50 Messed Up Expectations
This infographic was recently brough to my attention via one of my feminist facebook groups; after reading the first few points, I just thought it was stupid and unoriginal, but not really worth that much thought. However, the more I kept reading, the more worthy of my attention it seemed. By the time I reached the end, I had decided it was actually important enough to merit a blog post. Perhaps “important” is the wrong word; what I really mean is harmful. You see, junk like this gets a pass all the time because it’s categorized as “humor” and people who criticize it are told to just stop taking everything so seriously. Sadly, while the author was likely trying to be funny, he’s also being serious, or he wouldn’t have felt the need to write it in the first place, never mind drone on for fifty points.
The problem here is not that I’m a prude and I’m offended by an article that speaks frankly about sex, nor is it that I just disagree with what the author says. It’s that he uncritically presents many harmful ideas about how sex between men and women is supposed to happen, thereby helping to normalize these ideas in the larger culture. This also isn’t a case of “just one guy” saying something stupid, another defense often relied upon to excuse material such as this. Articles like this one don’t happen in a vacuum — the author was influenced by the media he consumes, his peers, the zeitgeist, and so on; in turn, his work supports, perpetuates, and upholds current popular ideas about heterosexual sex.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the problems with this article:
First off, the piece is aimed at a heterosexual female audience and the tone is completely insulting. This is not written by someone who has encountered some unfortunate faux pas in the bedroom and would like to share his perspective with women out there because he genuinely cares about helping people have better sex. This was written by someone who sounds like he really doesn’t like women and pretty much only sees them as holes to stick his penis in. Note his use of “pussy”, “sissy”, “bitch”, and “skippy” to address his audience, as well as characterizing all women as “frigid” in the very first point.
Onto specifics! I’m just going to go point by point (don’t worry — I’m not doing all fifty or we’d all want to off ourselves by the end).
1. Assuming he can get a raging hard on when it suits you. Contrary to popular belief, men can’t just flip a switch and get it up because you decided to stop being frigid. Getting it hard is your job. I suggest you figure it out.
This, along with many other points, communicates the main thrust (no pun intended) of the piece: you (women) are responsible for your pleasure AND his. If he doesn’t get off, you’re doing something wrong. If you don’t get off, you’re doing something wrong. Sex with dudes is about all of the jobs assigned to you and your ability to do them well.
Point number one also relies on the tired stereotype that women are almost never desirous of sex and can generally be counted on to be “frigid”. The irony of using a stereotype about female sexuality to dismantle another about male sexuality obviously escaped the author.
3. Leaving him responsible for your orgasm. You know what gets you off. Tell him. If you don’t, it’s your own fault when he’s snoozing and you’re all wound up.
On its own, this point isn’t that offensive. It could be stated with a bit more finesse, but I’m sure that would have detracted from the snarky tone the author obviously thinks is funny. Regardless, communication is important and both partners should be able to tell the other what feels good to them. However, keep this “common mistake” in mind while reading point nine . . .
9. Whining when he pushes your head down on his cock instead of stroking your hair. Know why he’s pushing, skippy? Because you aren’t doing it right, and have apparently ignored the other clues he’s given you. Pay attention to the signals that he’s sending you.
Anyone else notice the major double-standard there? Apparently it’s fine for the guy to send you “clues” and “signals” and it’s your job to interpret them and figure out what he wants. If he gets a little aggressive and forces your head further down on his dick than is comfortable for you, that’s basically what you deserve. Maybe we’re supposed to chalk this up to women’s intuition . . . ? Guys, on the other hand, are apparently just total doofs who need to be told explicitly what they should be doing. See how these idiotic ideas are insulting to women AND men? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller??
18. Getting your undies in a bunch when he talks dirty. A little fantasy can be fun. If he treats you with respect all the time, you shouldn’t be offended when he calls you his dirty little slut. When he calls you a whore and tells you to cum, it’s his way of showing that he cares if you get off. Stop being a sissy.
So, this is just one of many examples in which women make the “mistake” of having actual preferences in the bedroom. If you’re uncomfortable with your partner’s dirty talking — too bad. He treats you respectfully almost all of the time; what more do you want?? High maintenance much?! Once again, the author prioritizes male pleasure over women’s pleasure, comfort, and safety. This type of sentiment communicates the idea that what women’s desires aren’t that important, because women aren’t as important as men. This is a first step on the path to dehumanizing women. As such, it’s no surprise that the articles becomes even more problematic nearing the end.
The really rapey bits:
21. Being too much of a pussy to tell him what is or isn’t acceptable before you start bumping uglies. Be honest. If he asks if he can poke you in the butt, and you giggle and say NO like it’s an invitation, don’t look surprised when he “accidentally” sticks his cock in your butt.
28. Getting into bed, getting naked, fooling around and then deciding that you just want to cuddle, then getting offended when he doesn’t. It’s your choice to stop, but don’t look all surprised when he’s confused. You got him naked in your bed, what else did you think was going to happen?
How about if someone says no, you listen to what they’re saying, end of story? No interpreting that “NO” as “sort of yes” or any other excuses. If you want to and your partner says they don’t, YOU DON’T DO IT. If your partner’s answer to your request confuses you in any way, ask for more clarification. This is called getting explicit verbal consent. Maybe your partner is giggling because they were made nervous and/or uncomfortable by your request. Again, that is not an invitation to do it anyway.
So-called Mistake 28 is so fucked up I can’t even handle it. This is victim-blaming at its worst. “Of course a woman has the right to say no! BUT . . . insert whatever victim-blaming, rape apology you can think of here.” When feminists talk about rape culture, this is what we mean. “What else did you think was going to happen?” “What did you expect?” “You tempted him — he couldn’t help it!” “You got naked with him — that’s an invitation for sex!” No, nope, no way. In the scenario described, the female partner consented to getting into bed, consented to getting naked, consented to fooling around, and that’s all. If you don’t consent to sex because you’re not comfortable with that, in a NON-rape culture, what you should expect is for your partner to respect that decision and back off. In rape culture, you’re subjected to garbage like this that implies if your male partner pressures you, makes you feel guilty, and/or forces himself on you after you’ve withdrawn consent, you should expect that and it’s your fault for leading him on in the first place.
Of course, this screwed up reasoning only works one way. Yes, it’s time for yet another DOUBLE STANDARD! As we just finished covering, Mr. 50 Mistakes thinks women need to learn how to stop making “NO” sound like “YES”; he also thinks it’s okay for guys to “accidentally” penetrate you against your will (NEWSFLASH: THIS IS THE DEFINITION OF RAPE), but the same does not go for women penetrating men.
45. Anything that involves inserting anything into his body that he has not specifically approved beforehand. I don’t care what Cosmo says, some things are simply not pleasant surprises.
Explicit verbal consent seems to be quite important to the author, but only when it applies to male desire and comfort. This point is actually completely reasonable — you should not insert anything into your partner’s body without their consent. Right on. Why on Earth would this only apply to men’s bodies?!? This should be the standard for all partners, regardless of sex, gender, and orientation.
I can’t handle any more, so I’ll stop there, but I had to respond to this, whether it deserves the attention or not. Crap like this is harmful and it needs to stop. We, as a society, need way more education about consent and the definition of rape; my teeny, tiny contribution to that education is to counter bullshit like this when I come across it. If you would like more information on what you can do to combat sexual violence or you need some resources to pass onto other people, I highly recommend this blog post.