It’s difficult for many women to communicate about sex. No big surprise there. But is it more difficult for Southern women?
I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer were yes.
Of course, you have the obvious reasons. Little or no sex education means that people are just assumed to know how to have sex, without talking about it. Women in particular are taught that talking about sex is shameful and inappropriate. Southern law discourages any interference in the silent space of the marriage bed–it’s no coincidence that North Carolina was the last state in the country to make marital rape illegal, in the mid 1990s.
But I would posit that Southern manners, good old Southern hospitality, are also to blame for this phenomenon.
Southerners, and especially Southern women, are taught that it is better to be seen and not heard, that one should always defer to a guest, that when something desireable is offered it is polite to say “no, thank you” twice and only accept on the third offering. I find myself wondering, when thinking about communication and sex, if these general rules on manners might bleed over into how Southern women behave in bed. If a partner is not insistent on finding out how to please a Southern woman, will she have the courage to ask outright, rather than deferring to the partner’s desires in an instinctual show of politesse? I think that many of us who were raised as little girls in the South probably inherited this difficulty, whether we have overcome it or not.
This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.