Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Theory & Essay

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

think-like-a-man01

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”)

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't.

  • anonymous tip

    Todd does

    • anon in CA

      I enjoy Todd’s commentary about his sex life. He’s very interesting. Also, Obs posted a manual for women on how not to be bad in bed on his blog…..interesting read.

      • Andrea

        What is the name of his blog?

        • Obsidian Files

          My personal blog is called, aptly, The Obsidian Files; obsidianraw.bravejournal.com; and the blog to which Ms. Anon in CA is referring to is a collective that I cofounded, called Just Four Guys; justofourgys.com. In fact, my most recent piece is an Open Letter to one Ms. Tymea Sanchez, who started something known as the “Handbags 4 Peace” movement here in Philly; I think you’ll find it most provocative.

          More in a moment…

          O.

          • Andrea

            Thank you! Looking forward to reading!!

      • Obsidian Files

        The formal name of the post is “Instructions To The Ladies So As To Not Suck In The Sack”, which can be easily found at Just Four Guys by Google search.

        Thanks for the mention, Ms. Anon in CA! Much appreciated.

        O.

    • Sahel

      Phew,Todd,you have a legendary VSB rep

  • Sahel

    I grew up in a place where talking about sex was taboo. We regarded it a private matter,sure i can talk about it with the boys when we shooting the breeze during down time.But writing about it in detail just does not sit well with me.I And even here on VSB,the guys don’t go all out talking about it in composite detail like the VSS sometimes do.If anything i prefer the women who i have been with to do the talking for me,. Maybe am old school,but in this era where sex tapes rule,am guessing guys prefer the show more than the tell

  • kidvideo

    As much as i think i want a “VSB After Dark” section of this blog, it would just devolve into gossip site shannagans and bring in a crowd that i don’t want here…Everyone has bomb sex according to their internet persona representative.

  • Obsidian Files

    “It’s Tonto downstairs. There’s someone here to see you.”
    “What does he look like?”
    “Serious.”
    -The Professional

    Good morning Champ, everyone,
    Very good and timely discussion; let’s get right to it:

    Of course, Men discuss their own “love” lives and the general topic of s*x all the time – it’s just that, as per usual and Ms. Hess over at Slate is a prima facia example, Women by and large simply do not listen. Men have discussed such matters for centuries; for example, there is the Victorian-era memoir, “My Secret Life: The Diary of a Victorian Gentleman” that, to this day, remains singular in its uniqueness. Then, there’s Iceberg Slim’s immortal classic, yet another memoir, “Pimp: The Story of My Life.” Unbeknownst to many, “Pimp” remains one of thee most successful Black literary works ever in the canon. There are many other examples.

    Then, of course, there’s that corner of the Internet known as the Manosphere, where discussions obtaining on s*x and love from a male POV is all par for the course, and surely Ms. Hess is at least nominally aware of that fact; a crucial subset of said ‘sphere, is what is known in some circles as the Seduction Community, where detailed discussions of Men’s s*x and love lives can be observed, usually in the form of “Field Reports”. I have done this myself to illustrate a larger point I wish to make, and can be easily seen via a simple Google search for those so inclined. Like you, I am very careful and judicious about how I go about writing such reports, so as not to compromise the ladies in question. Gamesmen must be careful not to explicitly kiss and tell, and all that.

    All that being said however, Women like Ms. Hess can say what she does, in large part due to her White and UMC privileged status, made all the moreso by her “Miss Anneness” as well – she can literally afford to ensconse herself within a cocoon of privileged and gendered Whiteness, where her rank ignorance on these matters will not likely be put on blast in polite company like it rightfully should. Again, the kinds of discussions she seeks occur with a level and degree of detail and earnestness that would make her both blush and clutch her rhetorical pearls, in the Manosphere; and for my part, as a “founding father” of the newest/latest Manosphere blog collective, Just Four Guys, well, we discuss such matters early and often, with my particular specialty being, delving into S8xual Politics matters from a Black Male perspective, that simply does not get airtime, even among Afrosphere venues, like this one. That is because, the Afrosphere, a large part of it, tends to ape many of the same behaviors and norms of their UMC White betters, ensconsing themselves in a cocoon of sorts, where it is rare that the kinds of perspective I routinely bring to the table can be seen and heard.

