Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Slut Shaming Women Who Have Sex

If I, a man, professed to have had sex in the past week, I would be looked at admiringly by other men. A woman or two might give me a glance wondering what kind of a romantic warrior I was both outside and inside the bedroom. People do appreciate success.

If I was a woman and boasted of a carnal conquest, maybe a few close female friends would want me to spill the beans. You go girl. However, such an admission in public would be considered a no no. People of the female persuasion do not have sex or at least do not admit to such a thing.

Is this not a tacit agreement on how to conduct oneself in public, on what is acceptable by the general populace? This code of behaviour isn't written down; it is common knowledge. How could anybody think otherwise? Yes, this is the double standard. If a man has sex, he's a man. If a woman has sex, she is considered in a negative light: loose, desperate, unfit as a potential mother and a wife. Why is that? As so many have pointed out: the goal of a man is to spread his seed; the goal of a woman is to partner with a man as in marriage till death do you part for the purpose of financial stability, to build a nest to have children.

True? False? I believe these ideas are so ingrained in our culture, we all know them; we all follow them, and more often than not, we blindly accept them without any conscious evaluation as to their validity. Things are the way they are. Does a goldfish know it's living in a fishbowl?

I have asked why female sexuality seems to be vilified in our society. If it isn't within the context of marriage, if it isn't directly related to procreation, it is something which must be suppressed. For some unknown reason, it is bad and it should be avoided at all costs. And yet...

Off Go The Panties
Robin Juliet (a pseudonym) is the author of the blog Off Go The Panties, the musings of a single "40-something leggy blonde" about life, dating, and sex in the city. On November 28, 2013, The Good Men Project published Ms. Juliet's article "How to Get Everything You Want from Casual Sex (without Hurting People)" in which she discusses various aspects of sexual relationships outside the bounds of traditional marriage. The author's advice is common sense and her points are applicable to any relationship one would have. Except here, she is discussing relationships of a sexual nature.

Up to now, I'm sure the reader is curious about the article itself, but the truly interesting aspect of the article is the section of comments. How did people react to the author's open and honest admission of who she is and what she wants? "I’m a sexually charged woman in my 40’s interested in a casual, no-strings-attached regular lover." The commentators said volumes about their own attitude towards life, love, and sex.

Mrs. Delamore - Nov 28/2013
Rather than encouraging celibacy and healthy self -control, faithfulness to a spouse, the courage to go and work out relationship and identity problems etc, this sort of advertisement, for all its declared parameters, is part of the ongoing problem women being objectified, demeaned and generally disrespected. It allows too many males to be let off the hook with the expression of their physical desires rather than learn to be men in control of what is a natural urge but, because of its power, needs to come under subjection until the appropriate time.

KIM - Nov 28/2013
How can you be so sure men don’t see you as a prostitute they don’t have to pay for?

Crystal Edelstein - Nov 28/2013
Your serious lack of self esteem is apparent in your writing. Please refrain from your harmful advice and stop writing. You need to re-examine your life and values before you dole out advice to anyone. I hope you get the support you need to be healthy in the future.

Wow. The reaction of the above three women is visceral. Nothing unequivocal about those thoughts. A woman talks about having a "casual" relationship with a man - no talk of marriage, no mention of commitment, just a good time; friends to a certain extent and involving sex - and evokes a negative reaction.

Pauline Gaines
On September 22, 2013, in the article "What I'm Thankful For: My Younger Man," Ms. Gaines, 51, wrote about her new relationship.

"He is a complete romantic departure for me: younger (by eight years), blue-collar, and unfettered by children. We have absolutely nothing in common except for smouldering chemistry and a genuine fondness for each other. ... One of the reasons I love hanging out with Nick, besides the obvious, is that I have no illusion, nor desire, to wind up his life partner. ... I don’t wonder 'where we’re going.' I don’t worry if my kids will like him, because they’re never going to meet him. I don’t storm around the house seething with dashed expectations, because I have none. There is something positively exultant about needing nothing from a romantic partner. There is just wanting in its most distilled, erotic form."

