daily californian logo


Passivity in bed: The man’s issue

article image


We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

MARCH 07, 2023

The minute he kissed me, I felt myself going from a woman with an opinion to an object with a set of boobs and a vagina.

I would hesitate to say that I’m the most sexually experienced person in the world. In fact, I would probably say the opposite. I can count the number of people I’ve slept with on one hand. This fact used to make me self-conscious because it felt like my peers were collecting sexual partners like it was their job. Meanwhile, I was lucky if someone opened the door for me on the way to class, let alone asked me out on a date. 

So I did what most people my age do — I downloaded Tinder. I always said I was never the type to download dating apps because they were only used for hooking up, but in this case, that’s exactly what I wanted. Just some good ol’ fashioned, no-strings-attached sex.

The first guy I ever hooked up with was more than a few years older than me, something which at the time felt cool. But, soon after I realized this only made the situation worse. After some small talk where he bragged about his accomplishments and I pretended to care, we agreed to meet at a bar in Oakland. As I was in an Uber to the bar, I was struck with the complete foreignness of the whole situation. 

I’m not the kind of girl to go on a date with an older guy from Tinder, and I was definitely not the kind of girl to go with the intention of having sex. And yet, here I was in the back of an Uber on my way to do just that. The overthinking voice in my head was loud, but the voice telling me to go for the story was louder. So, I put one foot in front of the other and walked in. 

My first thought was that he didn’t look like his picture. Not in a catfish kind of way, but it was obvious he used photos from at least four years ago in his profile. So, maybe he did catfish me. Regardless, it was too late to turn back because he had already seen me. The first thing he asked me was if I wanted to take shots. We were not off to a good start. 

I politely declined and settled for a vodka cranberry, something that would go down easy and calm my nerves. The niceties and small talk lasted as long as the drink in my glass did and before I knew it, we were in his truck on the way to his apartment.

There’s no real good way to segue from looking at coffee table books to getting naked, or at least if there was, he didn’t know them. I was terrified he’d see how inexperienced I was and tell me that I wasn’t a good f—. In hindsight, I wish he had, because it would have saved me a lot of self-hatred and a $25 Uber. 

As soon as I took my clothes off, I knew I was going to be gaslit into thinking I was about to have really good sex. He tried to play the role of concerned and considerate guy, but we both knew what he really wanted was an easy girl who didn’t say anything except when moaning “harder” and “you feel so good.” I remember him asking me if I liked it and I wanted to scream “no, get off me,” but instead I nodded and smiled. 

He asked me if I had a favorite position and I thought, “anything but this,” but it came out as “no, whatever you want.” I asked him if he had a condom and he said yes, but followed it by reassuring me that he didn’t have any STDs. I expressed not wanting to end up pregnant in college to which he replied, “I’m really good at pulling out,” as if that was supposed to make me feel better. 

I had already given enough of myself away that night, and I was not about to give up this, too. I asked him for a condom again and he brushed me off again, and because I was so scared of what he would say if I asked a third time, I let him continue without one — every guy’s dream and every girl’s nightmare. As it was happening I felt the anger of feminists all over the world. I knew better, but the pressure to be passive was so strong. I couldn’t seem to fight it. Eventually he put one on, but the damage had already been done. 

Since that night, I would think back to that moment and feel ashamed that I didn’t insist louder or stop sooner, but at the same time, should I have had to? 

I find myself slipping into this same pattern of passivity every now and then. I wish I could tell my younger self that if you have to compromise yourself for the story, it’s not worth it. At the end of the day, the best impressions are made when you’re true to yourself, not to other people. 

Maisie French writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.

MARCH 07, 2023