In Laurie Penny’s piece for Salon, she made the following statement that really hit home for me: “The women of my generation were told that we could ‘have it all’, as long as ‘it all’ was marriage, babies and a career in finance, a cupboard full of beautiful shoes and terminal exhaustion – and even that is only an option if we’re rich, white, straight and well behaved. These perfect lives would necessarily rely on an army of nannies and care-workers.”
Penny went on to write that we can have everything, as long as it’s “sticking to a set of social and sexual rules that turn out, once you plough through the layers of trash and adverts, to be as rigid as ever.” Essentially, she said, we were all lied to.
While we can qualify for the same things in our careers as men, to this day we’re still the gender that’s sexually repressed. It’s worth mentioning that everyone is entitled to feel how they want about the subject, but personally I think that “having it all” should include having a satisfying sex life.
Unfortunately women are still looked down upon far more than men whenever the subject of sex comes up. The somewhat-recent media attention surrounding the finale of ABC’s The Bachelorette is a perfect example. After runner-up contestant Nick Viall questioned why Bachelorette Andi Dorfman had sex with him if she wasn’t in love with him, Drofman received a lot of backlash. Adam and Eve said that some were calling her a “slut” in their blog post on The Bachelorette, and it’s an insult that the writer said was not only inappropriate, but below the belt. They said this type of slut-shaming is completely deplorable, and that someone’s sexual activities are not anyone’s business but the couple involved.
What’s more frustrating are the falsities thrown around on the matter by those who are misinformed. In an article for The Guardian, Jill Filipovic said that critics are still unclear about the consensus of whether feminists hate sex or are having too much of it. Filipovic noted that “Feminists, at least for the past decade or so, have been relatively consistent when it comes to sexual activity: it should be consensual and shame-free, and all women and men should have access to sexual health information and contraceptive methods that work best for them.” But even Filipovic said that “having it all” is not yet a reality for many women.
Many are under the misconception that when feminism and sex are introduced, the conversation is only about birth control or pornography. However, there’s also talk of the judgement that’s placed on those who make their opinions on the matter known. Whether it’s voicing opinions on pornography, birth control, or a woman’s rights to a healthy and enjoyable sex life, feminists just want the same right for all. We don’t hate sex and we’re not having too much of it (not that there is even a way to measure that in the first place).
It’s pathetic that even in today’s time, men still seemed to be permitted by society to be sexual while women are still expected to be the “modest” gender. Groups (like feminists) might have similar beliefs in some areas, that’s not to say that every member’s set of beliefs is exclusively one way or the other on every issue. Personally however, I’m not ashamed of my sex life or my physical wants and needs, but I also feel that neither area is anyone else’s business but my own. No one has the right to judge other’s consensual sexual acts. However, if a guy is going to get high-fived for hooking up with a lot of people, I’m certainly not going to stand for being slut-shamed. If I’m working to “have it all” in life, a satisfying sex life is sure to be on my list.
Anna Kimber is a freelance writer and photographer from Richmond, VA. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she can usually be found scouring Pinterest for a new craft or recipe to try, or playing with her dog, Porky.