March 15, 2008

A comment on "the best" sex EVER!

Posted in heteronormative, mass media, sexual politics, Sexuality Blogs and Resources at 8:26 pm by LB

In “The ‘best’ is an enemy of the ‘good’” Dr. Charlie Glickman at the Good Vibrations blog writes what I’ve thought. We should strive for pleasure, not achievement.

It’s also important to remember that having good sex is not the same as a) looking “good” having sex, or b) looking like you’re having good sex. Said otherwise, what looks good isn’t always what is good.

I think a significant aspect of sexual displeasure is in the conjunction of 2 assumptions: that people in porn are having the best sex and that “I don’t have sex like that”. This is evident in the way we say “fu-k like a porn star” or the periodical Maxim article “How to date a porn star/stripper”. The assumption is the actors who are paid to “look like” (whatever that means) they are are having the best sex ever actually are. I’m sure they are sometimes and sometimes they’re probably planning the week’s dinner menu’s while they’re continuously and monotonously moaning. The other assumption comes from the first: if they look like they’re having the best sex and I don’t have sex like that then maybe I’m not having the “best” sex.

And lo and behold, we have magazines that tell us how, in stories recycled on a quarterly basis, to have this “best” sex. And the cycle of culture continues.

What the article doesn’t go into are the gender-variations on this theme in magazines. I have been meaning to do research on this by purchasing a year subscription to Maxim and Cosmopolitan (anyone want to fund me?!) and comparing the cover stories and analyzing the ads. Unfortunately, I really need to write my Master’s Thesis first. I don’t have the statistical proof, so we’ll leave it at my observation: women’s magazines articles around sex tend to focus on sex that “your man” wants, “your man’s” secret desires, how to please “your man”; men’s magazines tend to focus on how to get “your girl” (not woman!) to do —“, how to get a hottie to sleep with you, how to convince your girlfriend to let you go to strip clubs. Notice a trend? I’m not saying articles that focus on women’s own sexual pleasure don’t appear in Cosmo or that Maxim doesn’t ever have a story about pleasing your girlfriend, but these are significantly disproportionate to the ones that focus on pleasing men.

Of course, these articles are unproductive besides-they assume everyone’s sexual responses are the same and are articulated with heteronormative assumptions about sexual pleasure among heterosexual couples.

7 Comments »

  1. Kacie said,

    I think a lot about the sex articles in Cosmo and other “womens” publications. They also tend to recycle a lot of the same material. They also perpetuate the idea (in sex and other apsects of relationships) that playing “games” is a grand idea towards a healthy union. They never say “ask what he wants” or “tell him about your problem.”
    It’s never about communication; rather learning how to read arbritary signs in the other person, and present them ourselves.

    I find it interesting that publications geared towards younger women like Seventeen and Cosmo girl feature more stories about the GLBT community (including lesbian love stories and dating types or articles about transgender and transexual young people) while their older counterparts gloss over those people all the time. It’s almost like its implied that “real women” grow out of those stages.

  2. alberich said,

    I’m sure they are sometimes and sometimes they’re probably planning the week’s dinner menu’s while they’re continuously and monotonously moaning.

    I dunno … some of us start moaning when we plan our dinner menus in anticipation of the orgasmically good food we’re planning to cook. Anyway, this surprises me: I thought I was the only person who planned my menus (and sometimes my outfits) for the whole week.

    Seriously, though, good points. As a guy, it has always bugged me that neither men’s nor women’s magazines focus on female pleasure. It seems counterproductive to me. Perhaps I have too much internalized stereotypes about sex myself, but it seems to me that we men get-off pretty easily in general, so why so much space devoted to “how to please your man”/”how to get your girl to please you”. It seems that advice about “how to please your woman”/”how to get your man to do what you need him to do” would be far more useful.

    And even that is, as you would point out, awfully heteronormative.

  3. lindabeth said,

    re: Kacie:

    Wow, I didn’t know that about the “younger” mags…they weren’t around when I was younger (I’m showing my age!) and I admit, I haven’t really paid that much attention to them, but now I will.

    And right-on about the lack of focus on communication about sex, also very prevalent in porn versions of “hot” sex-”hot sex” never seems to include communication.

    It’s almost like its implied that “real women” grow out of those stages.

    Gosh, I think you’re right-on about this. As if non-heteronormativity isn’t something anyone actually lives out…

    Not to mention our cultural assumptions that “bisexuality is just a passing phase” and that lesbians who are like “regular women” (geez, WTF does that mean?!) only exist in porn, and really, they just want you to join in anyway.

    Which reminds me too of the misnomer, “all lesbians need are a good [penis-in-vagina] fuck”, supporting your suggestion that it is something real women grow out of…as soon as they find the right man.

  4. lindabeth said,

    re: Alberich.

    Thanks for your comment!

    dunno … some of us start moaning when we plan our dinner menus in anticipation of the orgasmically good food we’re planning to cook.

    HA! I agree-I for one think food and sex are very related.

    (and actually, that is something many writers about eating disorders in women have been saying for quite a while, including Caroline Knapp’s excellent book Appetities.

  5. Hugo said,

    “if they look like they’re having the best sex and I don’t have sex like that then maybe I’m not having the “best” sex.”

    Exactly. I heard recently from a friend of mine who had sex with a woman who apologized profusely for being unable to ejaculate when she orgasmed; she had somehow been convinced that an orgasm unaccompanied by profuse squirting was lacking.

  6. nick said,

    pibRQw hi! hice site!

  7. Renee said,

    Of course womens magazines are all about pleasing men sexually. Female sexuality is constructed as passive and statistics bare out that we live that way…for every ten times a woman goes down on a man he goes down on her three times, so much for reciprocity.


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