9 Things That Should Be Sexual Deal Breakers For Feminists (Or Really, Anyone)
There are some obvious deal breakers when it comes to having feminist sex: Being greedy, selfish, a sulk, unfair, or sexist are all completely unacceptable and are at the top of the list. If a person gets to see your most intimate parts and join you for some pleasure, they need to behave themselves, share, and treat you with respect. But there are other, slightly less obvious behavioral traits that should signal an immediate warning to you if they crop up in a bedroom partner. Passive aggression, one-sided pleasure, stereotypings about sexuality and gender, emotional manipulation, arguments about contraception: it's all in the category of "deal breaker," because it signals a lack of respect for you and your desires and boundaries.
Of course, we're not all sexual saints. At some point everybody's had a quiet sulk because their partner's gone to sleep when they were virtually sure there'd be some sexy-time, or felt lazy about getting everybody in the situation off. But one-time behaviors when you're young and sexually and emotionally inexperienced, and that you then try to learn from, are not the same as offenses committed when you're definitely old enough to know better.
Here are nine sexual deal breakers that should make you kick the person in question out of bed, or at least have a Very Serious Sit-Down about what the hell they think they're doing....
1. Their Orgasm Is Always The Priority
This is a relatively obvious one: if your partner's pleasure is the clear priority without consultation about yours, that's not OK. (And no, this is not just a male-female relationship thing, but it can be a definite sign of sexism in men.) This can manifest in a bunch of ways. They can simply stop trying after getting off; they can only do things that please themselves (including positions, timing, toys, and foreplay); they can dismiss your requests or complaints. Whatever way it manifests, though, it's not reasonable and is a dismissible offense.
2. They Disregard Any Safewords Or The Word "No"
Proceeding with sex after a clear "no" has been given, whether as the word itself, any other request to stop, or in the form of a safeword, is assault. I refuse to sugar-coat this one. They don't only need to be booted out the door, they need to be reported to the police, because consent can indeed be withdrawn once sex has been started (that's your right) and partners need to respect that.
3. They Insult Your Body, Choices, Or Technique
If they're having sex with you, they respect and admire your body. No excuses. The second a partner is rude about your weight or appearance, the sexual choices you've made in the past (sex toys or other partners, for instance), or how you perform a particular sex act, you have no need to continue to be polite to them, let alone get them off. Critique of sexual technique is a valid thing, but it has to be done with respect, encouragement, and sensitivity, and anything less means they don't deserve your awesomeness.
4. They Fail To Disclose STDs
The sole exception to this is if they themselves did not know that they suffered from the STD, but frankly, in these days of inexpensive and rapid testing, not coming to each new partner with a comprehensive view of your own sexual health isn't really excusable. If they thought it wouldn't matter because it wasn't flaring up at that particular moment, set them straight. Fear of disclosing an STD is understandable: people with them don't want to be stigmatized, judged, or miss out on intimate connections. But honesty and rejection are far better than dishonesty and a dangerous sexual encounter.
5. They Don't Want To Talk About Contraception & Protection
I know gloves, dental dams, and condoms are a pain. Trust me, I am aware of the fact (as is Bill Gates, who's funded an entire competition to make more pleasurable condoms back in 2013). But if you're new partners without full, clear bills of health, that stuff's necessary, and you have the right to determine what goes near your body and what level of risk you're willing to accept. A partner who tries to lower your standards of protection for the sake of whatever (pleasure, spontaneity, etc) is not worth it.
6. They Blackmail Or Pressure You In Any Way
You don't want to have sex? You don't want to do a particular thing? You aren't feeling an idea even though you were initially into it? Cool. Definitely your right, and definitely not something to be made to feel bad about. (It's OK to apologize and reassure each other if something isn't panning out the way you planned, but that should come from a place of kindness; you shouldn't have to keep apologizing, or "repay" a debt.)
This includes being called a "tease," complaining about "blue balls" or getting passive-aggressive about how "fine" they are. If sex becomes a weapon fraught with emotional manipulation, cut that sh*t off and get the hell out.
7. They Have Gender-Based Expectations Of Your Passivity Or Appetite
If a partner, male or female, makes annoying assumptions about your particular proclivities and libido because of your gender and the type of gender you perform (e.g. a "girly girl"), they need to be booted. Examples: all butch women like strap-ons, all women in general give oral sex, women's libidos are lower than men's. Making any assumptions about your sexual life because of your gender is a no-no. It's your choice whether to educate or abdicate on this one.
8. They Discuss Intimate Details With Others Without Your Consent
This is an interesting one; people do talk about sexual problems, in particular, with close friends. But the level of disclosure you'd prefer about your sexual life is something that needs to be discussed. Everybody has different boundary points for their privacy, but respect for intimate partners should include a base level of discretion until you talk about it. (Frankly, the entire talk-about-partners-with-your-friends-regardless premise of Sex & The City made me uncomfortable.)
Whether you're cool with an X Is Awesome In Bed billboard in your hometown or would rather they keep away from the issue with their friends (and family!) altogether, they shouldn't start spilling beans without discussing it first.
9. They Experiment Without Consultation
The stupidest thing ever is the idea of "whipping out" something on an unsuspecting partner. Consent, everybody! Active consent is an excellent and sexy thing, and it doesn't have to mean sitting down and planning everything intimately beforehand, or meticulously narrating what comes next. Surprise shouldn't be the sole component of pleasure, and it definitely shouldn't come in the form of "starting something wholeheartedly without checking if it's OK first." Particularly if they're in a position of power, for instance in a BDSM situation.
Spontaneity can be maintained within an atmosphere of consent. That's what safe-words are for, and other clear, coherent signals that surprises are welcomed or should stop. This is a basic principle behind blindfolding: you consent to being surprised with new sensations, and can at any point indicate immediate ceasefire. Nobody's allowed to do anything to your body that you don't like or want. Period.
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