Great sex is about performance, positions and frequency, not quality

Great sex is presented as having to last a particular length of time (not too quickly and not for too long), with particular positions or techniques that will always “blow your mind” which you have to be performed a set number of times per week. This is always framed with able-bodied couples and is always about intercourse and penetration (see Only penis-in-vagina sex is proper sex and All examples are young, heterosexual, white, able-bodied & conventionally attractive couples). There is an assumption that this kind of ‘swinging from the chandeliers’ sex is always the most enjoyable and something the viewer should try to have.

Some people enjoy performing sex in this way and some people enjoy the fact that they know they are performing. However sex which is just framed in this way can be problematic for a number of reasons. It usually assumes that the viewer is heterosexual and wants to have penis in vagina sex. It also assumes that the viewer is able-bodied and has no mobility issues or chronic illnesses. As many people can’t perform sex in the way that is depicted the story is that ‘only some people can have the most enjoyable form of sex’.

It’s also problematic for people who do have the ‘right’ bodies to have this kind of sex because it sets up a norm for how ‘opposite sex’ couples ‘should’ be having sex. This creates unnecessary fears for many people in relationships that they (individually or together) aren’t sexy enough. It also presents a script for what ‘counts’ as normal, enjoyable sex which isn’t actually true. Many couples compare themselves with these narratives and feel they come up short. For instance a couple in bed on a ‘school night’ who are both tired but want to have sex may feel like if they can’t do ‘that’ then they can’t have sex.

A more helpful approach would be to highlight the many different ways that people could have sex and to suggest ways that couples could talk about which they would like to try, which they wouldn’t and which they may like to adapt for themselves. Instead of positions for ‘hitting the right spot every time’ it would be great to see positions which may feel comfortable to different viewers/readers. It would also be great to show sex that didn’t involve penetration and the many different positions and methods and techniques that can be tried in doing this. This would make for very interesting and sexy viewing rather than seeing ‘the wheelbarrow’ wheeled out every time.


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