Author: Saint Thomas

The Gentleman’s Guide to Post-Hookup Etiquette

A must-read for men. Originally published at GQ.com. illustration by Cecile Dormeau. 

You’ve probably done a lot of research on what to do during sex. Which is to say, you’ve probably watched a lot of porn. But porn doesn’t teach you much about what to do after you’re done hooking up (usually in porn they just do more sex). When a new lady in your life invites you back to her place, there is post-coital etiquette you must follow to show that you are not only a good lover but also a decent human. So read on to learn how to politely dispose of condoms, when to head back to your place, and why you must text the next day—even if it’s just a one-night stand.

When can I go home?

To spend the night or not spend the night post-smashing is a personal decision. As an insomniac, I empathize with people who don’t spend the night after sex. Plus, I have cats. I don’t bring my Ambien with me or leave out food for my cats unless I want to marry you or, like, you flew me to an Airbnb in Paris. Try to make it clear, before you go home together, that you’re not staying over. If she invites you over but you know you want to sleep in your own bed, just say, “I’d love to come back with you, but I have to get up early for work and have trouble sleeping in new places. Do you mind if I don’t spend the night?” If you’re sincere, it shows. After sex, cuddle and bask in the afterglow. Talk. When your heartbeat has returned to resting and you’re both getting sleepy, say something like, “I had a wonderful time with you. I’m going to head back to my place now, but I’ll text you later.” Leave, and actually text her. Add a rose emoji.

What if I want to sleep over?

Ask her if she’s cool with it.

What if she has roommates?

Good for her, she sounds like a hardworking and self-sufficient woman without a trust fund. Her roommates are adults and they know the drill: You’re the boy who just banged their friend. Put on a shirt (yes, even you, you gym rat) on your way to the bathroom. Smile and wave. You can say, “Hi, I’m Pat” (or whatever). But don’t make it weird. Don’t try to be cute or chime in on what’s going on if they have Riverdale on. Just smile and pee (in the bathroom, with your shirt on). PUT THE SEAT DOWN.

What do I do with the condom(s)?

Don’t just yank the condom off and throw it on the ground like a child angry at a tie his mother made him wear to church. Definitely don’t flush it down the toilet, because that could clog her pipes (keep that for the bedroom, heh heh). Tie the condom up so your manly expulsions don’t spill everywhere, and throw it in the trash like an adult.

What if I want to take a shower?

If you’re a Virgo or a Catholic, you might be itching to shower after sex. But don’t bounce off to the shower the second you pull out. That will make your bedfellow feel like a used receptacle instead of a wanton sex goddess. Don’t shower alone at her place, either. It reeks of “I’m going home to my wife.” Why not extend the naked time and shower together? If you’re tuckered out, you don’t have to bone again, just scrub-a-dub-dub and then return to bed so fresh and so clean.

What do I do the next day?

Text her. Yes, even if it was casual. Yes, even if it’s a one-night stand. Why? Because intimacy is not exclusive to “serious” relationships. Casual sex, when done properly, is insanely hot and lustful but still intimate and respectful. You just have to be an adult about it, and understand that the person you’re boning is also an adult with thoughts and feelings. So text her to check in, to simply say you had a nice time, to ask if the hand prints from the spanking are still there, or to ask her out again.

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WHY DO MEN LOVE SAD GIRLS?

I wrote this for Harper’s Bazaar. Image courtesy of Paramount. 

“You were so frail that you looked like you would just float away.”

My ex-boyfriend says he fell in love with me that day, as I sat saturated in sadness reading the Buddhist recovery memoir Dharma Punx, wearing a ripped Diane Von Furstenberg dress and the label of Major Depressive Disorder. The dress had torn during a date rape when I first moved to New York, but I continued to wear it years later because I loved it. And like some perverse attraction to dating a depressed girl, men flocked to me because of it.

It’s a trope that pop culture loves to depict (The Virgin Suicides, Prozac Nation, and Girl: Interrupted, among others). But for me, a bisexual and queer woman who at the time was primarily dating cis-gendered straight men, it meant a stream of partners being attracted to, and enjoying, my inability to stand up for myself: an excuse to sleep with a “beautifully fragile” woman who would not ask for much in return.

