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Girl Fight: Sluts vs. Prudes (via The Sexademic)

August 17, 2010

Recently, an excellent blogger, The Sexademic, posted on “the internet catfight over Susan Walsh’s critique of Jaclyn Friedman’s piece on reclaiming sluthood.”

Girl Fight: Sluts vs. Prudes One of the most difficult pitfalls of giving sex advice is dictating your own preferences and experiences to others. At one point or another, every educator doles their own biases when it comes to sex. I often struggle with making sure I don’t twist research data or cherry pick evidence … Read More

For me, there are some choice pieces of this blog that I found particularly pertinent and interesting:

I am weary of gender reductionist dating explanations. We all experience emotions. We all have sex drives. The only difference is how we are taught to interpret these. When you chastise women for their sexual desire while castigating men over their emotions, what happens? Females suppress their desires and males suppress their emotions. There is no biological impetus, only social.

Amen. I don’t care about your other reasoning for this – there is an inherent social construct to how we’re taught to behave. Good girls don’t fuck. And I’ve had enough (enough!!) of the idea that men like sex and want sex and pursue sex and can have sex more than women. I call bullshit!!

Everyone has their own sex drive. They’re different. That’s fine. But can we please (please!!) stop telling women that they’re not supposed to have one at all??? (You know this is true – for instance, men “will take it whenever they can get it!” because women “have a headache” all the time!)

Eschewing the relational and stepping into the casual as a possible means to empower yourself. This doesn’t mean that everyone should go fuck every stranger they see. It means that many women  can find breaking out of the mold to be personally liberating.

Oooo…  I definitely believe this. In fact, a dear friend of mine is living proof that this can be true. What would happen if women did what they wanted, deep down in the dark little corners of their souls, and not what society told them was… appropriate?

Sure, some are fine with societal norms, and that’s ok.  But others…. and the more you talk to women who’ve tried? The more you wonder how many…

I think men could benefit from recognizing their emotions and dealing with feelings of love in a more responsible way.

I think this is also true. It’s not just about women thinking outside the societal box. For crying out loud. I do think perhaps part of it is boys just run from emotion as opposed to dealing/expressing them.

If something is uncomfortable, leave it. Don’t, for the love, actually deal with it.

At the end of the day, dating in the modern world is difficult for everyone. We have the freedom to have sex without pregnancy or STIs and the rules of dating have changed drastically. Everyone is a little confused.

Maybe this is part of the problem? When a women does not conform to societal constructs  (e.g. is outwardly a sexual being), perhaps boys don’t know how to deal with her. In addition, everyone has their own insecurities, so maybe boys, incorrectly, allow their confusion to translate into feelings of inadequacy. And no one wants to feel inadequate.

Of course, were he more able to deal with/think about his emotions, perhaps he’d come to a different conclusion…

We should all support choice. This is what feminism is about. CHOICE. The choice to hookup, the choice to get married, the choice to live a life of solitude.

OK. Here? I would argue that this is important not just for women to make choices, and realize there are choices out there, but also for men to realize we’re allowed to make choices. They’re allowed to make choices too!  Of course this is a bit scary, because choices also mean trying new things, which means uncertainty – both in terms of yourself, and the other person. And, once again, this can feed into insecurity.

But… I also feel like boys are falling back on societal standards instead of moving forward. This is not just about women figuring this out – men need to, too.

What I (and some of my friends *ahem* Amy) have come up against is this: I am a women who totally gets this and agrees with it and lives it. Yet… this ends up scaring boys off – a reaction, I would argue, that is due far more to the boy’s insecurities and uncertainty than something I did – and there I am. Wondering wtf happened. And not getting effing laid.

Hop on board buddy(I might mean that literally) – or, if it’s not for you, move along. It should be that simple. It’s not. Not just because of women, but also because of men.


And stop slut shaming and playing the victim with misinterpreted scientific data. It drives me crazy.

This is the bottom line. We cannot, as women, allow the reaction of boys to inhibit our choices. To make us shame ourselves, call ourselves “sluts”, make ourselves wait, decide the reason he hasn’t called back is something we did – when it’s just his insecurities.

