Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Oh, look! It’s time for the bi-weekly freak out about Young Women and Hook Up Culture.

The latest “ZOMG! Hook up culture is killing GRLZ!” article was, for a change, written by a feminist. Rachel Simmons is an advice columnist for Teen Vogue: http://www.rachelsimmons.com/2010/02/why-the-hook-up-culture-is-hurting-girls/ And she is concerned because many of the girls who write to her for relationship advice are unhappy with just hooking up and want actual boyfriends.

Now, as commenters at Kate Harding’s response to this: http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2010/02/26/hook_up_culture/index.html?source=rss&aim=/mwt/broadsheet/feature and Amanda Marcotte’s response to this: http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/its_not_the_sex_its_the_sexism/ pointed out within the first dozen comments, “Has Ms. Simmons not stopped to consider that girls who are happy with their relationships or hooking up are unlikely to write to her for advice?”

This was my first thought. Seriously, you give advice. People who are happy with what they are doing neither want nor need your advice. Your JOB is self-selecting you to hear only from girls who are unhappy. If I, and several other people, can figure this out, why the hell can’t you?

Now we get to the navel-gazey, anecdata history of my sex life.

I was raised in a household by parents who are still married, and if my mom wasn’t a virgin when she got married, I’m pretty sure my dad was the only person she’d ever slept with. There was nothing radical in my upbringing about sex. NOTHING. We just didn’t talk about it. Apart from watching the menstruation films in Jr. High at the special parents night, and asking me if I knew how my best friend had gotten knocked up at 14 and did I know how to keep that from happening? That was it.

Fast forward to my late teens early 20s.

I had consensual sex for the first time at 18. I can say a lot of nasty shit about that particular ex, but his sexual performance and caring whether or not I enjoyed it are not part of those nasty things. Having someone stop when I winced, and tell me that if it was no fun for me, it was no fun for him was nothing short of a shocking revelation.

After the discovery that, “Hey! Sex feels good and SHOULD feel good!” I set about tearing up the Seattle nerd scene. We had a whole incestuous little clan of our own, where we hooked up with each other, the girls pretty much regardless of gender, with impunity. I had a little black book, and would scroll through the numbers trying to decide who I felt like fucking that night.

Now, what I’m trying to say in my long rambly way, is that I “hooked up” a lot. A lot. In fact, I hooked up with my husband, after he’d hooked up with all my female friends, and after discovering that neither of us wanted a long term relationships, we fell in love and have been married for 16 years now.

Yeah, I’m not so sure how that works either. But it does. At least for us.

The point being that as I was happy with my relationship, or un-relationship status, it never occurred to me to write to anyone for advice on it. I mean, it was working for me.

But there were also girls that hooking up just didn’t work for. Some people are just not wired that way. I have a sibling, raised by the exact same parents, with the exact same no talking about sex, who is not wired for slutting it up like I did. And that’s ok, too. As Amanda Marcotte wound up saying repeatedly in the comments to her post, we should be about broadening the possibilities for women’s (everyone’s really) sexual experiences and autonomy, not limiting them to either putting out all the time, or staying “pure” at the behest of the men in our lives.

And that’s what a lot of younger Feminists who get accused of fostering a “Girls Gone Wild Feminism” are trying to get across. The fact that sexuality is fluid and diverse and young women should be able to experiment sexually, and be able to decide FOR THEMSELVES what they want to do. Does she want to “hook-up?” Good for her!!!! Does she really want to wait until she’s older or in a more committed relationship? Good for her!!!!

Should women cave to what some guy wants just to get or keep a boyfriend? NO. Absolutely not. Instead of bemoaning that putting out makes girls miserable (which it doesn’t necessarily), why aren’t we telling girls that they don’t need a boy to be happy or complete? Why aren’t we telling girls that yes, they are sexual beings, and sex feels good and they should enjoy it WHEN THEY WANT TO?

Because we’re still letting the Right write the cultural narrative about sex in this culture, and we need to stop doing that. Now.

More on that later. This is getting long, and it’s a school night.

8 comments on “Oh, look! It’s time for the bi-weekly freak out about Young Women and Hook Up Culture.

  1. staxxy
    March 2, 2010

    Not all of your female friends. 😛
    This is something I talk to my wee girls about in particular – you don’t owe anyone sex, and if you WANT TO have sex that’s completely OKAY. But only have sex if YOU actually WANT TO.


