“After I’ve just gotten laid, the first thing I think about is that I can’t wait to tell my crew who I just did. Omigod, they’re not going to believe I just did Kristy. They’ll all be high-fiving me.”
Guys routinely celebrate having sex. The messages they give each other pretty much translate to, “Sex is great! And more is better!”
But what do women hear?
After anticipating “high-fives” for his sexual success, the young man above adds: “And Kristy? She’ll probably ask me not to tell anyone, to protect her reputation.”
Men and women receive very different messages about sex.
In fact, the term “hookup” is deliberately ambiguous. It can mean anything from kissing to intercourse. So if a guy says he hooked up, he’s hoping other guys think he went “all the way.” But if a girl hooks up, she hopes her friends hear, “I kissed him.”
At one northeastern college, men returning to the fraternities after a night at the dorms are said to be strolling the Walk of Fame. But women returning to the dorms from a frat are taking the Walk of Shame.
A few years back a fraternity at Dartmouth published the names of all of the women the brothers had had sex with, making disparaging comments about them.
Is sex something to avoid? Something dirty? Or something to pursue with a vengeance? It all depends on whether you’re male of female.
When it comes to sex, men are celebrated but women risk punishment.
Many think sexual repression is not a problem in our society – that these notions never reach the subconscious. Yet women can come to turn off sexual feeling, whether they realize it or not. Not feeling can be safer.
Sex therapist, Lonnie Barbach, says that highly repressive societies create women who have difficulty climaxing, while women in non-repressive societies have regular and satisfactory orgasms.
In 1972, when women were more penalized than they are today, a Playboy foundation survey found that more than half of single women under age 25 found their first sexual experience neutral or unpleasant. Only 20% found sex highly pleasurable.
Things may not be as bad today. Indiana University’s recently released sex survey found that 58% of women in their 20s had had an orgasm the last time they had sex. But when that compares with 96% of their male counterparts, we see the tell-tale signs of continuing repression.
But really, should we be surprised?
Men who slut-shame don’t seem too worried that women won’t enjoy sex with them. After watching sex-craved porn stars, and thinking that accurately reflects women’s sexuality, perhaps they assume women can’t help but come back for more. No matter what.
Some will interpret my observation that men are more sex-positive and more promiscuous as prescribing male behavior to everyone. As one reader put it“But I don’t want to run around like a tart!”
Actually, I want to have a conversation about the positives and negatives of so-called men’s and women’s ways of doing sex. It is certainly not better to treat people like currency – the more you bang the higher your status. But what can women learn from men, and what can men learn from women?
Sources: (quotes edited for length and clarity)
Lonnie Barbach. For Yourself. Anchor. 2000; Michael Kimmel. Guyland. Harper. 2008