A notice on gender and sexual orientation
The following guide uses woman to indicate people who were born with (and still have) a vulva, and were raised “as a woman”, and man to indicate people who were born with (and still have) a penis, and were raised “as a man”. The author chose this wording because most people with this background identify as such.However, patriarchal behaviour patterns such as toxic masculinity and its counterpart, toxic femininity, are deeply unconscious, and especially tenacious with sex and love: Queer and non-binary people often either keep much of the gender role in which they were raised, or switch to the opposite gender role, in the good and bad sense. This text is therefore applicable to people of all sexual and romantic orientations, and all genders, such as intersex, trans and non-binary people, in that woman and man can mean “person who mostly acts in a way which most people have experienced or expect from a woman / a man of their cultural background”.
Many straight or bisexual men in a straight relationship complain about the following:
“I am afraid that my girlfriend/wife doesn’t enjoy sex the way I do. During the act, she usually seems quite disinterested which makes sex less and less fun for me, too. Afterwards, it is – almost always – me who has to initiate the next time, apparently she doesn’t miss it if it doesn’t happen.”
A woman, who rarely initiates sex, or shows few or no desire signals during sex, indicates to her man that does not find him sexually interesting.
This indifference, however, nearly always happens because she is sexually inexperienced. Either she has not had sex very often yet, or her former sex encounters and/or romantic relationships happened with men who were likewise inexperienced and could not show her something that she found sexually pleasing.
Most women, however, play their part in staying sexually inexperienced even after different sex partners, and thus have lukewarm or unsatisfactory sex indefinitely: Hardly any woman has sex with people that she doesn’t find somehow attractive. So, a woman usually finds her chosen sex partner / boyfriend / husband sexually interesting. The reason of their indifference is instead rooted in the fact, that most women are raised in the social role “woman”, a set of behaviour patterns that produce toxic femininity (the counterpart of toxic masculinity) in everyday life. One of these false beliefs of the social role “woman” states:
Women do not have sexual desires of their own.
As a consequence, most women learn to subconsciously suppress any such feelings in order to be “a good girl” and thus avoid constant negative reactions (also termed slutshaming) from their social environment.
One way of achieving this are physical suppression mechanisms. Women are told to “put their legs together”, which is not just a figure of speech. Every person who nearly always sits or stands with their legs together develops constantly cramped muscles in their feet and thighs that press on the nerves which transport sexual desire. Another typical posture of women is crossing one leg over the knee of the other to present an attractive pose. This supports the suppression in that it mutes the nerves in the lower back, leaving the genital area practically numb (and creating back pain in later years). A woman who has gotten used to these postures from an early age onwards, doesn’t feel when she starts to get sexually aroused – it only breaks through once she is already desperately horny.
At this point, the psychological suppression mechanism takes over. A woman who communicates in an honest way that she wants sex right now, usually receives immediate negative feedback: From patriarchal men who are intimidated by her self-confidence, or patriarchal women who trade sexual availability against attention, and who are never as “easy” as a woman who seeks sex for her own desire.
Subsequently, women learn to avoid saying directly when they are horny, and wait for another horny person to initiate sex, who will hopefully pick the right moment, when she is also feeling it. This also results in women playing games and social codes that revolve around getting sex, but avoiding slutshaming. The rule seems to be: Put enough bait out there so that the right one bites, but do it in a way that other people do not bite you.
Over time, both suppression mechanisms together produce what is called responsive desire. A woman with responsive desire has completely stopped feeling any sexual arousal by herself, and only feels her own desire after another person has touched her sexually. This is different from asexuality in that an asexual woman doesn’t feel sexual arousal even after such sexual touch.
So, most of the time, she just doesn’t feel it, and when she does, she doesn’t say in a way that is clearly understandable. If she has responsive desire, she may even never seem interested, although she is actually in the mood.
Additionally, suppressing your sexual desire produces a bad mood. A woman who is suppressing her sexuality will often feel tired, aimless, sad, depressed, frustrated, or angry, without being able to pinpoint the cause for her feelings (If she can think of a cause within a minute, her feelings are a reaction to that, and have nothing to do with her need for sex): “I don’t know, I’m just having a bad day”. A cliché example is the anxious 1950s housewife. Unfortunately, this fuels a vicious cycle: Her bad mood will finally mute any sexual arousal that somehow made it past the physical and psychological suppression mechanism, creating an even more bad mood in the process.
