As blog traffic increases, so doth the general clamor for sex advice. From dudes. Straight dudes.
I have not yet developed a hypothesis as to why this should be so. I sort of wish it would stop, though. When dudes write me about sex I find myself making the same face as that sticker they put on bottles of poison, Mr Puke or whoever.
Today, for example, I received a sex advice email that made my hair puke. Its author asked for “relationship advice,” but sure enough, it was sex he wished to discuss (I have developed a hypothesis explaining this phenomenon. I’m sure you have, too.) I reproduce the email here in its entirety, with a word of warning to those who care to forge ahead: do so on an empty stomach. It is a viscera-scrambling expression of the invisibility of rape culture and male entitlement that will not sit well with lunch, written by someone who probably considers himself a pretty decent guy. I’m guessing that, by commonly accepted liberal white dude patriarchal standards, he probably is. Which is the chilling part.
He writes to ask me if I think he is serially raping his girlfriend.
As a 20something white male who doesn’t do quite as much patriarchy-blaming as I probably ought to, I figured that, having worries about equality in my sex life and a slight problem with run-on sentences, I would skip e-mailing Amanda Marcotte or somebody and get sandblasted by a real firebreathing feminist. Also, everything I say is, obviously, my best guess and not some kind of Objective Truth, so maybe the problem is just that I’m overlooking something important. Anyway.
My girlfriend has a peculiar array of patriarchal hang-ups inherited from her military father and stay-at-home (I think?) mom, the most relevant being the ideas that a) vaginas are dirty and b) sex is super dirty and should be done as infrequently as possible, and only in the dark. I have heard both these complaints, more or less, from her own mouth. We aren’t having penetrative sex for a variety of reasons, she has no desire to give oral sex, which also doesn’t bother me, and she gives pretty crappy handjobs, but none of these things make me worry about coercion, etc. What does is that she never, ever initiates sexual activity. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have fingered her and she appears to have enjoyed it, but if I start undressing her (and she doesn’t get out of her clothes without some prodding), she usually asks “What are you doing?”, progressing to “Eek! Stop it!” and scowling at me. This pattern fits pretty much any other kind of heavy petting, etc. beyond kissing, as well. She’s told me that she generally has no desire to initiate sex, but once things get going, she enjoys herself pretty well (This sentence is somewhat ambiguous. I mean to say that she has told me both things, not that she has told me the former and I have observed the latter). Also, I am sure she would not stick around if she didn’t find me, in some way, attractive.
So, I guess my worry is, am I, if not raping her, engaging in some kind of serious coercion? The “What are you doing?”s, etc. seem to be of a sort of different character than when she’s telling me, e.g., that she does not want me to give her oral sex (which I would happily do, otherwise). Given that she does start enjoying herself once she relaxes, are her early protests actual protests, or the voice of psychological hang-ups? Am I doing something really wrong?
Dear little Alex,
If your girlfriend had written me — and I rather wish she had — I would have advised her to dump you.
She dislikes having sex with you. If she did not, she would ask you for it. She endures it because she wants to feel loved, and letting men maul their vulvas is how many women are taught that men express love. Believe me, she is relieved when it is over.
What’s with this “she gives pretty crappy handjobs” bullshit? Perhaps she is unaware that you employ a handjob rating system. And what’s with this “she needs a bit of prodding” crap? Prodding! Do you comprehend the meaning of the word “prod”? I mean, there’s more or less a general concensus on that. Or are you stupid?
And what’s with this bullshit pop-psychology “hang-up” crap? What are you, Dr. Phil? And holy-smirking-mother-of-a-dead-Nazarene, what mysterious aspect of “eek stop it” is eluding your grasp? Do you imagine that there is some kind of nice-guy difference between ‘serious coercion’ and ‘rape’? Jesus! Use some common sense, boy! She said “stop it.” Do you seriously delude yourself that “stop it” is some “psychological hang-up” code for “please proceed to violate me”?
Leave the poor kid alone, for crissake. Just stop. You are certainly raping her. The question is, are you also a moron?
Thanks for writing.
I’m sure yall will have plenty of insights to add. Let’em rip, girls.