What Women Don’t Tell You

Many a ballsy broad, Amanda Marcotte argues, is afraid to say ‘Please do this’ or ‘Don’t do that’ in bed. Here’s what some women are really thinking.

Our sexist culture unleashes many forms of toxic socialization on its inhabitants, but few lessons seem to take as well as teaching girls from the cradle to coddle the male ego, not just with flattery but with a deep unwillingness to speak truths that could cause men to feel uncomfortable or imperfect. And nowhere is this less true than in the sack. Many a woman who feels herself a ballsy broad in her daily life finds herself in bed, afraid to say “Please do this” or “Don’t do that” for fear of confronting a man looking shocked, upset, or disappointed—which can push a button installed in us as little girls labeled Failure As A Woman.

We know we should get over it already. We know we should speak up and take our lumps and men who can’t handle it are bad lovers we should be dumping anyway. It’s not like we’re not trying. The female half of the human race spends an ungodly amount of time and money trying to unlearn passivity and replace it with a dose of speaking up for themselves.

In the meantime, however, there’s a number of things women are thinking about sex that tend to go unsaid, but you men should probably know them anyway.


We can tell when you’re doing something because you saw it in a porno.

Most sex in porn is about what’s good for the camera, not what’s good for the participants in it, especially the women. In fact, many things that look good in porn can keep us from having fun in real-life sex. For instance, in porn the only parts of their bodies the actors often touch are their genitals, so that the camera can get a full view of the action. But in real life, sex is more of a whole-body experience, and the genital-only thing can feel cold and masturbatory.

Of course, we know that men know this, and most would deny that they’re doing stuff because it looked good in a porn and not because it felt good in the moment. So we’d rather not bring it up when you do stuff that looks better in porn than it feels in life. We don’t want to argue over whether or not that’s what you’re doing. But when you do something you picked up in a porn that doesn’t add to the real-life pleasure, we take notice and we’re often hoping you get it out of your system so we can move on to activities that are actually fun.


Endurance is overrated.

It’s not that cultural jokes about two-pump chumps are completely baseless. Women do like having sex, and most of us can point to at least one or two experiences where a man orgasmed as soon as he touched you, and then rolled over and fell asleep while you wondered if that was all you’re going to get. But just because women would prefer intercourse to last more than 60 seconds doesn’t mean that longer is always better. If you consider a point of pride that you can thrust away for an hour without coming, there’s a high chance your partner is lying under you wondering how on earth she can say she’d have liked to wrap it up 40 minutes ago, but is afraid to say anything because she doesn’t want to stomp all over your accomplishments. The vagina’s ability to continue lubricating itself is limited, which can make marathon sex feel more like a duty than a joy.


Next: Is the “Big O” is more trouble than it’s worth?

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About Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte hails from Texas, but resides in Brooklyn, New York, according to the laws governing the proper placement of freelance writers and feminist gadflies. She blogs regularly for Pandagon and Double X, and writes and podcasts for RH Reality Check. She's written two books on politics, It's A Jungle Out There and Get Opinionated.


  1. I agree with some of the posts. Men need to stop getting their little feelings so hurt. It seem that if women tell them that women are not enjoying sex with them, that they would try to hear it and improve. This is part of the reason women have issues about having sex with you guys. It really is more of a bother for us, because 9 times out of 10, we aon’t enjoy it. You see men, we are wired totally different from you. You all don’t need all the foreplay like we do. You may enjoy it, but truthfully, you have already gotten aroused by the woman walking down the street and you get hard at the drop of a hat. Not so for most of us most of the time. Now, sometimes we are horny and can go right to it. I am saying all this to say, stop telling us that your feelings get hurt when we as women tell you all that most times you all are lousy in bed because it seems that your selfishness keeps you from really doing the foreplay thing for us. And pleaseeeeeeeeeeee, stop saying women emasculate you just because we can tell you all some things you needddddddddd to know. Drop the ego-pride thing. It’s what keeps you from being human!!!!!!!

    • Jun Kafiotties says:

      Did you bother reading the men? They’re annoyed because they get so much shaming of their sexuality that it becomes annoying when they see another article shaming things some men do. They also do not like the mind-reading behaviour, women who “know” it’s because the guy saw it in a porno and assuming that’s the only reason. The guys also gave a list of things many women should listen to so both can have a decent sex life. Ego-pride is a human trait, stop shaming people based on their emotions. They have every right to their emotions and it’s as bad as calling women crazy, it’s also a term used in a sexist manner towards men.

