The title of this post is perhaps not the best example of creative wordsmithery but it's direct, to the point and relates to the topic of discussion I was invited to attend at The Union Club in the middle of Soho last night.
Well, in actual fact, the topic was "What Women Want" and it was hosted by the lovely author and broadcaster Amanda Lees in conjunction with the delightful Lisa Moylett, an esteemed publisher from CMM Agency and the very talented novelist and Journalist Sophia Money-Coutts.
Assembled were an interesting mix of women aged 30 to 65 (I'm guessing as I obviously didn't take a survey) with a few men sprinkled throughout the crowd for good measure. Given the topic of discussion, the irony of the lack of men in attendance didn’t escape me.
Speaking of surveys, Amanda did actually conduct a really insightful survey asking women exactly what they want and this formed the basis of the night's shenanigans.
You can take the survey here if you're interested.
But it was Sophia who opened up with a thoroughly amusing and poignant but somewhat sad passage from her latest book 'The Plus One' where she recounted her experience of an all too familiar disappointing one-night stand. This lacklustre affair resulted in her feeling extremely unsatisfied and somewhat bemused as her date Ubered out the door before she’d even moistened at the slightest whiff of arousal.
What Sophia had managed to do so well was to highlight the complete disconnect and misalignment of expectations and desires which I think poses a much more problematic question for us to address.
With 70 - 80 women in a room, and Gin and Tonic aplenty, it wasn't difficult to find out what they wanted. Of course desires vary from one woman to the next but in general most would probably agree that they want a man who:
1. Enjoys pleasing them.
2. Is not going to roll on and roll off like a wet sausage.
3. Is not going to pinch and poke her erogenous zones as a formality.
4. Is able to listen and respond accordingly.
5. Takes their time to explore and makes them feel beautiful, especially when naked.
And 6. Possesses a decent level of emotional intelligence.
Granted this might be a tall order for a one night stand but in general, these are probably traits that most would consider important to one degree or another.
So with the mystery of what women want comprehensively solved, the real question is how do women actually get what they want.
This is an entirely different conversation altogether and one that makes many uncomfortable because in order for this to happen, women have to unshackle themselves from the social conditioning that stifles their ability to take full ownership of their sexual satisfaction.
What do I mean by this?
The best way to illustrate this point is for us to play out a typical scenario of ‘girl meets guy’ in a bar.
Scenario 1 - Drinks are flowing, flirting is taking place, they’re enjoying light-hearted conversation intended to display signs of intelligence, wit and intellect. The vibe feels right and by the end of the evening, the guy has done enough to 'win' her approval for a night of wonderful earth-shattering sex (fingers crossed).
I’m sure there are many women who have found themselves in this position which usually results in them feeling sexually frustrated and unsatisfied the morning after. I'll refer to this as the female equivalent of 'blue balls' with a dash of confidence destroying self-doubt thrown in for good measure.
Now let’s play out that scenario again with a woman who doesn’t rely on pot luck, but instead makes her expectations crystal clear before any decisions are made about taking things further.
Scenario 2 - Drinks are flowing, flirting is taking place, they’re enjoying light-hearted conversation intended to display signs of intelligence, wit and intellect but now she starts to shit test the hell out of him to see what he's made of.
If you’re unsure of what a 'shit test' is, it’s how we figure out how much substance a person has vs the stuff that comes out of their mouth. For example, you notice a confident, good looking guy at the bar who’s making direct eye contact with you. You hold his gaze as you approach the bar to order a drink. He starts to get nervous and sheepishly looks away and tries to engage his friend in an attempt to diffuse the tension.
Right there and then, without saying a word, you already know that the image of confidence he was projecting was bravado because he cracked when approach anxiety got the better of him. Thus, he’s failed the shit test. You can read more on shit testing here if you're interested.
Now let’s delve back into our ‘guy meets girl’ scenario - version 2.
So after the initial braking the ice giggles and flirty conversation, knowing that the guy wants to fuck her, the woman takes control and begins to qualify her potential suitor.
She's fully aware of his intentions but wants to know if their desires are aligned and how willing and capable he is of delivering.
She lets him know what her expectations are in terms of sexual pleasure, what she is prepared to bring to the table and also where her boundaries lie. Putting the giggles and laughter aside for a moment, she communicates this clearly in a manner that says - if you're not able to meet my expectations and are indeed full of shit, now is the time to let me know because I won't spare your ego.
This is a badass example of a woman completely turning self-limiting beliefs on their head and taking full responsibility for her sexual satisfaction, which I think is a real fucking turn on and I actively encourage it.
Most guys who happen to find themselves in this position would more than likely fail the shit test due to shell shock. The many years of social conditioning would have firmly established a false narrative that classy women should pretend they are oblivious to the dynamics of the mating dance taking place and the intentions of the guy who clearly wants to fuck her brains out until the actual moment of sexual intercourse.
Heaven forbid a woman call a man on the authenticity of the signals he's been telegraphing all night. Apparently, she should refrain from having adult conversations about the topic of sex in the hope that her knight in shining armour will instinctively know how to caress all the right body parts to induce orgasmic bliss with her virgin-like persona still intact.