Curiously enough, or as expected, she received some fairly negative feedback. In my own piece "Pauline Gaines and the Economy of Sex" I examined this sometimes vitriolic commentary and concluded that the rule voiced by the critics was that women are not supposed to have sex outside the confines of marriage. Women are not supposed to enjoy sex just for sex. Sexual pleasure is only to be had with a husband and if a man hasn't committed for life, a woman should not be with him.

I went on to point out that if Pauline had lunch with Nick, no one would be expecting lunch would lead to dinner and tomorrow would involve a ring and a commitment to eat every meal together for the rest of their lives. After all, we're only talking about lunch and even if nothing happens afterwards, that doesn't mean one can't enjoy lunch for what it is: lunch. But, here we were talking about sex, yes lunch with sex and for this reason and this reason alone the entire nature of the proceedings had changed and now we're were coming back to the idea that a woman can only have sex if she is married and she has extracted a life commitment from a man.

Why can't women enjoy sex?
Why do we collectively vilify women who enjoy sex? Who came up with this idea? Why are the traditions of our society riddled with slut shaming and even sex shaming? Were the puritans a bunch of killjoys? How ingrained are these ideas in our culture?

Margo Kaplan: It's the law
On November 22, 2013, the Washington Post published "The joyless law of sex" by Margo Kaplan, assistant professor of law at Rutgers School of Law-Camden.

... sex can be pretty good ...Which makes it all the more puzzling that our courts and legislatures are still strangely squeamish about sexual pleasure, tending to treat it as a topic to be avoided or an immoral indulgence the state should prevent.

Ms. Kaplan cites several legal decisions and explains how they reflect societal attitudes. She sums up her analysis of current laws with: "Sex is bad, but marriage justifies its offense by directing it toward a socially acceptable purpose."

In other words, the legal system has reflected the puritan belief that sex should exist only in marriage and ideally should be for procreation. Sex for pleasure is questionable and sex outside of marriage is verboten. Kaplan does note that as society changes, laws change but I would add that part of her premise is whether or not that change is happening quickly enough and whether we all should be doing more to promote discussion and hopefully create change.

Margo Kaplan is sex-positive. Margo Kaplan is a professor of law. She recognises the legal underpinnings of American society need a great deal of change to better support a future which is less puritan and more pro-sex.

Caveat
Whenever something new or something out of the ordinary is brought up, somebody invariably cites some example to prove that the idea is doomed to failure. It's like Fred jumps out of an airplane and plunges to his death then you find out Fred wasn't wearing a parachute. If you are unprepared, probably just about anything you do is doomed to failure.

If you grew up in an environment which stresses sex only in marriage, that promotes slut shaming and sex shaming, I would say there is an excellent chance you are going to fail miserably in a relationship based on casual sex. Oh hell, you probably are going to fail in any relationship.

Here's my true story taken from my posting "Why Do We Repress Our Sexuality?" (Aug 14/2013):

My grandfather lost his wife in 1937. My mother and her sister lost their mother. After a couple of years, Grandpa remarried. Unfortunately, he did not know that Heather had been brought up in a puritanical environment which instilled in her the idea that men only wanted one thing from women: sex. All men were perverted degenerates to be avoided at all costs. From what I understand, Grandpa and Heather had sex once, just once, which led to a son. I would remind you that in this era, people did not divorce. Ever.

On the day of my mother's wedding to my dad, Heather took my mother aside and launched into a diatribe against men and the evils of their libidos. This was the only time Grandpa ever raised a hand to Heather. He slapped Heather then pulled my mother aside and explained to her that sex between a man and a woman can be a wonderful thing. My mother told me this story when I was older.

Later in life, Grandpa had an affair. Everybody knew it and everybody accepted it. She apparently was a good woman. It is unfortunate that when Grandpa died, Heather refused to allow the woman to come to the funeral.

