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,
My wife and I have been married 19 years. Last week she came home from girls night out pretty drunk. She climbed into bed and tried to initiate sex while I was asleep. She started kissing my hand and fingers. Each kiss was becoming more and more arousing. And then it took a really weird and painful turn: Out of nowhere, she bit my finger. Hard. And wouldn’t let go. Then she started laughing and said, “You’re so tiny.”
I want to be clear: I am not into humiliation or pain play. It is not something I desire. At all.
I confronted my wife about this the next morning and she didn’t believe me, or what she said, until I showed her the bite mark. I am really vanilla, and I am OK with that. I am small. And… I am OK with that, too—can’t change it anyway!
This experience was a major turn-off for me, and I am having trouble moving past it. I asked my wife why she did that, and she said to just let it go. She didn’t even remember saying or doing it. But I do.
I am trying to find a way forward. It wasn’t fun. It hurt, physically and emotionally. Do you have any advice for me?
— Once Bitten
Dear Once Bitten,
The first thing I’m curious about is whether this was a one-off or if there’s a pattern of your wife coming home drunk and doing things she doesn’t remember. If that’s the case, encourage her to consider her drinking and the effect it has on you. If this is the first time, proceed to the immediate issue: “You don’t remember this interaction, but I do, and it hurts me.” Tell her that minimizing the problem—“I don’t even remember it,” “just let it go,” and dismissing it—are compounding the pain.
Another thing I’m curious about is whether you’ve felt humiliated by your wife in other contexts, sex aside. If there’s a pattern there, couple counseling would be in order. “I’m unable to move past this, and I think a professional can help us through this rough patch and get our communication back on track” is one way you can pitch this. As always, choose your own phrasing based on your actual thoughts and what your wife is likely to be able to hear. After 19 years, I hope you’ve got a handle on the language she’s sensitive to and responsive to.
Dear How to Do It,
I’m a woman, almost 40 years old. I’m a bit embarrassed to write this, but I’m not sure where my clit is. I actually only realized there’s something anatomically different about me by reading romance novels and wondering how on earth a partner can stimulate the clit during penetration, as I was convinced mine is inside my vagina. I’ve since studied diagrams and photos online and also looked at myself in the mirror, and what I came up with is that under the hood I’ve got absolutely nothing. It’s a sensitive area, but no more than any other area of the vulva.
However, under my urethra and just above my vagina, I’ve got a pretty substantial nub that is extremely sensitive. This nub allows me to come quite easily by penetration, so I’m quite pleased with it, thank you very much. My only hang-up is that its location doesn’t really allow for oral stimulation like sucking. So I guess my questions are what is it, how common is it, and is it possible that I don’t actually have a clit?
— Anatomically Speaking
Dear Anatomically Speaking,
This is a case for a trained medical professional who can do an in-person exam. I did reach out to my network, and was able to speak with a gynecologist who specializes in pediatrics. They were able to tell me what specific kinds of doctors would be most likely to help you figure out your anatomy: You’re looking for a a urogynecologist, a reconstructive urologist, or a gynecologist who specializes in intersex people. You may need to see more than one of these experts. Depending on whether you have health insurance, you also may need to go through a regular gynecologist or even a primary care physician to get your appointment covered.
We don’t know if you’re intersex, but that might be the case, so it’s worth confirming or ruling out. Around 1.7 percent of the population is intersex, which is a medical term for people who don’t neatly fall in to the binary categories of male and female that science has constructed. In the early days of Christianity, there was discussion of whether God created them (meaning Adam and Eve) male and female, or them (meaning Adam) male-and-female, separating the female aspect into Eve later. The ancient Greeks had Hermaphrodites, and a myth about humans being split in two by an enraged Zeus—Hedwig and the Angry Inch has a great rendition about it. If you are intersex and want help finding resources and community, I’m happy to hear from you again.
I’m pleased to hear that you’re happy with where your most sensitive spot is (right where the penis gives friction during penetration! That sounds pretty awesome) and am wondering if you could put a clit-sucking vibrator on your nerve-packed nub. The Womanizer is the original, and many sex toy companies have their own version now. They’ve got a depression that you can put any small protrusion into, and generally use air to provide stimulation. “Sucking” is a word that comes to mind, although I describe the experience as a tiny blowjob. Obviously this won’t be the same as a partner sucking directly, but I think the vibe is easier to maneuver in tight spaces than a person’s face, and it might feel cool.
Everybody’s body is different. Good luck on your quest to understand yours—take as much time as you please, take a break if it gets frustrating, and remember your body is perfect and beautiful as it is.
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Dear How to Do It,
My husband and I (40s, straight/cis, monogamous) have in recent years begun to enjoy watching porn together. We’ve talked about our turn-ons and turn-offs, and generally “take turns” picking clips or films to watch, which usually leads to some mutual masturbation and often to “the main event.” However, I’m a little stumped by a couple of things and am wondering whether you can advise.
