You can’t talk about sex without talking about gender. Doesn’t matter how gender-fluid you, yourself, might be: we all live in a gendered world, and there’s still a way to go before we’re entirely free from old-school patriarchal bullshit. Even when individuals reject ‘traditional’ ideas, those concepts are still lurking at the back of our minds.
Sex – as in sexual activity rather than your chromosomes and reproductive system – is still very much viewed along gender lines, with a stark division between male and female needs, wants and behaviours, and mostly it’s all about the heterosex. Mostly, sex gets defined as something that men do to women rather than something women and men enjoy together. A lot of sex-related advice to women still seems to have a starting point of sexual pleasure being something women ration out to men: we bargain with it, treat it as a kind of currency. It might not always be so crude as ‘wait till you’ve got his ring on your finger before you let him finger your ring’ nowadays, but so-called ‘sexperts’ are still raking it in by advising women to withhold sex, no matter how horny they are, as a way of manipulating men into giving them something (other than multiple orgasms) that they actually want.
The whole Pick Up Artist movement, a blend of the horrifying and the utterly pathetic, is based on very much the same premise: women are sexual gatekeepers and men need to ‘get’ sex from them by means of trickery or coercion (or, according to some of the more repellent promoters of the concept, straightforward physical force).
What’s missing is any real awareness of women’s lustiness, of our autonomous passionate desires. We can, and do, go out on the pull with a view to getting some seriously filthy action from someone we will never see again. We can, and do, wank ourselves silly as we wait for a favourite partner to return from a business trip, and go to fetch him from the station purely so we can drive straight up to the woods for a frantic bang on the back seat of the car. We don’t need flowers, chocolate, jewellery, ‘romance’ or any other ‘incentives’ when we are horny.
This insistence that women need to be charmed or coaxed before they will engage in sexual activity comes out in the dividing of women into two types – those who will (sluts) and those who won’t (frigid bitches) with no acknowledgement of women’s different moods and, most importantly, different reactions to different men. The most annoying, ill-informed and unpleasant men are the ones who can’t comprehend the idea of women making active and informed choices about sex. They are the ones who think that a woman who is known to have had sex with more than one man is a woman who will have sex with them, no matter how smelly or troll-like they might be. The Nice Guy TM, raging about being ‘friendzoned’, falls into this category – he thinks that women should open their legs for him because he’s such a Nice Guy, and gets utterly freaked out when asked even to contemplate the idea that a woman simply doesn’t fancy him, but does fancy other men, and therefore will only have sex with the ones she fancies. The variant on this type, sometimes found in fetish clubs or on BDSM dating sites, goes on at considerable and boring length about how ‘genuine’ he is, but strops off when it’s pointed out to him that if that’s all he has to offer, it probably isn’t enough.
It can get a bit more complicated for us perverts, to be fair. One of the things about being into kink is that you reframe your definitions of what ‘sex’ actually is. Someone in an otherwise-monogamous relationship might, for example, want to undergo elaborate Shibari bondage at the hands of a real expert: the experience might be intensely erotic despite the expert being someone who, for whatever reason, holds no physical attraction for the one being tied up. I’ve certainly been happy enough to tease, torment and thrill various men with a good whacking, a bit of roleplay or restraint, but no desire at all for genital contact with them. Again, though, if I’ve spanked half the men in the club, that still doesn’t mean that I’m going to want any interaction at all with the whiny, demanding, greasy little git in the time-honoured wankyman outfit of socks with sandals, one bollock hanging out of his cheap PVC posing pouch and accompanying plastic bag full of used tissues.
When I first started going to fetish clubs, one of my favourite aspects of a night out was how cheerfully straightforward people were about asking for what they wanted, and how equally cheerfully most of them took a polite refusal. I thought at the time that the world would be a better place if that attitude were to spread. I’m still looking forward to the day when both women and men can freely ask for, freely accept and freely decline any kind of erotic interaction with someone else without there being any need to administer a spiteful put-down by way of a refusal, or throw a tantrum when the answer’s a straightforward ‘No, thanks.’
– Zak Jane Keir
About the writer: Zak Jane Keir describes herself as a maker of stuff, writer of rude words, drinker of much cider, feminist, deviant, atheist, book junkie and morris dancer.
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