September 19, 2011

Letter to the Editor: Indiscriminate support for sexual freedom

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To the Editor:Re: “My Sex Column,” Opinion, Sept. 19

I was very distressed to read “My Sex Column” in The Sun this Monday. While the author said from the start that he had an opinion that would be read as controversial, it went beyond those bounds to being prescriptive and demeaning. Firstly, he takes the very personal words of several former and current Sun sex columnists and uses them to make sweeping blanket statements that occasionally expressed desires to have a serious relationship instead of a series of casual sexual encounters is “hardly the stuff of the Sexual Revolution” and generalizes that this means all women would prefer “formal courting.” Does the author mean to suggest that women would prefer, as in the Victorian era, to be put on a pedestal and waited on hand and foot but not given agency in any of their decisions? I would certainly hope not. Based on the opinions of a select few, he seems to willfully ignore that there are still many women out there having casual sex on their own volition, whether he likes it or not.

Moreover, the author is exhibiting profound ignorance when he says, “The first is that some of the authors of these purportedly shocking columns remain anonymous. This gives the unmistakable impression that they’re making it up, or that they’re embarrassed to associate themselves with their columns. Either way, it shows that they’re more prude than they make themselves out to be.” Has he ever considered that these young women are writing pseudo-anonymously for their own safety? Because of the double standard in sexuality that is unfortunately still omnipresent in our society, were these writers to use their full legal names, it is highly likely that they would be widely ostracized for being “sluts” or even receive personal threats, and potential employers researching candidates could, sadly, discriminate against them with impunity when deciding whom to hire for a particular position. To chalk all these legitimate reasons up to cowardice, or worse, to falsification, is a slap in the face to the integrity of these writers.

It is particularly distressing for the author to be exhibiting such blatant sexual conservatism on the eve of SlutWalk Ithaca, which aims to protest repressive sexual norms and decry the discrimination against women’s sexual behavior in particular. It approves of ALL kinds of sex, whether that be “casual” sex, “committed” sex, or no sex at all (asexuals exist!) so long as it is always done with consent given by all parties. I would not expect the author of “My Sex Column” to march in the SlutWalk, but it would certainly behoove him to learn more about the concept of slut-shaming, and why it is dangerous, before making such outrageous statements as he did in his article.

Cat Flynn ’12