Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sex is natural

I have recently undertaken the task of trying to absorb Dworkin's work and read through some blogs that cover the issues she raises. In doing so, my own brain juices were triggered.

Sex is natural is the instantaneous and absurdly common response to any suggestion that sex may not be necessary. While this satisfied me for a time, the natural state of things rarely seems to be the best state of things. Moving away from a feminism for a moment to demonstrate this point, it is natural for people to eat animals. We are omnivores, we are more intelligent and more powerful then animals, so therefore it is natural for us to do so. I don't know if I ever thought like that really, but it was a good excuse at the time to continue eating meat. However it is wrong to torture and kill and wrong to excuse ourselves and justify our actions by claiming we are "just animals".

If in the case of vegetarianism a claim that it is natural to commit the kind of atrocity against animals that is the meat industry is to be rejected then in the case of sex it should also be rejected. We are not just mindless animals determined to engage in sex and procreate, we are, or should be, thoughtful human beings. Afterall what about our society now is in any way natural? We are constantly pumped full of medication when we probably should have died already, we have cities that are covering the world in smog, and slowly killing it. Nothing we do is natural, nothing we do is merely because we are mindless animals acting on instincts, so why do we continue to hide behind this excuse?

I was surprised by the fact I actually agreed with some of what a self proclaimed radical feminist stated. I have long been resentful of the expectation of sexual intercourse. There are many situations where it is expected, in normal situations, by well adjusted men. For instance if a woman allows a man to touch her, stimulate her, it is done with the absolute assumption that sex will follow, if sex does not follow well then rape does in extreme situations or frustration on the side of the man. I am aware that some women enjoy sex, orgasm from sex, but the studies show that most women do not climax from penetration. Why then is she expected to spread her legs? Why would she want something that isn't actually pleasurable?

In a relationship is another time sex is expected. If a woman isn't willing to have sex with her partner then she is not taking care of his needs properly, though very little is mentioned about him taking care of her needs. If sex doesn't occur this then isn't a healthy relationship, a real relationship or sometimes even a relationship at all. Even though one partner probably won't enjoy it.

The true issue with these situations is that they are hard to avoid. Humans are social creatures, they want to be with someone and they want to feel physical closeness. Not being in a relationship, not being able to experience physical pleasure without the eventual result of sex will never result in anything but misery. Women it seems to me often end up in situations where sex isn't the result they were hoping for but they submit to it to please their partner. This isn't the normal healthy compromise of a relationship (assuming it is in a relationship) that is sacrifice.

This results in a sense of helplessness I think. It creates an environment where the woman is not free to say no, if she wants to be close to someone if she wants to get the trade off of maybe engaging in sexual activity that pleases her as well she has to have sex. It is a currency, women give sex and men give emotions.

Why do men who are well aware that women rarely climax during sex still expect it? demand it? Get surprised when it isn't there? Are the radical feminists right, are men really conditioned to that extent to feel entitlement over women and their bodies.

Sometimes after I shower I look at my body and wonder how it could be that it will ever be mine, there is always someone who thinks that using it is his right as a man.

Yes I understand that men become aroused and enjoy sex, but I also understand that men aren't animals, sex is not a necessity to life (not anymore).

Why does the chant of "my body, my choice" ring so false?

Personally, I dislike sex, it isn't a pleasurable sensation for me. I gain no enjoyment from it, but people keep demanding that I have it anyway because its normal and healthy and natural. Until today I believed them, I convinced myself it was part of some mental illness, something to be fixed. Go to therapy and fix myself then I will enjoy sex. Seems to me with all the studies showing that sex doesn't often result in climax for the woman, I should have figured out sooner, my lack of desire for sex was probably not caused by mental illness. The tracks that play over and over in my head, frustrate me. Why do I have this determination to "cure" my displeasure when it comes to sex so that I can learn to satisfy my partner? It seems wrong to me, that I have to think this way.

