Hello, Swarthmore. You have a new sex columnist, now! It’s great. You can call me Hester, your humble village slut. And, while I am aware that Hawthorne’s novel is not exactly about sluttiness, per se, I would venture that it kinda is and that Hester’s kinda badass and so there you have it. You should know that I am writing from a (mostly) heterosexual, cisgender female perspective, I have had lots and lots and lots of (mostly) good sex, and I am in a (mostly) monogamous long distance relationship.
For this first column, I want to return to the word slut. If you haven’t gotten it by now, then I’ll need to make it clear for you: I am one of the (many, many) women who has reclaimed the concept of sluttiness. If you don’t believe me that other women have, Google “SlutWalk.” I think there is immense power in simply not letting this word do its intended job of policing women’s sexuality and reinforcing a double standard. Language is constantly shifting, and I intended to shift slut firmly over to my side (i.e. the sex-loving feminist side).
However, I haven’t really been slutty in a while. At least not in the casual sex sense of the word. I’ve been in a relationship for the past year-ish, and was in one before that. Of course, I’ve found ways to be slutty within the context of said relationships, but, sadly, the joy of sleeping around is not currently part of my life. I wholeheartedly believe that the sheer amount of casual sex I had in high school and at college was extremely important to the formation of my sexual identity, and even, to some extent, the formation of myself. It’s not that casual sex is should be the be-all, end-all of one’s self-worth, but I do think it can be a very valuable practice when done correctly.
Here are the reasons I think going through a slutty phase (however long or short) is a very good thing:
Sex for the Sake of Sex
Sex is serious, but need not be serious always. You seriously need to make sure both you and your partner are consensual (and keep tabs on the encounter to make sure that that doesn’t change), and you seriously need to use protection. You do not, however, need to be having sex with someone you’ve been dating seriously in order to have a fantastic time. It was through casual sex that I found out just how much I love the act of sex. It is not necessary for me to be locking eyes with the man I could spend the rest of my life with to scream with pleasure and dig my nails into his back. It’s just not! There are definite perks to having sex with an SO, but for me, one night stands solidified the fact that I just really like giving blow jobs — whether it’s to the man of my dreams or the man I just met.
You know what, it’s true. If you’re having a ton of sex, you’re bound to get better at it. And by “get better,” I mean a lot of things. You’re going to figure out what you like. You’re going to become increasingly comfortable with asking for what you like. And you’re also going to learn new things. New people often come with new ideas or new tricks that you may not have been privy to in the past. And while you may not ever see them again, you may now know exactly what type of tongue swirl to ask for in the future.
Being in Control
I think sluttiness should be about picking out someone you find attractive, deciding that you want to make out with him or her (and perhaps more) and going for it. It should not be about passively slinking around, hoping to be preyed upon. This is the way in which sluttiness is most empowering, especially for women. Women often find other people attractive and want to bed them. It happens! You’re in control of your body and its wants, and if it wants that sexy Swattie over there, then there is no shame in going for it (let’s be clear: go for it in a cool, flirtatious and awesome way, not an overt, rude and offensive way).
So, this is a radically sex positive column. I think that if you want to be having a whole bunch of sex, then you should go out there and have it, with whomever you want and however you want, as long as you both are psyched on the idea. However, it wouldn’t be fair to let you all go forth into the Swarthmore night without making at least a brief mention of the potential pitfalls of sluttiness.
I’ll say it again: use protection. As you might know, STIs can still be contracted even with condom usage—and that’s a risk. There will always be risk involved in sex, and it’s heightened when you’re having sex with someone you may not know well, or someone you haven’t had an opportunity to get tested with. Therefore, in this inherently risky business, it is always best to take all precautions to minimize said risk. Also, it’s totally possible that the sex that you have with that dude that you met outside Olde Club next to that weird tree is not going to blow your mind (now that I think of it, would anyone be interested in a column about what to do if your hook-up goes south?). Even the sluttiest, sex-loving-est slut isn’t always going to have foolproof hookups, so you must roll with it. It will probably lead to a good story for your close friends. And finally, I’ve seen it happen many a time that a fellow slutty gal pal will begin to feel discouraged when the fellas and/or the ladies are not banging down her door Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will happen that maybe sometimes you will not be getting any ass. Look at those nights as wonderful bastions of alone time in which you get to wear your ugliest, comfiest sweatpants and drink tea. While I do argue that being a big slut can absolutely lead to a heightened sense of self-awareness surrounding sex, I would never go so far as to suggest that it defines a person, and I caution against that line of thinking.
I wrote this column because it seems to me that in our times, a woman in a monogamous, long-term relationship does not need to be told that it’s cool that she’s having a ton of sex all the time. However, I think anti-slut sentiment is still alive and (not so) well and needs to be destroyed. But what do you think? Is slut a positive word? Can it ever be? How important is sex to your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.