I got turned on by a cup of tea this week. I’ve started getting mild pleasure from the feeling I get when I’m drinking a brew and I let my bottom lip drag down with the mug ever so slightly, as though my lip is being bitten. This can mean one of two things. Either I’m in the beginning stages of Objectophilia and will one day end up married to a coaster. Or, it’s been too long since I got laid. I haven’t had sex in almost two years. The closest thing to physical intimacy I’ve had in that time is when a doctor prodded my bare stomach to feel around when I was constipated. I find myself becoming increasingly attracted to fictional characters like Robin Hood. The 1973 Disney fox version. Not the Kevin Costner version, despite his athletic feats of being able to walk from the White Cliffs of Dover to Nottingham in 20 minutes. It’s getting to the point where I’m considering becoming a nun. At least then I’ll have an excuse for my sexual abstinence. Plus, black is slimming.
Like Salt n Pepper, I love talking about sex. Not with strangers in the street or my grand-parents, no. With friends I trust. But it rarely happens. I find myself trying to instigate situations that can lead to conversations about sex. My 15-year-old self re-emerging at 32 as I invite people to come round to drink a load of booze and play Never Have I Ever. Which everyone knows is really a game of ‘Whose sex-life is the most interesting’. Shortly after two turns of ‘Never Have I Ever drank a Coke AND a Pepsi in the same day’ (Nice one Kev. Don’t come again) and we’re right into the thick of it with things like ‘Never Have I Ever had sex dressed up as Zazoo from The Lion King’. Generally, though, I feel a bashful hush around female pleasure be that from sex or masturbation. I don’t speak for all women. There’s no doubt many will be very at ease talking about what goes on behind their closed doors. Others, with it being an incredibly personal thing, may prefer not to speak about it for whatever reason is right for them. I speak from my experiences alone. But I rarely get to. There’s a lingering sense of embarrassment, even shame, around the topic thanks to an age-old drip-feed through society and the media that women are predominantly pleasure givers and men are pleasure takers. Throughout history it’s been deemed unladylike for women to talk about sex. I remember trying to talk to an ex-boyfriend of mine about porn. I knew he watched it and I wanted to compare notes with what I liked to watch. It made him so uncomfortable he refused to discuss it with me, which left us both stewing in an awkward silence for the rest of the evening. For ages, the mysterious ‘locker room’ has been known as a breeding ground for rude tales told by guys. A sacred place of X-rated chat where no girls are allowed. Well, women use locker rooms too. And we eat Yorkie Bars. So, buckle in because it’s about to get intimate.
The men of Hollywood have been speaking on behalf of the sexual pleasures of women for a long time. And by that, I mean ignoring them. Silencing womens’ voices unless it’s to fake moan. The priority has predominantly been male pleasure shot by men. Most of whom can cum a lot of the time and must assume women have it just as easy. All that’s needed is one person lying down and the other thrusting. I tried to think of stand-out sex scenes from mainstream cinema without resorting to Google (so as to not inherit another porn virus). The ones that came to mind were either silly, like ‘Team America’. Rampant puppet sex in every position. Or absurd. Like the sex scene in the 1973 horror ‘Don’t Look Now’. I can only assume the title is referring to that particular scene. It was ground-breaking at the time but watching it now, I see two naked people awkwardly wrestling with their eyes closed, heads lolling like they’re on the Waltzers, and at points the man trying to have sex with the back of the women’s knee, for an extended period of time. Like, an uncomfortably extended period of time. As in, if you found yourself in the misfortune of watching it with a parent and went to make a tactical cup of tea with the plan being the sex would be over by the time you got back, it wouldn’t. Say you’re going to the shop to get more milk, get in the car and don’t look back. Apart from the funny or weird, the rest is grey matter. An endless array of standard, missionary, slow motion sex scenes with women moaning and cumming on cue thanks to the monotonous thrusting of the male lead and his magical genetalia. Don’t get me wrong, in the moment I find these mainstream moments relatively sexy, but I get turned on by a cup of tea now so my bar is set pretty low. For me, most sex scenes are hot but forgettable. Apart from ones that have been directed or written by women. I kid you not, the other scenes that jumped to mind I Googled and, low and behold; female directors and writers. How neat is that? ‘Very neat’ I hear you say. And you would be correct.
