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Originally posted on my personal site. 🙂
A few months ago, I was sitting with a friend somewhere, listening to her complain about a guy, as all good friends must do.
“I’m going to go live on an island,” she said. “A civilized one. Indoor plumbing. But no men.”
“I’d join you,” I said. “But I like dick too much.”
Suddenly, she started laughing so hard that whatever it was she was drinking briefly threatened to come out of her nose and get all over my shirt. “I’m just picturing your face whenever men say ‘I like pussy too much’ in your presence.”
It’s fair enough to say that I was owned. But her comment did make me wonder about language and body parts and men.
As feminists, we criticize the visual and verbal dissolution of women to mere body parts. Anywhere from advertising billboards to music videos to art photography, women are cut up at rates that men simply aren’t. Is this cause for concern? Yes. I think it’s natural for anyone to focus on a particular body part they might like, but this does get taken to an extreme. It stops being beautiful and starts being downright scary and grotesque – the Whitechapel Murders without the requisite gore.
On the other hand, you find that women who dig men are often just as likely to reduce men to mere body parts as well. We have less social capital than men do, so we don’t feel nearly as entitled about advertising the fact that hey, random dude on the subway at 7 a.m., your ass looks great in those jeans, but we certainly think it, and when we get together with friends, we discuss it.
I also think that women discuss the actual sex they’re having with their female friends much more so than men do. Maybe I just haven’t been around the block enough, but let’s say you’re a guy, anywhere from Dubai to Anchorage, and you’ve just started sleeping with someone new. Are the odds that your best friend is going to go “DUDE, so how tight is it?” high are low? Without speaking for the entirety of the world’s population, it seems to me that these conversations are less common between men.
Men discuss the quality of their women quite a bit – “great tits,” “luscious ass,” “she’s loud in bed,” et cetera – but I don’t think they’re nearly as detail oriented, especially not around other men, especially when discussing individuals. There’s that scene early on in “The 40 Year Old Virgin” when the dudes are all sitting around a card table, talking about the different types of nipples out there. It’s a completely natural conversation, right? But it’s also somewhat abstract. I think that on the average, men are less specific, particularly when it comes to an individual partner.
I feel like women are more detail-oriented, if we’ve decided to have a frank discussion, that is: how does it feel when he does this, how does it feel when he does that, ask him to eat more chocolate, start at the tip, what kind of sound?, etc. Of course, it could just be me and my female friends. The plural of anecdote isn’t data, no matter how colourful.
I’m not going for the whole “men eat Mars bars, women eat Milky Way” (*hah*) angle here. I don’t want to essentialize. After all, one of my favourite descriptions of a female body part was written by a man (Joseph O’Neill in Netherland), though literature is probably a whole other discussion.
My point in all of this is that perhaps the “hey bro, we should get you some pussy” routine among heterosexual men isn’t gender-specific or orientation-specific or threatening, or at least it shouldn’t be. This isn’t to say that it can’t be demeaning – but that it’s demeaning in certain contexts and not really that big of a deal in others. Bottom line is, like my friend said: If I’m going to open my mouth and say “I like dick,” I better be prepared to hear “I like pussy” from somebody else at some point or another.
I know what some of you might say. You might say that all of this sounds so clinical and cold. Sure enough, it does. You might even take a cue from Ariel Levy and call me a female chauvinist pig for speaking like this about my fellow human beings. But just like the Bible says – To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die. a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; And, I would add, a time to be a poet and a time to be a pervert.