Hayley Brooks & Ali Kokot | The debased base system
Think Twice | Bringing baseball out of our bedrooms and deciding to order pizza instead
February 13, 2013, 12:22 am·
The pitcher throws a curveball. You hit a single up the middle and sprint to first, a line drive over the shortstop’s head takes you to second. After a ball in the dirt, you manage to steal third base.
What if you just want to hang on third for a second? Take in the sunshine?
No. Get home. That’s the object of the game. And we’re not talking baseball.
Before we even had boobs we’d been exposed to the old ball game as a metaphor for sex. To refresh your memory, here’s the most generally accepted baseball model:
First base: mouths on mouths.
Second base: fingers fondling body parts.
Third base: mouths on body parts.
Home run: vaginal intercourse.
This debased, heteronormative base system, the four Fs, or whatever the cool kids in fourth grade math called it, provided most of us with an introduction to talking about sex. Well, that and grinding.
The model gave us not only the generally accepted euphemisms for sexual rendezvous, but also a corresponding order for how, and when, to engage in them.
Now that we’ve been educated in sexual health beyond baseball, we have examined this system more critically to find that this sport might not have a place ‘twixt the sheets.
First, we were curious about how we have come to accept this shoddy metaphor as the be-all and end-all for sexual encounters. We read Freudian essays arguing that diamond equals uterus and bat equals phallus, and unearthed Cosmopolitan archives chronicling the template since the magazine’s 1886 inception.
However it happened, the baseball model has infiltrated both our collective consciousness and our corresponding bedroom behavior.
College senior Isabel Friedman, the producer of “The Vagina Monologues,” explained “the most obvious problem” of this game: “There’s a winner and a loser.”
The expectation to round the bases with the ultimate goal of winning puts an unfair presumption on both partners.
“When you’re constantly thinking about advancing to the next step, you’re not experiencing the pleasure of the moment,” Friedman added. And then we all lose.
The baseball model induces anxiety and makes it hard to get comfortable with your partner. Sex should be about what you want, not about what the baseball model says you’re supposed to do next.
Instead of rounding the bases, Sex Educator Al Vernacchio — who taught Friedman in high school and will speak at Penn next week — encourages us to think pizza.
You and your partner order in pizza. You want plain, but your partner wants pepperoni. You talk it out. You go half and half. Not hungry anymore? No biggie! Leftovers. Next time you agree to try BBQ chicken. Sweet. Everyone wins.
Vernacchio’s pizza concept is just that, a concept, and not a standardized template.
“Pizza allows for such great variety, it’s all about preference and personal tastes,” Vernacchio explained to us. “We’ve created this hierarchy where intercourse becomes the thing instead of one thing in a whole menu of things.”
And with 75 percent of males always experiencing orgasm from vaginal intercourse compared to just 29 percent of women, we’d all be more sexually satisfied if we knew that a home run isn’t necessarily the best way to score.
Whereas the baseball model connotes implicit, nonverbal communication, Vernacchio’s pizza idea offers an “opportunity for communicating about sex rather than simply assuming about sex.”
Using the pizza concept, we can make consent not just spoken, but sexy. Isabel says it best: “What’s hotter than knowing that someone else wants you and you want them, and that’s verbalized?”
As one of our friends said about her relationship, “What makes an open dialogue really great is that you’re likely having the same thoughts that neither of you wants to voice first, but once you break that barrier you optimize your sex lives.”
With pizza we can do just that: talk openly about intimacy, fears, experimenting and anything else that might not exactly fit into the diamond.
So let’s ditch the diamond and start vocalizing what we truly want.
Hayley never really understood how baseball works anyway.
Ali Kokot and Hayley Brooks are College juniors from New York, N.Y. and Ft. Lauderdale, F.L. respectively. You can email them at email@example.com or follow them at @haybethbrooks and @alikokot. “Think Twice” appears every Wednesday.
Art by “Siyuan Cao”:http://www.thedp.com/staff/siyuan_cao.