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Sep 07 2011

Five Good Reasons Why I’ve Hooked Up

This piece was originally published on AlterNet.

Why do some women have casual sex?

Let me re-phrase that. Why have I had casual sex?

The phenomenon of women who have sex for its own sake seems to baffle many people. It’s widely believed that women have sex for love, commitment, poor self-control, to manipulate men, to please men, to make babies, to sooth their low self-esteem, and just about any reason at all other than their own pleasure. (While men, of course, are rutting horndogs who just want to stick it in the nearest wet hole available.) Sex, according to this trope, is by its nature a commodity that women possess and men are trying to obtain… and the phenomenon of women who are “giving it away,” who are defying these assumptions and treating sex as a pleasurable interaction between equals, is making the punditocracy piss all over itself.

Mark Regnerus, Slate: “If women were more fully in charge of how their relationships transpired, we’d be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on.” Rachel Simmons, relationship advice columnist for Teen Vogue: “These letters worry me. They signify a growing trend in girls’ sexual lives where they are giving themselves to guys on guys’ terms. They hook up first and ask later. ” Bill O’Reilly: “Many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex.” Susan Walsh, Hooking Up Smart: “They cannot see that as she [self-proclaimed proud- and- happy slut Jaclyn Friedman] proclaims her detachment from sex, she gets emotionally wounded every single time. They take heart from her proclamation that sluthood is a healing thing. Ms. Friedman is a hot mess. Craiglist Casual Encounters was not a miracle, it was a disaster that broke her heart again. I hope she does find Love, the whole enchilada.” Laura Sessions Stepp, author of Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both… oh, just look at the title.

Then there’s the piece that got me staying up until four in the morning writing about this in the first place: Christian author Don Miller, who recently asked his female readers (and his male ones, in a separate post) if they’ve ever had casual sex… and if so, why. Of course, Miller doesn’t ask this in a neutral way, a way that expresses a genuine desire for an honest answer. He’s asking in a way that makes it obvious what he thinks the answer will be — whatever the reason is, it must be bad, bad, bad. In fact, he’s asking in a way that totally slants the answers he’s likely to get. He’s asking “why some girls give up sex easily” (as if sex for women is always a surrender), and “do you use sex for some kind of social power or to make yourself feel good?” It’s like a push-poll — a political poll designed to elicit a particular response, so you can shape people’s opinions and make your position seem more popular than it really is.

And this push-poll tendency is shared by many of these “Why on earth would women want casual hook-ups? pundits. They’re not asking the question, “Why do some women have casual sex?” They’re asking the question, “Why on earth would some women have casual sex, when it’s so clearly a bad idea that will do them and other women harm and is obviously not in their best interest?” And they’re doing this despite research showing that casual sex isn’t, in fact, psychologically harmful in young adults. They’re basing their questions on the common assumption that women’s natural state is to keep their legs closed unless they’ve got their hands on marriage or commitment… and that women who don’t are some sort of baffling phenomenon that needs to be explained.

So I thought I’d try to explain it.

I’ve had a lot of experience with casual sex. It’s been a while, and I’m not particularly interested in it anymore… but for many years, pretty much all the sex I had fell somewhere on the “casual” spectrum. Personal ad hookups; occasional sex with friends; sex clubs and sex parties; ongoing sexual friendships… that’s what my sex life looked like for a long time.

And needless to say — but I’m going to say it anyway — a lot of this casual sex was a good idea. A wonderful idea, in fact. A lot of it was done for excellent, healthy reasons. And the effect it’s had on my sex life and my love life has been overwhelmingly positive.

You want to know why I had it? Here’s why.

1: Fun. This is first and foremost. In fact, all the other answers I’m about to give ultimately boil down to this one: Sex is fun. Sex feels good. Sex is its own justification. And that was every bit as true when I was single as when I’ve been coupled. I had sex for the same reason billions of other people have sex: Pleasure. Period.

We evolved to enjoy sex. We are descended from thousands of generations of ancestors who really, really liked to fuck. Asking why people have sex casually is like asking why people eat food casually. Eating feels good. Food is fun. It’s often more fun when it’s meaningful and done with people we love… but that’s not always an option, and it can still be pretty darned fun when it’s grabbed on the fly with acquaintances and strangers. We evolved to want to eat food… and we evolved to want to have sex. Like, duh.

