Women shouldn’t have to be the only gatekeepers

Heteronormative disclaimer.  I’m writing from my experience as a het-, cis- woman.

Leaving aside the horrible finger analogy, I tried to follow this advice.  I really did.  I read it and disagreed with it, but I happened to have a date that very evening and thought maybe I’d give it a try.  The first date, drinks at a local watering hole, had turned into a 3 hour marathon conversation that neither of us really saw coming.  Great!  We both work in social justice to some degree, had some things in common, and seemed to get along.  At the very least, we could talk for hours without running out of things to say.  He walked me to my car, and at the very last possible minute, after me hesitating hopefully, he kissed me.  Not in the passionate, “I want you so badly” way, but in the “I’d better make this quick so that we don’t wind up making out on a busy street and how is she going to respond, I’ll just walk away after and wave” kind of way.  So, not a great start.*

Then there was this second date.  We went to dinner, talked, joked, laughed, and afterwards, went home together.  I really figured we’d talk, make out, maybe dry hump (yuck, I do not enjoy that term- partly because in my experience if I’m doing it right, it’s not dry).  So we’re sitting on the couch talking and then things progress to kissing (this time with the question being asked and answered affirmatively).  Kissing led to making out, which eventually ended up with what can only be described as dry humping (please, invent a new term and make this one go away).  Now, here’s where the problem started for me.  Making out with someone who really turns you on is HOT.  And sometimes, when you’re turned on, you want to have sex (maybe that’s just me?).  So I threw caution to the wind and decided not to follow Toni Nagy’s advice.  I had sex.

Why did I decide to have sex when I had originally planned not to?  Mostly because I am sick and tired of being expected to be the gatekeeper.  It’s a role I’ve played before and will probably play again.  It’s also a role that I’ve relinquished to others that I’ve been in sexual and relationship situations with.  It’s hard to be the gatekeeper, because even if you really want to have sex, you are expected to deny that desire, to not succumb to it.  You are expected to move hands that try to take off clothes, you are expected to shift your body to slow things down, you are expected to speak up and say, “Can we just please keep making out?” all the while wondering why the hell you thought not having sex would be fun.

The gatekeeper must deny how turned on they are, or must find a way to own that and still be fine with not fulfilling those desires.  As a woman, I find that I’m expected to be the gatekeeper and frequently judged harshly when I refuse.  I know that there are partners who have been surprised that I’m open to having sex when I have been, who have been intimidated that I’ve had more/better/kinkier sex than they have.  I know that there have been people who have decided not to go out with me again because I didn’t meet their expectations of how I should behave.  I also refuse to apologize for any of my sexual experiences.

I have had monogamous, in relationships, waited-the-right-amount-of-time sex.  I have had sex with someone I dated for nearly a year before he was ready to have sex, a period where I respected his decision and also was going out of my mind with desire.  I have had sex with people I didn’t think I wanted to be in relationships with, one of which turned out to be one of my most serious and important relationships.  I have had sex with people I couldn’t stand talking to, but loved fucking.  A one night stand confirmed for me that “the one that got away” needed to get far away and I don’t need to waste any more time mooning over him.  I’ve had sex that has taught me what turns me on and what doesn’t and sex that has helped me find out what turns other people on.  I don’t regret any of the notches on my bedpost to date and I don’t plan to start now.

Being the gatekeeper forces you to deny the very real part of you that wants another person.  That hungers for them or just for sex.  If I want to have sex with you and you want to have sex with me, then we can talk about having sex and decide together if we want to do it.  We may talk about it and decide not to.  That makes both people equally responsible for opening the gate.  If my vagina needs a velvet rope, shouldn’t my partner’s sex organs also deserve the same?  If I sleep with a guy “too soon” and it’s bad, then I know what I’m getting into.  It’s not a bad thing to know early on that you aren’t sexually compatible or that your partner needs, ahem, guidance.  If the sex was good, maybe you’ll want to have sex again and maybe you won’t.  Maybe you’ll want a relationship and maybe you won’t.  I’ve had fantastic, repeated, amazing sex with someone I knew I did not want to be in a relationship with; sex didn’t change my mind.  For me, my own desire is just as important as that of my partner.

Some partners have judged me for it.  While I know that it has cost me a few “next dates”, I firmly believe that I don’t want to be romantically involved with anyone who isn’t comfortable with me and my sexuality.  If you have a problem with me because I have sex with you too soon, or I have sex that isn’t vanilla, or I have sex that doesn’t meet your predetermined standards of acceptable behavior, I don’t ever want to fuck you again.  I’ve been in that relationship and it ain’t healthy. I think I know where Toni Nagy is coming from with this.  There are men who say they want a woman who is open with her sexuality, but in practice find it intimidating and bail, which may confuse or hurt the women with whom they had sex “too soon” because she wasn’t willing to be the one who put the brakes on.  So why isn’t Toni calling for men to act as gatekeepers, especially if they are the ones who have a problem when sex happens too fast?  It doesn’t matter to me whether I have an innie or an outie set of genitals; sex is something that both parties should agree on.  Sometimes it means a lot, sometimes it means very little.  As long as people are having the kinds of sex that they want to have, leave the velvet rope at home.  You may want it when you bring your partner back to your place

*I recognize that there are people who like others to ask before they kiss them.  For me, I am fine with being asked and I’m also fine when someone decides they can read my body language when it says “Kiss me” and they lean in.  If they lean in when it says, “Back the fuck away” I haven’t yet had a problem speaking up or turning away.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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