Anal Doesn’t Hurt at All… On The “Cool Girl” and Sexual Expectations

I’ve been rewatching all four seasons of Crazy Ex Girlfriend over the last couple of months.

Fair warning, this post contains spoilers for all four seasons of the show, so if you haven’t seen it yet then you might want to skip this one.

Early in season 1, main character Rebecca attends a yoga class taught by Valencia, her love interest Josh’s long-term girlfriend. Naturally, the class turns into a musical theatre style song-and-dance routine which exists entirely in Rebecca’s mind. In this case, the song is I’m So Good at Yoga, a Bollywood parody in which Valencia boasts about all the ways in which she’s better than Rebecca. (“I kiss my own pussy, can you do that?”)

It’s a pretty funny scene that will speak to anyone who has ever had an overactive imagination about all the ways in which other people are judging them. But since this is a sex blog, I want to talk about this one throwaway line I wasn’t able to get out of my head after my rewatch:

“Anal doesn’t hurt at all /
Most times I prefer it.”

Given this show’s razor-sharp, on-point social commentary on everything from mental illness to dysfunctional workplaces to parenting, there is simply no way that creator Rachel Bloom didn’t know exactly what she was doing with this line. And that’s what I love about it – it’s another example of this show’s ability to pack SO MUCH into just a few words.

For me, this is a statement on the idea of the “cool girl”. Remember that expression, we’ll come back to it in a minute.

Sexuality policing and the male gaze

In this scene, we see the extent to which Rebecca’s insecurities are focused on what people – especially men, and most especially Josh Chan – think of her. One of the main ways in which she conceptualises Valencia as “better” than her is Valencia’s seeming willingness to behave like a male sexual fantasy. (Which makes it all the more pleasing when – big spoiler incoming – Valencia both becomes a much nicer person and comes out as queer, settling down with a girlfriend, in later seasons).

Unfortunately, we live in a world where women are judged on how well they service the heterosexual male gaze. We’re taught to judge ourselves and each other on our looks from early childhood. It’s no accident that 78% of girls dislike their body by the age of 17 (including 40-60% of elementary school girls). (Source.)

As we get older, our sexuality is policed, too. Be available, but don’t be a slut. Service male desires, but don’t have your own. Be simultaneously a virgin and a whore. The expectations put on women and those perceived to be women are immense, contradictory, and devastating from a mental health perspective.

The “cool girl”

If you’re a women or perceived to be a woman, you might have been described as a “cool girl” (or wished to be one) at some point.

So what is the cool girl (CG)?

Simply put, she’s a cis heterosexual male fantasy who doesn’t actually exist. The CG is down for whatever most pleases the men around her. She eats burgers without worrying about her figure (but is still a size four, of course.) She’s “one of the boys”, but still wears high heels and a full face of makeup. She’s “sexually liberated”, but only in so far as it pleases men. Her sexuality is about their desires, not her own.

The thing is, going back to Crazy Ex Girlfriend for a second, is that when we get to know Valencia, it becomes apparent that she is so much more than just a CG. She’s pretty one dimensional and dislikeable in season 1, but we come to realise that that’s more due to Rebecca’s projection than her actual character. (Let’s be real, I’d probably also come across as a mega bitch if my partner’s ex reappeared in town after ten years with the express intention of breaking us up.)

But Rebecca is so insecure that she conteptualises Valencia as the CG – hot as hell, sexually adventurous, every man’s dream. But the viewer, and Rebecca, later get to see that Valencia is actually just as insecure and just as much a victim of the patriarchy. She has desires, needs, and vulnerabilities just like anyone else.

So about “preferring” anal…

For me, this particular line was entirely about Rebecca positioning Valencia as a cool girl who, naturally, would enjoy the same things cishetero men are supposed to enjoy. Naturally, the perfect CG would not only do anal, she’d prefer it.

Anal sex was a particular point of contention in my first sexual relationship. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that my boyfriend was pretty obsessed with the idea (bearing in mind I was fifteen years old the first time it was brought up.) Much later, I reluctantly did it because I thought I was supposed to do it. Because the women he watched in porn did it, the women he read about in magazines did it, the other women he’d been sneakily flirting with said they would do it.

