Remember that cool phrase everyone started promoting back in January? Something along the lines of “let girls do whatever the fuck they want in 2017”. This is something I fully and wholeheartedly support, but I would also like to suggest a similar concept: Let girls not do whatever the fuck they don’t want to do in 2017. And 2018. And beyond.
Now, you may think those two statements are kind of redundant when taken together. I kind of think so, too. However, the second one addresses a side of empowerment which too often gets overlooked.
There has been a recent surge of sex positivity in the female community which is praiseworthy to say the least. But part of the sex positivity movement which has been brushed under the rug a bit by the media is “I don’t really want to have sex and that is okay” positivity.
There is an archaic misconception that once a woman becomes comfortable in her own skin and comfortable being upfront about her sexuality, she will then want to bang every guy in the room. I just would like to reiterate the obvious fact that it is okay to not want to have sex with everyone or with anyone.
Another strong wave in social justice circles involves pushing for and raising awareness of consent. Consent is the most important part of any sexual encounter. But consent is mostly addressed from the perspective of “you need to listen for consent before you advance”—not from the perspective of “you should feel empowered to speak up when you don’t want to give consent.”
It took me a long time to get the concept through my head that I don’t owe any man anything. It took me a long time to understand that I am more than allowed to say no to anyone I please.
It doesn’t matter if he bought your dinner, drove all the way to your place that night, treats you incredibly well, or even if he doesn’t know you at all but he bought you a drink at the club and you feel obligated to go home with somebody since it’s the weekend. It doesn’t matter. You owe that person nothing. Especially not your body! Your body belongs to you, and you are entitled to do whatever you want with it—even if that is just going home by yourself to watch Netflix.
There have been times when I have seen the look of disappointment or sheer disgust on a man’s face after I say, “It’s not happening tonight.” And, God, do I feel guilty after that! In my mind I trace over a million excuses for his disappointment, as if I’m trying to talk myself into saying yes: “But he came all this way,” “But he thought something was going to happen, so maybe it should,” “But he asked politely,” “But I don’t want him to hate me”—etcetera, etcetera.
Then I decided: who the hell cares if he thinks I’m a bitch? A guy once invited me over for the night, and I told him if I came we wouldn’t be having sex. He confirmed to me that sex didn’t matter to him. The moment I get there, I find out that sex was all he actually wanted. Those are the nights you are allowed to call your own damn Lyft and leave without saying goodbye—which is exactly what I did.
So yes, ladies, be sex positive! After all, you’ve been deprived of sexual identity your entire lives. But also: please know that you have the right to say no when you need to say no! And say it with authority—after all, you don’t owe anyone anything. So here’s to girls not doing whatever the fuck they don’t want to do in 2017… and forevermore.