Casual sex ain’t for pussies.
Scratch that. Casual sex is totally for pussies, but only if your pussy isn’t still linked by its pussy umbilical cord to your heart.
Forgive me if I seem to be pandering to the female audience here, but it’s important for people of any gender to understand that we women tend to be raised to hold the value that our precious husband-hole is — and must always be — tied inextricably to our feeeeeelings. This varies by culture so, again, forgive me if I’m emphasizing the female side of this too much for your liking. The same argument I’ll crudely attempt to make can also be applied to [my culture’s] stereotypical male value, the value that inextricably ties their dick to their pride. The essence of my argument is this:
Your genitals should never be tied to anything. It hurts them and it hurts you. Don’t do it.
The first time I had sex was at 16, with a boy I had known less than a week but was certain I already loved. In hindsight, it was awful and he was a total dipshit (he was a little drunk and ended up dozing off midway while inside me), but at the time…hey, he was telling me he loved me, Kelly Clarkson was playing, I cried, it was perfect.
“I love you, baby. I want to show you what love is all about,” he’d told me just before I agreed to sex. Right from the get-go — no, even before the get-go in this case — the concepts of sex and love were already conflated in my mind. It has been almost exactly 8 years since that night, and I’ve spent at least 5 or 6 of those years under more or less the same impression.
Over the course of our brief love affair, V-Card Boy further reinforced in me this value that sex is something that holds immense and complex value, a gift that good girls don’t hand out willy-nilly. After our first night, he told me sweetly, “You gave me the most precious gift I could have ever asked for.”
But it was also reinforced in ways that didn’t feel so good. I remember one instance, while lying in his bed a few weeks later, when I wanted to have sex and he was lukewarm. He told me, “I kind of wish you hadn’t slept with me so soon. Why did you do that?” I don’t recall how I replied, but I still remember the feelings of shame, dirtiness, and cheapness that question brought to me. Sex was something he had wanted! Something he’d begged for! I didn’t understand.
V-Card Boy and I dated for a month before he cheated on me with his ex-girlfriend and went back to her. It was devastation. I chugged Beefeater gin from my grandparents’ liquor cabinet and attempted suicide in the bathroom. I was dirty. I was used-up. I was a slut. I hadn’t played my gender role correctly and now I would never be loved again.
Time passed. I moved on to new love interests. The boyfriend of a friend became interested in me, and we fell into a heated secret affair. When we were discovered, I was completely ostracized from our high school clique (probably fair), while the boyfriend was forgiven after a brief hiatus (not fair). I was again the slut. Sexuality was a weapon girls should not toy with. Sex hurt people around me.
More time passed. A very handsome boy I was seeing for a few weeks started begging for sex. When I say begging, I mean literal “please, please, pleeeeease?” begging. After multiple refusals, I eventually agreed. Immediately, immediately after we finished, his demeanor changed. And after one more day of sex, he stopped talking to me altogether. I was so caught off guard by this freeze-out that I confronted him.
“Is it because we had sex?” I finally asked, cringing.
“Well. I mean… Sort of, yeah,” he responded.
I was once again the slut. How had I not learned my lesson the first time? I was supposed to refuse. Once I say yes, nobody wants me anymore. Sex is dangerous. Sex is valuable. And I was nothing but a cheap whore for giving it away without more of a fight. ‘Boys are the gas, girls are the brakes,’ I was always told.
Although regarding sexuality as both precious and dangerous may seem like two contradicting ideas, I have come to find that they are really fruit off the same tree. The seed of that tree, a value embedded deep within our culture, dictates to us that sex is a commodity, limited in ration, that people — but particularly women — are born with. Like bills to a gold standard, sex is a tangible representation of her soul, her inner worth, her character, however you want to describe it. So, when a woman tears off a piece of this limited commodity and gives it away, she lessens in value each time.