Let’s start with the funny. Bridesmaids. Written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. The scene I’m talking about is at the start of the film between Wiig, who plays Annie in the film (not Annie the writer) and John Hamm, who plays Ted and they are going at it. Well, not they. Ted is going at it. He isn’t having sex with Annie, he’s having sex at her. Or maybe against her. In the words of our Chief Minister, Ted clearly believes hard and fast is the best practice. He makes the Duracell Bunny look like something really slow. Like a Manatee. At points, Annie tries to take control of the sexuation. (I just made that up. It’s a mergence of sex and situation). She even says to Ted, as seductively as possible whilst on top, ‘let’s slow it down, sloooowwww it doooooown.’ Ted abides for all of 3.47 seconds before giving up all pretence of consideration for Annie’s pleasure and speeding up again to the point of making her look like she’s on a malfunctioning Bucking Bronco. Something I reckon the type of person Ted is would see as a compliment. The scene is a farce, as it’s intended to be, but it rang true of the last two times I had sex. Both guys also played into the hard and fast motto. It made me feel like a slab of meat.
The first had a fascination with serial killer. I get it. Who doesn’t love a good True Crime documentary on Netflix? But this guy was next level. He had a copy of Ted Bundy’s fingertips framed on his bedroom wall. The effort to go to Boots and pick out a floral frame especially makes it all the more sinister. It was a lovely frame though. When I mentioned this, he countered that he was obsessed with serial killers in the sense that he wanted to be in the FBI or Special Police Force, not in the ‘I want to murder women’ sense. But then he also at one point laughed himself silly joking about how unfunny Miranda is and how he’d like to feed her own fingers to her… so, it’s not massively surprising that female pleasure wasn’t at the top of his agenda. We were speaking for about three months. Met on Bumble over Christmas. A lonely time for singletons as MUD knows and sings about repeatedly every December. We got on well. On the surface he seemed like a ‘nice guy’. He had sex like it was about to be banned forever. I remember feeling like a blow-up doll. He tore my tights he was so fast to get down to it. So, there was £2.89 I wasn’t getting back. I actually had my own version of Annie’s ‘slow it down’ moment. He responded by turning me over and pounding away rabbit-like. Afterwards, we watched University Challenge and I left feeling unsatisfied, slightly violated, and incapable of answering a single question on hydrated magnesium silicate or what its common bathroom name is. The best part of that sexual encounter was that he didn’t murder me or force feed me my own fingers.
*In Spongebob French narrator voice* ‘One year later.’ At a friend’s wedding, a guy with a bow-tie and ever-so-slightly crazy eyes (he didn’t blink enough) chatted me up. We danced. I’d never had a one-night stand before. He ended up being my first and last. At the end of the night, he told me he was sleeping in his car because there were no rooms left at the inn (the wedding was in Bethlehem). It was treacherous weather. A storm was coming down hard. I had a hushed, panicked conversation with one of my best friends Tom, who was at the wedding with me. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Tom, should I invite him back?
Tom: If you want to.
Me: Well, he’s got nowhere to stay.
Tom: He can always stay with the groom’s family.
Me: True. But he’s talking about staying in his car.
Tom: Well, he can do that too.
Me: Don’t be silly, it’s freezing, he’ll perish in the night. Plus, I haven’t had sex in a year.
Tom: *Laughs* Then invite him back.
Me: But I’ve never had a one-night-stand before.
Tom: Then don’t invite him back.
Me: But I kind of want to.
Tom: Then invite him back.
Me: Oh my God, this is the hardest decision of my life. Why is this so difficult? I really need the loo.
