Let’s Really (Really) Talk About Sex

Julie Gillis doesn’t believe in plain, old consent. She wants it to be enthusiastic.

Originally published at Good Vibes Magazine.

Julie Gillis says: I originally posted this piece at Good Vibes Magazine. Good Vibrations is an amazing store and they have an amazing magazine. I can think of no better crossover here than this. Charlie Glickman is their sex educator and he’s brilliant, focused, and entirely supportive of sex education for adults. We have to be able to talk about sex and relationships (at least if we want to have good ones), and Good Vibes has been leading the way since 1977.

♦◊♦

Enthusiastic Consent. I’m a fan. For any of you not in the know, Enthusiastic Consent is a way to make sure that yes really means yes and no means no, during sex. It’s an ongoing conversation during sex itself, where partners listen to all manner of cues to make sure that what’s happening is really wanted. Scarleteen has a good definition here. Enthusiastic Consent is a term designed to get people talking to each other about sex so that when the sex happens, everyone is on the same page, happy and in alignment with what’s supposed to happen.

I had a conversation today with a friend of mine to discuss his curriculum on Enthusiastic Consent on college campuses. And I’m all for it, the enthusiasm and the consent.

But it got me thinking. When is this sex supposed to be discussed? Right then at the bedside? A few moments before, in the living room? In the car after dinner? When does the actual conversation and agreement about sex occur?

Part of me thinks that concepts like Enthusiastic Consent won’t truly take hold until we are able to have conversations planning the sexual encounter long long before moment of consent occurs.

Let’s look at this from a different angle. Imagine this dialogue between two friends planning a meal together.

Sam: Hey, you want to have dinner tomorrow night?
Alex : Sure thing! Thanks for asking!
Sam: I was thinking about this new Thai place up the road.
Alex: Hmmm. Thai sounds good but I just had it for lunch today, actually.
Sam: OK, no prob. What about Indian? That way I could still get a curry.
Alex: Great! Which restaurant? India Star or Madras?
Sam: Oooh! Madras!
Alex: OK, should I pick you up or would you like to meet there?

So forth and so on. They might even discuss with pleasure the food they are planning to have.

The next day, it’s likely they’d confirm plans, check in to make sure everything was a go. And things would go great. Or, maybe someone has to change plans right before hand which could cause some disappointment, but they’d likely reschedule and everyone would deal.

Even if they wind up at the restaurant but Sam isn’t hungry for some reason, Alex wouldn’t think about forcing Sam to eat if it was clear Alex didn’t have an appetite.

Maybe Alex would even enjoy Sam’s enjoyment of the food.

We plan pretty much all of our activities, social or otherwise. We ask, negotiate, detail the plans and check in to confirm. We can even take classes to learn how to be better at certain aspects of social and work things: Cooking! Party planning! Etiquette! Why don’t we do this about sex? Why do we wait until the very last minute to get the details set? Or just fumble into bed with hopefully willing partners?

Because the stakes of attempting to have sex are higher than a simple lunch date? If we start with a presumption that sex is high stakes, it’s important, it’s a connection of some sort between two people, then how is it that the conversations around sex are so limited and clumsy? Why not have those high stakes moments more prepared for, more thought through, more discussed?

Why are there no culturally accepted forms or practices to gain relational and erotic literacy—so that those skills are built one upon the other—leading to an end result of enthusiastic consent. Wouldn’t this also foster graciousness and acceptance if sex doesn’t happen?

That’s a rhetorical question, fyi. I know very well why there aren’t. I understand that a) our culture doesn’t really promote that level of honest discussion around sexuality, b) sexual education and acknowlegment of sexuality is not the norm, and c) we don’t much place value in pleasure for pleasure’s sake. We do place a strong emphasis on “getting laid” but also “not talking about it.” Those things don’t go well together.

Because of those dynamics, the scenario for a young couple newly interested in each other might go like this:

Sam: You want to come over and watch a movie tomorrow? (and hopefully have sex with me)
Alex: Sure, I’d love to see Harry Potter. (I really want to watch Harry Potter and maybe cuddle, I like Sam a lot)

Later that night:

Sam: (makes a move)
Alex: (Um? What?) Ok, I guess.
Sam: (Yay! Wait, do I have protection? I think Alex has some?)
Alex: (Gah, I don’t have protection maybe I’ll just do oral because I don’t want to have intercourse yet)
Sam: (Alex likes ORAL!)

