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Sex in Society

  Via Flickr Written by Alexis Annunziata

  Via Flickr Written by Alexis Annunziata

I’d like to propose a question: what are the negative consequences for a woman resulting from safe sex with multiple partners?  Let’s examine that.

After sex with three men, does my intellect suddenly begin to experience a severe decline? After five partners, do other components of my worth begin to magically disintegrate into thin air? My sense of humor: gone?  My fundamental values such as family and education: abolished? Am I no longer the ambitious young woman I once was?  Suddenly, my favorite breakfast food is no longer waffles, it’s the souls of innocent children everywhere? Oh, wait.

In reality, nothing changes after multiple sexual experiences for female, male, and all genders not encapsulated by the binary.  Yet, somehow, society continues to stigmatize a fundamental biological function.  I’ve come across many people who seem to be stuck on the idea that sex is a reproductive means, not a pleasurable experience.  And suddenly, a group of men will shout, “wait, you don’t want to be objectified, yet you want to be able to have sex with whomever you want?” Yes. My choice to engage in sex should not result in a loss of value as a human being.  I am more than a walking, talking, sexual being.  There are other characteristics other than my sexuality that I am comprised of. It should not be “either have no sex, or you’re only valued for sex.”

“Women want a boyfriend, but they go out and disrespect themselves with men who don’t even care about them.” This is also ridiculously problematic.  Stop putting “the nice guy” on a pedestal.  In simple terms: as a woman, we owe you nothing for being a decent human being.  Some men seem to be stuck in this culture of entitlement due to the institution of a toxic masculinity (this is a whole separate issue in itself, but I digress).  Ultimately, if a woman is not attracted to you, why would she have sex with you?  Simply because you exhibit a polite demeanor, which should be done in the first place? I don’t think so.

Terminology like hoe, slut, and whore have become normalized labels for women who are open with their sexuality.  Why is this even remotely acceptable?  Why are we shaming women for indulging in sex?  We are constructing conflict: a woman needs to be pure, but as soon as she doesn’t “put out”, she is prude, a bitch, a tease.  Some men will claim that the woman who doesn’t go out frequently, who cooks, who cleans, and “respects herself” is the desirable woman.  But as soon as he finds a partner who perhaps fits all those domesticated categories, he is suddenly repulsed by her sexual history.  What does a history of sexual partners have to do with respecting one’s self? Do I not respect myself as I pursue higher education, inform myself on societal/political issues, and build confidence within myself? Why is sex so significant?

What about the man with multiple sexual partners?  Why does society not continually criticize him for his sexual history? The answer is unappetizing, but quite simple: patriarchal society imposes the idea that a woman’s body is a man’s right.  Sure, the occasional term “man-whore” will be thrown around, but this does not have the same stigma as terminology used for women.  Generally, men are praised for their sexual activity.  The term man-whore, although inappropriate, will never degrade a man’s position in patriarchal society.  It does not demean him nor further his marginalization. Conversely, this is not the same for women.

Let’s not forget that women of color (WOC) face even deeper prejudices.  If a WOC left the house in something slightly revealing, she faces even harsher demonization or stereotypical insults such as being “ghetto.”  Again, this is an issue in itself that deserves its own article.

It’s time to stop demonizing women who engage in frequent, casual sex.  It’s time to recognize and let go of the societally constructed ideals of virginity and purity.  What is so absolutely wonderful about virginity/purity?  What underlying characteristics make them virtuous? Pragmatically, they are worth nothing.  Society has placed an inherent value on them, and very few people challenge this normalized and extremely warped view.  Stop slut shaming, stop imposing a double standard, stop buying into the social construction.

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