Tag Archives: sexuality

Let’s Get It On: Trains vs. Threesomes

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In an earlier blog I stated that occasionally I see something repeated enough times that I feel inclined to write about it here. This is one of those topics. Strong sexual themes below: you’ve been warned. (Who am I kidding. I know you’re only going to read further now, you horndogs.)

Three people are having sex. Most people would call this a threesome. It makes sense, right? Three people. Having sex. It’s a threesome. Now, from my perspective, threesomes look like this:

One man + two women = a threesome

One woman + two men = a threesome

Three women = a threesome

Three men = a threesome

Because….three. Threesome. But there are certain parties who insist that what we call a threesome depends on the genitalia those three parties possess. From their perspective, it looks like this:

One man and two women = a threesome

One woman and two men = a train

Before you ask, I don’t know what happened to the three men and three women scenarios. Lost in the Land of Heteronormativity, perhaps. The people that hold this latter understanding of group sex don’t ever discuss what same-sex sex looks like. But that’s another discussion. For now let’s focus on threesomes vs. trains.

For context, a train has always been defined as one woman and a large group of men. The imagery of the term is crass, of course: a long “train” of men lines up and has sex with the woman one after the other. Historically, a woman who participates in a train is viewed, discussed, and treated as an object of the highest contempt. A woman who participates in a train, according to men and women who subscribe to misogynistic standards of sexuality, is not a woman but a whore, deserving of any and every abuse, both verbal and physical. The men who participate in trains, of course, are invisible in this interaction. No shame falls on their shoulders. The word “train” is heavy with a history of sexist, shaming connotation.

So there’s that. Now we get to the real root of this discussion: why those (both men and women) who insist that a sexual encounter consisting of one man and two women is a threesome, yet a sexual encounter consisting of one woman and two men is a train, are deeply immersed in misogyny.

Basic Sexism

In its simplest form of analysis, the abovementioned understanding of threesomes puts on display its basic sexism. A man engaging in sex with two women at the same time has traditionally been given a badge of honor, a societal backslap, an historical high-five. He is perceived as sexually potent, a master of seduction with an endless supply of stamina. It is commonplace in Hollywood films for the macho male star to rise from his bed while the camera catches sight of not one, but two women in his bed (see Star Trek: Into Darkness and Troy for two immediate examples).

Women, however, are given no such congratulations. Female sexuality remains a force worthy of fear in our society—why else was American Pie, a story about teenage boys on a quest to lose their virginities, given an R rating by the MPAA but, Coming Soon, a similar story but with female stars, originally slapped with an NC-17 rating? The idea of a woman having the appetite not only to enjoy sex, but to enjoy sex with two simultaneous partners is not worthy of awe and admiration, but rather humiliation and degradation.

It is misogynistic to imply that a man enjoying a threesome with two women is a mark of status, but the reverse is a mark of shame. Behavior (whether sexual or merely social) being rewarded when committed by a man and disgraced when committed by a woman (and vice versa) is one of the most basic structures of sexism in our society. Changing the vocabulary we use to describe a threesome when it involves two men and a woman, subbing in “train,” with all its “slutty” implications and layers of shame to describe an act regularly applauded when committed by men, is sexist. And that’s that.

The Doer and the Done

The other regularly-spouted bit of nonsense I hear that defends “train” being used to describe a one-woman-with-two-men threesome is this (and I’ll try to make it comprehensible, as it rarely is when spouted by the people this blog criticizes): “A threesome is when all three people are interacting. Two women and a man are all touching/pleasuring each other. With two men and a woman, only the men are touching the woman. They’re not touching each other. So it’s a train. They’re doing her.”

This is my face right now.

1)   Your assumption that two men are not touching each other during a threesome with a woman is heteronormative. In short, how the fuck do you know?

2)   Wait…are you saying it’s bad for two men involved in a threesome with a woman to touch each other? Goodbye.

3)   If two men and a woman are engaging in a threesome, what do you think is happening exactly? One man might be having sex with her vaginally/anally while the other is kissing her, receiving oral sex from her, etc. ….I’m still not understanding how this is not a threesome?

In short, the people who subscribe to these kinds of notions reveal themselves for what they are: fragile minds bogged down in misogynist thinking who literally cannot imagine an encounter in which a woman has sexual agency free from shame. In the minds of these people, a woman does not DO during sex, but is done. Men are DOING her, and she is being DONE. Even when she is performing oral sex, she is not doing, but having something done to her. This line of reasoning is a little rapey, if you think about it.

If sex is consensual, and it damn well better be, then a woman is fully capable of DOING. Two men is her prerogative. So is three. So is four. Know why? Because she can do what the hell she wants with her vagina to as many people as she wants. A threesome does not become a train merely because only one of the three is female.