Due to this suppression, most women experiment less with their body and sexual fantasies than most boys and men, and thus achieve a good knowledge of their sexual preferences only in their thirties or later, including issues which have become clear to most men since the beginning of their own puberty, for example, which kind of touch on their body and genitals is pleasant and which is not. This, in turn, leads to a woman who does not communicate her sexual wishes even during sexual encounters – either because she does not know these herself, or because she fears – in hasty prejudice or from sorrowful experience – that the guy might slutshame her for that.
In sum, her behaviour creates a deeply unfair situation: In order to make sex happen, the man nearly always has to initiate sex. For the man, this translates to frequent rejection (When she doesn’t feel it, and therefore doesn’t react to his banter, or when she communicates her interest so indirectly that he mistakes her reaction for disinterest.) and constant self-doubt (when she allows sex to happen, but stays vague). He can never know for sure why he got lucky this time, or if she actually likes what he is doing. Since most women are used to being pursued, and receiving sexual innuendo – to the point where it is actually annoying – many women have trouble imagining how confidence-draining it is when nobody expresses a clear interest. Hence, they don’t understand why the man complains about their indifference, or why he retreats and becomes emotionally distant because he feels unwanted or unloved.
All of this originated in the fact that she was raised in the social role “woman” and is therefore mostly unconscious and not chosen. Unfortunately, many women actively perpetuate this unfair situation from there: An inexperienced woman often expects from her sex partner / boyfriend / husband to already know what she wants without telling him, because he apparently seems to have more sexual experience. The prejudice is not entirely wrong – being brought up in the role “man” has left his sexuality mostly intact – however, he has only gained more sexual experience with his own body and anatomy. With a female body he is, in all probability, much more clueless than the woman herself.
When she discovers that, she is usually disappointed that her guy cannot show her something exciting. Therefore she “lets him do his thing” passively, or pretends to have signals of lust or even an orgasm in order to “get it over with”. Secretly, of course, she will be angry and project this onto other activities of their relationship which also gives her the perfect outlet for her bad mood. Meanwhile, her man must get along without any information on her needs and desires, or with scraps of (often wildly incorrect) knowledge from porn, which naturally guarantees a future of (more) bad sex.
As a woman you can leave this destructive spiral as follows:
Begin with a thought experiment: Pick someone with whom you have or had sex repeatedly, choose a timespan (last week, a month, etc.), and think about the times you had sex. How did each of these times start? Who talked dirty, asked or touched whom? Since ambivalent communication produces a problem, only explicit approaches are valid. You can imagine the following: If a third person had been standing next to you, would they have noticed how you initiated the sex that followed? These are the ones to count.
If you clearly initiated at least 40% of your sexual encounters (e. g. 4 out of 10 times), everything is fine. You can jump to taking responsibility for your desires during sex (point 3). If, however, the rate is more skewed in his direction, because you initiate sex far less often than he does, you have a toxic femininity dynamic going on, which has probably already poisoned your connection / relationship, and will continue to do so if you don’t change anything.
1. Physical suppression
Start by unlearning your physical suppression mechanisms. If you sit somewhere, anywhere, check your legs. Do you sit with crossed legs? Uncross them immediately and put both feet on the ground. Straighten your back while you’re at it. This will enable your lower back to pass on sexual arousal. Next, observe in the same way when you sit with both feet on the ground, but are pressing your knees or thighs together. Start by opening your legs and spreading a little. Continue this until you sit with relaxed, open legs. As long as there isn’t anyone who needs the space next to you right now, even manspread. This will reduce the tension in your feet and thighs.
In order to avoid unwanted attention in a patriarchal environment, you may have to rethink your choice of clothes for this endeavour. Do you often wear something that permits a good look on your underwear once you sit with your legs open? Ditch it for work or other public tasks, and only wear it if you are directly looking for someone to have sex. Skirts or dresses that go over the knee are useful covering clothes, also dark leggings and trousers. This will actually reduce men pestering you in public because transgressive men are intimidated by a woman who is sitting straight (“I’m not bowing down for you”) and is filling her space (“This is my space, not yours”), and will rather pick a woman who is sitting “like a lady” as their next victim.
