Image courtesy of nwso.net

It seems Sexy Typewriter‘s latest blog post has struck a chord with my Facebook crowd.  I’ve seen her entry entitled “Dear Women: Please Have Some Goddamned Self Respect” on over a dozen walls, adorned with likes, comments and reposts galore.

In my opinion, the attention is warranted.  Sexy Typewriter is a smart blogger who writes a mean post.

I am definitely pretty much on side with her assertion that a woman is the arbiter of her own self-respect. (Which, I just realized I accept as totally axiomatic. Oh dear. My class, cultural and economic privelidge is showing!)

Re-stating…

I am onside with her assertion that women like her and like me are fortunate enough to be the arbiters of our own self-respect. But when one trades self-respect for booty, sadness and other ickiness often ensues.

But for all the Typewriter-y awesome of the post, this passage made my brain all itchy and scratchy.

Here is what I am learning: a man will show you what he thinks you are worth in his interactions with you. If he is taking you out to dinner and getting to know you and romancing you and giving you puppy face — game on! If he is buying you drinks and making you laugh and maybe it won’t be anything important, but holy hell, you are having fun and he is hot – great! But if all you are getting are texts and sex at weirdly irregular intervals, you are the carnal equivalent of a dude ordering pizza. If you are cool with that, fine. But I don’t think you should be.

Um, yes. But also…no.  Yes, I concur that common courtesy is pretty much essential to all respectful interactions ,including sexual dalliances.  Yes, you will only learn so much about a person from being in their vagina and if you’d like to know more,  hanging out in a vertical context bodes well.  And yes, if you’re flighty and your communication is unpredictably random, the object of your desire might be available when the mood strikes, but if they’re not that’s your too bad.

But if a woman is truly and sincerely satisfied with a dude who offers little more than occasional sex? I think that is okay. And I don’t think anyone has a right to tell her it’s not.

I have a few problems with the idea that respect necessitates romance, at least when it comes to heterosexual relationships. Some of them I’ve saved for a future post, but I’ll hit on a few here.

In her post, Sexy Typewriter also says

Here is the thing, ladies:…dudes wanted something for nothing. And sometimes, because we are drunk on hormones and probably also alcohol and the heady power of sexual freedom, we are all-too-willing to give it.

The “something for nothing” perspective is pretty common. I believed it myself, until someone pointed out to me that it’s sort of mean. There’s this assumption that when a guy receives sex from a woman it’s valuable, but the sex he’s giving in return is worthless. In fact, it’s worse than worthless…it’s actually detrimental to the point that it’s devalued the woman.  Harsh.

There’s also an inference that undistilled sexual desire is by it’s very nature kind of douche-y, at least when lust-er in question is a heterosexual male.  Again, harsh.

What concerns me the most, is that idea that respect/self-respect looks like something, rather than it being a feeling or an instinct.  As a young woman, I was very careful to only have sex with men in situations that seemed respectful.  I only had sex after months spent in committed relationships and only after the words “I love you,” had been exchanged.  It looked like self-respect. I assumed it was self-respect. But love and committment didn’t stop me from consenting to sex that I didn’t really want to have.

I consented to sex that wasn’t satisfying but didn’t give my partner any direction or guidance.

I consented to sex because I was of a certain age and thought I should.

I consented to sex because I’d been dating someone for a certain length of time and thought I should.

I consented to sex because I loved my partner and I hoped  it would make him stay with me forever.

I consented to sex to ensure that it wouldn’t happen without my consent.

None of the above are the actions of a woman exercising authentic self-respect. The sadness and the ickiness ensued and it took me a long time to realize no one needs to tell me what respect is.  I know it when it’s there. I can feel it when it’s not.

If a woman needs to be wined, dined and dated to feel happy and healthy having sex, I agree she’d be wise to wait for the partner who offers those things, freely and because he wants them as well.  If she gets off on intermittent sexting and surprise visits, good for her.

While our perspective on what consitutes respect may differ somewhere, ultimately I agree with the spirit of Sexy Typewriter’s message. Sex with people who don’t make you feel good, generally doesn’t make you feel good.  And you deserve to feel good!

So in the words of Blonde Ambiotion-Era Madonna, respect yourself…however that works for you.

