I can remember the last time I was given genuinely good advice about sex and relationships (respectively, to flick my tongue against the frenulum of my partner's penis and to communicate when I am unhappy; both circa 2006). Well, the tips I've received ever since have been more like, put a donut around his dick! No, a scrunchie! And don't educate yourself on sex risks! Now go upside down! And put three ice cubes in your mouth! And stop making Your Man pay for dinner, because that's reverse-sexism!
My point is, there's some pret-ty terrible advice circulating in these modern times, and this past year has been no exception. We dove into the miasma of 2013's shittiest sex and relationship pointers to compile the list below, which, as you can see, runs the gamut from evidently sexist to flat-out evil.
1. Ladies, stop getting yourselves sexually assaulted. Really now, girls.
As you might rightly point out, rape is sexual assault, not sex. But when it comes to bad sex advice, you'll notice how those two things get disturbingly conflated. I think it's important to disambiguate the two — as Emily Yoffe failed to do in the absolutely terrible column she wrote for Slate a few months ago, which implored women to stop getting drunk so men would rape them less. The piece was a staggering, if entirely unsurprising example of how women are constantly blamed for having violent sex crimes forced upon them. (Also noteworthy: the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs's dubious tips for women's safety, which including vomiting or peeing on command to deter a rapist. Instead of, you know, a list of tips for men to help them to not rape women.)
2. Put your partner way first, like all the way first, because it's not like such impulses are already ingrained in you, anyway.
Urgh, Seth Adam Smith's "Marriage Isn't For You" essay was trouble. Sneakily, the HuffPo piece doesn't even seem so bad, from the get-go — it's not unnaturally horrible to suggest prioritizing your significant other's needs over your own, sometimes. (Allegedly, that is how compromise works; I personally prefer winning.) Except, as my colleague Emma Cueto points out, it's not such great advice to give a woman, as women have already been socially conditioned to be people-pleasing and to place their significant other's needs before their own, generally at their own expense. Nope, not very good advice at all.
3. Make him a sandwich (or 300).
I think I actually gagged at my desk reading the New York Post's 300-sandwiches story. If you're lucky enough to have missed this one, it entails one woman's creepy boyfriend promising her an engagement ring if she makes him 300 sandwiches. Wait, here's a pull-quote; there is literally nothing cute about this story:
Each morning, he would ask, “Honey, how long you have been awake?”
“About 15 minutes,” I’d reply.
“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?”
To him, sandwiches are like kisses or hugs. Or sex. “Sandwiches are love,” he says. “Especially when you make them. You can’t get a sandwich with love from the deli.”
Like, oh, my god, maybe just love your girlfriend like a normal person and find a better fucking deli? You are based in New York; have you ever been to Katz's??
4. Actually, just go all out and bring a steak into bed.
Hey, if Your Man isn't satisfied by a MERE 300 sandwiches, you better step it up (or break up. You should probably break up). Apparently, it is time for you to bring a steak into bed with you and your paramour. That's what Men's Health suggests in this slideshow of food play tips, anyway. At least they acknowledge that this is a ridiculous idea — but not too ridiculous to suggest, evidently.
5. No need to worry about that gaping hole in your condom. You're probably too magical to get knocked up!
OK, so this is a little bit on us — it turns out that some women believe that, for whatever reason, unwanted pregnancy can't happen to them. In a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, female subjects who weren't taking birth control (or who were taking it incorrectly) thought they wouldn't get pregnant for the following reasons: they hadn't gotten pregnant yet, they incorrectly believed themselves to be infertile, and they were taking birth control — very sporadically, but still, three pills in a day is the same as three pills over three days, right? (NO.) So if you have ever told yourself this, please stop, because the odds of getting pregnant during unprotected sex are, like, incredibly high.
6. Communicating? Very 2012. It's 2013; go for the beej.
This one comes to you from none other than Gwyneth Paltrow, fount of wisdom that she is: when you're mad at your significant other, don't attempt to convey how you're feeling. It's very yesterday. So you can forget forming "I" statements and taking deep breaths and compromising, because why bother with all of those adult conversations when you could just give your significant other head instead? Conflict resolution for the 21st century!
7. Men: stop asking for permission, and take what's yours.
Returning to that idea of teaching men not to rape women, here's some horrible sex advice for men, courtesy of some guy who calls himself the Polyman (ew?). This article is chock-full of double-plus-ungood Doublespeak, and reveals how playing with domination and submission tropes can go horribly wrong if you don't discuss limits with your partner first. Suggestions include never, ever forcing your partner to do anything against their will — good — except for when you're doing what you want with her without asking for permission — BAD. The writer also insists that there's "an obvious difference between a playful flirty ‘no’ with a smile and a 'NO! STOP!'" Which, you know, is not something you can actually be certain of, unless you've talked to your partner beforehand.
8. You should probably sleep with your ex to get over your breakup, 'cause that can't go wrong.
Sometimes, science says sleeping with your ex-boyfriend will help you get over your ex-boyfriend. Sometimes, I remember why I decided to study English and communications in college instead of science. Instead of having ex-sex to get over, um, your ex, why don't you try pretty much literally anything else first? There are just so many other things and people you could do...
Here's hoping for a more sexually sane 2014.