Fully unlearning these ways of sitting takes years. However, if you apply these changes every day, you will feel results after a few weeks. You will notice that you have less “bad days”, that you can focus better, and that you get more stuff done because of it.
If you combine this approach with regular massages of your feet, thighs and back, which take care of remaining tense muscles, this effect will be even better. You can do massages on your own body, ask or pay someone else, or request from your sex partner to give you massages during foreplay.
This is the main reason why sports such as gymnastics, yoga, and pilates are so popular among women: They open and stretch precisely those tense muscles. However, if you want to use such a sport for losing your physical suppression mechanism, you have to do your training and get used to a new way of sitting. Otherwise, you’ll spend a training session opening your muscles, but the whole time until the next workout to make them tense again.
You will also discover that you get horny more often, sometimes even in an inconvenient situation. If you are surprised about the frequency, remember: You always wanted sex this often. You just stopped recognizing the feeling, and instead got a bad mood.
If you encounter people who notice your new way of sitting, and try to shame you for it (“Women don’t sit like that.”, “Not quite ladylike”, etc.), don’t listen to them – even and especially if they are members of your family or friends. They have just revealed that they are fans of the patriarchy and that they will not support you on your quest to become a healthy woman. Prepare a few sentences by saying them out loud in front of the mirror: “I like it like that.”, “Do I know you?! Mind your own business!”, “Nope, not changing a thing.”, or whatever you can think of. Don’t engage in further conversation with strangers (leave, if necessary), and demand a change of topic with family or friends. If certain people keep bugging you, although you told them to stop, consider how much you want them in your life, and reduce contact accordingly.
2. Psychological suppression
Next, turn your attention to the psychological suppression mechanism. Do you have someone to have sex regularly? If you are in a relationship or married, this is straightforward. If you are single, apply the same techniques to your next hook-up, booty-call, or date. And regardless what your relationship status is, remember: A wank a day keeps the psychiatrist away. Treat bringing yourself to orgasm or giving yourself pleasant touches as an act of mental hygiene. Your mind also needs a wash from time to time.
Whenever you feel horny, approach your sex partner at the nearest opportunity and tell them in no uncertain words. If you don’t feel confident to do this, practice in front of the mirror: “I would like to have sex right now”, “You look hot. Let’s have sex”, etc. If you have consent to just touch them, do that, and wait for their reaction. You will feel a kind of inner resistance, or an unreasonable fear (something like “My face must look weird”) the first few times you do this. This is your internalized patriarchy speaking. Go against that, and do what you wanted to do. These feelings will diminish and eventually vanish with practice.
If all of this sounds too direct to you, think about nonverbal ways in which you could – undoubtedly – signal your desire to your sex partner. Is there a special piece of clothing you could put on? A book to put on the table? A meme you could send to their phone? A coded sentence you could say? Collect a few ideas like this and jot them down.
Next, approach your sex partner with these ideas: “I’m trying to be more initiative with sex. I could wear / say / do this, to show that I am horny, and that I want you to touch me. What do you like best?” Agree on a message that you can do in private and another in public. The important part is that you have discussed this method before you try it, and that it is crystal clear to your sex partner which message means what. If you don’t do this properly, the method is useless since you will still communicate your desire in an unclear way.
If you make dissolving the physical as well as the psychological suppression mechanism your daily practice for months, you will be rewarded with slowly increasing feelings of arousal and sexual desire during masturbation and sex, together with easier and more satisfying orgasms.
3. Responsibility for your desires
Now, that you feel your desire more often, and communicate it clearly, there is still one patriarchal pattern left: Take responsibility for your desires and wishes not only before, but also during sex.
Therefore, do not expect from your male sex partner that he is better versed with a (for him) unknown, female body than you, who has been living in such a body for all your life. You always perceive best what feels pleasant or doesn’t, therefore it is also your responsibility to communicate these perceptions and wishes. Thus – say something if you find his movements too firm, too gentle, too quick, too slow, too deep or not deep enough. It is important that you do this verbally, in clear, unambiguous words! Your sex partner / boyfriend / husband will not notice different volumes of moaning or sounds of breath, or if he does, he won’t understand correctly what they mean, if you did not provide a translation to him before.