Heather lived twenty years after Grandpa. Being the dutiful grandson, I visited regularly and we played a lot of Scrabble together. I slowly began to understand that she didn't "get it." She was the classical "harpy", a cold bitch. She didn't understand why men and women got together. Oh, she understood the idea of relationships and marriage from an intellectual point of view but she didn't understand the underlying motivation. I am convinced Heather never experienced an orgasm in her life. Imagine eating a piece of chocolate and you had no taste. What's the point of anything if there is no payoff, no pleasure?

Whoever raised Heather did so in a manner which deprived her of having a fulfilling life. My grandfather was a kind, loving man. But he was a man. And Heather never had the opportunity to experience life like a complete woman. She never got the why behind men and women.

Me on Twitter
After reading Ms. Juliet's article in The Good Men Project, I tweeted the following:

How to Get #EverythingYouWant from #CasualSex (without #HurtingPeople) @offgothepanties @GoodMenProject http://bit.ly/1aZDrBJ #AdultSexEd

I received the following response:

Rosanna Pittella PhD ‏@RosannaPittella - 10:44 AM - 30 Nov 13
@wqbelle only one way. Both partners need to be the exact same mindset. Rare. Usually one is lying to partner or self about real needs. Sad.

Okay, it can be sad. But let's not make this just about sex. People lie to each other in romantic relationships. They lie in relationships based on business, friends, neighbours, and even family. Heck, kids lie to one another on the playground. So let's be clear here, in any type of relationship there is the problem or the danger of having different expectations. The problem, the real problem is being open and honest. It's not about sex; it's about being open and honest. And open and honest doesn't just mean with somebody else; it also means being open and honest with yourself.

But, but, but I will add here that all of us growing up in a puritanical environment have a great deal to overcome to be honest with ourselves.

Final Word
There is no doubt in my mind that we collectively are our own worst enemies. We repeat stuff without any reflection as to whether or not what we're saying, what we're doing is correct.

We cannot properly address an issue if misinformation prevents us from properly assessing the issue.

We continue to do bad things and to hurt one another all in the name of being right as if we truly knew what was right. Is it part of our psyche to fear that which is new, which is unknown, which is outside our supposed comfort zone? If Ms. Juliet and Ms. Gaines can have lunch with a man without the necessity of getting married and having a life-long commitment, who says they can't have a friendly relationship, a casual relationship or even a sexual relationship? If a relationship is open, honest, consensual and nobody gets hurt or is exploited, that is a step up from many a traditional marriage.

Female sexuality is a good thing. It is a good thing for all of us, both women and men. Make love, not war and we may just end up with peace, love and understanding.


References

The Good Men Project - Nov 28/2013
How to Get Everything You Want from Casual Sex (without Hurting People) by Robin Juliet
Robin Juliet explains how to have a healthy and honest NSA relationship without guilt or heartbreak

my blog: Pauline Gaines and the Economy of Sex - Sep 28/2013
In a 2011 Washington Post article "Economy of Sex: It's cheap these days", the author Cheryl Wetzstein (disturbingly?) describes that love has little to do with how we collectively pair up. Sex is a commodity and Adam Smith's theories of supply and demand are determining the value of goods and services.

the blog: Off Go The Panties
As a writer, Off Go the Panties is a safe haven where I can fictionalize my sex life. I get to gab about sex AND dating AND how to give a good blow job AND all sorts of other nonsense related to what it’s like being a sexually charged single woman dating in my 40’s.

Twitter: Panty Parade @offgothepanties
Never one to shy away from breaking-out the lube, Panty Parade writes about her sex life at Off Go the Panties.

The Washington Post - Nov 22/2013
The joyless law of sex by Margo Kaplan, assistant professor of law at Rutgers
Valuing sexual pleasure would require us to regulate it more honestly. It would force us to have more informed discussions about legal issues ranging from free speech to consent in the bedroom.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - School of Law-Camden - Aug 12/2013
Sex-Positive Law by Margo Kaplan (draft)
Abstract:
Sexual pleasure is a valuable source of happiness and personal fulfillment. Yet several areas of law assume just the opposite — that sexual pleasure in itself has negligible value, and we sacrifice nothing of importance when our laws circumscribe it. Many laws even rely on the assumption that sexual pleasure merits constraint because it is inherently negative. These assumptions are so entrenched in our law that they remain largely unquestioned by courts, legislatures, and legal scholarship.

