Hating oral sex as the new misogyny? Toward a more feminist sex life

Man makes There is a much needed conversation to be had about straight men, masculinity, and sex. As a society we privilege the sexual desires of straight men and then limit the expression of those desires. We should be talking about the ways in which misogyny and homophobia have shaped our ideas about what constitutes appropriate sexual behavior. There should be more focus on enthusiastic consent. We ought to encourage more communication, body acceptance, and pleasure.

“I’m A Feminist, But I Don’t Eat Pussy” is not the way to have that conversation. It won’t be getting any link-love here, but Thought Catalog published this piece by Wayne Nutnot, a self-proclaimed straight white male feminist, who thinks vaginas are icky. In his own words: “Vaginas…are finicky and, objectively, well– gross. There’s just no other way to put it. They are covered in hair. They ooze and slime– and that’s when you’re doing a good job!” He hates performing oral sex because for him “Eating pussy often feels like a difficult chore. Like vacuuming or doing the dishes using your tongue if the dishes were covered in smoked salmon that’s been sitting in the sun for a day.  No thank you!”

I’m sorry Mr. Nutnot doesn’t enjoy going down. Really. He’s missing out. But it’s not the fact that he doesn’t enjoy oral sex that’s troublesome, but rather that in trying to articulate his reluctance he regurgitates tired misogyny and uses “but I’m a feminist!” in an attempt to protect himself from criticism.

There is plenty of cultural hate for vaginas and vagina bearing bodies (be they cis or trans), so no matter what he may felt when sitting down to write this, he wasn’t treading any new ground. My guess is he thought this was some much needed “real talk” and that it would be accepted because he also ran through his feminist credentials before again telling women their bodies are disgusting. There’s no bravery in affirming the status quo. And if straight men are going to identify as feminists only to dress up misogyny in a new set of clothes, then we serve no purpose.

Reading this also called to mind the much discussed Slate piece from Andy Hinds and his “woe-is-me-feminism-has-ruined-my-sexual-fantasies” screed. I’m not sure if it’s a strictly straight white dude problem, but both of these writers display an inability to reconcile both political and sexual equality among the genders. They seem to think one is ruined by the other and they are lamenting the loss. That’s bullshit. People will continue to have fantasies and there will be sexual acts in which we won’t want to participate. But if the only language we have to articulate these desires or non-desires continues to degrade women we haven’t done enough work.

I say this from personal experience: a feminist sex life can be wildly fulfilling. But it only gets to be that fulfilling if you’re constantly engaged in communicating your desires and challenging the misogyny that has informed our sexual identities since birth. Straight men (especially those claiming to be feminist) can’t continue clinging to the old dialogue that simultaneously privileges our experience and leaves many of us unsatisfied. It’s boring and predictable.

Kinda like the sex some of these guys must be having.

Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation Magazine, as well as columnist for Feministing.com and Salon. As a freelance writer, social commentator, and mental health advocate his work has been seen online in outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, Al Jazeera English, Gawker, The Guardian, Ebony.com, Huffington Post, The Root, and The Grio.

Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation Magazine, as well as columnist for Feministing.com and Salon.

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