So I was casually reading a blog post that I saw on my Facebook newsfeed today and (many clicks later) I arrived upon an article by Dr. NerdLove entitled “It’s OK To Want Sex”. The article describes his experience with sex and how his sex life drastically changed when he realized women enjoyed sex too.
He explains that when he first became interested in sex, he believed that it was “something of a transaction.” Meaning, men persuaded women into having sex with them and the women would eventually just give in. This article is interesting to me because as a woman, I can feel when a guy is just trying to get me to sleep with him….and it’s beyond awkward. I literally just feel like yelling “I WILL NEVER F*CK YOU!” but that would be disrespectful.
“The way that western culture approaches sex….is to treat it as a commodity. Sex as goods. Women have it, men want it and the market sets the price. It’s a zero-sum game – the more a woman gives away, the less she’s worth, therefore she needs to hold sex in reserve in order to get the best price for it.”
This model is not good for either gender. Women feel like if they engage in sex, they lose value and therefore no one will want to be with them long term. While on the flip side, men are “expected to get as much as they possibly can for as low of an investment as possible.” Also, nice guys are included in this as well. They assume that if they are nice enough they deserve to have sex with a woman because they’ve invested their good deeds on them. So naturally this paradox is really not good for anyone’s mental, emotional or sexual health.
There’s a better model for sex that Dr. NerdLove presents called the collaborative model. “Not feeling that every sexual encounter was a negotiation made things more comfortable. I was able to relax and be my best self instead of putting on what we both inherently knew was a performance.” But really guys….we both know it’s a performance. Basically the idea is to treat sex as an activity that is beneficial and fun for both people involved, rather than treating it as something that can be bartered for.
Dr. NerdLove introduces a wonderful essay by Thomas MacAullay Millar entitled “Toward a Performance Model of Sex” and I love this model. It explains the collaborative model clearly as a parallel to a musical performance. I love this because sex and music are both beautiful and natural human experiences that everyone can relate to. Here’s a few excerpts that I felt nailed the concept perfectly:
“The commodity model assumes that when a woman has sex, she loses something of value…It further assumes that sex earlier in her history is more valuable than sex later… She gets better by learning, by playing a lot, by playing with different people that are better than she is…. Because it centers on collaboration, a performance model better fits the conventional feminist wisdom that consent is not the absence of “no,” but affirmative participation.
Who picks up a guitar and jams with a bassist who just stands there? …Musicians have to choose, explicitly or implicitly, what they are going to play: genre, song, key and interpretation…This process involves communication of likes and dislikes and preferences, not a series of proposals that meet with acceptance or rejection.”
I truly believe that if we were to move from the commodity model to the collaborative model, men and women would both be happier and healthier. What do you think about this?