There Is Something Wrong With You

Dr Pamela Stephenson is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating sexual disorders. You would think that would mean she spends her time counseling men who like to fuck cheese and things of that nature but what Dr Stephenson actually does is write a weekly sex advice column in The Guardian where she spends most of her time trying to persuade women to lie back and think of England when they express feelings of not wanting to be fucked.

Today, a woman wrote to Dr Stephenson saying that after she has sex with a man, whether it’s a casual fling or a serious relationship, she feels disgust towards him. She states that these feelings “fade into the background” if she’s dating the man for a long time but they never fully go away. So this woman spends her relationships having sex with men who disgust her.

I’m not a sex therapist but I’ve been around the block a couple of times and my advice to this woman would be, “stop having sex with men.” The disgust you feel is legitimate. It’s perfectly ok to not want to have sex with men.

Dr Stephenson’s answer was a little different. Stephenson advises the woman that something has probably gone wrong along the way and that she may have “internalized feelings of disgust about sex.” She goes on to say that this woman needs to “[e]xamine [her] long-held beliefs and [her] targeted disgust, and spend time pondering where they may have come from.” Once she has identified the source of her disgust, she has to “work to rationalise and correct” it.

It looks to me like what Dr Stephenson is saying here is that it is not rational to be disgusted by sex with men and that this is a disorder that can be corrected. This suggests to me that she thinks women have a duty to be penis receptacles and that any resistance we might feel to this obligation is a problem we need to overcome.

Pamela Stephenson receives a lot of letters from women who are disinterested in, disgusted by, or physically pained by intercourse. They mostly get the same spiel: get over it.

When a woman wrote to ask Stephenson’s advice after being unable to orgasm through vaginal intercourse, she was told she may have nerve damage. She was not told that 3 out of 4 women do not achieve orgasm through penetration. She was not assured the the orgasms she was having during oral sex were legitimate and desirable. The problem was her. Her body must be defective. Or she’s not doing the sex properly and maybe a different position will help.

Another woman in wrote in saying that she had an “amazing” sex life with her boyfriend without PIV. They had attempted intercourse twice in the past but she had found it too painful to continue. What does Dr Stephenson think she should do? The very first thing she suggests is that the woman consult a gynecologist because there’s a non-specified ‘medical procedure’ that a woman can have that will make it easier for a man to penetrate her. I searched google for “treatment for pain during intercourse” and “medical procedure for intercourse pain” but nothing turned up anything that could be termed as a ‘medical procedure’ so I have no idea what Dr Stephenson had in mind.  She then goes on to tell the woman how lucky she is to be having orgasms and not to be so intercourse-focused so her advice appears to be fairly inconsistent.

Another woman says her boyfriend has told her that her vagina is “repulsive” and that he can’t stand to look at it. Instead of advising her to ditch the scumbag, Stephenson tells the woman she should sit her boyfriend down like he’s a five year old child and read a book with him about “physical diversity” and help him to see that all vaginas are beautiful at the expense of her own feelings about her body.

Most of the letters Dr Stephenson receives from women go along the lines of, “My boyfriend wants to put his penis in me but I don’t want to/find it painful/don’t enjoy it/am too tired/have just had a baby/am post-menopause/etc. Is there something wrong with me?” The standard reply given out by the good doctor is, “Yes there is something wrong with you. Try wearing sexy underwear/getting an operation/letting him penetrate you in different positions/using a gallon of lubricant/giving him a blowjob instead.”

Pamela Stephenson is using her platform on the Guardian to advise women that being a penis receptacle is inevitable. If it hurts or if you just plain don’t like it then you have to fix that shit because how will you get a man? If your boyfriend tells you your vagina is so disgusting he doesn’t want to look at it (but still wants to stick his penis inside it) then you just have to sit him down and try to make him see that it’s actually a nice vagina. If you dump him, how will you get another man with that hideous vagina you’re sporting?

When women express disgust and revulsion at the idea of having sex with men, it doesn’t occur to Dr Stephenson to suggest they may not actually be heterosexual. Disgust and revulsion at the idea of sex with men is a Big Problem because then men might not get to put their penises inside women and that won’t do at all. The best thing women can do is interrogate their desires (sound familiar?) and rationalise and correct the absolutely abhorrent feeling that you don’t desire sex with men. Because that’s what you’re for.

17 thoughts on “There Is Something Wrong With You

  1. I can’t recommend this book enough to readers who’re wondering whether this is a new thing.

    I don’t know how anyone can say women are ‘naturally heterosexual’ given the amount of energy that goes into telling us to go against our instincts and submit to PIV.

    Anyone purporting to espouse radical feminist views and yet saying this is something women just happen to like is just co-opting RF politics to forward their limited single-issue perspectives on what a ‘mass movement’ needs to be activating against.

    This is what it’s like for women on the ground. It used to be ok for us to acknowledge to ourselves that it was awful. Now we don’t just have to submit to it – we have to act as though we want it. What a mindfuck.


    • Indeed, a total mindfuck. At least in the 50s women were told “you might not enjoy it, but it is your duty”. Now the hypersexualised culture is telling women “even if you don’t enjoy it, pretend like you enjoy it, it is your purpose on earth to be penetrated by a male”. The middle part is thanks to porn. Overriding your instincts, and pretending to enjoy something you really do not, is a form of psychological torture and bound to cause some serious mental health issues.