The fact that an aura of sadness can attract partners is not uncommon. On average, men find women with some psychological vulnerability more attractive, according to a 2012 University of Texas at Austin study which looked at the connection between sexual exploitability and sexual attraction. This is not necessarily problematic, explained clinical psychologist and relationship expert Barbara Greenberg, but it can become a substantial cause for concern for those experiencing severe suffering who may be less likely to protect themselves. This can often appeal to the wrong type of men.

Most of my lovers during this time didn’t know what to do with me, and I allowed those who loved and made love to me to treat me with limited deference. I later found out this can be a typical occurrence for people who are depressed. “A lack of respect can be tolerated when a person is down,” noted Dr. Greenberg. “They may not be aware of self-protection because they are so hungry for validation wherever they can find it. We are worried about the predators who come at it from a place of bad intention—a person who probably has either a narcissistic or antisocial personality, somebody who lacks empathy.”

Indeed, one of the most twisted guys I dated during my lowest was a man whose label read “Antisocial Personality Disorder.” He wore it loudly through lies, a lack of empathy, and eventually, verbal abuse. Those with mental disorders such as Narcissistic Personality Disorders and Antisocial Personality Disorder are especially eager to take advantage of someone who is depressed because it’s all about their needs. Diagnosis of personality disorders is controversial (it’s a bit twisted to tell someone that their personality is a disorder), but people with limited or nonexistent empathy certainly exist, in my experience.

Essentially, my radar for picking well-meaning partners was broken because my self-esteem had gone dry. Within the span of a few months, I was sexually assaulted (again), my parents divorced, and I left a long-term cohabiting relationship. I moved to Brooklyn and simultaneously gave up alcohol in an attempt to start over. But the combination of leaving a relationship in which we shared many mutual friends, and no longer socializing in bars, dissolved many of my friendships. The isolating side effect of depression didn’t make finding new friends easier. I hadn’t yet learned nourishing coping mechanisms; so rather than focus on healing myself through therapy, creative outlets, and new friendships, I poured myself into sexual and (questionable) romantic relationships with lovers who didn’t treat me with the care that I needed. The effect was cyclical. I would feel worse when a partner put me down or used me for sex, leaving me to seek validation in other men—and during this time, they were always so easy to find.

The other type of problematic partner one encounters while living with depression is the savior. In cinematic portrayals of love and depression, the sad girl’s partner usually has good intentions. They want to rescue her. The trouble is, you can set groundwork for a relationship dynamic that is difficult to unweave later, says New York City-based sex therapist Kelly Wise. When the depressed partner begins to recover and gain autonomy, the “savior” partner may find themselves uncomfortable with the new power balance.

Still, there are partners who genuinely care. However as my friend Ashley, who suffers from Major Depressive Disorder and wished only to use her first name, explained: “After a while, they give up. One of my exes broke up with me because he said I was bringing him down and he couldn’t handle my breakdowns anymore.” It took years before Ashley learned to avoid partners ill-equipped to deal with depression by being honest and upfront about her own situation.

Of course, dating with depression is very different when you’re in a long-term relationship than when you’re single. A reliable, committed partner will educate themselves about their significant other’s sickness (and yes, depression is a sickness, not a moral failing) and learn how to be supportive. Those with depression may experience it again in their lifetime, Dr. Greenberg reminded, which is why she advises being honest about your mental health history with partners.

A supportive community along with self-care during periods of depression can also help you tune into your needs, and as a result, sniff out the bad guys. With the support of friends, family, and sometimes therapy, you’re less likely to rely on unhealthy partners as a means of companionship. “You need to have your radar up, and if your radar is not operating properly then you need to operate on the radar of people who love you. Rely on the radar of your friends and rely on the radar of your therapist because yours is probably not as sharp when you’re depressed,” explained Dr. Greenberg.

Eventually, I got better and gained the self-realization and strength to untangle myself from unhealthy relationship patterns. I was able to heal through therapy, antidepressants, and the self-care of beauty routines. Perhaps most importantly, I built up friendships and community that provided love, support, and companionship without expectations of sex.

