One comment that shows up repeatedly here goes something like this:
Why don’t you like sluts?
How can you be supportive of sex-work and yet rail against sluts?
Why aren’t you more sex-positive?
Why are you such a prude?
This article at Slate, about women who are out-bro’ing the frat bros at the illustrious Princeton drinking hole called the Tiger Inn, got me thinking about slut-culture, and I feel like I haven’t done a very good job explaining what it is that I find so off-putting about it. Either that, or some readers are just retarded, which is also possible. Let’s split the difference and say I’m been remiss in explaining my slut POV and some people are stupid.
Tiger Inn members like to get naked, “strum ‘penis guitars,’” projectile vomit competitively, and slather their dog food- and live goldfish-consuming pledges in ketchup, maple syrup and egg yolk. Last year, more women than men applied to join the Inn for the first time since the club became co-ed in 1991.
In the words of Princeton student Caroline Kitchener, The Tiger Inn is a place where there is no pressure for a “girl to be a girl”.
Well, if they’re not girls, then what are they?
According to writer Katy Waldman, they are “hyper-dudely”. Hyper-dudeliness requires some specific actions:
…pounding back shots, dancing on the bar, going home with someone you don’t care a lot about, and meeting your friends for brunch the next morning in your sweatpants…
At least Katy was objective enough to add the word “hyper” to her stereotype of men as drunk, uninhibited, slutty and slovenly. It’s the natural state of men to do and be these things, but some men REALLY go to town with the whole charade and “hype” up their manliness. Tucker Max, anyone?
You’ll note that Katy doesn’t ascribe any of this to the simple state of youth, or what for many students is no doubt their first taste of freedom. It’s manly to toss back shooters and dance on the bar, and when ladies do it, they are “not ladies” and “hyper-men” instead.
Le sigh. I wonder if Katy saw this neat little experiment in England where an attractive young woman propositioned random men for sex just to see what would happen. Wearing short shorts and her hair long and flowing, Andrea asks men “do you want to have sex with me?” The first guy she asked got so angry he called the police on her! Fully half the men turned her down flat.
Even the men who played along seemed suspicious, questioning whether she was drunk or planning a robbery. Not quite the unambiguous pack of raging boners the media likes to portray.
Turns out that the whole “random sex with people you don’t know” isn’t particularly good for anyone’s mental health, and that includes men, too.
…the results show that “casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress.” There were no disparities in gender when it came to the impact of casual sex.
Again, not quite the story the popular media likes to tell about random sex and sluttiness.
A routine critique of the word slut decries the fact that it is generally only applied to women, although I personally experience no dissonance using “slut” to describe promiscuous men. The general idea is that women can have sex anytime they like, and men can’t. Almost any woman can walk into a bar and walk out with a willing sex partner, while men can’t do that. No one seems to consider the fact that perhaps women are willing to lower their standards, while men are not. Andrea’s experiment demonstrates, if anything, that no, women cannot just randomly proposition men for sex and expect a 100% success rate. You can bet if Andrea has been less attractive, her acceptance rate would have been considerably less than 50%, and I suspect the inverse – an attractive man propositioning women, under the right conditions – would have a similar success rate.
No doubt, you have heard of the Clark and Hatfield study in which men and women propositioned each other for random sex, only to have ZERO women accept the offer, while 75% and 69% respectively of the men agreed to casual sex.
The studies took place in 1978 and 1982.
A few things have changed since then.
Oh my god, those jeans! Look at those jeans! How did anyone get laid?
Professor Terri D. Conley of the University of Michigan decided to take another dive into men and women’s willingness to have random sex with strangers, looking at what factors contributed either negatively or positively to engaging in sluttiness.
A few intersecting things came to light:
Both men and women perceive women to be less risky partners. Very few men were willing to have random sex with other men (duh!) but plenty of women were open to sex with other women, even if the women did not identify as homosexual.
I think there is a huge part of the conversation missing when we discuss “risk” and the differences in how men and women perceive that. It is not necessarily that men perceive there to be a lower physical risk in sex with women, but probably more likely that men feel they can deal with any bad situation that arises.
Why would women be open to sex with another woman? Because they feel that in a one-off encounter like casual sex, they are more likely to be on the receiving end of pleasure.
…both women and men agreed that the female proposer would be better in bed, thought the female proposer was warmer and had higher status, and thought the female proposer would be more likely than the male proposers to give them gifts. Men and women also believed that female proposers were less likely to be dangerous than male proposers. In sum, both men and women agreed that the male proposers are less desirable than female proposers on dimensions of relevance to sexual encounters.
Here is where it gets really interesting. When women are presented with Johnny Depp (attractive) and Donald Trump (unattractive), their willingness to engage in random sex with an attractive partner leaps up to match men’s. The men were given a choice of Angelina Jolie or Roseanne Barr, and I doubt I have to explain how that went!
Here’s the headline — differences between men and women in likelihood of taking the proposer up on the offer was a whole lot closer. For the proposition by the attractive person, women were at 4.09 (2.16) to 4.16 (2.56) for men — just about a tie. For the unattractive celebrity, men were at 1.43 (.84) to women’s 1.71 (1.61) — women were higher. For the unknown person, though, no such effect. Women were at 1.86 (1.38), men were still at 3.52 (2.06). Women were only marginally more interested in the offer from a stranger than from a man generally thought ugly. Men were almost as interested in the random stranger as Angelina Jolie. The short fling results basically track this, with the fact of celebrity seriously closing the gap between men’s and women’s interest, and the gap for a stranger remaining wide. The appeal of the offer follows the same pattern: little difference in men’s and women’s response to the unattractive celebrity, little difference in their reaction to the attractive celebrity, lots of difference in their response to the stranger.