And maybe things work out ok. And maybe they don’t. Maybe Alex feels like things went too fast. Maybe Sam is thrilled and thinks Alex is happy. Maybe Alex thinks Sam is a jerk or maybe they move forward and don’t really discuss it.

Things can get even weirder if one partner stops the other in the middle of things. Someone feels frustrated and resentful. Someone feels guilty and like a failure. Heck, both of them probably feel like they failed at sex. But they were set up not to win, if you think about it.

The stakes should be both higher and lower. Sex should be important enough to talk it through, to really plan. But also, sex should be human and regular enough so that if someone gets cold feet in the middle, no one freaks out.

Because we live in a culture that doesn’t support sexual education and literacy at all ages and because much of our culture is distrustful of pleasure, fail to plan and we refuse to really talk ; we obfuscate much of our intentions around sexuality. This raises the stakes to a nearly impossible level leaving everyone feeling fraught.

A final conversation between our friends:

Sam: Want to come over tomorrow night? I’ve been enjoying dating you so much and well, I’d love to to take the relationship to the next level and have sex.
Alex: Wow! I like you too, a whole lot. But I’m not in the right space for that, so I’d love to cuddle, kiss, and watch a movie. I’d like to take things a little slower maybe than you, but I do want to get to that point with you.
Sam: Sounds great. Let’s see where things go, but I won’t have any major expectations tomorrow.

OR

Sam: I’m not sure if I’m into waiting a long time. Let’s talk about things tomorrow and I’d like to hear more from you.

Sam could accept or reject the offer. Alex too. But they’d both be real clear on what they were getting into with each other on the date.

While this final scenario does indeed happen out there in the world (I know people within queer spaces in the LGBT and kink/poly community who discuss sex this way; more transparent negotiations), my guess is it’s a long way from happening as a global practice.

Few of us discuss things like this, and even when we do, it often feels the opposite of sexy.

My friend and I discussed this over our coffee, wondering how we can ever teach enthusiastic consent without actually teaching the skills of having plan-ful conversations about sex well before the act. How do we start farther back, both in schools but also with parents and other adults so that you get the conversations started at multiple ages.

I think the paradigm has to shift, I’m not always entirely sure how to get that shift started, but I want to live in a world where we plan and tend not only our meals with friends, but the best and most honored parts of our relationships with our loved ones. If sex is that important, we really really should talk about it.

—Photo ctrouper/Flickr

More on “Our Sexual Vocabulary”

The Unnamed Genitals Have a Name, Marcus Williams

Let’s Really (Really) Talk About Sex, Julie Gillis

Riding in PopPop’s Vulva, Joanna Schroeder

Why ‘Losing It’ Is Sometimes the Best Term for First Sex, Hugo Schwyzer

Low and Slow: My Sequel to Dad’s Sex Talk, Tomas Moniz

Potty Mouth Versus Poetry, Paul Leroux

Non-monogamy, Jeremy M.

Really (Really) Talking About Sex, Part 2: Starting The Conversation, Julie Gillis

Bro-ing Alone, Oliver Lee Bateman

What’s in a Name: Vaginas, Clitorises, and Bravery, Maria Pawlowska

The Ethics of Vocabulary (Sexual and Otherwise) Lisa Hickey

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About Julie Gillis

Julie Gillis is a coach, writer, and producer focused on social justice, sex, and spirituality. She is dedicated to sexual freedom and education, equality for the LGBTQ community, and ending sexual violence. Julie intuitively helps people live their fullest lives, navigating terrain from relationships to sex education. She writes at The Austin Chronicle, Good Vibes Magazine, Flurtsite and JulieGillis.com. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter@JulesAboutTown

Comments

  1. ‘Few of us discuss things like this, and even when we do, it often feels the opposite of sexy.’