    • sarmonster
      March 2, 2010

      One thing I wish sex positive people would talk about more: I knew plenty of people(myself included) that WANTED to have sex at the time, but kept ending up with a lot of “WTF was I THINKING?” people in their lives. Once there is even an awareness that you might be chasing it down because of a driving need for acceptance, one’s choices are a lot clearer and healthier. “Do I want to do this because it’s going to be enjoyable for both/all of us, or am I doing this because I have a hormonal desire to feel wanted?”
      Once I’d discovered that insecurity demon and put a collar on it, I think my booty call not only got a lot healthier, but was also a lot more fun.


      • sirriamnis
        March 2, 2010

        That’s part of assuring girls that what they’re feeling is normal, and teaching girls that they can be sexual without being ruined, and nor do they have to want a relationship. They can just want sex.
        Seriously, the sexual narrative in this country needs a serious overhaul.


  2. mojrim
    March 2, 2010

    It’s all very well for us sex-cognizant types to talk of “clear desires” and “making informed choices” but that is not how the wider world works. Youngsters (<25 y/o) are overwhelmingly confused about both their own desires and their own better interests. For that reason society generally evolves rules to protect them from themselves and those around them. Information, of the kind you tend to proffer, is worefully insufficient for the average suburban teen; they lack the experience and neural connections to process it in a useful manner. No amount of good natured pamphletering will change that. The result, in a world of boundless sexual freedom, is that the vulnerable will be exploited.


    • polimicks
      March 2, 2010

      The vulnerable are already exploited, or did you miss that memo?
      You know, maybe, just maybe, if we start telling girls that not only ARE they sexual beings, but that they and they alone are allowed to decide if, when, how and with whom they have sex, they’ll feel more able to tell jerkoffs to get bent.
      But right now society tells them that they need a boyfriend to be complete, so they have to put out, but not all the way, because sluts are ruined like candy everyone sucks on*, and they should prostitute themselves for a ring**.
      I, and everyone else talking about this, realize that it isn’t going to happen overnight. But a more informed model of sexual education that results in teens who are empowered and educated enough to make those decisions themselves already exists. This is the form sex ed takes in the Netherlands and much of Scandinavia. Countries which, by the way, have a FAR lower rate of teen pregnancy*** and rape****.
      It’s not like we’re trying to invent the wheel. We’re trying to steal it from someone who’s already proven it works. Admirably.
      *actual abstinence-only education text
      **”Wait for the bling” abstinence promotion billboard
      ***US rate http://www.livestrong.com/article/12504-teen-pregnancy-rates-usa/ versus the Netherlands http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=419&Itemid=177
      ****(Cross-National Comparisons of Crime Rates in Four Countries, 1981-1999
      David P. Farrington and Darrick Jolliffe
      Crime and Justice, Vol. 33, Crime and Punishment in Western Countries, 1980-1999 (2005), pp. 377-397
      Published by: The University of Chicago Press


      • mojrim
        March 3, 2010

        While you do give me food for thought, we must take into account that The Netherlands (in fact, all continental Europe) differs from the US in a number of significant ways, all of which contribute to the differing rates you point to, and many others. Unfortunately, americans are the most violent, closed-minded, and religious, people on Earth. For both historical and genetic reasons we are unlikely to adopt the entire suite of social engineering programs that characterizes life in Northern Europe; programs which are generally interdependant for success. EG: Teen pregnancy (as well as infant mortality) is a corrolate of poverty, not the presence of sex ed of any type.


      • polimicks
        March 3, 2010

        Actually, you have it backwards: Poverty is a correlate of teen pregnancy.
        Comprehensive sex ed programs DO have an effect, and we also have a FAR FAR higher teen pregnancy rate than say, France, which is a majority catholic country with some truly appalling poverty itself.


  3. benlehman
    March 3, 2010

    This, plus the ambient feminist freakout about BDSM, makes me think about a conversation I had, many years ago, with a Korea specialist about Kim Jong-Il’s enduring popularity.
    He told me that it was important for me to understand that, to the North Koreans, Kim Jong-Il may be a totalitarian dictator, but at least he’s one of them as opposed to the Chinese, Japanese, or American dictatorship that they see as the alternative (and they’re right in many respects: Park Chung Hee in the South was exactly an American supported totalitarian.)
    I think that there’s a division in feminism between the feminists whose goal is “individual women can make their own decisions” and “women (as a whole) get to make decisions for women (as individuals.)” The second is kinda an “at least it’s our dictatorship” view.
    I also think it’s tied into ideas about how, for instance, female legislators must naturally benefit women, but that’s much more ambiguous and probably not fit for a livejournal comment-sized discussion.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 1, 2010 by in Uncategorized.

Recent Posts


%d bloggers like this: