The Myth of the Sex-Crazy Nympho Dream Girl

Clarisse Thorn on why men and women ‘perform’ in bed—and why we have a tough time figuring out what genuinely turns us on.

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There’s this cultural image of what it means to be female, and good in bed. The image includes being young and thin and cisgendered of course, and that can be problematic. But it also includes a lot of behavioral stuff: the way you squirm, the way you moan, being Super Excited about everything the guy wants to do, and Always Being Up for It—whatever “It” is. When people think about “good in bed,” for a woman, that’s often what they think.

Here’s a short list of some things I think are totally awesome:

  1. Squirming and moaning during sex in a genuine way, out of genuine pleasure!
  2. Acting Super Excited when your partner wants to do something you’re actually Super Excited about!
  3. Being up for sexual experimentation and trying new things, while keeping track of your boundaries and saying no (or calling your safe word) to sexual things you really don’t like!

Those things are great. They’re great when they happen in all kinds of sex, and I have no problem with how people experience or deal with with those things—whether people get them from vanilla or S&M sex, or porn, or sex with multiple people, or queer sex, or whatever. All consensual sex is fine with me. (In particular, in pieces like the one you’re about to read, I often have to make it really clear that I’m not anti-porn. OK? I’m not anti-porn. Got that? Say it with me now: Clarisse Thorn is not anti-porn. Yay, it rhymes!)

People of all genders receive a lot of unconscious training about how we can damage ourselves in exchange for the attention of the opposite sex. Many guys feel locked into acting confident and dominant, and lots of guys hate that role as much as I hate my own Sexy Dreamgirl shell.

What scares me, however—what continuously gets my goat, what still occasionally makes me feel weird about sex—is how easy it is to perform those three things I listed above. Because I have always, since before I even started having sex, known exactly what I was supposed to look like while I had sex. I don’t even know how I internalized those images: some of them through porn, I suppose, or art or erotica or what have you; some of them by reading sex tips on the Internet or hearing the ones whispered to me by friends. But I can definitely assure you that before I had any actual sexual partners, I knew how to give a good blowjob. I also knew how to tilt my head back and moan, and I knew how to twist my body, and I knew what my reactions and expressions were supposed to look and sound like—I knew all those things much better than I knew what would make me react.

There was a while there, where my sexuality was mostly performance: an image, an act, a shell that I created because I knew it was hot for my partners. I’m not saying I was performing 100 percent of the time—but certainly, when I was just starting to have sex, that’s mostly what it was. And, scarily, I can put the shell back on at any time. Sometimes it’s hard to resist, because I know men will reward me for it, emotionally, with affection and praise. It’s much, much more difficult to get what I actually want out of a sexual interaction than it is for me to create that sexy dreamgirl shell: hard for me to communicate my desires, hard for me to know what I’m thinking, hard for me to set boundaries.

And hard to believe that a guy will like me as much, if I try to be honest about what I want. Honesty means that sometimes I’m confused, and sometimes we have to Talk About It; honesty means that sometimes I say no, it means that sometimes I’m not Up for It. Something in me is always asking: Surely he’d prefer the sexy, fake, plastic dreamgirl shell? It’s not true, I know it’s not true, I swear it’s not true—I don’t have such a low opinion of men as that. I know this is just a stereotype, the idea that men are emotionally stunted horndogs with no interest in how their partners feel.

So sometimes, I have to fight myself not to perform. But it’s worth it—because the hardest thing of all is feeling locked into an inauthentic sexuality. I tell myself, I try to force myself to believe it: even if a guy would like me more for faking and holding back and being so-called “low-maintenance”—I tell myself it’s a stereotype, but even if that stereotype is true of some men—no man is worth doing that to myself. No man is worth that trapped, false, sick feeling.

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Being a sex and S&M writer sometimes increases my performance anxiety. Occasionally I’ll meet guys who seem to think I am equipped to give any man the Night of His Life—and that this is my goal at all times. Sometimes I feel like I should grab certain guys by the shoulders and shake them and say, “I am not your sex-crazy nympho dreamgirl! I’m a real person and I have real preferences, I do not exist just as your fantasy fodder!” But if I really like a guy and he’s read some of my work, then I feel less irritation than concern that I won’t stack up. It increases the urge to go all Sexy Dreamgirl Shell, rather than attempting to communicate.