This Article exposes and challenges the law’s unspoken assumption that sexual pleasure has negligible or negative value and examines how rejecting this assumption requires us to reconceptualize several areas of law. Until now, legal scholarship has lacked a robust analysis of how deeply this assumption runs through various areas of law and how fundamentally the law must change if we reject it. This Article fills that gap and provides a framework for "sex-positive" law that appropriately recognizes the intrinsic value of sexual pleasure. Such an approach transforms the debate surrounding several areas of law and requires lawmakers and legal scholars to undertake a more honest assessment of what we choose to regulate, what we fail to regulate, and our justifications for those choices.

2013-12-03

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5 comments:

Dame Margo said...

Fabulous post!

Panty Parade said...

Oh William! Thank you for shedding the light on some of the unfortunate comments that (mostly women) writers receive when we talk about casual sex. I hope people read your article and come to a better understanding about where their motivations originate before making snarky comments or judging sexually charged women.

I applaud you for taking up this issue on your blog!

Anonymous said...

William,

I am one of Ms. Juliet's 'few stray lunatics' (Jules) who commented on her GMP piece.

" I’m a sexually charged woman in my 40’s interested in a casual, no-strings-attached regular lover. I want to be able to get along in and out of the bedroom. A drink out here and there would be an ideal complement to a relationship that is more sexual than a friend but less constricting than a traditional boyfriend/girlfriend. "

What I found offensive about this piece was 1) it was allowed on GMP and 2) it had no social value.

Ms. Juliet clearly misrepresented what she is ACTUALLY doing in her casual sex life. It is not that she has two steady fuck buddies (who cares). Rather, she post ads on Craigslist to find new lover on a regular basis! Yes, it is her fucking business. But, who really wants to hear about how some Big Black guys are fucking her, or some MLB shows up at 2:00 am to fuck her?

What she writes she is doing on GMP is vastly different than what she is REALLY doing. Based on the 8-10 stories I read, she is having unprotected sex! Some guy whom she had sex with months earlier show us months later and has sex with her, unprotected. Give me a break!

Yes, there is a double standard about sex when it comes to men and women. But, there is also a double standard on how many men can really get sex on Craigslist versus women. Very very few men can do what Ms. Juliet is doing. If you research online dating and sites like Craigslist, most women end up picking the SAME men for sex!!! Hence, only a few men conduct themselves like Ms. Juliet. But you and others want to dump on 90% of men out here.

As I said in the GMP piece, I personally regard her sex life to be nasty and decadent. However, I do not regard casual sex to such.

Cheers!

Ms. Quote said...

William and Panty Parade, thanks for the inspiration to write this poston my blog ... http://agoodwomansdirtymind.com/debunking-slut-shaming-and-sex-blogger-beliefs-myths/

Anonymous said...

Hi William

I am one that commented on Robims article in GMP.
The negative impression I got from the stories on her sex blog was the reason why I botherd to comment at all.

As a person that has has sex a few times, I felt the stories on her blog was not convincing .

Do women have sex , let the man have penis in anus and then after wards into her vagina.

And she decribe how when she fucked her stranger, she used to go first for the penis.
And I felt sorry for the man.
I wonder if Robin is a prostute and learned her screening of men from them . They screen men when they can, Of course they do.

Teach us something classy Robin Juliet, and do not try to bring the vulgar Craigslist into her sexual life .

I am not against causal sex, but with class and dignity.
But I got the impression that all R. Juliet wanted was to find as many men as possible to choose between, screen, enjoy the careening that gav her a feeling of power.
Not impressive.
Who want to meet men from Craigslist?