Okay, so I sort of abandoned this blog for two weeks or so. I didn’t mean to! But I was doing another show (a one-woman-play written and acted in by a very close friend of mine, which was utterly brilliant), and then it was the end of term and I had to finish my dissertation, and then I found out that my application to direct a play next term had been accepted, so I immediately had to finish writing the script and start holding auditions and trying to get funding for that (which, by the way, we still don’t have). All in all, it has been an extremely manic few weeks, and I haven’t really had a chance to sit down with my laptop and write. Oh, and speaking of my laptop, I spilt tea on it a week ago, and it now kernel panics a couple of times a day, which means I am constantly losing work. (It just did it again now.) But despite all that, I have feminist sex positive things to say (and then that gender post to write). So here goes.
The threesome I had in mind, that I mentioned a while ago, did not happen. And I am pleased that it didn’t happen, because the cute thesp guy (who has assumed the pseudonym Caelius) was clearly confused and uncertain about a lot of stuff, so that when we talked and he gave me a polite but firm ‘no thank you’, I knew that it was probably for the best. He is still lovely and a great friend, and I’m pleased that we even got to the point of considering it. But that’s not the point of this post.
The point is, my method of asking someone out, whether it’s for coffee or a romantic dinner or a night of passionate casual sex, is notably direct and forward. There are ‘games’ that women are meant to play when it comes to this, that you see in ever sit-com or drama or romantic comedy. The ‘playing hard to get’. The ‘do you think he likes me?’. The ‘I can’t do that or I’ll look like a slut!’. One of my friends has a formula: she’ll fall for a guy, go out for coffee with him, then refuse to talk or contact him in any way, because ‘then he’ll just think I’m desperate! Besides, I don’t think he likes me in that way’. The result? She gets a lot of coffee-dates with nice men, who she rarely sees again, because she never contacts them, and even if they contact her first, she’ll play it so unbelievably cool that it looks like she has no interest in them whatsoever.
If that works for her, then fine, but it sure as hell doesn’t work for me. My first words ever to Alexander were: ‘Hi, I’m Electra’s crazy ex-girlfriend, and I’m quite tipsy and having a really rough night, so if you wanted to take advantage of me I totally wouldn’t say no’. (As it happens, he politely refused this offer, and it wasn’t til a week later that we ended up in bed.) My standard pick-up-line if I’m in a bar and have been dancing with a girl I like is usually ‘I think you’re gorgeous, and I would really love to take you home’. And one of the reasons Leander and I get on so well is that when we ended up cuddled on a sofa after a truly exhausting day, even though we didn’t know each other that well, we had the following exchange:
Him: I’m sorry if this sounds really inappropriate, but are you and I going to end up having sex at some point in the next few days?
So you see, my methods are not exactly subtle. And while it certainly doesn’t work every time (I propositioned Caelius with similar directness), and I’m not saying it’s right for everyone, it tends to suit me well. I don’t have to play games of pretending I don’t like someone when I do, of mentally censoring myself so I don’t appear too promiscuous, of trying to send secret signs with body language rather than simply saying ‘I think you’re awesome and incredibly hot’. If you add to that the fact that I talk about my sexual opinions and experiences as openly in real life as I do on this blog, this gives me a certain reputation. And I don’t mind that, because while I would never want anyone to feel awkward or pressured because of what I say, I don’t want to waste my time trying to sooth people who would be ‘scared off’ by me and my attitudes towards sexuality. Which is why the following story pisses me off so much.
I was in the theatre bar (where, it seems, I spend the vast majority of my evenings – G&Ts for £2.20!), and Caelius was there, as was his friend Atratinus, who I have also flirted with a bit. Atratinus has a reputation in the theatre for being (and I hate this term) a ‘man-whore’. This is probably because he appears shirtless in almost every play he has ever been in (and he does look great without a shirt), because no one actually knows anyone who has actually slept with him. Not that this means anything, or even that it would be a bad thing if it did, but over the years I have got the impression from him that he likes to pretend he’s a lot more experienced than he actually is, because he likes the attention. Again, just my opinion, and certainly not a bad thing. But we’re in the bar together, and somehow we end up talking, and I say something mildly flirtatious (because that’s what I do), and he laughs and tells me he knows what happened with Caelius. And I shrug and smile and say it was his loss, and that’s the end of it.
Except then Atrantinus tells me I’m too forward. That I scare guys off. That I throw my sexuality around to the point where everyone thinks I’ll sleep with anyone and have no standards, and of course no guy wants a girl like that. That I’d have had more luck if I’d been subtle. That Caelius doesn’t like forward girls. In short, that if I wasn’t such a slut, I’d have a better chance.
Granted, he didn’t actually say the last part. But it was heavily implied. And it made me furious. Because okay, we were both a bit drunk and we’ve never got on hugely well, but that attitude is one I contend with every day, and genuinely upsets me, even now. As women, we are taught that all men want sex with all women all the time, and that they never want to commit. Using that logic, any guy would be thrilled to have a woman come up to him and offer him no-strings-attached sex. Except when that does happen (and it does – I do it), there’s suddenly this implication that there must be something horribly wrong with this woman. She must be damaged, or desperate, otherwise she wouldn’t be offering something that she’s supposed to hold back until the last possible moment. And why would anyone ever want to sleep with a woman like that?
I don’t mind that Caelius turned me down. In fact, as I said at the beginning, I’m pleased he did. I’d much rather that than if he’d put himself in a position where he was uncomfortable. But I mind that anyone could think I was wrong to ask. I mind that there are still people who feel that I need to play those ridiculous games to be taken seriously, that I am less desirable because I am clear and honest about what I want. Surely any girl who has the confidence to ask directly for sex is more likely to be confident while actually having sex, which leads to more enjoyment for both partners? Or maybe not. Maybe guys like Atratinus don’t want a girl who knows what she likes in bed, because they’re scared about not being able to live up to it. Maybe they want coy virginal girls (or girls who act coy and virginal) because it’s less threatening, and a girl who is too shy to proposition a guy will be too shy to tell him that he’s not meeting her needs, so he can go on believing he’s fantastic.
I’m sorry, this probably comes across as bitter. And it’s not Atratinus’ fault that what he said hit me so hard. It’s a struggle I face every day as a sexually confident woman, as more and more people tell me that I’d just get along so much better if I hid this side of my personality and pretended, at least initially, that sex means nothing to me. But being honest about my preferences and desires has improved both my sex life and general well-being exponentially, and I’m not going to stop just because some people are scared off by it. Because I really do believe that more honesty means better sex all round, for everyone, and that’s something that’s worth the occasional insulting put-down.