In Praise Of Vanilla Sex

What happened to the good old fashioned ride, wonders Jeanne Sutton, who's on a mission(ary) to get back to basics. 

Feminist writer Erica Jong made her name when she pioneered the concept of the Zipless Fuck in her seminal – winking face emoji – 1973 novel, Fear of Flying. The book’s protagonist, Isadora, is in search of the ultimate no strings attached sex. An encounter so simplistic and natural that “when you came together, zippers fell away like rose petals, underwear blew off in one breath like dandelion fluff.”

Jong describes this as “the zipless fuck, something that’s, “absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not “taking” and the woman is not “giving”. No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn.”

Normcore sex

Shocking and liberating for the 1970s, in 2016 the Zipless Fuck sounds almost romantic. Most articles about sex nowadays seem to be along the lines of “How rough sex saved my life”, or “My boyfriend let me peg him and now we’re closer than ever,” or, “we did anal on our second date.” Ouch. Will we ever hear the end of first-person articles about the benefits of polyamory? And, please don’t mention that book with the numbers and the colour in the title. You know the one.

If you believe the media, you’d think that it’s actually old fashioned wham-bam-aren’t-we-both-taken-care-of vanilla sex that’s the mythical unicorn. As endangered as the Hawksbill Turtle. A figment, like those metre-long Curly Wurlies your parents insist existed.

If you’re a girl whose taste tends towards the vanilla variety, you might be feeling a little bit lonely amongst the noughties, er, naughties. Ask any young woman about the casual sex scene in Ireland, and you’ll get material for a bandwagon-jumping sexy e-book.

“My friend went home with a guy a few months ago and he tried choking her mid-ride,” Elaine, 31, says. “He genuinely thought that was something she’d be into, without asking her about her boundaries to begin with.” Another friend of Elaine’s arrived home to a wrapped box containing a Japanese school girl outfit. She inquired immediately about return policies.

A few months ago, Mary-Jane, 27, moved in with her boyfriend of two years. They’re pretty stable. Good jobs, regular holidays, eventual marriage plans. Initially though, this happy-ish ever after was almost scuppered. “The first time we had sex he spat in my face,” she confesses. “I told him afterwards that I wasn’t really into that degradation stuff.”

Safe spaces

On the flipside, Emma, 25, is a bit fed up with her partner being too ‘safe’. “I dated a guy years ago who was really annoyingly ‘nice’. I tried giving him a blow job once, got down on my knees and he pulled me up saying he felt weird about that. I think he thought he was a feminist.” Emma’s way happier with her current guy, but lately she’s wishes he was a bit more daring. “I fantasise about being called a ‘whore’ or ‘slut’ in bed and I’m trying to get that across – yes, be lovely and gracious when we’re having dinner and watching Netflix, but don’t be afraid to be rougher in bed. I won’t break, I’d really like it, and don’t worry, the Suffragettes won’t take my vote off me for enjoying being demeaned.”

There’s almost a shame attached to being vanilla. Rebecca, who’s 28, has a long-term housemate who is is incredibly loud. “Furniture’s moved. I genuinely feel like I must be missing a nerve, because my own sex life’s tame in comparison. But I’m pretty happy with it.”

And isn’t that the point? If relying on a repertoire of three to four moves and minimum props like a trusty vibrator and some firm pillows get you to where you want to be, well then – that sounds pretty tasty to us.

This article first appeared in STELLAR’s August issue. Our March issue is on shelves now! 

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