Comments

  1. Wayne C. says:

    That’s a very thoughtful reply Nadine. I read that post by Sexy Typewriter and it bothered me but I couldn’t articulate why. I think you have hit the nail on the head. In her post, she mentions the guy made her “hot and bothered”, they engaged in a exchange of erotic texts and photos. By all accounts she wanted a sexual interaction, but in reality when she was offered sex, she was offended because the guy wouldn’t take her out on a date. The guy is characterized as a douche bag, and all women who have had sex with him casually are blamed for his behaviour (not really the dude himself). The dude seemed to be acting in a fairly upfront manner. He clearly wasn’t looking for anything other than sex (given the exchange of photos and sexting it’s not surprising he would choose to pursue with this course of action with her). The blogger obviously was not cool with it and wanted to be dated which as you say is totally cool. Where her post goes awry is where she blames other women for not being willing to have sex on her terms. This is a very anti-feminist position.

    Thanks for sharing Nadine. This is a thought provoking post.

    • nadinethornhill says:

      Where I do agree with the characterization of the first guy as disrespectful is the part where he repeatedly made then broke plans with Sexy Typewriter. That’s rude! And popping up out the blue, expecting sex, after being rude is douche-y. But that’s not about the sex. Asking someone for ANYTHING – money, help with moving, a cup of sugar – after you’ve been rude, is crappy behaviour.

      Conversely, her story of the second guy – the one who asked her friend to have sex – sounds randy, but not disrespectful. He wanted sex. He was honest and direct. Her friend didn’t want sex, but a date. She was honest and direct. He didn’t want want she wanted and vice-versa so nothing more happened. I don’t see any lack of respect in the situation as it’s described.

      You’re right. It’s not fair to expect that every woman wants to negotiate sex based one set of terms and conditions.

    • I didn’t want to be his girlfriend. I just wasn’t cool with being treated like a call-girl.

  2. allison says:

    I agree. Your analysis is so insightful, and you articulated it perfectly. Huh – that kind of makes me sound like a spammer. Oops.

  3. Nancy T. says:

    Hi Nadine, I hadn’t read Sexy Typerwriter, but did catch your posting on Facebook and came here to take a look. I really like what you wrote. I think it is a message that really needs to get out there. In my early dating life, I was doing the ‘wait for marriage’ thing, as a good christian girl is supposed to… and I realized how much the general construct really fucks up women’s sexuality. We are supposed to be the ‘gate-keeper’ and that makes us both an observer and a participant in whatever way we are engaging, and if a guy moves a bit too far (because of course, the road from hand-holding to penetration has 1000 way-points that no-one talks about, let alone specifies which are okay) we have to be the ones that have to signal to stop, regardless of how we are feeling or what we might like, because especially in those kinds of circles, the ‘respect’ double-standard is alive and well. I mention all this, because that now all being long ago history, one thing I learned from it, is how much in general (not just christian circles) women, and their sexuality, and their participation as a sexual creation, are devalued and that we are encouraged to do it to ourselves. I didn’t read the article, but I will say, knowing what you want, and what the other person wants, is vital to communication… and whether that is romance, fun and friendship, sex, or some mix of it, that is fine. It is fine to point out that men and women may be on different tracks. One should never assume that one will transition into another. In that sense, if you are fine with sex ala the pizza model, don’t presume it might grow into friend or romance. By the same token, friend or romance doesn’t necessarily mean earth-shattering sex the first few tiimes (or more). These are the stereotypes that really are the problem. Also, the only other caveat would be… unless you have a high tolerance for risk, and make your choices very consciously, one should be very careful of casual sex that is too anonymous… make sure you know the person enough that you have reasonable idea that they are a safe person to be with. I can hear a lot of people freaking out thinking that it isn’t safe…but then again, as many have found out…friends, or someone you’ve dated awhile, isn’t necessarily a guarantee of safety either. Okay, I’ll stop blathering now…I just really wanted to commend you because you are so right…what looks like respect isn’t necessarily, and what might not have the first appearance of respect might very well be very respectful… and that the idea of a guy ‘getting it’ to the detriment of a girl ‘giving it’ has a lot of flawed thinking behind it, and could be gone into more in terms of power politics and sexual politics… seeing as the stigma surrounding the idea of giving/reciving in gay sex is still there… for example, the idea in some cultures/circles that only the guy ‘recieving’ is really gay (even for very in-denial guys that think of them as hetero, because they never let a guy do anything ‘to’ them. Okay, now I really will shush. Keep on blogging,… you bring a needed voice to the internet, and my blogosphere world wouldn’t be complete without you in it.