One trick to reduce misunderstandings about your wishes is the following: Put yourself in his perspective and tell him exactly what he should do:
|“Not so fast!”
||“Uh! Keep it like that.”
||“It hurts! Please stop moving.”
||“Put your hand on … and do …”
Try starting sex by doing a masturbation technique that you like while he is pleasuring you. It’s quite unfair to expect foreplay as solely the task of the active sex partner, instead, split it 50-50, or at least 40-60 between you and him. Of course, this doesn’t mean that he can drop his part. Tell him which touches or techniques turn you on, which are okay, but boring, and which you don’t want him to do.
If you do not yet know what makes you horny yourself – no problem: By recalling the things which didn’t feel good, you can slowly discover, what remains and does feel good. Be it from inexperience or because you are trying out something new – take your time in order to find your optimal conditions:
- Position your arms, hands, and legs until everything lies comfortably.
- Place yourself on cushions or rolled up covers with your head, back, belly or pelvis.
- Sit or kneel in a way that your feet are relaxed.
- Support your feet with a table, a stool or the wall.
- Ask your guy to hold your legs, or put them onto his shoulders.
Don’t get stressed: It is entirely healthy for your body to need a few seconds to adjust itself after a change to new conditions, before you can feel arousal and desire again. Therefore, wait a little after each change, in order to realize whether the situation already fits. If not, you can try out the next change. Everything is allowed that feels good for both of you.
While male desire comes in an unbroken exponential curve, female desire moves in waves becoming larger over time. With much sexual experience, these waves change and meet in the middle. Therefore, if something feels rather lukewarm for a few seconds, don’t worry – the next wave of desire is, in all probability, already on its way. If, however, something feels lukewarm for longer than half of a minute and doesn’t become better, you can try the following solutions (depending on how you feel):
- Slightly shift your position.
- Use or add more lubricant.
- Wipe over parts that are too wet (as this can cause insufficient stimulation)
- Suggest changing speed
- Suggest changing depth.
- Change to another sex position entirely
- Touch or rub yourself to enhance pleasure.
A likely result of your experiments will be that you don’t orgasm by penetration alone, but only if your clitoris gets direct stimulation, be it with fingers, orally, with a toy, or by rubbing against something. If this is a surprise to you because you have seen women come by penetration many times in movies or porn and you wonder whether something is wrong with you or your partner, don’t worry, as you have fallen prey to a very common sex myth:
Women do not orgasm with their vagina, but with their clitoris. The most sensitive parts of the clitoris lie outside the vagina, around and below the visible clitoral head. Only a minority of women is able to orgasm just by penetration, because an inner part of her clitoris has grown into a lucky position and is reached by penetration.
Therefore, find out how you can stimulate your clitoris well, while your guy adds other stimulation (fucks your vagina, pleasures you orally, fingers you or stimulates your anus). Some women can do clitoris stimulation best with their hands, others have more fun with a vibrator. In any case try different vibrators, with varying strengths or patterns of vibration (soft, strong, changing, etc.), in order to find out with which you can have the easiest orgasm. Don’t aim at having the best orgasm possible, this will only put you under pressure and diminish the intensity of your desire and orgasm as a result. Keep in mind the basic principle of engineering instead: First make it work, then make it work better.
Experiment with the possibilities any time something feels uncomfortable or boring. Ask your guy for a short break in his movements, or that he should give you more freedom of movement. Briefly explain to him, however, what you are intending (“Wait a moment, I need to move” / “I need … etc.”), so that you are on the same page, and that he can, if necessary, help you by handing you something, adjusting the cushions, etc.
If a sex encounter or a new variant did not work out as you imagined, try it again – possibly under altered conditions, which might make it work better (more time, another place, with the help of sex toys or lubricant, etc.). There is no reason why you should not play with your clit when penetration is over and/or that you ask your guy to stimulate you further. If he has come too early, or you just want more, it is also a good way to bridge his refractive period until he gets an erection again.
