We live in a really fantastic, empowering time for women, particularly for my generation. The feminist movement has been helmed by some truly stand out people, both presently as well as in the past, and the reins are in the process of being handed over. Not just to a select few. To all of us. We live in a time where social media is the epitome of communication. Anyone can be heard, and we all have a voice.
This admittedly proves at times to be a double-edged sword, but that’s another conversation for potentially another time.
Lately, though, I’ve noticed how confusing this empowering time can be. Women are learning to own their sexuality and bodies, and at the same time this sexual enlightenment is taken advantage of both by shameless men and the media. It’s clearly a long, hard battle we’re fighting.
For the record, before everyone goes all rage monster on me, I’m not referring to all men as shameless. I’m referring only to those who actually possess that quality. I like to call them “assholes.”
In this specific instance, I’m talking about the confusing nature of hook-up culture that’s predominant in college, as well as, as far as I can tell, our early 20s. Until recently, I’d seen it as a pretty black and white affair. While guys are lauded for their “sexual conquests,” a woman is looked down on for the exact same actions. Very much so. Both by guys, who are the ones actually having sex with her (SERIOUSLY), and her female peers as well. And I just find that completely horrendous and awful. This attitude is better known as “slut shaming.” Good times all around.
Side note: I can’t even handle the thought of how women who casually and regularly hook up with other women are viewed. I’m sure that’s yet another topic that would require great depth andt I’m not even gonna touch right now.
Lately, though, there has been a very strong movement against this kind of attitude toward girls and women who live this lifestyle. Whether or not you agree with having a lot of casual sex, one thing is certain: if society is totally fine with men living this lifestyle, then women should be allowed to as well.
Onwards to my actual point. I was reading an article the other day (oh Elite Daily, the feelings you make me have) and it bothered me a bit, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. To put it very simply, the article was written by a college-aged girl who described how participating in hook up culture makes her feel less human.
Wait, never mind, I totally know what bothers me about that. So. Yeah. Do I really need to say more? It’s kind of alarming, right?
I happened to read this article right around the same time that I was discussing sex positivity and negativity with some friends. One friend mentioned how one of HER friends had said she couldn’t imagine hooking up with a guy without being drunk first.
And I’m all over here like “no no no no no no no no no no stop it no no no.” Then a lot more “nos” ensued. Because no. No no no. It’s actually happening again right now. Because that’s how difficult for me to function when I think about girls having that type of attitude toward sex.
In this falsely dichotomous situation, where one is either sex positive or sex negative, I would consider myself positive, whole-heartedly. I am all for people having sex and enjoying it. One partner, multiple partners, whatevs, it’s all cool. As long as it’s safe sex, yo.
But oh my god. Do not have sex if you do not want to. Do not repress your sex negative impulses in favor of being sex positive just to participate in this hook-up culture that is rampant. Sex can be really, really great. It can also be kind of mediocre. And it can just be bad. You can have bad sex with someone you usually have great sex with. You can have great sex with a one night stand. Lots of possibilities all around.
I kind of imagine that the sex you’re having will NOT reach its potential Alexander the Great level of greatness if you’re so not into it that you need to be drunk in the first place. A drunk, sex negative attitude masquerading as a sex positive, verbalized “yes” is still an internalized “no.” And that. Is. No. Good.
(If you’re not totally sure what I’m talking about when I refer to “sex positive” and “sex negative,” click on each term to read a little more, because if I were to explain each concept, that would make this post unbearably long.)
Until recently, I was under the impression that this whole hook-up culture that people have cultivated was more like the hippie days of yore, where peeps where sexually free and just enjoyed being with other people. I mean sure, I could actually be totally wrong about what went on in those days of yore. I actually probably am, but whatever, for the sake of this post, I’m right. I really thought that girls were all like “yeah, sex, I really like it, and I’m cool with creating this connection with a stranger for a single night and enjoying myself and then moving on with my life afterwards.”
Yeah, that’s totally not what it is at all. Like, at ALL. It would seem that the general attitude regarding this hook-up culture is more like “I’m expected to have sex and be cool with it, but since I’m not actually, I’m going to get drunk enough that I think I am, then I’ll feel horrible and/or weird about it the next day, and then ignore those feelings because I’m supposed to find sex empowering and there’s something wrong with me if I don’t.”
Let me get one thing straight right now.
IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO HAVE SEX, DO. NOT. DO. IT.
It does not make you a prude. It does not mean you are scared or ashamed or anything else. Not wanting to have sex is not bad. It’s as simple as that.
While I would consider myself sex positive, I would only identify as such in that I don’t think people, particularly women, but men as well, should be criticized for wanting to have sex and for enjoying it. I do not think anyone should feel shame or be shamed for those things. BUT I also respect those who are not comfortable with sex, who want to wait until marriage, who, regardless of the circumstances, just aren’t into it. THAT’S TOTALLY COOL. Nobody, NOBODY, should feel like they must have sex to, I don’t even know what. To fit in? (Sexual innuendo/pun not intended, but pretty spot on if I do say so myself).
There’s an obvious disconnect between sex positive and negative attitudes, and it’s vital to understand that. It seems like the real problem with hook-up culture is that much of the meaning and understanding of the sex positive movement has actually gotten lost. Yes, it’s about being empowered, and yes, it’s about sex. But where that empowerment comes from is not the act of sex itself. Having sex is not empowering. Not in this case, anyway. This empowerment comes from the ability to CHOOSE whether you want to have sex. It’s about embracing yourself as a sexual creature rather than suppressing it. It’s the acceptance that women can be just as sexual as the stereotypical male.
Which leads me to my last point… A quote from the piece that inspired this post in the first place.
“I wish I were more like a man in terms of sexuality.”
I. Hate. This. I just hate it. It exemplifies perfectly what the problem is when it comes to the double standard of sex. Believe it or not, there actually ARE men out there who don’t sleep around, who don’t like having casual sex, who prefer to form a personal connection with a woman first. And you know what? I’m sure that plenty, if not all, of the people reading this are rolling their eyes and disagreeing with that sentiment because they find it so ludicrous. But it isn’t. It is not WOMANLY of someone to prefer to get to know another person before having sex with them. It is simply human. By creating gender norms and identifying something as masculine or feminine, we are feeding into this gender binary that does not exist naturally. It is the expectation of gender performance that creates these issues in the first place.
The desire to have sex is not a masculine thing. Attaching emotions and feelings to the act of sex is not a feminine thing. Further, there’s nothing actually wrong with either of those things in the first place. Specifically, there’s also nothing wrong with experiencing sex an emotional act and channeling actual feelings into it. Because guess what? If you’re having emotionless sex, I bet it sucks, and I bet you’re unhappy. Emotion is kind of vital part of good sex. Generally and problematically, men believe they should suppress it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, women are led to believe they feel too much. Then there are those who try to suppress those feelings. Maybe they’re successful. Maybe they aren’t. And hey, same goes for guys, probably. Maybe. I don’t know. I mean, there’s just so much to this, a single blog post can’t possible cover it adequately, so I’m really going to stop trying. If people actually have questions or discussion points, I’ll totally talk more in the comments.
So stop it. Just. Stop. Do not identify actions or emotions as masculine or feminine. They are neither. They are human. We are all human and should be treated equally. That is the point of all of this. If you’re comfortable having sex with another person, then go for it. If you aren’t, then that’s cool, too. Neither is inherently right or wrong. It is not black and white. Do not abide by what is currently fashionable by your peers when it comes to you emotional health. Just. Don’t.
K love you bye.