Hookup culture! What a wild ride it’s been.
There are aspects that I struggle with, in the most general sense, adding vaginismus to the mix only makes it more complicated.
On the other hand, I am a singleton who wants to have a sex life. So how have I embraced this contradiction?
Hookup culture is the way that our society accepts and encourages casual sex, which can be healthy and fun! But like anything else in a male-dominated society, there is a bunch of sexism that goes along with this.
Many vulva owners or those in the queer community can probably name a few examples of that ever-present pesky sexism getting in the way of sexual satisfaction.
The very notion that sex is generally understood as the penis entering the vagina is patriarchal in nature.
In my experience…
Most men arrive at a sexual encounter expecting this will be the sex we are going to have. Some don’t even consider oral sex to be sex at all.
(Just ask Bill Clinton.)
This belief is an exact opposition to my concept of sex, and it’s not the only belief that could cause me and my partner to be incompatible.
My experiences have left me to deduce that hookup culture was just not meant for me.
In some ways this is true, if the goal of hookup culture is to be in and out (pun intended) without any navigating or communicating, then I really am not able to participate.
This is not like porn when the man miraculously knows exactly how to touch her without her having to say a word.
Side note: the way men touch pussy in porn has never been the way I like to be touched. I can always tell when a guy has learned from porn because he pushes my clit like it’s a goddamn button. This is painful for me (can you relate?!) and is caused by miscommunication.
Like the various experiences of painful sex, communication is yet another crucial topic that sex ed does not cover, so it’s no wonder so many people struggle with both of these issues.
Sex with no communication could be dangerous, especially if it’s with a newer partner.
I think of each new sexual encounter I have as a clean slate. A new body to learn about (and from) – after all, every body is different, and in order to have fulfilling sex, the participants must learn about each other together.
Without the ability to communicate, this can be extremely difficult or downright impossible.
Curiosity can be a great communication tool both for you as an individual and with a partner. Ask yourself questions like:
What cues can I give with my body? My voice?
When should this be communicated? During? before? after?
How can I tell my partner if something isn’t good? Can I make it sexy? Does it need to be sexy?
Think of the ability to communicate challenging things like it is a muscle. The more you work out that muscle and practice, the more comfortable it will become.
I bet you will surprise yourself with your ability to communicate!
Good communication equals good sex. More importantly, communication equals consent, if you are not able to communicate your comfort levels then consenting to sex might become an issue.
Experiencing vaginismus makes communication even more crucial.
I can’t afford to hold my tongue if something doesn’t feel right, especially because it is painful.
Many people enter into a hookup unable or unwilling to communicate. This is a NECESSITY for me to feel safe and also find pleasure.
First I have to challenge my partner’s expectations of the encounter, we are not about to have the sex you think we are.
Then I have to lay the groundwork for healthy communication so that no one is uncomfortable and everyone is satisfied.
Exhausting right? But wait! There’s more.
Studies have shown that men receive significantly more oral sex in a hookup encounter than women.
While oral might not be everyone’s cup of tea, for the time being, it’s my whole damn kettle.
This means that some partners might be completely sexually incompatible with me if they do not enjoy oral sex.
Then there’s the orgasm…
Orgasming is awesome! But if there is pressure on me to achieve one my chances go out the window.
Asking me if I am going to come pulls my focus away from the sensations in my body and pushes me into my head.
One second my thoughts were clear and focused and in the next, I’m thinking of the time, or the way I look or wondering what my partner is thinking about.
It’s almost as if my nervous system has been commandeered by the patriarchy reminding me that this sex is not for me.
I mean…. Look at the definition of orgasm and the way they use it in a sentence! Priceless!!!
Keywords here being “managed” and “achieved”.
Even Google doesn’t think I can orgasm. Needless to say, they received my feedback. But I digress, the point is sex is beautiful with or without an orgasm.
I am comfortable and satisfied with the sex I’ve had regardless of our so-called orgasm status.
Not everyone shares this belief.
So, it has been established that there is a war going on inside me between whether or not to participate in hookup culture.
The conclusion I have come to is this: hookup culture can be harmful and perpetuate problematic ideas around sex whether or not penetrative sex is involved.
But I can still have casual sex, in a way that works for me.
It can get exhausting constantly challenging the norms around hooking up but it is one small way to exact change.
Do I fit into the stereotypical hookup culture? Not quite. But that does not stop me from finding partners whose conceptualization of sex matches mine.
Let’s also not forget about queer sex and the BDSM community notoriously accepting and accommodating (link to separate blog post)
If someone is not willing to make a compromise and work together to have a mutually satisfactory experience, then it turns out I am not interested anyway. Simply not meant to be.
A single encounter I had over the summer encapsulates the many problems I have found when trying to participate in hookup culture.
My first tinder hookup:
Setting the scene: the clothes have come off, we have had some fun with our hands, he has asked me if I came four times already, the answers were all no. He says
TG (tinder guy): can I put it in? Me: I don't do that TG: oh…. That's really disappointing
Me: yeah sometimes it’s disappointing for me too
*cue in detail explanation of vaginismus and my journey overcoming it, BONUS: free of charge tour of my sex toy and dilator arsenal*
(Check out the next blog in this series for how I talk to new partners about vaginismus!)
Me: I love head! And I am super good at it
TG: I can’t cum from blowjobs
Me: ok, what else feels good for you?
TG: sex… I mean that’s the only way I can cum
Me: to me oral sex is sex
TG: are you sure you don’t want to just try?
Me: I think you might’ve missed my 20 minutes explanation and tour of my dilators, it’s not something I just try – at this point in time it is not something I am able to do
TG: you know what you should try… you should put some cbd oil up there
Me: hmmm… ok, maybe I’ll look into that
TG: I have some at my house, we could go there right now
*sits up and firmly says*
Me: you are not listening to me, you are not getting fucked like that tonight
TG: yeah that’s just super disappointing
Me: yeah, you said that already
*cue self-sabotage moment*
Me: so do you think you’ll wanna come back
TG: I mean, you can’t have sex and you can’t cum… so no
Me: ok you should probably go then
TG: oh really? I’m sorry
Me: do you feel like you did anything wrong?
Me: Then why are you apologizing?
My first tinder hookup checked all the boxes of incompatibility: fixed expectations, unhealthy (hurtful) communication, dislike for oral sex, and a heavy focus on orgasms.
But that’s not to say I haven’t had fulfilling encounters. I have aligned with many partners and found compatibility in hookup culture. You can too!
Venturing into the world of casual sex can be nerve-racking, especially if you feel like you don’t fit in. But the reality is, nobody does, and fitting in is overrated!
You have the power to bring into being the sex that you want to have.
And your desires and abilities are unique and brilliant! We all deserve to find pleasure! Plus, it has occurred to me that fitting into something as problematic as hookup culture isn’t really a worthy goal anyway.
Vaginismus has caused me to feel inadequate at times, but it has also made me feel empowered and led me to find new ways to explore the world of sex.
I wouldn’t change my experiences, because they have taught me about myself and have given me the resilient can-do, bad-ass, sexy mother fucker attitude I needed to step out into the world and know that I am worthy of the best sex I can find, and gosh darn it, I will find it!
– Cayley G.
P.S. In the next blog in this series: “To Divulge Or Not To Divulge, That Is The Question”, I’ll explore what goes into deciding to tell a new partner about vaginismus.
P.P.S. If you’d like to get in touch, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.