Authentic desire vs. mainstream pornification

I’m pro-porn, as long as it’s consensually produced and the performers remain in control and are compensated fairly for their labour. However, I also recognise that the mainstream porn industry has a lot to answer for, and one of those things is the fact that many teenage boys now think that pressuring their girlfriends for anal is normal.

Anal sex should be approached like any other consensual kink. If you’re into it, awesome – have fun. If you’re not, that’s totally cool too! I actually did come to enjoy it after those negative early experiences (much later and with a different partner). But that was only able to happen in a space of safety, care, and zero expectations.

I wish we could think of sex as a vast menu of potential options to choose from, rather than a space where certain acts are accepted. I have a lot of respect for Dan Savage and his work, but every time he says “oral comes as standard” it makes me cringe. There shouldn’t be any standards, beyond informed consent and mutual pleasure!

If we’re into anal sex, we should be able to express that and enjoy it free of shame or stigma. But it should be considered equally fine to say hey, anal actually does hurt and I actually don’t like it. When mainstream, male gazey porn is the first introduction many young people have to sexuality, especially when it’s not accompanied by comprehensive sex education, we end up in a place where young men come to expect a certain kind of “performance” from their sexual partners.

If you absolutely need a certain sex act in your life to be fulfilled, you’re within your rights to (and probably should) seek out partners who are also into that thing. (See: why I won’t date entirely vanilla people. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla sex and I enjoy it sometimes, but I need regular kink in my life to be happy and satisfied). But I really want to do away with the idea that any sex acts – penetration, oral, hand stuff, anal, kink – are expected or standard.

Sexual compatibility matters. But what that means will vary for every couple and every individual. Authentic expression of desire is what we should strive for, not matching some impossible male gaze standard.

Cool Girls don’t actually exist, and I love the way Valencia’s character arc slowly dismantles the idea one piece at a time.

I wasn’t expecting this piece about a throwaway one-liner in a TV show to run over 1300 words, but here we are! If you enjoyed this, you can always buy me a coffee to show your appreciation. Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter!

It’s Different for Girls

A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she’s a tramp.”
– Joan Rivers

I thought I’d try something different today – this little poem is my contribution to this week’s Quote Quest, a meme by the gorgeous and talented LSB.

TW for sexism, references to sexual violence, slut shaming, body shaming.

It’s Different for Girls

“It’s different for girls,” they said.
Don’t go out late at night
Don’t take a different way home
Make sure your skirt’s not too short
Don’t be with a boy alone

Don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t

“It’s different for girls,” we heard.
Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail
Don’t have a second beer
Carry your keys in your fingers
Nurture the gift of fear

Be afraid be afraid be afraid

“It’s different for girls,” they told us.
Cover your body, don’t be a slut
Keep an eye on your drink
Laugh politely (but not too loudly)
“You were asking for it, don’t you think?”

“It’s different for girls,” we learned
Your body is open for public discussion
So look pretty (but don’t be a slut)
Don’t you know men only like hairless virgins?
You’ll never get a boyfriend like that.

“Boys will be boys,” they told us.
When what they really meant was
“And you will be held responsible
So you’d better start getting used to it”.

Quote Quest badge for a poem called It's Different for Girls

Check out my other Quote Quest writings and, if you’d like to support me, buy me a coffee! You can also sign up for Coffee Date, my free e-newsletter which comes out every other Wednesday.

Pride Month Guest Post: Euphoric Erotica by Quenby

For the second guest post in my Pride Month series, I’m delighted to be hosting Quenby for the second time (they previously wrote an utterly charming piece about lessons in boundaries from a cat!)

I loved today’s piece about exploring gender identity and creating gender euphoric feelings through the possibilities which exist in fiction but aren’t available to us in the real world. I hope you guys enjoy it as much.

This post deals with gender dysphoria, so please take care of yourself if that’s likely to be difficult for you.

