When you’re single AF, you spend a fair amount of time with other singles – much of which includes discussing dates, one-night stands, bar make out sessions, and jaw-dropping messages you’ve received on one of the numerous dating apps you likely have sitting in your iPhone folder titled “FML”.
During these conversations, there is often a lot of sex-shaming. Guys are called jerks for wanting sex without commitment, or for showing appropriate sexual interest. Somewhere along the line, sexual advances in the dating world became synonymous with a disrespect for relationships, which isn’t necessarily the case. The negative stigma of hookup culture has bled into the entirety of the dating scene – so much so that all sexually charged interactions have become fair game for shaming.
Sex is great – in relationships, on a first date, with a f*ck buddy, an old friend, in an elevator, a gas-station bathroom, the backseat of your car, and in your apartment on the kitchen table your ex-boyfriend built.
If we’re all talking about safe and consensual sex, why are we shaming people for wanting it? Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t:
1. Sex isn’t “bad”, and it’s okay have sexual desires
Sex is a beautiful and wonderful part of life. The current of sexual attraction lies underneath the surface of many of our daily interactions. It plays a huge role in our lives, whether or not we are conscious of its presence. It is innate, primal, and a driver of much that goes on in the world.
There is nothing wrong with wanting sex, and there is nothing wrong with the people who are open about wanting it. Sex is an integral piece of romantic relationships, and initiators should not be shamed for that.
2. If you want more, it’s your responsibility to seek people who want the same thing
Somewhere along the line, the guys and girls who don’t want anything more than sex from a person became labeled as “bad people”. They’re the a**holes, the f*ck boys and f*ck girls, and the jerks that you rant to your friends about. How dare they want to have sex with you without wanting a relationship! You label the way they lead their lives as “wrong”, just because it doesn’t line up with what you want from them, and that isn’t fair.
The hard truth is that it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re getting want you want out of your relationships. If you want commitment, exclusivity, or intimacy that goes beyond the sheets, it’s on you to make that happen, not the other person. It isn’t fair to shame someone for not wanting what you want out of life or out of that interaction. If you want different things, it’s your job to move forward in a way that reflects your authentic desires. As long as everyone is honest and up front about their expectations and intentions (which doesn’t always happen), the best thing you can do is respect and accept a person and their needs, even if they are different from yours.
3. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being “used”
Truthfully, we all “use” each other one way or another. Everyone seeks personal benefit and gain out of life and relationships – even falling in love is selfish. There are numerous layers to sexual motivation, some of which can be incredibly complex. Sometimes, it can even be hard to distinguish the exact reasoning behind your own sexual encounters, as they can often be a mix of primal physical needs and the desire for connection. Healthy sex means that all parties are consensually partaking in the activity – each person is admitting to a need and acting upon said desire. Maybe you’re “using” each other – but is it really “using” if it is mutually beneficial?
4. It gives people permission to behave poorly
When you put someone down or shame them, it’s a form of disrespect, which opens the door for that person to disrespect you in return. Additionally, telling someone they’re treating you badly simply because they want to have sex with you (and not for a host of other, certainly validated reasons), can be somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If what they’re already doing is seen as mistreatment, it gives them an excuse to act out and behave in ways that are expected of a “jerk”. Then, what started out as natural movement towards biological desire can actually become disregard for your feelings and well-being.
5. It perpetuates sexism
At a time when the sex positive movement is gaining speed and popularity, shaming people for wanting sex or only sex is detrimental to progress. A huge part of sex positivism is a rise against the shaming of female sexuality. Women should be free to seek sexual pleasure in their lives without being put down for it, even if that means they don’t want a relationship from the person with whom they are having sexual encounters. Men should be free to do the same without being shamed as a “pig” or “misogynist”. Wanting sex alone does not make a man these things, but saying so or acting in a way that reflects the outdated ideals that women do not enjoy sex, only men do, perpetuates actual sexism. Of course, sexual objectification is real issue of sexism, but it’s important to investigate a situation and determine whether or not that is truly going on in a given encounter.
Societal ideals are shifting, and our generation is redefining love, sex, and relationships. Instead of shaming, let’s appreciate the power of human sexuality in our daily interactions and choose to have honest conversations. We’re all looking for something different, and it’s on us to stay our own paths – whether that looks like a relationship, a one-night stand, no strings attached sex, or something else.
Shaming someone for wanting something different won’t get you where you want to be any faster, but owning your own choices, instead of judging someone else’s, will.