Gender Battles for the Bedroom
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
There may come a time when pleasure is no longer pleasurable.
By Eugene S. Robinson
Battle of the Sexies
EUGENE, SIR: Did you read the article “The Female Price of Male Pleasure” in The Week? It said, and I could be getting this wrong, that women’s whole experience of sex is framed by the first idea that “it will hurt,” and forever thereafter, it involves managing discomfort and pain, versus what is characterized as the male problem of bad sex — that it is maybe “boring.” So, pain vs. boring. And they use Aziz Anzari to say, I don’t know, that men should not only be more sensitive but that they need to be a lot more sensitive and that women need to understand sex as pleasure and fun and get away from high-heel shoes and all these other painful sacrifices made to please men. I read it from beginning to end and now I don’t want to fuck. At all. Which is certainly a way to solve what seems to be a problem. If women can’t help themselves, how can we help them, and if we can’t help ourselves, how is this ever going work? —Sick of Sex
Dear SOS: We are mired in an interesting time with interesting affectations and less-than-interesting defaults. The default? Outrage and umbrage. Difficult discussions come creeping to a halt in the face of what might be, or seem to be, a game-ending gaffe that sees one or both players standing up from an overturned board and stalking off to find company more salubrious to total agreement. Which is fine. What’s not so fine? The tendency to think that your thoughts or feelings about this or that extend much beyond the border or boundary of YOU. They sometimes don’t, and despite what the ’60s might have told you about your inherent value and freedom to be you and what the ’70s supported with the Me Generation, the ’80s doubled down with Greed Is Good, the ’90s with partying like it’s 1999 and the 2000s with MySpace, and now with us all being stars of our own social networks, this doesn’t create a circumstance where the healthiest thing is to walk away from the field of play.
I read the article you mentioned, and I don’t think it is a call to walk away but is a dark state of the sexual union and yes, it might suddenly make sex a lot less interesting than, say, Parcheesi on any given weekend. But the points raised should be considered in light of “if you see something, say something.” Sex, good sex, and better sexual conduct require creativity, sensitivity, intelligence, humor and a healthy regard for the person on top of you or under you. Or in front of you. Or behind you. These are qualities that we value in friends. These are qualities we sometimes can’t be arsed to find in our fuck buddies.
So, like having a bad cab driver, sometimes the trip is bad. Sometimes the trip is good. Want to remove the guesswork? Then drive your own car. And to torture the analogy, realize that others not liking the ride might be because you’re a shitty driver, so endeavor to drive better. Which will necessarily involve creativity, sensitivity, intelligence, humor and a healthy regard for the person driving with you. A heavy lift for many men and women, but probably worth shooting for.
EUGENE, SIR: My girlfriend has asked for me to invest a little more time in foreplay. She means kissing, petting and then, after about 20 minutes, some light oral before we make love. She says she needs this and it “improves our lovemaking.” I have a hard time believing our lovemaking will be improved with me losing interest. I understand what she needs, but how do I get her to every now and then understand what I need? —Bryan
Dear B-Man: You’re resentful. Which is strange, if you think about it. I mean, it’s not like she’s asking you to eat a shit sandwich. No, she’s asking you (note: ASKING) for a little bit of something that many other potential partners would probably love to give. Which is maybe what you find rankling. That is, the idea that your performance is subpar and what you think is the implied threat of “or else.” It may be that the “or else” is in your mind or it may be that you two are genuinely incompatible, but slowing your roll a little bit might not be bad. If you go to a great restaurant, do you eat as fast as you might at McDonald’s? Alternatively, do you find yourself lounging at Burger King like you’re at El Celler de Can Roca? My advice? Stop fighting, start playing. It might be fun.
EUGENE, SIR: I like light dom stuff and am lucky enough to have a lover who used to be into BDSM as a job. But because he did it as a job, when I ask him for it, he says it feels like work, so now I don’t want to ask. But I feel like this was a special part of his life that I am blocked off from, which feels weird to me. Are there any ways to lure him back? —AL
Dear Mr. Capone: You’ll find that former sex workers are like former chefs. What they can casually come up with when they’re not even trying might blow your socks off, but asking them to come up with something recalls all the kitchen misery that drove them from the field to begin with, and you might find them similarly folding under pressure. My suggestion? Knowing that this is a job that gets in your blood and is part of who you are more than it’s something you do, give him a little bit of breathing room. That might be all that’s needed for him to find his way back. Good luck.