So, I'm twenty-seven. I grew up in a loving two-parent household and I very much want that for myself. I'm educated, I cook, I clean, and like so many good women, I'm single.
My average relationship lasts about four years but after each, I find myself drained, damaged, and full of disgust for myself and for the person I left. I've been single now for two years and have dated off-and-on, only to continually be disappointed. But I still have needs!
I have friends who say I should keep a roster and rotate men like toys and just enjoy the moment. There are others who would say best way to obtain a mate is the old good girl bate and hook. I am a good girl but one with sexual needs and being single does not afford any one man that loyalty.
I have been reading up on the Madonna-whore complex and it seems to fit the very nature of issues I've faced. In today's society the good girl loses because she is seen as straight laced and boring and because social media makes it so easy to cheat. Vice versa the whore is just that, seen as dumb and objectified by their male counterparts.
Naturally, I am a mix of these two but the longer I am single the more I struggle with keeping the balance or decide which side should roam free. The good girl is seen as intimidating, invisibly flawed or less womanly, due to the fact I have no male counterpart at the age of twenty-seven. The whore is seen as fast and loose, an easy target but yet a good time, and much more enjoyable to be around. But why can't a hoe be a housewife or a good girl be a freak in the sheets and still be loved for being who they are?
So now, at twenty-seven, I feel like I'm faced with the decision to be a hermit until Prince Charming arrives or party it up and let the hoe go and possibly never have the loving home I want. What is acceptable when being a young single woman in society, especially when one night on the town can make or break your reputation forever?
Dear Focused Failure,
I think your question is indicative of the times in which we live due to the generational fallout of the sexual revolution of the late 1960's and early 1970's. There seemed to be a time in the mid 1990's, however, when women began growing more unapologetic about their sexuality and shamed society for its judgements, versus allowing society to judge them. Those were the days of our Lord and Savior, Lil' Kim, when her piercing lyrics reminded us that our bodies were our own and we can do with them what we wish and say fuck anybody who tried to make us feel differently. I was a teenager back then, and Kim's rhetoric was refreshing to me as it wasn't different from the ideas swirling around in my head. Even as a child, I knew the rules and bounds of society were bullshit and conveniently written to shame only women.
I was already a young feminist.
What Men Really Want is Everything:
Here's the thing about men: they love sluts. However, just as society has made women feel self-conscious about their sex and sexuality, that same society has made men feel self-conscious about being with a woman who is aware and sexually free. But the fact of the matter is that men love women who can make all their sexual fantasies come true. No man wants to bed a woman who has no idea how to mouth him without scraping her teeth along his shaft while rolling her eyes in disgust and displeasure. There is not one single man on earth, other than a necrophiliac, who wants to hop onto of a dead fish––a woman who just lies there with no idea how to move her body with writhing ecstasy. There is not one single man on earth who doesn't want his partner to make him cum––and hard!
But here is the conundrum: how is a woman supposed to learn all of this? How is she supposed to know how to please a man if she has never been with a man? How is a woman supposed to gain the experience a man craves if she hasn't been practicing? And how is she supposed to be able to know several different ways to pleasure a man if she hasn't been with several different men? I mean, not every pony does the same tricks! Different men will teach her different things, just as different women will teach men different things.
But what if a man wants to be the only one to teach you what he has learned from the many, many women he has bedded? What if he wants you to come to him sexually inept so that he can mold you and shape you into the sexual creature he needs you to be? Well, this theory is all well and good until you want to leave and take all his sexual teachings with you to try out on the next man. No man wants that, either!
But wait, there's more!
The Extraordinary Case of Other Penises:
Men love sluts and they want a woman who knows what she's doing in bed, but men hate to think about other penises. Internally, the thought of you having seen other penises isn't so much about you being a whore, but more about you knowing there is variety and being able to judge a man's penis based on that variety. Think about it; if you have only seen one or two other penises, the chances of one of those penises being much bigger and prettier than his, narrows. But, if you've seen five, ten, or fifteen penises, then you have a sliding scale of penis metrics by which to judge his! Men love sluts but they also love virgins because said virgin has never seen a dick and to her, his pecker is huge!
