Friday, 17 August 2012

Sex: Drive, Initiation, Foreplay and Dialogue....

For all the literature, all the free porn, all the primarily patriarchal hype around sex that suggests men are always up for it, and women are often claiming headaches, I would suggest that most women have a higher sex drive than men. This sexually omnipotent and carnivorous man, twinned with a nurofen’d up, limp woman, is a myth. One increasingly divorced from reality. I can only speak for the women I know, and they vary in age, circumstance and background. But they are all more sexually driven than the guys.
But that creates its own problems – namely that it is assumed the woman is raring to go.... Alongside the sex drive issue, I’d also suggest that there is a prevalent and underlying norm of the man as “initiator” of sex. Yes, there are plenty of articles in Cosmo suggesting you surprise your man in a Mac and nothing underneath, or blindfold him at dinner. But in my experience, men rarely like surprises. And whilst those female instigated sex sessions are fun and spontaneous, they aren’t considered the norm. If they were, we wouldn’t be told to try them out – they’d already be common parlance.
The problem with the man as initiator of sex, is that it takes him significantly less time to be ready for action. And if he’s initiating, he’s probably been thinking about it for a while, so he’s already gee’d up. And the woman might be completely unawares. And therein lies the rub. The man is already nearly at the finish line, and the woman hasn’t put her trainers on. I’m not talking about how long a guy lasts here. I’m talking about the actual act of sex. And yes, I’m sure it happens the other way around too. But I’d hazard a guess that that’s less frequent.

I would suggest that in the same way a man takes it where he can get it when he’s single, a woman takes it where she can get it when she’s attached. I can hear some women and men reeling at this as they read it, but hey ho ;-) It's just a theory. Which leads the man to think she’s always up for it and ready to go, when really, she still needs all the foreplay she used to get. I’m not including quickies here – well up for those, and often something rather hot about being bent over the sofa at a moment’s notice (let's hope the boyfriend's mother isn't reading this post!). I’m also well aware that this isn’t the case for everyone – I know there are plenty of women who experience a decrease in their sex drive, as well as men; plenty of people who aren’t really all that fussed about sex, etc etc. So I can only go on the experiences of myself and my friends.
I think we also suffer from a modern day feminist problem – men have been encouraged to make sure the that the woman’s needs are taken care of, or to put it another way, to make sure she comes first. Which can sometimes lead to a “getting it out of the way”, for want of a better phrase. And that is something to be avoided at all costs. Foreplay isn’t the woman’s orgasm. It’s all the stuff that leads up to it. The stuff that gets her panting for you to venture downwards and then go about making her come.

And so I find myself coming back to the question for the couple in a long term relationship - How do we keep the foreplay up? Tracey Cox would suggest you place his mouth on your nipple and say “I really like it when you do that”, removing his hand should it venture between your legs until you’re ready, and so on and so forth. But do we really want to have to ask further down the line? How do we educate? And more importantly, are there things we’re no longer doing to or for them, that we used to? How will they tell us? How do you find a happy medium between the quickie and the 4hr sex sessions you had at the beginning? How do you communicate that you’re turned on and still fancy them, but that you also still need warming up?
I’m not sure I have any answers. But I think it’s something that we don’t speak about, and we should. There’s a culture of talking about every delightful gory detail with your friends, when it’s casual sex, but people rarely talk about the ins and outs (I can’t help it) of sex in a relationship when they’re with their mates. It’s not a done thing. Probably for good reason, I hear my boyfriend wail as he reads this.

But it strikes me that that is the wider issue. Are we only happy to talk about sex when it’s good? I’ll be honest, I doubt I’d write about a lack of sex if there was one. I doubt I’d write about it if the sex was awful. Maybe in a comedy sense, but certainly not in an honest, “let’s talk about this” blog. Obviously we talk less once we’re with someone because there’s a privacy element – I get that, believe it or not J But it strikes me there’s still a gap in the market – somewhere between the agony aunt pages, Ann Summers parties, and deafening silence.
A friend once said that when a relationship is good, sex is 10% of the equation, and when a relationship is bad, sex is 100% of it. I think that makes a lot of sense. It shouldn’t be the be all and end all, but it is what makes the difference between a friendship and a relationship – it’s pretty important. And it deserves more honest and open dialogue. Not just within a couple, but amongst friends, within society as a whole.

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