I know the demons I saw still exist, I simply now understand how to slay them. Recently, due to personal changes and the political climate, I, like many others, caught another whiff of depression. So I continue to work hard while making time for self-care, which for me, looks like splurging on a good massage followed by a night of reading, or watching Shonda Rhimes. As a single person, since many of my demons did arise from sexual assault and abuse, I now make sure to let lovers know when I need some time and space. And I’ve noticed that people with an honest interest in my well-being are very understanding when I express that need.

I acknowledge the part of myself that was once completely convinced that my existence was meaningless, however I’m also able to decide that even when living seems hard, the moments of joy make the moments of misery worth it. Believing in magic is more fun than believing in nothingness. And when it comes from a healthy place with worthy partners, having good sex and falling in love is one of the most delicious ways to revel in the joy of being.

An Ode to the Misunderstood Beauty of the Tramp Stamp

Please read this. It is important!

Originally published in Broadly, Photo by Evil Pixels. 

I faced backward with my legs splayed open like Britney Spears in her “Stronger” music video. Behind me crouched Tessa BX of Gnostic Tattoo, who was adorning my lower back with my 11th tattoo—colloquially known as a “tramp stamp.” Spears also has one; hers is a fairy. (I was getting a snake, based on a piece by one of my favorite artists, Alejandra Sáenz.) Much like Spears’ infamous 2007 meltdown (which in my opinion was a valid mental reaction to her circumstances and metal as fuck), the lower back tattoo is largely—and unfairly—viewed by society as trashy and even tragic.

Women in Western society began inscribing ink on their lower back in the late 1980s, according to Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman, tattoo historian and director of the Center for Tattoo History and Culture. “Due to lingering mid-century stigmas about tattoos, they wanted to get them in a place that was easily concealed,” she explains. Jill Jordan, one of the most well-known female tattoo artists to emerge in the 1980s, called them the “chick spot,” according to Margot Mifflin in Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo. The trend crept into the early 1990s as more women started getting tattoos and by the mid-90s, the tattoo’s popularity soared due to an influx of tattoo magazines featuring models with lower back ink.

I recall growing up during this time and hearing men refer to the tattoo as a “target” or “bull’s eye,” insinuating it was the sign of a slut and that the bearer was “easy.” While I’m sure some women have gotten tattoos to lure lovers, body modifications from makeup to cosmetic surgery are choices women make to feel more powerful or comfortable in their body. “Tattoos appeal to contemporary women both as emblems of empowerment in an era of feminist gains and as badges of self-determination at a time when controversies about abortion rights, date rape, and sexual harassment have made them think hard about who controls their bodies—and why,” Mifflin writes. But our patriarchal society assumes women’s body modifications are less about their own agency and more about catering to men’s preferences, so women with lower back tattoos are simultaneously sexualized and shamed.

Selecting the image and placement for a tattoo is personal. It’s a decision rooted in reasons ranging from healing after sexual assault to simply wanting something pretty to adorn your body. In Bodies of Subversion, Jordan says that lower back tattoos are “a tremendously sexy and really flattering way to be tattooed—it just narrows your waist.” In The Witch’s Book of Power , professional witch Devin Hunter writes that the primal soul “sits within the lower soul of our being” and explains that in dharma, a concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, a “giant serpent known as Kundalini lies coiled within our root chakra, acting only out of primal instinct.” Kundalini deals with basic life energy, or prana, writes Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa in Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power .

I wanted a tramp stamp of a snake to commemorate a time in my life when I was unchaining myself from patriarchal restrictions like toxic relationships and finding my authentic self. The snake imagery and body placement represented my primal self and “living deliciously,” like Eve accepting forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The tail of my tattoo begins at the root chakra but the rest lies mostly on the second chakra, like all lower back tattoos. While the root chakra represents primal energy, security, and survival, the second chakra represents sexual energy (and is located by our reproductive organs). “That area is sacred; it’s called sacrum for a reason” says Ashlee Davis, a Kundalini yoga instructor and holistic health coach that specializes in helping clients that struggle with emotional eating and body image.

