Damn you, Women's Studies! I come out of that class and just want to research feminist theory all day instead of doing the other 49 million things on my to-do list! Maybe I'm just a nerd...haha.
Anyway, we started class today talking about work - what is valued, what is acceptable, how are certain people treated in jobs, etc. Not surprisingly, the topic quickly turned to sex. Teachers having sexual relationships with their students, prostitutes, strippers and porn stars, there was even some talk of sexting (ohh to live in 2011...).
People used a lot of words. Degrading, sexist, objectification of women etc. But I kept thinking of the classic, colloquial words we use: whore and slut are the most popular today. And I sat there quietly, hungrily listening to peoples points, trying to figure out what I thought of all this. What makes someone a “whore” or a "slut"? Sending someone a sext? Wearing a low cut shirt (whether it's to get a phone number, a one night stand, or a tip while serving or bartending)? Dancing on a pole in a thong? Having sex for money? Having 3 partners...or 10...or 100?
So I thought, what does the dictionary think of this? Well, apparently, alot. Here are some of the things I got back from my search:
1. a dirty, slovenly woman.
2. an immoral or dissolute woman; prostitute.
Synonyms: adulteress, fornicatress, hussy, jade, loose woman, bimbo, floozy, harlot, hooker, hussy, jade, jezebel, malkin, minx, slattern, tramp, wench, whore
Okay…well that’s one of the most vague, subjective definitions I’ve seen in a while. Just to see, I typed in "loose man." Big surprise, I got no results except "Did you mean...ladies man?" Uhh...sure. Here are some synonyms I got for that:
Casanova, Lothario, Prince Charming, Romeo, charmer, heartbreaker, ladies' man, lady-killer, lady-killer, libertine, lover, philanderer, playboy, rake, seducer, skirtchaser, smooth operator, stud, wolf, libertine, womanchaser
First I thought, why the HELL do we get stuck with “tramp” and “hussy” and man get “charmer” and “seducer?”
Then, I had a light-bulb moment. Even in my Women’s Studies class, where everyone there considers themselves a feminist, women’s sexuality is still looked at as a passive act. Men are considered aggressive, women passive. We “give up” our sexuality, our virtue, our so-called purity, our power. It is 2011, and sex is still not considered an equal act. Our bodies are still not considered ours to do with what we will, but rather objects that we have to protect from abuse.
People kept talking about “objectifying bodies,” but I don’t think it is all about the body. It’s sex, and it’s gender. Sex for women “takes away our power” and “turns us into an object.” But men have sex all the time! Why do men keep their power after engaging in a sexual act but women don’t? Why is men’s power tied up in action and women’s in sexuality. If we “give away” our sexuality, is that all we had to give?
Also, if a woman has had…lets say 10+ sexual partners (depending on her age and the culture she lives in) she gets some side eye. If she has a one-night-stand, or several. We are taught that we should wait until the man in question respects us (through realationship or at times a marriage ceremony) before we “give it away.” But in a one-night stand, does the woman necessarily respect the man?
Why are women not considered human beings who have sexual needs, sexual desires and fantasies, that we have every right to satisfy?
Logically, I know there some pretty good reasons for this. Pregnancy is a biggie. Before birth control, there was no way a woman could have sex and not have a huge chance of getting pregnant. And since they were financially dependant on men, if the men didn’t step up to the plate they were pretty much SOL. Even now, with the pill, the patch, condoms, the ring, etc., there is still the chance of an STD. And there are emotional risks as well. Women literally secrete a chemical that makes us feel closer to the person we’ve slept with afterwards. It’s biological. So I get it.
But it’s 2011. You can protect yourself very well from pregnancy and pretty well from STD’s if you are smart. Wear a condom. Get an HPV shot. Don’t have sex with the guy that apparently gave that girl in your Psych class chlamydia. Don’t send random people naked pictures unless you want yourself all over the internet. Don’t expect to marry the guy you hook up with after you’ve been at Moonies until 1 am. Don’t use sex as a bargaining chip for intimacy.
If a woman is smart and safe about sex, why is there still a stigma? When a woman uses her sexuality, why is it automatically assumed that she has also given away her soul, her power?