With double standard, satisfying sex difficult for women to come by

This article has been corrected. You may view this article’s correction here.

Why does casual sex still leave many women with a guilty aftertaste, that distinctive blend of red-wine vinegar, gefilte fish and self-loathing? How many women, mid-hookup, have reasoned, “I’d like to have sex, but I want him to respect me and call me tomorrow. A hand job is probably cool though.”

Sexual values were defined by men, offering women the rosy options of marriage, a convent or the fiery pits of hell. In our supposed era of equality, women should share the sexual freedom enjoyed by men, but alas, for so many women a sexist public dictates their private sex lives. The double standard has transformed women into the worst misogynists. With these values so internalized, we toss around the sexist epithets “slut” and “whore,” creating the guilt we in turn bear. The greatest achievement and tragedy of patriarchy was getting women to cooperate.

Men have historically idealized an intact hymen, but in recent decades women have donned fashions less restrained and more raunchy. Does this signal the death of sexist sexual attitudes? Are wonderbras and tube tops the flags of liberation? Yes, but only from one male-defined fantasy to another. So often, when women expose skin it is only to subscribe to a reductive and degrading stereotype of sexy. Take, for example, Sigma Nu’s sexy schoolgirl bash. A partygoer may pick out her pleated mini and bask in the glow of male attention; but this is not sexual empowerment. She has not ended her objectification; she is merely an agent in it. By dressing up as a schoolgirl, secretary or stripper, you become a self-styled sexual object: infantilized, acquiescent and submissive, exactly the stereotypes women have been fighting against for centuries. The fact that men have been conditioned to find that sexy is creepy; the fact that women enjoy and encourage it is downright depressing.

Inevitably, sexual objects often fail to be sexual actors. Fashioned to fulfill a male ideal, many women never achieve real sexual satisfaction. I venture that there is not a single Yale guy who has never orgasmed, but at least a few hundred Yale women who fall into this camp. Heck, porn stars, the social epitome of sexy, fake their orgasms. That’s their job. Women need to know how they want it, and many don’t, due to societal silencing and misinformation. Most men grow up with an exposure to pornography and considerable experience with masturbation, while for women the same practices are stigmatized. In “Superbad,” Seth and Evan debate the pros and cons of various porn sites. Could a Beth and Evelyn have had that same conversation?

In the race to complete sexual fulfillment, men have had a head start of a millennium, and women still have several hurdles to jump. The female orgasm is still shrouded in confusion; many common sex positions are not entirely conducive to mutual climax; and vibrators are banned in eight U.S. states. Women are not encouraged to have true sexual ownership. The appearance of sexual availability is attractive, but a wanton woman is unwanted goods. Women must be sexy, but not sexual.

America’s attitude towards female sexuality is disturbingly schizophrenic. See as evidence, the title of this popular porn clip: “Virgin slut loves sex as she cries in pain.” How is this possible? Seriously? Society demands that women have a layer of licentiousness around a chewy prudish center. But raisinets are grandpa candy with some very unpleasant side effects. Like shame.

The media tells us to dress sexy and reassures us that sex is okay, but an archaic, sexist morality has hindered women from defining their own sexual values. The “sexy” marketed to women is a male construct: conformist, destructive and ultimately unsatisfying. We are trapped between the Virgin and the Whore, suffering guilt and self-loathing in our failure to be either. True sexual ownership means having sex when you want, with whom you want and how you want, whether waiting until marriage or a this-afternoon delight. When this happens, every walk of shame will be a walk of pride. Or at the very least, just a walk.

Claire Gordon is a sophomore in Saybrook College.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    Ms Gordon -

    I can believe that you are a dear, sweet girl.

    But I am afraid that your proximity to the so-called "Yale Women's Center" has placed rather astonishing ideas into your head: "Porn stars, the social epitome of sexy, fake their orgasms."

    For the love of God woman, realize that the crowd in which you run is maddness, sheer maddness.

  • Anonymous

    "The greatest achievement and tragedy of patriarchy was getting women to cooperate."

    This is the core problem with feminism. It's impossible to disprove feminism, because it's an entirely self-contained system, much like Marxism or Catholicism. If I point out that women often use the term "slut" on their own (or even use it far more than men do), I'm told that this is simply because of the "patriarchy". If I point out equality of women in area X, I'm pointed to a supposed deficiency in area Y. If I argue that women often choose to pass up better pay in favor of more convenient hours (thus causing the so-called salary gap), I'm told that their choice to pass up the better pay is made because of societal pressure. The burden of proof is never on the feminist, and always on the male oppressor.

    http://foryale.blogspot.com/2008/02/radical-feminism-at-yale.html

  • l

    Casual sex is generally not fulfilling for women because we are inherently different from men. Please take off the feminist goggles and notice that men and women act and react differently not because of society's imposed expectations but rather internal inclinations. *Sigh*

    Women are disposed to seek long term, emotionally close bonds with our partners. Emotional intimacy is the greatest aphrodisiac for women. This is something a one night stand cannot ever provide and so we may feel used, confused, dirty, etc even if we were the initiator. We produce oxytocin as a result causing us to form emotional bonds, even when none existed before. Men get a boost of testosterone after sex which drives them towards independent action. So while you are laying there after in his arms feeling heady about him he is often wondering "when will she just leave already!"