Me: …… Okay. OKAY. I’m going to do it. I’m going to invite him back.
Tom: Good for you.
Me: He’s coming over. Go away.
All this took place in whispered voices while the boy in question stood a mere two metres away. He came over just as Tom pretended to take a keen interest in the colour of the walls. Encouraged by my friend, I thought fuck it and fuck him. I brought him back. We stood outside, in the pouring wind and rain, waiting for a taxi and he took his blazer off and draped it around my shoulders. Kissing me gently. Good decision, I thought to myself. Alas, these two small acts of chivalry were red herrings. What followed was like a scene from a Pornhub rejection tape. We got back to my room. I wanted a shower. I’d been dancing for four hours straight. I smelled like a teenage boys unwashed PE kit. So I told him, in a completely normal, not seductive voice; “I’m going to have a shower. Won’t be long.” I then got in the shower, shutting the bathroom door behind me. A minute later, crazy eyes opens the bathroom door and joins me in the shower. Now, he obviously thought this to be a sexy gesture. For me though, I just wanted to have a shower. Alone. So I could loofah my armpits in peace without having to try and make it look seductive. The main point is, I didn’t want him to be there. It annoyed me. But did I say that? No. I didn’t. This guy came to take, assuming we would be sleeping together anyway, which should never be an assumption, and I didn’t say anything because I felt embarrassed to do so. So we kissed in the shower. I HATED that my hair was now half dry and half wet and sticking to my body, which I cannot stand. Then he tried to take things up a notch. It was zero (or in my case minus 365 after the total lack of physical attention my body had had in so long) to 100 in a matter of minutes. I wasn’t turned on because I was uncomfortable, which added to the awkwardness that comes with trying to do anything sexual stood up in a tiny shower with someone you’ve known three hours and twenty minutes. I couldn’t find my voice. I was Ariel. But in a small, frosted glass shower in the middle of Cumbria instead of the sea. Why couldn’t I tell him how I was feeling? I didn’t know the guy, I didn’t owe him anything. Eventually, we got out. He ruined that shower for me. It didn’t get much better. Sex with him was what I imagine the ground feels like when it’s being jackhammered to make a new pathway for the local community. Another guy who thought sex was going out of style. But he had two additions (not upgrades) on Ted Bundy’s number one fan.
The first: He threw some dirty talk into the mix. I don’t mind a little bit of chat if it isn’t too grotesque and it’s with someone I’m comfortable with. But this was like the autocue from a porno. I know because I’ve watched my fair share of them. I always put the noise down though because a lot of it makes me cringe. And because I share a house with my parents and they told me to mute it or start paying rent. I won’t relay what he said directly to you in case you’re reading this in church or out loud in a room full of children. But one sentence rhymed with ‘Do you like me shmucking shmoo like that you shmucking shmut?’ This shmucking shmut did not. Eventually, I told him to quieten down. He didn’t. He kept on at it. So I told him he sounded like a naff X-Rated audiobook as a joke. Ego well and truly shrivelled, he went back to generic grunting. But, lucky me, he had another trick up his sleeve.
The Second: Spanking. Again, totally fine if you like it. But I personally don’t get anything from it apart from an arse that looks like a Baboon’s. I told him to stop three times in my sexiest ‘you’re pissing me off now’ voice but he persisted. Apparently in his language ‘stop spanking me’ translates to ‘you know what I love? A good spanking. Please keep going forever until one of us dies.’ I decided to try communicating with him in his native tongue. And spanked him back. Cracked him really hard on the arse. So hard it made my hand buzz. Unfortunately, it backfired and he liked it.