2: Experimentation. When I was having casual sex with a lot of different people, I was also having lots of different kinds of sex. There are lots of reasons for that: some obvious, some not so obvious. The most obvious one is that my partners liked different things, so I tried the things they liked, to see if I might like them too. Plus, at the time, I felt more comfortable asking for and trying some of my freakier desires with fuckbuddies and casual hookups than I did with long-term romantic partners. I do wish that hadn’t been true — I wish I’d been less shy about experimenting with my LTR partners in my younger days — but the whole stupid virgin/whore thing can get pretty deeply embedded, and it took many years of screwing around to get it (mostly) hacked out of my brain.

And that experimenting was awesome. I figured out an immense amount about my sexuality during my casual sex years. I learned a huge amount about which of my fantasies were really things I liked, and which were things I just liked thinking about. Among other things, I figured out that yes, I really was a dyke, and yes, I really was kinky. And I discovered things about my sexuality that I never would have imagined if I hadn’t tried them. My sex life is about a billion times more satisfying now that I know what I do and don’t like in bed… and now that I have the courage to ask for it. Like, duh.

I haven’t stopped learning and experimenting now that I’m married. And plenty of people do plenty of experimenting with just one partner, and do it entirely happily. But that’s not how it played out for me. And when I think about who I was in my twenties, I’m not sure it could have played out that way for me. When I think about who I was in my twenties, I think casual sex with a large-ish number of people was the only way I was going to get those experiments under my belt. As it were.

3: Pleasure without unwanted commitment. As you may have figured out from this piece, I was single for a long, long time. In fact, after my divorce and before I fell in love with Ingrid, I was single for twelve years. And they were good years. Most of them, anyway. Staying single for so long was a very conscious decision, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. After my divorce, I was pretty confused, with some seriously messed-up ideas about love and relationships, and a strong tendency to be attracted to needy, fucked-up drug addicts. Staying single for twelve years gave me a chance to get my head screwed on straight; to re-train myself to be attracted to people who had their act together; to wait for the right partner instead of jumping into commitment with whoever was available; to learn that I could be happy and fulfilled on my own. In fact, my relationship and marriage with Ingrid wouldn’t be nearly as strong if I hadn’t been single — and happily single — for so long.s

But if I’d tried to be celibate during all those years, I would have gone bananas. I never would have stuck it out.

Not everyone wants to be in a relationship. Not everyone should be in a relationship. Some people are better off single: temporarily, or indefinitely. I was one of them, for over a decade. And casual sex let me stay single… while still having the pleasure and confidence and connection and other yummy things that sex provides.

4: Independence and confidence. Catting around made me feel like a million bucks. And not just in the obvious way. It made me feel powerful, self-reliant, curious and playful, free and fun. It taught me the value of adventure. It taught me that awesome surprises can be around any corner if I’m open to them. It taught me that even crummy experiences can make for a really great story. It taught me strength and self-confidence. It taught me that saying “No” didn’t make me a selfish jerk. It taught me that being told “No” didn’t make me a pathetic loser.

I still feel that way. I haven’t forgotten those lessons. And I am deeply grateful for everything in my life that got me there. Including casual sex. Casual sex wasn’t the only thing that helped me feel powerful and self-reliant, adventurous and playful, independent and confident… but it was one of the things, one of the most crucial things, and I am profoundly thankful for it.

5: Intimacy and connection. “Casual” doesn’t necessarily mean “impersonal.” A lot of the casual sex I had was fairly nonchalant… but a lot of it wasn’t. A lot of it was very intimate indeed. It came out of a moment of feeling connected with another human being, and wanting to expand that connection. I didn’t want romance or marriage with these people… but I cared about them, and I felt close with them, and I wanted to experience that closeness in a sexual way.

Some of those people started out as casual hookups, and became good friends over weeks and months. Some of them started out as friends, and the sex — whether it happened semi-regularly or was just one many-splendored night — deepened those friendships, and gave them a little extra sparkle and tingle. But they all have one thing in common… which is that I still feel affection towards them, and still have fond memories of the sex we had, and don’t regret it for a minute.

I realize that this is a very atheist/ humanist philosophy of life, and one that a Christian writer like Don Miller is unlikely to respond to. But things don’t have to be permanent to be valuable. A fleeting moment can have as much value as a stone monument. And that includes moments of sexual intimacy and connection.