Being a sex-positive feminist, I also sometimes worry that other women will read my work and it will increase their performance anxiety. I worry that writing about some stuff I like will be misinterpreted—that it will lead other women to feel like, gosh, is this something liberated sex-positive women do? Is this something I “should” be doing? With some things I write, I get afraid that I’ve contributed to a nightmare world where women are “liberated” only in the sense that we can better perform for men.

I once read a blog post by a radical feminist writer in which she claimed that women always hate fellatio because it’s always degrading and disgusting. She wrote something along the lines of, “I say this for the women and girls who believe that they have to do it.” Part of me felt frustrated by the way she refused to acknowledge that some women really do like performing fellatio (and many other women don’t love it, but don’t mind doing it as long as they have great sex otherwise). In some ways, it felt like that writer was policing sexuality. But I empathized with her goal: She wanted women who don’t like fellatio to relax; she wanted to help them recognize what they don’t like. She wanted to decrease their performance anxiety.

I’d like to do the same thing, but I generally prefer to speak from personal experience rather than making claims about others’ experience. Accordingly, I’ve often thought that it would be great if more sex-positive feminists would make lists of Things We, Personally, Don’t Like. It’s not the easiest project to sell, because one of the big goals of being sex-positive is to destigmatize sexuality and decrease shame. But if we destigmatize sexuality without encouraging good boundaries, then we’re not moving forward; we’re just creating more bad standards.

So hey, here’s an example of a common sexual thing that I don’t like: swallowing after giving oral sex. I love fellatio most of the time, and I like it when partners come in my mouth, but I really hate swallowing. In the past I’ve found a variety of creative ways to deal with this problem, some of which were hot (according to me, anyway)—but usually I just spit it out in the closest sink.

A more complicated example would be facials. As a sex-crazy nympho dreamgirl, I am supposed to love all facials all the time, to which I say: Bah. I’m occasionally into degradation scenes, and facials feel really degrading to me, so there are circumstances in which a guy can come on my face and it’ll be hot—but those circumstances are rare. I’ve got to really respect him and really trust him, and I’ve got to be really turned on and excited about whatever scene we’re playing out. And if a guy were to give me a facial without clearing it with me at some point ahead of time? Serious boundary violation. Not cool.

Have I destroyed your image of me as your sex-crazy nympho dreamgirl? Good.

I think that people of all genders receive a lot of unconscious training about how we can damage ourselves in exchange for the attention of the opposite sex. By writing about my own experience, I don’t mean to discount the experiences of others. I get that many guys feel locked into acting confident and dominant, and that lots of guys hate that role as much as I hate my Sexy Dreamgirl Shell. I get that many women genuinely enjoy reclaiming the Sexy Dreamgirl image, and making it their own; hell, I do it myself sometimes. (Yes, I do it myself sometimes. Sex is complicated.)

People of all genders have a hard time figuring out what turns them on. Authenticity is hard—and sexual authenticity gets harder when you’re feeling low, or you really like someone and really want him or her to like you, or when you feel bombarded with messages about how you’ve got to “compete” in a harsh sexual “marketplace.” I believe that one of the best ways to authenticity is to seek understanding of the pressures on everyone, and to grasp that everyone’s got their own nightmare of the Sexy Dreamgirl Shell.

(Photo via dhammza / off)

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More from Sex Week at the Good Men Project:

Benoit Denizet-Lewis: The Dan Savage Interview

Hugo Schwyzer: Male Self-Pleasure Myths

Amanda Marcotte: What Women Don’t Tell You

Ed Fell: 10 Secrets to Satisfying Sex

Andrew Ladd: A Billion Wicked Assumptions

Charles Allen: Why I Hate My Giant Dong

Emily Heist Moss: Does Size Matter?

John DeVore: Multiple Inches of Love

Joshua Matacotta: Do Gay Men Fear Intimacy?

Hugo Schwyzer: Mythbusting Bisexual Men

 

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About Clarisse Thorn

Clarisse Thorn is a feminist sex writer who has given workshops all over the USA. She wrote a book about masculinity, dating dynamics, and sex theory called Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser; she’s also got a best-of collection called The S&M Feminist. Recently, she released an anthology about sexual assault in virtual worlds called Violation: Rape In Gaming. Clarisse has also explored fiction with short stories like The End Of An Age: A Ramayana. To stay up-to-date with Clarisse’s work, visit her blog or follow her on Twitter.

