Noah posted yesterday on hegemonic heterosexuality and the Cult of Shitty Relationships. In this post I’d like to pick out one thread of it to discuss. Specifically, the archetypical, hegemonic idea of what men want in bed.
I was prompted to think about this by Cosmo, which I am tragically addicted to, and which is in the midst of a multiyear project to ask a bunch of men what they think about various traits and thus access the Great Male Hivemind and discover the true secrets of male sexuality. For instance, did you know that men don’t want their partners to swear? Or quote Lord of the Rings?
Fuck, I’m doomed to celibacy.
As far as I can determine from my extensive research in reading Cosmo and watching romantic comedies, in Hegemonic Heterosexuality Land, sex is a war between men and women. Women, of course, don’t want sex except with a loving, committed partner and/or a loving, committed vampire; in those circumstances, women basically crave cunnilingus and cuddles. Men, however, like Kinky Sex.
It is important to understand here that “kinky sex” doesn’t mean actually kinky sex. No one is wielding a flogger or practicing rope bondage or roleplaying Sherlock Holmes or using a Violet Wand. Instead, “kinky sex” means “sex, except, like, sexier.”
So men like anal sex. Men like threesomes, as long as they’re with two women, because threesomes with multiple men are gay. Men like titfucking and facials and comeshots and other things that look good on porn screens. Men like sex in public or in unconventional locations and sex in uncomfortable and acrobatic positions. Men like lingerie. Men like tying women up. Men like blowjobs. Men like rough sex, as long as it’s male-dominant rough sex, doesn’t leave any marks afterward, and doesn’t involve toys. Men like raunchy dirty talk. Men like naughty nurses and naughty schoolgirls and lots of other stuff that begins with “naughty.”
Now, there are several possible circumstances in which a woman might end up fulfilling these desires. She might be a “lady in the streets and a freak in the bed,” and thus the Holy Grail of male desires. She might be a bad-girl slut who disrespects herself and is probably “crazy,” because women cannot have sex because they want sex, but only for Mysterious Ladybrain Reasons; in that case, lots of men want to sleep with her, but she is almost certainly not The One. She might be pressured into it by a dude, in which case we need all kinds of serious pundit-type people talking about Women Getting Pressured Into Anal Sex. (You will notice that none of these situations are “women actually want to.” This is because,women don’t like sex except for the aforementioned cunnilingus and cuddles.)
Men who don’t like the stuff Men Like simply do not exist. Sure, there are probably a few Sensitive New Age Guys who won’t pressure women into doing it, but they all get off on anal sex secretly. The ones who don’t get points, the way that men who like cunnilingus get points.
In addition, there are certain kinds of sex no one is allowed to like. Pegging, for instance. Foot fetishes. Sadism. Any sort of sex that involves a sex toy (except maybe a vibrator, and even then it’s probably “threatening” to the dude). If you like this stuff, you are probably (depending on the exact fetish) queer, a pervert, pathetic, creepy, or a rapist.
The funny thing about Stuff Men Like is that proving it wrong only requires about five seconds of thought. If I consciously think “hey, men all like anal sex,” my brain will instantly crowd with counterexamples, namely, every man I’ve ever slept with. But if it’s just there in the background, as an unstated premise, the cultural detritus picked up from years of living in sex-negative society… well, I start arguing against “sex-positive feminism gives into the patriarchy because it encourages women to do what men want in bed” with “no, it encourages people to do what they want in bed, that is the whole point” as opposed to “what the fuck does that even mean?”
I mean, Christ. We’re going to try to get Tim Gunn, Maymay, James Deen, James Dobson, and that one porn star who keeps making women vomit with his cock to agree on what a fun sex life looks like? Good luck.