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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Do good girls say yes?

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Author Topic: Do good girls say yes?
Heather
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I'm in the middle of finishing a piece for an anthology, and while I've read lots of topics over the years which bring up aspects of this issue, I wondered if y'all wouldn't be open to talking about it in a more targeted way while I finalize my thoughts.

While it's obviously usually something that nets complex answers, the question itself is simple: do you feel like young women -- including yourself -- are really allowed and encouraged to say a big, resounding yes to sex, and not just in certain conditions?

In other words, not that you have the right to say no, and not that you have the right to say maybe, or eventually cave, but do you feel supported and encouraged, when sex with a partner -- in ANY condition, not just with a longtime monogamous partner, for instance, or when it's on a partner's terms primarily -- is exactly what you want, on your own terms, and for the purpose of your sexual satisfaction, not just getting emotionally close, etc?

Do you feel like initiating sex with a partner is something you feel able to do, and aren't worried about sending the "wrong" message with? Have you ever literally voiced, to a partner, that you would like to have sex with them right now? Does that happen frequently? What if you never have done that. Why haven't you? Is it something you can at least imagine doing?

Girls in your schools with reputations as "bad" girls or sluts: where do you feel like that is coming from? Is it something you're worried about happening to you, or have ever been worried about? If you have been worried about it, what behavior or choices of yours have made you feel worried you'd be branded with it?

And for those who do or have said those resounding yesses, what does your big yes feel like? Does it feel good, or are you insecure about it?

Do you feel like there are places where you get a strong, clear message that a YES to sex from you -- when it is what you want -- is a powerful positive thing? If so, where are those positive messages coming from?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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(I should probably make clear that even though this seems obvious to me, I'm ONLY looking for female responses here.)

[ 03-07-2008, 03:40 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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September
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Looks like I'll go first. [Smile]

I've only really started to own my sexuality since I started seeing my current partner about 3.5 years ago. Before that, I never actually got the chance to say 'yes' to begin with. With him, I am able to say yes quite enthusiastically, on a regular basis, which I greatly enjoy and which I know is something he finds attractive as well. It makes me feel great, too. I like owning my body and being able to explore and enjoy all of the things I can do with it. It makes me feel incredibly confident and I just overall feel much more whole and content. And since I discuss my sex life within my relationship with no one but my partner, I've not really gotten any negative responses.

However, I have gotten those negative responses, in other situations. We've been broken up a couple of times and during those time, I've also explored my sexuality with others. I love to go clubbing and when I'm single I like to meet people there, and if the chemistry is right, I'll see how far it can go. For that, I've been criticized by friends, and I have been called a slut and I have had a bit of a reputation. The most extreme reaction came from the boyfriend of a friend of mine who treated me like some kind of circus animal once he'd witnessed my 'behaviour' at a couple of parties. He's insinuated that I am easy and have no standards, that I get it on with anyone at every opportunity I get, etc, and he seems to find this both appalling and fascinating.

I don't let those people deter me, though, because I know what is right for me. I get positive reassurance on this from my wonderful partner, my close friends, and places such as Scarleteen.

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Johanna
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cool87
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I've never really been the one who initiate the sex most of the time in a relationship and to be honest, I don't ever recall doing that. Maybe part of why I haven't yet might have been because I just wasn't confident enough to do so, was worried about how my partners might perceive me and there were times where I was scared that if I asked for some kind of sex, that my partners were going to want more and push me for more. Also, I think the relationship dynamics played some kind of a role in this, too.

I've never been called a slut although I had moments where I was worried about being called one because of some of the relationship I chose to engage in in the past.

As for where the positives messages come from, I'd say definatly Scarleteen and my friends, too although to a lesser extend.

[ 03-03-2008, 07:36 PM: Message edited by: cool87 ]

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ASargent42
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I find it quite humorous, actually, that because I am female, the fact that I have had over 5 partners is appalling and that I am labelled as a 'slut'. While if I were male, there would be nothing wrong with the numbers.