    This might even be a bigger hurtle than the societal rules leftover from MOST of civilized human history where contraceptives were iffy and parentage was prime. Most of human history was not civilized and driven by attraction to health.

    It’s a lot to ask people to reassess their judgment of someone who leaves so little to mystery/chance as someone controlling or needing to be controlled. Furthermore it asks people to BELIEVE the answers their prospective partners give.

    To play angel’s advocate, much of the problem may come from people not WANTING to get to know their sexual partners enough (‘he/she was so hot till they started talking’) to facilitate a working dialogue. Sex for fun between acquaintances IS something people want and something some people even need, but perhaps the people with f**kbuddies should be taken to task over how much buddy, how much ‘friend’ is in there with their benefits. While we certainly don’t want to shame masturbators anymore than they are, we may be able to turn the two dysfunctions against each other;

    Statement “I work to ‘get laid’ so that I don’t have to be ashamed of masturbating.”
    Response “Well, if there’s another person there, but they’re not involved, you’re just using a human masturbation aide.”

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Very good points. It is a lot to ask, but I suppose I have very high expectations for something (sex) that we place extraordinary pressure on to be the end all be all attainment, yet also places extraordinary pressure on to never be talked about, educated about and so forth. It’s a tough little puzzle.

  2. First, I want to applaud your ambiguous naming and lack of pronouns when speaking of Sam & Alex!

    Second, I completely agree with the message your trying to put out there and that is exactly how we need to educate people on this type of practice, you put the message out there and others share it.

    I started this practice this year. Mainly because I got out of a very long term, very serious relationship and I was NOT ready for another one, though I did want to explore the sexual realm a bit. Anytime I felt that a newly acquainted female friend or existing ones had a chance of developing sexually, I had a discussion on exactly what I expected… which was nothing! BUT, I stated exactly what I would ALLOW if something were to happen; how far it could go; how often; etc. I was up-front and honest. I didnt want any surprises! I feel this is the best practice and I’m glad you are putting the message out there. We all need to be honest and unashamed of that honesty! Whether you’re admitting that you are “into it” or “NOT into it”, you do not need to be ashamed of being honest about it. Worst thing that could happen would be that the other person cannot handle it and they move on. We/they need to be respectful of each others desires and limitations.

    • ‘ I was up-front and honest. I didnt want any surprises! I feel this is the best practice and I’m glad you are putting the message out there.’
      But me and most every other guy HAS to ask: did it lead to good sex?

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Thanks Gordon!

  3. Planning a ‘sex date’, like it’s a dental appointment? Not sexy (and plain awkward). We’re not automatons, we are human. I understand that having this type of dialogue may be best for all because it leaves little room for ambiguity. But I think it’s the ‘not knowing’ that keeps people engaged. Watching a pre-recorded ball game is no fun when you already know the final score. We enjoy the mystery, spontaneity, and anticipation of what may happen next. BTW, having “an ongoing conversation during sex itself”, also not sexy, because we are expected to know what we’re doing, and if we don’t and need our hand held to get it right, well, that just can’t end well. Fair to say we’d all prefer exploring someone new, and discovering all of their hot destinations, without the courtesy map. No doubt, there’s a lot of ego involved when in the end we get it right and can say to ourselves “damn I’m good”.
    As far as overall sexual interaction goes, it’s the NOT knowing (and getting it right anyway) rather than the knowing that excites us, the wanting and not necessarily the having. Isn’t that what sexual tension is all about?

    • Julie Gillis says:

      It might well be IAMX. It’s a thought experiment. I’ve had lovers who were quite skilled at planning a sex date and keeping it erotic. Not clinical, not awkward at all. I suppose it all depends on how creative you are and how comfortable one is in using sexy language to discuss and negotiate sex itself.
      I mean, “I’d love to have you come over this weekend and slowly undress you while…..” isn’t boring at all.
      Some people like maps. Some don’t.
      The principle here is that if consent is important, how to we start the conversation before the miscommunication can begin. How you do it? That’s up to you.

