There is Something Seriously Wrong with Sex in America
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Fabiana Ponzi
There's really nothing like a conversation with someone who doesn't live here to make you remember how puritanical America is when it comes to sexuality – and women's pleasure, specifically. In a pretty wonderful exchange between New York magazine's Maureen O'Connor and French GQ sex columnist Maia Mazaurette, the women take on first dates ("There is no first date. There is just first sex"), open relationships and sex toys. Short version: I'll see you all in Paris.
Mazaurette seems genuinely baffled by the curious coupling of American prudishness and male-centric sex: she worries that any American man she might date would think she was a "slut" based on French norms, and she doesn't understand why American women give unreciprocated blow jobs. "I don't pleasure in my mouth. It's very mysterious to me, why an American woman would do that," she told O'Connor.
Well, to start – it doesn't help that the defining porno of all time is about a woman who has a clitoris in the back of her throat.
Jokes aside, there is something seriously wrong with sexuality in America. Women are simultaneously told that we need to be as desirable as possible and that, if we're too sexual, we're "sluts". In this theory, there's some sort of magical middle ground where we have enough sexual contact to lock a man down, but not enough to make him cringe at the idea of marrying us. (In this model, by the way, all women are straight and only have enough sex to get a guy to put a ring on it. Because, sex – ick!)
In the meantime, women are hypersexualized everywhere from advertisements to music, but – with only a few exceptions – women's enjoyment of sex is either non-existent or completely dependent on what men like to see. We're so accustomed to a male vision of female sexuality, it's hard to imagine what authentic and organic female pleasure would look like.
The one area in which American women seem to have a leg up (sorry) on the French ... is masturbation. Mazaurette says, "We tend to think that porn and masturbation are things you do when you don't have any other choice. It means you failed in your relationship or your love life."
I will begrudgingly take nationwide masturbation acceptance over nothing, but O'Connor and Mazaurette's conversation is a candid reminder of how far we still have to go before a true vision of female sexual pleasure here in the States. Until we grapple with that gap – and the oh-so-radical notion that women actually like sex when it isn't all about BJs and porn - we'll be far behind the French on everything from this to how to "not get fat" and how to raise our bébés. Merde.