In this post-feminist hookup era, sexting is one more strike against women's empowerment.
With so much pressure on women from the media and our cultural landscape to lead with sexuality, it's difficult to form lasting and meaningful relationships. When even our politicians, like Anthony Weiner, engage in sexting and explicit sexual behavior, women are pressured to be intimate before they're really comfortable.
As part of this culture, far too many young women today think it's appropriate for men to send them sexually explicit texts and messages, or to send them to men themselves. And that is the real problem: that there isn't enough outcry from women against this kind of behavior. I do not buy the feminist party line that women and men are no different from one another sexually, and that the newfound freedom for young women to hook up frequently with random men is a positive thing. Besides, sexting blurs the lines about what's really acceptable in relationships.
Sexting is cheating if you're a committed partner like Weiner. But even if you're not, it's behavior that can dehumanize individuals, rendering them to pornographic images on a small screen devoid of any semblance of love or intimacy. The real subtext to those texts is that love, commitment, and monogamy are hopelessly old fashioned. We convince ourselves that they are no longer necessary or even wanted in today's modern dating and hookup scene. Both men and women are losers in this new culture of open sexuality and promiscuity, but women pay, by far, the biggest price.
In their intensely private moments, women tell me that leading with their sexuality has gained them nothing; that when they do, men don't stick around for the deeper relationships that they crave. They tell me that the pressure and the temptation to have sex almost as soon as they meet a new man is intense, and that they are fearful of not complying: there are so many other women out there who will if they won't. They share their emotional insecurities: the raw, overly vulnerable feelings that intensify when they fail to hold out for love and commitment before giving themselves away. They decry the results, that they feel anything but empowered.
Are the guys who jump into bed on the first, second or third date (or hook up without bothering to even have a date) evil and bad? The vast majority are not. They are guilty of buying into the cultural line that if a woman is willing, why not? They have been sold the notion that scoring with women is what women want, and that they have no obligation to offer more if they are not being asked for more. It's a vicious cycle.
Holding out for love and commitment is difficult, but it is vital and necessary for your emotional wellbeing. As men and women, we're wired differently. It's easier for men to embrace sexuality without love. The day after a hookup, it's women who typically feel the pain of not being loved or who want more than they can get from the guy they gave themselves to so casually the night before.
The post-hookup emotional insecurity (by her) and avoidance of neediness (by him) is debilitating to both genders. It's time to speak up and speak out for less of that and more of the real thing: relationships that are built on shared values, emotional connection, real intimacy, and a common vision for a life together. If you believe what I believe: that loving, lasting relationships are one of the greatest gifts in life, please share this message. If you believe that sex is a wonderful part of a loving, committed relationship, and that it's best when preserved for that kind of connection, say so. Be the person who is different, who isn't afraid to hold out for more, and to proudly tell others.
About the author: Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a nationally known psychotherapist, author of five self-help books, and frequent expert media guest. Read the transformational book that will change your life and your relationships with men: Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid. To successfully date online, get Nina’s $0.99 cent eBook Internet Dating for the Savvy Single. Get loads of free advice and Love Strategies at www.singlescoach.com.
This article was originally published at Love Strategies with Nina Atwood, the Singlescoach . Reprinted with permission from the author.