Posted by Irresponsibility
Stephen Fry is clever, so it’s hard to ignore it when he says something forehead-slappingly stupid like “I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man.”
Fry has about as much first-hand experience with heterosexuality as I have with coal mining, so perhaps his clunky comments should be brushed aside before he stumbles on them. Unfortunately, his nonsense ramblings in Attitude are being taken seriously – and wrongly. Rosie Boycott lurches to the defence of female libido, saying: “Women are just as capable as men are of enjoying sex…. I’m sure I’ve done it in parks in my time.” And Paul Flynn, who conducted the interview, is so serious he’s inadvertently funny: “I’m more interested in [Fry’s] feeling that straight men are somehow to be pitied. That’s quite a radical standpoint”, as if the remark was a profound political statement. It is a profound political statement, albeit one whose significance seems to have slipped past all involved, including Fry.
If women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas in the way there are gay cruising areas…. It doesn’t happen. Why? Because the only women you can have sex with like that wish to be paid for it.
This ignores, wilfully or otherwise, several thousand years of patriarchal history. Fry assumes that sex is culturally equivalent for men and women; that sex is sex, no matter who’s doing it, and if women don’t fuck like gay men it is because they don’t want to. Wrong.
The assertion that “the only women you can have sex with like that [e.g. no-strings] wish to be paid for it” needs context. If women want to be “paid” for sex – either in hard currency or in the form of a relationship – it is not because we are frigid, gold-digging bitches but because in our culture female sexuality is a commodity. Women didn’t make the rules, but we have to play by them. We cannot afford to go out and cruise the Heath unless we can afford to not care what our friends, family, employers, future partners and – potentially – the justice system, thinks of us. Casual sex empowers men; it degrades women. Only a brave or very naïve woman claims to be indifferent to this fact.
The double standard applies to all women, regardless of age, appearance or status (look at how the press turned on Britney when she stopped acting like a virginal stripper and actually had sex). Fry surmises that “straight men [feel] ‘they disgust women’”. Wrong again. The problem is that sexually active women disgust men. As much as women would like to have sex when, where, and with whom we want, without penalty, we can’t. Acknowledging this is not prudery, it is a matter of survival.