How to Convince a Woman that Sex is Bad: An Instruction Manual for Men who Feel Entitled to Undermine Women’s Feelings and Desires
PART 1: DO YOU LIKE HAVING SEX?
“I want to fuck you like an animal// I want to feel you from the inside”
What do you do when someone dumps you (or, more accurately, when you ask him if you need to stop seeing each other and he angrily concurs) and willfully agitates the wound that has been primed by so many bitter, insecure men before him. What do you do when you’re an unapologetically sexual woman who lives in a world where men don’t like women who love sex, where men don’t trust women who love sex, where men don’t stay with women who love sex—because suspicious. What do you do when you realize the sex you were having was consensual but most definitely not mutual.
How do you come to terms with your station when you feel like you were taken advantage of and guys don’t mind taking advantage of girls like you, because your value is so low anyway, there is nothing left to devalue. How do you make peace with yourself when you feel underappreciated and like someone defaced something beautiful and pure, putting a sinister contentious spin on it, and you worry that no one will ever really like you because underneath it all, underneath the woke façade, men don’t think sexual women are really capable of having feelings for men. I really had feelings for this particular man. I loved having sex with him because, well, I maybe didn’t love him quite yet, but felt very strongly about him and the sex was very good and felt collective at the time, and I did think that I would grow to love him and that we would grow together.
This is, in part, the story of the emotionally abusive mini-relationship I escaped from recently (though I still feel emotionally impounded), but mostly the story of the same shitty set up I’ve been struggling with for more than a decade. What do you do when your biggest baggage, your deepest insecurity, is entirely founded and confirmed recurrently. Because society is a swamp monster and everyone has internalized its very worst stereotypes and scripts, whether they align with our progressive beliefs or not. What do you do when you’re scared to have sex because you’re scared to get hurt, and sex mostly seems like a liability for you.
All I want is for sex to be a commonality. All I want is for somebody to love me holistically. And that does not involve pitting sex and activities against one another, privileging minds over bodies, as if physical chemistry is lesser than or separable from or more slippery than everything else that fastens us. Right now, the prospect of fucking someone new fucking disgusts me. I feel cagey, I feel no connection to my body; I want to scratch it off me. I mash my palm into my clit and and dip the tips of my fingers into my introitus and sniff them and search for myself, and I don’t smell me. How can I not disassociate from the thing that no one trusts, the thing that casts doubt on all else in its dominance. How the fuck can someone not trust something as truthful as a body.
I’ll start with our first mini-conflict of sorts. It was more of a source of confusion that needed clarification. It needed clarification because I liked him enough so that I didn’t want to let insidious feelings linger; what if it was just a miscommunication and not a cause for concern?
We met for the first time in late March. I was out of town and out of commission for a month because I went home to NYC to freeze my eggs. He kept in touch loosely. Impressing me with a suitably bizarre article about sacrificial insect death for the sake of the nest entitled “Exploding Aphids Plaster Holes in Their Homes With Bodily Fluids;” he was uninformed about my penchant for semen at the time and was worried that maybe I’d be horrified by the reference to “eruption” (mmmm).
We fucked on our second date in late April. I was still a bit traumatized by what had happened with the last guy (he went all incel on me: said I was being manipulative and “withholding sex” when I wouldn’t fuck him on demand). I was also a bit nervous about the state of affairs of my internal organs (they were still healing from my egg freezing procedure). The last time I’d touched myself before our date, it kind of hurt, even though it was technically a day or two after the 2-week post-procedural no-go period. It’s hard to talk about your masturbatory status on a second date. We prepared to say our goodbyes as we were nearing my building and I felt some ambivalence, so I asked, “Do you want to come over and not have sex?… Is that reasonable?” He repeated “Is that reasonable?” as if it were a ridiculous question. He accepted. Ten minutes later, I leaned in and straddled him on my couch. He then clarified, as one should, “What do you mean by you don’t want to have sex?” So I explained, I wasn’t quite sure what I meant, maybe sexual things just not penis-in-vagina sex, things felt weird in there last time I checked. And then we got more naked. And I was quite obviously way more aroused than I get on my own. So I was ready for him, internally, if not for myself. I asked if he wanted to have sex but be gentle. It was a positive experience overall.
