My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and we’re best friends. Mutual respect exists in almost every way between us. Sometimes, however, the sex feels, well, sexist. First, he enjoys watching porn together, but I really don’t. However, he always tries to initiate porn watching even though I’ve told him I don’t enjoy it. Secondly, I perform far more oral sex than he does. He rarely performs oral or hand sex on me, and when he does, he doesn’t bother to ask me for feedback. I’ve tried to tell him that X feels good and Y doesn’t, but he gets kind of insulted and self conscious, so I don’t do that anymore.
He does what turns him on in bed, and thinks that, because it turns him on, it must turn me on. Though he’s listened to me when I tell him in a nonsexual context what might personally get me going he doesn’t carry this information over into the bedroom. I’ve asked for more oral sex, less porn, less verbal fantasizing about my friends, etc., but still he does the things that get HIM going when we have sex. I don’t feel cared for in this area, in a stereotypically “girl wants more from hetero guy in bed and he says ‘Gotcha babe, now blow me’” kind of way.
Our communication is generally great, but there seems to be a missing link in this one area between what we express to each other and what we do. Help!
— Unpampered Pet
Popular, traditional sex education is quite sexist — it prioritizes boners and their reproductive pleasure principles and treats the vagina like little more than a baby-making receptacle not worth bothering to learn to please. Call it the heteropatriarchy or pleasure-phobia but either way — women are screwed when it comes to learning how to screw.
This isn’t an excuse for your boyfriend to keep riding the sexist sex ed wave straight to blow-job beach, but it does mean that when in a cishetero relationship, couples need to try a little harder to overcome the many social, gendered blocks to good sexual communication.
His lips are moving, but not in the southern place you want them to. Hold him accountable to this crossover fail between talk and behavior. Talk about sex right after having it, trying ye old compliment sandwich: “Babe, those orgasms felt great. I noticed that you didn’t do that sweet hand trick I love and I’d like to see that happen next time. I’m so glad we actively work to make our sex life awesome!”
His acting butt-hurt by your constructive feedback about YOUR BODY is a great way for him to guard himself from doing the hard work of changing or holding up his self-confidence as a man who doesn’t inherently, magically know how to “please his woman” (Does anyone? Come on). Don’t let him get away with that by folding every time he pouts.
Partners should be partners in making sex great for both of them. Otherwise, we’re just enacting glorified masturbation rather than a shared sexual experience.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a pleasure-positive sex writer and educator living in the Pioneer Valley. She has a website bursting with sex advice, resources, and workshops at yanatallonhicks.com.