The main thing that turns me on in porn is when the guy “loses it,” or is very vocal, moan-y, etc. However, it seems like (at least in the mostly mainstream porn we’re easily able to find) this is rare. Usually the men are more or less silent while the woman is SUPER loud and theatrical (I think it’s a function of the main audience for these films being male, and dudes wanting to be able to imagine that it’s THEIR penis involved and not be distracted by the actor’s noises… that’s my theory, anyway). So, question no. 1: Do you have suggestions for resources (other than gay porn, which I’ve tried, but my husband is not into) for finding my turn-on?
Semi-related question no. 2: It seems like sometime in the 2000s, women in porn went from being more curvy/busty (even if the bust was… enhanced) to these VERY slim, very young-looking, very small-breasted actresses. I guess that’s just the trend now, but the issue for me is that because I am very much a) not slim b) not young-looking and c) not small-breasted, when it’s my husband’s turn to pick, I get all in my head about it even though logically I know he loves me/my body. (Like 95 percent of women I know, I have some insecurities about weight, etc. And my boobs are definitely more melon-like than all these little teacup ski-slopes!)
The above two issues have led to what I see as a kind of inequity. Because I have a harder time finding porn that I like, my husband ends up “picking” more often, and what he picks often makes me feel insecure and dampens my mood. Although, critically: not his. I DO know this is fundamentally in my head.
We generally have great sex and great communication, so I think this is a problem of not being able to find the right films or not knowing where to look.
— Porn Problems
Dear Porn Problems,
I was one of those very slim, very young-looking, and very small-breasted performers! When I started performing, my friends joked that what I have on my chest is nipples with confidence. And I’ve heard, over the years, from so many women who look like me, that seeing someone who looked like them held up as a sex symbol gave them confidence in their own ability to be sexy without curves. I think there’s a whole wonderful discussion to be had about body representation, but I’ll stay on track and try to solve your problem.
I believe the porn you’re looking for is out there, but you’ll have to search, and you’ll have to learn the names of specific performers, directors, production companies, and producers. You’ll also have to pay for it.
One thing you can do that might help with the insecurity issue is to look for performers who look like you. Gianna Michaels comes to mind (she’s also an incredible human who exudes joy in everything I’ve seen her do, whether that’s a raucous sex scene or the Sunday noon shift at a convention) and I would definitely describe her breasts as melons. Massive melons. Siri Dahl is another curvy human who is quite popular, and therefore easy to find. She does powerlifting, so her body is thick with curves and with muscle. Platforms like AdultDVDEmpire and HotMovies (which I briefly worked for in the office) have troves of older pornography that are more likely to have the kind of body you’re searching for.
As for men who moan, well, lots of people are simply quiet. My friend Mickey Mod (whom I’ve hired to perform in my own pornography) has some clips on his OnlyFans where he’s quiet, and others where he’s quite vocally expressive. And queer pornography—which you may want to seek out because it is different from mainstream cis-gay porn—is generally outside of the “rules” of mainstream pornography if not in direct opposition to them, though cismen are hard to come by in that world. PinkLabel.tv is a great place to start, as they collect queer porn productions from current and former producers. Enjoy!
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Dear How to Do It,
I’m a 40-something guy who has moved countries or cities every 2-3 years since I was 18. I’ve decided to move back to America for good and am more stressed than I’ve ever been in any of the countries I’ve lived. The prime stressor is I want to date seriously, and I’ve never been in a long-term relationship (more than a year). My family history could be a telenovela and it made me reticent to ever commit. But now I do! I’m not a total social pariah; I have come close to marrying twice and have a beautiful network of chosen family around the world. But how do I not scare off women with my lack of proven commitment and international man of mystery history?
— Nomad Looking to Settle
If you’re looking for advice on how to minimize parts of yourself that make up who you are, you’re in the wrong place. I advocate for laying it all out on the table, as early as makes sense. You will probably scare women off. Those women are not right for you—actual you, the whole of who you are, the real, complicated person. You will also probably be scared off by some of the women you meet. This is dating: we meet people, we see if we match, and, until we find the ones who do match, we move along so we’ve still got space in our lives for the kind of relationship we want. Try to think of women who recuse themselves as efficiency in action.
Make sure to maintain your relationships with your friends and family, and take breaks from the dating circuit when you get frustrated or tired. Hook up apps may feel like a job, but you’re doing this for you. You might ask your circle of loved ones if they know anyone who might be a good fit for you, and you also might try OKCupid over, say, Tinder.
Another thing you can do is frame your life positively. You’re well-traveled. I expect you have observations about the world and fascinating experiences. You probably have a way of finding the cool parts of your city, since you’ve changed locations several times. Use that to come up with awesome dates, and inform your partners that you developed that skill during your 25 or so years of traveling the globe. Think about other qualities you’ve developed from your time overseas, and find ways to put them to good use back in the States. As for women who might be put off by the lack of long-term commitment in your dating history, be prepared to talk about how you’re preparing yourself for commitment—are you currently in therapy? Have you read some books? Whatever it is, make sure to actually do it and to communicate what you’re doing.
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