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Can’t we bang already?: Balancing social narratives & individual choice.

February 22, 2012

I met a couple dudes over the weekend. Ok. Not true. I met one dude, and I already knew the other one. Now, I’m not sure how I feel about either one just yet, and I only bring them up to make some larger points.

Basically, long story short (when do I ever really do that?), my interactions (and lack thereof) with these guys made a few kinda clear. Or, rather… re-established a few things that were already abundantly clear.

  1. I would prefer to live in a society where asking someone “hey, you wanna just bang?” would be not only acceptable, but perfectly normal.
  2. I strongly dislike waiting around for the banging. Vagina Brain says CAN HAS NOW PLZKTHX……[five second pause]…..WHY HAS THE BANGING NOT COMMENCED?

Now. This entire thing actually (strangely) comes back around to what we’ve been discussing on Project X, namely as it pertains to narratives. This is really an example of how narratives operate in our daily lives, and not just around serious shit like sexism or racism or homophobia or privilege (to which, naturally, my VB declares “since when is getting some not serious??”).

They affect how we date and engage in relationships, too.

First off, I need to say that the rest of this post lands solidly within my thoughts on hetero-relationships. In my experience, a whole ‘nother set of narratives surround lesbian relationships and sex, so to attempt to keep it simple and short(er), I’m sticking to the heteronormativity. I know that’s kinda lame, but otherwise we’d be here all day. As you can see with just this paragraph.

Where was I? Oh right. Banging requests.

It’s kinda not really all that super-acceptable for me to just ask some dude if he wants to bump uglies already (and there’s another one – since when are our private parts ugly??). That can, actually, backfire, and it sometimes ends in some running towards those hills over yonder – or in assuming the bumping = relationship-ing. Moreover, even if I don’t straight-up ask, but we end up getting down n’ dirty (is it a “dirty” act really?), he may bail for no other reason than we had sex. For serious.

Why? Well, narratives that tell us the right way to have both 1. relationships and 2. le sexy times.

First, those on relationships: The Rules say you shouldn’t have sex so quickly, because the appropriate way to engage in intimate relationships with others is to date, and date, and date, and date some more (Vagina Brain would like to state, for the record, that this is unacceptable) until you enter into a committed monogamous relationship. First comes love, then comes marriage… Having sex too early in this process is a no-no. And, bee tee dubs in case you were wondering, NSA sex or FWB sex never works so don’t even think about it. Or, rather, it actually ends up in a committed monogamous relationship (thanks for the reality check Hollywood!).

Second, narratives on sex: Basically, Good Girls Don’t. Women should withhold sex from men because men just want sex and if you give it up too early,  how else do you know if a dude likes you? Make him wait, that’s what a Good Girl does. Moreover, how does a dude know you’re not all Slutty McSluttyPants if you have sex too soon? Because, duh, being all Slutty McSluttyPants is bad – guys don’t actually like Slutty McSluttyPantses – again, because Good Girls Don’t so clearly not “good” – and they certainly don’t enter into the Right Kind of Relationships with SlutPants.  They just use McSlutties for the sex, then throw them away.

In addition, sex is just inherently more emotional for women. We say we can handle NSA sex, but we really can’t. Dudes, they have no problem. They can have all the non-emotional sex they want. And also, us ladies don’t really be liking the sex anyways. We just do it for the relationships. Oh, and the babiez. SO the only way sex is ok, and isn’t the girl just getting used for all the sex the dude wants but she doesn’t (not really), is if you manage to wrangle them into the emotional sex/commitment!babies! – so, duhhhhh, make them wait for it!

Furthermore, sex is kinda shameful (hence the “dirty” act of “bumping uglies”) so god forbid we talk about it or have an honest conversation or you know, just. have. some. sex. The conversation makes us uncomfy (because, thanks Society!) and it seems too serious. Too much. We don’t actually talk until we’re in relationships, right? Moreover, anyone else notice how much pressure we’re all under about the sex? Don’t have it – but if you do, make sure you’re a porn star! 