    • nadinethornhill says:

      Nancy, your “blather” as you call it, is insightful and a pleasure to read. You are always welcome to comment as often and as long as you like here! :-)

      I think you’re point about making clearly, conscious choices applies to both casual and more committed sexual relationship. My early, less satisfying sexual experiences that I referred to in the original post came as the result of lack of self-awareness and acknowledgement on my part.

  4. alexis says:

    I read the post and had the same reaction. Because sometimes, I have met a man, and just wanted to have sex with him and I have.

    And I’ve been clear about that. As I say to dudes, “I have sex with who I want, when I want.”

    And sometimes this has burned me, because sex is never 100% casual for me. It always means some kind of tie. As Brad Warner says in his book “Sex, sin and Zen” (which I think you would really like)- when you have sex with someone, you get a piece of their karma. I believe this. So act accordingly and don’t sleep with people you would be embarrassed to sleep with.

    • nadinethornhill says:

      And you’ve illustrated my point. You are having casual sex, but you are not being passive. You, like Sexy T, tell guys what you want and when you want it. The fact that your desires are different does not mean you have less self-respect.

      “When you sex with someone, you get a piece of their karma”. I like that. I’ll definitely put Brad Warner on my to read list.

  5. Chelsea says:

    Thank you, Nadine! I also have been seeing Typewriter’s piece posted and liked and tweeted ad nauseum and, quite frankly, I am very glad you got around to writing something first… now I don’t have to! 😉

    I will add one point: Typewriter’s perspective seems just steeped in the commodity model of sex, against which we both know I hold quite the grudge. It was the language around how she identifies acceptable, respectful sexual interactions that set the alarm bells ringing for me.

    “…a man will show you what he thinks you are WORTH in his interactions with you. If he is TAKING YOU OUT TO DINNER … If he is BUYING YOU DRINKS….” (Emphasis supplied.)

    This is not “respect me”; this is “make a gesture towards my perceived value in the sexual marketplace”. It’s offensive. While buying drinks or gifts for someone you care about can be a rewarding experience (we all like seeing our partners smile), please don’t demonstrate that you respect someone by buying them shit, people.

    In my books, someone can demonstrate respect by listening, communicating clearly and honestly, taking an interest in and honouring their partner’s desires, following through on commitments, etc. This can happen in long-term relationships and it can happen in unpredictable, short-notice-shagging relationships.

    One does not demonstrate respect by opening one’s wallet, but rather by opening the lines of communication.

    Somehow, I find myself doubting that Typewriter would discourage men from putting out unless their lady of choice demonstrates their respect, in part by spending money on them. But that’s because men’s sex has no value in this paradigm, as you mentioned.

    The “something for nothing” trope is ridiculous, and seems woefully more common in the hetero dating scene, in my observation. This is how it should go: Ladyperson engages in bedromping with Dudeperson, gives sexytimes and/or intimacy and/or orgasms, in return for… sexytimes and/or intimacy and/or orgasms!

    ‘Nuff said. :)

    • nadinethornhill says:

      Word. So word.

      The commodity model of sex chaffes my behind as well. It sucks for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. It’s also sucks because that model makes it impossible to discern between sincere “I really want to know more about you” offers of drinks/dinners/dating and “I really want know more about your ladyparts” wooing, which is merely going through the motions until nudity occurs.

  6. Shora says:

    A really smart and thoughtful post. My favorite line:

    What concerns me the most, is that idea that respect/self-respect looks like something, rather than it being a feeling or an instinct

    Because when someone tells women to “Respect Themselves”, it has little do do with how much they actually feel, and more like what they do. A woman has sex on the first date? Well, she obviously doesn’t respect herself, lets not bother asking her how she feels about the experience.

    “Women, respect yourselves” Is such a loaded phrase, and I was really surprised to see it not only used in that space, but in just the way it’s always used.

    • nadinethornhill says:

      Exactly. Women who are promiscuous, who don’t pursue committment, who display their bodies have a so-called paucity of self-respect.

      Personally, I think judging another person’s perceived self-worth based on one’s own standards is far more disrespectful.

      Thank you so much for your comment, Shora! Come back and chat again soon.