Comments

  1. I appreciate the honesty Clarisse but I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.

    So there are things you don’t like to do in bed. Obviously. There are things guys don’t like to do in bed. Hopefully men and women in consensual sexual relationships will hash these things out on their own and learn as their relationship progresses. But I would never make a list of things I wouldn’t do at the outset and then present it to her. Likewise, if such a list was presented to me that’s a major red flag. And a huge turnoff.

    Not because I necessarily wanted to do the things on the proverbial list, but because it seems like whining and reeks of high maintenance.

    Being with a new partner is all about exploration. You try to get a sense of what he/she will like and act accordingly. Sometimes you guess wrong and your partner should let you know if it’s not something he/she is comfortable with. But a list? No thanks buzzkill.

    Sex is complicated and I like different things on different days. It all depends on my mood. And sometimes I do things I’m not really into because I know she is. Hopefully she’ll return the favor, if only because it’s the polite thing to do. Compromise can be sexy too.

    In the end I’m just not sure what your article was trying to accomplish because it didn’t seem to go anywhere.

  2. Kimberly says:

    That one line about making a list is about breaking down stigma in a broader social context so as to help people to generally feel more comfortable identifying and setting their own boundaries. It’s not specific relationship advice. None of this article was.

    • jill pp says:

      I agree. I have dealt with this sort of pressure internally a lot. Deciding which things I’m okay with is a personal exercise. I’m obviously not going to print it out and hand it to a man i’m starting a new relationship with, but, i have done things i don’t like in the past just to uphold that sexy girl image. I like the idea of recognizing that there are things you don’t like and being okay with saying that when they come up.

    • I think we all struggle with this issue internally, because the way we’re “supposed” to be just dominates in the media and television. The problem is when you’re with someone who loves this image and cannot understand that there are things that you like and things you don’t like that don’t match with this “nympho” idea. That’s why communication is such an important part of mature relationships.

  3. worldnamer says:

    I empathize with being trapped by an external image of how one “should” act in bed. 90% of the stuff that I actually enjoy falls outside these images. I’ve found communicating the things I really do want to be SUPER super hard, expressly because of that fear of rejection – that my partner must actually want this preconceived notion despite what they say. Also, there’s the difficulty of accepting the things I want as being things I’m allowed to want.

    I agree with you that there are pressures on all sides; as you bring up, acknowledging the elephant of these social pressures in the bedroom as an active process is really the best way to deal with them. But daily life just doesn’t give us many spaces in which we can talk about these problems. If you’re at lunch, it becomes crass. If you’re about to get started in bed, it can be distracting from what you’re doing. If you’re post-coital, it can seem like performance review. I’ve done all of those – but none have ever been perfect timing.

    • I like the “talking after sex” approach myself. I also do a lot of sexual discussion in writing (surprise). But yeah, I’ve had plenty of situations where I didn’t feel like there was a ton of space to discuss how the sex went. I’m getting better at creating that space. It’s really necessary to have a partner who’s on the same team and really wants to talk about it, of course.

  4. One advantage of being a sex worker is that you figure out EXACTLY what you do and do not like very, very quickly. The line between professional/ personal sex is quite distinct for that reason.

  5. Clarisse

    I’m not sure that people without the baggage of a politicized sexuality and whatever other issues lead to or are caused by feminism struggle so much to figure out what they like.

  6. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    I like to meditate. Hopefully this leaves me open. I’ve noticed that the particular chemistry with each partner is completely different. If you give me their astrological chart, I can frequently figure (in an odd way) what it’ll generally be like– but it’s still unique. Oooops, outed myself as an astrology buff.