      And seriously, the assumptions that most women don’t enjoy sex? Have you polled 2billion women? (guessing up to a billion for children and thus void from conversation). NOT ALL MEN get hard at the drop of a hat, not all men orgasm quickly, not all men want sex, not all men want sex a lot. Assuming sex is more of a bother for women is quite insulting to both men and women, and truly sounds like playing the victim card mixed in with some good ol fashioned shaming.

      Many men are willing to listen to valid criticism, but they HATE the generalizations and shaming. Get it now? Viagra exists for a reason you know….

      • Hope you realize that it’s men who propogate these ideas. We live in a patriarchy, so it stands to reason that men are being fed lies by other men. Women aren’t doing this to you, you’re destroying yourselves. You create the whole notion of the untouchable male ego and the man’s violent and angry reactions to not getting the toy (woman) he wants and feels entitled to. Men created this whole ridiculous crap we live under. Time to crawl out and realize it was a pile of men crushing you in the first place.

    • Transhuman says:

      Ms. Truth For Real, or the men could move on to another partner who does appreciate them.

      To the author, I’ve tested most women I know, admittedly compared to 3 billion on the planet my sample size is small, and none of them have demonstrated accurate mind reading capabilities; though quite a few are excellent at projection.

    • Ms Truth For Real Needs a Mirror says:

      Just so you know… 2.5 years later, you still come off as judgemental. Painting an entire gender with the same broad brush points out the fact that you’ve made poor choices. Just because you pick the same guy in different clothes each time doesn’t make EVERY guy the same. It took actual, physical effort to make it to the end of your comment. See that? Not one statement attaching your b.s. hangups to every female. It’s not hard if you try. Maybe eventually you’ll get there.

  2. The nail is so pretty.

  3. Interesting article. Every woman (and man) is different, of course. I’m incredibly lucky and have a man who actually bought a vibrator with me and enjoys bringing it to bed and watching me with it—and who is beyond amazing at cunnilingus, not letting me be awkward about it, like I was in the past.

    I wonder if there’s also vice versa on the porn thing. Can guys tell when a woman is trying to act like something she saw (or thought she would see) in a porno (or even a movie) to please the guy? My natural reactions to sex and ‘O’ faces do not resemble those in porn. Yet, sometimes I’ll do the cutesy moans and give certain angles because I want to make a partner happy, or feel like that’s what he’s expecting. Other times, I’ll just let myself enjoy the moments, grunts, funny faces, bad angles, and all. Just a thought.

  4. According to this. I’m pretty good in bed. But i guess I have to be. I last a long time whether I like it or not, and unfortunately that is more of a curse than a blessing. But it also means that i enjoy the journey far more than the end goal. and it also mean I like to try new things.. which bring me to my question to all the women here.

    How do women feel about analingus? I tried it on two women. One was silent, but seems to enjoy it, the other shied away from me quicker than I could have imagined…

    • I would say that anything involving anal play is not something you should spring on a woman without knowing how she feels about it first – i.e., ask her if it’s something she likes or is willing to try, instead of just diving down there yourself unannounced. The anal region can be very sensitive, and if a woman isn’t interested in it or has never tried it, it can feel like a massive invasion of personal space to just go for it without prior discussion or permission.

      Women are going to vary in whether they like it or not – but I think it’s safe to assume women universally would prefer that you breached the topic first before giving it a try.

    • Yeah. I actually do like it, but it needs to be within a relationship or with someone I’m very comfortable. Not really something I want to try the first time that I have sex with someone. There’s a lot of trust involved. It doesn’t make me orgasm, but it’s enjoyable. That’s one woman’s opinion, though. All women’s bodies are different.

    • Thanks for the replies… I would usually just “dive in” but, you are both right, I will bring the topic up next time first.

      It’s gonna be disappointing though when she refuses because of fear of the unknown. Sometimes we have to try something before we realize we like it. I used to refuse to eat the delicious pickled eggplant my mother makes. Now I love it.

      • Just Passing says:

        Have you ever been fooling around with a women when she stuck her finger in you without any word beforehand??

        I think many man who imagine themselves in this situation would be MORTIFIED by having that done to them without permission.

        so have you tried it? and did you realize you like it?

    • I personally don’t like having my anal area touch. It immediately causes a disgusting sensation, like I’m about to fart or something. At best, it feels ticklish, like my underwmear has gotten twisted. So, yes, you should ask first. And if she says she doesn’t like it, don’t keep pushing her to keep trying it.

