I’m 25 and have been having sex on the regs since I was 17. I’ve pretty much always felt comfortable with my sexuality and have never allowed myself to be affected by society saying, “Oh, you had sex with three different guys this month? You’re a slut.”
Photograph from /RAKE
I’m 25 and have been having sex on the regs since I was 17. I’ve pretty much always felt comfortable with my sexuality and have never allowed myself to be affected by society saying, “Oh, you had sex with three different guys this month? You’re a slut.” Instead, I consider myself confident, empowered and in control. If I wanna have sex with someone, I’ll do it, and I won’t worry about what other people might think. If someone doesn’t agree with sexual liberation, then I don’t want to have them in my life anyway.
But I worry I might take it too far. I’m not a huge relationship person (I’ve had a couple of long-term boyfriends, but even those haven’t lasted more than a year and I’ve cheated on all of them, save for one), so most of the people I sleep with are either friends or people I’m casually dating, and I sleep with a new person relatively often.
I’ll give myself these pep talks when I’m going out with friends or on a date, like, “Okay, you’re going to the bar. Don’t sleep with anyone tonight! You’ll probably make out and stuff, but keep your underwear on. Don’t give in! You can do it!” But more often than not, when I bring a dude home, I’ll end up overwhelmingly horny and unable to resist. Do you have any tips on how to keep my pants on?
I’m glad you wrote me. I went through a phase when I was around the same age as you. I was a bit different though, because while I was convincing myself that I was “empowered and in control,” it was really just a cover up for my low self esteem and I knew it even then. I was so scared to say “no” that I convinced myself that saying “yes” was a choice I was making. My insecurity was so great that every time I did something I didn’t really want to do, I rationalized my way out of it. I cheated on my boyfriend? “Yeah, but we weren’t that happy anyway.” I hooked up with a guy who had a girlfriend? “Yeah, but she’s a bitch.” For every “Yeah, but…” I have, my self esteem continues to plummet until all I’m left with is a bunch of “Yeah, buts…” written in cursive in my journal while I’m sitting home alone on a Friday night with a box of tissues. Oh, why me?! Why me?! All my denial puts baby in a corner. I’m the baby. It’s not fun.
Then comes the making up rules and constantly breaking them. When we start trying to control ourselves or capping our behavior, that’s when we know we’re in trouble. Every time I made up a rule for myself, I broke it. The rule itself became more of a guarantee that I would do that one thing. “Don’t drink tonight” meant I was almost definitely going to get wasted. It was because I wasn’t “empowered,” but rather powerless. Maybe some people love having crazy will power and white knuckling their way through life, and those people are probably like, ex hardcore kids who would’ve joined the army if they weren’t vegan or whatever. That’s cool, but that’s not me, and I’m not ashamed to admit it either — I. Have. No. Will. Power. Every time I make a rule, I break the rule, and then feel even shittier than I did before the rule. For me, it’s a constant cycle. So then I just remove the rule altogether and go full throttle. This leads me to bottoming out. And that’s where you need to be.
I think to start with, allow yourself to admit that maybe sex isn’t a casual thing for you. If it was, you wouldn’t cheat and you wouldn’t need to slut it up because you wouldn’t care about it all that much. But you do, and it seems like it gives you something more than just an orgasm (I’m actually willing to bet you don’t even have orgasms that much). Start by accepting that. Try to be honest and maybe say, “Well, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t say no, so maybe this ‘thing’ has more power over me than I thought.” Because guess what? It’s fine. It doesn’t mean you have to stop or start having sex. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means that you’re actually quite brave and — uh oh — a totally average human being. We all feel this way sometimes. And we all feel gooey feelings, especially when it comes to sex.
I had a hard time saying no to boys because I was afraid of what would happen if I did. Would they get mad at me? Yell at me? Would I never get this chance again? Was I blowing it… forever? The answer to those questions should be NO, and if the boy does get mad, then you tell him to go fuck himself. That’s empowerment. Sex is a gift to be used and celebrated, but don’t confuse it with something that should be taken lightly. What book did you read that told you empowerment comes from sleeping around and not caring? Do you know what your body is capable of doing? Healing itself from diseases that used to kill people. Bruising and bending instead of shattering into a million pieces. We lay out in the sun for hours and don’t melt. We shed water from our eyes when we’re sad, and make a funny noise that starts in the pit of our stomach when we think something is funny. Who does that?!?! We do! Do you know how awesome that is? Never mind the fact that when a penis or tongue or finger goes into our vaginas, we start to feel like sparkly little butterflies that live inside harmonicas.
I realize this sounds super hippie of me but I’m not gonna apologize for thinking my body is something that I ought to handle with care and respect. I don’t know you, but I’d like to believe you wear sunblock, eat vegetables, drink water and don’t throw yourself into a moving train on the daily. In other words, you love your body. This is a good thing. Your body deserves your love. That’s why God gave us Barbie dolls when we were little girls and showed us how to have an orgasm by rubbing her legs into our little vaginas. How awesome was that?
This was a long-winded answer but only because I don’t think “Just Say No” is the simple solution. You don’t have to fuck someone to get them to like you. You don’t have to fuck someone in order to get off. Don’t you know that prolonging this stuff is the best part anyway? Sometimes I think we get so wrapped up in trying to prove society wrong by going against it, that we forget that maybe “society” was on to something. Or at least we forget how to honor ourselves because we were too busy trying to not conform to what normal people do.
As I’ve gotten older it turns out that mainstream ideals are actually onto something. You know what rules? Having a job with health insurance. You know what doesn’t rule? Having the first Archers of Loaf album on colored vinyl. Another thing that rules: sleeping with people who care about me and I, them. What doesn’t rule: Having HPV and abnormal pap smears every sixth months and the fear that I might have cervical cancer and oh, I don’t know, die from it?
Forget whatever it is you think you know about using sex as something to empower you, and start being true to what you think and feel. I think it’s time for a breather. You seem to have already agreed. And you’ll keep your pants on, not by sheer willpower, but when you finally admit that you have none. The consequences will catch up eventually until it’s something that you just want to do. Don’t forget that until then, you always have a choice, even if your wet vagina is telling you differently.
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