Why You Can Degrade Me In The Bedroom, But Not In Real Life

by Alexia LaFata
Focus Features

Like most sexually active women, my girlfriends and I have a great time describing all of our sexual endeavors in wonderfully explicit detail with each other.

During one conversation, I told everyone a story about a bet I made with a guy I was seeing who despises broccoli.

One night, he and I went out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and I ordered a dish with broccoli in it, mainly because I like broccoli, but also mainly because it was fun to tease him.

When our food arrived, I watched him stare, utterly repulsed, at the green flowers of death on my plate. So, I decided to make our dinner a little interesting.

"If you eat this piece of broccoli," I said to him, stabbing a cluster and holding it up to his face, "I'll let you jizz on my face."

He perked up immediately. "Really?"


Let's just say you've never seen a man confront something he hated so enthusiastically in his life.

Most of my girlfriends erupted in a fit of laughter, but one in particular asked me why I'd ever actually let a guy jizz on my face, because isn't that degrading, and aren't I a feminist?

It got me thinking about what the word "degrading" actually means when it comes to sexual acts. What determines whether or not an aspect of sex is "degrading"? Is the actual act of letting a guy jizz on my face degrading, or is there more to it than that?

If I watched a guy jizz on a girl's face in porn, or in a movie or television show, I'd probably think it was degrading. Those girls aren't doing it because it turns them on -- they're doing it because it's their job, regardless of whether or not they like it or wanted to do it.

But if I let a guy I was dating, with whom I feel mutual respect and love, jizz on my face, what's the harm there? I would be doing it because it turns him on, which turns me on, so everyone wins.

So, no, it's not degrading. In fact, in the context of a bedroom, sluttiness, objectification and whatever else turns you on -- no matter how f*cked up or weird -- is completely okay.

Sex and real life aren't the same.

Linda Alperstein, a sex therapist from San Francisco, says that real-life power struggles are not reflected in sex.

Women have admitted to having some twisted sexual fantasies. We've come up with elaborate scenarios in our heads about being raped, having strangers stalk us home, getting spanked and tons more that I personally cannot fabricate because they're just that twisted.

Just because we want these things in the bedroom, however, doesn't mean we'd be cool with them happening in real life. No woman in her right mind would actually want to be raped, or stalked or hit.

Similarly, sexual objectification, degradation and the like definitely aren't okay in real life, but they could be okay in bed.

The major difference between what we'd be cool with in real life and in the bedroom comes down to the presence of choice.

Being a real victim of rape, stalking, abuse or objectification isn't a choice, so the situation would be out of our control. But in the bedroom, if we're "raped," "stalked," "abused" or "objectified" (note the use of the quotation marks), the situation was in our control because we chose to play that victim role.

If I let my date jizz on my face or call me a dirty whore, I'm allowing him to objectify me. I'm making a choice to welcome the objectification, and this choice allows me to set rules and establish boundaries that guarantee my safety and pleasure.

Plus, choosing to own what turns her on is the most feminist thing a woman can do.

Context is key.

Before deciding whether or not to let someone jizz on your face (or engage in any other kind of seemingly degrading act), two questions must be answered: What is the relationship between you and your partner? And was mutual consent given for the purposes of pleasure?

If you and your partner have a committed, loving and mutual respectful relationship, and you've both given consent to doing something in bed that will give you both pleasure, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't do it.

It doesn't matter that the act might be perceived as offensive in porn or in a movie. In those contexts, actors choose to perform the acts for money and have no real connection with each other, so the context is different -- it's colder, more rigid and less loving, and therefore, potentially more degrading (though many argue that having sex for money is not degrading, but that's a whole other article).

In bed, however, you and your partner are choosing to engage in this sex act for pleasure and have a real connection with each other, so the context is different -- it's warmer, more respectful and more loving, and therefore, not degrading.

What is taboo actually drives what is sexy.

Taboos are interesting because they simultaneously limit us and empower us. They dictate what's acceptable, but they also create the thrill that comes with engaging in forbidden things by defining what, exactly, is forbidden.

Every society has a different classification of what is taboo. In some cultures, what Westerners consider decent is considered horrific in other cultures, and vice versa.

In our culture, for example, nudity is taboo. You're simply not allowed to just walk outside without any clothes on. It's forbidden.

But the fact that nudity is forbidden is what makes it so hot. Is there anything more thrilling than seeing your crush naked for the first time and getting full access to his nude, uninhibited body? Isn't nudity the biggest, most obvious turn-on?

To take this concept even deeper, imagine a basic, acceptable Westernized outfit of jeans and a simple T-shirt. Aren't the body parts that outfit covers up actually the body parts that turn us on the most? Aren't abs, chests, and private parts way, way sexier than ankles, fingertips and forearms?

Here, again, what's forbidden -- the abs, the chest, the dicks and the vaginas -- is what's hottest.

So, if allowing a guy to jizz on my face is "forbidden" within the already forbidden environment of nudity and private body parts, well, that'll probably make me want to do it more.