dating, feminism, love, relationships, sex

Does Casual Sex Benefit Women? (my thoughts)

Mandatory disclaimer: This is not a scholarly article, I am not telling women what to do, and I don’t judge women for the safe, sane, and consensual choices we make.

My very first night at college, I went out with about a dozen girls to several frat parties. Buzzing with the kind of excitement that comes with newfound freedom and cheap liquor, I watched as young women who’d been sheltered their whole lives drank too much, ate too little, and in one case, lost their virginity to a frat guy who’d helped her do a keg stand. By my second day as a newly independent student, I was rubbing that same girl’s back as she nursed a hangover and sobbed with regret. She’d never planned to have her first sexual experience happen the way it did.

“Does casual sex actually benefit women?”

I remember the first time I scribbled this question down as I wrote in my journal nearly ten years after that adrenaline – fueled night. I’d been reflecting on a few things and the current state of women’s liberation as it pertained to my life and choices at the time. I thought about how hookup culture – the socially acceptable lifestyle in which casual sex is the norm- affected people.

I’d always been a bit conservative when it came to who I dealt with because to put it bluntly, I get turned off very quickly. And once I’m turned off, it’s game over. Like Mr. Darcy, my good graces once lost is usually lost forever. So it was relatively easy for me to turn down potential suitors. But that doesn’t mean that I never considered making decisions in the name of sexual liberation that I would never have even entertained now. And so like any good blogger with 20/20 hindsight, I’m sharing 5 thoughts I have about casual sex.

Photo by Jasmine Carter on
  1. Casual sex has its place depending on your ultimate goal. The issue, I think, arises when some women are not always honest or even aware of what their desires are until they’re knee deep in a situationship they don’t know how to get out of.

2. I think casual sex largely benefits men more. As long as we live in a society in which women are judged harshly for their sexual choices and men continue to be the main decision makers when it comes to marriage, the scales are not even. We’re “having sex like men” without the benefits like protection and provision (unless you’re a sex worker) that [should] come with commitment.

3. Casual sex can be rooted in having a scarcity mindset. You live in the “here and now” and engage in a physical encounter because you don’t know when you’ll get the next opportunity to. Or you may prefer to sleep with someone who you like/ someone who likes you but Joe Random will do, for now.

4. Casual sex can encourage us to deny our human desire for emotional connection. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are a bunch of new barriers we put up in between being single and in a relationship. It seems like there are unspoken contests these days based on who can act like they care less. It’s not unreasonable to develop feelings for someone you’re sleeping with.

5. Casual sex can get very old, very quickly. I realized that it wasn’t for me when I came to the conclusion that I had no desire to sleep with a man who didn’t care about me or my wellbeing. I know that may sound overly simplistic but I can’t wrap my head around heading over to a man’s place when I know he wouldn’t call me an Uber to get back home.

Ultimately, it’s a highly personal choice that has very murky terms and I don’t really like murky. But if you do find that it works for you, cool. Or if you find that you’re “catching feelings” remember: there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

In a time where marriage rates are lower than ever but the dialogue around relationships has never been more contentious, I wonder if embracing a “slow burn” approach is better.

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