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Like a Virgin: To What Extent is Being a Player Truly Feminist?

Lately, I binged Gilmore Girls and was surprised by the writers’ decisions to blame Paris' not getting into Harvard on her losing her virginity. Paris, the most goal-driven character in the series, blames this on having had sex, acting as if she's less than a person now she's had sex. In fact, the show treats Paris' situation with the same brevity as Rory later losing her virginity to a married man.

In recent years, hookup culture has taken over the dating space, completely transforming the way young people interact with their sexuality. The feeling of intimacy and reciprocity between two or more people is a part of the experience, but often times now, people feel pressured into acting as if they don't care. People sometimes feel pressured into having risky sex, worried of seeming uptight by their partner. Although this doesn't affect everyone, the nonchalance of hookup culture has affected more people than we realise.

Women have always been shamed for their sexual behaviour, feeling as if they need to repress their sexuality. Female pleasure is accepted as being unattainable in heterosexual relationships, because men are uneducated in the topic (just watch men doing cuni), often being considered as less important than a man's enjoyment. And, of course, we cannot forget the male gaze, something that often plays a point within sexual relationships; women have been taught to mould themselves into the satisfaction of men. Think of Maddy in Euphoria, watching porn to make her body more enjoyable to Nate.

But, the idea of the female player — a "fuckgirl," much like the male "fuckboy" — has recently become a more praised trait, interestingly alongside the rise in hookup culture.

At first, expressing sexual wants, needs, and experiences would become a woman's defining trait. This trope is seen in film as the femme fatale, which held slight misogynistic connotations, depicting the woman as attractive and seductive. This character causes disaster to the men that become involved with her. Whilst she is charge of her sexuality, she is only defined by it. While she may be redeemed by the film, her losing her sexuality is still an oppressive ending.

However, women’s sexual liberation in the 1970s onwards saw a turn for the better. Hippie culture of the 1970s, and the increasing conversations of women's sexuality in the 1980s, saw the start of a better awareness of such. In the 80s, Madonna publicly addressed and claimed her sexuality, leaving a legacy to future pop stars.

Madonna's behaviour — in the past considered outrageous and provocative — fits into the norm. A great number of pop icons and celebrities openly show intimate parts of their body on screen and talk about their sexual experiences in an open manner, demonstrating their desires to be lusted for. The 2020’s WAP provoked the paroxysm of misogynistic comments with Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s music video depicting women's intimate body parts and uncensored lyrics expressing female sexual wants openly. This TikTok trend was viral for six months, impacting the mediasphere worldwide, and women were twerking to the sound in masses. WAP is a feminist and politically engaged song that should be set apart from the lyrical criticisms it might have faced. This is only fair to say the exact same song and videography would not amount to the same criticism if WAP was owned by a male singer. Besides, men sang sexual — sometimes derogatory — comments on women's (intimate) body parts for decades and were only called a “playboy.”

There is a well-known power gap between men and women as the first earns more, doesn’t face the glass wall or misogynistic comments but this statement is also suited during sexual intercourses. In a study of the orgasm gap in straight casual relationships, only 33.3% of women reported orgasming, compared to 83.7% of men. Thus, additional evidence was found of the orgasm gap between women and men in partnered, heterosexual sex (Frederick et al., 2018; Richters et al., 2006). As previously said, men are uneducated in women's sexual pleasure and their desires fall into patriarchal views. As such, women might fall into hookup culture that disadvantages them. While women have every right to have as many sexual partners they want, their sexual pleasure is however often denied from them.

In conclusion, while women face several hurdles across time about their sexual history, the term “feminist” is only relevant if women have the possibility to talk about their numerous sexual partners and express their sexual desires without facing disapprobation by their peers. Being a feminist is being given the choice to express women’s most authentic self with equal rights.

Words by Johanna Payet

(@meetmeindetention_ on IG)

Edited by Lucy Eaton

(@llucyeaton on IG)


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