  7. Thank you for sharing this. As a young woman growing up in this culture, I especially relate to the second paragraph after your list “What scares me the most … I don’t even know how I internalized all those images … I knew all those things much better than I knew what would make me react.” Thank you for speaking out. This touches on issues a lot deeper than people just figuring out how to have better sex. Sexual energy is a powerful political and social force that is used to control and oppress humanity. In the 60s there was sexual rebellion that helped liberate people from sexual repression entrenched by the dogma of our puritan religious history… but now we’ve gone to the other extreme .. America is known for it’s sexual obsession .. girls can’t be girls anymore .. old people can’t be old people anymore.. everyone is supposed to be 25 and turned on all the time .. TV is like soft porn and run by media pimps that want us to stay unsatisfied slaves to compulsion. There is an equally powerful movement for sexual liberation happening now … but it’s not burn your bra .. it’s burn your Cosmo subscription .. it’s time to take sexy back from corporate corruption .. we are all in this together to help ourselves and our country find a new sexual integrity that is not repressed by history nor manipulated by mass marketing greed … Sexual liberation is not going to a nudist beach .. it’s turning away from “Jersey Shore” and consciously deciding not to click on the flashing bikini clad advertisement in the corner. It’s a personal commitment to cultivating awareness of where we place our attention/energy rather than just being a slave to instant gratification.

    • Henry Vandenburgh says:

      No, I think that we’re back to the repressive extreme again. I agree with you that the surface images you see in ads and porn are the “anti-sex”. This sort of thing was actually spelled out by Herbert Marcuse in Eros and Civilization where he said this false sexuality was “repressive desublimation.” This means that a bit of erotic energy is released, but under conditions of repression (to sell products etc.) It’s not real feeling eros at all.

      A nudist beach, I’d argue, IS actually erotic because we see how imperfect we all are. And how attractive we all are in spite of it. Admittedly, we may have to retrain our eyes after ads, porn, movies, or TV to see the attractiveness. So I’m with you there. I lift weights, but I don’t want a lifters body (like many men have now) because it seems totally unreceptive to sensation (I thought the gay 60 year old’s body on the other thread – if the head wasn’t just pasted on- was sad because it seems to be following these more modern trends. Too much uniformity and distrotion of the body.)

      One of the nice things about the 1960s and 70s was that the eroticism was more diffuse. So hugging and touching obviated the need to always make love more fully. Things seemed more magical and alive. There may have been more sex. Probably not, actually.

      Sex should start slowly and meditatively. One should feel where the other person is, not be driven off of images. Agree with you there. It’s like an internal martial art.

      • I’m perplexed as to why you think we’re back to the repressive extreme in our culture. There’s so much sex everywhere. Young women feel pressured to have sex nowadays. What is that you see that looks different to you? Is this something that looks different in different parts of the country?

  8. I’m getting some ambivalence from this writer. “I can put the shell back on at any time. Sometimes it’s hard to resist, because I know men will reward me for it, emotionally, with affection and praise. ” and the she asserts that she KNOWS men are not so shallow as to prefer the “shell” that she “knows” she’ll be rewarded for donning.

    Also, she asserts that she is not against porn yet talks about how the lessons of porn have cost her by training her to mimic and perform her sexuality. The sexual “revolution” was thoroughly co-opted and has resulted in consumer culture bombarding us with a very narrow male-orgasm centred version of human sexuality which is a difficult landscape for women to navigate, as evidenced by the confusion expressed in this article.

    • Agree totally. And that may be why many have declared the revolution to be “over.” A condom can deal with most STDs, so I can’t believe that was the main thing.

    • Duality says:

      I took it as her giving men the benefit of the doubt as to being shallow yet recognizing that she can still play into the ingrained role of a suxalized woman to get rewarded.
      I think you gotta leave room for oxymorons (I just found out that oxymora is also plural for oxymoron) and hypocrisies within humans and ideas to some extent because neither are ever perfect. I for one am not against porn… but simultaneously I really don’t like how mechanized it gets… lately I have noticed some of the behavior she’s described… and have some disappointment for not thinking so deeply about it.
      Of course, right now I have more questions than answers and as my experience broadens maybe things will get clearer.

    • The way I see it, men want their partners to enjoy sex. They don’t want women to feel they have to perform. They don’t want women to do things they don’t want to.

      However, their dream woman just happens to love what exactly what they do. So if she pretends to love everything that she knows will please a guy, the guy will be thrilled and love her. Porn gives her a picture of what most guys would fantasize about and she’s tempted to fulfil that fantasy. Then maybe the idea that some other woman out there might be willing to do what they guy dreams of puts more pressure on her.

  9. Honestly I have to disagree with the idea of “not” performing something like fellatio if you don’t like it, But hear me out before you get upset.

