In December 2013, Beyonce saved Yalies from finals-period monotony by dropping a fifth album in music video form. Its fourth track, “Blow,” showcases Queen B and a posse of girlfriends in ’80s-esque disco attire. They spin around a neon-lit track crooning suggestive innuendos that come to a lyrical apex with the stanza “can you eat my Skittles?/it’s the sweetest in the middle/pink that’s the flavor/solve the riddle.”
“Blow” was one of my favorite pop anthems until December 2015, when I renounced its feminist overtones and utter pinkness — in all forms — in a fit of hyper-masculine frenzy. Transgender men often succumb to problematic strands of patriarchal attitudes in an attempt to fit into a traditional gender mold. I was no exception. “Blow” was a symbol of my fragile masculine identity after years of faux femininity. “Blow” was Isabel, not Isaac.
After extensive contemplation, however, I re-examined the Y chromosome from the unique vantage point of a natal female transitioning into a masculine social persona. I pinpointed, in diplomatic parlance, many areas for improvement in the realm of sexual justice. All of a sudden, “Blow” was resurrected on my workout playlist. It took on, to my utmost astonishment, a quality of moral allure.
To be specific, I became cognizant of a breed of men who don’t reciprocate in bed — a breed of men who don’t honor Beyonce’s Skittles. My disgust at this epidemic of one-way sexual gratification is not unfounded. In one landmark study, 43 percent of respondents agreed that men expect to be given oral sex whereas only 20 percent agreed that women harbor the same expectation. In a second study, 55 percent of men aged 22–24 had given oral sex to women compared to 74 percent of women who had given oral sex to men. Other studies indicate that as men age they become more willing to reciprocate, but in college, “men” consistently demonstrate less regard for their partner’s satisfaction.
Anecdotal evidence at least partially corroborates these statistics on our Gothic campus. Yale’s hook-up culture prioritizes short-term carnal satisfaction over longer strokes of well-delivered pleasure. It’s as if we’re turning sex into a one-sided conversation at Blue State instead of a rich Socratic back-and-forth in a three-hour-long English seminar. Indeed, reciprocation a la Socrates is necessary to maintain emotional well-being: Receiving without giving demotes the organic desires of a significant other.
This chaotic sexual inequality has led me, in a fit of creative fury, to form a new global society of men called the Skittles Club, dedicated to honoring pink candy without crossing into the dubious realms of fetishism or evangelicalism. If the Skittles Club were a niche movement in the French Revolution, it would have flaunted a slogan of “diversity, liberty and reciprocity.” If it were a Latin eating club at Princeton, its motto would be “Carpe diem, carpe noctem, carpe Skittle.”
But from the land of Marie Antoinette to New Haven and back, Skittlemen always operate with two tenets firmly ingrained within their sexual conscience.
The first is consent. Skittlemen understand that sex is only appropriate when all parties agree to the desired activities. Skittlemen also understand that their sexual practices aren’t superior to any others that also operate under the bedrock principle of consent. In other words, Skittlemen realize that sex comes in a slew of different forms and that individuals exercise complete freedom over their choices in bed.
The Club’s second tenet is reciprocity. In honor of the Club’s namesake, Skittlemen respect their partners’ sensual desires as much their partners value theirs.
Working in tandem, these two tenets redefine antiquated patriarchal norms and create a new sexual paradigm that equalizes troubling power dynamics in bed. Skittlemen stamp feminism into their sheets and displace a culture of phallic superiority to make way for feminist sexual ideals, which have suffered cultural stigmatization for too long.
So, when the time comes for me to cook a French dinner and light a circle of candles for a romantic date, I’ll abide by a Skittle code of conduct. We’ll talk about iconoclastic literary production over buttered escargot and Bordeaux. But, if after more than a few glasses of wine I glean nonverbal cues of “no,” I’ll wait and practice Beyonce’s advice another time. See, Skittlemen are not merely creatures of sensual exuberance. We respect that the monosyllabic cadence of “no” carries just as much imperative as the sonic waves of “yes.”
With that last addendum, I invite all men to join me in seeking lifelong membership in the Skittles Club.
Isaac Amend is a junior in Timothy Dwight College. His
column runs on alternate Mondays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.