Why We (Men) Don’t Write About Our Sex Lives

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A scoff. A prolonged, intense, and bemused scoff. Followed by an aggressive bite of a granola bar.

This was my first reaction when reading “Why Is It So Hard for Men to Write About Sex?” — a piece from Slate’s Amanda Hess that gave some sociological (and, potentially, biological) reasons for why it’s more difficult for us (men) to write about love-making.

I mean, had she not been to VSB? (Probably not, but play along.) Had she not read the dozens of pieces I’ve written about sex, sex acts, when to have sex, when to have certain sex acts, who to have sex with, who not to have sex with, who to perform certain sex acts on, what you’re supposed to do when an eager cat is watching, etc? Did she not know that the longest chapter in Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night — a book about dating, relationships, and SEX — was titled “19 Things About Sex I Definitely Didn’t Learn In Sex-Ed” and contained 28 pages of sex-related topics written by me, a man?

Basically, what the hell was she talking about?

But then I finished my granola bar. And another. (I like granola bars.) While in the middle of that second bar, I started to think about the sex-related pieces I’ve written. By the time I was finished, a realization hit me: She was right. Well, she was right when it comes to me. And, since she’s right when it comes to me, she’s right when it comes to (straight) men.

As mentioned earlier, I’ve written about sex quite a few times. And the sex-related topics have varied. But, despite this variety, they all seem to fall under one of three categories:

1. “Explain” pieces. Usually tongue-in-cheek, these bring up a sex-related topic, and “explain” why you need to do it, why it’s not important, why you need to do it differently, etc. Example: “The Dos and Don’ts of Making a Sex Tape”

2. “Mandom” pieces. These tend to adopt a collective male voice while giving insight into a “difference” between men and women. Something with a title like “Why Men Love Sex On The First Night.”

3. Anecdotal pieces. These are usually humorous stories about a sex-related incident in my past. Example: “My First Time.”

While these types of pieces serve their functions, all stay on the peripherals of sex, using humor, observation, and an occasional bit of sophomoric overshare to talk about sex without actually talking about sex. VSB has been up for almost six years now. In that six years, I’ve had sex at least 1,000 times. (2,000 if you count sex with myself.) Yet, I’ve never written about my sex life. Nothing about the myriad feelings — physical, mental, and emotional — associated with sleeping with someone. Nothing about the difference in preparation and performance between sleeping with a one night stand and sleeping with a f-buddy. Nothing about the awkwardness of being with someone new, or the extra awkwardness of sleeping with someone familiar but thinking of someone new. Nothing about any sexual fantasies. Nothing about my own sexual prowess (or lack thereof).

Of course, there’s one very obvious reason for this lack of openness. Every woman I’ve been with in that time is aware of VSB. Some of these women also have friends and family who read, and it just wouldn’t have been the best idea to provide sexual details about those relationships.

But, while this reason is practical, it’s a bit of a cop-out. I’ve written about other intimate relationship-related topics before. Some of these topics were very sensitive in nature, but that didn’t stop me from finding a way to express myself without being too explicit. Also, even if the women I’ve been with didn’t read VSB, I still wouldn’t feel very comfortable sharing anything sexual.

Why? Well, it’s complicated. Part of it is stylistic. My work tends to be more observational/distant, and that type of writing doesn’t lend itself to detailed conversations about the bedroom.

Also, it just doesn’t feel…right. Writing about sex makes me feel like I’m either humble-bragging or pandering. There’s no inbetween. Even earlier, when I mentioned how many times I’ve had sex in the past few years, I was tempted to delete it. Despite the fact that it’s an innocuous stat and a (relatively) unremarkable number, it felt tactless to include it.

This feeling of tactlessness is present whenever I see other men writing about sex. Sharing those type of details seems, for lack of a better term, feminine. And yes, I realize the irony in thinking that a straight man sharing details about sex with women is feminine, but I can’t deny that the feeling is there. Considering how rare it is to see straight men talk openly and explicitly about our own sex lives, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way. We’ve been socialized to think that sharing those types of intimate details about what happens in our bedrooms is something women do, not men. Sure, there are the storied “locker room” conversations, but those are more about reporting conquests than sharing details about them.

