How To Get the Cow...sert
Updated: May 18
If you’re just tuning in to God, Sex, and Rich People, a quick update. Not only was I STEEPED in purity culture due to a deep commitment to my Evangelical faith, but I also received Abstinence Only Education in my PUBLIC. SCHOOL. So if you’re even a little confused on why people raised in the Midwest/church need help knowing how to date/have sex as adult humans, here’s your sign…
In Abstinence class we learned lots of information to scare us from having sex. Amongst the true gems of bullshit they deemed “education” was the phrase:
Why (would he) buy the cow when he’s getting the milk for free?
If you’ve never heard this question, lucky you. But also, let me explain.
I mean, aside from the glaring issue of referring to women as property to be purchased and somehow that was just like, a totally okay thing for all these adults who exist in the post-suffrage movement to believe (AND TEACH KIDS!!!), this phrase is stacked with problems.
Since men are only ever after sex, regardless of what amazing individuals we women are, what’s the game plan?
The idea espoused here is that a man will not marry a woman if he's already getting the product he so desires without any effort. In this metaphor a woman is the cow, the man is the buyer, and the milk is sex #sexmilk.
Since men are only ever after sex, regardless of what amazing individuals we women are, what’s the game plan? I will tell you. We must trick these mindless, horny idiots into getting to know us before we give up the goods.
If we withhold long enough, men won’t even realize that, in their pursuit of pussy, they might actually like us! All that time spent just trying to get into our lady knickers will result in them falling in love. Mission accomplished, ladies!
Sexual manipulation, even if it’s sexual withholding manipulation, is still manipulation. And we were learning to fiiiiiine tune that shit. IN MIDDLE SCHOOL.
Not to mention, it instills the belief that men are always after sex, so women need always be wary of that. Conversely, women are never in pursuit of sex because we are desperate for emotional connection and not at all just out here tryna get some dick.
The 11th Commandment Be:
If You Have Sex With A Man Too Soon He Will Think You’re Easy and Therefore Dump You and That’s Okay Because It Is Solely The Woman’s Responsibility to Make A Man Respect Her By Not Being Too Sexual. And Even Though the Man Was Also Part of this Sexual Act, He Will Not Be Seen As An Easy Slut Because Men Don’t Have Social or Behavioral Responsibility When It Comes to Acting On Their Sexual Desires. Also Women Don’t Want Sex As Much As Men Do.
I wanted to feel respected and, eventually, be someone’s girlfriend, but I also wanted to get laid
And look, I’m not saying it's the dude’s fault they got this get-outta-sex-without-a-bad-reputation-and-eternal-shame-free card. I’m just saying, why didn’t guys get told to make a lady work for that dick and the threat of a loveless life? You know I love equality.
Anyway, in 2017, as I diligently worked with a sexual trauma therapist to deconstruct my old inherited beliefs about myself and my sexuality, I learned THIS was a big one. Much like Taylor Swift’s Fearless album, I didn’t just leave this shit in junior high/high school. It stayed with me well into adulthood.
My “Must make him buy the cow" subconscious belief manifested in serious confusion about how to conduct myself sexually (and otherwise) in adult dating. I assumed the reason all my dating endeavours failed was because I was having sex “too soon” and therefore, the dudes quickly lost interest. I wanted to feel respected and, eventually, be someone’s girlfriend, but I also wanted to get laid. Could the two coexist? How could I convince a dude I was worthy of respect and awesome as a human, while also having all the sex fun before marriage?
I remember this conversation with my therapist, Daniel:
“If I sleep with a guy who isn’t my boyfriend, does that make me easy and therefore, an undesirable girlfriend prospect?”
“Do you think it makes you easy and an undesirable girlfriend prospect?
“I dunno...like shouldn’t I make them ‘work for it’ or whatever?”
“Work for what?”
“Have you ever heard the saying ‘Why buy the cow when he’s getting the milk for free’?”
“Yes. You’re the cow in this metaphor that men should purchase in order to get your milk. Do you want to be ‘purchased’ in order to enjoy sex?”
“...No…? But I also don’t want to sleep with a dude, then he never calls/texts me because he’s decided I’m a whore. That feels pretty shitty.”
“How do you know he stopped calling/texting because he thinks you’re a whore?”
“Isn’t that always the reason they stop?”
“No. There are many reasons people lose interest in other people. Maybe he just didn’t like you.”
“How dare you.”
“Just hear me out. Have you ever considered that maybe the problem isn’t that guys are dumping you because they think you’re a whore, but maybe just they’re no longer interested? That you two weren’t probably going to work out anyway because you don’t actually like each other? And could I offer, that if you don’t like the feeling of a dude losing interest AFTER you’ve slept with them, perhaps you can take a little longer to decide if you actually like him? Create a little discretionary window for yourself. Not a I’m-withholding-my-goods-so-you’ll-like-me window. But a Based-on-what-I-have-learned-about-him-so-far-do-I-actually-want-to-have-sex-with-him? window. Take the power back. YOU get to make the decision about with whom you want to spend time and fuck.” *
*I would have this exact conversation with my brother a few weeks later whilst crying over a post-milk-giving-uping Hinge dud. So, let it be known! I do not think all men are idiot sperm shooters. My therapist and my brother happen to be men and this advice/perspective basically changed my life.
I know what you’re thinking. “Mattie Jo, OF COURSE you made it to 27 years old without ever considering the reason a guy stopped talking to you is because he just didn’t like you.”
It's also when I learned, yet again, that what I tell myself about myself will always be true
Well, yes. I have always been a very strange combination of painfully insecure like “I’m so annoying why does anyone like me?!?!?” But also overwhelmingly self-assured like “I am literally so exceptional and amazing who wouldn’t like me?!?!” It’s called being an Enneagram 4 and it blows.
Okay, but seriously. What was happening here is I was so steeped in my inherited beliefs about sex being the reason no guy wanted to be my boyfriend, I hadn’t even considered that maybe we just had sex BEFORE we really knew if we liked each other. The guys who bailed quickly after sex were going to bail with or without the sex. They. Just. Weren’t. That. Interested.
So, this is when I learned that waiting to have sex isn’t about manipulating a guy into respecting or liking me. It’s about me deciding if I like them enough to actually have sex! It’s about naming under what conditions I want to have a sexual interaction,** and then confidently upholding those boundaries. It’s not that waiting until month 2 or date 100 makes me a more respectable lady. It’s that I don’t want to fuck dudes who don’t actually like me/I don’t like them. And figuring that out might take more than the first (or second or third) date.
**Read more about my panty entry policy making here
It's also when I learned, yet again, that what I tell myself about myself will always be true. So long as I believed I wasn't "girlfriend/wife material" because I was having sex "too soon", that would be my reality. It just took a little reframing and a new, better approach. This approach put me in my power and allowed me to act within my standards and preferences. Not the standards and preferences of my confused and perhaps sadistic junior high/high school Abstinence Teacher.
What I've found in this new reframing/approach is that no guy who is actually, genuinely into me, will end things after he “gets the milk for free.” I am confident in the fact that, if I am indeed a cow to be bought, there is a line longer than an NYC Trader Joe’s during #RONA2020 of men ready to buy this Cow(sert). And yes, they will have gotten some milk for free because milk gives us milkshakes and what kind of life are you living if you don’t drink a free milkshake?