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”)

Bougie Black Pick-Up Lines

"You've been Black Girl Running in my mind all night long."

“You’ve been Black Girl Running in my mind all night long.”

Today is Valentine’s Day, a day which likely means one of six things to you:

1. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. Absolutely nothing.

3. Absolutely nothing, but since you have a girlfriend/wife who’s all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! about it, you pretend enough for one exclamation point.

4. Subdued happiness. Maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t your favorite day, but it’s cool. And it’s the one day you get to wear red pants without people thinking you’re Dominican.

5. Anxiety. You’re in a new situationship, and what happens today will determine the health and direction of it.

6. Sadness. Long, lonely, lecherous, getting to the McDonald’s drive-thru a minute after they’ve stopped serving Egg McMuffins, type sadness.

If you’re one of the first four, today’s post isn’t for you.

If you’re #5, let me give you some unsolicited advice. You know what day comes after Valentine’s Day? Saturday. Which, like Valentine’s Day, is just another day. Repeat after me: Just another day.

If you’re number #6, listen up. I don’t believe in pep talks. Shit, some days I don’t even believe in talking. I do believe in practical advice, though. And since you’re not currently in a relationship, I’m going to help you find one. Well, maybe you won’t find one.

But (piggybacking off #activistpickuplines), if you happen to be out today, and you see someone you’re interested in, and you suspect this someone is a Bougie Black Person, here are a few things you can say that’ll help your luck.

1. “Let me stamp that passport.”

2. “Did you get those jeans from Target? Cause there’s a bullseye on dat ass.”

3. “Do you like Thai food?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Cause I’m gonna Thai dat ass up.”

4. “Damn, girl. I’d like to Jack your Jill.”

5. “The only Foreign Exchange we’ll need is my ass on your face.”

6. “The gallery crawl in my pants is free all night long.”

7. “You know what NSBE stands for, right?”

“What?”

“N*ggas Sexin Bitches’ Ears.”

8. “I bet you love leaving big tips, don’t you?”

9. “Eight inches is the only number I’m trying to keep down.”

10. “It’s a Different World from where I come from. And in my bedroom.”

11. “I know you’re natural, girl, but come here and lemme relax you.”

12. “I’m gonna displace those panties. Call me the gentrifier.”

13.”The only gladiator I know is being glad I ate her.”

14. “Why don’t you and your friend come over, and we can have an all-night Groupon.”

15. “Is that a gluten-free lettuce wrap in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

16. “You remind me of my Naked Juice. Cause I want to substitute you for a meal.”

Did I forget any?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

When Your Worst Behavior And Best Behavior Is The Same Damn Thing

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We’ve all heard the story before:

Boy spots Girl at 6th annual Delta “Chicken Wing Eating Contest For The Mouth Gout Cure.” Boy approaches Girl. Girl, impressed by Boy’s use of “intersectionality” and “motherf*cking goat cheese ravioli” gives Boy her number. They eventually date. And, after a couple surprisingly fun trips to Walgreen’s and a very intense bout of post-Thai buffet car sex, they decide to date exclusively. 

Months later, things continue to go well. She’s beginning to get used to his strange penchant for burping when he’s nervous, and he’s gotten used to her strikingly large clitoris. But, there has been one pretty major bump in the road. She has a penchant for laziness. Not life-crippling laziness, but she tends to do things on her own time. And sometimes “her own time” means “only when reminded repeatedly” or “not all at.” Which is a problem for him, because he’s naturally a detail-oriented and concrete-sequential person. 

What makes the problem even more complicated is that Girl’s laidback attitude and generally calm demeanor is what attracted him to her in the first place. (Well that and her thigh gap.) He was used to drama-filled relationships with manic-depressive women, and the fact that she’s so cool and calm made him want to put a Nuvaring on it. The thing he loves most about her came from the exact same place as the thing he’s most annoyed with.

As the Gay Reindeer and I near our wedding date, and conversations about guest lists, parenthood, and gotdamn recycling are regularly had, a few things have become more apparent:

1. I made the right choice.

2. I need to make more money to afford all the toilet paper we’re going to need. 

3. I’m going to have to get used to the things that annoy the hell out of me about her.

The first two I’ve known for some time. I knew she was the right choice before I even made the choice, and every month my bank statement reminds me I spend so much money on toilet paper you’d think “Charmin” was a stripper I’m sponsoring.