Also — and this goes back to the humble-bragging point — because of the language commonly used to describe sex, it’s difficult to really talk about it without using certain verbs and adjectives that suggest that you are, in fact, bragging. The way words like f*ck, bang, screw, pop, hit, beat, and bone are usually incorporated drive home the conquer/conquest concept. And, if you prefer to use less aggressive language that suggests you were receiving more than giving, it feels soft. Unmasculine. So instead of striving to find the perfect language to hit that sweet spot between “too aggressive” and “too weak”, we just don’t talk about it. (And, if we want to, we use a fifteen-year-old rap song as a proxy.) The best writing is inherently, sometimes painfully vulnerable. And we (men) can be vulnerable about family or fear or even love. But, when it comes to (straight) male sexuality, there really isn’t much room for it.

This brings me to my last point. Perhaps we don’t talk about it because no one really wants to hear it. Maybe there’s just no real audience for a straight male version of someone like Feminista Jones. Which sucks for me. Because I did want to start talking about my sex life more often.

Actually, nevermind. Even if there was an audience for it, there’s one person — a person I’m marrying this summer — who I know wouldn’t be happy with me sharing. So I won’t.

Drats.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

11 Things That Men Do That Are Attractive ONLY If You’re Interested

This picture has nothing to do with the post. Shoutouts to the northeast.

This picture has nothing to do with the post. Shoutouts to the northeast.

Recently, I came across a slight ridiculous and mostly no-sh*t-Sherlock list on Huffington Post (courtesy of Reddit) entitled, “The 11 Most Attractive Things That Men Do Without Even Realizing It”. While I can appreciate a list like this existing and being curated via a question from somebody asking what men do that that we O.E.N.O. that has the lady parts flourishing, I side-eyed this list with the passion of a Peyton Manning interception. Mostly because just like with anything else in life, all things are attractive when you’re interested. EVERYTHING.

Why? Well only ewe can make me do the things I do. Such as…be like say heffa say what at:

7. Concentrate hard. “I love the look a guy has on his face when he is trying to figure something out,” one user wrote. No know-it-alls required.”

Let’s just keep it onehunnid. Despite constantly telling us menfolks that we don’t deserve any cookies for just doing things your supposed to do (raising your kids, not going to jail, waking up in the morning, etc), women stay giving us cookies for things we’re just supposed to do (raising our own kids, not going to jail, waking up in the morning, etc). The fact that “thinking” was on a list of things that are attractive without us even knowing it is the reason why people keep watching Love & Hip-Hop. I will forever believe this. Also on this list are: “laugh out loud” “roll up one’s shirtsleeves” and “use eye contact” <—presumably at the strip club.

While the list does have some merit, I suppose, I’m not a woman afterall, I figured I’d go ahead and toss out a much more useful list. One with a bit more insight into the human condition…the Vidal Sassoon of the spirit if you will. A bit of Garnier Fructis for the soul. So here are 11 things that men do that are attractive ONLY if you’re interested in him.

1. Talk about marriage

If a woman is interested and you don’t seem like an axe murderer, telling her that you’re going to marry her (even on the first date) isn’t the most stalkerish thing you can do. Meanwhile, if she’s NOT interested in you, jokingly texting her a marriage proposal leads to screenshots, restraining orders, and relocations. No matter WHEN you do it.

In the same vein…

2. Talking about having children

Here’s the “does she like me” test: tell a chick you want to give her a baby. If she’s feeling you, she’ll laugh and make some comment about what the combination of your genes would produce. If she’s not? Well, consider that love connection more dead than, hey…did y’all know that Chuck Woolery is still alive?

3. Show Up Uninvited

PSA: Never EVER do the drop by house visit without calling first. There are too many technological advancements available to you that renders any excuse for not touching base a complete lie at worst and a perfect storm of unfortunate events at best. But, you are MUCH less likely to get cursed out if she actually likes you. The first time, it might be a shock but could be considered romantic (hence the attractive part) as long as you have a plan. Like, show up and say, hey, let’s go. Don’t talk just listen (*cue DeVante keyboard riff*). But if she doesn’t f*ck with you my rap? Yeah…that is going to go soooooooooo badly.

Don’t show up uninvited, people.

4. Be the center of attention

If she likes you, she will love that you can work a room and socialize. It’s like honeysuckle breeze to women. They love a confident man who is in full control. Then there’s the other end where you’re just an arrogant f*ck who needs attention. You might as well be Rich Dollaz.

5. Call and/or text repeatedly

Who are we kidding, nobody makes phone calls anymore. That sh*t ain’t cute. She likes you, you’re being attentive and giving her attention. She doesn’t, you’re a motherlovin’ bugaboo. “Why does this fool keep textin’ me…DAMN!”

