Not an Odalisque

One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sod All

with one comment

The downsides of singledom are many. We singles have no one to drop us off at train stations, to scare away trespassing spiders or to listen to passages from whatever we’re reading right now. There are redeeming points. My sheets don’t smell like bloke and no one has yet commented on the nine pieces of crockery inhabiting the living room. There is one very big downside, though. It is a very long time since I had sex.

Sex unindulged quickly expands in the mind. It creeps into your dreams, so that you wake sweating. It pops into your head at inappropriate moments with inappropriate people. What would that woman’s breasts feel like? Or rather, what would running my hand up from her hip through the curve of her waist, and onto her left breast would feel like? Celibacy is a state in which the leg of the person beside you on the bus, touching yours, or the brush of the fingers of a cashier on your palm as she hands you your change, jolts your mind into unexpected places. Everyone you meet is a potential sexual partner, and your mind has run ahead to the taste of their tongue before they have finished saying “pleased to meet you.” Little details suddenly matter. Her lipstick is too liberally applied, I don’t want to kiss an oil slick. His nails cover black crescents of dirt, I wouldn’t want him to touch me. Then you find that someone is looking quizzically at you as you gaze at his nails, and you hope that he can’t puzzle out what you’re thinking.

The more time passes, the more desire grows. You find you’ve made a great investment in fantasy. Sex is no longer just sex, but a holy grail of experience, in which every hunger will be satisfied, rekindled and satisfied again. Sex is mindblowing and comes with a soundtrack.

The problem is that real sex often isn’t that great. Generally, it isn’t significantly better than anything I could do by myself. When I think about the last time I had sex, or the time before, or the time before that, I have to conclude that it was all rather mundane. Of the three, probably only one was worth the time spent, while during the other two I could have been much more enjoyably employed with a good book, or, frankly, a rather dull book. The best of them was an amateur lesbian who carried it through with good looks and enthusiasm more than anything else. So I begin to wonder, why is the reality of sex so far from the fantasy? It is just that Aragon and the composer for Lord of the Rings aren’t available? Well, partially, but I’ve had very good sex with men who weren’t wearing designer mud. I’ve had good sex with men whom I couldn’t honestly call handsome. So where are we going wrong?

Almost all the bad sex I’ve had has been with men. It could be all about numbers, since I’ve slept with more men than women, but I think not. Straight sex, as Dan Savage has pointed out, is cursed by biology. It is meant to be simple, obvious and natural, it has been done this way since the dawn of mankind. That’s great if you’re trying to breed, and not so great if you’re trying to have fun. Lesbians, on the other hand, don’t start off with “Insert A into B” in mind. Nor is orgasm necessarily an end in either sense. The fate of straight sex too often rises and falls with a man’s penis, so that orgasm marks the end of engagement. Not so with lesbian sex: “You had an orgasm? You want another one?” It sounds an awful lot better to me.

This leads us nicely into the other Big (and in some cases not so big) Problem With Men. Willies. Did God ever create a more temperamental creature? You do no more than lean forward or give a man a comforting hug and it’s up. You make the slightest wrong move and it’s down. Men who complained that spending time with me, fully clothed, caused raging erections enduring for hours, have found themselves unable to sustain them when they could have been useful. A girl wonders “what am I doing wrong?”, but then, there are the men who come within seconds of touching you. So which do you try to fix, being so bad in bed that little willy gives up and goes away, or so good that he… goes away? I had to eventually conclude that it didn’t have an awful lot to do with me.

Even if there is something I can do, though, men go out of their way to circumvent me. Any deception will be used to preserve their pride, even at the expense of our enjoyment. In one week two—yes, two!—men told me that they had masturbated earlier and would be unable to have sex. If I had been kissing my way down their chests or tying them to the bed this may have been useful information, but as I was, in one instance, eating dessert, and in the other, running a bath, who can tell what were they trying to say? I decided that they must be expressing a generalised anxiety about being required to perform. The most extreme example from my experience, though, was the man who had come before he’d even taken his clothes off. Poor bloke, it was the first time we had sex, and he must have known it would make a bad impression. So what did he do, come clean and admit it? No! He tried to pretend it hadn’t happened. Sex Tip: When attempting penetrative sex, the woman’s going to notice whether you’re hard…or not.

Not only do these men refuse to make any clear communications about the state of their equipment, they worry secretly about it alone. As far as I can tell, while a woman is thinking “I love you” or “fuck me harder” (according to temperament) a man is thinking “don’t go soft” or “don’t come” neither of which are exactly romantic, and, more importantly, neither of which are about me. What’s even worse is that men claim these thoughts have physical effects, so that we have to participate in a frenzy of distraction just to keep him operational.

If it is so difficult, I hear you say, then why not take a less phallocentric view and consider what else he might do? The short answer is that not many men are very good at it. Women are not that complicated. I’m fairly confident in my ability to make a woman come within a sensible timeframe (whether or not you’re pursuing that as an immediate goal is another matter)but I am constantly surprised by men’s inability to manage it. I could list any number of common mistakes: being too rough, not shaving, not maintaining a rhythm, lapping… but they all have a shared root, which is not reading responses. If a woman yelps in pain and involuntarily wiggles away, you’re doing something wrong. If she groans and clutches her pillow you’re doing something right. Avoid the former, pursue the latter. Simple. No one wants to spend their time saying “up a bit, down a bit, left a bit, right at bit, that’s it. Gentler. Not so fast. Now faster. No, back to the left.” That’s not sex, that’s training.

Am I coming to the conclusion that I should give up on men entirely? Perhaps. The problem is, I do rather like sex with men. In this drought, I certainly think about it a lot. I am holding on to the memories of the few times I have had fantastic sex with men. It has to be possible to find more like those. Send me names. Or Ann Summers vouchers.


Written by Not an Odalisque

December 29, 2009 at 11:09 pm

One Response

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  1. Sexy. To the point. && Very empowering!
    My favourite quote “Willies. Did God ever create a more temperamental creature?” I have to say, I giggled a little.
    Definetly be coming back for more.


    December 29, 2009 at 11:38 pm

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