The other evening over wine, a friend and I discussed how she’s holding off on sleeping with a guy she’s dating. We’ve all heard the rationale for not putting out too soon before—that dudes jump ship if they get you in the sack and women often become emotionally attached. In keeping, I just read an article in Marie Claire (clearly this week’s bedside reading) by Hephzibah Anderson about her new memoir Chastened, which explores her year-long vow of chastity. Explaining her choice she says, “If I fell into bed with a man, I’d fall at least a little in love…” and eventually she’d wind up hurt. After reading Anderson’s article it sounds to me like what she learned to save for the right guy was not intercourse but the expectations of intimacy she tied to sex. I can relate to equating sex with intimacy–been there, done that. However, as I’ve confessed in blogs before, I met my husband during a one-night stand and I think part of the reason it lasted (besides fate, obviously) was the lack of expectations we both had. At the time, I was purposefully not looking for a relationship. He’d had a crush on me for several years but had recently “given up on my snooty ass.” Anyhow, all of this has me thinking about a larger idea explored in Sallie Tisdale’s Talk Dirty to Me. On page ninety-four Sallie says:
Many sexual attitudes hinge on the belief that women either are not or somehow should not be as sexually aggressive, voracious, or emotionally disinterested during sex as men. “Women are more interested in relationships than in sex” is a cliché repeated a thousand ways, ad infinitum. The real message is that women should be more interested in relationships than in sex.
Embedded in the “holding out” rationale is the idea that men care more about sex and women care more about relationships. I constantly hear this cliché and have lived it, too, but sometimes I wonder, is it really true? Or, as Tisdale suggests are we acting out an idea of how things should be? Perhaps women really care about sex just as much but we’ve been taught to use it as relationship bartering currency. Just as men have been socialized to think less of a gal who puts out. After I watched SATC2 I kept thinking about why Samantha’s overt sexuality seemed so strained. Is it, perhaps, because culturally we still don’t really believe that a woman can care more about sex than relationships?
These are not new ideas but I’m curious to hear your opinions. Care to share?