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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Monday, 7 June 2010

WTF FWB?

As you may know I despise the phrase "friends with benefits" almost as much as I do the term "fuck buddy", considering it, amongst other things a pretty superficial way of engaging with people as well as a good way of having a dull sex life. Think of it this way - the more at arm's length you keep someone the less well you know them, can see into their heads so you touch their kinks only lightly, if at all. Play becomes transactional and loses a lot of its edge. Quality suffers from lack of intimacy. Also, I don't want my partners to be "friends who I have sex with". I have friends, they are not for having sex with. They are my friends. I have partners to do that, people who have a place in that private part of my life. That private part of me. Perhaps I'm a terrible romantic but I've always liked the term "lover". Not because I think you need to have a love affair or even to be in love, but you do have to love what you are doing with them and also because it has a slightly old fashioned filthy ring to it.

So, nomenclature and my personal preferences aside, the other terrible thing about fuck buddy-ism is the way it tends to assume that this way of having sex is a masculine approach. Take this article for instance. There are many points in this article at which a sensible person might raise a few questions, certainly eyebrows. That there doesn't seem to be much "friendship" going on in this proposed plan, and that anyone who honestly thinks that women use pregnancy to trap a man needs to give the 19th Century their values back. My major sticking point with it is that it seems rather unlikely to generate decent sex: no staying the night, no talking about anything "real", no bites or marks and no acting "indecent". Which to me speaks of rather a wham-bam approach lacking in anything of interest. How people manage to generate an orgasm on such cold, dull ground is beyond me. Frankly a nice glass of wine and masturbation seems like a much better option.

The writer, perhaps awash with his own testosterone manhood keeps on hammering home how this is "rough game" in which men (who want commitment free sex) can control women (who want sex free commitment) into having this sort of sexual "relationship". He is also, rather sadly, allegedly a wise sage well versed in helping men meet women. I'm rather torn between who I feel most sorry for, the men who read his ghastly advice or the poor women they then approach.

This binary is one of the oldest and most annoying of all the gender stereotypes about sex. It closes down all sorts of free expression and exploration of how we fuck and how we feel about it, rendering women into sexless, desireless baby-craving nesting lunatics and men into penis-driven emotionally stunted misogynists. A battle of the sexes writ small, in which each side is using the mating game as a tool to get what they want.
Reams of nonsense have been spilled on how to "win" this war, going back many, many years, but this rather neatly encapsulates them. All the tropes are there - laid out in ghastly glory.

The question is, what to do? The article made me alternately cry and laugh. Crying because perhaps these are genuinely reflective of prevalent attitudes. I've heard them before and they make me sad that we could still think these things, not of ourselves as individuals, because surely there are people who might only want a quick uninteresting fuck on a Friday night and never be seen again, but because we think that only men want this and that all men want this. That we can assume these things of 50% of the population and that we bring up our sons and daughters in an environment in which these ideas form the basis of many social interactions, which perpetuates the myth, making it real. Girls are better with feelings. Boys are only after one thing. Having a husband and family is the most important thing a woman can have. Men should behave badly.

Laughing because I know that many people will find those notions as outdated and silly as I do, because the more that we expose and laugh at this sort of behaviour the quicker it will become embarrassed and hide under rocks. And also because at the very least, given the hideousness of the "advice" given and the emphasis on contraception - it's unlikely that they will have any sons or daughters to infect with this terrible nonsense.

6 comments:

Shuzhi said...

I'll talk to you more about this next time I see you. Now I'm an unemotional person who's never liked talking about my personal life to people. To me, sex is physical, literally like drug you take to give you a pleasure hit . Now this may be because I research the neurobiology of 'love', but I dislike emotional discourse during sex. So, what are the differences between casual sex and sex in a long-term relationship? Well, without going into too much science, sex with a stranger is thrilling, whereas sex with a partner is more about bonding. Some people prefer the intimacy of the latter, but many people prefer the thrill of the former. You can enjoy both, but they'll just satisfy you in different ways.

Demasoc said...