Before the boom of ’90s tramp stamps, 20th century examples of lower back tattoos could be found as early as 1937. In an article titled “Tattooing Among the Arabs of Iraq,” originally published in American Anthropologist by Winifred Smeaton and republished in The Tattoo History Source Book . Smeaton writes of a midwife from Al-Kadhimain (a Northern area of Baghdad) who he called “one of the best informants on the magical aspects of tattooing.” The woman, who Smeaton did not name in his ethnography, explained the practice of tattooing a small design of three to five dots on women’s lower backs “just above the buttocks” as a fertility ritual to ensure childbearing.

By 2000, when Spears and her fairy tattoo were owning a chair in “Stronger,” the tramp stamp began falling out of fashion, says Dr Friedman. “When low-rise jeans exploded around the year 2000, making these tattoos very visible, it clinched the association with slutty sexuality,” she explained. Mifflin writes that by the new millennium the “chick spot became the tramp stamp and lost its charm.” When I asked Dr. Friedman for a contemporary equivalent of a ’90s tramp stamp, she answered rib cage tattoos. While speaking with Tessa prior to my appointment, she said that one of the most popular tattoos for women is the feather, so the butterfly above the butt has given way to the feather on the ribcage.

“I have done fewer lower back tattoos than I have forearm tattoos or other places, but since I’ve grown up, that’s always been a stigma. It’s a ‘ tramp stamp.’ From someone that loves tattoos, both giving and receiving, I find it hard to have an opinion about the placement of a tattoo,” Tessa says. As she inscribed a snake on my lower back, it made me feel protected and powerful, and I wondered if Britney felt a similar kinship to her fairy. (I hope so.)

While I (and the rest of the tattoo community) strongly advise against getting a paramour’s name tattooed on your body, the rest is up to you. Good luck trying to shame me for my tramp stamp—my snake has charm, and the 90s are back in fashion.

I Used Weed Lube to Turn My Vagina into an Edible

I wrote this for Merry Jane. Image courtesy of Flickr. 

Pussy is magic. It has the power to give both its owner and those given the privilege of experiencing it extreme pleasure. Weed is also magic and shares with pussy the ability to give those close enough to inhale it pleasure. Having learned that drinking an entire bottle of Foria (450 mg of THC) will get you high for three days, I wondered: Can I turn my vagina into an edible?

The answer is yes. “If someone sprays [Foria] on their vulva and their partner goes down on them, their vulva has now become an edible at 2.5 mg per spray and will absolutely get the oral giver high,” says sex and cannabis educator Ashley Manta, the creator of CannaSexual. People getting high off their genitals is nothing new. Think about the decades of cocaine users who had a partner blow blow up their buttholes (otherwise known as “boofing” or for the revisionist rock historians out there, “pulling a Stevie Nicks”). Everyone is entitled to their own definition of magic. Personally, I find that laying down and getting my pussy eaten as my partner gets stoned makes me feel like a goddess while boofing is something I’m happy to forget about, like the time in my life where I was determined to fuck the dudes in MGMT. Not to mention that cannabis is an immensely safer substance than cocaine, despite the Federal Government’s insistence on labeling cannabis a Schedule I drug and cocaine a Schedule II.

Foria confirms on their website that if you squirt their pleasure spray on your vagina and then have your partner go down on you, they can get stoned. When just rubbed into the vulva, there’s rarely a psychoactive effect. Someone has to eat it. Foria doesn’t just say you can get stoned by going down on a cannabis-laced pussy, they’re active advocates of the practice. “We absolutely encourage couples to play with Foria for oral as a way to for the giver to get high,” says Mathew Gerson, the creator and co-CEO of Foria.

Brittany J. Confer, Foria’s Director of Marketing and PR, adds that when men overly concerned with their own pleasure (a penis can’t get stoned, guys need to put it up their butt for absorption) often ask her what’s in it for them. When faced with such a selfish question, she tells them, “It’s like turning her vagina into an edible. If you go down on her, you’ll be giving yourself a nice little high depending on how much product the two of you use and how long she waits to allow the Foria Pleasure to absorb.”