So. Yeah. Those would be some narratives around sex and relationships.  And, NO, I don’t fucking buy that shiz for even a second – BUT other people readily do. Maybe it’s the other people I wanna have some sex with. Maybe it’s the other people those people will talk to, and they will make the people I hump feel bad about the humping.

I think it sucks, but that’s the Society we live in – these are the narratives we live with. Can we and should we be working to change it? Abso-freakin’-lutely. I think that’s a big part of what being sex positive is about – changing all that bullshit to be less about cultural constraints and more about honest dialogue and personal choice.

However – there’s a line to walk here, and sometimes, like it or not, things have to be handled carefully (are you listening VB??).

An e-mail in response to a mini-vent of mine regarding the lack of, er, interaction with these dudes (basically straight from Vagina Brain – I take no responsibility) reminded me there is a reason we have things like narratives (and clichés and stereotypes): They help us navigate the world. Putting people in boxes or categories help us understand our communities and where we stand in them. This is kinda important for how we exist and interact, how we view ourselves in relation to others and the world around us.

With respect to this particular example, that e-mail response reminded me that there is some importance to having some patience and chilling the F out – perhaps not because that’s what Society expects from me, but more importantly because not everyone is like me (in fact, I’d hazard a guess and say most people are not). Most people need some time to get to know someone before they feel comfortable taking the next step  – as an individual choice and not because Society says so. Moreover… might not hurt me to get to know someone a lil better, too (anyone remember T-Bone?)

But it’s a balance, a compromise. Yes, narratives (and clichés and stereotypes) serve a purpose, but they also usually get all out of hand and become harmful to members of a society. They start to stigmatize people into specific categories that are not positive, and to ignore individual differences. They work to rationalize or excuse providing or withholding privilege to or from specific groups.

They make it so I can’t just. have. some. sex. with a willing partner, because he/she may have hang-ups that have nothing to do with what they want, and everything to do with what Society tells them is acceptable.

Yet it’s also not about a pendulum swinging to another extreme. It’s about finding the balance between societal and cultural constructs that are not true or helpful, and true individual choice and comfort.

We can learn to find that balance by 1. being self-aware, and really thinking through what it is we want from life; 2. being culturally aware, and constantly working to ascertain what we’re being told is correct (vs what we know from being self-aware, right?); 3. avoid putting stereotypes and constraints on other people; and, of course, 4. listening to and believing others when they are honest with us (e.g. if I say I just want some NSA sex, don’t assume I really want a relationship because that’s how Society tells you to interpret my words. Please).

This is how narratives may operate in our daily lives and how we interact with people. This is why, even if you don’t really want to care or think about serious things (*AHEM* – augh. you give me a sad), these things still actually do matter to you. They actually are a part of your daily life.

Whether you want to accept that and work to understand it, well, I suppose that is up to you.

Me, I’m going to learn some Patience. It be a virtue.

That…. and watch a lot of porn.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2012 2:14 pm

    So, you’re a slut. Cool. Despite the narratives, men like sluts; we just don’t usually want to have a “relationship” with them. I quote relationship because an ongoing, casual thing centered on sex is a relationship, just not the kind that ends up sharing bills and closet space. 😉

    • February 23, 2012 4:22 pm

      “Despite the narratives, men like sluts; we just don’t usually want to have a “relationship” with them.” Let’s unpack that a little…

      First, I actually think the narrative is “men like sluts, but only for the sexy times, they don’t really care about them” – would you say that’s *also* what you mean here? Just checking.

      Second, agree with your use of quotes around “relationship” – also agree that these are still relationships. Personally, I’d like to see us all acknowledge that any time you begin something with another person, no matter what the terms, that’s a relationship. Of course, that does not equal “commitment” or “monogamy” or whatever else – those things are terms that all parties involved agree upon to enter the relationship (or should – I get that not everyone is up front about what they want, need, or will accept, etc). However, the point still remains that entering into a relationship, the other person(s) is/are deserving of your respect, honest, and communication. If you are not willing to give those things, you should tell the other person and they can decide whether or not to continue the relationship (whatever that is) with you.

      Of course, this is in my ideal world. No kidding. But wouldn’t that be better?