And it’s about CHOICE, not one sexual style or preference or relationship over another, so keep making choices. Keep embracing a world of possibility. Keep doing what makes you feel good. Remember: as Ms. Fischer points out, simply because the option to have sex is available to you, doesn’t mean you have to take it – so know yourself and what makes you feel good.  No-strings sex is not for everyone.

I think there is a final point that I haven’t made, that is central to Ms. Fischer’s, and Ms. Friedman’s, discussion. A point I whole-heartedly agree with:

I propose this: support your sisters. If one friend wants to wait until marriage, another doesn’t care about sex and a third gets a rise out of cruising on Craigslist, support them all. Help each other think through personal actions and try to be happy.

Amen. That’s the final piece. When the boys don’t get it, make sure you do. For you, and for the women around you.

Maybe one day they’ll catch up, but until then, we have each other.

And booze.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah or François permalink
    August 17, 2010 3:37 pm

    In sexademic’s post, this part rang a bell in my mind:
    “Females can be awful to each other. We are faster to call each other sluts, make fun of each other’s clothes, and make nasty comments about appearance and behaviors.
    We are our own worst enemies.”

    The same thing happens beetween boys. We could call this “shrimp bashing”, if you get the meaning (Being french, my analogies may not be perfect 🙂 )
    At school, boys always criticize unappropriate appearance, gestures and behaviors. They call sissies, fags, or wimps those who deviate from the norm. So every boy learns that the thing he must protect over everything else and at all costs is his status of man. Of course, showing emotions is forbidden. Even love was considered a weakness, for what I remember. No wonder, with such emotional awareness (as much as a 10 year old), that I retired from all social life for a few years passed 30. No wonder that I needed a lot of therapy to be able to feel again. I even started to pass through the mirror, as I thought life was better on the other side. Recently, Alice Miller ( helped me a lot to understand why it is so difficult to overcome such an education, one that a lot of men endured.

    In the past, I behaved exactly the same way. I was good at chemistry. Especially interpersonnal chemistry. I really sucked Those women my undecision frustrated, all this fun we did not share, this is so… not me.

  2. Sarah or François permalink
    August 17, 2010 3:59 pm

    Wow, that was not the right button… The last part should read:

    In the past, I behaved exactly the same way the men (boys) you describe do. I was good at chemistry. Especially interpersonal chemistry. I really sucked at acting in accordance to my feelings. Those women my undecision frustrated, all this fun we did not share, this is so… not me. This could have happened much better. Thank you for making me understand this.

    Your blog is great. Go on.

  3. August 18, 2010 9:24 am

    Thank you for your comment! I really appreciate your thoughts – and I am so glad to get some feedback from a man! I really do want to hear both sides of the story here, and it’s nice to hear other thoughts and views. It’s very interesting to hear there is pressure on boys, from a very young age, in both Europe and America – as there is on young girls – to behave in certain ways. And then, as the Sexademic says, we wonder why we act the way we do as adults.

    You really bring home the point to me that this is not a girl-thing or a guy-thing: We women can only do so much without men understand and also making some changes. Same goes for men. If we (both men and women) want to be more open with our sexuality AND our feelings, we all need to be on board with that to make real progress. BUT we need to take a look at these things critically, together.

    Thanks for reading!

  4. August 18, 2010 10:21 am

    Hiya! Yeah, I really appreciated that post at Sexacademic too!

    The amount of intense social conditioning and gender segregation that people go through really muddles up any purely “scientific” study of the biology of sex. And I by people extrapolating from fricking voles that OMG every penis in your vag RUINS YOU, LADY! YOU WILL NEVER FIND TRUE LOVE!

    Voles, people. VOLES. I also would like to point out that oxytocin is used to induce labor in dogs when they don’t produce enough of their own, and since we are as distantly related to dogs as voles…let me see what just so story I can make up here… ZOMG I’ve got it! If you have too many babies you will USE UP ALL YOUR OXYTOCIN AND THEN ITS ALL C-SECTIONS FROM THERE! Because Dogs!