Your sexist notion of female sexual behavior does not get to rename an act simply because of a woman’s participation in it. That’s like calling women’s basketball pussyball. It’s basketball. Its name doesn’t change simply because the people on the court are people who you believe should be shamed for their bodies and actions. Basketball. Threesomes. Call it what it is and keep your sexist little semantics to yourself.

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Robin Thicke Thinks He’s a Victim of Miley Cyrus

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Let me begin by saying I am not a fan of Miley Cyrus. She is an appropriative, entitled little twit who sees black women’s bodies as mere cogs in her privileged fame machine. But everyone knows that if we’re going to talk about the shit show that was her infamous VMA performance, then we’re not just talking about one party. If we’re going to talk about twerking and raunchy attempts at notoriety, we’re talking about two parties: one the near-naked and tongue-wagging Miley Cyrus, and the other is the pinstriped and pompadoured Robin Thicke. Which is what this blog is about, because yesterday in his interview with Oprah, Robin Thicke laid all responsibility of the backlash after their twerking fiasco firmly on the shoulders of 20-year old Miley Cyrus.

Let’s talk about why this is bullshit.

The simple explanation is, “Hey, you slick little bastard, it takes two to tango.” Cyrus wasn’t on stage alone. If she had been, we could point all available fingers in her direction. But we can’t. Because she wasn’t alone. Her ass was against somebody’s crotch and that crotch belonged to Robin Thicke.

Thicke has an answer for this.

“Listen,” he told Oprah. “I’m the twerkee. I don’t twerk. I’m just twerked upon.” Oh. What does this remind us of? A sixteen-year old girl winds up pregnant and is the talk of the town. “Little Betty got herself pregnant,” they gossip. “What a trollop.” The male in question—without whose sperm there would be no scandalous pregnancy—becomes invisible. In the face of a patriarchal framework of female behavior, the unwed girl somehow was alone in her baby-making. The stigma falls to her. The shame falls to her. Thicke throwing Cyrus under the bus—a bus he’s driving—is eerily reminiscent of this scenario in which women are viewed as lone actors in a two-man show.

Thicke goes on to further absolve himself of all responsibility. “I was onstage, so I didn’t see it.” He adds, “I’m not thinking sex, I’m thinking fun. I’m singing my butt off. I’m singing and I’m looking at the sky and I’m singing and I’m not really paying attention to all that.” His final damning quote? “That’s on her.”

Robin, no one’s demanding child support payments. They’re just saying, you know, maybe you could share some of the controversy here.

“I spent my whole career playing it safe, being a gentleman, never doing anything controversial,” he told the November issue of Vanity Fair. “They told me [beforehand] that Miley’s going to take her clothes off and dance around and she might bend over…I just said, ‘I don’t care, let’s entertain the people.'”

Is it just me, or is Thicke describing Cyrus’s potential bending over the way one might describe a loaded gun? As if he’s a victim in this whole thing, and Miley Cyrus’s body/sexuality is the true danger here? If that ass was so dangerous, Robin, why did you place yourself firmly in the way of it?

It’s all so absurd. Cyrus discussed the double standard shortly after the VMAs and as much as I dislike her, I was inclined to agree. But this is even worse. What else does this remind us of? This shunning of responsibility in the face of young female sexuality? Thicke is a 36-year old married man, Cyrus a 20-year old child-star. How many times have we heard about the grown ass pedophile saying that the 14-year old school girl “seduced” him? Remember this case in Montana? The judge gave a 54-year old teacher who repeatedly raped his 14-year old student a 30-day sentence because he believed the girl was “older than her chronological age,” implying that the girl was a willing agent in her rape by a man 40 years her senior.

Before all the rape apologists start whipping out their Sharpies and making cardboard signs decrying my comparison of Thicke/Cyrus to rape, let me be clear. What happened onstage at the VMAs was not rape, and Cyrus was and is perfectly able to make her own ridiculous, appropriative, tiresome decisions. But Thicke’s behavior after the fact, especially now with this most recent interview with Oprah, requires criticism.

Thicke’s ability to saddle Cyrus with the blame indicates a problem in our culture, a culture in which men are rewarded for their sexuality and women are punished; a culture in which a man has the agency to engage in sexual acts and then withdraw from them untainted, leaving the woman to deal with the shitstorm as if they acted alone.

All this aside, the show was rehearsed. Every second of the VMAs was choreographed, planned, done over and over. For Thicke to throw up his angelic little hands and claim ignorance not only illustrates him as the spineless coward that he is, but exposes his willingness to let misogynistic public opinion to run its dirty course, knowing full well that in this culture, if a man says “It wasn’t me, it was all her! Female sexuality is scary and gross!”…the whole world won’t think twice before shoving her under the bus that’s always rolling.

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