Soapbox: On Withholding Sex As Punishment

After I started giving blowjobs to my high school boyfriend, I soon became aware of my newfound sexual power. I had something he wanted. For a 16-year-old girl stuck in a lot of circumstances she had no control over, the tangibility of that power felt amazing.

Then my high school boo and I were joking around, he did something to razz me, and I told him teasingly, “No blowjobs for a week for you as punishment!”

The teasing tone vanished. He became serious — and seriously angry. “Don’t threaten me like that,” he said in a stern voice. “You can’t control me with threats.”

“I was teasing,” I insisted, though I immediately felt guilty for seeming like I may have been using my sexual power to control him. I never know what’s OK to joke about and what’s not; I never have. “I’m not seriously not going to give you blowjobs for a week. Jesus.”

That was over 10 years ago and I’ve long since chalked the conversation up to 16-year-old stupidity. That is, until I heard last night that some adult women actually do punish their men by withholding sex. Last night I heard two stories about grown-ass women who’ve withheld sex as punishment. One woman withheld blowjobs for one week because her fiancé refused to go out to dinner with her and her mom. The other woman threatened to withhold sex for a week from her boyfriend for the very same reason, despite the fact that mom had made it very clear she hated the boyfriend. So the second boyfriend called her bluff: he told his girlfriend he was withholding sex from her for three weeks. And he did. She sputtered and protested and by the end of three weeks she was apparently crying about it. (It’s unclear whether she was crying from lack of sex or from her head being messed with.)

I don’t think there are any winners in these situations; the women who’ve made the threats are no better than the second boyfriend who called his girlfriend on her bluff. Either way, it is manipulative and could be categorized as emotional abuse. (Although, in context, I don’t think these situations count as abuse, including my own.) I actually have to credit the second boyfriend in this situation for proving that he couldn’t be controlled through sex and turning that stereotype about men (no sex will kill them!) on its head.

Like I said, my own blowjob-withholding threat happened over 10 years ago. I cannot imagine threatening a sexual partner in any way now, whether sexual or otherwise. While I do think couples — especially longtime couples — punish each other in small, petty ways when they’re upset (like refusing to go see a dick flick with him because he refused to see a chick flick with her), in mature adulthood I think these punishments are much more subtle. At least I would hope so.

Ladies, have you ever withheld sex from your man — or threatened to? And boys, have you had sex taken away from you as punishment? Let us know in the comments.

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