Culture

A Woman's Ode to Dry Humping

Celebrating the Sex Act Men Are Most Likely to Ignore

By Bailey Edwards ·
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Photo: BDLM/Getty Images
“I found when [losing my virginity] happened that I really like dry humping more.” - Christine, Lady Bird

Last Friday, over several glasses of mediocre wine, my friends and I got in an impassioned conversation about our mutual love of dry humping. We all, at some point or another in our friendship, knew or assumed that the others enjoyed a good dry hump, but for some reason there was something especially freeing about celebrating our love of the over-the-clothes grind. It was a rough week—between the continual flood of accusations of sexual harassment at the hands of powerful men, and Trump's continued decimation of the foundations of our democracy—we were exhausted. We're all working women in our late 20s and early 30s; women who have been having sex for about half of our lives. You'd be hard pressed to find one of us at the table who hadn't tried something. And yet, on a rainy Friday evening, all any of us could really do is recollect dreamily on our very first dry hump, celebrate our most recent dry hump and fantasize about the next one.  

But why? 2015 and 2016 seemed to be the years of celebrating ass play. Eating ass was in. And I'm not here to shame anyone for that (girl, do you), but I am here to say that I'm all about that dry hump life. Most of my partners would likely attest to that, but I'm not sure it's something I've proclaimed publically. Frankly, it's something that I'd be embarrassed to admit for fear of being told my preference is juvenile. I should have, theoretically, left any love of dry humping back with the first boy with frosted tips who gave me an orgasm in Abercrombie corduroys. Popular sexual culture suggests that my sexual preferences should have evolved into more sophisticated methods of achieving an orgasm.  

But, alas, they haven't! I loved it then and I still love it today. Dry humping was my first introduction to the endless possibilities of my vagina, which up until then felt like a black hole of questions. The truth is that early sexual education doesn't really focus on teaching young girls about their body parts in an empowering or constructive way. Growing up in Texas, all I learned about was how not to get pregnant (hint: it involved not doing it at all and dreaming about our future husbands), how to fear my own period, and what clothes to wear so we didn't inadvertently tempt prepubescent boys. Don't you dare wear a spaghetti strap to school or you might give a boy a boner! And how bad that would be, you naughty little vagina-haver. So I did as I was told. Even in that Texas heat, I didn't wear spaghetti strap tank tops to school. And like a good girl who only heard about orgasms in the context of the boys her age, I dutifully let my first boyfriend finger me with a hurried cadence and excruciating pressure in the back of his forest green Honda Accord. It was painful. I remember thinking how I must not be a sexual person, or maybe there was something fundamentally wrong with me. My vagina felt like something I'd never benefit from, and only existed to serve the boys who seemed to like it so much. It wasn't mine so much as it was something valuable I owned, but didn't have the right to enjoy myself.  

 But on a rainy spring afternoon when I was about 17, a boy with swoopy blonde hair took his time with me. He observed me with careful consideration as we started to hook up, and instead of moving hurriedly to the next obligatory "base", we continued to dry hump until I had my very first orgasm. Bailey, meet your clitoris. She's been waiting for you to appreciate her in all her glory. Cut to 2017, I might be a full grown woman with a measly 401k and less Abercrombie in her wardrobe, but it's still one of my favorite ways to climax.  

So why in 2017 am I suddenly proud and unafraid of admitting what previously seemed epically lame and childish? Why is it suddenly so freeing?  

For me, it's tied directly with what a deeply dark and heavy time it is right now. Under the imperious rule of Donald Trump, it's never felt, in my lifetime anyway, so unsafe to be a woman living in the United States. Each morning we're waking up to a new flood of allegations against previously indestructible men. Men who ruled, and continue to rule, all of the industries us women are trying so desperately to wedge ourselves into. So much of my life has been about behaving in ways that men have decided are acceptable. Be good and effective at my job, but also be soft and palatable. Above all else, don't be a difficult woman. Nothing could possibly be worse, woman, than to be difficult to process under the male gaze. And that gaze, undoubtedly, seeps into sexuality. Be super hot and sexy, but don't be slutty! Be beautiful and tame in public, but be a freak in bed. The required duality of the modern woman is an impossible goal. But it's how men rule us - by asking us to meet expectations that are impossible for any real human to reach, and will undoubtedly crush our sense of self worth as we fail to do so.  

If I've learned anything from pop culture, it's that I'm "supposed" to orgasm from sex. And if not sex, I'm supposed to love getting head. I'm supposed to celebrate the men who so bravely make their ways between my legs and look up at me with needy eyes, implying that I congratulate them for spending time on their valiant attempts at pleasuring me. Spending time dry humping each other, pre-sex, so I can orgasm rarely seemed like something that was socially acceptable for me to request. If I was able to, it was met with skepticism and an insistence that I ought to let them try going down on me. As if I was so out of touch with my own bodily needs that maybe if they could try, I could be fixed. Fixed! Like the problem I've been programmed to feel I am.  

#NotAllLovers are like that—as I mentioned, many recent adult partners get it. They honor it and some even like it. But so much of being a woman has to do with accepting our preferences, quietly analyzing if who we are and what we like is appropriate, and redelivering ourselves to the world so that we fit the male gaze. There's a reason you don't see dry humping on PornHub's homepage, but it’s not because there isn't a huge population of women who love it.  2017 seems to be the year of fake news and offensive MAGA hats, but it's also the year where women are loudly advocating for themselves. What was once a whispered game of telephone, is now a war cry. And it's extending beyond what we'll permit, and seeping into how we express what we like. Loudly loving dry humping is freeing because it's not the sexy act most men want to be propositioned with, but it's the one I want. And saying exactly what I want, and don't want, feels good as hell. 

Bailey smells of autumn.

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