    • How is it possible that you thought it was a good idea to put your mouth on an anus of any kind? Do you not know basic human biology and the toxins that live inside and AROUND the anus? Bacteria live on the skin, it’s not a clean area. Unless you like eating feces, and then it’s still unhealthy and unclean and you need a psychiatrist.

  5. I personally would not feel frustrated for being instructed. In fact, I’ve eagerly asked for it before. And have often been made to feel foolish for asking.

    What gets frustrating for guys is when the woman they’re trying to please doesn’t know what she wants, but DOES know what she doesn’t. Or the woman who thinks she is putting on a brave face by not making any suggestions, but whose body language shouts “I’m disappointed!”

    If the guy is someone you’ve been in any kind of meaningful relationship with, he knows you’re disappointed and is probably beating himself up every time over it. It’s his responsibility to be honest, receptive and understanding. But it is not his job to figure out How to Fix It.

    That’s why articles like this are helpful. Because yes, guys do have to let women know that they won’t be offended (and most won’t… like the over-sensitive woman, the over-sensitive guy is one of those crude gender stereotypes that stems from dysfunctional relationship dynamics, but I digress.) Guys do have to be understanding. And women need to be receptive, and honest. Note please that honest doesn’t mean “I’ll say it plain even if it hurts.” It means “I’ll be fair and open, but use the same amount of tact that I like to hear from him when he tells me an uncomfortable truth.”

    • How about men stop making porn that creates the idea that the male orgasm is what it’s all about? How about we stop with the “cumshots” and idea that men enjoy watching the ejaculations of other men (because that’s just gay, honestly. You can tell yourself it’s not but if you’re getting off watching another man ejaculate, you have some gay issues in there.) Men have historically created the pressure they feel around their penises and orgasms and sexual issues. Men are their own worst enemies.

  6. As a lesbian, I am so glad I don’t have to put up with this kind of b.s!

  7. The most horrific thing I’ve heard from women about what they didn’t tell their men is that for the entirety of their relationship, they never had an orgasm with them during intercourse. Never. Ever. All through dating & marriage. Now they’re bitter & blaming. They’ve been brainwashed to think that their men are responsible for their orgasm. The whole foundation of their sexual relationship is built on a lie. They have years and years of not speaking up for themselves. The time passes, they realize the more they wait to speak up, the harder the news will be, so they stay quiet. “I give myself orgasms with a vibrator when he’s not around. I fake the orgasms until we’re done so I can have the closeness of cuddling when it’s over. That gets me through it. ” I know three women in this situation. One of them is on her third marriage of no coital orgasms.

    The most horrific things I’ve heard from men about what they weren’t telling their women relates to them not speaking up for themselves in bed either. One friend called me asking for what kind of herbal healing salve I had that would be good to soothe his penis because his partner just wouldn’t stop screwing him when he had enough. He felt obligated to continue. If your partner is screwing the skin off your dick, you really should speak up. Another just loathes blowjobs, but he doesn’t say anything when a GF goes down on him.

    You are ultimately responsible for your own pleasure. When you go to a party, who is responsible for your good time? The host? Not really. They provide a setting for you to come and participate. You can sit in the corner expecting to be entertained and befriended, or you can be proactive and seek out the experiences you want, turn down the ones you do not.

    I frequently elicited a deer-in-the-headlights stare from my last love. I would say to him, “Tell me what you want. I want to please you. Do you want a blow job? A massage? Some quiet, slow sex? Snuggling? I cook you dinner? Tell me what feels good to you. Show me how you masturbate.” He didn’t know what to ask for. He didn’t believe that I was genuinely interested in doing something wholly for him, to learn about how to please him. I literally had to go through this gently several times to convince him that I was most honestly interested in his pleasure… he was interested in mine. He responded to ques to what I liked, he had just never been with a woman who really considered him.

    To be very general, I don’t hear as much of this from my queer or or kink friends. I think there’s more talking required to negotiate & find those relationships.

    It’s awkward to overcome the training we’ve received about what romance and love is: Your partner magically knows how to please you. Even I fantasize about having a magic, orgasm ray gun. Wouldn’t that be fun. But alas, the fun and intimacy is from figuring things out together. Be excellent to each other. Talk to each other. Cut the blaming BS already. Men are having a poor time in bed just as much as women.

    • Abril Garcia says:

      “The most horrific thing I’ve heard from women about what they didn’t tell their men is that for the entirety of their relationship, they never had an orgasm with them during intercourse.”
      Well, most women can’t orgasm with intercourse alone, so that’s nothing new. And many women are also okay with not orgasming during intercourse, as long as they orgasm before or after.

