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When I was sixteen, my boyfriend Kevin brought me a vibrator.  (His mom had bought it, which... awwwwkward, but it was her well-intentioned effort to keep me from getting pregnant by her son. It didn't stop us having intercourse, but I didn't get pregnant so it all worked out in the end.)  The first time he used it, it was mind-blowing.  I'd never used a vibrator before, it happened to be an exceptionally powerful "back massager," and it was a goddamn revelation in sensation.  I came hard, immediately, and repeatedly.  I screamed and writhed and clutched his arm.

For about a minute.  Then he stopped.  He didn't look aroused.  He looked concerned.

"That was amazing!  Do it again!" I said, very happily.

"No," he said.  "I don't want to do any more of that."

Well okay then, that's certainly his decision to make.  We put the vibrator away and had a bunch of non-mechanically-assisted sex, which went fine.  When Kevin was about to leave for the night, I asked him to leave the vibrator behind, and he refused.  He told me he was going to throw it out.  I asked him, in roughly the tone of voice of a puppy that's just been told it can't go to Disneyland, why.

"I'm afraid it can pleasure you better than I can," he said.  So I couldn't have it.

Because I was sixteen, and meek, and naive, and did not have much power in the relationship, I said "oh okay," and then I burbled out a lot of nonsense about of course you pleasure me most of anything in the whole entire world, baby.  But even at sixteen and naive, I knew this was some bullshit.

What interests me now, at twenty-six (and still a bit meek but definitely not naive), is not that it was bullshit.  Telling me I'm not allowed to masturbate in certain ways because I might enjoy it more than The Mighty Penis is clear and obvious bullshit, now.  What interests me is why my boyfriend bought into that bullshit.

I believe it comes down to models.  There are many different ways to model sex, many answers to the questions "So, what exactly is sex? What is it for?"  I believe that once you know someone's answers to those questions, you can understand why their sexual choices make sense to them.

In the economic model, sex is a consumable good, produced by women and sold to men.  (And, in the nastiest implications of the model, sex can be "stolen" without losing value.)  In Thomas Macaulay Millar's performance model of sex, sex is like a cooperative musical performance, ephemeral and existing only in the moment of cooperation between performers.

I've seen people talk about sex in a maintenance model, in which sex is a task a women has to perform fairly regularly to keep her man contented in the relationship.  There's also an achievement model, in which the goal is to do the "naughtiest" or "sexiest" thing, regardless of whether you really like it or not--Cosmo espouses this a lot, and porn tends to encourage it.  And, famously, there's the competition model of sex, in which women are the mile-markers in a race men run against each other.

Or sex can be modeled as a cooperative sport, with the participants acting as teammates encouraging and challenging each other.  There's a communication model of sex, in which sex acts are a way for partners to express and strengthen their feelings for each other.  Personally, I tend toward almost a utilitarian model of sex, in which the goal is to work together to attain the greatest net pleasure.

Kevin's problem, I think, was that he had internalized a shitty macho-culture model of sex.  Going beyond "it's wrong to tell your girlfriend not to use a vibrator," why would it even make sense to tell your girlfriend not to use a vibrator?  In a utilitarian model of sex, it makes no sense--I gain fabulous pleasure, he experiences no harm to his body or his autonomy--this obviously ought to be a win-win, or at least a win-neutral, situation.

But in a competition model of sex, I was making him come in second place to a piece of plastic.  If he believed sex was about showing off his prowess, it was an embarrassment that his prowess couldn't compare to a machine--and it was as cruel and unfair as making a runner race against a motorcycle.

Because I believed that my pleasure was my pleasure, I thought the vibrator was harmless fun.  Because he believed that my pleasure was his measure as a man, he thought the vibrator would make him the loser in a race I didn't even know he was running.  It's no wonder he took it away.  He wasn't pointlessly depriving me of pleasure.  He was depriving me of pleasure because, in his model, he had to.

If I have a Grand Unified Theory Of Everything, it's this: I believe that people always do things that make sense to them.  Hard as it is to believe with all the hurting out there, almost nobody hurts others just to be a jerk.  So if you want to change human behavior on a grand scale, you can't tell people "stop being a jerk."  You have to dissect and then recreate their models of the world until being a jerk doesn't make sense.
The Pervocracy: Models of Sex.
Reposted byMizarul Mizarul

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