That third one, though, is a monster. While she has many lovely attributes and talents, she’s not perfect. And there are some parts about her that irritate me. Maybe that’s only 4.5% of her (as opposed to the 95.5% that’s f*cking awesome), but we’re getting married. And we plan to stay married. And we plan to stay alive. And, over a span of 30 or 40 or even 50+ years, that 4.5% will add up.

Some of these irritating things will soften over time. I’m sure she’ll learn that the 4th quarter of a tied game isn’t the time to ask me about scented bleach and fried zucchini. But most of those things will always be there, because they’re an inherent part of her. And, without getting too specific, each of these annoyances come from the exact same damn place as the parts about her I fell in love with.

This has a tendency to make things very ironic. Not cute, hipster irony. But “I love that you’re so thoughtful and hate that you overthink things sometimes” irony. That grown-ass, “butt naked in the house on a Saturday night eating steak salad and watching Shark Tank reruns” irony.

And, since I don’t want to suppress those great parts about her, I have to learn to live with that four point motherf*cking five percent.

Oh, and yes. I know she can say the same things about me. Most of the things she loves most about me and most of the things that annoy her the most come from the same place in my (very large) head. Some parts will get better. I’ve already stopped using nine different glasses every day (I’m down to five), and I’m definitely getting better at giving non-verbal feedback while she’s talking to me instead of the bemused indifference my resting face usually conveys. (I’m not indifferent. But I always look like I am. Which, I guess, can be annoying.)

But some parts will always be there. And for this to work she’ll have to choose to suck it up. Which, all things considered, is an easy choice if you made the right choice.

—Damon Young 

The Big, Fat Lie About Black Marriage

I think these are Black people

I think these are supposed to be Black people

Monday night, my fiancee and I attended the first of seven sessions for a pre-marriage counseling class. It’s a decent sized group with roughly 15 engaged couples, and the course is led by a husband and wife team who’ve been married for 36 years and reminded me of Aunt Helen and Uncle Junior from The Jamie Foxx Show.

Before attending, I thought the comparison of the relationship-based topics I occasionally touch on here with the topics discussed in the class would make for a good piece, and I planned on writing about it this week. But honestly, there really wasn’t much we went over that night that we haven’t already written about on VSB and my fiancee and I haven’t already discussed. Communication matters, relationships are work, and women use a lot of toilet paper.

Still, there were a couple things that stood out

1. They give you pizza at these things

Everyone who’s ever gone to any type of evening gathering like this knows how important is it to have food, right? Of course! Without it you can’t concentrate, you get irritable, and you spend the majority of the time counting stomach grumbles and waiting for it to end. Right? So, why do so many people hold food-less evening events? Why is it a pleasant surprise when there actually happens to be food? Who are the people who think it’s a good idea to invite a bunch of grown-ass men and women to be somewhere for 90 minutes without food, and why do they still exist?

2. EVERYBODY GETS MARRIED! EVERYBODY!

Now, when I say “EVERYBODY GETS MARRIED” I (obviously) don’t mean every single individual person is getting married. Nor does every single person need to get married. Even if there is someone for everyone, sometimes the world is a better place if some people never meet.

What I mean is this. If you read enough, watch enough TV, or listen to enough conversation about the state of young Black marriage, you’d think the only marryable Black people were Idris Elba/Neil Degrasse Tyson hybrids and PhD-ed Briana Bettes with active fathers and good credit.

But, aside from the age — everyone was relatively young (between 28 and 40) — it was like someone threw all of Black America in a plastic bag, and randomly pulled people out. You had short people, tall people, light-skinned men, dark-skinned women, people with nice bodies, people with not so nice bodies, virgins, former players, people who looked like they were upper middle class, people who looked like they were working class, introverts, extroverts; basically any type of Black person you can think of was there. I know this was just one class in one city, but I think it’s good snapshot of the type of Black people who get married. Every type.

