MAN: “This is so great, you’re so great.”
WOMAN: “I know, I can’t believe this. I’m so into you right now.”
MAN: “Do you want to…?”
WOMAN: “Yes, I do. I’m ready.”
MAN: (bravely) “Tell me how you like it.”
WOMAN: “I like…”
MAN: “Don’t be shy. I want you to feel good. Tell me what you want.”
WOMAN: “I want you to slap me.”
MAN NODS, CONSIDERS, THEN RUNS SCREAMING FROM ROOM.
It’s happened to almost every guy I know. Things are going well, supremely well, better than you have any right to reasonably expect things could ever go. You’re in bed with a woman, making out, and it seems she would like to have sex with you. In that moment, it always feels like a miracle. You’re delighted and instantly think about throwing a parade, but you handle it with calm, damnit, because you’re an adult human being. And, honestly, a parade would only give her a chance to change her mind. So you proceed as normal, until something strange happens. She makes a request, but that’s not the issue, requests are totally cool with us. We’re modern, progressive love machines. We’ll do whatever it takes to make our women happy. But this woman, your woman, tells you what that request is. She wants you to slap her in the face. Or spank her. Or choke her during sex. And then we men, well, we get a little terrified. When it happens to me, I instantly turn into Woody Allen.
WOMAN: “I like to be choked. You know, just a little.”
BRIAN: “You wanna be…uh…you wanna be…uh…did you say…choked?”
WOMAN: “Yeah, but playfully. You know, while we’re having sex.”
BRIAN: “Right…right…playful, like a game. Like a game where we’re sleeping together, and…uh…at the same time I’m trying to kill you?”
WOMAN: “If it makes you uncomfortable, we don’t have to–”
BRIAN: “What? Uncomfortable? I’m not uncomfortable, I just, I think I’m having a little bit of a heart attack.”
WOMAN: (Aggravated. Silent.)
BRIAN: Would it be a turn-off if I called my shrink?”
Look, men are used to receiving sexual requests that we have no hope of fulfilling. Happens all the time. But this particular request, the suggestion that things get a little rough, is a whole other can of beans. Because here, not only is your partner likely to end up unsatisfied, there’s also a chance she’ll be physically injured as well. And that’s a lot to sign up for. We can handle the face that says “No, I didn’t climax, but you’re nice so I’ll pretend I don’t really care.” That face and us have become old friends. But if there’s even a 1% chance that that face might have an added tinge of “Oh, and also, you hit me too hard,” well, that would break our soul in pieces. Honestly. We would never be repaired. So what do we do?
Spanking, I understand. I mean, I don’t understand it, but there’s generally some extra padding back there, so I suppose we can make that work. But slapping? Choking? Why are those even on the table? I dated a girl once who liked to be choked during sex, and every time I tried it, I felt like a serial killer. She hoped to comfort me by telling my I could just do it lightly, and it worked great until she realized my version of lightly meant placing two fingers on her neck and applying enough pressure to maybe seal an envelope. It was clear then that she thought I was a wuss. But look, guys don’t have any framework for choking. We don’t know what a fun amount of oxygen to be deprived is. I mean, how do you choke someone lightly? That’s like saying, “just stab me a little bit.” Either you can breath or you can’t, there’s no really no such thing as light asphyxiation. And no matter how badly she wants it, there’s a lot of programming that requires overriding before a man can physically hurt a woman. Even if his wussiness hangs in the balance.
So really, I don’t know what the answer is. There is no clause in a guy’s instinct that says it’s OK to slap a girl as long as it’s after midnight and she’s really turned on. Just as there isn’t one in a woman’s that says she’s not allowed to be into pain if it makes her dude feel kinda like Woody Allen. I guess we’re all just going to have to live with sex being either a little strange or a little disappointing. Hey, it’s gotten us this far, right?