      Now, back to your comment. Personally, I look at it this way: to say “men only like sluts for X type of relationship and not Y type” I have to wonder about that. I understand this is the narrative, but that just pigeonholes all men into using sluts for sex, and all women who like to have casual sex as sluts somehow undeserving of Y relationships. I know that isn’t explicit, but isn’t that the underlying stuff? (I’m really asking that as a question). And that’s not really that awesome – plus, it means people make assumptions about one another and the relationship right off the bat. What I mean is, when I enter into something casual, that’s as far as I get: this is what it is now. I don’t make assumptions about the other person. Could it be someone I want more from later? Sure. Could I decide I can’t stand them after two days? Absolutely. It’s just I want the sex now, is all. I feel like this distinction, that I feel this way, is only allowed for women – but at the same time the reaction is “that’s nice, but the dude will never think of you other than a slut” which I find to be bogus. I think men can or at least should think further than that. I think I should be allowed to as well.

      Am I making any sense?

      • February 24, 2012 9:21 am

        “First, I actually think the narrative is “men like sluts, but only for the sexy times, they don’t really care about them” – would you say that’s *also* what you mean here?”

        I’d have to say that this is sometimes true. Not always, but the slut does set herself up to be just the booty call.

        “Personally, I look at it this way: to say “men only like sluts for X type of relationship and not Y type” I have to wonder about that. I understand this is the narrative, but that just pigeonholes all men into using sluts for sex, and all women who like to have casual sex as sluts somehow undeserving of Y relationships.”

        Putting “deserving” in it adds a power dynamic and judgement that, while present in the narrative, isn’t necessarily present in reality. “Unsuited” might be a better word with no judgment attached to it.

        I’ve seen it before. A guy gets attached to his slut and tries to have a “normal” relationship with her – and then freaks outs, either expecting her to change or distrusting her. It normally ends poorly.

        • February 24, 2012 2:52 pm


          OK to the first point: why is it that the woman “sets herself up to be the booty call”? Why is it not both parties determine this relationship to be about booty calls? Moreover, do we and can we care about people we have booty calls with? Are “booty calls” bad? Does it infer something disrespectful or shameful? And why is the dynamic always negative for the woman and, perhaps, positive for the man?

          I mean, in general, isn’t this how we view a NSA sexual relationship, and I ask why that is. I personally think it’s due to narratives and social constructs around sex and men and women. I don’t accept those constructs and would like to see them change.

          To the second point: Why “unsuited”? I mean, I can understand it in some regards. For instance, I am currently unsuited for a relationship beyond NSA sex – BUT the key is not because I am unworthy of respect or trust or some other aspect we ascribe to other relationships, but simply because I am not looking for that right now (and that could change, of course). The critical piece is understanding why we as a society deem people “unsuited” for certain things: we deem women who engage in sex more often or quickly are “slutty” and therefore unsuited, when, really, all of us have the right to have sex how we want to as long as we have enthusiastically consenting partners. It’s not when/how we have sex that makes us “suitable” dating material – it’s who we are as people, and how we connect with other people, and what we both want that makes further commitment/traditional dating relationship. A person’s choice of when/how to have sex has little to do with that – but we act like it does.

        • February 24, 2012 3:46 pm

          It’s the woman because, in modern society, she sets the limits and expectations.

          Are “booty calls” bad though? No. No honest exchange between people is bad. They’re not a lasting relationship in the normative sense though and they rarely successfully transition into such and, on those occasion when they do, it’s normally because one partner or the other, usually the woman, had been “settling” until then.

          As for “unsuitable” – Don’t ascribe value judgements to that word. You’re currently unsuitable for monogamy. I’m always and always will be unsuitable for it. You “date” and I have two “wives” and may end up with more. Being unsuitable for normative monogamy is nothing more than that, just as a fish is unsuitable for flying or a lap pet.

          Are criteria for both sexual and emotional relationships are core criteria for a suitableness for dating and long-term relationships. If we’re outside the accepted norm, we’re not really good matches for those who find comfort within those norms.

          You’re not going to change, or at least I hope not. I’m not either. Why should we expect the masses to do so?