Men, due to the social role “man” in which they were raised, easily think that they must always perfectly “man up” with a woman, even if they are with a woman like you who does not care about that. By unmistakably asking him to continue, or for a next time, he will know that you still find him attractive, and you both have the chance for a further attempt, which you can enjoy without stress.
A gentleman will be considerate and take his time with your wishes and your experimentation, and perhaps try to help with careful suggestions. The more frequently you have sex, and play it by trial-and-error, the faster you will find out which techniques and positions are pleasant to you, and the faster you will be able to adjust yourself to them next time.
When you know that certain things turn you on, tell him not only during sex, but also during everyday situations, what you would like him to do (again) – or what would be a waste of time, because it simply doesn’t work for you. Again, tell him exactly what he should do:
|“That time was really good.”
||“You make me so hot when you do … Could you please do this every time we have sex?”
|“You never do …”
||“Could you try … the next time we have sex?”
|“Fine! For you!”
||“This doesn’t do anything for me, but if you like it that much, I’ll do it for you on occasion.”
|“I don’t like that.”
||“I don’t like it when you do … It actually diminishes my pleasure. Please don’t do it again.”
Look at what you have already done together, but also draw on your fantasies during masturbation, sex scenes, erotic stories, and / or porn – and involve varieties that you do not know (yet), such as BDSM or sex between women. Even if you don’t find such scenarios super hot, you will definitely come across some new varieties, techniques, or words that turn you on.
The reason behind your preferences, if you know it, is not relevant: Sex is like food – everyone has their taste. Turn-ons for others may be uninteresting to you, and vice versa. Ask your sex partner / boyfriend / husband again in this direct way, and try some stuff together.
At first sight, a sexually inexperienced man who wants to help you enjoy yourself, but simply does not know how yet, is difficult to tell apart from an intentionally ignorant man, who doesn’t care about your sexual pleasure and who is only out for his own satisfaction. If you apply all these measures, you will be able to recognize without doubt which of these two types you have encountered.
For this reason, it is a very bad idea to pretend to have signals of desire or to fake an orgasm. With an inexperienced man this is an ineffective strategy: He will then remember how he “got you off”, which, in reality, was no fun at all, and will repeat exactly these techniques the next time you have sex. And with an intentionally ignorant man it is as if you praised a dog for shitting on the carpet: He will think that his lack of interest is sufficient and might behave even more inconsiderate next time.
You have encountered an intentionally ignorant man, if he:
- Does not react to your feedback.
- Agrees, but then continues without changes.
- Tries to persuade you to already discussed unwanted contact or varieties: “Don’t be so complicated …”
- Just continues unwanted contact or techniques although you have already stated on multiple occasions that they are not pleasant for you.
Should he bring one of these reactions along, best stop the sex and demand fair play. If he is just insecure, and asks what this is about, explain to him clearly and without offending him, what you wish him to do. Should he, however, show no willingness to learn and prattles instead, get up and out, even if he is your boyfriend or husband. Better an open conflict, after, when he has really listened, you might have better sex than lifelong bad sex.
Small medical excursion
If you feel pain during sex (for example, itching, burning or stinging), this is a clear indication of your body that you have an infection in or on your genitals. Let a doctor look into it.
Unfortunately, because of stereotypes against women in Western medicine, there are some doctors who, after only one examination, label pain during sex as a “psychological” or “psychosomatic” problem. If your doctor describes your problem with these phrases after the first check-up, change the doctor! In this context, these are specialist speech for “I have no idea what causes the problem, but I cannot admit that”. Pain during sex actually can have psychological causes, like subconscious fears or past traumatic experiences, these can, however, only be recognized beyond reasonable doubt if all physical causes have either been eliminated or successfully treated.
No doctor can correctly diagnose a genital infection or even psychosomatic problem at first guess! You can tell a professional doctor by these methods:
- They assume several different illnesses,
- They send you to other specialists (a specialised laboratory, doctors of other disciplines) for further tests before settling on a diagnosis.
- They suggest different drugs to treat the condition, including alternative medicine.
A little-known but not rare gynaecological problem, by the way, is vulvodynia, which causes pain either inside the vagina and/or outside at its entrance – without a current infection. Vulvodynia can occur as a consequence of repeated past infections with bacteria or fungi, or as a symptom of a current infection with HPV.