The sex was meh drunken sex is always meh. But he was respectful of my boundaries and followed my instructions and that’s most of what matters anyway. Then it came to me fucking myself. I asked if I could use toys, which is a test of sorts but wasn’t meant to be, and there was no hesitation, it was like duh of course whatever you want. And he exclaimed, “Oh god, that’s so hot,” repeatedly, as he watched me fuck my dildo husband, a threeway I tried to incorporate him into. It was nice and affirming the first two times then it felt porny, like he thought I was “performing” for him, barf. I wondered if I might have to get rid of him for objectifying me. But he cooled it over time and seemed genuinely appreciative of my ease with myself and my proactivity in attaining pleasure. He mentioned a bunch of times, later on, how refreshing it was (without using that specific word that people have used to describe me since I was 16). Other women had touched themselves while they had sex, but I had a higher level of “comfort.”
The second time was equally meh and drunken and maybe the positions were a bit more ambitious and egregious than normal but I didn’t think much of it. After that, I went away on a weeklong vacation to Colorado, ate one weed gummy per day, and fucked myself to him constantly. Including on my 35th birthday, when I posted on-brand, coming-of-age tweets about how on the precipice of my cultural expiration, I felt more “unfuckwithable” than “unfuckable,” and I was spending my big day thinking wistfully about all the dicks that smelled like home (his didn’t yet). Even though we had just started seeing each other, the thought of coming home to him excited me. In anticipation, I told him to smell worse.
Me: [photo of tree destruction porn that I took on a hike with the caption “remains”]
Kyle: Ooooo I like that. I’m going to be super nerdy for a second if that’s cool. If you zoom in on the lower trunk you can see little hole. Those come from a borer beetle most likely. Seems like this tree had a pretty nasty infection. It’s probably what killed it.
Me: I was just gonna say the roots evoked the tentacles of the sea creature tattooed on last night’s waitress’ arm.
Me: So like speaking of gross animals… would you think it was weird if I asked you not to shower before the next time we fucked?
Kyle: I won’t even wear deodorant 😉
Kyle: I was also thinking I’m not gonna jerk off for a few days before too so I cum a lot
Me: So thoughtful
Kyle: “Speaking of gross animals”
Me: Is it weird that it sorta turned me on that you rationalized your girlfriend cheating by saying that monogamous monkeys are never really monogamous? I guess I was supposed to find it degrading that you were comparing woman to monkey. But if I were gonna cheat it would definitely be with a guy I thought smelled the best.
Kyle: Is it weird that it turned me on hearing that that turned you on? Hahahaha
Me: Is it weird that I start all my sentences with the disclaimer “is it weird that…”
Kyle: Yes, but I like it
Kyle: Weird in the good way
Kyle: But it also turned me on when you asked me not to shower. For the record.
Me: It’s just impossible to actually start to like someone if they dont smell like sex. Like how do scentless people even lure partners to a second time. They have no signature.
[He asked for clarification after I said something about someone I bumped into out of context not recognizing me because I wasn’t wearing my “signature” glasses.]
Me: Smell is sexual incentive. There are a number of “signature” things one could offer to incentivize repeated sex. And without that distinguishing factor a particular partner doesnt have much value because sex is everywhere. Style is a social signature. It doesnt have the same utility because continued social interactions arent as simplistic. Like no one is gonna make compromising decisions to hang out with someone because they look cool but ppl will do almost anything for another dose of a sexual stimulus that has been imprinted on them.
Kyle: I was joking. But also view the relationship between the relationship between sexual attraction and smell as different than you do. I think olfactory communication and it’s relationship to sex is super interesting. Not quite convinced it plays that big of a role in human mate choice as you do. But hey, you wanna smell me more? Consider it done.
[He later explained that monkeys have much more elaborate nasal apparatus than humans. And I explained that I’m obsessed with the MHC/HLA and human sexual attraction studies, and also the suggestion that humans may be able to distinguish arousal sweat, fear sweat, etc.]
