Pillow talk isn’t on par: men and women discuss sex differently

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Photo by Sadman Sakib Rahman

I overhear conversations almost daily — to be honest, usually from hetero men — who recount their latest lay or sexual conquest like they’re David Attenborough narrating a mating ritual on a BBC nature documentary, only with significantly less English finesse.

Commonly accompanied by various hand gestures or aggressively self-assured proclamations of their prowess in bed, I constantly hear snippets of sexcapades like they’re showcasing a proudly acquired trophy collection.

People who identify as women — as I’ve often noticed — discuss sex with each other much differently. Rather than puffing out their chests and recounting weekends spent seeing their Tinder dates with brazen and brash pride, I typically hear them parroting details of their nights with hushed disappointment.

If their words are positive, then they’re almost always focused on the fact that their partner actually made them orgasm. Or, equally disappointing, surprised statements about how they were treated with basic respect, dignity and weren’t reduced to making the “walk of shame” after their no-pants-dance rendezvous.

This problematic phrase is one that I see commonly used in saturated romantic comedies that depict sex solely as a missionary, lights-off, one and done affair and I take issue with it being used to begin with.

It reduces women to objects of embarrassment for having consensual sex with a partner of their choosing.
   Regardless of whether they regret it the next day or not, I have yet to hear it ever applied to a man after a one-night stand.

I cannot recall the last movie I saw that included a sex scene that wasn’t solely utilized for the gratification of a male character. I will never understand why people treat women as interchangeably sexual and non-sexual beings — especially in the entertainment industry — but I digress.

I am by no means saying that all people do this, no matter what your identity. But it’s become such a commonality — one that’s seemingly paired with being a young twenty-something adult — that it’s difficult not to see the disparity in how different genders talk about and view sex.

While many heterosexual men are loudly blasting their weekly fuck numbers to their bros without an ounce of self-awareness, those identifying as women are typically looked at with surprise or apprehension when they merely mention having sex.

It’s a different territory entirely when individuals who identify as women actively seek out sex for their own personal pleasure, especially if it’s outside of a relationship.
   Slut shaming, as much as many loud and proud 4chan users would like to disagree, is something that exists and it’s not something that should ever be appropriate.

I couldn’t care less what someone chooses to wear on a night out to a bar or club, much less who they decide to Netflix-and-chill with.
   It really isn’t anyone’s business what someone does between the sheets and if they enjoy doing it, then all the power to them.

Blue Valentine, a painfully realistic and depressing romance film, includes a very tamely orchestrated oral sex scene between the leading couple.
   Ryan Gosling goes down on Michelle Williams with nothing more than an implied venture into a common sexual act, but the filmmakers had to fight for the movie not to be given an NC-17 rating because of it.

I cannot recall the last movie I saw that included a sex scene that wasn’t solely utilized for the gratification of a male character. I will never understand why people treat women as interchangeably sexual and non-sexual beings — especially in the entertainment industry — but I digress.

Last semester, I had to read a history textbook that detailed views on sex in antebellum America. To the surprise of no one, it contained archaic outlooks, mostly from men, on female anatomy, sex for pleasure (not procreation), the “self-polluting” ways of masturbation and the general disgust exhibited towards those — women especially — who chose to have sex on their own terms.

Thankfully we live in a time where exposing my ankles and using my body as something other than a baby-making-incubator won’t get me labelled as a whore, but it’s worth recognizing that those who identify as women haven’t had it easy in reclaiming their sexual identity and it’s still not even close to being perfect.

Sex isn’t just what’s depicted in American Pie and low-quality PornHub videos, it’s an act that means something different to every person who does it and it shouldn’t be a shock that people can enjoy it equally, no matter how they choose to identify or express themselves.

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