    At any rate, and to the question you raise about the very real s*x differences between Men and Women as to how and why the two don’t approach discussions along these lines in quite the same way – the book, “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” explains how and why this is. Women NEED to sit around and hash out these things in a way that Men, by and large, simply do not, and this is because of the way Women’s (s*xual) brains are wired; simply put, they cannot get all the information they need about a Man, on their own; they need to “outsource” the information gathering to others (and hence, why for Women, having Man friends looms so large in their lives). They need a “team” of detectives, all working overtime gathering information about a particular Man or Men in general, which aids in a singular Woman too make what she hopes will be the correct mating decision, because for Women in general in comparison to Men from an EvoPsych perspective, and to quote De La Soul, “Stakes is High”. For Men, in the main, it simply ain’t that complicated – a Man doesn’t need the help or assistance of other Men in order to size up a Woman for the purposes of mounting; he can do that all on his lonesome, in a matter of a nanosecond or two. Yes, ladies, there is a very good reason many of you are spending big money on weaves, skin lightening creams, et al. Because of the sheer weight that Men, in this case Black Men, put on physical appearance in a Woman. It matters. A lot. And all of you know it.

    I do think that Black Men could do well to write more on these matters, and drop the Will Smith Try-Hard routine while doing it. We are all adults, and should be able to discuss these matters with the grativas and seriousness it deserves.

    I will do my part, to help.

    Commence to discuss.

    Now adjourn your arses…

    O.

    • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

      ~ this is because of the way Women’s (s*xual) brains are wired; simply put, they cannot get all the information they need about a Man, on their own

      please cite your sources, thank you ~*~

      • Obsidian Files

        @Ms. Esa:
        I already have in the commentary above; “A Billion Wicked Thoughts”. There is an entire chapter devoted to the mating mind of Women, called “Miss Marple’s Detective Agency”. Happy reading!

        O.

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

          .. and an Agatha Christie reference to boot.

    • Tx10inch

      Too early O.

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        That picture is COLD. I wonder what Fantasia is doing these days…

      • miss t-lee

        *cackles*

      • nillalatte

        LOL.. foolish.

    • The Champ

      good points.

  • $60245819

    Champ: Everything you said I get with the exception of this “This feeling of tactlessness is present whenever I see other men writing about chexx. Sharing those type of details seems, for lack of a better term, feminine”.

    S/N: It’s funny that this is the subject today because it’s YOLES BIRTHDAY!!!!!! Happy Birthday Yoles!!!!!!!!! Also Kidvideo and Erykah Badu share in today’s celebration :)

    • Yoles

      thank you so much Bee!!!!!

      its MY birthday!!!!!!!!!!! and Kid Video and Erykah Badu so you know this day is magical…..

      i do talk about coitus with no problem and often find myself talking about it with men no problem… I”M OUT HERE EDUCATING THE MASSES

      i got magical powers, ask about me

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

    I typically avoid writing about chex because its hard to do so without sounding corny. Dating dos and don’ts is one thing, when you’re seriously telling ppl what to do in the bedroom you will always sound like a cornball

  • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

    A topic close to my heart. Coincidentally, over the the past few days I’ve been asking women s*xologists if they knew any Black male ones and they’ve all said no thus far.

    • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

      I think you’d appreciate this blog post: http://therationalmale.com/2012/08/22/just-get-it/

      • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

        I’m well aware. Even as a teenage virgin I was supposed to be in charge of a grown woman’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs during my first time with little help and zero margin of error during my first time.

        • LMNOP

          People expect so much of men. And so little. At the same damn time.

          And by people, I mean women.

          • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

            ~ And by people, I mean women.

            some women. but not all ~*~

            • LMNOP

              Yeah that’s pretty much the standard disclaimer for comments like this.

              • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

                yeaa ~ i like to take a stand for specificity ~*~

                • LMNOP

                  Okay lol, I like to be lazy so I’ll just let you do the specificity for me. Thanks.

                  • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

                    team work ~*~

          • Malik

            Just have to roll with those punches. I’ve given up making philosophical stands and arguments in every interpersonal relationship I have.

  • Rachmo

    Me and my coed group of friends don’t discuss chex bc everyone is in relationships so it would be a bit weird. However chex always comes up when I’m talking to girlfriends

    • LehcarB

      Even when you begin discussing favorite cereals. Somehow it comes up.

      • Secret Sauce

        You know my girl tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios!

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

          Melo?

          • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

            I was trying to avoid saying that…

    • http://uphereoncloud9.com/ Wu Young

      Yeah, I’m actually friends and think highly of my boy’s wives so it would get weird.

      • Rachmo

        Exactly. Their husbands/fiancees/bfs are also my friends so I’d rather not go there.

      • pls

        now this i can understand. guys are visual so describing amazing xes with the boys might have your boys imagining amazing xes with wifey. no one wants those problems.

        this is a big issue with women as well cuz if you know your home girl is lonely as hell, describing how amazingly your man puts it down might have her eyeing your man waiting for the kill.

  • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

    Um…#shotsfired?

    Seriously though, I totally get your point and the point of the original Slate column. The big problem here is that women aren’t flat out comfortable with a man getting in his feelings unless he’s somehow proven his manhood to her. Most women treat men who are open about their feelings the way most men treat women who are open about their $ex: like worthless human beings. Granted, there are exceptions to both rules, and personally, I prefer straight wh0res to good girls for reasons I will explain further along. However, there’s a reason they are call exceptions to the rules.

    In my experience, women treat men who are honest about their feelings in one of three ways: as glorified video game NPCs who aren’t real people, as subjects of pity and condescension or as targets for emotional abuse. Show me a woman who treats a man who expresses their feelings differently, and I will show you someone who is either a family member to the man, someone who got that pipe or someone who has sold his game so hard that he doesn’t need to break out the pipe. That’s it. I know that’s definitely been my experience, especially the last 2.

    With pr0n, there are a lot of feelings and emotions involved. It’s just that we as people choose to ignore them because they make us uncomfortable. If you take a meta-look at pr0n, it’s all about acceptance, fear and insecurity about $exuality, full stop. Now there are a lot of different ways that can be expressed, but that’s what it is all about. Of course women don’t like that because it means that a man has proven himself a target of abuse, and all of her anger is going to be summarily dumped on him. Welcome to reality, people.

    In terms of the ends of relationships, I understand the struggle Ms. Hess mentions all too well. When people ask me about the end of my marriage, I make sure to mention my soon-to-be-ex’s mental health struggles first and only that if possible. Heck, even with that, I’ve been accused of attention seeking. If I mentioned anything else that went wrong first, I know I’m going to be blamed, case closed. The only time I’ve gotten deeper with someone I’ve just met was one time I was with a female friend who had known the scoop from start to finish. Otherwise, a man can’t go deep without a female cosign, period.

    Finally, I tend to look at most $ex as a sport, where you have to use your body and your mind. The goal is to score as many moans, smiles and orgasms as humanly possible, eventually rendering her safe to open up to. I had some things happen recently that made me come face-to-face with that reality, and that’s the honest truth. Of course, you can’t do that with a good girl, because their ultimate goal is to use sex to manipulate you into opening up and becoming her simp as quickly as humanly possible. Yeah, but what about love making…bull$h1t. You do that only after you’ve developed an emotional connection. You first. Unless you’re just a typical woman.

  • Joel

    It’s been my personal experience that a man almost can’t share any negative aspects of his chex life on these Interwebs. Most folks either don’t believe you, don’t give a damn, or can’t relate.

    • The Champ

      as someone stated upthread, the only men who are really able to do this without much pushback are men generally considered to be sexually attractive.

      • Joel

        Oh, so was that the reason I caught Satan’s wrath a few years back? Because I have met very few folks off of this site for anyone to know how attractive I am.

        Paradoxically speaking, though, aren’t physically attractive people (of both genders) less likely to have chexual issues, though?

        • Yoles

          bad chex is bad chex sir

          • Joel

            True, but if you are deemed more chexually attractive, at the very least you’d have more chexual partners to a) choose from in the first place, and b) balance out those bad ones.

            • Yoles

              i don’t think there is any real correlation between being attractive and having ppl perform better chexually.. at least for a woman… dudes either pay attention to your body and make it do what it do or they don’t… having dudes constantly want to run up in you doesn’t translate to anything other than having dudes constantly wanna run up in you

              • Joel

                Yes, but based on what has been presented today, you have to be considered attractive for anyone to even care about your problems. I suppose that’s why I caught so much flack back in my TheRealestLeo days….Amazing how the game works.

                • LMNOP

                  You’re therealestleo? I had no idea

                  • Joel

                    Yes.

                • Yoles

                  i think in general you have to be considered attractive for ppl to believe the conquests, hubris and bravado…

                  we all know ppl have chexual problems and questions and following the attractiveness logic less attractive ppl would have more problems right??

                  your realest leo days were filled with grumpy complaints not about chex but about not finding the partner for you… thats a different animal…

                  • Joel

                    In this day and age where guys who are just out looking for chex from women get the side eye, how is a man looking for a relationship (but not finding it) THAT bad?

                    • Yoles

                      you were so cranky joel.. and a lil mean imo… thats why people treated you the way they did

                    • Joel

                      I’m just as mean now as I was then. I’ve pretty much given up on love, dating, and relationships altogether. Fcuk it…it can’t get much meaner than that. Just significantly more mature about it these days.

