I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, because I’ve not yet cultivated an interest in Twilight inspired fanfiction. Nevertheless, I am really fascinated by the massive response the book has garnered. Almost every woman I know who has read the book ends up gushing about how amazing Christian Grey is and how they want a relationship like his and Anastasia’s. I’ve read enough about the trilogy to garner that Mr. Grey is an extremely dominant man, straddling the line between caretaker and sexual master. What seems to be his appeal is his confidence. He knows exactly how to turn Anastasia on and he does it effortlessly. Anastasia doesn’t have to communicate her desires to Christian because he just knows. While it would be cool to not have to spell out things for our paramours, it’s extremely unrealistic and unfair to your partners to expect them to have telepathic power.
Female sexuality still isn’t nearly as discussed as male sexuality.There still seems to be this ridiculous notion that young women don’t actively enjoy sex (even Lady Gaga has propagated this) – we just passively engage in it to please our partners. There are still few representations in the media of women who are assertively sexual. For every Sex and the City, there are approximately 9 million stories about hypersexual dudes. As Entertainment Weekly pointed out a couple of years ago, there still hasn’t even been a movie about high school girls who really want to get laid before graduation, even though we see the same story from a white male perspectively approximately every year and a half. And on a more grave note, you have serious political outrage over women having affordable access to contraception (which has made it so much easier for women to be sexual without consequence). A male lawmaker even likened it to a terrorist attack on par with 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. Essentially, ladies as sexual beings is still sort of taboo.
What all of that means ultimately – guys aren’t inundated with messages about the ways we’re able to get off, so when guys are kind of hesitant, it’s probably out of nervousness and a sincere desire to be a good lover. I mean, of course it’s really not hot for someone to inquire every three seconds “Is this okay? Do you like this? Can I do this?” but I think it’s very reasonable for them to ask broader questions to get a sense of our boundaries and our preferences. It’s not like once you hook up with one woman, you’ve hooked up with us all. Going back to 50 Shades of Grey – I’m fairly submissive, but if a guy tried to pull a Christian Grey and control what I eat, wash my hair, or put money in my bank account…I’d be pretty freaked out, but I just as easily could throw a stick and hit a woman who would find all of that charming. Sexual preferences can manifest themselves in so many different ways. While there is something to be said about perceptiveness and intuition, there’s no way a relationship can rely solely on that.
The bottom line is – relationships take effort. I know that voicing what you want can be difficult, and maybe even annoying, but it’s usually worth it. As women, we’re not always socialized to be assertive and vocal about what we want, so sometimes it seems like a way bigger deal than it actually is. There are definitely ways to make expressing yourself flirty and sexy – sending suggestive texts/emails or taking on a more dominatrix-y role in the bedroom, for example. When you communicate, you’re making an investment in the quality of your sex life. I don’t want to imply that there’s anything wrong with wanting a guy to take the reins, but really, even if you take on a submissive role, you have to be actively engaged in the process to get the most out of it.
[lead image via Cora Reed/Shutterstock]