The rest of the night was like a bog-standard movie. Him on top, shagging away, not paying any attention to how he could make me feel good until after he’d cum. Twice. It’s a tough call on what was worse, the sex or the aftermath. We lay in bed. Unfortunately for both of us, the bed I was in was about a third the size of an average single bed. Literally, the slimmest bed I have ever laid eyes on in my life. You’d find more room in a fruit bat’s coffin. Which is apt because I spent the rest of the night dying inside. He clearly felt the same. We lay next to each other, half on, half off the bed, pretending to be asleep but really just staring at the ceiling in the dark until the sun came up or a moors murderer came along to put us out of our misery. Unfortunately, it was December, so the sun didn’t rise until 2pm. At 8am, he went to reception to ask for a taxi. They threw their heads back and laughed jauntily, wiping tears of hilarity from their eyes and slapping their thighs (I wasn’t there but I would imagine that’s how it went). It was a Sunday. And we were somewhere in the middle of the Lake District. There were no taxis until the afternoon, which felt like a lifetime away. His car was a half an hour from the hotel. So, to my continued annoyance, he came back up and spent the next hour wandering around the cupboard-sized room like a caged Tiger in a tux, while I tried to hold back a dangerously moving hangover poo. Tom eventually put him out of his misery. He’d brought a rifle with him especially for this type of circumstance. Only joking. He dropped the guy off at his car and that was that. It’s a yarn I’ve regaled to my close friends and we’ve laughed heartily at it. But it’s only now, writing about the bit in the shower, that a darker feeling came over me about how he had no right to assume that I’d be okay with him doing that. And the silence I felt obliged to respond with. I now find sex scenes in which the guy asks the girl before getting it on ‘are you sure?’ and whilst getting it on ‘are you okay?’ incredibly sexy. I shouldn’t. That should just be standard procedure. I got a text off bow-tie-crazy-eye-guy a week later. And thought to myself, ‘oh how nice of him to check in.’ Nope. He was checking I wasn’t pregnant. After reassuring him I wasn’t, which took a while and was during work hours, he stopped messaging mid-chat. I assume because he smashed his phone after spanking it too hard. Or because he took it in the shower against its will.
It would be remiss of me not to talk about 50 Shades of Grey while discussing sex in mainstream media. I’m going to overlook the romanticising of controlling, manipulative, stalkerish tendencies – which seem to be deemed acceptable in male leads when they’re accompanied by flowers and a free yacht – and focus, instead, on the good stuff. For those of you who aren’t familiar with 50 Shades, it’s written by E.L James (her pen name). She read the Twilight books, became obsessed, read them again immediately started churning out 50 Shades of Grey. She described the books as her ‘mid-life crisis’ and had written about ‘all her fantasies and that’s it’. That honest simplicity, I think, is the key to her ginormous success practically overnight. She wrote about her desires, which, it turns out, are similar to the desires of 35 million other people who bought her books between 2011-2019. That’s not to say chains and whips excite everyone but it is about a man who actively goes out of his way to put the woman’s pleasure before his own and gets off on that. There was a huge gap in the market lying dormant for too long. Too embarrassed to call out to be filled, and when she filled it, women around the world rejoiced. Finally, they could see their sexual desires represented in mainstream media. Finally, women had porn written for them. Finally, women could see that it was more than okay to put their pleasure first by speaking up. And, despite occasional gags, BDSM is built on communication. Christian asks Anna what she wants, he talks her through what’s happening, he makes sure she feels comfortable to speak up if she wants him to stop, and he listens. Communication is the key to his BDSM Red Room. In fact, it’s key to everything. Particularly good sex. But not too much, like naff X-rated audiobook guy. Of course, there are many women and men alike who aren’t fans. Many male friends of mine reacted to it with embarrassment, unused to women being so overtly into a film about sex. And there was a big turn-up of noses at the writing. I see where they are coming from. At one-point, Christian crashes a helicopter and comes out of it without so much as wrinkle in his pristine shirt. It’s not Shakespeare. But in this circumstance, we don’t need Shakespeare. We need Shagspeare. This isn’t a calling for a revolution in GCSE exam-worthy prose. It’s a calling for female sexual liberation and for guys to get on board with that. And I may fancy a retro cartoon fox but Caliban from The Tempest just doesn’t do it for me.