Sex Positivity Blog Hop – My experience with slut-shaming

spbhbanner-3I’m posting today as part of the Sex Positivity Blog Hop created by Grace Duncan.  The idea behind it is for romance authors to share positive views about sex, as opposed to the negative views presented so often in the media and in our culture.  I’m a story-teller, so I prefer to discuss things like this as they relate to me personally, as part of the story of my life, rather than in the abstract.  And I’ll use kittens to illustrate my points, because… well, they’re cute.

To see the other stops on the blog hop, go here.

black catI’ve always had a very casual attitude toward sex—it’s fun and I enjoy it, but I’ve never connected it to love.  Love is how I feel about a very select few people in my life, including my husband, of course.  But sex?  I’ve had a lot of it.  Some of it was with friends, and some was with people I didn’t know.  I’ve tried nearly every position I can think of, and quite a few kinks.  Some of it was special, some of it was incredibly hot, some of it was awful.  But only when it was with someone I cared about deeply did it have any emotional power.

I’m not saying this is the way everybody should feel about sex, but it’s the way I’m wired.  Love is love, and sex is for fun.

It surprised me to learn, as I grew older, that some people found me disgusting because of this.  One of the most hurtful things that happened to me when I was dating was when I was on a second date with a man I was very attracted to.  We ended up back at my apartment, making out passionately on my bed.  I assumed this meant we would be having sex soon, so I joked, “I’ll warn you—I’m easy!”

386200_2673280425520_1061443511_32785704_1832786642_n.jpgHe jerked away and said in a disgusted voice, “I’m not!”  Then he left, and I never saw him again.  All calls to his number went unanswered.

I ran into more men like this over the years—men who initially found me attractive, but quickly dumped me when they found out I’d had a lot of sex in the past.  I was now “damaged goods.”  And because they saw me as worthless—certainly not as someone they could have a relationship with—to offer to have sex with them seemed to insult them.  “How dare you think I would stoop to having sex with someone like you?”

Once, when I went to look at an apartment, the landlord accosted me, pulling me into a dark room and yanking down my pants.  I didn’t want it—I was dating someone, at the time, and I found this man to be repulsive—so I struggled to get free of him, and ended up fleeing with one hand pulling my pants up as I ran.  I told my boyfriend about it that night, and he responded by sneering at me and saying, “That figures.  What did you do to encourage him?”

So, needless to say, by the time I met Erich, I was used to people thinking I was a “slut.”  It wasn’t so much that I thought badly of myself for my sexual history, but I was convinced I’d given up whatever chance I might have had for a permanent relationship.

kitten cuddleThank God for Erich.  Our first “date” was more of a geeky study group for two.  We were both interested in Old Norse, the language spoken by the Vikings, so we met at my apartment to go over some lessons.  When we got tired of that, we ended up making out.  I came onto him, and he didn’t play hard to get or act offended.  He acted as if he was lucky to have found me.  And I quickly realized I was lucky to have found him.

We’ve been together for thirteen years now.  We’ll be celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary this week, in fact.  During this time, Erich has always enjoyed hearing about the sexual antics I used to get up to in my youth.  He hadn’t been quite so adventuresome himself.  But whenever I mention how men used to make me feel there was something “tainted” about me for being so experienced, he pulls me into his arms and laughs.  “Then they missed out,” he tells me.  “I love hearing your stories.  I think they’re hot.”

So I may not be the type of guy every man wants to marry.  But that doesn’t matter anymore, because Erich wanted to marry me.

I wrote about some of this, fictionalized, in my novel Screwups.  What happened to Danny isn’t true—not for me, at least, though sadly it does happen to some high school students.  Some have committed suicide over it.  But his feelings of being sleazy and not good enough to be Jake’s boyfriend—of having screwed up his life—I understood all too well.  And many of the events that occur in the dorm really did happen to me, though of course I’ve inserted my fictional characters into them.  Eaton House did in fact have nude pizza parties, people chasing each other through the dorm naked, and residents posing nude in the lounge for art students.