    I am a guy, and personally I like going down on the girl quite a bit. Do I get anything out of it? Nothing physically, but it’s the giving of pleasure without receiving. When I talk to male friends that say they “won’t” go down on a girl, I find VERY often that their partners are also very unsatisfied in bed. It’s a very good sign, when a man refuses to do this, that he is very selfish in bed. I would heavily say the same would be going for women in this area. And honestly, if a woman won’t do this for me, I am willing to bet that most men are going to be tit for tat and not do to them just on principle. So now, we hae effective taken out a huge amount of foreplay options. Here we are being told “more foreplay, more more”, and quite frankly now what we are left with is mostly frustration. We could kiss around areas, but how frustrating is it to have that area kissed around when you know that one thing is off limits?

    Some things I can certainly understand just “not” liking and not doing. But other things – if you don’t like to do them like that you are probably very selfish in bed anyway. You maybe need to re-evaluate some things (and I say this for guys as well).

    • I disagree. Eating a woman feels wonderful to one’s mouth. I can (and have) done it slowly for hours at a time. Your mouth is extremely erogenous, if you but let your awareness flow into it. Also, the subtle sexual smells are another reward. They really help prepare us for more. It’s rare that I’m not rock hard the whole time (pre and post Viagra it should be said.) I’ve never been tit for tat. Not caring about or judging what the woman chooses to do in return is a good way to go– and garners rewards.

    • I agree it’s sometimes important to do things you don’t really like simply for your partner’s pleasure. personally I don’t enjoy giving fellatio because I find it physically tiring and very uncomfortable (neck hurts, jaw cramps from TMJ syndrome) but I do it because I know my partner really, really enjoys it, and I pretend to enjoy it, so he won’t feel bad. Also, I do enjoy receiving oral sex so I have to reciprocate. I wish I could learn to enjoy giving a BJ but the physical discomfort is a real hurdle. Otherwise we have a very honest relationship and the sex is great but in this one area, I have to put an act. Talking to friends, a lot of them have similar issues with fellatio being uncomfortable and tiring, but we all do it.

      • it is tiring for those of us with tmj. I would love to put a dildo in some hetero guy’s mouth and see if he liked sucking deeply on it for five minutes. It’s tiring, causes a gag reflex if the guy pushes your head to it. How do some guys not get this? Are they that selfish?

        • Molly, I think that is something all men should try. I’ve said for a long time now that all men should try being the receptive partners in all respects at least once to see how it feels for women but most straight men would shield away from it because they don’t to look gay or feel ‘emasculated’

      • I think if it’s actually painful, you need to be honest with him. There might be a way you can give him pleasure with your mouth that doesn’t hurt. The two of you might be able to work out angles that are better than others and you might do it for a shorter time.

        You should definitely not be pretending that it feels great for him. At some point when he finds out the truth, he’ll be hurt and feel like a bad lover.

        Look at it the other way round – would you want him to do something for you that was actually causing him pain? Wouldn’t you want to know? Remember he loves you, too.

      • I have to disagree with you Janice. If you don’t enjoy reciprocating, then it’s more likely to be a case of compatibility in bed or lack of. Resentment will set in and relationships will strain and it’s not fair. While I know nothing about yours to say anything about it, your physical condition matters very much and you should have stated by now the problem with him that because it is not OK for you to suffer in silence because of his desire for a blowjob. There are ways to sort it out and I’m sure he cares for you enough to try and do things differently that will benefit you. It’s always about both (or more if it is) of the people getting something out of sex. The trouble with oral sex is that the person receiving seems to think it’s all about them and don’t think enough about how uncomfortable the person giving it can be. Bad position, restrictive opportunities to breathe etc

  10. Clarisse- May I suggest an exercise Julia Cameron, (author of the best-sellingThe Artist’s Way) gives to all who study with her? To obtain access to our own innate creativity, she puts us on a media diet! For a period of time we commit to, we are disallowed from taking in any: TV, radio, internet, books, newspaper, cellphone, nothing! We’re like a room full of junkies watching our drugs be taken away from us. We cold turkey for the first few days, sure the whole world will collapse without our participation in knowing EVERYTHING… 24/7….but you know what? By the end of week one, amazingly we students were ALL turning inward and tapping deep reservoirs of creativity none of us had access to while we were “using”, filling our every molecule with external stimuli…….no wonder we couldn’t drop down into anything remotely fresh or authentic….it was all hiding right within, underneath all the “noise” imposed by the media onslaught we subject ourselves to every moment. You might want to experiment with this “diet” for a week or longer….I’d bet your authentic sexual fingerprint emerges like a grateful captive being freed of its chains.

