying sex.
Fry in the November issue of gay magazine Attitude
'We don’t go cruising or cottaging on Hampstead Heath because we don’t need to.
'Women have other ways to get our thrills, and we can go and get them in bars or clubs.’
Psychotherapist and writer Miss Orbach said: ‘I’m really intrigued by his notion that men’s sexuality is disgusting in some way.
'Why would he believe that women could be so disgusted by men? Does he think there is something disgusting about sex?’
Fry has often spoken out for gay rights. He played Oscar Wilde in the 1997 movie Wilde, and a gay man dying of Aids in 1992 film Peter’s Friends.
But he has also said he was celibate from 1979 to 1995.
And in his autobiography this year he said he was only ‘90 per cent gay’ and had once been attracted to Rowan Atkinson’s wife Sunetra Sastry and his Cambridge University contemporary Caroline Oulton, now a novelist. Nothing happened with either woman.
Fry is currently understood to be in a relationship with actor Steven Webb, 25