Amy x

Euphoric Erotica

This Pride Month, I’ve been thinking about how erotica can allow trans people like me to navigate the at times strained relationships with our bodies.

For most of my tenure as an erotica writer, I have generally kept my work realistic. The experiences are edited and simplified to bring a narrative to those sweaty, gloriously chaotic moments when we give ourselves over to intense sensation. But I prefer to keep things as close to my real life experiences as possible.

There are a couple reasons for this. Firstly, I want to encourage more inclusive beauty standards and write about real bodies. I want big bellies and asymmetric tits, sweat drips and positions which don’t require gymnastics training.

The other reason is that, by sticking to things I have personally experienced, I know how they feel. My aim when writing erotica is to immerse the reader in the experience, to allow them to imagine what it would feel like to be degraded in public, to be fisted, or to be spanked until they cry. To do that, I need to know what that feels like to begin with.

Recently, though, I’ve started making an exception to this rule. Why should I bind the trans people I write about to a body that feels wrong to them? In prose I can grant a body denied by nature and the medical system, one which affirms and meshes with their gender identity.

In a recently published piece of erotica I imagined my boyfriend with a flat chest and a factory installed dick, and I saw the joy that imagery brought to hir. From now on, I will not be bound by painful accuracy. Let’s use this as a way to imagine trans bodies freed from dysphoria, immersed in gender euphoria which blends with and amplifies arousal.

When we are freed from the constraints of accuracy, we can explore options which would be impossible in the real world. Wish your genitals could shift between cunt and cock as easily as your identity shifts between masc and femme? Me too! I can definitely write about that. Wish you had an androgynous gentacle rather than conventional genitals? I can write about that! (Also you should really check out some hentai.) Wish you transcended the mundane and had a 6 dimensional vortex between your legs? I love the way your filthy mind works you brilliant queerdo, and I can (try to) write about that!

For all the issues that plague the world (including the sex writing industry,) erotica can serve as a glorious escape, a way to imagine experiences and connections shared with others. So let’s use that escapism to help trans people explore their identity and imagine bodies in which they feel more at home.

Quenby is a queer perfomer, writer, and activist. If you liked this post you can check out their blog, or follow them on FB and Twitter @QuenbyCreatives.

[Toy Review] Satisfyer Men Heat & Vibration Masturbator

Satisfyer are really churning them out lately, aren’t they? A few weeks after receiving the now-infamous shipment of 7 new toys for vulvas, I received a parcel the other day containing two new penis toys. They seem very similar, so I got rid of one via a Twitter giveaway, and kept the other one to test make Mr CK test. Meet the Satisfyer Men Heat & Vibration Masturbator (hereafter ‘Satisfyer Men Heat’).

Keep your gendered marketing

I’m opposed to gendered marketing of sex toys. Not everyone who has a penis is a man, and not all men have penises! Trans and nonbinary people exist! Unnecessarily gendering toys not only makes trans and NB folks feel ignored and sidelined, it’s also just bad business. Why would you want to alienate a part of your potential customer base? So I was already a bit “ugh” about this product just from the name. But I tried to keep an open mind, I really did.

“A stylish playmate for modern guys”

This is how the Satisfyer Men Heat is described in their marketing copy. I mean… okay, I guess? The colour scheme is black and silver, a minimalistic and stereotypically masculine aesthetic. At first glance, the toy looks like a cross between a portable coffee cup and a torch. One end is closed, and the other is a hole where you insert the penis. The outer is made of ABS plastic, and the fuckable end (sorry, I can’t think how else to describe it) is lined with soft, squishy silicone.

Fuck it, describing this toy is hard, here’s a visual.

The Satisfyer Men Heat & Vibration on a white sheet

The Satisfyer Men Heat features a heating function, which warms the toy to three possible levels, the highest being 104F (about 40C, or slightly over normal body temperature). This is designed to make the experience “breathtakingly realistic” which, one assumes, means “it feels like a vagina”. Then there’s “like a blowjob… but BETTER!” as the box claims. I’m skeptical to say the least, but let’s move on.