It Gets Better

I realize that I’m only one person, telling one person’s story. And I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data. My experiences are largely supported by the data — again research shows that casual sex isn’t psychologically harmful — but they aren’t universal. I had a lot of things going for me that loaded the “casual sex” dice in my favor — among other things, I was mostly having all this casual sex with other women, so the gender imbalances and weird sexual/ romantic power dynamics between women and men were a non-issue. And I realize that not everyone shares my experience. Some people go into casual sex for good, healthy reasons, and some people do it for bad, unhealthy reasons, and many people do it for a combination of the two. And some people have good outcomes from it, and some have crummy outcomes, and some have outcomes that are a deeply mixed bag.

You know. Just like people go into marriage and committed relationships for good reasons and bad reasons and combinations of the two… with good, and bad, and mixed results.

And I’m not going to pretend that my casual sex was always perfect and awesome. It wasn’t. Some of it was boring and pointless; a little of it was icky and sad. I’m not even going to pretend that my reasons for having it were always entirely healthy. I sometimes had casual sex, in part, to bolster my self-image as a non-conformist, or because that’s what everyone else in my social circle was doing (yes, those two things are contradictory — what’s your point?), or as a salve for feeling lonely and unattractive, or because I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by saying “No.” Especially in the earlier days. Like most things in life, I got better at it as I went along.

But you know what? That was true of sex in relationships, too. Especially in my younger days. I didn’t always have it for healthy reasons, and it wasn’t always that great. But it got better as I went along. Much, much better. Sex at 49 is so much better than sex at 23, I can’t even tell you.

And it got better, in large part, because of my years of casual sex. It’s better because of the independence and confidence I got from casual sex… independence and confidence that strengthens me to this day. It’s better because of the experiments I carried out during casual sex… experiments that helped me map out my sexuality and enjoy it to its fullest. It’s better because of the moments of genuine connection I had during casual sex… moments that taught me how to pursue intimacy and make myself open to it. It’s better because of all the sheer pleasure I got from casual sex… which helped me to value pleasure, and embrace it, and make it a priority in my marriage. It’s better because of the years of being happily single which casual sex made possible… years that enabled me to wait for the right person, and turn myself into the right person, to make our love and our marriage work.

Sex, and marriage, and life, are better because of casual sex.

For me, anyway.

And no stupid push-poll in the world is going to change that answer.

29 comments

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  1. 1
    Lyra

    I don’t know . . . I really feel like sex should be deeply connected with love. Not necessarily “you are the only one for me” or “I want to be with you for the rest of my life” love, but “You are important to me” love. I honestly believe that there should be a level of love present where if one of you suddenly becomes scared or sick during sex, you care. Enough love that you want to protect the person you have having sex from any STDs you may have (knowingly or unknowingly). Enough love that if the person suddenly needed help in a way that inconvenienced you, you would want to help.

    This whole “I’m going to have sex with someone who means nothing to me” doesn’t serve us well. It doesn’t serve us well when we suddenly find ourselves pregnant by someone we neither know nor care about. It doesn’t serve us well when we don’t use protection and end up spreading disease. It doesn’t serve us well when we engage in callous, hurtful behavior without caring about the fallout.

    I don’t think all sex needs to necessarily be in a committed relationship. But casual? No, I don’t think sex should be casual.

  2. 2
    Greta Christina

    Lyra: “Should,” for you personally? Or “should,” for everybody?

    If the former — mazeltov. Good for you. You get to decide what circumstances you do and don’t want to have sex in.

    If the latter — why the “shoulds”? Don’t other people get to decide for themselves what circumstances they do and don’t want to have sex in, and what level of commitment they want and need for it? Why do you get to be the judge of what does and doesn’t work for other people?

    And where in this piece did I advocate not protecting yourself and your partner against unwanted pregnancy and STDs, or acting callously or hurtfully? You seem to be defining “casual” as “uncaring” — and that is clearly not what I’m talking about.

  3. 3
    TommyP

    Wow this one was really good Greta. I’ve come out of my 20′s with a lot of sex under my belt and I feel great about almost all of it. The worse stuff still makes great stories and can elicit a howl of laughter from almost anyone, so not a total loss.

