Dear Just The Tips,
I have been sleeping with a stone butch, and I really want her to get off. How can I pleasure her when she seems like she doesn’t want to be touched?
-Need to please
Dearest Need to Please,
It’s difficult to think of touch as separate from sex. For many people sex is an extension of intimate touch, but they are actually different genres of closeness.
The other day a friend of mine described to another friend how his date had skipped right from drinks to dinner to a full body massage. Her jaw dropped in horror and she nearly spat out her wine. To her it was egregious and repulsive that that kind of touch should precede even kissing. She barely contained an “ew.” To him it was erotic and delightful.
I have previously discussed aversions to public touch and how to negotiate touch in the heat of the moment, and some of that advice holds true for you particular predicament. We all have different measures of when and how touch is appropriate. Yours seems like a literal case of “different strokes for different folks.”
I’ve consulted renowned theorist and author Jack Halberstam to assist you with your conundrum. Halberstam is a professor at USC and the author of the book Female Masculinity, among others. He specializes in theorizing sexuality and gender, and I think he’ll be of help to both of us.
Don’t be touchy. Read on!
THE INS AND OUTS OF STONE BUTCHES
You say you’re having sex with a stone butch, and it’s useful to understand what that particular identity might entail. As Halberstam says, “butch” traditionally has been the word we have for lesbian masculinity. He elaborates, saying, “Although some stone butches choose to not to orgasm with a partner, others have and do receive pleasure from their partner through a variety of sex practices such as tribadism, also known as “friction” or “dyking”, as well as using dildos. Understand the historical and cultural context of your partner as you negotiate her pleasure.
“MASCULINE IN THE STREETS AND FEMALE IN THE SHEETS”
Halberstam asks, “Why should we necessarily expect butches to access some perfect and pleasurable femaleness when everywhere else in their social existence they are denied access to an unproblematic feminine subjectivity?” If somebody presents as male or masculine all day long and then finds themselves negotiating female genitalia in the bedroom, it may be an emotional transition. Consult your partner on ways to ease those moments of adjustment. We all act in certain ways outside of the bedroom. Perhaps this might be a moment for you to reflect on the ways in which you are asked to behave during the day feels out of alignment with who you wish to be in bed.
ALL BODIES HAVE BOUNDARIES
As Halberstam told me, “Stone butch is a very specific identity, but there are men who don’t like to be touched. There are straight women who are ‘stone.’ There are many straight men who don’t like penetration. All bodies have boundaries.” Inquire with your partner about boundaries in this area. In what ways is she open to touch? In what ways does it turn her on to touch you? The thing that’s true about any sexual partner is that at a certain point you have to take them at their word about what they do and don’t want to have happen in bed.
DIRECT VS. INDIRECT PLEASURE
Halberstam referenced late author Eve Sedgwick when he told me, “Some people have sexual pleasure come through direct means, and some people need to be mediated by fantasy.” I, for instance, as a writer, have probably never had an erotic experience that wasn’t deeply tied to a fantasy of novelistic proportions. Such is my fate. The same might be said for your current partner. Encourage her to verbalize her pleasure or talk you through it as you two get hot and heavy. It could be that this kind of verbal intimacy helps you understand her pleasure better.
DO YOU KNOW HOW SEXY YOU ARE?
Starting a conversation about touching and boundaries is never easy, but in your case it’s essential. Start by assuring your partner about how attractive you think she is and then follow up with some specific questions: If you could do anything to me, what would it be? How do you like me to touch you? Can I touch you this way? How does it feel when I touch you like this?
As Halberstam said quite eloquently, “Why treat this issue any differently from other negotiations? Any good sexual relationship begins with communication.”
Amen to that!
Just the Tips is Playboy.com’s weekly advice column, with professional matchmaker Katherine Cooper. Have a question for Katherine about sex, love or dating? Shoot her a note at email@example.com.