  4. Though I understand the ideal of this thought experiment, there is much that needs to remain unsaid in sexual explorations – non-verbal communications is often the fuel of sexuality – brushing up against boundaries, trial and error, the nuances of ambiguity etc

    Maybe I’m being a bit too romantic – but I see it more as a non-scripted creative endeavor rather than a contracted exchange (drawing on polar opposites to emphasize my point).

    I do understand that there are more risks in this preference, but I do think such risks can be similarly mitigated by alternate non-sequentially scripted methods.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      I think whatever works for the couple in question is good for me. But I don’t think learning to talk about pleasure (with pleasure, in pleasurable ways) is such a bad idea. Could simply be another tool in the tool box so to speak.

  5. I think this advice is great so why does it sound so completely un-erotic? If a guy I was dating said to me, “Let’s talk about the parameters of our physical relationship: shall we engage in heavy necking? Shall we go back to my place and have sexual intercourse?” I’d probably be like “yuck! Get away from me!” And I have to admit, if a guy asked about a “sex date”, there is a 99% chance that I would say no. It all sounds so clinical and artificial. Also, what will he think of me if I say yes to that kind of proposal?

    I say all this, whike rationally agreeing that its good advice.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Well, Jill, could you imagine it if a man you were dating said, “I really like you. I’ve loved all our dates and find you amazing and fascinating. Everything about you excites me and I can’t wait to have you over to my place for a sexy evening. Dinner, candles, well…I have to admit, the thought of kissing you all evening…man, I’ve been distracted all day.”

      Cause I think it would, in practice, be a bit more like that. The piece was a bit tongue in cheek in terms of dialogue. I suspect many a woman or man would enjoy hearing that.

      As for what he’d think of you if you said yes? I mean….So he’s the one asking right? What do you think of him? What happens is in most cases, he’s thinking it. She’s thinking it. No one talks about it because no one wants anyone to think they’re a dog or a slut, but then they do it anyway.

      So what’s the harm in admitting that you desire someone?

      Convention? Rules of engagement someone made up decades ago? We’re all good about hooking up but we can’t talk about? Is there that much shame attached to sex? I fear that there is.

      • Well yes, that would be a lot more romantic and appealing, obviously! :-) But still… Maybe I just have this ingrained feeling at if a guy I’m dating comes right out and bluntly asks for sex, I’d better say no because otherwise it would seem like I’m too easy, and if a guy thinks I’m easy, I can write off any hope of a LTR. On the other hand, there is a moment in every relationship (usually while making out on the couch) where you both agree that it is time to head back to the bedroom, or whatever. Which admittedly is not always the best way to handle it. I wish I could feel secure enough to be more upfront about negotiating sex ahead of time, but you just never know how the guy will view it. He could be totally okay with me agreeing to sex in such a forthright way, or he could lose all respect for me. As I’m typing this, I’m aware that this sounds very 1950’s, and yet, I don’t think my feelings are totally off base. I wish we lived in a society where it was totally okay for women to want sex as much as men, but I don’t think we are there yet.

        • Julie Gillis says:

          I understand your point of view, I do! And that moment on the couch is generally the “moment'” when we do all the negotiating reallyquicklywithoutreallytalkingaboutit. I also don’t think that in reality perhaps the man (or initiator) is being flat out blunt. I’ve rarely had the experiences you’ve mentioned. But I came of age in the 80’s and most of my LRTs started out with sex early in the relationship. We liked it, we kept doing it! Things seem different now.

          • @Julie Gillis: “I also don’t think that in reality perhaps the man (or initiator) is being flat out blunt.”
            Right. We usually are quite afraid about express our desire openly… because we know women can react as Jill (above) does.
            Unless the man is a moron (see my comment before); or he’s incredibly self-assured (… or handsome ;) ).

            @Julie Gillis: “most of my LRTs started out with sex early in the relationship”.
            Me too. First things first. :D
            Personally, a woman eager for sex is a reason for wanting a LTR with her! OTOH, a sexually “lukewarm” one, makes me doubt about a LTR… not the best beginning.

            PS: My post is on its way.