When I got back from Colorado, he told me he was beat and wanted a pizza and movie kinda night. And, of course, we didn’t watch a movie, and the sex was fucking incredible. I mean, actually, it was a bit of a false start, he did such magic with his tongue that I squirmed away, afraid I was gonna cum basically immediately, then he stopped himself from cumming quickly inside me, and it was an unwelcomed disruption, but whatever dudes, the sex was fucking hot, we were sober, it was intimate. I wanted to bone more. And, well, I’m just gonna be a weirdo and put fucking dates on this so you get why his line of questioning (i.e. infusing doubt) creeped me out. May 19th was great sex part one. And May 28th was great sex part two. Part of what made the sex suddenly super excellent is we were juuust past the obligatory going out and doing activities together phase so we were sober and present and the other part is we were at his place so my curious playful puppy wasn’t constantly interrupting us, jumping up and down on her hindlegs begging to join us in bed, and his room was very small so we were sort of crammed together in such a way that forces figurative proximity and literal heat exchange. I think maybe we fucked one time after that, and then this fucking weirdass question…
Lying in bed post-coital, but not directly after, he pondered, “Katie, do you like having sex with me.” I was stunned, because DUH. Duh because why would I keep doing it if not. Sex is important to me! I could fuck around a bit with a meh sex guy who I was already friends with or really wanted to become friend with, but I’m not gonna get in a relationship track thing with someone who cannot fulfill this very important function that is integral to my identity and well being. Like, the main difference between romantic relationships and other relationships is sex. Sex is the critical factor. Duh also because we were having great sex! At least I thought we were. Should I have been concerned that he wasn’t enjoying it as much as I was?
But wait, that doesn’t even make any sense, because on May 29th, a day after we had incredible sex part 2 on his floor mattress, we had the following conversation.
Kyle: [Sends me a bio of an artist we were planning to see together.]
Me: Cant wait to read. Also cant stop thinking about how good last night felt. [i.e. I’ve been jizzing all over my fingers all day; help I can’t get anything else accomplished.]
Kyle: That just turned me on
Me: Feeling you come inside me when I was still throbbing was the best kind of sensory overload. Goodnight.
Kyle (the next morning): I could feel you squeezing me as I came. So fucking hot.
Kyle: I’m gonna be distracted for the rest of the day now.
Me: Today I had the weirdest (faux)rectal exam ever. [As in, I have a fake rectum.] They made me supplicate on a church kneeler. Am I Catholic yet!??
Me: Did i ruin the previous imagery?
Kyle: When you were kneeling, were you answering personal questions so that it felt like confession? If so, you’re definitely closer to being Catholic
Kyle: Did not ruin the previous imagery though. If you wanna accomplish that you’re gonna have to sent the texts closer together
Pretty sure we had just alluded to how we couldn’t stop fucking ourselves to each other so I guess the sex was pretty good? I craved more. So much moar. At very least.
So, May 19th and May 29th, hotsex. Want moar. June 1st we’re lying in floorbed together and he asks whether I even like that sex with him (WUT!?) June 4th I’m still weirded out by this bizarre inquiry so we have our FIRST REAL TALK. I get all vulnerable and shit. I tell him about my insecurities. Wait for it.
Background info for this text exchange: we were having weird problems with sex positions, specifically doggy style. Kyle insisted that our hips didn’t align properly so he ended up squatting like a frog (instead of kneeling on his knees). He looked hideous, which I told him. We had also watched a series of campy documentaries about cane toads together [Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (1988), followed by its sequel Cane Toads: The Conquest (2010)]. 10/10 would recommend.
Me: I think I found the solution to our mechanical issue, ignore the muppet in the photo [photo of me draped over my “boyfriend pillow” such that my hips are lower than my shoulders, curious puppy photobombing]
Kyle: I don’t get what’s wrong with froggie style
Me: [tears streaming out of face emoji]
Me: When I googled “frog sex,” “frog security blanket” was the first thing that popped up. Is that weird?
Me: So, can you explain to me again why you asked if I liked having sex with you? I’m not trying to imply it was a bad weird thing to ask. Like I actually think many probs would be avoided by ppl being honest abt their doubts. It just kinda weirded me out?
Kyle: Did it weird you out more than the frog security blanket?
Me: I’m serious. It’s almost the opposite of the ominous thing guys always say to me but I still cant wrap my head around it.
Kyle: And yeah, it probably was a weird thing to ask! I mean, I’m pretty secure with myself so it wasn’t really coming from a place of insecurity. Mainly curiosity i guess? We talk about sex a lot, and as I’m learning some of your preferences I’ve been curious.