My therapist incidently described a pressure to have sex as similar to the experience of rape. In both scenarios there is one person trying to force their (his) will upon the other for selfish reasons and the other person is trapped and distressed. I definitely see how this is true. Furthermore for me, pretty much anytime I have had sex has been in attempt to please my partner not really examining too thoroughly the fact that it wasn't something I wanted. It is degrading in a way to have these kind of thought patterns in my head.

In a conversation with a friend the other day, I told him he was common because he was a boy, there are lots of boys I said so therefore you are common. He responded that it isn't very nice to be put in a group based on your gender and told you are common. Sadly, my compassion and empathy deserts me just now. Maybe I am just too used to my gender defining me and too sick of it.

What is the verdict on these musings?


  1. I think part of the problem here is the idea that sex means penis in vagina intercourse.

    While that may be the first thing that pops into most people's minds, it isn't the only thing that sex involves. Sex can be fingering, handjobs, blowjobs, cunnilingus, anal sex... Sex can be amazing stroking that doesn't even focus on the genitals.

    Also, not all (even straight) men are obsessed with penis-in-vagina sex. And actually a lot of women do enjoy it (even though you don't).

    I think the bottom line is that we should recognize that people all have their own sexual interests. Those interests are almost certainly influenced by society, but they are also individual. In the ideal world, no one should feel pressured into anything. Sex should be fun. But sex doesn't have to be just penis in vagina.

  2. You get it!!! YAY!!! Not a lot of women get Dworkin...and men... well let's say you may want to prepare for battle... This was a realization I came to at about the age of 14 when I first saw a porno mag (ewww). I struggled for a long time and became what my husband has referred to in anger...a whore. I tried my hardest to be accepted by men, in the way I was submit..When I tried to explain to my husband I didn't want to sleep with the guys I did, he don't get it... I struggle now, in the bounds of my relationship seeking constant approval through sex with my husband, I feel as though there is something wrong with me when he doesn't want to have sex...because I was taught that men are interested in sex more so than the idea that he doesn't feel like it never crosses my mind...My post titled so they say talks a little bit about the situation. I am totally LOVING your blog!!!

  3. @A y Siu, yes I should have been more clear. Every time I used the word sex in my post I meant PIV.


    Yeah I can relate, it's hard when you choose to have sex with someone even though it doesn't feel like a free choice. It would be a hard thing to understand.

    Thanks for your kind words, I would like to say I aim to please, but I don't lol.

  4. sometimes the truth is painful, but if you can be open enough to examine your own notions you'll be better off...there's no shame in having a changing view, in fact it indicates growth!

  5. I think that women (and men) should do what feels right to them (obviously within the bounds of respecting others' free will). If one party feels that sex is a necessary part of the relationship and the other party doesn't, neither is wrong. That being said, I don't think it's any more fair of the non-interested party to expect the interested party to stay without sex than it is for the interested party to demand sex.

    I personally do enjoy sex of a variety of types, even if a number of those types don't lead directly to climax. To me, that is not the entire purpose of sex: I enjoy it as a sharing of a physical bond, a way to please my boyfriend and a generally pleasurable act. That being said, we've been able to find a balance in which we are both mostly satisfied with the amount and types of sex we have, and the rare disagreement can normally be solved without either person being forced to do something they really don't want to.

    Of course, it should be entirely up to each individual to decide what sex means to them, how much they're comfortable with, what types of sex they are comfortable with and who they want to share that with. My only strong belief about it is that people should be honest with anyone they may choose to enter into a sexual relationship with regarding their feelings about sexual activity. If you honestly don't enjoy certain types of sex, be honest about that with people you might consider having other types of sex with. If they aren't OK with it, accept that and move on.

    I do sympathize, because I have experienced (and given in to) the pressures of a relationship where sex must be given for it to be maintained regardless of my feelings about the sex. It was horrible. That being said, I had to realize that a relationship where I was put under that kind of pressure wasn't healthy. I think it's something that all people who seek any kind of relationship have to weigh. Regardless of the relationship, there will always be people involved who want differing things. It is then up to them to decide how far they are willing to bend to give the other what they want.

