And does a wonderful job explaining why the pro-“chastity,” anti-choice crowd is so thoroughly misogynist, seeing men as actors and women as passive objects:
She’s concise, I’ll give her that.
The Sixties generation thought everything should be free. But only a few decades later the hippies were selling water at rock festivals for $5 a bottle. But for me the price of “free love” was even higher.
There are a few themes to every piece of writing by Dawn: Blaming the 60s generation for their “free love,” universalizing her experience and assuming that her beliefs and preferences apply to all women everywhere, and pointing to Sex and the City as a modern incarnation of all of our social ills.
What Dawn conveniently ignores is the fact that pre-marital sex has always existed, and that rates of premarital sex have remained fairly stable in this country since the 1950s, the decade of abstinence-fetishism. Major difference between the 1950s and now: If women were found out to be having sex, or if they became pregnant, they were punished a whole lot harder for it. Which seems to be the goal that Dawn et al are striving for.
I sacrificed what should have been the best years of my life for the black lie of free love. All the sex I ever had — and I had more than my fair share — far from bringing me the lasting relationship I sought, only made marriage a more distant prospect.
As opposed to the 95% of married women who had sex before they were married. Clearly, fucking destroyed their prospects for getting hitched.
I am 37, and like millions of other girls, was born into a world which encouraged young women to explore their sexuality.
Horror of horrors. It would be better to go the route of yesteryear, or borrow practices from other sexually repressive cultures: Keep girls nice and ignorant about sex, marry them off as soon as they can get pregnant, have their husbands rape them on their wedding nights, and hang the bloody bedsheets from the window to prove that she was “pure.” Who needs this “exploration of sexuality” nonsense anyway? All a girl needs to know is how to lay back, spread ’em, and think about her wifely duties.
Whatever Greer and her ilk might say I’ve tried their philosophy — that a woman can shag like a man — and it doesn’t work. We’re not built like that. Women are built for bonding.
Except for the women who it does work for. But they’re certainly just suffering from false consciousness (who knew Dawn was a closet Marxist?)
Women aren’t “built” for bonding any more than men are — which is to say, many of us seem to be, since pair-bonding is a pretty common experience throughout human history. But certainly not all of us are “built” that way. What is completely unheard of throughout human history is a society in which no one had sex until it was ordained by a religious or governmental authority. Or a society in which everyone had one and only one partner for their entire lives. So either we’re talking about how we seem to be naturally “built,” or we’re talking about how Dawn would like everyone to be. Those aren’t the same things.
We are vessels and we seek to be filled. For that reason, however much we try and convince ourselves that it isn’t so, sex will always leave us feeling empty unless we are certain that we are loved, that the act is part of a bigger picture that we are loved for our whole selves not just our bodies.
I’m pretty confident that there are some women out there who have had sex without being certain that they were loved, and thoroughly enjoyed it. And didn’t walk away feeling empty. But those women could come out in herds and the Dawn Edens of the world would ignore them, choosing instead to argue that their own experiences must hold true for everyone.
That said, there are plenty of women who do feel that sex is best when we’re loved. That’s a perfectly respectable belief. But why a wedding ring is the only thing that proves “love” is beyond me. I honestly question if a man can truly love a woman — as an equal and as a partner — if he believes that sex is dirty and soils her, unless he’s the one doing it, and only after he’s paid for it. I honestly question if a woman can truly love a man, or enjoy sex, if she believes that her own body is inherently sinful, and that men are selfish beasts who have to be roped into marriage, otherwise they’ll leave you — and that sex is a gift she bestows upon him, for his pleasure, in exchange for money, security and social status.
This is why the talk of “saving my virginity” makes me thoroughly uncomfortable. Love and partnership shouldn’t be about an exchange of commodoties — her body for his commitment and support. That view strikes me as thoroughly cynical, ugly and sad (not to mention misogynist and misandrist at the same time). I don’t want my partner’s decision to commit to me to be based on his access to sex. I don’t want to frame sex as something I’m “giving” to him, or submitting to, or trading for things he’s reluctant to give up. I don’t want my value as a person to center around the state of my hymen, or be in a relationship where sex is shameful, male-centered, and something that must be controlled (at least in women).
Our culture — both in the media via programmes such as Sex and the City and in everyday interactions — relentlessly puts forth the idea that lust is a way station on the road to love. It isn’t. It left me with a brittle facade incapable of real intimacy.
There’s the requisite Sex and the City nod. Is lust a way station on the road to love? Sure, sometimes. Sometimes not. Apparently for Dawn it wasn’t. But, call me crazy, I’ll bet there are more than a few people out there who lusted after their partners before marrying them.
The misguided, hedonistic philosophy which urges young women into this kind of behaviour harms both men and women; but it is particularly damaging to women, as it pressures them to subvert their deepest emotional desires. The champions of the sexual revolution are cynical. They know in their tin hearts that casual sex doesn’t make women happy. That’s why they feel the need continually to promote it.
Glad that Dawn knows the deepest emotional desires of all women. After all, she is one, right? So she must know how all of deeply, secretly feel.
I suppose I’m one of those tin-hearted sexually liberated gals, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard casual sex promoted as a universal good in the same way that abstinence before marriage is. That seems to be the fundamental difference — sexually active, unmarried women may say “My sex life is great” or “I feel no need to wait for marriage” or “Have you heard about this new form of birth control?” or “This is what I like sexually — if you’re sexually active, maybe you’d like it to,” but I’ve never heard a woman claim that sex before marriage is the best thing for all women, or that because they like having sex before they’re married that all women must secretly desire it. They don’t make blanket statements about what does and does not make women happy when it comes to our sexual lives. They know that women are diverse people, with varying values and desires and bodies and experiences, and that when it comes to something as fundamental and as complicated as sex, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option. The pro-chastity folks, on the other hand, don’t put chastity out there as one option among many, which may be better for some women. No, they claim it to be the only moral answer, something that everyone will benefit from. They claim that pre-marital sex is always damaging. They claim to know what every single woman, everywhere, desires — and if she says she doesn’t desire it, she’s fooling herself.
How can you argue with that?
Reading articles like these always makes me sad. How jaded — or out of touch, or misanthropic — does one have to be to view sex, women and men the way that the virginity-fetishists do? All I know is that if I ever foolishly dated a guy who thought my virtue as a person was located in my lady-parts, he wouldn’t be allowed to touch me with a ten-foot pole (not that my objections would likely mean very much to a dude who thinks that women are property purchased in marriage, but a girl can dream. And he probably wouldn’t want to come near soiled little me anyway).
The rest of the article is worth reading, because it does a pretty good job of illustrating the various issues which led Dawn to the place she is now. I don’t doubt that Dawn is happier with her life today than she was ten years ago, and I think that’s wonderful. I even think it’s wonderful that she’s willing to share her experience and her story with others. What I don’t think is so wonderful is her idea that everyone is exactly like her. Or that those of us who have sex for pleasure, regardless of our marital status, all view sex like she did, or that we use sex the way that she did.
I’m certainly not the only person who takes issue with Dawn’s article. Some Brits aren’t too thrilled with it either:
Now she has become a heroine for the creepy ‘chastity’ movement in America, whereupon young girls sport silver rings as a sign they haven’t been ‘soiled’ yet. Lovely. Let’s not give young girls information on how to deal with sex, let’s just make them petrified of it, and of losing their ‘purity’ – you know, kind of MySpace meets the Dark Ages.