If you’re looking for more casual sex, whether it’s a fuck-buddy relationship, a same-night hook-up, or just no-strings attached sex, you’re going to have your work cut out for you. The level of cultural conditioning that we’ve received – women and men – is difficult to unravel and work through… even when you know it’s there. There are a large number of women who want a casual hook-up but feel uncomfortable pursuing one because of social opprobrium, even in 2013. Women are continually subject to messages of denial and shame when they step out of the traditional gender roles of sexuality and this directly affects their relationships… and yours.
(As the official NerdLove Celebrity Patronus Dan Savage has said many times, part of why American culture’s so screwed up over sex is that “Canada got the French, Australia got the convicts and America got the Puritans”.)
So what can you do about it?
Understand That Women Want Sex Too
As far as advice goes, this seems like a “duh, George” moment if ever there was one. But one common sticking point I’ve seen over and over again is accepting the idea that women are as much sexual beings as men are. All too often, guys have a hard time expressing their desires or even wanting to admit that they have them. They often see their own sexuality as problematic and assume that women are naturally going to be offended by it because they’re so much less animalistic or base than men, or that they have different needs. Except it’s not true; women want to get laid just as much as men do and for the same reasons. Sometimes they want emotional intimacy or to feel desired. Sometimes they’re bored and it’s something to do. Sometimes it’s a way of proving something to themselves or to others. And sometimes they’re just horny and want to fuck.
Accepting that women are sexual beings, just as men are, is an important part of being able to relate to them sexually and to be able to communicate with them. It’s not a negotiation or trade of value for value, it’s a collaboration; you’re both interested in something that’s fun and feels good, here’s what you both bring to the table, are you interested?
A major impediment to women’s sexual interest is social. A woman who expresses herself sexually is branded as a slut or a whore; a woman who has too much sex – for suitably random values of ‘too much’ – is seen as worth less or “damaged”. All too often, if a woman is overtly sexual, society is quick to assume that there’s something wrong with her or that she’s doing damage to herself; almost every hand-wringing article about “hook-up culture” in colleges worries about how these women are ruining their future potential. Strippers and escorts, so goes the common assumption, are only doing their job because “daddy touched them” or they have unspecified “issues”. Amanda Knox’s sex life (**Gasp** she bought a vibrator! She had one night stands!) was used as “proof” that she was mentally unhinged and thus a murderess; even after her acquittal, she’s forced to justify her sexuality to the media. Even women who simply approach men rather than waiting for men to make the first move are shamed for aggressively pursuing what they want.
One of the sexiest aspects of a modern man is someone who can accept a woman as she is without judgement. It’s fine for her to be the aggressor; it feels good to be desired. Whether she likes to be overtly sexy or not doesn’t speak to the quality of her character, nor does it imply anything other than “she likes to feel sexy”. It doesn’t matter if she’s had one partner or many; it’s only important that she’s into you.
Fight Back Against Rape Culture
I’m a big believer in enlightened self-interest. It’s good to do the right thing just because it’s right… but sometimes it’s worth noting that doing the right thing is good for you as well. Case in point: Want to get laid more? One of the key reasons why women aren’t as receptive to casual sex as men are is because of the risk to their physical safety. Part of the solution then, is to help build a world where women can feel safe. When harassment is brushed off as “he’s paying you a compliment” or “boys will be boys”, when a rape victim is almost always automatically blamed for her own assault and someone drinking, hanging around with men or is dressed provocatively is seen as “asking for it”, we’re fighting against our own interests. The tolerance, acceptance and even normalization of rape and rape culture all contributes to a world where women are in danger just by virtue of being women. Speaking up when someone is being harassed, calling out rape jokes and bad behavior, supporting women even in the face of being dismissed as a “white knight”, even something as simple as practicing and encouraging enthusiastic consent are all ways of pushing back against rape culture.
Be An Ally
Yes, I’m advocating being a feminist ally because it’ll help you get laid. Remember what I said about enlightened self-interest? It applies just as much here.
Guys get caught up in the myths of feminism and the idea that it’s about taking something away from men – as though privilege is a zero-sum game. Feminism isn’t about hating men or putting men into a submissive role or taking over the world. It is – as the famous quote goes – about “the radical idea that women are people too” and treating them accordingly… and that helps men as well.
There’s a phrase in feminism: “The Patriarchy hurts everyone.” Every time a man laments that women won’t make the first move, he is lamenting the gender roles that the patriarchal system enforces. Every time he wonders why women aren’t as interested in sex as men are, he’s staring down at behavior enforced by the entrenched structure. Every time a guy is given shit for acting queer, called a fag or is told he’s being a little bitch, he’s being punished for acting outside of the strict definition of “MAN”.
These are all things that feminism is trying to change. Fighting back against the “traditional” definitions and restrictions of gendered behavior frees women and men.
And it helps both men and women sexually. One of the most important victories won by feminism was the right for women to control their reproduction. The introduction of hormonal birth control was a critical factor of the Sexual revolution; when women were able to have sex without the risk of pregnancy, it opened up the world to them. Not only were they able to embrace education and careers without concern about their lives being interrupted by pregnancy, but it also enabled them to pursue relationships – casual and otherwise – with a freedom that they didn’t have before. The conservative push to roll back all of those hard-won victories will directly affect men just as much as women.
The adage that a rising tide lifts all boats applies to equality as much as it does to finance. Helping work towards equality and social change is in your own best interest.
And besides: allies are sexy as hell.
Harris O'Malley provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr. NerdLove, as well as writing the occasional guest review for Spill.com and appearing on the podcast The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen. He can be found dispensing snark and advice on Facebook and Twitter (@DrNerdLove.)
Dr. NerdLove is not really a doctor.