Today on Salon.com I read what I might just consider my new sex/body manifesto: “In defense of casual sex” from 24-year-old assistant editor Tracy Clark-Flory.
Why? Because I’m a ho? No, it’s because I’m freaked out by this return to an antiquated whore/virgin dichotomy on the part of 21st-century young women–from those stupid vampire books to Ivy League Catholic Virgins to Purity Balls. Did Riot Grrl teach us nothing? Where are you Liz Phair? Where are you Rebecca Walker?
Is this the Millenial backlash to the sex-positive feminism of the “third wave“? Or just another indicator of Bush-style American values (although I doubt Jenna went to the alter as pure as snow)? Either way, it’s obvious the idea is that chaste young women get to look sexy (ala Miley Cyrus in those Annie Leibowitz pics) but can’t get any.
Whore/nun/Whore/nun…Miley bares all, later is “embarrased”
However, when I was 19 I didn’t have my head straight enough to make a decision about my major, let alone my stance on sexuality. So what do you do if you don’t even know yourself well enough to make such definitive decisions as NO SEX TIL MARRIAGE? Well, in this Salon article, Tracy Clark Flory stands up for all of us women finding our own paths–a path that sometimes takes a turn (or many turns) into the bedroom of a guy we’d never marry:
I learned something from all of the men I dated. Sexually, I learned plenty about what turns me on. More important, by spending time in uncommitted relationships, what I wanted in a committed relationship became clearer — and it wasn’t amorous antagonism but a partnership that didn’t trigger self-protectiveness.
I also discovered that a lot of young men are scared shitless — of women, themselves and their future; that, contrary to our cultural imaginings, they are just as desperate to figure things out as young women. I found that a lot of the pains in the relationships of us 20-somethings can be blamed on cultural prescriptions for masculinity. Yes, there is the stud-slut double standard — but there’s also an expectation that men, unlike women, will not seek safe harbor in a relationship. No, they are supposed to bravely sail their ships beyond the singing sirens and silted waters of their quarter life until they miraculously hit land in the Real Adult World.
Right on! Always safe–never sorry is a philosophy that works for many women and yet so rarely do we read anybody under 30 say this anymore unless it’s like a bimbo-boozy caricature like Chelsea Handler.
I know that for me–and apparently I’m not alone–that sexless but sexy isn’t and never was an option. In fact I’d rather be getting laid on my terms than looking like a ho and buckling my legs. I’d like my chosen partner/boyfriend/playmate to see my body, not a construction worker. Nor do I think that by using my sexuality as a political statement I’m going to change the world, which is what a great deal of these new-fangled chastity cheerleaders are doing. Because as Jessica Valenti said on Feminste blog: “You are not Gandhi or Nelson Mandela for choosing not to have sex.”
Yeah, it’s hard to find a good man/woman/person to love. Believe me, that is something I–and a bunch of other smart women in my generation– do know! There are tons of guys just looking for sex. But uh, now women do that too and as long as you’re not hurting someone it is a mutual understanding, that’s not something to be demonized.
The guilt that is associated with sexuality outside marriage or “hooking up” without a dedication in back of it is Colonial-era bullshit. I can only hope that more ladies realize sexuality is not a dogma or a doctrine. No it’s you, your mind, your body, your thoughts, your affection, your experimentation and, of course, you pursuing the best O you can get. New York Times reported that Ivy League supervirgin Janie Fredell came to realize that “women suffer from having premarital sex”–yes, well you also suffer from not having orgasms as a mature woman because you never felt comfortable to explore yourself as younger woman.
I don’t mean to be preachy–if I preach anything it’s have a good time and ladies, find your booty wherever it takes you as long as it’s not with Eliot Spitzer or Larry King. When time comes to settle down, by then, you’ll know how to have that man make you satisfied in more ways than one.