If you ask a heterosexual man what bad sex is, he’s likely to say it’s when sex is boring. He’s unlikely to say, for instance, that bad sex is painful sex, or unwanted sex, or humiliating sex.
Yet, that is often women’s experience.
At least ten women friends have sent me an article by Lili Loofbourow, ‘The female price of male pleasure’, which goes into this in considerable, painful detail. You can find the article here ( www.theweek.com > articles > female-price-male-pleasure )
One of the points the article makes is that we frequently still have a bizarre idea of what consent means. It doesn’t appear mean active, enthusiastic participation. Rather, it seems to be everything short of determined refusal. Oh, Sir Jasper!
Who does this serve really?
I trained with Betty Martin in 2018/2019. She’s most famous for inventing The Wheel Of Consent, and it’s particularly helpful as we try to negotiate a more fulfilling, satisfying notion of sex, leaving behind a Harvey Weinstein entitlement without falling into a new Puritanism.
Her work is vital for these times, but consider this: how easily can you answer these questions:
What would you like to do to me?
What would you like me to do to you?
Simple questions, aren’t they? But very difficult to answer. Maybe I feel that I couldn’t ask for something unless I knew you were going to enjoy it. Maybe I couldn’t ask for something unless I knew you secretly wanted to give it to me, and you’d be thrilled to do so. The questions can get really tangled up with not knowing what we want, wanting to please our partner: myriad questions.
But unless we can actually answer these questions, we’re always going to have bad sex, because clear communication is impossible. We’re always thinking of the other person, and are resentful they don’t seem to be thinking of us, or if they are, they’re pretty clueless. It’s a real mess.
So, we can’t really separate sex, bad or otherwise, from more general issues of power, autonomy and communication. And you want to address that, don’t you? Me too.