      You are totally a straight dude, uh? By what you said about “coital orgasms” and now the “everyone is responsible for their own pleasure” we can see it.
      You see, people are responsible for knowing their bodies, their preferences, etc. People are responsible to be proactive. But when it comes to sex, it’s people helping each other out to feel pleasure, to reach orgasm, etc. You can know your body, you can voice your preferences… but if the other part won’t help you out, that just doesn’t make any sense.
      And that is exactly what many women talk about: many, many men don’t care about helping out. Won’t give much in return, won’t care about knowing her body, they just don’t care about a woman’s pleasure. And sorry, sex like that, in the end, won’t be pleasurable for the neglected part, and being “responsible for your own pleasure and orgasm” won’t bring much joy in the end.

  8. Great article ~ thanks so much for posting it!

  9. Something you missed: I wish men would trim their body hair more (especially if they expect me to go down on them). Hair tickles and feels gross in the mouth. Also: in the genital region it is prone to stinkage.

  10. >> teaching girls from the cradle to coddle the male ego, not just with flattery but with a deep unwillingness to speak truths that could cause men to feel uncomfortable or imperfect. <> the female half of the human race spends an ungodly amount of time and money trying to unlearn passivity <<

    And then there are those that enjoy being so. Not in everyday life, but definitely in the bedroom. It's horses for courses.

    The article has some correct points. But it's mostly short-sighted PC generalisations. In reality, everyone is different.

    • Rang mostly true for me.

    • Abril Garcia says:

      Even to be passive you need control; you still need to be able to talk about sex, to let the other part know what you like and find someone who minds it enough… and most passive people still want to feel pleasure and reach orgasm. I don’t think the article was talking about passivity in the bedroom ONLY.

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  12. Amazing article, very interesting and helpful. Thank you!

  13. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Point number two is usually not true, but feel your way into this slowly.

    • How is point 2 untrue? Are you a woman who doesn’t mind endless pumping? Didn’t think so, so shut up and don’t try to assume you know what women mind. They said it, so it’s obviously true!

  14. This is probably, for me, the only true article on the internet. The whole time I was reading it, I kept going in my head, “that’s so true!!” I don’t know about other women, but I’ve never had an orgasm during sex, I’ve been down on one time for less than a minute and I don’t feel like I should ever ask anything because when I have, it was denied. I hear there are men out there who like to please their woman…. I kind of chuckle, because I never see it, but if it’s true, men should ask and be nosy about their likes a whole lot more. Sex is fun, but I can only take the one-sidedness too much.

    • You just need to be more pushy and persistent about YOUR needs in bed. Sex isn’t for him, it’s for both of you, and if you aren’t getting pleasure out of it what’s the point? Find out what you like and don’t be afraid to go for it, and if anyone shuts you down for it kick them to the curb because they are lame anyways. There is nothing wrong with sex, women liking sex, or giving instructions/guidance on what you like. Why make the most enjoyable act out there unpleasant? You just have to find the right guy who is into the same things you are.

  15. my last girlfriend always told me that I knew how to please her she would tell me that I am always good with my hands and tongue I would massage your whole body download hot oil for an hour or more I would work out the soreness in our muscles then I’d start at the top of her head with my tongue and slowly lick every inch of her body all way down to her toes and suck on her toes then I would turn her over and work my way back up there is nothing in this world that excites me more listening and watching a woman enjoying need pleasing her unfortunately we are not together anymore so I am single and still looking for the right woman

    of her body down to her toes and suck on your toes then I would turn her over and started the bottom work backup

  16. i see a list article and cringe, arm bells go off in my head MASSIVE GENERALIZATIONS INCOMING!!!!!!!!!!!
    lets go 1 by 1 shall we. What i have a hard time getting past is that Assumption i would do something i saw in an adult movie, that i can’t distinguish Filmed fantasy from reality, nice.

