Unfortunately, most slut shamers are women. Judging other girls because their beliefs and practices misalign with your own is not a genuine form of feminism. Sex-positivity is a spectrum ranging from never wanting to be involved with someone sexually to having some form of intercourse multiple times a day. There is no right answer, and it’s okay to change where you stand on this spectrum. As long as your sexual practices make you feel good, are consensual, and don’t hurt anyone, no one, not even your best friend, roommate, or mom, has a right to judge you. Similarly, you have no right to judge another person for what makes them feel good.
Sex-Positive (adjective): Having or promoting an open, tolerant, or progressive attitude towards sex and sexuality.
The definition of sex-positive includes the words “open”, “tolerant”, and “progressive”. Thus, in order to understand other people’s sexual practices, you must be willing to drop your biases and listen to the other perspective. Obviously, you don’t have to change your ways or even agree with the other person, but in no way, shape, or form should you belittle someone for waiting until marriage or experimenting with their sexuality just because it makes you uncomfortable.
In college especially, students are not only encouraged to be sexually active, but called “prudes” for not participating in casual sex, dating apps, or random hookups. Very often not being sexually active is associated with being ugly or “not pulling” when in many cases people actively choose not to have sex. I know people who haven’t lost their virginity yet for countless reasons other than the stereotype that they are ugly or religious. One of my friends is so focused on their future and goals that they don’t want to be involved in any sexual or romantic relationship. Other friends value emotional connection and only want to sleep with people with whom they are in love. Sometimes people aren’t involved in hookup culture because they simply do not have the sex drive, time, or simply seek something else. We need to stop judging people who remain abstinent well into their 20s. My friends who focus on other aspects of their lives besides relationships and sex are just as happy and successful as other people I know who seek intimacy.
Similarly, women, more so than men, are looked down upon for sleeping around. I have heard so-called allies claim “you are being used in casual sex no matter how you approach it” and being involved in friends-with-benefits relationships is something “you need to grow out of”. Also, contrary to what all our mothers taught us, it is possible for some people to separate romantic feelings from sexual attraction. This is evident in the open relationship between my friend and her boyfriend. She explained, “I think people really misunderstand why I’m in an open relationship and think it’s about a lack with my partner instead of actively seeking connection with people, even if for a night, which is something I really love doing.” Just because someone has multiple sexual partners, doesn’t mean they are being used, not completely satisfied, or care any less about their partner. Some people fail to recognize males and females have the same sexual drive and both have sex for pleasure. In many cases, sex is a form of liberation and self-love, and is not always for attention or validation. Thus, because love comes in so many forms, my friend is proof that you can be in a successful, dedicated relationship while also exploring other sexual partners.
It is hard enough to love yourself unconditionally, but there seems to be no happy medium when it comes to sex-positivity; people who sleep around are judged by those in relationships, and those who prefer to stay abstinent are laughed at by hookup culture. Thus, as women, we must work together, without judgment or resentment, because there is nothing more toxic than women who degrade other women. Sex-positivity is an extremely relative term, so it is absurd to call yourself a feminist if you only support and respect those with similar experiences as you. Allow others to be true to their needs and continue doing what makes you happy both in and out of the bedroom!