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Nice To Meet You, I’m A Slut: ‘Post Nut Clarity’ versus ‘The Dick Haze’, Gendered Responses to Sex

Within sociocultural concepts like ‘post-nut clarity’ and ‘the dick haze’ there’s a tale as old as time: cishet man meets cishet woman, they have a couple of drinks, they go back to his place, they engage in some fumbling, fleeting, (and possibly fantastic) sex in which he cums, she probably doesn’t, he either enjoys or endures a moment of startling clarity, she wants to cuddle, he probably doesn’t, there endeth the tale. I’ve lived this bizarre stereotype more times than I’d care to think about – all those long walks back to college following sex with a man I’d just met who unceremoniously threw me out as soon as it was all over (well, for him anyway). Caught in a post-coital daydream, I’ve found myself thinking more about said men more than the experience really warrants – it’s so easy to get lost in the dick haze. But beyond this superficial tale-as-old-as-time, there is the insidious reinforcement of worn-out gender stereotypes and a binary that – let’s be honest – doesn’t exist. So, this week I’m serving up a steaming hot plateful of demystification. 

But first, let’s take a closer look at what exactly I’m launching my attack on:

I’m sure we’ve all heard of ‘post-nut clarity’: it’s that feeling (usually, but not exclusively) men get once they’ve cum, rolled over, and had a moment to take stock of their sexual escapade. The internet doesn’t yield precise definitions of post-nut clarity, producing plenty of articles that simply describe it as the “aha” moment which overcomes men following the hormonal turbulence of an orgasm. It was under this generalised definition that the phrase was originally coined by Alexandra Cooper and Sofia Franklyn, hosts of the Call Her Daddy (2018-present) podcast. However, when I asked my (straight and gay) male friends what ‘post-nut clarity’ meant to them they described it as a kind of ‘ick’ – a ‘get out of my bed’ sensation that might sometimes be loaded with what my housemate reports as ‘the feeling of guilt that often comes after a guy has bust a nut.’ One of them explained it as ‘the immediate “I can’t believe I’ve just done that” that fills your brain once the fog of horniness lifts.’ This points to a masculine brand of shame that underlies sex – or perhaps, more specifically, the decisions men make when they’re horny.

There’s post-nut clarity and, at the other end of the gender-spectrum, there’s its female counterpart, the dick haze. In my optimistic search for an equally weighty definition of this erotic phenomenon, I Googled ‘the dick haze’ and was met with swathes of blowjob-specific porn tastefully titled with things like Allie Haze – Lick The Dick Remastered – CumEatingCuckolds (HD 2020); I think it’s fair to say that this phrase has yet to acquire idiomatic status within the English language. However, when my neighbour cried out “oh god, you’re in the dick haze!” after I’d spent ten minutes (if we’re rounding down) spread across her bed, romanticising the hands of a man-I’d-been-sleeping-with, it resonated with me. So, to whoever coined it: THANK YOU! It put it into words an otherwise indeterminate, mysterious feeling of warmth and affection for sexual partners whom – in daylight hours – I wouldn’t normally think twice about. 

Having discussed this further with my girl-friends, I found confirmation that this is a thing. The dick haze leaves women swooning over subpar, below-average men – myself included. For me, the dick haze compromises of uncharacteristically romanticised daydreams that surround the sexual partner from the-night-before with an inexplicable glow (even if they did kick me out of their accommodation following their abrupt post-nut clarity). That said, I don’t believe the ‘daze’ is limited to the dick: much as our phallocentric society would have us believe otherwise, pussy can have a similarly disarming influence over our post-coital thought processes.

In fact, I don’t think it’s fair to say that either post-nut clarity or the dick haze are limited to any one gender – nor are they limited to heterosexual sex.

Where it’s possible that those of us with oestrogen coursing through our body may have different sexual responses to those with tesoterone, I struggled to find any evidence to suggest we are as hardwired to produce distinctive hormonal responses to sex as we might think. Because, rest assured, in preparation for this piece I semi-willingly dived into a Google-hole, spiralling into Psychology Today, Men’s Health, and Metro articles – none of which suggested that there is an inherent difference in how men and women respond to sex. Another – very important – takeaway from my voyage into the depths of the internet is the sheer lack of content concerning transmen, transwomen, and non-binary people. Is there really a place for things like ‘post-nut clarity’ and ‘the dick haze’ in a society whose understanding of gender has evolved beyond the binary?  

In fact, the most helpful article I found dismissed the idea of the “male” and “female” brain altogether. In ‘Sex beyond genitalia: The human brain mosaic’ the research suggests that we are mostly comprised of a combination of typically male or female traits – that there is no binary on which to preempt gendered responses. The piece in Psychology Today nicely summarises the relevance of this research to the nuances of sexual response: ‘Brain science will probably take a long time before it catches up with the complexity of human erotic behavior. But if and when it does, my guess is it will confirm that most of us are in some way a bit of a sexual mosaic.’ 

Whilst there’s plenty of speculation surrounding the science behind post-nut clarity (though I doubt there’s much neuroscience out there on ‘the dick haze’), I think it’s fair to say that both exist within our collective consciousness and cultural (mis)understanding of sex within the heteronormative, cisgendered framework. And I have to wonder: how does the existence of these phenomena impact our attitudes towards sex? How does it affect our treatment of male versus female partners? 

My theory (for which I have no scientific evidence, but – you know – hear me out) is that post-nut clarity serves to normalise the cold reception male partners can sometimes give after sex. While there might be some truth in it – some truth which would be useful to unpack as a means of better understanding masculine shame as a response to sex – it does perpetuate the idea that men aren’t keen on cuddling after sex and that this is some kind of burden women, in their cloying neediness, impose upon them. I myself have felt a sudden change in atmosphere following sex with (some) men who, after cumming, swiftly make the switch from impassioned lover to perfect stranger. I’ve also felt like ‘the dick haze’ works against me, as it – essentially – endorses the idea that women are more likely to get attached to their sexual partners than men are. Such thinking is sometimes used by men to (poorly) justify airing, ghosting, or generally emotionally neglecting their female sexual partners so as not to allow them to ‘get too attached’. I would like to say to anyone who has thought like this: get over yourself. And remember that one of the cited reasons why cis-women are presumably less likely to experience post-nut clarity is because – well – they don’t ‘nut’ nearly as often as cis-men do. According to research published by the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, only 65% of straight cis-women usually or always orgasm during sex compared with 95% of cis-men (cited in Cosmopolitan, 2019).

That is not to say that women don’t experience a kind of post-coital clarity – even if it is without the nut. In those moments she dashes out from under the covers to pee, a miscellany of thoughts can pass through her mind: they can be as inarticulate and hazy as ‘wowowowowoWOW’, or they can be as sharply focused as ‘I want them to leave.’ God knows I’ve felt a diverse range of post-coital emotions and many of them can’t be attributed to either post-nut clarity or the dick/pussy haze. 

Much as ‘post-nut clarity’ and ‘the dick haze’ are helpful ways for us to conceptualise our responses to sex, I think they are best taken with a pinch of salt and a generous heaping of gender neutrality. 

With illustration by Emily Perkins (@emp3_art)

Alice Garnett

Alice is our resident sex columnist whose interests include pints, pink, and all things love-related. When she's not evangelising Singledom she's busy hyping up her East Midlands home town, demystifying bisexuality, and writing for other publications such as Lithium Magazine and Adolescent Content.