Female Sexuality and Double Standards
By Colette Mansbridge - 2008.
Most of you are probably already familiar with this topic. If a woman sleeps with someone early in a relationship people might call her a slut. If she doesn't have sex men tend to think she is a sexual prude, playing hard to get, frigid or worse.
But whats wrong with just having sex WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT?
This is where postfeminism comes into play. Postfeminism is all about CHOICE. You can choose to have sex now, later or never, who to have sex with, not with, what to wear, what not to wear, what to do or not do, etc.
Complete and utter liberty. Afterall if we aren't in charge of our own sex lives, just who is in charge? We can't let "public opinion" and gossip control our sex lives.
Lingerie is an excellent example of postfeminism at work. On one hand it might seem like you're falling into a male dominated fantasy realm of lace, satin and silk... but seriously, since when do we associate men with lace, satin and silk? We don't. True, women's lingerie does seem a bit traditional, but technically it isn't. Modern lingerie as we know it has only been around for the past 200 years. Prior to that lingerie was relatively uncommon. Petticoats and corsets were for practical purposes or to create an hourglass shape, not for sex.
So the modern popularity of lingerie is only as old as say... the women's movement and Mary Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman".
Women therefore made a CHOICE to buy lingerie, to wear it and its modern popularity is therefore a result of women around the world making the conscious decision to buy "sexual fun wear". Its not the result of men forcing us to wear it. Its the result of sexual liberation on the part of women.
To some extent its also a sign of financial liberation that single, unmarried women go out and purchase lingerie with their own money, thus setting the tone and controlling the circumstances of their sexual encounters. Some women go even farther and buy and dominatrix outfit and a whip, but hey that's their CHOICE. It doesn't make them a slut.
Ever heard gossip about the office slut? Is she really a slut? Did she make some bad mistakes? Or is she really just romantically inclined and didn't realize the guy didn't feel the same?
The point is we, both women and men, are guilty of branding people the office slut when really the only inappropriate about it is the possible conflicts of interest it will create within the workplace.
Assuming conflicts of interest aren't an issue, its really nobody else's business.
Flirting tends to imply that a gal is interested in sex, but some women flirt just for the fun of it and have no intention of actually consummating. They just enjoy the act of flirting and such women are known as "flirts".
If anything that is the opposite of a slut. She isn't "slutting around" afterall, just talking.
Males don't care for flirts however because they end up feeling like they're being teased and are wasting their time on someone who is either hard to get or just playing with them.
But in the end who's to say the woman in question isn't really interested in sex? The dating situation is difficult for women. Traditionally women don't just walk up to a guy and say a pickup line like "Can I sit on your lap and talk about whatever pops up?" Women, even today, just don't do that.
So flirting is how some women meet men. They test the waters to see if the man is interested, check to see if he's funny or not, how witty and intelligent he is and use that as a sign of compatibility.
In the end flirting is great relationship tool and it should not be considered a sign of sluttiness. It is like a relationship litmus test.
If a woman watches porn, and enjoys it, does that make her a slut? What about reading erotic stories? Romance novels? Watching Sex and the City?
There was a recent study published in the newspapers which concluded that sexually active teens watch racy TV shows. The study compared teens who watched a variety of shows, including Sex and the City and determined that young women who watch racy shows are twice as likely to have a teen pregnancy. Please note that the TV shows are NOT to blame. The young women in question chose to be more sexually active, and they chose to watch racy TV shows. If we censored the shows the teenagers would still be getting pregnant anyway, they'd just be spending their spare time reading romance novels or erotic stories or whatever. The art doesn't create the teen pregnancies, its just a symptom of young women being more sexually active in the first place.
So censoring the things women enjoy isn't going to stop them from being sluts.
There seems to be a stereotype that if women are lesbian or bisexual that they must therefore be a slut. This is completely untrue.
Emotions can run high in any relationship and this is no less true for lesbian/bisexual relationships. We get emotionally involved, we get our hearts broken, we eat a whole tub of ice cream while sobbing in the bathroom. It happens to the best of us.
So sluttiness has nothing to do with it. Lesbians do benefit from the lack of STDs and pregnancy and it does mean they can be sexually free that way without the risk of getting HIV/AIDS or having a kid, but that doesn't mean they just slut around with whomever they want. Emotions are still involved and its not all fun and games.
Hypothetically if a bisexual gal cheats on her lesbian lover and sleeps with a guy, gets pregnant/etc. her lesbian lover would be justifiably upset about the cheating. If she decides to keep the baby it might be the glue that holds the relationship together and there could be a lesbian wedding on the horizon. (This actually sounds like a good movie plot. I hereby claim the copyright.)
The thing that really gets people going about the whole slut thing is when a girl cheats on her lover or has an affair.
I'd argue that when a girl does that (and please note guys do it too!) that its a sign that their relationship is down the toilet anyway and they just haven't told their partner.
Sometimes its difficult to tell a person and some people prefer to just cheat, make a huge relationship mess and have everything end in one big argument.
Its not a very sensitive way to do it however. Men have feelings too afterall. They feel betrayed. They feel like they've been too (and probably were). Its not fair to them to cheat on them and let them find out later.
In that event I feel a person has justification in calling their cheating ex a slut, and I mean that for either sex. If a male cheats he is a slut too. It would help if people just broke off the relationship and avoided the whole messy cheating issue. Grow some backbone and just end it.
"We are even beginning to reclaim sexist insults; the feminist punk bands of the 90s, collectively known as the Riot Grrrls, challenged traditional interpretations of the word ‘slut’ when they wrote it on their own bodies, and pop icons like Courtney Love and Madonna deliberately sexualise themselves to play with and subvert society’s virgin/whore complex." - Natasha Forrest.
"Our world developed as a patriarchy and, as such, women were relegated to the realm of sex objects, a fact which has disadvantaged our sex for millenia and continues to do so." - Natasha Forrest.
[T]he general idea that objectification of women = bad is a given in much feminist discussion. What some of these feminists fail to acknowledge is that self-objectification is an integral part of female heterosexuality. Whether it be shopping for underwear or dancing at a club, most of us get a thrill at the thought of being desired by men." - Natasha Forrest.