No laughing, no screwing, no learning how to read
I know this whole thing is probably disconcerting for her, but thanks to Jaclyn Friedman for pointing me to the most comically incoherent bout of slut-shaming I’ve read in a long ass time. See, Jaclyn wrote a moving story about how making the move to straight up slutting it up was liberating for her. Contrary to the incoherent claims of her critic Susan Walsh, Jaclyn did not suggest that trolling Craig’s List for casual sex is the right thing for everyone or the right response to every situation. And, unlike Susan, I can prove my claims! While Jaclyn’s essay is very much about how sluthood worked for her, when she says that she’s telling her story for others, she doesn’t say, “Because everyone should sleep around all the time and not want anything else.”
Sluthood isn’t a disease, or a wrong path, or a trend that’s ruining our youth. It isn’t just for detached, unemotional women who “fuck like men,” (as if that actually meant something), consequences be damned. It isn’t ever inevitable that sluthood should inspire violence or shame. Sluthood isn’t just a choice we should let women make because women should be free to make even “bad” choices. It’s a choice we should all have access to because it has the potential to be liberating. Healing. Soul-fulfilling. I’m telling you this because sluthood saved me, in a small but life-altering way, and I want it to be available to you if you ever think it could save you, too. Or if you want it for any other reason at all. And because even if you don’t ever want sluthood for yourself, you’re going to be called upon to support a slut. I’m telling you this because when that happens, I want you to say yes.
Access to =/ a mandate. At the end, she suggests your only real duty is to support your friends if they decide to have casual sex, but certainly no duty to do it yourself is implied. This is very, very important, because Susan Walsh has very strong ideas about how there’s only one path for everyone, and so she makes the mistake of thinking that’s what Jaclyn is saying. Even though Jaclyn already stated up front that she’d done her time in monogamous relationships, and figures she will again one day.
On to Walsh’s piece, because seriously, the incoherence may put Sarah Palin’s baffling use of the word “cojones” to shame.
Women who understand the power of sex, the incredible chemistry of it, women who know that sex is not casual physiologically speaking, women who do not embrace a life of sluthood, are indeed left alone by many men. That’s a good thing in some ways, but terribly disappointing in others. Very few women embrace the notion of receiving zero male attention once word gets out that they are not slutty. They cannot compete with determined sluts in the marketplace among these men.
I found this to be super awesome, because usually the faux concern aimed at loose women is about how no one will ever love them. But now they just suck up all the cock, leaving none behind for the ladies who like to wait it out a little. So you’re obligated to stop fucking so other women don’t feel they have to. This argument, taken to its logical conclusion, basically means that we can’t wear lipstick (or not), can’t have a sense of humor (or not), can’t be skinny (or not), can’t be curvy (or not), and absolutely can’t date. Because if a man finds out that he prefers this quality over that quality in a woman, then women who don’t have that quality will always be left out.
Fuck it. Let’s assign partners by lottery. Screw this notion that we should enjoy each other’s company.
Notice, by the way, that women’s preferences (for a man who moves fast vs. a man who moves slow, for instance) aren’t even considered? We just want someone with a pulse and a penis to validate our existence, I suppose.
We got into a Twitter battle over this, and I kept trying to get Susan to define a “slut” for me, based on the universally understood idea belief that you’re a slut once your Number gets over a certain point. Realizing she wasn’t going to win any friends settling on a number, Susan dodged the question, saying instead, “I reject theconcept of a #. Women should listen to their own instincts. If it makes you feel like crap, stop doing it.” But of course, she’s lying (or really, really fucking stupid), because she attacks Jaclyn for feeling good about her choices. If she doesn’t want women to feel like crap, she should be applauding Jaclyn’s piece, which had thrilling lines like:
“I’m telling you this because sluthood saved me. Sluthood gave me the time and space to nurse a shattered heart.”
“I’ve remembered how much I like pleasure, and how much of it there is in the world. I’ve had to learn how to reject people nicely but clearly, and learn how to appreciate a generous rejection when it’s aimed at me.”
“But most days, sluthood helps me be patient. It keeps desperation at bay. It reminds me to enjoy the life I have now, instead of waiting for someone to come start it. It helps me know my heart better, and my libido. It makes me better at communicating about both of them, and much less likely to confuse the two. To my mind, far from ruining me for real love, sluthood is preparing me for it.”
For some people (not just women), sleeping around isn’t going to work for them. But that doesn’t mean that these benefits aren’t real for those who do find that it works. Jaclyn’s absolutely right that getting some action can take the edge off, particularly if you tend to get nervous when you’re horny. If you both have a rule that you don’t fuck unless it’s love, and you’re super horny, you’re very likely to round up any old asshole into true love just to get off. And then, after dating them for awhile, the break-up is even uglier! But if you just found them hot, screwed them, got it out of your system, and then didn’t bother to follow up, you both have more time in your schedule to meet people who may actually work out as your actual true love, and you tend not to be so wound up. Relaxed, non-desperate people are charming, you know. They do better on the sexual “market” that Susan is obsessed with. If you see yourself as an item for sale on the market, then you may want to consider that the bidders aren’t eager to date women that have a twitchy, desperate vibe.
Or maybe you could grow up and realize that if a person isn’t going to love you for you, they aren’t worth having. Still, even if you’re uncomfortable with casual sex, the “Something About Mary” advice to rub one out before a date so you don’t have the twitchy, desperate vibe? I don’t think that’s deceitful or anything. Just putting forth your best you on a date.
