Thursday, January 24, 2013

Manly Thor's Day Special: The sex advice they give to women

It's not just sex advice being given to women but sex advice being given to women in our name: the teaser for the article promised it would be all about five things women do in bed that men hate. Does your mileage match these "men's"?

My response is that these five things are really only two and that those two both boil down to women not understanding themselves and, consequently, not learning how to respond during sex.

1) The first candidate is a classic example of burying the lead (which some pretentious people spell "lede"):
Having sex only in the dark. Unless you've lied about your gender, you have nothing to hide during sex. He can feel your body, and he's been looking at it since you met. If he really disliked it, you wouldn't be making love right now.
Having sex only in the dark is the symptom not the problem. The problem is her narcissism. (I'm not slagging women particularly here: we live in a narcissistic age and that means we all have narcissistic traits.)

I know, it would seem that the problem is her self-criticism but it's actually her magical thinking, a prime behaviourial trait of narcissism. Think of the problem in flow chart terms. If there is something about her body she doesn't like then she can either do something about it or she cannot. If it really bothers her and she can do something then she should do something. If it really bothers her and she cannot do something about it then she should get over it.

To wait until you are kissing her and loving her and then denying you the opportunity to appreciate all the things that are wonderful about her is her way of making the things she won't face magically disappear.

The vast majority of women have something beautiful about them; usually, they have a whole lot beautiful about them. It says a lot that at the precise moment when she might be sharing these wonderful gifts with you as an act of love, she suddenly turns off the light or cuts off your compliment about how beautiful her body is to you to tell you about some aspect of her body she hates.

This isn't just something guys hate, it's a mind-bogglingly selfish thing she is doing, narcissistic in fact.

2) The second bad habit is another misdirection:
Not asking for what you want and not interrupting what you don't want
I know that sex "experts" think they are being wonderfully useful when they advise women to tell their partners what they do and don't like but it's the single worst piece of sex advice ever dished out. There are times when a little well-placed advice can be a very good thing. I will be forever grateful to the girl who said, "Move your finger in small circles instead of up and down." But note that is advice about what you might do better rather than about what she does or doesn't like.

Here is the thing, women who are really good in bed don't have to tell you what they do or don't like because what they do or don't like shows in their response. Pardon my arrogance, but if you really want to be great in bed, practice responding.

Here's an experiment. Imagine eating your favourite food. Imagine putting it in your mouth and giving no signs at all that you are enjoying it. I ask you because you could do that if you wanted. There is nothing about tasting, chewing and swallowing that you cannot do if you suppress all the sounds and actions that go with enjoying food. (There is a feedback loop with eating and, ahem sex, however, and sighing or arching your back or groaning will increase your pleasure, provided, that is, that you practice making these responses to match your feelings instead of faking them.)

Now carry it the next step and watch other people eat. Some people really get into it. Some people show no signs at all. Some people obviously fake it. Here is the thing: all three of those are learned responses.

It isn't easy to learn how to respond. For starters, it involves acting in front of someone else. And yes it's acting. Which brings us to the second problem, you can either act in ways that reveal your desires or you can act in ways that mask them. And revealing your desires makes you vulnerable.

Sex is a social skill. It applies in every aspect of your life. How you dress and interact with others out of bed is sexual activity. How you respond to the way men look at you and to what they say to you tells them what to do next. They initiate, you respond and your response tells them what to do next (and what not to do next).

And the cruel truth is that a lot of women are really bad at this. They get very good at sending sexual signals, such as wearing push-up bras or leggings, when they want attention but don't get very good at interacting with the particular boy they particularly want to interact with (bring back dating!). They never get a chance to practice interactions such as meeting glances, looking down shyly, sighing appreciatively, intentionally positioning their bodies in ways that are more or less receptive depending on what they hope he will initiate next and so forth. Never having gotten very good at this outside of bed, they fail in bed.

Any time you have to break this dance and explain is a sign of failure on someone's part. It's unavoidable that there will be some failures, of course, but advising people to tell others upfront what they want as a matter of course is like advising them to go to court before they even try and work things out otherwise.

3) Number three is just number one repeated in different terms:
Protesting whenever he says you're sexy
4)  And number 4 is just number 2 repeated in different terms
Focusing on intercourse more than you want to
It's the "more than you want to" that gives it away. And I have nothing more to add on that front.

But there are two related issues that the good Dr. Klein doesn't deal with that I'd like to touch on.
  • Why is sex that just proceeds along to intercourse disappointing to men? After all, entering a woman is one of the most pleasurable things this life has to offer. Why would a guy not like that? Well, what he doesn't like is the feeling that we have gotten this far with no sign that any of this is doing anything for her. Sex ended up here because this is the natural place for sex to go and that is no different for someone who is just going through the motions.
  • "But he wants sex all the time and sometimes I'm willing to please him even though I don't want it much right now?" The key thing here is that what we are discussing is a gift. Gifts only work if the context is set such that it really is a gift. If you are going to have this kind of sex, then you should initiate it and it you should make it clear to him that you want to do this for him. A gift he has to ask for isn't really a gift. Neither is pretending to do this for your own pleasure. (Of course, it will sometimes happen that you do something just for him, paying no attention whatsoever to your needs and unexpectedly find yourself getting very aroused and ... well, that opens a whole lot of complicated issues doesn't it? That is the tricky thing about responding honestly, it makes us vulnerable.)

5) Number 5 isn't really a tip about sex per se but is rather revealing in a political sense:
Being less than 100% responsible about birth control
Really? Women aren't always 100% responsible? I thought men were always the problem.

Wow, next you'll be telling me that women behave in very ambiguous ways about these things or even that some women, when very in love and uncertain about whether this love is returned might get a little careless about things. And perhaps some women are inconsistent in their own feelings about pregnancy and unwilling to be honest with themselves about this.

Or, here is a really crazy one, maybe there is some set of genetically driven responses that make women worry much less about getting pregnant when highly aroused and that this genetic impulse might have collateral effects such as making women discount other risk factors as well. And she might even bitterly regret things she did the night before in the cold light of day. And she might even blame the guy that these things happened!

(A response I don't have any problems with myself, by the way. That said, there are all sorts of other things that would go with this. This would imply that sex would have to be something that only took place within relationships based on trust and commitment. And we'd spend a lot more time dating and a lot less time casually hooking up.)

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