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!
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Oh Sasha, sadly neither the term “mansplaining” nor the actual experience of it is new to me. And that porn example he used? I have no words.
Women have one huge advantage over men. They have easy access to meaningless, casual sex. Men ….. they have to work very hard or just get lucky.
Naturally — this difference rounds to zero. When people crave something more like love. Like more men than you think — even though that in relationship space, the L word is almost as taboo as the N word.
It is beyond the scope of this comment — but the latest trend in porn is not porn. Exactly. The cam girl sites are not like anything else. Anytime sex and commerce are combined, there is some awfulness. But it is much more civilized and humanized than anything in the past.
And a fairly safe way for men to learn about themselves, explore, experiment, and learn about women in ways that simply didn’t exist in the past.
As far as women — they are systematically disintermediating men from the management of sexual commerce.
I find traditional porn (99.5% anyway) unconvincing, boring, and stupid. I suppose I may have unusually vanilla tastes. The cam thing — different.
At the very least, men will get a bit of a clue about female anatomy and maybe realize that 10 minutes is more of a minimum than a maximum.
Tom, Can you unpack this? “As far as women — they are systematically disintermediating men from the management of sexual commerce.”
So you are saying that the cam sites are more educational about female needs in sex than traditional porn? If that’s true, that’s interesting. What a Martian would learn from watching porn would be a type of sex that is not at all pleasurable to me, and most women, I suspect. There is a huge need for sexual education about how to touch a woman, female sexuality and its power.
“What a Martian would learn from watching porn would be a type of sex that is not at all pleasurable to me, and most women…”
And I would add to that, most men.
The cam girl sites are large and there is a great deal of variety between the girls (women). The girls run their own ‘rooms’ and compete for male customers. A surprising number of the most popular rooms have very limited or no nudity. Maybe surprising because it isn’t zero — but perhaps 5% of top sites involve minimal nudity.
I don’t want to over sell the notion that this is highly progressive. However, there are no men (on the site I prefer), and the only orgasms, real or fake, are female. There are a non trivial number of lesbian customers also.
The most remarkable aspect, in my opinion, is the extent to which men develop ‘virtual’ attachments to a particular woman and have some sort of virtual relationship. You can feel a hunger for meaning, bonding, love.
The very best stuff feels like serious performance art. The worst? It’s there also.
With more and more internet porn of all varieties, the outliers continue to get worse and also tend to get publicity. However a huge part of the business, somewhere in the middle, is getting more personal and human.
Let me know if you want further unpacking. I am hesitant to make a general recommendation to experiment with this — in the same way that I would not give a teenager a pack of cigarettes.
Funny. Thanks for this unpacking. I have seen those cam-girl-ads and wondered what goes on, never really investing the time.
I agree with you that men’s experience of sex gets much better too when they attune with women more.
Oh Sasha, I’m so glad you were on this panel! If you hadn’t been, I would have felt entirely unrepresented. Or I would have wanted to jump into the conference panel myself. That wouldn’t have ended well for anyone. I can’t jump or keep my mouth shut. You spoke back so wonderfully! Here are some things I noticed that I think Mr. Klein, the title of whose book makes sex sound like a capitalist exchange, missed:
–The women on the panel were nodding while you spoke. It’s hard to say the taboo of talking and writing about sex is outside a contemporary woman’s experience when the women around you are indicating it isn’t.
–The original question was about personal experience. You can’t refute someone’s personal experience. At best, you can say yours was different. *I’m not even going to tackle the number of experiences Mr. Klein replaced with statistics, or the number of statistics he replaced with equivalencies (ex. Phillip K. Roth).*
–Mr. Klein has obviously read a lot, but there are two (fairly) recent sources that focus on the attention given to female orgasms in porn. A 1996 article on Alternet found that only 3% of the porn made each year in the US is lesbian porn. However, women who watch porn tend to watch that 3% regardless of how they sexually identify. The women interviewed said women’s orgasms were only considered in lesbian porn. They particularly liked closeups of a woman’s face during her orgasm. Robert Jensen’s Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (2007) is a tough, sad read, but it’s a wonderful book. Jensen goes to shoots for gonzo porn films. [Gonzo porn, which is now the dominant form of porn in the US, is the kind where the women experience experience nonconsensual violence.] His conclusion: The most dangerous legacy porn is giving us isn’t unconventional sex acts. There’s nothing wrong with a sexual triad that makes all parties feel loved. What porn sells is detachment from the pleasure and suffering of others. I think that’s true, and that’s why quirkysensuality is so important.
Personal request: Could there be a gimp component to quirkysexuality? I’m finding that doesn’t exist yet. Okay, I’ll shut up now.
Never shut up! We want your voice.
I will certainly consider gimp aspects. This is an evolving collaborative discussion. The book I am writing is a memoir and explores quirkysensuality through my own personal learning and adventures–and then as this topic broadens I want this to be a group exploration of what quirkysensual means. The title of the book may or may not be quirkysenual. I also have some other excellent contenders.
Have you looked at Frank Moore’s ideas on eroplay? He is a performance artist who has cerebral palsy and developed many ideas about sex from the perspective of someone who is confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak and yet he gets a lot of love. http://www.eroplay.com/
Did you see this interview I did with Frank Moore?
As a trans woman I can say that for men it’s more outcome, whereas for women more process and therein likes the rub. Pun intended. So I’m wondering if Quirkysensual is only part of the new GetQuirky since I’ve already taken the Spring edition? Maybe it’s part of the current Quirkyteam?
Hi Alexa! The next GetQuirky class will include a look at Quirkysensual–and that’s new. There will be a few other new prompts and exercises too, probably about 15% new stuff! I’m interested in the places where men and women can meet in the rub. 😉 We won’t get too technical and specific in this GetQuirky though in the future I will offer a more full-on Quirkysensual class. This is a chance to get a taste though. https://sashacagen.com/getquirky