Woman Writers Are Basically Sex Workers

Wild but attracting beauty

OK. That’s a strong statement but hear me out. How many male bylines do you see attached to click-bait titles like “My Year of Having Badass Sex” or “30 Lays in 30 Days”…probably not too many. But it seems like everywhere you turn, particularly if you’re within turning distance of the internet, there’s a bevy of female-journalists gamely embarking on outrageous, awkward, or outrageously awkward sexual dalliances for the sole purpose of writing them down. Now that feminism is tumblr-trendier than boho side braids and thigh gaps, it’s the general consensus that not only do women love sex (who woulda thought?!) but they also love divulging. (Side note: does that make you a bad or good feminist?) And as red-blooded, self-actualized sister-writers, it’s our writerly duty to promote that climate of X-rated frankness. And though there’s admittedly a perk or two (or three or four if your research buddy knows what’s up) involved in doing the necessary fieldwork for ‘How It Feels to F**k in Go-Go Boots,’ I find myself wondering if something essential is lost in the process.

Maybe it’s holdover modesty from my early education at a Catholic school which all but sandwiched “sexual shame” between Pee Chee folders and 24-pack Crayolas on the back-to-school supplies list. Maybe it’s the inescapable fact that promoting my work on social media means that my mom, grandpa and 6th grade teacher alike are now all card-carrying, (if wildly reluctant) members of the I Know My Daughter/Granddaughter/Former Student Feels ‘Sexiest In Nothing But Knee Socks Club.’  And maybe it’s the  eternal struggle between believing with every feminist fiber of my being that no-strings attached sex can be incredibly empowering and that cold, empty feeling you get when you wake up in the arms (or more likely under the meager percentage of the covers he’s allowed you) of someone who is nothing more than an experiment. The one where you’re clammy and itching for a shower and staring out the window if there’s one available, thinking “Is this all there is?

And I mean, really. Is this all there is? Has this age of aggressive ladies-is-pimps-too sexual equality brought us here only to leave us stranded, vanishing in a bright pink cloud of Beyoncé power anthems and recreational pole dancing, while we’re laid bare in same sunlight that’s cast off the shadow of double standards and left us blinking with “Slut” scribbled proudly across our reclaimed nipples? (Ed note: Read that sentence three times, at least.)

Last week, in a piece from NY Mag’s The Cut a female writer is asked by a man, “Oh, so you’re writing a paid f**k piece, in response to her quest to see if she can make sex and Spanx work simultaneously. The theory being that, that hole can work for more than just for peeing.

But am I wrong to wonder out loud where we go from here?

If sex positivity is a battle, then we’re in the trenches.

Who, if not the female writers, will chronicle women’s splendid, dizzying, complicated progress, marked by nights of wild abandon and mornings of lonely hangovers? Maybe it’s our duty to bear witness, to lose ourselves in lipstick and bartered phone numbers and morning after treks across a slumbering city, but only long enough to experience something worth recording.

If sex positivity is a battle, then we’re in the trenches.

Stripping first for lovers who may or may not know they will be subjects of scrutiny for our titillated readers. And then for our audience as we coax wit, wisdom, shock value, and poignancy from the kinds of nights so many of us are familiar with. Nights that can render us vulnerable just as easily as they can convince us that we’re invincible and free. Nights that can take years to figure out. In a fast-paced, third wave world where we fight daily to convince ourselves that anything goes, that the residual shreds of shame we feel about our bodies and desires is patriarchal programming, that over-sharing and pride are interchangeable, our only shelter is silence. The silence that’s necessary to sort through the messy landscape of our liberation. And the silence that we eschew when we agree to write about our month without underwear, our weekend without inhibitions, our most private moments without filter.

If you think this all sounds ironic–not to mention pretentious!–coming from someone whose latest article featured blithe references to hand jobs at the Cheesecake Factory, you’re absolutely right. I’m clearly in no position to be throwing stones.  Instead, I’m a willing creative cog in a system that is undeniably empowering but also still largely uncharted and more complicated than most give it credit for. I believe in leaving  a little something to the imagination. Mystery is at the heart of seduction, and we all contain multitudes. But alas, I’m a feminist writer in the business of revealing secrets in the name of sex positivity, so here goes: I’ve used honey for purposes that would make Winnie the Pooh blush and tug at his little red tee. I’ve role played as a naughty girl scout with a (semi) straight face. I’ve whispered sweet somethings, rolled over, pretended to be asleep, moaned, sighed and called my best friend from a dirty dorm bathroom stall at 5 am with tears clogging my throat, whispering “I want to go home.” And if I’m assigned a deadline, I’ll gladly tell you all the details. But for now, my lips are sealed.

Here’s one more secret—I like it that way.

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