Maybe Ronda Rousey's Lube Comment Was Actually Kinda Progressive

If, unlike me, you are not on constant vigil in order to see what's hot among the internet sexperts and feminist sex talk, then you might have missed Lubegate 2015. Here's the deal. Ronda Rousey was interviewed over at Maxim in the way one might be interviewed at Maxim. Some dudes wrote questions and she answered them. One question went in the following way.
 Dear Ronda: What should a guy NEVER do in bed? What should a guy ALWAYS do in bed? (Asking for a friend.) - Jack, 36, Los Angeles 
For what you should never do: Don’t bite my teeth! If my teeth are repeatedly hitting your teeth, then there’s a problem with what you’re doing. That freaks me out. I don’t like it. It’s terrible. I have a thing about my teeth. Even though I do a sport where I get punched in the face for a living, if your teeth hit my teeth more than a few times, I’m over it already. What should a guy always do? Take his time. In general, a girl takes a minute. He needs to get her ready. You should never need lube in your life. If you need lube, then you’re being lazy...and you’re not taking your time.
BTW "Bite my teeth" is a wierd way to say it, but teeth touching teeth in a kiss is a fair pet peeve.

the reaction (i.e. shut up and fight, Ronda)
Lots of the heavy-weight progressive online sites had writers jump immediately to their feet to tell Ronda to shut up about sex and that her advice was downright harmful and anti feminist-lady-sex. The Frisky, The Huffington Post, Jezebel and The Thrillist all jumped in, and there was a particularly long one at Salon. In general they all held similar objections:
  • Sometimes, even if a woman is aroused, she doesn't get that wet, and wetter is better
  • Menopause, aging, certain medications, dehydration, etc. can all cause a lower amount of lube than is needed to have comfortable sex, and extra lube is required in those cases 
  • Anal sex and fisting and shit like that need lube 
  • Calling people who use lube lazy is mean and creates unnecessary shame and pressure
In the end they all said something like, "you're a good fighter, Ronda Rousey, but keep out of the sex advice biz." Now, I can't argue with any of those points listed above. I also can't be mad about pointing those things out, and I can't be mad at those writers. They are largely lady-gasm allies, doing good work. Sex educators and sex writers are right to praise the work of lube. It is good and nice and fun and sometimes necessary. However, I think we as feminists and sexual advocates of all stripes can do better about building bridges, indulging in nuance, giving benefits of the doubt, and going that extra mile to really hear those we feel are saying the wrong things. So with all due respect and love, I'm gonna call all these critiquers out for causing a bit more negativity than there needed to be and for being too easily dismissive of something that hit outside their sexual-talking points comfort zone.

because maybe Ronda's kinda right...
Maybe all those bullet points up there are true, but Rhonda is kinda right too. Maybe Ronda's comments are actually kinda revolutionary. Maybe if we all calmed down and took her comments in context, giving this clearly non sex ed professional the benefit of the doubt, we could have created a teaching opportunity, a progressive and tough discussion, AND created a positive interaction with an outspoken, powerful woman that plenty of people listen to and look up to.

Ronda was responding to questions from men at a Playboy-like men's magazine. If we think about this as not some kind of let's-except-everything-and-everyone-in-a-non-judgmentally-way sexual education forum and instead see it as an in-your-face-as-fuck, sexual woman who knows what she prefers, giving no-nonsense sexual advice to a bunch of dudes, then well, maybe it's not so bad. She basically said that what men should always do during sex is make sure the women they are with are aroused. If they can't or don't care to do that, then they should go the fuck home 'cause they aren't willing to put in the time that the women they're with deserve. Is that sentiment really that backward?

maybe women need more people expressing that sentiment
I think we can assume Ronda's not an idiot. She knows your anus doesn't lube itself for anal sex and that there are medical conditions that might require some additional lube, but she wasn't being all nuance-y and sex educator-y here. She, I can only assume, was going from her own experience as a woman and making a bold, kinda progressive point. She was saying that sex shouldn't happen with unaroused women. Yes, yes, yes, I know you are saying that not getting wet does not necessarily mean a woman is unaroused, but you know what? Sometimes it does mean exactly that, and at this time in her life, it very well might mean that for Ronda.

And you know what else? I think her sentiment is one we should be taking more seriously, because sex with unaroused women happens more often than we'd like to admit. I dare say I think many women have had sex, consensual sex, where they were barely or pretty much not aroused at all. You can even find some recent writing by women about that HEREHERE, and HERE. I'm talking about situations in which the woman could have been getting the kind of stimuli she needed and wanted but simply wasn't for whatever reason. It's a problem, a complicated problem, but I don't think it's a small problem or one limited to only a particular population. I think it affects a lot of people, and I think every time a woman has unarousing sex, it makes her body disassociate arousal from an impending sexual situations a little bit more.

maybe women deserve the same basic sexual courtesies we often afford men
Let's flip this switch and talk about the basics for a minute. For males and for females, one of the very first physical responses to arousal is extra blood moving down to the genitals. This gives men boners and it makes lube seep through the vaginal walls for women. I would argue that as a culture we are very aware (maybe sometimes too aware) of the physical signs of arousal in men and what they might mean to the sex act, but we are strangely ignorant of and dismissive of that for women.