                    • Yoles

                      joel.. there are so many women in the world and new ones turning 18 everyday

                    • Joel

                      That’s fine and all, but you can count out the 18 year olds….I’m pushing 30. I had no business trying to date 18 year olds when I was 18….not gonna try it when I’m 30….lol

                    • Yoles

                      a good fit is a good fit…

                    • Joel

                      Maturity and the willingness to settle down are important. Most 18 year olds are lacking one or both of those.

                    • Yoles

                      key word… most

                    • Joel

                      I can’t speak on every single person….I don/t hang out with 18 year olds now, but my freshman year of college was filled to the brim with women looking at me funny because I was trying to find a relationship and not just out for the chex like most of my male counterparts at that time.

                    • Yoles

                      typically its a response to FREEDOM… but there within the masses are many 18 yr olds that have had freedom and aren’t that overwhelmed by it… i am no advocate for men finding barely legals but i will admit that every 18 yr old isn’t just 18…

                    • Joel

                      Ok. I’ll agree with you here. But just like it’s not her fault she may have been sheltered in her childhood, it’s not my fault I wasn’t.

                    • Joel

                      All I know is that I get quite a few of the 18-21 crowd where I work now (residential property management), and if they are any indication of what’s in store, I’ll pass. Most of the ones I’ve seen either have kid(s) already or they just come off as plain childish.

                    • camilleblue

                      So, are you just content to go through the remainder of your life alone? Real question bc approaching 30 seems awfully young to make such a commitment to *aloneness* for the next 40 or so years.

                    • Joel

                      Sure. My efforts to find someone over the last decade or so were largely a waste of my time, anyway. I can read between the lines well enough to know when I’m not wanted. At least I’ve made significant professional progress and gained many new perspectives on life in my 20’s.

                    • camilleblue

                      But you sound like you set a restrictive timetable for yourself. I mean, a lot of folks don’t have really meaningful relationships in their 20’s. And a lot of folks don’t get married until their 30’s or 40’s. What’s your rush?

                    • Joel

                      The older I get, the less I trust people. The closer I get to accomplishing my personal goals in life on my own, the less value being in a committed relationship carries for me.

                    • camilleblue

                      Ok, then may I ask – why do you sound so resentful about it? And I’m not trying to throw any shade, just genuinely asking. If having any kind of meaningful relationship is of little to no importance to you, why do you come across as upset about having made the choice to NOT allow the potential for any relationships to develope in your life? Because it is a choice that you made.

                    • Joel

                      The resentfulness is mostly me coming to this realization (this just happened recently). Having a meaningful relationship was important to me at one point, but it seemed like I was heading down that path of “you have to have a-z, 1-100, and the first 17 letters of the Greek alphabet in order before you are worthy of having someone in your life”….and by the time I get all that, what good is a woman that wasn’t there when times were hard going to be?

                    • Camilleblu

                      I see. Don’t close the door completely. There is still much to experience in this thing called life.

                    • Aly

                      I’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve mentioned how you’ve “given up on love, dating, and relationships.” Serious question: Why do you keep telling us that? Who are you trying to convince by repeating it, us or yourself? If it’s us, we get it. You think you have to be “perfect” in order to be in a relationship. You believe women aren’t attracted to you. The women you do meet don’t meet your standards. We get it. Loud and clear.

                      If you’re trying to convince yourself, you’re not doing a very good job if you have to keep repeating it. To me it sounds like you haven’t completely given up. If that’s the case, there’s plenty of fish in the sea and all that jazz [or insert other corny cliche here]. Point is, keep trying. I mean, what’s the alternative? Date, and then date some more. Have fun. Go out with friends. Meet new people. Or don’t, I really dgaf. Please though, stop acting like there’s not one woman on the planet (or in DC) who’s interested in you or vice versa. I know it seems that way at times, but you’re too smart to actually believe that.

                    • Tx10inch

                      Damn Aly. You went IN. lol

                    • Joel

                      I’m not specifically trying to convince anyone of anything. This is a recent decision I just came to, so it is still fresh on my mind.

              • afronica

                The most conventionally handsome guy I’ve been with was also a pretty big disappointment in that way. Even now, I think of him, bite my knuckle and smh. Such a waste. I really hope his skills have improved because all that potential going to waste is Mendel’s bad dream. Of course, it could have just been me. We just didn’t work.

                • Yoles

                  pretty in the face has no bearing on prowess below the waist #facts

                  • ratchet d-Ibaka

                    Tabernacle!!!!!!!!!!!!

              • Joel

                What I was trying to say was that apparently if you are more attractive, you’ll at least have a larger sample size of chex to work with. 8 for 20 is much better than 1 for 3, even though mathematically they’re only 6.67 percent apart.

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