The Subreddit That Proves I Know Absolutely Nothing About Straight Men


I have a lot of male-dominated interests, and a lot of male friends. And yet, at the end of the day, I am a straight(ish) woman with no brothers, a dad who lived 30 min away while I was growing up, no stepdad until I was in my mid-20’s, and no fucking clue how the straight male brain works.

It’s not for lack of trying. The boy crazy started early. Before the guy friends, who started once I grew (little) boobs and they started being able to see me. But no matter how much I write about bitcoin or how many graphic novels I read or how many times I argue anarchy vs. minarchy I still am continually surprised by them.

I’ve been told that guys don’t really talk about sex amongst themselves, except in the broadest terms. I’m not sure I believe that. I’m always trying to get all my friends to dish to me. I didn’t name my blog Sex and the State just for the clicks. So this morning one of my best dude friends gchats me “do you know the wtsstadamit subreddit?” I’m a casual reddit user, so I’m not surprised I don’t. Then he types:


And I go. And I’m a little horrified.

The first memory it brings up is in college, a friend photographed me and my future husband backlit with sunshine. It was a beautiful photograph, well composed. Except my skirt, unbeknownst to me, was made translucent by the sun. Being an extra skinny bitch back then, you could tell exactly where my cootch began.

The second is far further back, to YMCA camp. We went swimming every day, so every year I got a new bathing suit. I’m not sure how I noticed that boys were staring at me underwater through their goggles. But someone definitely had to explain to me why. That bitch puberty’s decision to show up had unfortunately coincided with my ill-fated choice of a white bathing suit. I’ve always been a tiny person, so maybe the manufacturer didn’t anticipate the thin white fabric having to cover actual lady parts? It never occurred to me that white fabric goes see-through when wet, and that this might be of interest to anyone.

That general cluelessness impacts my interaction with straight men to this day.

So yeah, the whole “oops you can see my goodies” thing. I get it. I think. Maybe? I mean, surprises are nice. They weren’t for me either time, because, you know, I knew to be ashamed once I realized I’d been showing basically my naked body to everyone at the YMCA camp pool and my cootch to people walking by me in the sunshine at Samford.

So is that the appeal? The good, modest woman who made a mistake? The sneak peek you’re not supposed to be getting?

But the women in the photos on reddit don’t look ashamed, or unaware, to be ashamed later. At least the ones who have faces in frame look like they’re fucking owning their sun-made translucent dresses. So maybe it’s just a novel way to show, but not fully show, lady parts.

To be honest I’m still taken aback that a woman’s body, devoid of context, is of such interest to straight men. None of the boys staring at me underwater ever tried to talk to me. That was the greatest ambition of mine, to know boys, to hear their thoughts and get acquainted with their hopes and dreams. I remember it was high school before I really, really wanted to see any boy naked.

I remember a year or so ago following all these Tumblrs with gorgeous photos and gifs of beautiful men and women in various stages of undress and coitus. And I’d scroll through regularly for a while, maybe weeks, maybe months. But it was a phase. Without context it got boring to me and I haven’t done it for a really long time.

What is the appeal? How is this not boring as shit? Maybe men make up a backstory. “Angela loves the feel of sunshine on her skin through a thin layer of linen. She grew up in Alaska so…”

Who knows. It’s taken me thirty years to figure out that I haven’t changed much since middle school. I like writers who are much smarter than me and know exactly what to say. I love men with rich inner lives — I can’t resist the urge to plumb depths of emotion and analysis. My husband was a Philosophy major. That boy in high school was a poet with a penchant for peppering his speech with phrases from hip hop and a canny awareness of what one needs to say to an insecure literary magazine editor to make her want to drop her panties. If someone could approximate that with a Tumblr that would be awesome. For now the most erotic medium for me is Twitter.

Now I’m imagining a straight dude reading Will Moyer thinking, “This is boring as shit. When does someone get naked?”