    I’ve seen sex change my partners for the better. Not always, but often enough, and it’s changes that are so good and so beautiful, changes that last. I’ve helped foster in a few guys a sense of sexiness and confidence that not even I have for myself. Eventually when these people find me again, I’ve gotten a real earful and the gift has often been given to me, improved and enriched by the other person’s experiences in the meantime.

    Sex can teach us new things about ourselves and others. It is quite possible to be gain insight and connection and bust a nut all at the same time. Thanks for the coolness writing once again. I hope we are all so lucky to find people as full of love, horny horny naughtiness, and miscellaneous intellectual rampages.

  4. 4
    Hertta

    Greta, thank you for this article. I was also single for years and had casual sex for exactly the same reasons you did. Number 5 was especially important for me.

    I didn’t want to be in a long term relationship for a number of reasons, none of which was that I thought I just hadn’t met the right one yet. I knew many wonderful men and was friends with some of them and had sex with some of them. And sometimes just hooked up with an interesting stranger. Good times.

    Lyra, casual sex isn’t just mindless and careless copulating, at least for anyone I know. I wouldn’t jump into bed with anyone I didn’t like or care about. And I guess I was at least a little bit in love with everyone I had sex with, even if the sex wasn’t “deeply connected with love.” They certainly didn’t mean nothing to me.

    An unwanted pregnancy is an unwanted pregnancy even if you are in a relationship. Sounds to me like you’re saying women should not have sex if they don’t want to get pregnant. Because it “doesn’t serve us well.”

  5. 5
    Hertta

    Oh, forgot. Hi Greta! Long time reader, first time commenter here.

  6. 6
    Michael

    Although I’m a big fan of your blog, I have one major issue with casual sex – for most people it’s impossible to disconnect sex from emotions, and because of their intensity sex can’t be treated lightly.

    Sex is one of our most primal urges. Violence is a similar example – it has some very useful evolutionary uses, but for most people it’s impossible to disconnect emotionally from it (e.g. how many of us would be able to kill a pig without any stress?).

    How can you be sure your partner approaches sex with the same level of commitment or casualness as yourself? Imagine consoling a teenage daughter or a friend who just had sex being sure it was a start of a committed relationship but turned out to be just casual for the guy. Or imagine being the nerdy guy that fell in love with the class slut and got his heart broken. Sex can cause some pretty nasty emotional scars and should be treated seriously.

    As for anecdotal evidence – I know very few people mature and in control of their emotions enough to enjoy casual sex, and all of them admit to many failed/painful experiences in the past. On the other hand, I know quite a few who approached sex casually and got burned, or worse – got stuck in unhealthy relationships because of kids, went through divorces, abortions or had to raise a child by themselves.

    Also, since you mentioned evolution early in your post – isn’t the default evolutionary approach for males to “hunt for” a female, and for the female to try to “hold on to” a male to raise and secure a future for the offspring? I know not everyone feels the “need to breed”, but you can admit there are some default instincts in most of us?

  7. 7
    Cass Morrison

    I get concerned about how casual sex is reported simply because it seems like the young women cited are giving blow jobs to multiple partners (I assume so they can maintain virginal status). I can’t comprehend how that would be sexually satisfying or a transaction between mature individuals. I too have enjoyed casual sex; now I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for 25 years. Each has its place as you say Greta and that place is negotiated between partners.

    And speaking of maturity, those protective feelings (aka altruism, compassion etc)) Lyra speak of should extent to everyone regardless of the type of personal interaction shouldn’t it.

  8. 8
    Tim Martin

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’m still trying to get over my own religiously- and culturally-inspired hangups about casual sex – it’s good to read defenses of it once in a while. Also, Don Miller’s blog posts pissed me the fuck off! You did see his original posts about “how to write a good love story,” didn’t you? He deleted them not long after posting them, but they were hideous. I saved them as .pdfs, so if you missed them and wanted a copy, I’d be happy to oblige.

  9. 9
    Dhorvath, OM

    I don’t need love in order to be concerned for the well being of those who I engage in activities with. Common decency, respect, a little empathy have all placed good boundaries on how I treat people who I know only casually while I participate in activities with them that entail degrees of shared risk. Likewise, I have found the same in reverse, people can be concerned with my experience without having any specific emotional attachment to me.
    I have had plenty of casual encounters, and certainly some of them were with people who I never saw again, but to say it was “sex with someone who means nothing to me” is a stretch beyond what I understand of myself and the way that sex becomes good sex. If there is no interest in or focus on a mutually pleasurable experience, how does it differ from masturbation?