So, you see, the more men you sleep with, the more insecure other men get because the first thing they want to know is, how big was that other guy? Did he make you cum more than I did? Did you suck his cock longer? Better? Where did he cum? Here? Here? Did you swallow for him but spit for me? None of it is about you and all of it is about them. Your ability and willingness to explore your sexual options allows you a greater advantage with the ability to tell a man he's just not sexually apt, and men hate to be told their dick isn't good enough.
So, they'll call you a slut, instead.
Duplicity is Good:
Not every woman has a "good girl" inside of her and not all women have a "whore" inside of them, either. Some women are either/or and some women are both, and no woman should ever feel the need to label herself as any. As I first stated in The Vixen Manual, a man will either marry his fantasy or cheat on his wife with her. I don't think it is your responsibility to present yourself as a character of some sort––good witch or bad witch. I don't believe you have to pick a side or categorize yourself to appease either version of society, much less a man. I do believe, however, that you should be on the lookout for a man who is confident and secure in his manhood and all he has to offer. This man will be smart enough to marry his fantasy––the woman who can make his eyes roll back into his head and make his toes curl and crack––and not be concerned with a sexist society. What's more, men love women with earning potential, housekeeping and cooking skills, women who are well learned and can express themselves eloquently over several platforms, women who are abreast of world events and who have educated, strong opinions about the world. Men fantasize about sexual, intellectual, confident women.
Men––not boys in men's bodies.
So, let's remove the pressure from you and put it onto the men who will come into and go from your life. You don't have to pick a side or be any particular way. Here's a thought: you can just live your life and do what makes you happy and not give two shits about what other people think, feel, or say. You can be a good woman to a good man and still blow his wig back! Being a woman isn't about compartmentalization. Being a woman isn't about either/or. Women are all things to all people, all the time. On earth, we are the Alpha and the Omega and all things in between and it is God who made us so. Your insecurity in your womanhood is what lessens your position in society, not how many men you have or have not been with.
She's Just Not That Into You(r Penis):
We all know the book, He's Just Not That Into You was based on an episode of Sex and the City and the book's writer, a script consultant on the series, was able to turn it into a film by the same name. Greg Behrendt appeared on talk shows, stunning women with all the (obvious) signs of when a man isn't really interested in being with a woman. I would sit in front of my television and laugh hysterically as women in the audience asked silly questions like, "What does it mean when you have called him repeatedly for weeks but he hasn't returned your calls at all?" It was all so ridiculous. But what caught my attention the most, is that there was no female driven equivalent of this book. There was no She's Just Not That Into You or an Oprah audience filled with confused men, wondering why women weren't interested in them! It's a discussion that is rarely had but a discussion that needs to be voiced and loudly!
It's time for you to think more about your criteria for the kind of man with which you wish to spend your life, rather than how much fun and/or sex you're having while you're a single girl and whether or not it will inhibit you from having a happy home, one day. Chances are, for every man you have sex with, a man is having sex with two or three. Now, that's not to say this is some sort of competition and that we want to have sex with as many people as men may or may not be having sex with. This is just to say that there should be no guilt associated with doing whatever makes you happy, just as a man should have no guilt associated with doing whatever makes him happy.
So, let's move on from your self imposed guilt and onto what really matters––what you want!
You're so focused on what society expects from you that you're not focusing on what you expect from you! You're so concerned about him not being into you, that you haven't considered that you may not be into him!
Change Your Rhetoric:
As I read your question, the first thing I noticed is that you have accepted and are now repeating the sexist rhetoric taught to you while you were so busy listening to what society has to say about women's bodies. There are laws governing what women can and cannot do with their bodies, yet, there are no such laws for men. There are negative terms and titles for women based on their sexual prowess and acumen, yet, there are only positive ones for men. You really believe there is such a thing as a hoe and a housewife, that these two women are vastly different, and the twain shall never meet! You have taken a social rhetoric developed to slut shame women and you have made it your own.
If you ever wish to truly own your body and your decisions regarding your body, you have to first erase and replace this male-ego driven rhetoric and know that you are not a category and you are not an object to be placed in a social scenario based on how you decide to express your sexuality. No one owns the right to put you in a box based on how you use your box and that includes you!
