Taking Sexy Back: A Guest Post
The following is a guest-post by Cam Ostrow, as part of the SPARK campaign. Cam is from Newton, MA, and is currently a sophomore studying English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Colby College.
Hi, my name is Cam. I’m 19 years old, I still watch Survivor religiously, I’m an English major, I’m a camp counselor, I hate football, I can’t cook, I’m half-Japanese, my first concert was Britney Spears, I didn’t understand the ending of “Inception,” and oh yeah… I also like having sex. Actually, I like it a lot. I’d like to think that, that’s okay and that I can still have a life outside of my sexuality… but then again, a life separate from the one I lead in the bedroom seems almost impossible. On the days when I’m “DTF” (that is, Down to Fuck), I’m just a whore; but when I’m not, I’m just a virgin. At least, that’s what everyone seems to tell me— But they’re wrong, because the fact is that there are so many facets to my personality… so why is it that everything else has to fade away as soon as my sexual desires come into play?
Last weekend, for example, I had sex. He wasn’t my boyfriend and to be quite honest, I didn’t even know him very well… but sometimes sex just happens. No, I wasn’t clad in some tight leather mini skirt, and no, I was not drugged. I’m not some self-conscious little girl dying for attention and he’s not some pig who prayed on my insecurities to get into my pants. I was having a good time, I had a few drinks in me, and I just wanted to. That was all. No being slapped around, no unwilling blow-jobs… no feelings of unwarranted subordination. I met him, I liked him, I had sex with him. End of story.
My girlfriends had one of two reactions to my night of fun: either they danced around me like the “tell me more” ladies in Grease, saying, “you totally want to date him now!” or they gave me a look of sad pity and quietly insisted that this “wasn’t the best way to get over my ex-boyfriend.”
The problem with these responses was how distinctly they characterized my sexuality in terms of men: I was either in search of pleasing a man, or I was using a man to gain some sense of reassurance. Without question or even a second thought, I now had to frame my sexuality in terms of a man simply because my femininity barred me from framing it any other way. But the truth of the matter is that I hadn’t become a sexual object at the hands of my male counterpart; I had just acted on my basic human desire. It wasn’t my sexual act which brought about such objectification, but instead, it was the responses which followed that left me totally prone to assumptions about my personality based solely on my sexual activity.
And what’s perhaps most troubling about my girlfriends’ reactions to my one-night-stand is how perfectly they fit into the media’s portrayal of female sexuality. Females who exhibit desire today are either insecure weaklings looking for approval through men, or more simply put, whores. Conversely, females who do not flaunt their sexuality are either virginal angels equipped with white haloes and blue jays circling their heads, or of course, prudes. But why is that my sexuality had to become this all-consuming entity linking me inextricably to my “duties to men”? Why can’t I be a sexual creature, but also a human being?
I think my best friend said it best the morning after my sexual episode when he said, “Damn, nice one girl. Want to watch a movie?” In his eyes, I hadn’t become some needy puppy dog vying for male approval and I hadn’t become some Lara-Croft-seductress; I was still just me. And we continued about our days knowing that my sexual identity was there, but that it wasn’t ALL that was there.
And that’s precisely what taking sexy back means to me: that we can be sexy or we can be not sexy and we can have sex or not have sex without reservations. We are not our sexual identities and every sexual move we make does not have to render us stagnant sexual objects totally at the hands of men. So here I am – maybe some days I’m “the virgin” and some days I’m “the whore,” maybe some days I’m feeling sexual and some days I’m not; regardless, there will never be a day when my sexual identity consumes me. After all, even in the wake of my sexuality, the rest of me can never fade away and in the end, I can have sex with every guy in the world but still never understand the ending of “Inception.”