  10. 10
    Musical Atheist

    @Michael

    In the hypothetical ‘teenage-daughter situation’, the issue is that they didn’t both agree on whether the sex was casual – that’s a communication problem, or dishonesty on his part, not a problem with casual sex as such.

    In the hypothetical ‘class nerd/class slut’ situation – erm, what made her the ‘class slut’, why would you even use that term? The fact that … she was having casual sex? That seems like starting from your conclusions.

    I’d suggest that there’s an issue of shame – if people were less shamed socially about the desire for casual sex, especially when young, (spare a thought for those ‘class sluts’) they might be better at being honest about it, and pain caused by misreading the other’s intentions might be less common. I mean, if the problem is ‘don’t have casual sex because the person you’re having it with might think it’s not casual’ then the problem is solved by telling them it’s casual for you beforehand, so they can make an informed choice.

    I really wish I’d received less loaded information about the incredible importance of sex being NOT casual when I was young. It didn’t stop me having casual sex, but it meant I took a long time to learn to be mature about it, because I didn’t have models of how to be.

  11. 11
    Pen

    Why I have had casual sex: I’d be sitting around with some guy, having a long conversation in which we’d fixed up politics, the universe and everything, until suddenly at about 2am we’d run out of things to say, and I take another look at him and think ‘wow, he’s cute’. At that point, more often than not, I would meet his eyes and see that he was thinking ‘hey, etc.’ So then, we’d be, like ‘ok, what shall we do now?’.

    I think it would actually be hard for me not to respond like this with a heterosexual man because I am attracted to men so it doesn’t take much encouragement on his part. It’s unusual for me to be near a man and not be somewhat conscious of that attraction. I really wish people would get that into their heads.

  12. 12
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Although I’m a big fan of your blog, I have one major issue with casual sex – for most people it’s impossible to disconnect sex from emotions, and because of their intensity sex can’t be treated lightly.

    Huh, I was about to congratulate you for recognizing this as an issue YOU have, but then you jump right into universal terms…

    Greta’s already said that she does not equate “casual” with “emotionless.” Responding to what people have actually said rather than some stereotype you have in your head that they’ve vaguely reminded you of isn’t even “ground floor” intellectual honesty. It’s on a par with not pulling your pants down and urinating in the middle of a discussion.

    Sex is one of our most primal urges. Violence is a similar example – it has some very useful evolutionary uses, but for most people it’s impossible to disconnect emotionally from it (e.g. how many of us would be able to kill a pig without any stress?).

    Aside from finding it disturbing that your mind immediately jumps from sex to killing pigs, I’m not sure what the relevance of this is. “Violence is bad, and can cause and result from powerful emotions. Sex can cause and result from powerful emotions. Therefore sex is bad?” That’s not only not a sound (or even valid) argument, it doesn’t even make “delusional sense.”

    How can you be sure your partner approaches sex with the same level of commitment or casualness as yourself? Imagine consoling a teenage daughter or a friend who just had sex being sure it was a start of a committed relationship but turned out to be just casual for the guy. Or imagine being the nerdy guy that fell in love with the class slut and got his heart broken.

    Oh, hey, nice stereotyping there.

    Sex can cause some pretty nasty emotional scars and should be treated seriously.

    What makes you think people who have sex outside of a committed relationship context haven’t considered the potential emotional impacts? I mean, you know, even if you Did Not Do The Research before moralizing and are thus unaware that pretty much every commentary on casual sex that’s not trying to sell a dating service or porn specifically discusses the potential emotional issues and guidelines for evaluating what one’s likely emotional responses are and what to do about them.

    As for anecdotal evidence

    You could have just stopped there, you know.

    I know very few people mature and in control of their emotions enough to enjoy casual sex, and all of them admit to many failed/painful experiences in the past. On the other hand, I know quite a few who approached sex casually and got burned, or worse – got stuck in unhealthy relationships because of kids, went through divorces, abortions or had to raise a child by themselves.