      Pamela Stephenson should really change her name to “Dr Pammy Handmaiden” – because at least that would be honest.

      It never occurs to Pammy Handmaiden that some women might be lesbians? Or even ‘assexual’ (not desiring sexual contact with others)? Utterly lesbophobic and anti-woman. And a traitor to our sex.


  2. Pamela Stephenson is a female handmaiden of mens’ phallocentric imperative. Men have always maintained the lie that ‘sex’ = penis forced into vagina because anything else is supposedly ‘non-sex!’

    For centuries men have lied and lied and lied that ‘sex = penis thrusting in vagina’ and because this is not natural men have had to resort to forcing/coercing women into believing they are ‘unnatural’ for not wanting mens’ penises thrusting inside their bodies.

    Sheila Jeffreys’ book Anticlimax analyses the various methods (lies) men employ to justify their pseudo male right to thrust their penises into female bodies.

    Men have always made the false claim that women who refuse to accept the penis are ‘frigid/prudish/frightened/not normal/suffering from vaginism etc. etc. Men constantly create new lies concerning what men believe is ‘real male sexuality’ because sexually servicing the penis is supposedly the ‘real sexual act’ – that is for men but not for women.

    Central is mens’ belief they have innate right to thrust their penises into female bodies because men continue to deny women ownership of their bodies. Sexual autonomy continues to be male only and woe betide any woman who denies the penis access to her body.

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  3. “If your boyfriend tells you your vagina is so disgusting he doesn’t want to look at it (but still wants to stick his penis inside it) then you just have to sit him down and try to make him see that it’s actually a nice vagina.”

    Wonderful! I know I should add something more intelligent than that (and I do agree with your analysis), but I just want you to know that you gave me a good laugh. Thanks!


  4. The worst response I ever saw in the guardian was after a woman had written to say she had terminal cancer and was worried she would never orgasm after fgm as a child. This ‘dr’ didn’t even mention the fgm and told her to fantasise when masturbating. Then a load of idiots in the comments were saying utterly inappropriate things like ‘have you tried porn’, it was totally horrifying.


  5. I found Stephenson’s comments (and others like her) unsupportive, offering no options for this poor woman and certainly not the one thing every woman should hear: You do not have to do anything, ever, which you do not want to do/makes you unhappy. She should have started with that. Women are Not Quite Right if they enjoy sex, then if they ‘can’t’ orgasm, then if they don’t like hetero sex. What the actual fuck. I hope the woman who wrote in finds some other advice. I hope someone says, ‘Hey, first of all, you don’t HAVE to do anything…let alone something that involves penetration of your most intimate parts, and leaves you with extremely negative feelings’.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had a similar convo with a woman close to me recently. She is a right wing woman and told me that she was thinking of seeing a sex therapist, because she didn’t want to have sex with her 65-year-old overweight, balding, and near-toothless husband. I said to her, “Have you seen the guy? You mean that you think there is something wrong with YOU if you do not feel attracted to him?” She said, “Oh, I never thought of it that way.” Of course not. The malestream media BOMBARDS women with a very, very clear message: if you do not want a dick, you have a disorder of some sort/frigid/damaged goods/bad.evil.lesbian/aren’t okay in the head.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello,and thanks for your informative writing. You are so right about malestream media trying to make women feel guilty and defective for not wanting piv. Piv is great for men! They are almost always going to have an orgasm. Mostly all women don’t have orgasms from piv, so why bother? I happen to love to receive oral sex. That’s how I might have an orgasm. Piv is selfish and dangerous. Plus, it hurts after a while. There is nothing wrong with a woman who doesn’t desire piv!


    • Coming from a het perspective: My experience says I have to orgasm before PIV if I want PIV to feel good. I also find that if I’ve orgasmed (and usually have to do it multiple times to “get it all out of my system”–that’s exactly what it feels like), I get sleepy afterward, exactly like a man does after he’s finished. I was reading a radfem blog the other day about male genetics and she said a man falls asleep because making sperm is exhausting and I wanted to comment and say “no, probably not” but she didn’t allow comments. I think a lot of the pain for women, anyway, in PIV comes from most men being shitty lovers, either because they don’t know how to get a woman off, or they won’t wait for her to get off before climbing up on her, or whatever.

      Even if we solve that we still have to contend with STD and pregnancy risks though, so it’s not enough to feel good–if we’re going to continue with het relationships (and some of us always will, I think), MEN have to start taking care of themselves and making some sacrifices to help women control the incidence and spacing of any offspring we may desire to have. But when we can’t even get them to consistently use condoms I don’t see how we are ever going to get there. And of course their disease status is never their fault. The biggest reason prostitution was outlawed in the U.S. was not because of what it does to women but because prostitutes were seen as vectors for men’s disease, including (seen that way) by the female activists working to ban it. No one stopped to consider, apparently, that a woman who’s never been touched by a man is not going to have any STDs in the first place. She doesn’t catch them from the STD Fairy.


  8. Depressing. Very, very depressing.


  9. Disgusting. I experience genital arousal + pain whenever I think of PIV. Which is disassociation plus ptsd I’m guessing. That’s what is felt like everytime after i had PIV, painful blue clit and trouble walking, plus burning.


  10. Pingback: Spiritual misogynists are the worst kind; here’s why. | Your god is a fraud

  11. Pingback: Spiritual misogynists, part 2 | Your god is a fraud

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