How to Do It

I Got My Husband a Harmless Little Gift to Enhance Our Sex Life. He’s Furious.

A man with his head in his hands.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Viktor_Gladkov/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!

Dear How to Do It,

For our anniversary, I got my husband of three years a nice little pretty pink bow to wrap his penis in. I thought it would be a great accompaniment to our lovemaking (the proverbial gift-wrapped “package”).

Well, he took one look at it and said it was “fucking stupid” and refuses to wear it. What should I make of his reaction? And how should I convince him to wear it? I think it would be so cute, and I’m a little befuddled by the whole thing.

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—Wrapped Up

Dear Wrapped,

Your husband doesn’t want to have his penis wrapped up in a bow. You shouldn’t convince him to wear it.

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If you’re befuddled by his reaction, ask him about it. Given the society we live in, it might not be a huge surprise he felt threatened by putting a pink costume on his penis. Go to your husband, when he’s calm and you have time to talk, and broach the subject. Tell him that it’s off the table—not something you’re trying to make happen—but that you’d like to know why he reacted the way that he did. Listen to him, and if you’ve caused any harm, acknowledge it and then offer some ways you can repair the situation.

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Dear How to Do It,

I’m a man who has been with my wife for more than 20 years, and we have elementary age kids. From the start, there was a mismatch in libido, with me having more need for physical intimacy than her by a wide margin. We have dealt with this over the years with varying degrees of both success and strife. The last few years we have both gotten much better at both self-advocating and active listening, so on the whole, our sex life is much, much better than it was at any point in the past. The libido gap remains, however, and it’s not uncommon for several weeks or even months to go by with once-a-week “maintenance sex”—which I do very much appreciate, but at the same time it isn’t quite enough for me.

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I have been thinking about the concept of ethical non-monogamy for several years now, but various bits of life have kept me from bringing it up (see kids, pandemic, etc). I am wondering about pitching the idea of me trying out “cam girls,” as this would provide physical distance, be amenable to an on-demand kind of pattern of needs, and the transactional nature keeps things fairly simple from an emotional maintenance perspective. I think I would like the interactive nature more than recorded clips or still photos.

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However, here are my questions: Are there online performer communities where you can have transparency about how much of the money is actually making it to the performer? Is there any way to ensure that the person on the screen isn’t being coerced, trafficked, or otherwise exploited? The choice to (maybe!) pursue this type of service is, for me, boosted by the way it maintains my safety. But I don’t want to trade away the safety of the people I’m asking to get naked on the internet, and I don’t want to have them see most of the money they make siphoned off for exorbitant platform fees. Is this at all possible, or is exploitation baked into the cam girl cake and I should find another solution?

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—Cam Guy

Dear Cam Guy,

I want to take a moment to applaud you for communicating, deferring to the less libidinous partner, and finding ways to meet your own sexual desires. You’ve done great here.

Most cam sites and fan sites (large platforms that allow third parties to create their own streams and content) have transparency with content providers about the percentage they take. So, while it might not be listed in the consumers’ Terms of Service, it likely is in the providers’ Terms of Service. OnlyFans—where I have an account, for the record—takes 20 percent off the top, and this has pushed other platforms to lower their take. From the perspective of a platform, ZeroSpaces—the 18+ magazine I worked on for four years—pays about 13 percent in payment processing fees, plus $500 yearly to Visa and MasterCard for the privilege of processing their cards, along with hosting fees and the costs of doing business in general. So 20 percent seems fair.

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But the fees aren’t the only factor. Different websites have different content handling processes, rules, creator support teams, and other details. So a performer might decide to go with a site that takes 30 percent but offers other upsides. Your best bet is to find a performer or worker you like on Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit, and interact with them on the platform that they’re promoting the most.

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Trafficking and coercion are trickier. Capitalism is coercive in the cam industry, as it is in any other. Most of us do things most days that we wouldn’t do if we didn’t need to make money. Sometimes these things are more tolerable to the specific person. Sometimes they pay particularly well, but we wouldn’t be doing them, or doing them the way we are, if we didn’t need the money. So there’s no avoiding coercion entirely here. For the same reason, there’s no avoiding exploitation entirely. The performers you’re drawn to may work shifts in a cam studio and have little autonomy; they may be reliant on and giving money to an agent, manager, or actual pimp; and they may have family or other loved ones who are a drain on their finances—just like any other job. How much autonomy does an Amazon warehouse worker have? Less or more than the average cam worker? It depends, right? There’s nuance, and these things have to be grounded in the rest of reality. If a performer doesn’t seem like they’re OK to be there, you’re free to—and should—move on to another room. And if you see someone who looks like a minor, you should immediately say something to the site. Otherwise, use your best judgement.

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Dear How to Do It, 

In my sex life with men (I’m a woman), I’ve found that guys are constantly trying to what I call “jackhammer”—as in go very fast, including getting so close in they hit my vulva etc. with their hips. The smashing against my vulva is tolerable, but the other internal sensations are not. I find it unpleasant, and I try to lead it away from that type of penetration, but it usually comes back to them wanting to return to that, especially when they are close to finishing. I use lube, and that improves it, but it’s not close to solving the issue. Is the jackhammering thing something guys can avoid? I want to be comfortable, but also someone who is game for getting the other person off.

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—Not Hammer Time

Dear Hammer Time,

Some guys do need to jackhammer, whether that’s with a vulva or a hand, to have an orgasm. The hand option is a great one. You can also jackhammer with your hand while the head of their dick is in your mouth, or while the top half is in your vagina. They can jackhammer themselves. There are lots of jackhammering possibilities.

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To figure out which jack to hammer with, a conversation helps. “I’m sensitive to high energy thrusting (in this specific way or ways) and prefer to avoid it. Vigorous seems to be the best way for you to get off, though. Can we talk about this and figure out how to make it work for us?” You might turn out to be wrong! They might be jackhammering because that’s what they’re used to, or because they saw it in porn and never got useful sex ed. Start the conversation, and you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on and how the two of you can fit pleasurably together.

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Dear How to Do It, 

I’m a young queer woman, and I’ve been with my partner for about seven months. Generally, I really enjoy the sex we have, but we have an issue when it comes to my partner preforming oral on me. My partner is currently in the process of being evaluated for autism, and has significant sensory issues. They find the smell of my vagina overwhelming. I know there is a cultural baggage around the vagina, but I really don’t think that’s what’s going on here—my partner finds a lot of strong smells, even those that are pleasant, overwhelming. Aside from completely reworking my diet or showering before we have sex every time, how can we make this work?

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—Whole Oral-deal

Dear Oral-deal,

Great job being understanding and looking at this from a problem-solving angle. I have three ideas. I think eating a very strong mint could be enough to mask the smell for your partner, and there are also oral strips meant for masking taste. A dental dam would provide a physical barrier that would probably reduce scent. And putting essential oils around the opening of their nose might help as well.

If none of that works, as your partner progresses through their evaluation, they may learn some other strategies about strong smells that could apply here too.

More How to Do It

Last night, I went on a date with someone who I had met somewhat spontaneously a week or so ago. We were having a really great time—natural conversation, very similar interests, just a good vibe. I don’t normally click with people this easily, and I was so glad our connection didn’t start on an app, so I followed the mood a little more than I might have otherwise and went back to his place. We slept together, and it lived up to the rest of the night. But in the afterglow, he casually let the truth about the situation drop—and I am so angry.

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