        • @Jill: “He could be totally okay with me agreeing to sex in such a forthright way,
          or he could lose all respect for me.”
          Honey, if he would lose respect because of that (!), he’s a total moron and you’d better get rid of him as fast as possible. :)
          IMNSHO, a good man (and why would you like a bad – even rotten – one? ;) ) is smart enough to appreciate a woman who like sex so much.
          (He’d probably do the dance! :D )

          @Jill: “I wish we lived in a society where it was totally okay for women to want sex as much as men, but I don’t think we are there yet.”
          I think some men ARE there yet (I know I am); others don’t.

          • I hear you! But the problem is that you don’t know until it is too late if this is the kind of guy who will write you off for being slutty/too easy/whatever. Sure, I could have the attitude that I don’t want guys like that anyway. Which is true, in theory. But I also don’t want to waste my time on dead end relationships (I’ve had enough of those). By the time I’m considering sex with a guy, I’ve decided he has the qualities I’m looking for. So I don’t want to blow it at that point. A lot of men put women they date in one of 2 categories: potential girlfriend or casual sex partner. If I want to be in the first category, I have to be careful not to end up in the other category because it is very very hard to cross over. And the next thing you know, 6 months has passed and you realize that the relationship will never progress because the guy views you as a placeholder. I’m generalizing, of course, but these attitudes are too prevalent too ignore. Again, I know it sounds 1950’s, but there you go.

            • @Jill: “But the problem is that you don’t know until it is too late if this is the kind of guy who will write you off for being slutty/too easy/whatever.”
              So what? The sooner you discover one is a moron, the better.

              @Jill: “But I also don’t want to waste my time on dead end relationships”
              So, you’d rather go with some sexist, patriarcal moralist guy, ready to consider you a slut, if just he’s willing to keep you as a partner?
              I’d say, as above, that’s one more reason to go for sex soon, so you’ll discover early on his attitude.

              @Jill: “By the time I’m considering sex with a guy, I’ve decided he has the qualities I’m looking for.”
              What if he has got all those qualities, and you discover he’s a sexist, patriarcal moralist moron? You still ok with him?

              I don’t know, I sense some kind of contradiction here.
              If a guy is healthy + intelligent + open minded, he wouldn’t mind if you’re sexually open (he’d rather appreciate it).
              If a guy is sick + moronish + closed minded, he would mind: but would you be ok with a guy like this???

              @Jill: “A lot of men put women they date in one of 2 categories: potential girlfriend or casual sex partner.”
              No, not the smart ones. Not in 2011. Only dumb people (sexist, patriarcal, moronish) do that today. It’s the old (really OLD nowadays) dichotomy “virgin OR whore”.
              It seems to me you’re looking at the world thru a “lens” (prejudice/projection), and you can only see those dumb men.

              Think about this: Men want sex. Thus, a smart man should appreciate a sexually open girl.
              Only a really dumb guy want sex AND appreciates a sexually shy girl! It’d be like being hungry and choosing closed restaurants.

              @Jill: “Again, I know it sounds 1950’s”
              No, it doesn’t to me. It does sound like old cliches and YOUR fear of being judged and rejected.
              Maybe, deep down, you can’t believe you can honour your own sexuality AND be loved and appreciated.
              If you believe you have to hide who you are to your partner, you’ll never have healthy realtionships. They will be based on deceit.

              If I were in your shoes, Id’ inquiry my deep beliefs and the messages I got from my “roots” (family, teachers, early experiences…) about sex and love.

            • You sound like a fantastic guy, but you are just not representative of most of the men out there. If I followed your advice, I’d probably have to eliminate 99% of the men I meet. Should I sacrifice my desire for a relationship (as opposed to casual hookups) with an otherwise decent guy because of some personal idea about what attitudes toward sex open-minded men “should” have in 2011? For what it’s worth, I agree with you! Unfortunately, I have to live in this society and take with what is available, or stay single forever.