    I fully concur with Lizwin and Miyah. One of the real downsides of our pornified culture as Dr. Gail Dines points out in her enlightening book, “Pornland: How Porn Culture Has Hijacked Our Sexuality” , was the way these images seep into and then very insidiously shape the way we think about beauty, each other, (yes, women objectify women more than many men do!) and how we think about sex, which leads to how we ARE sexually…Porn is one of the most potent forms of media out there today, and I think we need to be WAY more responsible and proprietary with the most precious real estate we have, our sexuality. If we allow it to be dictated to by powerful porn-mongers, one result appears to be the confusion Clarisse Thorn articulates here about lack of authenticity, or “performing” during sex, plagued with uncertainty about our OWN feelings about whether it’s even real for us.

    I actually saw the music videos that would go well with this article, while I was at the gym today: and as with all things pornified, one doesn’t have a choice to see it or not- it’s in your face, on huge screens all over the gym with blasting soundtracks… it’s the Pussycat Dolls tanned, airbrushed and barely dressed, gyrating away, pumping their derrieres seductively to the beat , wearing lace bras and panties and writhing like, well, cats in heat , cupping their own breasts and tugging at their panties as if they can’t wait to pull them off- ALL while the lyrics unconvincingly assert that they don’t need a guy…..and that guys only seem to want one thing. This double message Insults both women AND men….
    Also onscreen was Shakira’s new video which features her pole-dancing (yes, I said music video) wearing a tiny bikini bottom (looks more like a modified thong) as she bumps and grinds and teasingly whips her long, blonde hair extensions around…..and Rihanna in her new raunchy video, simulating going down on another girl, as well as seductively unpeeling and then going down on a banana. This is Exhibit A of what Dr.Dines articulates in her book. And these multi-million dollar artists are the role models available today for millions of young girls/ women-? No need to wonder where the confusion comes from. Nor do we need to wonder why boys/ men are confused, too….and why many demand physical perfection of their girlfriends or wives….why not? They’re promised it from every corner of advertising/ media. The adult entertainment industry (which has tentacles in MANY other big business today including mainstream entertainment and advertising) are totally playing all of us. This was accomplished by them heavily spending to BRAND porn as “cool”, “hip” and sexy. Responding with anything other than that gets you branded as conservative, a religious freak, or an angry, man-hating feminist. Yes, that’s right: BRANDING did this. Brilliant, right? And it worked: the cash cow is fat and getting more so every second!
    Many women are not into porn or being pornified but feel pressured to say they are, so as to appear “cool” and sexy to their partners….and then risk the partners being in porn-induced dopamine stupors, too uninterested in the real thing to even notice them in their “humanness” (because they don’t rate high enough on the only scale that really matters, the “hotness” scale) — OR– we risk going along with the “hotness” game and then feel sold out, inauthentic within ourselves, faking and fawning just to maybe get a little praise. How exactly does this make us different than a trained seal doing flips in the pool for a reward? If you love porn and the aesthetic or attitudes it engenders, good for you…..but personally, I think it is time to say:
    STOP to the megalithic companies that shove this “sleazefest-or-bust” down everyone’s throat, whether we like it or not….We can stop by turning off the porn, the racy TV shows that do nothing more than commodify sex, the “fashion” that has us looking like strippers, the selling us on how cool and independent it is to have “hook-ups” rather than expect (request?) actual participation in a real relationship, to feel we have to “perform” sexually a la what our men have seen online, and maybe even submit to plastic surgery just to “show up on the radar”…all of which can turn our precious sexuality into a PRODUCT that these greedy, conscienceless marketers can continue to make bank with. I say we should grow some courage to buck that tide by not participating in the pernicious marketing circus.
    And what’s the worst that’ll happen to us? We won’t get a man? I know that there ARE men out there who do respect us because we’re thinking for ourselves and not being lemmings, and because we’re too smart to be spoon-fed some narrow version of contrived sexuality…..and in the end, that’s really the only kind of partner worth my love/ time/ energy. And if I don’t find myself a man, then at least I’ve got my own version of my sexuality & self-respect fully intact.
    Oh, and by the way, I consider myself sex-positive, which for me is NOT mutually exclusive with being pro-porn or pornified ANYthing. I just prefer my sexlife in private, no voyeurism, no exhibitionism, nothing other than just my lover, me, and the shades drawn. The deep levels of intimacy attainable are very sexy, very fulfilling….and to me, THAT’s hot, and that’s precious…..and WE get to define it, not some spiritually bankrupt media conglomerates. But it does take eschewing the instant gratifications and instead, learning to be vulnerable enough to achieve the real intimacy I believe we yearn for.

