Having recently read that married women in medieval times were not permitted any sexual position other than missionary, I started to think about just how far we’ve come in terms of our attitudes towards casual sex. Throughout the decades, women have been wombs, witches, whores, and wives. So how does the modern female university student view casual sex?
Casual sex is definitely on the rise. Netdoctor.com notes that a survey published by Bradley University in late 2008 showed that the UK is the ‘one-night stand’ capital of western industrialised nations. And why not? As one of the most fabulous human experiences you can have, why ration yourself?
It seems as though men have always had the run of their sexual desires, and it’s taken us women a while to catch up. After asking a female friend why she engaged in casual sex, ‘Uhhh… cause it feels good’ was her articulate reply. Surprisingly compelling.
What is undeniable is that women and men don’t have sex the same way. I think it’s safe to argue that satisfying sex takes a bit more effort for women. The combination of alcohol, ignorance and the sheer laziness of a stranger hardly add up to the best orgasm of your life. So maybe casual sex isn’t conducive to our mechanics? What I’m more reluctant to admit, is that I fear casual sex isn’t really conducive to our emotions either.
‘The Thrill of the Chaste’ author and self-professed ‘disappointed daughter of the sexual revolution’, Dawn Eden, writes about her time as a promiscuous rock journalist in the 70’s; that she was more afraid that casual sex would be good, and that she would unwillingly have formed an emotional attachment before her partner moved onto the next woman- ‘It’s in the nature of sex to awaken deep emotions within us, emotions that are unwelcome when one is trying to keep it light’.
I still remember an article I read in an American magazine when I was around 14, about the effect of the 9/11 terrorist bombings on attitudes towards casual sex. In the same way the damaged psyche of the post-WWI and WWII world sought comfort in sex and developed a ‘live for the moment’ attitude unimaginable to their parent’s generation, so did a post 9/11 America. People were supposedly being less selective about sexual partners, and generally much more promiscuous in their search for immediate gratification.
One might argue that the same kind of atmosphere is prevalent in a university environment. Students are wired to believe that their university years are a golden time of late nights and loose morals to be savoured before entering the real world to settle down with one partner. Temptation is everywhere. The culture of sex in university replaces everyday intimacy with ‘sharking’ and a recent wish of a friend- ‘he’s so fit I hope I don’t walk for weeks’. Seems university is a romance-free zone. It’s like having Rufus Wainwright’s Instant Pleasure stuck in your head for three years.
I must admit, the Sex & The City ‘women who have sex like men’ seem a little unrealistic. I’m completely in favour of women being able to enjoy sex exactly the same way men do. And yet its naïve to deny that women face social pressure to either be chaste, or discreet. For a girl, is it a walk of shame, or a stride of pride? Are we wired to enjoy the physical side without once wondering ‘will he text me later?’ Either way, free love has never seemed so expensive.