The Dubious Double Standard:
All of that being said, let me give you a word of advice on the sexual double standard. You can have sex with whomever you wish, when you wish, how you wish, as many times as you wish. You can do whatever you want with your body and no one has the right to shame you for it. The thing about reputations is that they are based on what other people think and that is no way to live your life. Don't ever get so concerned with what other people think that you forget to think for yourself.
Still, just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Societal double standards are not all bad and the sexual double standard acts as a protectant. I believe in a woman's right to do whatever she wants and, simultaneously, I believe that women and men are not socially equal. I believe women are more equipped and have been given greater responsibility in the world if for no other fact than we have been entrusted by God to bring other men and women into the world. Because of this responsibility, I believe we have to be mindful about who we let into our space and into our bodies.
Internal vs External:
In The Vixen Manual, I very plainly discussed the difference between the sexual experience of men and women. For men, sex is an external process whereas, for women, the experience is internal. Therefore, women internalize every sexual experience and the outcome of that experience effects her in many, many ways. Be careful about who you choose to share your body with because when you agree to have him lay inside you, you agree to take on, to internalize, his energy and his spirit. Sex is more than physical and those needs you claim to have are not needs, at all. Sex is only a need when it is being used to procreate. Other than that, sex is a want. Do not fool yourself into thinking you need sex because you don't.
But, It's Not About Sex, Is It?
When you allow men into your life who are only interested in taking from you, you will always find yourself depleted, be it after a relationship or a sexual tryst. No one you let into your life should ever leave you feeling drained, damaged, and full of disgust. The fact that this is how you describe the end of your relationships makes me wonder if your choosing skills are a bit off. Because you see, the thing is, if you were involved with or having sex with a man or men who only give, relationships nor sex would ever leave you feeling broken. Men who are in your life to give instead of take, will not try to objectify you or think you were dumb, simply because you are sexually secure and free. Men who are in your life to give instead of take, will not try to make you feel as if being conservative is boring or that social media is a playground for cheating.
So, you see, none of this is about good girl versus bad girl, hoe versus housewife, or reputations. All of this is about what you have been taught about female sexuality and about men––all of which is wrong––just as the concept of Prince Charming is wrong, just as the concept of what is acceptable is wrong.
Your biggest issue is you. It's the way you think and how you have allowed yourself to be taught and configured. You have let men, women, and society overall shame you for so long, that you now internalize that shame and allow it to label you, and rule your decisions.
Here's Your Homework:
Get mad. In order for you to shake off the shame and titles that society has driven into your psyche, you're going to have to get mad about it. A great way to do that is to face society head-on. Now, naturally, you can't walk outside your front door and fight the whole world, but you can take a trip through the internet and familiarize yourself with some of the things being said to women about their bodies and their overall existence.
Check out these top ten feminist blogs. The goal here is not to turn you into a feminist, but to expose you to how many people around the world are telling women how to be, what to wear, how to act, who to fuck, where to work, when to marry, how many children to have, and more.
Here's What Will Happen:
You will begin to feel a sense of outrage for the female oppression victims you read about and you will feel a sense of camaraderie with the heroes you will find. Then, you will realize that none of these women are very different from you and that even though some may be in other countries, many oppressed women are right here, just as women who fight against oppression.
When you take a broader look at all the wars women have to fight, you will want to rail against every bit of social stigma and definition being put upon you. Over time, you will be empowered to take control of your body and your thoughts about your body. When you become more secure in your womanhood and all the things it means to be a woman, you will see men more clearly.
You will begin to make decisions, not based on what others may think or say, but based on what you want and need for your life. Once you have wrangled yourself into self-awareness and security, you will stop questioning yourself and begin questioning the men (and other people) who wish to be a part of your life. You will no longer worry about what this fucked up society thinks about you, but what you think about it.
Live your life, Focused Failure, knowing you must switch your focus and that you have never been a failure.
Have you ever felt the need to hide one part of you in order to not be judged by society? Do you feel as is you can't be a sexual being as a single woman and still be worthy of a loving relationship? How have you broken the sexual stigma designed to shame women?
New York Times best selling author, keynote speaker and workshop leader, founder of The Gorgeous Girl's Guide, Steffans Publishing Enterprises, and Karrine & Co.