August 17, 2022

21st CENTURY HEADLINES: I Regret Being A Slut.

I know regretting most of my sexual encounters is not something a sex-positive feminist who used to write a column for Playboy is supposed to admit. And for years, I didn’t. Let me be clear, being a “slut” and sleeping with a lot of men is not the only behavior I regret. Even more damaging was what I told myself in order to justify the fact that I was disposable to these men: I told myself I didn’t care.

I didn’t care when a man ghosted me. I didn’t care when he left in the middle of the night or hinted that he wanted me to leave. The walks of shame. The blackouts. The anxiety.

The lie I told myself for decades was: I’m not in pain—I’m empowered.

Looking back, it isn’t a surprise that I lied to myself. Because from a young age, sex was something I was lied to about.

Long before I ever had sex, I felt ashamed of my natural sexual urges and awkward in my blossoming female body. Growing up Catholic, all I remember about sex was feeling bad about it before I even knew what “it” was. I only knew that sex before marriage was wrong. Even the thought of a sexual act or masturbation filled me with debilitating guilt. The first time I kissed a boy, I was convinced I’d be punished. Struck down by an angry, misogynistic God.

As I got older, I was told to guard my virginity. Well-meaning mothers and aunts were clear that I needed to withhold sex in order to get a man to love and respect me. Sex was a commodity, a priceless gem I had to hang on to that increased in value the longer I held it. It made me feel like property. And although I don’t think that was the intention of the wise women who had learned their own lessons the hard way, for me, sex became inextricably linked to my self-worth.

The shame and guilt I grew up with regarding sex felt oppressive. I resented the double standard that men could be promiscuous and it would raise their status and a woman would be slut-shamed for similar behavior. My burgeoning sexuality would unfold as a reaction to these repressive religious orthodoxies, old school notions of sexual status, and trauma.

I lost my virginity at 17 to my boss at a restaurant where I worked. And a year later, I experienced my first sexual trauma. I felt damaged and dirty and I blamed myself. Everyone responds differently to these situations—I dealt with the overwhelming shame by becoming hyper-sexual and promiscuous.

The Culture was right there to pick me up and dust me off. I doubled down on being a proud slut and internalized the biggest and most damaging lie: that loveless sex is empowering. I basked in the girl-power glow of that delusion for decades, weaponizing my sexuality while convincing myself I was full of the divine feminine.

I was full of shit.

Read the whole thing.

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