In which I posted this on Facebook on a friend’s long piece about the Ansari thing and consent and #metoo in which she’d specifically invited thoughtful response, but then somebody immediately (so immediately that I sincerely doubt they’d actually read it) responded with “Jesus.”, as if I were so profoundly wrong they just couldn’t even, and it made me feel anxious because I’m probably not sex-positive and feminist enough for some circles, so I deleted it and am posting it here where no one will read it.
I think we collectively have this weird belief that sex is:
B. always fun and satisfying
C. super meaningful and important.
Personally, I think it’s ridiculous to expect that sex, alone of all human experiences, will always be great and fun and satisfying, or to believe that the quality matters much.
Even pizza can’t stand up to those expectations! Sometimes you get a burnt one or they left off the olives you really wanted or you’re not in the damn mood for pizza. Nothing is *always* great and fun and satisfying.
Sex isn’t even that important. It’s like elimination: it’s a problem when you can’t do it, sure, but there’s no need to obsess about your bowel movements. That’s weird. Stop it. Nobody cares.
Successful sex is sex that results in conception. The subjective experience of it doesn’t matter, even if our species does have sex for thousands of reasons that are not about conceiving and are specifically focused on the subjective experience. But really, the drives that cause sex are “for” procreation, and there’s really no promise it will be physically or emotionally enjoyable, and especially not every single time.
It’s also true that because there are so many reasons for doing it, it’s likely that your reason and your partner’s reason may not line up.
Also, it’s fine and absolutely okay to not want to have sex, or to not always like it when you do. I’ve had a lot of sex I didn’t care much for because my own “should” [the OP had listed a series of “shoulds” that resulted in her own experiences of not saying no when she wanted to say no, like “you should be helpful, you should be pleasant, you should be enthusiastic”] was “you should be Very Very Afraid of being called frigid, because apparently that’s the worst thing a girl could ever be.”
I feel like half of #metoo is women being disgusted by men’s higher libidos and not even realizing that that’s what’s happening, because they seem to believe that they’re just as horny as men and that they should want and need and have lots of sex in order to be “normal” and “healthy.”
Some women have high libidos, of course, but most don’t. So they’re not that horny, and they’re not driven to take risks to get off, and they srsly don’t understand why anybody would enjoy fucking for its own sake without the context of commitment until they eventually go through a period of super high libido. Lol hormones!
Another quarter of #metoo is women blaming men for not being psychic. When you give 37 “yes, please proceed” signals and one “um, maybe not” and he misses it, it’s not assault. It’s on par with not being able to hear the ticket guy through that little grille in the booth: it’s frustrating and stupid.
The remaining 25% is a heart-breaking gamut of actual rape and assault and abuse, to stuff you’d need a judge and jury and video footage to ever really know for certain either way since sexual encounters, especially for non-dominant partners, is so highly subjective. But most of the hashtag is not proof of rampant sexual abuse: it’s proof of rampant lack of taking responsibility for one’s own choices and actions.
Paglia says it really well in some video I can’t be bothered to look for right now when she’s talking about being in college in the late 60’s in a women’s dorm with a curfew the men didn’t have. She talks about how feminists at that time were saying they wanted to be responsible for their own safety, they wanted the same rights AND RESPONSIBILITIES the men had, to go where they wanted when they wanted, and to accept the outcomes of their own choices. They wanted society to stop forcing protection on them so that they could protect themselves as they saw fit.
I feel that people today, particularly women, have this expectation that they will be safe at all times in all places. That’s just dumb. There likely isn’t a man on earth who thinks like that, because they know there’s a difference, in expectations of safety, that is absolutely dependent on circumstances.
A church is generally safer than a foxhole. A dark alley in a “bad” part of town is generally less safe than a public library during the day. People cannot have an expectation of perfect safety in all situations, and should prepare for different situations appropriately.
Which is to say, if you’re a girl at a frat party dressed like a whore, your expectations of sexual safety are going to be different than they would be if you were at home with your friends. (And clothing does matter. A business suit says something, a cassock says something, a gimp suit says something. Insisting that deliberately dressing in a sexually provocative way doesn’t have intrinsic meaning? Is ridiculous. It signals sexual availability. Period. Full stop.)
So we need to accept responsibility for our decisions and our actions. Yes, there are actual predators, and they’re absolute rat-fucking bastards, but they’re the exception and not the rule. Most of #metoo is people putting themselves in harm’s way and blaming the world for it. Most of the stories are stories about failing to self-protect on a variety of levels, from physical to emotional, being disappointed when there are bad results, and blaming “the patriarchy.”
My unpopular opinion is that having a disappointing or uncomfortable sexual experience is generally not harm, but believing that it is harm causes a great deal of unnecessary emotional suffering.
It’s like getting a burnt pizza. It doesn’t matter. It’s not a big deal. It’s not going to affect your psyche unless you decide to freak out about it. There are gradations of trauma, and a lame fuck is not going to give you PTSD unless you have a bizarre and unrealistic set of beliefs about the world owing you absolute safety and happiness at all times no matter what you do.
Yes, there are definitely problems in the sexual sphere, obviously, that society should be — and is — conversing about, but I feel that we really need women in particular to accept that with freedom comes responsibility.
I mean, you can’t drink a bottle of wine and blame society because you’re drunk, and you can’t blame society when you find out that fucking isn’t love and you feel icky walk-of-shaming home in your little black dress the next morning with your 4″ heels in your purse.
You put yourself in that situation, you made those choices, you ended up with the so-frequently unfulfilling and disappointing results. It’s not society’s fault that you made a string of choices that didn’t produce the results you wanted, it’s not the patriarchy, it’s not sexism: YOU did that because you’re free to do so, nobody stopped you, there’s no chaperone, there’s no taboo, there’s no longer any shame in the walk of shame.
Random casual sex is normalized, and maybe, just maybe you just don’t actually happen to like it, and that’s all there is to it. Maybe he’s not a creep, maybe you’re not a victim, maybe you just don’t happen to like it. And maybe that’s just absolutely fine and okay.