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Sex machina

The Bizarre, Horny Messages You Get from Men When You Write a Sex Column

From "how many retweets for a date?" to "so you have a problem with libertarianism [thinking face emoji] [thinking face emoji]."

Maria Yagoda

Maria Yagoda

After three weeks of replying to Instagram stories of me eating beans in bed and trying to kiss other people's dogs, 69freaqxx* decided to ramp up his attention-seeking strategy, even if it meant risking it all. In response to a photo of my college reunion, he messaged me, "Add me to your sex roster." Enough was enough—the sexual tension had been killing him.

Because I write about sex, blowjobs, and the masturbatory potential of fidget spinners—most recently, this article is part of a column called Sex Machina—many men believe that if they reach out to me, I'll sleep with them—or at least donate an over-the-pants hand job as a gesture of goodwill. Almost daily, men tweet their sexual fantasies at me, or send me long, detailed emails about their sex issues, the subtext being: Because you're so open about sex, surely you're open to engaging with me for the love of the sport.

Read more: The Confusing and Horrible Rise of the Several-Night Stand

Whatever. It doesn't bother me. I have thick skin, and I'm very busy. For example, this week I plan on finding and throwing out all my old mascaras. But the responses to my pieces aren't always sexual in nature. Remember that time Tom Cruise was on the red carpet and a prankster squirted him out of a joke microphone? Over the course of five seconds, Cruise's face went through just about every human emotion, including (but not limited to) surprise, confusion, amusement, bemusement, and anger. As they attempt to process the fact that I am a sex writer, men turn into wet and spluttering Young Toms, moving through a series of bewildering reactions.

Anger is prominent. Many men seem threatened or confused by my sexuality, and some by my recurring and well-documented disdain for libertarianism.

The most common response is "experiment on me for one of ur columns ;)"—like I'm just waiting for people to bravely volunteer their dicks so I can get to work. When I don't respond, they'll send messages like, "I thought you were a sexplorer!!"

At my recent five-year college reunion, a former classmate—a real bro's bro—approached me and asked me what I was up to. (I'd never met him before.) When I mentioned that I wrote about sex, his eyes widened (probably his dick too). He couldn't process it. He kept asking me, "Really?" Soon his shock transitioned to, "Do you want to have sex?" I declined, but he bounced back quickly, as men who look like they play squash often do. He asked, "Do you want to date? Do you like to dance? Ballroom dance?" I said no thanks, again, and grabbed a handful of bar Goldfish, positioning my body away from him. He felt slighted, clearly—if you write about sex, you should be open to fucking anyone who knows the magic password of asking.

Fortunately, most of my DMs are one-offs. People give it a go, and then give up.

Then there are the Nice Guys—the people who seem legitimately interested in dating me, or at least proving they're not reaching out as part of some elaborate psycho-sexual fantasy. One guy on Facebook asked me how many retweets he would need to get a date with me. He lives in Illinois and isn't even on Twitter! Men who live in states I'd never have any reason to visit are always inviting me over for a drink. "Next time you're in Omaha…" Like it isn't already hard enough for me to make it to my neighborhood McDonald's for a late-night cone.

The onslaught of people "volunteering" to be part of my column gets somewhat exhausting because I know they're masturbating with one hand and sending their message with the other. They don't actually care about advancing journalism, like I do.

Unless someone is sending a super thoughtful, nuanced remark about my work, I've learned it's best to avoid engaging, even if you're interested in making money off a teen who offers to pay you for a response (see below). The truth is, men lash out when you don't respond how they want you to. Just like in the real world!

But my least favorite thing isn't people calling me a whore, or sending me unsolicited dick pics, or telling me I'm "too ugly to rape," or trying to convince me libertarianism is a valuable political ideology. I could write music criticism and get the same thing. No—my least favorite thing is when people repeat my jokes back to me. When I wrote an article about texting "u up" to every guy in my phone one afternoon, I received at least 50 afternoon DMs from guys that read, simply, "u up," like they were the first person to think of the joke. (I was.) After my most recent column about trying to use a fidget spinner as a sex toy, a guy came up to me, smirking, and said something like, "I better go get my fidget spinner!" As if I would be tickled by the absurdity of a concept that I, myself, had presented.

Once you write about sex on the internet, you can never go back to not having written about sex on the internet, so I'll get these messages forever. I've made my bed. Fortunately, I'm surrounded by high-end sex toys. It's a good bed.


*Name has been changed.