“Good Girls Don’t…But I do”
I was raised as a “good girl”. You didn’t let boys kiss you or touch you; You certainly didn’t let them take off your clothes. Above all else, if you wanted to be a “good girl” who was clean in the eyes of The Lord, you didn’t let them get in your panties. That brain-washing regarding sexuality (including, but not limited to “never let a boy see you in your nightgown; he’ll think about sex” and “if you touch yourself, it will make you selfish about your own pleasure and you won’t have a good sex life with your husband”) led me to a lot of soul-conflict and guilt as a teenager. It also led to me being a 22 year old virgin on my wedding night.
My plan when I got married was that there would only ever be one man that would take my virginity and he would be the man I’d sleep with for the rest of my life. Wrong! I suddenly find myself single in my thirties, wondering how to navigate sexual choices. Suddenly I wasn’t bound by God, marriage or anything else that I had been raised with. What does a good girl do, when the constraints are finally lifted?
Why, she experiments! I began to try on several different attitudes about sex, to try to figure out what my values were about who I slept with. It led me into some decisions that I wasn’t pleased with, yet overall I managed to navigate it without too many huge regrets. However, I quickly discovered that I wasn’t good with games or rules. At what point can a modern “good girl” sleep with a new romantic interest without feeling like she’s rushed it? At which date is she no longer “easy”?
The problem that I have is with the inequality of sexuality between the sexes. Why would I be deemed “easy” while a man’s reputation actually would go up if he sleeps with multiple women? Why am I expected to hold out until a certain time (no one can agree on when this time actually is), while it’s accepted as natural and expected that a man will probably try to get me in bed right away? Why is it okay for him to try to seduce me, yet not okay for me to allow myself to be seduced?
I’m a pragmatic person, overall. The man that I will want to wind up with, long-term, will see me as more than just a conquest. Therefore, if I sleep with him before date #10 or 20 or 30…or before the “I love you’s” or diamond rings are presented…he won’t jump ship because of his “conquest”. Not to mention, I like sex. At some point, when I really like someone and I’m attracted to them, it just feels like game playing to keep saying “no”. It is all very confusing.
I read a book once called “The Ethical Slut”. It challenged so many of the views of female sexuality in our culture, which made it a fascinating read. While I personally may not feel that some of the attitudes and behaviors would be a good fit for me, there was a line that I absolutely loved.: “Ethical sluts only sleep with people they love…and they love everybody.”
I understand the consequences of sex without committment can be much higher for a woman. If we conceive, it is our bodies and lives that are changed forever. We are somewhat at the whim of the male choice to stay or not to stay when it comes to child rearing. Between the fear of being a single mother, the religious mores that cast shame on a woman for being sexual and the desire/need for a protector and provider, who can blame women for being cautious?
Still, sometimes it seems that sex, if participated in by good girl rules, becomes less about desire and connection and having a great experience with another human being and more about manipulation and achieving some end goal. Which is what? Marriage? A meal ticket? A man who will love us and not leave us because we were good girls and waited until the “right” time?
For me, I try to take each intimacy on a case-by-case basis. Which doesn’t mean that I’m unaffected by the cliches that still float around regarding sexuality, simply that I would prefer to not play the game. There are people with whom it has taken me a long time to become intimate. There are people that I’ve dated for months and we never became lovers at all. Then there the people with whom I feel a connection and I decide to go for it. Does that make me a “bad” girl? Does it make me easy? Perhaps to some…but to the man that I will wind up with, it is only a very small facet of who I am. He won’t live by cliches and he won’t attempt to become intimate, then judge me if I say yes. I won’t be a conquest, for him to brag to his friends about. I will simply be me, as a whole package. Because, in the end, if I have to trap a man into loving me and staying with me by withholding sex, I think it might be hard for me to respect him or myself. In the end, it is up to me and me alone who I decide to share my body with.