Everyone was telling me that I could turn my vagina into an edible, but I had to test it out to be certain. Thankfully I’m seeing a guy I’ll call Lupo, who enjoys eating both pussy and weed, and is delightfully concerned with my pleasure. After catching up on Game of Thrones together, he spritzed around three to four sprays––about 10mg worth of weed––around my clit and labia. We made out for about 15 minutes to let the pleasure spray do its thing in my mucous membranes, the time advised to let Foria kick in for sexual enhancement purposes, and then he went down on me. I’ll pull a curtain across the screen and ask anyone under 18 to look away for what happened over the next hour or so. When we concluded our adult activities, I eagerly asked him: “Are you stoned from my pussy?”

“I can’t really tell,” he answered, and then fell asleep.

Even though Lupo did a wonderful job helping with my experiment I was sad. I wanted my vagina to not only give the best orgasms but the best buzz. I asked Manta what could have gone wrong. “It seems likely that your vag absorbed a good bit of it,” Manta says. That’s what I get for being selfish and wanting to get my vagina stoned rather than asking him to lick it off immediately after application. “But also it would take up to two hours to kick in (like an edible), so it may have been that he didn’t feel the effects until later and his tolerance was high enough that it was barely perceptible. That’s my hunch, at least,” she tells me. Aha! So Lupo likely didn’t feel much either because he had a high tolerance, because my pussy had consumed all the THC, or because he fell asleep after about an hour of ingestion, so there wasn’t enough time to see the full effects (or all of the above).

I could have retried the experiment again with Lupo again with adjustments, but unfortunately, my job consists of more than spraying weed on my pussy and then having beautiful men go down on me. I also enjoying eating vaginas myself and pondered how I could go from scientist to test subject by licking Foria off of another vagina. There is a woman I have been intimate with, but she isn’t a cannabis consumer, and while there’s rarely a psychoactive effect from topical use on the vulva alone, some people do experience one. Plus I felt like a creep asking her. So I did the natural next step: I spritzed some on my own vagina, pulled out my yoga mat, and tried to see if I could eat my own pussy. Nope. I knew I needed to be stretching more. So I did the following logical thing: I squirted one 2.5 mg spray of Foria onto each of my nipples.

Now those, I am flexible enough to lick. Immediately after the spray made contact, I licked off approximately 5 mg of cannabis, my preferred edible dosage and the recommended starting size by campaigns aimed to make edibles a safer experience––aka, one that doesn’t last for three whole days.

It worked. After about two hours, I indeed got stoned from licking my nipples. I felt heavenly from combined the power of cannabis and erogenous zones.

If I were a scientist writing an academic paper on my experience, here’s what I would say: My thesis upon conducting this experiment was that I could turn my vagina into an edible by applying Foria pleasure spray. Both a sex and cannabis educator and the makers of Foria supported this thesis. Due to variables such as Lupo’s tolerance and the male’s tendency to fall asleep post-orgasm, my initial experiment did not produce my desired outcome. However, my second solo experiment (masturbation is the key to a happy life) confirmed you can turn your body can into an edible with the application of a cannabis topical such as Foria. My conclusion is that you can not only turn vaginas into edibles, but nipples, butt holes, toes, or whatever gets you off. Go forth and (safely and legally) try it for yourself.

What to Say When Your Girlfriend Gets Cosmetic Surgery

Read my sexy lips.

This article was originally published in GQ. Illustration by Cecile Dormeau. 

Recently I got lip fillers. I did it for myself, not “for a guy,” and my new lips look great (they look like my usual lips, but fuller and with a little Cupid’s bow). But when I told the men in my life what I was up to, they didn’t really know what to do with it.

From Donald Trump’s sexist tweet about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski’s supposed facelift to Rob Kardashian’s bizarre social-media meltdown about Blac Chyna’s plastic surgery, there are a lot of examples of how not to speak to and about women who elect to get cosmetic procedures. Maybe you’d be stoked if your girlfriend announced that she wanted to get work done. But you might also feel apprehensive, especially if your lady is planning a nose job or a breast augmentation, more drastic procedures that require anesthesia. You respect her and you love the way she looks already, and that’s beautiful. But when she brings up getting work done, give her the benefit of the doubt: Trust that she’s put thought into this and done her research. If all she wants is a little Botox or lip fillers, chill. Ask her why she wants it done, and listen. Express your thoughts and concerns, but at the end of the day, it’s her body and her choice. Ultimately, you should support it. It might end up turning you on.

