What Stephen Fry Doesn’t Know About Women and Sex

Posted by Irresponsibility

Look like this, act like that...

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.

Fry says:

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.

5 thoughts on “What Stephen Fry Doesn’t Know About Women and Sex

  1. Right, because several thousand years of homophobia never happened. Men don’t and never have experienced any cost at being outed as a randy homosexual who likes to fuck strangers in parks and public toilets. The reaction of friends, family, employers, future partners and the justice system to this kind of activity is and always has been thoroughly empowering for the men involved. History has just been one big coming-out party for gay men.

    Moving on from the sarcasm: Fry did not in any way imply that women were “gold-digging bitches”. This is entirely your own invention. He implied that women were motivated by the desire for a “relationship” whereas men are after an impersonal fuck (not a massively flattering portrayal of men I might add).

    I hope that you can at least accept the above as being true as I find it incredible that a politically-aware feminist could be so utterly ignorant of homophobia, present and historic. I assume you just didn’t think much about what you were saying.

    As for the validity of Fry’s comments, they’re are clearly ridiculously simplistic and sweeping. So much so that I suspect (hope…) he never intended them to be taken too seriously. Obviously not all men go crazy with the desire for an impersonal fuck, and plenty of women do. It’s perfectly apparent that society in general tends to punish promiscuous women and cheer on promiscuous heterosexual men. However homosexual men, promiscuous or otherwise, have suffered just as much condemnation, probably more, as promiscuous women.

    That, in spite of this, the homosexual lifestyle tends to be much more promiscuous than the heterosexual one, suggests that there may be a biological element as well as a cultural element at play. Gay men don’t want to be exploding with desire for other men. Historically at least, it would be much better for them to be have little or no interest in sex, as most societies have entirely respectable paths for such men to go down. The idea that gay men have somehow been inculcated with raging libidos by heterosexual patriarchy looks like clutching at straws in a desperate attempt to avoid opening yourself to the possibility that differences in sexual behaviour between men and women is not 100% culturally determined. Animal gender differences are blatantly affected by biology, but as we all know there is magic bubble around humans which means we are completely different to other animals…

    Moving on… Fry’s comment about men fearing that women find their sexuality disgusting is also a ridiculous generalisation. There are millions of women out there filled with shame over their own pervy fantasies and millions of men, gay and straight alike, who recoil at brash displays of sexuality and anything which stinks of perversion. But I think there is still some truth in his comment, if only he had posited it as a general tendency rather than a simplistic men-are-from-mars-women-are-from-venus dichotomy.

    Flick through any gay magazine and then visualise all the men in the photos as women, but in the same poses. Suddenly you will find yourself looking at what most feminists would regard as a sickening and degrading assault on the female body; a travesty of sexuality which feasts on distorted, unattainable bodies and is constantly tinged with not-so-subtle hints of domination and submission – the inhuman feasting of the male gaze on the objectified other. It is sexuality divorced from personhood, from relationship. Now check out a gay porn site, if you dare. You’ll find all manner of bizarre fetishes and extreme images. Cocks and bodies and lots and lots of impersonal fucking. Now visualise all the men in the photos and videos as women. It’s disgusting and degrading isn’t it? Yet it’s the kind of thing that really turns most men on. In most homosexual encounters a taste for the hardcore is taken for granted. In most heterosexual encounters, it’s something that men must hide, because they have good reason to believe their partner will be disgusted. Justly disgusted, according to most feminists.

    I know that this post is almost certainly a waste of time and that you will simply fire back with a rant about how blindly privileged I am for not seeing the world for what it is: a simple battle between the forces of evil, the Patriarchy, and the forces of good, the Oppressed, the understanding of which illuminates the true nature of everything unsettling and unjust on Earth. If you’re capable of forgetting that society doesn’t exactly encourage homosexual promiscuity, and that this just might have a bearing on the above claims, I don’t hold up much hope for you ever developing the inclination to peek from outside your own firmly-constructed prism.

  2. Who said anything about homophobia? I’m perfectly aware that homophobia has a long history though not, I warrant, as long as misogyny (given that it was a sanctioned part of Greek and Roman culture, among others). Fry wasn’t talking about homophobia though, and neither am I. Next time you comment, why don’t you stick to the topic?

  3. All your words, here and in other posts, bring tears to my eyes while I smile, So great to hear (read) another voice speaking the words from my heart and mind 🙂 Blessings, Lily

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