Friday, 10 October 2014

Slut shaming. (Yes, this blog is about sex.)

One of my favourite movies is Easy A, in which Emma Stone's character Olive pretends to sleep with guys from her school, at first to help out a friend, but then because she is offered some perks, mostly money (and weirdly gift cards), but no one loves the fact she's taken The Scarlet Letter pretty literally. It works out for Olive all the same, she scores the guy and reconciles with those she's hurt on the path to self reconstruction.

I'll be honest here. I cried through about half of Easy A. Because. Slut shaming.

Nothing about Olive's character shows any sign of lack of self respect. She makes her own decisions, she stands up for herself, she speaks her mind. But, unlike her actual sexually active friends, Olive's sexuality is present for the world to see, a-la sexy corsets and rumour mills. But she's still a scarlet woman, because of how other people see her.

Laci Green, who is simply amazing, spoke in response to a Jenna Marble's video called Slut Edition. Jenna expresses that she only judges women as sluts depending on how many men they sleep with. Or something. You can listen to Laci's video here. She breaks the video down to define Jenna's view of sluts:
-they don't respect themselves
-respecting yourself means "not having a lot of dicks in you"
-they are really just stupid women and their behaviour don't deserve our respect.

It's all relative.

Laci is totally pro happy, healthy, safe sexual relationships. With whoever you want.

Jenna, not so much. Society is pretty much on Jenna's side.

This, I think, is where slut shaming begins. It stops being about personal choices and starts being about morality.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and those who buck the trend and make some calls are suddenly joining the club of Olive and Laci. Taking the sides of sluts.


The reason I wrote about this is basically because I've been trying to define how I see sexuality, and to be honest, it is really tough. I have written before about the purity myth and how I feel about relationships and Christianity. But I don't think I've tackled this because I've never been able to really voice it properly. So, here are some thoughts from me about sex. Because, well, who doesn't like talking about such things?

I'm going to be really really honest here. Apologies in advance.

Spirituality and sexuality is important. Guilt isn't.
I have signed purity pledges, I've made promises and boundaries and all sorts of things to make me a better person who won't engage in any form of sexual activity, even thinking about it. I know of some weird pacts college friends agreed to around masturbation. I've watched my friends, several of them, struggle with their own sexuality for a long time. And I think part of this is really about guilt, about misinformation and about moral panic setting in.

I have read the books. I know how I'm supposed to be kind to my Christian brothers. I happily wear 'non cleavage tops' (you know what I mean). I make cookies, I don't flirt, don't touch, don't give massages (though I knew someone who did this all the time and I was like 'ugh, really?!), give those weird side hugs so no one comes into contact with my breasts in any way. I don't talk about sex, I can't laugh at anything inappropriate in the movies, I don't know what I don't know.

And all of these things are really not who I am, or ever have been, except the cookies. I just really like cookies.

When I have broken the rules, and I have, countless times, it's me who gets called out. For leading someone into sin. Being reminded 'we're supposed to be Christian'. For not wearing something that resembles a potato sack. For doing something that suggests that 'I've probably had sex before'. For having 'problems with boys'. That we should stop having sex until our relationship is on solid ground. All of those things, all of them, point to one fact: I am a bad, bad woman. And I mean that in a totally non kinky way.

In reality, I think, in comparison to other people, I made some reasonably good choices. I've only really had my heart broken once. I went to two parties in high school that were actually parties and not dinner at Pizza Hut. My first boyfriend broke up with me because I would only kiss him. I was a good girl, and always had been, but I had sex, and that made me bad. It meant my soul would lose it's stickiness, that some future husband would have to unwrap a gift that had already been used by someone else (yes, really), that I had no self control whatsoever. And all of this comes back to guilt and society's view of What a Girl Should Be, and in this light, yes, I'm happy to say, I'm fully prepared to be slut shamed.


Sexuality is about relationships. Or, you're selfish and possibly a slut.
I don't know whether I'd call it a lie, because it isn't, but basically the understanding is that you're a slut if you're sleeping with someone you're not committed to, unless you're a man, which is different. To have sex with someone randomly is not something we embrace as a society. I'd like to say it's because it is unsafe, but it's mostly because we see it as something that is not something good girls do. Slut shamed, right there.

While we are on it... the Friend Zone is part of this. On behalf of women, I'd like to say that Friend Zoning might be a thing, but if you're coming with ulterior motives, you deserve to be friend zoned. You can read a lot about this stupid thing guys came up with to make themselves feel better, but there is a really good blog written by a guy about this very topic here.



No one else gets to choose about your sex life, except you.
This is a truth I wish I had known a long time ago.

We, women and men, need to take back other people's preconceived notions of what we should or shouldn't be doing with our bits and start making choices about what's best for us in that moment. Who is responsible for your sexual wellbeing? One person - you! Not your partner, your friends, the nice staff at Honey Birdette, your church leaders. Those people can help you make decisions, but aren't an authority on who you are and what you need.

I don't want to say we should do away with accountability and suggestions of how we can do the right thing within our own brand of spirituality, especially because many people align their morals with religion, and sexuality does hand in hand with that. But no one really has the right to decide who's getting what and who with and where and when. Good for them.


Sex shouldn't be taboo.
Despite everything, there's lots of things about sex that aren't okay for us to know or talk about. Take 50 Shades of Grey. I read all of those books when they came out (romance writers will tell you they are kind of tame, and pro-sex people will tell you that the author's interpretation of the BDSM is harmful and hurtful) and it made it kind of okay to talk about sex, at least for a bit, even to say things like 'can you believe... OMG, butt plugs... he does what now?!' It's never really been okay to talk about sex, as far as I am concerned, until someone has lost 'The Big V' (as I kept calling it), and then I would be keen for some solidarity, no details requested (or wanted really!)


But.
It's all relative. These truths are only my own. I have no issues with people taking up challenges to stay pure, or stay away from porn or wearing clothes that aren't "suggestive". I have issues with slut shaming, and people using spiritual manipulation to drive others to submission or suggesting a sexually active person has no self respect.

If we think this kind of behaviour isn't going to lead to dangerous and inappropriate views of sex within the context of marriage, we are fooling ourselves. I wrote about this here.

I'm at a loss of where to end this, but in short, make up your own mind, because the only person who knows you best is... well, you.