The case for being sex critical

Sex-positive culture can feed the idea that exercising your right to have casual sex will naturally result in validation and empowerment.

I was staring at my bedroom roof, another person’s fingers in my vagina, when I concluded that casual sex was a waste of my time.

It wasn’t the first time I’d entertained this thought. I’d also pondered the point of having casual sex during an 11-month no-sex stint last year. Eventually though, I started having casual sex again.

However, hearing “you’re definitely a feminist”, be the first thing someone says as they remove your underwear and look at your vagina really forces you to weigh up the cost benefits of having sex that is usually physically subpar and, sometimes frankly offensive.

An easy solution could be to avoid sleeping with cunts. The problem is that, one, they don’t always identify themselves as such immediately, and two, t’s possible to have lacklustre sex with lovely people.

This raises a question about the utility of casual sex. Since departing from the view of sex’s utility being rooted in its reproductive capabilities — thank fuck — and towards a view of it as a hedonistic act, many who have casual sex, have it simply because it feels good.

Traditionally, climax is the sign that maximum pleasure has been reached and that pleasure is the reason we pursue sex. It’s never been quite so simple for me.

One night, mid-coitus, the person I was fucking asked, “how do I make you come?” It wasn’t the first time I’d been asked the question nor would it be the last. Straddling them, I began a lecture on how I found it problematic to focus on orgasm; that we should view it as an added-bonus rather than end-goal.

Me: we must view the sexual experience as more than just coming!

Them: you mean, you struggle to come?

Me: No! People struggle to make me come!

Them: … right

They didn’t push the point; we continued having sex until they came.

It made more sense as to why people centre climax when I learnt to make myself orgasm. Being able to seamlessly pleasure myself also made it more painful when I would have casual sex, not come, and then have to endure comments about my hairy pussy.

Not only this, but you don’t have to be a hypochondriac to know having casual sex comes with risk: STIs, unplanned pregnancies, and the chance that who you’re sleeping with will turn out to be the kind of person that says “you’re welcome” after finger-fucking you like you’re a pokie machine. Of course, contraception and getting regularly checked can greatly minimise the risks, but they still exist.

Obviously, my experience is not universal. I’ve spoken to other women about why they have casual sex. The responses were mixed. While many said they enjoyed casual sex for the excitement, others focused on the pleasure in connecting to people in the unique way sex affords, and some said that it was just a lot of fun, which is reason enough in itself.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with casual sex. However, the sex-positive climate can feed the idea that exercising your right to have casual sex will naturally result in validation and empowerment. When that fails to happen consistently, and you’re not even physically enjoying the sex, you start to lose sight of why you were doing it in the first place.

There’s something to gain in being critical about our sexual experiences and the pleasure they provide on a purely physical level. It’s easy to think that the way to improve sex is to be more ‘adventurous’ (read: have it in different places or positions), but often the path to improvement is actually paved by the ability to communicate. When you’re having casual sex with people you’re unfamiliar with, that communication can be difficult but it’s not impossible.

After all, it’s cliche, but life really is too short to be wasting your time having sex with cunts who tell you to “work harder than that”.