In a world that judges women by how many people they sleep with, who they sleep with, and under what circumstances they sleep with them, it's worth putting out a friendly reminder that there are many things your sex life does not say about you — namely, everything. Really, what your sex life says about you is nothing except, well, how you have chosen to conduct your sex life. You deserve to make whatever sexual decisions you want without anyone drawing conclusions about your character, personality, or identity.
Due to misconceptions about what our sexual choices say about us, it's commonplace for women to experience slut-shaming — condemnation for being "too" sexual. Because the ideal woman in our society is sexually innocent and therefore "pure," having a lot of sex is often thought to make a woman less desirable as a partner. But we can't really win, because not having sex leads women to be deemed prudes who are withholding what they supposedly owe their partners.
Obviously, this is all B.S. You get to say who you are, and nobody else does, no matter what they observe about you. So here are some things you should never let anyone draw conclusions about based on your sexual behavior.
1. How Innocent You Are
Contrary to popular belief, you don't become less innocent after you have sex, and your level of innocence does not gradually decrease each time you have sex thereafter. Innocence is a personality trait and a state of mind. It means going about the world with a sense of wonder and retaining faith in people no matter how many times you've been knocked down. No person or sexual experience can take that away from you.
2. How Mature You Are
Just as having sex doesn't make you less innocent, it doesn't make you more grown-up. Teenagers who have sex are just as young as any other teenager, and adults who have sex are just as grown-up as adults who have not. Your maturity is based on your responsibility, sensibility, empathy, and ability to navigate a variety of situations, and you don't need to have sex to develop those qualities.
3. How Dateable You Are
If anyone claims they're more or less attracted to you due to your level of sexual experience, they're not viewing you as a full human being. No matter what a woman has done sexually before she meets a potential partner, her date should evaluate her based on how loving, thoughtful, and interesting she is. And if someone is jealous of people you've dated or slept with in the past because they want you all to themselves, that's a sign of possessiveness — run in the opposite direction.
4. How Much You Respect Yourself
Well-intentioned people will occasionally get concerned about women who have casual sex on the grounds that they're "being taken advantage of." But this is one case where "concern" is really concern-trolling. If you made a decision to enter into a sexual encounter and were not pressured or coerced, you aren't being taken advantage of. In a heterosexual hookup, people always seem to assume that the man had the initial idea, he convinced the woman to go along with it, and by letting him get his way, she disrespected herself. But sexual coercion can work both ways, and there are obviously many situations where there's no coercion at all on either end. There are many, many reasons you might choose to have sex other than someone else's pressure. And even if you are a victim, that still doesn't diminish your self-respect because it wasn't your fault.
5. How Much Of A Feminist You Are
If you enjoy assuming a submissive role during power-play, that doesn't mean you're a submissive person in real life — or that it's ever OK for anybody to treat you as below them. In fact, you can enjoy any sexual act without being less of a feminist for it. And that's true even if you suspect your submissiveness or any other sexual trait is rooted in internalized misogyny. No doubt, our culture can play into our sexual preferences, but that doesn't mean we have to deny what we like. We can be aware of society's influences on our desires without judging ourselves for having them, and we can still explore them no matter where they came from.
6. How Liberated You Are
For some women, liberation means pursuing sexual pleasure whenever they feel like it. But for others, it means having the confidence and will-power to say "no" to the kinds of relationships that don't work for them. And casual hookups don't work for everyone. Some people prefer to have a deeper emotional connection with someone before sleeping with them, some take time to build up trust, some have safety concerns about being in an intimate setting with someone they don't know, and some don't want to get attached too quickly. These are all valid considerations for anyone, and considering them doesn't make you less free.
7. What Your Sexual Orientation Is
It might seem like if there's one thing your sex life says about you, it's your sexual orientation. But you get to decide how you identify — not any outside observer. According to a recent CDC report, there are more people who have had same-sex sexual encounters than there are people who consider themselves LGBT, and that's fine! You're allowed to do whatever you feel like sexually without adopting a label that doesn't resonate with you.
8. What Gender You Are
Your sexual choices don't say anything about what gender you identify with or how masculine or feminine you are. You can be dominant in the bedroom and be feminine, and you can be submissive and masculine. You can sleep with women and be feminine, and you can sleep with men and be masculine. You can also sleep with transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming folks, and that says nothing about your sexual orientation or your gender identity.
In short, who you have sex with says literally nothing about you other than who you have had sex with. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
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