Again, I’m not bringing this up to convince people they should get hitched. Or make anyone who wants to get hitched but still happens to be single feel bad about it. Just that if you put — or allow others to put — arbitrary limitations on and requirements for who and what you need to be in order to get married, you need to stop. All types of people (Black people!) are getting married all the f*cking time, including people who look, talk, think, act, and smell just like you. 

And no, you don’t have to thank me for this information. Just, if you ever invite me to an evening event, make sure to have some f*cking food there.

Please.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Douche Intuition: Why It Helps For Women To Have A Male Friend (Or Family Member) Around

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Despite whichever feelings you have about gender equality, gender roles, genderism, and Ryan Lewis, it’s hard not to admit that (generally speaking) men possess certain advantages over women, and vice versa.

For instance, it’s documented that women tend to have a higher tolerance for physical pain than we do. Which, considering that some of them pay people to splash scolding wax on their vageens once a month for…really no reason whatsoever, makes sense. And, if my experience has taught me anything, they’re also much better than we tend to be at recalling mundane and seemingly forgettable details from month’s old conversations in a context-less matter (“Remember, back in June when we were watching Shark Tank and I asked you to pass me that bag of pretzels and you handed one to me instead?”) just to provide evidence of the truth of certain a narrative (“You’re selfish.”) they’re trying to prove today. They’re really, really good at that.

We also have our advantages. Some include being better than women at doing pull-ups, dunking, farting, building shit with brawn, and playing spades. (Don’t argue.) And, one of these advantages comes in the form of douche intuition.

What do you mean, Wise Sublime Supreme One?” I hear you pleading. “What is this intuition you speak of?”

Let me give you a scenario:

“John” is at some happy hour or house party or Charades contest some other bullshit social event. He’s introduced to “Ken.” Ken is new in town. They speak for several minutes. Ken seems like a nice guy. Personable, social, handsome, and well-dressed, John isn’t gay or anything — nttawwt — but he can tell that women will probably be very interested in him.

Which is unfortunate. Why? Well, there’s something else John has been able to tell. Ken is definitely a douche.

Which may seem odd because Ken doesn’t look particularly douchey. And he hasn’t said or done anything particularly douchey. But John just knows. He can’t explain how he knows. He just does.

Every guy reading this has experienced this before. You don’t know what it is about the guy, but you just instinctively — and immediately — know he’s a douchebag. Not kind of an asshole or a dick. But a full on douche, a scumbag, a guy you make sure to spend as little time around as possible. You don’t say anything about it. You don’t want to seem like a hater. And really, you don’t have any evidence other than your own gut feeling. You just know.

But while you were able to sniff his douche out the first time he looked at you with his douchey eyes and extended his douchey right hand to shake yours, this intuition doesn’t seem to extend to the women he interacts with. Well, maybe it does for some. But enough are so completely oblivious to it that they don’t pick up on it until he does something particularly douchey to them.

But why? Why are so many women blind to something that so many men seem to see so easily? For a while I thought it had to do with attraction. Basically, sometimes these men have so many other attractive qualities that it manages to initially conceal the douche. Which is something every man who’s dated an Erica Mena can relate to. I also thought that maybe they noticed the douche too, but thought they could somehow change it. While that would explain a lot, it doesn’t account for the surprise present when the douchebag does something extra douchey.

Now though, I think it’s much more simple than that. I think we’re better douche detectors because we’re just better at knowing men. While (generally speaking) women might know individual men they’ve dated better than anyone else does, a lifetime of all types of interactions with men — classmates, friends, roommates, acquaintances, enemies — have made us (well, most of us) experts on men as a collective. That immediate and instinctual impression is nothing but a lifetime of determining to who to trust, who to not to trust, who to introduce to your homegirl, and who not to piss on if they were on fire distilled into thin slices.

This is one of the many reasons why it pays for women to have a brother or close male friend or cousin or co worker or former concubine they can count on as douche detectors; guys who, when you ask “Well, what do you think about Ken? He’s cool, right?” just respond with “He’s bad news.” And, when you ask why, they just say “Trust me.”

(Do they actually trust him? Well, that’s another topic for another day.)

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)