    Endurance is Over rated, i know, because some of us don’t have a choice, just like some guys are very fast some of us as very slow, and some of us are VERY VERY slow… it’s problematic really, and it takes a lot of understanding to deal with it. But hey thanks for putting another question in my head about whether or not my lady is speaking up about a problem, i needed that to really reinforce that insecurity.

    if “Getting there” is more trouble than it’s worth, then you;re doing it wrong. Nothing about sex should be more trouble than it;s worth, you’re getting yourself all balled up (possibly why you have trouble communication) and creating a pass fail system in the bedroom,

    Ok here is where i really decided i needed to comment, FIRST yes SOME women get more sensitive, most in fact, however gentleness isn’t always the answer, in fact that will have my lady in a cringing fit or giggling because things are ticklish in a second, we tend to start off gentle and then get harder progressively. you need to communicate, and top 5 lists won’t take that responsibility away from us to ask, NOR will it take the responsibility away from you to answer… and if you DON’T answer we have as much of a problem as if we don’t ask. We (at least most of the men i’ve seen comment on things at GMM) have taken the step to ask, and are willing to listen. We decided to be brave enough to find out what’s wrong with our gender and try to fix it while preserving what is right, be brave with us and tell us what you need, but don’t discount the fat that some of this is as biological as what you have for needs and issues. If some of this came across snarky i’m sorry, but i just woke up… have a good one

  17. Drconfused says:

    I have never been offended by a woman telling me what she wanted either before, during or after sex. If given the opportunity to be a better lover than I want to be able to make the experience tremendous for her.
    As a man who has the stamina and can “pound” for an hour I became very aware that most woman do not care for it, the problem that happens is when the man is expected to orgasm, otherwise the woman feels deficient, what a turn off! I could care less if I orgasm, I am there for the journey of making love.

  18. Guys;
    Here are some VERY important things to remember if you want to be come a great lover.
    Don’t think about your pleasure , try to feel hers. PAY ATTENTION to how her body responds to each and every touch. Women LOVE the feeling of anticipation… wait for her body to tell you what feels good and then take it away … then come back .
    If she has to verbally explain to you her needs, it really takes away from her ability to let go. Women can get themselves off on their own ,but they can’t take themselves to the places that you can .. and most have been waiting all their lives for a man who can do that.

  19. Hey guys who are commenting by questioning the validity of the points, you are proving everything about why this post was written. You are a man, not a woman, so therefore you have no right to question these points which were written based on WHAT WOMEN SAID. Again, you are proving how hard it is for some men to move past misogynistic tendencies.

  20. Frank Coles says:

    Some useful generalized info here but not definitive.

    I’ve met plenty of women, both friends and lovers, who don’t match the ‘be gentle’ criteria for example. One of my female friends dumped a pal for being too gentle, while a demure ex-lover wanted scarily ungentle things done to her nipples at her peak moments. These things are as unique as the woman. Same for men.

  21. I don’t know why any of this is surprising…it’s the same stuff that I’ve seen in sex articles since I was 16. Now I’m 39. In the last 21 out of 22 years of my sexual experiences I’ve not been in the least bit hesitant to talk about this with my partner or anyone else (on a general level) for that matter. I’m not at all interested in being sexually intimate with someone I can’t or won’t talk about sex with.

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  23. First, I’d like to say that this, “what men/women want.” BS is getting old. As a modern day self identified lady, I’ve got to point out that this article is not credible and that there are much better ways to find out what your partner wants in their sex life. Yes, I agree that women have been shamed in to accepting a sex life the is not based on their needs. Quite the opposite actually, and it can be quite traumatic to get to a place where sex is liberated and pleasurable. Articles like this one make is so that the female/male segregation is dominant. Rather than speaking to the root of many issues that have caused this disconnect between one of the very acts that make us humans(SEX!), this goes in to how much one gender does a certain thing differently than the other gender. Healing from generations of sexual trauma is extremely challenging. The best way to have great sex, and be sure that your needs are being met is to have open communication with whomever you’re letting in your pants. Just what I used to tell my kids in sex ed class, “if you’re not ready to walk in to a 711 and buy a condom, than you’re probably not ready to deal with the consequences of having sex.” now correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the intent of this site is to discuss issues that will be relevant to people to want to heal, who want to have a true human experience, who WANT to gain back what we’ve lost over generations of conditioning. The key to finding out what your partner won’t tell you, is not to read about it from some chick who asked her twitter followers ( obviously this is obviously applying to only the people who follow her). The key to understanding your partner is to be present, ask questions, try new things, be respectful and receptive. People don’t learn to drive by watching other idiots do it, they learn to drive by sitting in the drivers seat. This is not a gender issue but a communication issue. Ladies, don’t put up with someone who won’t ask the right questions and be receptive when they’re told how to do something. Men, please keep in mind that this liberated sex thing is kinda new (more new for some, than others) but women I general have been oppressed sexually, and if she’s allowing you in, just be respectful and thoughtful of her needs.

  24. Mario Carreone says:

    Great article


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