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Sex Advice From Women's Studies Professors
"We say 'feminist' and people immediately think of a man-hating, hairy-legged bitch..."
by Colette McIntyre
Dr. Lisa Moore, 45
Author of Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man's Most Precious Fluid, Professor of Gender Studies and Sociology at SUNY-Purchase
Before your academic career, were you always interested in gender and sexuality?
I was a classic '70s tomboy. I was an athlete; I had a lot of friends who ended up coming out to me. I had my own variable sexual history of being a lesbian, being bisexual, being heterosexual. I think there was more freedom being a female athlete, being in the liberal-arts college environment, being "of age" during post-second-wave feminism. That led to more possibilities in exploring gender, sex, and sexuality in ways might not have been available in previous time periods or different geographical areas.
Do you think that studying sex is sexy?
I think that's the problem, right? When you're studying sex and sexuality, it's a little dangerous because it can come across as titillating, or fluff, or the People magazine of academics. It's not like studying nuclear fission or something — everybody has gender, everybody has sex, everybody has sexuality, and so everybody kind of feels like they are already an expert. They don't understand how you can make your whole career out of it. I just recently published an article with a student where we looked at XTube videos to talk about pornography and the money shot and sperm. And that's exciting, and it's in a scholarly book that's published by an academic press, but when I talk to people about it just casually I always get "a look." I mean it's fun, and it's definitely seductive — it's something at that everyone wants to talk about — but I also wonder how much it dismantles your ability to have credentials and a sense of academic respect that I think women in general have a hard time getting.
What is your favorite euphemism for the vagina?
I like when people refer to the clitoris as "HQ," like "headquarters." "I'll meet you at HQ" — I think that's kind of funny. I like that and I like "polishing the pearl," for the clitoris. I think the vagina is important but, having had three babies come out of there, I'm a little bit more about the clitoris.
If "The Judith Butler" was a sex position, what would it look like?
Something like a complicated knot system where one person is tied up and the other is dominating them. I don't have an "insert penis here" because I think there would be multiple accoutrements. I think it would be incredibly complicated and difficult to deconstruct.
I'm a feminist, but I fantasize about being called a slut and getting slapped in bed. Do you think this goes against being a feminist?
No; I think one of the unfortunate things about dogmatic feminism is that it creates a lot of opportunities for a woman to feel guilty about working through some of the things that they need to work through sexually. I think to not express it, to repress it, that's the problem.
I only enjoy sex with my boyfriend when I'm drunk or stoned. He's taking it personally, but I keep trying to explain that it has nothing to do with him — I'm just a really anxious person who has a hard time getting out of my head. Is there any way we can make this work?
The fact that you only can get off using substances or only allow yourself to be intimate with another person while on substances suggests to me that you need to talk to a professional. I just think you might be putting yourself in situations that later on you may regret or be unhappy. The underlying issue is, why can't you stand doing these things sober?
My boyfriend really wants me to talk dirty during sex, but it makes me feel silly. Plus, I really don't know how. Any tips?
I think when one partner wants anything, whether it's to talk dirty to to try a different activity, and you don't feel confident and you don't feel sexy, it just spirals downward and you feel foolish. I've heard other people — not myself — suggest that the person watch pornography and then do what the porn star does, but I think that then you're so then conscious of what you're saying that it's like Cyrano de Bergerac.
In regards to your own sex or love life, what's one class you wish you could have taken?
Well, being in my forties, I wish I'd taken a class in my twenties to know what I know in my forties about having sex with more people. I wish there had been permission given to not be so nervous about taking more risks as a partner, to try different types of things. I guess it's just the wisdom of age; you want to have it when you're young.