    • Thankyou Lill Bee, that was beautifully written. You speak for many of us, men and women, all ages. Keep writing, you do it so well.

    • To put emphasis on Lili Bee’s message, I would add: it may be than an entire generation and a half of women will have to forgo relationships with men to allow men the time to grow up emotionally. To wrest themselves from the promises of porn and to see that in the end it is real women that are loving and human and imperfect and that is really how it is meant to be.
      Selling ourselves out to the system that currently exists is not working. We women will have to be the ones to walk away from all this en masse. That is sad for all, but perhaps that is what men need to heal. When there is no “sort-of” relationship (because there is no REAL intimacy/relationship with such underdeveloped masculinity) to funnel their porn-saturated fantasies upon, perhaps then—men will wake up in large enough numbers to begin the shift away from pornification.
      This is a hard message for most to take in, but it is probably true, nonetheless. We women will grieve and men will be in an emotional maelstrom and we, women and men, will both be very apart and unrelated for the duration. It may be necessary to create the space needed for real intimacy.

      • “it may be that an entire generation and a half of women will have to forgo relationships with men to allow men the time to grow up emotionally.”

        I agree. Women should just use men for sex until men are tired of just having sex at which point men will want more. I would say that our emotional illiteracy is one of the things women find most attractive about us. The more “underdeveloped” our masculinity, the more attracted most of them are to us.

        By the way, what’s up with everyone blaming porn for their unsatisfying sex lives and failing relationships? And all these weak annoying men claiming sex “addiction” (i think disorder is a more appropriate word if these men actually do have a condition at all) every time they get caught cheating. They go to sex rehab to save their relationships. The relationships still fail (surprise). And then they try to convince everyone that they’re not actual sex addicts. That they just claimed sex addiction to save their relationships. If that isn’t a classic case of being an inauthentic person I don’t know what is. How about being a real man and saying “yes. I cheated. I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” That’s it.

        What we men need to do is stop falling into relationships as a means to getting laid frequently. Variety plays a big part in sex so there is no woman too hot to be cheated on. Not one. Even the sex-crazy nympho dream girl gets boring after some time. Men should either get into relationships for the right relationship-sustaining reasons or forget about it. It’s not fair to women. Men have so many options today that there is no reason to date or (worse yet) get married just to get laid frequently.

    • I essentially agree with Lili, but want to reserve a space for occasional erotica, which, I admit, mainly doesn’t exist. Some of us who have done porn, have had something like a “panning for gold” experience. Once in a very great while a piece of porn is incredibly erotic, often by accident. I remember a shot of a woman blowing a man lying on his back, and probably what was tantalizing about this was the perfect curve his penis, her head, and her back made. So probably much like what grabs us about normal art is at work here. I know little about art by the way.

      At the same time, Lili, I know that occasional rewards of this sort are the same as intermittent reinforcement, which, as we all know, is more reinforcing than a constant reward. So I’d agree. Porn culture is a risk.

      • Duality says:

        Hahaha, you could say everyone knows about art… just not everyone is a critic. Often times, the less you know about it the more creative you are.
        Thumbs up by the way.

      • I think in a pre-Internet world it was a lot easier to enjoy erotica on an occassional basis.

