30 July, 2010

This post is about sex.

It's true.

What kind of warped world do we live in when girls who don't sleep around are mocked? asks the Fail, referring to the earlier 'revelation' that some woman from Girls Aloud has only slept with two people.

Well now. I'm in two minds about this. Firstly, as far as I can see, there hasn't been any mockery. The news sources I've checked out have been fairly neutral (and most newspapers haven't mentioned it at all) so the article seems like an exercise in pointless hysteria. The way the article is presented is frustratingly puritan at times, bandying meaningless statistics about ("Research shows that promiscuity among the young is on the rise. People in the 16-24 age group have already clocked up an average of nine partners.")

"Promiscuity certainly isn't what feminism set out to achieve" says Rosie Boycott, one of the co-founders of Spare Rib magazine. And I find this a really interesting sentence: surely feminism set out to achieve sexual freedom? And doesn't sexual freedom include promiscuity?

See, I don't think sexual freedom is quite with us yet, not if this article is anything to go by. Because although the media has been uncharacteristically restrained about commenting on Ms Walsh's sex life, I have encountered an attitude (even among some feminists) suggesting that a woman who has had only a few partners is somehow missing out, or is sexually repressed. I know this because I have had the same number of partners as Ms Walsh: 2. Only one of those was a man. I am now married to him. I have been asked, on more than one occasion, whether I think I'll regret limiting my sexual activity to just one man.

Why would I? The interesting thing about human sexuality is how diverse we are in terms of our kinks and proclivities, our turn ons and offs. I've never felt compelled to have a large number of partners; I don't particularly want to go into detail but I'm perfectly happy with the partner I have, ta. I think the whole point of feminism as liberation is to give us this choice: to have as many or as few partners as we choose, to indulge our wildest kinky leather-clad fantasies or to make sweet love in a field of roses or whatever point of the sex/romance spectrum we find ourselves inclined towards. Hell, what about those people who just don't like sex? I've met a few asexual people who are perfectly happy not to fondle other people's floppy bits, and that's as valid a sexual choice as anything else.

So while the fearful puritanism that leads to the idea that more than four partners makes you an incurable slut, or the idea that a one night stand has to be unfulfilling and emotionally empty (and why should emotion come into it at all? What if you just want to fuck?) strikes me as weird and repressive, I'm also wary of the attitude that we should all have a few notches on our bedposts, and less than four partners means you're a frigid, priggish prude. We can't win, can we? We're either madonnas or whores, eternally.

That said, I really take umbrage with this:
Young women today want the same fundamental thing I did: a loving relationship of the kind Kimberley Walsh is lucky enough to enjoy.

How fucking patronising is that? "Now then dears, you might think all you want is a good fuck with no strings attached, but what you REALLY want is a nice charming prince to sweep you off your feet and make you his bride!"

Ms Boycott, I say this as a married woman: Kindly fuck off.


  1. Sexual freedom will be with us when people stop thinking that the number of people you've had sex with is unimportant. Some people enjoy sex with one other person, some like variety in their sexual partners, some people aren't interested. What matters is respecting another person's right to their own sexual autonomy - and if that autonomy involves living like a num or surpassing Annabel Chong's record (or anywhere in the spectrum) then so be it.

    Also - is the "who knew" comment smelling of nonsense, or is it me being suspicious?

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  3. oh great post - GREAT! We are allowed to be different and this should be celebrated too.

  4. exactly. women should have the freedom to have control of their sex lives - sleeping with 0, 2 65, 137 people etc etc if they like.

    the important thing is having the freedom to control and actively choose and consent to having the sex you want to have. as well as the neverending virgin/whore stud/slut dynamic, i think it is hard to be confident in saying no to sex you don't want to have. everyone has the right to have the sex they want to have, and say no to sex they don't want.

  5. I have been called both a "slut" and an "ice queen". Slut by people who either don't like me (don't like someone? assume their sexual behaviour!) or some religious person who goes "you've had sex with three men, only two consentual?! WHORE OF BABYLON", and "ice queen" by teenage boys. "HAY BBY WANNA BANG" "hey dickface, want to fuck off?" "u frigid bitch"

    I don't get it. If you have sex with ONE person, you're a slut. If you have sex with NO ONE, you're a frigid bitch. And if you have sex with anyone, you're popular.


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