I’ve always been a sexual, sensual person. So, once my high school sweetheart-turned-10-year-partner began losing all interest in sex, and would blame things like work or my weight gain, instead of his near-zero-testosterone levels or his own weight gain, I knew it was time to end it.
I moved to San Francisco and the world of dating opened up before me. For the first time I tasted true freedom; single and living in a big city, I felt no restraints on what I could do.
I was not going to give up this freedom for a relationship right away, so fun and casual dating was the only thing on my radar. After years of a nonexistent sex life, I was also very ready to get laid. I’m an introvert and have never enjoyed the bar scene, so I figured I would try online dating.
By that time I had shed a lot of pounds, but it was incidental to my change in lifestyle (walking 7-10 miles per day and dancing for 1-2 hours a night is a great exercise program but I wouldn’t recommend it long term). My self-esteem had recovered; I was feeling good and full of life. I translated all of that into an online profile looking for casual encounters and non-monogamous dating, and as expected the responses came flying in. It was fascinating, on any given night I had my pick of men (women too, and though that dynamic was different in notable ways, the end result was the same – but that is something for another post at another time).
What I didn’t expect was just how empowering that would be. I had the education and life experience to know how to set boundaries. I was very clear with all of the men I communicated with that I expected the utmost respect and courtesy, and at the first example of anything other than that, they were gone. With those boundaries in place, I felt comfortable to explore encounters and relationships in ways that I never had before.
And those encounters opened up something for me. Through my experiences with “casual sex” I learned about the power of sex, and something that we all can share: a need for connection, to be seen, to allow ourselves to open to the experience of another person. Whether it was a one-time stand or a repeated encounter, what took place for me and my partner was incredible. Through intimate connections with veritable strangers, I learned where our externally-defined identities blur, I saw past the illusion and opened the gateway to full self-possession.
Misogyny what it is, of course I had my share of assholes, and admittedly some of the decisions I made could have ended very differently. But overwhelmingly, when I took the time to really talk with a potential partner (which I always did), to set my boundaries and to discuss who we were and what we were looking for, our sexual interactions, while still brief, were intense and electrifying. I can’t tell you the exact number of people I slept with, because I didn’t count them, but it was between one and two dozen in a 9 month period. (Does that shock you? Surprise you? Do you gasp at a woman telling you the number of people she has slept with?)
I met the man that is now my husband at the end of this period. (Am I respectable now?) He too, was only supposed to be a casual encounter – but nearly four years later we are very happy, continue to enjoy an amazing sex life, and explore as we feel the need.
For me, my Year as a Slut was a process of reclaiming my power from our culture of rape, of finding my self-possession. It was setting boundaries and meeting my needs without care for what others thought. It was a rending of stereotypes and a destruction of boxes of identity. It was seeing through illusion and into the heart and spirit of who I am, of who we are, and of what potential for power and change we have in the simple act of opening to one another.
So for those who are shaming women who choose to have “casual sex”, saying it is not an energetically beneficial experience and can never be empowering, I call bullshit. The power that we have, that we can channel through our bodies, is spectacular and can shatter and create worlds. Rather than shaming and blaming, let us give each other the tools we need to safely enjoy this power within the confines of rape culture – until we destroy that, too.