8 April 2009, 14:06
(Disclaimer: I am aware this whole article is extremely heteronormative — how does this resonate with people in the gay, lesbian, transgender community? Is it same same but different? I’d love to hear!)
I’ve been thinking a lot about first date etiquette recently, & specifically the idea that women shouldn’t sleep with men on the first date. It’s spoken about so seriously by some women, like it would be the absolute worst thing you could possibly do. It bothers me.
It’s sexist. It’s ridiculous. & worst of all, we bring it on ourselves by continuing to warn our girlfriends that sex on the first date is a relationship curse. To show you how asinine it is, think about this: You never hear guys telling one another, “Man, don’t bang her straight away! She won’t be interested any more! She’ll think you’re easy! That you don’t value yourself! Whatever you do, hold off!” Stupid, right? Yes. So why is it any different when someone with breasts is saying it? It’s this whole idea that men are always gunning to get laid & as women, it’s our responsibility to make sure they don’t get what they want — so that when they finally get it, they’ll be so grateful that they’ll marry us… or something. ...What?!
I actually think this whole “don’t sleep with him on the first date” nonsense really stems from fear. A fear that once you “give it up”, he won’t be interested in you any more. When you break it down, this is essentially saying, “All I have to offer is a sexual experience — nothing more, nothing less — & if I don’t make him wait, he won’t value it, & he will leave”. That you are not interesting, or smart, or clever, or hilarious — you’re a walking blow-up doll.
Come on, girl! Do you really think that the only value you bring to a relationship is your magical vagina ambrosia?! Really? If you do actually, really & truly believe that, it could explain why you keep attracting men who treat you as if that’s all that matters. But damn! Let’s get real! That is not all you have to offer. We, as women, need to stop behaving as if the exterior is all that we have. Sure, being a woman is wonderful — we get to dress up, wear lipstick, etc. etc. — but that is not all there is! You know this already; I know you know this. So why do we keep acting as if we don’t?
We are taught, as women, that our sexual power is the most important thing we have. That we have to lord it over men to keep them in line, or in check, or to get them to do what we want. While a bit of mild flirtation has its benefits & makes everyone happy, using your vagina as a method of keeping a man interested is kind of disingenuous. Call me an idealist, but what happened to honesty?
Compound all this with this constantly-perpetuated pretense that all any man is really interested in is getting into your knickers, which is NOT TRUE. Yes, there are some men who just want to screw, nut & bolt (ahem). They have their own issues & are best avoided unless you like your sex life with a side serving of drama. But there are even more men who would actually really like to kick it with you, kiss, laugh, eat some food & go to sleep holding you. Seriously. They are all over the place.
Truth: Men are just as fascinated by women as women are by men. They think we’re so interesting — & they’re right! So if men know it, why don’t we? Time to catch up, girls.
Obviously, you don’t have to sleep with anyone. Ever. This is not a “get it on or you’re not a real woman” missive. It goes without saying that you should only ever get intimate with someone you really like, & who makes you feel good about yourself, & if it feels right to you. Sometimes that happens on the first date, & sometimes it doesn’t. You’re not obligated to behave in any particular way, but really what I’m trying to draw attention to is that we shouldn’t limit our behaviour because we believe we’re not good enough to keep someone if we don’t behave in this or that specific way.
It all comes down to self-love. When you really love yourself, you know how great you are. You’re not going to be freaked out & think that what lies behind your cute knickers is all that matters. You don’t start counting backwards to the end of the affair as soon as you begin taking your clothes off. You know you can make him laugh & make him think & spin his world three ways from Sunday. You have faith in your value as an awesome person & not just an example of idealised femininity. You recognise that the best times you can have with someone occur when you drop the I’m-a-woman-you’re-a-man stuff & just relate as people. When you realise that sex is fun but that’s not all there is.