Why Is Good Sex So Hard to Find?

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A new book and Netflix series tackle tough questions around women's sexual pleasure.

Bad Sex: Truth, Pleasure, and an Unfinished Revolution, “ What, exactly, do I want? And are my sexual and romantic desires even possible amid the horrors and bribes of patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy?” A running theme among writers who attempt to diagnose our sexual ills are the limits of the #MeToo era’s understandable focus on consent.

argues that consent culture, like confidence culture, puts the onus on individual women, who must not only learn to love their bodies but to thoroughly excavate their desires in order to be completely sure of what they want or do not want before embarking on sex. “Consent and its conceit of absolute clarity, places the burden of good sexual interaction on women’s behavior,” she writes. “Woe betide she who does not know herself and speak that knowledge.

“If everyone involved is glad to be there, and free to leave whenever they choose, we’re allowed to do anything we want,” one sex expert says in. It’s a familiar formulation, and one that Srinivasan notes sounds an awful lot like “the norms of capitalist free exchange.

over the fact that the shift away from purity culture has improved the lives not only of many women but of countless LGBT+ people. Despite that, the idea at the core of her book—that we might owe sexual partners something more than the prevailing popular norms dictate—rings true. “The question shouldn’t just be ‘Did I avoid raping this person?’—that’s the floor, not the ceiling,” she argues. Love should perhaps factor into things, though not of the romance and candlelight variety. Instead, she quotes Thomas Aquinas’ definition of the word: “willing the good of the other.” It’s another individual approach to a structural problem, but it does have the benefit of looking outward, to our communities and the broader world, rather than the inward-facing dictums of self-help.

 

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