Disclaimer: This article vaguely addresses my own sexuality. So if you are a family member or friend that does not want to read that stuff, do not read this article.
My Sluthood, Myself at Feministe.
The article that changed everything.
I now quote and refer to that article on a near routine basis. I find myself defending a lifestyle I once looked down on. I changed my entire outlook on sex, sexuality, and relationships.
In that article, I found myself. Near every word Jaclyn wrote at the start, I found myself in. As she worked through her tale of heartbreak, exploration, and eventual salvation, I realized many things about myself.
I had never really seen sex itself as a bad thing, but specifically lots of sex with lots of people. I had grown up in the mindset that sex was something you reserved for people you were only really super-serious about. Sex outside of marriage was too dangerous to mess around with. Even though my family was always fairly candid about sex, the community around us was not. My school only taught abstinence. Or you would get the Clap and die (vis-a-vis, Mean Girls). Nice girls didn't have sex until marriage. Okay girls only had sex in long term relationships. Bad or dirty girls slept around.
This led to some twisted connections in my head that Jaclyn points out. I had related sex with affection with something more. Even though the connection isn't really necessarily there, I had always just assumed the connection.
After a relationship turned nasty early on in High School, I was particularly afraid of sex. Terrified. I told myself I would only ever have sex with someone after I had dated them for at least a year. Then I knew, I told myself, that it was for real and I could invest that much of myself into the relationship. So college finally rolled around, and I felt like it was okay. I had been with someone for well over a year, we were having sex, and all was fine and dandy.
That relationship ended after four long, drawn out and messy years. We finally realized that we really had no business being together and separated. I immediately jumped into another relationship. And the sex was phenomenal. He seemed amazing. Everything I had ever dreamed of in a partner. Sure, he had his flaws, but I figured no one is perfect (especially not me) and we were great in every other aspect of the relationship, so it was fine. I thought it was going to be permanent.
I was wrong. Horribly wrong.
The relationship ended suddenly and catastrophically. He cheated. And he revealed a wealth of issues he had kept bottled up and never shared until it was over. Including inadequacies in our sex life. I was completely blindsided and shattered. I cried for weeks. I would hide in the back room at my job and just bawl my eyes out. I was a mess. My friends tried desperately to console me and keep me busy. But nothing seemed to help. A month went by and I was still a mess.
So to the internet I went. I looked through dozens of articles about mourning a relationship's end. They all said it gets better. But I couldn't see how. Then I stumbled on Jaclyn's article at Feministe. I read it. Then I read it again. Then I printed it out and re-read it at work. Every time I worked through it, a light began to shine. I could do this. I too could exist in pieces. I longed for physical touch, but knew I was no place for a relationship. I decided right then and there to try it out. And I did. And it was awesome.
For over 2 months I set up date after date with strangers (always being sure to have a friend on speed-dial and aware of my plans just in case) and had casual, non-committal sex. I still wanted a relationship at some point. Just not right then. I wasn't ready, and I knew that. There's this myth out there that you'll 'run out of love' or some shit if you just sleep around. But it simply isn't true.
During that time is when I seriously started talking to the person who would become Significant Other. I also started a friends-with-benefits deal with someone else. I joked with my friends that there was The Guy I'm Seeing, and The Guy I'm Fucking. Eventually, the friends-with-benefits deal ended and Guy I'm Seeing was promoted to Significant Other. I did not become attached to every guy I slept with. Nor was I 'used up' (or whatever) by the time I decided to be with Significant Other.
My sluthood put my relationship with Significant Other into perspective. I knew from the get-go what it was, and what it was not. There was never any confusion. We were always clear with each other about what our feelings were and were not and we did not go into it with any expectations. And so far, this is the most fulfilling and satisfying relationship I've had. I couldn't be happier.
There is a huge disparity between what is considered acceptable for men and women in my generation when it comes to sex. Men are almost pitied if they don't have a lot of sex with a lot of partners. Women are dirty if they do. And I was among that crowd of people that encouraged those norms for a long time. I subconsciously felt myself somehow superior to the "slutty" girls because I was only having sex with one person in a long term relationship. It is a double standard I actively participated in without even being aware of it.
Being slutty, and having friends that were also sluts (we all went through this phase in about the same time span) meant I realized how freeing it can be. I felt powerful. I also felt supported because I had friends who knew what our lifestyle choices meant and what people would say about us. I now find myself standing up for girls that I may not know or may not even like for being sluts. I tell many of my male friends that it's fine if they don't like a girl for other reasons, but don't hate on her just because she's a slut.
As Jaclyn says: Being a slut saved me, but it isn't for everyone. Not everyone can make the distinctions between sex and intimacy. I went from feeling terrible about myself and feeling like I would never be desired like I was again, to feeling empowered and in control of my life and my sexuality. Others may find ways to get there through other means. Sluthood in itself is not something to hold against someone, and being monogamous does not make you an inherently better person than the slut. Support the sluts in your life.