We’ve been shaming women for being ‘vanilla’ for years and it needs to stop

No kink-shaming is out, no vanilla shaming is in

When I was growing up and going through puberty, one thing became abundantly clear to me: it is the most embarrassing thing in the world to be “bad in bed”. It is also the most important thing in the world to be “good in bed”. This was reinforced through the way older people spoke, the girls in movies that “got the guy”, lyrics in old Arctic Monkeys songs, subtle jokes in films, throwaway lines in One Tree Hill that really stuck with me, the list goes on.

I then learned that being “bad in bed” was intrinsically linked with being boring or unappealing, and being “good in bed” was the opposite. I would sort through women in my mind and put them in two columns, good in bed (role models) and bad in bed (boring girls to make fun of and NEVER be like). Megan Fox, good in bed, Taylor Swift, bad in bed, Naomi from 90210, good, Annabelle Fritton from St Trinian’s, bad. Etcetera, etcetera. Only two columns for women’s sexuality and one is a complete no-go, what a great system!

Then a few new words were introduced to me, and I shaped myself around them for years. Kinky. Wild. Crazy. Good. In. Bed. There was also another descriptor that I quickly learned was to be avoided at all costs. Vanilla. A girl being described as vanilla was the death of her. “I’ve heard she’s really vanilla” is still a reputational sex death sentence when uttered about a woman. It is essentially a shorthand way of saying “she’s bad in bed” and, as we know, being bad in bed is the most embarrassing thing in the world! It must be swerved. I told myself “You can never ever ever ever ever ever be called bad in bed, and you need to make sure of that”. So I shaped the majority of my sexual development around this and not my own comfort, sexual interests or pleasure. And I know, without even having to ask, that I am not alone.

If you counted on your left hand the number of times you’ve heard a woman get called “vanilla” versus a man on your right, you’d have eight arms on the left side of your body and probably about two to three fingers stood to attention on your normal right arm. That’s all. It just doesn’t happen. Women are conditioned to meet this uncomfortable standard, whether we want to or not, and men aren’t. So we have to learn how to twist our body in all sorts of shapes and suck dick until we cry and men get away with not even giving head sometimes? Sick! Love this existence x

Also, being kinky is massively, massively overrated and it’s time we admit that. Maybe if you’re three years deep into a relationship and you wanna whack out the latex and ball gag you can do that, if it’s what you’re into. But feeling pressured into doing a load of freaky-deeky shit with a guy the first time you shag him just so you don’t “disappoint” is not natural. Tell you what’s disappointing: Not enjoying sex with someone because you feel so much pressure to act a certain role that you can’t even be present in your own body. If that sentence sent a chill through your body too, you get it.

For example: I once had a guy ask me “what do you want me to do to you?” post-sex (every girl’s nightmare… the true test of vanilla-ness and also the EASIEST booby trap for awkward dirty talk ever) and after I said something suitably kinky (lest he believe I am a sexless sea anemone, which is what being “vanilla” makes you apparently) he said “pfft, you’re so vanilla” and then announced he wanted to fuck me in the ass with his dildo and put nipple clamps on me. I did not want this. But did I agree and then just avoid ever going over to his (home of the nipple clamps) again from there on out? Yes, reader, I did. Do not follow in my footsteps.

Because here’s the reality. Let me say the actual truth, for every woman out there who feels the same: Missionary is the best sex position in the world. There’s a reason why it’s the default. But much like how we like to shit on popular things, missionary has become the Lewis Capaldi of sex positions. “Overrated”, “boring” and “basic”. Sorry, Lewis, you’re in the firing line of this point I’m making but I swear it pays off.

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Missionary is good. It’s great. Really, you could live your whole life doing missionary, cowgirl and doggy and not be missing out on much. But you’re taught, and expected, to go over and above these and constantly be trying kinky new things whether you’re comfortable or not – to impress. This is the casualty of the sex positivity movement: not only are we taught that sex is so positive we must be having it ALL THE TIME (i.e have sex like men, spread your seed, reclaim your sluttiness!) we are also taught that we must be doing the DIFFERENT COOL FUN SEX to be good at it. This is just straight up bullshit and I know so many women that can attest to their best sexual experiences being with someone they really fancy, in a “basic position”, where they felt completely swept up in it and comfortable.

In case it’s not already painstakingly obvious, I’m calling time on vanilla shaming. I might have needed to learn to adapt to survive when I was 15 so no boys in school thought I was boring, but we cannot allow this to continue to be the case for young women now. Think of the sexual trauma we could save a bunch of teenage girls by just throwing our hands up in the air and shouting “J’adore missionary!!!! Je suis vanilla madame! No menage a trois for me!”

It’s time ladies. Own your vanilla desires and tell your post-lockdown-three shag: I want you to kiss me and just fuck me really well while we lie down for 15 minutes because that’s what’s hot to me. And stop trying to make young women feel like they have to be clad in all leather, gag and bound in weird shapes with multiple men just to be considered good in bed. One partner or one hundred, whatever position – what makes you good in bed is not whether you are vanilla or not, it’s how much you enjoy it. That’s the real thing we should be striving for.

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