    If I was in a relationship with a guy who said that I had to vacuum every other day and I absolutely hated vacuuming, we would likely talk about it and if neither of us would bend, we'd split. I'd love to see sex treated the same, where both parties outline what, how much, how, etc they want it and then either decide that they can't come to an agreement or find a compromise that works for both. Of course, this really doesn't happen because sex is such a screwed up concept in our world, where women have to fight to protect themselves from it and men are encouraged to be constantly seeking it. Sex IS natural, it's the whole social facade built up around it that isn't. If we could get rid of that and just be honest about what we want, I think it wouldn't be as big of a deal.

  6. @anonymous, in theory I agree with a lot of what you are saying.

    This part bothers me though "I don't think it's any more fair of the non-interested party to expect the interested party to stay without sex than it is for the interested party to demand sex."

    I think it is absurd to think that pressuring someone for sex is the same as not wanting to do it because of not wanting to do it. Makes very little sense to me. One is violating or trying to violate a freedom (the freedom to choose sexual partners) and the other is respecting ones on freedom. The freedom to have sex whenever you want it does not exist as a basic human right, nor should it. So that statement just shows how society has convinced you that not giving sex is as bad as taking sex, which is obviously not true.

    The rest definitely I agree with, relationships are about compromise. However as I stated in my post, it shouldn't be necessary to compromise by doing what feels wrong in order to maintain a relationship.

    Definitely sex is an important part of being human, and having pleasure and connecting to another human. Which is why I had such problems coming to this place where I can accpet I don't want to have sex and being unwilling to bend on that. My mental health is more important then someone else getting off.

  7. For me, it comes down to the individuals RESPECTING each other versus EXPECTING each other.

    I've read the series on PIV you're referring to and, while I understand the underlying concepts, I have difficulty accepting the final premise.

    While sexual activity is a personal choice and should never be assumed or forced, there are all types of compromises in relationships that we accept. We don't have to, but we do.

    Someone gave the vacuuming example. I think a better one is work. In a typical relationship, one or both partners work to contribute to the "household." While I love my work, I'm not always enthusiastic about going in that particular day or doing what needs to be done. However, when I'm in a relationship, I understand part of it is holding up my end; paying bills, covering expenses, etc.
    If I'm a person who prefers not working or a low-paying job, then I can't get mad or feel put upon if someone doesn't want a relationship with me. I'm not meeting THEIR needs. At the same time, I shouldn't want to be in that relationship either, but often we choose to because of other "perks" (you know, like love and stuff). Those things cause us to compromise. I don't see it as "taking" or "force," unless it IS, in which case, don't want to be with that person anyway.

    I see it as providing something that makes my partner feel better just as they provide something I enjoy, in a myriad of ways. And that isn't JUST sex; it happens in all aspects of a relationship.
    I don't EXPECT my partner to fulfill my relationship needs, I RESPECT theirs and want them to do the same.

    I guess in true feminism, I don't understand the bitterness I see. As one commenter frequently says on the site we're referring to, the more independent women are, the less we fall into the "societal thinking" trap.
    If we don't want sex a certain way, don't have it and find the partner who's on your page. I think THAT becomes the issue. Being a straight woman trying to find a man who has not been (as we all have) conditioned to EXPECT sex. And that is frustrating, sure.
    I think we put sex on a pedestal sometimes.

    In saying all that, I admit privilege in not being a woman who doesn't experience O's during PIV.

  8. "a pressure to have sex as similar to the experience of rape"
    Amen to this; too many of my friends just told me to lighten up when I described That Prostituted Feeling after fulfilling my marital obligation... After all, if I had an orgasm it couldn't be that bad, could it?
    Excellent blog - I'll be back to read more!
    (also reminds me to unearth my Dworkin volumes from where-ever I've stashed 'em!)

  9. Thanks Val, I am on a bit of a hiatus at the moment. Life is getting in the way unfortunately but hopefully I will be back arguing against the oppressors shortly!