|During World War II, Rosie the Riveter inspired women across America to take the war effort into their own hands while their spouses served overseas. What would Rosie have said about sex for the independent woman?|
Instead of attempting to answer this question right from the get-go, I’d instead rather draw attention to the paradox that women face every day when it comes to this particular issue.
Does to be strong and independent mean engaging in sexual behavior, or abstaining from it?
Should a strong and independent woman strive to stay away from the propriety of monogamy? If a woman decides to marry and remain faithful to her husband, is she any less of an independent woman than a woman who remains single and is, contrarily, not “tied down” to any one man?
Brochure after brochure promotes that young women ought to be “respectful of their bodies.” What does this mean? Is a woman who engages in sexual activities with multiple sexual partners interchangeable with a woman who is disrespectful to her own body?
Consider the following scenario:
Woman A is a Wall Street mogul. She is at the top of her game as an investment banker and is currently taking home six figures annually to her post-modern, clean cut apartment on the upper east side. She has had 13 sexual partners over the past 2 and a half years. She is mature, responsible, and sexually confident.
Woman B is happily married to her police officer husband with whom she has 3 children. She lives with her family on their Victorian style 3 bedroom home in the suburbs of Charleston, Virginia. She has had sex with only her husband since they started dating 8 years ago. She is mature, responsible, and sexually confident.
Which of these women, Woman A or Woman B, is more respectful of herself?
Which of these women, Woman A or Woman B, is strong and independent?
Which of these women, Woman A or Woman B, is a better role model for young girls? Why?
Why does being respectful of one’s body seem to inherently mean abstaining from sex? Can a strong and independent woman who is confident in her sexuality have sex and still respect her body and self-worth, or is the sheer act of engaging in intercourse with multiple sexual partners inherently synonymous with low self-esteem?
I, along with all my incoming freshman peers at my university, was required to participate in a mandatory online alcohol and sexual education course in preparation for the big move to campus in just a few weeks. As a self-respecting woman, I had some issues with the subliminal messages embedded in the wording of the course.
This is what I saw:
I decided to share my opinions with the entire incoming freshman class– (sigh of regret)– on the Class of 2018 Facebook group. The post read:
Okay, this Think About It course is starting to get on my nerves. The “Are you Ready for Sex” section? Awesome. All the info on reproductive health? Fantastic. But can somebody please explain to me why slides like “You can have an amazing college experience without hooking up” aren’t balanced out with: “But if you decide to engage in sexual activity with a partner with whom you are unacquainted, you can have a positive experience as well as long as you are physically and emotionally prepared”? And I’d like to have a long conversation with whoever decided “People who are truly empowered don’t feel pressured to demonstrate their independence and generally do what is best for them” would be an appropriate way of saying “If you don’t want to hook up, don’t hook up.” What’s to say a fully empowered individual who is confident in his/her sexuality can’t have a totally responsible and enjoyable time casually hooking up with another mature individual who isn’t hooking up because they want to “demonstrate their independence” but to loosen up and have a little fun? And why does this slide need to imply that “generally doing what is best for them” is, 100% of the time, abstaining from hooking up? And why continue to call it “hooking up” after directly addressing the ambiguity of the term?!?! Ugh. I need a drink.
And, if you can believe it, one particularly immature and inconsiderate douchebag had the nerve to comment:
So Catherine, what you’re saying is….you wanna hook up?
(Way to read between the lines, genius. Congratulations on proving every misogynistic tendency men are accused of possessing in today’s world by boiling my entire statement down to a, as I’m sure you would define me, horny teenage girl just trying to get some attention from the opposite sex. Seriously, round of applause.)
Anyways, I’m just sort of struggling right now, as a self-considered Strong and Independent Woman to find the balance, if there is one, between being “respectful of my body and staying faithful to one man and therefore staying faithful to myself” and “not giving a damn what any man has to say and being my own person.”
Comments welcome. Narrow minded attempts at sexist comedy not included.
P.S: I’d like to declare a formal apology for offering little to no consensus about the issue at hand. I’m still trying to process my overall stance on the issue. Thx. (peace sign emoji)