Don’t be like Donald and Rob—here’s what to say and do to be supportive each step of the way:

Before: Don’t Overdo It

“You’re beautiful just the way you are,” is at its core a supportive sentiment, and an important (albeit Bruno Mars-y) one. However, if your partner is telling you that she wants work done, please don’t undermine her intelligence and right to choose her own aesthetic by defaulting to praises of natural beauty. I, for instance, already have pink hair and eyelash extensions. Whenever a dude waxes poetic about how lovely I’d look if I let the pink wash out and opted for my natural brown hair, I feel like he’s undermining my decisions. I don’t feel like myself with long brown hair, I feel like myself with a messy magenta bob, damnit! The same goes for getting work done. When I first announced that I was going to get lip fillers, one guy said something mean about how I “just wanted to feel better about myself.” Well, in a sense, yeah—I wanted them because I enjoy feeling hot and powerful and I like how they look. Please don’t patronize me, or any woman, by assuming the desire to get work done is to fill some soul hole. Respect that this is my body, my choice, and my money, and if I want some Lana Del Rey-esque pouty lips, then that’s up to me. Don’t assume or say anything that infantilizes a woman’s choices about her body. And for fuck’s sake, don’t say something plain mean like “that’s gross,” because I know you follow Kylie Jenner on Instagram.

During: Be There in Person or in Texts

If your lady is getting something done that requires anesthesia, such as a nose or boob job, it might be nice to go with her, but injections are so quick that it’s not necessary. If you can’t join her on her beauty expedition, encourage her the day of and check in throughout in a supportive—but not annoying—manner. She’s about to experience a teeny bit of pain. Feel free to ask her, “Does it hurt?” and then laud women for having such high pain tolerance. Sitting in a comfy chair in Dr. Dara Liotta’s pristine Manhattan office, I loved getting my lips done. I have ten tattoos and enjoy BDSM so I may not be the best judge of pain threshold, but injections are truly no biggie. If you’re curious and want a fair comparison, I went to the dentist earlier that week and that sucked a million times more. Dr. Liotta’s office was sexy. Getting work done really does feel sexy, so totally amp that up—either verbally, if she allows you to accompany her, or through texts. Ask her things like, “How you holding up, champ?” or joke around about celebrity sightings. Truly the best things you can say during the procedure are words of encouragement, such as: “You got this! You’re going to look even hotter, if that’s possible.” Those newly plumped lips will reward you.

After: Give Her Soup and Space

If you want to score all the points after her procedure, bring her things like delicious soup, frozen yogurt, and ice packs. Snuggle up with movies or a House of Cards binge-watching session. Know that she may not be able to continue a conversation because her lips are sore. And if she wants space, give her space. Regarding lip augmentation, it takes a day or so to go from swollen to sexy—for other procedures it can take a lot longer. You know in High Fidelity, when John Cusack talks about his girlfriend’s plain cotton underwear “hanging on the thing,” and how there are parts of intimacy that aren’t inherently sexy? John Cusack fantasizes about other women, knowing that they too probably have cotton panties, but he only sees them in lingerie. Your girlfriend might not want to taint the sexy intimacy with this moment of puffy-lipped un-sexy intimacy. If you are allowed over to watch her attempt post-procedure ramen slurping, make sure she’s comfy, and if you make any jokes about how she looks puffy, do it with love. And then, yes: Please let go of any hang-ups you might have, and enjoy her beautiful newly plumped lips, which she elected to get done just because she wanted to. Since you’ve been so supportive of her choices you get to have fun with those suckers!

7 Things You Should Know Before Trying Butt Plugs

I wrote a butt plug bible for Allure. Image courtesy of Allure.  

