Sophie Saint Thomas is a writer based in Brooklyn. She grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her writing is published in Vice, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Mic, Noisey, Broadly, Marie Claire, High Times, Nylon, Playboy, GQ, Refinery29, Harper’s Bazaar and more. Brooklyn Magazine included her on their annual 2016 30 Under 30 Envy List. She really likes to write about sex and was named “Slut of the Month” in January of 2017 by the feminist publication Slutist. Recently, she wrote a piece in Cosmo that went viral entitled "7 Ways Sleeping With Women Changed How I Have Sex With Men." In the article, she brought up some very interesting points that are rarely discussed elsewhere, so I thought Psychology Today would be a perfect venue to dive a little deeper into some of the psychological aspects of the piece.
Q: You mentioned in your article that sleeping with women helped you learn to integrate more kinky, fetishistic elements into your sex life such as nipple play and foot worship. Why do you suppose that is? Was there something specific to women that allowed you to explore these areas with women but not men?
A: This is certainly not true for all men (thank god) but I think a lot of straight guys fall into the thought pattern of: “make out, hump until I come, end scene.” Especially since I started sleeping with women when I moved to New York in my early 20s, much of my sexual experience had been with younger and less sexually experienced men in high school and college, who hadn’t developed fully sexually and therefore f*cked like this. Maybe they still do, I don’t know. Regardless, sleeping with women reprogrammed my appreciation for the female body, and changed my definition of sex from “penis in vagina” to: “anytime I’m intimate with someone with the intent of pleasuring one another sexually.” As my appreciation for the entire female body and all its erogenous zones grew and I applied these principles to my sex with men as well (men also enjoy being touched elsewhere but their penises), and I expect it in return of partners of any gender. I realized how high-end sex could be by having sex with other women, but it can be just as high-end with a man, said men are just as evolved creatures, in my experience.
Q: In addition to being more experimental, you have also learned to relax and put less pressure on yourself to orgasm. What is it about being with women that has provided you with this kind of insight?
A: How long it takes a person with a vagina to orgasm, how that orgasm looks and the way they like to be pleasured to reach orgasm varies drastically from person to person. A lot of people assume lesbian sex means more orgasms and while I mostly agree with that, you also learn that sometimes due to medication, stress, or the fact that they already came earlier in the day, a clitoris (or however the person gets off) just isn’t up for it this round, and that’s okay. I think sometimes that men expect women to come like they do, almost every time through penetration, and I used to try to satisfy that desire by faking orgasms in my youth. I will never fake another orgasm in my life!
Q: You seem to suggest that you fell into lazy patterns while sleeping with men, but being with women has made you more considerate. In other parts of your article, you seem to clearly identify why being with women allowed you to be more assertive and challenge gender roles, but it's not clear why it also made you more attentive and considerate, could you explain?
A: I think if you’re in a traditional heteronormative relationship it’s easy to fall into a routine of boy buys dinner, boy scratch’s girl’s back after sex, boy asks out girl on the second date, etc. In some of my first relationships with women it was like, “Whoa, I need to step up my brunch buying and back scratching game.” So now I just try to treat all partners with the care and attention that I would like. But I admit I let people of all genders buy me dinner.
Q: You make a very strong point about not being able to identify someone's sexual preferences merely from their appearance and you provide the example of a muscular hairy guy who turned out to be submissive. Prior to dating women, you seem to imply that you were viewing your male partners through the lens of these assumptions. Do you think that your male partners were also behaving and experiencing themselves sexually from these rigidly prescribed gender roles?
A: I’m not sure, since I was referencing mostly people I’ve slept with in the past who I’ve either lost contact with, or remained friends with but am not sure how polite it would be to inquire about how their sexuality has developed, but I am curious and would love to ask them. I make an effort to date men at the moment that have put a lot of thought into their sexual identity. I do think this is true in some sense, and it’s really exciting to watch a man who has identified as say very straight and masculine his whole life embrace a desire to jerk another man off. I very much wish there was less stigma in particular against bisexual men.
Q: Speaking of men, you also mentioned that wearing a strap-on has allowed you to gain more appreciation for some of the physical demands that men experience during sex. How do you think those realizations have enabled you to be a better lover?
A: Yeah, humping is hard! If a person with a penis has been on top of me for a while and I notice they seem tired I’ll offer to get on top or go down on them for a bit. It’s really just helped me become aware of the physical exertion required by men, and encouraged me to move with them in rhythm during sex rather than just getting pounded (but that’s very fun sometimes!) and become more in tuned to another person’s experience, both physical and emotional, during sex, which is harder than it sounds.
Q: You mentioned that you were previously shy about asking for what you wanted from male partners, such as rubbing your clit or rougher sex. Do you think a lot of women have trouble asking for what they want, and if so, why do you think that is? Finally, besides going and sleeping with other women like you did, is there anything that you think women can do to help them be more assertive in asking for what they want with their male partners?
A: Unfortunately, I do think that a lot of women struggle with this, but I know that people of all genders do. For women, I think asking for what you want during sex has been shunned by society for a long time in an effort to make women into passive sperm receptacles to make babies. I think women should remember that their male partners (if they aren’t douche nozzles) are very interested in being a good lover and giving them pleasure and that most men find it super hot to hear a woman ask for things in bed. It’s highly likely that your male partner wishes he knew how to get you off more, so I suggest masturbating a ton, learning what does get you off, and then expressing it to your partner in a manner that feels most comfortable to you. For me, it’s easiest just to integrate expressing what I need and how I like to be touched into dirty talk during sex or while lounging intimately in bed.