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She Can Be Kinky—and Wife Material, Too

She Can Be Kinky—and Wife Material, Too:

“If you’re going to write about being a unicorn, be prepared for unicorn questions,” he said to me. This is how a first date once justified asking, in the midst of our first kiss, if I “have any friends.” To those of you who think he was asking about my squad, you’re wrong. Because of my profession—that is, a Playboy sex columnist—I’ve come to recognize such carefully phrased questions as innuendo. What this guy really meant was, “I want to have a threesome with you.”

I tried to laugh it off. I’m Irish. Uncomfortable laughter is how I deal with pain. “You and I haven’t even fucked yet…and you already want someone else to join us?” I replied.

My feelings were hurt but at the time, hormones dwarfed disappointment. It’s a male stereotype, but women too can be blinded by a desire for sexual gratification. I ended up sleeping with that guy that night. While the sex was incredible, his question stuck with me because of how insensitive and disrespectful it was. I tried to rationalize my sleeping with him, despite being offended, as libido taking over judgment—that I’m a thirty-something woman with needs. Still, I worried. On some deep, unexcavated level, did I not feel worthy of respect precisely because I’m sexually liberated?

I can’t tell you how many times a first date has accused me of being a tease. They presume that because I write about sex, and because I have an overtly sexual persona online, I’ve signed a moral contract that allows all sorts of assumptions about what they’re entitled to. They immediately put me in the category as a girl who’s down for anything.

Women aren’t solely responsible for sexual liberation. I shouldn’t have to reel in my sexuality for a man to respect me.

The thought of this makes complex feelings arise, and the visceral reaction I experience—nausea and a free-floating anxiety that makes my skin tighten—forces me to contemplate what’s going on. It takes a minute, but I realize my self-justifications are connected to internalized shame. It’s making me sick. I worry that in my efforts to reverse our culture’s enduring double standard of how a woman who has multiple partners is a “slut” while a man is a “hero,” I’ve had to sacrifice suitors perceiving me as “wife material,” worthy of a white dress and a walk down the aisle.

I’ve spent enough time in therapy to recognize internalized shame and I’ve read enough about social systems to resent it. I spent most of my teenage years reacting to it unconsciously. My twenties were spent embracing it. But shame is sneaky. You think you’ve got it licked, but it’s still hiding, waiting to attach itself to something you value. Love. Respect. Companionship.

One would reason that, in 2016, the Madonna-whore split would no longer be prevalent. One would hope that we’ve evolved past such black-and-white thinking. But when I interviewed three 24-year-old men in London, they all told me that they wouldn’t be interested in a relationship with a woman who “gave it up on the first night.” These are educated, working millennials. While the modern woman may be sexually liberated, how liberated is she if this idea is still ubiquitous among men?

When I call out men for objectifying me, they usually respond, “But you make me feel so comfortable.” That’s great. I’m glad you feel free enough to fly your freak flag around me. It’s truly an honor. But, slow your roll, bro. I understand you’re excited, but like a puppy that pisses on the carpet, you’re suddenly not that cute anymore. Dial it back. Try to redirect some blood back up to the bigger head. When you forget that I’m a human with a heart and propel me from zero to sex object, I get spooked.

It might be a shock, but just because I’m sexual doesn’t mean I don’t want a loving, meaningful relationship. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be courted. I might be a sex-obsessed vixen, but I’m still a hopeless romantic. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Like a man, a woman can have a heart, a career, be nurturing, be kinky, want romance, sleep with you right away and still be someone you can “take home to mom.” (In fact, this is exactly the kind of woman you should want to take home.)

We’re not living in the 1950s. You don’t have to choose between a cautionary tale—the smoking, swearing seductress with loose morals and wet panties—and the coy, giggling, wholesome virgin feigning virtue. You can have a Betty on the streets and a Veronica in the sheets—as soon as you stop you labeling a woman who sleeps with you on the first date.

Women aren’t solely responsible for sexual liberation. I shouldn’t have to reel in my sexuality for a man to respect me. Nor should I be defined by it. While I’ve written about threesomes, it doesn’t mean I want to have threesome; in fact, I’m not sure I ever want to have a threesome again. Nor should I be required to send you a nudie pic or be subjected to questions like “You think there is chance we can try anal?” before we even met. (Yes, this has all happened to me.)

Men need to start looking at their own preconceptions. Ask yourself the hard questions: When you meet a woman and she sleeps with you on the first date, what do you think about that woman? And more importantly, why do you feel that way?

Women shouldn’t have to play the role of a Victorian to make you respect us. It’s 2016. Respect us no matter what.


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