‘You Don’t Own Me’ – single sex & slut shaming

Does a day go past when we don’t hear that three letter word? Weather you’re celibate, single or in a long term relationship, sex is everywhere. You only have to leave ITV on for half the afternoon  to have it plastered all over before the the watershed with everything from Loose-Women to Jeremy Kyle having their say.

S E X

Yeh I said it – the word you like to think your grandparents have never heard of and was pronounced at primary school ‘ess-ee-ex’ because to say it in it’s full glory was far too naughty.

It’s not the 1950s anymore, we don’t all go to bed next to the only man we’ve ever shared a duvet with and wait for him to pull his pyjama bottoms down and as a nation we are more sexualised than ever before.  I remember being 13 and reading an article in bliss magazine about how to snog a boy… kids today can probably just google it and get a full you-tube tutorial followed by a link to an online purchase of the morning after pill for if things go too far….. I exaggerate but sex has become more accessible than ever before, be it a few taps on a mobile dating app or locked eyes across a sticky city centre dance floor- it still works the same way.

And we’re empowered to follow our desires, our urges- be it through high street sex shops encouraging you to explore alone or magazine articles on how to achieve that big ‘o’ – it’s everywhere and not nearly as censored as it once was.  Making love to that magical person you want to spend your life with, or at least think you do for those brief minutes of intimacy is wonderful, beautiful even but it’s very different from just sex and to get to that in the first place and exploration of the latter isn’t exactly uncommon right?  Did I blink and miss the 60s- we are living in 2016 right? Where prescription birth control is free, abortion is legal and some dude thought it was incredibly clever to make sure plenty of condoms were available in the Olympic village because believe it or not people have sex, accidents happen and not always with someone who puts a ring on their finger…

So why then I asked, are single women in their late twenties, who infact probably understand their bodies and their sexualty better than they ever did before being slut shamed for their choices?

Oh I’m sorry I wasn’t lucky enough to get shacked up with my childhood sweetheart or meet some genuine keeper at work who wants to move in with me and get a cat – shall I cross my legs until I’m forty and pay for an e-harmony subscription?

If anything sex at this age is the best it can be- because people know what they’re doing and you know what you want…

It’s taken a long time but for once in my life, I’m okay with being alone, for once, I don’t mind it…

The sun beats hard on the idyllic view of John Bright Street Rent-A-Car.  A  few stray tramps pass and the background soundtrack is made up of the ‘Angelic’ voices of a group of school kids learning some Grease medley at the Alex alongside the road rage of Suffolk Street.

‘Gorgeous view isn’t it?’

‘The best…’

I always hated Grease

I turn to him, envious of his natural blond hair, youthful looks and say, ‘I don’t think I want to be with anyone again.’

‘What like ever?’

‘Don’t really see the point anymore, too much trouble.’

And at that moment in time I think I truly meant it.

The wooden table is wobbly and unvarnished, I feel like I’m going to get a splinter in my arse as the shrunken Jack Wills dress rides up and we both know that one gust of wind and I’ll be flashing my cath kidston undies to half the Cherry Red’s lunch clientele behind us.  .

My shoulders catch the sun, the next day it’s my face, my nose as we sit once more fulled by half a pret each, slightly warm booze and unexpected sunshine on a dark cloud.

‘Don’t think I could even date a girl you know, tried it once and it was like that scene in fight club where they end up punching the mirror…’

‘Well I’m not sure anyone could deal with two Lauras…’

We laugh and I wish I hadn’t have scoffed that pret so quickly as I’m scared I might burb up my wine.

For somebody who feels like a pig in an abattoir the moment the sun comes out, I really should learn to carry around suncream and not allow myself to bake like the stray chips left in the chip fat fryer for too long. A welcome part of the meal to begin with but a crusty leftover by the end that you go along with anyway and wished you hadn’t.  The amount of stray maccys chips that have ended up in the bottom of my handbags have taught me one thing- shit doesn’t go away if you bury it and carrying it around just clutters your life.

It makes you scared, too overwhelmed to touch it – close the wardrobe doors and pretend it’s not there. Like the calls from HSBC about that student over draft you had 7 years ago- phone on silent,  chuck in pocket and hope for the best 😉

I leave clutter everywhere… can’t even do a move in one sitting. After the split from hell I left my attic room and slowly moved into one the floor below but never moved the furniture. Annoyed me too much to be in there and I wanted a slightly cleaner break.

It was only on the  Friday before that I finally got ‘the desk’ down.  A two person job that that needed the added support both physically and emotionally – mainly for if I stubbed my toe of bashed ‘Boz’ the scarred knee.

I cried when my ex bought me that bastard, sat on top of the number 9 bus from pigeon park, a place that has become far too familiar with my tears of late. He told me it was always mine whatever happened but considering what did happen  I feel a tad guilty for writing off it so have been using a piece of wood in the corner for the past few months.

By the time we get it down the stairs into the new room chuckle brother’s style and gagging for a beer it doesn’t really match anymore.  He says I should just use it as a dressing table, I agree, but for the hours that pass it becomes out beer balancer.

I leave in a rush Saturday morning, slam the door behind me and the nob falls off once more – even the door can’t make it through the summer with me. I’ve been drinking too much recently, lips puffed, stomach bloated, mental health debatable but what’s a girl to do.