If i'm getting along well with someone, and there is a chemistry there, then I have no qualms about going quite far with them. I don't sleep around with just anyone, of course. And it's not just a willy-nilly, ooh you're hot lets bang. And I am usually the one to initiate things.

However, I am perfectly comfortable with the way I am regarding sex. Forget what everyone else says, it's not like i'm catching any diseases from my actions. I do protect myself. I like to think that most people are just jealous, and they want to be more comfortable with their sexuality, like I am.

Scarleteen has definitly let me know that it's ok that I am so open about my sexuality and sex life. I wish I could say the same about most of my friends, but I do have some great ones who could care less how often I say yes.

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Amanda
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Stephanie_1
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My past in consideration, its always been a huge deal that anytime I have sex I give a strong YES and never a maybe or a no. Its for this reason that before I decide that sex belongs in a relationship that we both sit down and talk openly and honestly about what we feel on the subject and any boundaries that need to be set must be and then agreed upon by both parties.

My boyfriend and I have a system together that when one of us is thinking about having sex we mention it to the other and let them decide depending on how their feeling. Because we are able to talk so openly with one another I have certainly been the one to initiate sex on occasions. It makes me feel very in control of the situation and of my body (Which for me is generally how I need to feel). Being the one to give an enthusiastic yes to sex is a great feeling for me simply having in my mind all the time that its my decision just as much as it is our decision.

Scarleteen is definitely the place that I get a strongest message that *yes* is a positive thing. I also see this reaction from my boyfriend and a few friends (one friend in particular that I speak very openly with as she does to me about her relationships). Generally elsewhere I still see from a lot of people that choosing that yes is for some reason a bad thing. I think its a bit strange that its more thrown at girls with the derogatory terms and less at guys. I dont think saying yes when we're comfortable and feel its right for us is wrong as long as we're being smart about taking care of ourselves it shouldnt matter to others what decisions we make together. It's *my* body and *I* know what I'm comfortable with.

[ 03-03-2008, 08:57 PM: Message edited by: Stephanie_1 ]

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

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hunnybunny888
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I have initiated sex many times and definately called a slut many times [Razz]

My ex boyfriend was the first person I had ever really done anything sexual with, and after that relationship ended, I guess I went on the rebound with a guy (just sexual) and realized "hey, this is kinda fun" the realization that being in a relationship really had very little to do with my sexual satisfaction was very empowering. After A few months I guess I kind of got bored of it again, since it wasn't fresh and new anymore, but the occasional random hookup (before my current bf) was a fun time. My friends are either generally encouraging about random hookups and think they are fun to do, as well as hear about, and the others don't necesarily engage in it themselves but are in no way condescending about it. There were a few people in my highschool who gave the occasional negative connotation, but I didn't really know them that well, and it didn't bother me. Probably the biggest problem was with my mother. She didnt really know what I was doing, but I guess she assumed since I was hanging out with different guys. She was convinced "the whole town was talking" (and we by no means lived in a small town, or knew many people there anyways) and that I was getting a bad reputation and no "good boys" would want me after this. It was rather hurtful, but I'm pretty used to irrational things from her, so I tried not to take it to seriously.

The guys I fooled around with did eventually call me a slut, I guess I provoked it a bit. There were a group of 5 friends, and I fooled around with 4 of them. The thing is, it was always the other friend who would initiate, and not just a random that happened when we got together, but a phone call and pretty straightforward asking, I assumed they were okay with it, but they ended up fighting alot about it. One of the guys confronted me, told me i was a slut,(as well as one of my other friends that had hooked up with a few of them) and assured me that they were all talking about me and laughing. I didn't really care, he was being really immature, but what really shocked me was that they acted as if I wanted something emotional, or I thought it was something more meaningful than "just a hookup". In reality they probably thought of it as more significant than I did since it upset them so much, and after we stopped hanging out, so did they. But they assumed just because we were female, that we didn't know it was only about sex.
It was an odd experience I guess. It wasnt really until last year that I started feeling pressure to be "prude" persay, I'm not really sure why, I guess it was a nice excuse not to have to hook up with anyone.
When it comes down to it, sometimes the comments can be hurtful, but it really doesn't bother me, people gossip and condescend everything, not just sexual stuff, so it wasn't any big news to me

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Heather
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Thanks for these replies so far, ya'll. Today is my day to finish that piece, and this is helping round things out for me. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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eryn_smiles
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Hunnybunny, its interesting how you say your mother was convinced the whole town was talking and that no good boy would want you.

