Sunlit Water

May 31, 2014

Concepts I Hate

Filed under: Sex — by teofilo @ 10:38 pm

The aftermath of the Isla Vista shooting has led to a lot of welcome discussion of gender relations, misogyny, and the idea among many lonely, resentful young men that they “deserve” sex with women of their choosing. I think the underlying concept in the latter is what I would call “Sex-as-Prize,” and it joins two other conceptualizations of sex that I also hate and have been thinking about for longer: “Sex-as-Conquest” and “Sex-as-Performance.” The former is pretty closely related to Sex-as-Prize, but with the difference that it involves the assumption that (in a hetero context) the man will pursue the woman actively with the goal of having sex with her, regardless of her initial opinion of him. It’s all over romantic comedies and so forth, and shades rather obviously into rape. Sex-as-Prize is similar but the assumption is that the man doesn’t even have to put in the effort of pursuit; the woman will just fall into his lap as long as he’s a Nice Guy or whatever. This is also fairly common in the media. Sex-as-Performance is somewhat different, and less obviously gendered, but still quite widespread. You see it in stuff like the idea that being “good at sex” is a quality someone (usually a guy, again in a hetero context) can acquire as an independent quality not tied to the preferences of any particular sex partner. I think it finds its most extreme realization in strip clubs, where there isn’t even any actual sex, just performance.

I hate all three of these concepts, for what I hope are obvious reasons. I don’t have as pithy a term for my preferred way to think about sex, but it’s basically just that it should be fun and both parties should be totally into it, without all the other baggage associated with the other concepts.


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