Some folks, whether for religious reasons or otherwise, live this as a literal truth, declaring that we truly do give away a piece of our soul whenever we have intercourse. Most of the rest of us easily laugh off a phrase so blatant and silly, only to live it twice as insidiously because we do it so damned subtly. If you look with a keen eye, you’ll notice that innocence, even feigned in the form of coyness, is still highly valued in women.
If you’d like some examples, I’m happy to oblige. Or just turn your TV on. Or read a dating advice column. Or look at your own wardrobe.
Ever heard this horrible, sexist saying? ‘A key that opens any lock is a master key. But a lock that can be opened by any key is just a shitty lock.’
It’s certainly cringeworthy. But why? Its humor relies on the audience’s mental framework that says women (locks) have the responsibility of guarding something, while men (keys) have the responsibility to access this something. Something that is given, taken, and bargained for. Something that can be either stored up or thrown away. A quantitative representation of a woman’s integrity.
Even the syntax of the phrase subtly pushes an agenda: the key is the subject of the sentence, carrying out the verb on the lock, the object of the sentence. Rather than fucking each other mutually, the man fucks the woman. The man has agency where the woman has none. It’s a sad state of grammatical affairs, my friends.
…So. How did I stop carrying my feelings in my vagina?
I simply came to the realization that having sex is not the same as ladling out scoops of my integrity from a limited pot. Having sex with a man is not giving him a gift. It is also not a tool to be used for attention or ego stroking.
I came to the realization that these ideas had been embedded in me as cultural norms and that, in fact, sex is nothing more or less than an experience.
Several factors helped open my mind to this — some were sexual encounters, but largely I owe my gratitude to a handful of college courses (Psychology of Sexuality and Psychology of Gender, especially). They allowed me to entertain the idea that a person can give themselves permission to experience pleasure. They offered the possibility that I could cut the umbilical cord that had tied my sexuality to my integrity, and shape the experience of sex into anything I wanted it to be.
My modest readership here may be comprised of the type of folks who say “Duh!” to the above statements. But trust me, these were mind-blowing concepts to me, cultural lemming that I was (and still am on some fronts, I’m sure). A few current friends have expressed their envy — and some, their thinly veiled judgment — regarding the ease with which I seem to handle casual sex.
Plenty of women my age and older are unwittingly and unwillingly stuck under the constraints of society’s sexual norms. It is my sincere wish that they be able to at least realize what their other options are and, perhaps, find the curiosity and the courage to explore them. (Safely, and with partners who will not damage other important areas of your life with their judgment, such as your career.)
Here is one terrific and concise article summarizing a research study that investigated the motives and consequences of casual sex. The findings support the notion that it is perfectly healthy — when not used as a tool, an escape, a gift, a self-esteem booster, etc.
This explains why fucking around when I was younger only led to unhealthy doses of heartbreak and depression: My mindset was not stable enough to support it. My motives were all wrong. I had not yet grasped the concept that sexuality was something I could allow myself to experience simply for experience’s sake, as opposed to a tool.
This revelation is the same one that has opened my eyes to the possibility of open relationships. Which is not surprising when you consider how, within the confines of monogamy, sex is a limited-ration commodity that cannot be shared. While an open relationship fits my current worldview just fine, I struggle significantly more to imagine myself in a polyamorous relationship. Sure, there’s always enough sex to go ’round, but I can’t yet come to terms with the idea that romantic love is as shareable as sex. No-strings-attached seems much more doable than a mess of many tangled strings.
But, hey, ask me again in another year or two. I may be singing a different tune.
In all this blathering about no-strings-attached fun, I hope I have not overly emphasized the separation between sex and love. It should be made clear as day that having sex, as a shared experience with someone you deeply love, is a magical way to experience both things. Sex is like the rum. Love is like the Coke. Wonderful apart, delicious when together. Doesn’t mean I can’t also try mixing my rum into a variety of other drinks, or that I can’t take a straight shot of it when I get the urge. (I’m just crossing my fingers that it’s not a sign of alcoholism that this was the first analogy my brain conjured up.)
So drink up, pussies.