One thing I left out of the novel was the time I streaked the dorm covered head to toe in nothing but marshmallow fluff.

Ah… good times….

To buy a copy of Screwups, look for it at Dreamspinner Press or Amazon.

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17 Comments

Filed under Bloghop, College, Contemporary, Jamie Fessenden, Life, Nudity, Sex, Sex Positivity

17 responses to “Sex Positivity Blog Hop – My experience with slut-shaming

  1. Loved this post, Jamie, I really enjoy when people say it like it is and are honest about things. I’m so glad you have Erich now and that the two of you found each other, just shows good things are worth waiting for 🙂

  2. … And now I’m picturing you covered in marshmellow fluff.

    I’m not sure how I feel about that. XD

    Great post, hon. 🙂 Loved it and I’m glad you tackled the slut shaming thing. I’ve been on the receiving end of the very same kind of stuff.

    Thanks for participating in the hop!

  3. Sarah_Madison

    Wow, Jamie. As usual, another eye-opening post from you. It never occurred to me that men could be accused of being sluts as well as women, probably because there is so much slut-shaming in the media, whereas having an adventuresome sexual past is the kind of thing many men brag about. Thanks for sharing this, and hooray for Erich! You guys sound like you were meant for each other. 🙂

    • I think gay men are viewed differently than straight men, when it comes to this.

      • Sarah_Madison

        I wondered if that was the case. Why do you think that double standard exists, and where do you think the pressure is coming from?

      • It’s coming from within the gay community. I think it’s partly self-loathing — people on the Right keep insisting that gay men are sleazy and screwing anything that moves, and when gay men appear to reinforce that perception, it makes other gay men really uncomfortable. They’re afraid of what it makes THEM look like. The other issue is marriage. Now that we CAN marry and settle down just like straight couples, there’s a push for that. And unfortunately, that brings along some of the same baggage straight people have to deal with. If you DON’T want to marry and be monogamous, there must be something wrong with you.

  4. Great post, Jamie (and now I want to smack that landlord!). I’m so glad you and Erich found each other. 🙂

  5. Jana Denardo

    Wow, what a very powerful post. It makes me furious to hear about people being blamed for being (or almost being) molested, as if they asked for it, regardless of their personal histories (having been on the receiving end of that accusation).

    On a lighter note, the whole marshmallow fluff thing is going to stick with me for a while, no pun intended.

  6. Thank you for writing this very important post and sharing about how slut-shaming can affect people. It’s ridiculous that you (and many others) got shit for your choices in terms of sex. I’m very glad that you and Erich found each other, you sound like an excellent match and he sounds like an awesome guy.

    Having sex, and how, and with who, should be a personal choice. I’ve done sex within loving relationships, and I’ve done casual sex. Both have their merits. So far the only time I’ve been slut-shamed was more in terms of my pansexuality than promiscuity (and even then it was a joke about being greedy rather than something super hostile). But then again, the only people I tell about my sexual behavior are in the author community or the kink community, and they usually get it. And part of the reason I only tell those people is because others wouldn’t get or respect my choices. Sigh. We have a ways to go. Thanks again for participating in the blog hop!

  7. tisfan

    Wow… that was powerful…

    Honestly, I didn’t realize that slut shaming WOULD be a problem with gay men (learn something new every day)… my friends that happen to be gay and who read my work snicker at me because I have jealousy and monogomy and waiting to have sex as part of the plot lines and they’re all like “that never happens… if I want sex and he wants sex, we HAVE SEX. There’s none of this ‘let’s be friends’ stuff.”

    ::puts book on buy list::

    • There are definitely gay men who are that casual about sex, and I’d probably have to say I’m one of them. But I think we’re seeing a backlash against that now from more conservative (in a sexual sense) gay men who want the husband, the dog, and the picket fence. I tend to straddle the line, and perhaps that’s what got me into trouble.

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