  11. Clarisse- honest, heart felt piece. And my own experience is much like yours. When I was younger I purposely would look to men’s media (not exactly hard to find) to figure out better how to be the type of woman men wanted. I practiced the poses and the sounds because I learned early on my role was to look good more then it was to feel good. And even now I still struggle with worrying more about how I look to him to make sure he’s having fun then how I’m feeling. I know some men here will scough at that or tell me that’s my problem, but it’s not just my problem. Too many men are projecting their porn fantasy on real women. Too many women are trying to be the porn fantasy instead of true to themselves. When I put on that performance I got more praise and affection then just being my normal self. Men will praise you more for acting the “porn star” then being yourself. I know you said you personally were not against porn but it’s porn that’s pervailed this image of female sexuality. An image that i think men do infact want. I think men do want women to have as much fun as them in the sack but I think they want it at the cost of her acting the fantasy then acting like herself. SO the question is do they really want real female pleausre in it’s imperfection and messiness, or do they want female pleasure in their porn scripted fake fantasy. if men keep looking at those images, it only sets real, normal women up for failure.

    This paragraphy particularly resonated with me:

    “There was a while there, where my sexuality was mostly performance: an image, an act, a shell that I created because I knew it was hot for my partners. I’m not saying I was performing 100 percent of the time—but certainly, when I was just starting to have sex, that’s mostly what it was. And, scarily, I can put the shell back on at any time. Sometimes it’s hard to resist, because I know men will reward me for it, emotionally, with affection and praise. It’s much, much more difficult to get what I actually want out of a sexual interaction than it is for me to create that sexy dreamgirl shell: hard for me to communicate my desires, hard for me to know what I’m thinking, hard for me to set boundaries.”

  12. Duality says:

    I liked most of what I read here… some I didn’t, but I love all of you. Thank you.

  13. I think men are often performing, too.

    • i’m glad someone said this! I think we both perform… I am in a healthy loving relationship and I find myself switching between sex-goddess mode and just lazy sunday sex which is much more of an x-rated hug than anything else ;p I find this a healthy balance but I do sometimes think about the enormous extent to which I am mimmicking stuff I have seen from porn – I really do not know where the border starts between stuff I have seen and stuff I am inventing in the moment. I wonder what kind of sex I would be having if I had never watched porn. I am sure it would be as varied and imaginative as it is now but I’m really not sure whether I would be so concerned with how I looked (i think i actually adopt a camera like birds eye view during sex and make sure it looks damn good). I do fight this tendency but I guess I rely a lot on what I have picked up over the years from porn and I can honestly say I never have sex without thinking about something I have seen in porn. This is crazy right??

  14. I think if you’re sort of neutral about something, it’s possible to decide to enjoy it. That’s not performance of the kind you discuss, is it?

    It’s the same way with movies or food, not just sex. “I really wanted to see Cowboys and Aliens, but Judy really wanted to see Harry Potter, and I ended up having a really good time.”

  15. “I am not your sex-crazy nympho dreamgirl!” – Love this line!

    I agree that simply living from a place of authenticity – not even sexual – is such a hard thing to do. In a good, nurturing relationship I think that being that performing shell drops away as trust grows. The most important thing to me, is being able to find your validation within yourself; not from external sources like being rewarded by a partner emotionally or sexually.

  16. I wanted to thank you. I recently started dating someone and I really want to get it right thus time and in thepast iI think I have done the Sexy dream girl performances for guys and I don’t think I really realized how much I was short changing myself and the guy I was with. So thank you for opening my eyes and letting me know I’m not the only one.

    Dania

  17. I would reflect that the fake, porn faced, moaning, groaning and wriggling generally disappears once you find the one you are meant to be with – and it’s an instantaneous change and the sex is amazing! I never once hesitated to do what he wanted and likewise for him. More importantly, I know if I had been uncomfortable and so said no, there would be no repercussions for that. The thought of having to fake it with the person I love more than anything seems wrong, like I’m lying somehow?

  18. I agree with the struggle. My girlfriend is someone I love very much, but she does not like to talk about what she wants in bed. If I ask her if she wants to try something, getting permission, she always says no, and that I have to just do it. I have to take control. I am not really like that. I’d rather hear input from her. Could it be that being dominated is all she wants? She has had lovers who used her, which I know hurt her, but it’s almost as if she wants me to repeat that, to a degree. Sex is strange.

Trackbacks

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  6. [...] to ignore our attractions because a) it’s shallow to care about looks!* and b) we’re too busy trying to be sexy to figure out what’s sexy to us. That’s what happens when you’re conditioned to [...]

  7. [...] as they become more acquainted with sexually progressive communities. As blogger Clarisse Thorn points out, “Being a sex-positive feminist, I also sometimes worry that other women will read my work and it [...]

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