              Most guys I’ve met are completely freaked out by a sexually open woman. Believe me, I’m pretty sexually open, and as much as guys say they want women like that, when they meet one, they have not freakin idea what to do. They turn into scared little puppies. End rant! :-)

            • @Jill: “You sound like a fantastic guy”
              Thank you, but I think I’m just coherent: I love sex, thus I love women who love sex.
              It’s that simple. :)

              @Jill: “If I followed your advice, I’d probably have to eliminate 99% of the men I meet.”
              Ok. Maybe in the place where you live, 99% of men are really like that.
              Maybe you live in a small town. Maybe you live in the buckle of the Bible belt! :D

              I can sympathize. Many years ago I lived in the countryside, and I felt like a freak over there. I had to run away from it.

              @Jill: “Most guys I’ve met are completely freaked out by a sexually open woman.”
              Oh poor babies! :D
              Anyway, do not lose your hope: men appreciating a girl like you do exist, and many people here on the GMP are living proof. :)

              Today I played “Honesty” by Billy Joel, and it made me think about you; I think it’s kinda sad being in a relationship and not being able to freely express oneself.
              I hope one day you could.

            • Most guys I’ve met are completely freaked out by a sexually open woman

              Huh?
              I have no idea what that could even mean.
              Can you explain please?

            • Does this make sense to any man?

              A lot of men put women they date in one of 2 categories: potential girlfriend or casual sex partner

            • How about, man who marries woman, but has sex with prostitutes/affairs/mistress on the side. Yeah, that makes the 2 categories pretty clear cut. And no, thought he was a forward thinking, open minded kind of guy. OOOPS! Wrong. He was a great liar, the great pretender. THAT is what I think women are fearing by giving sex away too easily when hoping for a LTR. Sadly, it didn’t matter how open I was with my conversations, his mindset was actually of that ‘good girl like mommy’ ‘slut for sex’ mentality, with a huge side helping of entitlement. So, he agreed to anything to ‘get the girl who would fix his life’, and have his secret life on the side. Really sucks, but that is also how it goes sometimes. Are most men like that? I really hope not! I really do not believe the majority of men are that dishonest and disrespectful. Does our culture perpetuate that viewpoint of the good girl/bad woman? Maybe it is breaking that mold lately, but it takes an entire generation for attitudes to really change, and my generation still had those values instilled. Maybe my kid’s generation will get the benefit of more open conversations around sex and pleasure, commitment and personal responsibility.

            • I don't believe you says:

              Everyone knows what a ghost is, but I can’t seem to find anybody who has ever seen one. I don’t think the madonna whore complex exists… other than as a political device.

              A man will sleep with his attractive wife AND other attractive women, but I have yet to hear of a man who will sleep ONLY with other attractive women, but not his attractive wife.

              In other word,s your ex wanted a relationship AND sex with you, whereas he wanted JUST sex from these other women… probably because he thought you would make a good wife and those other women wouldn’t.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              And if perhaps he’d been open about it, and everyone negotiated that might have been a possiblity. Of course she would have to negotiate for what would work with her.
              It’s the lying and secrets that I myself am opposed to. And the madonna whore theory is in action right there dude. He wants a woman to marry that he thinks will be a good wife and possibly mother(sure he’ll have sex with her) thus the Madonna part. He also wants to fuck women who are the “whore” in the equation i.e. not good wife material. That’s what the Madonna/Whore model is.

              And I suspect he would never agree to letting her have love affairs with men. So he lies and keeps secrets which often are the most painful part of the equation. Most of us women know men want other lovers. That’s not big news ;)

            • i don't believe you says:

              Yup the guy is a douchebag, but you have it wrong. Madonna = no sex, not some sex. A husband who is screwing both his wife and other woman CAN’T have a madonna/whore complex.

              As for the lies and secrets being the most painful… I disagree. There are lots of lies and secrets that husbands (and wives) keep from each other. It’s the extra-marital sex that makes it a big deal.

              And no he wouldn’t have let her have other lovers. He wanted her all to himself.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              Well, as someone in an open marriage I guess my experience is different. And semantics on madonna whore then. Wife/Whore. Either way it’s a split between a woman who is good for wifing and a woman who is only good for whoring. I don’t think that always is the case.
              You want other lovers, I do too. Good for the goose and all that. My world view and the world view of the communities I know is more egalitarian and has worked great for them. Good thing variety is the spice of life.

