‘So, did you shag?’ Kind of an intense question when you think about it, but in actuality, we’ve probably all asked it at some point. Post night out, post first date, post random encounter at a festival, it feels like a natural follow up question. On the one hand, we’re very lucky that sex is such an open conversation nowadays. It isn’t shameful, it isn’t scandalous, and it doesn’t have to revolve around a relationship. But I think there is also still a very formulaic approach to it. You either sleep with people or you don’t. In reality, I don’t think any one person has the exact same opinion on sex as the next, and so, the conversations around need it to be broadened. For something so deeply personal, is there really such a thing as too much or not enough?
Slut-shaming seems far too archaic for 2022. I’m sure many people would agree that women (as does anybody who the term slut may have been used against) have the right to do as they please. No one actually thinks like that any more, and if they do, then so what Unfortunately, slut shaming (like many aspects of sexism) is as much an attitude and a culture, as it is an unkind of turn of phrase. One example that highlights this particular culture is the concept of ‘bodycounts’ (which for one thing is the most morbid phrase going, please can we find a way of talking about numbers without it sounding quite sound murderous). On speaking with friends, many of them admitted that whilst they don’t regret the experiences they have had, revealing the amount of people they’ve slept with scares them. People might judge them! People might think that they were ‘slutty.’ Even if they’d enjoyed it or it had meant something to them. The fear of judgement from exterior sources is just too much to face. Slut-shaming culture is sort of ingrained in us – it’s something we have to unlearn. A girl having lots of sex, doesn’t necessarily mean they are promiscuous people who don’t care about intimacy. Girls who don’t have lots of sex also don’t have to be people who are ‘frigid’ – they don’t have to be saving it for marriage or desperately seeking a highly romantic encounter. Moreover, between these two types of girls, there are a million other girls who don’t fit it either of these categories because no two people have the same experience with or feelings towards sex, thus the idea that some is either ‘such a slut’ or ‘super frigid’ suggests that every single girl is just one way or the other. And it’s unfair to just categorise someone as a ‘slut’ or ‘frigid’ just because of your perception of their sex lives. In fact, it isn’t really anyone else’s business what someone else’s sex life consists of. To change our attitudes, we have to realise that we have them. And that’s hard but acknowledging that every person has a different approach to a very personal aspect of our lives is definitely a good place to start.
There is this immense pressure for both boys and girls, that they have to get it right. If a guy isn’t in a relationship, he has to have ‘game’. He has to enjoy casual sex. He has to fulfil this made-up criteria of what boys should be like and how they should think about sex. If a girl isn’t in a relationship, she has to make sure she’s not had too much sex with too many people, but she also has to know exactly what she’s doing because otherwise she’ll be bad in bed. What does this even mean? People are attracted to different things, so one man’s game won’t win them all. How is a girl meant to have had experience outside of a relationship, if she’s not meant to have slept with anyone in the first place? Surely, two people being attracted to one another and wanting each other in a moment, is enough. Ultimately, no one knows (or deep down really cares) what the content of your sex life is, so why are we so worried about having sex correctly? No one actually knows what the exact content of the ‘correct sex’ criteria is, because it is not the same for everyone because it’s personal. This pressure leads to a lack of conversation amongst boys and girls alike about their sex lives, because very few people daren’t admit that they don’t fit the idealised stereotype of a ‘normal’ twenty something year old. This pressure is so illogical. It is fine to to want have sex and it is also fine to not want to have sex. If your sex life is different from your friends’, that is, you guessed it, fine! It would actually kind of be weird if we all just mirrored each other. Really weird actually. Just have faith that if you are doing what you want in the moment (with consent of course!) or not doing anything at all, then that is what is right. It is just fine.
Ultimately, sex is just that. Sex. It can mean everything to you or not really that much. As long you are respectful of both yourself and others then that is the correct way to conduct your sex life. Your personal sexual choices should not be shameful. Listen to your friends, appreciate that they may view things differently to you and look out for people. There is no point being preoccupied by arbitrary ideas and rules about something that is so incredibly different for every individual. So did you shag? It doesn’t really matter.
– Ruth Hetherington
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