In Defense of Misandry: Having Sex With Men Made Me Hate Men

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In her book The Case Against The Sexual Revolution, Louisa Perry suggested that modern-day hook-up culture has led women to “imitate masculine sexual practices.”

Not only does this masculinization, as Perry implies, ignore the prevalence of female vulnerability in heteronormative one-night stands, but it also supposedly presents what might be unfulfilling sex for women as if it were some sort of feminist achievement. I’ve certainly not felt my most feminist after an uncomfortable half an hour or so of rummaging around before swiftly making my excuses and getting the hell out of there. 

Certainly, there are aspects of this sex-positive culture, which has normalized the use of dating apps and the concept of one-night stands, which are arguably liberating and empowering.

For one, the idea that a woman is not and should not be limited by the presence or absence of a monogamous relationship. If she wants sex, she can go out and get it. Furthermore, thanks to the wide array of birth-control options on offer, in particular condoms, for the most part, women in predominantly Western, secular societies also no longer hold the same concerns around accidental unwanted pregnancies or the accumulation of STIs. 

That being said, is it totally crazy to suggest that, in modern-day feminism’s attempt to bolster women’s sexual privileges to the same level as men’s, certain looming biological differences between men and women that may contribute to the vulnerability of the latter in sexual settings, have been intentionally overlooked? 

Power Dynamics, Gender, and Sex

Seemingly, the construction of a narrative that seeks to convince women that casual sex is empowering necessitates this active ignorance of the greater risks a Tinder hook-up at a stranger’s house might pose to a woman’s safety more so than to a man’s.

Couple this with National Library of Medicine statistics that 30 percent of women reported pain during vaginal sex and that “large proportions” of women don’t tell their partners when sex hurts, and it seems like not only are we as women taught to ignore our own feelings of discomfort but to do so at the expense of male pleasure. 

As Debby Hebenick, a professor at the Indian University School of Public Health posits from data collected in the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour, the conclusion that arises is “When it comes to ‘good sex’… women often mean without pain, men often mean they had orgasms.”

What’s more, when we consider that in the US, almost three women are killed by an intimate partner every day, quite frankly it’s baffling that women have enough faith in men to go anywhere near them in a sexual setting. This is especially true given that on the sexual satisfaction scale, ‘while women imagined the low end to include the potential for extremely negative feelings and the potential for pain, men imagined the low end to represent the potential for less satisfying sexual outcomes,’ but never ‘harmful or damaging outcomes for themselves.’ 

If nothing else then, surely women’s engagement in hook-up culture, regardless of these risks, is a testament to the inherent value attributable to physical intimacy and female sexual pleasure. Hence the importance of engaging men to end gender-based violence against women, whilst fostering a safe environment in which women can comfortably pursue these feelings, without the high risk it poses at best of sexual dissatisfaction, and at worst…death.  

In terms of gender power dynamics, my male friend pointed out how he’d noticed that men either enjoy or are ignorant of their ability to scare women in sexual situations as a way of asserting their dominance. They do this by saying things like: “It was brave of you to come here alone. I could be a murderer or something,” a comment once made to me by a prospective partner while he was getting ice for my drink. Needless to say, I left the drink untouched and slowly sweating directly onto his wooden coffee table, next to the coaster. The damage to the table couldn’t compare to the damage done to me.

As a feminist I hate to admit it – although as a woman I feel like I should – that men’s ability to evoke fear in women can potentially lead women to perform certain sexual acts they’re less comfortable with in order to prevent a situation from becoming potentially non-consensual. This is, in part, to avoid the mental and physical implications that would entail.

Scientifically, this is most likely to occur in a sexual setting in which we don’t usually realize that our levels of anxiety are heightened, hopefully, because we’re distracted by pleasurable feelings of arousal and comforted by post-coital cuddling. That is, unless, the person you’re about to have sex with has just joked about murdering you.  

This tactic of “performative sex” can be seen as a defense mechanism in the way that women may employ certain strategies to ensure that they have an “out,” including but not limited to agreeing to sex without a condom or engaging in certain positions. To put it bluntly, sex may be unpleasant, but escape is preferential to violent rape. However, the line between consent and non-consent is blurred when coercion, safety, and risk are variables to be considered. Can you really agree to sex if you feel unsafe?

Women Can’t Win, Even If They Don’t “Put Out”

The other side of this supposedly empowering hook-up culture narrative is the rise of “prude-shaming,” applied to women “failing” to meet a certain arbitrary sexual quota. There is a rhetoric I’ve personally noticed amongst my generation (in particular, women in their early 20s) that supposes that young women ought to be sleeping or to have slept with ‘X’ amount of people to be considered a “strong independent woman” or a “feminist.” 

However, if women feel compelled to be having sex in order to meet some quantitative measure of liberated womanhood, without actually wanting to embrace hook-up culture in this way, then they can feel isolated and invalidated rather than empowered. To quote Irish popstar CMAT: “It’s not sex, it’s just stress.”.

