In the warm, cramped room, we lay naked together, talking. With the curtains blocking out the bright sunlight from outside, we shared ourselves, not concerned with time, the heat or anything else, for that matter.
We had just finished up a round of fucking when he turned to me and commented,
“I really enjoy having sex with you. You really like sex more than other girls, and it’s so refreshing.” I turned to him, confused by this idea and why the fuck he would bring it up now.
I’m calling bullshit.
And I’m confronting this “you’re not like other girls” style of bootlicking.
Many people — mostly men — tell me that I enjoy sex much more than other females and what a valuable quality that is. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the compliments, because I do. But this implies that there is a hierarchy of sexual worth, which is problematic for many reasons.
To start, my sexuality and how it exists are innately my own. I am someone who actively enjoys sex, who openly shares my sexual desires and thoughts, and who tries to be as “there” and participatory as I can to get the best experience possible. I am aware of myself and my partner, and I want the experience to be as personal as it is sexually fulfilling, which I find frequently interact. My sexuality exists in this form because that is how I am, not for the pleasure of someone else or because I made myself be that way. While many people now appreciate my sexuality, there was a time when they highly criticized it to the point where I didn’t want my sex drive to exist.
Feminist theorist bell hooks defines society as a white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. Our understanding of how society directs animosity toward sexuality is controlled through these intersections of power, making it nearly impossible to exist with or without sexuality because of the different ways in which sex can be construed and criticized. If we live sexually promiscuous lives, we risk being criticized for our casual encounters. But if we abstain from sex for any reason, people assume something’s wrong with us. But all sexualities, ranging from asexuality to openly promiscuity, are completely normal.
With the limited sex education we receive in the public school system, dominant ideologies of what sex means or how it occurs is left unquestioned by students because it is reaffirmed by the media. There is an assumption that sex is always a thrusting penis in a vagina. This suggests that women maintain a passive role during sex, a norm to which I refuse to conform. Women should not be considered masturbatory items. Women are individuals who deserve the communication that will help them reach maximum sexual pleasure.
It is also important that people have the agency to choose when they want sex. Sometimes I just don’t feel sexual. Can you imagine being constantly sexualized by the public eye and then being pressured to engage in sexual activity? It can get tiring.
There is another reason men praise my love for sex. My open sexuality is accepted more easily because I am white and come from an upper-middle-class background. Society villainizes the sexuality of underrepresented-minority women, especially Black women and those from a lower-class setting, characterizing it as “trashy.” This form of discrimination is harder to point out on a daily basis because it is systemic, but that does not negate its very real existence.
I am also aware of how men are expected to display their sexuality. You are subjected to this unrealistic expectation that you have to prove your masculinity by how much sex you get. This is a damaging and incredibly unreasonable expectation to have of someone. Females do not expect men to be shining sex beacons with the ability to fuck multiple girls with the wink of an eye. And if they do, they are just as problematic as men who enforce this stereotype. All people have a right to sexual agency and to control over their own bodies, and this concept applies to all genders, not just male or female.
We need to analyze how divisions of identity affect our perceptions of how different sexualities interact. What people must understand is that we need to focus on the experiences and not on the specific people. People can’t reproduce the same special quality in each sexual experience, and they can’t always be perfect. Praising me for my sex drive is nonspecific and devalues what made the sex significant and memorable. Value experiences and how the person — or persons — involved helped make that experience unique.
Taylor Romine writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected].