Because I'm open about sex, people often assume I'm open to doing it with anyone. NOPE.
"I have a friend who wants to hook up with you," my friend Ania said. I was only in L.A. for the weekend, so clearly this was meant to be a one-night stand.
I looked at her questionably. Her taste in men left something to be desired. Her boyfriend, while funny, was an out of work actor who had a predilection for talking about "hot chicks," was often a little too friendly with me and almost never showed her any affection.
"Is he even cute?" I asked wearily.
"What difference does it make? You like to hook up. And I've read some of your stories."
I was shocked.
Is that what she thought of me? Did she think I was... easy?
Sure, I had had my fair share of one-night stands and friends with benefits, but that didn't mean I slept with just anyone! I consider myself a bit of a snob when it comes to sex; I'm less alcoholic and more wine connoisseur. It's quality over quantity.
"Just meet him."
The friend was not cute. He was the kind of smarmy loser who goes to clubs just to watch girls shake it on the dance floor. Even worse, he made no secret of the fact that he just wanted to get in my pants. There was little attempt on his part to woo me or chat me up or impress me with witty repartee, much less buy me a drink.
Yes, I am very open about sex. I like having sex and a lot of it. But since when does that make me easy? After all, I still have standards; my partners have to be attractive and charming. It was as if Ania thought I was a cat in heat — my libido so out of control, it just needed a release (never mind things like attraction).
But it's not just Ania or her gross friend. It's society-at-large, the random guys who stumble upon something I've written and think that guarantees them a chance, or a guy I go out with who thinks he'll score because I let it slip that I've written about sex.
So, why the disconnect? Why is female sexual enjoyment still connected with a lack of discernment?
I, for one, am quite choosy. I prefer guys who are tall and fit, and I have a predilection for manly men. I like guys that know how to treat me like a lady, whether it be for one night or several. So, why did my friend think I wanted to bang her short, scrawny friend in the bad polyester shirt? It wasn't as though I was Tucker Max just looking to screw anything in sight.
As sex educator and author of Getting Off: A Woman's Guide to Masturbation, Jayme Waxman explained to me, "I think that people assume if you talk about sex, you're less discriminating about who you have sex with — and that's just not the case."
She's right. That's like saying a foodie will eat at McDonald's. Or a fashionista will shop at Kmart. I love high heels, but it doesn't mean I'm going to wear clear acrylic stripper heels from Trashy Lingerie just because they're on sale. It's all Stella McCartney here, thank you very much.
"Because our society still has a difficult time talking about sex, when a woman does, it's easy for someone to think she must be open and available. Often she is open and available to TALK about sex, but not to have it with everyone," Waxman continues.
She's right. The misconceptions surrounding women who are having a lot of sex are still alive and well.
When the now infamous Lena Chen started blogging about her sex life as an undergrad at Harvard, the assumptions hurled at her came quickly and furiously. Haters called her a "slut" and "whore" for simply talking about something everyone does.
"They [the haters] predicted that my boyfriend would leave me after getting tired of my "gaping" and "diseased" "cunt," and three years later we're still together… Well, guess what? This slut broke every single rule, didn't get her life ruined, and realized that there's not so much to be afraid of in the Big Bad World after all," she says on her blog The Ch!cktionary.
The idea that a woman smart enough to get into Harvard can write frankly about enjoying sex is seemingly such a mind-boggling concept that even in 2012, people can't wrap their minds around it.
"Some people were insulted by the fact that I wasn't as ‘hot' as they thought I should be," Chen tells me over the phone. "I feel like people would have been OK with me writing a blog about sex if I wasn't smart. I never thought anyone would judge me on anything other than the writing I put forth."
According to a 2005 Kinsey study, the average woman in the U.S. has had five partners.
I've had way more than that, although I couldn't tell you how many, mostly because I couldn't be bothered to count any more than I could be bothered to count the lint under my bed.
But, for anyone to assume that it all boils down to numbers is to ignore the fact that I've actually connected with almost everyone I've slept with on some level. Some deeper than others, and yes, there have been a couple times I have just been sporting beer goggles (a certain time in Vegas comes to mind).
Is sex the same outside of a relationship? No, of course not. But the sexual experiences I've had have made me who I am, opened up my ideas of sexuality, expanded my horizons, and are experiences I will never forget. Just because I only tried trapeze class once or will never eat another apple tart from that little bakery in Paris, doesn't cheapen the experience.
I'll never forget the guy I met for one night in Montreal who went down on me better than any guy I had ever been with (and who taught me a lot about the art of cunnilingus in the process). Or, the guy I hooked up with after having a spectacularly bad day who made me forget all of my worries with one slip of his tongue.
To chalk up all my sexual experiences as the opportunities to fill a hole would be to ignore the delicious dance of seduction — the attraction between two people, the smell of his cologne, the warm salt air, and riding down the freeway on his motorcycle. Just because someone isn't the "one" or even relationship material doesn't mean they aren't worth enjoying in the moment. Imagine if you never enjoyed French fries or a Patron Silver? How fun would your life be?
The actor Danny Kaye once said, "Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint you can on it."
I couldn't agree more. I want to look back and know that I enjoyed everything the buffet of life had to offer. Some hookups were better than others, but they were all a learning experience. And isn't that the point?
So, to all of Ania's friends, random guys, and future dates: yes, I love sex, but please don't assume I want to sleep with you.