“A related strategy involved “mastering the male body.” Here, women learned how to manipulate men’s bodies to make them ejaculate quickly, so that they could end unpleasant sexual experiences as soon as possible. As with “stroking egos,” this strategy allowed young women to get it over with without men ever knowing that their partners were displeased or in pain. Feeling unable or unentitled to assert their needs verbally, many young women instead learned to capitalize on the knowledge that heterosexual sex often ends when the man ejaculates (a phenomenon women might resent in other circumstances). By mastering the male body, they were able to limit the duration of a troublesome encounter without having to deal with a man’s anger, judgment, or disappointment.

Describing herself, rather proudly, as having “mastered the art of making men come,” Robin explained, “I figured the sooner I get him off, the sooner I get him off me.”

I made it my business at an early age, around thirteen I guess, to learn how to give the perfect blow job. I can also give the perfect hand job, so that I can get men off to just get it over with. That way, I’m totally in control. Because once they come, then you’re off the hook. Or at least it buys you some time to get out of the situation gracefully. Hopefully, if you play your cards right, they’ll just fall asleep. Men are such suckers. They’re so easy to manipulate. The only thing is, sometimes they get pissed off if you make them come too early, like it’s your fault, their lack of self-control. Then you just say, “No, I love it when you come. It’s so exciting to me.” Barf! (Robin, 21, “heterosexual”; asked to describe her race(s), she wrote, “I cannot)

Some women used mastering the male body to avoid having intercourse in situations where they felt uncomfortable “going all the way.” Many women felt unentitled to tell a man that they were uninterested or ambivalent about having intercourse, and so they used their ability to bring a man to orgasm through oral sex or masturbation in order to end a sexual encounter before intercourse could begin. Some women had already had intercourse, but wished to avoid it in a particular situation or with a particular person, usually because they did not feel safe. Chloe described such a situation with a man she met while alone on vacation, waiting for her friends to join her the next day. Afraid that the man might rape her if she did not “give him something,” she decided to have oral sex in order to avoid having intercourse, and avoid his anger.

I hooked up with this guy and he took me out to dinner and then we sat around talking. And I mean we hadn’t even kissed yet or anything, but he says, “Is this really all you want to do?” like I was a little kid or something. I wasn’t really too sure how I felt about him. I mean, I had just met him that afternoon, but he had taken me to dinner and everything. So I was thinking, “What must he be thinking?” And then I get thinking, “Here i am all alone in my hotel room with this guy and I don’t know a soul in this town, and if I say no and he rapes me because he thinks I led him on, well then, who’s going to believe me, and who’s even going to hear me if I dare to scream?” So I just basically gave him a blow job to satisfy him so that I wouldn’t have to have actual sex with him. I really didn’t want to have sex with him, but I felt like I had to give him something, and that just seemed like the least offensive way to go. Least offensive to me without offending him. (Chloe, 22, “heterosexual/bisexual,” “Caucasian”)

Mastering the male body affords young women a sense of control amid their voicelessness, by at least allowing them to shorten a painful, frightening, or otherwise undesirable experience. It also becomes a source of pride for some women, as they delight in their covert ability to manipulate men. Unfortunately, like stroking egos, this strategy leaves uninterrupted the dominant assumptions and practices that compel women to be both sexually pleasing and emotionally nurturant, and that dissuade them from voicing their sexual needs and entitlement to their own pleasure. Accepting the male sexual drive discourse’s claim that men, once aroused, must be brought to orgasm, this strategy tries to make the best of a bad situation. Yet, while it allows young women some control over the length of a sexual encounter and may allow them to escape negative judgment or abuse, it reinforces, rather than challenges, these women’s inability to state explicitly that they wish for an encounter to end (or never begin).”

Pp. 140-142 in Phillips, Lynn M. 2000. Flirting with Danger: Young Women’s Reflections on Sexuality and Domination. New York: New York University Press. [Emphasis and pictures not in original.]

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