6. Take seflies

It is a commonly held belief that men shouldn’t take selfies. I piss all over this assertion because how else are you supposed to document the hot dog you are eating at the time. Selfies are daily journal entries. Well, as long as your boo is feeling you, they’re cute and she likes the way you stand at that 74 degree angle with your hat bill facing the sun at the just the ring angle to allow the angels of heavens to dance the macarena in your eyes. Reverse that and you know how she feels if she can’t stand your bum ass.

7. Breathe

She likes you, its cute when you breathe. She doesn’t? She wishes you’d stop. Oh my bad, that’s number 12 on the HuffPo list.

8. Be an idealist

You know, one of those people who spends his time dreaming of the next level while having no clue how to get there? Yeah, that sh*t cute my nword. Until it isn’t. You’re really just a broke dude who probably lives with your momma if she ain’t interested. There’s nothing attractive about being broke.

9. Colorblocking

You fashionable motherf*cker, you. Well, either that or, “why does he look like a bag of Skittles?” There’s very little middle ground.

10. Rapping/Producing

Probably the truest litmus test of interest. Women who like you will support your dreams and find creative so aphrodisiasical. The rest of the female populace just thinks you’re a clown, Krusty.

11. Blogging

A close cousin to rapping/producing. When women like you, you’re a writer. And writers are attractive because they have a way with words. And chicks dig words. When they don’t, you’re just a motherf*cker with some random blog that nobody gives two f*cks about. Trust me, I’m a blogger.

What else you got? What is attractive ONLY if you like him (they like us)?

Talk to me.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. SHE LOVES ME SHE LOVES ME NOT aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

 

A Gender Role Bending Christmas

***And, just in case anyone doubts the validity of the engagement scene from the video, I’d like to share a quick synopsis of every conversation my fiancee (BTW, it still feels funny typing “my fiancee.” Admittedly, it might just feel funny because I just might still be compelled to type “the Gay Reindeer” when writing about her.) and I have had with our friends since our engagement***

“Her”

Her: “So…I’m ENGAGED!!!”

Friend: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

Her and Friend together: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!”

***5 minutes later***

Her and Friend together: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

***10 minutes later***

Friend: “OMG, that ring! Did he have help? Tell me you helped him pick it out. Bitch, you helped him. You had to help him. Right? He couldn’t have picked that by himself. You helped him! You had to help him. He had help, and this help was from you, right? There’s no f*cking way you didn’t help him. But, if you didn’t help him…wait, nevermind. I won’t even f*ckng go there. You helped him. You had to help him. Help was had by him and it was offered by you, right?”

Her: “ ….yea. I helped him. A little. But I helped.”

Friend: “I knew it!!! You helped him!!! OMG, the ring is so perfect for you and like, for the Earth. It’s Earth perfect. If the sun and the stars had a baby, and that baby knew how to make guacamole, it would totally be that ring.” 

Her: “Thank you!!! That’s exactly what I was thinking!!! Exactly!!!”

Friend: “So how did he do it? I need details. Where? When? Why? How? Did he write something? I could see him writing something. Like a vow. Not a wedding vow. But an engagement vow. And having you find it on a tree outside your house. And giving you clues all day by saying stuff like ‘You should look outside the box more often’ and you not even knowing they were clues until after you saw the tree. Did he carve the engagement vows with a knife? What kind of knife was it. OMG! OMG! OMG! Did he get it from Williams Sonama? Cause that would have been soooo romantic. And they were having a sale last week.” 

“Me”

Me: “So yeah, I’m engaged and shit now.”

Friend: “Word?”

Me: “Word.”

Friend: “Congrats, man.”

Me: “Thanks.”

Friend: “What her friends look like?”

Me: “They aiight, I guess.”

Friend: “They f*ckin?”

Me: “Which one?”

Friend: “Any.”

Me: “I guess.”

Friend: “Aiight. I’ll come to the wedding, then.”

Me: “N*gga, aint you married?”

Friend: “Yea. And faithful too.”

Me: “So why you asking me about single chicks?”

Friend: “I prefer to fantasize about the ones who I know are f*cking. Makes it more real.”

Me: “That doesn’t make any sense.”

Friend: “It will after you’ve been married five years.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

19 Bizarre Things That Men Have Done At Least Once

photoHand me a late pass because today was the first day that I saw the list on Thought Catalog that was a compilation of statements from Reddit about some of the bizarre things that all women have done at least once. It was aptly entitled “27 Bizarre Things That All Women Have Done At Least Once”. Not for nothing, ewww.

