There are times when I get embarrassed about the fact that I am 27 years old and I’ve never had a boyfriend. I can count the number of people I’ve kissed and/or slept with on one hand, and I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 25, a year after moving to New York City.
However, it isn’t something of which I’m ashamed of and I’m choosing to share it now, because someone was describing to me a conversation between him and his friend. The discussion was based around the ownership of a woman’s sexuality. The conversation implied that there are two ways of being. Either a woman’s sexuality is owned by her husband, or you have sex whenever with whomever you want, and therefore you are ‘liberated.’ This got me thinking about how people react to my sexuality, and my experiences.
When a man first meets me, they are so excited that such a sexy, fun female has looked their direction. The problem is when they equate sexy confidence with the openness to have sex with any man to whom you’re attracted. Does being an independent and interesting woman have to mean that you’ve had countless partners? Apparently it does, because all of my strength and maturity seems to melt away the minute they find out my number. Suddenly, I am so fortunate that this wise sexual guru has condescended to lead me to see the error of my ways.
Even when I meet other women, they sometimes become convinced that I hold the keys to seduction, and that I can help them with their love lives. This happens most often when I speak to women younger than me, but I’ve even given love advice to friends nearly a decade older than me. They marvel at the fact that I’ve been asked on dates directly, as opposed to only having been hit on while drunk at a party or bar. When they find out I’ve never had a boyfriend and that I’ve actually had a fraction of the sexual experiences that they’ve had, they’re taken aback. How can I be so confident or sexy if I haven’t had it validated in some way?
Some of those same girls worry that if they aren’t down for anything then boys won’t love them. They worry that not being the type of person who can have sex with anyone and not be emotionally involved, makes them a bad feminist. Having sex when you want to, does not mean you are doomed to emotional conflict, but conversely not having sex doesn’t mean that you can’t be sexy or “liberated.”
Was the sole purpose of feminism to make sure women could have as much as sex as they want? Forget suffrage. Forget equal pay. Forget issues of rape and violence against women. It was always just about the sex.
“So do you think all women who have lots of sex are sluts?” Not in the slightest. I think that if that’s the right decision for them, there isn’t anything wrong with that. There is, however, something wrong with a culture that makes young women ashamed for wanting anything besides that. A culture that makes women like me question the status on their ‘liberation’ if they don’t go out every week looking for hook ups.
Liberation implies some sort of freedom, some sort of choice. By implying that in order to be sexy, or confident I should have tons of sex, you are invalidating my choice to not do so. You are defining me as a non-liberated woman. And you are defining my sexuality by the terms that I didn’t choose. You have tried to take ownership of it.