Prevalent? I don't see it. The source of the article (an auto-submitted article farm) ain't exactly high-credibility, and to the best of my knowledge most men find "love gurus" like this guy laughable.

Sure, some of the attitudes here are reflected by more people than others, and sure, there are people out there who believe all this bollocks, but I don't see any reason to assume the whole Western world thinks like this. Even in Cosmo and chick lit the dialogue's more complex.

Maleghast said...

OMG...

I read the article and I am left in a similar place to you (I think); amused that this idiot seems to think that there is any positive benefit to this so-called strategy, and deeply upset that despite his clear lack of any kind of substance he will probably be balls-deep in someone this week or next and I probably won't...

Don't misunderstand, I'm not prepared to behave "his way" to get sex; like you I'm looking for something that transcends merely getting my rocks off, and a big part of that is actually connecting with whoever I end up having sex with next, but I am also black and blue from being beaten by the horny stick(tm) and there does come a point when the brain-stem starts to say things like "you know you want to" in the dark and uncomfortable recesses of my mind.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine (who is definitely going to remain nameless) said to me that, living in Reading as I do, all I needed to do if I just wanted to get the horny monkey off my back was go to one of the bars on Friar Street, dressed up a little, and flash a fair bit of cash about. I was horrified, but it does seem to be a part of the same mindset, that finding someone to fuck is somehow a strategic pursuit that is best served by adopting a posture of deceit, selfishness and distance - three things that I believe are completely counter-productive to good sex.

*shrugs*

I guess I will continue to cling to the idea that at least the next time I do go to bed with someone there is a much higher chance that I will keep going to bed with them, and that we will really be able to give each other something more than a five minute thrill followed by a tactical withdrawl, even if in the long term we end up going our separate ways.

electronic doll said...

@ Shuzhi

I'd be really interested to chat to you about this - especially the neurobiology of it, something I've touched on but don't know enough about.

Coffee sometime?

Interestingly, I've never found stranger sex thrilling, more boring. Maybe I picked the wrong strangers?

electronic doll said...

@Demasoc

Thanks for that. It's always nice to know that there are lots of other people out there who do find this sort of sexist tosh plain silly.

The reason I picked up on it was that whilst I don't think the "whole western world" thinks like this, or I'd have to move to Dubai, I do think that they are common attitudes, albeit expressed here in an extreme way.

It might be my own upbringing (rural North England) but the things he talks about stem from beliefs that I heard an awful lot of whilst growing up, especially the "girls get pregnant to trap guys" and the "men need sex, women need relationships" paradigms.

I know that the circles I move in are different, because obviously I chose to hang around with people who share my own views, but I do believe that those opinions are more prevalent than we (middle class educated sex positive types) tend to believe.

"The Rules" has similarly gendered viewpoints, to use a more popular piece of work (I agree that the article I cited isn't exactly high-cred, but I picked it because it had been circulating on a lot of internet sites I follow so whilst the provenance isn't great, the distribution is).

I have no idea about Cosmo and chick lit. I haven't broached those areas of perversion yet...

I'm a bit scared to do so, frankly.

electronic doll said...

@Maleghast

Remember. Girls don't like boys. Girls like cars and money.

I think that strategies and plans, like this one, like the rules, like the "5 things you should know" nonsense articles in whatever bloody magazine people are reading all work because other people believe them too. Like some sort of terrible mass hallucination.

What that means, really, is that the sort of people you get from that strategy is the sort of people who buy into it. Like any form of social interaction it is in some senses self-selecting. I suppose, it attracts the kind of people who are attracted to that kind of thing.

Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

So it works. Kind of.

When and how it doesn't work are the areas that I (and I suspect you) are more interested in. People who don't view relationships as a giant Machiavellian game to Get What They Want or Getting Away Without Giving Them What They Want. But rather as a way in which We Can Both Have What We Want A Lot.

Whilst the perception of gendered sexual interactions exist then I think we tend to end up with a lot of the former, as people are trying to win at wars that don't exist, or whose battle lines are entirely of their own making.

And yeah, you could get laid by waving some cash about. But you'd get what you pay for.