    History is not one big conspiracy by men to get women to do their bidding. Lifelong monogamous marriage is somewhat contrary to a man's natural tendencies. The old 'patriarchal' system actually protected women by giving both husband and wife a specific role that kept the family unit intact. It was most beneficial to the well being of the kids and not primarily for the happiness of either adult partner. In fact, while the women toiled at home with her children, most men worked dangerous, difficult unrewarding jobs(coal miners would never consider their work a rewarding career.)

    Feminist view of history is one big hoax. Imitating the basest and most hedonistic aspects of male sexuality debases women and really doesn't make any women I've seen who choose that path happy. Not all men are not running around trying to accumulate meaningless sexual conquests for their entire lives. Not all men enjoy using women for their needs as if they are objects. Historically this behavior has been frowned on and curtailed much more than it is in today's allegedly enlightened and advanced society.

    Using Porn adds to determine Americans' views on sex is absurd. Most normal people prefer to keep it between themselves and their partner(ideally spouse).

    Sure the media portrays women dressed in certain ways, at certain weights, engaging in certain behaviors as desirable and the norm. The media tells us a lot of stupid stuff and hopefully Yale students can discern which is the right path to follow.

    Moral relativism is not appealing to some of us at all. Having a specific set of values means not all behavior is OK. Yes, for some of us that includes premarital sex. I'm not going to say, just to find an ally, that it is OK for others to do it but I won't participate because I actually believe it is morally wrong for all people.

    See, again the feminists do not at all understand what is important to women who value chastity, monogamous marriage, family and traditional, masculine men.

  • Rebecca '08

    #3 That's a disgusting generalization. Yes, "all men are not running around trying to accumulate meaningless sexual conquests their entire lives" just like all women are not running around trying to find long-term committed relationships. There are a lot of women who enjoy sex, having relationships with different people over their lives and being intimate with different people - serious and casual.

    Women have also been brought up to want long-term relationships, because if they have sex while single, their reputation can suffer.

    Shame is an emotion that is created by society. You only feel ashamed if you have been taught to think something is shameful. Nobody is born with an inbuilt shame-complex about sex.

    You admitted it yourself, many women feel "used, confused and dirty" after sex. That isn't a biological difference, that's the tragic result of gendered conditioning.

    Also, men AND women are biologically designed to be promiscuous. Men - to sow their seed and maximize their number of offspring. Women - so that the fittest sperm will fertilize their egg and create the most genetically healthy child. The biological argument used to defend the sexual double standard has been advocated historically by men, to justify their sexual ownership over women.

    This sexual ownership takes man forms - from forcing young women into arranged marriages, to making them prove their virginity, to raping women, to genital mutilation, and although certainly less horrific then these examples, but our own current sexual climate in which women have been taught that feeling dirty, guilty and used is the cost of sexual freedom.

  • Anonymous

    To #3

    If men evolved to be more promiscuous… who were they being promiscuous with?

    If men evolved to be promiscuous, women could not possibly have been evolved the other way round. IT MAKES NO LOGICAL SENSE.

    Men must have had sex THE EXACT SAME AMOUNT AS WOMEN (not including, for the sake of argument, homosexuals of both genders)

    Don't argue about biology if you don't have a basic grasp of math.

  • Anonymous

    Rebecca I don't know where you have been living but there is no social stigma in modern America to premarital sex.

    You said:
    "from forcing young women into arranged marriages, to making them prove their virginity, to raping women, to genital mutilation, " None of these things happen at Yale nor are they a part of modern American culture.

    Anon, historically prostitutes served to fill the void for lack of women willing to lose their good reputation by being promiscuous.

    Yes, women do naturally, innately, yearn for long relationships more than meaningless sex. Not each and every woman, just women IN GENERAL. The risk of pregnancy kind of necessitates that. Humans in general and certainly not women aren't independent. We need our social bonds and yes women(in general) need men and the safety, protection and comfort they supply.

    Men have not historically nor do they now own women's sexuality.

    It is sickening to see expressions of sexuality completely removed from any ethical or emotional consideration and reduced to a temporary, physical, meaningless encounter.

    Feel free to disagree with me and I do hope you enjoy spinsterhood should that be the path you choose.

  • number 7

    to #5: take any introductory psych or bio class at yale and you will learn why men are more promiscuous sexually.

    men and women both want their genes passed on. evolutionarily, it makes sense for men to spread their seed around as much as possible. why would a woman do that? after all, she has to spend nine months nurturing a fetus. during that time, she can't pass her genes on by having sex, so she won't have sex. she also has to make sure that her children reach adulthood and can pass on their genes, so she raises her children instead of having sex. men, however, do not have uteri and thus should be more promiscuous to pass on their genes.

    im not using this to rationalize the way society is or whatever. im just saying that this how we've evolved. i mean, i clearly don't have a basic grasp of math, but ive learned evolutionary psychology about…say…4 separate times in my high school and collegiate educations.

