TERRIBLE SEX TIPS: “how to role-play”
I read the terrible sex-tip articles, so you don’t have to.
Because trust me: they’re terrible. I read them for the same reason that I read Fifty Shades of Grey: I want to know what is out there in the socio-sexual zeitgeist. What are people being told they should know or learn about sex? What crap is being floated around about how to better fuck?
It’s the same terrible crap all the damn time, too. “12 ways to suck his cock”? “Six new positions to try tonight in the car”? We all know there’s a heavy rotation of the same material, and I’ve either done them OR I’ve heard about them and said hahahahahaha, RIGHT. But every now and then a sex-tip article pops up that makes me so fucking angry! Amused, but ANGRY! Up until now, all I’ve done is mock these tedious bits in a status update, because I figured I don’t really have the expertise to critique them in any substantial way. (I think I tend to dismiss my own sexual knowledge in any area other than phone sex, because I don’t have any formal training in it. Maybe I should get over that.)
But a week or two ago one of those terrible articles came through my FB feed, and I found myself chomping at the bit to reply. It went straight to the heart of my own personal and professional experience, and I’m sorry, my friends, I feel the need to tear it apart point by cheesy, deluded, terrible point. (I won’t, however, link to it.)
The title itself was problematic: How To Role Play In The Bedroom Without Feeling Embarrassed, Because Slipping Into Character Doesn’t Have To Feel Fake. Way to set us up for feeling weird, unnamed online publication. By making “embarrassed” or “fake” the default emotions that your readers must feel, the ones that we are already feeling or would be most likely to fall into, you … fuck, you sound so negative!
The beginning of the article included this: “Consider how difficult it can be to let your guard down and be comfortable with yourself during sex. Perhaps the answer is to be someone else entirely.” But the article ended with a suggestion to BE YOURSELF. Which one is it, then?
The whole piece was full of feel-good psycho-babble like that. “Injecting your own personality into your new role will help ease you into character,” says <redacted expert> “Injecting”, WTF. What a shitty metaphor: role play is a game, or an art, not a medical procedure. What does that even mean, in a sexual/emotional context? Are we somehow supposed to wipe our personalities clean to get the sexy new roles fully entrenched, and then, like, put bits of ourselves back in? This sounds frightening, not encouraging.
The key, said the author, is to “let your inhibitions take the night off and just have fun.” OH, OKAY THAT’S EASY ENOUGH THEN. She went on to say, “Chances are your characters will be rather hilarious!” Sure, forget the potential for depth and excitement and profound sexual enjoyment. Go for the fucking laugh track.
A good portion of the suggestions were strictly surface, focusing on external elements like clothing, location, and visual/aural overload (lights off, loud music on). I can see the point of clothing and maybe location, you know, if the kids’ bedtime is putting a crimp on your ability to properly vocalize, but turning off the lights? Personally I need to be able to get in the zone for role play, and for me that means being able to see the eyes of the person I’m playing with.
The article suggested other tactics that, in my experience, work directly against getting to the core of role play, like working out a script way in advance, apparently with lines too. Or just push past your discomfort! “If you’re feeling nervous or embarrassed, feel free to acknowledge the discomfort and say you’re feeling a little awkward or a little nervous — but it’s important to try to move past it and jump right into the task at hand, much like you would if you were nervous about giving a speech or presentation in front of an audience.” Yet another inauspicious framing. My mind leaps straight to powerpoint lectures in a glass-walled conference room. Don’t make me think about that! We’re supposed to be talking about sexy things here!
And then the bullet point on dirty talk? It felt like actor coaching … “Ease yourself into the role by whispering your ‘character’s’ lines. The hushed tones combined with the background music will likely ease your self consciousness, says <expert redacted>.”
Okay, you know what will ease your self-consciousness? Trusting your partner and treating it like a joyful, juicy game. I am all in favor of “faking it ’til you make it”, but I feel like that’s for public environments. In the bedroom, faking it—even in the service of supposedly sexy role-playing—just adds more distance between yourself and “the audience”. Already there is so much in this piece that posits partner as audience, and role play as performance, and obviously, with the idea of performance comes performance pressure.
In a one-on-one encounter, there is no audience (except in some post-modern, performative sense, which fuck it, I’m definitely not trained in). There are no performers. There are partners in the game, in which everyone can win. For best results, role-play needs to be less about “roles” and more about PLAY.
<sigh> I need to get my ass in gear and get my workshop going. Because I feel SO STRONGLY that a) people could definitely learn more about role playing and dirty talk, but b) what is out here on the subject is mostly WHOA, really fucking terrible.
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