Slut, Virgin or Somewhere In-Between

How female sexuality is still being controlled by the patriarchy in 2022.


Writing by Anonymous.

I always imagined that I’d grown up in a really sexually liberated place and time. Women aren't stoned to death for adultery, contraception is free and accessible, and pornography provides a wide and varied sex education (for better or worse).


The sexual revolution for women in the 70s meant that they could work towards reclaiming their sexuality in the mainstream. For centuries, if not millennia, women have been sexually oppressed by religion, governments and communities which enforced patriarchal values. But for the first time, women were openly having sex for fun, with little associated shame! And in the 21st Century there is an endless supply of fun no-strings-attached sex to be had via dating apps like tinder, grindr, bumble, hinge and HER. So how could any of this be a bad thing…?


Well, the patriarchy is slippery and manipulative. As writer Van Badham writes, “the flipside to the destigmatisation of sex for women has been a sense of patriarchal entitlement to sex with women” (2018). At one point in time, women’s sexuality was censored while male sexuality was actively encouraged but now in the media women are hyper-sexualised and scenes in tv and film are much more explicit - this has been done under the guise of liberation “but the structures of production remain just as patriarchal” (Badham, 2018).


One key way men got their grip on the sexual revolution was with the popularisation of porn, which focuses heavily on male gratification and penetration. Female pleasure is primarily absent in the mainstream (or overacted and fake) and acts such as choking, which were once reserved for fringe kinksters, have been normalised.


I personally felt the overwhelming pressure of the hypersexualised noughties from a very young age. I developed a ‘sexual consciousness’ before I was 11 years old and discovered porn around that time as well. It would be a long 7 years between my sexual awakening and losing my virginity despite being desperate to do the deed from about the age of 14. It was a combination of horniness, societal pressure and a desire to seem ‘cool’ that made me so determined to lose it but living at home with my parents made things a wee bit tricky. So during my first week at university I got on tinder and got laid.


At the time I remember feeling like a confident, kinky, girl-boss goddess. I’d asked him over, I lied and told him I had experience and I felt safe. But it really hurt and I didn’t really know what to do. It was so uncomfortable I remember mentally begging him to finish. It took me a while for the shame to set in, but I felt gradually more upset thinking about the experience and then 3 years later found out that he had sex with one of my friends potentially the same day he shagged me. With hindsight, it’s unsettling that he was 24 and actively seeking out 18 year old freshers to sleep with, a power balance most girls fresh out of school are oblivious to. The mainstream conversations around casual sex hadn’t prepared me at all. I just knew I was a prude if I remained a virgin and I was super horny. I didn’t expect my first time to be an experience that would slightly haunt me for years afterwards.


Now almost 5 years on from losing my V-card, I’m in a long term partnership and my relationship to my body and sex is almost healed. I personally don’t think casual sex is for me and I’m at peace with that; I simply have better sex when I feel an intimate connection. Some (strong willed) friends of mine have chosen to remain celibate until marriage and at one point I saw that as feminism failed, but now I understand that the pressure flows stronger the other way. I pressured them myself (women can uphold patriarchal values too!) and feel horrified that I didn’t understand the implications of questioning another person’s bodily autonomy, and I’m happy they refused to succumb.


I worry about the girls growing up in this system who will have to learn lessons the same way as I did, by putting themselves in situations that don't make them feel good. But I know many women are like me, battling through the mistakes of their late teens and early 20s to gain knowledge. It’s a shame that many of us don’t enter adulthood with the confidence we need to approach sex for ourselves, even if that means abstaining.


Going forward, I hope there’ll be a shift in the conversation surrounding female satisfaction and how it's not as easy as just shagging every Dick and Harry (pun intended). But seriously, if I leave you with anything - it’s that hot sluts don't ever have to ever touch a penis to earn their title - their self worth and slutiness comes from within.



Bibliography:

Badham - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/02/thats-patriarchy-how-female-sexual-liberation-led-to-male-sexual-entitlement



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