  • Hieronymus

    Hee hee! "Men have historically valued an intact hymen?"

    Ha!

    Um.. I do not think that is the case today, so, does it MATTER what happened in the past?

    I do not know of too too many Yale men prancing about all in a dither over the intactness or lack thereof of Muffy's, well, muff.

    Your ideas of men are…quaint. Of course, Feminist ideas of men are based mainly on theory, given their paucity of practice.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for writing this article.

  • Hieronymus

    Coupla more:

    "The media tells us to dress sexy…"

    And y'all are weak enough to do exactly as "the media" tells you?

    "True sexual ownership means having sex when you want, with whom you want and how you want…"

    Gee, you've pretty much described the male ideal there; brava! Funny how when *men* want it that way that it is bad bad bad…

    Maybe "true sexual ownership" (is that in any way akin to "pure chewing satisfaction?") is something else entirely; maybe (maybe?) your vocabulary is stunted by Women's Center ("WC"; that's funny…) propaganda, i.e., maybe you don't have the right words…

    Maybe "true sexual ownership" derives from "two into one," you know, that whole "marriage" thing (of course, you wouldn't know about that and, sadly, have a Pavlov's-dog reaction to the concept…).

    Maybe you don't know crap, and have simply bought into the most obvious and insidious dogma available rather than, say, keeping an open mind and learning about yourself and the world around you; at least in that respect you resemble most other kollidge kidz these days…

  • antifeminist woman

    Despite what feminists might think, many, if not most, men have a basic drive for honor and integrity.

  • Anonymous

    #6 you are incredible.

    "raping women" doesn't occur at Yale?!?!?!

    It is this type of blind ignorance that permits women to get raped again and again, and encourages rapists to do so. If you keep telling women rape doesn't happen, they won't see it coming, and they will feel horrible when it happens to them, because they will feel like they are unique cases.

    also, you say men have not historically owned women's sexuality!??!?! Women are the slaves who were never set free. Try reading ANY text written before the 20th century.

    OPEN YOUR EYES #6.

  • Lipstick feminist

    Women's partner desires are conflicted by a lack of sexual satisfaction in many women. Women value sex for the pleasure of sex. They also value sex as a bond between partners. Both cases are also true for men. But women are driven towards relationships of about 4-5 years - though not lifelong monogamy. 4-5 years is scientifically proven to be an abnormally common relationship length. It is also the amount of time it would take for a child to be conceived and grow out of infanthood. Scientists propose that this relationship length is based on the raising of a child to a minimum level of independence (where the mother could leave it to go get food) However this predisposition DOES NOT MEAN that women do not have seperate, purely sexual needs and desires, and I don't think anyone here is claiming that. And I know this difference of inclination is used to excuse cheating by men, making women react strongly against it, but I don't think anyone here is trying to do that either. One theory for the supposedly elusive female orgasm (though not totally agreed upon) is that it encourages women towards men who are considerate and care about their needs - men who would make a better partner and maybe stay around longer. Old school feminists sometimes get mad because they think the idea that women being more relationship-orientated makes them less strong or independent. This isn't the case, its not less strongfor a woman having a child to want its father to help her with it. She is not being needier than men, who can only get stuck raising a child alone if they have stuck around in the first place. Seperate biology from the ways it has been manipulated to portray the genders, and justify some men treating partners poorly, don;t deny the biology itself.

  • anonymous

    feminists at Yale have done the mistake of taking an extremist, even dogmatic approach in which only their views, and only theirs, are correct. Because any argument against them is considered sexist or the result of a history of oppression of women.
    also - maybe all this sexual freedoms and liberation is also influenced by the media… what with all the things that come out from Hollywood, it is also the case that treating sex as something casual is the result of the way sex is portrayed in movies and popular culture.
    wouldn't the author be a victim of the media too? she is at least of the feminist bandwagon.
    - a woman embarrassed by the extremism of feminists.

  • Anonymous

    a feminist: someone who believes in equal rights for men and women.
    you're so right… EXTREME!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 1488

    Don't worry dears, Islamic conquest will take care of this problem. Enjoy your last promiscuous times.

    Oh, and what is the point of promiscuous sex ? It is dehumanizing and disgusting. How could anyone have one night stands or casual sex and call themself human ?
    Look at the STD rates today. A person who has promiscuous or casual sex probably has no goals in life and will die childless and lonely.

  • GOGGLINO

    This kind of studies are very stupid.

    Some men do not have sex for pleasure but derive pleasure for conquest.

    So, of course, women do not have much pleasure in that case.

    Many men also feel shitty after sex, but they are all supposed to like it. They also feel responsible for the quality of the act : so they are not going to say it was shitty.

    Some men, however, do enjoy women's bodies, their presence, their voice, their skin, and sexplay : those provide nice one-night-stands.

    Women must learn to distinguish those two categories of men.