Some people get status for having sex, others get stigma. Why?
Whenever I ask people ‘what words are used to describe sexually active men,’ these are the kinds of responses I get. As you can see they are mostly positive, although depending on how you read them maybe not 100% positive.
Then when I ask them to ‘what words are used to describe sexually active women?’ I get these kinds of responses. As you can see, these are probably mostly negative. Although some people use the word ‘slut’ in a positive way, they are generally used as hateful and bullying terms.
So men are given status for having sex and women are given stigma.
Why are men encouraged to have sex and women not?
What effect might these words have on women?
What affect might these words have on men?
It’s also not just a ‘man/woman’ thing. In your head (not out loud on the bus) think of the most common swear words – I bet they’re to do with sex. So what does that tell you?
Also different people are given different names depending on different aspects of their personality. What are sexually active gay, bisexual or lesbian peeps called? Same for trans* folks? Black and ethnic minorities? They are very different and lots of people are some or all of these identities. Can you think of words to describe sexually active people with disabilities? What does that tell you about how we see disability?
So there are rules about who is allowed to ask for sex, or to ask for what they want from sex and also what actually ‘counts’ as sex.
How can we change this for the better?
© Justin Hancock, 2015