            • Yes, he can have Madonna whore, because he was thinking of whores in order to have sex with wife, who is, I am told, pretty darn hot and sexy. I like variety myself. I am noooo Madonna, but I was wife with all the obligations and personhood and real life that comes with that package.

              I would have enjoyed some extra marital spice myself. But I committed to a monogomous relationship, at his request. I suppose he wanted to feel safe and in control with manipulation and lies, while I was not allowed to make informed choices about my life, or even my own health. He didn’t want open, honest communication about sex, on his part, because that would mean accountability for his actions, and dealing with the consequences.

              More in line with the article, I have have ‘sex buddies’ in the past, and really enjoyed it. I found that without the expectation for hot, lusty, intimate sex, we actually talked more about what we wanted, and since there were no head games, the negotations were much more open. Maybe that is just a reflection on the men who have chosen to stay in LTR with me rather than those who were friends with benefits.

              I am looking forward to much more negotation and fun in my future.

            • i don't believe you says:

              “Either way it’s a split between a woman who is good for wifing and a woman who is only good for whoring.”

              There’s no split. Not every woman a man beds is going to be someone he wants to marry. The husband is having sex with all the women.. including his wife. He just doesn’t want to be married to all the women.

            • i don't believe you says:

              AM.

              If a husband finds his wife to be hot and sexy, he is thinking of her while in bed. Doesn’t mean he won’t bed other women, but it does mean that when he is with his wife… he is with his wife.

      • But if he has to do all that then you’re still playing games.

  6. QuantumInc says:

    Imagine a game of battleship where every red peg represent a genuine orgasm, and each white one represents a faked orgasm. Isn’t it better if you let your partner just tell you where the battleship is? A fair percentage of women have faked orgasm, even some men have done that (easier with a condom on of course). Often it’s because they can’t bring themselves to tell their partners what they want.

    If the idea of having these conversations sounds too clinical, then don’t say it in a clinal way! Think of it as dirty talk but with real information. Telling a person what you want to do can be foreplay in of itself. Of course if you don’t actually like what they’re saying you need to say so, lest you findyourself faking orgasm to some activity you hate. Unless they take the rejection of a specific activity as a rejection of them as a person, there should be little problem.

    If you like trial and error, sexual exploration, then simple knowledge won’t harm anything. You can still try everything else before you go for your partner’s favorite spot/act/position. However it might prevent you from stumbling on your partner’s least favorite spot/act/position.

    Unfortunately there is this myth of the sex-god(dess) who knows everything about the opposite sex and how to please. But this is foolishness. Everybody has different sexual preferences. Yes I’m taking the sex-positive part line here, but even within purely vanilla sex the stuff you learned from friends, porn and cosmopolitan isn’t entirely accurate. One person might love it when you caress every part of their body, the next just stares and wonders “WTF are you doing to my elbow?” Of course this is taken to an extreme among Kinky people, which is why long conversations are a must there. Yes it’s totally cool when you can shoot a target without looking, but in reality you’re going to miss 99%, and the cool factor will not compensate for that.

    • Here! Here! QuantumInc!

      ‘If you like trial and error, sexual exploration, then simple knowledge won’t harm anything. You can still try everything else before you go for your partner’s favorite spot/act/position. However it might prevent you from stumbling on your partner’s least favorite spot/act/position.’

      Wanting to look sexy at the expense of actually FEELING sexy is the problem, and the solution is not a robotic or clinical conversation, just a conversation and a clear and consistent value of honesty and trust. That mutuality is what makes experimentation and romance more possible, not a childish ‘play it cool at all costs’ sex god(ess) mindset.

  7. Julie, this is “relationship-genius” material. Kudos. :)
    Yet, even if I enthusiastically adhere to it (theoretically, at least), I remain doubtful it could work.

    The problem is: sex is mostly emotional,and discussing is rational: the twos don’t mix very well together.
    I would need to write a post about it…
    I just might. :)

  8. PursuitAce says:

    Wow. The whole issue of sex is becoming increasingly complicated. Glad I’m out of that business.