Open the bedroom door for the first time in a couple of days some time later… and I’m like what the actual fuck, the odd smell of fresh washing meets stale beer fills the air and I think, didn’t I grow out of this? I open the window- the roof is covered in fag buds again and there’s a 22p sweet potato that I should have made into something delicious days ago. The ‘beer table’ now contains four empty bottles of becks, a full bottle of peroni, empty BLT sandwich box, half a dozen SNOBS receipts and a rolled up tenner amongst a nest of bottle caps and a stray sock . Jesus wept.

I sit on the window ledge and attempt to remove said stray fag buts with a travel hairdryer and remember the last time he sat there and I attempted the same with a wine bottle filled with luke warm water the next day.  That day the healing process started and something else began.

My first reaction wasn’t what it should have been – ‘shit what a night, been a while since I had that kind of sesh’ it was automatically a sense of relief meets guilt – ‘thank fuck I can get away with this now..’ because what would my ex think…

‘fuck what he thinks Laura, fuck him, you’re awesome, I mean you’re a pain but I love every bit of you.’ – As drunken and exaggerated as the sentiment may have been, that was all I needed to push me back through and out of those feelings of guilt for how I was still acting.

No matter what the end outcome may have been I can now take responsibility for my part and freely admit at times I was a bit of a shit girlfriend. Unused to the situation I had found myself in , still unsure weather it was right for me or a void to fill the loneliness, in the early days my eyes could be found elsewhere. I may be pushing 30 but still, give me a sticky floor, indi boys with whom you have an unwritten connection with and my heart takes a different beat.

But I still took comfort in the fact that he had no idea of what I’ve since been getting up to and  that was wrong because when we break apart from people our actions and decisions become our highs and burdens- no one else’s.

Like the page turner in a predictable soap script contact was remade.  It’s civil, he’s caring, he understands that I only kicked off because I was hurting, attempts advice on how I should go about finding someone new… add in the bit about hoping my dreams come true and it may as well have been a dodgy Adele remix.  But I stand up for myself and say I want to be alone for a while, to move through my issues that  I have before I put myself back out there because I have seen people since him and I need to fix myself up.

And that’s when it starts…the lecture on ‘love-less’ sex, how ‘no decent man’ will want me when they find out how I’ve disrespected myself, that they’ll make their excuses and leave…that I’ve disrespected myself, that I should get a dog and join a book club – ‘loveless sex will only lead to one thing and that is pain…’ I’m sorry darling but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t a 28 year old stay at home virgin when I met you and you weren’t complaining then…

‘Respect yourself as you’re nearly 30’

‘I thought you would have realised how a real man treats his lady but in one ear out the next’

‘What would you nan think if she knew how you’d disrespected yourself’

‘Having such loveless sex is what sends people wrong’

‘You’ve disrespected yourself again’

How exactly? I haven’t exactly been going round dropping my knickers for a different man every week – I grieved, I ached, I pulled through and I got back out there, because that’s what girls do when they’ve been dumped. And for someone to lecture me on this so called ‘love-less’ sex when they never told me they loved me in the seven months we spent together is in itself a bit of a head fuck…

‘I stayed true, I was lonely but I didn’t go out shagging women’ – good for you I never asked you to…. and just because I didn’t stay at home alone for three months doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt any less.  I cried, I bled, ended up with ten stitches to my knee ‘tripping over myself, begging you to come help’ – Shawn Mendes style, completely dependant on my baby sister for the weeks that followed, my eyes opened and I re-found myself only to land this.

‘It’s your vagina do what you want with it’. – thanks for the confirmation….

It’s a interesting word ‘disrespect’ because personally I think I would be disrespecting my vagina and the sexual freedom god gave me while I still don’t look my age or have any real responsibilities, if  I were to just hold back from new opportunities or even just letting go in fear of a couple of months down the line someone calling me a ‘slut’

It doesn’t hurt anymore, or not like it should.  Because I know that somewhere in those choice of words they were trying to care but we’re obviously on two very different paths of direction when it comes sexuality.

Maybe I should grow up, act my age… I’ve been told I’m like the female Peter Pan

Replace Becks and ‘The 1975’ with Strongbow and ‘Bloc Party’ and I could be that young 18 year old girl again, still directionless, making the same mistakes. Maybe I am too old for  snogging in snobs, maybe life has passed me by and maybe I should move on from being the definitive lost boy, but maybe you need that release… and that’s exactly what it is, a release not disrespect.

I sit back on the windowsill and think of the boy in the brown Chelsea boots who left not just the fag buts, but the door open to the freedom I now I see I have – because when I was  around him I no longer felt afraid of myself. He’s going places and has a vision I wish i’d have clung on to when I was 24, I know I’m old and should know better, but when the tears came through accidental circumstances, he became part of the very small group of people who may not show it, may not always be there but have through no fault of their own learnt how my head works, how to calm me when I freak into chimpmunk mode and still let me run free and he’d never judge me for being single by choice.

I do believe in love, there is a hopeless romantic in there somewhere- but for the time being I believe it’s okay to be alone but still have sex… to be single but still fall in love and not persuse it…to be an independant woman and pull who you want as long as it’s not hurting yourself… it’s not disrespect it’s empowerment because ‘you don’t own me’ no one does, we own ourselves, our own sexuality and our own bodies….

Some people are single, single people have sex- get over it..

 

 

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