Thursday, August 9, 2018


A fork and knife walk up to a pair of chopsticks. The knife asks, "So... Which one of you is the fork?" Image source.

[content note: NSFW, talking about sex]

So I recently watched a sex-ed youtube video called How to Orgasm during Penetration [NSFW]. The woman in the video, Eva, first talks about "sexual scripts", which is a concept I don't think I've heard before, but WOW it is incredibly useful. She begins by saying that only 4% of cis women orgasm from penetration alone, so you shouldn't feel like there's something wrong with you if you don't orgasm from penetration. And then:
So the other thing is that the reason why you might feel weird or abnormal is because of these things called sexual scripts. And we have this script around what sex is supposed to look like. And that it should be focusing around PIV [penis-in-vagina]. That if it's not doing that, then it's not real sex. So that means that our sex-ed focuses on PIV, that means that all the movie sex scenes that we see focus on PIV. So, people who have vulvas, who are socialized as women, don't really get taught that our pleasure should be a priority or what sex can look like that can involve our pleasure.
Oooooh, I am SO HAPPY to have stumbled across the term "sexual scripts." I have been thinking a lot recently about how difficult it's been for me to even figure out what sex is, feeling like I don't even have the language or concepts to try to figure it out. Because of my purity-culture background, and because I'm asexual.

But yes, I believe "sexual scripts" is the word I've been looking for as I've been realizing that everyone has different beliefs or assumptions we just picked up subconsciously about what sex is. And, for those of us who choose to have sex, don't we all have to go through the difficult process of figuring this out, sorting through the cultural ideas we've unconsciously absorbed, getting to know our own bodies and our own desires? Why haven't I found people talking about this? Is it easy for everyone else, and it's just confusing for me because I'm asexual? Or what?

Let's talk about this script that says PIV sex is the regular, default kind of sex. We absorb this idea from our culture, even though no one actually explicitly says "PIV is the regular, default kind of sex." It's more indirect than that. And so we don't realize we've bought into a script, don't realize it doesn't have to be this way, and that leads to us believing other bizarre ideas about sex. For example:
  • Kids in purity culture reason that they are "technically still a virgin" if they do other sexual things (hand job, oral sex, anal sex, etc) besides PIV. Because those don't "count" as sex. I also did something similar to this, as part of my journey out of purity culture. I was willing to do other sexual things A LONG TIME before I was willing to do PIV. 
  • Straight people are totally baffled at how same-sex couples have sex, and ask invasive personal questions about it. (Uh, don't do this.)
  • We prioritize men's pleasure- as if a man getting an orgasm during sex is right and normal and of course that should happen, and a woman getting an orgasm is sort of an extra bonus thing that happens if you're lucky.
So what would be a more healthy, reasonable view? Well, I guess this: All forms of sex are valid, and the only important thing is what you want and what your partner wants- not what society thinks is the "normal" way to have sex. And also, it's totally fine to not have sex. Or maybe to prefer cuddling instead of sex. Etc.

Right, that all sounds good in theory, but how does one get to the point where they actually feel confident saying "I like [blah] instead of PIV"? You'd first have to know your own desires. You'd have to convince yourself it's okay to ask for what you want, and that you're allowed to have sex in a different way than the "normal" way. You'd have to know and trust your partner enough to believe they'll take it seriously- that they'll care more about what you want than about the "correct" way to have sex- that they won't think of it as "okay, because I'm so open-minded and accepting, we'll do sex in this other way just to humor you" but instead they'll think "well OBVIOUSLY we should have sex in the ways that me/ my partner want, nothing unusual about that."

Because, as I see it, it's great to talk about how each partner should communicate about what they want and what they're willing to do, and come to an agreement based on that... that all sounds good in theory, but the reality is that this is all going to be heavily influenced by their idea of what's "normal", and there's no way to avoid that. Everybody starts with some baseline of what's "normal", and then maybe if their desires are too different from that, they'll feel like they shouldn't have those desires. Or they shouldn't say them out loud. Or they shouldn't do them. Or maybe, if your partner expresses a desire for something that's not "normal", you might feel like "I am such a good partner for going along with this even when it's not normal; they are lucky to have me"- and the farther it is from your idea of "normal", the more appreciation you feel they owe you.

Here's an example. I often ask my husband if he's okay with me masturbating. And he is; his understanding of "normal" is that people masturbate and there's no problem with it at all. I *know* I don't need his permission or anything like that- I don't need to ask- but still I feel a little guilty. Because purity culture taught me that masturbating is sinful. It's cheating on my husband. Nobody should ever ever masturbate. And so that's my baseline for "normal". Even though I don't believe those things anymore, I subconsciously use them as the standard to measure my own behavior.

Imagine my surprise when I recently read some erotica with a dom/sub relationship, where the dom says "you're not allowed to masturbate when I'm not here, you're not allowed to come without me." Like, the idea that your partner owns your body and you're not allowed to masturbate is a kinky dom/sub thing, rather than just the default baseline for a healthy marriage (as I was taught in church). And in the context of a dom/sub relationship, it's just a game. If it's fun or exciting for you to play that game, go right ahead. But everybody involved understands it's consensual and they're free to stop at any time- and "stop" means reverting back to "normal", and "normal" means that everybody owns their own body and of course they can masturbate if they want, it's nobody else's business.

(By the way, phrasing it as "my husband lets me masturbate" is CREEPY AND WEIRD.)

See what I mean about having completely different understandings of "normal"? And yes, of course the first step is to realize "it's okay if what I want is different from 'normal', there's no shame in that, there's nothing wrong with me." But that's not enough. Because we still use "normal" as the starting point to compare ourselves to.

What if I thought "wow it's so kind and sweet of my husband to let me masturbate" or "it's great that he's so patient with how long it's taking me to figure out PIV, because I'm asexual" and therefore I shouldn't really expect I have the right to ask for more "not normal" things. Like, he's already allowed so much outside of "normal", how could I possibly ask for more? And... no, I don't really think like that. But maybe subconsciously I kind of do?

People always talk about the importance of communication and consent. And yes, of course those things are necessary, of course you need to communicate with your partner and only do stuff if everyone involved is consenting. But it's harder than that. We also need to examine our sexual scripts- what do I expect sex to be, what do I think is "normal", what do I think my partner "should" do or expects me to do for him? Because that underlies all the communication and consent. Your understanding of "normal" is going to affect your willingness to admit your desires to yourself, and to say them out loud to your partner. Your understanding of "normal" is going to affect what you consent to, what you're willing to do for your partner even if you personally aren't super into it, how you feel about it when you consent. Even though you know that "normal" doesn't mean you have to do it that way, that there's nothing wrong with you for wanting something not "normal." Even so, "normal" still affects us.

So that's what I'm trying to do. Figure out what sexual scripts I subconsciously hold, and try to replace them with healthier ones. Try to make a new "normal." But it's difficult. I've been doing this for several years already and still barely feel like I know anything.


Here's a really interesting article about sexual scripts related to male pleasure and female pain: The female price of male pleasure


You asked and I answered~ In my 2018 Reader Survey, one of the top 5 topics you voted for was "sex." Hence this post. :)

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