Friends, I have a problem. For all of my sex life, I’ve had a horrible affliction. I’d call it a disease, but then the rumor would spread that I had an STD, and what is already a pretty spotty sex life would likely grind to a jarring halt. So, instead, I’ll refer to it as an affliction, one that I call “feelingitis” (trademark pending) – the inability to sleep with a guy, or even hook up, really, without having or getting “the feels.”
That’s right, friends: no random hookups for me. With very few exceptions, every guy I’ve ever slept with – and most that I’ve hooked up with – I’ve had some kind of feelings for. Maybe they were my boyfriend, or at least I wanted them to be. Or maybe it was a friend that I hoped would become more, or simply was comfortable enough to get naked with. The few times I ended up with a rando, there was just something about it that didn’t sit right with me. So after a few failed attempts, I decided to just accept – and even embrace – my affliction. “Hello, my name is J, and I have feelingitis.”
Feelingitis makes the whole having-an-active-sex-life thing really rough. And as someone who genuinely loves sex, I can’t explain to you how much that sucks. Every time one of my friends tells me a story about banging some guy from the bar in the bathroom or taking some rando home for a round of mutual going down, I honestly get a little bit jealous. There are days (when I’m horny, in particular) that I long for the ability to just have sex without any complicated thoughts or emotional consequences. But the simple fact is that I’ve never been that girl, and no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be that girl. I will never be able to have carefree, no strings attached sex. And I’m coming to terms with the fact that that’s okay.
But the funny part is that sometimes it feels like it is a larger problem for other people than it is for me. And by other people, I don’t mean dudes, although they definitely consider it an issue. Instead, I mean my friends.
It seems to me that, as of late, there’s been a shift in how we talk to each other when it comes to sex. For a long time, there was a wave of slut-shaming, where we judged those who are freer and more open with their sex lives. Women who go through life like Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones had a bunch of labels applied to them, mainly by other women: skank, whore, slut. There was even an episode of SATC fittingly titled “Are We Sluts?” that tackled the issue. As ladies became more open about their sexual exploits, the name-calling rose to a new, upsetting level. So much so that we started to see a movement, that implored our fellow ladies to stop slut-shaming each other, to stop judging each other’s sexual choices and instead be supportive of each other – a notion that I’m 100% in favor of.
But something I’ve noticed, particularly as I’ve become more open with my friends about it, is that there is an equal and opposite phenomenon to slut-shaming that I call “prude-shaming.” Not that I’m a prude, per se; I actually can be pretty kinky, but “can’t-have-sex-without-some-kind-of-feelings-shaming” is a mouthful and I can’t think of another word to use, so we’ll stick with prude for now (feel free to offer up some suggestions). If you’re paying attention, you notice that prude-shaming is almost as prevalent as slut-shaming, but no one seems to think there’s anything wrong with it. Going back to the SATC example: if you think about it, Samantha’s fruitful sex life was celebrated, while Charlotte was simultaneously mocked for not having a carefree attitude in hers – and no one talked about it or made an episode celebrating her more conservative choices.
My personal experience tells me that it happens in real life too. In my particular group of friends, our sex lives are often a topic of discussion in our daily group chat or over hungover Sunday brunch, as I’m sure it is for most groups of ladies. While the ones that aren’t afflicted detail their sexual adventures, I listen with an open, and slightly jealous, mind.
But, truth-be-told, the same can’t be said for them when talking about my lack of sexual activity if I don’t happen to have someone in my life at the moment. The questions and statements abound: “Why can’t you just go out and pick up a random guy?” “Just do it, you’ll be fine.” “Don’t be so uptight.” While no one thinks twice about saying such things, and in essence sitting in judgment of my choices, I know that if I were to say similar things – “How can you just go out and pick up a random?” or “Don’t be so loose.” – I’d be accused of slut-shaming (and rightfully so). To someone who’s been on the receiving end, I assure you it’s just as painful to be called a prude as it is to be called a slut.
So how about this: instead of slut-shaming or prude-shaming, how about we just agree to start respecting each other’s sexual choices, whatever they may be? Because whether you are a Charlotte or a Samantha, everything about dating, sex, and relationships is hard enough to figure out without us tearing our own friends down..
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