  1. The problem I often see when people try to reason through a certain kink is this, “Everybody like X because Y.” Sexuality is incredibly varied, and while there may be common or more dominant reasons for some kinks within a community, but there are ultimately many roads to Rome, or more technically, a plurality of causes. Added to this sexuality is something that shifts somewhat on a day to day basis, and potentially much more over the lifetime.

    Thus, when we’re examining various groups, there can be a lot of reasons for why an individual will find themselves attracted to any given phenomena. To understand the individual you really have to start there. Beyond that though, not everything related to sexual desire comes down to “narrative” or other social factors (i.e. race and how most porn focuses on white people) we can rightly or wrongly read into the given media a group prefers.

    As far as stories, I know some guys do enjoy little narratives like you mentioned, but not all the time.(However there has been a growing movement for alternative and feminist pornography which certainly emphasizes story, character, and production values more than in the past) It is good to consider that there do seem to be a few fundamental differences that show up in men vs. women’s sexuality. I’ve read about a number of studies which find that women’s sexuality does tend to be more contextually based (as with almost everything I say, this does not apply to everybody, life is full of continuous greyscales, and there are always exceptions to the rules). Ojai Ogas, a computational neuroscientist, has an interesting take on the subject in this (admittedly rather long) google talk (

    Anyway, I don’t want to start babbling too much, but those are just a few thoughts.

  2. JoeC

    Srsly, Cathy, you haven’t internalized yet that men are visually oriented and stimulated creatures? Seeing a women simultaneously clothed and naked is a serious turn-on. She’s basically showing you the goods, but also hiding them, making believe she’s “good” but being “bad” at the same time… just for you. Maybe that’s the context you’re searching for.

  3. anonymous

    It’s simple — men feel a *direct visual pleasure* that women do not experience when they are looking at a hot person.

    Men are visual. We’re hardwired that way. There’s nothing more to it.

  4. When a man’s senses are set to detect food or attack and he detects instead a mating opportunity, his movements are shunted accordingly. This is what makes the suggestion of feminine energy more persuasive than its overt tender. Men are sensitive to the perimeter and constituted to deal with the unexpected. It’s where we thrive.

    The spiritual life of the male of the species exists almost entirely in the precincts of risk, the metaphorical and actual frontier, where he quietly collaborates with other men on holding the tribe’s space to allow for creation (food, art, babies, legacies) within its bounds. Risk, uncertainty and awareness is context to men.

    The erosion of masculine context has caused men to turn inward and aggress on the space and all within it they would otherwise protect – women, children, elders, social cohesion, art, the living planet, everything.

    Young men seek only to offer their lives in the name of something worthy of their massive range and ability to support and to serve. Frontiers are today determined by capital and its blunt-minded minion, usually men but increasingly women, and the fittest men are dispatched to defend the causes of those who themselves have never been tested – the strong spend their blood, the smart spend their minds. The context is fabricated, the combat is internecine, the casualties are human and creative nature.

    When the message of the tribe (read: culture) is to spend one’s gifts on what is not worth living for, there is crisis. The manifest danger that men present to humanity today is a crisis of this order among men, aided and abetted by a tribe that has almost entirely outsourced its creative spirit.

    The masculine rises to the feminine entering from the periphery and presenting a reason for both living and dying. Woman, and the tribe within which her creative imperative is venerated, is that reason.

  5. As a male I don’t think beauty needs a context. But context can certainly add or subtract. People can become better looking after they start talking (or worse looking). And there is always one bit of inner context I feel whenever a beautiful woman displays herself — gratitude.

  6. Michael C

    After spending too much time on my reddit page and going though the 14 pages of subreddits, I’ve come to the conclusion that one is bored prior to coming to reddit or any other social media. Thanks for bring this subreddit to my attention as well as wanting pass down several subreddits to you like:


    The old adage “if it something you might read, the there is an app for that need” applies to reddit. If you would like more subreddits I am sub’d to, let me know. Thanks for this blog , BTW!

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