By Lauren Cutler
I came across an Instagram post a few days ago. The first slide stated “LOVE SEX HATE SEXISM”. The first few comments, written by men, were “Let's stop normalising slutty behaviour in the name of express and freedom” and “I like how it’s an issue when a man has a preference. There’s nothing wrong with a man who prefers a woman with a lower body count or even a virgin.”
Recently, I have been using social media far less frequently. I have deleted apps such as TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter. It’s not that I find social media “silly” or a “waste of time”, I value what it has done for connectivity, small businesses, spreading the voices of those otherwise unheard, and how we can see, educate ourselves, and learn about so much more than what the media and news publish. However, I deleted apps as I spent much time reading comments under women’s and feminist posts about sex, sexuality, and women’s bodies. The comment section, I discovered, could be separated into three distinct categories.
Those applauding the posts and the messages carried and themes provoked;
Those playing devil's advocate and highlighting grey areas or areas not covered;
and those posting hateful and ignorance-based bias.
These comments, under a post dedicated to empowering women’s voices in their right to be able to express their sexuality without fear of shame and judgment, confirm that women’s sexual choices in discourse often privilege the sexual experiences of men while suggesting a women’s sexual experience is undesirable, disgusting, disgraceful and a quality which men must be aware of.
It appears that we are seeing a return to discrimination and an attempt to control women’s bodies dictated by views that have their origins in prejudice and ignorance.
You have a right to your own views on sexuality, but you don't get to force those views onto others. Enjoying sex and seeking pleasure is a human right and a gift everyone should be able to enjoy if they want.
Virginity is a social construct and always will be. Stop pressuring those who have never done sexual activities and making hurtful and harmful remarks about those who have. We need to stop judging, shaming, and having double standards for women engaging in sex.
Women have the right to use their bodies in the way they desire. If that means going out on dates with men they meet online, feeling sexually attracted to them, and wanting to engage with them, they have the right to do so consensually. Alternatively, if a woman is not interested in partaking in sexual activities, they have the right to do so without being remarked as “frigid”. Making remarks on women’s sexual activity is not only harmful to the individual, but it creates a narrative that women’s sexual choices must be debated.