A Public Shame
Question: I have had sex a lot for someone who is my age at 18. My friends all tell me it’s bad for me and that I should see a sex therapist. I know that having a lot of sex is bad, but I don't see anything wrong with it. It's not like I go out and have sex every other day and I have only had sex with 8 guys in the past 2 1/2 years. Do you think I have a problem or is it normal for someone my age to be like this? I'm so confused.
After you tell your close friends about your latest sexual encounter do they look at you like you just slapped a puppy? Do they say they are trying to be supportive, but are actually saying, “Burn the witch” under their breath? You are experiencing distress that many people experience when attempting to feel confident about their sexuality, but are met with misunderstanding and judgment from friends, family, and society.
Unfortunately, human history is plagued with judging, demonizing, and pathologizing female sexuality. From chastity belts to genital mutilation rituals to blocking access to gynecological care, if you are a woman, there are scores of people telling you what you should be doing with your vulva and vagina.
Despite some progress over the past few decades, women still experience many double standards when it comes to their sexual expression. If a woman wants to express her sexuality with partners, especially casually, she is a slut. What is the worst we call a man who does the same? A player? How devastating to the man’s self-esteem.
If you are having less sex than someone, you are a prude. If you are having more sex than someone, you are a slut. It’s a lose-lose situation. And since I assume you are having more sex than your friends, they seem to be engaging in some good ol’ fashioned slut shaming.
It seems as though your friends are basing their slut shaming solely on the number of sexual partners you have had. But frequency is not an indicator of unhealthy behavior. Having 100 partners could be healthy, whereas having only one partner could be unhealthy, especially if that one partner believes Satan invented birth control.
I wish I could say that slut shaming will be going away soon. But since it is so ingrained in our culture, it will take time for attitudes to shift. However, you should not be ashamed of your sexuality. You should not feel ashamed for wanting to experience sexual pleasure with different partners. It is society that should be ashamed for casting judgment onto you. So the next time your friends want to burn you at the stake for sluttery, be reassured they have the problem and not you.