    Fascinating. How do those compare to the results for people you know who restricted sex to committed rel…

    …wait a minute.

    You knew people who were having casual sex and went through divorces as a result? (You’re not really fool enough to assume “casual sex” means “adultery” right?)

    Also, since you mentioned evolution early in your post – isn’t the default evolutionary approach for males to “hunt for” a female, and for the female to try to “hold on to” a male to raise and secure a future for the offspring?

    1) no.
    2) apparently not.
    3) so what if it were?

    I know not everyone feels the “need to breed”, but you can admit there are some default instincts in most of us?

    Has anyone, in the history of the universe, ever actually made the argument that humans have no inborn instincts? Because the only time I ever see this claim is as a strawman that evo-phren types are attacking so they don’t have to deal with the morass of false premises, unfounded assumptions, and flat-out wishful thinking underlying, and very poor evidential support for, their specific claims.

  13. 13
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I’m curious. :)

    Also, Greta, as long as you’re having them work on the moderated comments thing, can you see if there’s a way to not have the entire page reload when you click the “reply to” button by a comment? (I mean, the minute you click it, not the second reload after you’ve typed your comment and hit submit).

  14. 14
    Robin Marie

    I think the number of women you see having casual sex for the wrong reasons would go down, and the number having it for the right reasons would go up, if our society had healthier attitudes about sex, gender, and mental health. The emotionally “well” wouldn’t feel the stigma and therefore the inconsistency casual sex supposedly has with an identity of “mental health,” and the emotionally vulnerable would have more options other than sex as a way to communicate their need for affection and relationships.

    I understand that many people do not have the anecdotal evidence on hand to convince them that casual sex can be a good thing in someone’s life. First they need to realize this might have a lot to do with the type of circles they run in — regardless of how much people actually sleep around, the acceptance levels of doing so varies greatly within subcultures, and how accepted one feels about a behavior makes a difference in what that behavior can do for them. Second, how many of these “emotionally vulnerable” women suffered from emotional repercussions for their casual sex that would be absent in a society that didn’t hand them sexual stereotypes that were heavily patriarchal?

  15. 15
    Jack Rawlinson

    Good piece. I would certainly have had a lot of casual sex in my life if I’d been able to find anyone willing to have it with me. But I’m not bitter. *Sob*.

  16. 16
    Daisy

    I’ve had a very similar trajectory, except I’m a straight woman and all of my casual sex has been with men. Most of it took place in my 20′s. I haven’t done it in a long time for various reasons, but now that I’m 45, I’ve recently found myself thinking that maybe I want to experience that again.

    Anyway, I frankly can’t think of one terrible story. I was never abused, never found myself in a dangerous situation. And I picked up men in bars. I have some incredibly hot memories, some sweet, and some, eh. But nothing terrible. I did it because it was fun. I loved it. I loved I think, the power of it. And the fucking. I even had orgasms during most encounters and some people will tell you that women generally don’t. In later years, I had great love affairs, and marriage too. I didn’t have to give anything up. I wasn’t “punished”. And the only regrets I have ever had are the men I wanted to sleep with but didn’t for one reason or the other. It’s so true that old saying that you will regret most the things you did not do.

    So those people are all FOS in my opinion.

  17. 17
    Jennifer Corner

    For my part, may I say how intensely jealous I am that you had an opportunity to experience such things and took it. I married at a young age and never knew what I was missing until after I divorced. Then I had a year of glorious exploration during which I learned a lot about myself before I met the man I’ve been with for the past four years. In my 30s now, and still learning from him and with him, but I do have a lingering wish that I had begun that kind of learning and exploration in my early twenties. I often compare casual sex to sampling foods from around the world: How else do you know what you like if you only have the same “genre” every day?Thank you for sharing the truth of your experience.

  18. 18
    Rieux

    Apropos of the first graphic in the post, I really hope none of the casual sex you mention having was with Victoria Jackson. She’s a total whackjob.

  19. 19
    Travis

    Thanks for this post Greta. I think it is a topic that is important for all sorts of interconnected reasons dealing with how people view sex. I am glad most of the comments here have been positive and some of the misconceptions that have cropped up have been dealt with.