Really reminded me of my mother when i was at high school. Except that she was more conservative. I know its cultural but I wasnt to go out with a guy alone or touch/kiss anyone in public or even to wear a short skirt- the whole community would talk...and then no good boy from a good family would ever want to marry me. Apparently.

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September
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I got the exact same sentiments from my other, too. She's been very concerned about the fact that I am 'ruining' myself for the decent guys, and also that I am ruining the experience for myself. Apparently, the more meaningless/casual encounters I have, the less I will be capable of having meaningful encounters/deep connections.

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Johanna
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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Heather
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I feel like I'm seeing a division in a lot of these responses that's kind of putting more casual sex, and sex in the context of committed or long-term relationships in two different boxes.

Are they in two separate avenues for all of you when we're talking about not only saying yes to sex, but also initiating sex yourselves? Is it more or less okay in one area than other -- for you, but also for how you feel treated (by peers, parents, partners, etc.) when you say yes and/or initiate?

Are there situations -- exempting situations where you simply do not WANT to have any kind of sex or a given kind of sex -- where it feels more okay to say yes or initiate than others?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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September
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While there is no difference for me in terms of how I feel about initiating sex, I definitely feel like the two different scenarios are received and judged differently by the people around me. Having sex in the context of a committed, preferably even long-term, relationship is something that's deemed perfectly okay. In fact, it's pretty much a given, within the groups of people I associate with, that it will be assumed you're sleeping with a parter once you've been with them for a few weeks or so. Casual encounters and One-Night-Stands, on the other hand, still have the air of something 'dirty' and morally questionable.

What I think also plays into this is the fact that ONSs tend to be ... somewhat public? For me, and for most of the other people I know who've had an ONS, it's something that starts at a club or at a party, and is witnessed by an entire circle of friends. These people may not know when or how often or how you are sexually active with your partner, but there's not very much left to the imagination when they see you disappear with a stranger. And this constitutes high drama: it'll be discussed all night long, there'll be speculations and whispering, and by the next morning everyone and their goat knows. So basically, with casual sex like that, our sex life is suddenly under the microscope. And that, I think, is a large part of what makes it harder to initiate sex in those situations, and what sets that apart from sex within a relationship.

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Johanna
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libertatissacra
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Honestly, I've always felt like I'm "allowed" to say yes to, and very much enjoy sex. Even my ex-boyfriend (my first sexual partner), who was raised in a pretty old-fashioned, traditional family, was surprised but pleased when I told him that I'd like to have sex with him. And this was after we were broken up, too. He said that me being the one to initiate everything took a lot of pressure off him to be the one to pick the "right time" and risk coming off as a sex-crazed jerk, and he wished more girls would be the ones to initiate sexual acts.

With my current partner, I'd say that things are pretty equal as far as who initiates sex, but I definitely feel comfortable being as blunt as just saying "Hey, wanna have sex?"

Throughout my life, a good percentage of my friends have always been heterosexual or mostly heterosexual guys, and most of them have complained to me that they sometimes feel like thoughtless horndogs around their girlfriends because they always have to be the one to initiate any sexual acts, and they wish girls would sometimes be a little more assertive and let them know that they want sex. So, I guess growing up around those kind of complaints made me feel like males generally want females to show an active interest in sex, and I've never felt weird or self-conscious about being the one to bring it up when it's something I want. I've always felt it was okay, and never realised that maybe some girls don't feel like it's okay.

I've been called a slut really only in sort of playful, joking ways by friends, and it doesn't bother me. Most everyone I know and choose to spend time with has pretty liberal views on sex for both sexes, and I've never been made to feel bad about any of my sexual choices or behaviour.

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orca
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We were actually discussing this today in my Deviant Behavior class. [Smile] We read an article by Jennifer L. Dunn titled "'Everyone Knows Who the Sluts Are': How Young Women Get Around the Stigma." It talks about interviews she conducted with 22 college women who expressed their concerns over being considered a 'slut' by their peers, how to avoid being considered a 'slut,' who they consider to be a 'slut,' etc. It also discussed the problem of the stigma associated with being a virgin and the stigma associated with having sex with a lot of people, and how to find the middle ground to avoid stigma. The women seemed to say that it was only okay to have sex when you're in a committed relationship, that that was seen as respectful. One woman said she could never be a person who dates casually and has casual sex. It was very interesting, and rather shocking.

It seems to me like that belief is rather damaging, the belief that casual dating or casual sex is bad. Casual dating is very essential, in my opinion, to forming healthy relationships. It helps a person explore different possibilities, see what they do and don't want in a partner, and learn more about themselves and how they behave in social situations.

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Kate Monster
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There's a heavy amount of cultural and social conditioning that I had to work past to get to where I am. As a young girl, I was more or less unaware that sex even existed. I never even got the vague "when a man and a woman are very much in love..." story. I knew as much to assume that some intimate act took place, but I never could have fathomed what actually DID take place. A great deal of this, I now realize, probably had to do with my catholic upbringing. It was when I moved out of state and started school at the age of nine that I learned what sex was- through a mandatory "family life class".

From then on, I was terrified of sex. I knew nothing of it's purposes besides churning out babies, and wondered why anyone would ever want to do such a thing. Over the next few years, I clung tightly to my fear and misunderstanding as I learned that sex also had- GASP!- recreational purposes. It probably didn't help that, at that point, I had learned most of what I knew from thirteen year old boys (hardly helpful or informative). What I knew of sex was that is was dirty, sleazy, that bad kids did it (or at least the rebellious ones). Sex was supposedly nothing but trouble, something that ended in STDs, pregnancy, and the dreaded loss of innocence. This lasted until I was about twelve or thirteen.

At the point where I entered middle school, sex was beginning to lose it's frightening mystery. Although popular media isn't always accurate in it's depictions of sex (rather, idealistic), it at least got me weaned off the idea that sex was scary, unpleasant and absurdly risky. I still could hardly see myself ever actually HAVING sex, but that would eventually change. Bear with little pre-teen me for a second. At that point, sex was the subject of crude jokes and the occasional hushed conversation about the weekend antics of my hard-drinking, drug-loving friends. Although it looked far friendlier than it had when I was nine or ten, I was still somewhat tied to the idea that "good girls don't", instead edited to "good girls of a certain age don't". I didn't see any problem in someone who was, say sixteen, having a go at it, but I thought my thirteen year old friends were just being stupid.

In hindsight, I think I was right about that, but for very different reasons (would you think that a kid in middle school was mature enough to have consistently safe casual sex?)

Around high school, things started changing. I wised up, and I loosened up. A lot. No longer clutching at the anachronistic concept of virginity (I left the catholic church at thirteen, which had a lot to do with it), I realized that the dogmas that I had allowed myself to live under were little more than fallacies. I realized four (very freeing) truths: So-called "good girls" can, and do. So-called "bad girls" don't necessarily. There is no such thing as a "good" or "bad" girl. And sex is a very, very good thing.

I've come a long way since I was a trembling fourth grader watching a movie on conception. I've taken great pleasure in checking out the intricacies of my sexuality. Finding out, over the years, what I like (everything from "vanilla sex", as deemed by the fetish community, to BDSM), who I like (in my sophomore year, I discovered that yes, I was bisexual and no, I was not just being "trendy") has been an adventure. I now know that sex is a wonderful thing, both in a casual context and in the context of a committed, monogamous relationship. After years of quaking in uninformed fear, I am finally able to say an enthusiastic "yes" to sex.

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bee_is_me
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I haven't had sex yet, but in my family, we've always been really open about sex. I know that when I finally DO have sex, they will be fully supportive and non-judgemental. I am also lucky enough to have been exposed to healthy adult relationships and to have learned that it's O.K. to say 'yes' and 'no' on your own terms and not someone else's.

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Typical Young and Dumb Teenager?
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Unlike some above, I have been exposed to sex, and I dont find that I can say yes without being judged by friends, family, and/or acquaintances.

Although my friends except me for who I am, I really DONT feel comfortable talking to them abou it because they arent sexually active like I am.

As for my family.. they are extremely judgmental, especially when it comes to sex (before marriage or at a young age at all for that matter). I dont see my dad or his family much so they still sees me as a young child, and on my moms side, everyone is strong catholics.
.. self-explanatory.

Acquaintances, from school, seem to always judge everyone. For some odd reason, if one person has sex with someone that particular person ISNT a slut, but two days later, if another person, who has been in a relationship just as long, if not more, with one person, has sex, they are automatically a whore/slut/easy or whatnot.


So, no, I dont feel like I can say yes to having sex freely, which is why I havent had 'intercourse' yet, although I have done other things, which I sometimes regret because of other people.

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Young and Dumb.
"Life is a balance of holding on and letting go." - Keith Urban

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Love-Life
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As a seventeen year old high school student, it is absolutely not okay for me to say "yes"... Anywhere a teacher can hear me. We are taught since grade school that "Abstinence is the only way to not get pregnant, or die from HIV"... Now, I mean come on, this is unrealistic thinking that I'm not going to have sex with my boyfriend. But, half the time me, having a boyfriend who is older than me is also a big "NO" from my teachers.

In my previous relationship I wasn't afraid to say "yes" and I'm not afraid to talk about it around a few of my friends, and I feel that my openness about it helps them feel comfortable to be open with me as well. But, its not like I only talk with my friends about sex. We talk about all aspects of our relationships, which helps us work out problems and make decisions.

My family would probably be supportive, but I'm not super comfortable talking about it with them. My sister knows that I'm sexually active, but she is a volunteer on here and I'm not worried that she will judge me. And my mom knows that I'm on the pill, so I'm sure she just assumes that I'm sexually active.

One of my problems in relationships is that I'm not very comfortable with men. And I don't really know why, but the fact is that in the first few weeks of a relationship it is hard for me to stand my ground. I feel that it would be easier to just agree with whatever my boyfriend wants. Now, I don't do this with important things that could potentially harm me (such as unprotected sex). I definitely am able to say "yes" or "no" to situations like that. But if I'm tired, or just not in the mood, I'm not so good at saying what I want.

Once I get to feel like I can really rely on the person I'm with, then I can feel more open to telling them what I do and do not like and when I feel like having sex. And I do feel comfortable initiating sex and it is very well received on his end.

I think, and I know that most everyone here also knows, that the school system is flawed in the fact that they will not accept the fact that sex is okay and healthy. So I feel very uncomfortable even saying the word sex in school.

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AM
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Realizing your piece is already completed, I'll go ahead and weigh in on this topic since it's one I'm very familiar with.

Yes, I said YES many times, assertively, and on many if not most occasions was the one to initiate sex. Even as a teen I was very comfortable in owning my sexual identity, however, society wasn't too cool about that. Nor were many of my peers. The terms "whore," "slut," and "promiscuous" have been attached to and thrown at me so many times that they'll probably be included in my frickin' eulogy.

I've had many partners over the years, a lot more than most of my female friends, probably many more than my guyfriends as well, and I'm not ashamed of that decision. Protection was used and birth control pills were taken as prescribed, so no STIs, STDs, or pregnancies resulted from my "indiscretions."

With that said, yes, I felt comfortable saying YES under any circumstances or in any situation where I so desired (all that I can think of anyway). Does it feel good to admit that? Yes, and it has had positive impact on my life as a woman in many ways.

BUT...society can be cruel. Not that that stopped me from living as I felt was right, but it definitely left its mark over time. Now days, I continue to feel sexually liberated and at peace with my sexual wants and desires, and able to express them, but I've become much more cautious about how I share myself with and enjoy others. While it might be my idea and I'm cool with who I am, that doesn't mean my partners are always (or even usually) of the same mindset. Respect is tantamount in my eyes, whether the sex is casual or experienced within a loving relationship. And unfortunately, respect seems to be short supply these days. What may start out cool and seemingly mutual doesn't always stay that way once the sex has been had. I'm learning to select my partners much more carefully these days, preferring men who show a genuine appreciation for women as partners and people not just in what they say but in how they choose to live.

