Is RHONY The Most Sex-Positive Housewives Franchise?

Photo: Charles Sykes/Bravo.
Allergic reactions to sperm. Dick pic art criticism. The phrase, "Curator of cock." No, these aren’t forgotten conversations from Girls or Insecure. These are some highlights of Real Housewives Of New York season 9. While the Housewives franchises easily slide famously into slut shaming — take anything involving Erika Jayne ever or Teresa Giudice's famous "prostitution whore" table flipping — the women of the Big Apple have mostly managed to avoid everyone’s usual aversion of sexual freedom, in favor of freewheeling conversations about what’s going on between their sheets. As Bravo aired the third and final portion of this year’s reunion special, I realized New York may just be the most sex-positive jewel in the Housewives crown — and that’s no easy feat.
Considering how RHONY has been inherently pro-sex all season long, save for a few alarming tangents, it didn’t dawn on me how unique that is until producer-host-mastermind Andy Cohen pointed it out. "While our ladies have never shied away from a little bit of pillow talk, these days, such conversations seem to happen more frequently and with a lot more detail," Cohen announced. And he’s right. From the very first few minutes of season 9, the series was going all-in on sex positivity by featuring Sonja Morgan’s Sex Tips For Straight Women From A Gay Man off-Broadway play.
"Forget the penis, we go back to the nipples," Sonja says during rehearsal.
From there’s it’s a walk down memory lane of penis adoration, top-or-bottom position debate, and discussions about anal sex. In the latter chat, which went down during the Vermont ski trip, no one judges anyone’s opinion on the matter. Dorinda Medley confirms her butt has a "stop sign" on it, while the divorced Tinsley Mortimer reveals she tried it with her ex-husband, Topper Mortimer. In a confessional interview, Bethenny Frankel applauds Tinsley’s honesty, saying, "Do you wherever you want to be done." It’s impossible to imagine another franchise cast being this pro-sex when it comes to each of their co-stars, no matter who it is.
New York is so sex-positive, the only person who was called out for their sexual commentary was Sonja over her shady reaction to Tinsley’s anal sex reveal. At one point during the reunion, Sonja claims you shouldn’t talk about "The Families," or the upper echelon royalty of New York’s social scene. The (very, very) old money Mortimers fall under that category. Bethenny criticizes Sonja’s bizarre sentencing, asking her if she’s talking about "the Corleones" of The Godfather. Bethenny further defends Tinsley, saying the RHONY newbie can do whatever she wants now that she’s divorced from the Mortimer family, "has a mugshot, and she’s talking about her anus — it’s 2017." The eye rolling at Sonja’s confusingly faux-prudish behavior is so loud, she’s forced to prove she’s as sex-positive as she’s branded herself for years. "First of all, I have no judgements on anyone’s sex life," she swears. "I think everyone should stick in their ear, anywhere, everywhere they want."
On the same topic of anal sex, Tinsley also ends up apologizing. But it’s not over her decision to talk about sex publicly and happily. Instead, she’s sorry she didn’t get someone else’s consent to talk about his sex life in front of millions of people. Of course, that person is Tinsley’s "Family"-hailing ex, Topper, with whom she had the much-discussed backdoor sex. During the Vermont truth or dare conversation, Tinsley said, "My husband’s [penis] was like huge," and went on to confirm she "cried" during anal sex. It’s not surprising she should have checked beforehand if Topper would be okay with the whole world knowing what he’s packing in his boxers. While everyone defends Tinsley "open" conversation, she says, "I apologize to my ex, former, husband. That was something that was private that I should never have shared." It’s a deeply human and relatable moment for the Upper Eastsider.
While anal sex might be the flashiest conversation in the reunion, the biggest sex-positive moment comes from Ramona Singer, who unpacks her entire complex psychology about oral sex. The pinot grigio fan explains she grew up Catholic, and believed penetration, specifically, was sex, and any other sex act wasn't. "So my first boyfriend, when I was 17, we would have oral sex. And to me, I thought I wasn’t having sex," she admits.
This pervasive religious-psychosexual judgement still apparently sticks with 60-year-old Ramona today, as she adds, "Even, you know, with dating [now] — I can’t believe I’m saying this on TV — I don’t really do anything to the man. If it’s going a little further, I’ll kiss, and I’ll let him take care of me and I’ll go, ‘Goodnight.’" The statement comes complete with her gesturing her hand down towards her crotch. Yes, that was Ramona’s way of confirming she’s not having intercourse with any of her current boyfriend's since they haven’t put a ring on it. But, she will let them go down on her and then promptly show them the door. Everyone’s reaction to Ramona's honest is shock and awe. Even Bethenny, who always a comment for Ramona’s more self-serving antics, simply jokes, "That sounds exactly like you."
Obviously, the Housewives franchises are aimed at women of all ages. Amid all the strangely puritanical views of many of the shows, it’s good to see women praising sexuality in all its forms instead of dragging each other for going panty-free or running around with dildos. Let's hope Real Housewives Of New York season 10 keeps up the good work.
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