There was an article I read by Robert Jensen called “Tired of Hot Sex?” Now, sex is such a complicated thing, and I’ve learned that there is so much you can say regarding it, sociologically speaking. However, Jensen pointed out a critical truth in his paper that really struck me. He writes, “Men in contemporary American culture are commonly trained to view sex as the acquisition of physical pleasure through the taking of women.”
It’s saddening that cultural rules and the institution of patriarchy are brought into the bedroom. It ruins things easily. My ex often told me that he was happy he was my first. He loved that I was his. His. In today’s world, sex is about domination and submission. It’s all in pop culture too. It’s everything that we consume. It’s sexy for men when women are subordinate, powerless, and passive. We are objectified. More implications are brought in when you consider the effects of porn.
I don’t necessarily want to refer to my situation as one of sexual violence, but it wasn’t sexual pleasure. My boyfriend was really aggressive in the bedroom, constantly putting me into positions that were extremely uncomfortable. The first time we had sex, he came on me. I wasn’t expecting it and I definitely didn’t like it. I had just looked up at him hovering on top of me and he grinned. I cringe looking back on it now. I had to actively tell him to never do that again. I had to say no to anal sex over 100 times. What is porn teaching men today? It’s not doing anything positive for women.
Sexual violence and institutions are commonly discussed and more often disputed. Was the woman asking for it? Did she deserve it? Did she really try to prevent it? Many argue that it’s women’s clothing, their manner of walking, their behavior, and pop culture that all encourage male actions of harassment. They’ve been made somewhat normative. They’re expected. Walking to and from Starbucks this past summer for my New York City internship, the same car parking services man would say “hey beautiful,” “hey pretty,” “hey there.” Every time and I wish I had had the guts to dump my scalding coffee on him. But this behavior is also in relationships. It’s in what our partners expect of us. It’s in sexual encounters.
Sex was so painful for me that I was never able to finish. I rarely could make it very long at all. It’s a really sad thing to not enjoy sex. I want to be able to. I want the ability and the patience or someone who’ll help me discover what I like. Sometimes I would force myself to endure the excruciating pain because I figured it was unfair for my ex if he couldn’t enjoy sex either. However he made sure that he always finished. The sex wasn’t over until then. After I would stop, some times in tears from the pain, he would insensitively ask if I wanted to help him get off, to finish, or to watch. I never did. Why would I? And I would hate him for asking. I would always tell myself how lucky I was that he stayed with me even though sex was hard for us. I know now that I deserve so much more than what I was getting.
I like when Jensen explains in his article how “Our task is not only imagining new ways of touching, but always being attentive to the ethics and politics of the touch.” I just need to know that there are good people out there that I’ll be able to trust and have relationships with in the future.