I have a hard time expressing myself erotically. True story.
I can talk about sex. I’ve engaged in what I call “intellectual smut” for years. It didn’t begin this way but over time, these frank, informative discussions of sexuality have become familiar and easy for me. After years of reading, writing, learning and teaching I’m perfectly comfortable steering any conversation towards the subject of clitoral response or anal anatomy. These days sex-words virtually spill from my mind and my mouth – so long as the purpose is to inform, rather than to arouse.
I am an erotic person. I have sexual thoughts and desires. I ponder people, their parts and things I’d like to do to them. I think about thing I’d like done to me. I also have an amazing partner that I love, trust and really like having sex with. When you consider all of that and the fact that I’m a pretty chatty, expressive person – you’d think I’d be the dirtiest talkin’ gal in town. Instead, it’s a struggle.
I read a lot of erotic fiction. I’m often inspired to create my own stories, but when I sit down to do it, I find it’s a long, fairly uncomfortable process. I have no compunction about baring most of my body to hundreds of people during a burlesque performance Reading an authentically erotic poem for an audience of fifteen makes sweaty and tense. Even when it comes to The Man of Mans – my partner of seventeen years, I find it much easier to express my sexual desires during a matter-of-fact discussion at dinner than I do when we’re hot, heavy and in the moment.
Words. Words make it real. Words bring what is barely perceptible into sharp focus. Words turn formless lust into an acute awareness of exactly where and how I want to touch and be touched. And there is a place deep inside of me where that knowledge feels exciting and good. But piled on top of that is a bunch of vulnerability, insecurity and maybe even a little guilt.
I’m a pretty big proponent of communication in general and sexual communication specifically. My reluctance to get dirty with my words makes it hard to put my money where my mouth is. What’s that all about? I have some theories. The past few years of my life have been filled lots of sex-positive learning. It’s changed a lot of how I think about sex. However, I’m also part of a culture that perceives of sexual pleasure as inherently sordid, dangerous, offensive and taboo. Logically, I’ve largely dismissed that characterization. But my emotions are still under the influence of deeply ingrained sex-negative ideology. I’m fine with the knowledge that I want to put my tongue there. I haven’t been able to shut out that pesky voice telling me nice people don’t say it out loud.
Despite my awkward embarrassment, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to push past those feelings and get comfortable talking erotic. And writing erotic. First, because the very idea of that tongue thing is pretty hot and there’s nothing wrong with saying so. Second, because the more explicit I am about the kind of sex I want, the more likely I am to get it. And lastly, because I think being okay with down and dirty communication is key piece in building consent culture.
Discussions around sexual consent often lead to a few common concerns. One is that is ensuring a partner’s consent means a bunch of super-formal negotiations where all parties sit down and to outline the all details of the sexual encounter. Another worry is the ensuring ongoing consent. Naysayers sometime conjure a scenario where people have to stop the action every couple of minutes to ask , “Can I put my hand there? About there? What about there? How about there?” It’s an unappealing prospect for some people. I’m one of them.
But consent doesn’t have to be either of those options. You don’t have to sit primly on the couch and ask “May I please put your penis my mouth?” You don’t have to stop in the middle of fucking to say, “Sorry, I know we didn’t talk about it before but I was wondering if I could penetrate your anus digitally.” I mean, you can if you want to. But you can also lean in and whisper, “I would love it if you let me suck your cock.”* You can be skin to skin and all over each other when you ask, “How about a finger in your ass?”** Consent isn’t about ruining the fun. It’s about communicating. It seems like talking specifically and explicitly about the sex we do want to be having is a good way to avoid making people have sex they don’t want.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a pervasive notion that the ideal way to hook up is with languid body language, coy looks and a host of other non-verbal tactics. Asking for sex outright is often labelled crass and kind of pervy. So, it’s not entirely surprising to me that some people see explicit consent as the antithesis of hot sex. We aren’t exposed to a lot of dirty word-slinging and when we are, it’s rarely presented as a positive thing. I want it to be a positive thing. Emotionally, it may make me twitch. Logically, I think it’s a key part of a safer, hotter, healthier sex.
I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I think 2013 will be the year that I challenge myself to move beyond expressing my thoughts on sex. It’s time to get comfortable expressing my sexual feelings. Bring on the dirty talk!
*I got all flushed when I wrote this.
** And this.