A new book by sex and relationships columnist The Dot Spot, uncovers everything you’ve wanted to know about dating and relationships, from kink to sexual self-empowerment, written in an upfront, entertaining and sassy style. Here’s an edited extract abou
The Dot Spot: Adventures in Love and Sex by Dorothy Black
MF Books 220 pages; R200 at takealot.com
When do you get naked? This should be a very simple answer: ‘Whenever you want to.’ But if it were that simple we wouldn’t still be tackling everyday sexism and misogyny from bedrooms to boardrooms. This notion of when it’s ‘the right time’ for women to ‘put out’ for the benefit of a male partner is so embedded in our culture we continue to think of it as fact. The idea goes something like: ‘If you put out too soon you’re a slut and he’s not going to be interested. Rather withhold and if he’s a good boy he’ll give you a relationship / respect / a ring and you can reward him by giving him your cookie.’
Even in situations where we might have progressed to a position of ‘yes, by all means, you’re a modern woman and are free to do what you like’, it’s always presented with its costar, ‘but just remember’: ‘Just remember that guys only want sex’; ‘Just remember that he won’t respect you as much’; ‘Just remember that you should probably build an emotional connection with him first’ ... I really would like to say that this sort of thinking is still only rife among the very traditional and the very religious, but I’ve seen it touted in trendy women’s magazines and nodded over gravely among ‘liberal’ students. So here we are, in the 21st century, discussing why you should feel okay to have sex with someone whenever you damn well want to. Viva sexual liberation!
Look, I’ll admit that I have never, ever, ever experienced someone judging me for how quickly I’ve gone to bed with them. I have never, ever, ever felt that sex with someone ‘too soon’ has negatively affected the outcome of our relationship. It might be possible that this is because I’ve only ever slept with men who have managed to haul their sexist assumptions out of the Dark Ages. But I believe the answer is a lot simpler: I’ve simply not paid attention to it. I’ve simply never, ever, ever bothered to care about other people’s opinions about my sex life and choices. I’ve placed a priority on my own sexual satisfaction and curiosity over the (possible) judgey opinion of the people around me. I don’t see sex as the final frontier of a personal journey couples take to ‘togetherness’. To me, sex is a kind of language. It’s a form of communication that’s natural, necessary and non-negotiable on the road to a real understanding of the person we’re getting emotionally involved with. If dating is about collecting information, shouldn’t you be collecting info about your partner’s sexual self as well? Is he going to be a good, caring and unselfish lover? Are your appetites and kinks matched? Is he someone you can feel both safe and sexy with? This is not just about what he needs to get off and baiting him with the cherry between your legs.
If you’re interested in getting to know someone intimately, the emotional and intellectual connection is as important as the sexual connection. And yet, we’re very often told that you should first build an emotional connection with a potential partner. But why? Why is that any more important than a sexual or even intellectual connection? What does ‘waiting’, in spite of your desire, save you from? A guy who would think you’re a slut for liking sex? Well, good riddance. Besides, if someone’s going to leave you and treat you like rubbish, they’re quite capable of doing that after they’ve had sex with you – however long they’ve had to wait for it. If a guy doesn’t consider you ‘girlfriend material’ because you sleep with him ‘too quickly’, does your holding out make him any less of an uneducated, sexist jerk?
I’m not saying that there aren’t people who will make a pretence of being interested in your personality just so that they can get into your pants. But the one sure-fire way to sidestep the emotional damage these arseholes do is to do exactly what you want to do, on your terms and without manipulation or expectation. You’re not ‘giving yourself away’ and getting a raw deal in return, you’re claiming your own sexual experience, whatever it is. You get naked because you want to, not because it’s expected and definitely not because you think it’ll keep him interested. Let your desire, not some dick, lead you. And by ‘dick’, I mean anyone or anything who tries to influence your mind about how you choose to enjoy your body with other people.
Which brings me to the matter of your slut number. I decided on that term when I wrote a column about what society would like your ‘number’ to say about you (I’ll give you a hint, if your number is more than two you’re a slut, so…). Here is what I know: If someone is asking you the ‘how many’ question, it’s almost guaranteed that whatever number you give, it’s too many. If your new partner is asking you how many people you’ve slept with, the correct response is: ‘Why do you want to know?’ Because that’s where the real conversation is. It opens up dialogue about trust and intimacy and perceived ownership. And if it’s you asking the ‘how many’ question, you can start by looking at the most important question for you, which is: ‘Why do I want to know?’ No one needs to know who you’ve slept with and you don’t need to know if your partner’s bonked one person or 30. What does matter is if you’ve both practised responsible sex and whether you can trust your partner with your sexual self. What matters is whether you are compatible and open to exploring with each other. Besides, if he can kiss and tell all the juicy bits just to satisfy your curiosity or jealousy, what makes you think he’ll respect your information should you guys move on to other lovers?
The only value I get from these ‘putting out’ and slut number talks is that they allow you to sort the crazy from the cool very quickly. For example, if a guy is judging and shaming you for your sex life, what does that say about him? Is he someone you should trust with any other personal information? If you feel the need to lie or hide information from him, what does that say for your trust in him or your potential to trust him?