What’s the key thing here? STATUS
College campuses are a great place to meet men with the status you are looking for, and who could be of higher status than a Princeton Man? Ladies who think that joining the boys for projectile vomiting contests and beer pong is a great strategy to attract high status males are utterly free to do so.
Go right ahead. It won’t work, for anything MORE than random hook-ups, but some people just have to learn everything the hard way, don’t they?
Here’s where slut culture really gets to me: most women KNOW, they just KNOW, that being a slut is NOT going to work when it comes to encouraging a relationship. Guess what? Most men know that, too. Ergo the fragility of their mental health. Hook-ups aren’t good for either MEN or WOMEN.
Some men don’t give a shit. They are not looking for a relationship and a random blowjob from a hot drunk girl is good enough. Good for them. Some women don’t care either. They are not looking for a relationship and a muffin dive from a hot drunk guy is good enough. Good for them, too.
But that is NOT what most women want. 85% of college women want to be married by age 30. They want love, family, lasting, committed relationships.
And most women know damn well that men are not keen on marrying sluts. Very few are willing to admit to just how many sexual partners they have had before marriage.
Most women feel terrible after random sex, and most women want to get married eventually and KNOW that random sex is not a great way to go about it. But they are stewing in a sea of sluttiness that tells them their instinctive preferences are wrong and prudish and confining and crippling because PATRIARCHY.
Look at this piece from Jezebel, called “How to Be the Perfect Slut”. Being a slut is synonymous with liberation and self-actualization.
Having however much sex you want, with people you may or may not know very well, should be enjoyable, it should be easy, and it should never make you second-guess yourself. In other words, it requires that you’re comfortable with who you are and what you want, and capable of communicating both of those things. It requires you to have reached a certain level of self-actualization and self-assurance.
Never second-guess yourself
And that is what I HATE about slut-culture. The writer at Jezebel, Callie Beusman, even admits that she wasn’t a very good slut, because she couldn’t shake that desire for a relationship to go along with the sex and it left her mentally distressed.
I wasn’t there yet, so I sucked at being casually promiscuous. I projected my anxieties about myself as a person onto the “relationships” I was having, and it put me in a state of mild psychological distress.
Rather than believe her needs and desires for sex within some sort of defined relationship is natural, normal and that ultimately, her own instincts would serve to protect her from psychological distress, she decided that she was wrong. That her needs were wrong. That her desires were wrong. That her mental distress was actually wrong. She was wrong to feel bad. She was wrong to just be herself. She was wrong to have her own wishes about how she wanted to act and behave.
And more importantly, she was a traitor to her beloved ideology.
Taking up the Mantle of Sluticity is not always a simple task, because it’s caked with centuries worth of fears and myths and horrible assumptions re: sexually active women. So how does one even go about being successful at casual sex without experiencing emotional consequences? What makes The Perfect Slut?
Sex without emotional consequences. Everything without consequence. Feminism: the radical notion that women should do anything they want without consequences.
And even when that consequence is feeling terrible about yourself, well, change your mind and get into sluthood, girl! The carousel will set you free!
If the only thing that ever happened was bunch of spoiled college girls ended up feeling shitty about themselves, I really wouldn’t give a shit. Too bad, so sad, welcome to life, ladies.
But there are some very real consequences for women who throw aside their own deeply felt requirements for physical relationships, and it’s not just women who must abide them.
When women can’t quite quash that feeling of utter loathing, they look for someone to blame. No consequences. Not for women, anyways. Who do they blame?
Oh, hello date rape. Men go to JAIL and have their lives destroyed by women who use some tequila generated courage to overcome their most basic impulses to reserving sex for the highest status males they can attract, and women end up feeling even more victimized by their own actions.
And even more tragically, very young women who buy the slut = liberty fairytale end up dead by their own hands when the magical castle of easy self-fulfilment they were promised ends up being a nightmare of never-ending terror.
How many women at the Tiger Inn are there because they feel like doing shooters and dancing on the bar and blowing random guys is just good clean fun? They don’t give a fuck? How many?
And how many are there because they have bought the story that men are drunk, wild sluts who know the true meaning of freedom and if they want to taste freedom it comes in the flavor of cock?
Sorry, that was crass, even for me, but this whole cultural story just makes me so angry. I honestly have no problem with women who truly enjoy the art of the random hook-up. The zipless fuck. No strings attached sex. Not that you need it, but you ladies have my complete and utter blessing. You’re chum that might attract the big sharks, but you will never land one. Leaving the waters clear for women who actually respect and understand their own psychologies and bodies and who are not willing to compromise themselves in the name of ideology.
Very young women are… well, young. They need guidance. Reassurance. They need love and support and friendship and kindness, especially from other women. That begins with respecting who they are and how they want to share their bodies.
Telling women to go ahead act slutty because it’s the surest path to self-actualization and fulfilment, when that is just what women do NOT want to do is more than cruel and stupid and thoughtless.
And it’s a hallmark of feminism. I’ve said it before, but I am beginning to believe I can’t say it enough.
Feminism HATES women. Young women, especially. The ones most in need of the protections of older women are the ones targeted to suffer the most. Sluttiness is cast as a moral victory over oppressive social norms that keep women from behaving like the fantasy of men feminism has concocted.
It won’t last.
Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Lots of love,