Overcoming the obstacles and navigating the hurdles of sex


Illustration by Emily Reising Photo credit: Emily Reising

Illustration by Emily Reising Photo credit: Emily Reising

For my last and final column, I’ve decided to end on an insightful, call-to-action note: I want to overcome and defeat the social stigmas and judgements that surround young women (and sometimes men) in today’s sexual culture. Choosing to be the sex columnist and openly writing intimate details of my sex life clearly shows that I’m a strong believer in claiming one’s own sexuality and being prideful of the choices you make. I’m officially sick and tired of the slut-shaming, unrealistic expectations and quick-to-judge assumptions that surround a young, sexually active woman’s life.


The term “slut-shaming” has a pretty simple meaning: making someone feel ashamed for their sexual choices, generally only aimed at females coined as “sluts” for these choices. Slut-shaming is a prevalent issue in today’s culture, with both men and women shaming through derogatory comments on outlets such as social media (my favorite being the Meninist account on Twitter), magazines, movies and T.V.

Of course, not all men are slut-shamers, and men themselves actually get some slack from sleeping around with multiple people. But I think it can be agreed that women are the ones who must overcome the most ridicule. The guys who do slut-shame, however, don’t realize how deeply their comments and judgements affect us women— this especially makes me feel uncomfortable about being open about my sexuality.

Because of the responses and judgements I’ve gotten regarding my sexual past, I’ve learned how difficult society has made it for women to comfortably open up and admit to their sexual pasts, feelings, beliefs and desires. As a female involved in today’s sex culture, I’m absolutely not OK with this. Rachel Kramer Bussel, a sex columnist at “The Village Voice,” states “Instead of attacking women for the choices they make, we should be working toward creating a more accepting, welcoming culture that values sexual diversity.” Pretty well said.

Unattainable Expectations

Of course, sex comes along with a world of expectations that are a little outrageous, unattainable and unrealistic. Today’s porn and pop industry takes a lot of blame for that, as the whole industry portrays fake and phony performances that doesn’t give an accurate representation of what real sex and real women look like. On top of this, young women (including myself) feel a constant pressure to conform to the standards we see in this industry.

Society seems to want to shove women into two roles but we’re in the wrong if we fit in and we’re wrong if we don’t. As a college-aged girl, I feel pressure to be a fun, crazy, promiscous, sexy, party girl but receive a great amount of judgement for that. At the same time, there’s another pressure to be studious, intelligent, moral and above the nonsense. But then I’m considered uptight and a prude— sounds like I can’t win, right? Often times that’s how it feels for me and many of the other young females I know. Jessica Valenti explains it well in her book “Full Frontal Feminism”:

“No matter how smart and straight-up you are about wanting to have sex, if you’re choosing it, you’re making a mistake that could ruin your life, or you’re a big whore.”

The pressures of these expectations placed on women can feel overwhelming and leave us wondering if we’re doing anything right. And the answer is yes, you absolutely are. I say screw the impossible expectations and do and be what you feel comfortable with.

Land of Assumption

One of my favorite lines is, “When you assume, you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me.’ A little childish, but so true. Since I’m the sex columnist, people have assumed I’m some crazy sexpert that’s had tons of wild sex— wrong. I actually just enjoy writing and wanted to do something a little outside my comfort zone, and I do enjoy sex after all.

A big issue with the sex culture today is the assumptions that everyone is making about each other. If you never bring a guy or girl back home, then it’s assumed there’s something wrong with you or you’re inexperienced. If you bring multiple different people back home, then it’s assumed you’re a “slut” and you sleep around. But, no one knows the real details unless you tell them directly or you’re directly asked.

Sex is a very private matter and there’s many intimate details that can be wrongly assumed, which no one wants when it comes to their sex life. I’ve had my fair share of rumors spread about me, however none of them end up being true because no one took the time to ask me straight up or listen to my story. Don’t ever be afraid to ask sex-related questions, as it’s always better to know the truth.

Emma Vidak-Benjamin can be reached at [email protected] or @gnarlyemma on Twitter.