If you’re not familiar with the joys of butt plugs, allow me to introduce you to a versatile toy you can enjoy regardless of gender, orientation, or genitalia. If you have a prostate, butt plugs can stimulate it, and if you have a vagina, a butt plug can create incredibly pleasurable pressure on the back vaginal wall. That’s not to mention that the anus itself is also surrounded by nerve endings. Whatever the reason you’re keen to dive into the world of butt plug play, there are a few things you should know first for a comfortable, safe, and sexy experience.

That’s just the intro. Because this article comes with seven must-have butt plug recommendations and corresponding images, I’m going to make you head over to their website to read it….so, click here

Missionary Position Is the Kinkiest Sex Position

This piece was originally published in Glamour. Photo courtesy of Stocksy. 

I have a controversial statement to make: The kinkiest sex of all happens in missionary position. Hear me out! When films present a female character as a takes-what-she-wants, raunchy femme fatale (think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct), she’s usually on top during sex. Yes, pinning down your partner while using your hips to ride them can make you feel powerful. It also can allow for some intense clit-to-bod contact, which rules. But is it the hottest? I’m inclined to say nah. For me, despite society’s insistence on dipping missionary in vanilla, it wins the kink (and feel-good) contest.

But first, here’s my theory on why men love it when a girl gets on top: They’re lazy. Being on top is a CrossFit-level workout (or so I imagine—I’ve never tried CrossFit). The structure of the heteronormative missionary position—although the same idea is applied to sex between two people with vaginas when one is wearing a strap-on—requires some serious upper body strength, not to mention nailing the proper speed and rhythm of thrust (no jack-hammering, please). While there are no scientific studies at this time to back up my theory, I’m convinced that when a dude says, “Now you get on top,” it’s usually because his arms are sore, not because it’s the sexiest or kinkiest pose—even if it’s hard to argue with the spectacular boob view that girl-on-top provides.

But it’s hot to be on the bottom! Feeling someone’s body on top of you, thrusting, drenching the both of you in sweat, all the while maintaining eye contact? While doggy-style often gets the credit for being particularly kinky—and hitting it DS is dope for deeper penetration—you can risk some neck injuries turning around to throw some sexy eyes at your partner. When you’re on your back and want to get kinky, you can ask your partner to call you the dirty bedroom name of your choice without hurting yourself! And while being on top means you can control the depth of penetration—great if your partner is on the bigger side—in my experience (all vaginas are different, after all), missionary means more profound penetration than girl-on-top.

What’s more: Missionary is the best for masturbation. It’s a fact that at least three quarters of women need clitoral stimulation rather than vaginal penetration alone to get off during the deed. Many a sex position guide will tell you that when you’re on top, you can rub your clit or add a vibrator. Maybe it’s my poor coordination, but when I’m on top I’m focused on hip thrusting, booty bouncing, and perhaps a set or two of squats. Now I’m supposed to also add a hand or a toy? Too much multitasking. I’ve found that adding clitoral stimulation with my hands or a vibrator (and thus, orgasms) becomes far easier when I’m lying on my back. Kink for me usually means toys, and I’ve found using handcuffs and nipple clamps (they can slide off when you’re bouncing up and down) is far easier and thus more kink-friendly, in missionary.

I’m not done yet! While on the bottom during missionary sex, you can switch it up endlessly. You can lift one leg (or both!) for such intense stimulation you may need a quick breather. You can throw a pillow under your butt. You can wrap your legs like a pretzel around your partner and pull him or her closer to you. Yes, missionary can be a little vanilla. But have you seen the sheer array of toppings available?

And if you’re in the mood for something other than vanilla, missionary is the ultimate transition position. With a simple flip, you can turn over onto your belly for doggy-style, or get on top for cowgirl to give your partner a workout break. If you want to get a little selfish (and you totally should), missionary makes it easy if you want to ask your partner to pull out and go down on you for a bit.

In conclusion, the words missionary position may invoke visions of awkwardly losing your virginity or your parents conceiving you to the smooth sounds of Steely Dan’s Aja. But don’t be fooled by these unfortunate images: Missionary is the kinkiest.

This article is part of Summer of Sex, our 12-week long exploration of how women are having sex in 2017.