When I was 19, I had already become a self-proclaimed Slut. I held this title proudly (as I still do, but with far more understanding of what it means to me personally).
At 19, I tore through sex partners like it was my god damn life force. I went to Irish pubs downtown, I would get wasted off beer and tequila shots, wear short skirts that rode up over my ass, dance to Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy, and I would wait patiently until 1 or 2 in the morning when I would vacate the premises with some random boy. I was so proud of my achievements… like each different penis that entered my body was a notch I could carve into my Professional Wall of Fuckery, and, with this, each notch had the magical ability to give me a golden star of self-worth and desirability (shout out to society for this fucked up psychological training).
This is where the grey area starts and I feel like such giant outcome of everything our Westernized culture has told me I should be and I am enraged.
I have an unusually high sex drive. I knew this at 19 and I know this now. I was working with the information I had at my disposal to achieve the goals I wanted to reach: have as much sex as I could.
If I hadn’t been ferociously recording everything in journals, I would’ve told you that I rocked that shit. That I was the one in power in those situations and that sure, the men folk were using me, but I was also using them. The playing field was level. After I realized how easy it was to get laid, I upped the ante and often orchestrated these intensely intricate dates in order to not only bed the men, but get them “hooked”. I got high off seducing men that held more power than I did: older, *better* looking, wealthy, teacher, CEO, etc.
The experiences I was living empowered me. The experiences I am re-recalling shatter my heart because I know now I could not tell where being empowered stopped and being accommodating started.
What do you mean, Caitlin? I will give you an example dear reader.
One evening at Grace O’Malleys, all dolled-up real good, I went to the bar to get a Corona. The bar was busy and a friendly, 40-something old man who was sitting watching sports very politely and non-presumptively called the bartender over to our area so I could order. I teased him about wearing a baseball cap inside, and he revealed a totally bald head underneath and let me know it was because his head got cold otherwise. He was not hitting on me in any way shape or form – which I was confused by. He continued to help me get the attention of the bartender throughout the night, not once making any sort of sexual advance. At 1 or 2 in the morning, when I came up to the bar again, he asked me why I wasn’t dancing. I held out my hand, prompting him to come dance with me. He seemed astonished, but indulged me and lugged himself out to the dance floor where I pushed him up against a wall and started grinding on him, taking his hands and placing them on my young 19-year-old hips, my face tilted down, eyes staring up at him. After I lured him into making out with me for 15 minutes, I asked him to invite me back to his hotel room. He promptly complied.
I seem in charge so far, don’t I? Stupid, perhaps, going back to a 40-year-old strangers hotel room after I had inhaled 4 or 5 drinks (a lot, for me), without getting any of his information to give to my friends. But nonetheless, I set this situation up for myself. Of course, we fucked. It was fine, I’m sure. After he had finished (I couldn’t orgasm during partnered sex at this point so never even tried), I was lying naked on top of him, being coy with pillow talk and astonishing him with my real age which he had never inquired about. When, hard again, he inserted his penis without a condom into my vagina. I hesitantly accommodated. He came inside me without any warning. My reaction: a slightly inconvenienced “ugh, now I have to get Plan B tomorrow”.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? This 40-year-old man came inside a 19-year-old strange girl without any follow up conversation and I was under the impression that my reaction needed to be neutral.
So here we have a slew of things:
From this experience, I walked away feeling powerful because I felt hugely desirable. My Professional Wall of Fuckery notched this achievement of seducing a male in a position of power (because bedding men is hard…).
And also this intensely problematic pandering and accommodating to said male in position of power.
At 19 I built up a tower of self-worth through sexual conquests because I recognized that this was how I could become powerful. I was utilizing femininity to my direct benefit. This is what society, my childhood, my education, my culture told me: Be desired and be worthy. And I played and enjoyed the game because it directly benefitted me: I got laid.
Now, as I re-read all of my old journals, my sense of proud Sluttishness is mixed with a dense sadness for respect I did not get and did not know to ask for. For a deep love for my young self for fighting against gender stereotypes with bold sexuality but an immediate and intense empathy for the unrecognized and unseen trauma my body knows but I did not.
How many times I gave men access to my body and never stopped to recognize at which point I was being taken advantage of. I have so much fear and sorrow for the countless amount of young women who also don’t know where these differences lie because, as a society, we are letting our youth down because we are too scared to talk to them about sex.
At 25, this past year, I learnt that I am an accommodating person. Through no fault of my own, I was hand-crafted and sculpted into a beautiful statue of ~always putting other people first~. There is fine line between trying to better yourself as a human by humbling oneself and always thinking about other people (which is an actual thing I convinced myself I was doing – just ~being chill~ man), but realizing that you are realistically allowing people to wipe their shoes on your back as they tread through your life is a very sudden and horrific realization.
I don’t know how I can completely undo this. There is too much. So many interactions I did record, but so many I did not, and I am nearing the hundreds in regards to how many male partners I have had. And hundreds of experiences that I never directly understood as negatively until now is… too much… How much of myself have I indirectly given away? I don’t even know if I can wholly appreciate how it has effected me beyond having a deeply penetrating empathy for a completely different person that holds space in my past. And now I can’t unsee where this embedded accommodating comes up.
Am I doing myself a disservice when I choose not to speak up? Can I see clearly when I am allowing myself to be used? Am I using kink as a coping mechanism to deal with years of being used by men? Do I have a realistic standard to which I can understand power and when to utilize my own or not? I both feel as though I should brandish power in every instance because I was not given it, but equally understand how often power hinders conversation from moving forward.
Almost as soon as I was struck with this hard, deep truth, I made a vow to myself I would not compromise on my needs, wants or desires in order to accommodate another person, specifically a male person that I might be dating or fucking. I’ve begun to accumulate an elaborate list of things I will no longer tolerate:
– not checking in with myself and clarifying exactly what is is I need and want; and holding myself accountable for finding the time, space and energy to communicate these things.
– countless last minute cancelations: my time is worthy and important. I’m a fucking busy person running so much shit. I have no time to put up with your flakiness.
– not coming during partnered sex: I now push this portion to last longer often because I feel as though I need to make up for years of saying ‘oh, don’t worry about it’.
– sudden halts in communication followed by a highly expectant late night “sup?” (Read this fucking awesome article by Jess Beaulieu about Actions Speaking Louder Than Words.)
– catering to the men I was sleeping with in order to “get” to keep sleeping with them (because apparently dicks are a godsend in short supply and I should be so lucky??)
– giving an endless supply of energy into relationships that do not mirror back that energy (going through the trouble to do human-care for another person: cooking, touching, kindness, listening, and not receiving these things back without any expectation on my part).
– not being frank and honest about where the fuck you are at; omission counts as miscommunication.
Amongst other things. This new self-imposed rule has deeply and positively changed the foundation for my life and my relationships. I’ve forced myself to speak up for myself in situations I feel are being mishandled due to poor communication. I’ve actually sat down with myself to figure out what the fuck I want and how do I even go about doing that…
This weight is with me. This weight will never leave me. It is this weight that will constantly keep my fire burning to fight for better sex ed so I don’t have to worry about other young women not finding value outside of a physical body, outside of sex, outside of being desirable. This slut is still a proud slut, but now my pride comes from the energy I’ve put into investing in myself and my life experiences.