  9. It’s much easier said here than done (than said) in the moment, but every time you wish that ‘society was more like x’ you forget that societies, by their nature, are not static. Remember that men are not ‘turned off’ by ‘loose’ women, only intimidated by having to out-perform their predecessors. Make it clear what you like specifically about him (and MEAN it) and he will do the same if he’s worth it.

  10. OK so I am kinda clueless about all this because I married my 2nd gf ever and the way we had sex was basically the way your first Sam & Alex example went (negotiating dinner). However… it seems to me that the reason for the difference in openness is quite simple. In the dinner example they both want the same thing. In the sex example (example 2) they don’t. So example 2 is a real negotiation between people who have different goals. It’s can’t be clear. And by extension it’s never going to be consensual in the sense of enthusiastic because in negotiations you can’t both win (by definition).

    Conversation 3 will never happen because Sam knows he will get shot down if he simply asks for sex.

    This is why I am weirded out by Jill’s conversation with Crescendo. Or at least it sounds suspicious. If a girl wants sex and she knows the guy wants sex then and she isn’t saying “so lets have sex” then something else is going on. My guess would be that she’s holding sex as a bargaining chip at that point for something else she wants more of.

    • @DavidByron: “in negotiations you can’t both win (by definition).”
      Yes they can, if they find a good agreement. There’s something called “win win” attitude.
      Obviously, there has to be some compromise, but it’s still better than no agreement at all. As a matter of fact, most relationships need compromise from both partners (unless they live in Hollywoodland ;) ).

      @DavidByron: “If a girl wants sex and she knows the guy wants sex then and she isn’t saying “so lets have sex” then something else is going on.”
      There can be several reasons.
      – There are double standards about sex, so a willing girl might fear being judged as “easy”.
      – Or, like Jill above, she might be afraid the guy will lose interest once he had sex early on.
      – Or, she has been educated to restrain herself.
      – Or, they’re both shy and afraid of openly express their desire.

      It’s never that simple, because we aren’t free nor simple creatures.

  11. When the useful fun and sex positive feminists talk up enough support to make it so that enthusiastic consent is needed for each and every sexual escalation (if you are male with a female) or else its rape…

    it will be quite the victory for the radical separatists.

  12. Wonderful article.

    “Enthusiastic Consent” sounds wonderful.

    When I was younger and less experienced in relationships and sex, I found myself in situations like Alex and Sam where I did things to please the guy more then being ready for actual sex. And sometimes I was resentful for his presistence and assumptions. Not totally fair since I willingly engaged in the interactoin too but back then I was much more focused on making my guy happy over my own happiness. I think a lot of younger women fall into that trap. They don’t say what they really want and only do things because they don’t want to disappoint their partner or they feel it’s expected of them. And today, there is a lot of sexual expectations placed on women more then ever since there is so much more sexual material out there that are giving everyone “ideas” about what they should be “trying”.

    • @Erin: “I was much more focused on making my guy happy over my own happiness”

      I know that place (focusing more on the partner’s pleasure, or happiness). I’ve been there for many years. And it wasn’t much fun.
      It works both ways: the men, also, experience pressure and expectations to make the woman orgasms, or the like. For some, if you can’t make your woman come, you’re not a “real man” (silly, I know; but what prejudice isn’t?).

      Hence, while I acknowledge the issue you mentioned, I’d say it affects both genders.
      The solution, as the author stated, is more and better communication.

      @Erin: “And today, there is a lot of sexual expectations placed on women more then ever”

      Yes and no.
      Because of parity issues and (healthy) feminism, the males are much more aware, nowadays, of their responsibilities towards their (sexual) partners (who gave a damn about women pleasure in XIX century or, even, in the ’50s?).
      It has become a more complicated and demanding world; and it’s true – again – for both genders.

      Being one-sided (no matter what that side is), is not helping anybody.

  13. very nice to read this all articale thanks

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  1. [...] my last piece Let’s Really (Really!) Talk About Sex, cross-posted from Good Vibes, I created a little thought experiment how how people could discuss [...]

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  5. [...] days ago, Julie Gillis published a post called “Let’s Really (Really) Talk About Sex.” She is suggesting we talk about—and even plan in advance—our potential sexual [...]

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