Size-wise, it’s got about 2.75″ of penetrable depth (so if you like really deep penetration, this isn’t going to be for you). It’s about 3″ wide, and the hole that you penetrate is around 1.5″.

Close up of the Satisfyer Men Heat & Vibration

The Satisfyer Men Heat is USB rechargeable and fully waterproof.

Settings & controls

The Satisfyer Men Heat has 4 buttons set into a control panel on the front of the toy. The on/off button is at the top and also changes the vibration pattern. Then you have the +/- buttons to change the speed, and lastly the temperature control button. You can set the toy warming without the vibrations being on, so you might want to give it a few minutes to warm up before playing. It starts getting warm very quickly and the instructions say it comes to temperature in five minutes.

This control panel is really where the problems started. The buttons are not raised at all, so you cannot feel for them with your fingers without a visual. They’re also not clearly marked – thin grey markings on a black background! This means it’s basically impossible to see the buttons properly during use unless you’re in very good light and have perfect vision. In low light, forget it. Mr CK also pointed out that this makes the toy really inaccessible to those with any kind of visual impairment.

Additionally, though you are supposed to be able to adjust the heating function, there is no discernible way to tell which heat setting it’s on. You just get the flashing thermometer icon to indicate that the warming function is on.

This toy boasts “70 different vibration combinations”. I’m not sure how the maths works here, given that by my count it has 8 possible speeds and 6 patterns, making a total of 48 possible options. But what do me and my D in GCSE maths know!?

Care and cleaning

About the best thing I can say about this product is that it is body-safe, which is still shockingly rare for penis toys. Standard masturbators like Fleshlights are all made from porous materials such as TPE, which harbour bacteria and are impossible to get completely clean. Fortunately, silicone is non-porous, phthalate-free and 100% safe. At least Satisfyer got THAT right.

As the Satisfyer Men Heat is waterproof, you can clean it with warm water and gentle soap. It’s a bit of a pain to get clean given the shape, but it can be done with a bit of extra care. If you want to share this toy with a non fluid-bonded partner, you can use it while wearing a condom. As always, I recommend water-based lube – and you’re going to need PLENTY of it if you attempt to use this thing.

So how did it work?

The Satisfyer Men Heat & Vibration on a white sheet

“Badly” is, unfortunately, the short and sweet answer. Mr CK was able to fit his penis into the toy with the help of plenty of lube, but he found it uncomfortable. Anyone with a larger than average penis, especially if you’re quite girthy, should avoid this product – you just won’t fit or it’ll hurt! Despite the squishyness of the silicone, it doesn’t have much “give” to make extra room – and one side is completely rigid. This is really a “one size” toy, which doesn’t work at all because penises are so infinitely and gloriously varied. It also makes a squelching noise when you penetrate it, which – while giggle-inducing – is not sexy.

Additionally, the vibrations just didn’t measure up. Even at the highest setting, they’re pretty pathetically weak. Mr CK very quickly concluded that there was zero chance of this toy bringing him anywhere near to orgasm.

When the best your partner can manage is a shrug and an “it’s not… unpleasant?” you know you’re not on to a winning toy.

“But does it feel like fucking a vagina?” I asked. “No,” he said.

“And is it better than a blow job?” “No,” he said again. Never one to waste words.

The verdict

Unfortunately we cannot recommend this product. If you have a penis on the smaller side AND enjoy gentle vibrations, you might get something out of this toy – but otherwise we suggest you spend your money elsewhere. Check out the Godemiche OffBeat, the Hot Octopuss Pulse III or the Hummer wand attachment for some of my most often-recommended penis toys.

Sorry, Satisfyer – I still love you (you’ll have my heart for a while for that amazing flower thing) but seriously, please stop churning things out quite so quickly and develop them more rigorously first.

The Satisfyer Men Heat & Vibration Masturbator retails for $59.95.

Thanks to Satisfyer for sending me this product in exchange for an honest review. All views are, as ever, my own. Pictures are by me. Affiliate links contained within this post make me a small commission if you use them to make a purchase.