Over dinner last night with ManFriend, Social Scapegoat, Mr Black and The Devilish Ms M, we started talking about the pathologisation of women’s sex lives. When Ms M suggested that disinterest in sex could just be because your partner is lousy in bed, I’m sure Mr Black wished he’d gone to the bottleshop with ManFriend*.
But she’s got a point. I have an ex from a lifetime ago who I refer to – rather unkindly – as Two Song (as in, lasting all the way through two songs was a rare marathon). I was young and didn’t have the confidence to say ‘this isn’t good enough’; that my pleasure is just as important. So I assumed I wasn’t that interested in sex, when the real problem was that I wasn’t that interested in sex with him.
Another ex – the one I call ‘my dickhead ex’ because he was by far the biggest dickhead, particularly after we broke up – just did the jackhammer, which made me wonder why I was needed there in the first place.
I’m not saying that every night should be a three-hour orgasmathon – because when would we find time to read books and watch Outrageous Fortune? – but a good sex life requires an interest in your partner’s experience and how many of our early relationships had that? You’re not going to be very interested in sex with someone who isn’t interested in your pleasure, but when we pathologise that disinterest, no one wins. Oh, except drug companies. They win: Drugs for Low Libido Raise Concerns Over Industry ‘Construction’ of New Diseases:
Drug companies have not only sponsored the science of a new condition known as female sexual dysfunction, they have helped to construct it, in order to build global markets for new drugs, reveals an article in the British Medical Journal.
A lot of people are very rich as a result of telling women there’s something wrong with them.
I’m also not saying men are crap in bed, because there are just as many women who are lousy/lazy lovers and we’re all guilty of being ordinary from time to time. But what I am saying is that I don’t see men’s sex lives being pathologised the way that women’s sex lives are. Sure, there’s Viagra, but that’s pitched at older men who want to shag like younger men. Ergo, apparently, young men are good shaggers.
(Straight) women are socialised to think about “his pleasure”. Women’s magazines – that teenage girls read – are filled with articles on how to get him off in new and interesting ways, and how to make yourself more interested in sex so you can have sex whenever he wants (because if it was whenever you want, then why would you need to make yourself more interested in it?).
As ManFriend pointed out, some men’s mags now have cover lines about being a better lover. I’m happy to be wrong about this, but I’m guessing they pitch it as ‘be a better man, be a more manly man, by being better in bed’. Women’s mags tend to pitch it as ‘be a better lover for him’.
Not sure where I’m going with this rant. Except to say, sex = good, pathologising = bad, and I didn’t get to finish my rant about that over dinner. There, all done now.
* Not suggesting that Mr Black is lousy in bed. I wouldn’t know because that would be weird. All I meant was that he joked about being uncomfortable because he was the only guy at the table.