What It Means When Guys Call A Woman A 'Starfish' Or 'Pillow Princess'

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Urban Dictionary Definitions For Sex Terms 'Starfish' And 'Pillow Princess'

She who sees stars wears the crown... or something like that.

The first time I had sex I was terrified the whole time. I wasn't worried about the pain. I wasn't worried about how I looked. And I definitely wasn't worried about how the guy felt about me (which is why I firmly believe that losing your virginity during a one-night stand is the business). 

What I was worried about was whether or not I was "doing enough" on my end of the whole interaction.

I understood the basics of how sex works, and while I'd never yet had an actual penis inside of my vagina, I'd come close enough and paid enough attention during my health classes to understand the basic mechanics of how straight people have sex, i.e. penis goes in, pump, pump, sperm comes out, hopefully, you both have an orgasm. But once I was actually having it, sex seemed a bit more one-sided than I'd expected. Since I didn't have any part of my anatomy I needed to plunge into and then repeatedly remove from another person's anatomy, I couldn't help but feel as though I somehow wasn't doing my part. 

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My nagging memory of this worry led me to ask Google what men think women should be doing over the course of their sexual encounters.

Sprinkled throughout the results I spied the repeated presence of these two terms: "being a starfish" and "being a pillow princess."

Intrigued, I decided to pay a visit to Urban Dictionary, where I looked up the definitions for both. They basically mean the same thing, and the thing that they mean is not good.

"Starfish: Female sexual partner who remains 'unmoved' during lovemaking, physically non-responsive (like a...)." 

"A woman who enjoys sex, but prefers not to reciprocate as much as he gives. She feels both parties' pleasure should be reached by pleasuring her."

Essentially, when a man calls a woman a starfish, pillow princess, pillow queen, mattress queen or some variation of the sort, he means that she is more than happy to lay there and let things be done to her during sex, but that she in no way participates actively, and in some cases, has no interest in ensuring a pleasurable experience for either herself or her partner. 

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Each phrase does have its own unique flavor, and I'll go over those now because I think it's important to be a very knowledgeable pervert. 

A woman who is called a starfish during sex is usually called that by straight men. It's hetero guys' coded way of telling their friends that a woman they had sex with just laid in bed and "allowed" sex to happen without being involved or participating in any way shape or form. 

A woman who is called a mattress queen can be called this by straight men and/or by other women. When men refer to women this way, they mean that the woman who is their sexual partner prefers to be on the receiving end of sexual pleasure, but does not like to reciprocate with blowjobs or the like. It's also a phrase some women use to refer to a woman who makes her money by having sex with wealthy partners. 

"Mattress Queen: Term used to describe an individual that receives money or other tangible assets in exchange for sexual favors."

Now we get to my favorite: the pillow princess!

This term predates the term mattress queen and was coined in the lesbian and bisexual community. If you're calling a woman a pillow princess, you're saying she will let another woman go down on her. but she will never go down on another woman. This is usually something said about a woman who isn't out as a lesbian or who is bicurious and in the process of experimenting with her sexuality.

Somewhere along the line, straight men decided this particular sex term could be modified to refer to women who are "lazy" in bed. At least they gave their ladies a nicer title, upgrading them from pillow princesses to mattress queens.

Gotta love that royal life. 

If you're a woman who is worried that you're acting like a pillow princess or a mattress queen in bed, don't panic. There's no reason to think anyone expects you to engage in crazy bedroom acrobatics. It simply means that even if you both prefer to have vanilla, missionary sex every time, your partner most likely wants you to engage with him. Stroke his back. Wrap your legs around his hips. Move underneath him. Enjoy the feelings of pleasure and be present in the experience with him. 

If you really want to banish such a reputation or prevent yourself from ever acquiring one, all you need to do is be ready and eager to reciprocate sexually. Take some initiative and ask the man or woman you're with if they'd like you to pleasure them in any particular sort of way.

Of course, there are some people who actually SEEK OUT passive partners because they themselves don't enjoy being on the receiving end and the would rather be the one who is the one giving than the one who is getting.

None of these things are bad. The key is making sure you talk to your partner about what YOU like in bed and what THEY like in bed.

Chances are you'll hit the right combination in the sack if you two are open to it, even if that means you'll eventually be stripped of your crown.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:20 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.