While all men learn to appreciate and eventually love the arrival of a woman’s period, some of the information in the article was just TMI. Like, we all know that we all take dumps, but the details are so unnecessary to share. On the other hand, there were quite a few of the things on the list that I’ve seen either in person or thru my vast network of boobed mammals have been informed of. Don’t end sentences in prepositions.

Also, the fact that no women that I know disputed getting in front of a mirror on all fours to see what doggystyle looks like from a male’s perspective? *dead* But I can totally see it since well…

Let’s just get into this male centric list, mmkay, pumpkin? Here are 19 bizarre things that men have done at least once. Maybe not all, but most. You can dispute this, you will be wrong. And for semantic’s sake, the word bizarre is going to have its loosest interpretation ever.

1. Measured his penis

If a dude tells you he doesn’t know how big his johnson is, he’s lying. EVERY dude tries to take SOME measurement.

2. Done naked jumping jacks

I have no clue why. At all. But we do it.

3. Pick up a pair of pants off the floor, smell them, and put them on regardless of what they smell like.

I’ve definitely reached the point in my life that I haven’t done this in years, but it happened. Oh yeah, it happened.

4. Twirled his penis

You know the naked jumping jacks? This is the next step in the progression of penis olympics.

5. Adjusted himself in public, in full view of any and everybody

Yo, when your schlong is uncomfortable, you are uncomfortable. And nobody likes being uncomfortable.

6. Stuck his tongue on frozen sh*t to see if his tongue would get stuck without a plan in case it actually happened

7. Refused to throw away an item of clothing because you’ve had it for long period of time.

I’ve got shorts that literally shame the our ancestors who picked cotton that I refuse to give up. I also have a pair of Morehouse shorts that have more holes in them than a golf course eaten alive by moles. They’re coming with me til this life ride is over.

8. Drank out of a carton even despite repeatedly being told not to by the authority woman figure

It’s easier.

9. Attempted to run and slide in our socks on a hardwood floor

I don’t care whose house it is. If there’s a hardwood floor and I wake up in the morning, I will try to slide in my socks.

10. Put his hands in his pants just for comfort because that’s where hands go when they need comfort and warming

11. Stood in a mirror and flexed our muscles pretending to be swole even if we aren’t

12. Eaten food that would possibly kill us because, well we won’t know if we’ll die unless we actually die

Guys make a lot of sense.

13. Attempted something that might actually kill you because…well see #13

I skateboarded off the roof of my house. It hurt a lot.

14. Freestyled for a significant period of time during a car ride solo and truly believed we were good enough to make it as rappers

Still going strong with this one.

15. Watched a chick flick and felt some kind of way while watching

Me and my father once watched a Lifetime movie together. Afterwards, we didn’t speak to one another for 2 hours.

16. Written his name with his urine while pissin’ at a urinal.

All cursive of course.

17. Eaten food right off the ground…like outside ground.

18. If he has them, combed (and possibly conditioned) his chest hairs

Nobody likes that hard scrabble stuff…we like soft silky…what am I doing tellin y’all. This got awkward.

19. Wiped his arse with something other than toilet tissue…because, we tend to run out of toilet tissue. Or are out in the woods.

Again, this is younger man stuff, but its man stuff nonetheless. It happens.

Well there’s your 19. A bizarre number.

It’s Friday. Let’s come clean and share some of the secrets of the trade of our genders. Let’s add to the articles. What are some more things that all men and women do at least once.

Talk to me.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka VITAMIN P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Why (Some) Men Seem To Hate Scandal So Damn Much

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A few weeks ago, as Panama and I were discussing the logistics of the D.C. screening for our TV pilot, he offhandedly mentioned that the Scandal season premiere—which aired the night we scheduled the screening—might have an effect on the number of people we’d draw to our event.

“How so?” I asked in all my Pittsburgh naivety. “Our screening starts at 7:00 and should end by 9:00. It shouldn’t interfere with Scandal at all.”

“Dog,” Panama replied, channeling his best light-skinned Randy Jackson, “this is D.C.”

The screening went well. We had it at Busboys and Poets, we managed to fill the room, and those in attendance seemed to enjoy the pilot and the 45 minute-long talk back afterwards.

The talk back ended a little before 9:00. After hanging around to take pictures and close everything out, we left at roughly 9:15 to attend Scandal Watch DC—a Scandal watch party (duh!) that we were asked to live tweet.

