Friday, March 2, 2007

*ahem* [steps up on soapbox]

So, normally I try to avoid getting too editorial on here. That's the realm of much better and more intersting bloggers than myself. But I read an article today on the New York Times that got me thinking so much that I began actually mouthing words and expressions on the street, making me look like a crazy person. So I figured it was worth a mention.

The article was about a book that's apparently stirring controversy back in the U.S., called "Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both." The gist is that women are damaging their emotional lives and potential for meaningful relationships by engaging in casual sex.

OK, so you're probably expecting me to blast this, but I think the woman is right on. As a self-labeled feminist, I can't understand how we've gone from demanding equal rights and fair treatment for women to condoning and emulating the bad behavior of men. Someone please explain to me how we are getting ahead by giving...OK, I just can't go where that sentence is leading me...

I have several friends who insist that they have the same urges as the men they date, and are fully satisfied by purely sexual relationships. I think they are either lying or in denial. That's not to say that all women want to be married or settled down. But happiness comes from our relationships with others, and from being loved and appreciated. If you don't have that in your life, you are bound to feel something is missing at some point. I think the whole "hooking up" culture is just another example of the men winning, by convincing women to do what they want (i.e. sleep with them), and getting women to think it was their own idea.

Call me smug, but I honestly don't know any woman who is happy having one-night stands and sex-based relationships. Well, they start out a bit giddy, but after a couple weeks, when they realize the relationship is never going to grow into something more, I have to sit through the complaints about how they "really like this guy" and "why doesn't he like me back?" Maybe your friends are different, but I don't know any women who enjoy sleeping with men that they don't like and are not attracted to. And the closeness of physical contact leads inevitably to feelings of emotional attachment. (This is actually a hormonal, biological response to sexual contact - the oxytocin reflex.)

I think that men, like women, want someone who is interesting, charming, and confident - not just someone who puts out. And if women insisted on being valued right from the start, they have the chance of meeting someone who's really worth their time. Why would anyone want to spend time with a man who's perfectly happy to be with you if you're naked and it's dark, but won't acknowledge you as an important person in their life when you're out in public? That sounds horrible to me.

And you can tell me "hey, that's easy for you to say, Ms. Married-to-a-great-guy-who's-crazy-about-you" (yes, indeed I am smug), but I can guarantee that my husband would have had nothing to do with me after a few months if I hadn't been so dang demanding and difficult right from the start. And if he had not been so obliging and sweet to me, I would have ditched him anyway.

So, go ahead and blast me for being out-of-touch and old-fashioned. I'm interested to hear what you think on the subject.


Jesse said...

Regarding this whole topic: I think that it depends on lots of things. So many that my head spins to ponder where to begin. Primarily where I get the ick factor high in this conversation (not you Gwyn, but the article and the little I gleaned of the book)is that it still smacks of the romanticism that girls are socialized to emotionally crave (I'm not disputing chemistry but we aren't completely at it's mercy) and equates sex with intimacy. Which devalues any relations that are sexless: friends, family. I find plenty of females my age and older do things because they are going with a flow usually initiated by someone else. It freaks me out. When you don't do things from your own inherent desire, problems and damage do arise. When you follow what your own inner guidance is prompting, and have managed to separate it out from the socially imbedded culturing (if only for a brief moment), I think there are no regrets but huge learnings. Whether or not you slept with the guy and whether or not he called you back. So, there is my little blather on a huge, interesting, and very, very individually unique topic.

shutupproust said...

I don't know. On the one hand, yes, I think a lot of the women I know who get into "oh it's just sex" relationships wind up in a lot of pain when suddenly they realize that it wasn't just sex. But I've seen a lot of men get burned by that, too. I guess I'd want to know what your suggested solution is: To go back to the double standard, where women are sluts if they enjoy sex, and men are macho? Because that didn't really do us any favors, either.

I know that in my own personal life, I was crazy about a particular guy. I did everything "right": waited for several dates before doing anything physical, had an open and candid (well, on my side, at least) conversation about our feelings for each other before we had sex, made my expectations clear. And a week later, he dumped me, explaining that he'd decided he couldn't be in a relationship right now and he'd hoped I'd had as much "fun" as he had. (Yes, that's a direct quote.) On the other hand, I once jumped into bed with a guy on the second date, and we were together for eight months. So I don't think you can lay the blame on a particular set of actions, or a mindset, or on women. I think a lot of rules have been erased that needed erasing, but that what's been created is a field in which there aren't many rules, and we're all struggling to determine how to negotiate tricky matters of the heart and the bed without much useful precedent. What we arrive at may wind up being much healthier than what we abandoned, but only time will tell. All I know is I'd rather figure out what the rules are myself than have them imposed on me.