An Obligation to Divulge
I feel as though today, what many idealize in women, as women, is the Carrie Bradshaw. The Sex in the City woman who is comfortable in her body, comfortable with her sexuality and comfortable sharing it with the world. It’s a good thing for a woman to share tales of her sexual exploits. If you’re having sex and you don’t want to talk about it, you must not be comfortable with the fact that you’re having sex.
My desire to avoid discussing my sexual history doesn’t stem from a fear of my sexuality. I believe it’s a matter of respect for myself and for anyone that I choose to be involved with, whether the relationship is of a sexual nature or not.
When female friends share stories about their sex lives, I feel as though it is expected of me to share details about my own. This makes me distinctly uncomfortable as it is really something I would prefer to remain private. As important as my privacy is to me, I still struggle with the topic every time it is brought up. Am I a failure as a modern woman, as a feminist, for not wanting to talk about my sex life? Does that mean I’m not empowered or liberated? Is it just my shyness and my Catholic upbringing holding me back, restricting my freedom once again?
The real reason why I choose not to share these extremely personal moments of my life is just that: Because they are personal.
My decision to keep this aspect of my life to myself is something that may be hard to understand, given the culture of openness that we live in, so in order to do so, I’m going to ask you to imagine a common scenario. It’s that of the twenty-something guy, hanging out with his buddies, telling them all the dirty details of his latest sexual conquest, while everyone jokes and laughs about the girl in question.
This DOES happen in real life. I have enough male friends to have listened to this conversation first hand more than once. And it’s a conflicting conversation to be a part of, let me tell you. There’s the part of me that wants to laugh and joke around with everyone else, be cool really, and not be “that girl,” the feminist whacko who’s so hell-bent on equality that she can’t take a joke. But there’s also the part of me who cringes, listening to extremely personal moments that happened between two people being shared and joked about without one of those people’s knowledge or consent.
What if that was me? What if those were my personal, private moments being broadcast so casually?
I think all women can appreciate the guy who doesn’t feel the need to brag about banging his girlfriend, friend with benefits, or one-night stand. To me, keeping silent on the topic shows maturity, class, and respect, both for women and himself. The man who keeps quiet is seen as a gentleman, at least by me.
Is it different for women? Why do we have to share stories about our sexual adventures to be seen by our peers as modern, liberated women?
I know that we say it’s empowering for us to finally talk about our sexuality in the open, after this was completely unacceptable for so many years. It can finally be acknowledged that yes, women have needs and desires too, and that’s perfectly normal and okay. And maybe we tell ourselves that when we talk to our friends about sex, we do it in a different context than men do. That men don’t mind if women tell their friends all about their sexual encounters. But that is a huge and unfair generalization to make. It forces men into a box, where they have to be okay with us talking about them, objectifying them, because hey, haven’t men been objectifying women for years?
Can you honestly tell me that it wouldn’t be just as hurtful for a man to overhear a woman saying he was a bad lay as it would be for a woman to hear the same thing?
Today we are evaluated so much based on our sexuality and there is so little we can do about it. People will judge you for much sex you’ve had, with how many people, and how open you are when it comes to talking about it. But as I see it, your sexual history doesn’t have to define you if you don’t divulge it. People can speculate as much as they want, but by not saying anything, you keep a little air of mystery about you, and they will never know for sure.
[Contributed by Alicia Bridget]