        • February 26, 2012 9:39 am

          I have to argue with you on the woman setting the tone on all relationships. Of course there are situations where she does (and lawd knows there’s all this “literature” – thanks Cosmo I hates you – on how to “trick” a man into commitment) but I’d be there are plenty of women out there who would beg to differ. There are a lot of women who play along with what they think a guy wants in order to maintain *something* with him. And, of course, the idea that you have to “trick” someone into something is a little bit about him having control or something too…

          I think all these situations are crap. It should be a mutual decision, with everyone bringing to the table what they want and a willingness to compromise or think outside their pre-conceived box as the relationship progresses – and be honest and communicative if they want something new.

          Anyway. As for your larger point, I think I was missing what you were saying a little because I was talking from a general-masses standpoint, and I think you were talking more in both of our personal perspectives. I think that, in a more general sense, people attach judgment to “suitable” but I agree with you in the context you’re using it.

          I guess I don’t expect the masses to change, but I would like to see everyone open up and realize the judgment they attach to words, the narratives they use that aren’t always reality. I would like to see people more willing to allow each to their own, than to try and force us into the boxes they go along with – and to realize they don’t *have* to go along with them. The boxes are much more about cultural narratives than something that is “normal” for ALL human beings.

  2. February 22, 2012 3:28 pm

    Patience …eh?

    It is all about finding that balance. The balance between what we want, need and can accept.

    Hope the patience thing will work out for ya… and the porn… 😀

    • February 23, 2012 9:12 am

      Yep – the balance. The world does not, actually, revolve around me! Who knew! 😉

      (The porn helps. Me, at least. Not gonna lie).

  3. February 22, 2012 6:13 pm

    Well, I’m a big fan of patience. For sex and life in general.

    But it is possible to find someone(s) who think exactly the way you do — let’s bang yesterday! — although I suppose that ironically takes some patience, too.

    • February 23, 2012 9:14 am

      Ha! True story… I am not a big fan of patience, but I understand why I need it and it’s something for me to work on. We all have those things, it’s one of mine.

  4. February 23, 2012 1:13 am

    This post is extremely well written, but I’m afraid that I have to disagree with your conclusion.

    Personally, I feel that what is right for me is not having sex until marriage. I expect I’ll save a lot of time by not getting into relationships with men who don’t share those beliefs. I don’t have to marry a virgin, but I will be one. There’s nothing wrong with that and I might argue that it’s an improvement in many ways.

    • February 23, 2012 9:21 am

      Hi Singleton!

      I think we should each make our *own* decisions about our lives, which include our sexual selves. Choosing to abstain, in this day and age, is a really difficult choice, and I stand up and applaud you for making that choice for yourself. To me, given all the pressure we’re under to have sex (just in *this* way) makes choosing NOT to really hard – and, to me, it means you are a very self-aware and strong woman.

      See, being sex positive *does not* mean “everyone have some sex now!!” It actually means “everyone figure out what kind of sex you want, and then do that – with willing partners when appropriate!” That includes supporting and celebrating waiting AND/OR celibacy.

      So, in my view anyway, I think we’re more alike than would seem on the surface. We both want lives that exist outside cultural norms, but we embrace them any way. In our differences regarding sex, we actually prove that sex does NOT belong in a box that we all attempt to conform to, but as a personal choice. Period.

      Of course, that means that statements about what is “better” really don’t work. My views are clearly not an improvement over your own for you – just as your decisions would not work for me. It’s not about what is an “improvement for all of us, but what is best for each of us as individuals and to support one another in the choices we make.

  5. February 23, 2012 12:50 pm

    Thank you for that response. 🙂 I’m used to being put down for this choice so your comment was a refreshing change.

    In my last paragraph, I meant an improvement for ME, although some studies have suggested that those who abstain are less likely to divorce. This may just be because those who abstain are religious and less likely to divorce in the first place. I wasn’t trying to imply that it was an all right rule, although I’m sorry if that’s how it came across.