Posts: 5 | From: Midwest, USA | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TheFlash
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I don't think anyone is "Good" or "Bad" because of what they do sexually. It's in our nature to be sexual because that's how animals and plants reproduce. Without that, we wouldn't be here so how can that be "Bad"?

That said, we have a choice on how we act and if how the world is impacted by our actions. Some people think acting on our sexual desires is "Bad" and that's okay for them. Other's think it's "Good" to enjoy their sexual desires and that's okay for them too.

I think there is more to this issue and it is often ignored. If you respect other's choices, are careful about your actions (wear a condom, get tested for disease so you don't spread it to others, etc.) and you are open and honest so others don't get hurt emotionally as well as physically, then I don't see how anyone has the right to label you as "Bad", even when that's not the choice they would make. Judge not lest ye be judged and all.

I'd like to think a topic as important as morality is more about how you treat other people and all the living creatures in this world and much less about what is going on between your legs.

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Justice League Member

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lozzy57
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I find I'm personally able to give a big YES when I want sex. I've been critised in the past for being too 'easy' or a 'slut' because I was the one who initied sex. I've found that many girls can find that intimidating to them, and also some guys. But I think it's great that women can feel empowered enough to initiate sex. In fact, I think that unless you CAN say yes straight away to having sex at that particular time then you shouldn't be having sex, either at that time, or possible with that partner.

No one should have sex when they aren't comfortable, so if they're having to say no and being worn down, or a maybe, that means they're having doubts and this is obviously a bad thing, possibly meaning being pressured into sex.

I think that anyone initiating sex is clearly empowered, and as long as they're taking the right measure to protect themselves then good on them!

I've been called a slut before, and probably will be again, but my friends realise that this is who I am, and support me for what I believe in, which is what friendship is about - accepting people for who they are.

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Chin up darling - knock yourself out!

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bluejumprope
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I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to answer. (I also just ordered Yes Means Yes for my library, and can't wait to read it).

On the one hand, this seems like more of a straight women's issue to me, and I'd be curious to hear more from queer women about their experience with this from within queer relationships. I was out as a lesbian in high school and had mostly male friends, and so I think I partially got the guys privilege here. I actually didn't have that many partners, but I definitely received (and helped cultivate [Embarrassed] ) the image that I was a "stud." My friends thought it was cool that I had sex with girls, and joked about it in that locker-room way. My role models were sexperts like Susie Bright, Carol Queen and Tristan Taormino. So no, I never worried about being labeled a slut. I thought of myself as a slut. It was a source of pride and made me feel sexy.

On the other hand though, in actual relationships in high school, I felt extremely ashamed for wanting to have sex. At the time I used the word "pedophile" to describe how I felt with my partners. I felt like a dirty old man, like I was sullying young girls (these were all same-aged partners btw, or a year or two older than me). Even though I had these sex-positive role models, and had read all this erotica written by women, and saw the statistics about women masturbating etc., I still felt weird with my partners for masturbating and for wanting to have sex. I easily talked about masturbating with my guy friends, but with my partners it felt shameful.

My first female partners didn't masturbate, were pre-orgasmic and for the most part had long sexual abuse histories. Around them, I felt like my sexuality was weird, gross and potentially abusive. I kept expecting to have female partners who were just as happily slutty as me, and then when my girlfriends didn't already masturbate or whatever, me saying I wanted to have sex felt like I was suggesting rape, or some bizarre activity only men like. With my longer-term partners (actually, one of them started masturbating and having orgasms with the support of Scarleteen articles, so kudos to Scarleteen), it became easier to say I wanted to have sex, but I still had a lot of shame.

It was only really when I started meeting people online specifically for sexual relationships that I felt like my desires with a partner were really "normal" and appreciated.

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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