    Also, I looooove how the gender essentialists ignore that male prairie voles also bond for life, hard core. They seem strangely unwilling to tell boys that their dicks will drop off if they are exposed to too many different ladies. Odd, that.

    I think that my deepest hope for real social change on the gender/dating performance front actually comes from the LGBTQ movement and the success they are having in changing social attitudes. Because LGBTQ people really show the rest of that yes, you can have equal relationships, equal marriages, you can be happy and safe having many sexual partners and it’s something for which there are no hard and fast traditional rules which is so exciting and liberating (and intimidating and anxious making) for the rest of us. So hell yes I hope that gay marriage will change hetero marriage- for the better! And the hazing that Sarah describes above will be harder when “fag” is no longer a terrifying mark against the “manliness” of boys, and “dyke” is no longer a meaningful critique against the gender performance of girls.

    I think lots of hetero-men are confused by their loss of privilege, and that translates into discomfort about masculinity, because when you can no longer define yourself as whatever is not a woman, (eg horny, capable, intellectual, emotionaless, whatever, you get it) then holy shit batman, you’ve gotta actually figure out who you are. The extended emotional adolescence of boys/men and their ability to make their partners do the emotional labor of maintaining relationships is (I hope) in its death throes. Growing up may be scary, but its about god damn time.

    • August 18, 2010 4:40 pm

      Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading!

      Dear god you’re hilarious.

      I hadn’t thought about your insight from the LGBT+ community, but I definitely see that. Plus, it helps blur the lines that have been used to put “men” in this box and “women” in this one – because anyone can play whatever “role” they want to. E.g. if two men can raise a happy, healthy child and have a happy, healthy marriage, then dear god! which one is the “nurturing and house-cleaning female” and which is the “bacon-bringing sport-playing male”?? Oh no! They both have penises!! We can’t tell!! Surely the child is fucked up and probably gay (it’s spreading you know!)!! But wait he’s not!! …. yeah.

      I have to agree with you, and believe many hetero-men are not doing well with changing roles, and with being forced (a little – since they typically weren’t the ones subjugated all this time, hence they’re not always the ones asking for change) to revisit how they see the world and who they are. But exactly your point: “growing up is scary, but its about god damn time.”

  5. Dave permalink
    September 13, 2010 7:07 pm

    I have been described as a frigid gay, in that I really do like men, and love the gay social scene, it’s just that I don’t want to have sex with them. Which has disappointed and hurt a number of them. Hence I suppose I am a frigid gay prude.

    But I do find it rather sad that women, unable to find the love and affection and sex they want from men, turn to one another, although if its sex you want then being the ‘slut’ with other women has a number of advantages – similar drives and needs, no worries about pregnancies, no male aggression or dominance, very reduce chances of catching AIDS and as most men find lesbians exciting (including me) they have the approval and friendliness of men around them without constant pressure to mate with them.

    It seems to me that the ‘sluts’ tend to turn to other women for satisfaction and happiness, while the prudes tend to turn to men, who expect to be rebuffed more often than not, hence the misapprehension that women are less sexy than men.

    Just a few thoughts from me. 🙂

    • September 14, 2010 4:13 pm

      Interesting view. I agree that some women turn to one another for sex, in addition to emotional support. I’ve seen it happen. I also agree that women use other women to get men – no doubt about it. However, I wouldn’t say this is the majority of female LGBTQ+ people.

      I also don’t know if I think it’s sad. I actually think sexuality is much more fluid than we allow it to be in this day and age (I’m more of a Kinsey sliding scale girl, myself). I also think some people care more about a relationship than about what might be their more preferred form of sexual encounter. Doesn’t really matter, actually. People should be happy.

      Finally, your final point is interesting. If looking to men to fulfill sexual needs means they’ll be rebuffed, what does that say about the gender stereotype that all men want is sex, no matter what?

      I do agree that it’s sad (and frustrating!!) if women can’t get what they want for whatever reasons. Hence this line of posts.

      I’m sorry you’ve been called a frigid gay!


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