    • February 23, 2012 2:51 pm

      I’m glad my response was refreshing, but it bums me out that you get shit for your choices. I mean, we get shamed for being “slutty” and we get bad-mouthed for being “prude”. I definitely get push back from people who don’t like my choices, or would rather see me defined by my choices – and I am sure you experience the exact same thing: people can’t see past your personal choice to abstain. It’s shit and I don’t like it from either side.

      Yes – we are in complete agreement in terms of your last paragraph. It’s all about what is an improvement for each of us individually, *despite* overwhelming cultural pressure on what we *should* be doing. It really is a difficult choice to not bend to that pressure, and it takes time and self-awareness to look inside ourselves and determine what is best FOR US. Most people don’t even do that – so naturally I think you’re awesome because you clearly did.

      • February 23, 2012 8:07 pm

        Thanks for that! 🙂 You seem like someone who always has a witty retort handy. What should I when someone says something negative about my choice to abstain? I’ve tried ignoring them but that doesn’t work.

        • February 23, 2012 10:09 pm

          Before I forget, I’ve tagged you in my latest post!

        • February 24, 2012 4:45 pm

          Hey thanks love! 😀

        • February 24, 2012 4:43 pm

          Ha! I wish I always had a witty retort! Remember, I can wait to reply online until I think of something. 😉

          Honestly – I don’t have a quick response when someone looks at me negatively. I guess I look at it more as a litmus test. Those who will judge you, will judge you – no matter what you say to them. However, there may be those that don’t really know what to say, and may say something wrong/naive – but you can still talk to them. So, you know, engage people in why you choose to wait, why it’s important to you. You should remind them that being sex-positive is NOT about everyone having sex, it’s about individual choice. If they believe in birth control, they should equally believe in your choice to wait. They should care far more about why it is important TO YOU and that you took the time to think it through, than anything else. I am sure they may scoff, and tell you something awful (like you just need to get laid already = ew) but remind them that they’re being very judgmental, and do they not believe in personal choice?

          See, I think of it as a litmus because the people I want near me would listen, and would be respectful. The people I choose to engage in intimate relationships certainly better be. This is a great way to see people biases real quick. You know?

          That’s probably not all that helpful on the day-to-day… but keep reminding yourself you are doing what is right for you.

  6. February 26, 2012 12:57 pm

    Hi. First-time visitor to your blog from Cleveland, OH. Saw a comment you made on Blunt Delivery and decided to click through. I enjoyed reading this post.

    It’s interesting comparing relationships of today to those of the past. I’ve been married for 10 years and can’t even imagine what the dating world is like these days. I know, from my buddies who are single, that’s tough. LOL…the whole should I text her, call her, e-mail her, tweet her or Facebook her discussion.

    But as far as the sex, I think sometimes people think that they have to be having sex in a relationship. It’s not required and there’s no rush. But I’m a realist too. People want to bang, just like you said. Just be safe and do it when it feels right.

    • February 27, 2012 9:35 am

      Ha! Yeah… I have no idea if The Rules got worse, if we decided to finally question The Rules, therefore making everything more complicated or what… plus social media! so dating can be a bit rough. Or complicated. Even when it shouldn’t be.

      Basically, dating/relationships/sex should be what you point out: be safe, do what you want when it feels right – and when you have enthusiastic consent from your partner. Honesty, communication – those are key. That’s it.

      *le sigh*

  7. February 27, 2012 7:20 am

    If only you were a child of the 70’s. These things wee a lot simpler then it seems. Free loves sex and drugs. I get what you are saying but don’t these decisions have a lot tot do with the other individual and the agenda that evening? But a lot of times the ones I wanted I did have to wait for, and the patience….but not all.

    • February 27, 2012 9:39 am

      Yep – that would be my point: it’s not just about *me*. Yes, there are societal norms/narratives that constrain/alter/dictate our behavior sometimes, but we are also individuals and not everyone is ME and has MY thoughts. I can’t possibly say I’m all that sex-positive if I tell everyone they need to be like me. Because they don’t.

      I can, however, wish more people questioned those societal norms and spent more time being self-aware and asking what it is they really wanted, not what they were told they should want. You know?

      PS Thanks for the shout-out in your recent blog! I am thinking up truths and lies! 😉


  1. No Expectations. « Women Are From Mars

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