Having met sassy little nymph- friend and fellow feminist blogger Cami through our mind-boggling university course, we have spent many an afternoon ranting and raving about self love and fabulousness. We have therefore decided to try and condense these conversations into guest posts for each other.
You can find my post ‘You Just Keep Doing You’ vis a vis body policing, the ol’ shaving ‘debate’ and feminism on Cami’s blog here. Hers is an awesome site filled with outfit envy, style tips and discussion of some tough themes to boot.
Content Warnings: NSFW-ness & sl*t mention
A rambunctious rampage through the silliness of social sex-shaming // a sex-positive celebration of bodies and boinking.
Seven gins into a night at the pub and I will wholeheartedly admit that I’m probably not interested in talking about much that isn’t sex-related. Why is that? Why do humans love talking about sex? I’ll tell ya, sweet cheeks. It’s because we’re animals. Filthy, frivolous animals with the delusion of civilisation drummed into us by hundreds of years of building shit and breaking things (our planet, mostly. But that’s a rampage for another time). But at our core we’re programmed to do one thing, same as every other living creature – spread the living seed and further our future species through the medium of boinking. We are fundamentally inclined to have sex with each other. Obviously. And being a species with the intelligence and ingenuity to invent measures whereby we can enjoy that process without actually creating offspring, we’ve actually cut ourselves a pretty sweet deal: control.
So why, after the human race has devoted so much time, money and research into perfecting contraception, do we treat sex for the sake of nothing more than pure, awesome naughty enjoyment with such stigma? Why create measures that enable us to have sex without the huge, huge consequence of creating another life in the process, only to also create a whole social norm where the response to two people having sex without that consequence is generally negative: there’ll be some mention of ‘friendzones’ and not sleeping with people you’re already close to, or someone will say ‘I don’t like them, don’t go there’ or there’s ‘that was a bad idea’ or *eye roll* or the classic why-ning: ‘oh dear, why did you do that?’
Why did they do what, engage in an activity that is fantastic exercise, lowers your blood pressure, releases endorphins, helps lift your mental wellbeing, alleviates stress and depression and also feels pretty rad? Do you honestly need to question it? And you know what else goes without saying? I’m going to say it anyway. Our goddamn bodies are literally designed to enjoy pleasure. A clitoris is literally a tiny area loaded with nerve endings and it’s sole purpose is pleasure. That’s an argument for intelligent design if ever I saw one.
My issue, and the main point of this argument, is as follows: why do people care so much who other people – grown up, consenting adults – are having sex with? I’m a firm advocate of the ‘you do you’ mentality and I believe it’s just as applicable in the context of doing… er, other people. If you’re happy, other people being boring and judgemental shouldn’t have to rain on your parade but honestly? I don’t think other people have any right to be boring and judgemental in the first place. Sex happens between the people involved in the actual sex, yes? So if you have an opinion on what’s happening between those people, you’re already involving yourself in something that doesn’t concern you. Be supportive, by all means. Give your mate a hug if the person they’re boinking turns out to be not a nice person. Give your mate a big aggressive high-five when they’re too cock-drunk to function at work and it’s hilarious. Give your mate tips! Because that’s when your involvement is actually appropriate. What is absolutely not appropriate is negative judgement where it is neither wanted or needed. Once people accept that, only then can we open the doors to a healthier attitude about sex. Sex should be celebrated, not stigmatised. Two (or more, whatever) people who are obviously into each other shouldn’t be subjected to the pressure of ‘we want to and are going to but people will talk/form dumbass petty opinions on our experience’.
What I do believe is that by treating sex as a taboo subject – something naughty that needs gossiping about – we’re ultimately going to cause more harm than good. Having a certain opinion on a specific instance (or instances) and having a more generally open and objective outlook on sex are two different things, and I feel I should mention this to avoid it seeming like I’m contradicting myself. I believe hastily-formed opinions based on snapshots of a reality – sexy snapshots! – are actually pretty destructive, whereas maintaining an open mind and opting for a listen-first talk-if-it’s-actually-appropriate attitude allows for a much more positive, receptive and respectful exchange of experiences. Sex is something that should be talked about freely, openly and with enthusiasm, not in whispered voices in the back of a pub over cheap Zinfandel, about someone who is meant to be your friend. It should be approached objectively, not with prejudice. Most importantly, it should be approached with positivity. Because that’s how you fight problems and stigma and stuff – with powerful-ass positivity.
The current prevalent theme is one where if somebody has slept with a lot of people, (or even if they haven’t, but are open with the fact that they, a human, do have and enjoy sex) it supposedly lowers their self-worth. The word ‘reputation’ gets thrown about a lot with regards to sexuality. Here’s the literal definition from Google: ‘the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.’ Beliefs. So reputation is comprised almost entirely of what other people think, with very little based on what the original person has actually done. Hmm. There’s that recurring feature, yet again, of other people giving shits when shits needn’t be given, because shit doesn’t concern them! Female sexuality takes a particularly hard battering in this society of ‘reputations’: ‘a slut is woman with the morals of a man’ and other similarly vacuous nonsense. Another definition, this time from the Online Etymology Dictionary: the original meaning of ‘slut’, circa 15th century is, “a dirty, slovenly, or untidy woman,” and “a kitchen maid, a drudge”. So having the morals of a man makes you slovenly, untidy and a kitchen maid? Oh my god, people, right?! I literally ‘can’t even’ when it comes to finding words for the pointlessness of sex-shaming – all it is is the demonisation of people – women – who are confident and more open with their sexuality. Do I smell bourgeois/patriarchal control tactics? Can’t have all those peasants and women running around being confident about their sexuality! Oh no! They might start to feel empowered!
Joking aside, think about it this way: if someone is upfront, sincere and honest about their sexual experiences – be they few or vast – they’re going to be a lot more upfront, sincere and honest about a lot of other things too, and to me, that 110% sounds like the sort of person I’d chose to interact with over someone who bitches and slanders. Whether your number is a relatively modest one, you’ve banged half of Europe or you’ve only slept with one person (or even no people!), that’s your business to keep to yourself or discuss loudly and vigorously as you please.