It was early 2000s. Sex in the City was the hottest show on television. At that time, women openly discussing vibrators and orgasms while eating brunch in a restaurant was a big deal.
I'd been a "relationship girl" for college and most of my twenties. I often felt confused about how to flirt, what I was supposed to do, supposed to say.
I was also confused about what I wanted and how to make it happen.
I didn't yet understand my feelings - especially my conflicted feelings - or how to address them.
I didn't yet understand that I had poor communication skills or how to improve them.
I didn't yet realize that I was an alpha female that preferred sweet betas.
I didn't understand a LOT of things back then. Hell, I still don't.
The difference now is that I'm willing to admit what I struggle with. And talk about it. And work on it.
The only thing I wanted to improve back then was my game.
After years of very serious adult experiences and being sick, I wanted to have FUN.
I didn’t have very good game. I still don’t have very good game.
C'mon! You guys know me by now. I’m not good at the cutesy flirting, soft giggling and patiently playing the game. I’m impatient and as subtle as a Mac truck. HEY I LIKE YOU, swat to the arm. COME BACK TO MY CAVE. Cue to me dragging guy away.
I think part of the reason I kept ending up in relationships was that I hated feeling "hunted" as a young twenty-something. I didn't understand yet how to protect myself. To make sure I didn't feel like prey, and leered at by older guys.
There weren't a lot of templates for me to follow. Relationship. Or act like a dude.
Well, I guess act like a dude?
Getting drunk in New York City and getting to hunt instead of being hunted? It was like drinking a magical elixir. Added bonus? If a guys grabbed my ass, and I didn’t want him to, I could chew him out NYC style. Not ok in Seattle. Totally expected in NYC.
What a relief. To be bitchy, assertive and unapologetic for the first time in my life.
Making money, dressing up, getting drunk and picking whoever I wanted for the evening? GLORIOUS role reversal.
Am I really supposed to feel bad about that? Fuck that shit.
I’d end up giving drunken lectures in bathroom bars: Don’t feel bad about enjoying your body! Use a condom! Don’t be afraid to say no and set firm boundaries My audience a gaggle of girls nodding and whooping it up.
I thank Gd at least weekly that there were no smartphones back then.
And now it’s 2017, and women and girls still get slut shamed. We can run a Fortune 500, manage the entire house and every inhabitant’s schedule, take care of our aging parents, volunteer, squash horrible political agendas. But we’re not supposed to "like" fucking?
Our culture has got so many things backwards.
And this is one of them.
I’m taking back the word slutty. This is very intentional. I’ve been debating about this post for weeks. I knew I was going to write it eventually. Today is the day.
Now it’s more important than ever. We have a bunch of dudes in leadership that either hate women or are afraid of them or who the hell knows what issues they are taking out on us.
Shaming women for having and/or liking sex is part of the Patriarchal Narrative. According to their narrative, we aren't supposed to enjoy sex, let alone crave it outside of marriage. Yeahhhh right, sit back and think of England. The Patriarchal Narrative also says it's weird if you don't want to get married and have babies.
Clever, isn't it?
I didn't buy it in my twenties. I sure as hell didn't buy in my thirties.
And now, I'm thrilled to take that scarlet Slut Shaming "S" back and proudly place it on my shirt. On my profile.
I know these topics will attract haters. People LOVE to hate mouthy women on the Internet. Especially ones that take on these narratives. Don’t care.
SO WHAT if I like hooking up? What does that say about my character? My integrity? My love of spending time with darling kids and build them forts? My willingness to fight for my neighbors and protect their healthcare? My devotion to my friends and loved ones?
I can't tell you how many times I've been stereotyped as a "type" - it drives me crazy.
Being slutty is always in the same category as a "type." As if the rest of your personality is going to be somehow part of the "slutty" narrative.
As if the people who like to sleep around all look and act a certain way. Ha.
This is why stereotyping women is absurd. This has obviously been bothering me for years. The red hair alone....
My photographs and my stories are each pieces of me. I can BE an adorable auntie, free-spirited hippie, a hard-working professional, devoted friend, and a wild party girl ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Looking back on these photos makes me realize that whatever part of my personality I wanted to develop, I’d swing the pendulum hard in that direction. When I wanted to be taken seriously as a business owner, all I did was work. I wanted to be a sophisticated woman who wasn’t afraid, so I went deep into my slutty phase.
I’m not ashamed to say I miss it. Everything has changed for me. I’m older. There's a needle and bandage on my chest. My stomach is a mess. Everyone keeps saying I look good. But I don't feel that way. I feel old, and awkward. Well, I've always felt awkward. But I don't have that same swagger I used to. It may look like I do. But inside, I'm wondering where the bathroom is or if my bandage is showing. Or if I should just pretend like I'm normal for the night. Or if I should concoct a pretend persona for the evening (flight attendant is a favorite!). Or, if I should just be myself.
Part of the reason I want to travel is that I'm afraid I'll start being afraid of the outside world.
And I look at this photo now. And I'm reminded of how much I liked being that woman in the photo. Even though she was totally clueless and sometimes mean. It was still a fun time in my life. Embracing my masculine side so that I could become my most feminine self.
It's confusing. I know. But isn’t everything about sex confusing? Especially in our outdated madonna/whore culture?
I don't know who I am yet in this new chapter. Reluctant lady who is overly protective of this fragile body, afraid of getting close. Or, badass vixen ready to pick up a cutie.
Maybe both. Maybe neither. Sigh.
Probably some new version altogether. I just have to keep waiting for this new me to be revealed.
There are so many things I get nervous about sharing. But I've been ready to share this one.
I'm so ready for women to not feel ashamed about being WHOEVER THEY WANT TO BE.
We are long overdue to feel proud and excited about our sexual adventures. I’ve said this for many years: as long as everyone is a consenting adult, doesn't bring unwanted children into the world or pass along disease (wear condoms!), GO FOR IT.
Ladies, have fun! Men, you're welcome.
PHOTO #16. This post is part of a series celebrating my life before I lost four organs to three cancers in 2014. It is an “online memorial” honoring the person I was, in the hopes that I can make peace with the disabled person I’ve become. Every day for 30 days until my birthday, I will challenge myself to write a post inspired by the photo I’m sharing. I will not plan the topic or write ahead of time. I will merely look at the photo and write whatever it inspires. Thanks for reading! #julesfor30 #happyrebirth