When a man can't get it up in a sexual situation, it's often an 'all hands on deck' effort to make sure his body starts responding, and if it's just not happening, then maybe he's too tired or too drunk or stressed or on a particular medication or he's older and it doesn't get as hard as it used to. When a woman isn't getting wet, maybe too often the first response is, "get some lube and start going."

Now, you know you of course, so you do whatever works for you and your partner. However, maybe as a culture our first response shouldn't always be to get the lube. Maybe it should be 'all hands on deck.' How about if I put my mouth on it? Am I being too intense? Should we slow down? Should we speed up? Am I touching the wrong places? If it's not working, maybe she's dehydrated, or too drunk or on medication, or she's going through hormonal changes and doesn't get as wet as she used to, so either wait for a better time or feel free to break out the lube - whichever makes most sense. Hell, break out the lube at the very beginning if you want. If it helps with arousal - fantastic, but sometimes the focus is on getting the area wet instead of getting the body aroused. There still needs to be more attention paid to whether what is happening (including the use of lube) is actually physically arousing her or not.

The sad truth is men are not taught to or expected to really pay attention to the physical aspects of female arousal the way women are for male arousal. Would a woman buy it if a man who never got an erection at all suddenly orgasmed? It would seem unusual to say the least. However, women in porn often orgasm without their vulvas showing any sign of engorgement or discoloration related to arousal. And I assume that many a woman in her bedroom 'orgasmed' without ever getting wet and without her vulva ever engorging or darkening, and her partner never even thought twice about it because he doesn't even know what physically happens to ladies when they are aroused. We live in a culture that is not only ignorant about female orgasm but also about female arousal, so although there are plenty of reasons to use lube, there are also plenty of reasons to encourage men to care about and notice a woman's physical signs of arousal.

maybe Ronda's not such a bad sexual role model, actually
Maybe Rousey was saying some important shit.  Maybe it's a revolutionary thing to encourage men to pay attention to whether their female partners are aroused.  Maybe, saying that physical female arousal should be a non-negotiable part of a 2-sided sexual act is actually progressive as fuck and pro-female orgasm. Maybe as a culture we are a little lazy about making sure that women are fully aroused during sexual acts. Maybe we need to put a little more pressure on dudes to consider if what they are doing is actually arousing to the females they are with - because for the ladies, speaking up about what you like is one thing but also having a partner that asks, cares, and has a little basic knowledge is a whole other thing altogether. Maybe, just maybe, we should cut Ronda Rousey some slack on this.

In fact, I'm going to add her to the Orgasm Equality Hero's list. Yes, I realize all the things listed up there about lube that other people reminded us of, but Ronda Rousey failed to say, are completely true. I know that Rousey was more harsh and un-nuanced in her answer than I prefer when talking about this stuff, but you know what? She's one of the top martial artists of all time at the height of her career saying some off-hand shit for a slightly smarmy men's magazine. What other world-class fighter have you relied on to be gentle and nuanced in their words? She's direct and a little rash - so be it.

However, if you recall, I'm not interested in perfection or in people who are in complete and utter agreement with everything I stand for. I'm interested in common ground with people who are speaking in a unique, brave, sincere, progressive, and/or outspoken way about creating a better world for female sexuality and orgasm. I wrote a whole post about how we need to listen more carefully to each other and find points of agreement more if we are ever going to come together to start this new sexual revolution. Ronda Rousey and I have plenty of common ground on this.

She said some true shit that came from her own, honest experience as a healthy, young woman who thinks that the dudes she's with should be more than willing to do to her and with her what needs to be done in order for her to get and stay aroused.  Fuck yeah, to that.

A better approach, maybe?
So let me suggest a better way to approach this Lube-gate thing. It comes straight out of the improv handbook: Yes, and...

YES, Ms. Rousey, men should always take the time to make sure that their female partner is physically aroused, and should care about that, and we do live in a society that is lazy about paying attention to whether or not women's bodies are physically aroused and also lazy about investigating ways to actually physically arouse women in partnered sexual situations.

AND...Lube is still fun, sexy, and arousing to use and necessary for all kinds of situations. Using lube is not a failure, but you're right, not paying attention to and not working to facilitate your partner's physical arousal kinda is.

So, now I'm just going to put up some gifs of Ronda Rousey because she does amazing shit.

Ronda and one of her amazing throws against Miesha Tate. Found this HERE

The entire Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis fight

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