Purple Magazine
— Purple 25YRS Anniversary issue

Anti-sexual fragility

by KARLEY SCIORTINO

It’s true that sex can be high-risk. Things go wrong. People get hurt. I have done a lot of things in my life that it turns out I didn’t like — like that time, for instance, when I let my boyfriend tie me to a dresser while I watched him have sex with my best friend. Unsurprisingly, it was awful, but now at least I can say I’ve done it. The point is, there are far worse things in life than bad sex (like a hangover, for example). People do things that are risky all the time — like climb mountains, race cars, and ski down mountains — and the risk becomes part of the excitement of the experience. I treat sex the same way — not in a no-condoms Russian roulette way, but more as an Indiana Jones, slutty anthropologist-type situation.

As women, we know that a negative sexual experience can be devastating — that if some asshole crosses one of my sexual boundaries, or if I leave the orgy feeling fat and uncomfortable instead of enlightened, I might never recover. Here I’m not speaking about rape, but of two adults having consensual sex when the woman is left unhappy, frustrated, or hungry. My question is, why do women always have to be scared of becoming the “victims” of sex? Why is it that in nearly every area of our lives, we are encouraged to take risks and try new things — to Lean In and play hard — but when it comes to sex, we’re like, “Be safe, or you’ll end up traumatized or dead”? These doomsday ideas become self-fulfilling prophecies, cultivating a type of sexual fragility that I don’t think is healthy.

It’s no secret that female sexuality has long been policed. But today we have created an environment where (allegedly predatory) male sexuality needs to be policed, and (allegedly passive) female sexuality needs to be protected — which seems equally tragic to me. At the heart of the victim narrative is a familiar and unfortunate premise: the idea that, by having sex, men are getting something, whereas women are giving something up. It’s outdated, it’s offensive, and it’s psychologically destructive for women, because it has the power to mislead girls into thinking that having one not-ideal sexual experience means that they have lost a part of themselves. Hello! — pitying and victimizing women doesn’t help us; it just dismisses the importance of female sexual agency.

Back in the mid ’60s, universities set curfew restrictions for women, whereas men were allowed to stay out as late as they pleased. It was then that a faction of the feminist movement, in part led by Camille Paglia — the controversial feminist, then a college student — fought for the ability to have the same freedoms as men. They rejected the need for special protections, instead wanting autonomy over their private lives. The point they were making is relevant still: we would rather be free in the world and not trapped inside.

Here’s something I never understood: at what point, when two people are voluntarily naked in bed together, does the man become the predator and the woman become the victim? We infantilize ourselves when we don’t take responsibility for our actions in the bedroom. As much as it is extremely important to acknowledge the ways in which women are put down, we shouldn’t cultivate an identity of victimization to the point where it blinds us to our strengths. We gain nothing from blaming all of our problems on men or the patriarchy.

If you constantly claim you are a victim, you will always be a victim. And you won’t allow yourself any sexual exploration outside of the vanilla. And more than that, you won’t be able to express for yourself all the possibilities offered by being a woman.

[Table of contents]

Purple 25YRS Anniversary issue

Table of contents

purple NEWS

purple 25 YEARS 25 COVERS

purple INTERVIEW

purple FASHION WOMEN

purple FASHION MEN

purple DOCUMENT

purple BEAUTY

purple ARCHITECTURE

purple LOVE

purple PHILOSOPHY

purple NIGHT

purple STORY

purple SEX

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