"Guys, this is Verity, she's a writer, she writes about sex and stuff in Canvas."
This was how my friend introduced me to a bunch of corporate types the other night. Now, I love her, but this wasn't how I'd have picked to be introduced. Not only because it's a cue for lots of hilarious comments by drunk men. (Wanna write about my dick? How tempting. No.) But I didn't think it was true, I write about other stuff, right?
But when I brought it up with my friend, she just looked at me and said, "Verity, you write a lot about sex. Just own it." Hmm. "And BTW, honesty isn't always good. Would you rather I said, 'Guys, this is Verity, she got stuck trying to park in the Pak'nSave carpark for 25 minutes this morning and got tooted by a nana'?" (I know how to spend my Saturdays.) She's right. There are worse things to be known for than writing about sex.
So, with this in mind, I want to write about orgasms.
The other day I made a joke about how men don't know what it's like to fake an orgasm. The chick I was talking to pointed out that actually men did. My first reponse to this was instinctive disbelief. Men don't fake it - that wasn't even possible. Then my companion pulled out a recent Guardian article on the topic. The article, "Why men fake orgasms", revealed that 25 per cent of men have faked at least one orgasm in their life. That's one in four men. I stood corrected.
The most interesting part of the conversation wasn't the revelation that men fake orgasms. (Although that was fairly mind-blowing.) It was my reaction to it.
My instinctive cynicism was based on the assumption that men are always into sex. This is just one of those deeply held - and largely unproved - assumptions that subconsciously underpin my thought processes; like getting up early is good for you or that butter is evil.
So, given that they are always into it, how can a man possibly fake an orgasm? How can they not enjoy sex enough to not climax? How does that even ... happen?
But it does. According to the survey, factors like tiredness, stress or alcohol are massive influences on whether guys can complete. These are all acceptable reasons for women to be unenthusiastic, but they're hardly ever voiced in relation to men. And if someone does say, "oh we didn't ... he was too tired..." there's often a hint of suspicion behind it. Is he not into you? Did you put on weight? Is he having an affair?
What we're doing here is blatant gender stereotyping. This is the intellectual equivalent of sighing heavily and saying, "Men only want one thing, you know!" There is no room for the idea that men can be anxious about sex. Or too stressed out to enjoy themselves. Or just really tired. They're just supposed to be up for it. All the time. And that is a regressive stereotype of men as being, well, a bit basic. It doesn't allow men to be human and say, "Actually babe, can we just cuddle tonight?" No feelings for you, dude, just bang something!
It's particularly ironic that I'd do this, considering how opposed I am to female gender stereotyping.
Now, I'd just like to reinforce that I am not a men-ist. You will not find me protesting on Reddit about how there needs to be an international men's day, bro. I am the type of feminist who believes the patriarchy puts a lot of nasty, unrealistic expectations and assumptions on both men and women. I think women get the worst of them, but I don't think that means men get off scot-free. And if we want to get rid of sexist assumptions on women, we need to tackle the ones we put on men too.
They are two sides of the same sexist coin.
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