Susan then takes a swipe at Jaclyn for being queer, takes another swipe at her for being in her late 30s, and proceeds to drop some pseudo-science about oxytocin (she admits that men feel it, but continues to deny that they can really feel attachment/love like women can, which is supposed to make us want them why?). It’s the usual misogynist argument: women want love but not sex, men want sex but abhor love, so women have to trick men into pretending to love us by withholding sex. Basically, all women are prostitutes who sell our pussies in exchange for a feigned expression of love. We’re supposed to want this because, shit, I have never figured out why. Because women are delusional, I guess, and will accept fake love in exchange for sex. Which makes me wonder—if women can round up a man pretending to love us to get access to pussy, then why can’t we simply pretend a casual encounter was a tragic love affair that ended because he was shipped off to war and died? Put that ability to delude yourself to work!
Jaclyn says she’s happy, and Susan proceeds to call her a liar, because Jaclyn’s happiness disproves her weird theory that women can only be made happy by luring men into fake love through the vagina market. So she says Jaclyn has “red flags”.
Fast forward through a few more relationships. Rapid fire serial monogamy is a clear indication that something is wrong. Ur doing it wrong.
This is supposedly evidence against the joys of sluttiness, but Jaclyn actually experienced rapid fire serial monogamy before she decided to slut it up. The whole point of her essay is that casual sex gives her a way to not fall into the same traps as before. In other words, Susan has reading comprehension issues.
I launched myself somewhat full-throttle. Again, the prevailing drive is impulse, perhaps even compulsion.
Proving once again that the whole point of this exercise is straight-up misogyny. The only reason that Susan gives for why it’s wrong for a woman to seize the day is that it’s wrong for a woman to seize the day. If you don’t like women behaving assertively, the problem isn’t with women. It’s that you are a misogynist. Yes, even if you’re a woman. That just makes it sadder.
It was comforting to me to find that there were other people I found appealing who felt similarly. Seeking relationships as a form of sexual validation works in the very short-term. It’s a house of cards, though, as Ms. Friedman learned.
Says the woman who is writing about how women should view themselves as commodities on the market that sell for the highest bidder. Hypocritical as well as incapable of reading correctly! If Jaclyn was talking about anything but sex, the idea that there is something wrong with her for meeting like-minded people would be laughable. Imagine if her essay was about how much she liked playing gin rummy, and wrote, “It was comforting to me to find that there were other people I found appealing who felt similarly.” Then it would just be common fucking sense.
If there was any kind of a click at all, I’d throw myself at them whole-hog. Ouch. Not a good strategy. Leads to shouts of “Psycho! Leave me alone!”
Again, this is the problem that Jaclyn said that sluthood fixed. Susan conflating pre- and post-sluthood is so chronic here that I’m beginning to think she’s less illiterate and more aggressively arguing in bad faith.
When something would inevitably go wrong… it would feel overwhelming. Like I was dying. Like I was broken all over again. This is painful to witness. I do understand the profound need that Ms. Friedman must feel to be healed, and loved.
Faux concern for a person you’re bullying is a red flag for wingnuttery, I must say. She follows up this feigned concern, by the way, by suggesting Jaclyn is going to get murdered like in that movie with Diane Keaton from the 70s. Because trying to control someone with threats of violence equals concern.
It also does explain why the more tender emotions that tend to shape most people’s romantic lives—love, empathy, passion, kindness, lust, rapport, compassion, and even humor (something Susan really doesn’t like when it comes from feminists)—pass her by, as does any understanding of nuance, change, diversity, or any of the various waves that make no two situations alike, no two relationships alike. Human relationships are reduced to a market, where women are selling and men are buying. Human emotions are like pressing buttons on a microwave. One orgasm = one insta-falling in love (but only for women, ’cause men’s love hormones are muted). These kinds of varied and empathetic emotions were all over Jaclyn’s moving piece. You cannot reduce people to market commodities in Jaclyn’s world, even if they are posting on Craig’s List. Their needs are varied and ever-changing, and very, very real. Part of me thinks that’s what pissed Susan off the most, since she doesn’t seem to get it, with her neat little prescriptions about how much sex to give up when to shield yourself from heart break.
Good luck with that, by the way. Susan kept trying to trip me up on Twitter, demanding that I say that I think that no woman is ever made sad by a casual encounter, that women don’t fall in love during casual relationships and find heartbreak. (She seemed, per her assumption that men don’t feel love or attachment, to discount the possibility that casual sex could leave a man heartbroken.) I simply replied that she prove that limiting your sexual encounters to committed relationships means never feeling sad, or never being dumped. I offered to take her to a divorce court if she was skeptical that sex in a committed relationship was a foolproof bulwark against heartbreak. So she settled on trying to make me feel dirty. I almost felt bad for her, because a line like that—“Bumping bones is not dating.”—is almost too fucking easy. I replied, “No, of course not. Going to dinner and then bumping bones is dating.” You’d think that someone who learns so much from movies like “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” would also know that Audrey Hepburn taught us that anyone with a cute little black dress is basically shielded from witless cracks about human sexuality designed to make women feel less than fabulous.
Of course, Susan did swipe at that kind of comment:
aking refuge in snark is a favorite maneuver among feminists. “Something to do with?” “Getting all used up?” Snark, snark. Sneer, roll eyes.
The fantasy is that we snark in our writing and then go to bed and cry ourselves to sleep. Well, I fantasize about Jon Hamm and Matt Damon showing up at my door with a bottle of expensive wine and a lot of really big fluffy pillows, myself. To each their own, I guess. But I can tell the difference between a fantasy and a reality. And I know that the “feminists” she’s speaking of like snarking for the same reason Jon Stewart and Judd Apatow like snarking—that’s the language we grew up speaking. Of course, I can see why someone who doesn’t understand that women might have sex for the pleasure of it can’t understand very well that people crack jokes because laughing is fun.