Some Girls Want Casual Sex
When I was a student, I partied a lot and had a lot of casual sex. For me, it was just a way to have a good time, to meet new people and have fun, without necessarily taking things to another level. I felt happy with what I was doing, but soon came to realise that people often thought that the reason I was sleeping around was that I lacked self-confidence or had some deep-rooted trauma, that I was trying to screw out of my system. I was seen very differently from my male friends who had a lot of hook-ups, who were just seen as guys who didn’t want to be tied down.
One memory which sticks with me vividly is a time when I slept with a guy on our first date, and after having done so, he took to psychoanalysing me, trying to get me to talk about some non-existent issues I must have with my parents. (The guy in question did then go on to praise Hitler and his oratory skills for ten minutes and told me I should listen to all of his speeches, leading me to back quietly out of his flat, and for a little while mull over the benefits of finding out a little more about someone before sleeping with someone. Then again, on which date does it become OK to ask, So, do you secretly have a crush on any evil racist dictators?)
Another was the time when a friend of mine, who had seen that I was sexting someone, took me aside and asked me “Why do you do this? You should have more self-esteem! You’re a cool girl!”
I didn’t have any deep-seated trauma, and I didn’t have any more of a self-esteem problem than most young women do. I just hadn’t met anyone I wanted to get into a relationship with, and in the meantime, I wanted to have fun, and have sex.
At the time, I remember being surprised that the old clichés were still so strong in today’s world. This was back in the time before I recognised myself as a feminist, and sort of assumed our society was past all of that. Before I realised how little these mindsets have actually budged. Sex is still seen as something men have to make women give them, something that a normal woman shouldn’t want to give away for free. This is the basis of a lot of our unhealthy attitudes towards sex, and the very foundation of rape culture. It justifies some men in thinking that they are entitled to sex, and can hoodwink women into it, tricking them with lies or drinks. It is also the mindset which explains why women that want casual sex are still regarded with some suspicion.
The ironic thing is that I wasn’t messed up before, but sleeping with people who assumed I was, and allowed themselves to treat me with disrespect, did mess me up. I didn’t get messed up until the outside world told me I was supposed to be messed up, and convinced me that I was somehow worth less because I slept with more people. It meant that I didn’t feel like I had the right to send guys packing when they treated me like shit.
The fact is, in our society, we often treat the people we sleep with badly. Less well that we would treat friends. Men do it sometimes to make sure you get the message that it was just sex, assuming that as a woman you, of course, had already made a Pinterest board to plan your marriage. I’ve had friends who took to ignoring me completely after we hooked up. And I came to accept this kind of bad behaviour because my sense of self-worth had been affected by feeling the eyes of society judging me, all the time.
Demonising women that sleep around actually prevents us as a society from having the kind of conversation that would mean women could demand better treatment from partners. The fact that they feel judged does take a toll on self-esteem, making out their promiscuity effects their worth knocks down their self-esteem. After a while, they begin to believe that wanting casual sex means they deserve to be treated with less respect. And that’s when women who sleep around might actually get messed up.