In 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a book titled The Scarlet Letter. For those that don’t know, the story centers around Hester Prynne, a woman who commits adultery and is forced to wear a scarlet “A” (standing for adulteress) as a symbol of shame.
125 years later, the story still rings true. Perhaps not in such an extreme sense, but women today are ashamed to disclose the honest nature of their sexuality– in particular, “their number”.
So, why are we afraid to be honest about our sexual history? Is it because we’re told it will make us undesirable, undateable, no longer “marriage material”? If so, that’s just not cool.
In 2016, it should not matter if we choose to have sex with one man for the rest of our lives, a different man every day, or somewhere in between. It should not make us any less able to find lust or love.
But it does.
From a very young age, we’re conditioned to dial down our sexuality, to hide the truth. At sixteen, a male friend candidly stated, “Ask a guy his number and he’ll times it by three, ask a girl and she’ll divide it by three.” And I did, for a long time.
Up until recent years, even the media categorized women’s sexuality into two metaphors: the virgin and the whore. But thanks to television series like GIRLS and Broad City, films such as Trainwreck, and influencers like Slutever and Amber Rose we’re not doomed– a new narrative is being introduced. Coupled with liberalized views around dating, marriage, and sex (I’m looking at you hook-up apps), we are growing more sexually empowered by the day. Or at least we are growing more sexually empowered privately. There is still a stigma– even within the sisterhood– regarding female promiscuity. While guys are high-fiving each other over their latest sexcapades, we’re judging our fellow ladies.
So, what’s a girl to do?
Well, the answer seems pretty logical: stop lying. Fair, that’s a lot easier in theory than in practice. But ironically, to overcome this gender inequality, it’s gonna take some proverbial balls. If we want to truly be sexually empowered, it has to come from us. We have to stop the hiding and shaming, and above all, adhere to the honesty policy.
Perhaps this is something you don’t want to shout from the rooftops or bring up with your grandmother at family brunch. And I get it– the choice to keep our sex lives public or private is a personal one. But if you don’t want to share, and you are asked, plead the fifth. Say nothing– that’s your right. Just don’t lie. Every lie is a backwards step and then we are essentially slut-shaming ourselves.
For those that wear their sex lives on their sleeves. Be proud of your number, if you want to kiss and tell, tell. We, as women are sexual beings too, just like men, and that’s nothing to be ashamed about.