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Sunday, 25 February 2007

What I Wish I'd Said About Women And Sex...

... because "what I wish I'd said" must surely turn up on blogs everywhere.

"I've never had sex," I admitted, one drunken night several months back.

"Oh, don't worry," he said. "You're not really missing anything."

I shall pause to give you time to choke at the idiocy of this.

Now I shall perhaps provoke confusion when I admit that my reply was not "Don't be silly" or "That's absurd" - but please remember that "That's sexist and absurd" is sometimes not an easy thing to say if you want to be taken seriously. So I replied with a heartfelt

"Oh, don't say that!"

Yeah? Makes sense to me, but it ended up meaning we were having a conversation about whether women can really get anything out of sex.

"Look, we'll ask A__"

A__ (not his real name, or even his real initial, actually; just the first letter of the alphabet) sobered up visibly and thought about the issue. "I think," he said, "... certainly within the context of a loving relationship, women can definitely get something from it, yeah."

Okay, be nice. The generous way to view this is to note that A__ has a long-standing girlfriend and is therefore (hopefully) speaking from experience when providing this counter-example to the idea that women don't get much from sex.

Agreement from the guy who had been speaking to me initially; A__ waffles a bit more and then asks me:

"I dunno - I mean, what do you think, what do you feel?"

A__ is, I suspect, consciously allowing me, as a woman, to define my own experience; he is a nice liberal man who generally tries and, yes, usually succeeds; this conversation does not really show him at his best. However, it is me who fails at this point.

"I don't know," I say, and it's true, of course; how could I know, of my own knowledge? "I mean, it's not like I'm waiting for any particularly special moment - I'm just waiting until I feel comfortable." Sufficiently comfortable, anyway; not, like, comfortable comfortable.

Actually, I'd give anything for a comfortable comfortable opportunity to have sex. I just don't know when I'll get one.

But look, let's go back.

"Don't sat that!" Why? Because "you're not really missing anything" is, get this, exactly equivalent to the statement "sorry, Lynet, there is no satisfaction." It's a horrible thought - one of my worst irrational fears, actually. Apparently the man I was speaking to missed the point entirely. He probably honestly doesn't realise how it feels to be a woman in my position. I ought to have corrected his ignorance, but it's hard. It's very personal to talk about these things. Stating it here is an attempt to redress the balance; the best I can do. So let me tell you.

The worst times are when I ovulate. Seriously, at least when I'm getting my period I have a tummyache to distract me*. There have been times when I'm ovulating when I end up lying in bed, drenched in my own sweat and dissolving in my own sexual frustration, trying to masturbate though my clitoris aches 'cause I've been rubbing it too hard - I've been over once already and it's not enough - and when I shove myself up and over into orgasm I spontaneously burst into tears because even as my body shakes I feel as though it's really not doing anything, I still need sex just as badly (oh, gosh, I just burst into tears typing), and it just feels like nothing's going to help, nothing not ever.

*Ovulation and menstruation are the two times when a woman's libido is highest, in general. Most sources say the feeling is stronger on average during ovulation, but it's certainly perceptible at mestruation; sometimes I can tell when my period is arriving by the increased tendency to think about sex.

Now, I'm happy to say that this has only happened to me a couple of times - most months aren't that bad. I mean, there's no time of the month when I don't think about sex at all, and there is no time of the month when I don't want sex, but, while it's not unusual for ovulation to be a difficult time of the month, I don't always end up crying.

"You're not really missing anything"? NO! Please, please, no! Please, please, please, oh, please, no! Tell me it isn't true. Tell me it doesn't always feel this bad. Tell me one day I'll be okay in some sense of the word, I know I won't ever be free from sexual desire, but tell me that - I don't know - tell me something.

I'm crying again.

"In the context of a loving relationship"? Tell that to my cunt. The only thing I need a loving relationship for is to provide a situation in which I can have sex and still trust the person who I am having sex with to respect me. A situation which provides the latter but is not equal to the former would still be fine; I just don't like the idea of someone touching me if he thinks he is degrading me - or increasing his masculine power at my expense - in so doing. The idea makes me sick. Especially when I'm ovulating. And it would hurt me even worse than the sexual frustration that makes me cry.

But I didn't say that at the time.

It's hard to show people a part of yourself that's so very fragile.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I feel you on this one. All of it -- from the frustration of a dude telling you that as a woman, Sex=Love (I can just imagine the tone of voice) -- to worrying about how sex might be used as a way to degrade you, even if it's not ever said -- to being so fucking frustrated that even getting off doesn't get you off. Thanks for articulating it all so well.

C. L. Hanson said...

The idea that sex is no big deal or not worth the bother for a woman is completely crazy.

It looks like your main problem is getting over this hurdle of initial experience. Without experience, the whole thing seems more complicated and difficult than it really is.

It's easier to get that first experience if you don't build it up too much in your mind. The first time is rarely perfect even for couples who are in love. It's better to think of it as a learning experience.

If you're specifically looking for a good relationship, the strategy is a bit different of course, but if your motivation for finding a relationship is largely sexual, it might be better to start by looking for sex for its own sake first (without worrying what kind of relationship it will lead to).

Regarding whether the guy will respect you -- I know I have an unpopular opinion on this, so feel free to disagree -- but I wouldn't worry too hard about that. By worrying about whether he thinks he's degrading you, you're giving him power over you. And really, guys getting off on thinking they're degrading you are not as common as you might think. Yes, straight male misogynists exist, but that's not a healthy sexual pattern.

Think of guys as people first and then try to picture how they might think. A normal straight guy wants to be liked and respected, typically would like to have a relationship or at least wants to feel like the woman who's with him wants to be there and is enjoying the experience.

So what if by bad luck you wind up with that guy who is degrading you in his mind?

I would say that it's better to do one -- as a learning experience so you have an idea of what warning signs to look out for in the future -- rather than poisoning potentially good encounters by obsessing over whether this or that partner has the correct, respectful thoughts going through his mind during the act.

You don't really want the kind of respect where the guy puts you on a pedestal like a piece of porcelain, do you? You want the kind of respect that comes from your confidence and autonomy: from the fact that you can choose to be there with him or you can choose to walk away and go home and not call him, and there's nothing he can do about it except try to persuade you to stay.

Lynet said...

Thank you! I have to admit, even just reading your blog, I'm finding attitudes towards sex that I can incorporate into my viewpoint in a way that broadens my options considerably. There is sense in what you say - so much so, that I find my picture shifting just through having seen that your way of thinking is possible.

C. L. Hanson said...

Oh, good, I was worried I might be overstepping my bounds and annoying you by posting advice and analysis on a post that is obviously very personal.

I'm going to add you to my blogroll. Good luck on your Ph.D. work -- you know, I have a Ph.D. in Math too!!! :D