Why everything that’s supposed to be bad make me feel so good?
Everything they told me not to is exactly what I would.
One of the unexpected delights about getting older is how immune you become to the judgement of others. It’s no exaggeration to say I do what I like, and I am free in the world.
Even better, I’ve fallen off the radar of lecherous idiots, so now at forty-seven I can dress how I please without much concern of harassment.
The invisibility of middle-age has given me the relief from scrutiny I always wanted. No one cares anymore about what I do, and it’s about time.
So, I was taken aback by the strong reaction I had to a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled ’Cheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage
’. The essence of the argument can be boiled down to, ‘what’s wrong with the world? It’s the bitches (duh)!’
Cultures loves a bad girl
, until it doesn’t. The archetype is fun for the purpose of fantasy, but it doesn’t take long before women’s sexuality is used against them (or, they pigeonhole themselves). In this case, declining marriage rates.
Sex is used to sell everything under the sun, but the moment young women avail themselves of it, the clucking begins.
It’s a violence of sorts to punish young women for expressing a deeply human desire, and to make their denial of pleasure a moral victory or failure. Especially when an entirely different standard is offered to men.
Case in point:
Even with this gem of a quote Mr. Regnerus makes the case that the decline of marriage is laid at the feet of women, specifically ones who like sex and don’t require a lifetime commitment to get it. No mention of raising men differently, or what men stand to gain from marriage (a healthier, longer life for
What is especially galling about these retrograde conclusions is that they rely on the shared assumption that, in fact, women are the gatekeepers for sex, and we can ask no better of men.
Why is that? Because men are men, intractable! It’s women’s work to think ahead to what’s best for everyone and manipulate relationships into committed partnerships.
It’s tempting to be frustrated with feminism, and declare it a failure. We didn’t want to be told by our parents or religion how to build a good life, but it’s also true people aren’t doing much better with their own devices.
That’s not because new ideas aren’t better, it’s because society is still evolving. It’s messy, uncomfortable work to unravel bad ideas.
Beware of charlatans peddling easy answers. My quick barometer for bullshit is if the solution involves going backward in time to they way 'life used to be’. The evolution of a culture cannot be stuffed back into a bottle, and those who try are doomed to failure.
Which brings me to the heart of the matter, and what want to say to the young women reading this:
You can capitulate and allow culture to dictate your behavior, but no concession will be enough. The game is rigged. There isn’t an amount of 'being good’ that will save women from being blamed for society’s ills. Denying yourself and others sex will not save marriage any more than it hurt it in the first place.
Culture has a deep attraction to, and revulsion of women’s sexuality. Your job is to stand firm in who you are and insist on being seen as a whole person. Sex is not a moral act, lying and cheating are. You are designed as a human being to want pleasure, and it is up to you to find it. Be kind to your partners and treat them with the dignity you expect to find. That’s the golden rule, and the only rule. Be nice, and give of yourself to nice people.
I am not encouraging you to find multiple partners, nor stay with one. I am saying I trust you to make the right decision for yourself. Being good or bad in other people’s view is an artificial construct you can choose to reject, and I hope you do. As you get older you will come to understand, the only meaningful judgement is how you feel about yourself.
I used to think I was a bad girl, now I know I was just a girl. Full of fire and sweetness. Salty, and sarcastic in equal measure.
Accept nothing less than displaying your full humanity, and please yourself first.
You can bet that’s what I’m up to.