Me: So first of all I might regret sharing this later but the ominous thing guys always say to me is that they assumed their only value to me is sexual. It’s super triggering and makes me feel completely worthless and I dont think I’ve ever successfully recovered a situation in which that was stated or implied. But the converse is equally weird if not personally offensive.
Me: Like I guess I’m confused as to why you think I would continue hanging out with you in this context if i didnt like having sex with you. Sex is pretty important to me so if I felt meh about it and didnt think it would improve, I’d try to transition the situation.
Me: By the way I also strongly prefer sober sex. Like I thought the two times at your place were pretty incredible and the other times pretty average but subject to improvement. You’ve definitely adjusted to what I want. And I really appreciate that after you orgasm you ask, “what do you want me to do?” Its such a simple, direct, and effective communication that I’m almost aghast that not everyone says exactly that.
Me: For example, i was gonna tell you that I basically only like positions where our bodies are at 90 degree angles but you naturally kinda figured it out and stopped leaning forward so much without our having to do any math! Are there any preferences that have surprised you?
Me: Also… another reason your q seemed very weird is because youd just sent me that article about Alyssa Milano [about women going on “sex strike” to protest abortion laws] and said you thought it perpetuated (presumably mostly baseless) gender stereotypes. So it was like, “Does he think I’m trading sex for his attention/some other resource?” So confusing.
[A good friend of his had also posted Ijeoma Oluo’s take on Alyssa Milano’s misguided “activism” on her fb.]
Kyle: I’m sorry I weirded you out! Didn’t intent to trigger any negative emotions, and in asking I didn’t mean to imply that the only value we see in each other is sexual. The Milano piece I sent weeks ago was about bullshit stereotypes, so, no, I don’t think you’re trading sex for anything! I kind of want to laugh at that but you seem rom what I recall the context of me asking was during you’re recounting stories of bad sex you’ve had and making fun of the shapes of guys dicks (could you imagine if the conversation was reversed?). [Yes, I could, and it wouldn’t be the same because men haven’t been shamed for their genitals their whole lives.] I also have different experiences than you with regards to continuing to have sex with someone when the sex was below average.
He misinterpreted the “only value we see in each other is sexual thing” but we clarified my insecurities over the phone (I love dudes who wanna talk on the phone in the year of our lord 2019 like we’re not scared shitless of human contact). In case it still isn’t clear to you, fair reader, guys generally assume that I ONLY want sex from them and, for whatever reason, Kyle questioned whether I EVEN liked sex with him—so sort of opposite problems. The next day we discussed further via text.
Me: I meant to mention this last night, I think you’re one of the only ppl I’ve come across who answered no to that okcup q that’s something like “if you were in a relationship that would last the rest of your life would it have to be the best sex you’ve ever had.”
Kyle: And that surprises me about the best sex question.
Me: Why, bc plenty of ppl in LTRs have shitty sex so you know ppl are lying about the importance?
Kyle: I mean, I guess that’s part of the reason. I also agree with your explanation for why you put no. [That sex with different people is different and people aren’t rankable.]
Me: I also put no because I think my body processes pleasure as something with a ceiling. Like the last time we hung out at your place I was like this is the best I’ve ever felt. But there are obviously other times when I’ve thought the same thing. And it’s sorta nonsensical to determine which “best” was better. Since ppl have other personal qualities that are important. And like 50 percent of what makes me happy w someone sexually is how comfortable and safe I feel w them and how sexually accepted I feel by them, so what does “best sex” even mean? I usually file ppl into the broad categories of good, meh (like they’re replaceable/disposable), and BAD (like they did active harm to me or have the sexual skills of a 15 yr old because they’ve never accepted feedback.).
Kyle: The caveat is hilarious
Hello, my name is Genie and I used to be a sex blogger. I just admitted that sex is a feelings thing for me now, sex is better with feeelings, because I’m a haggard old lady at the ripe old age of 35, and I refuse to repent for it. I was *happy* with this guy sexually, and was mostly happy with him more generally. Until he said this weird thing about his slutty ex gf, which felt decidedly personal. It doesn’t feel any better when you hear it said about another woman, it makes you feel a kinship to her and feel defensive for her or whoever you imagine her to be. It’s still like, ‘Oh, right, men are trash. Even “good men” judge the character of women by their sexual availability.’