Q: Dear Auntie,
Lately I feel like my friends have been ‘slut shaming’ me. I have an active sex life, but I’ve never thought of myself as promiscuous. I want to enjoy my time here and have some fun, but I don’t want to go too far and be considered a ‘slut’. After all, they’re my friends so I should listen to them, right?
A: Dear Reader,
We’re at a time in our lives where we can, and should, make mistakes. We should try new things, talk to new people, experience life and enjoy it. No one, especially your friends should try to take that away from you. In our so-called ‘progressive society’ we’re supposed to be accepting of all walks of life, but old values die hard and a sexually active girl can still, unfortunately, seen to be a slut.
With all the stresses we have in our lives as students: essays, making new friends, working out who we are and what our future holds, we need something in our life that is constant and doesn’t add extra stress – that’s where friends come in. Sex is also great way to alleviate stress – it’s like yoga but more fun. As long as the sex you are having is consensual and you don’t feel pressured, then you can have as much or as little of it as you like, and you should never feel guilty for that.
I come from a traditional thinking family. Not quite ‘no sex before marriage’ but having sex outside a long-term relationship was frowned upon. It took me a while to work out that having sexual ‘adventures’ (as I like to call them because you learn something new with every partner) was something I could do, without guilt or shame. Naturally, the reasons my family had for their opinion were centred around how I would be viewed. A girl who has sex? God forbid! People might start to think you like it! (let’s all roll our eyes together 3…2…1).
I care what people think. I turn red with embarrassment when I accidentally play a video aloud in the silent section of the library, I feel self-conscious when my shoes make too much of a noise, or if my hair looks weird – how people view me is a concern. But when it comes to my sex life, other than the person I’m having sex with, no one else’s opinion matters. Don’t like the person I’m with? Then don’t talk to them. Don’t like the fact it’s outside a relationship? You’re entitled to that opinion, but don’t judge me by your standards.
I hold myself to certain values – I like to think we all do – and, to me, those values and standards are important; they help me lead a fun but safe life. That said, I am fully aware that not everyone, not even some of my friends, share those standards. The role of a friend is not to criticise or impose a view, it is to support. If your friends are not supporting you, then they’re not being very good friends. They are well within their rights to not have sex themselves or to think that they would only want sex inside a relationship, or marriage. What they are not entitled to do is impose that view on you and expect you to conform to it.
So, the next time your friend makes a snide remark about your sex life, address it. Tell them it makes you uncomfortable. More often than not in these situations, you find that it is the critic, and not the criticised, who has the problem.
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