In general, I think the over-denunciation of monogamy in favor of a certain qualitative and comparable “body count” as the only two alternative forms of sexuality can lead to a whole host of problematic, and potentially dehumanizing, attitudes towards and associations with sex, regardless of gender. 

Furthermore, I would argue that this application of a certain kind of sexually dependent feminism mirrors the post-colonial western-feminism narratives prevalent throughout much of the 20th century and continuing today, that there is only one kind of female emancipation which has come to take the form of an unveiled and celebrated female whoredom. Not only could this facilitate cultural hostility, but it is also completely ludicrous. 

From a heteronormative perspective, I’m fascinated by sex itself as a form of validation. Perhaps this is more so the case in my perception of women, given my status as one, and in my recognition of the female validation inherent in a lot of solid female friendships or networks that I’ve found myself a part of. Whether you personally find greater validation from your friends or from your sexual pursuits, and which of these comes more naturally to you, is of course situationally and individually relative. I am yet to have found anyone who’s managed to find a definitive answer to these options, although there is no reason why the two should be mutually exclusive. 

Pleasure Is Prioritized, Just Not Women’s

The search for validation that heteronormative hook-up culture arguably endorses brings us back to Perry’s idea of the unfulfilling nature of sex for women in order to guarantee male pleasure.

We see this highlighted in the way that women may feel the need to “perform sex” so as to produce a male orgasm, both as a measure of their own validation as a sexual object, and, regrettably, as a way to determine when the whole ordeal will be over. This goal-orientated pleasure-seeking is what may lead a woman to falsely believe a sexual experience has been “successful” (by whose standards?) despite it not having been wholly, or sometimes at all, enjoyable for her. 

Sex with men who make it their aim to produce a woman’s orgasm, rather than focussing on enhancing female pleasure throughout, as if male and female orgasms worked in exactly the same way, is problematic sure, but also just downright disappointing. Oh, how women love to have their physical experiences reduced to an attainable goal!

On the one hand, we may commend these men for attempting to breach the so-called ‘orgasm gap’, used to describe the significantly higher probability of male rather than female orgasm during heterosexual sex. On the other, it can feel like men view female pleasure as something to be ultimately produced at the end of a sexual experience, like a manufactured product in a capitalist economy, rather than an enjoyable if not intimate experience between two or more people.

In this way, female orgasm is treated as the destination, with little regard for the possibility that she might find some orgasmic pit stops equally, if not more, pleasurable along the way. Crucially, what these men also fail to realize, is that there is nothing, and I mean nothing, sexy about someone selfishly utilizing you for pleasure and abusing gender power dynamics to validate their own sexual proficiency. 

The worst part is, I know that the fault lies not with these men or the women they lay with, but rather the cultivation of the unrealistic ideal of what the perfect sexual male does and should be in our patriarchal-capitalist society.

Perhaps men and women ought to seek solidarity in the internalization of this destructive social rhetoric, demonstrated by men’s self-obsessed approach to sex, in which they’ve been conditioned to believe that they either must achieve their own orgasm or provoke their sexual partner to falsely shudder into theirs to deem sex as successful.

Nevertheless, it’s unfortunate that it is predominantly women who fall victim to the generational aftermath of centuries of male-constructed patriarchal rhetoric, whereas the most a man is likely to suffer is a bruised ego or teasing remarks from his buddies. 

No doubt, much of the blame for this approach can be accredited to predominantly male-directed heteronormative pornography which manages to squeeze an entire sexual encounter into a 12-minute clip that ends on the “money shot” (an authentic male orgasm.) Whereas in real life, ‘it can take a woman up to forty minutes…to be properly turned on and lubricated before penetration should even be considered’.

This pornography, as well as other sexual portrayals of men and women (although mostly the latter) either by themselves or other people, further constructs unrealistic expectations around what we should look like before, during, and after sexual intercourse. Often, as Australian porn star Madison Missina explains, “a lot of the time, what you’re seeing is the female’s body language expressing pain or a lack of consent. It’s stiff and it’s rigid.” Physical touch may not be everybody’s love language, but I can’t remember the last time I tried to convey sexual enjoyment through tense, bodily unresponsiveness. 

With all of these images of sex designed to be watched rather than felt, which those getting down and frisky may attempt to mimic, is it any wonder that preconceived notions of heterosexual sex can insight feelings of anxiety within us, and not quite achieve that emotional – or even physical – intimacy that is arguably the best part (as well as the reason we keep seeking it out, despite vulnerability and potential violence acting as serious deterrents) about sex? 

In this sense then, perhaps we ought not to blame the ongoing “sexual revolution” for unfulfilled female sexuality. Rather, we should question why patriarchal structures continue to perpetuate “masculine sexual practices” as the only socially acceptable mode of sexuality.

Although in an ideal world, we would feel empowered by our sexual experiences (be they often and raunchy or few and far between), I think it’s important to forgive women who seek to maintain their safety through unfulfilling, performative sex, and to relieve them of any guilt they may feel for doing so – especially if they felt a little bit desired at the same time.