The Myth of Lesbian Bed Death (Or How Straight People Are Having Way Less Sex)

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This is a clap back.

Lesbian bed death is a myth, a punchline, a misogynist scrap of nonsense that has been eagerly embraced by virtually everyone. It was coined in the ’80s by someone named Pepper Schwartz (stupid name) and revived by Dan Savage, a gay man who understands lesbian sex about as well as Freud understood women. More recent studies suggest that lesbians actually have better sex lives than straight women, but the myth of lesbian bed death persists. Why? Well, it’s catchy. But mostly because it’s a socially acceptable way to imply that sex without a penis is inferior. Or that women don’t like or need sex as much as men. People love these notions so much they gave Lesbian Bed Death: The Movie a Golden Globe.

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You wouldn’t expect a straight couple to be okay with never having sex. Why are lesbian couples different? If I stopped showing attraction to my girlfriend, she would dump me. Well, first we’d talk about it, then spend too much money at The Pleasure Chest, then talk about it some more, then go to therapy, and then if none of that worked she would dump my ass. We’re gay. We went through a lot to avoid an unhappy, sexless relationship. Why would gay women fight so hard for the right to have sex with other women if we were going to stop having sex after falling in love?

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Straight people often find queer sexuality threatening, so they fetishize, reject, or dismiss it (or both fetishize AND dismiss if you’re a lesbian). In the mainstream perception of queer sexuality, gay men are insatiable nymphomaniacs, bisexuals are confused sluts, and lesbians are frigid killjoys OR bisexual sluts in denial. The eternal punchline being that queer sex is weird sex.

I’m getting sidetracked. If you want to read about lesbian bed death not being a think, you can read Morgan Cohn’s great piece the The Frisky, or check out AfterEllen’s Sapphic Sex Survey for stats. But this is really about straight bed death and how that’s way more of a thing.

Straight people are weaned on the myth of epic heterosexual romance. Girl meets guy, girl is coy, guy is bold, guy gets girl, love, marriage, baby carriage. It is the great straight narrative. Our culture constantly reminds straight people that everyone has a soul mate just waiting to complete them.

In sharp comparison, gay people are weaned on the myth of gayngst: gay angst. Gay people seldom see themselves reflected in mainstream culture, and when we do it is often tragic. According to 85% of lesbian movies, I should be slitting my wrists while my lover goes back to her husband. It’s easy to feel grateful, satisfied, and sexually stimulated by my current relationship when the options are so grim.

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Speaking of options: I know straight people love to bitch about how there are, like, no cool cuties around. I’ve heard “You’re so lucky you’re a lesbian, guys are mean” enough times to develop a subtle tic. No wonder straight couples get bored and stop banging and start cheating at higher rates than gay couples. You want to talk lack of options? Try being a lesbian. There are so few of us we have to date each other’s exes and stay friends with our exes. Combine unrealistic expectations, infinite alternative partners, and a sense of entitlement to epic romance, and you have a recipe for the straight bed death epidemic.

Let’s put those personal theories aside and look at some science. First off: orgasms. Men win when it comes to quantity, with straight men climaxing 85.5% and straight women only coming 61.6% of the time. It’s good to be a dude; it’s worse to be a girl. However, there was one segment of women who have a lot more orgasms than other women. You guessed it: those crafty lesbians, who orgasm 74.7% of the time. But these are single people. What about straight couples? Surely the men just need to get the layout before treating that lucky lady to a lifetime of frequent, earth-shattering, multi-orgasm lovemaking. Right? HA naw.

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During my research, I noticed that articles about frequency/quality of sex in straight relationships were vague, comforting pieces assuring readers that there is no “healthy” amount of sex. In contrast, articles about lesbian sex (even among the serious sex studiers at the Kinsey Institute) are slightly condescending, instructional pieces on how to avoid Lesbian Bed Death. The message is clear: sex in heterosexual relationships is perfectly normal, no matter how often it took place. Much time was spent stressing that YOU (STRAIGHT PERSON) ARE PERFECTLY NORMAL. Nothing to look at here! On the other hand, the sex lives of women in lesbian relationships needed SERIOUS fixing. What a gorgeous, obvious double standard.

Okay, I’m semi-done bitching about the double standard and getting to the good stuff. As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, the data on sex frequency among heterosexual couples is so immersed in soothing caveats, it took forever to ferret out. Yet ferret I did.

Fifteen to 20 percent of married, hetero couples have sex less than 10 times a year. The average amount of sex for heterosexual, married couples is 58 times a year. HOWEVER (pay attention because this gets interesting), “… Couples in their 20s have sex 111 times per year on average, with frequency dropping steadily, about 20 percent per decade.” DAMN, THATS SOME HETEROSEXUAL BED DEATH. It’s a straight bed death epidemic. CUE THE THINK PIECES. Compare that to lesbian couples, who have longer sex, more orgasms, and higher satisfaction rates, and you’re got a clear winner: lesbians.

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While straight couples are forgiven for (and even encouraged to) have less sex, lesbian couples are held to a higher standard. They meet this standard, and it’s still not good enough. I’m not saying lesbians are better at sex, although scientifically we’re at least better at enjoying sex than straight women (suckas).

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I am saying that the term bed death needs to stop being exclusively applied to gay women. It’s incredibly sexist, subtly homophobic, and deeply unsavory.

Then there’s the glaring truth that lesbian bed death is a trite, unfunny cliche. I’m sick of straight people talking about it, and I’m even more sick of everyone (lesbians included) making the same three jokes about it. It’s over. It’s done. Let it go. There are so many better jokes to make about lesbian sex. Lesbians are ridiculous.

A couple years ago I bought The Whole Lesbian Sex Book. Instead of hot sex tips, The Whole Lesbian Sex Book is brimming with dorky encouragement to LEAVE THE HOUSE (like the lesbian population is filled with agoraphobic weirdos) and atrocious poetry. It’s everything bad about lesbian sex culture: emotionally obsessed, pretentious, and teeming with bad stabs at art. Make fun of lesbians for that.

If you take nothing else from this article, I hope you take this: straight people are the OGs of bed death, and lesbians can never take that from them. We’re highly conscientious of cultural appropriation.

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