However, if the guy is able to engage in a mature and open discussion it would at least indicate that he possesses enough emotional intelligence to fully appreciate the fact that the woman made the bold move of cutting through the bullshit in an attempt to assess their true compatibility as best as possible given the scenario and limited time frame.
This approach does not negate the fact that some guys (and girls) will do whatever it takes in order to obtain the object of their desire but that’s another post altogether. The point is that the woman has made her expectations and desires abundantly clear from the get-go so any guy signing up to that will be under no illusion as to what this woman wants.
There is no second guessing, no misunderstanding, no stuttering, nothing lost in translation and no blaming it on the alcohol which an astute woman would look to manage appropriately. In an instant like this, it’s clear that if a guy does not deliver he is either unwilling or incapable of doing so.
This does not necessarily imply an inherent lack of desire or ability on his part but at least he knows where the bar is set and it’s up to him whether he decides to rise to the occasion - pun intended. I think the same applies to both men and women but I believe women are more often the ones left disappointed with most sexual encounters.
I Never Said It Was Easy!
We are all evolving, every minute of every day whether we are conscious of it or not and I fully appreciate that this approach may be a complete paradigm shift. Building the confidence to be unapologetically open and forthright with your desires can take a lot of time and rewiring. However, once you remove your emotional attachment to the outcome and need for approval things become much clearer.
Having said that I think it's harder for most women to do that than men because of the way women are taught to conform within our society. However, the bottom line is if the current methodology doesn't serve us, we should adopt one that does.
Now let's expand things a little more into relationship territory where it starts to get really interesting.
Here's another scenario we're all familiar with - a woman decides to hold out on sex while she uses her powers of deduction to assess a mans true intent and suitability long term.
This seems perfectly logical but when we unpack it, it's clear to see how this approach often creates a false narrative as the man attempts to woo and seduce the woman with displays of affection intended to moisten her thighs and guide him home but is it real and will it last?
Yes, time is the great revealer but with very little clarity of exactly what is expected from the outset mentally, physically and sexually, there is very little accountability as couples wade through the grey abyss of relationship turmoil.
Again, if we apply a more direct and upfront approach, let's see what logical conclusions we can draw from it.
Imagine a woman who from very early on has laid out her stall and has clearly communicated what she's looking for in a partner and what she is prepared to give. She has taken control of her desires and is more than willing to discount (some might say lose) a potential suitor if they do not fit her requirement.
She doesn't wait to decipher man code and react to unforeseen issues that arise because they weren't discussed from early on. They already have their 'contract of desire' in place which they have both agreed to uphold in order to keep both partners blissfully happy.
Whether they live up to it or not, there is clear accountability because these desires have been evaluated and communicated over time as the relationship evolves. If a partner falls short, it can either be resolved or not depending on the nature of the issue.
Being direct in communicating your desires and boundaries clearly over time may leave you with hard decisions to make in the cold light of day but ultimately we're living our truth.
Is It Too Direct?
I'm aware that this approach may seem somewhat overly pragmatic but I disagree - I think it's perfectly pragmatic, especially given the sign of the times.
Take Tinder or any other popular dating app out there for example - many may find them dreadful when it comes to meeting decent guys but I think it's the selection process that's the problem.
I can't think of a better scenario for a more direct approach to play out effectively. The first thing we need to address is the attachment to our desired outcome rather than efficiently screening out the unsuitable Johnny-come-lately's.
Women tend to manage this perfectly well if the attraction isn't there but when that cute guy comes along with the hydrogen peroxide smile, there's usually an instinctive urge to steer the outcome in their favour for fear of losing the only decent guy they've met in the last 6 months.
This is a scarcity mentality that seldom goes hand in hand with rational decision making and often leads to unhappy outcomes with douche bags and bad sex that could otherwise be avoided.
I say shit test the hell out of him and see what he's made of. Don't be afraid to walk away or let him go. If he's on the same wavelength he'll completely get where you're coming from and he'll be drawn to you like a moth to a flame - a very fitting analogy I might add.
Online dating provides the perfect setting for you to do this without the awkwardness of having to avoid the unwanted attention of the guys you've friend zoned at your local bar. You can unapologetically lay out your criteria and let the chickpeas fall where they may without having to compromise on what's important to you.
Unfortunately, we tend to prefer the very British and oh-so-subtle approach of suggestive double talk based on the assumption that the recipient would be smart enough to figure it out - as if 'Love Island' isn't a stark enough reality check.
And given the lack of satisfied women out there, perhaps the subtle and indirect approach is not the best way for a woman to ensure she gets what she wants from an encounter be it a one night stand, casual fling or a long term relationship. Especially given the amount of desensitised, porno fed, self-indulged, ego-driven men who could otherwise be weeded out.
I think it's hide time we dispensed with the false narrative and social conditioning that dictates what it means to be a woman. I very much doubt that this consensus in a patriarchal society was created to A. empower women or B. even include their consent.
The key to getting what you want is being genuinely content with or without a partner. If the zeitgeist of our times doesn't serve your desires, get rid of it.
Left to right: Sophia Money-Coutts, Madison and Amanda Lees
@ The Union Club, Soho, London
Peace and Love,
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