Practically Feminist

PRACTICAL FEMINISM ARTWORK by Jen Giacalone

If there’s one thing that we can say for sure about the multi-headed beast that some call Third Wave feminism (or is it Fourth Wave now?), it’s that feminism often seems like it can be whatever the hell you want it to be.  This makes it difficult for us as feminists to speak with one voice about things that are really important.  And in the end, it may be hampering practical approaches to improving things.  Feminism isn’t an idea, it’s a collection of a lot of ideas, and we’re free to argue them with one another. That’s healthy.  But feminism needs to sort out what it’s trying to do.  Right now, it feels more like a chaotic, en-masse reaction to attacks on our rights, as opposed to a positive, proactive movement.

When I first started putting my toes in the waters of feminism, I was really only…

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I’m Not a Prude or a Slut: The Creepy Dichotomy

Friends, today I want to talk about sexual experiences.  Particularly, female sexual experiences.  Which just brings me to the question:  What the eff is up with the virgin-whore spectrum constantly used to (very inaccurately) describe women and their sex lives?????

While the “virgin-whore dichotomy” sounds like obscure women’s studies jargon, I think it captures the essence of mainstream cultural attitudes based on what I have seen in pop culture AND heard from people in real life.  And there is so much wrong with the assumptions related to it that I just had to write a blogpost scraping at least the icing of this multilayered cake.

In mainstream dialogue, women seem to either fall into the category of prudes or sluts.  This obviously is a result of the fact that many people think that a girl’s sex life is their business to discuss and categorize.  The descriptions also imply that pretty much any sexual choice a woman makes is problematic.  She is either having too little or too much sex, according to whomever is doing the labeling.  Let’s also not forget the obvious fact that these terms are usually used to manipulate the woman’s sexual behavior.  Girls are shamed for being “prudish” in order to prompt them to be more sexually active than they would originally choose.  Other times, they are shamed for being “slutty” to inhibit the sexual choices they would make.  In the framework of this dichotomy, you could either be a slut who isn’t respected, or a prude who is respectable but boring.  A lot of media also likes to play around with this concept by celebrating the idea of the “good girl gone bad” at the hands of a guy who successfully seduces an ‘innocent’ girl’s hidden sex kitten.  (Like in the creepy chorus of the “Blurred Lines” song.)

And I say, this is Just. Ridiculous.

I am what a lot of people think of as a “good girl.”  I’m on the quiet, mellow side.  I am an introverted academic.  I definitely like socializing as much as the next person, but I’m not hitting raging parties every weekend.

For some reason, to some people, this means I’m super virginal.

What my hobbies have to do with my sex life, I do not know.  But whenever I reveal that I am actually not a clean slate in the realm of sexual experiences (something I don’t like to openly discuss, to begin with), my lesser intelligent acquaintances exclaim: “but you’re so innocent!”

“But”???

But what?  I am innocent!  I have never committed murder, stolen anything, betrayed anyone, and I am very loyal to my loved ones.  What does this have to do with my sex life again?

I’m 23, and have graduated college.  It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that  as a young adult, I have had 1-2 relationships, and some brief dating stints, and along with them some sexual experiences.  That just makes me a…human.

Then, when my more outgoing friend decides to have more brief, casual affairs, and a lot of hook-ups, the judgmental audience suddenly takes to pearl-clutching and slut-shaming.  Some guys even think she is “easy” and will give it up to anyone, so she is theirs for the taking.

And THEN, whenever my Orthodox Christian friend defends her decision to wait until marriage, because it is something she really wants to do, she is described as being too difficult for men.

This bullshit needs to stop, for obvious reasons.

Both of the terms “prude” and “slut” are dehumanizing and disrespectful towards a woman’s decision with what to do with her body.  In this day and age, people need to stop thinking they can dictate another woman’s sexual decisions.  I don’t withhold from sex to be some guy’s creepy virginal-to-sex-kitten sexual fantasy.  A woman who is more experienced is not obligated to sleep with anyone who wants it from her.  Our sex lives (or lack thereof) are our own private matters – in addition to the other, multiple parts of our lives that make us who we are, as people – and we deal with them on our own terms.