Since Busboys and Poets and Jin Lounge (the site of Scandal Watch DC) are practically next door to each other, I was able to see Jin’s doors as soon as we left.

And, what did I see?

A red carpet. A backdrop printed with sponsor’s logos. A couple dozen people in line, all dressed like characters Anthony Mackie and Paula Patton play in movies. A doorman with the perfunctory “I’m working the door at a very important event” black on black suit and headpiece.

As soon as Panama saw this, he started to walk back to his car to change his sneakers for some, um, non-sneakers.

“Why are you changing shoes?” I asked, intent on keeping true to my Pittsburgh. “They invited us to the event. I doubt your shoes will be an issue.”

“Dog,” he replied, reaching deep to channel his best light-skinned Randy Jackson again, “this is D.C.”

Now, although my slightly sardonic tone may suggest otherwise, I had a great time at the Scandal Watch party, and I think the women who threw the event did a great job. I also do (gasp!) enjoy watching Scandal. Despite whatever criticisms it receives (and deserves), it has one quality that separates it from 90% of the shows currently on TV. It is always entertaining. Always. I can’t even say that about Mad Men, and that’s probably my favorite show on TV today.

Anyway, as I sat on a couch in Jin, listening to a packed house react to every line, heel turn, and Olivia lip-quiver like they were watching the Super Bowl, something finally dawned on me.

Although there were quite a few men at the watch party, I’d guess that 75%-80% of the people there were women—numbers that likely reflect the overall demographics of Scandal viewers. Yes, there are many men who enjoy the show, but it’s targeted towards, promoted by, and dominated mostly by women. Women are the ones who’ve made it a social media sensation and cultural force. And, while I’ve joked before that Shonda Rhimes is the Bougie Black Girl’s Geppetto—and that Olivia Pope is the patron saint of Bougie Black Girls— it’s not just Black women who love Scandal. It’s White women, Latina women, Asian women, women from Youngstown. It’s just…women. (Not all women love Scandal, of course. But…just stop making faces and bare with me.)

And this is why a week can not pass without another piece written by a man (well, usually a man) detailing exactly why Scandal sucks. It’s why you’re likely to see more tweets about “bed wenches” on Thursday nights between 10:00pm and 11:00pm than you will at any other time. It’s why there are men whose love for shitting on the show and its fans surpasses the love Scandal fans actually have for Scandal. 

While there are many very intelligent sounding theories for this level of pushback, I think the root cause is rather simple.

It’s created by, targeted towards, and loved by women. So, it can not possibly be any good. 

Although I do realize there are some racial, sexual, and socioeconomic factors at play here, the (mostly) male antipathy for this show isn’t so much a burning hate as it’s a never-ending attempt to dismiss and disregard the merits of something that’s unabashedly targeted towards and supported by women. Because of course “something created for women” = “something that likely sucks.

On that level, it’s not much different than the mocking disdain directed towards romantic comedies—well, romantic comedies not made by Judd Apatow—the Oxygen Network, women’s magazines, Twilight, cats, comediennes, and even any male entertainer who speaks more to women than men. (Hey, Drake!)

Interestingly enough, this level of skepticism towards “women’s” things isn’t only harbored by (some) men. I know women who, in an attempt to make themselves seem more “smart” or “serious,” will intentionally craft an affinity for things that are more traditionally male. I’ve even had a couple very talented female writers express to me that they won’t consider themselves successful until they’re published in GQ or Esquire.

It actually kind of reminds me of some of the criticisms certain things—the NBA, rap music, Atlanta, etc—receive because they’re considered to be a bit too Black. Not saying that every person who harbors a dislike for any of these things feel that way for that reason, but you can’t deny that an undercurrent of “This is a bit too Black, so it can’t possibly be any good” exists.

My girl and two of my friends came to the watch party with Panama and I. When the party ended, each guest received a gift bag as they walked out the door. By the time I got to the door, though, they had run out of bags. My girl left a few moments before me, and was waiting outside with a bag.

“What’s in there?”

“Lotion, a gift certificate for a massage, and some other girly stuff. They’re actually getting more bags from the back. If we wait a minute, you can get one too.”

“I’m good. Let’s go. I’m hungry.” I replied as we started to walk away. But, as we turned the corner and neared a pizza spot, a thought shivered down my spine:

“Shit. I wanted a bag too!”

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)