    The one that always irks me when discussing topics like this is when people seem to think that their own likes, or perferences should apply to everyone else. I am somewhat active in the local fetish and kink community and you see similar statements quite often when people seem to think their particular kinks are oh so understandable and good, but other people are just weird. “How could anyone like that? It is so wrong” rather than “That is just not for me, but have fun”

  20. 20
    CailinBan

    Thanks for this article Greta. I’m recently single after over 20 years with my husband, during which the sex ranged from lousy to non-existent. In the months I have been single I have had tons of casual sex, and it has made me feel so sexy and sexual (both of which were totally missing) and powerful and beautiful and attractive and just plain wonderful!

    I don’t know if it’s my age (late 40s) or the freedom that comes from anonymity, or something else, or a combination – but the sex is now mind-blowing. I’m so in tune with my body, and so confident about what I want. I would like to meet somebody else in time, but I wouldn’t have missed these experiences for the world.

    I’d also like to thank you personally, Greta. I came across your blog when researching atheism, but your writing about sex-positivity influenced me so much for the better and for the wonderful. You, in essence, gave me permission! And I needed that (Irish Catholic background, what can I say!) and have benefitted hugely from that, and so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  21. 21
    Brad

    Great post. As a heterosexual male, I too had much great casual sex, and still do. (Never got married. Long story, but no fear of commitment.) I’m glad it has been pointed out that one should always treat casual partners “as ends in themselves” as Kant would say (though this usage gives it a new meaning!). Sometimes, that means recognizing that some people attach great emotional salience to the sex act that I don’t, and in those cases, I’ve refrained from having sex with those women.

    Let’s see…treat each other with respect, be honest…and then have all the fun you want with anyone else who is eager to do it with you, right? I am so happy now that there are vocal women like you who articulate so clearly and firmly that their own sexual pleasure will not be subject to double standards applied, all too often, by men.

  22. 22
    Staceyjw

    Great post!
    I had lots of casual sex and don’t regret it one bit. But tell anyone this, and they cannot believe it. It’s like a woman isn’t allowed what a man claims as his right- pleasure on demand. time to change that.

  23. 23
    wendy

    I haven’t had casual sex since the 80′s, but all my partners but one seemed ambivalent about it and, frankly, disapproving of me. (I’m still sleeping with that one guy.)

  24. 24
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    There is at least one invisible ad link on this page, right above the last blockquote in my first comment. Someone needs to have a little “talk” with someone, I think… >.>

  25. 25
    Greta Christina

    In the interest of transparency, I’m informing my readers that I’ve deleted a comment in this thread (or more accurately, declined to approve a comment) due to its hateful and bigoted language — in this case, aimed at “sluts.”

  26. 26
    valhar2000

    #25: Damn! Now that you told us, I’m morbidly curious… Still, it was probably the same old bullshit, rather than new and exciting bullshit, so I guess I’m fine.

  27. 27
    Jeffrey Soreff

    Personal ad hookups; occasional sex with friends; sex clubs and sex parties; ongoing sexual friendships

    Congratulations and…
    not many things make me envious. That makes me envy you.

    During most of my young adult years I would second Jack Rawlinson’s

    Good piece. I would certainly have had a lot of casual sex in my life if I’d been able to find anyone willing to have it with me. But I’m not bitter. *Sob*.

    My experience as a male in the 1970s was that sex was exceedingly scarce.
    During all of my undergraduate years I never found a lover. During my
    graduate years I finally found one, then lost her, then found another,
    married her, then got divorced, then found another lover and married her
    and we’re still together. But there was never any option for
    experimentation – it was just too damned hard to find sex at all.

  28. 28
    Alex

    I respect ‘your’ opinion but I think this article is shameful. Young women buy into this crap everyday and society wonders why men are acting like wussies, playing video games, and turning gay on each other… Congrats on your efforts on supporting this perverted agenda!!

  29. 29
    eroticzeitgeist

    Different people need different things. The important lesson is not to be judgemental but accept other people and share your own experiences.

  1. 30
    Study shows casual sex isn’t psychologically harmful, despite contrary claims by the religious | The Floating Lantern

    [...] now I can do one better. Thanks to a citation in a recent blog post by Greta Christina, I can share with you a study that shows that casual sex is not psychologically [...]

  2. 31
    What We Write About When We Write About Hookups » Brute Reason

    [...] Five Good Reasons Why I’ve Hooked Up [...]

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