Here’s a new word for you. “Mansplain.” According to Urban Dictionary, “Mainsplain” means “delighting in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation.” (I must thank a man, my friend Matt, for tipping me off to this word. Not all men are mansplainers, of course.)
Matt told me about “mansplaining” after I showed him this video. I was on a panel on sex and dating at Litquake Palo Alto. Usually panel discussions are collegial and tame. This one was filled with sparks of debate. The man doing the mansplaining was sex and family therapist Marty Klein, author of Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex, And How to Get It, among others. The topic was whether there is a taboo on women expressing their sexual desire, actually talking about enjoying sex.
My new book is about how I found my power through sensuality through my travels in South America and then back in San Francisco, when my eyes were fresh. It’s a “quirkysensual” journey. As I write this book, I find myself feeling how edgy it is to write about sex. I said on the panel, and you can watch in the clip, “There’s a taboo not only about women writing about sex but women having sexual desire. We have this idea in our culture that men like sex, and that women do it to please their men, or that they would rather be on Facebook. There’s something that feels edgy about being a woman and talking about enjoying sex.”
At this point, Marty jumps in to tell me and the almost all female-audience, “I’m sorry, that idea went out about 1957.” (He never explained why 1957, I’m guessing he was referring to Masters and Johnson’s pioneering research on the human sexual response.) He continued by saying, “Some women are still fighting a battle that doesn’t exist out in the real world nearly as it exists inside of them. That’s not to say there’s no discrimination out there or no retro ideals. . .”
“If you look at most porn, most porn shows women with big smiles on their faces.” Hmmmmm. . . As if smiles on women’s faces in porn is evidence that most porn depicts authentic female desire and sexuality?
As one woman Holli commented on my author Facebook page, “surveys and data and pornography made for men is NOT women’s reality.”
Later after the panel I was chatting with a male friend who had come to watch the panel discussion. He told me he had gotten kicked out of his men’s group recently because they thought he wanted to talk about sex too much. The truth is, there’s a taboo out there in the United States for both men and women to talk about enjoying sex. We live in a hypersexualized pop culture world, and yet, we are deeply uncomfortable with talking about pleasure. It’s a strangely titillating Puritanism. Our experience of sex and life is poorer for it.
An intro to “quirkysensuality”
There’s so much more to say about this. . . I want to flag the topic for you because I am going to be talking about quirkysensuality more and more in my writing and my classes. My upcoming GetQuirky class which starts September 23 will include a unit on quirkysensuality as an introduction.
Here is a clip of me talking about quirkysensuality on the panel. The essence of quirkysensuality is that we can take pleasure in our own bodies, and this kind of sensuality is essential to our vitality and glow as human beings. To hear me talk about quirkysensual, click HERE.
The next session of GetQuirky starts September 23.
We would love to have you join us!