Do you know what a starfish is?
No, I don’t mean this inoffensive sea creature:
I mean the term “starfish” to refer to a woman in bed.
The Urban Dictionary definition states that a Starfish is:
A female sexual partner who remains ‘unmoved’ during lovemaking, physically non-responsive (like a ….).
OR, even more joyfully:
Sex where the girl’s arms and legs are spread as far apart as possible, like a starfish. Legs open wide, arms out, and a very bored look on her face as she rolls her eyes and waits for the guy to be done.
This term sexual starfish I take issue with, and needs to get in the bin.
Because, firstly, WHY are men shagging women that seem to not want to have sex with them?
If a woman is starfishing when she’s with them- aka motionless so it’s like fucking a shoe box– why the heck are men not…
- Having a conversation about whether she is enjoying it, whether this feels OK and what they do to make it feel better/turn her on?
- Considering the fact that to have good sex you need enthusiastic consent, and that the enthusiasm is quite clearly missing here. So why carry on? Surely sex is better when you’re BOTH into it? And aren’t they even a teeny bit worried about whether this truly is consensual?
- Wondering WHY she is so unenthusiastic….. Is she afraid? Tired? Not into it? Worried about something else? Patriarchy snuffed out any sense of entitlement to sexual pleasure? If not… do they even care!?
I mean, we could all go have a read of this article all about “hating your husband with your vagina” and how to improve the sex by NOT starfishing.
Oooor, we could consider what on earth is going on and why this term is even a thing.
Why starfishing exists
I figure that there are a number of reasons why the term “starfish” has come about, and ain’t none of them pretty.
- Men are socialised that sex should be about their pleasure. They are taught that they are entitled to sex from women, especially when in a relationship with them. Men are never really shown or advised on how to make sure sex feels good for women, or how to check for enthusiastic consent. Women exist for their pleasure, so when we’re not performing it’s seen as something wrong with us rather than our hectic lifestyles, problems in the relationship, or bad sex.
- Women aren’t taught that sex is SUPPOSED to feel good. We’re told to “lie back and think of England”, lots of porn doesn’t show female pleasure, so we’re completely disarmed and unable to say what we want (because many of us don’t know).
- Even if we do know, women are judged and shamed for their sexual behaviour. We’re dammed if we do (slut) and damned if we don’t (starfish/frigid/prude). We’re too frightened to speak out about what feels good, so put up with crummy sex to protect ourselves.
- Women are taught we owe our partners sex- it’s our duty to keep them happy. Saying no leads to arguments, tension, conflict. Giving in is sometimes easier than holding out- especially where coercion, manipulation, guilt and threats come into play. This leads to sex we don’t really want, that we’re not in the mood for, that we’re only doing to keep the peace. Do men really want to be having this kind of sex with us?
- Anxiety can lead us to become motionless or paralysed during sex. Worries can spiral out of control. and leave us struggling to stay present and show up for sex. This kind of situation needs support and understanding from a partner because it can feel quite distressing or frustrating, or even stressful.
Really, its a misogynistic term that further normalises female non-enjoyment of sex.
And the more I think about women motionless, expressionless and passive in bed, it makes me think about sex robots and how, the wider spread they become, the less strange it will seem for women to play the role of “sex receptacle” rather than willing and active participant. What do you think?
Don’t put up with starfish sex
Really, WE DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER!
Women deserve to have great, enjoyable, earth-shattering, mind boggling sex.
And all of us deserve sexual partners that actually want to bonk us.
So, firstly, please don’t use this term.
Understand that if you do, you’re contributing to the problem. Name the situation for what it is, not calling it some cutesy nickname.
Secondly, if you’re having sex with someone who is starfishing, stop immediately and figure out together how you can create a sex life you both love and enjoy.
If it’s you that’s the partner not enjoying sex and lying there motionless, mates- I’ve been there. And still struggle with this. So you aren’t alone, it is a real thing, and it’s not your fault. Take a read of this blog and other resources to find out more about how to improve your sexual confidence, know and ask for what you want, and take control of your pleasure.
The more we talk about issues like this in the sex blogging community, the more we shine a light on them and change culture.
P.S. Have you ever had sex with anyone who has either acted in this way or have you been the “starfish”? What do you think of the term? Join the conversation in the comments below…